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The Fugitive

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(Not a new article but informative the same way.)

The Fugitive: Why has the FBI placed a million-dollar bounty on Assata Shakur?

By Kathleen Cleaver

Twenty-eight years ago, in a highly disputed trial, an all-White jury convicted former Black Panther Assata Shakur of the murder of a New Jersey state trooper. In 1979, while serving a life sentence, she escaped

from prison and eventually resurfaced in Cuba, where she was granted asylum and has lived ever since. But the U.S. government has continued to pursue Shakur, regularly increasing the bounty on her head and

classifying her as a “domestic terrorist.” Last May the Justice Department issued an unprecedented $1,000,000 bounty for the return of Assata Shakur, 58, who continues to maintain her innocence. Kathleen Cleaver, a law professor and former communications secretary for the Black Panther Party, talks about why we all need to know about Assata, and why she must live free: I was startled when I heard about the $1,000,000 bounty for the capture of Assata Shakur. What triggered this renewed interest in Assata? Why spend so much time and money to hunt her down when Osama bin Laden, head of an international terrorist enterprise, remains at large?

It turns out that FBI and New Jersey police officials revealed the million-dollar bounty on May 2 of this year, the thirty-second anniversary of the New Jersey Turnpike shootout in which State Trooper Werner Foerster and Black Panther Zayd Shakur were killed. Sundiata Acoli and Assata Shakur were arrested for the murders. Assata was severely wounded,

shot while her hands were up. She has always insisted—and expert defense testimony from the trial bears it out—that she did not kill anyone. But in separate trials, Sundiata and Assata were convicted of murdering Werner Foerster. In 1979, while incarcerated for life in the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey, Assata escaped. As the FBI circulated the wanted poster that called for her arrest, all over the New York–New Jersey area her supporters hung posters proclaiming “Assata Shakur is welcome here.” Cuba gave her political asylum several years later on the grounds that she had been subjected to political persecution and had never received a fair trial.

Apparently the million-dollar bounty has already been covertly offered by police to a relative of Assata’s for assistance in kidnapping her from Cuba. This bounty evokes the memory of those vicious slave catchers who were paid to capture and torment our runaway slave ancestors and return them dead or alive. This extraordinary bounty on the head of a Black woman inevitably brings to mind Harriet Tubman, that Underground

Railroad “conductor” whose ability to organize escapes earned a $12,000 price on her head from the state of Maryland. Outraged slave owners added $40,000.

Many freedom fighters I knew and loved, including Eldridge Cleaver, to whom I was married, were arrested and imprisoned because of our membership in the Black Panther Party. Our organization started in response to the gruesome war in Vietnam and the racism and injustice here that

drenched our lives in violence. Demonstrations, riots, rampant police brutality and political assassinations marked those years when I witnessed thousands upon thousands of people arrested and hundreds killed. Many turned into fugitives to save their own lives, including my husband, whom I joined in Algeria in May 1969. That was around the same time that Assata, then a bright New York City college student named Joanne Chesimard, joined the Black Panthers.

WE had a concrete ten-point program to end racial inequality. The Black Panther Party demanded the power to determine our own destiny. We insisted on decent housing, appropriate education, economic justice, an immediate end to police brutality, and other rights our people had been fighting for since slavery ended. We were not patient, we were not

passive, and we were willing to defend our principles with our lives. Since Panthers couldn’t be bought off or scared off, the government made the decision to kill us off.

Back in 1968 we became prime targets for law enforcement and intelligence agencies, particularly after J. Edgar Hoover, then FBI director, labeled us the “greatest threat to the internal security” of the United States. We were young and passionately determined to secure the freedom of our people in our lifetime. Joining the Black Panther Party at the height of this assault, Assata saw our leaders imprisoned and killed. Both Black Panther Party founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale faced the death penalty, and Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, leaders of the Illinois chapter, were murdered in a predawn raid while they slept. Assata reported that she was beaten, tortured and denied medical attention after her arrest, then continually threatened by police and prison guards while in their custody. There was no question that she felt her life was in danger.

Under international law and Cuban law, Shakur is entitled to the protection and freedom of asylum. There are no legal grounds for her return to the United States because no treaty of extradition exists between the United States and Cuba, which has been subjected to a U.S. blockade and trade embargo for more than 40 years.

Despite this, the U.S. government and the state of New Jersey have repeatedly called for her capture. The meaning of this new million-dollar bounty is to encourage and finance what amounts to a kidnapping, one that could end with Assata’s death. Our memories are haunted by stories of fiercely independent Blacks whose dignity and pursuit of freedom won

the hatred of enraged White men who sometimes murdered them, riding publicly in lynch mobs that no law restrained.

The government has elevated this barbaric conduct to the diplomatic level as a way to reimprison one Black woman who dared fight for our freedom. The FBI and the state of New Jersey must be forced to obey the law. We cannot allow them to engage in lynch-mob diplomacy.

Kathleen Neal Cleaver, JD Yale University, 1989, is a Senior Lecturer in African American Studies and a Senior Research Scholar at the Yale Law School.

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Interview with Assata Shakur

Paul Davidson

Assata Shakur in politcal exile in Cuba

Paul Davidson is a veteran Cuba solidarity activist from Britain who has visited Cuba many times with IFCO/Pastors for Peace and with British solidarity brigades. He was recently in Cuba with the 11th Friendshipment Caravan.


This valuable interview was granted to 60 participants of the 11th US-Cuba Friendshipment Caravan (Pastors for Peace) in Havana on Nov 6th last. Assata is one of those unique human beings who is able to articulate, through her own experience in a lifetime of struggle, profound truths about the world we live in. Assata is one of the 80 or so ex- Black Panthers being persecuted by US authorities and given sanctuary by Cuba. As a result of Cuba's noble stand the island has been named a 'terrorist nation' by the US regime, a categorisation they repeatedly use in legislation to entrench the blockade. Thanks to Karen Lee Wald for recording the event and forwarding her transcription.

Paul Davidson

Assata Shakur addresses Pastors for Peace caravan Instituto Cubano de Amistad a los Pueblos (ICAP) - in Havana on 6th November 2000 (the first few questions are missing due to bad tape). In this first part Assata spoke about how she became a Black Panther in the 1960s and was targeted by the FBI. She spoke of the role of the press in collaborating with this campaign until she and other companeros were finally forced underground. She told how she was captured in 1970 and accused of killing a New Jersey policeman, although medical testimony showed that she had been shot twice -- once with her arms up in the air -- and so could not possibly have shot anyone after that. Nevertheless, she was convicted by an all- white racist jury to a sentence of life +. She spent 6 1/2 years in prison, 2 of them in solitary confinement.

Karen Lee Wald

Assata: In 1979 I was liberated by some friends, and in 1984 I came to Cuba, where I was united with my daughter and was able to bond with her for the first time. And to begin healing the wounds. Here, I worked, studied, mothered and continued to be an activist. I found that Cuba was much different from the US; its government was genuinely trying to erase racism. But racism had grown out of slavery and exploitation and was very hard to eradicate quickly and completely.

Cuba has been undergoing a process to eliminate racism) .. Cuba like every other place has got to struggle against the whole racist ideology that it inherited, the culture, the eurocentric way of viewing the world where Europe is this big (shows with her hands) and Africa and Asia and Latin America are these little microscopic dots on the map. That's a process that has to be helped and contributed to by everybody, because the whole way the world is viewed now, the way that science, literature and history are used, is totally distorted and Eurocentric. In order for the world to be free of racism that is a struggle that has to be waged on all fronts by all people. I think that more than anything, the whole cultural imperialism that is going on today where people, whether they're in Senegal, South Africa, Indonesia, are looking at this USA vision of the world that is totally distorted, totally unreal, that really diminishes and minimalizes the cultural values and wisdom of people all over the world, and sells this kind of McDonald-ized vision of the world that everybody is supposed to aspire to.

Cuba is very important in that struggle, because Cuba is not only talking about racism in abstract terms, but connecting it with imperialism, which is the underlying motor of racism today. The underlying reason that racism keeps on being promoted in all of its various forms today. I think anybody who is honestly struggling against racism must struggle against imperialism and vice versa.

Q. You could have gone to many countries for asylum. Why did you choose Cuba?

A. I decided to come to Cuba for a variety of reasons. One, because it was close to the United States, and I considered it to be a very principled country. It has a long history of supporting victims of political repression, not only of people in the United States, like Huey Newton, Robert Williams, Eldridge Cleaver (a long list of people), but also people who were victims of political repression in other places, like Chile, the apartheid government of South Africa, Namibia, etc. I felt this was a place that held the principle of international very close to heart, so I felt comfortable coming here. It was close, so I wouldn't be separated from my family and friends.

And I really wanted to know what happens in a place that is trying to build socialism, that's trying to construct some form of social justice. That's trying to feed people, to make health care and education a right.

When I came I had some very silly ideas, to be honest. My fantasy of Cuba was that everybody was going to be going around looking like Fidel, with green uniforms -- and it was very different from my vision of how Cuba was going to be. I found that people had all kinds of levels of consciousness, all kinds of levels of education, but that Cubans in general were very educated politically. I could go sit in a bus and get into a conversation with someone and that person had a wealth of knowledge. And energy! What most impressed me about Cuba was the optimism.

There are 11 million people on this island who have an incredibly optimistic vision of the world. My mother put it into words most clearly when she said: "If these people had not won, had not taken power, everybody would think they were insane!" (Laughs). People would think the whole revolutionary process was totally insane. How DARE these 11 million people on this little island think they can change the way that this planet is going? How dare they think they can stand up against the United States? That they can have their own system....But that is the kind of magic of Cuba that people have this optimism, this pride, this belief -- not only in themselves but in other people.

That to me has been one of the psychic vitamins that has fed me since I've been here and that has taught me the power of people. I was a member of the Black Panther Party, and we used to say "Power to the People", but here in Cuba is where I've seen that put into practise, where I've seen that internalized by people in such a way that people feel empowered to build this planet and to change it. And to contribute and feel privileged to do that. Feel that when they go to sleep at night that all is not in vain. There is some sense in living on this planet. That there is some beauty in constructing something better and giving to other people. And work is a source of pride, not "Oh, I've gotta go to work in the morning". It's another way of looking at the world and another way of living on this planet.

Q. Describe experience of being in Cuba, being exiled here. To what extent have you been able to continue being the political person you were in the United States?

A. Well, exile is difficult. Anyone who says it's nothing, that it's easy, is simplifying things. Exile for me was hard. When I came here I spoke very little Spanish. Like two words. I couldn't communicate, and people would talk to me like I was a blooming idiot. Like, how did they know? They'd say, "Hello, how are you?" -- simple things. There was no way I could express my personality in Spanish, tell jokes, be specific, describe anything...It was a hard adaptation process. But I went through it and in some ways I guess continue to go through it. For me personally Cuba has been a healing state. When I first got here I had no sense that I had to heal or anything. When you're struggling for your life and you're in the midst of things, you don't feel all the blows.

But after awhile I began to understand that oppressed people --just by being oppressed -- suffer serious wounds. You might go into a store, and somebody might follow you around the store, and you would have a choice of how to react: you could confront them and say "Why are you following me around the store?" or you could say to yourself: "Well, I came here to buy some socks, so let me just concentrate on buying the socks." But you still feel the pain. The obvious racism before had affected me, the prisons, torture...my whole life had created wounds, scars in me that in Cuba I was able to find a space to begin to heal. To begin to think, "Yeah, this happened, and I can look at it and see it for what it was but not be there, not be destroyed by it, not be turned into something bitter and evil by it. And not be like my enemies. Because I think that the greatest betrayal that a revolutionary can participate in is to become like the people you are struggling against. To become like your persecutors. I think that is a betrayal and a sin.

I think that people who want to change this planet have to seriously understand that as human beings we have to work to be good. I'm saying that in many ways: good at what we do, better people, better in the way we related to people, that we treat other people. Better in our ability to outreach to people. Better in so many ways. And the wounds that are inflicted on our families, on ourselves, we have to heal. We have to work within our families, within our communities, within our neighborhoods, to make it livable.

My experience in the United States was living in a society that was very much at war with itself, that was very alienated. People felt not part of a community, but like isolated units that were afraid of interaction, of contact, that were lonely. People didn't build that sense of community that I found is so rich here.

One of the things that I was able to take from this experience was just how lovely it is to live with a sense of community. To live where you can drop in the street and a million people will come and help you.

That is to me a wealth that you can't find, you can't buy, you have to build. You have to build it within yourself to be capable of having that attitude about your neighbors, about how you want to live on this planet.

Q. Some people have voiced concern that the end of the blockade will bring many negative things from the United States to Cuba. What do you think about the blockade ending?

A. I think that it's all positive. I think that any time anybody gets rid of oppression, intervention, exploitation, cruelty -- that's positive. I think that the effects of lifting the blockade are all positive. Now that's another question from the effects of exposure to US consumerism, violence, militaristic culture, greed, institutionalized sexual exploitation, Barby-doll vision of women -- those are different things. One is lifting the blockade; the other is cultural imperialism, materialism, etc.

Tourism, for example, has affected Cuba, because tourists come and they bring racist, sexist ideas. They bring a whole vision that there are rich people all over the world and that's the way it should be -- you know?

The only way to struggle against that is ideological struggle in terms of values. And also improving the economy. People here being able to say, "You have your vision of the world but we have ours, and we are committed to ours." That's a struggle of ideas, of values. And hopefully not only in Cuba, but all over the world, people are saying that this kind of McDonald's, Barby-doll culture that is being pushed by the United States and other big powers is a very empty, sad, alienating kind of culture, and there are much richer values on this earth.

Q. How did you get involved in the struggle (become an activist)?

A. Well, basically, it was hard not to. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the 60s -- not to idealize the 60s, but there was a lot of political activism going on. I had dropped out of school and was working at this terrible 9-to-5 drudge clerk-type job. I was miserable and not going anywhere. So I decided to go to school. I was in school like two weeks or something and my whole world changed! First of all I met all of these wonderful people who were doing things and were active and positive. Then I started to learn about myself. I grew up in the United States totally ignorant of the history of African people in the United States. Of the literature. I knew about the music and parts of the culture, but in terms of the history of African people I knew nothing. So all of a sudden I was exposed to these people who were talking about Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, DuBoise -- so many people -- and it was like waking up from a semi-sleep. It was like saying, "Oh, wow! We were there; we struggled, we resisted!" For me as a Black person, it was like coming into touch with the reality of my ancestors, my history.

I had grown up at a time when people were being lynched, being attacked with water hoses. Becoming active and learning a different way of viewing my life was a healthy reaction to what I was seeing every day. I actually believed then and still believe that activism is fun! I think that the movement has done more for me as a human being than I will ever be able to do for the movement. Because there's something nice about being able to go to sleep at night saying "You know, tomorrow I'm gonna get up and I'm gonna do this and I'm gonna do that...." I think that being an activist on this planet is a privilege and a pleasure.

Q. Could you talk about the Black Panther program? I know that it influenced other activist groups like the American Indian Movement. How could we use some of those ideas? And could you also tell us about the methodology the FBI used to try to infiltrate and destroy these movements?

A. The Black Panther Party had a Ten Point Program and Platform. We talked about the right to control our communities, (inaudible -- a summary from notes follows) to be free from induction into the military, the right to food, housing, clothing, jobs and freedom. The BPP was an anti-imperialist, pro-people party, not a racist party. It participated in all progressive organizations and coalitions, with Puerto Ricans, Asian and other liberation movements all over the world.

Because of this the BPP came under siege by the police. The FBI framed people on false charges, murdered people, including murdering them in their beds as they did with Fred Hampton...

Q. What advise would you have for activists in the US?

A. (Summary) First of all we need to put real democracy on the agency in the US, because there is no real democracy there now. I think we need to treat activism as FUN -- because it is fun. We need to develop a political style that's interesting and fun and personal. To celebrate together.

Q. I'd like to sort of pull this back to Cuba....The reasoning behind the debate about whether or not to pass a law allowing the sale of food and medicine to Cuba is because the United States has laws imposing unilateral sanctions against trade with what are defined [by the US government] as "terrorist nations". Cuba is on the list of "terrorist nations", not because it has put bombs on civilian airlines that exploded in mid-air -- that's what has been done TO Cuba; there was the one incident of shooting down the airplane of the Cuban-American terrorist organization that was flying over Cuba. But the most important reason that has been given for a number of years now about why Cuba is on that list, why the US calls it a "terrorist" nation, is because Cuba gives political asylum to individuals who the US calls "terrorists". And the US government has demanded that Assata and others like herself who have been given political asylum be returned to the United States. The question that has been raised often is, Are you worried that Cuba will turn you back over to the US government in order to resolve this problem? And if you don't think that Cuba will do that, what does that mean to you?

A. I think first of all, I trust Cuba as a principled country. Cuba's strength is that it has been steadfast in its commitment to the principles of liberation, freedom, of resistance to the kind of institutionalized terrorism that the United States government does every day. The US has attacked countries like Grenada, Panama, Libya....the list of victims of US terrorism is almost infinite. And the US government's participation in torture, whether in El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile....is well-documented and widely known.

I believe Cuba's strength has been its denouncing that kind of terrorism, torture. It does this politically not only by [providing asylum for] exiles [from terrorist regimes] but also fighting in the context of the United Nations Organization, in world organizations, in denouncing all kinds of terrorist torture in governmental policies. All of the maneuvers by the US government to keep the blockade alive is a manipulation by the US government because "Cuba poses a threat". The real reason Cuba poses a threat has nothing to do with my being here or anyone else being here. It's because Cuba is an example of a country that is actively fighting against imperialist domination and insists on its own right to self-determination and sovereignty. The US government's most acute fear is that other countries are going to follow the Cuban example. They want everybody to know that if you follow this example we will attack you in every way that we can. That is the reality as I see it about the blockade and why it is being continued.

The Miami Mafia (as everybody here calls them) has some input into that, but I believe it is not the money the Miami Mafia contributes to both parties that is making US policy what it is. It is the United States' government's insistence on being able to control the world, to tell all the people how to live, to export their version of "dollarocracy" to everybody else and to make every country in the world subservient to the interests of big business. I think that as long as Cuba continued to be strong, I have nothing whatsoever to fear from the Cuban people. In fact I think I have much, much, much to gain in understanding how a people can unite, how people can be strong, and how people can take a little piece of earth and try to mold that piece of art into a work of art and a work of love.

Q. Can you comment on the importance of religion and spirituality?

A. I think that spirituality is important for all people to develop. I don't mean there necessarily has to be a religious aspect to spirituality. Some people are spiritual in a religious way, other people are spiritual in their work and in their art and in their treatment of other people.

In my case, spirituality has been important to me because at periods in my life there's been very little else that I've had going. I've actually needed to call on, to feel the forces of good in this universe to be able to survive. I've always been a student of different ways of looking at the world, different religions. That's been part of my survival mechanism, and also part of my curiosity as a person, because I believe that some people spell "good" with two o's and some people spell it with one....and there shouldn't be a contradiction between that. In Cuba I was able to broaden my vision of spirituality. Here for the first time I became aware of the African and African-Cuban religions and began to study them and see how people interacted and made very common things -- rocks and leaves and shells -- into things that were very precious. I saw how people respected history, not only in terms of the revolutionary government preserving history--because I think that one of the great things that the Cuban revolution has done is preserve history. I came here and there's a museum called the Museum of the Revolution. I got to one little case and there were these shoes of one of the revolutionary heroes who died before the victory. And as I looked at those shoes, tears began to come out of my eyes, because -- this was someone who gave his life for the Revolution. So the Revolution didn't have a person, but made sure that the person was remembered. And in the African religions, one of the things that was very important to me was that somehow the struggle of so many slaves is remembered. The ancestors remembered. All of my experience of studying religion, studying spirituality, studying natural healing, traditional medicine, has kind of enriched my vision of the world. Not only seeing reality as this moment, but as a culmination of all of the history behind us, and all of the fruit that hopefully we will be able to grow from the seeds that we are trying to plant now, of goodness and peace and beauty and equality.

Q. In the movement to free Mumia Abu Jamal, in the US we've seen increasingly repressive tactics against the protestors, jailings and fines against protestors. One of the caravanistas who is usually with us had her passport taken away from her, she cannot be here in Cuba this week because she participated in a protest in support of Mumia last summer. What can you say about where the movement in support of Mumia stands right now?

A. Looking at the repression from Cuba is like looking at Martians. Whether it was in Seattle or Washington or at the Conventions, the visual image looks like these space monsters that are attacking people. Because you don't see that here! Nobody here lives that reality. And people in the United States take that reality as normal. The survival of the movement around Mumia is absolutely one of the most important struggles that needs to be waged, that must be waged right now. And it is more and more obvious that the US government is willing to ...I don't know, to set extraordinary bail for acts of civil disobedience. Some of the fines and bails have been out of this world in a so-called "free country".

But in spite of that I think that what the government can't do is squash everybody. So what the main thrust needs to be right now is to incorporate as many people as possible into the struggle to save Mumia, and to do whatever is needed to save that man's life. Because Mumia is not just one person. Mumia represents, at this particular time in history, opposition to the United States government. He represents opposition to the prison-industrial complex.

The death penalty is used in such a blatantly racist way in the United States. There is no way that can be defended under any kind of definition of justice by anybody.

I think that struggling to save Mumia's life will save many other people's lives and in that struggle, we need to have a new definition of what justice is.

A new definition of how people are treated in the society. And how people are not some kind of disposable item that you throw away, you destroy. You have a government that is sentencing 20-year-olds to life in prison without parole, for drug offenses.

When you're 20 years old and you sell, not even a huge quantity of drugs -- we're not talking about the dons or the godfathers or anybody else -- we're talking about small quantities of drugs. And they write in the newspapers "This is a drug kingpin" and they sentence this person to life without parole.

What kind of reality is that creating? What kind of future for the United States is that creating? If these people ever get out, who will they be? After years of watching beatings, tortures, suffering, you know what I'm saying? So I think the struggle around Mumia is important, to defend all of those people who are struggling against this system. I think that the more that people feel they can WIN that struggle, that they can go to their neighbors, that they can have signs on their blocks, that they can do things where they live, and not make it so abstract. Bring it home, take it to work, put a sign where you work.

Take it to your church, to make it more and more a people's struggle. I think people's struggles are the only ones that in the long run cannot be defeated.

Q. (Inaudible. Probably about media manipulation...)

A. (Talking about how absurd it was that the US could convince people Grenada was a danger to its security)....Grenada has about 100,000 people. I remember Ronald Reagan holding up this map, an aerial map of an airport, and saying this was gonna be a military airport that was gonna threaten the people of the United States. And actually they convinced a huge amount of people that Grenada, a LITTLE, TINY ISLAND, that wasn't even the size of Brooklyn, was a threat to the United States government!!! And people really believed it. It was like convincing people to believe in the tooth fairy. (Laughter). So people have to be aware of how the media manipulates the way we think. Because they have really created a situation where all the US government has to do is say that such-and-such a government is terrorist, and they can wipe people off the map! The language that is being used in the media today is incredible.

I must have been about 14 years old when I read "1984". It never occurred to me that anyone would name a nuclear missile "Peacekeeper". It never occurred to me that thousands of people would be killed in the name of "peace-keeping". But that is what is happening today. Or that the deaths of 200,000 people is called "collateral damage". How can you justify that? They are making a language that is a callous language of imperialism and we are using it. That doesn't mean we are going along with their language, but that we have not developed our own. The average person living in the US may not even be aware that those are 200,000 women, children, babies that are dead, and they are not even called human beings, they are called "collateral damage". "Friendly fire" -- what the hell is that? It is sickening when you listen to it, but you are inundated by it.

Because they've developed these code words, they have been incorporated into the language of politics, and people see that as normal. Just as they see the police dressed up as Martians beating people up as "normal". So the abnormal, the sick, the vicious have become more and more interwoven into the violent culture of the United States. Into the way news is seen, into the way movies are seen.

I watched this movie, they had it on tv here, called "Instinct". Black actor Cuba Gooding, very good actor, is playing the psychologist, and his patient is this white anthropologist who has been extradited from some African country for killing three people.

And Cuba Gooding is trying to get at the roots of what has made this man "mad". The man has a relationship with gorillas that he's been studying and is beginning to bond with gorillas; he finds that the gorillas have this good gorilla way of living. And this anthropologist becomes like a hero in this movie. And he's talking about what liberation is, how gorillas have achieved a stage of liberation, although you are never clear what he means by that. And because this guy stands up to this system in prison in which the roughest prisoner gets a turn to go out on the exercise yard; they deal out a deck of cards and the one who gets the ace gets to go out. And the one who is the strongest and the most evil takes the ace and always goes out into the yard. So this anthropologist stands up against this strong guy -- who also happens to be black -- and he becomes the hero of the prison. In the end he escapes. And he's like this great white hero who escapes.

And nowhere in the whole movie, there is not one word about these three people he killed. All three of them were Africans, and they were poaching on the animals, capturing the gorillas. And this guy kills them because of the gorillas.

In the way that this whole history is told, we feel so much for this guy. We begin to love him; he becomes the hero, the symbol of liberty and justice. He and his relationship to the gorillas become principal, and the three Africans that he killed are totally irrelevant. And from the beginning to the end of the movie, that's the way it goes. And I'm looking at this and thinking, "This is incredible! When Malcolm X created 'tricknology' as a word to describe how the mind can be twisted and distorted and manipulated into believing that the enemy is the victim and the victim is the enemy -- the United States is a MASTER of it!

You have a bill: "Feed Cuba! Food for Cuba!" that not only tightens the blockade, makes things harder for the Cuban people, and they say "Oh, this is a wonderful thing to open trade with Cuba". And they have people believing it.

We're living in a very tricky world, and unless we become analytical and expose the tricknology, people will become sucked into that. It is very easy, it is very, very easy.

Q. Cuba has been fighting against [neoliberal] globalization. What do you think the potential for the anti-globalization movement is?

A. I think that the movement against the policies of the World Bank, of the IMF, is very important. People are really beginning to see the mechanisms of imperialism. When colonialism existed people could see colonialism. When racial segregation existed in its apartheid form, people could see the "whites only" signs. But it's much more difficult to see the structures of neo-imperialism, neo-colonialism, neo-slavery.

I think that the movement against the World Bank, against the globalization process that is happening, is very positive. We need a globalization, a globalization of people who are committed to social justice, to economic justice. We need a globalization of people who are committed to saving this earth, to making sure that the water is drinkable, that the air is breathable.

When I was a child, if someone had talked to me about buying water, I would have thought it was a joke. If we are not committed to saving this earth we will be buying designer air filters and gas masks with little Nike swishes on them. (Laughter, applause)

The people who are running this planet are insane -- they are literally destroying it. I don't know where they think they're gonna drink water, breathe air....This planet is a wonderful place, but a vulnerable place. And they are making and implementing policies that are destroying the earth in all kinds of ways.

The movement against the kind of global assassination that is going on, in terms of whole countries -- because every African country is facing an ecological disaster in terms of becoming deserts, in terms of fuel -- Africa is one of the richest countries in the world and the people are the poorest in the world. A lot of that poverty is directly related to the policies of the IMF and the World Bank. Those policies are very important not only to Cuba but to people all over the world who want to see their children grow up and have access to health care, to live somewhere that is not a desert, where they can drink water, where they can breathe air. So I think that movement is one of the most important, most optimistic struggles that is going on at this moment.

Q. In 1965 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower said the Pentagon was planning for 100 years into the future. Most of us don't even plan for 5 years ahead. I don't know how Cuba is coming along with it's planning. But most of us are always REACTING to what the world powers do. What is our pro-active plan for 5 or 10 years from now?

A. I wish (laughs) I had those answers. I believe that we have to...the first part of planning is to believe that you can put that plan into practise. And I think that one of the problems that exists in the United States and in many places in the world is that people don't believe that they can make a difference. So a lot of times we're defeated before we even start. We've become consumers of a world vision, of Kentucky Fried Chicken, of McDonalds, and we're convinced that Kentucky Fried Chicken tastes better than any other thing, or that a hamburger made by McDonalds is something special. Other than a piece of greasy meat and some bread. McDonald's are things we've been sold. And we've also consumed the idea of powerlessness, of the idea that "you can't fight City Hall" [you can't win against a powerful establishment -ed. note], of "you can't change things, the government is strong, that's just the way things are".

And as long as we continue to have that vision of the world, the planning of a better world is going to be a hard nut to crack. So I think that one of the things as a step towards the phase that WE plan years and years ahead is to actually believe that this world is redeemable, changeable; that we can eradicate poverty, that we can eradicate alienation, that we can eradicate this tremendous consumerism, this disease that we have to buy everything that exists, everything that the television says we have to have.

We have to have a vision of the world we want to make in 100 years. And maybe when we have that vision, when we convince enough people that that is a realistic vision, and that the opposite vision is basically that if we don't do something in this 100 years, a hundred years from now this world is gonna be so destroyed, so raped and ravished that we won't HAVE much of a world to save.

Internalizing the importance of this century, and how much work we have to do, will give us at least some ways to invent a system of planning. I think it's really hard to plan if you don't believe you can implement those plans.

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