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Turning Africa Into the World's Garbage Can


SYNOPSIS: Africa, already suffering from poverty, drought, famine, locusts, "contra" wars, and the AIDS epidemic, now appears destined to become the world's toxic waste dump. International sludge dealers have tried to dump U.S. and European waste onto at least 15 African countries, a trend exposed over the last couple of years by European environmentalists, but not widely covered by the U.S. press.

The need to find a dumping ground is increasingly imperative. Although the U.S. produces an estimated 87 percent of the world's toxic waste, West Germany exports the most. Switzerland lacks recycling or storage facilities.

France, a big waste recycler, had to stop taking in its neighbors' waste in 1988 because its recycling facilities were filled to capacity with domestic waste.

Until 1988, Europe's favorite solution to toxic waste was to incinerate it in the North Sea, until the sea died and 63 countries agreed to stop waste incineration in the North Sea as of 1994.

Africa, unfortunately, became a prime target. Geographically, most sub-Saharan countries have vast, sparsely populated territories that are not really controlled by any authority. There are also no serious controls of Africa's coastal waters. Populations are still largely illiterate and susceptible to persuasion. African countries lack the experts and facilities to determine the contents of shipments. Finally, the targeted countries are poor, in debt, and in need of funds Western countries are willing to pay to dump their waste.

The scandalous efforts to dump on Africa led to the 1989 Basel Convention, which recognized the "right of every country to refuse to accept toxic waste." The Organization for African Unity, concerned with having individual countries decide the issue, persuaded the African countries not to sign.



U.S. Supports "One of the Most Brutal Holocausts Since World War II"

SYNOPSIS: Mozambique, a country on the Indian Ocean bordering South Africa, is one of the world's leading victims of terrorism. This nation of 14 million people is trying to resist brutal attack by the Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO), a South African-armed and supported group. A U.S. State Department official called it "one of the most brutal holocausts against ordinary human beings since World War II."

The Mozambique government calls them "bandidos," but RENAMO, the 25,000-man army, says they are fighting to overthrow the predominantly black, socialist, one-party government in power. The atrocities are so horrible many cannot even be imagined. So far more than one million, mostly innocent men, women, and children have died as a result of this barbaric war. Many of the atrocities are committed against children. The numbers of girls raped is incredible; reports say girls as young as ten are being made sexual slaves for soldiers. There may be at least 100,000 children the RENAMO has trained and forced to kill. Children are kidnapped from their families and first trained to kill animals, then human beings. This process can begin at the age of eight. One out of every three Mozambique children will die before they reach the age of five.

Funding for RENAMO is believed to come from South African sources as well as conservative, right-wing groups in the United States and Europe. According to RENAMO watch groups, U.S. supporters of RENAMO include U.S. Representatives Dan Burton (R-Indiana) and Philip Crane (R-Illinois); Senators Bob Dole (R-Kansas), Bob Kasten (R-Wisconsin), and Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina); Jack Kemp, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and television evangelist Pat Robertson.


UPDATE: The holocaust in Mozambique continued until 1990 when the ruling Frelimo government opened talks with RENAMO, which led to a cease fire in 1992. Ironically, RENAMO, which had once brutalized the country, turned to politics and millions of once-terrorized citizens started to support it. In the country's first election in 1994, brokered by the United Nations, Frelimo won a majority with about 55 percent of the votes, gaining 129 of the 250 seats in Parliament. However, RENAMO won 112 seats in Parliament with the remaining nine votes going to a coalition of small parties (The Mining Journal, 1/26/96).

Still struggling to overcome the ravages of war, Mozambique is one of the poorest nations in the world. World Press Review (January 1996), in an explosive article confirming the RENAMO use of children as warriors, noted that the average Mozambican earned about $80 in 1994.

According to an article in The New York Times (5/1/88), "RENAMO has the backing of several members of Congress, including Senator Jesse Helms and Representative Jack Kemp, who last September sent a letter to RENAMO's leader that closed with 'best wishes for continued success."' Congressional support of the RENAMO was also later cited by National Catholic Reporter (12/10/93) which said Senator Bob Dole once referred to the RENAMO rebels as "freedom fighters."



Guatemalan Blood on U.S. Hands

SYNOPSIS: The Bush Administration significantly strengthened ties with the Guatemalan military at the same time that human rights violations by the military rose sharply.

According to the 1989 review by Human Rights Watch, U.S. military involvement in Guatemala included: sales of rifles to the army; construction of a road by the U.S. Army; training of Guatemalan paratroopers by U.S. Green Berets; jungle survival training by U.S. Special Forces; and a series of training exercises by armed and uniformed National Guard units from Kentucky, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Hawaii, in a Guatemalan province with considerable rebel activity. Meanwhile the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA reported on the fate of a U.S. citizen that received little U.S. press coverage. On November 2, 1989, a U.S. citizen, Sister Diana Ortiz, 31, of the Ursuline order based in Maple Mount, Kentucky, was kidnapped, beaten, tortured, and sexually molested by three men, one of whom was a uniformed Guatemalan police officer.

The Human Rights Watch contended this should have triggered a suspension of U.S. training programs for the Guatemalan police, but the U.S. State Department didn't even register a protest, saying the case fell under Guatemalan jurisdiction. Compare this with the response by the Bush Administration to the alleged sexual threat to a U.S. lieutenant's wife by Panamanian armed forces that Bush used to partially justify the invasion of Panama by 26,000 U.S. troops.


UPDATE: The report of "world-class" human rights atrocities in Guatemala was first cited in the #15 Censored story of 1988. But it wasn't until March and April of 1995 that the major media confirmed the full horrifying story. On March 11, 1995, seven years after the atrocities were revealed in the alternative press, wire services reported the Clinton Administration was suspending the last of its military aid to Guatemala. On April 13, 1995, The New York Times reported that a federal judge ordered an ex-Guatemalan general to pay $47.5 million to Sister Diana Ortiz and eight Guatemalans who were terrorized by the Guatemalan military. On July 26, 1995, The Times also reported an internal CIA investigation concluding that CIA officers covered up their clandestine Guatemalan activities. Finally, on June 29, 1996, the Associated Press reported that a presidential panel, the Intelligence Oversight Board, revealed evidence that several CIA agents in Guatemala had ordered, planned or taken part in human rights abuses in Guatemala, including assassination, since 1984.

It was not until 1997 that the full extent of U.S. interference in Guatemalan affairs was exposed. Newly declassified documents revealed that the CIA plotted to overthrow the Guatemalan government as early as the 1950s. It had compiled "hit lists" and started training Central American assassins to kill political and military Communist leaders (Associated Press, 5/24/97). Guatemala's civil war, which began in 1960, was the longest and deadliest in Central America, having taken the lives of up to 200,000 unarmed civilians, primarily highland Indians, as reported in a well-documented article in Foreign Policy (6/22/96). In 1991, the Guatemalan army agreed to participate in peace negotiations to end the war. The United States, along with Mexico, Norway, Spain, Colombia, and Venezuela, known as the Group of Friends, offered to facilitate the peace process and support the United Nations as its moderator. Foreign Policy said Guatemala's new president. Alvaro Arzu, who took office in January 1996, vowed to advance the peace negotiations and to establish civilian control over the army. On November 11, 1996, the Guatemalan government and the guerrilla movement agreed to a formal cease-fire (Associated Press, 11/12/96). And on Sunday, December 29, 1996, guerrilla and government leaders signed the official accord ending the war and promising to address the poverty, repression, and discrimination that ignited the fighting 36 years earlier (Associated Press, l2/30/96).

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