If there's anything good to say about America's foreign policy focus on the Middle East in recent years it is the relative absence of its meddling presence in Latin America. Though still referred to in Washington as its "back yard," countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua have had a chance to flourish in the absence of their northern gardeners, whose grounds-keeping in the 1980's is still remembered there, if not here, as a dark age of death squad terrors and hopelessness.
Nowhere perhaps was that more true than in the tiny Central American nation of El Salvador, where the infamous killing of Archbishop Oscar Romero and brutal murder of four nuns focused the world's appalled attention.
Yes, it's been a halcyon period this last decade or so without Tio Gringo around, but as the coup in Honduras, and repeated attempts to overthrow the Bolivarians in Venezuela instruct: America's attention is never too far from turning back to its "back yard."
Jay Hartling is an independent journalist, broadcaster, and community development volunteer with the UN Development Program and International Labor Organization, where she advises on indigenous rights and natural resource conflicts. She's a graduate of SFU's Latin American Studies program, and has a Master's Degree in Public Policy garnered right here at UVic. Jay is currently working in El Salvador with the Vice-President’s Commission on Social Justice, but will be here in Victoria this week for an event hosted by the Central America Support Committee, or CASC, to kick off the first of this season's Cafe Simpatico meetings, speaking on 'Change in Latin America.'
Jay Hartling in the first half.
And; it's been a dozen years since America unleashed its fury upon the impoverished nation of Afghanistan. In that time, uncounted thousands have perished, been mangled, orphaned, and rendered homeless. More than 150 Canadians have died too fighting there, with many more than we know being wounded. But, one Canadian casualty case is unique. Omar Khadr was a child of 15 when U.S. Special Forces descended on the mountain compound where he happened to be living. They came after a barrage, guns blazing, killing everyone, everything that moved. When the dust settled, Omar was found, grievously wounded and begging to be put out of his misery. It was those pleas, made in perfect, Canadian English that spared his life. His life since though has been a Kafkaesque nightmare of torture and imprisonment in two of the world's most notorious prisons; and his ordeal persists still, more than eleven years after it began.
Heather Marsh is a journalist, human rights activist, and author of the book, 'Binding Chaos,' an examination of mass collaboration. She served as editor-in-chief of WL Central when that Wikileaks site first released the Guantánamo files, and is currently the national spokesperson for the Free Omar Khadr group in Canada, spending her time writing, speaking, and advocating for Omar's release.
Heather Marsh and the ongoing case of Omar Khadr, an injustice festering yet at the heart of Canadian Justice in the second half.
[Omar Khadr is scheduled to make his first public court appearance Monday]
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher and CFUV broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's good to do in and around the city.
But first; Jay Hartling and changes good and not so much so in Latin America.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca. He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/