Boston speaks out against slavery and rapacious oil development in Sudan.
Both the Sunday Boston Globe and the Sunday Boston Herald published searing accounts of slavery in Sudan—and both lengthy published pieces make clear the growing support for the House version of the Sudan Peace Act. The House version is distinguished by a provision for capital market sanctions against oil companies operating in Sudan, and complicit in that torn nation’s ongoing civil war. Talisman Energy is, all too predictably, highlighted, as is Boston-based Fidelity Investments, still one of the very largest shareholders of Talisman stock. Consequently, Fidelity remains the focus of the American divestment campaign against Talisman Energy.
Eric Reeves [August 13, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
Some in the news media have begun to assume that the battle over capital market sanctions against oil companies in Sudan is over. Much of Wall Street, the business community, and Alan Greenspan have lined up against this robust policy response—and appear to have swayed the Bush administration.
The truth is that the battle is only just now beginning. A broad range of Sudan constituencies has begun to mobilize in energetic fashion, knowing that the August congressional recess is a time ripe for concerted action, and the registering of all voices determined to halt the role of oil development in the ongoing destruction of Sudan. There will be a truly massive influx of letters to the Senate from across the country in the next few weeks, all pointedly demanding support for the House version of the Sudan Peace Act (the Senate has so far not debated capital market sanctions, but that seems sure to change).
The voices of Sudan advocacy will certainly continue to be heard in major newspapers. Several more prominent publications are in the offing. African American political constituencies, in Washington and around the country, are becoming ever more fully involved and deeply committed to Sudan and to the House version of the Sudan Peace Act. The Congressional Black Caucus has been most emphatic. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will weigh in to support the House version of the Sudan Peace Act in highly influential fashion. Human rights groups are increasingly moving to support capital market sanctions under the presently intolerable circumstances of Sudan’s civil war. Church and religious groups have begun a very large-scale and highly organized campaign, focusing directly on the Senate and the issue of capital market sanctions.
In a recently published comment on the Sudan Peace Act, chief presidential political advisor Karl Rove was careful not to promise that President Bush would veto a version of the bill that contained capital market sanctions. While hoping to avoid this situation (thus the concentration of administration political pressure on the Senate), Rove knows that the Sudan Peace Act is much too important to key constituencies in any Bush re-election effort.
There can be little doubt that vetoing the House version of the Sudan Peace Act would deeply anger African Americans and African American political organizations. In the wake of vetoing the Sudan Peace Act, President Bush in 2004 might actually pull less than the 9% of African American votes he claimed last November. A Presidential veto would also deeply anger conservative and evangelical religious groups who have responded so powerfully to the cause of Sudan. These represent votes President Bush simply cannot afford to lose. Politically, the damage from such a veto would be extremely costly.
This writer remains convinced that it will be simply impossible for President Bush to veto a bill that arrives at his desk with the title “Sudan Peace Act”—whether or not it contains capital market sanctions. This means that the battle will be decided in the Senate, and that is where the grass-roots and Sudan constituency pressures are growing most rapidly. With Democrats in control of the Senate, and generally less beholden to those who most oppose capital market sanctions, there can be no confident prediction about which way the final vote will go, or what the Senate slate of conferees to any congressional conference committee might look like. On the latter score, there is, in fact, growing optimism among those who support capital market sanctions.
Whatever uncertainty there is in Washington, the pages of the major Boston newspapers yesterday were quite unambiguous.
[from The Boston Herald, August 12, 2001 Sunday]
“Fight for freedom is on—Americans must push Sudan to end slavery”
BYLINE: By Ray and Gloria Hammond
[The Rev. Drs. Ray and Gloria Hammond are co-pastors of Bethel AME Church.]
“We can challenge our government to pressure the Sudanese government, by every available means, to stop its brutal slaughter, enslavement and oppression of black, non-Muslim Sudanese; to end its (un)”holy war” against the people of the south; to desist in its policy of ethnic cleansing in areas that are rich in oil.
“We can lobby our legislators to pass the Sudan Peace Act, which was
recently introduced in Congress.”
“We can also ask those who invest in Talisman Energy and other oil companies that help to fuel this conflict through their partnership with the government of Sudan, to withdraw their investments. One such company is Fidelity Investments, based in Boston, which has a long record of support for many worthy causes. It badly sullies its reputation by its association with the bloody and slavery-tainted profits it derives from its stock in Talisman.”
[excerpt from The Boston Globe, August 12, 2001, Sunday]
“Letter from Sudan: Buying a Slave’s Freedom Redeems Us All
BYLINE: By The Rev. Gerald E. Bell
[The Rev. Gerald E. Bell, pastor of Southern Baptist Church in Roxbury, is a board member of the American Anti-Slavery Group]
“With that increasing violence as a backdrop, the US Congress on June 13 backed a peace plan that human rights groups are campaigning for. The legislation would, if passed, deny [oil] companies that finance Sudan’s “holy war” access to US capital markets. The Bush administration has, like those before it, condemned the regime in Khartoum for atrocities committed in its war on the south. That, like international outcry, seems to have had little effect. It will require something more to stop the violence that has killed 2 million Sudanese, and displaced 4 million others since the current civil war began in 1983.”