Myth of all men created equal

By Raffique Shah
June 27, 2010

Oil SpillTWO weeks ago in India, seven local managers who worked with Union Carbide at its Bhopal plant in 1984 were sentenced to two years imprisonment and each fined US$2,100. There was outrage outside the Delhi court, and understandably so. Those of us who recall that night of horror that was followed by years of additional pain, deaths, disfiguration and death-dealing afflictions, will never forget it. The Bhopal disaster proved that all men (and women) are not created equal. In death, they are even more unequal.

For those too young to remember what happened on the night of December 2-3, 1984, let me briefly explain. Union Carbide (UC), a US chemicals company that was later acquired by Dow Chemicals, operated a plant located on the outskirts of India’s highly industrial city of Bhopal. Around midnight on December 2-3, there was a leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other toxins from the plant that produced the insecticide Sevin.

As nearby residents slept, the toxic fumes permeated their humble homes, wafting across a wide swath of the city. An estimated 6,000 people never awoke from sleep: they died of isocyanate inhalation. The rest of the world, and other residents of Bhopal, learned of the world’s worst industrial slaughter on the following day. Within months, the death toll rose to over 10,000. In the ensuing years, well over 560,000 residents who survived the seeping gas would become partially or fully disabled. Thousands became victims of cancer, renal failure, blindness and other debilitating diseases.

An investigation showed UC had ignored safety measures and even shut down a critical refrigeration unit to save $40 a day! The Indian government demanded more than US$3 billion by way of compensation.

It also sought the extradition from the US of the company’s CEO, Warren Anderson, and other top officials of the death-dealing company. The charge? Negligent homicide-which should have read, instead, ‘mass homicide’.

In 1989, UC reluctantly agreed to pay US$470 million-estimated by rights-action groups at $350 per person killed and those destined to suffer for life. The matter went from the proverbial pillar to post until the handful of locals, mid-managers at the time, were tried, convicted and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. Anderson lives high on the hog in the US, never to be extradited to India to face trial.

Over the past few weeks, we have all looked at the horrible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, occasioned by a ‘blown top’ of a BP underwater well. It has spread to the coastlines of several states, taken the lives of sea-birds, and adversely affected the fishing industry in the Gulf. BP has already spent upwards of US$2 billion in its clean-up exercise. It was made to set aside US$20 billion for further compensation to affected Americans. Its CEO, Tony Hayward, a Briton, was hauled before an angry US Senate Committee. And to top it off, the oil giant has lost over $40 billion in share-prices.

Not an American died from the spill, although 11 workers perished in the original blast. But already the US has put million-dollar price-tags on its citizens’ heads-for possible fallout from the big spill. This clearly shows that, much the way currency exchange stands, one American life is equivalent to 10,000 Indian lives.

But Bhopal vs the Gulf spill shows only one small example of man’s inequality on Earth. It’s the American Constitution that says: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…’ Realistically, Thomas Jefferson should have written: ‘All White Americans are created equal.’ Because when the Constitution was proclaimed, Blacks lived in slavery while the indigenous people lived in squalor on reservations.

On a bright Sunday morning (July 3, 1988) in the cloudless Persian Gulf, the USS Vincennes was cruising near the Straits of Hormuz. On the skyline appeared an aircraft, and the captain of the Vincennes ordered a missile be fired at it. Turned out the plane was an Iran Air Airbus A300 with 290 passengers and crew aboard; among the former were 66 children. The plane was blown out of the sky, all lives lost.

The American government at first refused to compensate Iran or the victims, many of whom were from other countries. Eventually, in 1996, after the matter was taken before the International Court of Justice, the US agreed to pay a paltry $61.8 million. You try to work out what price it put on the heads of those hapless passengers.

Fast-forward to December 21 that same year. Pan Am Flight 103, a jumbo jet carrying 243 passengers and 16 crew members, explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland. All in the aircraft perish, along with 11 persons on the ground. Terrorism is suspected. Investigations, including forensic examination of a briefcase believed to have held a bomb, are thorough.

On the flimsiest evidence, Libya is fingered as the source of the bomb. Readers should note that prior to Pan Am 103, the US had shot down two Libyan fighter aircraft over the Gulf of Sidra and sunk four Libyan ships-without provocation. As he later sought to escape ostracism, Gadaffi took responsibility in 2002, extradited two Libyans to face trial-and compensated the US in the sum of $2.7 billion-US$10 million per victim.

-To be continued

20 Responses to “Myth of all men created equal”


  • The Lockerbie bombing has been blamed by a rogue CIA operative on Iran as payback later for the US shooting earlier the same year of the Iranian airbus, the Vicennces.

    According to this operative, a linguist and technical operator, the Iranians knew of drug shipments sent since the mid-1950s into Black neighbourhoods in Chicago from the Bekaa valley by Christian Falangists allies of the US, done as payment for spying and other support by these CIA sponsored and supported groups.

    The Iranians arranged, unknown to those shipping and travelling with the drugs via Germany, to exchange the drug suitcases with similar ones carrying the bombs in Germany.

    After this was known to the US, not only was this operative hounded and almost imprisoned later, but they also advised all their opoeratives not to fly home for Christmas on any of these flights–a Tobanonian, who got one of these then cheap flights also died.

    The proof that it was not Libya, but Iran was evidence innocently gathered by the Scottish police, and confiscated by the US investigators. This evidence showed that the bomb which brought down the Lockerbie flight was a barometric one, one not available to Libya with much less technical abilities, but to Iran.

    This evidence was disallowed in court by every judge involved in this case.

    The CIA operative, his wife and children are the only US citizens who since the Viet Nam war later became, and remain refugees in Switzerland; a country from which they cannot be extradited to the US.

  • Its good to read about these international incidents from our reporters. Let our people be informed about the inequalities in this world. Its not getting any better as Europe and US goes bankrupt and it cetainly will affect our nation. Its time to inform our public about this reality so we can handle this crisis and understand the changes thats coming ahead of us. Keep on writing….

  • I was waiting for the 2nd installment before I responded but this information on Lockerbie is new to me; I never believed it was Libya but never really knew the true culprit had been identified. The New York Times ran an article on the destruction of the Niger delta along with millions of African lives by oil leaks from pipelines which have been leaking for decades; and not one U.S.A. national network has bothered to comment, not even to dispute it, however the airwaves is littered with Gulf States’ White Trash expressing their opinions about the $20 BILLION; that it might not be enough for their yet to be realized losses, and how disappointed they are with the President’s response. Meanwhile many African-American residents of New Orleans are still waiting for a modicum help to replace their REAL/ACTUAL losses.

    • Those same Africans have been bursting the pipelines to get at the oil and kerosene for their everyday use. Many have died while trying. Also, repair crews are often attacked by the villagers. Is that the fault of the oil companies?

      • Yes! It is the fault of the oil companies; maybe if these oil companies paid a decent/living wage, after having destroyed the citizens livelihood by running pipelines on their farmlands and in the waters they’ve fished for millennia, they’ll have no need to steal.

        • Blame the company and not the government that allowed the company free reign? Give me a break. Farmers allowed the peipelines on their lands. People want to burn fossil fuel. What is the point? Accidents happen and nobody is perfect. There will always be accidents and that is that.

          • “Blame the company and not the government that allowed the company free reign?”

            This quote entitles you to a complete break from world reality. The stupid White Trash in the U.S. gulf coast have the same mindset; that somehow their government; which is made up of people heavily indebted to major multi-national corporations and the same major corporations are somehow separate entities. George Bush and Dick Cheney gave concessions to multi-national oil companies that would rival any awarded by a so-called 3rd world dictator within the last century. Not to mention the relaxation and elimination of laws which had hitherto restricted the blatant thievery that occured on Wall Street and within the global financial sector. But the corporate media has so brainwashed the public that even when some in government try to go to bat for them they are branded with the ‘Socialist” label. I say let them all eat SALT. That is until the mother of us all decides that she needs a wardrobe change. Drill baby Drill; Pollute baby Pollute; I am actually looking forward to the time when my particles re-arrange to form somthing other than human. “Give a Neanderthal a brain and he’ll swear he’s the center of the Universe.”

          • “The Stupid White Trash in the U.S. gulf coast have the same mindset; That somehow their government; which is made up of people heavily indebted to major multi-national corporations and the same major corporations are somehow separate entities”-Karibkween
            I would argue that they are the ones that voted for these representatives that you claim are “indebted to major multi-national corporations”.
            Where do you think Dick Chaney and George Bush got their votes from? The Gulf Coast supported them heavily.
            By the way, the BP rig the collapsed was not as a result of anyone saying, “Drill baby drill”. That rig has been there for a long time. BP has the problem of cutting corners. The government never enforced the laws concerning safety.
            Globally, the governments allowed corporations to drill. Most of us elected our representatives so it is all of our faults at some level.

      • http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/af_congo_oil_explosion

        “Mounoubai said the truck overturned around dusk and was carrying fuel from Bukavu to Uvira. Lungwe, the truck’s owner, said the tanker had begun its journey in the Kenyan city of Eldoret, then traveled through Uganda and Rwanda before heading into Congo.”

        Another tale of Africans’ misfortune that would probably be blamed on the Africans themselves; after all they used the opportunity of an overturned petrol truck to siphon fuel for free, how stupid of them to act like every other human being on the planet.

        Will anyone ask if that driver, who had already been taken to a hospital, had had enough sleep given the number of miles he had to travel? Or, why wasn’t the truck secured before the people began their pilfering: if there was enough time to take the driver to the hospital one can imagine that there was also enough time to secure the truck. Had this happened anywhere else that truck would have been secured and a HASMAT team would have been on the scene to prevent contamination; but who cares they’re just Africans, right?

  • Yes, but Third World peoples encourage and facilitate this exploitation and injustice from the USA, time and time again.
    For example, look at the anger and extent of public opinion in T&T clamouring for the extradition of the airport accused to the USA, even when there are no laws in T&T against some of the crimes they are accused of in the USA.

    • Ahhhh TMan, you jumped the gun… Seems like we knew where Shah was going with the article..
      But jump high, jump low.. Ish and Steve will get their day in the US courts on LAUNDERING charges among other CRIMES….
      Don’t worry, The DOJ is headed by a ‘Brother’ with roots in Barbados.. So that should bring some comfort to Ish and Steve… ENT?

      “Eric H. Holder, Jr. was born in the Bronx, New York to parents with roots in Barbados.[2][3][4] Holder’s father, Eric Himpton Holder, Sr. (1905–1970) was born in Saint Joseph, Barbados and arrived in the United States at the age of 11.[5][6] He later became a real estate broker. His mother, Miriam, was born in New Jersey, while his maternal grandparents were immigrants from Saint Philip, Barbados.”

  • Astonishing eh, these Afro Caribbean roots of US movers and shakers: Colin Powell, Shelia Jackson Lee, Eric Holder, Toussaint, the Union Man in the New York Transit strike.
    Its almost as if catch-arse in the Caribbean pushes out its people to go and excel somewhere else.

    Now, in the wider sense of Raffique’s piece, the “created Equal” is in the eyes of God, not the eyes of man who sees dollar bills, jewelry, luxury cars , number of houses owned,and bank balances, as signs thst he is better than someone else.

    I invited a friend in TnT yesterday to go to http://www.yahoo.com and type in Oil Pollution In Northern Ecuador, see what comes up.Texaco- An American, Texas based company,(Kicked out of TnT by Eric Willams) walked away from the biggest oil disaster in South America, leaving the people to cope with polluted waters, dead fish and poisoned children. A similar story would emerge if you type in Niger Delta, Nigeria instead of Equador. Shell is the culprit there.The US government did not say peep about these crises, because they were not on their doorsteps, just like Bhopal. Now BP is doing it to the US Gulf coast, and the world is watching Mother Earth gasp to death, her throat cut, and blood gushing out from a raw wound, her pelicans, dolphins, turtles and seafood for amn, all dead. In God’s eyes, his creatures are equal.

    Now watch for furthr earthquakes as the earth shifts to accommodate the holes left in its system by this gushing oil, while scientists laugh, and comment on this comment, if they read it, by saying what crazy woman is that? Equality is not a myth, the adjustments/evidence take a while. OK?

    You build a plant in an African country, scheduled to blow up in a couple of years,then you’d come in and fix it, say they cannot manage the technology, buy it for next to nothing, and make billions, but that is deteted, and fixed by an African company. You design a well head to do the most powerful, state of the art evacuation of oil from the earth, an you watch helplessly while this uncapped gusher destroys the Southern USA, and possible the eastern coastal waters.Whose power is this?

  • Let me spell out specifics that you may not yet realize.
    Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand = one world. All of Asia except India is the other. The Caribbean, Africa, India and South America is the third. When Europe messes with the Third world, none of the others get angry. We are savages, aren’t we, dirt poor, people like weeds, a few hundred thousand dead here and there, who cares? We are siting on resources that in our dirt poor state we do not need, so they must come and take it, cause they need it.When one of them messes with the other, someone inside the tribal group, all hell breaks lose.
    If you understand this, you may begin to understand why Dow Chemical went out of business,left all that toxic stuff in Bhopal and no one held thenm accountable until twenty years later; why Chevron Texaco walked away from Ecuador, and why Shell is in constant trouble in the Ogoni region of Nigeria with the armed militants kidnapping their oficials. The oil is shipped out of the region, while the people collect firewood to cook, or steal oil from the pipelines. The children in Ecuador walk in oil six inches deep, the white world does not give a shit,really.

    Now, do you understand?
    You are connected to that old blind woman in Bhopal, to the child having lung congestion in Ecuador, and the farming woman in Ogoniland, Nigeria who tries to have a well dug, and oil seeps up. Unless Trinis recognize the connections we would continue to act like we live on two isolated rocks with a couple of palm trees and three goats. This is how the European wants it- keep us away from contact with each other, away from shared information, except sared through their media.Now why is India in the third group you ask, with Tata motors and all those powerhouses like Mittal Steel? Because the business class in India assumes whiteness for itself, and third world status for the workers, based on the age old caste system. We are ll connected.

    • The woes that the Nigerian people face are a result of their idiotic government.
      My only suggestion is for countries to stop taking the abuse. My fault, the people in power in those countries only care about their personal wealth. The third world is like crabs in a pot.
      That’s not the First worlds fault. Not this day and age with all of the information out there.

  • My dear Karibqueen, how do you feel calling people of the Southern Region of the USA stupid white trash? I am surprised that trinicenter.com did not censor that comment. The southern coast of the USA is home to a variety of people,and some distinguished universities, all of whom/which are making their contributions to pushing society forward.You call yourself a queen, they too are queens. I do not want to sound preachy, but racial name calling has added nothing, to any debate, at any time in the history of the world. If all the fisher folk from Carenage to Icacos had their livelihoods destroyed by an oil spill or broken line, would that make them trash?
    The conglomerates that corrupt our world, regard us all as trash, that is why the former chair of BP could say he wants to go back to his livelihood, of sailing his yatch in pristine water. Would Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Ghandi or Martin Luther King have described these people as PWT? Would Mother Teresa, or Diana, Princess of Wales? Here are people whose regard for others is worth emulating. I regret the fact that you printed that, and apologise to all my white friends here in the southern USA who may read your comment, and think we are all like that.
    That hurts.

    • Michael Jackson didn’t only get his feelings hurt, he lost his life for loving a people who are incapable of that particular ‘HUMAN’ emotion. You know that song by Teddy Pendergrass? ‘It’s so good loving somebody; when that somebody loves you back.” Otherwise its just unrequited love: Hopefully, at some point before our extinction, the non-white peoples of the world must own that truth. I make no apologies; to me “actions speak louder than words” and “expression still attains its summit through symbols”

  • The woes of the people of Bhopal, site of the Dow Chemicals Disaster, are of their own making also.It was the government of India that allowed DOW to access cheap labour in Bhopal. It is the governmnet of Nigeria that allowed Shell into he Niger Delt and Ogoniland to drill for oil. These people in power are far removed from the lives of those affected by disastrous chemical leaks and explosions.

    If I knew of a way to teach governments of poor, people-rich countries how to value their most valuable assets, their people, I’d go around the world teaching it for free. Everyone who is a “capitalist” gets ahead by exploiting someone else. In China, is was a chemist who used ethylene glycol(Antifreeze) to put in toothpaste that killed poor children in Panama and other places, buying cheap toothpaste. In Bhopal, procedural motions before the courts stalled the case for twenty years during which period an additional 25-50 thousand people died as a reuslt of contamination. The vats of chmicals are still there, open and leaking into the water system. The government is in Dheli, hundreds of miles away. Children can go play in them if their parents are not watchful. All these people wanted was a job. Big business takes many disguises, constantly changing their names, and turning up in Third World Countries, bribing a few oficials, and setting up shop. My grandfather worked in the oilfields at the turn of the twentieth century, when it was called Trinidad Leaseholds Limited. TnT supplies milllions of cubic feet of LPG to the eastern seboard of the USA, so you would think people in TnT have gas supplied to their homes? Guess again. In the countryside, around the rich oil and gas fields, people still cook on firewood or in coalpots. They say Sada Roti tastes better when it is rolled directly into the fires of the chula.

    Anyone who believes that governments of poor countries really want to help the masses, must think again. Hugo Chavez and Castro are the only exceptions and look how much enmity they have in the west with their free eduation and medical care. No profits to be made if the aspirin is free.

    By the way, did any of you succeed in tracking down who gave Haliburton permission to explode chemical waste near Erin? (my piece Blasted Erin was about that.) Someone bribed someone else to look the other way. Happens in Nigria and India too.

    And the Deepwater Horizon was not yet a producing well.It exploded before it earned one penny for anyone. Pleae check the facts.

  • A 9 year old rig that wasn’t well inspected. It wasn’t at the location in the golf where it sank because Sarah Palin and tea partiers were yelling drill baby drill.
    If most Americans cared about the plight of the confederate states, then the Gulf would not be suffering like it is. Maybe relief will be sent next Juneteenth.

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