Newsletter 7: Hemispheric Institute






7 sPring 2003


Hemispheric Institute
of Performance and Politics in the Américas

Editor: Marsha Gall

Photo: Diana Taylor


Photo: Marlene Rodríguez- Cancio


Photo: Diana Taylor



Photo: Marlene Ramírez- Cancio


The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo against the war


Photo: Diana Taylor




Barcelona says NO to war




Photo: Marlene Ramírez- Cancio






A letter from Diana Taylor

My dear friends and colleagues:

This moment of crisis is truly ‘hemispheric’ as well as global. The invasion of Iraq by the U.S. armed forces sends shivers of recognition throughout the Americas—accustomed to centuries of conquests and invasions—from pre-Conquest times to the recent U.S. invasions of Panama, Grenada, and Haiti. Those of us familiar with the performance of conquest recognize its characteristics—violence and economic self-interest dressed up as ‘liberation,’ the so-called ‘enemy’ transformed into an evil and barbaric infidel, U.S. outrages against international law and United Nations accords are called civilizing and “just.” The act of possession, a prerequisite for conquest since Columbus planted the flag in 1492, was yet again enacted as U.S soldiers covered the statue of Saddam Hussein’s face with the their own flag. In the upside-down world of conquest, “coalition” becomes the cover for barefaced unilateralism. The Fedayeen, who defended their nation against assault were called a band of thugs, their units referred to as ‘death squads,’ and their methods demoted to terrorist attacks. Media images of the newly “liberated” Iraqi celebrating their freedom reassure U.S. audiences that this was a good war. In fact, most Iraqi serve only as background to an act of transfer in which they had no part, and from which they are likely to benefit little, if at all.

The U.S. government openly acknowledges its duplicitous war-speak. Dan Bartlett director of White House communications noted, that Fedayeen “means something like ‘dying for a noble cause’”—a heroism that the U.S. government wants to deny (NYT, Apr 20, 2003, pg. B14, Elizabeth Bumiller, “Even Critics of War Say the White House Spun It With Skill”). Instead of ‘invasion,’ the government speaks of “regime change”—regime sounding more dictatorial than ‘government.’ The article goes on the acknowledge that George W. Bush’s advisors spent many an hour discussing “the question of how might you have regime change thought of as liberation rather than occupation?” Through their use of “smart” bombs and digitally controlled “strategic” strikes, the U.S. can now invade other countries with little money (20 billion so far) and almost no cost of life—U.S. lives, that is. Although “the bombing campaign that accompanied ground actions to squeeze Iraqi military units into ever smaller ‘kill boxes’ almost certainly left thousands of soldiers dead, perhaps tens of thousands,” the U.S. government is not counting these deaths. (John M. Broder, “Number of Iraqis Killed May Never Be Determined, NYT, Apr 10, 2003, B1). The figure is probably far closer to one hundred thousand Iraqi deaths, with more to come due to lack of water, poor hygienic conditions, and scare medical attention.

As rumors of covert plans for other invasions (Syria? North Korea?) circulate, the shut down of civil liberties escalates in the United States. Anti-terrorism laws—encapsulated in the Patriot Act that passed in October 2001—give the U.S. government enormous powers to “improve intelligence” and “enhance surveillance procedures.” This meant that the government is free to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications. The goal of fighting terrorism gives those in power the ability to spy on its own population, deny suspects their right to legal council, revoke a person’s citizenship, and scrutinize immigrants and migration. Republicans now want to make this law permanent (see Eric Lichtblau, “Republicans Want Terrorism Law Made Permanent,” NYT, Apr 9, 2003, pg. B1). The Hemispheric Institute was already signaled out by the U.S. Secret Service, which alerted NYU to our intent to “attack” their site—by this, they were referring to an on-line protest we organized to decry the presence of Domingo Cavallo, ex-Minister of Finance from Argentina, as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business

Empowered by their recent “swift victory in Iraq, with relatively low casualties” (Matthew Purdy, “After the War, New Stature for Rumsfeld” Apr. 20, 2003, A1), the political Right feels totally “it can go anywhere and do anything,” as the U.S. soldiers boasted in Baghdad. Leaders in the Right have started to criticize all those who criticized and doubted them—journalists, academics, artists, and those retired generals “embedded in studios,” as Vice President Dick Cheney put it.

The protests against the growing militarism and capitalism of the U.S. are growing daily, both in this country and around the world. This newsletter shows images from some of these protests and demonstrations. Even as the right-wing perfects its strategies of domination, those of us who oppose them perfect our tactics of intervention, disruption, and interruption. We have learned a lot through the wisdom and practice of you—friends-- in the Americas. From H.I.J.O.S. we learned about the escrache. With Ricardo Domínguez we embarked on on-line protest. Jesusa Rodríguez and Liliana Felipe whispered their Plan Puebla-Canadá to us, Susana Baca has taught us to cry and sing at the same time. From our Peruvian friends, we know how to wash the flag, to see if we can get some of the blood and oil off of it. Diana Raznovich inspired us to laugh at the military and their medals, and on and on. All that serves us well, as we prepare for a long struggle for human rights and justice.

We hope that those of you living in Latin America will not abandon us in this struggle. The strategy, as we’ve learned from our own hard histories, is to isolate those who abuse power, not to isolate those who struggle against abusers. So, please, keep us company, join our escrache. In New York, during the next encuentro, let’s perform our outrage with laughter and creativity. How about a funeral procession in Washington Square Park where we bury civil liberties and international co-operation? Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Gospel Choir will deliver the sermon. Bring your ideas, your anger, and your solidarity. Los esperamos.


Diana Taylor


Jesusa Rodríguez in Lysistrata Project

Antonio Prieto como el Tío Sam en Michoacán

Argentina (de)constructing politics-
Photo: Carolyn Sattin


Important news











  • The Speculative Archive for Historical Clarification works with existing collections of historical documents to produce projects that examine formations of power, political subjectivity, and collective memory (English)

  • Elastic Test A project dealing with the question of what kind of testing procedure can objectively measure a foreigner, to determine if s/he can become “naturalized”? (English)

  • Festival Internacional de Teatro de Buenos Aires 9 al 28 de Septiembre de 2003 (English and Spanish)

  • Ritornello Devenires de la pedagogía actoral (Spanish and English)

  • Applied and Interactive Theatre Guide an online resource for those who use theatre techniques for other or more than arts or entertainment purposes (English)

  • Presence a special e-journal dealing with the politics, process and practice of intersecting live performance and the Internet (English)

  • Body, Space & Technology an on-line interdisciplinary journal that welcomes submissions from all aspects of contemporary arts and new technologies (English)

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