Friday, July 31, 2009

Nigeria News Update: Mohammed Yusuf Killed While in Custody

Boko Haram Leader Killed

President orders military operation to continue
Sect existing since 1995, says DQ

From Juliana Taiwo in Abuja and Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri, 07.31.2009
Nigeria ThisDay

After nearly two days of military bombardment of his Maiduguri, Borno State base, the leader of the Islamic fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed yesterday in a shoot-out with security forces.

Yusuf’s deputy arrested two days ago has also been killed while the militant’s enclave has been levelled and the place taken over by soldiers.

Special Adviser on Media to President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, told
THISDAY last night that the President, who is still in Brazil on a state visit, had been informed about the development.

He said President Yar’Adua had also directed that the security agencies should not relent until they fish out and arrest all the remaining members of the sect wherever they might be.

Governor Ali Modu Sheriff in a broadcast to the people of the state said the victory against the fundamentalists was achieved with the help of God and that of President Yar’Adua, who he said intervened quickly by deploying troops in the state.

The governor promised to come out with a bill which will be presented to the state House of Assembly to regulate religious sermon in the state.

It also emerged last night that the sect had been in existence since 1995 and had operated under different names one of which was Ahlulsunna wal’jama’ah hijra.

Meanwhile, the military will begin what in their parlance is called “Show-of-Force” today in Borno, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina and Yobe States to assure the civilian populace of their preparedness to curtail the activities of Boko Haram.

Stories had earlier gone out that the sect’s leader had fled the town and was heading to either Chad or Cameroon.

He was said to have been sighted at Kirenuwa in the Northern part of Borno State fleeing the clampdown on him and members of his group on Wednesday evening.

Those who claimed to have seen him around Kirenuwa, which is along the road to Niger and Cameroon, said he was driven in a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).

He was said to be in company with some of his members who came in tow in another SUV.

Yusuf and members of Boko Haram, meaning Western education is sin, have been tormenting some parts of the North since last Sunday.

Early last Sunday, they clashed with policemen in Bauchi, Bauchi State leaving many dead in the wake of the attack.

The violence soon spread to Borno, Yobe and Kano States with even more casualties recorded.

But on Tuesday, soldiers moved into Yusuf’s Maiduguri stronghold where they engaged members of the sect in fierce exchange of gunfire.

There were reports of heavy military bombardment of the enclave, though the sect members, said to be fully armed, inflicted some harm on the troops, killing some soldiers in the process.

However, the military action which had been on for two days finally yielded fruits.
Yusuf’s Maiduguri enclave was finally levelled by the Nigerian security forces yesterday afternoon.

The attack on the stronghold resulted in heavy casualties mostly on the side of the fundamentalists.

Though the military men had taken control of the headquarters of the sect, however, the fleeing members of the group set ablaze the Makera Police Station in the suburb of Maiduguri.

Meanwhile, normalcy is gradually returning to the town as people who have been holed up in their houses since Sunday evening have started trickling out, though random searching of people by security agents is still on.

Our correspondent who went out found the streets littered with corpses. There is serious stench everywhere and those moving about have to cover their nostrils.

Sheriff said in his broadcast: “Let me seize this opportunity to express our most profound gratitude on behalf of the government and people of Borno State to the President, Commander-in-Chief, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, for his quick intervention through the deployment of capable military personnel that have liquidated the miscreants.

“May I also express our gratitude to the General Officer Commanding the Third Armoured Division, Jos and the entire members of the state security forum, top government officials and officers and men of the Nigerian Army and Police for standing by us during this trying period.”

The governor in the broadcast aired at 10pm on Wednesday also thanked residents for their patience and understanding while appealing to the entire citizenry to remain calm, vigilant and report any suspicious character in their midst to the nearest security agent.

He said: “Government is aware that some members of the discredited group are being harboured by some unpatriotic members of the public,” warning that “any one found harbouring any member of that group will be dealt with.”

Sheriff said security agents had been put on red alert and would soon be made to conduct house to house check throughout the state.

He urged all residents to go about their normal business, insisting that adequate security had been put in place to avoid any reoccurrence of the incidence.

The Director of Defence Intelligence (DDI), Col. Mohammed Yerima, said at a joint press briefing by Defence Headquarters, Force Public Relations, Nigerian Police, ACP Emmanuel CS Ojukwu, and Assistant Director Public Relations, State Security Service, Marilyn Ogar, that the militant sect had been in existence since 1995.

He said intelligence reports showed that members of the sect were not only in the North-east but also in some states outside the area.

He said the show-of-force which will be implemented in all states of the affected areas is on the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Paul Dike.

Tracing the history of the group, Yerima disclosed that it had operated under different names one of which was Ahlulsunna wal’jama’ah hijra.

He also said the sect leader was first arrested in November 2008 and taken to court but was freed by an Abuja High Court in January 2009.

“We will begin with a little background story on how the crisis snowballed into this current ugly situation. A certain group of Islamic fundamentalists, led by one Mohammed Yusuf had in the recent past been engaging in some suspicious activities with security implications. The group named Boko Haram is rabidly opposed to all forms of western education and civilization.

“They consider as their primary target for attacks, law enforcement agents, critical public infrastructure and centres of worship which in their view are opposed to their doctrines. It has been ascertained that the group did not emerge just of recent.

“They have been in existence as far back as 1995 under different names such as Ahlulsunna wal’jama’ah hijra. Security agencies have over this period been monitoring and containing their activities even when they transmuted to other names but with the same doctrine of intolerance.

“For instance, on 13 November 2008, the group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, and quite a number of his followers were arrested by the security operatives and was handed over to the Inspector General of Police for prosecution.

“However, they were subsequently granted bail by an Abuja High Court on the 20 January 2009.

Before then in 2007, one of his ardent disciples, Al-amin, who was also the Kano State leader of the group, was arrested along with some of their members after an attack on a police station in Kano; he was also handed over to the police for prosecution.

“Similarly, between February and April 2009, Yusuf’s second in command named Kilakam, a Nigerien, was on two occasions arrested and repatriated to his country.

“In furtherance to their violent tendencies, the extremists sometime in June 2009 launched an attack on a police station in Bama, Borno State but the police was able to contain their violence which left about 17 of their members dead; the leader of the group vowed to avenge the death of his members and ordered his followers to stockpile arms. Based on intelligence report, all security agencies were put on alert which led to the discovery of a hideout where members of the sect were preparing bombs in Maiduguri.

“Following security reports on the activities of Boko Haram, the group’s hideout located at Dutsen Tanshi area of Bauchi town was raided on 26 July 2009 by a joint security team and nine of them were arrested and materials for bomb making and other weapons were confiscated.

About two hours later, the group launched another deadly attack on police formations in Bauchi State. Unfortunately for them, they were met with heavy casualty. They subsequently struck in Potiskum, Yobe State where they bombed police stations and set inmates free. Between July 26 and 29, these violent extremists had launched sporadic suicide attacks on Bauchi, Yobe and Borno States.

“Their weapons of offence include Improvised Explosives Devices (IED), AK-47 rifles, dane guns, pistols, daggers, machetes, catapults and clubs.

“Gentlemen of the press, let me take a moment to give you an insight into the crisis management procedure in internal security operations. First of all you may wish to note that the Nigeria Police is responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the country.

“It is only when the NPF is unable to contain the situation that the military might come in.

This notwithstanding, the military cannot intervene or deploy unless so directed by the President. It is against this background that the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Federal Republic of Nigeria, having assessed the situation on ground, directed the Chief of Defence Staff to take over the operation of restoring law and order in the affected states.

“Consequently, the Chief of Defence Staff ordered the military to conduct internal security operation which is already in progress. We however assure the public that the military is in control. In fact, Maiduguri town was cleared of the fundamentalist as at yesterday.

“We implore the public to give security agencies accurate and timely information that will assist in ending the crisis. The issue of religious extremism is not peculiar to Nigeria as it has become a global challenge. Countries including Nigeria are not resting on their oars; we therefore enjoin you the press and members of the public to partner with us to tame this monster. The time to act is now,” Yerima said.

Fielding questions from newsmen on why Yusuf was yet to be apprehended, Yerima disclosed that as at Wednesday night, the joint team where in pursuit of him (Muhammed Yusuf) and had a lead that he had left Maiduguri for his home in Girgir, in Jakusko Local Government area of Yobe State.

On the allegations that the SSS had been negligent and aided his freedom when he was last arrested, Ogah replied, “Muhammed Yusuf was arrested on November 13, 2008 and as at November 17 2008, after gathering substantial evidence he was handed over to the police by the SSS for prosecution and was subsequently released by an Abuja High Court on the January 20, 2009.

“It will be wrong for the press to assume that the security agencies failed because it is on record that sufficient intelligence have been collected on Muhammed Yusuf and his followers and same has been passed to action agencies. As at July 14, 2009, 21 reports have been submitted on Muhammed Yusuf activities and members of his group. The duty of State Security Service is that of collecting proactive intelligence and passing it on to our consumers and that we have done sufficiently and we are still doing.”

Calm returns, more troops in northern states

Yar'Adua turns to govs, monarchs

Sect leader reportedly killed

From Madu Onuorah (Abuja),Muhammed Abubakar and Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri)
Nigerian Guardian

AFTER four days of fierce gun battle between the Nigerian armed forces and members of an Islamic sect, Boko Haram, calm returned to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital yesterday.

The military said that they had successfully crushed the uprising by the extremist Islamic group, Boko Haram.

Consequently, the state government, which imposed a dusk to dawn curfew in Maiduguri and its environs in the wake of the crisis, reviewed it to 9 p.m. to 6.00 a.m.

Also, a police spokesman, Isa Azare, claimed yesterday that the sect's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, had been killed.

The military and police authorities, which also reviewed the crackdown on the fundamentalists in Abuja yesterday, announced the deployment of more troops in the major cities in the North.

Some of the sect members, who escaped the scene of the hostility in Maiduguri, were allegedly seen crossing the borders into some neighbouring countries. Eyewitnesses said the militants shaved their beards, dropped their Islamic robes for T-shirts and Jeans trousers to avoid arrest by security agents.

Others, who were more daring, struck at a police station in the state and burnt it.

The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) yesterday hinted that more troops would today mount a "show of force" in all the major cities in the North to demonstrate its resolve to end the crisis and assured that the government would protect all law-abiding citizens.

The DHQ also released the biodata of the leader of the 'Boko Haram' sect and an insight into the group's modus operandi.

At a joint press briefing by the DHQ, Nigeria Police and the Department of State Security Services (SSS) on the mayhem in Borno, Yobe and Bauchi states, the North-East and parts of Kano and Katsina states, Director of Defence Information, Col. Mohammed Yerima said troops on duty in the affected states were using "the barest minimum force" as they root out elements of the religious sect.

The trio of Yerima, Force Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojukwu and Assistant Director, Public Relations of the SSS Marilyn Ogar, said groups raising issues on alleged human rights abuses "are not fair on the security agencies as they battle this sect."

They stated that the security agencies deliberately delayed mopping up operation in the states, especially Borno until all the civilians had left, adding that "all civilians living in the enclave were evacuated. All those remaining in the enclave were their loyalists."

Yerima reiterated that "the group named Boko Haram is rabidly opposed to all forms of western education and civilisation. They consider as their primary target for attacks, law enforcement agents, critical public infrastructure and centres of worship which in their view are opposed to their doctrines. It has been ascertained that the group did not emerge just of recent. They have been in existence as far back as 1995 under different names such as Ahlulsunna wal'jama'ah hijra.

"Security agencies have over this period been monitoring and containing their activities even when they transmuted to other names but with the same doctrine of intolerance. For instance, on November 13, 2008, the group's leader, Mohammed Yusuf and quite a number of his followers were arrested by the security operatives and handed over to the Inspector General of Police (IG) for prosecution. However, they were subsequently granted bail by an Abuja High Court on the January 20, 2009. Before then in 2007, one of his ardent disciples, Al-amin, who was also the Kano State leader of the group, was arrested along with some of their members after an attack on a police station in the state ; he was also handed over to the police for prosecution. Similarly, between February and April 2009, Yusuf's second in command, named Kilakam, a Nigerien, was on two occasions arrested and repatriated to his country.

"In furtherance of their violent tendencies, the extremists sometime in June 2009 launched an attack on a police station in Bama, Borno State but the police were able to contain their violence which left about 17 of their members dead; the leader of the group vowed to avenge the death of his members and ordered his followers to stockpile arms. Based on intelligence reports, all security agencies were put on alert, which led to the discovery of a hide-out where members of the sect were preparing bombs in Maiduguri .

"Following security reports on the activities of Boko-haram, the group's hideout located at Dutsen Tanshi area of Bauchi town was raided on July 26, 2009 by a joint security team and nine of them were arrested and materials for bomb making and other weapons were confiscated. About two hours later, the group launched another deadly attack on police formations in Bauchi State , unfortunately for them, they were met with heavy casualty. They subsequently struck in Potiskum, Yobe State where they bombed police stations and set inmates free. Between July 26 and 29, these violent extremists have launched sporadic suicide attacks in Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states . Their weapons of offence include Improvised Explosives Devices (IED), AK-47 rifles, dane guns, pistols, daggers, machetes, catapults and clubs."

The Defence Spokesman said the military only got involved in quelling the activities of the sect following the directive of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua to the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike "to take over the operation of restoring law and order in the affected states. Consequently, the Chief of Defence Staff ordered the military to conduct internal security operation, which is already in progress. We, however, assure the public that the military is in control. In fact, Maiduguri town was cleared of the fundamentalists as at yesterday (Wednesday).

"We implore the public to give security agencies accurate and timely information that will assist in ending the crisis. The issue of religious extremism is not peculiar to Nigeria as it has become a global challenge. Countries including Nigeria are not resting on their oars; we therefore enjoin you, the press and members of the public, to partner us to tame this monster. The time to act is now!"

Ogar, (SSS spokesman) said the leader of the sect, Muhammed Yusuf was born on January 29, 1970 in Girgir village, Jakusko Local Council of Yobe State and is married to four wives and he has 12 children.

Yar'Adua yesterday reached out to the Moslem Ummah ahead of today's weekly Juma'at services across the country. The President, who is on a state visit to Brazil, warned Moslem youths who belong to other sects to avoid joining the Boko Haram group in the disruption of the peace and security of the nation.

His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, said Yar'Adua spent "quite some time" working the telephones with most northern governors, advising them to mobilise traditional and religious leaders in their respective states to mount a campaign against the sect.

Adeniyi said: "President Umaru Yar'Adua who is currently on State Visit to Brazil today (yesterday) called and spoke to most of the northern governors to advise that they mobilise traditional and religious leaders to mount campaign against Boko Haram that seeks to disrupt the peace and security of the nation."

He expressed delight that many governors from the region had on their own commenced the campaigns against the unacceptable extremists' group and encouraged others to join them.

"The President feels particularly encouraged that some governors have already started implementing this initiative", Adeniyi said.

The group, Adeniyi quoted his boss as saying, should not be the bride of any true Moslem or group, because Islam promotes love and peace among faithful and non-adherents.

There were also reports of an attack on Makera police station, near Kofar Biyu, in the metropolis at 11 p.m. barely two hours after Governor Ali Modu Sheriff visited the enclave.

Sheriff in a special broadcast yesterday, ordered the review of the dusk to dawn curfew imposed on the state capital, Maiduguri and nearby Jere Local Council.

However, despite the assurance by the governor, the city remained deserted as people stayed off the streets. Police still embarked on stop and search of people who came out. Besides, suspects and dead bodies were still being brought to the police headquarters. Unconfirmed reports indicated that the Police College was still subjected to attack by remnants of the insurgents.

Apart from regulating preaching in the state, Sheriff said trouble makers would not be allowed to have access to Borno any longer. Therefore, the Preaching Board, which has remained dormant would be re-constituted, while a bill to regulate preaching would be sent to the House of Assembly.

According to him, this has become necessary, "so that whosoever comes to Borno to preach must obtain permission and follow proper regulatory process to be ascertained, whether he is a genuine preacher or trouble maker. So we will not leave this matter like this, and I can assure the people of the state, we will follow it up and all their structures, wherever they are, will be dismantled."

The demolition of Yusuf's house, which lasted for over eight hours was completed at about 6 p.m. on Wednesday, and it was supervised by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Jos, Maj-Gen. Saleh Maina.

Receiving Sheriff, at the scene, Maina directed the Army to be vigilant and ensure that Yusuf and the remnants of the insurgents were tracked down and brought alive. However, reports indicated the sect leader was sighted at Kernowa, in Marte Local Council on Wednesday night.

The demolished house located in an isolated area, near the Railway terminus, hosts a mosque, a clinic, a laboratory where local bombs were manufactured, sewing machines, various brands of vehicles, motorcycles numbering more than 200, and locally arranged bombs among others.

The main house was destroyed yesterday in the presence of Maina, The Chief of Defence Air Staff (CDS) Chief Air Marshal Paul Dike and Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, are expected in the state capital today.

"The headquarters of the group has been taken over by the security forces. I hereby urge you to go about your normal business from tomorrow (today) as adequate security has been put in place to avoid recurrence of this unfortunate incident.

"Government, private businesses, market places are hereby advised to resume their normal business tomorrow (today). The curfew earlier is hereby amended to 9 p.m.- 6 a.m. until further notice. All those internally displaced who left their houses and fled to take refuge in Army barracks and elsewhere are hereby advised to return to their homes as normalcy has returned."

The governor condoled with families of those who lost their lives and prayed for the repose of their souls.

About 90 people have been hospitalised at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH). The casualties included the police, soldiers prisons officials and civilians. The North-East Zonal Disaster Officer of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, Mr. Aliu Maikano, advised the state government to evacuate dead bodies from the streets of the state capital.

He told The Guardian that the exercise had become necessary to avoid health hazards associated with the decay of the bodies. Though he said it was not possible to give the exact number of the dead, adding, "we thank God as at today (yesterday), if you go round, you will find out that things are calm, but dead bodies have littered everywhere on the street. We advise the state government to evacuate the bodies before they decompose because people are coming out for normal business."

The North-East zonal coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Mr. Jediel Apollos, said the outfit was constrained by the lack of vehicles to convey relief materials to the three camps.

About 200 followers of the sect were along with deputy leaders allegedly killed in a raid yesterday.

"We have taken over their enclave, they are on the run and we are going after them," Col. Ben Ahonotu, commander of Operation Flush, was quoted as saying.

"Abubakar Shekau was killed along with 200 followers .... while trying to escape," from a district of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, the police said.

An eyewitness said he counted the bodies of 90 extremists in and around the mosque after the troops had finished pounding the building.

"About 70 bodies littered the areas around the mosque and the base of the Taliban. Inside the house (where Yusuf had been based) we came across 20 bodies," he said.

Some of the fleeing fanatics allegedly cut off their hair and beards

"We spotted dozens of members of Boko Haram fleeing. They stopped by briefly, shaved their hair and beard and discarded their jellabiyah (white Arabic caftans) for Tee-shirts and Jeans," said resident Hamad Bulunkutu.

"They crossed the Gamboru Market River and disappeared from there," agency report added.

Gunbattles in Nigeria after sect leader killed

Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:49am GMT
By Ibrahim Mshelizza

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (Reuters) - Security forces in northern Nigeria fought gunbattles with followers of a radical Islamic sect for a sixth straight day on Friday after the group's leader was shot dead while in police custody.

Militant preacher Mohammed Yusuf, 39, whose Boko Haram sect wants a wider adoption of sharia (Islamic law) across Africa's most populous nation, was killed late on Thursday at the police headquarters in the northern city of Maiduguri.

Hundreds of people, mostly suspected members of the sect, have been killed in clashes with security forces in at least four states since Sunday.

A Reuters reporter counted 23 bloodied bodies with what appeared to be fresh bullet wounds outside the police command on Friday, among them a former state commissioner for religious affairs believed to be a Boko Haram supporter, Alhaji Buji Fai.

"Alhaji Buji Fai was killed along with other fleeing Boko Haram in an exchange of fire this morning along Benishek-Maiduguri road," said Isa Azare, spokesman for the police command in Maiduguri.

Yusuf was seen by local journalists including a Reuters reporter at the military barracks in Maiduguri after his capture. He had no visible injuries when he was taken from the barracks to police headquarters where he died.

Officials have said he was killed in a shoot-out while trying to escape.

Eric Guttschuss, Human Rights Watch researcher for Nigeria, described Yusuf's killing as "a shocking example of the brazen contempt by the Nigerian police for the rule of law".

Yusuf's supporters, armed with machetes, knives, home-made hunting rifles and petrol bombs, have rioted in several states across northern Nigeria in recent days, attacking churches, police stations, prisons and government buildings.

The violence broke out on Sunday when members of the group -- loosely modelled on the Taliban in Afghanistan and whose name means "Western education is sinful" -- were arrested in Bauchi state on suspicion of plotting to attack a police station.


President Umaru Yar'Adua has said the group was procuring arms and learning to make bombs in order to impose its ideology on Nigerians by force. He has ordered the security forces to do everything necessary to contain the sect.

Around a dozen soldiers, police officers and prison officials are among the hundreds killed in the unrest, while the remainder of the dead largely consist of suspected Boko Haram followers, according to police.

National defence spokesman Colonel Mohammed Yerima has promised a military "show of force" to reassure civilians that they would be protected.

Soldiers and police patrolled Maiduguri in armoured personnel carriers and trucks on Friday, continuing house-to-house searches for Yusuf's followers.

Yar'Adua, on an official visit to Brazil, spoke by telephone with northern governors on Thursday and urged traditional and religious leaders to use Friday prayers to warn people about the dangers of such sects.

Boko Haram's views are not espoused by the majority of Nigeria's Muslim population, the largest in sub-Saharan Africa. The country's Muslim umbrella group, Jama'atu Nasril Islam, has already condemned the violence.

Yusuf's death deprives intelligence agencies of the opportunity to question him about possible links to other militant groups outside Nigeria.

Islamist death 'good for Nigeria'

A Nigerian government minister has expressed relief at the death of an Islamic sect leader, Mohammed Yusuf.

Yusuf's body was shown to journalists on Thursday just hours after police said they had captured him.

Human rights campaigners alleged he had been executed, but police said on Friday that he died in a shoot-out following days of bloody fighting.

Information Minister Dora Akunyili told the BBC that the government "does not condone extra-judicial killings".

The militant group led by Yusuf has been blamed for days of violent unrest in which hundreds of people died in clashes between his followers and security forces.


Bilkisu Babangida BBC News, Maiduguri

At about 1600 I was about to leave for home with the rest of the journalists. We received a phone call to return back to the government house because the man, Mohammed Yusuf, had been captured.

So we rushed up to that place. We heard some gunshots from somewhere, then we were told that the man had been "executed" at the police headquarters, at about 1900.

They kept us waiting, they kept all the newsmen away from the scene.

I saw a video and after that I rushed to the police headquarters and I saw the corpse. I even photographed the corpse of Mohammed Yusuf.

His group - known as Boko Haram or Taliban - wants to overthrow the Nigerian government and impose a strict version of Islamic law.

The bullet-riddled body of Mohammed Yusuf, 39, was seen hours after police announced he had been captured in the northern city of Maiduguri.

The BBC's Bilkisu Babangida says the city is returning to normal, with shops and banks re-opening.

She says many residents are happy that Mr Yusuf is dead.


Information Minister Dora Akunyili told the BBC's Network Africa that she was concerned about the death and that the government would find out "exactly what happened".

However Mohammed Yusuf's demise was "positive" for Nigeria, she added.

"What is important is that he [Yusuf] has been taken out of the way, to stop him using people to cause mayhem."

She accused Mr Yusuf of "brainwashing" youths to cause trouble.

Ms Akunyili praised the security forces, saying they had managed to stop the violence spreading even further and that normality was returning to the region.

Human Rights Watch staff said there should be an immediate investigation into the case.

"The extrajudicial killing of Mr Yusuf in police custody is a shocking example of the brazen contempt by the Nigerian police for the rule of law," said Eric Guttschuss, of the New York-based rights group.

Another Human Rights Watch researcher, Corinne Dufka, told AP news agency: "The Nigerian authorities must act immediately to investigate and hold to account all those responsible for this unlawful killing and any others associated with the recent violence in northern Nigeria."

'Trying to escape'

Troops had stormed Boko Haram's stronghold in the north-eastern city of Maiduguri on Wednesday night, killing many of the militants and forcing others to flee.

Mr Yusuf was arrested the following day after reportedly being found hiding in a goat pen at his parents-in-law's house.

Later, a BBC reporter in the city was among journalists shown two films - one apparently showing Mr Yusuf making a confession, the other showing what appeared to be his body, riddled with bullets.

"Mohammed Yusuf was killed by security forces in a shoot-out while trying to escape," the regional police assistant inspector-general, Moses Anegbode, told Nigerian television.

A spokesman for the state governor was also quoted as saying that Mr Yusuf had been trying to escape.

One policeman told AFP news agency Mr Yusuf had "pleaded for mercy and forgiveness before he was shot."


The violence began on Sunday night in Bauchi state, before spreading to other towns and cities in the northeast of the West African nation.

Crowds of militants tried to storm government buildings and the city's police headquarters, but dozens of them were shot dead by security forces.

Several days of gun battles between militants and Nigerian security forces ensued, culminating in the assault on the militant's stronghold.

It is thought more than 300 people have died in the violence - some estimates say 600, although there has been no official confirmation.

The Red Cross said about 3,500 people had fled the fighting and were being housed in their camp.

Witnesses and human rights groups have accused the military of excessive violence in quelling the militants, but the army says it used a minimal amount of force.

Police say Mr Yusuf was a preacher from Yobe state, who had four wives and 12 children.

They described him as a inspirational character.

His sect, Boko Haram, is against Western education. It believes Nigeria's government is being corrupted by Western ideas and wants to see Islamic law imposed across Nigeria.

Sharia law is in place across northern Nigeria, but there is no history of al-Qaeda-linked violence.

The country's 150 million people are split almost equally between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/07/31 13:35:08 GMT

Historical Background to the Beer Summit: Race, Politics and Police Terrorism

Gates arrest: Part of Boston’s racism, then & now

By Frank Neisser
Published Jul 29, 2009 3:16 PM

The July 16 arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his own home in Cambridge, Mass., is but the latest glaring incident in the long history of racism permeating Boston, going back to the 1970s desegregation battles and before.

From the end of Black Reconstruction following the Civil War until the 1970s, there was never a single African American on either the Boston City Council or Boston School Committee.

These all-white committees ran a segregated, separate and unequal school system in Boston up through 1974, 20 years after the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Topeka Board of Education declared segregation unconstitutional.

Black parents had to go to federal court to obtain an order in 1974 mandating racial balance through busing to gain equal access to educational resources in Boston. That same year Boston became famous worldwide as a focus of racism. A right-wing white supremacist movement called “Restore our Alienated Rights,” led and organized by Boston City Councilors like Louise Day Hicks directly out of Boston City Hall, organized racist marches.

Buses carrying African-American children to schools in South Boston and other white neighborhoods were stoned. A picture was flashed round the world of a Haitian man being dragged off a porch in South Boston by a racist mob. Another picture showed African-American attorney Theodore Landsmark suffering a broken nose as he was assaulted with a U.S. flag by racists on Boston City Hall Plaza.

In 1974 progressive forces mobilized from all over the country to answer the racist forces. A 25,000-strong national march against racism took place in Boston on Dec. 14. Busloads of antiracists came from all over the country, including the Deep South. It was the largest civil rights demonstration to take place since the 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The 1974 march put a halt to the racist mobilization, encouraging the people of Boston to come out against racism.

In subsequent years, antiracist forces defended African-American homes from racist attacks. African Americans, Latinas/os and Asians have gained representation on the Boston City Council. But racists, championed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, have continued to try to return to “neighborhood” unequal schools and eliminate school transportation.

After forming the Coalition for Equal Quality Education, community, labor and progressive forces beat back the attack again this year. The school committee was forced not to take action on a plan that would have drastically cut school transportation and limited access of the Black and Latina/o communities to quality educational opportunities. But the fight will continue in the fall, and racist right-wing forces will only be emboldened by the attack on Professor Gates and the right-wing chorus supporting this latest racist police conduct.
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Gates arrest exposes police racial profiling

By Phebe Eckfeldt
Cambridge, Mass.
Published Jul 29, 2009 3:25 PM

The arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr.—a prominent African-American Harvard University professor—in his own home by Cambridge police on July 16 has shone a brilliant national and international spotlight on racial profiling in the U.S.

Professor Gates is the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard, the first African American to receive the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award. Sometimes called the nation’s most famous Black scholar, he has received numerous honorary degrees and awards for his teaching, research and development of academic institutions that study black culture.

Professor Gates was returning to his home near Harvard Square after a trip to China on July 16. He found his front door jammed and with the help of his limo driver was able to force the door open. According to the white female who called 911 about the “break-in,” the Cambridge police asked her repeatedly if the men where Black and then if they were “Hispanic.”

Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Black Harvard law professor who is representing Gates, told the press that when a Cambridge police officer arrived at his home and asked for proof that he lived there, Professor Gates showed him both his Harvard University ID and his driver’s license. Gates requested the police officer’s badge and number. (National Post, July 21)

“I said, ‘Who are you? I want your name and badge number.’ I got angry,” Gates told the Post. Gates reported that the officer refused to show his badge and walked out of the house. When Gates followed him, he was “astonished” to see more police on his porch. Ogletree said that when Gates stepped onto the porch, Sergeant James Crowley placed him under arrest and handcuffed him.

The police report claims that Gates was “abusive” and “unruly.” They say race had nothing to do with the arrest. Crowley has been with the Cambridge Police Department for 11 years, and ironically instructs recruits at the Lowell Police Academy on how to avoid racial profiling.

Gates said of his arrest, “There are one million Black men in jail in this country, and last Thursday I was one of them. This is outrageous, and this is how poor Black men across the country are treated everyday in the criminal justice system. It’s one thing to write about it, but altogether another to experience it.” (Washington Post, July 22)

Gates’ arrest and racial profiling have caused a firestorm of reaction. Many believe he was arrested because he stood up to the police and became justifiably angry instead of being silent. Crowley told the media, “The professor at any time could have resolved the issue by quieting down and/or going back inside his home.” (Washington Post, July 24)

Ogletree stated that he has received emails from all over the country from people telling of their experiences with racial profiling. Gates plans to do a documentary on racial profiling.

Not an isolated incident

The most famous reaction to Gates’ arrest was that of President Barack Obama. At a press conference on health care reform on July 22, Obama was asked to comment on it: “Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played. ... But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

The reaction was swift and strong to Obama’s statement, with the racist right-wing, big-business media and police unions and organizations across the country screaming that Obama had called them “stupid.”

Obama’s reaction to this was, “I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who’s in his own home.” (ABC News, July 23)

Deval Patrick, the first African-American governor of Massachusetts, when learning of Gates’ arrest told the press that he had experienced racial profiling while attending Milton Academy, a private boarding school outside of Boston. Patrick called the arrest “every Black man’s nightmare.” He said, “You ought to be able to raise your voice in your own house without risk of arrest.” (Boston Herald, July 24)

On July 21 the charge of disorderly conduct was dropped against Professor Gates. He has demanded that Crowley apologize to him. Crowley has refused. In fact, in an arrogant show of force the Cambridge Police Department held a press conference on July 24 demanding that both Obama and Patrick apologize to them!

Cambridge, Harvard University and Boston are seen around the world as bastions of liberalism, hotbeds of progressive ideas and prestigious places from which cutting-edge research emanates. But the racial profiling and arrest of Professor Gates have re-raised the question of how much has changed since the 1970s when, in the wake of court-ordered busing for desegregation, white racist mobs were stoning buses carrying Black school children and attacking Black people on the streets and in their homes.

The location of Professor Gates’ home in Harvard Square—a rich, mainly white area—recalls the period in Boston where Black people could not go into certain areas of the city without literally fearing for their lives.

As a result of a jury trial in 2008, the City of Cambridge was forced to pay a multi-million-dollar award to a former city worker, Malvina Monteiro, who accused city officials of racial discrimination. Attorney Ellen Zucker, who represented Monteiro, told the July 24 Boston Globe, when referring to Cambridge, “The patina of progressive values that cover the city too often hides discrimination and retaliation.” Monteiro is Cape Verdean.

Theodore Landsmark, a young African-American attorney whose nose was broken when he was attacked in the middle of Boston’s City Hall plaza in 1976 by racist white youth with a U.S. flag on a pole, told the July 24 Boston Globe that three years ago in Boston he was pulled over in his new Mercedes by police who said they were checking to see that he owned the car.

Eckfeldt is a member of the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, AFSCME Local 3650.
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What if Henry Louis Gates Were Not an Acclaimed Professor?

New America Media, Commentary, Raj Jayadev
Jul 29, 2009

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Professor Henry Louis Gates, recently arrested, gets to share a beer with the man who arrested him, Sgt. James Crowley, at the White House with the President of the United States. It is a highly uncommon ending to an unfortunately very common occurrence – a man of color citing racial profiling after an arrest.

If this incident is really to be the “teachable moment” President Obama hopes for, the real question to explore is this: What would have happened to Dr. Gates if he were not an acclaimed scholar and author, friend to the President, and someone whose stardom could greatly embarrass a city and county justice system?

First things first, charges for his disorderly conduct would not be dropped shortly after his arrest, and Dr. Gates, a few weeks after the incident, would just be starting his journey in the criminal justice system, rather then reflecting on it in hindsight, while throwing back a beer with the leader of the free world. Let’s start from there.

Since every city in the country is different in arresting practice, the way to approach this is not to examine Cambridge, but to ask what would happen if the arrest happened in your own town. Let me roll out what would have happened if Dr. Gates, were he not a noted scholar, was arrested in my city, San Jose, California with the same fact pattern, even as described by the police report.

Starting from arrest, Dr. Gates would have been charged with more then disturbing the peace, (penal code 415 in California). From the narrative of what happened at his home, Mr. Gates would have also picked up a 148 resisting arrest, a misdemeanor.

California Department of Justice numbers show San Jose has much higher arrest rates for these charges than cities of comparable size, in a racially disproportionate fashion. For resisting arrest in 2007, for example, 54.2 percent were Latino, although Latinos only represent roughly 30 percent of the city’s population. Blacks, who represent only 3.5 percent of San Jose residents, accounted for 15.4 percent of these arrests. Communities of color in San Jose claim the discrepancy is due to a practice some call “attitude arresting,” where police are using these particular charges that rely heavily on officer discretion to arrest someone when they don’t like their attitude, rather than for an actual criminal act.

As for the comment, “You don’t know who you are messing with,” Dr. Gates would have also likely picked up a penal code 69 (felony in this case), for making a criminal threat to a police officer. Dr. Gates would not know of all these charges until he was arraigned at court. It is here that police abuse can take a more subtle, yet problematic direction – the well known practice of over-charging. Sometimes, it is not the gun or taser, which is the weapon of concern: it is the pen used for a police report.

In all likelihood, someone less well known and well connected than Mr. Gates would be represented by the Public Defender’s office, which represents over 90 percent of all defendants in California. His attorney, over-worked, with an over-whelming caseload, would read the police report and speak with Dr. Gates, likely onthe day of his first court appearance. He or she would tell Dr. Gates of his maximum exposure – what he would receive if convicted on all charges – which may be a year, given the felony. The attorney would tell Dr. Gates “it doesn’t look good” since it is his word versus the police officer, and juries trust police officers. The Public Defender and the District Attorney would be anxious to resolve the case, since they are seeing their average case loads steadily increasing, as their offices budgets are shrinking. Across the country, plea bargains resolve roughly 95 percent of all felony cases.

The Public Defender would tell Dr. Gates that he or she met with the District Attorney’s office, and that the prosecutor is offering a deal if he pleads guilty just to the two misdemeanor charges. He would do only ten days in county jail, and have a three-year probation, but the heavier charge would be dismissed.

Dr. Gates would feel conflicted. Every fiber in him would say that he is innocent of any crime, but he would also feel he could not risk loosing a jury trial and going to jail for an extended period of time. He would know he would be facing a mainly white jury, who he fears would carry their own bias into the courtroom when they hear of an erratic acting black man.

Demoralized and worn down from the process, Dr. Gates would plead guilty to the 415 and 148 charge, and do a week in jail, after time served is subtracted.

After his release, and back into the normal motions of his life, he would feel haunted by the injustice. He will be stigmatized by every interaction he has with a law enforcement officer when they run his name, even in innocuous driving stops. Motivated to right a wrong, he might approach a civil rights attorney to file a claim against the police department for false arrest and racial profiling. Although sympathetic and believing, the attorney would tell Dr. Gates that he has no case because he took a plea deal.

As a last resort, if only to prevent such an episode from happening to another person down the road, Dr. Gates could file a claim against the arresting officer with the police department’s internal affairs unit. He would meet with an internal affairs investigator, who would listen to Dr. Gates’ story of the officer abusing his authority, and tell him he will report back on his findings. Months later, Dr. Gates would receive a form letter from the Internal Affairs office informing him that they reviewed his case and found no wrong doing by the involved officers.

Throughout the course of his process, which started with a jammed door to his own home, Dr. Gates would have interacted with all these many aspects of the criminal justice system, and would have felt betrayed by all of them. The less well-known Dr. Gates would not be making a documentary after all this, would not be sipping cold beers with the president of the United States and the man who arrested him. No, he would simply be trying to restore normalcy back to his permanently altered life.

Raj Jayadev is the director of Silicon Valley De-Bug.


Professor Gates is right

Published Jul 29, 2009 3:13 PM

Racial profiling is another expression of institutionalized racism rooted in a white supremacist ideology under capitalism. In the U.S., racial profiling has tragically become a way of life, like eating, sleeping and breathing. Being targeted based on the color of your skin or your nationality is a terrible burden to bear for any person of color, whether you live in the inner city, barrio, a reservation or in an upper-middle-class suburb.

In a 2004 report entitled “Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, Domestic Security, and Human Rights in the United States,” Amnesty International documented that in a year-long investigation, an estimated 32 million people (the equivalent of the entire population of Canada at the time) had been racially profiled—the vast majority of them from nationally oppressed groups. ( One can only imagine how much these numbers have increased over the last five years, not only for those born in the U.S. but also for immigrants.

The police have been, by far, the most feared perpetuators of racial profiling, and understandably so. Police harassment and brutality is so epidemic that pamphlets have been written by activists and progressive lawyers on how one should behave if ever stopped by the police to help avoid arrest, physical assault or even losing one’s life.

This is the broader context in which to understand the July 16 arrest of one of the most respected Black scholars, Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., who teaches at Harvard University. Gates was arrested by a Cambridge police officer after showing two forms of identification as he, along with a Black limo driver, were trying to unjam the lock to the front door of Gates’ house in a predominantly white, upscale neighborhood known as “Harvard Square.”

This incident may have gone unreported, like the millions of other racial profiling cases, if it weren’t for two facts: first, because of Gates’ recognition as one of the most influential African Americans; and, second and most important, because he didn’t back down from the cop. In fact, he challenged the authority of the white officer, who eventually arrested him. In his own style, Gates, who is slightly built and walks with a cane, resisted being racially profiled by an entire police department that has a reputation for its brutality.

Gates was arrested, not because he committed any crime, but because he made a courageous stand against racism when the relationship of forces was not in his favor. Just think of what would have happened if Gates had taken a similar stand in the segregated South. He surely would have been lynched. Black people were strongly encouraged to “stay in their place,” meaning to be submissive and keep their eyes to the ground when interacting with any white person, especially the police.

Black people have been lynched in the South for any excuse; a glaring example is the 1955 lynching of 14 year-old Emmett Till in Money, Miss., for supposedly whistling at a white woman.

The Cambridge police report stated that Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct due to “exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior.” In other words, Gates refused to bow down before the repressive state.

The fact that the Cambridge police demanded that President Obama apologize to them for publicly calling their actions “stupid” proves once again that the election of the first Black president has not signaled the end of racism and national oppression, nor does it reflect a “post-racial society”; far from it.

While the police, the mainstream media and the bourgeois pundits want to isolate and downplay every instance of racial profiling, Gates’ resistance has helped to generalize the issue on national and international levels. No matter how this particular development plays out, activists must seize this opportunity to show the need to build a movement based on anti-racist, class-wide solidarity—as workers of all nationalities are losing their jobs, homes, health care and pensions in rapid numbers; and as the economic crisis becomes even more acute.
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White House Beer, Race and Politics

July 30, 2009, 4:57 pm

What a White House Beer Says About Race and Politics

By Peter Baker, Helene Cooper AND Jeff Zeleny

New York Times reporters Helene Cooper, Peter Baker and Jeff Zeleny live-blogged the so-called beer summit of President Obama, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and the officer who arrested him in Cambridge nearly two weeks ago, Sgt. James Crowley. While the meeting is going on, the reporters took questions from readers, and Helene Cooper reported live from the White House.

Gates Says Another Meeting Is Planned | 11:24 p.m.

In a telephone interview with The Times’s Abby Goodnough after leaving the White House, Professor Gates spoke enthusiastically about meeting Sergeant Crowley and said the story was not over, because the two of them would get together again soon in Cambridge.

He said that he had brought his 96-year-old father to the White House, along with his two grown daughters, his brother and his fiancée. The Gates and Crowley families were taken on separate tours of the White House but met up in the library, Professor Gates said.

“Nobody knew what to do,” he said, “so I walked over, stuck up my hand and said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’ That broke the awkwardness.”

At that point, the professor said, he made a proposal: that he and Sergeant Crowley meet for lunch at River Gods, a popular Cambridge pub, some time in the near future. The sergeant accepted the invitation, he said.

“I said we both had been cast as characters in other peoples’ narratives that we couldn’t control,” Professor Gates said. “If we take control of our own stories, we can take control of narrative.”

When the two men walked into their meeting with Mr. Obama, he said, they immediately told him of their plans to lunch together.

“We told him about the progress we’d already made,” Professor Gates said, “and he was very pleased.”

He said that by arranging the meeting, Mr. Obama had “allowed us to begin to bridge our divide and make a larger contribution to American society.”

“Only he could have done that,” Professor Gates said before catching a flight back to Boston. “I don’t think anybody but Barack Obama would have thought about bringing us together.”

Professor Gates added, “He thought what Crowley and I had discussed was just right on target. The president was great — he was very wise, very sage, very Solomonic.”

Asked whether he had asked for or received an apology, Professor Gates said: “We didn’t go there. The president didn’t ask us to apologize. I think probably as we get to know each other, sooner or later we will revisit his perceptions of what happened that day and my perceptions. This wasn’t the time or place to do that. We’ll do it one on one.”

He said that over the last week, he had thought a lot about “the contributions the police make” and had come to appreciate them more.

“The most important thing I learned, I learned about police officers the stresses and realities of the excellent job the police do every day,” he said. “At the same time, racial profiling is a very dangerous thing with a long history, and we have to make Americans more sensitive to the realities of racial profiling.”

The professor, a prolific writer, did not miss an opportunity to promote his 1994 memoir, “Colored People.” He gave Sergeant Crowley a signed copy, he said, with the inscription, “Linked together forever in history.”

“Through an accident of fate this guy and I are linked together,” he said, “and the question is how can he help end racial profiling and how can I help members of my community be sensitive to the concerns of the police? If we can do that, then James Crowley and I will have taken control of our lives and our peculiar experience together and move it out of a Tom Wolfe novel and into a positive impact.”

He said that instead of his usual Red Stripe, he drank a Sam Adams at the meeting in honor of an ancestor who fought in the American Revolution.

Professor Gates, who is 5-foot-7, said that upon meeting Sergeant Crowley, he told him, “I could have sworn you were about a foot taller.”

“We hit it off right from the very beginning,” Professor Gates said. Laughing, he added, “When he’s not arresting you, Sergeant Crowley is a really likable guy.”

Crowley’s News Conference | 7:30 p.m.

During his short opening remarks, Sgt. Crowley said that he had a “cordial and productive discussion” with President Obama, Mr. Biden and Mr. Gates. He also said that he and Mr. Gates planned to have a telephone conversation in the future.

Afterwards, Sgt. Crowley took several questions from reporters. He declined to go into specifics of what was discussed during the event but did say that there was “no tension” between him and Mr. Gates.

And with that, we are wrapping up this blog post. Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting.

Head’s Up, They Headed Out | 7:25 p.m.

The latest pool report tells us that Mr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley have left the White House. Sgt. Crowley will host a news conference in several minutes.

“Race is not the only issue. Class is an issue as well.”

— singingwater

Obama’s Statement | 7:16 p.m.

The president’s statement, released just now, noted that Mr. Gates and Sgt. Crowley had met earlier:

“I am thankful to Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley for joining me at the White House this evening for a friendly, thoughtful conversation. Even before we sat down for the beer, I learned that the two gentlemen spent some time together listening to one another, which is a testament to them. I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart. I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode.”

The President and Race | 6:53 p.m.

Peter Baker weighs in on what the incident tells us about the president and his approach to race:

One thing we’ve learned is that President Obama has yet to always find sure footing when it comes to race. His critics remember the incendiary rhetoric of his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as well as Mr. Obama’s comments last year about rural Americans clinging to guns and religion, his position in the racially charged incident in Jena, Louisiana, and his reference to his grandmother as “a typical white person” because she was nervous when approached by a black man on the street. (See this piece in National Review.)

At the same time, supporters invest great faith in Mr. Obama that he can move the country beyond old divisions on race, and he has benefited from the perception that he is by nature someone who wants to build a new paradigm. The Gates incident shows that he has the capacity to inflame, intentionally or not, partly just by virtue of who he is, and that he has an instinct to try to mediate, as with this beer at the picnic table, something I can’t picture any previous president doing. How he will reconcile these in the future is something to watch.

The Media Attention | 6:50 p.m.

“I would like to ask this panel if they are aware that they, and the rest of the media, are being played like a fiddle by the most savvy politician that any of them will ever know?” — Jack Cohen

Jeff Zeleny: That’s a good question.

“Now that the three main players in the drama are getting together, it’s time to filter out the noise and listen to them directly.”

— Sam Katz

This controversy has certainly overtaken – or at least competed strongly against – the administration’s health care proposals. In that case, at least, perhaps all the extraneous chatter about the afternoon beer has been a good thing for the president. But that’s almost certainly where the upside ends. There was little advantage, aides believe, for the president to become entangled in a national discussion over race. The media has certainly reacted – and, it could accurately be argued, overreacted – to the brouhaha. But for politicians, there are considerable drawbacks to playing a game of “three dimensional chess.” Why? It is difficult, if not impossible, to walk away pleasing the viewpoints from all sides. So if likeability is one of Mr. Obama’s biggest selling points, it’s a dicey strategy to wade into terrain like this on purpose, simply to play the media.

Finally! | 6:38 p.m.
With the pool report, we finally have the answer to the most pressing question of the day: What are they drinking? Well, for those who believed Bud Lite would be the drink of choice for Mr. Obama, they are in luck, as are those who thought Sgt. Crowley would stay with Blue Moon. Mr. Gates drank Sam Adams Light (a Massachusetts-based brew), and Mr. Biden chose a Buckler, a non-alcohol beer.

Maybe Mr. Biden has to drive home? No, he doesn’t drink alcohol.

It’s Begun | 6:24 p.m.

Helene Cooper: At 6:12, reporters and photographers were allowed in for a scant 40 seconds, where they could view the four men sitting around a table drinking out of frosty beer mugs. Four men, you ask? Weren’t there supposed to be three—President Obama, Professor Gates, and Sgt. Crowley?

And Vice President Joseph Biden! He was there too. In fact, during the brief time that the press could watch the goings-on, Mr. Biden leaned across the table towards Sgt. Crowley and said something. At another point, Sgt. Crowley gesturing with his hands, said something to Professor Gates.

And then, the press was ushered out.

“Hopefully this will put an end to this complete non-story.”

— Chris in Texas

Beer and Photo Ops | 6:16 p.m.

Jeff Zeleny: This is not the first time Mr. Obama has turned to beer for a photo opportunity.

First, the president is not known to be a big drinker. (Who can forget the time, as a freshman senator in 2005, when he asked for water instead of vodka during a ceremonial toast with local dignitaries during a trip to Russia?) He will have an occasional cocktail, but like many politicians, is seldom seen having more than a single drink in public.

But a little more than a year ago, as Mr. Obama sought to win over working-class voters during the Indiana primary, he turned up in North Liberty, Ind., and walked into V.F.W. Post 1954, where a Coors Light clock was hanging on the wall.

“I’m not going to give a speech or anything,” he told the small crowd inside on May 1, 2008. “I just want to stop by and maybe get a beer as well.”

Before ordering, he looked around the bar to see what the locals were drinking.

“I’m going to have a Bud,” Mr. Obama said.

With cameras rolling, he took a big sip from his icy cold red, white and blue can.

“I’m going to vote for you if you drink Budweiser,” a man named Vic Vukovits told Mr. Obama.

A week later, he narrowly lost the Indiana primary. But six months later, Mr. Obama carried Indiana in the general election, a feat not done by a Democrat in more than four decades.

Are the Reporters Invited? | 6:02 p.m.

“Give Obama a real beer…with all of the options available, Bud Light?”

— Stan P

“Will the White House also offer a beer to the reporters covering the event? Are you allowed inside?” — Elizabeth

Peter Baker: No! And isn’t that the real crime here!

Helene Cooper: Here at the White House, the handful of reporters who are in the press pool will be taken to the beer summit site. Unfortunately, I do not have pool duty. So I and the majority of the press corps will wait impatiently to get the pool report from our pool colleagues.

Will Sgt. Crowley Speak? | 5:45 p.m.

A reader question about a discrepancy in the police report:

“I am curious…is anyone, a reporter, Professor Gates, President Obama, or otherwise, going to press officer Crowley today on the discrepancy in his police report where he claimed the witness/caller told him that she saw ‘two black men with backpacks?’ We now all know that the only thing she told Crowley was that she was the one who made the 911 call - NO mention of ‘black’ or ‘race’ to him what-so-ever.” — Jeff Bordner

Peter Baker: That’s certainly a question reporters would ask Sgt. Crowley if he makes himself available for questions afterward. My guess is there won’t be such an opportunity but we’ll see. Update: Sgt. Crowley plans to have a news conference at 7:30 p.m.

They’re Here | 5:42 p.m.

Helene Cooper: A White House official says both Professor Gates and Sgt. James Crowley and their respective families have arrived and are in the building.

Everyone is getting along so far, the official said.

And What About Health Care? | 5:25 p.m.

Peter Baker weighs in to answer a reader question about the choice of news coverage.

“I’d like to know why a reporter would even feel the need to ask the president about such a mild local controversy during a press conference on HEALTH CARE. There are 46 million Americans without affordable access to health care and a Congress that is trying to do something about it for the first time in 16 years.

If you can answer why a reporter would ask the question (don’t we already all know the answer…?), could you also please explain why the NYT is expending so many resources, column inches and electrons on such a completely frivolous story?” — Christopher Gomez

Peter Baker: Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times can answer for herself about why she asked the question. But if she didn’t and I were called on, I certainly would have. I was surprised no one else had by the time she was called on for the final question. With all respect, it was hardly a “mild local controversy”; it was one of those moments that touch a nerve in American society and get people to talk about things that often go undiscussed. Asking a president his opinion in such a circumstance, especially given that one of the protagonists was a friend of his, is what reporters do. If he thinks it’s frivolous and wants not to answer, he’s free to not answer.

As for health care, keep in mind that it was not a “health care news conference.” It was a news conference at which any topic was fair game; in fact, what was rare about this news conference is how much one topic, health care, dominated it for the first 55 minutes. As for Times resources, if you’re more interested in health care than this, then please check out the two stories we had on health care on today’s front page and the third story we had inside about it.

Setting the Stage | 5:12 p.m.

Helene Cooper: Earlier I asked Mr. Gibbs what the White House hoped to accomplish from the evening’s gathering.

“I don’t think the president has outsized expectations that one cold beer at one table here is going to change massively the course of human history by any sense of the imagination, but that he and the two individuals, Sgt. Crowley and Professor Gates, can hopefully provide a far different picture than what we’ve seen to date of — of this situation, in hopes again, as I’ve said both today and before, that this is a conversation and a dialogue that happens not just because it’s sponsored by or at the invitation of a participant or the president, but happens in communities large and small all over the country in order to make progress through better understanding. I think that’s what the president wants to do today,” Mr. Gibbs responded.

Again, Mr. Obama has said that he wants this to be a “teachable moment.” He’s taken a big risk though, and whether this turns out okay will depend hugely at whether Sgt. Crowley and Professor Gates bury the hatchet — preferably not in each other’s heads — and make nice.

“Why isn’t the discussion about providing training and education to the police?”

— Iwasachildoncetoo

Anxiously Awaiting | 5:05 p.m.

Helene Cooper just wrote in with the scene at the White House.

Helene Cooper: Reporters have stationed themselves everywhere they can trying to catch a glimpse of an arriving Sgt. Crowley or Professor Gates….or their families.

Five people — all white — including a young boy and two older teenage girls, arrived at the West Wing gate at around 4:45 p.m. They immediately found themselves followed in by suspicious reporters. As they passed a group of cameramen, one yelled out: “Not to be rude, but can you say who you are?”

The response: “Not who you think.”

Meanwhile, outside on Pennsylvania Avenue, the protesters have arrived. So far most of them seem to be pro-Gates. “Disrespect may be bad manners, but it is not a crime,” says one. “Free speech is not disorderly conduct” says another.

‘Teachable Moment’ | 4:57 p.m.

“Mr. Obama has said that this is a ‘teachable moment.’ What is he going to learn from it? Or, is he going to lecture the rest of again?” — John

Jeff Zeleny: Yes, President Obama has called this a “teachable moment.” So what has he learned from it? First and foremost, he surely has learned that his words – all of them – carry considerable weight. Everything that passes through a president’s lips will be amplified, parsed and replayed again and again. So Mr. Obama, at least his aides hope, will be less likely to speak in an unscripted fashion. Regardless of the wisdom or accuracy of his words at the White House news conference last week, Mr. Obama seemed to be speaking spontaneously and with passion. Don’t look for a repeat of that anytime soon.

Helene Cooper: President Obama’s initial answer — the one that touched off the furor when he said the Cambridge police “acted stupidly”— was the kind of answer, straightforward and from the gut, that you would expect during a discussion you had with your friends at a bar. Even more interestingly, it came after an hour-long press conference during which Mr. Obama had filibustered and lectured his way through a series of questions on health care. And then, suddenly came the Gates question from Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times, and a straight answer from Mr. Obama. My brother would have said the same thing: Wow, he actually answered a question!

Except he’s president, and answering that question straight got him into a heap of trouble. So I think what’s he’s learned from this is that as president, he can’t really say what he thinks.

About that Beer | 4:47 p.m.

Helene Cooper kicked the roundtable off with a reader question, answering what appears to be the top question on everyone’s minds:

“This is trivial but I’ve been wondering about this ever since I heard there was going to be a ‘Beer Summit.’ What beer will President Obama serve his guests?” — Frank

Helene Cooper: The White House has been asked this question about a zillion times. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said there will be a “variety” of beers available, including Bud Lite (what President Obama will presumably drink), Red Stripe (Professor Gates’ professed choice) and Blue Moon for Sgt. Crowley.

Jeff Zeleny: This has been one of the most often-asked questions this week at the White House. Bud Lite for President Obama. Blue Moon for Sergeant Crowley and Red Stripe for Professor Gates. Why does it matter what kind of beer they drink? It doesn’t, but that hasn’t stopped us from talking about it.

“How much is this costing the taxpayers?” — Paul

Jeff Zeleny: The White House is buying the beer, but that’s it.

Sgt. Crowley and Professor Gates are paying for their own trips to Washington, according to Bill Burton, a spokesman for the White House. “They made their own accommodations,” he said in an e-mail message.

“The lady who made the telephone call was not invited to have a beer. Could it be only as guy thing?”

— Melvin Jacobson

’Suds Summit’| 4:30 p.m.

It’s being called the “beer break” or the “suds summit.” But the gathering at the White House on Thursday evening of President Obama, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Harvard scholar, and Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge, Mass., police department is about issues that will require a lot more than a beverage or two to resolve.

While we wait for the participants to sit down at a picnic table outside the Oval Office, three of the White House correspondents for The Times – Helene Cooper, Jeff Zeleny and Peter Baker – will address some of the big questions raised by the arrest of Professor Gates in his own home and what the incident and Mr. Obama’s response to it tell us about the politics of race in 2009.

We will also try to address some of the questions posed by readers.

It is not clear what, if anything, Mr. Obama and the others will say after their cocktail. But the president had a few words on the subject after meeting Thursday afternoon with the president of the Philippines.

“This is three folks having a drink at the end of the day and hopefully giving people an opportunity to listen to each other,” he said, standing next to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. “That’s really all it is. It is not a university seminar. It is not a summit.”

The beer summit, Mr. Obama added, is actually a chance to “spend some time with some self-reflecting and realizing that other people can have different points of view.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

IMF, World Bank Reforms Are Long Overdue

IMF, WB reform overdue

By Retlaw Matatu Matorwa
Courtesy of the Zimbabwe Herald

THE United Nations conference on the global economic and financial crisis was convened in Xinhua, China, recently bringing together 119 countries from the Third World.

This was in an attempt to discuss the effects of the crisis and strategise on ways to combat and manage it.

However, the two major resolutions emanating from the conference were calls from the Third World countries to reform the multilateral financial lending institutions and the establishment of a commission to investigate and analyse the current financial crisis.

The same call was made by President Mugabe in his address to the Non-Aligned Movement’s Heads of State and Government Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, recently.

This is not the first time that developing countries have called for the reform of the international monetary system, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, in particular. This has been a bone of contention for some time and it’s high time Third World countries acted decisively on this matter.

The reform of the international monetary system is a noble initiative, given the exploitative and racist nature of these international institutions. Developing countries should bear in mind that the original mandate of the IMF and WB was to deal with the economic problems of Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War.

These included, among others, the destabilising of capital flows, exchange controls, ‘beggar thy neighbour’ policies, and trade protection in Europe.

With the collapse of the Bretton Woods regime, IMF redefined its role, becoming a world economic advisor, crisis manager, a provider of credibility and a type of donor agency - but at a profit at the expense of the poor.

Concerns have been raised about the conditions of the IMF and the World Bank when lending to Third World countries.

Structural adjustment programmes have been top on the critics’ list. In countries where structural adjustment programmes have been initiated, they have left these countries worse off than they were before the implementation of IMF reforms.

Above all, SAPs have lead to poverty and social instability. For example, under SAP recipient countries are urged to cut down on social services spending, like health care and education.

When the state relinquishes its involvement in these strategic areas, privatisation takes effect, resulting in access to education and health care rising beyond the reach of the poor.

In Kenya, the IMF aggravated the problem with their adjustment programme. Before the IMF was involved in Kenya, the central bank oversaw the currency movements in and out of the country.

The IMF advised the Kenyan central bank to allow easy access to currency movements. However, the move resulted in very little foreign investments and allowed Manusuklal Damji Pattni, with the help of corrupt government officials to siphon billions of Kenyan shillings in what became known as the Goldenberg scandal.

This left Kenya worse off than it was before the IMF reforms were implemented in 2004.

African agriculture is another area of concern; it is a case study of how doctrinaire economics can destroy a whole continent’s productive base.

At the time of decolonisation in the 1960s Africa was not just self-sufficient in food production but it was a major exporter. Its exports averaged 1,3 million tonnes a year between 1966-70.

Today, the continent imports 25 percent of its food, with almost every country becoming a net food importer. Hunger and famine have become recurrent phenomena with the last three years alone seeing food emergencies break out in the Horn of Africa, Sahel, central and Southern Africa.

The causes are many, ranging from civil war and the spread of HIV/Aids. But the problem can be attributed to the phasing out of government controls.

There are also support mechanisms under the structural adjustment programmes, of which most African countries are subjected to as the price for receiving IMF and World Bank assistance to service their external debt.

Instead of triggering a virtuous spiral of growth and prosperity, SAPs saddled Africa with low investments, increased unemployment, reduced social spending and consumption and low output, all continuing to create a vicious cycle of stagnation and decline.

The IMF and WB encourage several economies undergoing adjustment on export production of the same crop simultaneously, leading to overproduction, resulting in prices collapsing.

For example, the very success of Ghana’s programme to expand cocoa triggered a 48 percent drop in the international prices of cocoa in 1986-89, threatening cocoa on the world market, as one account put it, "to increase the vulnerability of the entire economy to the vagaries of the cocoa market".

In 2002-3 the IMF contributed to the collapse in the prices of coffee on the world market resulting in another food emergency in Ethiopia.

Liberalisation of trade has also compounded the negative effects of the IMF and World Bank adjustment programmes.

The unfair trade practices on the part of the European Union and the United States allowed low-priced subsidised EU beef to enter and drive African cattle raisers to ruin with their subsidies legitimised by the World Trade Organisation agreement on agriculture.

US cotton growers are offloading their cotton on the world market at 20-55 percent of the cost production, bankrupting African farmers whose governments are not wealthy enough to provide subsidies.

Against this background, it is clear that the liberalisation preached by the World Bank and the IMF has no consideration for the Third World countries, but use it to expand their trade and economic interest on the globe.

Liberalisation is benefiting the rich at the expense of the poor nations and its people.

In some cases, before extending their support to trouble countries, they advise them to sell their national assets as much as they can. Coincidentally, these national assets will end up in the hands of Western corporations, as is in the case of Zambia copper mines which were sold at heavily discounted prices.

That said, the IMF sometimes advocates for "austerity programmes" - increasing taxes even when the economy is weak, in order to generate revenue and balance budget deficits.

Countries are also advised to reduce corporate taxes. Cutting down on corporate taxes deprives the state of revenue required to service other government projects.

This results in the state becoming bankrupt, in some cases. In Tanzania, the IMF recommended that the government sell the National Brewery as part of its reform prescriptions; this resulted in loss of jobs and protests by citizens over foreign ownership of the landmark asset.

If more people lose their jobs government loses tax earnings, which translates into a heavy burden on the national treasury.

In Africa, where they deal with weaker governments, the Bank and Fund macro-managed such decisions as to how fast subsidies should be phased out. How may civil servants have to be fired?

In the case of Malawi they went to the extent of involving themselves in deciding how much of its grain reserve should be sold and to who. These institutions control the economy of smaller and weaker states, exploiting them and taking advantage of them being in need.

Both the IMF and World Bank have joined the bandwagon of being another champion for justice and human rights, putting Third World countries on a democracy, good governance and human rights litmus test and have even put them under the special requirements for consideration to get funding. However, their history reveals that both the Fund and the bank have been supporting military dictatorships friendly to America and European corporations.

In the 1960s, the IMF and World Bank supported the government of Brazil’s military dictator Castello Branco with tens of millions of dollars in credits and loans that were denied to previous democratically-elected governments.

Other regimes that benefited from the Fund and bank include: Zaire under Mobutu from 1965-97, Syria under Assad from 1970 to the present day, apartheid South Africa 1948-92, Haiti under Jean Claude Duvallier from 1971-86 and Chile under Augusto Pinochet from 1973-89, to mention but a few.

This goes to show that issues to do with democracy and human rights are not genuinely part of their agenda; they simply raise these issues when it does suit them and at their expediency.

IMF and the World Bank have for long been using Africa and the Third World countries as a test ground for their economic theories at the expense of the poor nations and their people. In most cases these countries take long to recover from the effects of these experiments, as was the case with Zambia, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Chile, for example. The IMF and the World Bank have been consistently ruining the economies of Third World countries. Instead of assisting them reach their potential they nip the bud before it grows.

The former Romanian prime minister Tariceanu had this to say about the IMF: "Since 2005, IMF is constantly making mistakes when it appreciates the country’s economic performance."

Zimbabwe’s history with the IMF and World Bank surely qualifies under this statement. How much progress has Zimbabwe made after the implementation of the structural adjustment programme in 1990? To date, our country is still struggling to contain the disastrous effects of the IMF’s economic structural adjustment programme.

Overall, the IMF and World Bank success record is not that impressive, especially with the Third World countries.

Rather the Fund and the Bank contributed to the economic problems of the Third World countries, especially those who seek support from these institutions find themselves worse off than they were before IMF and World Bank reforms.

It is imperative for Africa to lobby for the restructuring of the World Bank and the IMF so that the Third World countries have a stake and say in the manner in which the bank and the Fund are administered.

At present, the IMF and World Bank structures are dominated by leading industrialised countries’ decisions and policies are implemented by them without much consultation with the developing countries. Third World countries should lobby for a review of the "Washington Consensus", removing the stringent conditions that are destroying the social and economic fabric of our nations.

Alternatively, Third World countries need to explore alternative economic solutions and borrow ideas from countries that are doing it alone without the IMF and World Bank financial assistance.

What African countries need to do as a matter of urgency is to examine their economies and design economic models that are consistent, relevant and compatible with the needs of the continent and its people, China and India can teach us something!

Africa needs to put its house in order. Given the abundance of resources on this continent, surely Africa can stop this exploitation and be self-reliant, through implementing well-co-ordinated "beggar thy neighbour" policies regionally. It’s high time that Africa, Asia and Latin America find a common ground in the spirit of brotherhood and fight for a just, equitable and peaceful world order.

Honduras News Update: Another Anti-Coup National Strike; Reflections From Fidel

Another anti-coup national strike in Honduras

TEGUCIGALPA, July 30—Another national strike in the state sector, marches, and the taking of highways and public institutions characterize Honduras today on the 33rd day of popular resistance to military coup.

The 48-hour strike was called last Sunday by the three main labor union groups at the end of an assembly of the National Front against the Coup organized to adopt strategies for the restitution of constitutional order.

The six national education colleges will be part of today’s and Friday’s demonstrations. In a strategy aimed at recovering days lost in the school year, teachers are returning to the classroom for the first three days of the week. Teachers and professors maintained a strike for three weeks after the coup on June 28.

In the last three days, members of the Front have closed access to the city’s principal luxury shopping malls and stores in reaction to business sector support for the coup leaders.

Yesterday, the protest affected Metro Mall, part-owned by the former president of Panamanian origin, Ricardo Maduro.

The army and riot policy closed in on the demonstrators and caused moments of tension, given the fear of another attack with arms, averted by march leaders, who insisted on the peaceful nature of the demonstration.

Meanwhile, the de facto government has re-extended the state of siege in the eastern department of El Paraíso, which has been subjected to this order for six days, thus provoking a humanitarian crisis in the area.

Army troops and police are still mounting roadblocks on the Pan-American Highway to Las Manos, on the border with Nicaragua, in order to prevent the crossing of thousands of people who are hoping to join up with President Manuel Zelaya, who is preparing his return to the country.

Zelaya’s mother, Hortensia Rosales; his wife, Xiomara Castro; and their daughter Xiomara, have been detained at these military posts since last Friday in their effort to reunite the family.

Popular vigils at the Venezuelan embassy and the Radio Globo radio station continued tonight for the sixth consecutive day in an effort to protect them from police action.

A deportation order hangs over the Venezuelans diplomats. They rejected this order because they do not recognize the de facto government. The radio station has been broadcasting constant coverage of the popular resistance against the coup leaders. (PL)

Translated by Granma International

Genocide in Honduras, states human rights defender

TEGUCIGALPA, July 28 (PL).— The Honduran armed forces and police are committing practicing collective genocide, affirmed a defender of human rights in the country, which is one month into the coup today.

Andrés Pavón, president of the Human Rights Committee in Honduras, informed the press that, in the face of that reality, it has submitted an appeal for protection to the Supreme Court.

"We came to lodge a writ before the court so that after the coup in Honduras, they cannot say that they were unaware of the practice of collective genocide that the armed forces and the police are carrying out," the lawyer affirmed.

In its curfews, the de facto regime is violating more than 22 articles of the constitution, such as the right to food and free movement, the legal specialist stated.

The appeal lodged before the Supreme Court’s Constitutional Room seeks to alert it to the "holocaust that is being constructed in the border town of El Paraíso," the lawyer noted.

Since last Thursday, a huge number of citizens have remained in that town, located 10 kilometers from the border with Nicaragua, in an attempt to join up with President Manuel Zelaya. They are at risk of losing their lives to military repression or a lack of water and food.

Pedro Magdiel Muñoz Salvador, a 23-year-old builder was murdered there and his body, showing visible signs of torture, was found some 100 meters from the El Paraíso police outpost. He had come from Tegucigalpa to support the return of the constitutional president after the coup on June 28.

The de facto government led by Roberto Micheletti imposed a curfew in the border area with Nicaragua last Friday which continues to date. The curfew has trapped many Zelaya sympathizers in a steadily worsening humanitarian crisis, Pavón confirmed.

Translated by Granma International

Reflections of Fidel

A Nobel Prize for Mrs. Clinton

(Taken from CubaDebate)

THE interminable document read out yesterday by Nobel laureate Oscar Arias is far worse than the seven points of the act of rendition that he proposed on July 18. He did not communicate with international opinion via a Morse code. He spoke before TV cameras that were broadcasting his image and all the details of the human face, which generally has as many variables as a person’s fingerprints. Any intention of lying can be easily discovered. I was observing him closely.

Among television viewers, the vast majority knew that a coup d’état had taken place in Honduras. Via that medium they were informed of the speeches made in the OAS, the UN, the SICA, the Non-Aligned [Movement] Summit and other forums; they had seen the outrages, and the abuse and repression of the people in activities that have brought together hundreds of thousands of people to protest against the coup d’état.

The strangest thing is that, when Arias was expounding on his new peace proposal, he wasn’t delirious; he believed in what he was saying.

Although very few people in Honduras were able to see the footage, many people in the rest of the world did see it and likewise, had seen when he proposed the famous seven points of July 18. They knew that the first of them stated textually: "The legitimate restitution of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales in the Presidency of the Republic until the end of the constitutional period for which he was elected."

Everybody wanted to know what the mediator would say yesterday afternoon. The recognition of the rights of the constitutional president of Honduras, with his powers reduced almost to zero in the first proposal, was relegated to sixth place in Arias’ second project, in which not even the phrase "legitimize the restitution" is employed.

Many upstanding people were shocked, and they possibly attribute what he said yesterday to his own shady maneuvers. Maybe I am one of the few people in the world to understand that there was an auto-suggestion more than a deliberate intention in the words of the Nobel Peace laureate. I particularly noticed that when Arias, with a special emphasis, his words choked with emotion, spoke of the multitude of messages that presidents and world leaders, moved by his initiative, had sent him. That is what passes through one’s mind; he doesn’t even realize that other honest and modest Nobel Peace laureates like Rigoberto Menchú and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel are indignant at what has taken place in Honduras.

Without any doubt whatsoever, a large number of Latin American governments, those which knew that Zelaya had approved of Arias’ initial project and that he trusted in the good sense of the coup leaders and their yanki allies, breathed a sigh of relief, which only lasted 72 hours.

Seen from another angle and returning to things prevailing in the real world, where the dominant empire exists and close to 200 sovereign states are having to battle with all kinds of conflicts and political, economic, environmental, religious and other interests, it only remains to give a prize to the brilliant yanki idea of thinking of Oscar Arias in order to gain time, consolidate the coup and demoralize the international agencies that supported Zelaya.

At the event commemorating the 30th anniversary of the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution, Daniel Ortega, recalling with bitterness the role of Arias in the first Esquipulas Agreement, stated before a huge crowd of Nicaraguan patriots: "The yankis know him very well, that’s why they chose him as a mediator in Honduras." An that same event, Rigoberto Menchú, of indigenous descent, condemned the coup.

If the measures approved in the foreign ministers’ meeting in Washington had simply been implemented, the coup d’état could not have survived the peaceful resistance of the Honduran people.

Now the coup leaders are already moving within Latin America’s oligarchic circles, some of which, in their high state positions, no longer blush when speaking of their sympathies toward the coup, and imperialism is fishing in the troubled waters of Latin America. Exactly what the United States wanted with the peace initiative, while it accelerated negotiations to surround the homeland of Bolívar with military bases.

One must be fair, and while we are waiting for the last word of the people of Honduras, we should demand a Nobel Prize for Mrs. Clinton.