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War Crimes: A Report on United State War Crimes Against Iraq, by Ramsey Clark and Others War crime is an inflammatory charge. While the U.S. media have played up possible charges against Iraqi leaders, no oneuntil nowhas pointed out that the U.S. subverted peace initiatives, systematically destroyed the civilian economy of Iraq, and used excessive force against defenseless soldiers. During the height of the bombing, former Attorney General Clark travelled’ to Iraq to document the effects of the war on civilians. In April, he sent a fact finding team to Iraq. Along with eye-witness testimony, this book presents analyses of the war and the history of U.S.-Iraq relations in the light of international laws. The first duty of every citizen is to hold its own government accountable. The major media have ignored this duty ; War Crimes makes the case clear in a 19-point indictment. Maisonneuve Press P. 0. Box 2980, Washington, DC 20013 phone 301-277-4579; fax 301-699-0193 send check or Visa/Mastercard number Please request at your local bookstore or order directly Weal I% p,R EPaA j l tu 1,16 t’t 290 pgs. paperback $12.95 + $1.50 postage Blue Sky, Bleak Future BY BARBARA BELEJACK Mexico City I’m not very good as guessing people’s ages, so if I tell you that Maru is 28, you might have to add or subtract a year or two. The general idea is that while she is still young, she has lived an awfully long time never to have seen a sky as blue as the one that graced Mexico City one afternoon in early. February. Maru is a financial writer I run into once or twice a year. On this particular afternoon she literally ran into me her gaze fixed upward, mouth open, incredulous. “Have you seen the sky? Have you ever seen a sky so blue?” she asked, more to herself than anyone else. Never, she answered, then corrected herself. Maybe once in New York. I don’t think so. I.know something of the skies over New YOrk and I never saw the sky as intensely blue and bright as this one. The late Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo once explained that he felt compelled to return. to Mexico after more than 20 years to Paris. Everything was gray in Paris; he missed the light of Mexico. I never knew what he was talking about until a few years ago when I stepped off a train in Zazatecas, an old silver-mining center northwest of Mexico City. There it was: that intense blue, that intense light. Maybe it’s simply magic. Whatever the geological, climatological or otherworldly explanation, the light was different, the sort of light that could produce artists and poets, turn non-believers into believers. And suddenly, there it was in Mexico City, along with air that was dry, and crisp, not reeking of gasoline and suspended particles. As if that weren’t enough, the majestic snow-capped volcanoes, Popo and Ixta \(Popocateptl and they were part Mexico City’s daily landscape; now they are an increasingly rare treat, a break from the city’s landscape of gray gray buildings, gray ramshackle cement neighborhoods, gray skies, gray trees. The recent appearance of Popo and Ixta and the remarkable blue sky over Mexico City that afternoon were part of a freak weather system that brought floods to the Pacific coast state of Narayit, blew, freezing temperatures to the northern states of Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon, snow to Toluca, capital of the state of Mexico, and more than a week of bitter cold rains and wind over Mexico City. It was as if someone had turned the calendar upside down, turning late January into July. It’s not supposed to rain in the winter in Mexico City. It’s not supposed to snow in the mountain villages outside the city. As long as you weren’t freezing to death, things weren’t so bad. Like a giant vac Barbara Belejack is the Observer’s Mexico City correspondent. uum cleaner, the wind and rain temporarily swept away the worst of the pollution. But in the mountains of Chihuahua, several Tarahumara Indians froze to death and there were deaths in Ciudad Juarez and Monterrey. In the capital, I dressed for a New York winter, wrapped a rebozo around my neck, plugged in an electric space heater and sat in my living room cursing the torrents of rain. Then suddenly life was back to normal, normal being a relative term in Mexico City. The same week that Popo and Ixta appeared against a perfect blue sky, the afternoons became balmier, the rain stopped and ozone levels reached 342 very dangerous on a scale that has meaning only for someone who lives in Mexico City. Theoretically, a state of emergency was declared or at least Phase I of the emergency contingency plan. Phase I requires a partial shutdown of industry and reduction of government vehicle traffic. Phase II occurs when pollution levels reach 350 and ,has never been declared. We’re not sure whether that’s because the level has never reached 350 or whether the government simply keeps pushing up the levels for.the contingency plans which are announced with great fanfare every year around November. Phase III calls for a further “shutdown of activities” something that no one has ever explained. But then perhaps they don’t need to. The sad fact is that despite the new government commissions, Japanese technology, U.S. EPA advisors, plans to substitute natural gas for gasoline in public transport and privately operated public transport, and endless contingency plans that are forever being drawn up and shuffled around, the air in Mexico City is not going to improve. Daily we live with levels of pollution that would shut down L.A. There is no political will to shut down industry except in isolated and publicity-serving cir cumstances. Moreover, the famed sociedad civil, the grassroots, public spirit, protest movement that turned the 1985 earthquake into one of Mexico City’s finest hours, simply does not exist. It doesn’t exist in the minds of thoSe who have purchased an estimated 600,000 additional cars since a year ago when the city instituted the “one day without a car ” program, which allows privately owned cars to circulate only on alternating days. It doesn’t exist in the minds of the owners of cars and micro-buses designed for unleaded Magna Sin gas who prefer to use coat hangers to force the nozzles of the slightly more expensive leaded gas into their gas tanks; it doesn’t exist in the minds of those who have allovJed the proliferation of micro-buses stopping and starting forever, wherever and whenever. \(If there ever was a city ill-suited for such a system of public transport, it is Mexico dearest friends, who argues on behalf of the driver forcing leaded gas into his unleaded-only gas tank. The argument goes something like this: The government will never shut down industry, monitoring is inadequate, transnational companies are responsible for forcing Mexico City drivers to drive cars that were never suited for the climate and altitude; There is no need to respect government regulations because life is unfair and the cards are stacked against the vast majority of chilangos Mexico City natives who are just trying to get by. So we wait for what the Mexican press calls the secretary of wind and rain to do his job. We wait with bemused skepticism for the prototype of Herberto Castillo’s giant hot-air fans to bloW the pollution away. We wait for miracles, like the one that graced this city on the first Tuesday in February, when we all lived under the volcanoes and when for one brief moment the sky was blue and the light was clear and radiant. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17