Page 12


INTERNATIONAL CONGLOMERATES LIKE FREEPORT-NOT TO MENTION INDONESIA’S BLOODY LEGIONS ARE SIMPLY BELEAGUERED ENTREPRENEURS TRYING TO BRING OPPORTUNITY, WEALTH, AND PROGRESS TO PRIMITIVE PEOPLES. ing the media into coverage favorable to his company. The current instance offers an exact illustration. In response to Egan’s letter and the recent events in Irian Jaya and New Orleans, we called to ask him a few questions. After repeated requests, we were referred to Garland Robinette, the former New Orleans TV anchor who is now Freeport’s chief p.r. flack; repeated calls to Robinette eventually produced Bill Collier, the former Austin AmericanStatesman reporter who is now Freeport’s Austin spokesman \(is it just us, or is there a ous reports “unfair” and “inaccurate”refused to answer any questions unless they were submitted in writing. \(We pressed Collier to name a single “lie” in the Observer’s Freeport coverage. He finally responded, “You published…that Freeport security people carry guns, and that’s an absolute lie.” We have, indeed, reported [e.g., November 17, 1995] that the Irianese have told human rights investigators that Freeport personnel sometimes carry weapons, and we followed the charge with Freeport’s response: “Freeport security over there is unarmed…” Speaking on beA brief list of questions concerning the matters raised in Egan’s letter was delivered to Collier the next day; a week later, neither he nor his New Orleans masters had even managed a curt “no comment.” Freeport shares with the Indonesian government a strong preference for the sort of “journalism” that only tells its side of the story. Freeport stonewalls reporters who fail to parrot the company line, and when it can’t buy newspeople outright, it spends thousands of dollars on misleading advertisements portraying its mining operations as motivated by public spirit and altruism. A recent beneficiary of Freeport’s largesse is Texas Monthly, whose April issue featured a glossy eight-page spread in this unctuous vein, suggesting that if it weren’t for Freeport’s generosity in sharing its precious minerals with the world, we’d all be sitting in the dark writing on stone tablets. According to Louisa Brinsmade of the Austin Chronicle for its 162 thousand dollars Freeport got more than just an ad; for that kind of payola, Monthly publisher Michael Levy sent out a personal letter \(described as a “collected subscribers, calling “special attention to Freeport-McMoRan’ s description in these pages of its achievements as a corporate citizen of Texas and the world.” Levy’s letter, like Freeport’ s ad, had all the zeal money can buy, but of course, no mention of alleged human rights violations, environmental violations, or cultural genocide. \(In that regard, Levy can at In the Freeport counterattack, the Monthly is not alone. More recently, Forbes, a magazine which is to journalism what The Turner Diaries is to literature, published an article by Brigid McMenamin called “Environmental Imperialism” \(May attack on environmental groups working to influence the U.S. government to enforce the laws governing U.S. corporations abroad. Freeport is offered as the prime example by McMenamin who, in an argument of truly sublime looniness, decries “environmental fascists” like the International Rivers Network for calling OPIC’ s attention to Freeport’s environmental and human rights recorditems you would think an underwriter just might be interested in before they guarantee one hundred million dollars of U.S. taxpayers’ money against political risks. But in McMenamin’s dizzily inverted universe, the environmental advocates are the new “imperialists,” and international conglomerates like Freeportnot to mention Indonesia’ s bloody legionsare simply beleaguered entrepreneurs trying to bring opportunity, wealth, and progress to primitive peoples. “0 brave new world,” said the innocent Miranda, as she looked upon the finely-dressed collection of respectable pillars of industry, statecraft, and military might which had disembarked on her island home. “0 brave new world, that has such people in it!” Which brings us back to Tom Beanal. One of the problems with primitive peoplelike this man who so eloquently defies the pronouncements of Freeport’ s “Senior Vice President and Senior Administrative Deputy to the Office of the Chairman”is that they are not so easily purchased as American journalists. They won’t do or speak as they’re told, and they don’t seem to understand that freedom, honor, and justice are readily bartered for dollars. In court, Freeport’s lawyers attempted to demonstrate that Beanal had been duped by his American attorney, and was incapable of understanding the proceedings. Beanal responded: “I’m not afraid to defend the truth in court. But in my country, the truth is something to be struggled with.” Readers may judge for themselves which TomEgan or Beanalhas had the better of that struggle thus far. The original complaint in Beanal v. Freeport, along with many other informative documents, is at U.T. Professor Robert S. Boyer’s web page, located at http://www.cs.utexas. edu/users/boyer/fp . An initial decision on Freeport’s motion to dismiss is expected sometime in early June. M.K. LI iv \\\\ t il. l hi c kw pri \\ dt,_ imitic. 11111 o ct _ . ” lie / ‘//i\(//fc /1trewc,,,, \(7/\(0.,/, i N ,Iiiii”`Phcrc I: \\ II ti r o , Pets Welcome f a ir 1423 llth Street 41,0 .411″ Port Aransas. TX 78373 1 S41 fin Ri,,crvai Mil’, 4 .4011111Ah All Sea *s:# Horse .” Inn I Kiich,,,,,itc,, \(..,1,1,.. 1 \\ …. I 1,..,ic,1 pool 0 .7.7 ;,,// fq.ii,.\\,\( \(1 Dar \( n / Illohrip., , 1\\1\(tml orloi %las APJUNE 14, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5