The Women’s International Perspective,November 21, 2008
by Nancy Van Ness
- USA -
Their hats adorned with artificial flowers identify them at many of the protests in which I participate. The Grannies also show up on New York City’s Union Square to sing their signature anti-war lyrics to well known tunes.
I hold in mind a vivid image of some of them who were arrested for trying to stop military recruitment, onstage in Philadelphia, outside Constitution Hall the Saturday after the 2006 elections. Behind them stood young Iraq Veterans Against the War - two of the bravest groups of patriots in the United States, standing together, opposing US aggression.
Earlier this month I joined these valiant women and their colleagues of all ages, races, and both sexes at their teach-in about US global militarization in Manhattan.”This series of teach-ins began,” explained Nydia Leaf, the Granny who introduced the program, “when some of our members attended the Women’s International Democratic Federation in Caracas. They were surprised when delegates from Japan said that something must be done to close the US military bases there.” When delegates from Germany, Italy and Korea expressed the same desire, the New York Grannies realized that they needed to go home and begin raising awareness of the level of resentment of US military presence abroad.
The speakers at this event included Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ambassador to the United Nations from the Republic of Ecuador; Greg Grandin, Professor of History at NYU and author of Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism and Ann Wright, retired US Army colonel, former member of the US Foreign Service who resigned that post in protest of the US invasion of Iraq, and activist against US aggression ever since.
Granny Leaf concluded her introduction by quoting Noam Chomsky and set the tone for the speakers, “During the past decade, Latin America has become the most exciting region of the world.”
In her previous position as Foreign Minister, it was Espinosa’s job to tell the United States that the agreement governing the presence of a US airbase at Manta would not be renewed at the end of 2009. “Ecuador is a sovereign and peaceful country,” she says. “Our new constitution forbids territory for military bases and constellations.” She read the Spanish text of the Constitution approved in September of this year addressing this issue. “We also recognize that peace is more than the absence of war. It means being democratic, inclusive, just and equitable.” The new constitution is “the dream not just of President Correa, but of all the people of Ecuador.”Espinosa says that there is currently discussion at the UN on the concepts of preemptive war and the “responsibility to protect.” Ecuador is opposed to both of these, including the generally less objectionable responsibility to protect, which Ambassador Espinosa says is often “an excuse to establish a military presence” by a powerful country in a weaker one. “Responsibility to protect does not respect the sovereignty of nations,” she objects.