Australians have joined the international campaign calling on U2's Bono — who has appealed to the world for peace and poverty reduction — to apply those same values to block the manufacture and distribution of a video game that promotes the invasion and destruction of Venezuela.
Bono is a managing director and co-founder of the private equity firm Elevation Partners, which has invested in Pandemic/Bioware Studios. Pandemic/Bioware has created a video game, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, that simulates a mercenary invasion of Venezuela in 2007. The game promotes the invasion and destruction of Venezuela in order to check "a power hungry tyrant" who has "seized control of Venezuela and her oil supply". Mercenaries 2 promises to leave no part of Venezuela untouched.
Pandemic is a subcontractor for the US Army and the CIA-funded Institute for Creative Technologies, which uses Hollywood techniques to mount war simulations in California's high desert to conduct military training.
Protest actions were held at U2 concerts around the country last week. Melbourne protest organiser Jody Betzien, from the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, urged: "Here is a simple thing you can do, Bono, to help poor people. Stop investing in Pandemic/Bioware."
Ironically, U2 has written a number of songs about the brutal US-backed dictatorships that plagued Latin America in the 1980s, including "Mothers of the Disappeared" and "Bullet the Blue Sky". Betzien told Green Left Weekly: "How can Bono now support a game that promotes killing practically the only president in the world actually doing something serious about combatting poverty — President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela?"
The campaign to have Bono disassociate himself from the video game was featured in a November 13 New York Times article by Tom Zeller Jr, who wrote: "Bono reflected on his humanitarian efforts — and on the complaints — in a call this month from Brisbane, Australia, where, as it happened, a small group of international activists was planning to demonstrate at U2's concerts ... 'I have to tell you, the things that come up when you're in this band', Bono said. 'I mean, some of it of course is real and substantial — and people have genuine fears and concerns. But some of it is just barking mad'."
Bono's attempts to trivialise serious criticism of his involvement in this war game will continue to be challenged by activists, Betzien responded.