Bush Granted War Crime Immunity to Visit Chile

December 11th, 2004 - by admin

Hector Tobar / Los Angeles Times – 2004-12-11 00:34:55


SANTIAGO, CHILE (November 18, 2004) — A 29-year-old math teacher who goes by the name Patricio says that as soon as President Bush arrives in this South American capital Friday, the fighting will begin.

“We’ll knock down some barriers, set some fires, paint some graffiti,” said the anti-globalization activist who declined to provide his full name. “We are going to go where the police don’t want us to go.”

Bush is traveling here for the summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, his first trip abroad since his re-election and his first official visit to this continent. Twenty other world leaders will attend this weekend’s summit, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

For Chilean officials, the summit is a kind of coming-out party affirming its status as South America’s most dynamic economy. In January, Chile became the first country on the continent to enter into a free-trade agreement with the United States.

“Just the fact that 21 leaders will be here, along with the 500 corporate chiefs, and that we will contribute to the success of the World Trade Organization and the completion of the Doha Round (of free-trade talks), already makes the summit a triumph,” Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker told reporters Tuesday.

But the summit also will highlight the antipathy many Chileans feel toward Bush, a leader widely seen here as a symbol of America’s unchecked dominion over world affairs.

A number of anti-Bush and anti-globalization protests are planned. President Ricardo Lagos’ government took the unusual step Wednesday of announcing that Bush would have diplomatic immunity during his visit. The declaration was made after some activists filed a criminal complaint against Bush in court, claiming that he and other U.S. officials were guilty of war crimes in Iraq.

“It is not possible that our president is going to meet this criminal Bush and shake his hand in an official state visit,” said Fernando Ortiz, a top official in the Humanist Party and the leftist Podemos political alliance and one of the activists behind the complaint against Bush. “Lagos is going to betray the Chilean people.”

Under Chilean law, local courts can take measures to enforce compliance with international treaties to which Chile is a signatory, including the Geneva Convention and the Convention Against Torture. Ortiz said the Humanist Party complaint had been rejected by a lower court judge but was on appeal.

“We want (Bush) to be ordered to appear before a judge and answer to the complaint,” Ortiz said. “If he does not show up, the judge should issue an arrest warrant.”

Ortiz acknowledged that the complaint had little chance at success, noting that when he presented it at court, several clerks responded with howls of laughter when they saw the list of the accused, which in addition to Bush included Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and others.

“I believe you can’t sit back and do nothing,” Ortiz said. “It’s a question of morality.”

For the Chilean business community, such protests are political sideshows that have distracted from what they believe is the real story of the APEC summit: that their country is taking another step toward becoming part of the “First World.”

“Hopefully our public and private sector will make this encounter of the Asian and Pacific economies a turning point in which we strengthen our struggle for a technologically advanced Chile,” Edgar Witt of Hewlett-Packard Chile wrote in a newspaper column here Wednesday.

Among the topics likely to be discussed at the forum are the value of China’s currency and U.S. interest rates. Diplomats will draft a nonbinding declaration of trade goals, and leaders will hold a series of bilateral talks — Bush, for example, will meet separately with Putin and Hu, among others.

To keep protests in check, the Chilean government has deployed thousands of additional police officers to patrol strategic points around Santiago, and the Air Force is enforcing new restrictions in the airspace around the city. Friday has been declared a holiday in the capital, with people urged to stay home.

At the international airport, immigration officials reportedly have been given a blacklist of anti-globalization activists who will be denied entry into the country.


Momentum builds for January 20 counter-inaugural demonstration in Washington DC

A war criminal will be inaugurated on January 20 and the people will protest!

Learning a lesson from the trials and tribulations of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was indicted for crimes against humanity when he traveled outside of Chile, George W. Bush arranged for his being granted “diplomatic immunity” by Chilean president Lagos as a precondition for Bush’s trip to Chile for the Asia-Pacific Economic Conference.

The Los Angeles Times of Nov. 18 reports, “President Richard Lagos’s government took the unusual step yesterday of announcing that Bush would have diplomatic immunity during his visit.

The declaration was made after some activists filed a criminal complaint against Bush in court, claiming that he and other U.S. officials were guilty of war crimes in Iraq.”

“Diplomatic immunity” didn’t stop thousands of people taking to the streets in Chile in massive demonstrations against Bush. All around the world people are in the streets protesting the criminal conduct of the Bush administration. January 20 will be another big step in building this movement.

4,000+ endorsers for the counter-inaugural protest Over 4,000 have already endorsed A.N.S.W.E.R.’s call for a mass demonstration on January 20, 2005, at the site of the Bush inauguration. This is a legally permitted demonstration.

The Bush administration, fully exposed for its destruction of Fallujah and fearing the embarrassment of a mass demonstration at the Inaugural route, is now following the usual script to intimidate the people: publicly announcing that there is an unprecedented security threat on January 20 and that the government is mobilizing 4,000 army combat soldiers to be in the streets of DC that day.

There has never been a more important time for the people of the United States to take a clear and powerful stand. The events of the past two weeks again unmasked the criminal nature of the administration. The government asserts that more than 1,200 “insurgents” have been killed in the last week alone. How many are really civilians? Donald Rumsfeld insists at his press conferences that civilians in Fallujah had only themselves to blame for not fleeing their homes but the truth is that Bush and Rumsfeld blocked people from leaving.

According to Robert Reid’s AP dispatch of November 12, “Troops have cut off all roads and bridges leading out of Fallujah and have turned back hundreds of men trying to flee the city during the assault. Only women, children and the elderly can leave. The military says keeping men aged 15 to 55 from leaving is key to the mission’s success. ” Family after family had to decide whether they would all return together to the city or to separate from the boys and their fathers.

The International Red Cross estimates that more than 800 civilians were killed in Fallujah in just one horrifying week. That is likely to be a conservative estimate. But just imagine 800 civilians — in just one week in one city of 250,000.

The US military strategy and its rules of engagement in Fallujah constitute a crime against humanity and war crimes as recognized by the Nuremberg Trial and the Geneva Convention. Targeting hospitals, clinics and ambulances, the US forces tried to destroy everything. A report collated by the UN testifies to the US air strike on one clinic where 20 doctors were killed.

The western part of Fallujah was declared a “weapons free zone” -meaning that US troops could fire at anything that moved in that area.

War at Home — War Abroad
While Bush and Congress are spending nearly $300 million each day to kill poor people in Iraq, working class and poor communities are taking a beating at home. Last week the press announced that Detroit was laying off 4,000 teachers and other school workers and closing as many as 40
schools because of a deficit of $198 million.

That amount equals less than what is spent every 16 hours for the occupation and war in Iraq. Of course, Halliburton and the other corporate and banking entities don’t make super-profits from public education in Detroit.

We cannot pause for a moment in building a mass movement opposed to war at home and in support of social, civil and workers rights at home. People are coming together once again.

Help support the January 20 Counter-Inaugural Demonstration On January 20, 2005, thousands will be lining the inaugural route in mass protest. There will be simultaneous protests in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities on January 20. At an international conference
in solidarity with the people of Cuba held in Luxembourg last weekend, a resolution was adopted calling for coordinated demonstrations to take place on January 20 throughout Europe.

Our demonstrations will be a powerful statement in solidarity with all those who are under attack by the Bush administration – from Cuba to Palestine to Haiti to the Philippines to Iran and elsewhere.

Pledge now to support the January 20 demonstration against the war.

If you are planning to organize buses, vans or car caravans to be in Washington DC, San Francisco or Los Angeles on January 20, fill out the Transportation Form to help spread the word. Help spread the word about January 20. Click here for downloadable flyers.

We hope you will join us in Washington DC on January 20 or if you can’t come help us cover the many expenses for this huge undertaking including transportation to bring people to DC.

Funds are urgently needed for this effort. You can make a donation online through a secure server by clicking here. Credit card donations made online are not tax deductible. To make a tax deductible credit card donation, call 202-544-3389. You can also make a tax deductible donation by writing a check to A.N.S.W.E.R./AGJ and sending it to:

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