FALL 2005

Greetings to the People of Venezuela and to your Beloved President, Hugo Chavez. My name is Herman Bell. I am a USA Political Prisoner and a former member of the Black Panther Party. I have been imprisoned for over 32 years because of my activism in the Black liberation movement of the 1960s & early 1970s. I was asked to write the following for a recent conference in Europe, and wish to share these words with you as well:

Physical torture and forced isolation are two arms of the same body. At its social base is the state which relies upon this practice to enforce its will upon its citizenry to achieve some specific political objective: usually to elicit information, or to dissuade one from engaging in disfavored activity.

In its efforts to assert its political and economic hegemony across the globe, even as the social contradictions between itself and its opposing forces intensifies, Western imperialism will employ any and every draconian means at its disposal to achieve its goal: world domination. Social activists, educators, workers, grassroots organizers, people who are avowed opponents of their government's egregious social and foreign policies, are cast in the mode of "trouble makers," "agitators," "criminals," and the like, or in some other expedient pejorative to justify state repression. Imprisonment, torture, isolation cells, and disappearances are the tools of choice. Therefore, Abu-Ghraib; Guantanamo; u.s.a. Florence, Colorado; F-type prisons in Turkey, the E.U,. and elsewhere are not aberrant lapses -- they set the stage for this type of repression.

This is why support work to get people out who are locked in these torture chambers is so critical, and is why work to prevent their expansion must be vigilant and unrelenting. The word "ineluctable," which means "not to be avoided or escaped" is an apt characterization of what the world's people are up against as regard Western imperialism and its quest for global hegemony. One is either "in the fray," or "out of it." The former means that one's next location could well be in Abu-Ghraib; Guantanamo; or Florence, Colorado. The latter means that one could become an instant "collateral damage" statistic (not to suggest that life offers any guarantees), as was the unfortunate case with the foreigner on a british subway platform shot to death by british authorities without provocation in the aftermath of a tragic subway bombing incident in that country.

Ultimately, ours is a struggle of ideas, of how people wish to live as opposed to the exigencies of market forces, a struggle to build a social environment in which basic human rights and freedoms are protected, a struggle to make judicious and respectful use of the earth's resources, which is the birthright and natural inheritance of all life on our planet. Unfortunately, a select group of people who have organized for centuries and are well established in governmental bodies have presumptuously claimed through tradition, by so-called "right of inheritance," organized state violence and so on, to privately own what Mother Nature avails to us all. Therefore, and to the end of days, to all the good and unselfish people past and present who have taken a stand against this long train of social injustice, tyranny, usurpation, and oppression, I salute and stand with you.

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