Almost simultaneously, a Chinese writer and activist, Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize, angering the Chinese government; the Cuban dissident, Guillermo Farinas was refused a Cuban exit visa to receive the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and Jullian Assange was arrested in London for leaking damning American military and diplomatic cables. This is at once striking and in need of clarification: the peace prize and the free speech prize can be said to reflect the overall primacy of American interests on the part of the Nobel and the European Union. But one must suspect much more than that in the charging and arrest of Assange.
As I wrote in a previous blog, it is hard to believe that two Swedish prostitutes, knowing Assange’s work, would report him for failing to take an HIV test, unless prompted by the CIA. Secondly, I do not believe that a social-democratic Swedish govern-ment would do the United States’ bidding by extraditing Assange to face espionage charges that carry a threat of death. But right now, Sweden has a Conservative government….
Back now to the remarkable coincidence: Farinas was and Liu is in jail in their respective countries for campaigning for human rights. Assange is in jail in London for publishing communications thought to reveal military and diplomatic secrets involving the United States. I see these events as one more example of the common ground shared by rulers. These three men are speaking out against the politics of their country:The policies of the Chinese and Cuban governments, which affect mainly Chinese and Cuban citizens, are treated in the same way when denounced, as the policies of the American government that affect people worldwide. The fact that all governments use every means at their disposal to prevent the citizens of the world from disseminating unpalatable truths indicate that the leaders of the world not only use the same tools, but agree among themselves as to conduct they will tolerate from the planet’s inhabitants.
The good news is that citizens around the world are beginning to take matters into their own hands. As governments scramble to act to limit information emanating from Liu, Farinas and the highly organized Wikileaks, they must also combat the dozens of loosely organized grass roots groups that converged on Cancun, Mexico, last week for a U.N. follow-up conference on climate change.
As happened a year ago in Copenhagen, thousands of people who made the trip from around the world were cordoned off in an area far from the site of the official conference, with U.N. and Mexican employees ‘just doing their job’ of preventing activists from being heard. (You can see this by watching the videos from DemocracyNow.org on your computer.)
Not only do individual rulers stand together against the ruled, the United Nations, largely funded by the U.S. and the rest of the developed world, knows which side its bread is buttered on. It’s time for someone to start a campaign to elect Lula Ignazio da Silva, Brazil’s outgoing presi-dent, as the new Secretary General of the United Nations. As seen on last Sunday’s 60 Minutes , the life-long activist and trade union leader explained his success with Brazil’s business class: “Do the obvious, which no one ever thinks of.” In Lula’s case, that meant, for starters, paying poor families a stipend on condition they send their children to school and for vaccinations. This program reduced poverty by almost 30% during Lula’s first term as president.
The international community can go one of two ways: it can continue to bail out the leaking world boat with one had while clamping handcuffs on dissidents with the other; or it can reorganize the United Nations so that it becomes, effectively, the embryo of a world govern-ment, with the vastly increased powers to effectively deal with climate change and local conflicts.
The myriad people’s organizations that are endeavoring to serve as a shadow world government must unite to put Lula in the Secretary General’s chair. Ban ki Moon’s term will end on December 31, 2011, and there had never been a Latin American Secre-tary General. It’s time, and no political figure on the world scene enjoys the respect and popularity of Lula, a man who has proved he can get the rich to help the poor.
As long as the U.N. is the descendant of the organization sketched out by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1942, that was intended to maintain colonialism on the part of the great powers, it will not serve the needs of the twenty-first century, when colonies have given way to warring states, all of whom, whatever their form of government agree on one thing: dissent is to be suppressed.