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globe logo     Caravan: Newsletter of the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World
Number 8 June 2001

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 · Juan Carrero Saralegui
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Towards a Culture of Peace

"The United States and other powers have become allies to real monsters."

Interview with Juan Carrero Saralegui,
President of Fundación S´Olivar (Mallorca, Spain)
Candidate for the Nobel Peace Priz

photo of Juan Carrero SaraleguispaceHow did you first become interested tin non-violence?

When I was very young, there were two concerns of mine, which I lived very intensively: first was the suffering of the poor, together with an internal rebellion against injustice, and second, the spiritual conviction that reality is much more than just that which we see. The conviction that this life is a time of grace, a gift; to learn, to grow in wisdom and in knowledge, to do community works, to help those in need. These elemental convictions need no fundament. To the contrary, they themselves are the fundament for everything else; yet, paradoxically, they cannot be demonstrated.

As the years have gone by, I have come to have another conviction: that the most important things cannot be reduced to mere effectiveness. These are things that we must do; things whose results we may never see. This conviction has been very important in my own life, especially in the conflict in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. If you begin things by expecting results, you can become discouraged. Why? Who is capable of modifying the large-scale international politics regarding the Great Lakes Region, for example? Since it's impossible, or even crazy to attempt, nobody starts anything, and things stay the way they are. It's a vicious circle, until something happens inside you and you say to yourself "A-hah! The most important thing is not effectiveness-it's faithfulness." You formulate that however you want to, but I have seen it repeatedly in people like Gandhi, Francis of Assisi, or Fr. Roy Bourgeois, whom I was visiting a couple of years ago, and who is trying (and just about did it) to close down the School of the Americas in the United States, where those committing genocide in Latin American were trained.

Tell us about your experience with Fr. Bourgeois.

Well, he realized that his tax money and that of his family were being used to help fund schools where people are taught how to torture. He began all kinds of non-violent actions in order to increase awareness in U.S. society, and got almost half of Congress to back him. In the end, he only just missed getting the majority by a few votes. Furthermore, he was sentenced to three years in prison for entering the military property of the School of the Americas in the middle of the night and blasting the last words of Monseigneur Romero - just before he was assassinated, who said very energetically: "in the name of God, I beg you, I order you, stop the repression". When Roy was at his most discouraged point, in prison, something inside him said: "Roy, the most important thing is not effectiveness - it's faithfulness." It is a conviction that has become very clear to me by means of a similar situation. In fact, my experience has shown that faithfulness always brings a certain amount of unexpected effectiveness with it.

What was it that served as the motive for creating Fundación S'Olivar in 1992?

In 1992, we constituted the Fundación as the most effective tool for working for the most needy through non-violence. At the time, the greatest tragedy was happening in Somalia. It seemed to me to be a hallucination when I saw such mortality in a world with so many resources, vaccines, and other medications to stop it. I had the same feeling than 20 years ago when the arms race, when I became a conscientious objector.

When the Fundación was a year and a half old, the 1994 cataclysm of Rwanda happened, and all the media focused on it. What put us originally into motion were those huge massacres where the majority of the victims were Tutsis.

How did it come to be that from this little valley in Majorca, you became interested in the genocide in Rwanda?

All the coverage received by those massacres left no one indifferent. Plus, Majorca has a very special relationship with that region, because since about 40 or almost 50 years ago, there are missionaries from Majorca in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Congo. In the face of the events of '94, practically all of the NGOs and religious congregations of Majorca united in a great platform, to see what we could do.

Afterwards, I traveled to Rwanda and Burundi at the end of '95 or the beginning of '96, in representation of a group of NGOs. When I got there, visiting friends, I found a small village where, in just one day, the mono-ethnic Tutsi army has come in and brutally murdered over a hundred women and children. When I came back to Spain after 3 or 4 days, I saw that no one knew anything about it, and, to the contrary, I could see how the media repeated how the rebels and Hutu guerrillas had murdered hither and thither, I started to think: "what's going on here?"

As we advanced in our investigations, over these past years, we have put the puzzle together little by little, and we are now certain that we have been able to better understand what has happened, especially the large massacres of Hutus refugees in the Congo, and we were convinced that we were talking about a new genocide. Or maybe we could talk about a new and broader understanding of a genocide that still continues today, and about which almost no one said anything, despite its magnitude.

When this new genocide, you carried out a hunger strike in order to denounce it...

It was a fast of denunciation that lasted for 42 days, in the beginning of 1997, when the Hutu refugee camps had been bombed on the east of the Congo. A higher-up in the European Parliament, Magda Alvohet, co-president of the European Green party, told us some key things confidentially at the time. She said:

"There exists a very well-elaborated plan to invade the east Congo. The United States has given its consent to the Himas-Tutsi regimes of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi. It seems that all they have asked is that tow conditions are respected: that there are no excesses in terms of the width of the invaded territory and human rights violations".

This reminds me of what happened in Latin America! In the face of atrocities committed by military dictatorships, U.S. government officials had given them support, and then said: "We are not responsible for the excesses of the military juntas." When Madeleine Albright recognized that the United States had made a mistake by supporting these dictatorships, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel said: "I don't remember any mistakes. The only thing I know is that a plan was elaborated for the entire region, Operation Condor, and applied perfectly, without even a single tiny error."

"The most important thing is not effectiveness,
it's faithfulness."

Now that there is evidence of this new genocide, what will stop the truth from becoming known?

There are many things that still stand in the way, especially the interests of big, multinational companies within orbit of the United States. I am not sure as to how to distribute the blame percentage-wise, but the United States and other powers have become allies to real monsters. Kagame is a monster, and I don't care if we are labeled as radicals for saying so, because time will tell, and at least we will have the peace of mind of knowing that we called a spade a spade. I think that the C.I.A and the Pentagon have not really evaluated those to whom they have become allies. It may be true that some excesses have been committed that were not in the interests of the United States, but the United States let them happen, and continue to offer all kinds of support.

The States always goes on about democracy, but then takes up an alliance with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), which is in power in Rwanda from 1994. That group invaded a country, Rwanda, which, under pressure from a series of factors, was undergoing the democratization process. Then, in the name of democracy, and in the name of human rights, they invade and raze everything to the ground. The Latin American experience served to make us understand that every intervention, invasion, or military coup ever has always been carried out in the name of a great cause, or a great mission, as we Westerners find so appealing. All military dictators say that they feel that they have been vested with a very important mission.

We must look for the explanation for this support in manifestations made over the past few years by U.S. officials, such as "Africa interests us". We must also look in the words of the "big men" of multinational companies. For example, in Burundi, very important people in the diamond and gold mafias have affirmed that neither they nor their capital can depend on the ups and downs of democracies, since they need strong, sure, and stable men. It is harder to control a democratic government, because where there is a democratic government, it is the people who command their own destiny and resources.

The Great Lakes region is very rich in all sorts of natural resources, especially minerals. There are exceptional metals essential to the "space race", such as niobium and tungsten. It seems to be one of the few places where the latter exists in amounts large enough to allow for its exploitation. This means that the Congo in particular becomes a very highly prized booty because of its size and the squandering of resources.

When did support on behalf of the United States begin?

A long time ago. In 1988 took place the so-called "meeting of the Tutsi Diaspora", in Washington, organized by Roger Winter, president of Interaction, the largest federation of NGOs in United States. Many of us are convinced that he is a C.I.A. man, infiltrating the world of NGOs. It was he who organized those suspicious meetings before the invasion of Rwanda from Uganda in 1990. It was also he who organized meetings that preceded the invasion of the Congo in 1996.

Apart from the support of the United States, the RPF Tutsis had many contacts and a lot of international influence. They are an extremist group that never resigned itself to giving up its power. They went into exile in 1961 and, with their many resources, dedicated themselves to lobbing and propagandizing. But two-thirds of the Tutsi ethnic group remained to live with the Hutu regimen in Rwanda.

You maintain that Kagame and his people had an interest in the genocide of the Tutsis who had stayed in Rwanda. What would have motivated this interest?

The Tutsi victims from 1994, whom the RPF now claim as theirs, were not RPF people - they were Tutsis despised by the RPF, since it considered them to have betrayed their ethnic group by staying in Rwanda and letting themselves become corrupted by Habyarimana's Hutu regime. This is a very important key. There exists significant testimony, which is only now coming into the light, to the effect that Kagame was very well aware of the fact that his invasion would provoke these massacres on behalf of Hutu extremists. He warned the C.I.A. and even the heir of the Tutsi royal family. It was suicide for the Tutsis, but he didn't care, since genocide would fit in perfectly with his plans.

To this end, he did everything possible to avoid any intervention on behalf of the international community. He even went to the United States. Stopping international intervention would avoid the placement of any obstacles to the military encroachment on the capital, Kigali; it would also allow for massacres to occur that would make the Tutsis as a whole look like the victims, and would justify an unjustifiable dictatorship. For the RPF, this status as oppressed (and even massacred) minority was fundamental in the re-conquest of complete power and the exclusion and even the elimination of millions of Rwandans. The RPF would never have gained power through democratic means, since 80% of Rwandans are Hutus.

So we can't say then that there was unanimity among the Tutsis?

It is very important not to speak in terms of ethnic groups, but of extremist groups within ethnic groups. In the case of the RPF, we are talking about a small, aristocratic Tutsi group that has also been responsible for much suffering among many people of their own ethnicity. Many Tutsis are aware of this situation, but there are few who will speak out and decry it, because one would have to be extremely brave, under the present circumstances, to do so. Now, for example, many Tutsis are dying in the invasion of the D.R of the Congo, especially young people. Many people do not agree with what is happening, even within royalty.

So, the genocide, in your opinion, served to legitimize new Tutsi power?

The RPF could only gain power by turning the vast Hutu majority into committers of genocide in the eyes of the international community. It is true that there were Hutu extremists who committed mass murder, and this is something that we repeat and make clear incessantly. However, the RPF began its military aggression in 1990, and committed mass murder progressively as it advanced through the interior of the country; on April 6 1994, it murdered the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi*, provoking a reaction from the Hutu extremists, and doing everything possible to impede international intervention. It is especially cynical of them after all of this, to play the victim now and to accuse the international community of being passive accomplices to genocide. These keys have hardly even come out in the open during the past years, since the RPF has had at its disposal, large economic means, military means, and, above all, help from the communications media, but they are now beginning to become evident.

It seems that there is evidence that the United States collaborated actively in hiding and manipulating this information.

What happened with the Garreton report is a clear example. This UNO investigation into the murders of Hutus in eastern Zaire spoke of 20 or 100 thousand bodies in 40 different locations. Well, then, in the space of a week, the United States managed to get the word "genocide", originally used in the report, to disappear, substituted by the word "massacre". The key here is the word "genocide"; it is the alibi for everything; it is a blank check that, for many years, allowed the extremist RPF oligarchy to do whatever it wanted. If we start to talk about a genocide suffered by the Hutus, then all the media scaffolding that went up around it comes crashing down.

We calculate that, in the 1990s in the Great Lakes region, over 3 million people were murdered, and that half a million of them were Tutsis. How is it, then, that people speak only of the Tutsi victims and not of the Hutus?

But there are many analysts and specialists in the Great Lakes Region who do not agree with the fact that this second genocide existed.

There are still important media and psychological "inertias". It is very hard to recognize the fact that one has been fooled regarding something so grave as genocide. It means a loss of prestige and even of credibility. But time always runs in favor of the truth, despite the fact that almost the entire world was tricked, including many analysts and specialists.

The topic of the media is fundamental, since 4 or 5 big international agencies are almost the only ones that generate information on this region. There are no specialists, no field correspondents - at last in critical zones. There have been no human rights monitors there for the past two-and-a-half years. Kagame has taken offense with the UNO, because, according to him, the latter did not try to stop the genocide, and so he even allowed the UN's human rights monitors to be expelled.

What is the situation today in the D. R. of the Congo?

Right now, it is invaded by Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Many organizations speak of 2.5 million dead in less than three years. The justification offered for this invasion is that of establishing respect for human rights, the return of democracy, and making borders between these countries more secure. The true motives are unspeakable. The UN finally approved a resolution confirming the fact that what had been made to look like a rebellion has actually been an invasion.

Interview by Philippe Guirlet and Agustí Nicolau Coll
October, 28, 2000

* Note from the editor: this point is very controversial and there is no formal proof of the involvement of the Revolutionary Patriotic Front (RPF) in the assassination of the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi. However, it is important to note that Judge Bruguières (from France) has opened an inquiry to determine who was behind the attack which took place on April 6, 1994. According to the judge, this inquiry could soon lead to charges against the Rwandan and Ugandan heads of state - Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni. As well, the public prosecutor's office of Brussels (Belgium), passed the case of Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, on to the Investigating Magistrate Vandermeersch on May 12, 2000. Finally, Carla del Ponte, public prosecutor of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, confirmed in an interview with the newspaper, "Le Soir" on January 16, 2001, that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ITRC) had opened an inquiry regarding current leaders of the RPF.

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A Portrait of Juan Carrero Saralegui

Juan Carrero was born in Arjona (Jaén, Spain) in 1951. At the age of 19, after 3 years studying philosophy, he went into retreat with some companions at the farm called S´Olivar, in the municipality of Estellencs, on Majorca, in the Balearic Islands (see Caravana 7). For 4 years, he devoted himself to meditation and solitary prayer, as well as to theological studies.

In 1974, he became a conscientious objector to mandatory military service, being the third person in Spain to do so, at the exception of Jehova's Witnesses. The first two objectors had been sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment by Franco's dictatorship.

During that time in the non-violent community of Arca, he met the European pupil of Gandhi, Lanza del Vasto. He decided to substitute military service with social service, an option not officially recognized at the time, and worked for 3 years (twice the time of military service) with Quechua natives of Argentina. In this way, he felt he could denounce and oppose mandatory military service while refuting the claims to which the first objectors were subjected: that they were lazy and showed a lack of solidarity.

When Generals Videla, Massera, and Agosti carried out their military coup in Argentina, and began torturing and committing other crimes including kidnapping, and when so many people vanished, Carrero and his wife were working in the foothills of the Andes of Argentina. As in the case of his friend, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina, winner-to-be of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize, they almost lost their lives.

For Juan Carrero, history has repeated itself 25 years later. His desire to be always with the forgotten and the most needy has led to the founding of the Fundación S´Olivar, which he has directed since it came into being in 1992. The foundation has worked over the past years to help the defenseless civilian population in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

All of this lucid solidarity did not, however, just happen-it is the result of a true and deep spiritual experience. In harmonious mountain setting at S´Olivar, one feels a deep love and respect for all that exists.

Extract of the candidacy dossier of Juan Carrero for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2000

Contact: Fundación s'Olivar
07192 Estellencs (Mallorca) Baleares, España
Tel.-Fax: (34) 971-618-593 / Website:

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