By Crescenzo Vellucci
Vanguard Sacramento Bureau
MARYSVILLE, CA – An estimated 100 or more people – including a number of military veterans – have been arrested at Beale Air Force Base near here over the past half-decade, protesting the use of Beale’s surveillance drones to spot and then assist in the “murder” of civilians, including women and children in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and other nations.
Friday two more protestors walked onto base property, and were promptly arrested, released and given a citation to face federal trespassing charges that could lead to six months in federal prison. There have been several U.S. federal court trials in Sacramento this same action – a couple leading to convictions, and one to a not guilty verdict.
There were two differences Friday from other monthly protests at Beale AFB.
First, the demonstrators were focused on not just drone killing but possible U.S. intervention in Venezuela that President Trump has threatened. Second, the protests stretched from the front entrance to Beale AFB to the downtown of Marysville.
Fred Bialy and Tobe Blomé, experienced peace protestors from the San Francisco Bay Area, knew what they were doing Friday morning about 8 a.m. when they walked down a lonely road leading to the entrance to Beale AFB, where hundreds of cars buzz by every morning.
Supported by a dozen or more sign-carrying, banner-waving protestors, Blomé made no bones they were at Beale AFB to convince U.S. armed forces to not go into Venezuela, to not fight, drawing comparisons to Vietnam, which some servicemen refused to fight.
“Our only hope for peaceful solutions in today’s world is to win over the hearts and minds of the lower ranks of the U.S. military,” said Blomé, one of the organizers.
That’s been the common theme at regular protests at Beale AFB, a key control center for the U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone. Beale AFB, according to Blomé, is one of the most important ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) military bases in the U.S.
“The U.S. War Machine cannot function without troops. There is overwhelming evidence that the Vietnam War came to a dramatic halt largely because the troops were resisting the war at home and in Vietnam. There is no war without the warriors. We are calling on U.S. troops to disarm, refuse and resist,” she added.
Blomé and others urged the airmen to not participate in “yet one more U.S. invasion of a sovereign nation.” Demonstrators held large banners and signs will include U.S. HANDS OFF VENEZUELA & LET VENEZUELA LIVE. NOT ONE MORE DEATH, NOT ONE MORE WAR!
But that isn’t all that demonstrators did this time.
Staging what they called a preemptive “peace strike,” they took to the streets of Marysville late morning after the arrests at Beale AFB
“The U.S. government is hell bent on war-making and global domination and bullying. We now have 17 years of warring with no end in sight,” said Blomé.
The group linked the U.S. efforts in Venezuela to oil.
“Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. President Trump, John Bolton, and other U.S. officials have talked openly about the U.S. economic wins to be made, as they contemplate getting their hands on Venezuelan oil. In the guise of attempting to deliver so called humanitarian aid, the war propaganda machine is plowing forward. But even the U.N. and International Red Cross refuse to participate in this insincere ploy, declaring it is motivated by political not humanitarian purposes,” said Blomé.
She said the U.S. is openly threatening to topple the elected president of Venezuela, using a massive misinformation campaign to garner public support. President Trump, she said, is verbally threatening military intervention, while gathering US troops at the Venezuela/Columbia border.
“U.S. military intervention has been a complete failure. Through three consecutive administrations, Republican and Democratic, the U.S. has continually expanded military aggression around the globe in the last 17 years, bombing more countries with each new president. This has wreaked havoc and destabilized the countries of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.
“The US ongoing bombing campaigns in these countries with drone missiles and conventional military aircraft has led to immeasurable suffering, death, destruction, and economic and humanitarian crises and more. Each of these countries are worse off than before U.S. intervention began. The cost to the taxpayer is in the trillions, money that should be spent on human needs and diplomacy. Hands off Venezuela, not one more war,” said Blomé.