I recently read an essay by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Adolfo Perez Esquivel entitled The Kidnapping of Justice. It reminded me, in its searing and brutally honest analysis of geopolitics, of the speech that Harold Pinter gave in 2005 when he was awarded the Nobel for literature.

Mr. Esquivel’s essay was published in French in 2021 as the preface to Charles Onana’s book on the assassinations that triggered the fall of the Rwandan government in April 1994 (Enquêtes sur un attentat). What makes the essay more remarkable is the way it describes the common ways and means by which the US engineered political upheavals in both South America and Africa.

An English translation of the essay (Part 2, 6,000 words) follows this introduction, and with this introduction I include a few excerpts of Harold Pinter’s speech delivered almost twenty years ago (Part 1, 700 words). I believe it is a fitting way to set the stage for Mr. Esquivel’s essay.

As far as I know, The Kidnapping of Justice has not been published elsewhere in any language besides French. I hope that the author and the publishers of Enquêtes sur un attentat will consider this translation to be fair and favorable use. The essay is, after all, the work of someone who supported liberation theology throughout his life, so it seems fitting to liberate this essay from the single format in which it has been published so that it can be shared with the world.

Part 1

Harold Pinter Nobel Laureate for Literature, acceptance speech delivered in 2005: Art, Truth, and Politics (excerpts)

… politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain in ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed…

The truth is something entirely different. The truth is to do with how the United States understands its role in the world and how it chooses to embody it…

I would like to look at the recent past, by which I mean United States foreign policy since the end of the Second World War. I believe it is obligatory upon us to subject this period to at least some kind of even limited scrutiny, which is all that time will allow here…

… my contention here is that the US crimes … have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognized as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now…

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America’s favored method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as ‘low intensity conflict’. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom…

The United States supported, and in many cases, engendered every right-wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes, they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful, and ruthless it may be, but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It’s a winner…

It’s a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words ‘the American people’ provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don’t need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it’s very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

The United States… quite simply doesn’t give a damn about the United Nations, international law, or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant. It also has its own bleating little lamb tagging behind it on a lead, the pathetic and supine Great Britain…

I believe that despite the enormous odds which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.

If such a determination is not embodied in our political vision, we have no hope of restoring what is so nearly lost to us—the dignity of man.

Part 2

The Kidnapping of Justice

by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel

Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, 1980

English translation of the preface to the book by Charles Onana:

Enquêtes sur un attentat—Rwanda 6 avril 1994 : vingt-cinq ans d’investigations pour un non-lieu (L’Artilleur, 2021). (Investigations into an attack—Rwanda, April 6, 1994: twenty-five years of investigations that ended in case dismissed).

Translated by Dennis Riches

SERPAJ (Sevicio Paz y Justicia), or Service Peace and Justice, of which I became the honorary president, was born in the 1960s in Mexico. It was initiated by different groups and churches in an ecumenical spirit, starting from well-defined axes, the first of which, essential, is the commitment to the poorest and most marginalized of Latin America. The second axis is that of the spirituality of non-violence as a form of conflict resolution and meaning to be given to personal, social and community life. This approach remains valid for what is happening in the Latin American continent today.

US invasions and coups in Latin America

SERPA emerged at a time when military dictatorships were taking hold in Latin America. This process was not accidental but was the result of a project, the Condor Plan, carried out by the United States Department of State (with the participation of the School of the Americas, in which the descendant of the former Tutsi feudal aristocracy, Paul Kagame, the current President of Rwanda also mentioned in this book, would later be trained) and at the Brazilian Escola Superior de Guerra in the 1970s.

Assassinations, disappearances, torture, and exile spread throughout the Latin American continent: in Hugo Banzer’s Bolivia in 1971, Auguste Pinochet’s Chile in 1973, Alfredo Stroessner’s Paraguay (who had already been in power since 1954), Juan Maria Bordaberry’s Uruguay in 1973, Ernesto Geisel’s Brazil in 1974 and Jorge Rafael Videla’s Argentina in 1976…

In November 2020, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Salvador Allende’s presidency in Chile, the National Security Agency (NSA), an agency of the United States Department of Defense, declassified the secret archives that explain the decisive role of the Nixon administration, and in particular of Henry Kissinger (the most important, along with Zbigniew Brzezinski, of David Rockefeller’s men), in the cruel and bloody coup against Allende. US government documents also reveal the regional nature of this project.

Six days after Allende took office, US officials began working with Brazil, Argentina, and other governments in the region to coordinate their efforts against the statesman, including blocking multilateral bank loans to Chile and influencing the value of commodities on the international market to affect Chile’s major exports.

The history of this period should help us to understand the mechanisms still in place today in Latin America, such as those that have been able to suffocate Venezuela economically for years, and also to better understand those that contributed to the economic strangulation of Juvenal Habyarimana’s Rwanda, to the point that he could not defend himself militarily against the aggression of Uganda while it was scandalously armed and financed by American institutions.

I am a survivor of this tragic period for Argentina and for all of Latin America. The doctrine of “national security” advocated by the United States, the objective of which is the defense of Christian and Western civilization—even though the doctrine is not Christian—led to the installation of ferocious dictatorships throughout the Latin American continent in the 1970s and the strengthening of some that were already aging, like that of Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay. Faced with this aggression against rights and freedoms, different forms of opposition emerged, one of them being the guerrilla resistance.

This doctrine of “national security” has been opposed by various liberation movements with different ideologies, including the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), the International Reconciliation Movement that originated in Europe, mainly in Austria, during the First World War, and the Satyagraha, a movement initiated by Mahatma Gandhi. Their goal was to try to deal with all conflicts through non-violence, which does not mean passivity but is rather a form of direct action in the resolution of conflicts by methods other than the use of brute force. It is therefore not without reason that eminent personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi, Pastor Martin Luther King, or Archbishop Hélder Câmara have resorted to it.

What is the situation in Latin America today? It is useful to briefly examine the different stages following the fall of military dictatorships to the establishment of democratic governments still subject to many pressures, conditions, and restrictions. The Falklands War was the key moment. It meant symbolically the end of the East/West confrontation and the opening of a new conflictual axis: that of a North/South confrontation. At the time when Ronald Reagan was in the White House, from 1981 to 1989, the Latin American continent had, in theory, begun to “democratize”, yet reality was very different. In December 1983, Raúl Alfonsin occupied the presidential chair in Argentina under pressure from the military while dictators still reigned in Paraguay, Chile and Brazil.

Today, we are witnessing another phenomenon. Violent and bloody coups, as well as scandalous wars of international aggression, are disfavored because humanity no longer tolerates them as in the past. They are also less and less likely to succeed. Thus, although direct military intervention is still considered as a last resort, the United States has not, since the invasion of Haiti in 2004, resorted to direct military invasions in Latin America nor has it been able to carry them out.

Let us recall here a number of American military interventions justified on the grounds of “restoring democracy”: the invasion of Grenada in October 1983, a week after the coup that overthrew the government of Maurice Bishop; large-scale military operation in Panama at the end of 1989, the new president, Guillermo Endara, being sworn in on the very day of the invasion. In 2004, it was again in the name of democracy that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, under pressure from the United States, France, and Canada, was forced at gunpoint to resign and go into exile; his party, the Lavalas Family, was not allowed to participate in the elections. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected President in the history of constitutional Haiti in 1991, from 1993 to 1996, and from 2001 to 2004, was also a Salesian priest and member of liberation theology. Coincidence?

Today, the powers that be are therefore encouraged to try something else, including coups d’état that do not look like coups d’état, and so-called “hybrid” wars. Among the instruments used both to overthrow incompetent governments and to support servile governments, we see the emergence of lawfare or “wars of law”. Playing a fundamental role in the life of modern states, such wars consist of political actions aimed at using the judicial system to fight an enemy.

In this, “democracy” is today the great alibi of a West determined to set itself up as an “international community” or a “free world”, which would legitimize legislating against the “recalcitrant”. I am talking about a West in which the United States has been doing what it wants again and again for too many decades. In its growing confrontation with the emerging powers, especially China and Russia, to maintain its dominant position, this West likes to constantly base its arguments on “democracy” as if this term alone were enough to understand the subject we are talking about. In the spirit of the “Westerner”, democracy rhymes with law and respect for the law.

In fact, every day brings new evidence that this “democracy” leads to a denial of the law and a kidnapping of justice. Without an independent judiciary, there is no democracy. The Uruguayan writer and journalist Eduardo Galeano, with a talent for crafting language in his own way, called these “arbitrarities” the “imperialist democracimeter”.

The kidnapping of justice by the economic, political and media powers is a hybrid strategy of domination. Lawfare could not be used so systematically if information had not also been kidnapped by economic power. This is another great contradiction because without free information, there is no democracy either.

Economic pressures are included in the strategy. The fact is that, as we have seen in Venezuela, threats and economic blackmail of all kinds are always very effective. The various forms of economic harassment have thus made it possible to obtain better results than those obtained in 2002 with the attempted military coup against President Hugo Chávez, which lasted only a few days and was stopped by popular action.

To this weapon of war that is economic pressure, the United States adds, in all countries where this is possible, the systematic and “scientific” control and manipulation of information and justice. Lawfare now plays the leading role in this process. It is a powerful weapon, almost as powerful as military force.

Lawfare and “soft” coups

There is a constantly increasing list of legalistic wars waged in Latin America in recent years to try to impose the illegitimate interests of a minority on the majority will of the people. That is why I define the current moment of conflict in Latin America as Operation Condor 2. We continue to be dependent peoples. The Cuban revolution is still blocked. And we must also continue to observe what is happening in Venezuela and what has happened in Honduras and Paraguay. I believe that lawfare was applied in Honduras as a pilot project. In June 2009, President Manuel Zelaya was arrested, deported to Costa Rica, and replaced by Roberto Micheletti, while the local press was brought under control and a state of emergency declared. The November elections saw the victory of the right-wing candidate, Porfirio Lobo, immediately recognized by the United States, but not by the European Union, nor by MERCOSUR [the Southern Common Market]. In Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, a secularized Catholic bishop, the first left-wing president elected in April 2008, was impeached by the Senate in June 2012, an impeachment described by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as a coup d’état that only Obama’s United States was trying to legitimize. Recall that there is a very large American base in Palmerola [Honduras]. These two coups were a serious warning to current and future governments that might try to expand their margins of sovereignty and proceed with a greater distribution of income to the population.

It is this same hegemonic will that led to the trial of Dilma Rousseff in Brazil. When Yousseff was still President, I went to Brasilia. After meeting her, in the Senate I gave the shortest speech of my life: “Greetings everyone. Here a coup is being prepared against President Dilma Rousseff.” This took less than a minute to say, but it sparked a scandal in the country. What I denounced, however, was the reality. The political opposition and its allies had begun a virulent campaign to overthrow the President and destroy the Workers’ Party, using the “soft” coup method already used by the United States to overthrow Presidents Zelaya in Honduras and Lugo in Paraguay, with the complicity of the judiciary and/or parliamentary, the armed forces, and corporations. Even Vice-President Michel Temer had to admit that it was indeed a coup against Dilma Rousseff that was also allowing Lula to be removed from the political scene. This was achieved through a powerful press campaign conducted by the newspaper O Globo. These cases illustrate very well the hybrid nature of judicial coups or “soft” coups that we observe today. And they connect us to the great problem of the media.

In the 1970s, the media that criticized dictatorial governments suffered many acts of censorship, attacks and persecutions. In 1975, Vladimir Herzog, a Brazilian journalist of Jewish origin, was murdered; in 1977, it was the Argentine Rodolfo Walsh, not to mention many other lesser-known people. Later, this victim/executioner relationship was reversed: the former victims became political leaders opposed to globalist neoliberalism and the media aggressors aligned with this ideology. O Globo in Brazil and the daily Clarin in Argentina have both set up false stories that convict such leaders before any court trials are held. It is an ex officio condemnation by the media.

Lula da Silva in particular, who remained very popular, was the victim of a major public discrediting operation, accusing him of corruption without presenting any evidence. This made him appear guilty even before being tried. It is regrettable that someone like him, who after coming to power in 2003, implemented the Zero Hunger and Bolsa Familia programs that lifted more than 30 million people out of extreme poverty, could be imprisoned with impunity. Lula made Brazil a model of success recognized by international bodies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank, which is why I nominated Lula for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. I have known Lula for more than forty years, from the time when he was still in charge of a metallurgical union in Säo Paulo. He comes from the basic ecclesiastical communities, those of Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, an extraordinary person who got me out of prison twice.

To the “successful” coups, we must add the failed attempts with violent actions, such as that of Venezuela in 2002, which failed due to the popular mobilization for the defense of Hugo Chavez, or the police uprising against Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in 2010, which failed due to the rapid intervention of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). There are also the attacks on the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, whose ouster was finally achieved under military pressure. As for the Venezuelan government, it continues to suffer the onslaught of a veritable economic war aimed at generating a sense of weariness among the population, while the opposition continues to work for the overthrow of President Nicolas Maduro.

This climate is deleterious because it prevents the progress of peoples and deprives them of the development to which they aspire. In reality, peace is not just the absence of war or violent confrontation or the avoidance of the death of one or more people. Peace is also about offering people hope for progress, especially those in the most vulnerable sectors of society. It also lies in including and protecting those whom this economic system condemns to death and ongoing violence. According to FAO’s latest report, hunger affects more than 820 million people worldwide. It is a scourge and a crime suffered by peoples who are subjected to poverty and marginalization, and who remain deprived of a future for several generations. Thus if a national government becomes a global example of the fight against poverty and inequality and against the structural violence that afflicts us as humanity, it deserves to be recognized for its contribution to world peace.

For reasons similar to those I have given regarding Lula, I have nominated Bolivian President Evo Morales for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. Evo Morales is also a symbol of resistance against the new Condor plan, which aims, through military, media, and judicial coups, to outlaw political parties and candidates likely to mobilize voters by implementing sovereign policies in favor of the people. In my letter to the Nobel Institute, I wrote, “It is an honor for me to present Evo Morales Ayma to the Committee as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is a trade union leader, a social leader, and the first indigenous president of Latin America. He has managed to implement effective programs to fight poverty, inequality, climate change and as such is a contributor to peace.” In 1980, I myself received the Nobel Peace Prize for our struggle against Latin American dictatorships that were coordinated among themselves via the US-led Operation Condor.

A Condor 2 plan for the entire region

Before closing the issue affecting Latin America and moving on to that of the African Great Lakes region , I would like to stress the need to clarify the context of these “soft” coups, linked mainly, as in the first Condor plan, to the desire of the United States not to lose its influence over the Latin America and to continue to control it. Throughout the region, the judiciary as well as the mainstream media are delivering “soft” coups against democracies, criminalizing progressive politicians and leaders: Lula in Brazil, Cristina Fernändez de Kirchner in Argentina, or President Correa in Ecuador. Everywhere, the crises caused are aimed at hindering the self-determination of peoples and calling into question the social, cultural, and political conquests that have cost human beings so much effort.

The accusations against Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for her alleged responsibility in the case of the terrorist attack of July 18, 1994 against the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA), in which 85 people were killed, seem to me to be another obvious case of war by judicial harassment. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was accused of treason and collusion with Iran, the alleged perpetrator of the attack. This was based on suppositions. She was also charged with the murder of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, just the day before he was due to appear before the Criminal Legislation Committee of the Chamber of Deputies to be questioned about the grounds for his complaint against the President. Prosecutor Nisman accused the President of favoring impunity for Iranian suspects, but what no one talks about are the hundreds of WikiLeaks cables released by journalist Santiago O’Donnell showing that the same prosecutor consulted the US Embassy in Buenos Aires at every step. He asked for permission to release his draft resolutions, revised them after following the advice he received, then informed the embassy of judicial measures to be taken by both the prosecutor’s office and the court hearing the AMIA case. He made excuses for US diplomacy which at the same time ordered him to continue without evidence in the investigation of Iran’s responsibility, etc. Nor is it mentioned that he was probably going to appear empty-handed before the Commission the day before his assassination. If all this is true, Nisman was much more useful to some once assassinated (especially by the President) than alive. These events came as President Kirchner had resolutely set out to change the axis of Argentina’s foreign policy, promoting rapprochement with Russia and China and maintaining its support for Venezuela and its ties with Iran, to the detriment of the United States and the European Union.

This “big game hunting”, all having in common the hindrance of American interests, therefore appears as a decisive factor in the changes of political regimes that are taking place in this subcontinent. On the other hand, not offending the United States seems to guarantee a stay in power, like Michel Temer who remained president of Brazil while the accusations of corruption brought against him by the Attorney General were much more serious than those made against Dilma Rousseff which, let us remember, had nothing to do with corruption or personal enrichment.

In an interview with the Russian media platform Sputnik, political scientist Silvia Romano denounced the current wars or judicial safaris, in which a “facade of law and legality” is used to accuse a large group or political figure “without any evidence”. She also highlighted the decisive role of the US Department of Justice in advising on legal reforms in several Latin American countries, through “bilateral agencies” such as USAID (United States Agency for International Development).

One of the most important actions has been the Puentes Project, which consists of a training program for different actors in the judiciary in Brazil and other countries in the region. The star student of this training program is Judge Sérgio Moro, who triggered the Lava Jato case and participated in the trial against Lula. “What is striking is that this training is not only hidden from the public but very few people are aware of its content,” said Silvia Romano. She also criticized the “double standards” in legal proceedings against other officials and businessmen involved in corruption cases, such as Michel Temer in Brazil or Mauricio Macri in Argentina, who went unpunished.

I am not one to believe in coincidences. According to documents revealed by WikiLeaks, the man who replaced Dilma Rousseff as President of Brazil, Michel Temer, was a US intelligence asset. He procured sensitive documents. Moreover, the current US ambassador to Brazil is the one who was in Paraguay when the coup against President Lugo occurred…

UNASUR and MERCOSUR (Southern Common Market) have expressed their concerns about the impeachment procedure against President Dilma Rousseff based solely on an accusation concerning the accounting procedures of previous governments, some of whose members were among its accusers. But they could not prevent the process thus launched from succeeding, one of the objectives of which was to tackle regional integration and the BRICS (the group of five countries formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). This is obviously not a coincidence. The US-backed right had already hit MERCOSUR by deposing President Lugo in Paraguay and delaying Venezuela’s entry there. And they deposed President Zelaya in Honduras, attacking the integration project of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

Wherever these methods are used there is an increase in violence, hatred, the devastating effects of neoliberal policies, intolerance, and discredit of politics. What the supporters of domination cannot achieve through the ballot box, they seek to achieve through the illegal impeachment of presidents, the privatization of state-owned enterprises and the theft of natural resources.

The current challenge is not only to prevent the triumph of these lawfare operations but to achieve participatory democracy: to ensure that it is society that chooses the political orientations of the major problems that affect a country and not the nuclei of economic power, be they internal or external. If representative democracy is called into question for having tended to leave the people defenseless, with leaders who are unaccountable for four-year terms, can we believe that lawfare operations will guarantee something better?

Manipulation of the ICTR and attacks on French and Spanish justice

It is important to know that judicial wars are not only fought against governments. They are also directed against all those who represent a danger to the Anglo-Saxon project of world domination. This is the case with the journalist Julian Assange, abandoned by the vast majority of his colleagues in the unfair and critical situation he suffers as a result of perverse judicial manipulations by the United Kingdom. His case is one of the most striking examples of the ambivalence of professional journalism today.

I could also refer to the serious and false accusations made by the United Nations in November 2009, in particular against my friend and companion in non-violence, Juan Carrero and his Foundation, plaintiff in the criminal complaint that came into the hands of the judge of the Spanish National Court, Fernando Andreu Merelles, which Charles Onana covers in depth in his book Enquêtes sur un attentat. The charges referred to the hypothetical funding for the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an alleged terrorist organization operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here we are faced with a paradox because the false accusations came from the United Nations, which occupies the highest level of the world legal system and is therefore untouchable by national justices. The purpose of these unprovable accusations was above all to disable or at least discredit a key judicial process dealing with the greatest crimes against humanity that are under way in the African Great Lakes region.

After the publication of these serious accusations by the newspapers El País and Público, I met Juan Carrero in Mallorca and expressed my astonishment to him. “I have been attacked many times in my life but never by the UN itself,” he replied. Soon after, it became clear that this was a masquerade, with Julian Assange publishing various important documents testifying to US interference in these African cases. Unfortunately, none of the five major newspapers to which Assange had handed over the documents had the courage to publish them.

This is, however, crucial information for Spanish readers, who have reportedly discovered five cables from the US State Department and the US ambassador in Madrid revealing Washington’s covert action to thwart our complaint in Spain against the current head of the State of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and his men. The American diplomatic cables that Charles Onana presents and analyzes in this book show how the United States decided to neutralize the forty arrest warrants issued by Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles against Paul Kagame and members of the armed rebellion he led between October 1990 until his seizure of power in Rwanda in July 1994. President Kagame, the main culprit accused of major crimes, including genocide and the murder of nine Spaniards, enjoys immunity… while elsewhere, as we have shown, Presidents who have committed no crime are removed from office and even imprisoned.

The complaint we filed in Spain reveals that if Paul Kagame enjoys immunity, the other thirty-nine suspects cannot be arrested either. This book—which deals with the central issue of the attack of April 6, 1994 against the heads of state of Rwanda and Burundi, their collaborators and the French flight crew—reveals why certain categories of people seem untouchable.

This deplorable political activism in court cases affecting millions of victims, for whom I myself have been one of the plaintiffs from the beginning, is an essential part of Charles Onana’s present book. It is therefore not necessary for me to dwell on this subject. You will have the opportunity to learn more about the importance of the author’s research work. Likewise, Charles Onana is well known to all readers who are interested in the issues he addresses in this new book and who are concerned with truth and justice. He is one of the most widely read authors of the Rwanda/Congo dossier and his work is internationally recognized and respected. In his resounding book The Secrets of the Rwandan Genocide, he was the first to publicly hold Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) he led, responsible for the April 6, 1994 attack.

Paul Kagame and the Rwandan state immediately filed a defamation complaint with the French courts against the author and publisher, hoping to silence Charles Onana. After a first appeal was declared inadmissible on June 3, 2002, they filed a second complaint against the second edition of the book, but then Kagame chose to drop the charges, aware that embarrassing revelations could be made public if he continued in this direction. The complaint was therefore finally withdrawn a few days before the opening of the trial. It speaks volumes that such powerful plaintiffs preferred not to go further when faced with a determined ordinary citizen. Charles Onana showed us that if we cannot defeat lawfare, we can at least fight it. He returns in this book to the wars that the powerful are waging against truth and justice. Fortunately, the truth that forms the backbone of the doctrine of the nonviolence movement is daunting: the truth is powerful, no matter how small the messenger. The action taken against Charles Onana and then abandoned by Paul Kagame is the best illustration of this.

The misfortune that struck Latin America in the 1970s and bloodied it for decades also struck Central Africa in the 1990s: the United States, convinced that it had a destiny to dominate others and considering itself the nation guaranteeing the rights of man and democracy throughout the world, has been interested in this region that is very rich in resources of all kinds, to the point of imposing its law upon it.

This is how they decided to “generously” bring to this region of Africa, in particular to the rich Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), the great values of their great civilization and their way of life. Latin America as a backyard was no longer enough for them, so they had to find another: Africa, which they were ready to seize without any scruples. US documents presented during the 1999 campaign in support of Juan Carrero’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize included this cautionary statement by Ronald Brown, US Secretary of State for Commerce: “For many years, African trade has been dominated by Europeans, while North Americans controlled only 17% of this market. We are now determined to reverse this situation and carve out the lion’s share. Bernat Vicens, spokesman for Juan Carrero’s candidacy, wrote the following in his main document:

“1. The African continent is, surely more than any other, the great forgotten area of all the progressive forces of the international community who claim to banish barbarism, hunger and misery from the face of the earth forever. And yet, at the same time, it has been, for centuries, the object of the interest and lust of the governments and the great economic interests of the civilized North, fundamentally of the Europeans, who have not ceased to plunder it. The latest major global political transformations that have made the United States the world’s hegemonic power have also had repercussions on this continent. In recent years, it has become clear that nothing will happen without the approval of the US government and the large multinationals gravitating around it.

2. However, this new stage did not mean the arrival of an African “spring” within the framework of a so-called new international order, but rather a kind of neocolonization. For the United States, the fundamental issue does not seem to be a solution for Africa’s crucial problems but rather the massive exploitation of its resources under the most favorable conditions possible for large multinationals. A few years ago, Ronald Brown, Secretary of State for Commerce, proclaimed it without the slightest embarrassment and with the most expressive and African of images: “We are now determined to … carve out for ourselves the lion’s share.”

3. It is no coincidence that Mr. Brown made such a declaration of intent in Uganda. This country is precisely the “bridgehead” where the American giant made its “landing” in Africa. Unfortunately, this landing did not have the same grand vision as the one in Normandy. This small but strategically important country is a neighbor of the former Zaire, a giant country and a veritable reservoir of raw materials and natural resources of all kinds, occupying the very center of this great continent.

We first witnessed the fall of Rwanda, then that of Burundi, and later that of Zaire itself. The large mining contracts already concluded are beginning to pay the first dividends that will increase the meagre 17% deplored by Mr. Brown.

4. The economic objectives are therefore clear. But what is really discouraging is that the methods of achieving them have not changed compared to those practiced for decades in Latin America. It seems that in Africa, it is still possible to be allied with dictators or genocidaires more vicious than the Pinochets and Videlas of the past, without American and European civil societies knowing what is really happening there. Secret alliances had to be made with small but powerful lobbies within the Tutsi ethnic group, already a minority. These lobbies are made up of unscrupulous beings who know that, in order to retain their power in the region, they must eliminate all Hutu leaders and keep the population of this majority ethnic group in “manageable” numbers. It was also necessary to carry out powerful media campaigns in order to hide from international public opinion, behind the genocide of 1994, several hundred thousand Tutsis and moderate Hutus killed in another genocide that was much more atrocious—that of several million Hutus—and to justify the brutal apartheid suffered by the survivors of this majority ethnic group.

Munzihirwa, the Jesuit bishop of Bukavu, three days before he was assassinated (like Bishop Romero, who was assassinated in El Salvador in 1980 because he openly denounced the abuses perpetrated by the military junta), said: “We ask the Tutsi lobbies that run Rwanda and Burundi to stop organizing disinformation in order to deceive international opinion.” His sacrifice will certainly not have been in vain, but for the moment, these lobbies of Tutsi extremists have managed to pass off as “genocidaires” the real victims of this tragedy: the vast majority of the population of Rwanda. Once again, a small minority has succeeded, by the most perverse means, in enslaving an entire people by deceiving almost everyone through absolute control of any independent investigation into the territory it dominates.”

The ambition of the US deep state (the one that brought the Clintons to power) to make Rwanda, formerly allied with France, an important US military base at the gates of Mobutu’s decadent French-speaking Zaire, had been repeatedly countered by Rwandan President Habyarimana. The latter had confidence in France and believed that it would not let Rwanda sink into chaos. As soon as he rejected the claims of the US deep state, Habyarimana’s days began to be numbered. On October 1, 1990, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invaded Rwanda from Uganda. After four years of war, the two missile launches on the Falcon 50—the plane that carried Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira—created the total chaos that the RPF needed to justify a seizure of power by arms and definitively discredit any project of power-sharing through negotiation between Hutus and Tutsis.

In order to take control of Central Africa, the perverse use of “justice” followed blood crimes, as had been done in Latin America. On the one hand, the justice system was used to obtain the total submission of those who had previously been overthrown by blood and fire. On the other hand, it served to eliminate them politically. Ramsey Clark—Assistant Attorney General under President John F. Kennedy, then Attorney General under Lyndon B. Johnson and architect of the Civil Rights Act championed by millions of African Americans under the leadership of Martin Luther King—lucidly articulated the objective imposed on the ICTR by the United States and the United Kingdom: “The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is an instrument to continue the war against the Hutu majority by other means.” We better understand the meaning of Ramsey Clark’s formula and Charles Onana’s revelations on obstruction of justice concerning the attack of April 6, 1994 against Juvenal Habyarimana if we read the memoirs of the ICTR Prosecutor General, Carla Del Ponte [author of The Hunt: Me and The War Criminals, 2008, never published in English], who was harassed and dismissed by those who had decided what the ICTR should or should not do with the crimes that this court should or should not investigate, and the people that the ICTR should or should not investigate, and those that the ICTR should or should not instruct, and whom it was necessary or not to condemn and imprison.

By violently attacking the investigation of Judge Bruguière in France as well as that of Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles in Spain, some have tried and continue to try to prevent, by all possible means, a truly independent judiciary, in France and Spain, from trying the perpetrators of the attack of April 6 and the crimes against humanity committed in this region of Africa since 1990. The strength of this book lies in the author’s ability to highlight the tremendous efforts made to neutralize the investigations of the dignified and independent magistrates who acted in national and international courts to shed light on this criminal case.

If there is not sufficient proof in the aforementioned WikiLeaks cables revealing US pressure to extinguish the Rwanda/Congo cases opened before the Spanish court, it is still essential to note the attempt to eliminate the very principle of “universal jurisdiction” in Spain. This attempt almost entirely achieved its goal thanks to the agreement of the political parties that make up the parliamentary majority, the People’s Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE)—parties that tolerated US interference in the Spanish judicial system and preferred submission rather than acceptance of the challenges presented by an independent judiciary. All these attacks on truth, justice and dignity are now the subject of this magnificent work by Charles Onana.

  • Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, University professor, President of the Academic Council of the University of Peace of Namur (Belgium) and, since September 1998, holder of the Chair “Culture for Peace and Human Rights” at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires, Nobel Peace Prize in 1980


In a recent video, Mr. Esquivel speaks out in support of Julian Assange. English subtitles can be found in the version of the video posted on Facebook.