The Bob Marley songbook is bursting with eloquent social protest, exposing the poverty, oppression and injustice endured by inhabitants of the “developing” world. “Burning and Looting”, for example: “This morning I woke up in a curfew. O my God I was a prisoner too … Could not recognise the faces standing over me, they were all dressed in uniforms of brutality.”
David T. Rowlands
In 9/11 and numerous other works, veteran MIT linguistics professor and libertarian socialist author/activist Noam Chomsky has argued the United States is “a leading terrorist state.” According to the author of a recent diatribe in Australia’s Monthly magazine, these “views on American foreign policy” are “myopic” and “conspiratorial” and make Chomsky an unsuitable recipient of the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize.
In the final days of Alan Garcia’s rancid presidency, crimes against the Peruvian people are still being committed. The department of Puno, bordering Bolivia in the country’s south-east, has now been added to a long list of locations where anti-mining protesters have been gunned down by security forces. On June 25, six indigenous activists were reportedly killed and dozens more wounded when Peruvian police opened fire on a 4000-strong crowd occupying the Manco Capac airport in the city of Juliaca.
In April, the Washington, DC-based National Security Archive posted a 5500-page document tranche detailing the extent of Cincinnati-based food giant Chiquita’s dealings with Colombian death squad United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). The documents shed further light on the relationship between multinationals and Colombia’s murderous right-wing paramilitaries.
Peruvian stocks lost a record 12% of their value as local and global investors jettisoned mining shares after left-leaning nationalist Ollanta Humala won the second round of Peru's presidential elections on June 5. The multi-billion dollar plunge reflects the fear and hostility that “market forces” instinctively bear toward an expression of the popular will in “developing” resource-rich nations like Peru. Humala defeated the right-wing candidate Keiko Fujimori with 51.3% of the vote. Keiko is the daughter of jailed ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori.
Corporate media outlets claim Peru’s mining boom is doing wonders for the country’s economy, creating opportunities and making everybody richer. Quite a few Peruvians, mostly situated in the bubble-world of Lima’s wealthy areas, have been drinking the neoliberal kool-aid. Someone must have forgotten to tell those troublesome recalcitrants out in the provinces that the despoliation of their lands is good for them.
Shortly after the end of World War I, Australian troops bloodily suppressed a popular independence revolution in Egypt. This overlooked episode in Australia’s military history has never prompted much national soul-searching — but it should. The war in which some 60,000 Australians died was supposedly fought for liberal democratic values and the right of peoples to pursue national “self-determination”. Episodes like the Egyptian revolt suggest that a squalid imperial reality underlay the noble rhetoric, which is why it has been relegated to obscurity.
Only days before Peru’s general elections on April 10, three protesters were killed and dozens injured by firearm-wielding police near the southern city of Arequipa. The protesters were taking part in a community uprising against the Tia Maria copper mine proposed by Mexican-based, US-funded Southern Copper. The company has one of the worst environmental track records of any mining company active in Peru. Fearing that the mine would irredeemably contaminate local water, the residents of Islay took to the streets, despite realising it would put their lives at risk.
Peruvians went to the polls to elect a new president on April 10. In a first round result reminiscent of the 2006 election, the electorate has sent the previously languishing “left-nationalist” candidate Ollanta Humala (of the Gana Peru alliance) through to the presidential runoff on June 5. As in 2006, Humala will face a candidate representing elite interests: Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of ex-president and architect of Peru’s neoliberal development model, Alberto Fujimori.
This was inspired by the “Collateral Murder” video released in April 2010 by WikiLeaks. * * * 1. Oh, come all you American teenagers Put away your video games And get some real shoot em-up-action Wasting folks with weird-sounding names Now how would you like to bear true faith By joining an Apache crew In trouble spots around the world There’s killing work to do Light them up Keep shooting Look at all Those dead bastards 2. Well, there’s so many features to tell you about Like the Boeing M230 chain gun With that Arab-slaying motherfucker
Power worship is what the corporate media does best, and there has been plenty of that on display in recent Libya coverage. Donning his “white man’s burden” hat, Peter Hartcher, in the March 22 Sydney Morning Herald, responded to the United States/European Union bombing by saying: “To the relief of millions in Libya and millions more around the world, the West has unsheathed the sword against [Gaddafi’s] resurgent forces.” Such comments are the background noise that has lent a veneer of legitimacy to the West’s imperialist adventures since the end of the Cold War.
Opinion polls are predicting that the likely winner of the April 10 Peruvian presidential election will be Alejandro Toledo. The candidate of Possible Peru, Toledo was the neoliberal president from 2001-06. After the narrow victory of the moderate left candidate Susana Villaran from Social Force in the Lima mayoral elections last year, it was predicted that the left’s prospects might improve nationally. So far this has failed to materialise, owing partly to a redoubled effort by the elite and its foreign backers to promote Toledo.
The persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is unfortunately nothing new in the history of Australia or other Western nations. The outward appearance of democratic government often masks a darker, anti-democratic reality. Dissenters and truth-tellers such as Assange, who dare to challenge the official version of events, have been subjected to acts of bastardry in the past. The Australian government’s treatment of Assange today invites comparison with the earlier case of the Australian socialist journalist Wilfred Burchett, who died in 1983.
In Mexico, a war involving rival drug gangs, law enforcement agencies and the national army has officially claimed 23,000 lives since 2006. This figure does not include the many thousands of innocent people who have been “disappeared” by police and army units. The violence can be directly attributed to the corrosive impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA was signed on January 1, 1994 between the United States, Canada and Mexico with the aim of removing trade and investment barriers between these nations.
Peruvian President Alan Garcia, who last year ordered the brutal massacre of protesting Amazonian tribespeople, has once again resorted to violence — this time in person. Visiting Edgardo Rebagliati Hospital in Lima, on October 9, Garcia encountered 27-year-old Ricardo Galvez, who shouted “corrupt” at the president. Eyewitnesses say Garcia flew into an uncontrollable rage and forcefully struck the volunteer worker in the face. Members of Garcia’s entourage landed follow up blows, knocking a defenceless Galvez to the floor where he was subjected to further mistreatment.
Despite carefully-crafted appearances to the contrary, projects like the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) are no solution to the problems that confront the colonised “developing” world. Endemic corruption, environmentally unsustainable development and spiralling income inequality are inseparable from the process of capitalist global expansion, which EITI and other corporate-funded front organisations only serve to legitimise.