issue 182 - April 1988
Photo: Camera Press
Tinsel city stars Dolph Lundgren (the Soviet boxer who played opposite Stallone in Rocky IV) and singer Grace Jones (of James Bond fame) are starring in an eight- million-dollar epic Red Scorpion supporting Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader. Now it is not just the South African army and weapons from the CIA that Savimbi has recruited, but Hollywood. This time it's an all-action movie designed to capture the hearts and minds of Western film-goers.
Filmed in Namibia, it has financial backing from the right-wing American International Freedom Foundation. The Freedom Foundation in turn has close links with the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The plot, for want of a better term, is about a Russian assassin sent by his communist superiors to kill the rebel leader before seeing the light about the terrible role that outside forces play in Africa's destiny. There has been unprecedented co-operation in the making of the film by the South African military. This includes lending the film-makers military equipment captured in Angola, including a T-54 tank and a 'Stalin organ' (multiple rocket launcher), whilst numerous South African army vehicles have been emblazoned with the hammer and sickle.
The film is due to be released later this year.
From African Analysis, No. 38. 1988
Babies for spare parts
'Guatemalan children are sent to the US to have their organs forcibly extracted for the use of American children,' reports the French weekly Témoignage Chrétien (Christian Witness). Last year two centres for babies waiting to be adopted were discovered in the suburbs of Guatemala City. Thirty children aged from a few weeks to two years old were waiting for official papers to enter the US. An official inquiry showed they were going to be used for the replacement of damaged organs of affluent American children.
Similarly in Honduras in December 1986, a child dealer was arrested with 13 newborns who were about to be exported. The Honduran Secretary of State for Social Welfare commented: 'Hundreds of couples are adopting children with physical disabilities. We thought they were people full of good intentions, but it seems they want the children for their spare parts'.
Certainly there are no lack of parents in desperate circumstances in Central America. In 1984 nearly 40,000 Guatemalan children under the age of five died, mostly from malnutrition. For such parents selling their children to a potentially good home in the US (the going rate is $100) must appear a better alternative.
Whether or not these statements of the Honduran and Guatemalan authorities about 'spare parts' children are true, the demand for children's organs will surely grow. For about three organs are necessary for every one successful grafting - the body's rejection rate is high - and desperate American parents needing a kidney, lung or heart transplant for their sick child, will pay the earth. Such a transplant means the death of the donor, and there are not enough American children's deaths to supply the organs needed.
All figures below relate to the US:
1. Average life expectancy after diagnosis of a white person with AIDS: two years.
2. Average life expectancy after diagnosis of a person of colour with AIDS: 19 weeks.
3. Leading cause of death among women age 25 - 29 in New York City in 1983: drugs.
4. Leading cause of death among women age 25 - 29 in New York City in 1986: AIDS.
5. Condom sales in millions in 1980: 200.
6. Condom sales in millions in 1986: 325.
7. Number of recorded cases of anti-gay discrimination in New York City before 1983: 20.
8. Number of recorded cases of anti-gay discrimination in New York City between November 1983 and October 1985: 474.
9.Number of reported cases of rectal gonorrhoea (a leading indicator of dangerous sex practices) in the San Francisco gay community in 1980: 5,000.
10. Number of reported cases of rectal gonorrhoea in San Francisco gay community in 1986: 380.
11. Estimated costs of AIDS in the US by 1991: between $800 and $1,600 million.
From Mother Jones. Vol. XII. No. IV, 1987
Unilever dominates the world tea industry, spanning plantations, processing and marketing. The acquisition of Liptons, which came with the Allied Supplies Group in 1972, started the process. But tea interests doubled with the takeover of Brooke Bond in 1984 - effectively making Unilever the world's largest buyer and distributor.
· Unilever now handles 19 per cent of world tea production.
· It has the largest share of branded tea sales in virtually every national market.
· Unilever-owned companies sell 22 per cent of all tea consumed in the world.
· Yet tea is only of minor interest within the giant company, for in 1985 the world output of tea was calculated at $9,000 million while Unilever's turnover that year was $30,600 million.
· In India, the world's largest producer and consumer, the merger of Liptons and Brooke Bond gave Unilever 75 per cent of branded tea sales (although to be fair, half of India's tea is sold loose).
In the last couple of months Unilever has taken over Celestial Seasonings, a fast-growing herbal tea brand previously owned by Kraft. It is also making a bid for the Australian tea company, Bushells - and already owns nearly 50 per cent of the shares. When will the thirst of this giant be slaked?
Information from Unilever Monitor, The Tea Monopoly, published by Transnational Information Centre, 9 Poland Street, London W1V 3DG. Subscription: £10/$22 for four issues.
Of life and debt
The prospects for the global economy took a sharp turn for the worse after the stock-market crash last October. The outlook for the Third World debtor nations is of particular concern, as this has a bearing on the living conditions of the thousand million people who already lack the essential basic needs of life as defined by the United Nations. The graph below gives some idea of the impact of the recession in the early 1980s on global living standards. The lack of demand and consequent drop in prices for commodities had a particularly severe effect on the continent which could least afford it: Africa. The biggest drop in living standards has been in the Middle East; linked no doubt to the halving of oil prices over these years.
From South magazine, January 1988
'The hamburger is heavily implicated in the destruction of the forests of the world. From the woodlands of Africa to the rain forest, of Central America, the toll has been a recurring pattern of devastated forest, wined soil, starving local peasants and an enriched small elite in Third World countries.'
'The Real Cost' by Richard North, Chatto & Windus, 1986