Open letter to the leaders of the planet

Dearest leaders of the planet, for everyone’s sake: take off your masks! Stop the lies, call things by their real names, call the heart a heart, a scorpion a scorpion, call cards cards... Enough cheating! Call Democracy, Democracy, Justice, Justice, Freedom, Freedom. Free market? Freedom of work? Freedom of opportunity? What are we free from, Liberty?

Open letter to the leaders of the planet

At the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, November 30th and December 1, 2018 [1] 

José Muchnik


Dear leaders of the planet, 

Don’t smile. Please, don’t smile! There’s no need to keep up with appearances, your lips soured by bitter speeches. No need to promise a future of soaring success with plumage contingent on power and money. No need to fake friendliness, with claws on the watch under courtesy greetings 

Is nobody listening? Should I scream? A blue scream that sails over these carpets of correctness, the whispered scream of a poet fumbling in the abyss, screeching words tainted by dishonor. Is nobody listening? Are they absorbed by the stock market evolution? Making paper mâché smiles? Boasting worn out principles between the remains of the banquet

Dear leaders of the planet, in spite of everything, I decided to write to you, because we’re part of the same species, and may be, a moment of truth isn’t lost yet. 

A family photo should capture pain, it should show tears instead of smiles. Cry! Cry for everything! 

Cry for the victims at your doorstep. No need to build walls, those shameful barriers of racism and concrete. Raise bridges of love instead. 

Cry for the martyred waters, the miserable air, the ruined climate. This is our home, the only one we have. We live here, and we have to pass it on to our children, and our children's children. This is our home, not an anonymous society maximizing on profits and dividends, not a casino where a game of roulette or baccarat decides the fate of the bees and swallows. 

Cry for the kids, the millions of kids whose childhoods are ruined. It doesn’t only take sun and rain to make this Earth grow, it takes innocence too. If you kill innocence, you grow monsters. Will the stock market still rise if innocence falls? Cry for... 

Ok, enough sermons! 

Dear leaders of the planet excuse my rudeness, no one must get vexed, it’s our job, to unclog words, to give back to the language some flashes of lost intensity... What happens? You can’t cry? Are your tears rotten from so much hypocrisy? You’re in luck, the tear market is booming. You can buy real tears from anywhere. Tears of humiliation, pain, and helplessness. Transparent tears of the first cry, black tears of the last day. Tears without a roof, work, or food. Tears of gutted houses, orphan mats, useless pockets. Tears of hospitals in agony, neglected schools, factories in ruins. Look your theories in action: tears trickle down, not richness, that stack up in exclusive bank accounts, while volcanoes prepare unexpected éruptions. 

Dearest leaders of the planet, for everyone’s sake: take off your masks! The family photo would be better without them. Stop the lies, call things by their real names, call the heart a heart, a scorpion a scorpion, call cards cards. Enough cheating! Call Democracy, Democracy, Justice, Justice, Freedom, Freedom. Free market? Freedom of work? Freedom of opportunity? What are we free from, Liberty? The large group of G-20 participants consists of the top tier of society, the supposedly emerging, and others distinguished members. I’m addressing everyone, regardless of class, sex or religion. You know the various ways in which Democracy is manipulated, you know the game of seduction between political, financial, and judicial power; seasoned with scheming lobbies and strong media aromas to convince the public of their incomparable flavors. You know that there are peeled onions, crushed tomatoes, men and women unjustly condemned. I won’t name any names, everyone knows in his own scenarios to what and to whom I am referring. 

Dear leaders of the planet, I know you’re very busy people, and I don’t want to distract you. But I want to underline one last point that seems essential to us if we want continue in harmony: the "Tax Democracy". The "Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789", established by the French Revolution, specified that for the expenses of security and administration "a common contribution is indispensable: it must be equally distributed between all the citizens, according to their ability to pay"(Article 13). 

But the rules of the game have changed; now those who have more, pay less. A fabulous tax evasion (sorry, "tax optimization" rather) was organized at an international level by large companies, and even advised by specialized firms. This piracy was still within the framework of the law; "off shore" companies and "tax hiding places" (sorry, "paradise") are part of this complex legal framework reserved for millionaires. I won’t specify numbers—you know better than I do—the thousands of millions of dollars removed from the public treasury, which should be used for schools, hospitals, cultural centers, roads, bridges, to provide well-being and security to citizens. If a river's springs are dried upstream, what can we grow in the valley? Dear leaders of the planet, the IMF and similar organizations, here is the main cause of the famous tax deficits, this is where you have to start rebuilding, not by adjustment and austerity policies that shamefully attack retirees, workers, and public services. While some "optimize" their taxes, your policies optimize poverty. Without "fiscal democracy" the very foundations of democracy are weakened, and the current resurgence of "Nazionalisms", racism and xenophobia, is a warning sign. 

One last suggestion to prove your sincerity: ask for forgiveness. 

Sorry for destroying innocence.

Sorry for killing the doves.

Sorry for sowing hatred. 

And now, I ask you to forget for a moment all the protocol and convention. Let’s be transported to a place called Buenos Aires. I know this city because I was born there, at the back of a hardware store, in a district called Boedo, in a wonderful country called Argentina, a country that has received millions of immigrants from different backgrounds, offering them their own bit of land to rebuild their dreams, to learn to walk on new soils. Natives lived here (diaguitas, calchaquíes, quilmes, tobas, mapuches, araucanos, querandíes, etc.) speaking the language of plants and practicing thousand-year-old crafts, wise men who spoke with the wind and read the future in the flames shapes. Argentina grew from this mix. There’s no need to build walls. Instead, raise bridges of love. 

Now we can click to save this family memory. Keep the tears where they belong! Click-click! Wifi! The image "A cry for the planet" should go viral. No post-truths or fake news, just rivers of realism, a historical image navigating in time. Deep down, we can see the river, the "Rio de la Plata", carrying memory, and bearing witness.


Translation from Spanish (Argentine): Stephanie Papa 

[1] The G-20, created on the 26th of September 1999, is composed of 19 countries and the European Union. The 19 countries are: Germany, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, United States, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, United Kingdom, South Africa and Turkey. Spain is a permanent guest at the G20 meetings. Every year, the country that chairs the forum invites other guests: Argentina invited Chile and the Netherlands. Countries that chair regional organizations such as the African Union, the New Alliance for Africa's Development, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are regular guests of the forum. This year (2018), these regional groups are represented by Rwanda, Senegal and Singapore, respectively. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was also invited by Argentina, represented by Jamaica. Regarding international organizations, the World Bank will be present; the International Monetary Fund (IMF); the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); the Development Bank of Latin America, the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), the World Trade Organization (WTO); the United Nations (UN); the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the International Labor Organization (ILO).



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