Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WNU #1239: Strikers Close Costa Rican Port

Issue #1239, October 26, 2014

1. Costa Rica: New Strike Closes Major Port
2. Mexico: Guerrero Governor Goes, Crisis Remains
3. Mexico: Privatization Scandals Multiply
4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America/US, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rice, Mexico, the Caribbean, 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.

*1. Costa Rica: New Strike Closes Major Port
A longstanding dispute over the privatization of the port at Limón on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast led unionized dockworkers at the port’s Limón and Moín terminals to walk off the job on Oct. 22 for the second time in two years [see Update #1134]. The open-ended strike left three ships stranded at the two terminals, which handle some 80% of Costa Rica's foreign trade. Facing his first major labor crisis since he took office on May 8, President Luis Guillermo Solís, of the center-left Citizen Action Party (PAC), responded quickly. He sent some 150 police officers to take control of the terminals late on Oct. 22; 68 people were arrested in the operation. The port was reopened the next morning, with foreign contract workers under police guard. Union officials denied that the port was operating normally, and as of Oct. 25 negotiations hadn’t started between the union and the government.

Efforts to privatize the Limón port, which is managed by the Board of Port Administration and Economic Development of the Atlantic Shelf (JAPDEVA), began in 2006 under former president Oscar Arias (1986-1990, 2006-2010), and quickly met with opposition from the JAPDEVA Workers Union (SINTRAJAP), backed by the Frente Amplio (“Broad Front”), a leftist political party. In 2012 the government of former president Laura Chinchilla (2010-2014) granted a 30-year concession to a Netherlands-based container management multinational, APM Terminals, a subsidiary of the giant Danish shipping multinational A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, which also does business in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua [see Update #772]. A court challenge to the APM Terminals contract was rejected by the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) in October of this year, precipitating the current strike. However, the CSJ probably won’t be able to give final approval to the contract until March 2015, since the National Environmental Technical Secretariat (Setena) hasn’t completed its assessment of the project. Legal advisers close to the Setena say there were irregularities in the documents presented by APM Terminals, including corrections by hand and several pages in English.

The situation in Limón was still tense as of Oct. 25, as helicopters and small planes patrolled the skies over the city. Eight people were arrested the morning of Oct. 24 after two shipping containers were set on fire and a police agent was wounded in the foot. SINTRAJAP general secretary Ronaldo Blear said the union wasn’t behind the vandalism but claimed that it showed “part of the dissatisfaction” of Limón’s population. “What it says to us is that Limón’s people hold JAPDEVA in their hearts, and so they’re defending what the government is trying to take from us.” According to Blear, the union’s “struggle is against a contract that imposes unjust rates for the people, an illegal monopoly that impedes free participation and represents the death of JAPDEVA, and against immense damage to the environment which could turn out to be irreversible if we don’t stop it. This isn’t over wages or privileges.” (Tico Times (Costa Rica) 10/23/14; Reuters 10/23/14; Prensa Latina 10/25/14; La Nación (Costa Rica) 10/25/14)

*2. Mexico: Guerrero Governor Goes, Crisis Remains
Protests against Mexican local governments and federal president Enrique Peña Nieto showed no signs of letting up the week of Oct. 20, nearly one month after the Sept. 26-27 killing of six people and the abduction of 43 teachers’ college students in Iguala in the southwestern state of Guerrero [see Update #1238]. Students held a two-day national strike on Oct. 22-23 to demand the return of the missing students, who were all from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the Guerrero town of Ayotzinapa. Tens of thousands of students and teachers marched in a total of 18 Mexican states on the first day of the strike. The protest in Mexico City was reportedly one of the capital’s largest demonstrations in recent years. The Federal District (DF, Mexico City) police estimated the crowd at 50,000, while the Los Angeles Times reported that at one point the march stretched along the broad Paseo de la Reforma from the Angel of Independence to the central Zócalo, a distance of more than 4 kilometers.

The protesters’ disgust with Mexico’s political class and the three major political parties was obvious. “PRI, PAN, PRD=narco-government” was a popular slogan on Oct. 22, in reference to President Peña Nieto’s centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). The marchers targeted the federal government for its tolerance of political corruption and organized crime under Peña and under his two predecessors, Vicente Fox Quesada (2000-2006) and Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012), both from the PAN. “Peña out!” was a popular slogan at the demonstrations. But the greatest anger may be at the PRD, the party of Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre Rivero, Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez and his wife, María de los Angeles Pineda Villa. Now in hiding, Abarca and Pineda are thought to have ordered the attack on the students by municipal police and members of the Guerreros Unidos gang, while Aguirre’s government seemed to do nothing to stop the killings of leftist activists over the past several years, including the police shooting of two Ayotzinapa students in December 2011 [see Update #1237].

On Oct. 21 some 500 teachers in the militant State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG) left a sit-in the group had been holding since Oct. 8 in the main plaza of Chilpancingo, the state capital, to march on the PRD’s Guerrero headquarters and demand Aguirre’s resignation. They overturned a vehicle outside the building and then invaded the office, setting fire to computers, furniture and files. Two days later, on Oct. 23, the governor finally resigned. The PRD national leadership had been resisting efforts to remove Aguirre, but apparently they changed course on Oct. 22. PRD president Carlos Navarrete reportedly presented the governor with a dossier the federal government had prepared on him. “Angel, it could turn out to be more costly for you,” Navarrete said, according to several PRD politicians. Aguirre responded by offering to resign; he asked the PRD to negotiate immunity for him and for state finance secretary Jorge Salgado.

Observers said the governor’s resignation wasn’t likely to end the crisis. As for the PRD, party officials estimated off the record that the group’s voter approval rating had fallen by 3-4% as a result of the events in Guerrero. The PRD only governs three of Mexico’s 31 states, although it has headed the government in the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) since 1997. (La Jornada (Mexico) 10/22/14, 10/23/14, 10/23/14, 10/24/14, 10/25/14; Los Angeles Times 10/25/14 from correspondent)

The North American solidarity organization Rights Action is handling donations for the Ayotzinapa students’ financial committee to help parents and teachers carry on their work for the missing students. More information is available at http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Emergency-Fund-Raising-Appeal-For-Disappeared-Mexican-Students.html?soid=1103480765269&aid=bBeeoLvMRX0.

On Oct. 21, in the midst of the Guerrero crisis, the federal government’s semi-autonomous National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) released its Recommendation 51/2014 concerning the killing of 22 suspected gang members by the military on June 30 in Tlataya municipality, México state [see Update #1234]. The soldiers and the state attorney general’s office claimed that the suspects died in a shootout. After investigating the case the CNDH concluded that 15 of the victims were executed by seven soldiers, who beat four of the victims before killing them. The bodies were then rearranged to support the story of a shootout, and state authorities imprisoned, threatened and otherwise mistreated two of the three surviving witnesses in effort to get them to back the cover-up; the two witness are still incarcerated at the Tepic, Nayarit federal women’s prison. The military, state prosecutors and the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) all came in for criticism in the CNDH’s recommendation. (Excélsior (Mexico) 10/22/14; Jurist 10/22/14)

*3. Mexico: Privatization Scandals Multiply
The Sept. 26-27 killing and abduction of several dozen students in the southwestern state of Guerrero could be creating problems for Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto’s efforts to improve the country’s international image and to continue the opening of its economy to private businesses [see Update #1203]. Los Angeles Times correspondent Tracy Wilkinson reported on Oct. 25 that Peña’s “government is clearly concerned it is losing a finely crafted domestic and international public relations campaign that emphasized major reforms of Mexico's energy sector. Publications in the US and Europe that once lavished praise on the president have turned the tables.” (LA Times 10/25/14)

But Peña’s “energy reform” program has problems of its own. On Oct. 20 Mexican entrepreneur Amado Yáñez Osuna was arrested in Acapulco and charged with money laundering and failure to pay social security taxes. Due to the nature of the charges he is being held without bail. Yáñez Osuna is the sole director of Oceanografía SA de CV, one of the private companies that contract to provide services to Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the giant state-owned oil monopoly, in an arrangement that critics consider a disguised form of privatization. Yáñez has been under house arrest since March, following allegations of massive fraud by the company. (La Jornada (Mexico) 10/21/14, 10/23/14) At the end of February the US banking corporation Citigroup Inc. announced that its Mexican subsidiary, Banco Nacional de México (Banamex), had lent Oceanografía some $400 million based on falsified invoices that Oceanografía claimed it had issued to PEMEX [see Update #1212]. Banamex is Mexico’s second-largest bank; it was privatized under former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) and was bought by Citigroup in 2001.

The Oceanografía case was the first of two major bribery scandals for PEMEX this year; in April the US government fined the California-based technology company Hewlett-Packard (HP) for bribing PEMEX officials to sell the oil enterprise hardware, software and licenses worth some $6 million [see Update #1216].

Another of Oceanografía’s creditors is the Monterrey-based Grupo Financiero Banorte (GFNorte), which lent the company 512 million pesos (about US$38 million). The bank’s officials insist that in this case the loans were properly documented. Privatized in 1992, Banorte is the largest Mexican bank not owned by a foreign corporation. During the week of Oct. 20 rumors circulated that Mexican banker Carlos Hank González would soon head Banorte. (LJ 10/24/14) Currently the director general of Grupo Financiero Interacciones, Hank González is the grandson of a former Mexico City mayor of the same name, a notoriously corrupt politician who died in 2001. The younger Hank González’s uncle is the equally notorious Tijuana racetrack owner Jorge Hank Rhon, and his father is billionaire banker Carlos Hank Rhon. A report by the US National Drug Intelligence Center in the late 1990s claimed that Jorge Hank Rhon, Carlos Hank Rhon and the elder Carlos Hank González were so involved in drug trafficking and money laundering that they “pose a significant criminal threat to the United States” [see Update #1082].

Meanwhile, Mexico’s Supreme Court agreed on Oct. 17 to consider a request from the center-left National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) for a national referendum on the energy reform program. Electoral officials have certified that MORENA’s petition has the two million valid signatures required for a referendum. The court has 20 days to decide whether to allow Mexicans to vote on the question: “Do you agree or do you not agree that contracts or concessions should be granted to national or foreign private entities for the exploration of oil, gas, refining, and the petrochemical and electrical industries?” (TeleSUR 10/20/14; LJ 10/21/14)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America/US, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Costa Rice, Mexico, the Caribbean, Haiti, US/immigration

Latin America Provides Alternative Paths to Successful Poverty Reduction
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Latin-America-Provides-Alternative-Paths-to-Successful-Poverty-Reduction-20141017-0018.html

Latin American progressives and environmental duplicity
https://opendemocracy.net/daniel-macmillen/latin-american-progressives-and-environmental-duplicity

Argentina sentences 15 to life over La Cacha prison
http://ww4report.com/node/12929#comment-452521

Chile's Untapped Clean Energy Potential
https://nacla.org/blog/2014/10/22/chile-untapped-clean-energy-potential

Uruguay’s Decision Could Come Too Late for Gitmo Detainees
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5096-uruguays-decision-could-come-too-late-for-gitmo-detainees

Brazil’s Rousseff Re-elected Despite Anti-Workers’ Party Sentiment: What Now?
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/brazil-archives-63/5101-brazils-rousseff-re-elected-despite-anti-workers-party-sentiment-what-now

Economic Issues Could be Decisive in Brazilian Presidential Election
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5100-economic-issues-could-be-decisive-in-brazilian-presidential-election

“Dilma’s loss would be a loss for the world’s working class”: An Interview with Luis Gonzaga “Gegê” da Silva
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/dilmas-loss-would-be-a-loss-for-the-worlds-working-class-an-interview-with-luis-gonzaga-gege-da-silva

How Many Extra Votes Does Brazilian Opposition Candidate Aécio Neves Get from Media Bias?
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/how-many-extra-votes-does-brazilian-opposition-candidate-aecio-neves-get-from-media-bias

Interview with Evo Morales on Bolivia's Socio-Economic Transformation
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5094-interview-with-evo-morales-on-bolivias-socio-economic-transformation

Bolivia: protests continue against mining law
http://ww4report.com/node/13621#comment-452524

Peru: 'dirty war' remains returned to families
http://ww4report.com/node/13569#comment-452522

Colombia and Peru to 'cleanse' Putumayo
http://ww4report.com/node/13646

Colombia: mass graves exhumed in Cauca
http://ww4report.com/node/13666

Colombia: peasants detain soldiers after arrests
http://ww4report.com/node/13665

Venezuela at the UN, Washington At Bay
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5097-venezuela-at-the-un-washington-at-bay

Venezuelan Government Unveils 2015 Budget, Anticipates Drop in Oil Prices
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10978

Venezuela urged to release opposition leader
http://ww4report.com/node/13647

No End in Sight for Costa Rica Port Workers’ Strike
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/No-End-in-Sight-for-Costa-Rica-Port-Workers-Strike-20141025-0035.html

Disappeared Youth Spark Protests in Mexico’s Worst Political Crisis in Decades
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13289

We want them alive — the search for Mexico’s 43 missing students
http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/alive-want-search-mexicos-43-missing-students/

Trial for Sexual Slavery During Armed Conflict Opens in Guatemala
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13315

Mexican Youth Remember 1968 Massacre and Mourn Their Own Dead
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13171

Report from Guerrero: The Real Criminals
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13231

Race, Class, and Cannabis in the Caribbean
https://nacla.org/blog/2014/10/23/race-class-and-cannabis-caribbean

Haiti Cholera Victims Get First Hearing in Court
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/haiti-cholera-victims-get-first-hearing-in-court

"They are Telling the Story of the Border, But Nobody is Telling it Right" (US/immigration)
https://nacla.org/news/2014/10/23/they-are-telling-story-border-nobody-telling-it-right

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, October 21, 2014

WNU #1238: UN Troops to Stay in Haiti

Issue #1238, October 19, 2014

1. Haiti: UN Troop Mandate Renewed for One Year
2. Mexico: Guerrero Protesters Seize City Halls
3. El Salvador: 1980s Army Hit List Unearthed
4. Central America: US Returns Migrants to Danger
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America/US, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, 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: UN Troop Mandate Renewed for One Year
The United Nations (UN) Security Council voted unanimously on Oct. 14 to extend for another year the mandate for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the international military and police force stationed in Haiti since June 2004. For now the operation will continue to consist of 5,021 soldiers and 2,601 police agents. The Council accepted UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s recommendation to cut the number of soldiers to 2,370 [see Update #1233], but it decided to maintain the current troop strength until after March 2015, when Ban is to deliver a report on developments, including elections for local, municipal and some parliamentary posts. According to the government of President Michel Martelly, the elections, originally scheduled for 2011, will be held in the first three months of 2015; under the 1987 Constitution a presidential election should take place later in the year.

Latin American countries provide the bulk of the soldiers, and a number of Latin American groups and political figures--including Argentine human rights activist and 1980 Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel—joined Haitian groups in pressing for an end to MINUSTAH, which is blamed for repressive acts, for the sexual abuse of minors and others, and for introducing cholera into the country in October 2010. MINUSTAH opponents sent the Security Council an open letter dated Oct. 12 calling for “the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops occupying this Caribbean country.” (Adital (Brazil) 10/10/14; AlterPresse (Haiti) 10/15/14)

The Security Council vote came as the UN was about to face a court challenge to its claim of legal immunity for deaths and other damage from the cholera epidemic. A federal district judge in New York, J. Paul Oetken, has agreed to hear oral arguments from the Boston-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and other groups representing thousands of Haitian cholera victims in a lawsuit filed last year [see Update #1195]. Even a former lawyer for the UN, Columbia law professor Bruce Rashkow, questioned the international body’s immunity claim, although he expressed doubts that the victims would win in court. The UN “is obligated to establish some modality for plaintiffs, for people injured, to seek redress,” he told France 24 radio. “You have to step up to the plate and deal with your responsibility.” The hearing before Judge Oetken is scheduled for 10 am on Oct. 23 in Lower Manhattan’s Thurgood Marshall US Courthouse, room 706; it is open to the public. (New York Times 10/8/14; France 24 (English) 10/10/14; undated announcement forwarded from IJDH)

Meanwhile, Secretary General Moon is scrambling to fulfill his December 2012 pledge of $2.2 billion to fight the epidemic in Haiti. The UN still hasn’t met its initial goal of raising $400 million by the end of this year, although World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim announced in early October that the international bank would put up $50 million. Experts are worried that attention will be taken away from Haiti’s cholera epidemic by the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, where some 4,500 patients have died. The toll from cholera in Haiti is now over 8,300 deaths, and more than 700,000 people have been sickened. (Miami Herald 10/9/14; France 24 10/10/14)

*2. Mexico: Guerrero Protesters Seize City Halls
Students, teachers and parents attacked government office buildings in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southwestern state of Guerrero, on Oct. 13 in ongoing protests over the killing of six people, including three students, and the disappearance of 43 other students in Iguala de la Independencia the night of Sept. 26-27 [see Update #1237]. The demonstrators blocked the entrances to the main state office building from around 11 am, keeping some 1,500 employees trapped for more than five hours. In the evening, after some skirmishes with riot police, the protesters broke into one of the buildings and set it on fire. There were also attacks on various vehicles and on Chilpancingo’s city hall. (La Jornada (Mexico) 10/14/14)

Protests continued throughout the week. In addition to occupying tollbooths on the Mexico City-Acapulco highway, teachers in a militant teachers’ labor group, the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), began a campaign to occupy the city halls of all the state’s 81 municipalities. As of Oct. 16 the teachers, backed by campesino groups, claimed to have taken over the local government buildings in Chilpancingo, Huamuxtitlán, Mártir de Cuilapan and San Luis Acatlán; state government sources said the mayors of 12 other municipalities had told their employees leave their offices in anticipation of further building occupations. On Oct. 17 thousands of protesters marched along the Miguel Alemán Coastal Highway in the resort city of Acapulco in a demonstration called by the CETEG and 43 other organizations. Another march was held in Iguala itself, headed by a statewide organization of community police groups, the Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State (UPOEG). Claiming concerns about an approaching tropical storm, the state government closed schools for the day. There were also demonstrations on Oct. 17 in six other states, including Chiapas, Chihuahua and Zacatecas. (LJ 10/17/14, 10/18/14, 10/18/14)

At a meeting held on Oct. 18 in the Che Guevara auditorium at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City, representatives from various universities called for a two-day national student strike on Oct. 22-23, to include informational actions, the blocking of streets, a large march in Mexico City and various local actions to be determined by different schools. There was also discussion of occupying radio and television stations. (LJ 10/19/14)

The investigation into the events of Sept. 26-27—in which police and alleged criminal organizations targeted students from the activist Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the town of Ayotzinapa—has had mixed results. It seems likely that the 43 Ayotzinapa students who are still unaccounted for were murdered and buried in mass graves somewhere in the area around Iguala. On Oct. 14 federal attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam announced that the 28 charred bodies found 10 days earlier in the hills outside the city of Iguala were not those of the students. But a total of at least 14 mass graves have been found in the area so far, some by community police affiliated with the UPOEG. Technicians are trying to identify bodies by DNA, and speculation grows about how many unidentified bodies are buried in Guerrero’s hills. (LJ 10/15/14, 10/19/14)

As of Oct. 14, state and federal authorities had arrested a total of 46 people in connection with the attacks on the students: 22 municipal police from Iguala, 14 municipal police from the nearby town of Cocula and 10 civilians, including members of a local criminal gang, Guerreros Unidos (“United Warriors”). The authorities were preparing--but had not yet issued, contrary to earlier reports--arrest warrants for Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca, and his police chief, Felipe Flores Velázquez; both were in hiding. The authorities were also investigating María de los Angeles Pineda Villa, Abarca’s wife and the sister of at least two Guerreros Unidos leaders; she too was in hiding. (LJ 10/15/14)

The investigation is complicated by maneuvering among Mexico’s three major parties. Protesters are regularly calling for the resignation of Gov. Angel Aguirre Rivero, who, like Mayor Abarca, is a member of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and its dominant New Left (“Los Cuchos”) faction. Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto is a member of the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and there are reports that his government is protecting Gov. Aguirre in exchange for the New Left’s agreement not to call for the resignation of México state’s PRI governor, Eruviel Avila Villegas, whose government apparently covered up the military’s responsibility for a June massacre in Tlatlaya municipality [see Update #1234]. The center-right National Action Party (PAN) is demanding Aguirre’s removal, but it has its own problems in Guerrero. The state party’s general secretary, Braulio Zaragoza Maganda, was murdered in Acapulco on Sept. 28. On Oct. 18 Guerrero state attorney general Iñaky Blanco Cabrera announced that five of Zaragoza’s fellow PAN members were being charged in the killing, which was termed political. Two of those charged in this case were accused in an earlier murder of a PAN politician, the Jan. 4, 2007 killing of state legislator José Jorge Bajos Valverde. (LJ 10/17/14, 10/19/14)

A new center-left party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) of former PRD leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is also tainted. Until Oct. 16 Guerrero's health secretary was Lázaro Mazón Alonso, a MORENA member and a longtime associate of Mayor Abarca. That day Gov. Aguirre announced that he had asked for Mazón’s resignation so that Mazón could answer investigators’ questions about his relations with the fugitive mayor. Ironically, on Oct. 17 the state legislature confirmed that Luis Mazón, Lázaro Mazón’s brother, will be the replacement mayor of Iguala. Luis Mazón was Abarca’s deputy; his appointment as mayor is to be ratified on Oct. 21. (LJ 10/17/14, 10/18/14)

On Oct. 17 the daily Reforma published a poll it had taken of 500 adult Guerrero residents on Oct. 16 and 17. Asked if Gov. Aguirre should stay in office, 43% of the respondents wanted him to stay, while 42% favored his resignation. Some 65% felt the state government had handled the Ayotzinapa case badly, but they were split on the federal government’s handling of the case, with 43% saying it had done well and 42% saying it had done badly. 49% expected the guilty parties to escape justice, while 37% thought they would be punished. A full 63% said they supported the protests; 75% opposed actions like the burning of government offices on Oct. 13, but 21% felt they were justified. Reforma said the poll’s margin of error was +/-4.4% . (Reforma 10/17/14)

In the midst of the current crisis, on Oct. 15 the Guerrero Truth Commission (Comverdad) was scheduled to release its report on the “dirty war” the military carried out in the state during the late 1960s and the 1970s against rebel groups like the Party of the Poor (PdlP) of Lucio Cabañas Barrientos [see Update #1087]. The commission, whose two-year term expired with the release of the report, documented 463 cases of severe human rights violations, including 24 summary executions and 230 forced disappearances. Comverdad also found the remains of two rebels and new evidence on “death flights,” in which the military dropped its victims’ bodies from planes into the Pacific. The commission discovered that the dirty war wasn’t just history. Even though Comverdad was formally established by the state legislature in 2012, its office was vandalized, its funding was cut and its members were harassed and received death threats. Armed men attacked commission members Pilar Noriega García and Nicomedes Fuentes last January.

The state’s new crisis “is the product of impunity from that era,” Noriega told New Mexico State University’s Frontera NorteSur, referring to the time of the dirty war. “It is the product of not having clarity about that epoch.” Asked about the US government’s role in the counterinsurgency, Noriega told Frontera NorteSur that while Comverdad found no evidence of direct US involvement, records showed that Washington was closely “following the matter.” Kate Doyle, the director of the Mexico Project of the DC-based National Security Archive research group, said US agencies gathered intelligence and sometimes provided it; the US supported “implicitly and explicitly anything Mexico did to maintain stability,” according to Doyle. (LJ 10/14/14; Frontera NorteSur 10/15/14)

*3. El Salvador: 1980s Army Hit List Unearthed
A secret July 1987 Salvadoran military document revealing the methods the army used during El Salvador’s 1979-1992 civil war was made public for the first time on Sept. 28, International Right to Know Day. Entitled the “Yellow Book” (“Libro Amarillo”), the 270-page document is a compilation the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces’ Intelligence Department (C-II) made of 1,915 entries about people the military considered “criminal terrorists.” Of these, 1,857 individuals were identified by name, along with nicknames and photographs. The people named were members of unions, political parties, and groups of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), including current Salvadoran president Salvador Sánchez Cerén.

According to an analysis by the DC-based National Security Archive, the University of Washington Center for Human Rights and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), 273 of the names (15%,) matched people reportedly killed in El Salvador during the 1980-1992 period; 233 (13%) matched reported victims of forced disappearances; 274 (15%) matched reported torture victims; and 538 (29%) matched people who were detained or arrested. A total of at least 43% of the people listed in the Yellow Book were victims of human rights violations.

The Yellow Book was discovered by a person who remains unidentified. Its existence was revealed last year by Al Jazeera and the Mexican daily La Jornada, but the document itself was unavailable until now. It is the first secret military document made public from the time of the civil war; the Salvadoran military, which was then strongly backed by the US, has refused to release any documents. Miguel Montenegro, the director of the El Salvador Human Rights Commission (CDHES), expects the publication to have a great impact in El Salvador at a time when activists are pushing for the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) to declare unconstitutional a 1993 law providing amnesty for the military’s crimes during the period.

The National Security Archive notes that the Yellow Book seems to incorporate advice from the US government. In 1981 US brigadier general Fred Woerner carried out an assessment of the Salvadoran military’s strategy for the new administration of US president Ronald Reagan (1981-1989). One of Gen. Woerner’s recommendations was that the Salvadorans should “[p]ublish and maintain blacklists with photos of all known insurgents and their aliases at ports of entry/exit, border crossing points, and internal checkpoints.” (National Security Archive 9/28/14; Adital (Brazil) 10/13/14)

*4. Central America: US Returns Migrants to Danger
US government policies for dealing with unauthorized migrants at the Mexico-US border are endangering Hondurans and other Central Americans by sending them back to their home countries without adequate consideration of their asylum claims, according to a 44-page report that the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization released on Oct. 16. “In its frenzy to stem the tide of migrants from Central America, the US is sending asylum seekers back to the threat of murder, rape and other violence,” said Clara Long, the HRW researcher who wrote the report, “‘You Don’t Have Rights Here’: US Border Screening and Returns of Central Americans to Risk of Serious Harm.”

Based on interviews with 25 recent deportees in Honduras and 10 Central Americans in detention centers in Artesia, New Mexico, and Karnes, Texas, the report describes cursory screening by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents who regularly ignore migrants’ credible claims of danger from criminal gangs in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Data that HRW obtained from the CBP for 2011 and 2012 tells the same story. At least 80% of the Hondurans apprehended at the border were placed in summary removal proceedings, according to the CBP, and only 1.9% were flagged as possible asylum seekers, despite the fact that Honduras currently has the world’s highest murder rate. By comparison, CBP agents flagged 21% of migrants from other countries for secondary, in-depth screening. (HRW 10/16/14)

Central American migrants face even worse obstacles during their journey north through Mexico [see Update #1220]. In early October the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP), an international group founded in Italy in 1979 to influence world opinion on various issues, heard testimony in Mexico City on the migrants’ treatment. Father Pedro Pantoja, who organized a migrants’ shelter in Saltillo in the northeastern state of Coahuila, described Mexico as “a hell for migrants,” who are threatened by criminal gangs and corrupt officials and are subjected to increasingly strict enforcement measures from the Mexican government. While the TPP was meeting, interior secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced that the government would now require freight trains to double their speed as a way of deterring Central Americans from riding on them. Migrants testified at the TPP hearings that Osorio Chong’s new speeds would cause more deaths and injuries but wouldn’t stop the migration. (The Progressive 10/8/14)

Mexican advocates trying to help the migrants are also subject to harsh treatment. The Brother and Sister Migrants on the Road shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec, Oaxaca, directed by Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, has reported on an attack by agents from the federal government’s National Migration Institute (INM) in Chibela, Oaxaca on Sept. 18. Volunteers, including the photojournalist Irineo Mujica Arzate and Marlene López, an academic researcher, were accompanying a group of migrants when they were stopped by INM agents backed up by soldiers. The agents physically and verbally attacked the volunteers and seized their cameras as they tried to record the incident. The shelter reported that at least 57 people, including migrants and volunteers, had been attacked in the area since August. (Adital (Brazil) 10/8/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America/US, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, US/immigration

Let’s Talk About Race (in Latin@ Communities)(Latin America/US)
https://nacla.org/news/2014/10/16/let%E2%80%99s-talk-about-race-latin-communities

La Garganta Poderosa: Voice and dignity from below (Argentina)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13120

Paraguayan Journalist Murdered
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Paraguayan-Journalist-Murdered-20141017-0035.html

Why Dilma Should Look Back to Her Bases in Brazil's Runoff Election
http://nacla.org/news/2014/10/20/why-dilma-should-look-back-her-bases-brazils-runoff-election

Bolivia: Evo wins —amid indigenous protests
http://ww4report.com/node/13621

Evo Morales and the winning epoch in Bolivia
http://alainet.org/active/77795

Beyond Evo Morales’ Electoral Victory: A View from La Paz, Bolivia
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/bolivia-archives-31/5089-beyond-evo-morales-electoral-victory-a-view-from-la-paz-bolivia

Bolivia: Has Evo Morales proven his critics wrong?
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5086--bolivia-has-evo-morales-proven-his-critics-wrong-

Photo Essay: Thousands March in El Alto, Bolivia Demanding Justice for 2003 Gas War Massacre
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/bolivia-archives-31/5090-photo-essay-thousands-march-in-el-alto-bolivia-demanding-justice-for-2003-gas-war-massacre

Colombia: Santos under fire over peace process
http://www.ww4report.com/node/13641

Colombians sue BP over environmental damage
http://www.ww4report.com/node/13639

Venezuela accuses Colombian paras in death of pol
http://www.ww4report.com/node/13640

Venezuela Gains UN Security Council Seat
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10967

Civil Society, Judges Team Up Against Judicial Corruption in Guatemala
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5082-civil-society-judges-team-up-against-judicial-corruption-in-guatemala

43 Missing Students, State Crimes & Resistance in Mexico
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5087-43-missing-students-state-crimes-a-resistance-in-mexico

Cops and Paramilitaries Tortured, Burned, Massacred Mexico Students
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5081-cops-and-paramilitaries-tortured-burned-massacred-mexico-students

New Report Exposes Mexican Dirty War
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/new-report-exposes-mexican-dirty-war/

Chaos: catharsis of the system in Mexico
http://alainet.org/active/77963

A Hero of Tlatelolco (Mexico)
http://nacla.org/news/2014/10/20/hero-tlatelolco

Film Chronicles the Movement to Save a Sacred Land and a Visionary Culture
https://intercontinentalcry.org/film-chronicles-movement-save-sacred-land-visionary-culture-25880/

Mexico: dam opponent slain during radio broadcast
http://ww4report.com/node/13632

Mexican cartel wars winding down?
http://ww4report.com/node/13631

How Far the Cult of the Individual? (Mexico)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13201

Cuba and U.S. Join Forces Against Ebola in West Africa
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/-Cuba-and-U.S.-Join-Forces-Against-Ebola-in-West-Africa-20141018-0002.html

Lila Downs on Borders and La Bestia (US/immigration)
https://nacla.org/news/2014/10/14/lila-downs-borders-and-la-bestia

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, October 14, 2014

WNU #1237: Child Migrant “Crisis” Vanishes

Issue #1237, October 12, 2014

1. Central America: Child Migrant “Crisis” Vanishes
2. Mexico: Anger Grows Over Iguala Massacre
3. Guatemala: Trial Starts in 1980 Embassy Fire
4. Haiti: Duvalier Protested, Aristide Threatened
5. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti

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. Central America: Child Migrant “Crisis” Vanishes
The administration of US president Barack Obama announced on Sept. 30 that it planned to set up processing centers in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras so that children from these countries could apply for US refugee status without actually entering the US. Officials said the new policy came in response to the spike over the last year in illegal crossing into the US by unaccompanied minors and by women with small children [see Update #1228]. The number of Central American children admitted through the program would be small, however, according to an administration memorandum which provides for a total of 70,000 refugees to be admitted in fiscal 2015, the period from October this year through September 2015. This only includes 4,000 refugees from all of Latin American and the Caribbean, although some Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans could be admitted through another 2,000 slots not specified for particular regions. (CNN México 10/1/14; New York Times 10/1/14)

The administration first floated the idea of in-country refugee applications for Central Americans in July. Bill Frelick, the director of the refugee program for the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization, responded in August that “there is little reason for confidence that an in-country processing program would serve the protection needs of the most vulnerable people in the most imminent danger of serious harm.” He noted the experience with such a program in Haiti in the early 1990s. “By May 1994, 54,219 had filed applications, representing nearly 106,000 people; only 10,644 cases had been decided, and only 7.7% of those cases were approved. On Aug. 1, 1994, Haitian police and paramilitary forces attacked a line of applicants waiting for refugee processing, beating and arresting a number of them.” (Politico.com 8/13/14)

Meanwhile, the spike in border crossings by Central American children and families has ended. A total of 68,541 minors were detained trying to cross the border in fiscal 2014, according to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, a 77% increase over fiscal 2013, with a peak of more than 10,000 in June 2014. But the number dropped to 5,501 in July, to 3,141 in July and to 2,424 in September, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a speech on Oct. 9. (Fox News Latino 10/10/14, from EFE)

Several different explanations have been offered for the disappearance of what had been referred to as a “crisis” in border crossings. Most explanations have attributed the drop to enforcement measures: efforts by the Central American governments to deter emigration, harsher treatment of Central Americans while they try to cross Mexico, and increased detention of asylum seekers once they reach the US. One possible cause has received little attention. In May US functionaries, mostly from the CBP, asked 230 detained migrants why they chose “this particular time” to enter the US. A “high percentage” of migrants cited rumors that after June the US would stop the practice of releasing many asylum seekers into the US with a notice to appear later in immigration court.

This suggests that many Central Americans who may have been considering emigration at some time in the future--either because of poverty in their home countries or the threat of gang violence--decided to head north in the first half of this year before the US could make it more difficult to enter. Since people who might have decided to emigrate later moved up their departure date, the number of border crossers kept increasing until June and then suddenly dropped. Rumors later that the cutoff would be in October seemed not to have a similar effect. This could mean that rumors actually don’t have a big influence on migration flows, but it might simply mean that many people who would otherwise have crossed the border later had already done so by June. (Truthout 9/4/14; Vox Media 9/19/14)

*2. Mexico: Anger Grows Over Iguala Massacre
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Mexico and internationally on Oct. 8 to protest the killing of six people and the wounding of at least 20 more the night of Sept. 26-27 by municipal police and people in civilian dress in the city of Iguala in the southwestern state of Guerrero [see Update #1236]. The demonstrators demanded the return of 43 students who have been missing since that night; all are from the militant Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the town of Ayotzinapa. “They were taken alive, we want them back alive” and “We are all Ayotzinapa” were among the slogans protesters chanted in at least 25 Mexican states and in some 60 cities, including many in other countries; there were also calls for the Guerrero state government and Mexico’s federal government to “go away.”

Parents of some of the missing students led the Oct. 8 protest in Mexico City, along with students from Ayotzinapa, marching from the Angel of Independence to a closing rally in the central Zócalo. The Federal District (DF, Mexico City) government estimated the crowd at 15,000, but media reports suggested a larger demonstration; the marchers filled the streets in the city’s Historic District. One of the largest protests took place in San Cristóbal de las Casas in the southeastern state of Chiapas, where some 20,000 members of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) held a silent march “as a sign of sorrow and courage” and to demand “real justice.” About 10,000 people marched in Chilpancingo, the Guerrero state capital, including parents of the missing students, while 300 people protested in the state’s resort city of Acapulco. Another 4,000 people marched in Tlapa de Comonfort, in Guerrero’s mountain region; at the conclusion about 50 youths charged into city hall, setting furniture and papers on fire. There were also protests in Aguascalientes, Campeche, Chihuahua, Colima, Durango, Hidalgo, Jalisco, México state, Michoacán, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosí, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Yucatán and Zacatecas.

Argentine protesters demonstrated at Mexico’s Buenos Aires embassy, while Spanish protesters rallied in Madrid and in Barcelona. Chicago, San Francisco and New York were among the US cities with protests. Some 50 people, including Mexican students and US activists, participated in the New York demonstration, which #YoSoy132 Nueva York and the Internationalist Group sponsored in front of the Mexican consulate in midtown Manhattan. In addition to New York police officers in a patrol car, several men in suits monitored the protest from just outside the consulate; reporters on the scene said at least one of the men was from the US State Department. (Univision 10/8/14; La Jornada (Mexico) 10/9/14, 10/9/14; report from Update editor 10/8/14)

The joint investigation into the Iguala killings by federal and state authorities seems mired in confusion. On Oct. 9 officials announced that four more mass graves had been found outside the city of Iguala near a group of mass graves first reported on Oct. 4 and suspected of holding the bodies of the 43 missing students. On Oct. 11 Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre Rivero announced that some of the bodies found in the mass graves appeared not to belong to the missing students, raising hopes that the students might be alive. But federal attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam said he didn’t know what Aguirre based his claim on; officially none of the charred bodies have been identified. (LJ 10/12/14)

The Iguala violence has led to growing anger with two of the three main Mexican parties: the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which has replaced the PRI as the dominant party in Guerrero. Both Gov. Aguirre and Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez are members of the PRD and of its New Left faction (commonly known as “Los Chuchos”). Through an old friend and former Iguala mayor, Dr. Lázaro Mazón, Mayor Abarca is also connected to the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), a new center-left party founded by 2006 presidential candidate and former Mexico City mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Abarca, who took a leave of absence after the Sept. 26 killings, is now in hiding with a warrant out for his arrest; his police chief is also being sought. Abarca’s wife, María de los Angeles Pineda Villa, also a PRD politician, is said to be the sister of leaders of the Guerreros Unidos (“Warriors United”) gang, which is suspected of carrying out the abduction of the missing students in collaboration with the municipal police. In June 2013 Abarca himself was accused of ordering and participating in the murder of three Guerrero activists and fellow PRD members: Arturo Hernández Cardona, the leader of the Popular Union (UP) in Iguala, and Félix Rafael Bandera Román and Ángel Román Ramírez [see Update #1180]. María Soledad Hernández, Hernández Cardona’s daughter, said her father had warned that Abarca was likely to have him killed. The family tried unsuccessfully to get federal prosecutors to charge Abarca after the murders. “The events that occurred on Sept. 26 could have been avoided if anyone had listened to us,” Sofía Lorena Mendoza Martínez, Hernández Cardona's widow, told a US reporter. (LJ 10/7/14; The Daily Beast 10/8/14)

Elected governor by a center-left coalition in 2011, Aguirre is a former PRI politician who served as interim governor from 1996 to 1999; he was the handpicked successor of the PRI’s Rubén Figueroa Alcocer, who had to resign after a June 1995 massacre by state police of 17 unarmed members of the leftist South Sierra Campesino Organization (OCSS) at Aguas Blancas near Acapulco [see Update #1109]. Guerrero has maintained its reputation for political violence during Aguirre’s current administration. Sept. 26 wasn’t the first time Ayotzinapa students became victims of police violence; two were killed during a demonstration in December 2011. Community activists have also been targeted. In addition to Hernández Cardona and his two friends, 2013 brought the murders of Raymundo Velázquez Flores, director of the Emiliano Zapata Revolutionary Agrarian League, and two colleagues on Aug. 5 in the outskirts of Coyuca de Benítez, and the assassination of OCSS director Rocío Mesino Mesino on Oct. 19 [see Update #1196].

Other Guerrero activists have been harassed and imprisoned. Olinalá community police leader Nestora Salgado has been in prison since August 2013 [see Update #1231], and in the midst of the uproar over the Iguala killings, on Oct. 10 Salgado’s daughter, Saira Rodríguez Salgado, charged that she had been threatened with death and required to pay a bribe to prevent the murder of some members of the local community police. (LJ 10/11/14)

Calls for Aguirre’s resignation are mounting. The PRD’s New Left faction is reportedly negotiating with the PRI to keep him in office in exchange for not demanding the resignation of México state governor Eruviel Avila Villegas, a PRI member, over his government’s handling of an investigation into the killing of 22 people by soldiers on June 30 in Tlatlaya municipality. The state found no wrongdoing in the incident, but the federal government is now carrying out its own inquiry, in response to an international outcry [see Update #1234]. (La Opinión (Los Angeles) 10/9/14)

Anger at politicians has reached such a point that PRD founder Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, once a revered figure for much of the left, was attacked by about 30 protesters when he attended the Oct. 8 demonstration in Mexico City. Shouting “coward,” “traitor” and “murderer,” the protesters threw water, rocks and a large plastic container at Cárdenas, a former Michoacán governor and Mexico City mayor who ran for president three times as a center-left coalition candidate but has now distanced himself from politics. Friends and supporters protected Cárdenas, but he had to flee the Zócalo; the writer and historian Adolfo Gilly was hit by an object and was slightly injured. Afterwards Cárdenas played the incident down, blaming it on “sectarianism” and adding: “The important thing is for the 43 disappeared people to be brought back alive.” (LJ 10/9/14)

*3. Guatemala: Trial Starts in 1980 Embassy Fire
On Oct. 1 a Guatemalan court began hearing the case of Pedro García Arredondo, a former chief of the National Police who is charged with causing the deaths of 37 people in a fire at the Spanish embassy in Guatemala City on Jan. 31, 1980. “We finally want to close a cycle of our sorrow, of our suffering,” indigenous activist and 1992 Nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum told reporters the day before the trial was to start. “It’s painful to carry this,” said Menchú, whose father, campesino activist Vicente Menchú, died in the fire.

The incident at the embassy began when indigenous and campesino leaders from El Quiché department occupied the building to draw attention to atrocities by the military; this was during one of the most brutal phases of the country’s 1960-1996 civil war. While meeting with embassy officials, the protesters were surprised by the police, who blocked the doors. A fire broke out in the building, and the police refused to unblock the doors or allow firefighters to enter. Spanish consul Jaime Ruiz Arvore, former Guatemalan vice president Eduardo Cáceres Lehnhoff (1970-74) and former Guatemalan foreign relations minister Adolfo Molina died along with the protesters. One campesino survived the fire, but he was kidnapped and murdered by armed men after being hospitalized. The only other survivor was Spanish ambassador Máximo Cajal y López; he died at the beginning of this year but left videotaped testimony which is being used in the trial.

García Arredondo is already serving a 70-year prison sentence; he was convicted in 2012 of the 1981 kidnapping, torture and murder of a student, Edgar Sáenz Calito. Moisés Galindo, García Arredondo’s lawyer, claims that the prosecution is pinning responsibility for the deaths on his client while ignoring the role of people like the late president Romeo Lucas García (1978-1982) and the late National Police chief Germán Chupina Barahona. Last year the court trying the case successfully convicted former dictator Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt (1982-83) of genocide against indigenous peoples during his administration, but the May 2013 conviction was annulled 10 days later by the Constitutional Court (CC). Galindo is also Ríos Montt’s attorney [see Update #1218]. (Tico Times (Costa Rica) 9/30/14 from AFP; Adital (Brazil) 10/6/14)

*4. Haiti: Duvalier Protested, Aristide Threatened
Hundreds of Haitians attended a private funeral mass on Oct. 11 in Port-au-Prince for “president for life” Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier (1971-1986), who had died suddenly of a heart attack while eating breakfast with a friend the morning of Oct. 4 [not the night of Oct. 3 as reported in Update #1236]. The government of President Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) apparently decided not to hold a state funeral for the late dictator, and Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe stayed away from the mass, as did the diplomatic corps. Former president Gen. Prosper Avril (1988-1990) and former acting president Boniface Alexandre (2004-2006) attended. Duvalier’s coffin was covered with a Haitian flag--but the current red and blue flag, not the red and black flag used by the 1957-1986 Duvalier family dictatorship. (Miami Herald 10/11/14 from correspondent)

Protesters held a demonstration in downtown Port-au-Prince at the same time to remind people of the brutalities committed under the Duvaliers. “We mustn’t forget the dictatorship’s victims” read one of the signs held by the protesters, who wore white shirts with red spots to symbolize blood and had their mouths covered with white scarves to symbolize the Duvaliers’ repression of free speech. The demonstration was organized by a group called Responsible Citizen Action (ASIRE). (AlterPresse (Haiti) 10/12/14)

In other news, investigative judge Lamarre Bélizaire ordered the police to bring former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996, 2001-2004) to appear before him on Oct. 10 as part of the judge’s ongoing investigation into Aristide’s second administration [see Update #1231]. Aristide’s supporters, including members of the Lavalas Family (FL) party and the Patriotic Force for Respect for the Constitution (Forparc), gathered outside Aristide’s home in the Tabarre suburb northeast of the capital. While some agents from the riot police were seen outside the house around noon, there appeared to be no effort to apprehend the former president. Judge Bélizaire has reportedly threatened to prosecute Haitian National Police Director General Godson Orélus if he doesn’t carry out the judge’s order to bring Aristide in. (AlterPresse 10/11/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti

Dilma vs. Aecio: two antagonistic projects face off (Brazil)
http://alainet.org/active/77799

Brazilian Elections: What Happens Next?
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/brazil-archives-63/5079-brazilian-elections-what-happens-next

Elections in Bolivia: Interviews with Voters in the Streets and at the Polls
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/bolivia-archives-31/5085-elections-in-bolivia-interviews-with-voters-in-the-streets-and-at-the-polls

Why Evo Morales Will Likely Win Upcoming Elections in Bolivia
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/bolivia-archives-31/5080-why-evo-morales-will-likely-win-upcoming-elections-in-bolivia

Bolivia's Economy Under Evo in 10 Graphs
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/bolivias-economy-under-evo-in-10-graphs

A Full Moon after Bolivia’s Elections?
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/a-full-moon-after-bolivias-elections

Peru: populist governor re-elected from prison
http://ww4report.com/node/13608

Colombia: dialogue table for peasants, minorities
http://ww4report.com/node/13600

Venezuela Declares Victory over Transnational in Response to Exxon-Mobile Settlement Ruling
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10954

Venezuela: Why a Philosophical Summit of the Poor?
http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10948

Municipality in El Salvador Bans Mining in Binding Vote
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5074-municipality-in-el-salvador-bans-mining-in-binding-vote

Guatemalan Communities Reject Neoliberal Development Plan
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/5084-guatemalan-communities-reject-neoliberal-development-plan

Civil Society, Judges Team Up Against Judicial Corruption in Guatemala
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5082-civil-society-judges-team-up-against-judicial-corruption-in-guatemala

Peña Nieto on Indigenous Rights: Praise Abroad, Protest at Home (Mexico)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12995

Mexico City March Demands Justice for Dead and Missing Students
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13086

Zapatistas march for Ayotzinapa in San Cristobal (Mexico)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13048

Oaxaca in solidarity with Ayotzinapa students (Mexico)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/13064

A Sleeping Giant Stirs: Mexico’s October Risings
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/a-sleeping-giant-stirs-mexicos-october-risings/

Rage and Fury Sweep Mexico, the World: Justice for Ayotzinapa
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/rage-and-fury-sweep-mexico-the-world-justice-for-ayotzinapa/

Cops and Paramilitaries Tortured, Burned, Massacred Mexico Students
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5081-cops-and-paramilitaries-tortured-burned-massacred-mexico-students

Mexico: Templario operative killed, secrets spilled
http://ww4report.com/node/13599

Tribunal Takes Up Mexico's Migrant "Hell"
http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/10/187878/tribunal-takes-mexicos-migrant-hell

High-Level Donor Conference on Cholera in Haiti Fails to Secure Much Needed Funding
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/high-level-donor-conference-on-cholera-in-haiti-fails-to-secure-much-needed-funding

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/

Monday, October 6, 2014

WNU #1236: Mass Graves May Hold Missing Mexican Students

Issue #1236, October 5, 2014

1. Mexico: Mass Graves May Hold Missing Students
2. Argentina: UN Group Condemns Vulture Funds
3. Haiti: “Justice Denied” by Duvaliers Death?
4. Cuba: Kissinger Planned to “Clobber a Pipsqueak”
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico

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. Mexico: Mass Graves May Hold Missing Students
On Oct. 4 authorities in the southwestern state of Guerrero announced that they had found charred human remains in a group of mass graves in Iguala de La Independencia municipality, at Pueblo Viejo community in the countryside northwest of the city. Guerrero chief prosecutor Iñaky Blanco Cabrera would only say that there were human bones and that specialists would need to use DNA tests to identify the victims. State police agents at the site on Oct. 4 told reporters off the record that there could be anywhere from four to 19 bodies, but on Oct. 5 Blanco Cabrera said the total number was 28. It seemed likely that the remains were of teachers’ college students missing since the night of Sept. 26-27, when Iguala police opened fire on three buses carrying students from the militant Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College, located in the town of Ayotzinapa [see Update #1235]. Originally 25 students were reported missing after the incident, but parents and student leaders later raised the number to 43.

At least six people were killed in three different attacks during the violence on Sept. 26-27: three students from the Ayotzinapa college, including one whose body was mutilated and showed signs of torture; a soccer player and the driver of a bus carrying the player’s team; and a woman in a taxi. As of Oct. 4, 30 people had been arrested for the attacks on the students, including 22 Iguala police agents, and Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez had taken leave from office. Federal security officials suggested that two criminal gangs in the area, Los Rojos (“The Reds”) and Guerreros Unidos (“United Warriors”), were behind the attacks and may have been angry because the students, notorious in the state for their radical protests, had caused problems for businesses the gangs used for laundering drug money. State prosecutor Blanco said there is evidence that “various members of the Iguala municipal police are part of” Guerreros Unidos.

Thousands of students, teachers and parents demonstrated in the state capital, Chilpancingo, on Oct. 2 to demand the return of the missing students and to observe the 46th anniversary of a massacre of at least 44 students and their supporters by the military in the Tlatelolco housing development in Mexico City on Oct. 2, 1968 [see Update #1195]. The protest, whose organizers included the Federation of Socialist Campesino Students of Mexico (FECSM) and the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), opened with a four-hour march through the city starting at the Margarita Maza de Juárez park; FECSM activists then led a blockade of the nearby Mexico City-Acapulco highway that lasted six hours, until 9 pm. The protest finally ended when the Guerrero state governance secretary, Jesús Martínez Garnelo, agreed to hold a meeting the next day with the parents of the missing students. (The Guardian (UK) 9/30/14 from correspondent; La Jornada (Mexico) 10/3/14, 10/5/14, 10/5/14; Houston Chronicle 10/5/14 from AP)

Thousands of students and others also marched in Mexico City on Oct. 2 to commemorate the Tlatelolco massacre and to demand the return of the missing Ayotzinapa students. Organizers said 30,000 people participated; the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) police estimated the crowd at 9,000. The marchers included students from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), a huge and prestigious public technical university where protests began in late September against plans to change curriculum and fees. At the closing rally in Mexico City’s massive Zócalo, the protesters heard a recorded message from imprisoned Guerrero community activist Nestora Salgado [see Update #1231] and a speech by a representative of the Yaqui indigenous group in his native language calling for the release of Mario Luna Romero and Fernando Jiménez Gutiérrez, two Yaqui environmental and indigenous rights activists arrested in September by the government of the northern state of Sonora. (LJ 10/3/14)

Activists held Oct. 2 protests in 10 other states, including Baja California Norte, Chihuahua, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas. In the southeastern state of Chiapas organizers said 12,000 students, teachers and social activists marched in the capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, while a total of 900 people marched in two separate demonstrations in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Teachers unions sponsored demonstrations in Oaxaca City, the capital of the southern state of Oaxaca, and in five other Oaxaca municipalities. (LJ 10/3/14)

On Oct. 3 federal governance secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced after a meeting with IPN student leaders that the planned changes at the university were being dropped and that IPN general director Yoloxóchitl Bustamante Díez had resigned. Osorio Chang made the announcement at a demonstration attended by an estimated 18,000 youths, according to estimates by the DF police. (CNN México 10/3/14)

*2. Argentina: UN Group Condemns Vulture Funds
The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Sept. 26 condemning “the activities of vulture funds” and regretting the effect payments to the funds could have “on the capacity of governments to fulfill their human rights obligations.” The resolution was presented by Argentina, which was forced into technical default on July 30 after US district judge Thomas Griesa in New York blocked the country from paying interest to its bondholders unless it settled with US two hedge funds, NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management [see Update #1230]; the two companies are known as “vulture funds,” investment groups that try to profit by buying weak debt the debtors are likely to default on. Argentina’s effort in Geneva was backed by Algeria, Brazil, Russia and Venezuela. The Human Rights Council approved the resolution in a 33-5 vote, with nine countries abstaining; the opposing votes came from Britain, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan and the US. “Vulture funds aren’t just an economic problem,” said Argentine foreign relations minister Héctor Timerman, who was in Geneva for the vote. “They represent a political, social problem that affects the lives of all the citizens” in many countries since they deprive governments of resources they could use for social services.

The vote in Geneva was Argentina’s second success in international diplomacy during the month. At a plenary meeting in New York on Sept. 9 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution promoted by Argentina entitled “Towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes.” Currently countries have to negotiate debt restructuring deals with their creditors when they are unable to meet their debt obligations; the resolution seeks to set up an international system for countries similar to bankruptcy proceedings for companies and individuals. Argentina’s present default resulted from NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management’s refusal to join with the other creditors in a settlement Argentina had worked out for its massive 2002 default. The General Assembly resolution was sponsored by the Group of 77 (G77), joined by China; 124 countries voted for the measure, while 11 voted against it and 41 abstained. (United Nations 9/10/14; BBC 9/26/14; Adital (Brazil) 9/30/14)

Meanwhile, Argentina is trying to circumvent Judge Griesa’s decision blocking interest payments to the bondholders that have settled with the country. In September Argentina’s Congress passed legislation allowing the bondholders to be paid in Argentina rather than New York, taking the issue out of the judge’s jurisdiction. An obviously irritated Griesa declared Argentina in contempt of court during a hearing on Sept. 29. It is not clear what effect the judge’s contempt declaration will have. “We are in uncharted waters,” Arturo Porzecanski, an economist at American University’s School of International Service, told the New York Times. (NYT 9/29/14)

*3. Haiti: “Justice Denied” by Duvaliers Death?
Former Haitian “president for life” Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier (1971-1986) died suddenly of a heart attack the night of Oct. 3 at a friend’s home in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Pétionville, according to his lawyer, Reynold Georges. He was 63. Duvalier succeeded his father, François (“Papa Doc”) Duvalier, at the age of 19. The older Duvalier had built and maintained a brutal dictatorship from 1957 until his death in 1971. The brutality continued under his son; an estimated 30,000 people were killed during the family’s 29 years in power. Massive demonstrations and the withdrawal of US support forced Duvalier to flee to France on Feb. 7, 1986, reportedly carrying off millions of dollars looted from the national treasury. He returned to Haiti on Jan. 16, 2011. Despite facing corruption charges, Duvalier never came to trial; he also never came to trial for human rights abuses committed by his regime, although a court finally ruled on Feb. 20, 2014 that the human rights cases against him could proceed [see Update #1210].

“I direct my sincere sympathies to the family and to the entire nation on this sad occasion,” current Haitian president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) wrote in his Twitter account, @MichelJMartelly, on Oct. 4. In contrast, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization said the ex-dictator’s passing resulted in “justice denied.” According to HRW special counsel Reed Brody, it was “a shame that the Haitian justice system could not bring ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier to trial before he died. Duvalier’s death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human rights trial in its history.” But Haitian activist Danièle Magloire, of the Collective Against Impunity, told the online Haitian news service AlterPresse that “[t]he struggle for justice continues.” She called for judicial action against Duvalier’s collaborators and followers and warned against plans to organize a state funeral for the ex-dictator. “This would be one more effort to rehabilitate Duvalier,” she charged, calling the Martelly government “Duvalierist.” (AlterPresse 10/4/14, 10/4/14; HRW 10/4/14)

*4. Cuba: Kissinger Planned to “Clobber a Pipsqueak”
On Oct. 1 the National Security Archive, a Washington, DC-based research organization, published declassified US government documents about secret contingency plans that the administration of former US president Gerald Ford (1974-1977) made in 1976 for a possible military attack on Cuba. Then-secretary of state Henry Kissinger called for the plans in response to Cuba’s decision in late 1975 to send troops to support the left-leaning government of Angola against rebels funded by South Africa and the US; he was furious that Cuba had defied the US after a round of secret negotiations he had sponsored in 1975 aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries.

In meetings at the White House in February and March 1976, Kissinger talked about “clobbering the Cubans” and the need to “smash” Cuba’s leader at the time, Fidel Castro Ruz--a “pipsqueak,” according to Kissinger. “I think sooner or later we have to crack the Cubans.… I think we have to humiliate them,” the secretary of state said. “If there is a perception overseas that we are so weakened by our internal debate [over Vietnam] so that it looks like we can't do anything about a country of eight million people, then in three or four years we are going to have a real crisis,” Kissinger told Ford at another meeting. Donald Rumsfeld, who was secretary of defense under Ford as well as under former president George W. Bush (2001-2009), was involved in the planning for actions which ranged from economic sanctions to a naval blockade or even air strikes.

Security advisers warned Kissinger that “a Cuban/Soviet response [to the attacks] could escalate in areas that would maximize US casualties and thus provoke stronger response.” A situation that could lead to a military strike on Cuba “should be serious enough to warrant further action in preparation for general war,” they said. Kissinger and Ford were apparently willing to risk this, although they agreed that the attacks shouldn’t be carried out until after the 1976 elections. The plans were shelved when Ford lost to Jimmy Carter.

Documents on Kissinger’s plans to attack Cuba are available on the National Security Archive’s website and are also described in a new book, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana, by Peter Kornbluh, the director of the group’s Chile Documentation Project, and American University professor William M. LeoGrande. (National Security Archive 10/1/14; New York Times 10/1/14; La Jornada (Mexico) 10/2/14 from correspondent) The new information was made public just as Kissinger, now 91, was busily promoting his own latest book, World Order, in radio and television interviews and at public events. (Washington Post 9/18/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico

Latin America on a Dangerous Precipice
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/5075-latin-america-on-a-dangerous-precipice

Argentina’s Warning on Sovereign Debt
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12932

Vaca Muerta, Argentina’s New Development Frontier
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5072-vaca-muerta-argentinas-new-development-frontier

Coordinadora Arauco Malleco: Recovering Pre-Colonial Autonomy in Wallmapu (Chile)
https://intercontinentalcry.org/recovering-pre-colonial-autonomy-wallmapu-25677/

Uruguay: Environmental Analyst Eduardo Gudynas Dissects the Myth of President José Mujica
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/uruguay-archives-48/5071-uruguay-environmental-analyst-eduardo-gudynas-dissects-the-myth-of-president-jose-mujica

Brazilian Elections: What Happens Next?
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/brazil-archives-63/5079-brazilian-elections-what-happens-next

Marina and Dilma: Different Visions for the Brazilian Economy
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/967/blastContent.jsp

Brazil: Dilma or Marina—Or Luciana?
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5070-brazil-dilma-or-marinaor-luciana

Indigenous towns swallowed up by São Paulo, South America’s biggest city (Brazil)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12940

Bolivia: Elections in the Time of Evo
http://nacla.org/blog/2014/9/30/bolivia-elections-time-evo

The great electoral “trafa” (Peru)
http://alainet.org/active/77626

Choosing Lima’s New Mayor amid Scandal and Transit Reform (Peru)
http://nacla.org/news/2014/10/1/choosing-lima%E2%80%99s-new-mayor-amid-scandal-and-transit-reform

Colombia: UN report blasts military justice bill
http://ww4report.com/node/13589

Venezuelan PSUV Legislators Allege Uribe May Be Behind Murder of Robert Serra
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Venezuelan-PSUV-Legislators-Allege-Uribe-May-Be-Behind-Murder-of-Robert-Serra-20141004-0030.html

Venezuela Takes Over Clorox Factory
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10937

Municipality in El Salvador Bans Mining in Binding Vote
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5074-municipality-in-el-salvador-bans-mining-in-binding-vote

Hillary Clinton admits role in Honduran coup aftermath
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5073-hillary-clinton-admits-role-in-honduran-coup-aftermath

Another Massacre of Indigenous People in Guatemala
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/5068-another-massacre-of-indigenous-people-in-guatemala

Massacre and State of Exception in San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5069-massacre-and-state-of-exception-in-san-juan-sacatepequez-guatemala

Echoes of ’68: Youth Massacres, Repression and Resistance Jolt Mexico
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/echoes-of-68-youth-massacres-repression-and-resistance-jolt-mexico/

PPT confirms an extremely serious situation in the area of communication and media (Mexico)
http://alainet.org/active/77575

CEO of Mexican Bank Banamex Resigns Over Fraud Scandal
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/CEO-of-Mexican-Bank-Banamex-Resigns-Over-Fraud-Scandal-20141004-0005.html

National Day of Maize in Mexico: Protecting the Sacred Plant
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/mexico-archives-79/5067-national-day-of-maize-in-mexico-protecting-the-sacred-plant

Mexican Court Drops Criminal Charges Against Miners’ Leader
http://www.ueinternational.org/MLNA/mlna_articles.php?id=228#1751

Guanajuato: campesino protesters occupy city (Mexico)
http://ww4report.com/node/13590

Covering Up for Walmart: The Mexico Scandal
https://www.warresisters.org/covering-walmart-mexico-scandal

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/