Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WNU #1233: Who’s Behind the Bombings in Chile?

Issue #1233, September 14, 2014

1. Chile: Who’s Behind the Bombing Spree?
2. Guatemala: Bishop's Killer Runs Prison Ring
3. Peru: Guards Union Leader Brutally Beaten
4. Haiti: UN Mission Reduced; Opposition Grows
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, US/immigration, US/policy

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WeeklyNewsUpdat.

*1. Chile: Who’s Behind the Bombing Spree?
Fourteen people were injured, four of them seriously, when a homemade bomb exploded at 2 pm on Sept. 8 in a shopping center restaurant at the busy Escuela Miltar subway station in Santiago, the Chilean capital. In response, President Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist Party of Chile (PS) leader who began her second term on Mar. 11, held a special security meeting in the La Moneda palace on Sept. 9; she called for increased vigilance and for modifications to the Antiterrorist Law, a measure passed during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The bombing came shortly before the 41st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 1973 coup in which Pinochet’s military overthrew Socialist president Salvador Allende Gossens.

No group had claimed responsibility for the attack as of Sept. 13. There were reportedly 26 attempted bombings in Chile previously this year, several supposedly by anarchist groups, but only four of the earlier bombs exploded, and none resulted in injuries. The media speculated that anarchist groups were involved in the Sept. 8 attack, and the Canal 13 television station suggested the bombing might be linked to the country’s militant student movement [see Update #1219]. Others suggested involvement by the leftist rebel Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FPMR), which carried out an assassination attempt against Pinochet on Sept. 7, 1986, almost exactly 28 years before this year’s bombing; five guards were killed, but Pinochet only suffered minor injuries. The group, now demobilized, quickly denied responsibility for the new attack. Rightwing forces “seek through injuring workers and Chileans in general to create political and social conditions to give birth to the reestablishment of security organizations in the style of the military-civilian governments,” the FPMR said in a statement. Analysts noted that Chile’s left groups had in the past avoided daytime attacks in crowded areas like subway stations and shopping centers.

There was also speculation that President Bachelet’s mother, Angela Jeria--the widow of Gen. Alberto Bachelet, who was murdered by the Pinochet regime--might have been the target. She lives in the area near the Escuela Militar station and happened to be in the shopping center at the time of the explosion, accompanied by her usual security team of two carabinero police agents in civilian dress. She was not injured. (Terra Chile 9/8/14 from AFP; Washington Post 9/9/14 from AP; La Opinión (Los Angeles) 9/9/14; La Jornada (Mexico) 9/10/14 from correspondent; La República (Peru) 9/14/14)

As has been customary for years, militant protests marked the actual anniversary of the coup on Sept. 11, with burning barricades and vehicles and clashes with police in working-class districts of Santiago, including Villa Francia, Peñalolen, San Bernardo, Quilicura and Cerro Navia. President Bachelet used the occasion to call for a repeal of the Amnesty Law, which shields many abusers from the Pinochet era. “In democracy, Chile has not lost its memory and has not forgotten its persecuted, executed and missing arrested children,” she said at a Sept. 11 commemoration. “Neither has [Chile] forgotten the wounds that continue causing pain.” In addition to losing her father, Bachelet herself was tortured under the dictatorship. (VICE 9/12/14)

In related news, Chilean journalist Loreto Daza reported, based on US government documents, that in 1986 the administration of former president Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) feared resistance to the regime in Chile might lead to civil war and considered a plan to remove Pinochet from power and offer him asylum in the US. One document described this as an “honorable departure for President [Pinochet], who would be received as a guest of our government.” According to Peter Kornbluh, director of the Chile Documentation Project at the DC-based National Security Archive, Reagan admired Pinochet so much that he “wanted to go to Chile to personally thank him for ‘saving Chile’ and tell him that ‘it was time to go.’” Then-secretary of state George Shultz nixed Reagan’s idea. (The Guardian (UK) 9/11/14)

*2. Guatemala: Bishop's Killer Runs Prison Ring
On Sept. 3 the United Nations-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) announced that a joint operation with Guatemala’s Public Ministry and Governance Ministry had captured seven members of a criminal network that took bribes to arrange transfers for prisoners; the ring also supplied prisoners with cell phones, special food, conjugal visits and other benefits. According to the authorities, the network’s leaders were Penitentiary System Director Edgar Camargo Liere and a prisoner, Byron Miguel Lima Oliva, who is serving a 20-year term for carrying out the Apr. 26, 1998 murder of Catholic bishop Juan José Gerardi Conedera, a well-known human rights campaigner. A total of 14 people are charged with participating in the bribery ring, but apparently not all had been captured as of Sept. 3. (CICIG 9/3/14)

Lima Oliva, a former army captain who is an inmate in the Pavoncito prison south of Guatemala City, reportedly had an arrangement with Penitentiary Director Camargo that enabled him to charge a prisoner as much as $12,000 to be transferred. Lima Oliva himself apparently was living well in the Pavoncito. He was equipped with as many as five cell phones for his business, made frequent trips out of prison in armored cars, including a Porsche, and invested in real estate, including a beachfront property. The Mexican daily La Jornada reported that the corruption in Pavoncito “was always known.” Lima Oliva himself has claimed to be friends with President Otto Pérez Molina and to have connections with Governance Minister Mauricio López Bonilla; he says he arranged the printing of the campaign polo shirts for Pérez Molina’s successful 2011 election campaign. In February of this year Lima Oliva was apprehended while going to the dentist and overstaying his authorized time outside the prison; he and his entourage were traveling in vehicles used in the 2011 campaign by Pérez Molina’s Patriotic Party (PP).

According to the court that convicted him in June 2001, Lima Oliva bludgeoned Bishop Gerardi to death just two days after Gerardi released a report on abuses during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war; the report blamed many of the abuses on the military. Also convicted were Lima Oliva’s father, former colonel Byron Disrael Lima Estrada, and a former soldier in the Presidential General Staff (EMP), Specialist Obdulio Villanueva Arévalo. The elder Lima was given an early release in 2012 for good behavior; Villanueva was decapitated during an inmate riot at the Preventive Center prison in northern Guatemala City in February 2003. Lima Oliva was in the same prison but was unharmed [see Update #681]. He denies any role in Gerardi’s murder and says he’s a scapegoat.

Lima Oliva’s apparent connections with the government have led to suspicions that the prosecution of the former captain may not be successful. La Jornada correspondent Sanjuana Martínez asked the judge in the case, Miguel Ángel Gálvez, if he might end up fleeing the country, as happened with the chief prosecutor in Lima Oliva’s 2001 conviction. “I hope not,” Judge Gálvez said. When asked if he was afraid, he answered: “Of course, especially since this is a very complex country.” (Christian Science Monitor 9/5/14; Prensa Libre (Guatemala) 9/11/14; LJ 9/14/14; The Guardian (UK) 7/14/12 from AP)

*3. Peru: Guards Union Leader Brutally Beaten
Luis Cárdenas Velásquez, the secretary general of a union representing Peruvian employees of the Spanish security firm Prosegur Compañía de Seguridad, was assaulted near his home early on the morning of Aug. 22 as he was on his way to work. The assailant beat Cárdenas’ head with a rock and then fled in a car which had been kept waiting a block away with the motor running. Nothing was stolen. Cárdenas reported the attack to the authorities and received four stitches at a hospital. A month earlier pamphlets were circulated among Prosegur staff accusing Cárdenas of stealing union funds. Management denied responsibility for the pamphlets and for similar anti-union pamphlets that have been reported at Prosegur sites in Colombia. The company has subsidiaries in a total of eight Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Cárdenas’ union, the Prosegur Workers Union Peru, represents money transport workers who won recognition from management after a five-day strike in September 2013. The union is affiliated with the Swiss-based UNI Global Union, which claims to represent some 20 million service workers in 900 unions worldwide. UNI has protested to Prosegur in Spain, and the British-based LabourStart website is calling for labor rights supporters to send a letter to Presegur president Helena Revoredo Delvecchio and CEO Christian Gut Revoredo; the letter can be sent by email from http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=2477. (La República (Peru) 9/12/13; UNI Global Union 9/18/13, 8/28/14; Sindicato de Trabajadores y Empleados de Prosegur Paraguay S.A. 8/22/14; LabourStart 9/10/14)

*4. Haiti: UN Mission Reduced; Opposition Grows
United Nations (UN) secretary general Ban Ki-moon plans to continue the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) one more year but wishes to cut it significantly, according to a report that the military and police mission’s current head, the Trinidadian diplomat Sandra Honoré, presented to the UN Security Council on Sept. 11. Secretary General Ban recommended extending MINUSTAH for another year when its mandate ends on Oct. 15. However, the military component would be reduced to 2,370 soldiers by June 2015; currently the mission has 5,021 soldiers and 2,601 police agents, along with nearly 2,000 civilian employees and volunteers. Honoré said the Haitian National Police (PNH), which now has 10,963 agents, would be able to take over many of MINUSTAH’s functions. She admitted that “[t[he reinforcement of the national police needs to be accompanied by measures for accelerating the reform of the justice system to support the construction of institutions and to improve local governance.” (AlterPresse (Haiti) 9/12/14)

Opposition to MINUSTAH continues to grow in several of the Latin American countries that contribute most of the troops. In June Jubilee South/Americas, a Latin American network focusing on international debt, marked 10 years since the mission’s start by launching a campaign to end it [see Update #1222]. On Sept. 8 some 100 social movements and well-known activists sent Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies a letter calling on the National Congress to end the authorization for the country’s participation; Argentina has 566 soldiers in Haiti. The letter also asked the legislature to demand that the left-leaning government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner use its current position on the UN Security Council to vote no when MINUSTAH’s mandate comes up for renewal on Oct. 15.

MINUSTAH opponents held a press conference at the Chamber of Deputies on Sept. 10 with Nora Cortiñas from the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; 1980 Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel; Pablo Micheli, general secretary of the Federation of Argentine Workers (CTA); journalist and human rights defender Herman Schiller; and Jubilee South’s Beverly Keene. “Argentina ought to take into consideration the example of Bolivia and Uruguay, which are discussing the withdrawal of their troops,” Micheli said in his remarks, “and, even more so, the example of Cuba and Venezuela, which, far from sending occupation forces, are guaranteeing the presence of doctors and teachers, which is what the Haitian people need.” (AlterPresse 9/11/14; Adital (Brazil) 9/12/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, US/immigration, US/policy

The Conservative Restoration in Latin America
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/5039-the-conservative-restoration-in-latin-america

Latin America’s Anti-drug Policies Feed on the Poor
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5040-latin-americas-anti-drug-policies-feed-on-the-poor

The Other Side of Human Rights in Argentina
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/argentina-archives-32/5034-the-other-side-of-human-rights-in-argentina

Brazil: deadly prison uprising ends in deal
http://ww4report.com/node/13518

Four Peruvian anti-logging activists murdered
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5038-four-peruvian-anti-logging-activists-murdered

Amazon indigenous leaders killed by illegal loggers (Peru)
http://ww4report.com/node/13520

Venezuela’s PDVSA Discusses Sale of Citgo as Central Bank Reports Drop in Inflation
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10899

Film Review: ‘Revolutionary Medicine - A Story of the First Garifuna Hospital' (Honduras)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/honduras-archives-46/5043-film-review-revolutionary-medicine-a-story-of-the-first-garifuna-hospital

Organizations Condemn Assassination of Human Rights Activist in Guatemala
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Organizations-Condemn-Assassination-of-Human-Rights-Activist-in-Guatemala-20140913-0038.html

Mayan People’s Movement Defeats Monsanto Law in Guatemala
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/5042-mayan-peoples-movement-defeats-monsanto-law-in-guatemala

Media in Movement (Interview with Martín Rodríguez Pellecer, Guatemala)
http://nacla.org/news/2014/9/10/media-movement-interview-mart%C3%ADn-rodr%C3%ADguez-pellecer

Mexico: demand investigation of military massacre
http://ww4report.com/node/13519

U.S. Congressmen Demand Freedom for Nestora (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/u-s-congressmen-demand-freedom-for-nestora/

Cuba to Send Doctors to Treat Ebola in Africa
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Cuba-to-Send-Doctors-to-Treat-Ebola-in-Africa-20140912-0022.html

Cuba estimates US embargo has cost island $116.8bn in damages in 55 years
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5041-cuba-estimates-us-embargo-has-cost-island-1168bn-in-damages-in-55-years

Is the Martelly Government Putting Former President Aristide in Danger? (Haiti)
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/is-the-martelly-government-putting-former-president-aristide-in-danger

USAID Education Contractor Gets a Bad Grade (Haiti)
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/usaid-education-contractor-gets-a-bad-grade

Why Immigration Reform Has to Go Hand-in-Hand With Stronger Labor Rights (US/immigration)
http://www.thenation.com/blog/181517/why-immigration-reform-has-go-hand-hand-stronger-labor-rights

US Court Sets Precedent by Ruling Guatemalan Domestic Violence Victim Can Seek Asylum (US/immigration)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5044-us-court-sets-precedent-by-ruling-guatemalan-domestic-violence-victim-can-seek-asylum-

On Government Funding of Think Tanks (US/policy)
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/on-government-funding-of-think-tanks

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:
http://www.cipamericas.org/
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/967/blastContent.jsp
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/
http://intercontinentalcry.org/
http://www.ueinternational.org/MLNA/index.php
http://nacla.org/
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/index.html
http://upsidedownworld.org/
http://venezuelanalysis.com/
http://wagingnonviolence.org/
http://ww4report.com/node/

For immigration updates and events:
http://thepoliticsofimmigration.blogspot.com/

END

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Order The Politics of Immigration: Questions & Answers, from Monthly Review Press, by Update editors Jane Guskin and David Wilson:
http://thepoliticsofimmigration.org/

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

WNU #1232: Guatemalan Activists Defeat “Monsanto Law”

Issue #1232, September 7, 2014

1. Guatemala: Activists Defeat “Monsanto Law”
2. Honduras: Longtime Campesina Leader Murdered
3. Mexico: Torture Increased 600% in 10 Years
4. Haiti: Martelly Opponents Charged With Murder
5. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, US/immigration

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WeeklyNewsUpdat.

*1. Guatemala: Activists Defeat “Monsanto Law”
Guatemala’s unicameral Congress voted 117-111 on Sept. 4 to repeal Decree 19-2014, the Law for Protection of Procurement of Plants, in response to a lawsuit and mass protests by campesinos and environmentalists. The law, which was to take full effect on Sept. 26, provided for granting patents of 25 years for new plants, including hybrid and genetically modified (GM) varieties; unauthorized use of the plants or seeds could result in one to four years in prison and a fine of $130 to $1,300. The law had already been weakened by the Court of Constitutionality; acting on an Aug. 25 legal challenge from the Guatemalan Union, Indigenous and Campesino Movement (MSICG), the court suspended the law’s Articles 46 and 55. The law was originally passed to comply with an intellectual property requirement in the 2004 Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), and it was unclear whether Guatemala might now be excluded from the US-promoted trade bloc.

Opponents labeled the legislation the “Monsanto Law,” after the Missouri-based multinational Monsanto Company, the world’s leading producer of GM seeds. Activists charged that the law opened the way to the introduction of GM plants, which might contaminate local crop varieties and disrupt traditional indigenous farming. Campesinos also felt they could lose their livelihoods due to competition from large-scale farmers who can afford higher-yielding seeds from multinationals.

Opposition to the law appeared to be broad. On Sept. 2 thousands of indigenous campesinos blocked the Inter-American highway at three points in the southwestern department of Sololá until 6 pm to demand the law’s revocation. The protests were led by mayors of the department’s 82 indigenous communities, and some communities closed schools so that students could join in. Organizers estimated total participation at 120,000. Opposition to GM plants and to the dominance of multinationals like Monsanto has been growing in Latin America; indigenous communities in southeastern Mexico have won three court actions blocking GM soy so far this year [see Update #1229]. (Adital (Brazil) 9/2/14; Prensa Libre (Guatemala) 9/2/14; TeleSUR English 9/5/14)

*2. Honduras: Longtime Campesina Leader Murdered
Masked men shot and killed Honduran campesino movement leader Margarita Murillo the night of Aug. 26 on land she farmed in the community of El Planón, Villanueva municipality, in the northern department of Cortés. Murillo reportedly began working for campesino rights at the age of 12. During the 1980s she was a founder of the Campesino National Unity Front (FENACAMH) and the General Confederation of Rural Workers (CNTC). After the military removed then-president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009) from office in June 2009, she was both a local and a national leader in the broad coalition resisting the coup, the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), and then in the center-left party that grew out of it, the Freedom and Refoundation Party (LIBRE). The National Congress observed a moment of silence after reports of Murillo’s death were confirmed.

As of Aug. 28 the police said they had no indication of the murder’s authors. Murillo was leading a small cooperative, The Windows Campesino Associative Production Enterprise, that was engaged in a land dispute in the area where she was working at the time of her death. Soldiers had carried off her grown son Samuel from the house where the family lives in Marañón community, south of San Pedro Sula, on July 26; he was reportedly still missing as of Aug. 30. According to Rafael Alegría, a legislative deputy and campesino leader, some 200 campesinos have been murdered and about 700 campesinas face legal charges in cases involving land disputes. (La Prensa (San Pedro Sula) 8/28/14; El Ciudadano (Chile) 8/29/14 from TeleSUR; Vía Campesina 8/30/14)

*3. Mexico: Torture Increased 600% in 10 Years
Torture by police and soldiers continues to be a major problem for the Mexican government, according to “Out of Control: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Mexico,” a 74-page report released by the London-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) on Sept. 4. Electric shocks, near-asphyxiation, mock executions, death threats against prisoners and their families, injection of carbonated drinks or chili pepper in prisoners’ noses, and rape and other forms of sexual violence remain common practices, according to the report, which cites both official statistics and interviews with victims. The result is often forced confessions, wrongful convictions and a failure to arrest the actual perpetrators. Although the government officially condemns torture, it rarely prosecutes police agents or soldiers for the practice and almost never convicts them. January 2014 data from the government’s Federal Judiciary Council (CJF) show that federal courts only took 123 torture cases to trial from 2005 to 2013; seven resulted in convictions. The federal government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) received 7,164 torture complaints from 2010 to 2013; not one of them led to a conviction.

Reports of torture jumped dramatically after December 2006, when then-president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012) began militarizing the fight against drug trafficking [see Update #1199]; complaints to the CNDH rose by 600% from 2003 to 2013. Current president Enrique Peña Nieto has deemphasized the “drug war,” but the number of torture complaints has only fallen slightly. (Al Jazeera America 9/4/14; La Jornada (Mexico) 9/5/14; Jurist 9/5/14)

In other news, a poll released by the Consulta Mitofsky firm in early September showed President Peña Nieto’s approval rating falling to 47%, its lowest level since he took office in December 2012 with a 54% approval rate. The week before, the Pew Research Center reported that the president’s negative ratings rose by nine points in the past year. Peña has been remarkably successful in pushing his programs through Congress, notably an “energy reform” that increases the participation of private and foreign companies in oil production [see Update #1214]. His administration has managed to engineer 85 changes to the Constitution. But the “reforms” have failed to produce the economic upturn Peña promised; the government’s current growth prediction for this year is just 2.7%. The president is “much more popular outside than in Mexico because we don't trust him,” Guadalupe Loaeza, a columnist for the daily Reforma, told the Washington Post. “We don't believe him.” (WP 9/3/14 from correspondents)

*4. Haiti: Martelly Opponents Charged With Murder
On Aug. 27 Haitian investigative judge Lamarre Bélizaire ordered the arrests of four people--two brothers, a well-known lawyer and a police agent--for the Oct. 18, 2010 murder of the student Frantzy Duverseau at his Port-au-Prince home [see Update #1188]. The judge’s action immediately sparked accusations of political interference by the government of Haitian president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”). The two brothers charged in the killing, Enold and Josué Florestal, are plaintiffs in a suit accusing Martelly’s wife, Sophia Martelly, and his son, Olivier Martelly, of corruption; the Florestal brothers have already been in prison for about a year. Their attorney, André Michel, is also charged in the murder case. Judge Bélizaire—whose other cases include the inquiry into allegations of corruption and drug trafficking during the second administration of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004) [see Update #1231]--is said to be close to Martelly’s government.

According to Frantzy Duverseau’s family, the October 2010 incident began with a domestic violence case. Enold Florestal reportedly assaulted Fabienne Duverseau, his wife; her brother Frantzy intervened, and Florestal was injured. Florestal then brought the police to the family home, along with his brother Josué and their attorney, André Michel. One of the police agents shot Frantzy Duverseau dead when he resisted arrest; Judge Bélizaire’s warrant names the agent as Jeanco Honorat. In a Sept. 2 report, Haiti’s independent National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) detailed problems with Bélizaire’s investigation, including the failure to search the scene, to conduct a ballistics analysis and to establish which of the accused were charged as material authors and which as accomplices. The report concluded that Bélizaire’s arrest warrant “constitutes a vast joke.” (Haitian-Caribbean News Network (HCNN) 8/28/14; AlterPresse 9/5/14)

In other news, French groups in solidarity with Haiti and Latin America held a meeting with Haiti’s designated ambassador to France, Vanessa Matignon, on Aug. 28, to discuss the case of Haitian police agent Jean Matulnès Lamy, who has been held in the National Penitentiary without charges since February [see Update #1211]. Lamy is a resident of Ile-à-Vache, a small island southeast of Les Cayes in South department. Supporters say he was arrested because of his role as a leader in the resistance to the government’s plans for tourism development on the island. (AlterPresse 9/4/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, US/immigration

Argentina, In the Shadow of the Vultures
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12839

Inter-American Court of Human Rights Orders Chile to Annul Sentences Under Anti-Terrorist Law
https://intercontinentalcry.org/inter-american-court-human-rights-orders-chile-annul-sentences-anti-terrorist-law-25431/

Affirmative Action in Uruguay Tests Government Commitment to Race
http://nacla.org/news/2014/9/2/affirmative-action-uruguay-tests-government-commitment-race

Brazil: Napalm in the Ribeira Valley
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/brazil-archives-63/5027-brazil-napalm-in-the-ribeira-valley

Brazil cracks down on Amazon 'land traffickers
http://ww4report.com/node/13501

Elections Revive Bolivia’s Controversial TIPNIS Highway Plan
http://nacla.org/blog/2014/9/4/elections-revive-bolivia%E2%80%99s-controversial-tipnis-highway-plan

Bolivia: dirty electoral season gets dirtier
http://ww4report.com/node/13390#comment-452380

Indigenous Anarchist Critique of Bolivia's 'Indigenous State': Interview with Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/bolivia-archives-31/5031-indigenous-anarchist-critique-of-bolivias-indigenous-state-interview-with-silvia-rivera-cusicanqui

Peru: deadly repression of pipeline protests
http://ww4report.com/node/13499

President Correa: 'Biggest Mistake in Recent Years Was Letting Alberto Acosta Be President of the Constituent Assembly' (Ecuador)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5033-president-correa-biggest-mistake-in-recent-years-was-letting-alberto-acosta-be-president-of-the-constituent-assembly

Sixth teacher assassinated this year in Colombia
http://ww4report.com/node/13500

Colombia: FARC meet army brass, coke flows on
http://ww4report.com/node/13511

Venezuelan Government, Sidor Workers Sign New Collective Contract
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10885

Marta Harnecker: New paths require a new culture on the left (Venezuela)
http://links.org.au/node/4020

Garifuna Denounce Honduran Government at the Inter-American Court
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Garifuna-Denounce-Honduran-Government-at-the-Inter-American-Court-20140906-0029.html

Escaping the New Honduras
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/09/escaping-the-new-honduras/

Bonilla’s New Role Raises Questions for U.S.-Funded Police Trainings in Honduras
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5023-bonillas-new-role-raises-questions-for-us-funded-police-trainings-in-honduras

Chixoy Dam: No Reparations, No Justice, No Peace (Guatemala)
https://intercontinentalcry.org/chixoy-dam-reparations-justice-peace/

The World Bank And Inter-American Development Bank's Chixoy Dam Project: Still Killing Mayan Guatemalans 32 Years Later
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/5029-the-world-bank-and-inter-american-development-banks-chixoy-dam-project-still-killing-mayan-gautemalans-32-years-later-

Ecocides Ravage Mexican Waters
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/ecocides-ravage-mexican-waters/

Filmmakers Sign Historic Agreement With Tribal Authorities in Mexico City
https://intercontinentalcry.org/filmmakers-sign-historic-agreement-tribal-authorities-mexico-city-25508/

How US Intelligence Distorted Its Own Data on Child Migration (US/immigration)
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/25890-how-us-intelligence-distorted-its-own-data-on-child-migration

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:
http://www.cipamericas.org/
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/967/blastContent.jsp
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/
http://intercontinentalcry.org/
http://www.ueinternational.org/MLNA/index.php
http://nacla.org/
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/index.html
http://upsidedownworld.org/
http://venezuelanalysis.com/
http://wagingnonviolence.org/
http://ww4report.com/node/

For immigration updates and events:
http://thepoliticsofimmigration.blogspot.com/

END

Your support is appreciated. Back issues and source materials are available on request. Feel free to reproduce these updates, or reprint or re-post any information from them, but please credit us as “Weekly News Update on the Americas” and include a link.

Order The Politics of Immigration: Questions & Answers, from Monthly Review Press, by Update editors Jane Guskin and David Wilson:
http://thepoliticsofimmigration.org/

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Links but No Update for August 31, 2014

[There is no Update this week; we'll be back next week. Below are links to stories from other sources.]

The Common Market of the South: the long and difficult path to integration (Latin America)
http://alainet.org/active/76660

Lifting the Sentence of Secrecy in Chile
http://nacla.org/news/2014/8/25/lifting-sentence-secrecy-chile

Threat of Hydropower Dams Still Looms in Chile’s Patagonia
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5017-threat-of-hydropower-dams-still-looms-in-chiles-patagonia

Ghosts of Olavarría: Human Rights Trial in Argentina Seeks Justice for Victims of Military Dictatorship
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/argentina-archives-32/5013-ghosts-of-olavarria-human-rights-trial-in-argentina-seeks-justice-for-victims-of-military-dictatorship

Protecting the Amazon Includes Defending Indigenous Rights (Brazil)
http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12281

What Happened To Progressive Politics In Lima (Peru)
http://nacla.org/news/2014/8/27/what-happened-progressive-politics-lima

US Senators Urge Ecuador to Restore Relations with Israel
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5020-us-senators-urge-ecuador-to-restore-relations-with-israel

Colombia Peace Talks Restart with FARC Warning
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Colombia-Peace-Talks-Restart-with-FARC-Warning-20140901-0033.html

Poll Sees Conflicting Approval Rates for Venezuelan President Maduro
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10864

Venezuela: Maduro in Chávez’s Shoes
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/venezuela-archives-35/5015-venezuela-maduro-in-chavezs-shoes

Snapshot from the Economic War in Venezuela
http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10870

Guatemala: Mobilizing Against "Monsanto Bill" Passed Secretly by Congress
https://intercontinentalcry.org/guatemala-mobilizing-against-monsanto-bill-passed-secretly-by-congress-25404/

Bonilla’s New Role Raises Questions for U.S.-Funded Police Trainings in Honduras
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5023-bonillas-new-role-raises-questions-for-us-funded-police-trainings-in-honduras

Pena Nieto’s Rankings Take a Nose Dive (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/pena-nietos-rankings-take-a-nose-dive/

Hundreds Protest Mexican President State of the Union Address
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Hundreds-Protest-Mexican-President-State-of-the-Union-Address-20140901-0044.html

Mexico Debates the Minimum Wage
http://www.ueinternational.org/MLNA/mlna_articles.php?id=227#1745

Queering the Metro in Mexico City
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/mexico-archives-79/5021-queering-the-metro-in-mexico-city

Former Braceros Demand Their Social Welfare Funds (Mexico)
http://www.ueinternational.org/MLNA/mlna_articles.php?id=227#1742

Ciudad Juarez Demands: No More Abuse (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/ciudad-juarez-demands-no-more-abuse/

The Real Story Behind the “Invasion” of the Children (US/immigration)
http://nacla.org/blog/2014/8/25/real-story-behind-%E2%80%9Cinvasion%E2%80%9D-children

Despite Current Debate, Police Militarization Goes Beyond U.S. Borders (US/policy)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/5010-despite-current-debate-police-militarization-goes-beyond-us-borders





Tuesday, August 26, 2014

WNU #1231: Mexican Miners Protest Toxic Spill

Issue #1231, August 24, 2014

1. Mexico: Unionists Protest Cananea Toxic Spill
2. Honduras: Child, Journalist Murders Continue
3. Haiti: Aristide’s Lawyers Question Inquiry
4. Brazil: Haiti Mission Shaped Rio Police Unit
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, US/immigration

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WeeklyNewsUpdat.

Note: There will be links but no Update on August 31, 2014. Publication will resume the following week.

*1. Mexico: Unionists Protest Cananea Toxic Spill
At least 800 members of Section 65 of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers and the Like of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM, “Los Mineros”) began blocking the three main entrances to the giant Buenavista del Cobre copper mine in Cananea, near the US border in the northwestern state of Sonora, on Aug. 20 to protest environmental damage caused two weeks earlier when about 40,000 cubic meters of copper sulfate acid solution spilled from the mine into the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers. Most of the unionists lost their jobs four years ago when the mine’s owner, Grupo México S.A.B. de C.V., broke a 2007-2010 strike over health and safety issues [see Update #1194]. “During the strike we made several complaints about the improper and inadequate measures Grupo México implemented for preventing overflows from the dams” for chemicals and heavy metals, Section 65 director Sergio Tolano Lizárraga told the national daily La Jornada. He said the blockade would continue until the company recognized the workers’ old contract. (LJ 8/22/14)

Authorities shut down wells in the region following the Aug. 6 spill, depriving an estimated 22,000 residents of water; 89 schools had to be closed just as classes were starting for the new school year. On Aug. 19 officials from the Federal Attorney General’s Office for Protection of the Environment (Profepa) said they had filed charges against Grupo México, which could be fined up to 43 million pesos (US$3.3 million) and would be responsible for cleanup costs. The company denied reports that it hadn’t initially reported the spill. On Aug. 23 officials from Profepa and the National Water Commission (Conagua) said they had now found leaks in the temporary dam set up to stop the overflow of toxic substances into the Sonora. (Wall Street Journal 8/19/14; LJ 8/24/14)

“Grupo México is a serial killer,” labor activist Cristina Auerbach Benavides told La Jornada. “It’s never made repairs in the environment where it has passed through. Grupo México rots everything it touches.” Auerbach--who directs the Pasta de Conchos Family, an organization of relatives of 65 coal miners killed in a methane explosion at a Grupo México mine in Coahuila in February 2006 [see Update #1139]—dated the company’s history of environmental disasters and industrial accidents back to 1908, when 200 miners died in a gas explosion at the Rosita 3 coal mine in Coahuila.

Guillermo Martínez Berlanga, director of the Ecological Committee for Wellbeing, noted the small size of the proposed fine against Grupo México for creating a major disaster; in contrast, the US government fined the company’s US subsidiary Asarco $800,000 just for failing to allow an audit. The Mexican government’s approach to national companies like Grupo México and the state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) raises questions about President Enrique Peña Nieto’s controversial “energy reform,” which will open up the energy sector to private and foreign companies [see Update #1214]. “These ecological disasters demonstrate that Mexico isn’t ready for the energy reform,” Martínez Berlanga said, “because if the government can’t control PEMEX’s spills and Grupo México’s contamination, much less will it be able to control multinationals that are 10 times more powerful and [have] a greater power to corrupt.” (LJ 8/24/14)

In other news, protests were being planned internationally on Aug. 21 to mark the first anniversary of the imprisonment of community activist Nestora Salgado and to demand her release [see Update #1223]. Sites for the protests included her hometown, Olinalá in the southwestern state of Guerrero; Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland in the US; and Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. Mexican author Elena Poniatowska, Mexican director and actor Jesusa Rodríguez, and US Congress member Adam Smith (D-WA) are among the people supporting Salgado, who holds dual Mexican and US citizenship; she was arrested while heading the community police in Olinalá. (LJ 8/21/14)

*2. Honduras: Child, Journalist Murders Continue
At least five Honduran minors recently deported from the US were among the 42 children murdered in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, Cortés department, since February, according to Hector Hernández, who heads the city’s morgue. The number could be as high as 10, he told Los Angeles Times reporter Cindy Carcamo. In June and July the administration of US president Barack Obama responded to a dramatic increase of tens of thousands of Central American minors seeking refuge in the US by emphasizing that most will be repatriated; the administration even arranged and publicized a special deportation flight of mothers with young children to San Pedro Sula on July 14 [see Update #1227]. But Carcamo’s reporting suggests that publicity won’t be enough to stop youths from trying to flee gang violence in Honduras. “There are many youngsters who only three days after they've been deported are killed, shot by a firearm,” Hernández said. “They return just to die.”

One San Pedro Sula resident told Carcamo that a teenage cousin was shot dead just hours after arriving on a deportation flight. The resident refused to identify himself or the victim for fear of reprisal from neighborhood gangs. “I would be killing my entire family,” he said. The morgue reported 594 homicides in the region around the city as of mid-July; the toll for all of last year was 778. (LAT 8/16/14 from correspondent)

The murders of Honduran journalists continue [see Update #1217]. Nery Soto Torres, who directed a television program on Channel 23, was gunned down on Aug. 14 in front of his home in Olanchito in the northern department of Yoro, east of San Pedro Sula. The authorities said the killers didn’t steal anything from the victim. Soto was the seventh journalist murdered in Honduras this year; the sixth was Herlyn Espinal, whose body was found on July 21 at a ranch between La Barca and Santa Rita municipalities in Yoro. The National Human Rights Commission (CONADEH) says a total of 47 media workers have been killed since November 2003 and 91% of the cases have not resulted in convictions. A group of journalists held a march in Olanchito on Aug. 19 to demand a prompt and thorough investigation of Soto’s killing. Most investigations of journalists’ murders “are completely abandoned,” Miguel Romero, president of the Yoro Journalists Association, said at the march. (Latin American Herald Tribune 8/17/14 from EFE; Washington Post 8/19/14 from AP; La Prensa (San Pedro Sula) 8/19/14 from EFE)

*3. Haiti: Aristides Lawyers Question Inquiry
Former Haitian prime minister Yvon Neptune (2002-2004) appeared before investigative judge Lamarre Bélizaire at the judge’s Port-au-Prince office on Aug. 22 to answer questions in an inquiry into allegations of corruption and drug trafficking during the second administration of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004). Bélizaire has notified the authorities that 33 people, most of them connected with Aristide’s Lavalas Family (FL) party, are not permitted to leave the country because of their connection with the investigation. After the Aug. 22 session, Neptune, who has broken with Aristide, told reporters that he had no problem answering Bélizaire’s summons. (Radio Kiskeya (Haiti) 8/23/14)

Lawyers for Aristide, on the other hand, have challenged Bélizaire’s entire inquiry and his qualifications to head it. Aristide was reportedly ordered to appear before Bélizaire on Aug. 13, but human rights advocate Mario Joseph, Aristide’s lead attorney, said the former president never received the summons. Joseph himself went to Bélizaire’s office to deliver a letter on the subject, but the judge wasn’t present. Aristide’s legal team is demanding that Bélizaire be removed from the case on the grounds that there were irregularities in his appointment as judge and that he is a member of the center-right Tèt Kale Haitian Party (PHTK) of President Michel Martelly (tèt kale is Creole for “Bald Head,” a nickname for the president). Lavalas supporters have maintained barricades around Aristide’s house in the northeastern suburb of Tabarre since mid-August in case Judge Bélizaire issues an arrest warrant for the former president.

Aristide’s backers aren’t the only ones questioning Bélizaire’s investigation. “This case should be handled by another judge, one who understands respecting the law,” Pierre Espérance, the director of the National Human Rights Defense Network (RNDDH) and a longtime Aristide opponent, told the online Haitian news service AlterPresse. “Judge Lamarre lacks character and temperament. He kneels before the executive.” According to Espérance, Bélizaire hasn’t had training to investigate financial crimes. “If he stays on the case, it’s because he has a personal interest.” (AlterPresse 8/13/14, 8/13/14; Radio Kiskeya 8/17/14, 8/17/14)

The Haitian court system is often accused of being influenced by political interests. On Aug. 11 a court in the northwestern city of Gonaïves sentenced Wilford Ferdinand (“Ti Wil”) and his cousin Alix Suffrant (“Bout Zòrèy”) to nine years at hard labor for the April 2007 murder of Johnson Edouard, a former correspondent for the weekly Haïti Progrès and a regional coordinator for FL. Ferdinand was a leader in the so-called “Cannibal Army,” a local group that initially supported Aristide but later joined rightwing paramilitary groups seeking to overthrow him. Ferdinand charged that the sentence against him was politically motivated. “Investigative judge Pierre Michel Denis is a member of the Lavalas Family party,” Ferdinand said. But he thanked the public ministry’s representative, Enock Géné Génélus, for his help. Normally the public ministry, which is responsible to the Martelly government, would be expected to lead the prosecution; in this case, it supported the defendant. (AlterPresse 8/14/14)

In a major embarrassment for the criminal justice system, 329 prisoners broke out of the prison in Croix-des-Bouquets, northeast of Port-au-Prince, on Aug. 10. One of the escapees was Clifford Brandt, a wealthy business leader’s son who is charged with masterminding the October 2012 kidnapping of other members of the elite. There was speculation that Brandt’s backers were behind the massive jailbreak. Brandt was captured two days later by Dominican soldiers in Hondo Valle, just across the border from Haiti. As of Aug. 13 only some 20 of the escaped prisoners had been recaptured. (AlterPresse 8/13/14, 8/13/14)

*4. Brazil: Haiti Mission Shaped Rio Police Unit
Two Brazilian experts in police work have confirmed longstanding claims that the Brazilian military and police used their leading role in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as a way to train their forces for operations in Brazil’s own cities. According to Lt. Col. Carlos Cavalcanti, of the Brazilian Peace Operations Joint Training Center (CCOPAB), the Brazilians were especially interested in the concept of permanent “strong points” in urban areas, which MINUSTAH forces used to “pacify” Port-au-Prince’s huge Cité Soleil section in 2005 and the Cité Militaire neighborhood in 2007. “Rio de Janeiro’s Militarized Police even sent a group to Haiti while these operations were still being carried out, with the object of taking in the Brazilian army’s experiences,” Cavalcanti said.

These experiences inspired the use of special police groups known as Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) in controlling the impoverished urban areas in Brazil known as favelas, according to Claudio Silveira, a defense specialist at Rio de Janeiro State University (UERJ). The UPP in Rio was the target of repeated protests in the summer of 2013 because of unit members’ alleged torture and murder of construction worker Amarildo de Souza Lima [see Update #1195]. One advantage of MINUSTAH for the Brazilian military is apparently that it helps make up for what top officers feel is an inadequate budget for training soldiers. In Haiti the soldiers get real-life training, for which the Brazilian government has paid out 2.11 billion reais (US$923 million) since the mission’s start in June 2004; the United Nations has reimbursed it with 741 million reais (US$324 million). (Adital (Brazil) 8/13/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, US/immigration

Washington Should Follow Latin America’s Lead in Condemning Israel’s War on Palestine
http://telesurtv.net/english/news/Washington-Should-Follow-Latin-Americas-Lead-in-Condemning-Israels-War-on-Palestine-20140815-0059.html

Land rights in Latin America: where are the voices of indigenous women?
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5003-land-rights-in-latin-america-where-are-the-voices-of-indigenous-women

The Changing Map of Latin America
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/4986--the-changing-map-of-latin-america-

Argentina Takes on Pirates and Vultures
http://nacla.org/news/2014/8/14/argentina-takes-pirates-and-vultures

Do the Holdout Hedge Funds Hold Argentine Credit Default Swaps?
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/do-the-holdout-hedge-funds-hold-argentine-credit-default-swaps

Window Dressing for the Vulture Funds (Argentina)
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/window-dressing-for-the-vulture-funds

Peru leaks: oil company rewrote environmental law
http://ww4report.com/node/13447

Mining Firms in Peru Mount Legal Offensive Against Inspection Tax
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/peru-archives-76/4998-mining-firms-in-peru-mount-legal-offensive-against-inspection-tax

Cajamarca: campesino family convicted in retrial (Peru)
http://ww4report.com/node/13445

Ecuador: Free Pacto from Mining
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/ecuador-archives-49/4984-ecuador-free-pacto-from-mining

Colombia - Hope in the Midst of a Violent Crisis: Life in Buenaventura's Urban Humanitarian Space
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/colombia-archives-61/4992-colombia-hope-in-the-midst-of-a-violent-crisis-life-in-buenaventuras-urban-humanitarian-space

Gabriel García Márquez: The Last Visit (Colombia)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/colombia-archives-61/4988-gabriel-garcia-marquez-the-last-visit

F-16 Missile Attacks Venezuelan Humanitarian Aid Mission in Gaza
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10861

Aruba frees wanted Venezuelan 'narco-general'
http://ww4report.com/node/13467

The Carrot, the Stick, and the Seeds: U.S. development policy faces resistance in El Salvador
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12762

Progressive Tax Reforms Approved in El Salvador
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5002-progressive-tax-reforms-approved-in-el-salvador

Report: World Bank Loan in Honduras Ignores Environmental and Social Risks
http://telesurtv.net/english/news/Report-World-Bank-Loan-in-Honduras-Ignores-Environmental-and-Social-Risks-20140817-0010.html

Cold Warrior Criticizes Cold War and Drug War, Hires Cold Warrior to Promote Drug War (Guatemala)
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/cold-warrior-criticizes-cold-war-and-drug-war-hires-cold-warrior-to-promote-drug-war

Guatemala: The End of the Spring of Claudia Paz y Paz
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/5000-guatemala-the-end-of-the-spring-of-claudia-paz-y-paz

Women-Led Resistance against False Development in Guatemala
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/5006-guatemala-women-led-resistance-against-false-development-in-guatemala

Indigenous Mexico Rising Again
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/indigenous-mexico-rising-again/

National Indigenous Congress and Zapatistas Unite Against Plundering of Their Lands (Mexico)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/4995-national-indigenous-congress-and-zapatistas-unite-against-plundering-of-their-lands

Voices From the Field: Puebla’s Campesinos Resisting the Theft of Their Land (Mexico)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/mexico-archives-79/5007-voices-from-the-field-pueblas-campesinos-resisting-the-theft-of-their-land-

Sweet Victory for Mexico Beekeepers as Monsanto Loses GM Permit
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/4985-sweet-victory-for-mexico-beekeepers-as-monsanto-loses-gm-permit

A Toxic Shade of Orange (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/a-toxic-shade-of-orange/

Sonora: mining threatens disappearing waters (Mexico)
http://ww4report.com/node/13448

Sinaloa kingpin prevails in prison hunger strike (Mexico)
http://ww4report.com/node/13451

The Mission to Mexico: California Governor Jerry Brown’s Diplomatic Coup
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/the-mission-to-mexico-california-governor-jerry-browns-diplomatic-coup/

Reclaiming Life from Streets of Death (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/reclaiming-life-from-streets-of-death/

As Men Emigrate, Indigenous Women Gain Political Opportunities and Obligations in Mexico
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5004-as-men-emigrate-indigenous-women-gain-political-opportunities-and-obligations-in-mexico

Will Former President Aristide be Arrested? After 10 Years of Investigations, He Has Never Been Charged
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/will-former-president-aristide-be-arrested-after-10-years-of-investigations-he-has-never-been-charged

Who Counts as a Refugee in US Immigration Policy—and Who Doesn’t (US/immigration)
http://www.thenation.com/article/180929/who-counts-refugee-us-immigration-policy-and-who-doesnt

Where Is the Voice of Migrant Children in the Immigration Crisis? (US/immigration)
http://www.thenation.com/blog/180928/where-voice-migrant-children-immigration-crisis#

Georgia Police Chief Severely Restricts Annual SOA Protest: Social Organizations and US Reps Respond (US/policy)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/5009-georgia-police-chief-severely-restricts-annual-soa-protest-social-organizations-and-us-reps-respond

Mastering movements — An interview with immigrant rights activist Carlos Saavedra (US/immigration)
http://wagingnonviolence.org/2014/08/mastering-movements-interview-carlos-saavedra/

Children of the Monroe Doctrine: The Militarized Roots of America's Border Calamity (US/immigration)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/4999-children-of-the-monroe-doctrine-the-militarized-roots-of-americas-border-calamity

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:
http://www.cipamericas.org/
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/967/blastContent.jsp
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/
http://intercontinentalcry.org/
http://www.ueinternational.org/MLNA/index.php
http://nacla.org/
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/index.html
http://upsidedownworld.org/
http://venezuelanalysis.com/
http://wagingnonviolence.org/
http://ww4report.com/node/

For immigration updates and events:
http://thepoliticsofimmigration.blogspot.com/

END

Your support is appreciated. Back issues and source materials are available on request. Feel free to reproduce these updates, or reprint or re-post any information from them, but please credit us as “Weekly News Update on the Americas” and include a link.

Order The Politics of Immigration: Questions & Answers, from Monthly Review Press, by Update editors Jane Guskin and David Wilson:
http://thepoliticsofimmigration.org/

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

WNU #1230: Opposition Grows to Mining in Haiti

Issue #1230, August 10, 2014

1. Haiti: Opposition Grows to Mega Mining
2. Argentina: US Sued at Hague Over Default
3. Cuba: Another USAID Program Exposed
4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, US/immigration

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WeeklyNewsUpdat.

*1. Haiti: Opposition Grows to Mega Mining
At a July 25 meeting in Port-au-Prince, some 28 Haitian organizations expressed their interest in joining a movement to oppose plans under way for open-pit mining in the north of the country, with a focus on gold mining operations by the Vancouver-based Eurasian Minerals company. The meeting was organized by the Collective Against Mining, which was formed a year ago by Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (“Small Haitian Peasants Unity”), the Defenders of the Oppressed (DOP), the Popular Democratic Movement (MODEP), the Haitian Platform of Human Rights Organizations (POHDH), the Haitian Platform Advocating an Alternative Development (PAPDA) and Batay Ouvriye (“Workers’ Struggle”).

There have been estimates that Haitian minerals--mostly gold, copper and silver-- could be worth as much as US$ 20 billion, and Haitian firms fronting for US and Canadian firms have reportedly received licenses for research, exploration or mining in some 2,400 square kilometers of Haitian territory. On July 11 the Collective Against Mining and the Global Justice Clinic--part of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHR&GJ) at New York University’s Law School—expressed concern about a new mining law proposed by the World Bank. The measure would change the 1976 mining code to allow the Bureau of Mines and Energy (BME) to sign directly with the mining companies without having to win approval from Parliament. In 2010 the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested about US$5 million in Eurasian Minerals’ Haiti operations, getting Eurasian shares in exchange. At the July 28 meeting PAPDA’s Camille Chalmers pointed to Haiti’s previous experience with mineral extraction. The mining of bauxite from the 1950s to the early 1980s by the now-defunct Reynolds Metals Company produced $83 million in profits; only $3 million of this went to the Haitian state, Chalmers said. (Haiti Grassroots Watch 8/1/13; Radio Television Caraibes (Haiti) 7/12/14; AlterPresse 8/1/14)

In other news, on Aug. 4 the labor organization Workers’ Antenna marked the fifth anniversary of the start of a wave of marches and wildcat strikes by garment workers demanding an increase in the minimum wage for the assembly sector [see Update #1000]. The struggle over the minimum wage has continued off and on since then; another wave of job actions last December led to the layoffs of a number of union leaders and supporters [see Update #1218]. Complaints that the laid-off workers filed with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST) have yet to be settled. (AlterPresse 8/5/14)

Meanwhile, 81 workers have been dismissed in a wage dispute at the Compagnie de Développement Industriel S.A. (Codevi) “free trade zone” in Ouanaminthe in Northeast department at the Dominican border. Workers at the AMI jeans plant were being paid 375 gourdes (about US$8.48) a day, well above the current minimum wage in the assembly sector, but management suddenly reduced their pay to 300 gourdes (about $6.78) and started laying them off on Aug. 1 after they protested the pay cut. (Haiti Press Network 8/7/14)

*2. Argentina: US Sued at Hague Over Default
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague said on Aug. 7 that Argentina had asked it to take action against the US for what the South American country called “violations of Argentine sovereignty and immunities and other related violations as a result of judicial decisions adopted by US tribunals” that interfered with the payment of its debts. Financial services agencies declared Argentina in default on July 30 when it failed to arrive at a settlement with a small group of investors led by US hedge funds NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management [see Update #1229]. A federal judge in New York, Thomas Griesa, had ruled that unless it had an arrangement with the hedge funds, Argentina couldn’t make payments to the majority of its creditors, who had agreed to accept discounted exchange bonds.

The current dispute goes back to Argentina’s 2002 default on some $100 billion dollars following a December 2001 economic collapse brought on by a decade of extreme neoliberal policies. The country settled most of the debt with exchange bonds, but NML and Aurelius Capital, firms of the type often called “vulture funds,” held out against the settlement. The Argentina has run advertisements in US media saying it hasn’t defaulted, on the grounds that it tried to make a required interest payment on one of its bonds. The country deposited $539 million in a New York bank in June to cover the payment, but Judge Griesa ruled that the bank would be in contempt of court if it paid the money out. At an Aug. 8 hearing Griesa told Argentina’s lawyers, the firm of Cleary Gottlieb, that he would hold the country in contempt if it continued to say it had met its debt obligations.

The ICJ, better known as the “World Court,” is the United Nations’ highest court for disputes between nations. Court officials said Argentina’s request for action had been sent to the US government but that the court wouldn’t move ahead “unless and until” the US accepts the court’s jurisdiction in the case. The US has sometimes recognized the court’s jurisdiction in the past, but in at least one case, a 1984 suit over US funding and direction of attacks inside Nicaragua, the US government simply ignored the ICJ’s 1986 ruling when it turned out to be in Nicaragua’s favor. (The Guardian (UK) 8/7/14 from Reuters; La Jornada (Mexico) 8/9/14 from Reuters, Notimex)

In other news, on Aug. 7 Estela Barnes de Carlotto, the president of the Argentine human rights organization Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and other family members met for the first time with her grandson, who is one of the estimated 500 children that the 1976-1983 military dictatorship secretly placed in adoption after executing their parents during its “dirty war” against suspected leftists. The military abducted Barnes de Carlotto’s pregnant daughter Laura Carlotto in November 1977 and executed her after she’d given birth. Oscar Montoya, the child’s father, was also executed. Their son, Guido Montoya Carlotto, was placed with a farming family that apparently didn’t know about his origins; he was reunited with his biological family through DNA testing. The organization Barnes de Carlotto heads is dedicated to locating the missing children of the military’s victims. (Associated Press 8/5/14; LJ 8/8/14 from correspondent)

*3. Cuba: Another USAID Program Exposed
From October 2009 to some time in 2011 the US Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored a program that paid almost a dozen youths from Costa Rica, Peru and Venezuela to travel to Cuba in order to obtain intelligence information and identify potential government opponents among students and other youths, according to an investigation that the Associated Press (AP) wire service published on Aug. 4. The revelation comes four months after AP reported on the agency’s ZunZuneo “Cuban Twitter” program [see Update #1215]. Like ZunZuneo, the program employed the Washington, DC-based private contractor Creative Associates International for operations. Analysts said these revelations indicate that the US is losing interest in the older generation of Cuban dissidents and is trying to develop opposition among younger Cubans.

“USAID’s young operatives posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in critical health work around the world: an HIV-prevention workshop one called the ‘perfect excuse’ to recruit political activists,” AP reported. The youths in the programs risked 10 years in prison for anti-government activities if caught, but some were paid as little as $5.41 an hour. On Aug. 4 US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki defended the program as “support for Cuban civil society,” but documents that AP posted online suggest something more like a secret intelligence operation. When speaking to AP, Yajaira Andrade, the administrator of a Venezuelan group called Renova that was involved in the program, described her group’s activities as “some Venezuelans…working to stir rebellion.”

On Aug. 8 Cuban public health official María Isela Lantero Abreu called the use of an HIV program for political purposes “monstrous.” The Cuba operation “may have been good business for USAID’s contractor,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the US Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees USAID, said on Aug. 4, “but it tarnishes USAID’s long track record as a leader in global health.” An editorial in the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada described the Cuba operation as “a reiteration of the inveterate US mania for destabilizing sovereign governments in the hemisphere.” As Latin American governments move towards increased cooperation among themselves, these programs “will end up deepening the isolation of the superpower in the region… Washington, far from being a guarantor of international legality, democracy and human rights, has become an habitual and systematic violator of such principles.” (AP 8/4/14; LJ 8/5/14 editorial, 8/9/14 from correspondent)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, US/immigration

The Crisis of Small-Scale Fishing in Latin America
http://nacla.org/news/2014/8/8/crisis-small-scale-fishing-latin-america

Neoliberalism and Vulture Funds (Argentina)
http://alainet.org/active/76015

Wall Street Journal Uses Bogus Numbers to Smear Argentine President
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/wall-street-journal-uses-bogus-numbers-to-smear-argentine-president

Why Argentina is Right to Defy the Taliban of Global Finance
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Why-Argentina-is-Right-to-Defy-the-Taliban-of-Global-Finance-20140801-0035.html

Quinoa Soup: What Our Consumption Means for Bolivian Growers
https://intercontinentalcry.org/quinoa-soup-consumption-means-bolivian-growers/

Subsistence-Based, Non-Repressive Drug Programs Actually Work (Bolivia)
http://nacla.org/news/2014/8/6/subsistence-based-non-repressive-drug-programs-actually-work

'Massacre' evidence on Peru's Amazon borderlands
http://ww4report.com/node/13425

Indigenous Seed Savers Gather in the Andes, Agree to Fight Climate Change with Biodiversity (Peru)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/4979-indigenous-seed-savers-gather-in-the-andes-agree-to-fight-climate-change-with-biodiversity-

Peru: new ops against 'narco-senderistas'
http://ww4report.com/node/13433

Venezuela to Take in Palestinian Child Refugees “As Soon As Possible”, Gaza Aid Ready
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10833

El Salvador: Maternity and Maternalism
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/el-salvador-archives-74/4977-el-salvador-maternity-and-maternalism

Finally Free: Mass Burial of Wartime Victims in Guatemala Exhumed from Former Military Garrison of Comalapa
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/4975-finally-free-mass-burial-of-wartime-victims-in-guatemala-exhumed-from-former-military-garrison-of-comalapa

Guatemala-Mexico Agreement on Migrants in Baja Signed
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/guatemala-mexico-agreement-on-migrants-in-baja-signed/

EZLN and Indigenous Peoples Will Gather to Share Experiences (Mexico)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/4974-ezln-and-indigenous-peoples-will-gather-to-share-experiences

Inauguration of the First Exchange of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico With Zapatista Peoples
https://intercontinentalcry.org/inauguration-first-exchange-indigenous-peoples-mexico-zapatista-peoples/

Coffee, a crisis about to explode (Mexico)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12714

The (Institutionalized) Revolution Will Be Televised (Mexico)
http://nacla.org/news/2014/8/4/institutionalized-revolution-will-be-televised

Extradition Sought in Border Massacre Probe (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/extradition-sought-in-border-massacre-probe/

Mexico: still more 'narco-fosas' uncovered
http://ww4report.com/node/13430

Hell in the Icebox (US/immigration)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12719

How We Scapegoat Children From Gaza to the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (US/immigration)
http://nacla.org/blog/2014/8/7/how-we-scapegoat-children-gaza-us-mexico-borderlands

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:
http://www.cipamericas.org/
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/967/blastContent.jsp
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/
http://intercontinentalcry.org/
http://www.ueinternational.org/MLNA/index.php
http://nacla.org/
http://upsidedownworld.org/
http://venezuelanalysis.com/
http://wagingnonviolence.org/
http://ww4report.com/node/

For immigration updates and events:
http://thepoliticsofimmigration.blogspot.com/

END

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Order The Politics of Immigration: Questions & Answers, from Monthly Review Press, by Update editors Jane Guskin and David Wilson:
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