Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chicago-born diplomat riles Zimbabwe leader

Hey there's a Chicago component to the turmoil going on in Zimbabwe as they prepare for the future in terms of who will be running the nation. Tribune:
Early Wednesday, for example, McGee drove to a tense slum in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. At no trifling risk, he said he watched young backers of President Robert Mugabe round up about 500 men, women and children. The militants marched the terrified crowd down a road to a field, where they were forced to chant pro-Mugabe slogans. Laggards were brutally assaulted with clubs and tire irons.

McGee and his companions discreetly shot some video. But he is no journalist. Nor is he an aid worker. Nor a rights activist. He's the startlingly assertive U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe.

"I've been sent here to do a job, and I'm not interfering in the internal politics of this government," McGee, 59, said by phone from Zimbabwe, where he has been mocked as a "self-anointed Good Samaritan" by the official media and threatened with expulsion by Mugabe. "We're just trying to cast some light on a terrible situation."

For anyone accustomed to the stereotypes of risk-averse U.S. diplomats hunkering down in fortified embassies against an often hostile if not anti-American world, the barrel-chested McGee comes across as something of a shock: an activist diplomat who has virtually dared one of the world's most oppressive regimes to eject him as he embarks, video cameras in tow, on high-profile "field trips" to alleged torture camps, hospitals crammed with bloodied opposition activists and, most recently, the embattled slums of Harare.

Mixing fancy dinners at his official residence with nauseating slide shows of Zimbabwean voters who have been beaten to a pulp, Washington's man in Harare has even cajoled a few fellow ambassadors into following his lead: brazening the way through police checkpoints to expose a largely hidden wave of political terror that, since an inconclusive March election, has killed about 60 people and displaced at least 30,000 more.

Like many human-rights groups, McGee attributes most of the electoral violence to Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party. Using language that would scorch a more conventional diplomat's eyebrows, he has dubbed Zimbabwe an "outlaw country" and its leadership "a bunch of greedy people who want to remain in power at all costs."
Go Ambassador McGee!!! I'm very glad to know someone in American government is concerned about the situation there in Zimbabwe.

Here's a State Department Bio and another article about the ambassador from Wikipedia.

Go read the whole article when you get a chance!

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