Toxic Material Paralyzes U.N. and Ecuador
John Bolton just arrived at the U.N. and he's already made a splash. Typically, it was a caustic spill of some sort. The face of American arrogance (left) proliferated a ton of paperwork on other countries, calling for a rewrite of practically everything the other countries were supposed to discuss, do, or not do.
All part of the neocons' master plan to destabilize the hated U.N. We've got that destabilizing thing down pat. Bolton's diplomacy reminds me of preposterous pasha Jerry Bremer's maneuvers with Moqtada al-Sadr and other Iraqis in Baghdead. And Bolton's just treating the rest of the world the way Doug Feith treats Arabs.
Meanwhile, our dumping of nuts and Boltons on the U.N. is sure to not only screw up the rusty gears of the world body but also worsen the chances of holding U.S. corporate citizens accountable for a mammoth oil spill in Ecuador.
The Bush regime and its pals are mounting a multi-level attack on South America, the only continent on Earth in which left-leaning governments have been on the rise.
While the Cheney administration's theocratic wing — in the person of wing nut Pat Robertson — has called for the assassination of Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, the regime's envoys are putting the economic squeeze on every other country down there to pledge not to hold us accountable to any international court of law.
Juan Forero of the New York Times pointed this out on August 19:
- Three years ago the Bush administration began prodding countries to shield Americans from the fledgling International Criminal Court in The Hague, which was intended to be the first permanent tribunal for prosecuting crimes like genocide.
The United States has since cut aid to some two dozen nations that refused to sign immunity agreements that American officials say are intended to protect American soldiers and policy makers from politically motivated prosecutions.
Our rich partners, like Australia, Japan, Germany, and Great Britain, have been exempted from these "immunity agreements," but things look darker for people of darker color.
More than 100 countries yielded and signed the agreements. But 53 others — including Ecuador — haven't, and they're paying the price. Here's more from Forero:
- Most of the penalties, outlined in a law that went into effect in 2003, have been in the form of cuts in military training and other security aid. But a budget bill passed in December also permits new cuts in social and health-care programs, like AIDS education and peacekeeping, refugee assistance and judicial reforms.
Though the amounts are a pittance for Washington, their loss is being sorely felt in small countries.
In an outburst, in June, President Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador told a Quito television station that he would not yield to Washington. "Absolutely no one is going to make me cower," he said. "Neither the government, nor Alfredo Palacio nor the Ecuadorean people need to be afraid."
His nation has one of the region's largest American military bases and has become increasingly important as a staging ground for American surveillance of everything from the cocaine trade to immigrant smuggling. Still, Ecuador has lost $15 million since 2003 and may lose another $7 million this year.
Ecuador's not alone. Forero pointed out that 12 nations in Latin America and the Caribbean have been penalized. He added:
- The cuts are generating strong resentment at what many see as heavy-handed diplomacy, officials and diplomats in seven countries said.
More than that, some Americans are also beginning to question the policy, as political and military leaders in the region complain that the aid cuts are squandering good will and hurting their ability to cooperate in other important areas, like the campaigns against drugs and terrorism.
Just like in the Middle East, the Bush regime's civilian troublemakers are ignoring warnings from their military people:
- In testimony before Congress in March, Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, the commander of American military forces in Latin America, said the sanctions had excluded Latin American officers from American training programs and could allow China, which has been seeking military ties to Latin America, to fill the void.
"We now risk losing contact and interoperability with a generation of military classmates in many nations of the region, including several leading countries," General Craddock told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
This "immunity" business certainly doesn't protect the people in Ecuador from the poison that U.S. oil companies dumped on them. The watchdog ChevronToxico summarizes a historic trial now going on in eastern Ecuador:
- The lawsuit on behalf of five indigenous tribes and 80 communities alleges Texaco dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into Ecuador's rainforest during its two decades of operations in Ecuador's northern Amazon region, from 1970 to 1992.
The amount of direct crude dumped is roughly 30 times larger than the amount spilled during the Exxon Valdez disaster.
The trial is the first time in history that rainforest dwellers have forced a multinational oil company to be subjected to jurisdiction in their national courts. The Ecuador phase began in 2003 in the jungle town of Lago Agrio and is expected to conclude next year.
If only the U.S. had had a little more time to coerce these countries into extending immunity to our corporate citizens. Oh, well. The latest dispatch from activists about water samples from poisoned wells in Ecuador's rainforest bodes ill for the oil conglom now known as Chevron:
- Chevron’s own sampling has produced devastating proof against itself — for example, of 77 water
samples submitted to the court by Chevron, 97 percent violate Ecuadorian legal standards.
And those standards are far more relaxed than the ones that protect Americans' health.
But, hey, these are Ecuadoreans we're talking about. They don't really count. Proof of that is how they were treated this past April at Chevron's annual shareholder meeting in San Ramon, California:
- Perhaps angered by a call by large shareholders that the Ecuador situation be independently reviewed by the Board of Directors, ChevronTexaco CEO David O'Reilly Wednesday reported record oil profits and then promptly shut down the microphone on a prominent Ecuadorian rainforest leader before she had a chance to speak at the company's annual meeting about oil contamination caused by Texaco in her homeland.
- "I may be foreign to you but I am human. The jungle was once a great university, market, and hospital to us. Since ChevronTexaco came, our university, market, and hospital has been vanishing. I am not here to tarnish your image but to find a solution to this crisis."
Sit down and shut up, pal. We're Americans. Yeah, you Ecuadoreans are upset. And some of you, like Carmen Perez, are even sad:
- Perez, a mother of six from Ecuador's Amazon region, had traveled two days by bus from her small community just to arrive in Quito, Ecuador's capital. She then flew a full day to the Bay Area to attend ChevronTexaco's annual meeting at the invitation of shareholders and the human rights organization Amnesty International.
"I was very sad that I traveled for three days to come to this meeting, only not to be heard by the chairman of the company," said Perez, who is a health care worker in the community of La Primavera, in Ecuador's Sucumbios province. Sucumbios is the epicenter of what industry experts believe could be the worst oil-related environmental catastrophe in the world.
Flexing his American muscles, Chevron's chairman ran roughshod over the activists:
- Five minutes before the meeting was scheduled to end, O'Reilly shut down the microphone and adjourned the meeting in the middle of a presentation by Atossa Soltani, the executive director of Amazon Watch, a non-profit group that has been working for years with the Ecuadorian communities.
Soltani was presenting a letter sent by Amazon Watch to O'Reilly earlier in the week accusing company employees of making false and misleading public statements about the evidence at the trial, which thus far shows significant levels of toxic contamination at Texaco's former sites. She was attempting to cite ChevronTexaco's own soil and water tests from a well called Sacha-53 that found 22 samples over the maximum allowable legal limits for toxins.
Turning off a microphone is one ploy. Another good tactic is to dump an unexpected load of documents on your enemies. That's what John Bolton has done at the U.N., hardly a surprise considering his longstanding enmity toward the international body and his history as an expert in controlling arms by twisting them. As Colum Lynch of the Washington Post reports this morning:
- Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and U.N. reform, the Bush administration has thrown the proceedings in turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement to be signed by presidents and prime ministers attending the event.
The United States has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments that would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms.
Our diplomatic moves have paid off in Iraq. Sending Bolton to the U.N. with a load of documents is just another example of what we Americans like to call "reinforcing success" in "support of continued progress."