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Week of July 16, 2002, Program 0229

Plan Columbia Transcript MP3 Related Link
Fulbright Scholars Transcript MP3 Related Link
Sudan Sanctions Transcript MP3 Related Link
American Backlash Transcript MP3 Related Link
Assessing Human Rights Transcript MP3 Related Link
Queen's Jubilee Transcript MP3 Related Link


July 16, 2002
Program 0229

(This text has been professionally transcribed, However, for timely distribution, it has not been edited or proofread against the tape.)

SANTIAGO TANGUILA: [via a translator] This liquid comes out and covers everything. It's drifting over from the Colombian side. It wrecks our agriculture. It affects everything we grow.

KRISTIN MCHUGH: This week on Common Ground, the pitfalls of South America's war on drugs.

KEITH PORTER: And Fulbright scholars share their American experiences.

Irina Petrovska: We couldn't see a single person and then we talked to our host and she says, "Well, people you can find in the malls."

PORTER: Plus, searching for peace in Sudan.

MRS. AWUT DENG ACUIL: I would like to appeal to the people that the 11 September incident that has happened in America. This is the life of Southern Sudanese people that they experience every day.

MCHUGH: More after this.

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Plan Columbia

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PORTER: Common Ground is radio's weekly program on world affairs. I'm Keith Porter.

MCHUGH: And I'm Kristin McHugh. Columbia's war on drugs is sometimes lost amid the country's bloody and much larger civil conflict. And now, the effort to wipe out Columbia's drug crop is causing an uproar in neighboring Ecuador.

PORTER: Ecuadorian farmers who say they are victims of aerial spraying designed to eradicate cocaine production in Colombia. As our focus on South America series continues, Reese Erlich investigates these allegations. He begins his report from the small village of San Francisco Dos in eastern Ecuador, just one mile from the Colombian border.

SANTIAGO Tanguila: [via a translator] The indigenous cooperative of San Francisco Dos has 25 houses.

ERLICH: With some pride, Santiago Tanguila points to the accomplishments of his small cooperative village. The residents are all Kichwa Indians, Ecuador's largest indigenous group.

TANGUILA: [via a translator] There's the community sports field. We have a school and a kitchen that's owned by the community. We have electricity. The only thing we don't have is drinking water piped into our homes. Before the aerial spraying we had a lot of roosters, cows, everything.

ERLICH: A lot of things have been dying lately in San Francisco Dos—plants, trees, and farm animals. People have gotten violently ill. At US insistence, the Colombian government is spraying herbicides on coca plants inside Colombia in an effort to eradicate cocaine production. But Ecuadoran peasants, who aren't growing coca, say winds blow the aerial spray across the border.

[The sound of someone walking in the countryside.]

ERLICH: Tanguila takes me on a walk through the lush, green forest, past an occasional withered mango tree and dead coffee plant.

TANGUILA: [via a translator] The planes doing the spraying don't make any noise. We only hear the helicopters accompanying them. Then we know there's aerial spraying going on. This liquid comes out and covers everything. It's drifting over from the Colombian side. It wrecks our agriculture. It effects everything we grow.

ERLICH: The Colombian military is spraying Roundup Ultra, an herbicide manufactured by Monsanto. Contacted at corporate headquarters in St. Louis, a Monsanto spokeswoman declined to be interviewed on tape. However, she says Roundup Ultra, when properly applied, is safe both for humans and plants. Someone hit by aerial spraying, at worst, would feel temporary eye and skin irritation, she argues. That's not what the Kichwa peasants like Tanguila say.

TANGUILA: [via a translator] The herbicide companies say nothing is happening. They say it's no more dangerous than taking a vitamin pill. That's a lie. These "vitamins" are not fit for human consumption. They kill our crops. Little kids suffer stomach infections, headaches, and vomiting. That's permanent around here. The Red Cross came by. We went to local clinics. They weren't familiar with this kind of illness. So they didn't do anything. Then we tried our local, indigenous medicines. Those worked and gave us some relief.

[The sound of dogs barking and a man speaking to a woman.]

SANTIAGO: [via a translator] Here's a sick woman. She's been in the hospital.

ERLICH: Tanguila introduces Judith Rodriguez, another Kichwa peasant farmer. She says nobody around here is growing coca, but her little farm has been hit with misty clouds of chemicals numerous times, most recently in January.

JUDITH RODRIGUEZ: [via a translator] I got sick with a kind of fever. I have body aches. I have intense headaches. My stomach hurts so bad sometimes I just want to die. I was short of breath. At first I had a rash on my skin. The doctors say the problems are caused by the aerial spraying.

[The sound of a machete digging up yucca and then cutting it open.]

ERLICH: Farmer Vincente Calapucha uses his machete to dig up a yucca plant. He says Ecuador has gone through an economic crisis ever since it defaulted on its international debt last year and made the US dollar the official currency. So farmers depend even more on their land for survival. Now, he says, the aerial spraying—part of the US-backed $7 billion "Plan Colombia"—is making things a lot worse.

VINCENTE CALAPUCHA: [via a translator] We can't afford to buy a lot things right now. So we live off the vegetables and other things on our land. Plan Colombia is hurting us a lot.

ERLICH: Calapucha slices open the yucca with one quick cut. Yucca is a tuber eaten like potatoes here. But this one has an ugly, mottled brown center.

CALAPUCHA: [via a translator] It should be completely white. But it's spotted and discolored. No one will buy these. One or two years ago, before the spraying, he had the most beautiful yucca you can imagine. I've lived here for 27 years and never had any problems. Our crops have been good. Because of Plan Colombia, our crops have died or shrunk in size. Coffee production is way down. The same for plantains.

ERLICH: But there's a problem with Calapucha's tale of woe. According to government scientists, herbicide spraying can kill plants but won't simply discolor them or reduce their size. Those problems are probably caused by micro organisms. Melania Yanez, an official with the Ecuadoran Environment Ministry, says farmers tend to blame the aerial spraying for all their problems.

MELANIA YANEZ: [via a translator] When people see and hear the crop dusters, they get sore eyes and have breathing problems. But we don't have scientific evidence that their problems are caused by the spraying. We need scientific studies with specialized laboratories, trained technicians, and doctors. We need the same studies in Colombia. Unfortunately, we can't afford to do such studies.

ERLICH: Yanez says some of the farmer's health complaints are consistent with herbicide poisoning. Maximo Abad, mayor of Nueva Loja, the largest city in the area, says he has received dozens of complaints about the spraying.

MAXIMO ABAD: [via a translator] There's a big psychological impact. The spraying is done with airplanes guarded by helicopters. They are violating Ecuadoran air space and scaring children in school. Last December about 14 helicopters crossed into our territory over Puerto Nuevo. The Colombian government never gave an explanation. There's a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty. People are asking, "Where is this going?"

[The sounds from a small store, with radio on and the cash register ringing.]

ERLICH: Anselmo Salazar, vice president of a Kichwa Indian organization in Nueva Loja, says people of this impoverished region have taken some steps to fight poverty. His organization, for example, has a pharmacy with lower priced drugs for members.

ANSELMO SALAZAR: [via a translator] We work directly with the pharmaceutical labs. They give us a big discount. So we can provide the medicine much more cheaply to people.

ERLICH: Salazar says, however, that Plan Colombia has slowed some of that progress because it hits the Kichwas particularly hard.

SALAZAR: [via a translator] The indigenous communities along the river are used to living off the land. They fish in the rivers. The aerial spraying has a huge impact because it poisons the water. It affects everyone who lives in this river valley—indigenous people and Ecuadorans. But Plan Colombia and the aerial spraying make things much worse for Indians. We've lived off this land for centuries. We eat the meat and fish here. So we're the people most affected in our natural environment. The fumigation hits indigenous people much more intensely.

ERLICH: Environment ministry official Yanez says the Ecuadoran government has raised complaints to the Colombians. In fact, she attended a special conference in Bogota in which the Colombian military officials said they strictly adhere to a 10-kilometer buffer zone where they don't spray herbicides.

YANEZ: [via a translator] They acted surprised when I told them how the herbicide drifts across our border. They insisted they maintain this 10-kilometer buffer zone. But our Ecuadoran peasants have seen with their own eyes planes cross the frontier into our territory. But the Colombians don't accept these reports. They say it's absolutely impossible that it was their planes. They say maybe it was the guerrillas.

ERLICH: Yanez notes wryly that the guerrillas don't have planes that spray herbicides, or any other planes, for that matter. Yanez says there is a simple way to prevent the herbicide from affecting local farmers. Ecuador has asked the Colombian government to guarantee in writing that it won't spray within 10 kilometers of the border.

YANEZ: [via a translator] What we want now from Colombia is a written guarantee because we need a mechanism to verify if this buffer zone is real. We want the United Nations International Drug Control Program to guarantee that the Colombians won't cross this 10-kilometer zone.

ERLICH: Colombian officials failed to respond to repeated phone calls asking for comment on this and other issues raised in this story.

[The sound of school children saying "Good day" to Mr. Erlich in Spanish, then Mr. Erlich replies back, and the children resume reciting their school lessons.]

ERLICH: Back in San Francisco Dos, elementary school children eagerly practice their lessons before class starts. Some of these children were sickened by the spraying, says Santiago Tanguila, but most are better now. Tanguila says local residents want compensation for all the problems caused by Plan Colombia.

TANGUILA: [via a translator] We're making demands on the company that makes those chemicals and the company that does the spraying. We want them and the US government to pay us for our damaged crops and health problems caused by the spraying here along the Ecuadoran border. We want money for the losses suffered by each family—lost animals, lost crops. How can else can we recoup our losses?

ERLICH: The European company supplying Colombia with Cosmoflux, a chemical used to make the Roundup herbicide stick to plants, has refused to supply more product for aerial spraying because the issue has become too controversial. The Colombian government has announced it will substitute chemicals from local manufacturers and continue the spraying. For Common Ground, I'm Reese Erlich in San Francisco Dos, along the Colombian-Ecuadoran border.

MCHUGH: The valuable lessons of culture shock, next on Common Ground.

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Fulbright Scholars

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MCHUGH: Every year hundreds of students, academics, and professionals from around the world participate in educational exchanges sponsored by the Fulbright Program. The program, administered by the US State Department, places US scholars in foreign institutions and brings academics from around the world to study in America.

[The sound of a large, busy conference]

PORTER: Over 100 scholars from some 60 countries have come together for three days of meetings. The official part of the gathering was put on by the US State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs—a lesser-known arm of an agency that's best known for hard-hitting diplomacy and policy making. Patricia Harrison heads up that bureau, and in an address to the Fulbright conference, she tells the scholars that they themselves are diplomats.

PATRICIA HARRISON: Because you're ambassadors working to increase mutual respect through education and through relationship building, you are replacing ignorance and fear with understanding and knowledge. And I believe you do start as ambassadors the minute you begin your Fulbright program, and you start coming in contact with people in your host country—people who may not understand your culture or your language.

PORTER: The scholars have also become acquainted with American culture, and they all plan to take some part of it back with them to their home countries.

IRINA PETROVSKA: I have no words to explain how much I can transfer of my experience to my students.

PORTER: Irina Petrovska is an English professor at a university in Macedonia. For this school year, she's been at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

PETROVSKA: On the one side, I have my official research; on the other side, I have my family with me, which puts me in a position to do even unofficial research in middle school education, elementary education, even the job that my husband got here, I was even involved in that field of research.

PORTER: Irina is studying ways to bring culture into the curriculum when she teaches English back in Macedonia, and she says she's already learned a lot about American culture. When she and her husband and two children first arrived in small town America they were immediately taken aback.

PETROVSKA: We went, the first weekend, downtown, you know, to enjoy people and activities. We were amazed. We couldn't see a single person! Couple of joggers, bicycle riders, and that was all! "Where are the people?" we kept on asking ourselves. And then we talked to our host and she said, "Well, people in Cedar Rapids or cities similar like that, you can find in the malls."

[The sound of a lunch conversation.]

PORTER: Over lunch, Irina compared notes on the travails of getting around Washington and on other aspects of her American experience with Fulbright scholars from all over the world. This is the personal part of the conference, when Fulbrighters have the chance to get to know each other and compare their experiences. Michael Nabofa from Nigeria, says when he first came to the US he found himself confronted with a myriad of American stereotypes about Africa.

MICHAEL NABOFA: People tend to think that we Africans are monkeys, we don't have roots, we live on top of trees. In fact there was a student who asked me whether had a car, whether I even have a house. [laughing] So I just laughed at him. Then today they were asking me whether I have a wife, how many children do I have. And I deceived him—I told him that I have 10 wives, 25 children, and 50 grandchildren! [laughing]

PORTER: Michael is using his Fulbright grant to teach courses in African religions at John Carroll University in Ohio. He keeps his sense of humor as he battles his students' preconceptions, but he has some sober words for what he sees as American arrogance on the international stage.

NABOFA: The Americans are fond of saying, "We are the greatest." We are big, we are intelligent, and we are all that." So in fact, somebody told me that when a person opens his mouth too much, flies will enter the person's mouth. That Americans open their mouth too much and flies flew into their mouth on 9/11.

PORTER: The September 11 attacks were not far from anyone's mind at the conference, since most of the scholars were in the US at the time. Assistant Secretary of State Patricia Harrison quoted a Fulbright scholar from Syria named Mohammad al Kuhleel, who she felt summed up the importance of the Fulbright program at this unique time in history.

HARRISON: [quoting Mohammad al Kuhleel in her speech to the conference] In the end, educational exchange is the ultimate solution to global terrorism.

PORTER: It's a powerful statement, but it fits in with the State Department's hopes that the scholars who come to the US will go back to their home countries with a greater understanding of America and Americans that they'll then pass on to their compatriots. But most of the scholars are just as interested in getting on with their research projects, which range from the very specific, like a Tunisian scholar's project on the "Biological Management of Wheat Root Disease," to the existentially broad, like a Russian scholar's study of "Concepts of Being Human in the 20th Century." Serhiv Moroz normally studies agriculture and business in Ukraine. Now, he's based at Louisiana State University, studying the American mortgage system.

SERHIV MOROZ: The creation of mortgage system is a really important problem, and now our government is trying to create proper institutions in my country. And that is why I guess that this research could help at least in some matter to help this problem and to create some institutions.

PORTER: Ukraine has no mortgage system now, and Serhiv is hoping he'll be able to use what he learns in America to help his country out. And unlike Irina from Macedonia, he's been surprised by the similarities between his country and the United States.

MOROZ: I'm surprised by such similarities between our cultures. You know, I haven't expect that we have many so common, you know. And actually our nations, our people are so close, and this is a really good opportunity for me, for example, to understand that. And after, to return to my home country, I'm going to share this experience and to talk with our people and to share these ideas I got here.

PORTER: That's just what the Fulbright program is meant for—giving regular people a chance at diplomacy. And it's diplomacy on a much more grass roots level than diplomats at the State Department can ever hope to achieve.

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Sudan Sanctions

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PORTER: Early in his Presidency, George Bush announced that he was appalled by the suffering endured by the citizens in southern Sudan, who have been at war with their northern countrymen for nearly two decades. Bush described the country as a "disaster area for all human rights," and appointed former Senator John Danforth as a special envoy to Sudan. But the Bush Administration's commitment to resolve Sudan's conflict now appears to be a battle of wills between the administration, and a coalition of human rights groups, Christian groups, and African American organizations. Catherine Drew reports from Washington.

[The sound of child soldiers singing.]

CATHERINE DREW: Tens of thousands of children have been caught up in the fighting in Sudan. This group of 8- to 18-year-olds had been training as soldiers to fight for the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army or the SPLA in the south. They are the lucky ones; the United Nations has negotiated their release and returned them to their families. The Sudan war is an intractable conflict over religion, ethnicity, ideology, and in the past few years, oil. It pits the Islamic government of the mainly Arab north, against the rebels fighting for autonomy for the black Christians and animists in the south. Credible reports suggest the Khartoum Government condones slave raids and abductions of southern men, women and children, while also preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching rebel areas, where famine and starvation are common. Aerial bombings and helicopter gunship attacks like the one on a UN feeding center in the southern village of Bieh in February are also routine, according to Professor Eric Reeves of Smith College in Massachusetts who spoke at a recent hearing on Capital Hill.

ERIC REEVES: [speaking at a Congressional hearing] The eyes of these young mothers, at one moment hopeful that they and their children will receive desperately needed food aid, turn in a flash to sheer terror as helicopter gunships of the Khartoum's National Islamic Front regime, descend to a low hover and begin to direct heavy machine gun fire and rockets into their midst. Dozens will be killed; many, many more will be wounded. We know because UN personnel were witnesses; indeed some were so close to the gunships that they could see the eyes of the pilot and gunner.

CATHERINE DREW: In two decades such attacks and rebel counteroffensives have left two million people dead and displaced a further four million. Some analysts fear there could be an upturn in the fighting. John Prendergast is with the International Crisis Group.

JOHN PRENDERGAST: Casualty rates are skyrocketing on the battle field today, because of the increasing lethality of weapons being purchased, particularly by Khartoum, the increasing stakes for which this war is being fought, the increasing commitment of the government to clearing civilians out of the oil fields, and the increasingly intense conventional engagements that we're seeing represented in the war today.

CATHERINE DREW: But there is some optimism that Khartoum's gestures towards the West after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, its desire to end international isolation, and economic hardship could prove promising influences in the push for peace. A big leveraging factor for this desperately poor country is oil. Sudan currently produces 250,000 barrels a day, but untapped oilfields in the south lie out of bounds to exploration and production, as the war is conducted above. With that in mind, the US House of Representatives has approved the Sudan Peace Act, which, among other things prohibits foreign energy companies working in Sudan from raising funds in US capital markets. Wall Street does not like this and neither does the Bush Administration. Walter Kansteiner, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs told the House Committee on International Relations, political interference in America's capital markets sets a dangerous precedent.

WALTER KANSTEINER: [Testifying before Congress] It has long term repercussions. It is a important step that our legislative branch would take. You know, Congress, I don't believe has ever passed capital sanctions against any country for any human rights violations. I mean this is serious, ground breaking, very long term. I think obviously both bodies are going to think long and hard of it. We don't think its appropriate.

CATHERINE DREW: But even professed free-trade lawmakers believe this is a precedent worth setting. Donald Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey framed the question in moral terms for Mr Kansteiner.

DONALD PAYNE: [Questioning Walter Kansteiner at a Congressional hearing] Yes or no, did you oppose our immediately cutting of Al Qaeda and many of the groups that were associated with the murder of three thousand Americans?

KANSTEINER: [Responding to Representative Payne's question] Absolutely, we led it.

PAYNE: [Questioning Walter Kansteiner at a Congressional hearing] However, two million Sudanese, you don't think that is egregious enough, you don't think it's reached the threshold yet. You don't—what is it, four million for you? Maybe five? Maybe two and a half? When does it become as September 11th was, when does it become for Sudanese?

CATHERINE DREW: Mr Kansteiner insists the sanctions are pointless, as even if the Canadian or European energy firms working in Sudan pulled out, Chinese and Malaysian interests would take up any slack. But analysts argue western know-how is needed to explore the oil fields of the south. Republicans in the Senate appear to be sympathetic to the Bush Administration's position. Capital market sanctions have been dropped from the Senate's version of the Sudan Peace Act, which is now languishing on Capital Hill. Some Democrats suspect the Bush White House is trying to avoid antagonizing the Khartoum Government, at a time when it is providing information about the Al Qaeda terrorist group, and Osama Bin Laden, who took shelter in northern Sudan for five years from the early 1990s. Mrs. Awut Deng Acuil a southern Sudan peace activist based in Kenya says she hopes Americans will rally to help her country and pass the strongest legislation possible.

MRS. AWUT DENG ACUIL: I would like to appeal to the people that the 11th September incident that happened in America, this is the life of southern Sudanese people that they experience every day. The ethnic cleansing around the oil fields, the war of genocide that the Sudan government is executing in south. The people of America have to say no, and be involved in the conflict or in the search for peace in Sudan.

CATHERINE DREW: This division among the various branches of the US Government over whether to use the carrot or stick approach to the Khartoum Government, comes seven months after the Bush Administration's special envoy John Danforth launched his mission. In that time he has negotiated four confidence building measures, including declaring a ceasefire in the central Nuba mountains region, the creation of tranquility zones for humanitarian work, an end to the Government's aerial attacks on villages, and slave raids in the south. The Bush Administration is waiting to see how each side observes these agreements before deciding whether to get more involved in peace negotiations.

[The sound of people celebrating.]

CATHERINE DREW: Meanwhile, thousands of miles and seven times zones away, one family celebrates the return of a young boy, freed from fighting for the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army by the United Nations. Now he and his family must wait to see how far America will step into this conflict and if it can bring an end to the only way of life the boy has known. For Common Ground, I'm Catherine Drew in Washington.

MCHUGH: If you have questions or comments about today's program, visit our Web site at commongroundradio.org or e-mail us at commonground@commongroundradio.org.

[musical interlude]

ANNOUNCER: Common Ground is a Stanley Foundation production—on the Web at stanleyfoundation.org.

PORTER: This is Common Ground, radio's weekly program on world affairs.

[musical interlude]

PORTER: I'm Keith Porter.

MCHUGH: And I'm Kristin McHugh. Coming up this half hour on Common Ground, Britain declares "God Save the Queen."

QUEEN ELIZABETH: [speaking at her Golden Jubilee celebration] Gratitude, respect and pride—these words sum up what I feel about the people of this country and the Commonwealth and what this Golden Jubilee means to me.

MCHUGH: Plus, Russia's love-hate relationship with the United States. And balancing human rights and the war on terrorism.

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American Backlash

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The Moscow Times

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PORTER: In the months since last September's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the United States has redefined its relationships with a number of countries that are now its pivotal global partners. The US military offensive in Afghanistan, for example, would have been impossible without the strategic support of Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf. And the US relationship with Russia has, according to President Bush, entered a new chapter, with Washington and Moscow sealing nuclear arms reduction agreements, exchanging intelligence information, and cooperating within NATO. But, as Simon Marks reports from Moscow, not everyone thinks Russia should be forging a partnership with the country's Cold War nemesis.

[The sound of American rock on the streets of Moscow.]

SIMON MARKS: American rock on the streets of Moscow—blasting out from a loudspeaker in the center of the city, tunes from the other side of the Atlantic entertain moviegoers standing in line for tickets. [The rock music continues to play in the background.] The movie they're lining up to see: Star Wars, which has been playing on every big screen in the city.

[The sound of a busy movie theater.]

MARKS: Once inside, they grab a bag of popcorn, a Coke, and settle down to enjoy the show. In every regard, it's an American experience, albeit in the center of Moscow. But stop some moviegoers after the credits have rolled and they'll tell you that while they love seeing American movies, they do not love the USA or President Bush.

A RUSSIAN MOVIE-GOER: [via a translator] There is too much dictating going on from America. I don't like Bush. I have serious doubts about his intellectual abilities.

A SECOND RUSSIAN MOVIE-GOER: [via a translator] It seems as though America is a country that likes to dictate its will to other countries. You have to make some decisions taking other opinions into account. Bush is a peasant, a cowboy. Putin is much better. He speaks better, he is more educated. Or at least that is my impression.

A THIRD RUSSIAN MOVIE-GOER: [via a translator] I don't like what America does. I think the Americans should pay more attention to the opinions of other nations, the United Nations especially.

MARKS: I'm standing in Pushkin Square, often considered the spiritual center of Moscow, dominated as it is by the giant statue of the poet Alexander Pushkin. And yet today within yards of me I can see the sign showing the way to the Moscow branch of TGI Fridays, the golden arches of McDonald's, which opened its first Moscow branch here some years ago, and also a placard advertising the services of the United Parcel Service. With American trademarks everywhere, the center of Moscow today looks much like any other big European metropolis.

[The sounds of Pushkin Square.]

MARKS: But while this generation of Muscovites follows American fashions, eats at American restaurants, aspires to drive American cars, drink American sodas, and smoke American cigarettes, despite all that, the Russian public remains at best ambivalent about their country's relationship with the last remaining superpower.

LILLIA SHEVTSOVA: Usually Russians are very friendly towards Americans.

MARKS: Lilia Shevtsova with the Moscow Center of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

SHEVTSOVA: There was a poll after 9/11, and Russians were asking widely across the country whether they would donate their blood to Americans. You know 89% of Russians said yes, immediately, without any problems. And at the same time there are 30 per cent of Russians who are still thinking that Russia should be a superpower, that Russia should confront the United States, that Russia should get anything, some kind of important deliverables from the United States. So there is part of the population—probably you've met these guys on the street—that are torn, torn between their former reminiscences of the superpower role, and envy, probably envy towards the only superpower, the elephant that now is controlling the world order.

[The sound of President Putin welcoming President Bush to Russia.]

MARKS: Into the jungle, Vladimir Putin has stepped. The Russian leader welcomed President Bush to Moscow earlier this year. He's emerged as Russia's most pro-western leader since Peter the Great, agreeing arms reduction treaties with the United States, signing strategic cooperation documents and generally backing President Bush's war on terror. But at home, he's also perceived as an authoritarian—a tough, ex-KGB man who has cracked down militarily in the breakaway region of Chechnya and launched an offensive against Russia's free media. Reformist lawmakers like Alexei Arbatov, deputy chairman of the Russian Parliament's Defense Committee, accuse the United States of investing too much in the personality of Vladimir Putin, and being complicit in some of his more authoritarian moves.

ALEXEI ARBATOV: I think that the United States has not revised their international security policy, and policy towards Russia very deeply. And they hope that having a deal with Putin is enough, just like they hoped in the past that having a deal with Yeltsin was enough. They do not take into account that Russia is now a different society, there is public opinion, Parliament, mass media, and even though Putin is now very popular that may not last forever. And if domestic situation changes, economically for instance, or if there is some escalation of violence in the North Caucusus, then Putin's relations with the West would be for him a deficiency rather than an asset.

[The sound of American rock on the streets of Moscow.]

MARKS: That may lie in the future. Today in Moscow, moviegoers are getting ready for "Spiderman," plus visits to the city by James Brown, Joe Cocker, and even Ozzie Osbourne. All those shows are expected to be sold out. But that doesn't imply that many Muscovites are losing their faith in Russia's great power status, or their concerns that their country is increasingly dancing to an American tune. For Common Ground, I'm Simon Marks in Moscow.

[The sound of American rock on the streets of Moscow.]

PORTER: You're listening to Common Ground, radio's weekly program on world affairs.

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Assessing Human Rights

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Human Rights Watch

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MCHUGH: In addition to the global war on terror, there are active smaller civil conflicts on nearly every continent. And in light of this, human rights groups say many of the world's hot spots have taken a turn for the worse. Kenneth Roth is the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. I recently had the opportunity to talk with him about the global war on terrorism and his personal commitment to defend human rights.

KENNETH ROTH: Obviously, the major event from the human rights perspective was September 11 and its aftermath. The terrorist attacks of September 11 were in and of themselves a direct affront to human rights. The idea of deliberately targeting innocent civilians is antithetical to everything that the human rights cause stands for. At the same time I think that those attacks present a challenge to the human rights movement because there is a temptation on the part of the rest of the world to respond and do whatever it takes to try to prevent another attack, even if that means violating human rights in the process. And that is a natural human reaction but it is also a very dangerous reaction. Because I think it's important to recognize that the campaign against terrorism has to be in the long-term a campaign for human rights.

MCHUGH: We feel justified in our actions in Afghanistan. Israel feels justified in its actions in the occupied territories. Russia feels justified in its actions in Chechnya. Are there governments getting on the bandwagon of the war of terrorism to basically allow their own militaries to be abusive?

ROTH: Human Rights Watch has actually created a page on our Web site, which we call "Opportunism Watch." And it is, we are looking at governments around the world who opportunistically are waving the banner of antiterrorism as an excuse to crack down on peaceful political opposition. Or even violent political opposition, but doing it in an abusive way. For example, I suppose the most blatant example is Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, who began to crack down on journalists who had the audacity of criticizing his violent restrictions on a free and fair electoral process, all in the name of fighting terrorism. We saw this with Russian President Putin, who began to try to justify his atrocities in Chechnya in the name of fighting terrorism. And unfortunately, a number of European governments bought right into that and said there was a need to reassess Russian conduct in Chechnya. So it is very important for governments that claim to uphold human rights to identify this opportunism and to stop it.

MCHUGH: But there are some who would argue, some governments around the world that would argue, that September 11 changed everything. And, and we often say in the United States, September 11 did change a lot of things. So therefore it is time to reassess the situation that these governments are taking against civilians. Whether it's in Chechnya or in the occupied territories. And, in fact, that reassessing is a good thing.

ROTH: Clearly September 11 is a wake-up call for everyone to be more vigilant in combating a very serious terrorist threat. But it's important that as that reassessment takes place that that not become an excuse. We also don't want to take actions that are counterproductive. And if we send the signal that the ends justify the means, if we send the signal that it's okay to abuse human rights in the name of a laudable cause, then certainly our cause of fighting terrorism is laudable but Osama bin Laden thinks that this cause is laudable, too. And you end up reinforcing the logic that allows people to join the cause of terrorism and to use its extreme means to pursue the particular political ends that they have in mind.

MCHUGH: Human Rights Watch monitors situations all over the world. Where would you say are the biggest hot spots at the moment?

ROTH: Well, we are looking at hot spots really in every region. In, in the Western Hemisphere I think the hottest spot is Colombia. Where you have on the one hand a significant rebel threat to the government. On the other hand, a military that has decided to fight that threat by teaming up with a paramilitary organization that basically uses as its tool of combat the slaughter of civilians. And so today 75 to 80 percent of the political killings in Colombia are not committed by the rebels. They are committed by the paramilitary group that is working in very close alliance with the Colombian military.

MCHUGH: And outside of the Western Hemisphere?

ROTH: If you will look around elsewhere in the world, in Asia, in addition to Afghanistan, which is obviously a major preoccupation, we are spending a lot of our time these days looking at Indonesia, which faces a range of both separatist threats and communal violence between Christians and Muslims and in different parts of this vast archipelago. We also are spending much of our time in Africa, where there are unfortunately a series of, of awful civil wars. I think the worst in many ways is in eastern Congo, where a number of governments have sponsored local rebel groups that are fighting in a way that is leading to massive loss of life.

MCHUGH: You've talked about a lot of negatives. But there have to be some positive developments somewhere in the world.

ROTH: Oh, absolutely. I mean, if you stand back and say, you know, "How has the world evolved over the last decade?" If you look at most of Latin America there are problems in many of the countries, but most of the countries are now firmly committed to democracy. There are genuine efforts to assert the rule of law over militaries that had been very abusive. So that's a very positive area. Much of Eastern Europe, what had been the Soviet bloc, is today well on its way to, to being democratic and respectful of human rights, to the point that Human Rights Watch has stopped working in most of those countries because we're not needed. There are strong enough local organizations to carry the burden on their own. Parts of Southern Africa are today doing much better than they were a decade ago. Certainly South Africa, Mozambique.

MCHUGH: You talked about how you operate around the world. And this is you don't really ask permission. You just go in and investigate. And several governments would say that's a biased position. How can we know that what you are saying is true?

ROTH: Well, there are two different points there. In terms of bias, Human Rights Watch is scrupulous in maintaining our objectivity. We instill this into all of our investigators. Each of them is extraordinarily careful to interview all sides to a dispute, to get eyewitness testimony, to cross-examine eyewitnesses to ensure that they're telling us the truth or to discard their testimony if they are not. So we are very, very careful that our fact finding is objective, thorough, comprehensive, and not tainted by the various political agendas that inevitably parties to a conflict will have. And I think that our work speaks for itself. Something like the Jenin Refugee Camp report, which had to be issues in one of the most divisive political contexts imaginable, has largely been well received by all sides. I have not seen factual critiques of it. People accept that what we did was a fair account of what happened.

Now, as to whether we should seek governmental permission, our view is that international human rights law makes clear that the way a government treats its people is not an internal matter. In the olden days one heard governments saying that to talk about their human rights practices is to interfere in their internal affairs. I don't buy that for a second. In fact, the whole idea of international human rights treaties, which every government of the world has ratified at this stage, is to make clear that a government's human rights conduct is deserving of public attention. And if a government falls short of respecting those standards, the international community has a right to examine what happened, to denounce it, and to try to change it.

MCHUGH: How long have you been examining human rights around the world? Personally?

ROTH: Personally, I've been working in the human rights movement for over 20 years now. I've been at Human Rights Watch for over 14 and have been directing the organization for nine.

MCHUGH: I'm sure then that you have witnessed unimaginable horror over and over and over again. Is there ever a time when you just want to say, "I give up. I throw in the towel. There is no hope?"

ROTH: You know, no. And I suppose part of that is my personal makeup. In that clearly it's a frustrating process in that you don't always win by any means. You see lots of horrors. And at a certain level one has to deal with that personally. And different people have different defense mechanisms. For me I think what keeps me pushing forward is that I see over and over that when Human Rights Watch enters the scene we can make a difference. That we can be successful in increasing pressure on governments to respect human rights. And so we see how in the lives of the victims who are facing imprisonment, who might risk torture or even murder, that we can play a critical preventive role. And it's that possibility that keeps me going. I see that governments indeed do react to our intervention, so we can make a difference. And so even though we can't stop human rights abuse, knowing that we can curb it, that we can save victims from or prevent their persecution, is more than enough to keep me going.

MCHUGH: Kenneth Roth is the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. I spoke with him in New York.

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Queen's Jubilee

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MCHUGH: England's Queen Elizabeth is marking her 50 years on the throne with pomp and circumstance. For months, British media speculated the Queen's Jubilee would hardly raise an eyebrow among the public. But, that's not how things turned out. The royal family is experiencing a new wave of popular support. Suzanne Chislett looks back at the changing fortunes of the Queen.

[The sound of Big Ben chiming.]

CHISLETT: As 2002 dawned, the thinking across much of Britain was that the Jubilee year would not see celebrations similar to the national street parties of 1977 to mark the Queen's 25-year reign. Opinion polls were suggesting that anti-royalist feelings were running high and of those who did support the monarchy many wanted to see Prince William, the Queen's grandson be crowned the next king.

[The sounds of heralding trumpets.]

CHISLETT: On March 30th Britain was shocked by the news that Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, had died peacefully at the age of 101. The centenarian had been ill since before Christmas, but there was nevertheless a huge sense of loss. And not just among older people who remembered her time as Queen alongside her husband, the late King George VI. Some said the royals appeared to have learned a few lessons from the death of Princess Diana, and instead of remaining silent senior members of the family were quick to pay public tribute to the royal matriarch. Prince Charles granting a rare interview to remember the woman he was so close to.

PRINCE CHARLES: [speaking about the Queen Mother] And me, she meant everything. And I had dreaded, dreaded this moment along with, I know, countless others. Somehow I, I never thought it would come. She seemed gloriously unstoppable.

CHISLETT: In the days that followed, thousands of Britons queued for hours to witness the Queen Mother's lying in state. When her four grandsons stood watch at her coffin, when the Queen made a national address to thank everyone for their sympathies and when Princess Anne broke with royal tradition to join the male members of the family to march behind the Queen Mother's coffin at her funeral, the signs of a change in attitude towards the Queen herself were easily detectable.

Just a few short weeks after the death of her mother, Queen Elizabeth began a Jubilee tour of Britain. She traveled to major cities, small towns, the islands off the far north coast of Scotland. And wherever she went was greeted by favorable crowds that seemed to increase in number. The celebrations culminated in two concerts held in the gardens of Buckingham Palace over the four-day Jubilee weekend at the start of June.

[Music from a classical concert.]

CHISLETT: The first would showcase the world's best classical artists in a "Prom at the Palace." The second called "Party at the Palace," was to feature leading pop artists from the five decades of the Queen's reign. Buckingham Palace officials carefully controlled the hype surrounding the two open air events. The names of the scheduled performers were slowly leaked to the media, while 12,000 tickets for each event were handed out following a lottery draw of all those who'd requested them. The Queen then traveled through the streets of the City of London for dinner as the guest of the Lord Mayor, where she thanked all those around the world who were marking her Golden Jubilee.

QUEEN ELIZABETH: [speaking at her Golden Jubilee celebration] Thank you all for your enthusiasm to mark and celebrate these 50 years. Gratitude, respect, and pride—these words sum up what I feel about the people of this country and the Commonwealth and what this Golden Jubilee means to me.


CHISLETT: The list of stars performing at the Party at the Palace was impressive. Sir Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Ricky Martin, Dame Shirley Bassey but more so were the massive crowds who gathered in central London to watch.

[The sound of parade music.]

CHISLETT: A huge Commonwealth parade saw 30,000 people from 54 Commonwealth nations pay their own tributes to the Queen a day later. Again, more than a million people watched on the streets of London alone. The popularity of the royals was on a high at home and abroad. Even apparent rifts among the family itself appeared to be healing. The long-term mistress of Prince Charles, Camilla Parker Bowles, sat in a royal box for the concerts. Newspaper headlines across Britain declared the festivities a massive success, royal watchers pronounced amazement at the public reaction, and opinion polls showed an overall change in heart towards the Queen. There are still plenty of people across Britain that would like to see the monarchy end; in a recent poll 32 percent said they believed the monarchy was out of date. And among young people more would like to see Prince William crowned the next king than his father. But, in a year in which the Queen lost both her mother and her sister she has also found a new wave of support from her public. And in a series of public comments has said she fully intends to remain on the British throne for many years to come. For Common Ground, I'm Suzanne Chislett in London.

PORTER: That's our show for this week. If you have questions or comments about today's program, visit our Web site at commongroundradio.org, or e-mail us at commonground@commongroundradio.org. Please drop us a line. We'd love to hear from you. For Common Ground, I'm Keith Porter.

MCHUGH: Transcripts and information on how to order copies of this and other Common Ground programs are also available on our Web site: commongroundradio.org. I'm Kristin McHugh.

PORTER: And I'm Keith Porter. Cliff Brockman is our Associate Producer. B.J. Leiderman created our theme music. Additional compositions by Wink Music.

ANNOUNCER: Common Ground is a Stanley Foundation production. The Stanley Foundation: promoting public understanding, constructive dialogue, and cooperative action on critical international issues. On the Web at stanleyfoundation.org.

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