When a gravedigger unearthed several green body bags marked ‘US Army’, the funeral home contacted a bunch of schoolchildren that attempted to solve one of Grenada’s biggest mysteries – the location of the remains of murdered Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. The boys, aged between 14 and 16 years old from Presentation College, have embarked on the investigation in an effort towards ‘nurturing a culture of peace’.
On 19 October 1983, 19 people, including PM Bishop, were executed and dumped in a mass grave at Fort Rupert in Grenada. After the Americans invaded and took control of the island, they exhumed five bodies. The remains were burnt and badly decomposed but were believed to be those of Bishop, Jacqueline Creft and three other ministers.
Several days after the autopsy report was completed under US supervision, the bags were secretly buried in unmarked graves by the now-deceased funeral director, Leslie Bailey. Sixteen-year-old Andre Bierzynski explains that since then, ‘several attempts had been made to locate the bags’.
The boys interviewed possible witnesses to what happened in the funeral home where the bodies were found. Clinton Bailey, son of Leslie, says: ‘I was so impressed, I felt compelled to help them if I could.’
The first official report on the bodies aroused suspicion for a number of reasons: it stated that the body parts were commingled, which would suggest injuries sustained from an explosion. Also, no skulls (the easiest way of identifying bodies as DNA testing was not available at the time) were present which suggests tampering. And Bishop’s body was never recovered.
Many Grenadians believe that US forces found Bishop’s remains and deliberately obscured their disposal to avoid a massive state funeral and a burial site that could serve as an anti-American rallying point for supporters of the leftist leader, an ally of Cuba and Russia.
This year, when word of the school’s investigation reached the US and Britain they sent forensic teams out to Grenada to examine the recent discoveries. The US Embassy stated briefly: ‘The US has no information concerning the whereabouts of those remains nor any reason to conceal such information.’ And the High Commission advised the British forensic team not to comment.
The boys’ new-found skills in investigation and interviewing have sparked their interest in following careers in the police force, forensics or even the FBI. They also want to pitch their research to a popular US TV show: ‘Unsolved Mysteries’.
Far Eastern Economic Review Vol 163 No 23
Liqueur’s losers seek a better deal
The Independent on Sunday: www.independent.co.uk
Bags behind bars
Down to Earth Vol 9 No 5
Plans to build a controversial dam in southeast Turkey have exposed the mercenary activities of national export credit agencies (ECAs). Attached to Western governments, ECAs provide loans for high-risk investment projects undertaken by companies overseas.
An international consortium of construction companies sub-contracted to build the Ilisu dam have approached ECAs in nine countries, including Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the US, for loans to the sum of $850 million.
The Ilisu dam will displace 25,000 people in the Kurdish heartland of southeast Turkey. No compensation or resettlement package has been offered to the affected population and those who oppose it face intimidation by Turkish security forces.
Already, overpopulated cities have had to accommodate a further 100,000 people, displaced by dams in the southeast. Collapsing infrastructures cause endless energy and water shortages.
Turkey’s Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP), a giant hydro-electric scheme of 22 dams being built on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, has been declared the solution to Turkey’s energy crisis. Situated on the Tigris, 65 kilometres north of the Syrian border, the Ilisu dam will allow Turkey to control a major source of shared water crossing into Syrian and Iraqi territory. Both of these countries have protested vigorously against the GAP project, but Turkey has refused to negotiate with its neighbours. Turkey was one of the three countries that in 1997 refused to sign a UN convention aimed at preventing border disputes between countries that share water.
The World Bank has not funded GAP since 1984 because of the political, environmental and humanitarian implications. This has led private banks to consider the Ilisu dam an unacceptably risky investment. The only moneylenders left to approach have been the unregulated ECAs.
Sydney Morning Herald: www.smh.com.au
‘Just call me No-Name,’ says the young Colombian prisoner from her cell in a British jail. ‘I don’t want my children harmed.’
No-Name is one of a growing number of Latin American women sentenced to long jail terms in Britain after being caught acting as ‘mules’ – couriers for drug barons running cocaine into Europe. The drug ‘mules’ tend to be female and the two dozen or so Latin American women held in British prisons for trafficking are all from poor backgrounds.
With cocaine concealed in their clothing or in swallowed condoms, most of the women had never left their villages prior to boarding the plane to Britain. No-Name was one of them. Not yet 30, she was a single mother, desperately short of money. She flew to Britain, ostensibly as a tourist, with about half a kilogram of cocaine. ‘When I was caught at the airport, I felt terrified, paralyzed,’ she recalls.
She was sentenced to seven years for trafficking and is now alone in a foreign country she knows little about. She draws some consolation from the fact that she is able to study English. Once she has finished her sentence, the skill may help her to find a job back home. But in the meantime she fears for the safety of her children.
Another ‘mule’, Lucille Torres Susanna, illustrates how many women get into smuggling. The 51-year-old Colombian was arrested for carrying half a kilo of cocaine. She had agreed to smuggle the drug to meet a ransom demand after her grandson Brandon was kidnapped in Colombia. During her trial, she refused to reveal the names of the cartel members who had given her the cocaine. She was sentenced to seven years. A few days later, her grandson was released. When the boy was freed, Susanna sought a review of her case, with a view to pleading in mitigation that the kidnapping lay behind her actions. An Ecuadorian newspaper picked up the story and revealed that drug barons were kidnapping many other children in order to force their relatives to smuggle drugs. When news of this reached Colombia, Brandon was kidnapped again last August – and this time murdered.
Many point out that women such as No-Name and Susanna have little choice and are scapegoats for law enforcers. Deborah Bowker, a British lawyer who defends women ‘mules’, says: ‘The drug traffickers have begun to diversify. They send small quantities – up to six kilos – through many people.’ To boost the chance of safe passage for the majority, the traffickers even leak the names of one or two ‘mules’ to the police. The women who are caught receive little or no assistance from their embassies. Bowker points out: ‘They come from the poorest sectors of society. The embassy staff do not seem to care what happens to them.’
Rafael Drinot Silva / Gemini News Service
Driven by hunger
Médecins Sans Frontières
DNA & African roots
Guardian Weekly Vol 162 No 20
This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7