September 2002 - VOLUME 23 - NUMBER 9
B E H I N D T H E L I N E S
Bhopal Justice Denied
Greenpeace in August called on the U.S. State Department to arrest and extradite international fugitive Warren Anderson after the group located him at a house in Long Island, New York.
Anderson was the chief executive officer of Union Carbide when an explosion at his company's pesticide plant in Bhopal, India caused the worst industrial disaster in history in December 1984. Up to 8,000 people died within three days of the disaster.
Recently, Greenpeace visited Anderson at his Long Island home and delivered a copy of an Indian arrest warrant.
Anderson has been facing charges of culpable homicide and an extradition request from the Bhopal Court in India for the past 11 years.
The U.S. government has not pursued the case.
"If Greenpeace can track down India's most wanted, why haven't the U.S. authorities extradited him?" asks Casey Harrell, Greenpeace toxics campaigner. "Our government has been swift to react to the financial crimes of Enron and WorldCom. Anderson is charged with the deaths of thousands of Indians. Shouldn't this be a priority?"
Union Carbide responded to the disaster by paying survivors inadequate compensation and abandoning the plant, leaving tons of toxic chemicals strewn around the site.
More than 120,000 people still face serious health problems and children born to survivors are also affected.
The toxic chemicals abandoned in Bhopal by the chemical company have contaminated the groundwater that is used by thousands of people who live around the abandoned factory.
"Now that Anderson's address is known, India must immediately and formally push for his arrest and extradition on charges of culpable homicide," says Ganesh Nochur, campaigns director of Greenpeace India. "In return, Greenpeace demands that the U.S. honor this request, per the two nations' extradition agreement."
In 2001, Union Carbide shed its name by merging with Dow Chemical.
Greenpeace and Bhopal survivors are calling on Dow Chemical to clean up the factory site at its expense as would be required in the United States, to secure long-term medical treatment facilities and medical rehabilitation for the survivors of the poisonous gas leak, to ensure economic compensation for the gas-affected people and their families, and to provide clean drinking water.
Rejecting the FTAA
Brazilians overwhelmingly rejected the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) in an unofficial referendum organized by more than 60 organizations, and held in September.
Roughly 98 percent of more than 10 million voters indicated their opposition, voting "no" in response to the question, "Should the Brazilian government sign the FTAA treaty?" Ninety-five percent of the voters voted to oppose continued Brazilian participation in the negotiations.
"This proves that the population understands that the FTAA could shut down a debilitated economy" like Brazil's, Catholic priest Alfredo Gon┴alves told the InterPress Service.
The unofficial referendum follows a similar exercise two years ago, when approximately 95 percent of 6 million voters said that Brazil should stop payments on its foreign debt.
The Workers Party of Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva ˇ now the frontrunner in Brazil's October presidential election ˇ helped organize the 2000 referendum, but did not have an official role in this year's unofficial election. Lula has indicated he will not support the FTAA, at least in current form.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors in August rejected a proposal to sell the naming rights to Candlestick Park, previously known as 3Com Park. Candlestick is the first professional sports stadium in the United States to return to a popular name from a leased-out corporate name.
The 3Com naming rights deal expired on January 1, 2002. The stadium is the home for the San Francisco 49ers football team.
"This was a very significant vote. San Francisco, which led the nation in the practice of selling stadium naming rights in 1996 to corporations, has in effect reversed itself," said Supervisor Matt Gonzalez, the lead opponent of the sale of naming rights to Candlestick Park. "I don't believe the public ever supported the practice and I am hopeful that other municipalities which are already engaged in the practice, or considering such an arrangement for the first time, take note."
"Like the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and Coit Tower, the City has a special place in its heart for tradition. The 'Stick is part of that tradition," said Supervisor Tony Hall. "This is a victory for the everyday citizen who let us know that some things just aren't for sale."
"I thought in this case the populist opinion, both liberal and conservative, throughout San Francisco was not to sell naming rights and the Board of Supervisors reflected that," said Tom Ammiano, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
The Board of Supervisors vote was 5-5. Proponents of the sale of naming rights could not obtain a majority of the 11-member board. n