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Bush, Blair, Bérenger, ... and Boeing

24.05.2004

At a time when a world-wide movement is building up to struggle for peace and for the dismantling of military bases, Bérenger has seen fit to travel to Washington and offer his government's subservience to Bush regarding the US military base on Diego Garcia. The utterly discredited Bush seems to have acquired another "poodle", on a leash.

At a time when commentators all over the world are asking questions as to whether the Mauritian territory of Diego Garcia is being used to detain and torture prisoners of war, as in Guantanamo, Bérenger has told Bush that this is "no problem" regarding the Diego Base, it's "business as usual".

At a time when photographs showing physical and psychological torture by the US army in Iraq are appearing on the front pages of newspapers and on television all over the world, here in Mauritius, we are being served with posed photographs of Bush/Bérenger, C.Powell/Bérenger, all smiling as if the Abou Ghraib torture center was just a "perception" manufactured by "newspapers and private radios".

At a time when the Bush-Sharon axis has sabotaged all hopes for a just peace in the Middle East, has given approval to cynical political assassinations and massacres of Palestinians by the Israeli army, Bérenger has seen fit to create the "perception" that his government is endorsing the Bush/Sharon initiative, by paying an unnecessary visit to the beleaguered US presidential candidate.

At a time when the present Government's political will to fight corruption seems to be at its lowest ebb, Bérenger has seen fit to travel all the way to Seattle, to personally visit the seat of the company that is trying to secure a multi-billion contract from Air Mauritius. The fact that Bérenger had recently visited the Airbus factory in Toulouse is no excuse: since when have two wrongs been equal to a right.
Does AGOA III justify all the above lack of principles?

When in 2000, Navin Ramgoolam went crawling to the US to lobby in favour of AGOA, LALIT pointed out that this US legislation would bring about delocalisation of industries out of Mauritius, with consequent destruction of jobs. It is now generally agreed that the original AGOA has caused more harm than good to the EPZ in Mauritius. The supposed "vertical integration" has failed to materialise.

When Bérenger now goes lobbying in favour of AGOA III, with or without "third country fabric" derogation for Mauritius, is he not accelerating the job destruction initiated by the Labour PM? Is he therefore acting as a lobbyist just for the short- term profits of the Mauritian Textile Companies that have already moved, or are planning to delocate to Mozambique and Madagascar?

Equally in 2000, LALIT pointed out how the "US national security and foreign policy interests" conditionality in AGOA would jeopardise the Mauritian claim for the decolonisation and re-unification with Chagos: it would appear that Bérenger's beggar-bowl visit to Washington has proved us right on this point as well.

Bérenger's pilgrimage to America will certainly not go down in history as one of the "finest achievements" of his political career, but it will certainly go down as an example of what happens when basic principles are no longer "on board".

Ram Seegobin
For Lalit
LALIT: Press Release 24 May 2004
153 Main Rd, GRNW, Port Louis.
Tel: 208-2132, 208-5551
email: lalitmail@intnet.mu - lalit@lalitmauritius.com.
Website: www.lalitmauritius.com