Letter from Mia Couto to President Bush in "Savana", March 21st

Letter to President Bush

Mr. President: I'm a writer from a poor country. A country that was once in your black list. Millions of Mozambicans were unaware of what harm we had done to your country. We were small and poor: what threat could we pose? Our weapon of mass destruction was after all being used against us: it was famine and misery. Some of us found it weird the criteria which led to our name being exposed while other nations were gaining from your sympathy. For instance, our neighbor - South Africa with their apartheid - blatantly violating human rights.

For decades we were victims of that regime's aggression. But the apartheid regime was worthy of a more lenient attitude called the "positive involvement".

The ANC was in your black list as well, as a "terrorist organization"! A weird criteria which years later led to the Taliban and Bin Laden to be called as "freedom fighters" by US strategists. Well I - a poor writer from a poor country - had a dream. As Martin Luther King once had: that America was a country of all Americans. Well I dreamed that I was not a man but a country. A country that couldn't sleep because it lived terrified by terrible facts. And that terror made it proclaim a demand. A demand to you Dear President. And I demanded the United States of America to proceed to the destruction of their weapon of mass destruction.

Because of the terrible dangers I demanded more: that UN inspectors would be sent to your country. What terrible dangers was I afraid of? What did I fear from your country? Unfortunately it wasn't a dream. Facts were the reason for my fears.

The list was so big that I will just name a few: - The United States were the only nation to drop nuclear bombs upon other nations; - Your country was the only nation condemned for "illegitimate use of force" by the International Justice Tribunal; - American forces trained and armed extremist islamic fundamentalists (including Bin Laden) under the pretext of overthrowing the Russian invaders in Afghanistan; - Saddam Hussein's regime was being supported by the USA while committing the worst atrocities against Iraqis (including the gassing of kurds in 1988); - As many other legitimate leaders, the African Patrice Lumumba was murdered by the CIA. After being arrested, tortured and shot in the head and his body dissolved in cloridric acid; - As many other puppets, Mobutu Seseseko was one of your agents you put in a country in exchange for help for the American espionage: the CIA office in Zaire became the larger in Africa. The brutal dictatorship by this man was never condemned by the USA until he became inconvenient, in 1992; - The invasion of East Timor by the Indonesian military was supported by the USA. When the atrocities were known, the Clinton administration's reply was "it's a matter of the Indonesian government's responsibility and we do not wish to take that responsibility away from them"; - Your country harbored criminals like Emmanuel Constant, one of Haiti's most blood thirsty leaders whose paramilitary slaughtered thousands of innocents. Constant was tried "in absentia" and the new authorities requested his extradition. The American government has so far declined the request; - On August 1998 the USAF bombed a medicine factory in Sudan called Al-Shifa. A mistake? No, it was a retaliation for the bombings of Nairobi and Dar-es-Saalam; - In December 1987, the United States were the only country (along with Israel) to vote against a motion condemning international terrorism. Still, the motion was accepted with the favorable vote of 153 countries; - In 1953, the CIA helped preparing a coup against Iran following which thousands of communists from Tudeh were massacred. The list of CIA sponsored coups is quite long; - Since World War Two the USA have bombed: China (1945-46), Korea and China (1950-53), Guatemala (1954), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-1961), Guatemala (1960), Congo (1964), Peru (1965), Laos (1961-1973), Vietnam (1961-1973), Cambodia (1969-1970), Guatemala (1967-1973), Grenada (1983), Lebanon (1983-1984), Libya (1986), El Salvador (1980), Nicaragua (1980), Iran (1987), Panama (1989), Iraq (1990-2001), Kuwait (1991), Somalia (1993), Bosnia (1994-95), Sudan (1998), Afghanistan (1998), Yugoslavia (1999); - Biological and chemical terrorism was carried out by the USA: the orange agent in Vietnam, a plague virus in Cuba which for years devastated the pig production there; - The Wall Street Journal published a report announcing that 500.000 Vietnamese children were born with deformations due to the chemical warfare carried out by the American troops. I woke up from the nightmare of that dream to the nightmare of reality. The war you decided to start may get a dictator away from us. But we will all become poorer. We will be facing bigger problems in our already volatile economies and we will have less hope in a future governed by righthood and moral. We will have less faith in the power of the United Nations and the international law. We will be more lonely and helpless. Mr. President: Iraq isn't Saddam. It's 22 millions of mothers and children and men who work and dream as any American. We worry about the horror of Saddam Hussein's regime which are quite real. But we forget the horrors of the pr evious gulf war in which over 150.000 people lost their lives. Saddam's weapons are not killing the Iraqi people, the sanctions are. It was the sanctions that led to a humanitarian crisis that was so serious that two UN coordinators (Dennis Halliday and Hans Von Sponeck) resigned in protest. Explaining the reason for his resignation Halliday wrote: "We are destroying a whole society. It is as simple and as terrible as that. And that is illegal and immoral". Those sanctions have already killed half a million Iraqi children. But the war on Iraq isn't about to begin. It begun a long time ago. In the no fly zones there have been continuous bombings for the last 12 years. It is believed that 500 Iraqis were killed since 1999. The bombing included the massive use of depleted uranium (300 tons, 30 times more the amount used in Kosovo). We will get rid of Saddam. But we will still be prisoners of this logic of war and arrogance. I don't want my children (or yours) to live dominated by fear or to think that in order to live in peace they will need to build a fortress and that they will only be safe when they spend a fortune in weapons. Like your country, spending (two hundred and seventy billion) dollars a year to keep the war arsenal. You know too well what that amount of money could do to change the miserable faith of millions of human beings. The American bishop Robert Bowan wrote you a letter in the end of last year. It was called "Why the world hates the USA?". The bishop of the Florida Catholic Church is a Vietnam veteran. He knows what the war is like and he wrote:

"You claim the USA are the target of terrorism because we defend democracy, freedom and human rights. What an absurd Mr. President! We are the target of terrorists because in most places in the world our government supported dictatorship, slavery and exploitation. We are the target because we are hated.

And we are hated because our government has done hateful things. In how many countries did we use our agents to replace democratically elected leaders and replacing them for military dictators willing to to sell their own people to the American multinational corporations?" And the bishop concludes by saying: "The Canadian people enjoys democracy, freedom and human rights as well as the people of Norway and Sweden. Have you ever heard of any attacks on Canadian, Norwegian or Swedish embassies? We are not hated for having democracy, freedom or human rights. We are hated because our government denies that to the people of the third world countries whose resources are wanted by our multinationals". Mr. President: Your Excellency don't seem to have the need for an international institution to legitimize your right to a military intervention. At least may we find moral and truth in your argumentation. Me and millions of other citizens were not convinced when we saw you justify this war. We would rather see you sign the Kyoto Convention to prevent the green house effect. We would rather have seen you at the Durban International Conference against Racism. Don't worry Mr. President. We - the small nations of this world - do not intend to demand your resignation for the support provided to all those dictators. The larger menace lying over America is not the weaponry of any third party. It's the lies in the heads of your own citizens. The danger is not Saddam's regime or any other regime. But the sentiment of superiority your government seems to have. Your major enemy is not on the outside. It's within the USA.

And that war can only be won by the Americans themselves. I would like to celebrate the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. And celebrate it with all Americans. But without hypocrisy or that argumentation for the mentally diminished. Because we, dear President Bush, the people of the smaller countries, we have a weapon of mass destruction: we can think.

MIA COUTO -- Translation by Ralitsa Zaitseva

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