The AP reports today (“NY comptroller pushes Caterpillar to avoid Sudan”) that:
“The official who oversees New York state’s huge public pension fund wants Caterpillar Inc. to do more to ensure that its foreign subsidiaries aren’t doing business with the government of Sudan, which has been criticized for human rights abuses.”
The news demonstrates once again how divestment movements can garner traction among government officials far more easily when they happen to align with geopolitical prerogatives. Khartoum is not a Washington ally.
However, Tel Aviv is such a friend. Thus a decade of dedicated activism for divestment from Caterpillar, focusing on the direct use of its equipment in human rights abuses (bulldozing Palestinian homes to further the settlement project and unpeople the land of the wrong people) and killing an American citizen, cannot attract the same support from low-level state functionaries.
The Sudanese government is guilty of heinous abuses (on a scale far worse than anything Israel has undertaken, at least for many decades). However, I am aware of no documentation that Caterpillar equipment has been used directly in the commission of those abuses. Certainly, there is no parallel to the case of Rachel Corrie, who was murdered by an Israeli soldier operating a Caterpillar bulldozer. Incidentally, the tenth anniversary of her death just passed earlier this month. There is no word on if the NY comptroller will add that to his complaint to Caterpillar.