Earlier this month, activist and radio host Blase Bonpane passed away at the age of 90. He hosted and produced the radio show, “World Focus,” for progressive L.A. radio station, KFPK, for fifty years. The show focused on peace, justice, and human rights, with Bonpane interviewing guests to talk about contemporary issues. You can listen to past episodes here. He also wrote six books, including his autobiography, Imagine No Religion.
Before dedicating his life to activism, Bonpane went to USC where he played football. After college, he became a Maryknoll priest, where he was sent to Guatemala and witnessed the injustices happening to the population at the hands of the government. He was eventually removed from Guatemala due to getting involved with their politics. This was the beginning of his life as an activist.
From there, Bonpane worked tirelessly to educate the world about political injustices and issues of military intervention. One of his first moments of recognition was with an article he published in the Wall Street Journal that exposed the mass deaths of Guatemalans by the American-supported government. From there, he co-founded the Office of the Americas with his wife, Theresa, in 1983 with the mission of “furthering the cause of international justice and peace through broad based educational programs.” Much of their work focused on raising awareness about violence in Central and South America.
Noam Chomsky said of Bonpane, “I am often asked by young people, deeply disturbed by the state of the world, ‘What can I do to make this sad world a better place?’ An eloquent answer now is, ‘Read Blase Bonpane’s autobiography. If you can aspire to a fraction of what he has achieved, you will look back on a life well lived.’” Bonpane worked tirelessly to make the world a better place and to inspire others to do the same.
In an interview with videomaker Nancy Cain, Bonpane discussed his work at the Office of the Americas, sayings that “they do what the State Department should be doing.” He also speaks about the issues of military intervention by the United States in other countries, calling it anti-democratic. His words, recorded in 1991 and aired nationally on our PBS series The 90’s, are still relevant in today’s politics.
Watch the full interview with Bonpane on Media Burn.