Thursday, March 8, 2012

March 8: so much to say, so little time....

There's wonderful story in "ThisWeek" section about Shediac Bay Community Church, and the work it's doing to help the people of Guatemala. There's no doubt that the people of that church deserve our fullest respect and support. But this blog isn't about churches. It's about the way our newspapers  hide the truth.

Read the story. It's all about poverty in Guatemala, about a "civil war", abour volcanoes and earthquakes.

But, oh, there's a lot missing - so much so that the only true part of the story is what Shediac Bay Community church is doing.

1. Back in the early 1950s, Guatemala had a democracy. Most useful land was controlled by a an American fruit company that made huge profits out of low wages and almost no taxes. The democratic government wanted to raise taxes and wages so that the peasantry, largely native Mayans, could survive.

The American Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, was a major shareholder in the fruit companies. He was furious. He denounced the Guatemalan government as communist, and called on the people to rise against it.

Suddenly, a fully equpped army of 5000 or so crossed the Guatemala border. It was not clear who was paying and equipping them. The whole North American press immediately dubbed them "freedom fighters".

These freedom fighters easily overthrew a government which had almost no defence. Then they installed a dictatorship - which John Foster Dulles hailed as a restoration of democracy. And the North American press joined the cheering.

2. The so called civil war that followed was not a war of any sort. It was a genocide carried out by the Guatemalan dictatorship under the guidance of the CIA (and with the assistance of Israeli special ops). The dictatorship was well armed with American weapons, and assisted by CIA advisors. It killed not 200,000 people, but  a quarter of a million. Another million were made homeless.  These included all Maya - men, women and children. This was no civil war. This was a holocaust. And the director of the CIA for much of this period was George Bush Sr.

Among the victims were clergy, nuns, church workers (like Raoul Leger of Buctouche). Just google Raoul Leger.

It's no secret. President Clinton publicly apologized in 1999 for the US behaviour. Check google for New York Times Clinton apology Guatemala. (though he hugely unerestimated the number of dead.).
More recently, Hilary Clinton apologized for injecting Guatemalan peasants with syphillis to carry out experiments on them. (Remember who terrible it was when Hitler did that?) But I'll bet you never saw reports of this in any of the Irving media.

3, What was it all about? The fruit companies (God bless you, Mr. Dole) want to pay the lowest possible taxes (remind you of anybody you know?), the lowest possible wages, and to simply take land rather than pay for it. A million people were displaced from their homes and lands by foreign companies. Those who objected, disappeared. Often, whole villages disappeared, the living and the dead buried by bulldozers. There's a documentary film about it. But you're not likely to see it at the local mall.

Nor was Canada standing by, all shiny-eyed and innocent. Canadian mining companies (with a dreadful reputtion around the world) were playing the same game - displacing people, taking their land, poisoning the land and the water, stealing, beating, paying close to no taxes and close to no wages. . Check out Goldcorp.  Guatemala on google.

Oh, does Guatemala have a democratically elected government now? Well, it's elected. Sort of. But it's the right kind of elected government, the kind that does what fruit companies and mining companies tell it to do. Notice in the story that when the church gave a box of cornflakes to a family, it was worth almost three days' wages for an adult worker.

Now read the story in ThisWeek again. There's not the slightest doubt that Shediac Bay Community Church deserves full credit for Christian action.

But this story doesn't give the slightest hint of the barbaric role we played in making the Christian action necessary. And, if you're a church attender, do  you recall this history of slaughter, brutality,
starvation, dehumanization all for pure greed ever being a hot topic?

Or is it one of those churches where they play it safe by just clapping and giving three cheers for Jesus?

Well, I've used up a lot of time and of your patience and just one story - when there was so much else to cover.

I'll close with just a brief note on Jody Dallaire's op ed column. Do you think she ever overdoes when she talks about men putting women in second place.......?  Well....

There's a school in Moncton (quite a good school; my children attend it and, as an old teacher, I'm impressed by it).  It is named after a woman. I know nothing about this woman. (couldn't find anything on the web.) But I assume she was a respectable woman, and one who made some, considerable contribution to our society. I mean, schools are named after people who are models for our students. Right? That's why you have probably never seen a school named after a famous hooker or drug pusher. Or a New Brunswick minister of the environment.

The crest for the school is a person with a beard, carryinig a shield, and waving a sword.

Now, as I say, I know nothing of this woman. I have never seen her. It's possible that she had a beard, carried a shield, and waved a sword when she went shopping. (It can be hard to get the attention of a clerk in a hardware store).

But I don't think that really is a picture of a woman. No.

I think it's a man, Yes.

So why would a school named for a woman have a crest with a man on it?

Oh - because her name sounds Scottish; and Scots were famous warriors?

Actually, Scots were mostly very poor. The men became mercenaries in foreign armies because they were poor. Anyway, Scots were also famous for distilled liquor. So why not show a woman wearing plaid downing a quart of Haig and Haig? She could symoblize all those New Brunswick women who buy liquor from government stores to help keep our taxes down.

Think of it. If the school had been named for a Scottish warrior like, say, William Wallace (of the film Braveheart), the man of whom Robert Burns wrote "Scots wha  ha'e wi'Wallace bled... - would the school have adopted a crest that was a picture of a quite respectable woman of good works? Would the football team be called the Bernices?

Putting women into second place is something we do quite naturally, without even thinking about it or realizing that we are doing it. Sometimes, we all need to be hit on the head with the truth.


  1. Great post. You held up truth, showed that the news isn't accurate or isn't totally accurate, missing (as it does) the inconvenience of reality.

  2. Guatemala had the gall to have natural resources and to be inhabited by a peaceful, defenseless peasantry. Definitely constitutes not only a threat, but a nation to be robbed and plundered by democracy espousing threat-to-world-peace Christian America!

    A 10 second search found this list of U.S. war crimes:
    for anyone else who might care.

    Be warned; the list is a fairly lengthy one.

    BTW, this Guatemala post was excellent because it explains outright in a snapshot the whys, how, who, and when for others to understand.

    Is there an existing list out there that does this for all such atrocities as committed by the U.S?