After Jennifer Valdivia had the baseball she caught at a Phillies’ game taken from her as a result of some chicanery by some Phillies’ officials, she cried foul. The ball was Ryan Howard’s 200th career homerun, so it held a lot of intrinsic value. It didn’t matter that Phillies’ officials were taking away something that rightfully belonged to a 12 year old. Valdivia’s mother sued the Phillies and the ball was promptly returned to the girl.
The same happy ending cannot be said for the 2,500 residents of the island of Diego Garcia. 40 years ago, the residents were forcibly displaced from their homes by the British so the United States could use it as an air force base. You see, it’s not a baseball that they were taking away from these residents; it was their way of life, their homes, their memories.
According to Olivier Bancoult, one of the residents:
Life was very good. Everyone was enjoying life in harmony and peace, because we have our culture, we have our tradition. We all have a house. We all have a job. We used to work in a coconut plantation, where just after working our work, we used to go to the sea to fish. And there is an idea of share between each other. We all live as one family. and we have our culture, like our special meal, like our music, which had been taken [inaudible], because everyone wants to promote culture, but what about our culture? they just want to destroy it. This is why it’s so important for us to have our dignity and our fundamental rights back as all human beings to be able to live in our birthplace.
And what was the exact compensation for displacing all these people? The grand total given from the United States to the British was roughly $14 for removing the residents. And to the residents who had to leave their way of life, the grand total was $0.