||Her CV includes countless missions to global crisis spots, high-level involvement in many nongovern-mental organizations, and Op-Ed pieces in the New York Times, The Guardian in London, and Le Journal du Dimanche in Paris. Last February in London, she was the keynote speaker at the antiwar march in Hyde Park.
INDEX: You move from one humanitarian cause to another agitating against Texaco's destruction of the Amazon, fighting for the rights of sex workers in India, bringing medicine to children with AIDS in Zambia. Is your outspoken political stance on the war in Iraq a departure for you? Do you see a difference between political campaigning and humanitarian advocacy?
BIANCA: No. Everything I do is related to the idea of justice, whether it's social, economic, or environmental justice. And the war in Iraq violated the U.N. charter and international law. It is illegal, immoral, and wrong.
INDEX: You went on a fact-finding mission to Iraq before the war.
BIANCA: I went with a delegation of thirty-two academics from twenty-eight U.S. universities. In addition, I brought a request from Amnesty International to the Iraqi government to allow human-rights monitors into Iraq.
INDEX: What did you find?
BIANCA: Despite all the military preparations for war, there was a lack of preparedness for the humanitarian catastrophe that would ensue. And we felt that it was important to take into account the wishes of the Iraqi people. It was difficult to get them to open up, but when they did, their opinion was clear they opposed Saddam Hussein, but they were also adamantly opposed to the invasion. The Iraqi people have very strong feelings about the issue of colonialism and neo-colonial invasions. During my visit I asked over and over, "Would you regard American troops as liberators or as occupiers?" There was no question they warned that there would be a guerrilla war for many years to come.
INDEX: I can tell that you're upset.
BIANCA: I'm more than upset, I am angry. I believe President Bush is one of the most dangerous leaders in the world. He acts more like the sheriff of a one-horse town who knows nothing about international law than like the president of the most powerful nation in the world. Sadly, he is not a man in search of peaceful and diplomatic solutions. Look at what President Kennedy managed to achieve during the Cuban missile crisis. If Bush had been president in 1962, do you think he would have avoided a nuclear war?
INDEX: What about the administration's push to democratize Iraq?
BIANCA: It's ironic to listen to Bush speaking about democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and freedom. When did he believe in those principles? When he was the governor of Texas, and executed one hundred and eighty-three people? It's all very good to embrace human rights in speeches but he's not convincing anyone who cares about human rights or the rule of international law.
INDEX: Why do you think Tony Blair has aligned himself so closely with Bush?
BIANCA: It is appalling. Tony Blair has turned his back on the principles he claimed he believed in before he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with George W. Bush. He was a multilateralist. He used to advocate the rapprochement with Europe. He supported international law and treaties like the Kyoto Protocol. He was an entirely different kind of leader.
INDEX: Have you ever met him?
BIANCA: I met him in Washington when he was first running for prime minister. I was very impressed by his positions. When he won I believed that it was going to be a turning point for Great Britain. It was a great disappointment.
INDEX: The reaction to Blair in Britain has been harsh.
BIANCA:People in the U.K. cannot understand whether he has lost his mind or whether his ambition to be the second-most-powerful man in the world made him lose his mind.
INDEX: How do you think Bush has managed to avoid that kind of backlash?
BIANCA:Because the U.S. government is using national security as a means to brainwash the people in this country. His administration has launched an assault on civil liberties and personal freedoms.
INDEX: Don't you think that the political situation changed after September 11th? Aren't national-security concerns more pressing now?
BIANCA: Of course they are. But that doesn't justify intimidating people with accusations of being unpatriotic. Howard Dean has been successful because he was clear in his opposition to the war. People appreciate a politician with the courage to say, "I oppose this war." Senator Byrd of West Virginia was also eloquent and courageous in his opposition to the war. People in England avidly read his speeches they were all published in British newspapers, but they weren't in the United States. Here, you had to go on the internet to find them.
INDEX: How did growing up in Nicaragua influence your view of American politics?
BIANCA: I grew up under the Somoza dictatorship, a dynasty that ruled Nicaragua for forty-three years, supported by the United States. I campaign so passionately for human rights, democracy, and freedom because I did not get to experience them when I was growing up. I hope people here understand how important their votes are. I was in Florida during the 2000 elections and let me tell you
INDEX: Were you at polling places?
BIANCA:Yes. When I saw what was happening, I was dumbfounded. I have been an observer to elections all over the world, and I have witnessed fraudulent elections before. And there I was in Florida, watching African-Americans being prevented from voting. I watched an election being stolen and Americans just let it happen. I could not believe they were not up-in-arms denouncing it.
INDEX: I believe we were all just stunned. How do we restore people's faith in the election process?
BIANCA: Artists, intellectuals, celebrities everyone who is a role model need to go out and speak to young people about the importance of voting. It's important, and not just for America. People in so many countries look up to the United States as a model of democracy, but I am beginning to doubt if that can continue. It leaves me with a great sense of loss.
INDEX: You're saying that Americans take their freedom for granted.
BIANCA: : Americans need to understand the significance of having their civil liberties dismantled. It doesn't just affect terrorists and foreigners, it affects us all.