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With Obama, Hope Goes Global

New America Media, Commentary, Lydia Cacho, Translated by Elena Shore Posted: Nov 04, 2008

Editors Note: While traveling in Paris, Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho found that from taxi drivers to diplomats, people believe that the U.S. elections could change the world. Lydia Cacho Ribeiro (www.lydiacacho.net) is an acclaimed Mexican journalist and advocate for womens rights.

The taxi driver was a 30-year-old Vietnamese man whose family had emigrated to France during the Vietnam War. As he started the car, he asked me my nationality. He immediately associated Mexico with the United States. Youll be praying that Obama wins, he said in what was more of a statement than a question. Bushs foriegn policy has damaged the entire planet, he said, citing solid arguments.

After dinner I took another taxi. This time the driver was of Iranian descent. He was listening attentively to a radio debate about the U.S. elections. When I asked him why he was so interested, he said that if we can get Obama to win, the world will be a better place. I was struck by how much they were appropriating the elections in the United States. A French-Iranian taxi driver has no access to American polls, yet he certainly understands, like millions of other people around the world, what it would mean for Barack Obama to become the president of the most powerful country in the world.

I was in Paris, invited by UNESCO to celebrate the anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. People all over were talking about the U.S. elections, from the taxis to the Metro to the mansions of diplomats. We talked about human rights, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the trafficking of arms, Guantanamo and torture, and Mexicos drug war.

The saga of the Bush family has fostered global violence. The world has endured in frustration and disillusionment the ever-increasing brass knuckles that the American government has imposed for 12 years. Their patriarchal values managed to promote violence, intolerance and the arms race. Perhaps this is why now, as never before in history, we are experiencing the Obama phenomenon internationally.

The young candidate showed his consistency as a senator and has renewed the sense of hope that there are more humanistic forms of government. You dont have to be an economist to understand that one countrys policies impact the rest of the world. The recent bank bailouts and spectacular falls in international stock markets have shown that the globalization of violent materialism fostered by right-wing governments across the world, has echoed in the most remote villages on earth. Globalization is here to stay.

The world, from Alaska to Indochina, is inhabited by men and women who, like Barack Obama, believe that peace, a balanced ecosystem, equity and diversity are possible.

George Bush has sought out enemies like himself, who in the name of a cruel, warrior God, go to war to take over territories and resources, to accumulate power. His vision of the world consists of dividing and conquering others. McCain would be more of the same.

The Vietnamese and Iranian taxi drivers, the French concierge, the Lebanese flight attendant, the Palestinian singer, the Mexican peasant and the Guatemalan mechanic know that the U.S. elections on Nov. 4 could change the world. They are right.

Obama has successfully shared a simple and profound idea that is reflected in his campaign slogan: "Im not just asking you to believe in my ability to change the country, but in your own ability to change the world." Beyond the election results, this young multiracial Democrat has reminded us of the possibility of globalizing hope.

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