President Robert Mugabe and Chinese Leader Hu Jintao
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
Yesterday there was a great deal of spirited debate about Zimbabwe in various forums on the Internet. Here in the virtual world, there is a veritable marketplace of ideas. It's like a gigantic classroom. Every opinion is equal, right?
Some people disputed the notion that there is an imperialist drive to discredit the government of Robert Mugabe and to drive him from office. Perhaps at the very moment the different points of view on this topic were being fought, the facts came out to confirm that a big international campaign HAS been underway. The proof didn't come from some supporter of Mugabe, but right from the horse's mouth in Washington.
It's the very same kind of activist effort, both financed and
orchestrated from Washington, which also targets Cuba, Venezuela and Iran, countries whose governments the U.S. wants to drive out of power. Below this article from the South Africa Mail & Guardian, a newspaper bitterly hostile to Mugabe, you will find direct quotes from the U.S. State Department further confirming all this.
Would it seem unreasonable, in light of this, to hope that, maybe those who've been so vociferous, so strident against Mugabe, some even doing to in the name of Marxism, will stop for a moment and meditate over what has now been made public by the U.S.?
The revolution is not a spectacle. There are no spectators.
Everyone participates, whether they know it or not...
"Un paraiso bajo el bloqueo"
FURTHER REFERENCE MATERIAL:
ZIMBABWE: West's Campaign Against Country Doomed
THE BLACK SCHOLAR EDITORIAL ON ZIMBABWE
US reveals its efforts to topple Mugabe
06 April 2007 07:59
The United States admitted openly for the first time on Thursday that it was actively working to undermine Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe.
Although officially Washington does not support regime change, a US state department report published on Thursday acknowledged that it was supporting opposition politicians in the country and others critical of Mugabe.
The State Department also admitted sponsoring events aimed at "discrediting" statements made by Mugabe's government.
The report will be seized on by Mugabe, who has repeatedly claimed that the US and Britain are seeking regime change.
The comments are contained in the state department's fifth annual Supporting Human Rights and Democracy report. It sets out in detail actions the US government is taking worldwide to promote human rights.
The report has had a troubled history. Three years ago publication had to be hastily delayed when details emerged about US human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.
The US, compared with the United Kingdom, was initially slow to criticise Mugabe, but has since adopted an increasingly critical stance, most recently at the Human Rights Council in Geneva last month.
In an unusual piece of candour, the State Department report says: "To encourage greater public debate on restoring good governance in [Zimbabwe], the United States sponsored public events that presented economic and social analyses discrediting the government's excuses for its failed policies.
"To further strengthen pro-democracy elements, the US government continued to support the efforts of the political opposition, the media and civil society to create and defend democratic space and to support persons who criticised the government."
While the US and British governments still insist their aim in Zimbabwe is not regime change, they have been encouraging the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangarai, who was beaten up last month.
The report says that while Zimbabwe is nominally democratic, the government of Mugabe is "now authoritarian".
At a press conference to launch the document, the Assistant Secretary of State, Barry Lowenkren, said the US goal was not necessarily regime change but to create a level playing field for all parties. He added that where there was a country with record levels of inflation, denial of basic human rights and other abuses, the US had a duty to speak out so that people in Zimbabwe knew they had support.
Asked whether US efforts to promote human rights worldwide were being undermined by the hundreds of of people being held at Guantánamo, Lowenkren insisted the issue was not raised by non-governmental groups at conferences he attended and participants were more interested in what the US could do to help them in their own countries.
He also denied the report was softer on authoritarian governments allied to the US, such as Belarus, than to Zimbabwe.
Lowenkren said $66-million was being spent on promotion of democracy and human rights in Iran, about half of which was devoted to broadcasts from outside the country and the rest spent on support for non-governmental exchanges, cultural exchanges such as the visit by the US wrestling team and a Persian internet service.
The report is critical of Russia, noting the killing of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
It says: "Political pressure on the judiciary, corruption and selectivity in enforcement of the law, continuing media restrictions and self-censorship, and government pressure on opposition political parties eroded the public accountability of government leaders.
"Security forces were involved in additional significant human rights problems."
University considers revoking degree
Meanwhile, the University of Massachusetts (UMass) is considering revoking an honourary doctorate of law it awarded Mugabe in 1986.
Some students at the Boston campus have circulated a petition asking for the university to revoke the degree, and officials say they are considering doing so.
"Mugabe's actions during the past decade show he's fallen from being a good citizen of the world," said Shauna Murray, a graduate student who helped circulate the petition. "He has a track record of suppressing basic human rights like free speech and the right to protest, and that doesn't represent what students here stand for."
The issue also has surfaced at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Michigan State University, which gave Mugabe honourary degrees in 1984 and 1990, respectively.
Terry Denbow, a Michigan State spokesperson, said administrators have received letters requesting that Mugabe's degree be rescinded.
"There have been discussions, but I know of no formal process for rescinding the degree," Denbow said.
Officials at Edinburgh said the issue of Mugabe's degree was under review.
According to the UMass policy, honourary degrees are handed out to people "of great accomplishment and high ethical standards".
Recipients have included former South African president Nelson Mandela, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, author Toni Morrison and comedian and educator Bill Cosby.
Once lauded as a model for African democracy, Mugabe has tried to crush opposition to his power and has threatened to expel Western envoys for criticising his government.
The country's Roman Catholic bishops said last month that health, education and other public services "have all but disintegrated".
"Mugabe has become a scourge of his people and a scourge of Africa," said Michael Thelwell, a professor in the UMass Afro-American studies department.
But Thelwell and others cautioned against revoking the degree just to appease Mugabe's critics.
"The task of intellectuals is to seek the truth, not to be swayed by pressures of the moment," said Bill Strickland, a UMass politics professor. "If they take away the degree, they have to look at all the facts surrounding what is happening in Zimbabwe and not simply blame just one person."
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007, Sapa-AP
On-The-Record Briefing on the Release of the Annual Report,
"Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record - 2006"
Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs; Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Barry F. Lowenkron
Washington, DC April 5, 2007