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By Emiliano Bertoglio
Around five hundred men who in two weeks challenge nine thousand kilometers of unknown and wild land: only the West could come up with a proposal like this.
The previous assertion could seem as reductionist as absurd. However, in the conviction that all human creation is sustained by an invisible and historical plot, feasible to be named worldview, the question can be supported. And quite a bit of interest.
Let us review, then, how this civilizing experience, the West, has considered, throughout its centuries of vitality, everything that is not a city, everything that is not a white man. Nature is conceived here as a dangerous, distant, incomprehensible, capricious, wild, irrational network, on the lookout for his wife and children. Therefore, controllable, subject, reducible, domesticable.
In this way of seeing (and doing), man is Man only insofar as he can be compared and differentiated from all other things, living or inert, that come to settle in the vital kingdom of his planet.
And the ontological reduction of the mountains, deserts and salt flats of these sacred latitudes to a dangerous wasteland -ideological substrate present in the heart of this Dakar company- is nothing more than the expression of this arrogance over all diversity, manifested in an exotic and untamed landscape made an anthropocentric trophy, a totem of a supposed technical-ethnic-rational superiority. Climb the dunes, cross the desert, break the stone.
The journey submits the wastes of an America that - again - is worth only for its resources, in this case its landscapes, and not for its knowledge, for its way of telling life, for its dreams, for its joys, for its Women and children.
The sections considered to be the hardest and most risky of the test are those that take as a scenario such little urban regions the poorer. Because in this America, the true, the inland, scenic wasteland and social wasteland coincide. The difference is that the first of these moors can at least be considered beautiful. This is, without a doubt, the most dangerous race in the world.
In addition to those who traveled from nearby capitals, to participate as witnesses to the adventure and see how the world sees them, the provincials who opened their eyes astonished at this manifestation of modern strength were only more stone emerging from stone. Part of the landscape.
I now think about how two destinations crossed in that 2011 race, in the Argentine province of Catamarca: a simple country man who was dressed in his stubble by a late-model imported truck. The one who died would have started in that morning to harvest his vines or olive trees, or to look for a kid, I imagine; while the determined man from the capital had thrown himself into an adventure. Can two universes be that far apart?
Since 2009, when the race changed continents, it has always started from light cities, and has ended in them again after the journey through the backyards of almost equally unknown countries. Back to city safety, the daring drivers will find themselves with the safety offered by paved, wide, clean and straight streets. It is the end of this hunt for landscapes seasoned with physical and technical tests: the arrival at the goal is the foot on the head of the subdued beast. Geography as a corpse.
The omnipotence of this model of man ends up manifesting itself in the recognition on the part of the organization that, indeed, the performance of the race has environmental consequences; but feasible to be saved from the contribution of money that would prevent deforestation to a part of… the Peruvian Amazon.
On the other hand, we only talk about the consequences of carbon emissions from the fuels used. There is no erosion, damage to ecosystems in general by direct action (pathways, for example), other forms of pollution and other aggressive interventions that were more than denounced by various organizations, but nothing was reproduced by the screens arto concentrated on the explosion of mud and dust or the Toyota bouncing around.
Meanwhile, this business, shown as entertainment, is part of the capitalist-extractive complex to which these peoples of the South are subjected. Like minerals, hydrocarbons or grains, here too America matters for what it can deliver.
The wasteland does not precede the event: it is the one that remains after, with the bestial mark of the engines on the epidermis of the fertile Mother once again taken from her people. But the real wasteland is the one that is in those who encourage this machinery, technical, cultural and ideological.
1 Those who come to undertake such a journey do so wrapped in the colors of the most diverse flags, even from many non-European countries, but all of them correspond to the select club of wealthy adventurers capable of transcending the border, whatever it is to seek adrenaline, or simply to escape from the abulia where they are deposited by a life that is too resolute from the material point of view: in addition to those who “work” to run, there are also emirs or princes, businessmen of all kinds (landowners, stock market speculators, etc.) and heirs of fortunes that have magically emerged.