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Views in brief

June 22, 2007 | Page 6

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Bloody repression in Kenya
Military targets Latino youth

Bloody repression in Kenya

INDISCRIMINATE MURDER, bodies "dripping with blood," homes being torn down and residents being beaten--these are just a few of the horrific acts of violence committed recently in Mathare, one of the poorest communities in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya.

But as is so often the case these days, these atrocities are being excused--even justified--because they are being done by the police in the name of fighting crime.

The images and stories show that it is the cops who are the real criminals, terrorizing an entire section of Nairobi by killing over 30 people, arresting hundreds of men and women in massive roundups and forcing people to destroy their own homes at gunpoint.

Over the past 30 years, Kenyans have witnessed the violence of poverty and inequality increase throughout their country.

They have seen their government provide "solutions" through neoliberal policies such as initiating school fees and creating "Export Processing Zones" (EPZ's), where international corporations can pollute the environment and create slave-wage jobs with impunity. They've seen their living and working conditions plummet while government bureaucrats and corporation overseers get richer and more entrenched in corruption. But they have not been silent.

Kenyans have a long and proud tradition of organizing against the corrupt and brutal regimes that existed under colonialism and into independence. It is in this context that the recent escalation of violence by the Kenyan police must be seen--this new wave of police violence is undoubtedly a strategy to scare any political opposition into silence and submission in time for the next presidential election in December.

The U.S. government also has its hands bloody from this conflict. The Kenyan government is the eighth-largest recipient of U.S. military and economic aid, falling just below Colombia and Pakistan--other countries run by human rights abusers.

If it weren't for massive military and economic support from the U.S., the Kenyan government would have long ago toppled from popular pressure. Instead, the U.S. continues to fund politicians who in turn allow the U.S. to use its military bases. Located in the horn of Africa, close to the Middle East, Kenya serves an important geo-strategic role in the U.S. "war on terror."

For people living in the United States, we can support the struggle of ordinary Kenyans by demanding an end to U.S. government support for a corrupt and brutal dictatorship. We know something about living in a society with rampant police brutality, not to mention poverty and inequality. We can work to stop these things here in this country, and stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters engaged in these struggles around the world.
Ellie Fingerman, Seattle

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Military targets Latino youth

IT CAME out on the Hispanic PR Wire on April 12, 2007: The U.S. Army has launched the "Leaders Among Us" (LAU) program to foster a deeper relationship with Latino youth. LAU events will take place at select universities in LA, San Antonio, Miami and Chicago from May through October 2007. The LA event was to be held on May 10 at Cal State University Fullerton (CSUF).

The wire states that LAU is a major interactive rally with on-site activities drawing from the JROTC programs in high schools. Three thousand students were to be bused to the event to hear firsthand testimonials from active-duty and retired soldiers.

Guest speaker and award-winning recording artist Kevin Ceballo stated, "This is a great way for young Latinos to find out more about the opportunities offered by the U.S. Army. I'm proud to be a part of it." The emcees for this event were scheduled to be Latino 96.3 FM KXOL, with deejays Nico Jones and Nio Encedio. Highlights included a video wall featuring Hispanic soldiers' stories and a special reception for teachers, coaches and parents. Students also were to participate in an obstacle course and physical training competitions.

Missing in the announcement was the underlying purpose for this marketing spectacle that uses popular deejays, musicians and climbing walls to seduce Latino youth to blindly sign up for war. Missing is the fact that the Army needs young recruits for ongoing wars, and they especially need Latino youth to enlist in numbers proportionate to their growing population in the U.S.

News flash on May 3: After hundreds of phone calls protesting this event, Cal State University Fullerton officially canceled the ROTC/Army recruiting event, as announced by the Students for Peace and Social Justice of CSUF, who had mobilized many organizations and students across the city to protest this event. This included the Campus Greens, the Middle Eastern Student Society, Third Wave, MEChA, the Queer-Straight Alliance, Peace Witness LA, Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans Against War, the American Friends Service Committee and the Coalition Against Militarism in Our Schools (CAMS).

It is the grassroots organizing of people collectively working together that has made a difference. Let us never take for granted the power of the people who bring out the truth, and stand for peace and justice.

We will be vigilant as the U.S. Army will continue to spend billions and find enticing ways to trap our young into a system of war and death. Sí se puede--we can and we must stop the militarization of Latino youth now.
Arlene Inouye, CAMS, from the Internet

Call 626-799-9118 or visit www.militaryfreeschools.org for information about CAMS.

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