Abu-Jamal's Radio Broadcasts
In the wake
of the brutalities exposed by the graphic photos from Abu Ghraib
prison in Iraq, we have been treated to a plethora of comments from
Americans from all walks
of life, but especially from rich and powerful politicians, to the
tune of; "That kind of behavior is un-American", or "The
acts are not done by Americans," or, as president George W.
Bush claimed, "This isn't an America I recognize."
As a rule,
it's dangerous to put much stock in the drivel of politicians, yet
one wonders, what country do they really think they are living in?
Are they brought up on an island, on Martha's Vineyard, perhaps,
away from the roiling mainland?
A brief, yet
illustrative peek at the American history of violent interventions
in much of South and Central America should give us all some insight
into what 'America is capable of.'
of 20th century Latin America is essentially the history of brutal
dictatorships; from Cuba's Fulgencio Batista, Nicaragua's Anastio
"Tacho" Somoza, Venezuela's Marcos Perez Jimenez, to the
Dominican Republic's Rafael Trujillo, and beyond. What do these
brutal military dictators have in common?
All of them
were supported by the United States; indeed, all of them were invited
to the White House on state visits, received ovations before joint
sessions of Congress, and were decorated by the Pentagon with its
highest military distinction, the Order of Merit.
They were decorated
for denying freedom to trade unionists, agrarian reformers, and
civil servants. Their governments were repressive, antidemocratic,
and mostly corrupt.
The US response
to this wave of repression? Medals.
As for Cuba,
the US has waged its longest war against it, as former Colombian
diplomat, Clara Nieto has written:
March 1959 [US president] Eisenhower ordered the CIA to set into
motion "Operation Pluto," an extensive effort to subvert
the Revolution and overthrow Fidel [Castro]. Immediately CIA agents
began to infiltrate, and terrorist actions and sabotage
in commercial and public centers ensued. Pirate aircraft took
off from Florida to drop napalm on Cuban sugar refineries and
other important economic targets. And the CIA provided arms, money,
and equipment to a counterrevolutionary group that was forming
in the mountains of Escambray in the central Cuba. [Clara Nieto,
*Masters of War: Latin America and U.S. Aggression* (New York:
Seven Stories, 2003), p. 54]
so bad by the 1960s that US president 'LBJ' Johnson would whisper
to a close presidential advisor, "We've been running a damned
branch of Murder, Inc. down in the Caribbean" [p. 103].
US-trained, armed, and paid dictators used their militaries, and
their police to wage internal wars against their own people, to
protect US and national elite profits at all costs.
like what was formerly known as the School of the Americas, at Fort
Benning, Georgia, the US trained a vast coterie of torturers, saboteurs,
and terrorists. Tens of thousands of workers, peasants, and youth
were tortured, imprisoned, exiled and killed by these US-trained
For Latin Americans,
the school became known as 'la escuela de golpas' coup school.
Is there any
wonder that with the possible exception of Kennedy, every US president
that has visited the region has been greeted, not by bouquets, but
by brickbats, protests, and burning US flags? Latin-Americans know
that the trail of their suffering, hunger, torture, and pain leads,
not to their national capitals, but to Washington, D.C., the capital
of the Empire.
view US claims to freedom, democracy and national independence quite
differently from their neighbors to the north.
They are acutely
critical when they hear such claims from US lips. They have heard
such claims for the better part of a century, and their hard experience
has taught them that much of it is a lie.
This is a lesson
that Iraqis are beginning to learn. When they hear US occupiers
speak of 'freedom', 'justice', 'democracy', and 'human rights',
all they will hear is the
Arabic words meaning 'Father of the Stranger': Abu Ghraib.
2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal
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© copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.