The Deaths of Two Pablos & the Latin American Sept. 11
Just as the exhumation of Pablo Neruda’s remains got under way in Chile, Wikileaks has released another trove of U.S. documents. This time, they relate to the same period of the poet’s death, days after the Sept. 11, 1973 coup that ousted democratic president Salvador Allende. As for the other Pablo, April 8 was the 40-year anniversary of Picasso’s death, who was also targeted by a dictatorship, that of Francisco Franco, but managed to outlive its reign of terror. Thus what took place decades ago remains relevant even to these indifferent times.
The 1970s was a dark period for most of Latin and Central America, with widespread military coups and disregard for human rights. It was a time when blood-thirsty rulers, under the banner of fighting a mostly fabricated Communist threat, were let loose to persecute and assassinate political opponents.
What’s disturbing is the fact that they may have had help from Washington and the Vatican, as the Wikileaks papers attest. Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Pope Paul VI, both central to events of the period, are shown to be aware of what was taking place down South. They just chose to do nothing to prevent it.
Kissinger’s role has long been discussed, as there’s an overall consensus that the generals who disrupted by force so many democracies in the region could not have remained in power for as long as they did without political support and funding from Western powers. Despite all claims to the contrary, he’s staunchly denied any role in the Chilean coup.
But the papers also show that the Vatican had downright dismissed mounting allegations and evidence of almost indiscriminate murders and serious violations Continue reading →
When Country & Church Play the Whistle-Blowers’ Swan Song
Two recent reports making the rounds beyond the 24-news cycle share a disturbing trait, usually associated with authoritarian regimes: The Obama administration’s prosecutions against government employees accused of leaking classified information to the media; and the Catholic Church’s use of the court system to intimidate a group representing victims of sexual abuse by priests. The combined decisions send chilling waves down the spines of advocates for press freedom and human rights, two pillar institutions of any democratic society. And may embody an unduly attempt by the government at preventing accountability before its citizens, as well as an unacceptable bullying by the church of those who seek to bring to justice clergy members who committed criminal acts.
That this is happening in a country whose constitution is a tenet of moral standards and a manifest for the rule of the law, and at a time when its presidency is occupied by a member of a historically oppressed racial minority is not just startling: it’s outrageous.
And it’s occurring now, when the U.S.’s military presence in Afghanistan is faltering, while the economic recovery is lagging and an extremist minority of religious zealots is gaining traction. It should be, otherwise, the ideal moment to show resolve about this nation’s secular principles and commitment to individual freedom and separation of church and state.
Instead, we’re getting lost in this quagmire of whether to support a president that has restored a lot of our national pride, out of the sheer power of his personal charisma and persuasion, and at the same time, demand transparency from its law enforcement agencies, that seem eager to trample individual rights in the name of vague concepts of national security and the war on terror rhetoric. THE RAPE OF PVT. MANNING
Perhaps the case that ignited the current cycle of ‘persecute the messenger, forget about the message’ is the still ongoing, extremely painful public excoriation of Army Private Bradley Manning, who has been under arrest since May 2010, and who only in February was Continue reading →
———————— The Earth Shook & Burn But The World Only Moved Sideways ————————
A year of extremes but no breakthroughs. Records of the wrong kind (U.S.’s longest armed conflict in Afghanistan and worst environmental disaster ever, highest temperature indexes in several regions of the world, increased infection diseases mortality rates in the Caribbean and Africa, and staggering drug trafficking casualties in Latin America) plagued the world, with the additional bonus of a certified freak: a snowstorm in the middle of the Australian summer.
But there was no progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks; no curbs on Iranian and North Korean authoritarian antics or scary nuclear ambitions; no meaningful proposals to solve political impasses in the Ivory Coast, Sudan, Rwanda, Nigeria or Zimbabwe.
Disturbing tactics did get deployed, though, by the world’s superpowers but with the only intention of curbing whistle blowers and freedom of information acts such as WikiLeaks. It gave civil rights activists of every stripe a chilling pause to see Continue reading →
and What We May Need to Awake From in the New Year.
THE TOPS 1) July 26, December 19. The biggest story of the year, the two-punch WikiLeaks revelations about our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the startlingly dispirited diplomacy used to achieve them, had all the limitations of an attack led by drones: all fire, no eyesight.
What was far more revealing was the swift counter punch by the U.S. and its allies in reaction to them. Within days, a case of free speech was turned into a terrorist witch-hunt of the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, the Interpol was brought in and a personal misdeed in Sweden was quickly rolled in for good measure.
The effort to punish the messenger was enough to temporarily derail the essence of the allegations, force Assange to fight expatriation and jail term threats, and land Pvt Bradley Manning, his supposedly source, into an insalubrious location Continue reading →
A trove of classified military documents about the war in Afghanistan, leaked to three major global newspapers over the weekend, is renewing questions about the validity of that conflict, while shedding a new light on some of the reasons for its overextended duration and the staggering human toll it’s exacting.
With the six-year secret reports the Wikileaks Website obtained without disclosing how and made available to the New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel, a much darker picture of that war effort began to emerge. Since the three newspapers Continue reading →
About $370 thousand. That’s how much money was posted by a group of supporters for WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange’s release in London. City of Westminster Magistrates Court Judge Howard Riddle ordered him to come back to court on Jan. 11 and, until then, to reside at Ellingham Hall, a Georgian mansion in Bungay, eastern England.
He must spend every night there, wear electronic tags and stay under curfew from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. He’s also to report daily to the police from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Additionally, while waiting for a possible extradition to Sweden for questioning on the rape allegations case moved against him by two women, his passport will be held and he’s not permitted to travel abroad. The Swedish government said it would appeal against Assange’s release, but one of this lawyers said he probably would not be released until Wednesday morning.
Despite technically unrelated to the charges of sexual assault, by which Assange’s faces possible jail time in Sweden, most Continue reading →