Insight

Letter from Senegal

The reality of the president's visit to Africa is very different from what is appearing in the American press, now openly controlled by tacit agreement between the big corporations that own it and the government. This letter is from an ordinary Senegalese, who witnessed the president's visit personally, and reports on what actually happened in his country.

Dearest friends,

As you probably know, this week George Bush is visiting Africa. Starting with Senegal, he arrived this morning at 7.20 AM and left at 1:30 PM. This visit has been such an ordeal that a petition is being circulated for this Tuesday July 8th be named Dependency Day.

Let me share with you what we have been through since last week.

1- Arrests : more than 1,500 persons have been arrested and put injail between Thursday and Monday. Hopefully they will be released now that the Big Man is gone.

2- The US Army's planes flying day and nigh over Dakar. The noise they make is so loud that one hardly sleeps at night.

3- About 700 security people from the US for Bush's security in Senegal, with their dogs, and their cars. Senegalese security forces were not allowed to come near the US president.

4- All trees in places where Bush will pass have been cut. Some of them have been there for more than 100 years.

5- All roads going down town (were hospitals, businesses, schools are located) were closed from Monday night to Tuesday at 3 PM. This means that we could not go to our offices or schools. Sick people were also obliged to stay at home.

6- National exams for high schools that started on Monday are postponed until Wednesday.

Bush's visit to Goree Island is another story. As you may know Goree is a small Island facing Dakar where from the 15th to the 19th century, the African slaves to be shipped to America were parked in special houses called slave houses. One of these houses has become a museum to remind humanity about this dark period and has been visited by kings, queens, presidents. Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, and before them, Nelson Mandela, the Pope, and many other distinguished guests or ordinary tourists visited it without bothering the islanders. But for "security reasons" this time, the local population was chased out of their houses from 5 to 12 AM. They were forced by the American security to leave their houses and leave everything open, including theirwardrobes to be searched by special dogs brought from the US.

The ferry that links the island to Dakar was stopped and offices and businesses closed for the day.

According to an economist who was interviewed by a private radio station, Senegal that is a very poor country has lost huge amount of money in this visit, because workers have been prevented from walking out of their homes.

In addition to us being prevented to go out, other humiliating things happened also. Not only did Bush not want to be with Senegalese people, he did not want to use our things. He brought his own armchairs, and of course his own cars, and meals and drinks. He came with his own journalists and ours were forbidden inside the airport and in places he was visiting.

Our president was not allowed to make a speech. Only Bush spoke when he was in Goree. He spoke about slavery. It seems that he needs the vote of the African American to be elected in the next elections, and wanted to please them. That's why he visited Goree.

Several protest marches against American politics have been organized yesterday and even when Bush was here, but we think he does not care.

We have the feeling that everything has been done to convince us that we are nothing, and that America can behave the way it wants, everywhere, even in our country.

Believe me friends, it is a terrible feeling. But according to a Ugandan friend of mine, I should not complain because it Uganda one of the countries he is going to visit, Bush does not intend to go out of the airport. He will receive the Ugandan President in the airport lounge.

Nevertheless, I think I am lucky, because I have such wonderful American friends. But there are now thousands of Senegalese who believe that for all Americans the world is their territory.

Love to you all

An individual who wishes to remain anonymous, but who is in a position to know, responds in the following way to the letter about the president's African visit to Senegal: When any president visits overseas, his food is prepared by a White House chef and not from the host kitchen. The food resembles what is served to local participants in order to avoid bruised egos. This has been in place for a very long time. Trees I'm truly sorry, but snipers are looking for just such locations. What folks don't realize is that there are always prizes on the heads of our presidents. Chairs Sorry again, Senegal, but plastique can be concealed in chairs and other everyday small furniture and items. Cellphones, also, can be lethal. Unknowncountry's opinion: The protection of a president requires extraordinary measures in a world as filled with hate as ours. It must not be forgotten that it took courage for Mr. and Mrs. Bush to visit Africa, given the high level of world tension.

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