Mengistu considers "returning to South Africa in the future"

Jose G. Perez jgperez at SPAMfreepcmail.com
Thu Dec 16 22:25:47 MST 1999



>>Ahem, lonely comrade Grinker, you were not paying attention. The
argument that at least some of us advance on e-debate is that if
the Chilean progressive community calls for Pinochet to be tarred
and feathered abroad because they don't have the clout to do same
at home, then we should support that community in the spirit of
solidarity -- and because it may catalyse radical consciousness-
raising there and everywhere about the synthesis of Pinochet's
regime and imperialism.<<

Grinker may not be as lonely as you think. His position is shared by many
Latin American revolutionaries, including Fidel Castro.

The problems with what you espouse are the following:

a) The Chilean "progressive community" -- whoever and whatever that may
be -- are not the people of Chile. The "progressive Chilean community" has
no right or authority to bargain or give away the sovereign prerogatives of
the Chilean people and the Chilean nation to imperialism.

And I should think class-conscious Spanish and English workers would
denounce the pretensions of the Spanish and British imperialist judges,
whose hands and robes drip with the blood of Irish and Basque patriots, and
therefore have no moral standing to judge Pinochet. Let them put Mrs.
Thatcher, Felipe González and their henchmen in the dock FIRST, and then
we'll talk about Pinochet.

Moreover, the Spanish initiative in the Pinochet case came in a certain
context. It was NOT the result of mass protests or pressures in Chile or
anywhere else. It came as part of a deepening drive by Spanish imperialism
to use the neo-liberal lunacy of current Latin American rulers to strengthen
their position in Latin America vis a vis the American rivals of European
imperialist firms and the European rivals of Spanish imperialist firms.
Among those spearheading this drive have been Banco Bilbao Viscaya and
Telefonica.

b) The precedent set in this case can and will INEVITABLY be used by
imperialism, not against its loyal henchmen like Pinochet, but against
Communists and other defenders of the rights of the exploited and the
oppressed. And it already has. Thus when Fidel Castro wanted to attend the
WTO conference in Seattle, the Miami right-wing Cuban exile mafia, started
whipping up a campaign around arresting Fidel for supposed "crimes." Absent
a clear-cut statement from the federal government that it would quash any
attempted provocation like this, Fidel decided he could not attend the
Seattle meeting. For any attempt to detain the Cuban head of state would be
treated by Cuba as an act of war. Fidel's body guards would have cut down
without hesitation any American cop trying to lay a finger on him.

Seattle, without doubt, represented a setback for the imperialists, but
imagine how much MORE significant it would have been with Fidel's voice
there giving clear and coherent anti-imperialist expression to the movement.

In a country like the U.S., where EVERY jurisdiction is obligated to give
"full faith a credit" to the judicial actions of any other, to legitimize
extraterritorial criminal charges is tantamount to running guns to the
ultraright, and to justify armed imperialist interventions in Latin America.
Remember Panama!

c) The extra-territorial application of criminal jurisdiction guts
completely the rights of any defendant. The defendant has certainly lost the
right to present a defense, because the power to compel witnesses and
evidence is one of the most important components of that right. Yet neither
the British nor the Spanish courts have any power to compel the production
of evidence nor the testimony of witnesses in Chile. Suppose that, in fact,
Pinochet was not personally involved in the ways the magistrate accuses him
of in these specific cases. How is he supposed to prove it, with all
witnesses and records beyond the reach of the court trying him?

d) In the same way, it guts completely the right to not be held criminally
liable more than once for the same actions. If the Spanish case falls flat
on its face and Pinochet is set free, an Italian, Belgian, Greek or Turkish
court could easily hold him to account on exactly the same set of charges,
for the decisions of Spain are not binding on any other country.

e) The issue of extra-territorial application of laws is an important one.
The U.S. blockade against Cuba involves such laws, as does its attempt to
dominate the Caribbean under the guise of fighting drug trafficking.
Extraterritoriality undermines whatever procedural and democratic guarantees
working people may have been able to extract from a local ruling class. It
undermines the sovereignty and independence of third world countries. And
for that reason, its been at the center of constant battles between the
third world and the imperialist metropolis since the days when the sun was
barely rising on the British empire.

José



-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick Bond <pbond at wn.apc.org>
To: marxism at lists.panix.com <marxism at lists.panix.com>;
marxism at lists.panix.com <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Date: Thursday, December 16, 1999 8:25 AM
Subject: Re: Mengistu considers "returning to South Africa in the future"


Ahem, lonely comrade Grinker, you were not paying attention. The
argument that at least some of us advance on e-debate is that if
the Chilean progressive community calls for Pinochet to be tarred
and feathered abroad because they don't have the clout to do same
at home, then we should support that community in the spirit of
solidarity -- and because it may catalyse radical consciousness-
raising there and everywhere about the synthesis of Pinochet's
regime and imperialism.

And really, comrade, the Mbeki government is not one to endorse
when it comes to international political allies, for with the exception
of Castro perhaps, this is a sordid lot. For marxism-list readers
who have not heard, friends and financial supporters of Mandela
and Mbeki range from Bush Snr to Suharto, and since 1994 arms
sales have been recorded to a variety of murderous regimes, from
Algeria to Zaire.

You're just backlashing too hard again, com Russell.

On 16 Dec 99, at 14:19, Russell Grinker wrote:
> For once I tend to agree with Mbeki's approach which seems to
> indicate a refusal by the government to be sucked into the
> current wave of moralistic attempts to prosecute former
> despots/demonise China.
>
> I've been almost

(completely, I recall :-) )

> alone on the local Debate list in opposing the Pinochet
> business and even the persecution of Ocalan

Nope. Entirely different from Pinochet.

> as serious threats to old
> fashioned national sovereignty and part of reshaping Western modes of
> domination.  For many on the "left" here, these actions, on the contrary,
> herald a wonderful new phase of an international culture of human rights.
> Or at least people feel that it's OK as the bastards are finally "getting
> what they deserve".  Mbeki, however, has probably begun to realise the
> dangers of a relatively weak country like SA playing along with
this.

Patrick Bond
(Wits University Graduate School of Public and Development Management)
home: 51 Somerset Road, Kensington 2094, Johannesburg
office: 22 Gordon Building, Wits University Parktown Campus
mailing address: PO Box 601 WITS 2050
phones:  (h) (2711) 614-8088; (o) 488-5917; fax 484-2729
emails:  (h) pbond at wn.apc.org; (o) bondp at zeus.mgmt.wits.ac.za











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