Gerald Perreira Interview: Libya Crisis In Focus

MOI – Block Radio Report

Gerald Perreira is from Guyana and a founding member of the Guyanese organizations Joint Initiative for Human Advancement and Dignity and Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG). He lived and worked in Libya for many years, serving in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Libyan revolution, and was an executive member of the World Mathaba based in Tripoli. He continues to participate actively in the struggle for the liberation and salvation of his homeland Guyana and the scattered Black Nation.

It is important for the Black community/African community, to develop our own media and experts, who can speak from an African perspective on the NATO war on Africa, because as we now have it, we are currently voiceless in the psychological war that international media giants Al-Jazeera, CNN, and BBC is waging against Libya and African people worldwide.

Block Report Radio and the SF Bay View Newspaper is doing what we can to educate our listeners and readers, and we hope that all of you reading this will do the same to educate a few more people about this grave imperialist violation of sovereignty. Check out this exclusive interview with Gerald Perreira…

M.O.I. JR: Recently the African Union (A.U.) has criticized NATO, alongside many other countries all over the world for bombing Libya for humanitarian reasons, what do you think about the continuous bombing that has been going on for months and the UN mandate that authorized it?

Gerald Perreira: An AU delegation was in Tripoli and Benghazi to help resolve the conflict however Britain, France, and the US, with their usual arrogance, and their Al-Qaeda inspired hirelings in Benghazi, displayed total contempt for the AU delegation.

They ignored them and their suggestions in a blatant display of racism. Clearly NATO has overstepped its UN mandate and launched an all out illegal war on Libya. But this is nothing new. The UN is a toothless institution and one of the most undemocratic of global institutions. It has, from its inception, shown itself to be merely a rubber stamp for US and European imperialism.

What has developed in Libya is a conundrum for NATO and the West. They may have imagined that with such vicious ongoing bombing raids, Qaddafi’s forces would have crumbled. Instead, what they have witnessed is the opposite. In the face of this all out aggression, Qaddafi’s forces and the vast majority of Libyans have remained steadfast and loyal, defending their revolution and its leader.

There are even pro-Qaddafi rallies in Benghazi, and constant gun battles between pro- Qaddafi forces and the rebels in Benghazi and Misrata. One thing is clear: If Qaddafi did not have mass support he could not be resisting this attack and the rebels so effectively. Every day the rebels reveal themselves to be mere surrogates of a well planned imperialist plot to overthrow the Libyan revolution. They clearly have no agenda beyond this aim. They cannot call for health-care, housing, free education, subsidized food, a share in the oil wealth because they have all of that.

So now the West has realized that they have made a grave mistake – there is a stalemate on the ground, that even an all out intervention of ground troops could not resolve. We only need look at Iraq to know that these are no win wars.

M.O.I. JR: What do you think about the reactions of China and Russia on UN Security Council?

Gerald Perreira: At the end of the day China and Russia will, like the majority of other nations, take positions that fundamentally serve their national interests. Sadly, in the instance of the Security Council vote on the establishment of a no-fly-zone over Libya, I think that either Russia or China might have vetoed it if it was not that the Arab League almost unanimously supported it and this was a great shame.

Keeping it real, the issue is this: as nations in the so-called Third World we have had support previously from both Russia and China against US and Western European imperialism. Russia and China both have the potential and the global influence to act as brokers in situations like the current one in Libya. Whether it is for altruistic purposes or because they have beef with the US and Western Europe, frankly I don’t care.

I honestly believe that we have to put all of our efforts into pushing for the realization of Nkrumah and Qaddafi’s concept of a United States of Africa that includes the African Diaspora. A strong and truly independent Africa with one government, one defense force, one currency based on our African gold standard as Qaddafi has proposed, because if we could achieve this level of unity we would completely shift the global balance of power and we Africans could then attain a similar level of global influence to that of Russia and China and would no longer need brokers. Only then will demands made by the AU not be able to be ignored.

M.O.I. JR: What do you think about the mainstream as well as alternative media’s coverage on the invasion (i.e. Democracy Now)?

Gerald Perreira: Astounding – I mean we recognize them for what they are – BBC – British State Media, CNN etc – ‘weapons of mass deception’ and we are used to their completely distorted reporting of events. On our side of the fence we want to know if they are reporting on the same events that we are witnessing since their take on every situation is so fallacious.

The white supremacist, Winston Churchill, stated that ‘in war, the truth must be guarded by a bodyguard of lies’. Never have his words rung more true.

In the case of Libya, their blatant exclusion of a single Qaddafi supporter when there are thousands of them in Libya and worldwide is, like I said, astounding. Recently an old woman in our community said to me: ‘the BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera have not allowed us to hear the opinions of one single Qaddafi supporter or soldier. We have not been able to hear one good thing that the man has done and we know that he has done many good things.

This silence has been deafening. There are political commentators and analysts all over the world, who would be more than willing to present arguments defending Qaddafi and the Al Fateh revolution, but they cannot find one. It has shown us once and for all that Al Jazeera is really no different from CNN and BBC and that we must get our news from other sources which we are now able to do online. With the internet, social media outlets and excellent publications like this one we simply do not depend on the mainstream for our news.

M.O.I. JR: Economically speaking what is this war all about in a nutshell?

Gerald Perreira: In the 80s Minister Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, addressing a conference in Tripoli, pointed out that ‘Europe and the US cannot go forward into the new century without unfettered access to the vast natural resources of Africa’ adding that ‘Qaddafi is one who stands in their way’. This is a fact, not an opinion. Leaders such as Qaddafi and Laurent Gbagbo who are committed to dismantling neo-colonial structures and achieving real economic independence will simply not be tolerated by the West.

Qaddafi’s creation of the African Investment Bank in Sirte and the African Monetary Fund to be based in Cameroon would have supplanted the IMF and undermined Western economic hegemony in Africa. Furthermore, his proposal for the creation of a gold dinar based on the African gold reserve to replace reliance on the US dollar, the French Franc and the British pound threatened to finally swing the global economic pendulum. In addition, Libya has an estimated 60 billion barrels of oil reserves – the largest on the African continent. It is these economic factors that resulted in the West’s frenzied attack on Libya.

Western banks have frozen an estimated 70 billion US dollars of Libyan assets belonging to the Libyan Investment Authority, the thirteenth largest international investment fund in the world. This of course will hurt not only Libya but the whole of Africa, as Qaddafi assists many African development projects. The fact is that Qaddafi and the Libyan authorities knew how to play the West at their own game. They dared to wield real economic power in the name of Africa and anyone who dares to do so will feel the full wrath of Empire.

M.O.I. JR: How does support for Qadaffi look around Africa currently? What does the world think outside of the U.S. media empire?

Gerald Perreira: Amazing – there have been huge rallies all over the world – in Serbia, Britain, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Venezuela and India to name a few. In Bamako, Mali, tens of thousands attended a pro-Qaddafi rally. There have been mass outpourings throughout the continent including in Niger, Guinea Conakry, Uganda, Ghana, Zanzibar and Kenya. The Pan African Parliament, meeting in Nairobi, Kenya last week, has called for an end to the illegal attacks against Libya and for Libyans to be left alone to resolve their own conflicts. Riaga Ogallo, vice chair of the House of Traditional Elders of Kenya strongly condemned the US, UK and French attack on Libya. In his words ‘it is unfortunate that this man who would oversee the development of Africa is now facing the wrath of white men’.

In South Africa, ANC youth have condemned their government’s stance and are pushing President Jacob Zuma to take a pro-active position in defense of Libya. What is noticeable is the large amount of support for Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution amongst youth. Rappers have taken to the airwaves calling Qaddafi an African hero. Young Serbian hackers have done a remarkable job disrupting and closing down anti-Qaddafi websites and facebook pages.

In South America there is massive support. At the 17th Sao Paulo Forum held in Nicaragua this month, revolutionary and progressive governments including President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela have condemned the bombing and called for an immediate ceasefire. A proposal put forward by members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA) has called on NATO to immediately cease their bombing of Libya. Movements for Direct Democracy throughout South America, influenced by Qaddafi’s Green Book, have been blogging and demonstrating.

Libya’s outreach has been huge. Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution have been exceptional over the years in their commitment to assisting oppressed people everywhere, from liberation movements throughout Africa and the world to groups such as the Roma people (known as Gypsies, these are the same people who Sarkozy recently expelled in huge numbers) and indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. Despite the fact that much of this assistance was in fact detrimental to Libya’s national interests rather than in any way beneficial, Qaddafi believed it was Libya’s moral duty to help all those who were oppressed. These are Libya’s friends – they know the invaluable contribution Brother Qaddafi and the Libyan revolution have made globally and they are now raising their voices.

M.O.I. JR: Contrary to news reports, is Qaddafi’s support strong on the ground of his country?

Gerald Perreira: Quite simply, if Qaddafi did not have strong support on the ground he could not have survived these last months. I think this is the worst part of the mainstream news coverage – it is limited to coverage of the rebels in Benghazi who make up less than 2% of the Libyan population. In fact, according to Jon Lee Anderson, a staff writer for the New Yorker magazine who was in Benghazi recently, ‘the number of opposition fighters on the front lines are fewer than anyone would think and they are poorly armed and badly trained…number of fighting men is well under one thousand.’

There is no coverage of the majority of Libyans who are pro-Qaddafi supporters. It is actually as if these people are no longer considered legitimate Libyans. The fact is that this is a battle of ideas and if Qaddafi exited Libya tomorrow the battle would continue on both sides. Unfortunately, instead of assisting the Libyans to find a resolution to what is basically an ideological/religious, tribal and ethnic conflict, Western intervention has exacerbated the situation and has left the Libyans on both sides with no way out. Whatever happens now, some revenge is inevitable and that is the sad situation that has been created by the imperialists, who definitely have never had the welfare of the Libyan people at heart.

M.O.I. JR: What have the lives of the Black African immigrant workers been like since the invasion started in February?

Gerald Perreira: Their lives have been shattered. Not only have they been prevented from earning much needed salaries that support whole families back home but also they have been victimized by the racist anti-Qaddafi rebels. They started to detain, insult, rape and even execute African immigrants, students and refugees as soon as they were in control. Reports coming out of Libya state that hundreds of Africans are believed to have been killed by the rebels.

Immigrant workers from Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Nigeria, Chad, Mali and Niger have been murdered. Some were led into the desert and stabbed to death. There are reports that Black Libyan men receiving treatment in hospitals in Benghazi were reportedly abducted by armed rebels. They are now amongst more than 200 African immigrants held in secret locations by the rebels.

In many disputes involving Libyan residents and Black Africans, the Libyans are turning in the Africans to rebel authorities, falsely claiming that they are ‘mercenaries’. Thousands more Africans caught up in this mercenary hysteria have barricaded themselves in their homes, while others are hiding in the desert. There have also been reports of rape of African women in rebel held territories.

Of course none of this is surprising – if we understand that one of the reasons that the rebels are opposing Qaddafi is his commitment to a United States of Africa and his financial assistance to African countries. The rebels are Arab supremacists, openly racist towards Black Africans and their view is that Libya should look towards the Arab World and Europe rather than Africa.

Also there was the tragic story of the boat carrying 72 African immigrants which ran into difficulty trying to reach Lampedusa. The Africans on board, including women and children, were left to drift in the Mediterranean for 16 days after a number of European military units apparently ignored their cries for help. Two of the nine survivors claimed this included a NATO ship. Despite alarms being raised with the Italian coastguard and the boat making contact with a military helicopter and a warship, no rescue effort was attempted. So much for their humanitarian mission.

M.O.I. JR: What do you think about the role that international human rights activist Cynthia McKinney has played in denouncing the current foreign policy of the U.S. against Libya?

Gerald Perreira: Excellent – Cynthia McKinney must be commended for her outspoken support for the Libyan revolution and its leader which is not easy in the midst of such a hostile political environment. I met her while she was visiting Tripoli in 2009 and I know that she was impressed with the achievements of the Al Fateh Revolution.

At a presentation she gave during her visit she stated: ‘Colonel Qaddafi should be highly commended for honoring our ancestors, the framers of true democracy, by reaching out from Africa to the entire world…We are here to listen and observe, then to support and carry forth the ideas of equality and democracy, universal principles embodied in the Green Book – the goal of our effort being to empower black and indigenous and depressed peoples worldwide for the betterment of the earth and all its inhabitants.’

I think Cynthia McKinney has a clear understanding of the profound social and political transformation that has taken place in Libya and in trying to convey this she has earned the wrath of the US power elites. I hope her efforts will have the full support of all progressive US citizens and will inspire others to gain an understanding of Libya’s revolution.

M.O.I. JR: Where do you recommend people get accurate info on Libya?

Gerald Perreira: I would recommend sites such as Pan African News Wire, Black Agenda Report, Final Call Newspaper, Free Arab Voice among others. And of course publications like this one. Basically if you go online and look for pro-Libyan analysis you can’t miss it. This is the beauty of the internet – we are no longer dependent on mainstream media – the truth is at our fingertips in the comfort of our homes. Also for those who want an in-depth understanding of Muammar Qaddafi’s ideas and the Libyan revolution there are some excellent books. I would recommend starting with “Islam and the Third Universal Theory: The Religious Thought of Muammar Qaddafi” by the brilliant theologian Mahmoud Ayoub, “Voice from the Desert” by Italian journalist Mirella Bianco and “My Vision: Muammar Qaddafi with Edmond Jouve”. If we seek the truth, the truth will find us.