I am not sure what country you are from, but I can tell you that activists in the U.S. have been watched for years, decades, in fact! Have you ever heard of COINTELPRO? Well, in the 80s, when we protested the wars in Central America, we weren’t just being watched, we were being infiltrated. At the time, I thought my boyfriend (who later became my husband, then my ex), I was sure that he was being totally paranoid, covering his face with a large bandana whenever the media showed up.
Later we were made aware that we had an infiltrator, probably not the first, but this one was so obvious, because he gave his name as the brother of a Salvadoran in the group. This caused the group, in their naiveté, to tell him stuff about the member who “happened” to have the same last name and a brother with the same first name.
There were probably other infiltrators, but they would say that they came for the women. It seems that the politically active woman had a reputation of being “looser” than other women.
There were also phone calls when we had speakers come from Central America. They named names and threatened members’ lives.
Two of our members were visited by the FBI. One was an American citizen though her two twin sisters were working for the Sandinista government. The other one was a Salvadoran whose visa had run out when he stopped taking classes at the university that brought him there.
There were also Cubans doing a small counter demonstration every time we had an anti-war demonstration. They were allowed to have their signs on poles that had been sharpened so they could use them as a weapon. We, on the other hand, were warned that we would be arrested if we carried anything that looked like a weapon.
Then, one day, one of our members got hold of his FBI file. Most of it was blacked out, but the few words and sentences we could read were total lies. They said he was an alcoholic, though he drank one to two beers a day. They also said he was a womanizer, sleeping with all kinds of women, when, in fact, despite not having a girlfriend, he never came on to any of the women and we never knew of any that went home with him for the night.
About fifteen years after this incident, I got a postcard from the Freedom of Information Act saying I could get a copy of my file for $25. I have no idea why I didn’t order it. If it WAS filled with blacked-out lines, it would still have been interesting to see what was there and how much was the truth.
Back then (in the 90s), it was said that one in four Americans have FBI files. I can’t help but wonder how high that ratio is today. My guess would be much higher. The protests are larger and more often. The issues are often local rather than about issues in other countries or even other parts of this country.
Anyway, my friend, my suspicion is that people actually do care more about that bloody dog than that bloodied person. From what I can see, we have become numb to human suffering. It is faked in so many TV shows and movies that people feel they’ve seen everything. With PETA around, making sure that the world knows when animals are mistreated, people think about their own pets and are outraged. We need a PETH (People for the Ethical Treatment of Humans) so that the world starts demanding the ethical treatment of humans and people start thinking about their family and friends whenever they see a bloodied and tortured human being.
An American who has seen a lot
Sherrie Miranda’s historically based, coming of age, Adventure novel “Secrets & Lies in El Salvador” is about an American girl in war-torn El Salvador:
Her husband made a video for her novel. He wrote the song too: