Tag Archives: foundations

The Undead Amy Biehl

Editor’s Note: Today marks the 25th anniversary of American voting rights activist and Fullbright scholar Amy Biehl’s violent death in South Africa. With South Africa already in the news over the past week a recent retrospectives have been issued by Biehl’s alma mater, Stanford University, and weeks earlier in the Los Angeles Times, the latter of which played a major role in publicizing Biehl’s apparent August 25, 1993 demise. The Biehl murder event took place at a decisive moment, as African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela’s presidential bid turned on his portrayal as a “peace candidate.”

Author and attorney Alison Maynard, a longtime reader and supporter of MHB, examines the unusual circumstances surrounding the death and establishes a case that it was likely a publicity stunt carried out by transnational forces seeking to maneuver the troubled country’s political trajectory toward certain desired ends.-JFT

By Alison Maynard

Saturday, August 25, 2018, will mark the 25thanniversary of the violent murder of American voting rights activist and Fulbright scholar Amy Biehl in South Africa.  Amy was a blond, blue-eyed Stanford graduate aged 26 when she was pulled from her car in Guguletu Township outside Cape Town on August 25, 1993.  While a mob of 300 black students shouted, “One settler, one bullet!” and “Kill the settler!” hoodlums pulled her from her car, stabbed her in the heart, and bludgeoned her head with a brick.  One day after her death, a professor of Amy’s at Stanford, Larry Diamond, pinned blame for the murder on the Pan Africanist Congress, “a relatively small, extremely militant political fringe group in the black community in South Africa … that has been more inclined to commit violence against whites.”

The Los Angeles Times on Sept. 2, 1993, recounted the heart-wrenching personal visit Melanie Jacobs, Amy’s best friend and roommate in South Africa, made on Sept. 1, 1993, to Newport Beach, California, to bring Amy’s ashes to her parents.  Melanie was accompanied by her 14-year-old daughter, Solange.  It was Melanie who identified Amy’s body after the murder.  According to the L.A. Times, Amy—amazingly–climbed into a police vehicle after being mortally injured, and was driven not to the hospital, but to the police station, where she died on the floor.  Melanie, summoned to identify the body, recognized Amy by the “clunky black shoes sticking out from under the pink blanket.”  She could not bear to look at the face.  Melanie herself died tragically from a fall from a balcony in 1998.Amy’s parents, Peter and Linda Biehl, went on after Amy’s murder to form the Amy Biehl Foundation Trust, a charitable organization committed to providing skills training, such as bread-baking and knitting, to impoverished black Africans in South Africa.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #72

Overseas CIA outreach activities aimed at influencing foreign press personnel in the Cold War years and was aided by using the foremost labor organization for practicing journalists in the US, the American Newspaper Guild (ANG). “The ANG was a founder member of the International Federation of Journalists, a society of anticommunist newspapermen established in Brussels in 1952 in opposition to the Prague-based, communist-dominated International Organization of Journalists,” notes historian Hugh Wilford.

“Following a major expansion of the ANG’s international program in 1960, funded by seed money from the AFL-CIO and a grant from ‘a private philanthropy,’ an ANG staffer … was dispatched to Brussels to oversee free trade unionism and ‘professional journalism’ in Africa and, with occasional assistance from the Asia Foundation, the Far East. Meanwhile,” Wilford chronicles, “another ANG international affairs representative took up residence in Panama City to run the Inter-American Federation of Working Newspapermen’s Organization, a hemispheric trade union secretariat with close links to the CIA’s South American labor front, the American Institute of Free Labor Development.” Such endeavors were funded by “ANG’s International Affairs Fund, which in turn was subsidized by an assortment of foundations all later identified as CIA pass-throughs: The Graanary Fund, the Andrew Hamilton Fund, the Broad High Foundation, the Chesapeake Foundation, and the Warden Trust.”

Hugh Wilford, The Might Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, Cambridge MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2008, 227-228.

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