State of Siege
Edgy Politics
The Selling of Elián
The Exorcist in Austin
Rock and a Hard Place

Voice of Vieques
State of Siege

Not all of the Vieques protesters were arrested when U.S. officials stormed the Puerto Rican island/bombing range last week. Many scattered into the brush and are still hiding out. Meanwhile, charges of mistreatment of arrested protesters began to surface.

After rounding up demonstrators, federal marshals and FBI agents turned them over to Navy officials, who herded them into trucks or onto barges and let them sit in the hot sun for hours before aggressively searching them. Activists charge that women's blouses were opened and that searchers ran their hands up their crotches. There were no sanitary facilities for the women so they were forced to urinate in public.

On Monday, a reporter for the newspaper Voz de Vieques, who himself had been arrested, e-mailed the Voice: "Today, Vieques is under a state of siege. The National Guard has been activated and deployed. Federal marshals are still encamped in Vieques, and 1200 U.S. Marines, plus a few hundred specialized search troops, are camped inside the range. They have yet to clear the area. Many protesters just withdrew into the bush, and have stayed there all this time."

Meanwhile, a blockade consisting of Navy vessels, Coast Guard ships, and nuclear subs has cordoned off the island. Clinton has invoked an old statute making trespassing a major crime, subject to a $250,000 fine and a 10-year prison sentence. Fishermen tending their nets are being harassed by low-flying Marine helicopters, which at times hook their nets for sport.

"Viequeans are used to military arrogance and swagger," wrote the Voz de Vieques reporter. "For many years we have been subject to a virtual military dictatorship (there is no other term for a system of government where the military owns the civil bureaucracy, the police, and judicial institutions, and calls all the shots, despite the manifest will of more than 80 percent of the people).

"As I write this to you, we are organizing ourselves to continue our struggle. We appeal to people of conscience to cover our story. This is not over."

Nader, Buchanan, and the Aztec Nation
Edgy Politics

Registering at 5 percent in the polls, Ralph Nader made it into prime time on Sunday with an appearance on Meet the Press, where he lambasted Vice President Gore and said he could care less whether he took enough votes from the Democrats to put Bush in the White House. According to polls, Nader is drawing principally from liberals who are turned off by Gore. Both he and Pat Buchanan, who plans to run as the Reform Party candidate, are courting the "Perot vote"—a polyglot of the alienated working class, which is being targeted because of its intense dislike of the WTO, World Bank, IMF, NAFTA, and GATT. In theory, Nader would draw votes that would hurt Gore, while Buchanan would pull right-wingers who otherwise would back Bush. To this end, both are pushing hard to get into the fall debates, which are restricted to candidates registering at least 15 percent in the polls, and of course the inclusion of one or both could wreak havoc on those ultimate mainstream talkfests.

As Nader's stature rises, Buchanan is sinking. Last month in San Diego, Buchanan warned that Mexico might attack the U.S., seeking to seize control of the American Southwest as part of a plan to resurrect the Aztec nation. "Politicians may gush over the warm relations, but there is no peace on the frontier," he told the San Diego World Affairs Council. "Nightly, ranches are turned into bivouac areas for armies of aliens that cut fences and poison cattle and leave trails of debris behind in their long march north." Buchanan views the swelling Latino population in California (it's now about one-third of the state's total population) as similar to the 19th-century increases in the U.S. population under Manifest Destiny. "Mass immigration followed by insurrection, independence, and annexation: This is how all of Europe's American empires were eventually expropriated and lost, and [this] is how America grew," Buchanan proclaimed. "We may forget this history; Mexico remembers. And while we shudder at the idea it could happen again, Mexican irredentism is alive and well."

Trotted Out at Pool Party
The Selling of Elián

A photo of a forlorn-looking Elián González leaving a Georgetown pool party flanked by bodyguards has sent the flagging Clinton scandals crowd into a frenzy. A photographer spotted the boy emerging from the home of Democratic fundraiser Smith Bagley, the R.J. Reynolds tobacco heir, and his wife Elizabeth, Clinton's former ambassador to Portugal. The Bagleys have entertained both the Clintons and the Gores. Bagley is president of the ARCA Foundation, a Washington-based philanthropy that has awarded numerous grants to groups working on Cuba. In the past, he was in the news as an associate of Maryland developer and Gore financier Nathan Landow, known for his links to Monicagate figure Kathleen Willey.

Given this background, the hysterics that greeted the photo were predictable. "A Prisoner of Communism," shrieked one Web writer. "What is wrong with Elián?" asked another. Was Elián drugged by the Cuban doctor who was caught by U.S. customs agents with tranquilizers in her purse? Could this be, as some suspected, another shameless Clinton-Gore fundraiser, with the administration selling "Elián coffee klatches" like they rented the Lincoln Bedroom?

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