Letters Praise, blame and all points in between? Give us your feedback.
NI 449 January/February 2012
New Internationalist www.newint.org
Haiti twoyears on Hope for a Burmese spring A second chance
Where did all the money go?
for Colombia’s child soldiers Horror flick: Mrs T at the movies Israel evicts Bedouin villages Is the EU eroding our rights? How mercenaries moved into aid Juliet Stevenson ‘I wish I’d been a human rights lawyer’
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Political poverty Over the years, New Internationalist has taught me that political poverty is just as important as physical poverty. That’s why I was surprised to see that the issue on Haiti (NI 449) left out a crucial fact: Haiti’s most popular party was unjustly excluded from their last election. See ijdh.org/ archives/17592. Boyd Reimer Toronto, Canada
Colombia’s Red Dance Re: ‘Child, soldier, civilian’, NI 449. If Seth Biderman is wondering why the FARC insurgents don’t lay down their arms and join the civil/ political life of the country, it’s because they had already tried in the 1980s. In 1985, FARC entered an agreement with the Colombian government, in which the insurgents would disarm and form a political party to compete openly in election campaigns. The party, Union Patriotica (UP), ran candidates throughout the country, at all levels.
What they didn’t know was that the government had secretly formed a death squad, code-named El Baile Rojo (The Red Dance), which began harassing and assassinating UP officials as they emerged to run in election campaigns.
After massive deaththreats and killings, FARC was forced to abandon the political option, some to seek asylum abroad and others to resume their armed insurrection.
This story is stunningly told in the documentary El Baile Rojo, which can be found on YouTube. Vito Signorile Windsor, Canada
Pattern of violence I have no brief for the FARC but it is easily forgotten that they did not start the militarization of Colombian society. Most historians trace this back to 1948 when the Liberal Presidential candidate Gaitan was about to sweep to victory on a programme of social justice and land reform. Because this upset landowners and powerful élite interests, Gaitan was assassinated and a war was unleashed against peasants and indigenous people.
Colombia is highly militarized; rightwing death squads have killed peasants and the army has been involved in targeted killings of those on the Left, including trade unionists. Western governments like those of the US and Britain have armed the Colombian military despite such abuses.
FARC have a poor record on human rights but they are only part of a pattern of violence. Justice and human rights are key to ending conflict and creating conditions necessary for the demobilization of child soldiers and other combatants in Colombia. Derek Wall Windsor, England
Power to the world Re: Joyce Nelson’s article on cross-border electrics (Agenda, NI 449). I totally agree and lobby to oppose the dams in the Amazon. However, I have long lobbied for the Desertec Campaign, because I truly believe that concentrating solar power around the world can provide 700 times the energy needed by the populations in all countries and can benefit those living in the best areas to supply them. People can be employed, essential to avoiding conflicts and ensuring peace. Peter Foreman Chelmsford, England
Asylum lies I completely agree with Juliet Stevenson’s views on asylum seekers (And finally..., NI 449), as would a lot of people if they knew the true picture as distinct from the distortions and lies we are told.
It is beyond my understanding that any country, particularly one like Britain which is wealthy and safe compared to the countries asylum seekers come from, can be so disbelieving, immoral and restrictive to people seeking
449) but does not unpick the charge of antisemitism. It is antisemitic to hold all Jewish people responsible for the behaviour of the Israeli government. That is to fall into the trap set by Israel, of claiming to represent all Jews. It doesn’t. The establishment of the state of Israel was just one strategy, developed by some Jews, in response to European antisemitism. It has always been opposed by others, Jewish and non-Jewish, on all sorts of grounds. Here are some of mine: l that no state founded on one ethnic or religious identity can ever be democratic; l that no state founded by displacing another people through the barrel of a gun
It is antisemitic to hold all Jewish people responsible for the behaviour of the Israeli government sanctuary. If I were younger I would leave the country. Elizabeth Lawrence Balfron, Scotland
Distinctions Sarah Colbourne makes it clear why we should be opposed to Israeli government actions (‘The wrong side of history’, NI
can ever offer peace and security to its own; l that the behaviour of the Israeli state towards the Palestinians, and their claim to represent all Jews, has put at risk and destroyed long-established Jewish communities living throughout the Middle East;
Haiti two years on, NI 449 @SamJohnHall: Great coverage from @newint marking 2 years since #Haiti #earthquake. Lucid, realistic and historical. Inspiring journalism. ‘A fierce beauty’, Letter from Cairo, NI 448 @petra_stienen: wish I could hear the music described so eloquently in this article @Matthewteller: Glorious, vivid, delicious writing #Egypt. ‘Why the 99% have rebelled’, Mark Engler, NI 448 @standupchicago: Why ‘We Are the 99%’ is so powerful & why the rightwing ‘We Are the 53%’ response is so pathetic. Johnson & Johnson story in Agenda, NI 448 @cnyh: Horrible, being unable to cut 90% off HIV treatment costs because J&J refuse. Spread the word. ‘Anxieties of influence’, NI 448 @occupybristoluk: Fascinating piece. Includes how UK arms exports destroy Middle-Eastern democracy.
6 ● N ew I n t e r nat i o nal i s t ● MARCH 2 012 that there are Jews living in Israel implacably opposed to the actions of their government, of the settlers, of the army.
Those of us involved in solidarity work with Palestinians need to be ready to be challenged, to make sure that our movement is open and welcoming to people from any background. And to resist absolutely the accusation that our commitment is in any way directed against Jewish people. Annie Neligan Bentham, England
Arms and the man Having worked in it, I enjoyed the articles about and analyses of the arms trade (NI 448).
Although by upbringing and instinct a pacifist, I nevertheless believe one has the right to defend oneself against aggression. That leads me to believe that one has the right to buy – and others have the right to sell – the means of self-defence. This causes me much soul-searching.
The moment when I thought I really was in the wrong industry came when I was with the Minister of
Defence of a South American country. He proudly showed me the buildings where his country trained its army, navy, air force and police. With an expansive gesture of his arm, he pointed towards them and said: ‘They, Señor Booth, they know how to make war. But we...’ (at this point he put his arm around
NI 448 December 2011 www.newint.org
Eurozone crisis: bailout or default? Why is Johnson
& Johnson blocking access to HIV drugs?
Occupy movement goes viral Can Zambia stand up to
The almighty influence of The Arms Trade
● Rise of the killer drones
Antony Gormley, close to the sky The unreported year, 2011
Nnimmo Bassey’s lyrical activism
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my shoulder and gave me a hug) ‘... we know how to make business, huh?’
I know from the inside how the arms industry works. You got it about right. Donald Booth West Yorkshire, England
Another whack Thanks for another whack at the arms trade (NI 448). One angle is the potential for arms trade corruption under the guise of ‘charitable giving’. Transparency International has raised this. While concrete examples are hard to come by (perhaps because they are well-concealed), there was certainly a case in South Africa in the 1990s where the then British Aerospace made a donation to the Defence Minister’s favourite charity for favoured treatment in the aviation procurement mentioned by Andrew Feinstein (‘The shadow world’). There are likely to be more such cases. See this Australian example: nin.tl/ xVT1Pd. David Stephens Canberra, Australia
Back to the drachma Re: ‘Time to explode myths of the Eurozone crisis’, Agenda, NI 448.
Hong Kong is part of China yet has its own currency. Why not a Greek Hong Kong that uses the drachma? Allow the Greeks a fighting chance of saving their economy. Nelson Underdown Mile End, Australia
Grim Reaper The global banking system truly deserves the tag of the Grim Reaper as NI 447 makes crystal clear. The underwriting by this system of global food speculation warrants labelling as a crime against humanity and both a perversion and a subversion of the concept of civilization.
Food speculation is ‘up there’ with war profiteering in the pantheon of human cesspittedness. Tony Hosking Dover Gardens, Australia
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