Africa and Prison Imperialism

by James Patrick Jordan

(The following piece is an updated version of a presentation for the 2020 African Liberation Day radio special by the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party-(GC) and the Africa Awareness Association)

The United States government has invested considerable resources toward the restructuring of African prison systems. This is an example of what we, at the Alliance for Global Justice, call prison imperialism. Since the year 2000, the United States has aggressively undertaken activities to involve itself in penitentiary systems all over the world, thus spreading its model of mass incarceration. I suspect most listeners today are already aware that U.S. jails are overcrowded and cruel places, and in this time of pandemic, the large population of prisoners and lack of health care and sanitary facilities has turned prisons into a breeding ground for the novel coronavirus. We can see that especially during this difficult period, the mass incarceration model constitutes a threat to global public health.  The U.S. is involved in the prisons of well over 40 countries, all of them in the Global South except for some projects in the former Yugoslavia.

But prison imperialism is about more than building jails. It is part of the infrastructure of Empire, which includes the economic institutions of global capitalism; militarized borders; military invasions, occupations, and bases; corporate media misinformation and the “manufacture of consent”, as well as other components. The U.S. mass incarceration model is, therefore, a core aspect of expanding and instituting U.S.-NATO hegemony over the world. The spread of the model is intimately linked to the realities of economic and ecological collapse, as well as to the collapse of public health infrastructures. Prisons are being built as a kind of population control to manage the social disruptions that result in millions of displaced persons and all manner of economic, ecological, and political refugees. And they are built to punish, decimate, and destroy protest and resistance movements. Our studies so far have shown an increase in politically motivated arrests accompanying the U.S. entry into another country’s penitentiary system.

We do not have the comprehensive knowledge we need about the U.S. role in African prisons. Our capacity is limited by our small staff size. This is an area where we need help and we would love to work with other organizations and individuals around this subject. (For more information, send an email to Eduardo@AFGJ.org.) In preparation for today’s event, I spent some time looking into what’s happening on the African continent, and even with just a little a knowledge, it becomes quickly apparent that prison imperialism in Africa is, es expected, tied to U.S. and NATO efforts to consolidate regional control.

Before looking to Africa, we must look to the very European city of Stuttgart, Germany and the U.S. Army Garrison there. Kelley Barracks is the headquarters of the U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM. AFRICOM was founded on October 1, 2007. Of course, the U.S. and Europe have been plundering Africa for a long, long time. Still, we can reference this date as a significant reprioritization and reinvigoration of the hundreds of years old legacy of colonialism. Since the establishment of Africom, there has been a significant increase in U.S. military engagement, although it has not been well publicized. The veil of secrecy was partially ripped open when four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger in October, 2017. Few in the general public had any idea that U.S. soldiers were actively engaged in Niger. The U.S. actually has more military engagements in Africa than in the Middle East. Despite its claim of a “light footprint”, the Pentagon has some 29 bases on the continent. Between 2013 and 2017, U.S. Special Forces engaged in combat in 13 African nations. In just 2017, U.S. forces carried out an average of almost 10 operations per day. Over the course of 2019, there was a record number of airstrikes in Somalia, at least one per week.

In my research, every single reference I found to U.S. prison building, and corrections advice, training, and reform in Africa, has been since the establishment of Africom. In fact, most the activities have happened since the 2011 invasion of Libya. Up until then, the previous government of Libya, under the leadership of Muammar Gaddafi, had been one of the strongest proponents of Pan-Africanism, a concept that has played a unifying role in resistance to Western neocolonialism. Africa gives us a stark picture of just to what degree prison imperialism is linked to U.S. and NATO militarism, invasion, and occupation.

The mass incarceration model in Africa has its antecedent in the use of mass incarceration to repress Black people here in the United States. Especially during this time that anti-racist uprisings are occurring across the nation, we must ask exactly what happens when the U.S. inserts itself in the interrelated police, court, and prison systems of other nations? One could argue that racism was the first product of global capitalism. It is certainly at the heart of U.S. prisons, with 40% of inmates being Black, and almost 32% being Latino. By establishing our prison model in countries that are majority people of color, the U.S. is globalizing its systematic racism.

In the midst of the chaos that still continues since the 2011 invasion of Libya, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau for International Narcotics Law and Enforcement, or INL, along with the U.S. Institute for Peace, have been conducting trainings for Libyan prison personnel, including at the International Corrections Management Training Center in Canyon City, Colorado, as well as in Libya, and have been carrying out assessments of and restructuring Libyan prisons. However, U.S. restructuring and training programs have only appeared to reinforce an ongoing humanitarian and human rights disaster. Since the 2011 invasion of Libya, the UN has released various reports on torture in Libyan prisons, describing what has been witnessed as “appalling abuses” and “sheer horror”. Based on past experience—for instance, the Bureau of Prisons training of torturers at a CIA Black Site prison in Afghanistan—it would be foolish to assume that the training of Libyan personnel is somehow exempt from this kind of “teaching”. Similarly, AfGJ studies have found a correlation between U.S prison involvement and increases in reports of torture and human rights abuses in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, and Honduras. We consider this to be one of the hallmarks of the legacy of 20 years of U.S. Prison Imperialism efforts.

Burkina Faso experienced a U.S. and French supported overthrow of the popular and socialist leader, Thomas Sankara, in 1987. Today, Burkina Faso is undergoing its own uprisings despite brutal repression. Like Libyan prison officials, Burkina Faso’s correctional personnel have studied at the Training Center in Colorado.

In 2018, Burkina Faso’s government partnered with the INL to initiate the Colorado Network for Penitentiary Emergence in West and North Africa (French acronym RECEPAON), which includes Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, and Senegal. The private Celestar Corporation has since contracted with INL to advise, train, and otherwise assist, legal, and prison personnel in all the afore mentioned countries, as well as in Tunisia.

Haiti is a member of the African Union and certainly part of the African diaspora. The U.S., via the John McCain-led International Republican Institute (IRI), initiated and organized the 2004 coup against the elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide. This was the second time Aristide and Haiti’s legitimate government was overthrown. The IRI provided training, material support, and a base in the Dominican Republic from which the coup was launched. Since then, the building of new prisons in Haiti, and the training and equipping of prison personnel, has gone hand in hand with border militarization and anti-immigrant policies which, as stated by an INL document, include the goal “to maintain public order and reduce the attractiveness of illegal migration….” It bears mentioning that the first inmates at the Guantanamo Bay were not people from the Middle East and Central Asia, but Haitian refugees fleeing the country following the first overthrow of Aristide in 1991. Due to a combination of these overthrows, neoliberal economics, and the disasters of earthquakes and hurricanes, many Haitians are living as refugees in their own land. The response of the U.S. has been to follow the coup with more electoral interference, border militarization, and prison construction.

In Africa, as in every place where the U.S. brings in its mass incarceration model, officials publicly state that their model will help end overcrowding and human rights abuses. What we have seen has been the opposite. For instance, in Colombia, where prison imperialism first began, in 2000, U.S. involvement led to a spike in arrests of political prisoners, and to the highest rate of overcrowding in the country’s history. We have perceived patterns that include overcrowding, political arrests, prison privatization, neglect of health care, filthy conditions, transportation of prisoners far from their home communities and support networks, increases in reports of torture, extreme isolation, and other abuses, and periods of prisoners being held incognito, without access to legal defense or family.

Of course, all this reflects similar conditions here in the United States where our nation has internalized the oppression of targeted peoples. Here at home, we hold 25% of the entire world’s prison population, with 2.3 million persons behind bars. As already mentioned, U.S. prisons disproportionately lock up people of color, especially African heritage persons. We also know that the novel coronavirus is hitting communities of color harder than the White population. Given that prisons are notorious for their high rates of infection, one could rightly argue that mass incarceration during this time of pandemic is a form of germ warfare against people of color at home and abroad.

Today as we prepare to celebrate African Liberation Day, we know that the struggle for African freedom includes the struggle against Empire and the U.S. model of mass incarceration. The response must be global resistance and renewed commitment to liberation for African peoples, for everyone. From prisons to militarized borders to occupying military bases, all the Empire’s walls must fall.

 

PRPAG Statement on the Murder of George Floyd

English Translation

PRPAG DECLARATION AROUND THE MURDER OF AFRICAN AMERICAN BROTHER GEORGE FLOYD
THE ODIOUS AND CRAPULOUS CRIME ON MAY 25 LAST IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON THE PERSON OF OUR BROTHER, AMERICAN AFRICAN, GEORGE FLOYD BY A racist white police officer HAD THE MILLITANTS AND LEADERS OF THE PRPAG A FEELING, at the times, outrage, affliction and revolt.
Our most emotional condolences to the family of the deceased. These same condolences also go to the community of our American African brothers and singularly to our comrades in the American section of the PRPAG: the AAPRP (All African People’s Revolutionary Party)
However, to date, our pain has become less heavy to us by the fact that the United States of America itself and around the world of the deep and powerful anti-racial movement that we believe announces the great global revolution that will consecrate unity , the solidarity of men beyond the color of their skin. Here we pay a vibrant tribute to all the men who fought for this reconciliation of humanity. In this regard we will name names like MALCOM X, MARTIN LUTHER KING, Kwame Touré, MOHAMED ALY…
But we believe that this global anti-racial movement gives some discomfort to all worthy Africans. Indeed, while logically the continent had to be at the forefront of this movement, his attitude seems rather shy, especially at the level of his senior executives. Congratulations to the minority of these senior executives who had the courage to deliver the speech the situation requires.
We justify the softness of the continental reaction by the cultural alienation that slavery, colonialists and neocolonialists have grown, and continue to cultivate in us. The bottom of this cultural alienation is the degrading and perilous complex of inferiority. It is this complex that emptied us of confidence in ourselves to, therefore connect our destiny to our exploiters. It’s the same complex that makes us portray as dictators, crazy people, illuminated our brothers who assume themselves by fighting even at the price of their lives the regimes that despise us and that swallow us to the rank of beast of sum. Honour and glory to PATRICE LUMBA, MUAMAR KADHAFI, KWAME N ‘ KRUMA, GAMAL ABDEL NASER, AHMED SEKOU Touré, BEN BELA, Julius Nyéré, Modibo keita, ROBERT MUGABé, THOMAS SANKARA, to name but these among so many other greats iconic figures of the dignity of honour and greatness of Africa
In our opinion, the politicians of today and, in particular, the current African youth must impose as a mission in history the continuation of the revolutionary work of these great Africans by making panafricanism a real weapon of development and union Africans around the world. Here we think singularly of our brothers from the Caribbean and the Americas. In this sense, didn’t MALCOM X tell the truth when, at the top of the 1964 OAU held in CAIRE, he claimed that their problems in the United States of America are the same as those of their brother in Africa and vice versa. Let’s assume, take care of ourselves, in a word, let’s be responsible for our own lives. It commends us, for example, to give the great concepts the content of our own realities. If Democracy in Africa was not a Democracy copied or imposed by the former colonizer, it is sure that it would not have led to the violence of destruction of property and the killing it always produces. It is, only to this price that we will respect all peoples
We cannot conclude this statement without testifying, our feelings of deep satisfaction, support and encouragement to all white men who free themselves from all disabilities, religious, moral and social prejudice to see man only at through his nature or his essence of man.
Ready for the revolution
Conakry JUNE 04th

French Translation

DeCLARATION DU PRPAG AUTOUR DU MEURTRE DU FRERE AFRICAIN AMERICAIN GEORGE FLOYD
LE CRIME ODIEUX ET CRapuleux COMMIS LE 25 MAI DERNIER Aux ETATS UNIS D’AMERIQUE SUR LA PERSONNE DE NOTRE FRERE, AFRICAIN AMERICAIN, GEORGE FLOYD PAR UN POLICIER blanc raciste A FAIT EPROUVER AUx MILLITANTS ET AUx DIRIGEANTs DU PRPAG UN SENTIMENT, à la fois, d’indignation, d’affliction et de révolte.
NOS condoléances les plus émues à la famille du défunt. Ces mêmes condoléances vont aussi a toutes la communauté de nos frères Africains Américains et singulièrement à nos camarades de la section américaine du PRPAG : l’AAPRP (All African People’s Revolutionnary Party)
Cependant, à ce jour, notre peine nous est devenue moins lourde par le fait du déclanchement aux Etats Unis d’Amérique même et dans le monde entier du profond et puissant mouvement anti racial qui, selon nous , annonce la grande Révolution planétaire qui consacrera l’unité, la solidarité des hommes au-delà de la couleur de leur peau. Ici nous rendons un vibrant hommage à tous les hommes qui se sont battus pour cette réconciliation de l’humanité. À ce propos nous citerons des noms comme MALCOM X, MARTIN LUTHER KING, KWamé Touré, MOHAMED ALY…
Mais nous pensons que ce mouvement mondial anti racial donne quelque malaise à tous les Africains dignes. En effet, alors que logiquement le continent devait être à l’avant-garde dudit mouvement, son attitude semble plutôt timide, surtout au niveau de ses hauts cadres. Nos vives félicitations à la minorité d’entre ces hauts cadres qui a eu le courage de tenir le discours que la situation impose.
Nous justifions la mollesse de la réaction continentale par l’aliénation culturelle que les esclavagistes, les colonialistes et les néocolonialistes ont cultivée, et continuent de cultiver en nous. Le fond de cette aliénation culturelle est le dégradant et périlleux complexe de l’infériorité. C’est bien ce complexe qui nous a vidé de toute confiance en nous-mêmes pour, du coup rattacher notre destin à nos exploiteurs. C’Est bien ce même complexe qui nous fait dépeindre comme des dictateurs, des fous, des illuminés nos frères qui s’assument en combattant même au prix de leur vie les régimes qui nous méprisent et qui nous ravalent au rang de bête de somme. Honneur et gloire à PATRICE LUMUMBA ,MOUAMAR KADHAFI ,KWAME N’KRUMA,GAMAL ABDEL NASER ,AHMED SEKOU Touré ,BEN BELA, Julius Nyéréré,Modibo keita,ROBERT MUGABé,THOMAS SANKARA,pour ne citer que ceux-ci parmi tant d’autres grandes figures emblématiques de la dignité de l’honneur et de la grandeur de l’Afrique
Selon nous, les hommes politiques d’aujourd’hui et, en particulier, la jeunesse africaine actuelle doivent s’imposer comme mission de l’histoire la continuation de l’œuvre révolutionnaire de ces grands Africains en faisant du panafricanisme une véritable arme de l’épanouissement et de l’union des Africains de par le monde entier. Nous pensons ici singulièrement à nos frères des Caraïbes et des Amériques .Dans ce sens, MALCOM X ne disait-il pas la vérité quand, au sommet de l’OUA de 1964 tenu au CAIRE, il affirmait que leurs problèmes aux Etats Unis d’Amérique sont les mêmes que ceux de leur frère en Afrique et vice versa. Assumons_ nous, prenons nous en charge, en un mot, soyons responsables de notre propre vie. Cela nous commende, par exemple, de donner aux grands concepts le contenu de nos propres réalités. Si la Démocratie en Afrique n’était pas une Démocratie copiée ou imposée par l’ancien colonisateur, il est sûr qu’elle n’aurait pas entrainé au moment des votes la violence des destructions de biens et des tueries qu’elle produit toujours C’est, seulement à ce prix que nous nous ferons respecter de tous les peuples
Nous ne pouvons conclure la présente déclaration sans témoigner, nos sentiments de profonde satisfaction, de soutien et d’encouragement à tous les hommes blancs qui s’affranchissent de tous les handicaps, de tous les préjugés religieux, moraux et sociaux pour ne voir l’homme qu’à travers sa nature ou son essence d’homme.
Prêt pour la révolution
Conakry le 04 JUIN

 

African Liberation Day & Palestine (Nakba) Day 2020

The All-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)

The All-African Women’s Revolutionary Union (GC)

The National Council of Arab Americans

and Others!

(See list of participants below!)

Are Organizing

AFRICAN LIBERATION DAY &
PALESTINE (NAKBA) DAY 2020

Washington, DC

UNDER THE BANNER

NOT YET UHURU!

(NOT YET FREEDOM! – NOT YET LIBERATION!)

© 2020 Kamau Benjamin & A-APRP (GC)

 

COMBATING WOMEN’S AND YOUTH OPPRESSION, IMPERIALISM, COLONIALISM, NEO-COLONIALISM, SETTLER-COLONIALISM, AND ZIONISM WORLDWIDE!




AFRICA ON THE MOVE RADIO ONLINE * SATURDAY, MAY 23 2020  * 12:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST


12:00 PMAfrica on the Move RadioLee Robinson
12:05 PMNot Yet UhuruLetta Mbulu
12:10 PMAll-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)Mwalimu Keita
12:15 PMMawtini (My Home) – Palestine National Anthem
12:20 PMNational Council of Arab AmericansJafar Jafari
12:25 PMCuster Died for Your SinsFloyd Red Crow Westerman
12:30 PMPiscataway Indian NationHereditary Chief Billy Tayac
12:35 PMOsageyfo Youth Movement (Ghana)Omama Amankwaa Appiah
12:40 PMAfrica-CongoPassy Bass
12:45 PMParti de la Revolution Populaire Africain de GuineeIsmael Conde
12:55 PMPan-Africanist Congress of AzaniaZethu Mdudo
1:05 PMMalcolm X Movement (UK)Babu Roy
1:10 PMKim Il Sung Kim Jong Il Foundation (Korea)Keith Bennett
1:15 PMGreen Resistance Movement in LibyaMoussa Ibrahim
1:20 PMArab Baath PartyHaitham Suliman
1:25 PMOrganization for the Victory of the People (Guyana)Gerald Perreira
1:30 PMAfrikan Black Star (Jamaica)Imhotep Ashanti
1:35 PMMarcus Garvey UNIA & ACL Organization (UK)Mandingo
1:40 PMAll-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)Banbose Shango
1:45 PMEmbassy of the Republic of CubaH.E. José Ramón Cabañas
1:55 PMIFCO / Pastors for Peace / National Network on CubaGail Walker
2:00 PMMass Emphasis Children’s History & Theater Company /
Mass Emphasis Positive Action & Creativity Youth Brigade /
Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association
Obi Egbuna
2:05 PMFarabundo Martí National Liberation FrontH.E. Sonya Umanzur
2:15 PMEmbassy of NicaraguaH.E. Francisco Campbell
2:25 PMEmbassy of VenezuelaH.E. Fravia V Marquez-Silva
2:35 PMHiroshima Nagasaki Peace CommitteeJohn Steinbach
2:40 PMHaiti ActionShirley Pate
2:45 PMFree Haiti MovementEzili Danto
2:50 PMFriends of the CongoMaurice Carney
2:55 PMAll-African Women’s Revolutionary Union (GC)Susan Ribeiro
2:58 PMAfrica on the Move RadioLee Robinson
3:00 PMEND

Email Messages of Solidarity:  ald@a-aprp-gc.org


Facilitated By:

Africa On The Move Radio

Host: Lee Robinson, President of African Awareness Association

Listen by Computer – (Preferred method)
Listen by Telephone: +1-323-679-0841 at 12:00 (noon) EST
[First call, first connected! –  Call-ins are limited!]

AFRICA ON THE MOVE RADIO ONLINE  * FRIDAY, 22 MAY 2020 * 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM EST


7:00 PMAfrica on the Move RadioLee Robinson
7:05 PMAll-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)Anthony Williams
7:15 PMElegba Folklore Society (Virginia)Janine Bell
7:20 PMAlliance for Global Justice (Arizona)James Jordan
7:30 PMImam Jamil Action Network (Georgia)Bilal Sunni Ali
7:40 PMInternational Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal / The MOVE Organization (Pennsylvania)Pam Africa
7:45 PMFree Mutulu Shakur / Malcolm X Grassroots Movement
7:50 PMJerico Movement (New York)Jihad Abdulmumit
7:55 PMPalestine Needs Her Freedom (Washington, DC)Luci Murphy
8:00 PMAfrica on the Move RadioLee Robinson
8:05 PMAll-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)Banbose Shango
8:10 PMFruit of Labor (North Carolina)
8:15 PMAcademic and Career Development Initative CameroonEmmanel N. Tangumonkem
8:20 PMAfrican Community Network (Virginia)El-Hadji Djabril Niang
8:25 PMBlack Workers for Justice (North Carolina)Angaza Laughinghouse
8:35 PMCincinnati Pan-African Coalition (Ohio)Babatunde Dumisa Akinwole
8:45 PMMUBWERT COOP (Cameroon)Celine Nayah
8:50 PMWinter In AmericaGii Scott Heron
8:55 PMCovert Action (Washington, DC)Louis Wolf
9:05 PMWesley Memorial United Methodist Church of Richmond, VAPastor R. M. Hunter
9:10 PMMillion Woman March/MovementEmpress Chi
9:20 PMPan-African Journal Radio (Texas)Akua Holt
9:25 PMPan-African Unity Movement (Virginia)Cheikh Niang
9:30 PMVA Defenders for Freedom, Justice & EqualityPhil Wilayto
9:40 PMBlack Alliance for Peace (Washington, DC)Netfa Freeman
9:45 PMPelorinhoBaba Abiodun
9:50 PMAll-African People’s Revolutionary Party (GC)Kamau Benjamin
9:55 PMAfrica on the Move RadioLee Robinson
10:00 PMEND


 


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