Comparto este intetesante artículo sobre la criminalización de la música y los músicos afroamericanos. Su autora es la escritora Harmony Holiday, quien nos muestra como el racismo institucional de la sociedad estadounidense abarca básicamente todas las esferas, incluyendo la cultura popular. Holiday analiza como grandes estrellas de la música afroamericana como Billie Holiday, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus,  y Miles Davis sufrieron persecucióny violencia policiaca por ser negros. La imagen de Billie Holliday muriendo esposada a su cama de hospital resulta demoledora.  A otros como Abbey Licoln  se les cerraron las puertas a clubs y casas disqueras.

A Brief History of the Policing
of Black Music

Harmony Holiday Dreams of a Black Sound Unfettered
by White Desire

Harmony Holiday

Literary Hub     June 19, 2020

Billie Holiday died handcuffed to her hospital bed because her drug addiction had been criminalized. A Black FBI informant posed as a suitor, hunted her, fell in love with her even, and turned her in for heroin possession, not for hurting anyone, or violence, or for singing too beautiful and true a song but because she was self-medicating against the siege of being a famous Black woman in America, a woman who carried the weight of the nation’s entire soul in her music.

For as long as Black music has been popular, crossover, coveted by white listeners and dissected by white critics, it has also been criminalized by white police at all levels of law enforcement. A micro-archive of the criminalization of Black music and police presence within the music, focused on jazz music and improvised forms, shows why we now cry and chant unapologetically for abolition. Even when our life’s work is to bring more beauty into the world, to create new forms, we are brutalized, policed, jailed, and die in contractual or physical bondage. Or both.

Thelonius Monk’s composition In Walked Bud is dedicated to his friend, fellow pianist Bud Powell, a memento to the night when Bud protected Monk from police during a raid of the Savoy Ballroom in 1945. The Savoy was targeted as one of Black music’s epicenters in Harlem. Bud stepped between an officer and Monk and was struck in the head, incurring injuries that damaged his cognition, causing him to be institutionalized on and off for the rest of his life.

In 1951, Monk and Bud were sitting in a parked car when the NYPD narcotics division approached. Unbeknownst to Monk, Bud had a small stash of heroin and attempted to toss it out the window. It landed on Monk’s shoe instead—Monk was blamed, did not snitch on his friend, and was sent to Rikers Island for 60 days, held on $1,500 dollars bail. When released, Monk’s Cabaret Card, which granted him legal license to play in New York clubs, had been revoked. It would take years for the charges to be dropped and the license reinstated, years the Monk family and innovation in Black music suffered at the whims of the police. And the policing of Monk didn’t stop there.

In 1957, on a drive with Charlie Rouse and Nica, his rich white baroness friend, in Nica’s Bently, Monk asked to stop for a glass of water. Denied this simple request by the white waitress at the cafe they found, Monk just stood and stared at her, agape with disgust. The waitress called the police; when they arrived Monk walked right past them back into the car with Nica and Charlie. He would not get out when the police approached. Get out of the car you fucking nigger. Monk’s window was down and the officer started smashing his hands with a night stick: our genius Black pianist who gave us the break the space between Black thoughts and Black notes, getting his hands bashed and broken by police because he wanted a glass of water. Monk was cuffed, humming, his bloodied hands behind his back in chains.

Monk’s window was down and the officer started smashing his hands with a night stick: our genius Black pianist who gave us the break the space between Black thoughts and Black notes, getting his hands bashed and broken by police.

In 1959 Miles Davis was standing on the sidewalk outside of his own gig at Manhattan’s Birdland. He was with a white woman, smoking a cigarette between sets. A police officer pulled up and asked him what he was doing loitering—at that time a Black man just standing was criminalized, but especially one standing with a white woman. Miles pointed out his name on the marquee, explaining that he was between performances. This cavalier deference to the matter-of-fact seems to trigger the racism always-already seething in some cops.

Miles was beaten over the head with a nightstick, bloodied, cuffed, taken to jail. The incident was a legal nuisance and also altered his disposition, made him both more brooding and more volatile. In Miles’s case being policed in public life led to a rage he would only display in private, that he took out on his wives. His intimate relationships with Black women were overwhelmed by violence, he victimized them and beat into them deflected confessions of his feelings of powerlessness in the face of state violence. He could not be the father of “Cool” and a blatantly dejected Black man, so Black women became the symbols of a trouble he didn’t want to admit stemmed from white men, their policing, their scrutiny, and their over-familiar criticism.

Miles Davis in a New York courtroom, 1959.


Later in his life, when he lived in Malibu and drove expensive sports cars on its canyon roads, police would stop Miles routinely when he was on his way home, to interrogate him on the true owner of his car, had he stolen it, was he some white man’s driver, what was he doing in this white neighborhood with this expensive machine. Money, fame, all levels of success, were no exemption. Miles’s presence as a Black man was as policed by the state as his changing sound was by white music critics. Everyone wanted him as they saw him, in return he became so original that he could take his tone into almost any form, from painting to boxing, to screaming back at their prejudice on his horn, hexing detractors back into their formless obsessions with his immaculate Blackness.


Abbey Lincoln - It's Magic (1958, Vinyl) | Discogs


In 1961, when the “Freedom Now!” Suite debuted, written by Max Roach and Oscar Brown, Jr., performed most visibly by Abbey Lincoln as she moaned and screamed its depiction of the path Black Americans took from slavery to citizenship, the result was the blacklisting of Max, Abbey, and Oscar from many performance venues in the US. The hushed accusations that they were controversial for making true music policed their ability to share that music with American audiences. Abbey screaming on stage like a fugitive slave found and being branded and beaten was a vision the country was not ready to allow without backlash.

Club owners and record companies helped marginalize their music, interrupted the course of star-making, and tamed some of the candid militancy in all of their spirits. The state can police Black music directly, but it can also deploy its tacit muzzle, which is almost worse for the anxiety and psychic distress it invites. These artists knew they were being surveilled and penalized for their expression but had no single name or entity to hold accountable, ensuring that some part of them blamed themselves and one another. Oscar Brown, Jr. even expressed resentment toward Max Roach for performing and releasing the suite at all, turning his reputation from benign griot to troublemaker in the eyes of the overseer owners of venues.

The fact that record companies and clubs and recording studios are owned primarily by white men adds another trapdoor to the labyrinth that polices Black music at every level. The boundaries between rehearsal and performance are skewed—with white men always watching and keeping time and signing the paychecks, the code switch isn’t flipped as often as it otherwise would be. There is always a stilted professionalism constraining the freest Black music when it’s recorded in white-owned studios or clubs—the music is not completely ours in those spaces. No matter how good we get at tuning out the white gaze its pressure is always immanent.

Hip hop’s most famous liberation chant is fuck the police. It’s been repeated so often it means almost nothing, it’s almost a call of endearment…

We feel this today in the music that jazz helped make way for. Hip hop, which began in Black neighborhoods as entirely ours, was colonized and coopted and policed into a popular form whose translation to white venues often reduces the music to sound and fury. What is the point of yelling about Black liberation to a bunch of white middle class college students, or at festivals where Black people aren’t even really comfortable or in attendance? What is the point of producing all this music to make white record executives richer and give them what they believe is a hood pass to obsess over and imitate Black forms.

Jazz begat hip hop, and we learned that our most militant sound was also our most commodifiable. The militancy was quickly overshadowed by criminalization, open-secret wars between Black rappers, public awareness of their rap sheets, of the personal business, all of that given to listeners who felt entitled, still do. Criminality became the vogue and Black criminality a fetish within hip hop, the parading of the rap sheet increasing desirability among white audiences who conflated crime with authenticity and realness, trouble glamorized and traded for clout. (When jazz musicians were criminalized it was more devastating, costing them their right to play.)

Prison and bondage have been effectively woven into Black acoustic consciousness. Policing and the police have become the most familiar chorus. Hip hop’s most famous liberation chant is fuck the police. It’s been repeated so often it means almost nothing, it’s almost a call of endearment, a calling forth of the police, a fuck you to them that implies they are omnipresent and within earshot all the time, ready to strike out against any Black song or singer who threatens their lurking fixation on Black life and Black sound.

As the musicians are policed and incriminated so too are their forms, so too is that thought that leads to new Black musical temperaments. Musicians who seek to remain true to themselves often self-marginalize, police their own public presence, reject fame and affiliation in order to keep from being ruined by it or policed into oblivion from the outside—and so fewer Black people hear them. Even still, the police ambush these private sects, asking why they’re at their gig or in response to a noise complaint, escalating to yet another incident, always haunting their music with some threat of captivity.

Presents Charles Mingus - Jazz Messengers

In the late 1960s jazz bassist Charles Mingus tried to open a jazz school in Harlem. He wanted a Black-owned and Black-run place, outside of the university, the studios, and clubs all owned by whites, to teach and develop the music. The city of New York kicked him out of the space, not for any real legal issues but because his wish was a threat to their embedded policing. They removed all of his belongings and arrested him, he cried in the back of the cop car as sheets of his music were left on the street to be swept away by the wind. No such school has been attempted since and Black music is developed and studied in heavily policed white westernized institutions or not at all.

My own father, a Black musician, was getting arrested the last time I saw him. He went to jail, he died. He had spent his life as a kind of warrior: he carried guns, he was the quickest draw anywhere, he mangled studio engineers or lawyers he felt were trying to rip him off, he could not read, had never been taught that skill, but he could kill if he had to. He was avenging something all the time, his vengeance was finally policed and criminalized, never rehabilitated in any more tender way, just returned as bondage. He sang songs in jail, entertained his jailers with stories and songs. I’m still avenging him. I’m still imagining his alter-destiny in a world where his very existence had not been criminalized.

In his story, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” Henry Dumas, who himself was killed by police, invents a Blacks-only jazz club set in Harlem and an “afro-horn” that if heard by white people kills them. A group of white hipsters comes to the club one night, name drops, begs for entrance, and when they are denied repeatedly, they call on a police officer who forces the bouncer to let them in. They enter and start to absorb the music and before the first song is over they are dead, the frequency kills them. They were warned.

I dream of a Black music, a Black sound, free of the shackles of the white gaze, impossible for police to attack or scrutinize, ineffable to those forces, free even of white desire. Unbroken, lethal to detractors, wherein we can hear our unobstructed selves and get closer to them in other spheres of life, where the pleasure we derive from our music isn’t always fugitive, in escape from those forces that police it, and escaping us to reach or appease white audiences and white modes of consumption. I dream of the notes that only we can hear recovered, the ones multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk called the missing Black notes that have been stolen and captured for years and years and years.

Harmony Holiday is a poet, dancer, archivist, mythscientist and the author of Negro League Baseball (Fence, 2011), Go Find Your Father/ A Famous Blues (Ricochet 2014) and Hollywood Forever (Fence, 2015). She was the winner of the 2013 Ruth Lily Fellowship and she curates the Afrosonics archive, a collection of rare and out-of print-lps highlighting work that joins jazz and literature through collective improvisation.

President Trump and the Irony of American Exceptionalism ...

Joseph Nye es un académico estadounidense que entre sus muchos haberes destaca ser el creador del concepto poder blando (soft power) para describir la capacidad de un país de incidir en el comportamiento de otro a través de medios no violentos, es decir, culturales y/o ideológicos. Profesor en la Universidad de Harvard desde 1964, Nye es uno de los más agudos analistas de la política internacional estadounidense.

En este corto artículo, Nye habla su sobre su más reciente obra Do Morals Matter Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump (Oxfiord University Press, 2020), analizando uno de los principales temas de esta bitácora: el excepcionalismo estadounidense.

Comparto con mis lectores este interesante trabajo.

El excepcionalismo de EE UU en la era Trump

Joseph Nye

El País   8 de junio de 2020

Do Morals Matter?: Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump ...En mi estudio reciente de 14 presidentes desde 1945, Do Morals Matter?llegué a la conclusión de que los estadounidenses quieren una política exterior moral, pero han estado divididos respecto de lo que eso significa. Los estadounidenses suelen creer que su país es excepcional porque definimos nuestra identidad no por la etnicidad, sino más bien por una visión liberal de la sociedad y un estilo de vida basado en la libertad política, económica y cultural. La Administración del presidente Donald Trump ha roto con esa tradición.

Por supuesto, el excepcionalismo estadounidense se enfrentó a contradicciones desde el principio. A pesar de la retórica liberal de los fundadores, el pecado original de la esclavitud quedó registrado en la Constitución de Estados Unidos en un acuerdo que permitió la unión de los Estados del norte y del sur.

Y los estadounidenses siempre han tenido discrepancias sobre cómo expresar valores liberales en la política exterior. Así que este excepcionalismo fue a veces una excusa para ignorar el derecho internacional, invadir otros países e imponer Gobiernos a sus pueblos.

Pero este excepcionalismo estadounidense también ha inspirado esfuerzos internacionales de tipo liberal para promover un mundo más libre y más pacífico a través de un sistema de derecho y organizaciones internacionales que protegen la libertad doméstica moderando las amenazas externas. Trump les ha dado la espalda a ambos aspectos de esta tradición.

En su discurso inaugural Trump declaró: “Estados Unidos primero… Buscaremos la amistad y la buena voluntad de las naciones del mundo, pero lo hacemos con la conciencia de que todas las naciones tienen el derecho de anteponer sus propios intereses”. También dijo: “No aspiramos a imponerle nuestro modo de vida a nadie, sino hacerlo brillar como un ejemplo”. Tuvo un buen argumento: cuando Estados Unidos resulta ejemplar, puede aumentar su capacidad de influir en los demás.

También hay una tradición intervencionista y de cruzada en la política exterior estadounidense. Woodrow Wilson perseguía una política exterior que diera en el mundo seguridad a la democracia. John F. Kennedy instaba a los estadounidenses a favorecer la diversidad en el mundo, pero mandó 16.000 tropas de su país a Vietnam, y ese número creció a 565.000 en la presidencia de su sucesor, Lyndon B. Johnson. De la misma manera, George W. Bush justificó la invasión y ocupación de Irak por parte de Estados Unidos con una Estrategia de Seguridad Nacional que promovía la libertad y la democracia.

Por cierto, desde el fin de la Guerra Fría, Estados Unidos ha participado en siete guerras e intervenciones militares. Sin embargo, como dijo Ronald Reagan en 1982, “los regímenes plantados con bayonetas no echan raíces”.

En los años treinta, la opinión pública estadounidense creía que la intervención en Europa había sido un error y se volvió hacia dentro, hacia un aislacionismo estridente. Con la II Guerra Mundial, el presidente Franklin Roosevelt, su sucesor, Harry S. Truman, y otros aprendieron la lección de que Estados Unidos no podía permitirse replegarse hacia dentro una vez más. Tomaron conciencia de que el propio tamaño de Estados Unidos se había convertido en una segunda causa de excepcionalismo. Si el país con la economía más grande no tomaba la delantera en la producción de bienes públicos globales, nadie más lo haría.

Joseph Nye: “Millennials need to realize the power of democracy”

Joseph Nye

Los presidentes de posguerra crearon un sistema de alianzas de seguridad, instituciones multilaterales y políticas económicas relativamente abiertas. Hoy, este “orden internacional liberal” —el cimiento básico de la política exterior de Estados Unidos durante 70 años— está siendo cuestionado por el ascenso de nuevas potencias como China y por una nueva ola de populismo en el interior de las democracias.

Trump apeló con éxito a este estado de ánimo en 2016 cuando se convirtió en el primer candidato presidencial de un partido político importante en cuestionar el orden internacional que surgió después de 1945 liderado por Estados Unidos, y el desdén por sus alianzas e instituciones ha definido su presidencia. Sin embargo, una encuesta reciente del Consejo de Chicago sobre Asuntos Globales demuestra que más de las dos terceras partes de los estadounidenses quieren una política exterior con una mirada hacia fuera.

El sentimiento del pueblo de Estados Unidos está a favor de evitar las intervenciones militares, pero no de retirarse de alianzas o de una cooperación multilateral. El pueblo estadounidense no quiere regresar al aislacionismo de los años treinta.

El verdadero interrogante que enfrentan los norteamericanos es si Estados Unidos puede o no abordar exitosamente ambos aspectos de su excepcionalismo: la defensa de la democracia sin bayonetas y el respaldo de las instituciones internacionales. ¿Podemos aprender a defender los valores democráticos y los derechos humanos sin intervención militar y cruzadas, y al mismo tiempo ayudar a organizar las reglas e instituciones necesarias para un nuevo mundo de amenazas transnacionales como el cambio climático, las pandemias, los ciberataques, el terrorismo y la inestabilidad económica?


Ahora mismo, Estados Unidos fracasa en ambos frentes. En lugar de tomar la delantera en el fortalecimiento de la cooperación internacional en la lucha contra la covid-19, la Administración de Trump culpa a China por la pandemia y amenaza con retirarse de la Organización Mundial de la Salud.

China tiene muchas explicaciones que dar, pero convertir esto en una suerte de partido de fútbol político en la campaña electoral presidencial de Estados Unidos de este año es política doméstica, no política exterior. No hemos terminado aún con la pandemia, y la de la covid-19 no será la última.

Por otra parte, China y Estados Unidos producen el 40% de los gases de efecto invernadero que amenazan el futuro de la humanidad. Sin embargo, ninguno de los dos países puede resolver estas nuevas amenazas a la seguridad nacional por sí mismos. Por ser las dos economías más grandes del mundo, Estados Unidos y China están condenados a una relación que debe combinar competencia y cooperación. Para Estados Unidos, el excepcionalismo hoy incluye trabajar con los chinos para ayudar a producir bienes públicos globales, defendiendo al mismo tiempo valores como los derechos humanos.

Ésas son las cuestiones morales que los estadounidenses deberían discutir de cara a la elección presidencial de este año.

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. es profesor en la Universidad de Harvard y autor de Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump.

Gilder Lehrman Fellowship, A Short-Term Research in USA - World ...

El Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History anuncia el inicio de sus cursos en línea y gratuitos de historia de EEUU para estudiantes de escuela intermedia y superior: American History through Film: Civil War and Cinema,  American History through Song: Revolution to Depression, AP United States History, The History of the Voting Rights Struggle y The United States, 1492-1865.

Comparto estas imágenes para que los interesados tengan una idea más clara de este programa.

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BlackLivesMatter: El racismo es histórico, es cultural y todos ...En este corto ensayo, el profesor Pedro J. Rodríguez Martin (Universidad Pontificia Comillas-ICADE), identifica seis elementos claves para entender las reacciones al asesinato del George Floyd por la policía de Mianneapolis.  Estos son: la esclavitud, la desigualdad, las condiciones socioeconomicos de los negros en Estados Unidos, la brutalidad policíaca, Donald J. Trump y lo que Rodríguez Martin llama el regreso a 1968, en relación al año más violento en la segunda mitad del siglo XX estadounidense.

Comparto con mi lectores este interesante escrito.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Black Lives Matter

Seis claves para entender el peor estallido racial de Estados Unidos en cincuenta años

Pedro J. Rodríguez Martin

Diálogo Atlántico     4 de junio de 2020

Los disturbios raciales registrados en más de un centenar de ciudades de EE. UU. no se explican únicamente por la muerte del afroamericano George Floyd después de que un agente blanco, al detenerle el pasado 25 de mayo en Minneapolis por supuestamente utilizar un billete falso de 20 dólares para comprar cigarrillos, le aplastase el cuello durante 8 minutos y 46 segundos. El peor estallido racial sufrido por el gigante americano en 50 años debe entenderse también como la consecuencia inevitable de una profunda y dolorosa crisis de desigualdad.

  1. El pecado original

La esclavitud es conocida como el pecado original de EE. UU. en una saga de sufrimiento que comenzó hace 400 años. En agosto de 1619, un barco holandés desembarcó en la colonia inglesa de Virginia a más de veinte africanos cautivos y esclavizados. América todavía no era América pero no se puede entender a EE. UU. sin los 250 años de esclavitud que siguieron a ese primer desembarco en Jamestown.

El profesor Eric Foner, en su elocuente manual de historia americana Give me Liberty, explica que entre 1492 y 1820 más de diez millones de hombres, mujeres y niños procedentes de África cruzaron el Atlántico con destino al Nuevo Mundo, la gran mayoría como esclavos. En EE. UU. donde la esclavitud marcaría las diferencias entre el norte y el sur, esta mano de obra cautiva fue empleada sobre todo en el especulativo cultivo de algodón. Para 1860, en vísperas de la guerra civil americana, el valor de todos los esclavos era superior al valor combinado de todos los ferrocarriles, factorías y bancos de la joven nación.

  1. La dolorosa desigualdad americana

Una de las imágenes más sobrecogedoras de la pandemia se registró el pasado mes de abril en la ciudad de Nueva York. Se trataba de una fosa común excavada en la isla de Hart, un enclave del Bronx, para dar sepultura a los cuerpos que nadie reclamaba en las desbordadas morgues de la Gran Manzana. Estas tareas son tradicionalmente realizan presos de la cercana prisión de Rikers. Y estadísticamente, los afroamericanos tienen muchas más probabilidades terminar como enterradores o enterrados.

El estallido racial en EE. UU. debe entenderse como parte de la corrosiva crisis de desigualdad agravada por la pandemia de coronavirus. Los afroamericanos –y también los hispanos– son los que de forma desproporcionada están sufriendo la pandemia de la COVID-19. Ya sea en su condición de víctimas del virus o damnificados de la subsecuente crisis económica. De acuerdo a The Economistaunque los guetos contra los que luchaba Martin Luther King en los sesenta ya no existen como tales, EE. UU. se mantiene profundamente segregada tanto por la clase como por la raza a pesar de ser un país fundado con las mejores intenciones igualitarias.


  1. La peor parte

No hay indicador social –desde fracaso escolar hasta desempleo– en el que los negros de EE. UU. no salgan claramente perdiendo. De todos los enfrentes de esta desigualdad, el económico es el más doloroso y fácil de cuantificar. Según ha recalculado The Financial Timesen la era posterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial, los niveles de desempleo de los afroamericanos han sido típicamente el doble de los niveles de los americanos blancos. Con todo, en los últimos 10 años se han hecho algunos progresos en la reducción de la brecha gracias al casi pleno empleo que precedió al estallido del coronavirus.

El gran problema de los afroamericanos es que la crisis del coronavirus ha fraccionado la fuerza laboral de EE. UU. y de otras economías avanzadas tres grupos: los que han perdido sus trabajos o al menos alguna parte de sus ingresos; los que son considerados trabajadores “esenciales” que deben seguir trabajando durante la crisis –con riesgo para su propia salud–; o los que son teletrabajadores del conocimiento virtual cuyas vidas apenas se han visto afectadas. Los afroamericanos han caído desproporcionadamente entre los dos primeros grupos.

  1. Brutalidad policial

Durante los disturbios contagiados a más de un centenar de ciudades americanas, además del grito “I can’t breathe”, la otra consigna más repetida es “Hands up, don’t shoot”. De esta forma se intenta llamar la atención sobre el número anormalmente elevado de asesinatos cometidos por la policía en EE. UU. (1099 personas el año pasado), en particular de afroamericanos, que tienen tres veces más probabilidades que los blancos de morir a causa de acciones policiales. Cuando se consiguen formalizar cargos contra los agentes implicados en estos casos, los procesamientos que terminan en veredictos de culpabilidad y condenas son excepcionales.

En el capítulo de las muertes por disparos de policías, información que el Washington Post rastrea cuidadosamente desde 2015, 235 personas negras fueron disparadas hasta la muerte el año pasado por agentes de la autoridad en EE. UU. Cifra que representa un 23,5 por ciento de todas las muertes a manos de policías, o casi el doble del porcentaje de la población estadounidense que es negra.How The Civil Rights Movement Was Covered In Birmingham : Code ...

  1. La gran diferencia: Trump

En sus tres años como presidente, Donald Trump ha confirmado con creces su vocación de agitador-en-jefe. Dentro de esa interesada espiral de tensiones, Trump ha jugado con fuego apelando a los peores instintos e instrumentalizando de forma implícita y explicita el problema racial americano. Al demostrar que no hacía falta ser inclusivo para ganar la Casa Blanca, su ganadora estrategia del Make America White Again que tanto sintoniza con el “nacionalismo blanco” ha terminado por contar con la silenciosa complicidad del Partido Republicano.

En política, el caos suele llevar al fracaso. Sin embargo, en la Casa Blanca de Trump la anarquía ha formado parte desde el primer minuto de su forma de hacer política. Dentro de un tono permanente de tensión, y con la excusa del ajuste de cuentas contra las élites del nacional-populismo, Trump ha alimentado constantemente provocaciones más propias de un pirómano político que del presidente de una de las naciones más diversas del mundo.

  1. El retorno a 1968

Descrédito internacional, violencia extrema, sobredosis de miedo e incertidumbre, retroceso económico, polarización política, protestas raciales y populismo desatado. Por el principio de que la historia no se repite pero a veces rima bastante, la misma descripción a brocha gorda de EE. UU. en 2020 se puede aplicar a 1968, el año que realmente nunca ha terminado para el gigante americano y que se ha convertido en la última fuente de inspiración electoral para Donald Trump. En su último paroxismo populista, ante la intensidad del estallido racial sin comparación desde el asesinato de Martin Luther King, no ha dudado en autoproclamarse como el candidato de la ley y el orden, amenazando literalmente con la Biblia y el despliegue de tropas federales.

Para disimular su demencial gestión de la pandemia, el Trump pirómano-y-bombero-a-la-vez ha copiado a Richard Nixon en su victoriosa campaña de 1968. Durante aquel memorable pulso presidencial, que transformó y fracturó para siempre la política americana, Nixon entendió que cuanto más violentos fueran los enfrentamientos raciales en EE. UU., y peores las noticias provenientes de Vietnam, mayores serían sus posibilidades de llegar a la Casa Blanca.

Además de inventarse y jugar con “mayorías silenciosas” y “estrategias sureñas”, Richard Nixon también contó con la maléfica perspicacia de un joven asesor llamado Kevin Philipps que le hizo saber que “el gran secreto” de la política americana no era otro que identificar quién odia a quién. Con toda la zafiedad de la que es capaz para cortejar una minoría más bien vociferante pero suficiente para ganar un segundo mandato, Trump también intenta utilizar el mismo secreto odioso que hizo posible Nixonlandia.


Ya es una tradición de esta bitácora dar la bienvenida a los nuevos números de la revista Huellas de los Estados Unidos. Estudios, Perspectivas y Debates desde América Latina.  Publicada por los colegas de la Cátedra de Historia de Estados Unidos de la UBA, Huellas es una de pocas publicaciones en castellano dedicadas al estudio de la historia estadounidense. Por lo tanto, considero, además de un honor, un compromiso ayudar en su difusión.

Con este ya son 18 los números publicados por Huellas, lo que es todo un logro y una muestra del tesón de quienes han desarrollado este proyecto hasta convertirlo en un referente para quienes estudiamos la historia de Estados Unidos en el mundo Iberoamericano. Vaya para ellos mi felicitación y agradecimiento.

Copio el índice de este número para que puedan acceder a sus artículos.

Dr. Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Lima, Perú











We're History

We’re History es una bitácora dedicada a la historia de Estados Unidos cuya particularidad es que da espacio a analistas académicos y no académicos. Su objetivo es entender cómo Estados Unidos ha llegado a ser la nación que hoy es.

En su edición del 15 de abril de 2020, We´re History publica un trabajo de Peter H. Wood titulado “Infection Unperceiv’d, in Many a Place”: The London Plague of 1625, Viewed from Plymouth Rock“.  Wood analiza el impacto de la plaga de peste bubónica que mató a 40,000 londinenses en 1625, en el desarrollo de la colonia de Plymouth. Fundada por los Puritanos en 1620, Plymouth fue el segunda asemtamiento europeo exitoso en lo que hoy conocemos como Estados Unidos.

En nuestro contexto de pandemia global, el análisis de temas como este resulta màs que pertinente.

Dr. Wood es profesor emerito de Duke University

Plague in London. Title artwork from a 17th century pamphlet on the effects of the plague on London. This pamphlet, A Rod for Run-awayes, by Thomas Dekker, was published in 1625, one of the years in which a plague epidemic broke out. The plague (or Black Death) affected Europe from the 1340s to the 1700s. It is thought to have been bubonic plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, and spread by fleas on rats.


“Infection Unperceiv’d, in Many a Place”: The London Plague of 1625, Viewed from Plymouth Rock


The year of Covid-19 also marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower. Its famous voyage brought to New England a band of Protestant “separatists,” many of whom had migrated from England to Holland in 1608 for religious reasons. In 1620, a portion left Leiden with plans to settle in America. In September, at Plymouth, England, they crowded aboard a 160-ton vessel bound for Virginia. After a stormy two-month crossing, they landed near Cape Cod instead.

The Pilgrims’ faced a stark isolation. They “had now no friends to welcome them,” Governor William Bradford recalled. “Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness.” The striking scarcity of local inhabitants was as surprising as the harsh winter. Indian towns had been literally decimated when European ships introduced unfamiliar diseases. Between 1617 and 1619, one onslaught had killed nearly nine tenths of the coastal population. As Bradford put it, “skulls and bones were found in many places lying still above ground.”

Short on shelter and supplies, the new Plymouth Colony faced sickness of its own, losing half its members in the first winter. Still, by 1624 new arrivals had expanded their numbers to 180, housed in several dozen dwellings. With the Virginia Company seeking reimbursement for its investment, the colonists amassed stacks of beaver pelts and barrels of salt cod. That way, ships bringing expensive supplies would not be returning to England with empty cargo holds.

But in 1625, New England’s “hideous and desolate” isolation suddenly began to seem a God-given blessing in disguise. Captain Miles Standish had been sent back to England, aboard a ship laden with furs and fish, to negotiate with overbearing creditors for their “favour and help.” He went at “a very bad time,” Bradford related, for their home country was “full of trouble.” To his dismay, Standish found “the plague very hote in London, so no business could be done.”

Hot indeed. England’s plague had arrived, apparently from Holland, early in 1625, but it went undetected through most of March. George Wither, a poet who survived the epidemic, recalled how the stealthy sickness first approached London through the city’s “well-fill’d Suburbs” and spread there undetected for weeks:

Infection unperceiv’d, in many a place

Before the bleare-ey’d Searchers, knew her face.…

On March 25 the Privy Council, aware that the contagion had entered the city, rebuked London officials for squandering an opportunity to act quickly and failing to take preventive measures weeks earlier. With the benefit of hindsight, members argued that swift action might have “stayed” the outbreak. “You may be assured,” they threatened the Lord Mayor and his aldermen, that a full accounting for this critical failure “will be demanded at your hands.”

Two days later, an unrelated event complicated the situation. On March 27, King James I died of dysentery at his country estate in Hertfordshire. The fifty-six-year-old monarch had been seriously ill for some time. (Ironically, his predecessor, Elizabeth I, had also died of unrelated causes at the start of a major plague outbreak in 1603.) Despite the pending crisis, news of the king’s death prompted preparations for a state funeral and for the public coronation of Charles I.

London witnessed the royal burial, plus crowded church services, on May 7. Five weeks later, the new monarch arrived in the city with his French bride. Parliament convened three days after that, as the death toll continued to rise. “Though the sickness increase shrewdly upon us,” a prominent Londoner wrote on June 25, “yet we cannot find in our hearts to leave this town, so long as here is such doings, by reason of the queen’s arrival, and the sitting of the Parliament.”

The next two months told a different story, underscoring the deep-seated class divisions that almost always emerge in moments of mass contagion. As with the United States today, England in 1625 had experienced decades of growing inequality. One writer complained that as aspiring yeomen became gentry, rich gentry in turn became “knights, and so forth upward.” Meanwhile, “the poorest sort” were becoming “stark beggars” with no safety net beneath them.

Facing plague, the wealthy left the city in droves, and Parliament adjourned on July 11. The first week of the month saw 593 plague deaths in 57 local parishes, but during the last week of July official “searchers” recorded 2,471 victims in 103 parishes. By August 1, at the start of a month that would see the highpoint of the epidemic in London, Parliament reconvened in Oxford. Over the next four weeks, more than 16,000 inhabitants of the capital died of plague.

By the end of 1625, the contagion had claimed nearly 70,000 lives across England. More than half the deaths had been in London. There, the disease had killed well over 35,000, in a city of fewer than 330,000 people. Many more may have been undiagnosed victims. One Londoner wrote that “to this present Plague of Pestilence, all former Plagues were but pettie ones.” Another lamented that no prior chronicle had “ever mentioned the like” for “our famous citie.”

As for Standish, he found the English adventurers who supported the Plymouth Colony were fearful in the midst of an economic collapse and a public health disaster. When the New Englander sought a loan, they could only offer him money at a whopping 50% interest rate.  As Bradford later summarized: “though their wills were good, yet theyr power was litle. And ther dyed such multitude weekly of the plague, as all trade was dead, and litle money stirring.”

In early April 1626, the Plymouth colonists welcomed Standish home safely, but his mission had been unsuccessful, and “the news he brought was sad in many regards.” Numerous English allies had been struck down financially and physically, “much disabled from doing any further help, and some dead of the plague.” Faced with such news and given “the state of things,” Bradford observed of his colonists, “it is a marvell it did not wholy discourage them and sinck them.”

If the Mayflower colonists were “separatists” from the Church of England in religious terms, they were also saved by their geographical separation from London’s plague. According to Bradford, “they gathered up their spirits” from this low point and “begane to rise againe.” Nothing aided them more than their remoteness from European epidemics, and their relative immunity from the diseases killing Native Americans, including their Patuxet mentor, Squanto.

Thomas Dekker used this image on the title page when he published A Rod for Run-awayes in 1625. His pamphlet described that year’s memorable outbreak of plague in London. It is thought to have been bubonic plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and spread by fleas on rats. During a typical outbreak, tens of thousands died in London alone. Death (shown here as a skeleton, with London in the background) stands on new coffins, casting arrows at the fleeing people and saying he will follow them. The lightning overhead represents God’s wrath.

influenz encyclopedia san francisco 1918La página web Covid-19 News/info , dedicada como bien señala su nombre, a informar sobre la pandemia que nos azota, publica un interesante ensayo sobre la Influenza Española de 1918. El escrito, publicado originalmente en la Influenza Encyclopedia del University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine,  analiza el desarrollo de un movimiento opuesto al uso de mascarillas en la ciudad de San Francisco.  Además, hace un recuento detallado del desarrollo de la pandemia y de las medidas tomadas por las autoridades de la ciudad para combatirla.

Quienes hoy se oponen a las medidas de protección impuestas por la mayoría de los gobiernos del mundo, deberían leer este ensayo con cuidado para entender lo que significó una actitud similar hace poco más de cien años.

In 1918, there was an anti-mask league in San Francisco

Covid-19 News/info

In 1918, there was an anti-mask league in San Francisco, which objected to wearing masks to prevent the spread of influenza. They held meetings of thousands of maskless people. San Francisco was ultimately was one of the cities that suffered most from the Spanish Influenza pandemic.

As in every city, it is impossible to know just how the first case of influenza was contracted in San Francisco. According to contemporary newspaper reports, however, a local man who had returned to his home after a recent trip to Chicago brought the disease to San Francisco. Learning of the case on September 23, San Francisco Health Officer Dr. William C.

Hassler ordered the man to the city hospital and placed his home under quarantine. The hope was that these actions might stop the spread of the disease in its tracks, sparing San Francisco from an epidemic. However, by October 9 the city had at least 169 cases of influenza. Only a week later that number had jumped to over 2,000. San Francisco’s epidemic had started.1

As the number of cases began to rise sharply, the city Board of Health issued a series of recommendations to the public on how best to avoid contracting influenza. City residents were advised to avoid streetcars during peak rush hour times, asked to not dance in public places and to avoid crowds, and instructed to pay particular attention to their personal hygiene as well as that of their children.

Dance halls were closed. Streetcar conductors were ordered to keep the windows of their cars open in all but rainy weather, hospitals were ordered to only accept patients who absolutely required their care, and hospital physicians and nurses were instructed to wear gauze masks when with flu patients. As in nearly every other American city, the need for nurses was severe, and the board made the call for volunteers and for existing nurses to put in extra hours each day until the epidemic subsided.2

Within two days, however, the number of influenza cases in San Francisco had reached a whopping 2,179, and it became clear to Health Officer Hassler that a more drastic set of measures that those initially implemented would be required if the city were to make any headway in checking the spread of the disease. On the evening of October 17, Mayor James Rolph met with Hassler, members of the board of health, the Red Cross, the Army and the Navy, the United States Public Health Service, the United States Shipping Board, and theater, movie house, and other amusement place owners to discuss the growing epidemic and the possibility of issuing a closure order.

Open-air police court being held in Portsmouth Square, San Francisco. To prevent crowding indoors, judges held outdoor court sessions. anti mask

Open-air police court being held in Portsmouth Square, San Francisco. To prevent crowding indoors, judges held outdoor court sessions.

Hassler shared his doubts about a closure order, but suggested that a short closure order would “limit most of all the cases to the home and give the other places a chance to thoroughly clean up and thus we may bring about a condition that will reduce the number of cases.” Several in attendance felt that a general closure order would induce panic in the people, would be costly, and would not stop the spread of the epidemic.

Theater owners and dance hall operators supported a closure order, hoping that it would bring a quick end to the epidemic that was already causing a drastic reduction in revenue (one owner estimated that his receipts had fallen off 40% since the start of the epidemic). After some discussion, the Board of Health voted to close all places of public amusement, ban all lodge meetings, close all public and private schools, and to prohibit all dances and other social gatherings effective at 1:00 am on Friday, October 18.

The Board did not close churches, but instead recommended that services and socials be either discontinued during the epidemic or held in the open air. City police were given a list of the restrictions and directed to ensure compliance with the order. The Liberty Loan drive, always the concern of citizens as they tried to outdo other cities in fundraising, would be allowed to continue by permit, as would all public meetings.

Despite the closure order and gathering ban, the centerpiece of San Francisco’s crusade against influenza was the face mask. Several other cities also mandated their use, and many more recommended them for private citizens as well as for physicians, nurses, and attendants who cared for the ill. But it was San Francisco that pushed for the early and widespread use of masks as a way to prevent the spread of the dread malady. On October 18, the day that the other health measures went into effect, Hassler ordered that all barbers wear masks while with customers, and recommended clerks who came into contact with the general public also don them.

The next day, Hassler added hotel and rooming house employees, bank tellers, druggists, store clerks, and any other person serving the public to the list of those required to wear masks. Citizens were again strongly urged to wear masks while in public. On October 21, the Board of Health met and issued a strong recommendation to all residents to wear a mask while in public.5

The wearing of a mask immediately became of a symbol of wartime patriotism. A Red Cross public service announcement stated bluntly, “the man or woman or child who will not wear a mask now is a dangerous slacker,” calling into question the patriotism of those who refused. The local Labor Council issued a warning that no members would be allowed to work unless they wore a mask.

Aerial view of the Bay Area, with San Francisco in the foreground and Richmond, Oakland, and Berkeley in the background.

Aerial view of the Bay Area, with San Francisco in the foreground and Richmond, Oakland, and Berkeley in the background.

Mayor Rolph told the public that “conscience, patriotism and self-protection demand immediate and rigid compliance” with the mask order. California governor William Stephens echoed this language a day later with his own public service announcement, telling Californians it was the “patriotic duty for every American citizen” to wear a mask, a “duty which each citizen can easily perform to our country and our State” in a campaign against influenza that “must be fought.”

By drawing on the rhetoric and imagery of the war effort and the heavy-handed patriotism that went along with it, city and state health officials hoped to inveigle if not outright bully residents into compliance.

It may have worked for most residents, but there were still many who refused to wear a mask. Hassler and Mayor Rolph therefore moved to make wearing a mask in public mandatory. They asked the Board of Supervisors to pass a mandatory mask ordinance as quickly as possible so that the city could “prevent half or more of the sickness and death which we are now confronted.” There were still people, they stated, who, “through failure to realize the seriousness of the menacing disease, or possibly through captiousness or disregard of the public health,” were not taking the recommendations seriously. The ordinance was drafted by the city attorney’s office to ensure its legality and quickly passed. Starting on October 25, every resident and visitor of San Francisco would be required to wear a mask while in public or when in a group of two or more people, except at mealtime.

Crowded Children’s Playground at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, with the carousel and the Sharon Building in the background. With most indoor venues closed during the epidemic, parks and outdoor attractions became particularly important public places.

Crowded Children’s Playground at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, with the carousel and the Sharon Building in the background. With most indoor venues closed during the epidemic, parks and outdoor attractions became particularly important public places.


Both city officials and local newspapers reported widespread compliance with the mask order, estimating that four out of five people were wearing their masks in public even before the ordinance was passed. Unfortunately, many of the masks were constructed of dubious materials even more porous and ineffective than the standard surgical gauze most often used.

Health officials and various mask “experts” touted the effectiveness of all sorts of materials. Woods Hutchinson, a New York-based physician who traveled the country in the fall of 1918 espousing the virtues of the face mask as a means of preventing the spread of influenza told newspaper readers in late-October that masks had been effective in the East, and that “chiffon veils for women and children have been as satisfactory as the common gauze masks,” as a way of enticing fashion-conscious women to don masks.

As supplies of gauze masks ran low, the chairman of the San Francisco chapter of the American Red Cross suggested that women craft flu masks from linen. The San Francisco Chronicle described some city residents as wearing masks ranging from standard surgical gauze to creations resembling nosebags, from the Turkish-inspired muslin yashmak veil to flimsy chiffon coverings draped lazily across the mouth and nose. Some wore “fearsome looking machines like extended muzzles” on their faces as they walked the streets and shopped in downtown stores.

For city officials, the importance was not so much in the specifics of mask construction but rather in compliance with the letter of the ordinance. While the vast majority of San Franciscans followed the mask order, police arrested one hundred and ten people on October 27 alone for failure to either wear or keep their masks properly adjusted.

Each was charged with “disturbing the peace,” and the majority given a $5 fine, with the money to go to the Red Cross. Nine unfortunate souls arraigned before one particular judge were sentenced to short terms in the county jail. The next day, another group of fifty violators were arrested; five were sent to jail, and seven others given fines of $10 apiece. Arrests continued in the following days, with the majority receiving small fines and a few being sentenced to a few days in jail.

As the city chief of police later told reporters, if too many residents were arrested and given jail terms for failure to wear their flu mask, he would quickly run out of space in his cells. As the days rolled on and more arrests were made, the city jail did become rather crowded, and police justices were forced to work well into the evenings and on Sundays to clear the cases.16

For some, wearing a mask was simply a nuisance, and if they believed they could get away without donning one in public they tried. Others may simply have been among those unfortunate enough to be caught during a momentary lapse or when they thought no one would notice. This was especially the case for commuters who passed through San Francisco, many of whom were caught with their masks dangling from their chins while they enjoyed a morning pipe on the ferry. One such gentleman, caught by police, explained that he was “a director of the Crocker-Woolworth Bank, and I have to hurry up to open the vault.”

To ensure that there could be no excuses, the Red Cross set up a stand at the ferry terminal to sell masks to those who did not have them for their commute. Most of these cases were dismissed with a stern reprimand and a promise by the offender to be more vigilant in the future.

While most residents caught without a mask were simply forgetful or minor transgressors, some harbored deep resentment over being forced to wear a mask while in public and made it a point to scoff the law. One woman, a downtown attorney, argued to Mayor Rolph that the mask ordinance was “absolutely unconstitutional” because it was not legally enacted, and that as a result every police officer who had arrested a mask scofflaw was personally liable.

Meanwhile, the epidemic continued to grind on, although the number of new reported cases had begun to decline. By the end of October, San Francisco had experienced a total of nearly 20,000 cases of influenza and over 1,000 deaths. Still, the situation had improved enough for Hassler to recommend re-opening the city. On November 13 the Board of Health voted to lift the various bans starting on Saturday, November 16. Due to the high numbers of cases still being experienced in the Mission district and the North End, theaters there were kept closed for an additional week.

All across the city masks had to be worn by every patron of every theater, and the order to wear masks had to be shown on screen before each performance. Hotels and restaurants could resume their musical entertainment, but no dancing was allowed. Schools did not re-open until November 25. In a double blow to children, the holiday break was shortened and the school day extended by 20 minutes in elementary schools and 45 minutes in high schools.

After having been starved of most entertainment outlets for a month, San Franciscans packed the city’s theaters, movie houses, and sports arenas. On the first day they were allowed to re-open their doors the downtown theaters all held charity performances, with proceeds going to the United War Work campaign. The Orpheum sold out all of its shows as Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, a frequenter of San Francisco and an acquaintance of Mayor Rolph, made an appearance and influential San Francisco banker and son of a forty-niner William H. Crocker donated $500.

The Hippodrome was at capacity all day, and both the Alcazar and the Curran opened to similarly full houses. At the Civic Auditorium, the boxing crowd gathered to watch Fred Fulton win an easy decision over Willie Meehan. In attendance were several notable sporting men of the city, including several supervisors, a congressman, a justice, a Navy rear-admiral, Mayor Rolph, and Health Officer Hassler. The men were so easily identified because none was wearing a mask, as still required by law. All were caught on film by a police photographer, who sent copies of the prints to his chief for further action.

Hassler paid a $5 fine on the spot, admitting that his mask may have dropped a bit while he was smoking a cigar. Several days later, Mayor Rolph was shown a photograph of his unmasked visage and fined $50 by his own police chief.

A view of San Francisco, looking north from the Nob Hill neighborhood. To the left is the luxurious and historic Fairmont Hotel, at 950 Mason Street.

A view of San Francisco, looking north from the Nob Hill neighborhood. To the left is the luxurious and historic Fairmont Hotel, at 950 Mason Street.

At noon on November 21, San Franciscans simultaneously removed their masks as a whistle-blow sounded across the city, the result of Mayor Rolph’s annulment of the ordinance the previous day. Requests by the health department to conserve gauze amounted to little as residents joyously ripped the hated masks from their faces and unceremoniously tossed them in the streets. As the Chronicle aptly described the scene, “the sidewalks and runnels were strewn with the relics of a torturous month.”

The order to hold fast until noon was taken seriously, as one man found out when he tried to blow his unmasked nose just seconds before 12:00, only to be yelled at by a nearby police officer to “Cover your mouth, mister!”

The celebrations were unfortunately short-lived. On December 7, Mayor Rolph, after being informed by Hassler of a slight recrudescence of the disease, publicly declared that influenza was once again epidemic in San Francisco and requested that residents once again don their masks. Hassler believed that the epidemic had been stamped out, and that the new cases were the result of infectious outsiders from other parts of the state entering San Francisco. Business closures and a gathering bans were not considered, as it was believed that re-masking would be all that was necessary to rid the city of the disease once and for all.

When the number of new cases being reported to health authorities dipped slightly, it gave all involved hope that a second peak was not on its way. Hassler, the Board of Supervisors, and a small committee of representatives from the business community met and decided that a second mandatory mask order was not necessary for the time being but that citizens be warned to voluntarily wear masks.

The reprieve was only temporary. On January 10, with over 600 new influenza cases reported for the day, the Board of Supervisors voted to re-enact the mask ordinance beginning January 17, despite strong evidence that, as one newspaper put it, “the compulsory wearing of masks does not affect the progress of the epidemic.

Once again, San Franciscans put on their flu masks, and once again complaints were lodged. One man wrote Hassler that masks served no purpose, adding that if the health officer wished to wear a mask he could freely do so, “and as far as I am concerned, I hope he will have to wear one for the next five years.”

He opined that the mask ordinance stood on shaky legal ground, and that it would likely be dissolved if the issue were brought before the courts. Sentiment was so strong against the mask that several influential San Franciscans, including a few physicians as well as a member of the Board of Supervisors, formed “The Anti-Mask League” which held at least one public meeting to denounce the ordinance and to discuss ways to put an end to it. Over 2,000 people attended the event.

On February 1 mask detractors got their wish. Mayor Rolph once again proclaimed the mask ordinance rescinded following a meeting of the Board of health, which determined that the epidemic situation had improved enough that the measure was no longer necessary. Without fanfare but relieved to be rid of the masks as well as the epidemic, San Franciscans removed their gauze coverings and went about their business as families, organizations, institutions, and the city slowly pieced back together life as it existed before the plague.

The epidemic brought nearly 45,000 cases of influenza to San Francisco and killed over 3,000 of its residents in the fall of 1918 and the winter of 1919. On numerous occasions throughout the fall of 1918 and winter of 1919, Hassler had made statements that San Francisco was the only large city in the entire world to check its epidemic so quickly.

By mid-February 1919, however, when the United States Public Health Service released figures on the nation’s epidemic, it became clear that Hassler had been wrong: San Francisco was reported as having suffered the most of all major American cities, with a death rate approaching 30 deaths per 1,000 people. With more complete and accurate data today, we now knowthat San Francisco fared slightly better. Still, the city’s total excess death ratedue to influenza and pneumonia during the epidemic was a whopping 673 per 100,000 people.”

Source: https://www.influenzaarchive.org/cities/city-sanfrancisco.html#


Hoy, 24 de abril de 2020, El Imperio de Calibán cumple doce años de existencia. Con casi un millón de vistas (819,000), este blog ha sobrevivido los vaivenes de la vida de su creador. Con altas y bajas, ha cumplido con su objetivo de fomentar el estudio de la historia de Estados Unidos. Agradezco  a todas aquellas personas que a lo largo de esta docena de años han demostrado su apoyo  y símpatia.

seguridad-colectiva-chrysler-building1El edificio Chrysler es una joya arquitectónica de la ciudad de Nueva York. Con sus 300 metros de altura, el Chrysler se levanta majestuoso con su estilo art déco, como uno de los símbolos de la Gran Manzana. El Chrysler fue construido al comienzo de la Gran Depresión por cientos de trabajadores que luego de inaugurado cayeron en el olvido.

La revista digital Aeon comparte  un intersante video que recoje imágenes de la instalación de uno de los águilas que distinguen al Chrysler del resto de los rascacielos niuyorquinos. Vemos, además, trabajadores laborando en las alturas sin equipo de seguridad y arriesgando, por ende, su vida, pero orgullosos de su labor.

Comparto con mis lectores este video.

Captura de pantalla 2020-04-24 a la(s) 13.01.02.png

‘Quite a height, ah?’ A tour of the Chrysler Building by those building it

Aeon   24 April, 2020

The Chrysler Tower … stands by itself, something apart and alone. It is simply the realisation, the fulfilment in metal and masonry, of a one-man dream, a dream of such ambition and such magnitude as to defy the comprehension and the criticism of ordinary men or by ordinary standards.
– The Architectural Forum, October, 1930

Today, it’s easy to mistake the Chrysler Building for just another skyscraper dotting the New York City skyline. But upon its completion in 1930, and until it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931, it was the world’s tallest manmade structure. At the time, the tower was notable not just for its sheer mass, but for its polarisation of architecture critics, with detractors deriding the building as an unsightly novelty, and a monument to the grand ego of its car magnate namesake, Walter Chrysler. But, as is clear in this footage filmed by Fox Movietone News, while the building might have originated as a ‘one-man dream’, it was built on the backs of fearless ironworkers – self-proclaimed ‘roughnecks’, who constructed it without harnesses or hard hats. This footage from 1929 and 1930 of the building’s construction – including the placement of an iconic 61st-floor Art Deco eagle – showcases how these workers were less comfortable delivering canned lines for the cameras than they were sitting atop beams hundreds of feet high.

This footage was accessed and published by Aeon with the permission of the University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections, an archive that ‘preserves films and videos produced outside the American feature film industry to make them available to present and future audiences’.

USAbroad - Journal of American History and Politics

Acabo de descubrir una revista académica que me ha resultado particularmente interesante. Se trata de USAbroad The Journal of American History and Politics, auspiciada por el Departamento de Política y Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de Bolonia.  Con sólo tres volúmenes publicados desde el 2018, USAbroad es un revista joven cuya particularidad es que busca generar un espacio de publicación para los estudiantes recién doctorados. Su enfoque es claramente político con ensayos sobre temas como el Occupy Wall Sreet Movement, la propaganda estadounidense en Rusia y el Comité Church.

Para aquellos intersados en la historia política de los Estados Unidos, USAbroad podría ser una fuente importante de trabajos recientes de nuevos académicos.

Norberto Barreto Velázquez

Lima, 7 de abril de 2020