From Abu Ghraib to Guadalajara

The following is from a speech at a massive anti-war rally in Washington, DC, on May 5.

Women stripped naked and forced to do demeaning squats before male prison guards, then threatened with rape. Young men beaten and tortured while in police custody, then forced to sign blank depositions. Detainees deprived of sleep, food and water for days at a time. Families frantically searching for loved ones while officials send them scurrying from one detention center to another.

Listen to the words of one mother, Maria, as she describes the treatment of her 16-year-old son: 'He told me they grabbed his left hand and fractured two of his fingers. He hasn't had anything thing to eat and they forced him to sign a declaration without reading it.'

Dagoberta, a 25-year-old, suffered similar treatment: 'She was wounded but they took her from the Red Cross, they arrested her, purposely smashing her head on the ground, then they took her to the basement of the Public Security building.'

Jearin, a doctor's son 'came to sell his school books. They beat him and wouldn't allow him to talk. He told me he hasn't eaten or slept, and they forced him to sign a statement while beating him. Then they beat him some more.'

This may sound like Iraq, but the events happened last week much closer to home, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Students and union members protesting a summit of European and Latin American leaders were brutally beaten and tortured by local police. As I speak, many companeros remain in jail, suffering torture and beatings.

The state governor called for an 'iron hand' against the jailed protesters and publicly congratulated police for their brutality.

Many of my generation, those of us lucky enough to live through the dark days of the 'dirty war' in the 60s and 70s, still bear the deep scars of a state out of control, an abusive state that brutalized the finest of a generation of activists who had the courage to dream of a better world.

In Mexico, where confessions given under torture are still accepted in court proceedings, we know firsthand that this kind of official brutality is nothing new. But today there is a difference; in years past the abuses went on behind closed doors, shrouded from public scrutiny. Today, following the lead of George Bush and his 'preventive wars' and his 'shock and awe' war on civilians and his Abu Ghraib justice, world leaders proudly declare war on terrorists. The problem is that we are the terrorists, our children are the terrorists, thousands of students in Guadalajara are the terrorists, millions of Iraqi civilians are the terroritsts, anyone who disagrees with Bush's evil vision of a new world order is a terrorist. And cowardly leaders, like the officials in Guadalajara, officials without a shred of legitimacy, officials who can only defend their bankrupt ideas through state violence, follow Bush down this treacherous path.

Behind the closed doors of power, Abu Ghraib is the new rallying cry. Bush is leading us into a dangerous new world and he must be stopped. A better world is possible, and working together we can build it.

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