March 9, 2006
Venezuela, the US, terrorism
Just a brief concatenation of facts that, together, speak for themselves:
1) The US participates in a military coup attempt against a freely and fairly elected Latin American government ... Venezuela in 2002.
2) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez internationalizes his dangerous brand of ideology through the destabilizing act of...providing cheap fuel oil to poor people in cold parts of the US.
3) Local and federal officers from a joint task force on terrorism conduct an intimidating interview with Pomona College Latin American historian Miguel Tinker Salas about his contacts with Venezuelans.
And here I thought that the Task Force on Terrorism meant against terrorism. Silly me!
Here's Pomona President David Oxtoby's commendable statement about the latter event:
To the Pomona College community:
On Tuesday, March 7, Miguel Tinker Salas, Arango Professor of Latin American History and Chicano Studies, was visited in his Pearsons Hall office by two men from the Los Angeles County Sheriff/FBI Joint Task Force on Terrorism. To avoid rumors, I wanted the Pomona College community to be aware of the facts.
The agents asked Professor Tinker Salas a number of personal questions as well as questions about the Venezuelan government and the Venezuelan community in the U.S. During the meeting, they told him that he was not a subject of investigation. The tone and content of the questioning, however, troubled him deeply. He was also troubled by the fact that the agents reportedly questioned some of the students outside his office while waiting to see him.
Miguel, as all of you know, is a superb Wig Award winning teacher and a fine scholar on Latin American history, politics, and culture who is sometimes asked by the news media to comment on topics related to his research, including Venezuelan politics. The College supports him and his scholarly work without reservation. I am extremely concerned about the chilling effect this kind of
intrusive government interest could have on free scholarly and political discourse. I am also concerned about the negative message it sends to students who are considering the pursuit of important areas of international study, in which they may now feel exposed to unwarranted official scrutiny.
The College is currently consulting with legal advisors about the most effective way to register a strong official protest about this intrusion into our scholarly and educational activities, and we will take appropriate action as soon as their advice is received. We are also asking for their help in assuring that all members of the College community are fully informed about their rights and their options in such situations.
(It does leave me wondering a little bit what the level of support would be for someone not so "award winning" and about whose scholarship the College had some "reservations," simply because some such scholars have not been supported by their institutions elsewhere at moments like this.)
UPDATE (3-9-06, 22:19 PST): Pomona Professor John Seery has posted an entry on the Huffington Post about this incident.
UPDATE (3-12-06, 16:48 PST): Kathleen posted the FBI's sort-of apology on Planned Obsolescence.
Posted by johnn at March 9, 2006 6:23 PM
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Posted by: Daniel Alberto Alegrett Salazar at March 12, 2006 10:17 AM
Well, once again, I'm left wondering which part(s) of my post your concise but vague riposte refers to.
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