SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS REQUIRES STANDS FOR DEMOCRACY AND JUSTICE
From the inception of these essays a few months ago, this humble correspondent has made clear the connection among energy, political economy, and empire. Even in the most respectful examination of the life of an American solar hero, THC and hence his readers learned of at times almost insidious links between 'foreign aid' and 'humanitarian missions' and obvious imperial purposes.
More so than in any other sector of the world--historically even to a greater degree than is the obvious case now in the Mideast and Southwest Asia--the United States has ridden herd over 'neighbors' to the South. THC, in examining coal in Alabama, in reporting on the journalistic legerdemain of Greg Palast, in noting the legacy of Marine Corps hero Smedley Butler, and in reviewing on several occasions the life and work of William Appleman Williams, and elsewhere, has documented and proven this imperial interaction, even in the context of Latino resistance over the past half century that has more and more asserted hemispheric independence.
Father Roy Bourgeois has brought to light repeated brutalization that his government has visited on the peoples of Latin America. He has accomplished this work both individually and with a growing international cadre of concerned citizens who are part of or show solidarity with the School of the Americas Watch, the organization that he formed in the early 1990's and that readers will have a chance to see in action today.
Powerful testaments have already testified to the sorts of depradations that Father Bourgeois soulfully documents. Perhaps chief among the scholars and community witnesses already presented here has been Eduardo Galeano, whose Open Veins of Latin America remains a must-read classic among those who would understand Western Hemispheric affairs in the twenty-first century.
Prior either to examining the last half century or so of U.S. incursions into Latin National affairs, and arrogating the governance of finance and hemispheric foreign policy to Washington, or to examining this opening of a third decade of the intractable demand to shut down the School of the Americas, readers will have a brief opportunity to review other matters from the long litany of presumption and abuse that the U.S. has leveled against Hispanic America. Today, the following five items are on the docket, so to say.
The Monroe Doctrine trips off the lips of even a casual student of American history. Understanding what it is, however, is another matter. While the purpose here is not to delve into the depths of this uppity assertion of predominance, this humble correspondent can proffer these words, from the pen of James Monroe himself.
They represent a clear 'shot across the bow' of European governments, a warning of what will transpire in the event of intervention from afar. Inevitably, tangled skeins of interest and matters fiscal and political intertwined with this statement.
"It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference."
The War with Mexico only two decades later unfolded, intersecting the interests of slaveholders, nascent industrialists, and former Southerners who had made a spot for capital in Texas, among other factors and 'stakeholders' who promulgated butchery against our Southern neighbor. Just recently, we heard David Rovics sing of the "St. Patrick's Brigade" of Irish conscripts who joined the Mexicans.
This conflict was a war much protested. In fact, one reason that Thoreau went to jail is that he abhorred a policy of murder in his name. In his Civil Disobedience, he makes repeatedly clear that he would rather rot in a prison cell than play a willing part as an accessory to murder.
Southern Plans in the midst of Civil War, another two decades down the historical pike, also showed the confident impunity with which Americans assumed that they could work their will South of the border. Among the many schemes that Southerners considered were the annexation of Cuba and Mexico in order to carry on and expand the parameters of the fight for slavery.
The Spanish American War, the first American conflict ascribed to journalistic and industrially expansionist forces behind the scenes, still shows up as one of the U.S.'s 'splendid little wars,' in spite of the mayhem and carnage that it wreaked on the world, and the slight diminution it caused in male longevity here at home. William Appleman Williams, in The Tragedy of American Diplomacy, is only one of dozens of scholars who can make powerful cases for the stubborn self-righteous criminality of American imperial efforts such as this overwhelming victory over Spain at the turn of the 20th century.
Only 15 years later, in a tune-up for World War I, John ('Black Jack) Pershing nearly met defeat at the hands of a tough-minded and tactically brilliant rebel by the name of Pancho Villa. In another posting, readers may remember that a country ballad from the 1970's, "Pancho and Lefty," offered a historically plausible explanation, involving early use of 'intelligence assets,' for the assassination of Pancho Villa. In any event, as Smedley Butler himself said, the 'interests of Standard Oil in Tampico' were secure in the aftermath.
Although literally thousands of other cases, all intersecting and helping to account for the U.S. imperial presence so often covered in these pages, estimably recount a struggle for justice in the face of vile inhumanity, one must begin somewhere. Now, THC and the reader can turn to more recent affairs, to discern, on the one hand, continued lists of horror and murder, but on the other hand, a popular upsurge at home and abroad to assert 'basta!' to death squads and further diminution of the human prospect in the name of imperial pretense.
Absolutely central aspects of United States contemporary affairs intertwine in myriad ways with the relations that the U.S. maintains with its Southern neighbors. Immigration, energy, labor, trade, law, and plenty more about life in these United States utterly unravels without the Hispanic context. Even to conceptualize sustainable business in a bubble that fails to include the Latino components of these matters thereby combines irrelevance with a flashy sort of vacuous inanity.
More than any other single case, the story of Cuba reveals the supposedly idealistic, often sinister, and generally brutally ignorant elements of United States foreign policy in Latin America. Such often bravely-asserted combos generally starts with something like aspersions about Castro, communism, and how 'everybody wants to be an illegal immigrant here instead of there.' While THC is capable of a fairly complete narration of this history-of-hypocrisy-and-pillage, for today's purposes, he merely selects a smattering of data and event for readers to confront.
Up for question is whether the arrogance of common presumptions about the island outweighs the depth of the ignorance in such casual propagation of what is so bizarre that it barely even counts as propaganda. Routine proponents of 'all-Americanism,' and disparagers of Havana, clearly have never heard of Fulgencio Batista, who gave Cuba its "best government" of the U.S.-dominated post-Spanish American War period, according to such annalists as John Crow, while the former sergeant, who overthrew his predecessor 'puppet,' storied mass murderer Gerardo Machado, plundered the Cuban treasury, and let brothels, mafia casinos, sugar companies, and banks run the island as a fiefdom for capital.
The general emanations of visceral anti-communism that rule-the-roost in common output about Cuba cannot place the Platt Amendment either. This gem of 'Colombia, the gem of the ocean' arrogated to the U.S., by virtue of an amendment inserted into the Cuban constitution, the right to intervene at will. As the likes of THC exclaim at a first induction into such knowledge, an anti-imperial propagandist "couldn't make sh** like this up," it so perfectly fits the murderous designs of corrupt Caesars and their plutocratic backers.
Even the most complete ignoramus may give a secret smile at the revelation of copious plots to assassinate Castro. And then, such a one probably shifts uncomfortably about the butchery, not to mention the bull-headed stupidity, of the Bay of Pigs.
However, all such airily dismissive 'know-nothings' remain almost uniformly clueless about the huge disparities in standard of living--life expectancy 1950, roughly 49 years: 2010, roughly 75 years; literacy 1950, under 50%: 2010, approaching 100%, higher than in the U.S.; and on and on ad infinitum--when Fidel came to power in 1959, gulfs in the human prospect that have largely disappeared, or as in the case of infant mortality, shifted hugely in Cuba's favor.
That Michael Moore could, as a 'publicity stunt' round up untreated sick people from the U.S. '9/11' clean-up and take them to Havana for basically free health care, as part of his documentary, "Sicko," testifies to the vast transformation for the better that has transpired a hundred miles from Miami. That citizens here are so generally misinformed about all of this reeks of something odious. THC won't tolerate it. Sustainable business and rational energy policy necessitate enlightenment.
Perhaps as much as anything else, keeping Cuba in mind is important, because the vicious, amoral venality that has accompanied the maintenance of the School of the Americas(SOA) became most explicit in the aftermath of the U.S.'s 'losing' Cuba to communism. Of course, that story itself so stinks of corruption and moronic thinking that the concomitant amplification of torture and homicide through SOA in response seems simply idiotic, instead of, or perhaps in addition to, pronouncedly ideological.
Of course, in articulating these points, this humble correspondent's inner critic has pondered, "hey, pal, maybe you're a little harsh there, with your fellow citizens, and all." Just at that moment, however, the following introductory paragraph appears in the hopper from an analyst at Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, a bastion of rock-ribbed Demopublican ideation.
|"The first sign of Anti-Americanism in Brazil in 2003-2004 popped up rather dramatically to arriving passengers in the shops of any Brazilian international airport, where Michael Moore’s bestseller, Stupid White Men, was ubiquitously displayed. Given the worldwide success of Moore’s book, this was no surprise. What was unusual was the title. While Spanish-speaking Latin America used a literal translation of the title (Estúpidos hombres blancos), as did Portugal for its Portuguese edition (Brancos estúpidos), in Portuguese-speaking Brazil Moore’s book spent nineteen weeks on the bestsellers list as A Nation of Idiots (Uma nação de idiotas). In the rest of Moore’s world, only a small sector of the United States was stupid; but for Brazilians, all Americans were idiots."|
In many ways, the past fifty years in Central America have flowed from the historical fork that both confirmed this stupidity and resulted from U.S. experts' botching any sort of rational or just relationship with the revolutionary Cuban regime. While thousands of sources, primarily in English and Spanish but also including most of the world's languages, document the cupidity, limited intelligence, and homicidal fury of U.S. policy in the region, Robert Holden's lovely little paper, "The Real Diplomacy of Violence: U.S. Military Power in Central America, 1950-1990," provides a decidedly middle-of-the-road, non-socialist summation of the points that THC makes.
If one wanted a monograph that achieved the same purpose in more robust fashion, one might turn to Walter LaFeber's Inevitable Revolutions:The U.S. in Central America, which, with an only slightly 'left-of-center' perspective--in other words, insistent that certain indisputable facts demonstrate imperial abuse by the U.S., based on corporate economic agendas, but not, by any means, social democratic--develops these ideas in greater detail. A student would do well to listen to LaFeber.
|"(T)his compact region has been the target of a highly disproportionate amount of North American investment and--especially--military intervention. Every 20th Century intervention by U.S. troops has occurred in the Central American region. ...Few regions in the world have been in greater economic and political turmoil than Central America. And there are few regions about which North Americans are more ignorant. ...Each (of the five nations there) is quite different from the other four, but all five share a dependence on the U.S. that is deeply rooted in history. They also share poverty that has spawned revolutions in the '70's and '80's. ...(that led to) multiplying U.S. involvement... .(that caused more) Central Americans (to) grow poorer and die."|
Zoltan Grosman, writing for Z Magazine, published a comprehensive listing of all U.S. interventions. Speaking about such atrocities generally, he concluded "the U.S. military has always accepted massive civilian deaths as part of the cost of war."
He went on to account for a small percentage of recent depredations in Central America that have resulted, as the current idiom states the case, "in our names." "Echoes of Vietnam reverberated in Central America during the 1980s, when the Reagan administration strongly backed the pro-U.S. regime in El Salvador, and right-wing exile forces fighting the new leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Rightist death squads slaughtered Salvadoran civilians who questioned the concentration of power and wealth in a few hands. CIA-trained Nicaraguan Contra rebels launched terrorist attacks against civilian clinics and schools run by the Sandinista government, and mined Nicaraguan harbors."
All tolled, ignorant and otherwise complicit U.S. citizens--those who have not, along with this humble correspondent, actively protested--have been accessory, at an absolute mininum to between a quarter million and well over a million murders in the region. However one seeks to rationalize this annihilation in the name of American values, the reality is chillingly stark. One need only care enough to learn what U.S. leaders are actually saying.
One commentary among many that makes such statements accessible made its case, speaking directly about 'Low-Intensity-Warfare' in Central America, as follows. "This 'different sort' of conflict, according to LIC planners, requires a 'different sort' of U.S. response. 'The roots of insurgencies are not military in origin,' Secretary of the Army John Marsh explained, 'nor will they be military in resolution.' This analysis has led to an emphasis on nontraditional forms of coercion -economic, diplomatic, psychological, and paramilitary- what Colonel Waghelstein bluntly describes as 'total war at the grass-roots level.'"
Guatemala's recent Commission for Historical Clarification(CEH) is one of many local assessments of such travesties of justice that have come forth in the past twenty years. Guatemala is perhaps especially appropriate as a measure, inasmuch as the U.S., with the CIA's murderous deposition of the democratically elected Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, has directly elicited this decades-long litany of slaughter. The title of this monumental study, "Memory of Silence," is a moral call to North Americans.
CEH's overview is instructive. "1. With the outbreak of the internal armed confrontation in 1962, Guatemala entered a tragic and devastating stage of its history, with enormous human, material and moral cost. In the documentation of human rights violations and acts of violence connected with the armed confrontation, the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) registered a total of 42,275 victims, including men, women and children. Of these, 23,671 were victims of arbitrary execution and 6,159 were victims of forced disappearance. Eighty-three percent of fully identified victims were Mayan and seventeen percent were Ladino. 2. Combining this data with the results of other studies of political violence in Guatemala, the CEH estimates that the number of persons killed or disappeared as a result of the fratricidal confrontation reached a total of over 200,000."
Colombia, too, has stood at the center of American strategic purpose, particularly in the aftermath of the concession in 1979 that Panama could, after all, operate as a sovereign state. While the totality of U.S. machinations in Colombia have not resulted in the same volume of carnage as in Central America, these still-widespread homicides have focused on those parts of 'liberal' nostrums so dear to JustMeans readers and others--things like elections and trade unions--who contend that they support corporate responsibility. This intertwining of empire, assaults on human rights, and the undermining of key 'liberties' makes Colombia's case important.
A significant part of the output of the Beehive Design Collective has concerned Colombia, demonstrating that 'Plan Colombia' was a license of commit murder in the name of controlling strategic energy assets and, moreover, to concretize the American commitment to subverting even a semblance of either human rights or the perquisites of 'liberal' politics. BDC's graphic and narrative presentation ought to become required annual review materials for all North Americans.
Various sources, with no purpose other than to assemble facts and speak accurately as to the story they tell, attest to this process. Among these are the North American Conference on Latin America(NACLA) and the Fellowship of Reconciliation(FOR), which collaborated on a recent report that examines the 5,000 or so documented murders that have taken place since Plan Colombia's inception under Bill Clinton in 1999. This litany of death, though relatively small in comparison with Central America, is yet another murder indictment against the U.S. and its citizenry, unless of course they resisted these planned 'extra-judicial' executions.
|"'The majority of cases we are analyzing are not misidentifications,' said John Lindsay-Poland of the FOR, but rather the deliberate targeting of civilians. 'Success' in the anti-guerrilla fight is measured by kills, says Lindsay-Poland. 'It is not about whether there is greater security for civilians or whether there is justice in the country.' Colombian military units receive financial rewards for the number of guerrillas they kill, which often motivates them to execute individuals who have no connection whatsoever to the country’s armed conflicts. In one case described in the FOR/USOC report, poor community members from Bogotá were baited by a so-called 'recruiter' to a faraway community with the promise of jobs and were then killed by the Colombian military. The 17 responsible soldiers were released without being tried."|
Compared to recent opportunistic carnage by Americans in Colombia, the 1970's brutalization of Chile, more than any other instance, has stood out in the heart and mind of this humble correspondent. That THC's loving spouse lost her grandfather to Augusto Pinochet's murderers--he was the first confirmed 'kill' of the CIA inaugurated coup, contributes to this personal edge.
Furthermore, though, Salvador Allende's gentle idealism so captured THC's own youthful--barely past teenager--enthusiasm, though even then THC warned of possible 'accidents' at the hands of agents of the United States who were already demanding harsh action against a 'commie, whether elected or not.' The 20,000-50,000 murders and euphemistic 'disappearances'--the term, 'desaparacido,' is at least partially Chilean in origin--put mayhem's 'price-sticker' in this case about in the middle of the pack, in terms of the volume of butchery for which complicit and willfully ignorant citizens here are responsible.
Even the Central Intelligence Agency itself, any 'cover' for its thuggery having disappeared in the lee of the Church Committee hearings, now acknowledges its involvement in this murderous 'covert activity.' CIA annalists note that 'business interests' had pushed the agency's involvement long before the murders began in earnest. "As early as the 1964 Chilean Presidential election, American businessmen with interests in Chile had offered to provide the CIA with funds to prevent Allende from being elected. All of these early offers were rejected."
Steve Kangas puts this entire aggregation of reality--U.S. business' and government's crimes against humanity for purposes of more money--into perspective. "CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. ... So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: 'We'll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.' The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be 'communists,' but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow."
Literally dozens of other matters, which follow this 'script,' ought to become part of citizenship training. However, Kangas follows this paragraph with an identification, which will now garner our attention, of one locus of this kind of cabal against democracy and justice--the School of the Americas, or "the School of Assassins," or the aforementioned "School for Dictators." And of course, savvy PR professionals at the Department of Defense being well worth their pay, they have orchestrated the renaming of SOA, to the more bureaucratically inclined Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation(WHINSEC).
In one form or other, the School of the Americas(SOA) has existed for sixty four years. Its origins in the final convulsions of American ascendancy following WWII are unlikely accidental. The Hoover Commission Report, authored under the leadership of former President Herbert Hoover in the early 1950's was one critical investigation of how the U.S would conduct itself in its international affairs.
Part of the Commission's then 'top-secret' recommendations included this point, which other researchers have also uncovered. "Hitherto accepted norms of human conduct do not apply...If the United States is to survive, long-standing American concepts of fair play must be reconsidered...We must learn to subvert, sabotage, and destroy our enemies by more clever, sophisticated, more effective methods than those used against us."
Carlton Fox's dissertation is one pathway to proof that SOA fit perfectly with the Hoover Report's imperative. Though Fox is more than sympathetic with both SOA's policy goals and ideological proclivities, he has the blessed intellectual honesty to report both the protests against SOA and some of the documentation that those contrarians bring to the discussion.
A review of Leslie Gill's The School of the Americas: Military Training and Political Violence in America, gives a simple summation of SOA's cycle of 'education' and death. Though J. Patrice McSherry analytical essay is an overview, the regional and country materials above, indicating that wholesale-slaughter was in fact programmatic-policy, serve quite well as the specification of the U.S.'s SOA-commitment to terrorist activities in the name of its citizens.
|"As its role became better known in the 1980s, the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) became a symbol of U.S. foreign policy perversities in Latin America. By then, many graduates of the school were already infamous in their own countries for their leadership of, or involvement in, savage counterinsurgency campaigns and human rights atrocities. The SOA was known in the region as the School of Assassins or the School of Coups. The names of SOA graduates are familiar to Latin Americanists: dictator Hugo Banzer of Bolivia, who took power in a bloody coup; Leopoldo Galtieri, Argentine general and member of the 'dirty war' junta in the 1980s; Roberto d'Aubuisson, leader of Salvadoran death squads; General Efraín Ríos Montt, overseer of massacres of indigenous peasants as dictator in Guatemala; Chilean Miguel Krassnoff, DINA officer and torturer; the list goes on. The U.N. Truth Commission on El Salvador found that 60 Salvadoran officers were responsible for the worst atrocities of that country's dirty war; more than two-thirds were SOA graduates."|
A more stridently social democratic voice states the case more strictly. The author quotes seminal architect of cold war John Kennan. "We control about 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3% of its population...Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to national security...We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction."
All sorts of additions--monographs, dissertations, non-governmental organization reports, and government documents, not to mention lawsuits and Spanish materials--further corroborate that U.S. agents as a matter of ongoing policy conducted terrorist activities in routine fashion. A final reference, from the Federation of American Scientists, appears here because the organization so obviously 'bent over backwards' to ascertain the veracity of what they were discovering.
The FAS report averred that "Just a few years after the Contra Manual was made public, the 470th MIBDE at USSOUTHCOM, in Panama, retrieved from USARSA in 1987 a series of documents that included training material which taught murder, extortion and torture. These training materials were distributed in Latin America and at USARSA, despite the(contrary) CIA statement on U.S. army policy cited above. The history of the USARSA training manuals begins with Project X," a 'no-paper-trail Army Intelligence operation that started in the 1960's as a way of specifying techniques and approaches that would give U.S. forces behind-the-lines counterinsurgency magic.
The magic, of course, often ended in murder. Since 1989, citizens--often Catholic and clerical since so many of their compadres suffered brutalization for the crime of considering liberation theology--have mounted growing protests, generally since the mid-1990's involving tens of thousands of people, over the course of the weekend before Thanksgiving, when music, testimony, pageantry, theater, protest, and civil disobedience all blended together in Columbus, Georgia, at the gates of Fort Benning, where about a third or so of U.S. infantry also learn to kill with fierce efficiency.
The SOA Watch websites provide a rich archive of graphic and textual materials that narrate this still-vibrant, in spite of the Army's apparent nonchalance, citizens' witness against terrorism-by-proxy on the part of the United States of America. As well, Google's search engine proffers a detailed timeline of reports, commentary, and eyewitness accounts of the the growing presence and continuing persistence of SOAW efforts against a U.S.-sponsored murder school.
Carlton Fox, who has the strength of character not to lie about the facts, paints an affecting picture of the first SOA protest. In 1989, wearing army garb from Vietnam, where he fought prior to joining the Maryknoll order of Catholic priests as an advocate of peace, "Roy Bourgeois walked unchallenged into the military base wearing surplus fatigues. He climbed up a tree near the barracks used by Salvadoran soldiers training with the U.S. Army. There he waited until 'lights out,' then blared out into the night a recording of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero calling, 'I want to make a special appeal to soldiers, national guardsmen, and policemen: Brothers, each one of you is one of us. We are the same people. The campesinos you kill are your own brothers and sisters. When you hear the words of a man telling you to kill, remember instead the words of God: ‘Thou shalt not kill’ … I beseech you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God, stop the repression!'"
Fox continues, "Romero himself was killed in 1980 while conducting Mass in San Salvador. Of the three men accused in Romero's assassination, two were graduates of the School of the Americas."
And then, showing a weakness of moral character that ideally fits one for special pleading in the academic realm, Fox concludes like this. "Again the association is made with the school’s instruction without clear proof that the training they received taught them how to kill priests and repress the lower classes. Bourgeois served 18 months in a federal prison for his actions. But his protest paved the way for larger demonstrations against what he labeled a 'School of Assassins.'"
This humble correspondent has had the privilege of talking to the former Father Bourgeois. THC can assure all of his gentle readers that, far from espousing any sort of pinkish philosophy or political economy, Ray Bourgeois has decided to dedicate his existence, up to sacrificing himself to the lonely travails and dangers of prison, in order to end a practice the evils of which he saw first hand in his travels with the Navy, where he served as an officer in Vietnam in the 1960's.
THC makes this detour, because our Mr. Fox above, having reported honestly for the most part, then goes on to attempt to tie Ray Bourgeois to Soviet Russia, since an article from Tass in 1979 had also used the phrase, 'School of Assassins.' If THC is wrong and Ray Bourgeois is a dyed-in-the-wool Red, then by golly we need a lot more Reds out there. Closing SOA/WHINSEC is the only action that promotes justice, equity, and reconciliation, instead of criminal perfidy, privileged predominance of wealth, and inevitable conflagration.
The closing of this section with musings about anti-communism is apt, since a continuing popular trope is that America has often made mistakes that harmed human rights, and so on, because all Yanks are such passionate proponents of freedom that they cannot tolerate even the scent of communist involvement anywhere within ten thousand miles of their borders. As all sorts of analysis makes clear, such thinking is at best facile, and quite possibly nonsensical.
Empire invents whatever enemies it needs to maintain its killing thrust, an inherent necessity of domination. Whether communists are the purported foe, or terrorists, or any other sort of '-ist,' the goal remains the same--power over every corner of the earth in the name of plunder and profit.
As always, this humble correspondent has said too much at the same time that he ought to find the time and space to relate so much more. A note about tone seems apt. Literally millions of U.S. citizens are not the dolts to whom THC addresses this essay; in fact, they stand for transformation, progress, honesty, and social justice, if not social democracy.
Still, much more strident and insistent than these millions are much larger sections of the populace that support the, at absolute best, criminal insanity of the U.S. government's present policy--criminally insane for all but big business, in any event. THC dedicates this essay to these folks.
As well, of course, he proffers this aggressive characterization of the United States as a "Nation of Idiots," as the Brazilians termed it, to the vast majority who know nothing and like their ignorance just fine. The time is past when such a stance can be anything other than suicidal and ecocidal. In any event, this approach is completely incompatible with better energy policies, sustainable business, and so on and so forth.
A TWENTY-FIRST ANNUAL STAND AGAINST A BARBARIC IMPERIAL ARROGANCE
Since Roy Bourgeois' first outburst from a tree in front of the Salvadorean students' barracks to this weekend, an increasingly well-organized memorial and witness has occurred in Columbus, Georgia, about as close to the 'belly of the beast' as one can possibly venture. The memorialization in this ongoing presence concerns one of the rampages that SOA graduates helped to conduct, against Jesuits at the University of Central America in El Salvador, November 16, 1989, just before Roy Bourgeois climbed the tree with his speakers.
While a recent Society of Jesus publication can legitimately argue that the martyrs themselves continue to bear witness, through actions on their behalf around the world, the United States Government has been busy infiltrating peaceful protest groups with agents. The ACLU is only the most powerful voice of outrage against this ugly echo of COINTELPRO and all its tainted baggage.
The Columbus daily paper confirmed that such tactics have 'trickled down' to the local level. "Lauren Stinson, an undercover agent with the Metro Narcotics Task Force, testified Sunday that she participated in two meetings with SOA Watch protesters as they planned to step onto Victory Drive Saturday afternoon."
Despite such insidious tactics, around the nation this week students and working people and communities of faith, in particular those involved with Catholic Universities, prepared for a trek to the training grounds near the banks of the Chattahoochee River. From all over the nation they got ready to participate in witness to murder and insistence for justice. They arrived from Pennsylvania . "Travel with Alvernia Campus Ministry to the gates of Fort Benning, GA, to join tens of thousands of others from across the nation to protest the School of the Americas (now called WHINSEC). The School of the Americas has been training Latin American soldiers for over 50 years, and its graduates have committed some of the worst atrocities in Latin American history, including the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the killings of the six Jesuits and their housekeepers in El Salvador, and the most recent coup d'etat in Honduras."
They traveled from Miami, even though South Florida remains a reactionary hotbed of those that Fidel Castro booted out of their U.S. sinecures of guaranteed looting-in-return-for-low-wages-and-repression. A student journalist parroted SOA SOP in saying that the school teaches 'human rights,' but the young woman organizing the trip spoke effectively in her own behalf.
"'People view it as if you're anti-SOA, you're anti-military, which I'm definitely not, my family is in the military,'" Lancaster said. 'I think you can be patriotic while criticizing your country.' Lancaster attended the vigil last year and said it was a particularly moving experience. The last time Lancaster visited Fort Benning was for her brother's graduation from the military."
News outlets from the other side of the world in many instances gave more sympathetic coverage to the event than was the case among such supposed paragons of the liberal press here as the New York Times. The Manchester Guardian, for example, maintaining its reputation for tremendous reporting in its article, "Latin America's School for Dictators," embedded links to the training manuals() that SOA utilized before the name change, which taught methods of torture and recommended paying soldiers for confirmed kills of rebels and other subversives. The Times, meanwhile, taunted SOAW as being on a downhill slide toward obscurity.
Using all of the tools of a networked world, people sought to come and give their voices and bodies to a staunch opposition to murder-as-policy. Craigslist ads asked for help from those making the trip from far afield. In laconic CL diction, one such offer suggested that the author was "looking for a ride from nola to the soa protest on friday, november 19th through sunday, november 21st near columbus, ga... please let us know if you're headed that way and have space! will cook something good to share and promise good conversation. 20th anniversary! resist! www.soaw.org."
At last year's protest, a survivor of the orchestrated carnage at the University of Central America in 1989 showed up in Columbus. "Thousands of us gathered this weekend... for the annual funeral procession at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., there to call for the closing of the notorious 'School of Assassins,' where the United States trains the Latin American death squads that, over the past few decades, have killed thousands. We gather there each year around Nov. 16 -- the anniversary of the massacre of the Jesuits in El Salvador. This year, the sole Jesuit at the University of Central America to have survived the attack, liberation theologian Jon Sobrino, was our guest of honor."
This interlocutor went on to make an important point through reference to a recent monograph penned by the man who lived through the slaughter. "On Friday night, in the packed ballroom of the Howard Johnson Hotel, Pax Christi gave Sobrino its annual book award for his latest, No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays."
Of course, all manner of percolating preparations characterized Atlanta this last week. A concert at a local art collective went on until the wee hours of the morning Thursday night. Eyedrum has long invited SOAW to put its cavernous halls to musical and beneficent use. This year, Emma's Revolution was one of the groups at the benefit and the action, testifying to 'shut it down.'
In Columbus, all week, additional public preparatory events took place, while the brilliant gears of the SOAW machine prepared for another seamless November show in Dixie. SOAW, in a testament to its tenacity and veracity, has become an actual presence in the highly conservative communities of the area that are highly dependent on military money.
Thursday night adjacent to Fort Benning, peace groups, especially those with a presence in and focus on Latin America, from around the country and the hemisphere were gathering at the gates to the military and imperial machine. They were plotting strategy and tactics to use peaceful means to dismantle the engines of war. The Latin American Solidarity Coalition called for this strategic gathering.
"The purpose of the conference will be to examine current and proposed strategies to oppose US militarism and anti-democracy campaigns and the militarization of our communities with the goal of coming out of the conference with movement-wide strategies and campaigns that we can take back to our organizations, bases, and communities. We will present many of the ideas raised in workshops and plenaries during the SOA Watch vigil and at a follow-up conference in the Spring of 2011. It is recognized that each participating organization, national and local, has its own mission and program. The objective of the LASC strategy conference would be to propose framework strategies and campaigns that inform, but do not supersede, the program priorities of individual organizations."
The following day, in what this humble correspondent views as a strategic understanding of a key linkage, hundreds of participants in the 'shut-it-down' vigil at Benning went further out of their way to oppose detention and criminalization of immigration. The reasoning is simple enough: whether one believes, along with THC, in a borderless world or not, one cannot simultaneously detest immigrants and support WHINSEC or anything similar. Imperial butchery leads to displaced survivors looking for some place to be safe.
|"SOA Watch calls for justice for all immigrants including those held inhumanely and without due process at the Stewart Detention Center, an isolated, for-profit facility. We contend that many immigrants to the United States, particularly those from Latin American, are victims of U.S.-sponsored military training and other atrocious policies around issues like trade and immigration."|
The program on Friday so interweaves film into the fabric of the first day of registration and orientation for the weekend that THC humbly predicts that a film festival will eventually result, at which human rights and anti-imperial efforts will receive pride of place. In any event, many potent documentary productions showed up in Georgia this weekend that, in this blighted, benighted corporate-culture mecca, had never come to the Peach State before.
Oliver Stone's stick in the eye of those who like to think that paternalistic gringo pretensions can continue forever, "South of the Border" hilariously and substantively deconstructed imperialism. That such methods are the diametric opposite of sustainable business is as tangible as the strength and intelligence of Hugo, Lula, Evo, and Rafael, among others. President Correa of Ecuador quipped that, given the notorious unreliability and prejudices of American media, he would worry if he started getting good press here.
Another documentary, "Ending U.S. Sponsored Torture Forever," more explicitly melds with the message of the weekend to close the school once and for all. In an apparently ancillary offering, "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican," tells of womens' struggles under Catholicism. That Holy-Mother Church has excommunicated Roy Bourgeois because of his heretical stand in favor of women's annunciation as priests, is simply fascinating. Perhaps the revolution will be 'catholicized.'
As the weekend's somber and joyous commemoration unfolded, reports from all over the continent, and from around the world, took note. The daily rag of Montgomery, Alabama, for example, produced a "Global Story" on the situation. Reports from the likes of the National Catholic Reporter reemphasized the importance of this event to many followers of 'popish ways.' The tie to Liberation Theology, which THC will someday explore from an energy perspective, is particularly important in this regard.
Many sites provide all types of graphic documentation of the event. If pictures speak a thousand words, then sites both local and far afield procure many volumes for citizens who want to follow along, although the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer has a widely satisfying volume of material.
Not surprisingly the photos also already have video accompaniment. In a sign that the stepped-up police imprint, about which both ACLU and SOAW warned, may in fact be coming to pass, Russia Today and other press personnel were among those arrested, as they documented the annual direct-action civil disobedience of the event.
Cultural production and performance have for most of SOAW's history constituted a huge portion of what transpired over the weekend. Roy Bourgeois understands ferociously well that, lacking weapons, mediation of witness is a critical defense against the impunity that SOA graduates prior to the 1970's had come to expect. Both a form of that transubstantiation and a draw to more traditional documentarians, the musicians and performers of SOA's protest magnify meaning even as they cook up ecstatic elements to the spectacle itself.
As always, chillingly compelling exemplars of contemporary Latino folk music were present, evincing the ties between popular culture and liberation. Yankee satirists also showed up, along with soulful divas of peace and justice. Iconic performances by Charlie King and Karen Brandow have become de rigeur, and the musical teach-ins in which these inveterate folk skirmishers specialize are never far away.
Demonstrating in the most clear-cut of ways a commitment to a cross-cultural movement for liberation, in which 'shutting down' SOA is merely one step in a process of actuating social justice and popular empowerment generally, such cutting-edge hip-hop phenomena as Chicago's Kumba Lynx are now an integrated aspect of the entire SOA spirit. An edutainment philosophy matches the entire approach of SOAW.
Rebel Diaz, which careful readers will recall from a brief into to Appalachia Rising that occurred in the first Beehive Design Collective profile, also wended their way South to Columbus. One recent work, "All I Want is You," a political love song, mixes emotional and educational and historical elements in a lyrically haunting melody. Other of the hip-hop presences "Apotheosis," the website's front song, at this year's protest mold similar mixtures of heart and passion and purposive political commentary.
Each year, a certain set of speakers, messages, and presentations also take place, both from the main-stage abutting the now razor-wired gates to WHINSEC, and at various plenary gatherings that assemble many participants together at one time. Part of the pointed power of SOAW is that every citizen's perspective amounts to critical potency to add to the impetus for change--only the aggregate can bring about both the shutting down of schools of theft and violence and the building up of renewable energy and other people-centered productive forms.
However, paying attention to a few of the primary presenters might offer the observer payoffs. Thus, that the head of arguably the most powerful, and certainly one of the most redoubtable, trade unions in the U.S. made a presentation from the podium was important to note. Bob King now leads the UAW. While he speaks of moving toward a future in which social and economic justice are atop the union agenda, however, organizations that have also committed to such a course have strongly criticized the networking and thinking of Mr. King.
"What lie ahead for auto workers if King has his way are poverty wages, a more brutal work place and a return to conditions that haven’t been seen in American industry since the early 1930s. The UAW is offering up auto workers as pure and simple fodder for exploitation."
While neither the analysis nor the ideological certainty of the Socialist Equality Party are those of THC, he does, nonetheless, have to recognize that union leaders have--at least as often as not--served a critical function for maintaining capitalism. Insodoing, moreover, they have quite often proceeded on the presumption that only a capitalist road is open to us. Inasmuch as such a perspective is part and parcel of Mr. King's POV, then this humble correspondent would take both him--and SOA Watch to task.
In a seminar that he attended about "labor and management together" addressing the health care conundrums of the current economic crisis, he spoke recently as an advocate for his members and retirees. As a tactical matter, 'working together' is unavoidable. As an honest characterization of the current historical moment, THC would have to say that getting organized at the grassroots and seizing initiative in every policy sphere is the only way for working people to thrive. 'Working together' with management, on agendas that they have universally established in advance, is a death sentence.
He's also a darling of Fox News in Detroit, which normally would set off alarm bells for THC. But his focus, organizing the unorganized, so long as he extends this vow beyond 'foreign transplant' auto manufacturers to include the entire working class, is exactly congruent with everything that THC has been arguing.
"Another world is possible, another America is necessary, another Detroit is happening" was the U.S. Social Forum theme when the movement met in Detroit. When Amy Goodman took her Democracy Now show on the road to Detroit, she interviewed King. While he stood as a strong advocate for auto-workers, he espoused the nonsensical notion that "the middle class," whatever in the world that is, can somehow result from high wages for auto workers. He also thrills at the potential for the companies that employ his members to bound back.
He was a "pioneer," as Amy puts it, in reaching out to others than auto-workers, at the same time that the unions' membership has dropped by half in the last ten years. She asks about his strategy to rebuild, and he does speak for a class orientation and a wide outreach. Amy holds his feet right to the flame in asking him to respond to a Labor Notes critique of the UAW approach. This humble correspondent wonders if Bob King's "best business decision" olive branch to big business was any part of his exposition at Columbus. Any concession of this sort is absurd as a way of helping working people.
This takes nothing away from his gracious, Catholicized stance against brutal imperial murder, as in El Salvador. One of his regional reps first brought him to Fort Benning, when she was in jail for her civil disobedience. He still finds incredible that "our tax dollars support" attacks on democracy such as labor unions. And he says, very significantly, "the only way that our members can have social justice is if we fight for social justice in society."
As a nun, Kathleen Desautels has a profound impact on this humble correspondent's psyche. She can speak so that a lapsed one such as he must sit up and take notice, for example, about what brought her to her current stance. "The death of the 4 American Churchwomen in El Salvador in 1980 was a defining moment in my life. Their kidnapping, rape, and murder and the disparaging comments made by U.S. government officials about the women being “communist sympathizers” enraged me. It impelled me to get more politically involved."
Making the School of the Americas connection was a no-brainer, since so many Salvadorean officers were 'graduates' of its programs in making depredation as efficient as possible. In fact, no other nation to our South, save one, sent as many military leaders to SOA as has little El Salvador.
Interestingly enough, the one nation that, if not per capita then in absolute terms, has availed itself even more of the largesse for lethality which SOA provides, has been carbon-rich and human-rights poor Colombia.
"And on the eighth day," intones an organizational statement to which Sr. Desautels adheres, "God invites us to be co-creators in building a more just and harmonious world." This simple sentence, so easily dismissed as idealistic, get the 'order of battle' for transformation right--first justice, then peace.
Moreover, Sr. Desautels has 'crossed the line' and confronted the cold wrath of the State. And this most powerful of witnesses to injustice was not something that she did tamely. On the contrary, she spoke gamely and with prescient power at her trial.
|"The real law-breakers are government policy-makers, financial institutions such as the IMF/WB/WTO, the military and paramilitaries, including SOA graduates -- the minions of the global corporate market capitalism. These are the ones guilty of promoting, legislating and insuring policy that fosters economic disparity resulting in some of the most grotesque human rights and environmental abuses ever reported."|
Sr. Desautels is speaking truth to power in the most difficult and intimidating of circumstances, facing the prospect of prison and the degradation which that entails, a diminution of humanity not unlike that which people around the hemisphere face as a result of such policies as those promoted through WHINSEC. She is also speaking to JustMeans readers, should they care to listen, about just what constitutes the parameters of such treasured norms as 'sustainable business.'
Finally, this weekend, young and lively Alejandro Ramirez, from the brutal intimidation that lives in the streets of Tegucicalpa under the auspices of democratic aid, has come to Columbus, via his work in the Honduran Youth Resistance Movement, which sought to overturn a coup against democracy promulgated--go figure--by SOA graduates.
Both he and Gerardo Brenes, who would have been the first SOA alumnus to speak in validation of the notion that we should close the school tout suite, initially couldn't obtain travel papers to attend the memorial and resistance South of Atlanta.
This cretinous abuse of the right to travel and the right to assemble and the right to speak and the right to seek redress of grievances did not stand, in the case of Alejandro Ramirez. That it was the tactic of Barack-the-Magnificent's administration, and of Hilary-the-Plutocratic's State Department, though not surprising to this humble correspondent, is nevertheless an outrage against all things dealing with justice and the purported 'American Way' that SOA so fulsomely and vilely violates.
Thankfully, an outpouring of outrage over this perfidy managed to restore a semblance of justice for Alejandro Ramirez. Predictably, given how much is at stake when an actual matriculant can speak to the evil that SOA promotes as 'human-rights policy,' Brenes' denied-access continued. Of particular import is that Ramirez was the selection of his compadres in the South, in a large SOA 'encounter' more than a month ago, to represent the thinking of Latin American partners in this process. Thus, SOAW shows its bona fides as a community-based organization based on listening, learning, and grassroots action.
While the School of Americas Watch's thinking may not match this humble correspondent's ideation nor the paradigm of many other wise critics of the American way whom THC might recommend, still, SOAW clearly acts as an intentional community dedicated to justice and righteous democracy in the teeth of a snarling state balanced on the edge of a bloody slide toward fascism. More than ever, folks at SOAW worry about these privileges, of protest and witness, that their stand embodies.
This year, in particular, staff feel as if they are operating in the "midst a heightened police presence around the gates of Ft. Benning, (even though) today thousands heeded the call of "We are One America!" and manifested their opposition to the School of the Americas and oppressive U.S. foreign policy. The voices of torture survivors, immigrant farm workers, people of faith, students, musicians and activists carried the message of peace with justice over the barbed-wire fences, guns, and lies that protect the School of Assassins."
Finally then, of course, every annual gathering since Roy Bourgeois faced prison for waking people up from the darkness of SOA lies to the truth of SOA murder has included civil disobedience. Workers especially now are having to consider to what extent they will continue to honor laws clearly biased against their survival at the same time that these statutes continue to fatten the rich. One multiple violator of the sanctity of governmental homicide quite powerfully expresses this idea, courtesy of the United Auto Workers.
|"This trial is not about whether I crossed that line at Fort Benning or not. I did cross it. Rather, this trial is about bringing truth to the lie that SOA/WHINSEC helps Latin American governments to promote stable democracies. This is an obscene lie. The opposite is the truth. This school is funded by our taxes. Graduates of the school/institute use the tactics learned, in courses taught by the U.S. Army, against their own people. The victims of SOA graduates are those working for a better life – working for land reform, for better wages, for adequate housing and health care for the poor – and the victims of the SOA graduates are those just trying to simply live."|
Twenty-two or more participants and witnesses, both 'civilian' and journalistic, felt the cut of plastic cuffs and faced "deplorable conditions" at the Muscogee County jail, as a foretaste of the future under capital's continued imprimatur. SOAW bonded them all out; all have thus far faced 'justice,' thanks to policy infiltrators referenced above. The result--a fine and probation almost uniformly, finesses the propaganda value for justice and the cost to imperialism of the Federal charges that result from those who trespass on the base itself.
Two ancient citizens, even more 'long-in-the-tooth' than this humble correspondent, hand in hand made their way through multiple barriers of razor wire in order to trespass their way into prison and toward justice. As Henry David Thoreau summed up the logic, "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison ... the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor."
In a sense the SOA protest has garnered a certain institutional sinecure, representing a 'halfway house' between prison and collaboration, between revolution and martyrdom. In order to move beyond this safe place and actually transform this society--in the words of a Guatemalan doctor, holding a dying girl in his arms killed by U.S. imperial armament, "to change our f***ing country"--what needs to happen now is far from obvious. THC and the School of Americas Watch are both quite clear, however, that giving up is not an option. Neither the practical nor the spiritual consequences of such a choice are tenable.
THC will risk some observations here. Much of the energy and purpose of these protests focuses on the outward harms of empire. Such an emphasis is not only legitimate but necessary, inasmuch as the capacity of the plutocrats to continue their plunder depends on controlling imperial perquisities. However, as a political matter here, shouldn't the work--from the point of premise all the way through to each manifestation in practice--connect to the equally horrific consequences of capital's reigns in home-grown communities?
Until this is the case, then marvelous ideas, like networking Colombian and American communities are unlikely to yield much political punch. They will remain 'honorable' vacations for the well-off in the U.S. But, here with less than adequate resources, perhaps this humble correspondent just misses the rich and deep roots of SOAW in the communities deprived in their midst here in the U.S., other than communities of immigrants.
If so--if THC is 'out in left field' in proffering this humble critique, then SOAW and its cohorts are doing everything that is possible to achieve their ends. In any event, the lone survivor of a night of terror twenty one years ago definitely comprehends what THC is propounding. The poor at home need the same succor and support as the campesinos to the South. Joining these suffering communities on pathways to power has the potential, many would say, along with Fr. Sobrino, the only potential, to make of the world a version of 'the kingdom of heaven' that the Nazarene assured all and sundry was 'at hand.'
|"(S)alvation has many dimensions, both personal and social, historical and transcendent. Insofar as it implies God’s response to a world marked by suffering and injustice, then the poor represent an indispensable test, a key to the healing of a sick society. Drawing on the radical hope of Christian faith—the promise of the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of the death—Sobrino presents a bold counter-cultural challenge to a 'civilization of wealth' that lives off the blood of the poor. Inspired by the witness of Oscar Romero and Ignacio Ellacuría, and the church’s preferential option for the poor, Sobrino offers these 'prophetic-utopian' reflections on faith and the meaning of discipleship in our time."|
More than ever before in history, the cosmos calls those who believe in any potential for human progress--whether the package is socialism, sustainable business, human rights, renewable energy, an end to nuclear weapons and the political predominance of militarism, or some combination of these, or something else altogether, matters less than that one honestly and diligently struggles for positive transformation--to ponder what contortions of rhetoric and action and networking can actually achieve the progressive ends. This is truly an "if not now, when?" moment, in which delay equals culpable dalliance.
The continuation of a school-for-assassins, whatever veneer of hemispheric cooperation beguiles the observer from the surface, rings a death knell for human survival in the context of seven billion cousins at each others' throats. Only an organizational upsurge--from the bottom up, that links communities so as to empower Roy Bourgeois' vision, has a ghost of a chance of salvaging humankind. To believe otherwise given the multiple intersecting crises confronting our species seems like a ludicrous exercise in wishful thinking.
Given that the extinction of humanity by definition means a lack of sustainable business, therefore, all those who follow a JustMeans lead in the direction of 'business better' have only one viable choice, unless of course collective suicide seems like a seemly option for achieving better business. And that is to work every day, in every way--which means interconnecting SOA with everything else and everything else with SOA--to close the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, and then to manifest a socially just and community-based democracy movement to deconstruct the entire imperial machine.
This notion, at home and abroad, that a systemic indictment of U.S. policy is necessary, actually forms the basis for any hope of sustainable business and all other progressive reforms, however one chooses to label and package them. Nothing cosmetic will do. A recognition of the the whole military, industrial, imperial, and oppressive paradigm--of course, THC would also say, 'capitalist' ought to be a part of the descriptive mix, but whatever--must take place and then create the bedrock for political development of democratic communities that collectively vie for power.
A generally-speaking 'liberal' commentary on SOA's abandonment of its moniker makes this clear. "A new name and new classes are unlikely to break the connection between the SOA and military repression in Central America. As the movement to close the SOA grows, so does awareness that it is just one link in a very long chain. The scope of U.S. military training programs is extensive-- as many as 100,000 foreign police and soldiers receive training from the U.S. government each year. There are more than 150 military institutions that train foreign officers in the United States. In addition, U.S. military officers lead countless training programs in other countries. Many of these programs, while front page news overseas, garner almost no attention in the United States, even when they support regimes with questionable human rights records and a 'flexible' definition of democracy."
A final deduction to ponder at this juncture is the essentially untrammeled certainty that is available about the empirical, statistical, and evidentiary validity of characterizing SOA/WHINSEC as a terrorist organization. Of course, this humble correspondent holds as a central component of his world view that 'certainty' about complexity is impossible.
Nevertheless, at various junctures in the limited time that any one of the cousinhood has available here on earth, each of us has to 'pays our money and takes our chances,' as the saying goes among aficianados of games of chance. This is one such juncture in regard to this institution. More study is always dandy, but Americans need to face up to the coming storm: and those Americans for whom democracy and justice are not convenient covers for hypocrisy ought to see that a continued SOA presence constitutes a knife in the gut of solidarity anywhere.
The Costa Rican policeman, a bona fide SOA 'Ph.d.,' whom the U.S. saw fit to deny access to a microphone, stands as something like incontrovertible testimony to the point that THC is making. It's 'put up or shut up' time; getting rid of the SOA will not yield anything like Nirvana in its own right; but any sort of progressive movement is impossible so long as SOA/WHINSEC continues to exist.
Various specifications of this point, in regard to Senor Brunes, are widely accessible. "Gerardo's experience of the absolute disregard for human rights in his SOA training led him to become a leading activist in pressuring his government to withdraw from the school."
Any doubt that this 'absolute disregard for human rights' is true--leaving aside the additional millions--literally, millions--of additional materials documenting this fact, ought to end through watching a video, It's in Spanish, so finding a translator will be important for those not conversant. Captain Brenes brings his manuals and, with level-gaze and clear eyes, breaks down the social, political, and brutal purpose and operational procedures of SOA.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion. But we are not so welcome to our own facts. Folks who believe in renewable energy or sustainable business or humanity's continued existence--and here's a clue: the first two depend on the last of the three--had better put their thinking caps on, go to a school to examine a school for killers, and get their facts straight.
Roy Bourgeois' stand for human rights and social equality is indivisible. When this humble correspondent spoke to him briefly, long ago and far away, THC detected the sort of irremediable Catholicism as has always made him a little nervous, even when the advocate is the most heartfelt proponent of liberation theology, an upcoming assessment of which will make clear that its parameters are pretty close to perfect for someone with the outlook of a THC.
Thus, in reporting this story, to learn of this soulful, stubborn priest's excommunication for a moment so unpended THC's equilibrium that he couldn't keep blabbering away, likely a 'hallelujah' moment for many readers, but something uncharacteristic for such an obdurate scribbler. That the Pope handed Bourgeois his head for demanding equal rights before God for women is therefore 'big news.' One should pay attention, and in examining the long struggle against SOA, one cannot help but note the way that its graduates, and American policy, have mercilessly targeted the family and women. Roy Bourgeois may be acting purely on principle; the Church has 'bigger fish to fry,' however, and the rest of us should find a way to back Fr. Bourgeois to the hilt, as it were.
In perusing so much of what appeared as a result of this investigative nexus, THC found himself gasping, caught between fury and despair at times, at other times nearly weeping at the beauty that cousins have long brought to the forefront under the most trying of conditions. Sister Desautels caused one of these interludes, when the heart leapt and the tear ducts filled.
She spoke of an Aztec folktale. In it, a great fire was consuming the world, and all creatures had to make a run for it. The owl himself, central to iconography here as in so many other places, narrating the story, comes across a modest Quetzal bird as he is fleeing.
Instead of also seeking safe harbor, the tiny creature is making one journey after another from the conflagration to the river, where she takes a few drops of water in her beak, so as to return to the blaze and douse what measure of the inferno that she can. Dumbfounded at this suicidal intention, the owl demands that she think rationally.
"'What are you doing, sister? Are you stupid? You are not going to achieve anything by doing this. You must run for your life!'
Quetzal bird stopped for a moment and looked at owl, and then answered: “'I am doing the best I can with what I have.'"
This humble correspondent knows, thanks to this wizened nun, that he has made the right choice, whatever the outcome. The firestorm of death will never be his choice, nor, before long, will any sinecure of security be available from its searing flames. We must all find a way to do our best, and be satisfied that, if fate finds in favor of Armageddon, we have done what we could given the means at our command to quench the hellish all consuming fire of class domination and death.
Many an observer will nonetheless cavil, 'but wait a minute! America is helping those poor Latinos who can't fend for themselves.' Rather than feel fury at such condescending inanity, THC will turn to Jose Duarte, merely a pro-United States liberal who lacked the willingness that Washington demanded to extinguish his own people and so fell out of favor.
He was speaking to Playboy Magazine, of all things. "Do the American military advisers also tell you how to run the war?" his interlocutor inquired.
|"The root of this problem is that the aid is given under such conditions that its use is really decided by the Americans and not by us. Decisions like how many planes or helicopters we buy, how we spend our money, how many trucks we need, how many bullets and of what caliber, how many pairs of boots and where our priorities should be--all of that ... And all the money is spent over there. We never even see a penny of it, because everything arrives here already paid for."|
He once made this same point even more strongly, before the U.S. underwrote his removal from political power. "US policy in Latin America, he said in 1969, was designed to 'maintain the Iberoamerican countries in a condition of direct dependence upon the international political decisions most beneficial to the United States, both at the hemisphere and world levels. Thus preach to us of democracy while everywhere they support dictatorships.'"
That such machinations of mayhem and murder as we have permitted in this hemisphere must ultimately have lethal consequences for any hope of majority rule ought to be clear. If not, then a crusty reactionary such as Senator Warren Rudman could enlighten the pupil's understanding. An analyst is speaking of the inherent lies of a 'anti-terrorist' policy.
"But the public's access to information is only one casualty (since) any sustained effort to mislead and circumvent Congress poses a serious threat to the integrity of the constitutional process. If the Executive considers itself above the law... then we can no longer rely on checks and balances... Just how vulnerable these protections have become was dramatically revealed in Colonel North's July 10, 1987, testimony, when he disclosed that former CIA Director William J. Casey had proposed the establishment of an 'off-the-shelf, self-sustaining, stand-alone entity' that could perform covert political and military operations without accountability to Congress. 'If you carry this to its logical extreme,' Senator Warren B. Rudman observed two days later, 'you don't have a democracy anymore.'"
To finish things up, because THC sees this situation as so dire, he provides just a tad more evidence--graphic in intensity, so as to evince something akin to a modicum of the seriousness of these matters. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency promotes assassination in our names. Here is an excerpt from a manual suggesting practical mechanisms in that regard, a manual similar to the training materials at SOA.
This "Study of Assassination" acts as "A how-to guide book in the art of political killing... offer(ing) detailed descriptions of the procedures, instruments, and implementation of assassination. 'The simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination,' counsels the study. 'A hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice.' For an assassin using 'edge weapons,' the manual notes in cold clinical terms, 'puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached....Absolute reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical region.' The manual also notes that to provide plausible denial, 'no assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded.' Murder, the drafters state, 'is not morally justifiable,' and 'persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.'"
This is straight from the land of the free and the home of the brave government. Perhaps one might accept that things are more than a tad out of hand. Will closing SOA serve as positive step, a first move toward the reassertion of citizen control over policy? Maybe folks ought to listen to a young woman who took on as her college assignment teaching her classmates about the nature of SOA. Near the end of her presentation,she referred to the following testimentary excerpt(www.sistersofmercy.org). It relates to the school's instructional nexus to 'leave no witness living to tell.'
"'The soldiers from the Atlacatl Battalion came at seven in the morning. They said they had orders to kill everyone. Nobody was to remain alive. They locked the women in the houses and the men in the church. There were 1,100 of us in all. The children were with the women. They kept us locked up all morning. At ten o’clock the soldiers began to kill the men who were in the church. First they machine-gunned them and then they slit their throats.'"
This is rough stuff. The heart sinks, and the mind rebels seeking to deny or ignore. Such must not be the case, however. Our own lives depend on our paying attention.
“'By two o’clock the soldiers had finished killing the men and they came for the women. They left the children locked up. They separated me from my eight-month old daughter and my oldest son. They took us away to kill us. As we came to the place where they were going to kill us, I was able to slip away and hide under a small bush, covering myself with the branches. I watched the soldiers line up twenty women and machine-gun them. Then they brought another group. Another rain of bullets. Then another group. And another.'”
Surely this is enough; surely now one can comprehend one's duty. No, not yet. We must listen still. "'They killed four of my children: my nine-year-old, my six-year-old, my three-year-old, and my eight-month-old daughter. My husband was killed, too. I spent seven days and nights alone in the hills with nothing to eat or drink. I couldn’t find anyone else; the soldiers had killed everyone. God allowed me to live so that I can testify how the Army killed the men and women and burned their bodies. I didn’t see them kill the children, but I heard the children's screams.'"
This account, dear readers, is from "(t)estimony of Rufina Amaya, the sole witness to the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador in which at least nine SOA graduates were implicated."