Meanwhile, in the United States, Greenpeace, Inc., is being
criminally prosecuted by the Bush administration. In an
unprecedented prosecution, the entire organization has been charged
under an archaic law for a protest in which Greenpeace activists
boarded a ship that was bound for the Port of Miami with a cargo of
illegally logged mahogany. The activists carried a banner reading,
"President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging".
The MV Esperanza is also in the US, fresh from a tour of the
Tongass National Forest in Alaska where Greenpeace activists were
documenting the clearcuts and damage done by poor logging
practices. The ship also supported a cave expedition, which mapped
and explored caves under the forest. Logging above is limited by
regulation to protect the caves below, but many of these caves
aren't officially "on the map", so loggers and federal officials
conveniently ignore them.
After the Alaska tour, it's only natural for the MV Esperanza to
visit Miami. Greenpeace has a lot of supporters there, and it's
where the trial is taking place. At first there were no problems,
just a routine request for dock space. Then, suddenly, the
authorities informed Greenpeace that the Esperanza would not be
allowed into port. They cited the outstanding court case that the
Bush administration is pursuing, and claimed a "security risk".
But wait a minute. Greenpeace hasn't even been convicted yet.
What happened to innocent until proven guilty? And no doubt ships
belonging to corporations with criminal records dock in Miami all
of the time. What about companies transporting illegal mahogany,
for example? That's apparently OK with the authorities. But
boarding a ship to blow the whistle on those companies - that the
Port of Miami doesn't like.
Here's a question for the Miami port authorities: Which is more
dangerous, a chemical (or oil) tanker owned by a company with a
poor criminal/safety record? Or a ship owned by an organization
with a 31-year reputation for taking peaceful action to highlight
Judging from the official response to our arrival, Greenpeace
and our environmental message appear to pose a grave threat. The
following account is from one of our folks in Miami:
Even before the Esperanza had dropped
anchor, the following were on scene:
The US Coast Guard personnel ( all of them) boarded the ship.
Crew were told to all muster on the heli deck and later they were
all detained in the Bridge while paperwork and inspections carried
- A US Coast Guard vessel with approx 20 officials on board,
Customs and Immigration.
- One US Coast Guard Jet
- One marine Safety helicopter which stayed on the scene
- Two TV helicopters documenting the situation
- Our charter vessel with photo/video
- The Tug carrying the agent and Captain Bob Graham
- Two law enforcement vessels (armed) from Fish and
- And a poor guy who was quietly trying to fish......
The charter boat we were on was then
detained by Fish and Wildlife. They made a safety inspection and
took all our identification to process through computers. During
this time, the Marine Safety heli took videos of us all. The
captain was given a citation for not having the name of the boat
We have been denied permission to
carry press or visitors in our inflatables to and from shore.
The Port of Miami and Mayor's office
is being inundated by calls from people objecting to the decision
to refuse us entry. So much so, they are NOT taking calls and only
Greenpeace has agreed to compromise on any security measures the
port requires, but continues to be stonewalled. Now we are taking
our case to the county authorities.
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