The role of the West in Rwanda's genocide,

A People Betrayed: The role of the West in Rwanda‘s genocide, by Linda Malvern, Zed Press, 2000

Reviewed By Roger Annis

 

I recently read a comprehensive history of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, "A People Betrayed: The role of the West in Rwanda‘s genocide." I was drawn to read it by the experience of the current UN-sponsored occupation of Haiti. There are important parallels between the two experiences.

 In 1994, the United Nations Security Council stood by while more than one million Rwandans were killed in a planned genocide by a regime that received important backing from the U.S., France, Belgium and Egypt. The regime acted in the name of a fictional "Hutu" nationality against a minority people called "Tutsi". Killings on a massive scale began in April of that year and only ended with the military and political defeat of the "Hutu Power" regime by the Rwanda Patriotic Front. The human misery continued because the new government inherited a shattered country, and some one million people were driven out of Rwanda into a barren region of Zaire by the genocide regime in order to preserve a population base.

 I knew the rough outlines of the genocide. What the book reveals is that not only did the UN Security Council and its member countries stand by before and during the genocide, they gave active military and diplomatic support to the genocide regime. France and Egypt provided arms. France and the Security Council maintained their diplomatic recognition of the regime until its dying days. With Security Council backing, France intervened in late June with a 2,500-member military force in order to salvage the remnants of the regime and impose a "coalition" regime on the Rwandan people, that is, a government of the RPF and the architects of the genocide. (The RPF flatly refused).

 Canadian General Romeo Dallaire was the head of the UN’s "peacekeeping" contingent in Rwanda. It arrived in the summer of 1993 and numbered 2,500 troops. It did not have a mandate nor the resources to intervene and stop the genocide when it began in earnest in April 1994. In fact, as the killings mounted, Belgium, the former colonial power, pulled out the remainder of its armed forces. (France had withdrawn in late 1993). Dallaire is treated as a folk hero in Canada and internationally for his apparent efforts to stop the genocide. I think the adulation is undeserved, for several reasons.

 One, if UN forces were truly interested in stopping the genocide, they would have aided the Rwandan patriotic forces in the RPF who were attempting to do just that. But Dallaire always couched his appeal for stronger UN intervention as a measure to "separate two warring sides." In other words, he sought to preserve elements of the genocide regime in the form of an imposed coalition government, the same goal that France attempted in June. The RPF never received support nor cooperation from UN forces.

 Two, Dallaire travels and speaks widely on the Rwanda genocide. And what is his message? That the UN, the very agency that "betrayed" the Rwandan people, as the title of the book under review states, should be strengthened and reinforced. He is an enthusiastic proponent of the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine authored by the ideologues of his government (Dallaire is a member of the unelected Canadian Senate).

 Dallaire has unique insight and information of the events that transpired in Rwanda. He knows first-hand of the cruel betrayal of the Rwandan people by the U.S. and France in particular, not to speak of the UN Security Council. Does he condemn this betrayal? Only in the vaguest of language. Meanwhile, he preaches forgiveness and renewal of confidence in the governments and international institutions that betrayed.

 If Dallaire were sincerely interested in averting future Rwandas, he would denounce the "betrayals" of other peoples by the Security Council, including in Haiti. There, in early 2004, the Security Council sanctioned the violent overthrow of Haiti‘s elected president and other governing institutions, and then recognized an appointed and illegal regime that perpetrated widespread killings and human rights violations against supporters of Haiti‘s democracy.

 I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the role of the UN in today’s world. "Peacekeeping?" "Responsibility to Protect?" This book is a reminder of how poisonous are these doctrines. Beware of their proponents.

 Roger Annis is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network. He resides in Vancouver BC.

 

Going South to Solidarity

For the first time in too many years I am planning a return trip to Nicaragua where I had lived for two years in 1989-1991.  Before I left the ten years of progress from the revolution, were totally undone in a matter of weeks.  Social progress and democracy are so fragile and need safe guarding at all times, I learned that year.  As I travel and take pictures I will add to this article en route…….

 

One stop is to reconnect with our friends at Tipitappa

But for now…..
All the prepping takes much list making and resorting for me.  I check out second hand shops for ‘summer clothes’ of cotton and linen to take and donate again.  I will bring home stuff for the literature table and for the community to use (books, articles, sale-ables), so my give-aways are going to be displaced by souvenirs for CASC

 Dec 16, 06

What a time for my computer to die mysteriously and then five days later work again for no reason!!  Now I have my tickets printed and the final goodbyes said on both e-mail and phone.  I am in my last 45 hours, before departure, and I feel the pressure and nervousness mounting.  I feel such an awesome responsibility taking money down to Latin America for their projects and hope to do a decent job of it.

Yesterday I was honored by my Friday morning coffee group, HOST (to whom I have been supplying a hot coffee service for their meetings for the CASC Coffee Project).  They very gererously gave me a $100.00 donation to the coffee project and a $50.00 voucher at a restaurant for me to use.  Since I have taken on this job, they are learning a little about Solidarity and I am learning about business and marketing.  Check their site:  < www.hostvictoria.org >

I ordered an extra coffe roast and it went in two days as people are buying up for the next 6 weeks while I am away.  I have none even to take to the Ometepe Co-Op with me to show them.  I’ll just bring a couple empty bags so they can see the labels we made.  I also pre-ordered a roast for delivery the day I return home, so I can hit the ground delivering on Feb 1st and 2nd. 

 This is it until I get south….

December 19, 2006,  San Jose,  Costa Rica

This was not the kind of note I had hoped to write at this stage.

It just does not not pay to try to save a few bucks, taking the public bus into town in the dark to an unfamiliar hospedaje.  I was mugged about 1/2 block from where I got off and two blocks from the hostel, Tranquillo Backpackers, where I was headed following my 60 cent bus journey.  They got the camera and the guitar but I fought like a buggar and kept my pack and small day bag as they were tied to me.  (They did not get the money!}

It was way too exciting at the hostel when I got there and the police came and the owner was called, don’t know why, but I refused hopital care as I have my own steri strips and did not want stitches in my hand!  I am banged, battered, scraped and bruised with three small cuts on my left hand and arm.  Other then that and a few sore muscles from the tug of war (reminisent of the mugging I got in Managua years back where the lads used chains} I am okay.  I will take a few days here to heal before I head north to Ometepe.

It was not part of my plan to be this slow going North but I need to be flexible these days and take care of myself or I am no good to anyone.  Ana, the gal here who helps, got me some gallo pinto in a bowl for lunch and it was the best ever.  I will learn where she bought it in the neighbourhood and go back for more.  For tonight, a new friend will take a slow walk with me to the corner pizza joint, and back home for a beer!!

 December 25, Finca Magdelena, Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

 Merry Christmas here is different from any other place in the world!!  Thankfully!!

I left San Jose earlier then I expected as I could not justify wasting money, US$14.00 a night, when it can go further in Nicaragua.

I took the local bus from San Jose with the regular Ticos to the border for $6.00 and was quite delighted when we arrived with the Tica Bus travellers who paid $23.00 *but they do continue to Managua*, and I was able to scoot in ahead of them and cross rapidly.  The taxi ride from the border to San Jorge was fun, easy and comfortable though expensive for the locals at $20.00.  I did not mind the fee as I was still sore and welcomed the ease of travel and it did take an hour or more to get to the port.  Relaxing with a cool Nicaraguan beer, Tona, following the trip caused me to miss the big ferry from San Jorge to Moyogalpa so the smaller one a half hour later was my next adventure.

After watching way too much Coca Cola being loaded aboard, a truck load of toilet paper, and many store supplies followed behind.  Lastly the 80 passengers where squeezed in the lower level and on to the front deck.  There were about 6 travellers, the rest were Nicas who shared the sunny, bumpy, wet ride for an hour’s crossing.

I could not understand how my backpack, could have gotten heavier, but it did.  The following morning I learned that it had sopped up the splashed and running water, that had splashed over into the cabin.  Because of the black bottom, I did not see the wetness.

A truck ride of an hour and a half brought me to the Hospedaje, in the darkness about 6.00 p.m.

The roads here defy discription as they are torn up with the rain and are very rocky and muddy.  Most time the trucks and buses travel at walking speed avoiding tearing out the carriage with the rough roads. 

My driver put on the Beatles and when I asked if he had Godoy’s music he apologized.  I apparently can buy his new CD in Rivas, so that is a plan!!

I took a private room upstairs for $3.00 a night and settled in. After I ate gallopinto and a great salad, I met David and Lisa, a couple from Bainbridge who have a small house on a poperty adjoining the farm.  There had been a celebration in AltaGracia the night before with about 500 people, acknowledging the twenty years of Solidarity with the coffee co operative here.

This finca is so different from what I remember because it has been built up with the traffic of travellers exploring the Island and seeking the trail to the Volcano which passes right through the property.  Thankfully for the 29 families who depend on the crop here, that they do have a thriving hospedaje business, because the crop has failed miserably this year.

Apparently, when the flowers were just ready to be fertilized, a strong driving rain
distroyed them and drove them to the ground.  David says they will be lucky to have a hundred pounds instead of their usual two thousand.  Already there is an agreement to buy from another cooperative on the northern part of the Island to complete our usual purchase for our coffee.

The land is lush and colourful with many beautiful flowers and butterflies.  Organic lettuce for our salads is grown among the flowers and other plants.  Searching for the petrogliphs, I wandered through a field of low growing beans.  One taste and I knew where my gallo pinto beans came from.  The huge rocks throughout the fireld, made it clear that all harvest is by hand in these fields on this steep mountianside.

My view from the open window of my tiny, dusty, buggy second story room is astounding with the garden below, then the green of the banana trees flowing down to the lake.  To the left is the huge Volcanic Mountian, Conception, ever shrouded in clouds and mist.

It is so difficult to plan to leave from here.  The people who work here, the other travellers, and delegations make this a most unusual and special place.  I am glad nothing is moving these two days so I am more or less stuck here for a wee while.  No complaiints here, in paradise!

My bruises and scrapes are healing and today I can walk with less pain then ever before.  My limp is almost gone and the herbal medicine is doing a fine job!!

Yesterday, a guide with whom I have been practising speaking Spanish, invited me to join he and four Americans down to Belgue to see the rodeo.  Yuck!!  With the drunken cowboys trying to ride old, tired bulls, with a most discordant band (reminisent of the first week of school band( and kids and vendors yelling and selling, it was quite the experience!!  But,  one not soon to be revisited I am sure!!

Last night was the Posada wherein a couple dressed as Mary and Joseph with their donkey wander about the village looking for lodging.  I doubt that that first Christmas long ago had the amount of Flora De Cana rum flowing in the village!!

 Tonight I am invited to the guide’s house to visit and eat with his family.  I plan to bring some rum, some hair fancies for the children and a Canadian beach ball as treats.  This will be a great time for immersion.

Until next time…. Have a happy season and take care of each other….

 

KillerCoke: The Victoria Coke Boycott

The BOYCOTT COKE campaign in Victoria is focused on all products made by this global giant; including: Coca-Cola, Dasani, Powerade, Fresca, Sprite, Squirt, Evian, Fanta, Minute Maid, Five Alive, Hi-C and many more.

Murder - It's the Real Thing

COKE is a major human rights violator

Coke murders workers. The struggle to unionize workers at a Coca-Cola bottling facility in Carepa, Colombia has resulted in the murder and torture of seven trade union leaders at Coke bottling plants Workers have been threatened and fired for their union support. COKE uses sugar from plantations in El Salvador that use child labour. Children as young as nine years old work nine hours a day in the sun wielding machetes.

COKE supports War

COKE is one of the main contributors to Bush, his campaign expenses and his war policies.

COKE Is Unhealthy

Every can of COKE contains 8-10 teaspoons of sugar or synthetic sweeteners linked to cancer, allergies and brain disorders. Cola is the major beverage of many Canadians and a factor in increasing child obesity. Coke says it will withdraw its cola from machines in schools and only sell its water and other drink products. Other drinks also contain sugar and products from non-fair trade, chemically treated agriculture.

COKE Steals Water.

In India Coke has bought the groundwater and forbids local people from using their wells. In other places, Coke has drained the ground water dry. Coke is polluted with pesticides in one region of India. Bottled water makes the most profits of any Coke product Do you know the last time Coke or Dasani water were independently tested here?

Coke depletes resources and creates waste

Billions of plastic containers are made and dumped every year around the world, discarded after one use, a waste of energy, petroleum and space. Aluminium cans also waste energy.

WE CAN ALL ACT!

Turn on your tap, drink fair trade tea and coffee and locally made juice. Carry your water in a reusable container. You will be healthier and richer and you will be performing a political action! It’s a lot easier than being shot for your principles.

The Victoria BOYCOTT COKE CAMPAIGN works to have Coca-Cola machines removed from schools, public city facilities and health institutions.

JOIN US! For information contact: http://www.vipirg.ca/events/past_events/reports/0606_boycott_workshop.pdf