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

Neoliberalism and Vulture Funds (Argentina)

Wall Street Journal Uses Bogus Numbers to Smear Argentine President

Why Argentina is Right to Defy the Taliban of Global Finance

Quinoa Soup: What Our Consumption Means for Bolivian Growers

Subsistence-Based, Non-Repressive Drug Programs Actually Work (Bolivia)

'Massacre' evidence on Peru's Amazon borderlands

Indigenous Seed Savers Gather in the Andes, Agree to Fight Climate Change with Biodiversity (Peru)

Peru: new ops against 'narco-senderistas'

Venezuela to Take in Palestinian Child Refugees “As Soon As Possible”, Gaza Aid Ready

El Salvador: Maternity and Maternalism

Finally Free: Mass Burial of Wartime Victims in Guatemala Exhumed from Former Military Garrison of Comalapa

Guatemala-Mexico Agreement on Migrants in Baja Signed

EZLN and Indigenous Peoples Will Gather to Share Experiences (Mexico)

Inauguration of the First Exchange of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico With Zapatista Peoples

Coffee, a crisis about to explode (Mexico)

The (Institutionalized) Revolution Will Be Televised (Mexico)

Extradition Sought in Border Massacre Probe (Mexico)

Mexico: still more 'narco-fosas' uncovered

Hell in the Icebox (US/immigration)

How We Scapegoat Children From Gaza to the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (US/immigration)

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


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:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

WNU #1229: 3 More Nations Recall Israel Envoys

Issue #1229, August 3, 2014

1. Latin America: 3 More Nations Recall Israel Envoys
2. Argentina: US Hedge Funds Force Bond Default
3. Mexico: Maya Campesinos Beat Monsanto in Court
4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, US/policy, 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. Latin America: 3 More Nations Recall Israel Envoys
A total of five Latin American governments had recalled their ambassadors to Israel as of July 29 in an escalation of diplomatic protests against an operation the Israeli military had been carrying out in the Palestinian territory of Gaza since July 8 [see Update #1228]. With the Palestinian death toll passing 1,500—including more than 300 children--centrist and even rightwing Latin American governments started joining left and center-left government in distancing themselves from the main US ally in the Middle East.

Chile, El Salvador and Peru called their ambassadors home for consultations on July 29; Ecuador had already recalled its ambassador on July 17, followed by Brazil on July 24. While it condemned the firing of rockets into Israel by the Gaza-based Hamas organization, the center-left government of Chilean president Michelle Bachelet denounced Israeli attacks on the Palestinians as “collective punishment,” saying they “violate the principle of proportionality in the use of force, an indispensable requirement for the justification of legitimate defense.” El Salvador’s center-left government said it was responding to “the serious escalation in violence and the realization of indiscriminate bombing from Israel into the Gaza Strip,” while the centrist Peruvian government charged that Israel’s actions “constitute a new and reiterated violation of the basic norms of international humanitarian law.”

Also on July 29, four of the five members of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur)--Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela—issued a joint statement during a summit held in Caracas saying they “energetically condemn the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, which in the majority affects civilians, including children and women.” Argentina and Uruguay didn’t recall their ambassadors, but the left-leaning government of Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner issued a statement expressing concern over the safety of an Argentine priest working in Gaza and that of 30 disabled children, nine elderly people and six nuns in his care. Venezuela broke off relations with Israel over a similar Israeli operation in Gaza in 2009; it is planning to send humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory now.

On July 30 the rightwing government of Paraguay, the one Mercosur member that didn’t join in the statement, called for “an immediate end to aggression and hostilities” in the Gaza Strip. The center-right government of Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos also seemed to be moving away from support of Israel. In a July 10 press release Colombia had condemned “acts of violence and terrorism against Israel,” without mentioning Israeli operations, but a July 22 statement from the Foreign Ministry said Colombia “rejects the military offensive by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip” and expresses condolences for “victims of Israel’s retaliatory actions.”

The harshest condemnation of Israel’s actions came from center-left Bolivian president Evo Morales, who on July 30 described Israel as a “terrorist state.” He announced that his government was cancelling an agreement that had been in effect since 1972 allowing Israelis to visit without a visa requirement. Bolivia has had limited diplomatic ties with Israel since 2009, when Morales’ government restricted relations to protest the Gaza operation then.

With the strong statements from its governments, Latin America “has set itself apart from other regional blocs,” according to Michael Shifter, the president of the centrist Washington, DC-based think tank Inter-American Dialogue. The “emerging consensus condemning Israel for its military actions in Gaza is not surprising,” he said, given that 11 Latin American governments had recognized Palestine as a state by 2011 [see Update #1153]. Farid Kahhat, a political scientist and Middle East expert with the Catholic University of Peru, noted that now “[i]t isn’t only the nations with left-leaning governments that have recalled their ambassadors… This transcends ideologies.”

The Israeli government continued to react angrily to the protests from Latin America. “Israel expresses its deep disappointment with the hasty decision of the governments of El Salvador, Peru and Chile to recall their ambassadors for consultations,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said on July 30. “This step constitutes encouragement for Hamas, a group recognized as a terror organization by many countries around the world.” The statement was more moderate than Palmor’s dismissal of Brazil a week earlier as a “diplomatic dwarf,” a remark that led the Brazilian Jewish Confederation (CONIB), an umbrella body of Brazilian Jewish groups, to apologize to the government of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff on July 24. CONIB itself had charged that Rousseff’s administration had “a one-sided attitude to the conflict in Gaza in which the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticizes Israel and ignores the actions of the terrorist group Hamas,” but CONIB president Claudio Lottenberg called Palmor’s comments, which included a sneer at the Brazilian soccer team, “very unfortunate.” “Brazil has the right to express its point of view,” Lottenberg said. (Haaretz (Israel) 7/24/14 from Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 7/30/14 from staff; Wall Street Journal 7/30/14; Latin American Herald Tribune 7/30/14 from EFE; The Americas Blog 7/31/14)

*2. Argentina: US Hedge Funds Force Bond Default
The US financial services company Standard & Poor’s Ratings (S&P) declared Argentina in default the afternoon of July 30 after last-minute negotiations failed to produce an agreement between the country and a group of creditors who insisted that they be paid in full for the $1.5 billion in Argentine bonds they own. This was Argentina’s second default since an economic collapse in December 2001 brought on by a decade of extreme neoliberal austerity and privatization measures [see Update #621]. Opinions were divided on how the new default would affect the country, which was already entering a recession. “The ordinary Argentine citizen will be the real and ultimate victim,” Daniel Pollack, the mediator appointed by a US federal court in New York, said in a statement. But Argentine Economy Minister Axel Kicillof was defiant. “We aren't going to sign any agreement that would jeopardize the future of Argentines,” he said at a news conference after the negotiations ended on July 30.

The holdout creditors were led by US billionaire Paul Singer; two of his companies, Elliott Management and a subsidiary, NML Capital; and Aurelius Capital Management. NML and Aurelius are hedge funds of the type known as “vulture funds” for their practice of investing in weak debt that the debtors are likely to default on. These hedge funds bought up cheap Argentine bonds after the 2001 collapse. From 2005 to 2010 Argentina’s government negotiated settlements with the other bondholders, who agreed to accept exchange bonds at a 70% discount for the debt they were holding; this is a fairly standard arrangement for defaults by countries, like bankruptcy proceedings for a company or an individual. But Singer and his associates held out for full payment and took the case to a US federal court. In 2012 New York District judge Thomas Griesa ruled in Singer’s favor. He held that when Argentina paid the discounted exchange bonds, it also had to pay the holdouts in full. Argentina tried make a payment to the holders of the exchange bonds this June, placing $539 million in the Bank of New York Mellon, but the bank couldn’t pay out the money: Judge Griesa had ruled that any financial firm that distributed payments to the bondholders would be in contempt of court. Argentina turned to the US Supreme Court, but the justices rejected the appeal.

Estanislao Malic, an economist at the Scalabrini Ortiz Center for Economic and Social Studies in Buenos Aires, told the New York Times that the “default is not a drastic change.” “Argentina has been living in a default reality for over 10 years” since the earlier default, he explained. But there are implications for the global financial system, where exchange bonds have been a mechanism for resolving financial crises in the absence of any international bankruptcy procedures. “The danger here is all too easy to see,” British journalist Larry Elliott wrote on July 31. “The legacy of the financial crisis of 2007-08 is that many countries find themselves saddled with big budget deficits. In the event of another financial crisis, something that seems all too likely, there would be a wave of sovereign debt defaults.” The administration of US president Barack Obama appeared to agree on the seriousness of the threat: the US attorney general in New York, Preet Bharara, filed a brief in an appeals court in 2012 supporting Argentina against Judge Griesa.

Joseph Stiglitz, a former World Bank chief economist and now a Columbia University professor, called the US courts’ decisions in the case “America throwing a bomb into the global economic system.” “We don't know how big the explosion will be--and it’s not just about Argentina,” he said. (New York Times 7/30/14; McClatchy DC 7/31/14; BBC News 7/31/14; The Guardian (UK) 7/31/14)

*3. Mexico: Maya Campesinos Beat Monsanto in Court
A district court judge in the eastern Mexican state of Yucatán ruled in July against a license that the federal Agriculture Secretariat (Sagarpa) had granted the Missouri-based multinational Monsanto Company in 2012 for sowing 253,500 hectares with genetically modified (GM) soy in Yucatán and six other states. A group of campesinos from the Maya indigenous group filed a suit charging that the license endangered the traditional production of organic honey in a region including the Yucatán communities of Ticul, Santa Elena, Oxkutzcab, Tzucacab, Tekax, Peto and Tizimin. The judge’s ruling was “a great achievement because there is recognition of our legitimate right to make decisions about our territory and our livelihood,” Maya farmer Lorenzo Itzá Ek said. “[B]eekeeping is the main traditional economic activity we carry out, and we don’t want our honey contaminated with transgenics or with toxic products like agrochemicals that kill our bees.”

This was the third defeat for GM soy in eastern Mexico this year. In March and April a court in Campeche ruled in favor of two suits brought by Maya beekeepers from the Hopelchén and Pac-Chen communities in Campeche’s Cancabchen municipality. The decisions on GM soy follow a ruling in October 2013 by a federal judge that restrained Sagarpa and the Environment Secretariat (Semarnat) from granting further licenses for planting GM corn in Mexico [see Update #1195]. But Ximena Ramos, an adviser for the Litiga OLE legal assistance group, said the July ruling in Yucatán was especially important because the judge ordered a public consultation with the affected indigenous communities before any resolution could be made about the sowing of GM soy. This enforces “the multicultural principle in the Constitution, along with the human rights implied in the right to prior consultation with the Maya,” she said. (Terra Mexico 7/22/14; El Ciudadano (Chile) 7/30/14)

In related news, Brazilian farmers are calling on four multinational seed manufacturers to reimburse them for pesticide they used on GM corn they planted this year. According to Ricardo Tomczyk, president of the Aprosoja farm lobbying group in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, the Spodoptera frugiperda (also known as the “corn leafworm” or “southern grassworm”) has developed a resistance to the poisonous protein in the type of GM corn known as “Bt corn.” The result is that farmers had to spend an average of 120 reais (about US$54) per hectare on pesticide to protect their crop, he said. The seed’s manufacturers are the US-based companies Monsanto, Dow Chemical Co and DuPont, and Syngenta AG, which is based in Switzerland. (Reuters 7/28/14)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, US/policy, US/immigration

Update on Latin American Responses to Israel's Siege on Gaza

What the NML vs Argentina case means for the world

The World Cup Has Come and Gone and Brazil Didn’t Crash and Burn

Gunmen threaten to assassinate Yanomami leader (Brazil)

Medellín kingpin busted in Spain (Colombia)

Obama Throws Another Bone to the Right on Venezuela

Inside Venezuela's "Proceso"

Venezuela to Send Aid to Gaza, Welcome Refugees, as Regional Leaders Condemn Assault

US Policies Exacerbate Migration Crisis in Guatemala

Guatemalan Court Rules in Favor of Indigenous People Over Goldcorp Mining in Sipacapa

Laws That Kill Protesters in Mexico

Defending Communication Rights: “We will not remain silent” (Mexico)

Understanding and Countering Corruption and Migrant Abuse by Mexico’s National Migration Institute

Reconstruction or Haiti's Latest Disaster? Tourism Development on Île-à-Vache Island

US Congress Passes Aid Accountability Legislation as Local Procurement Falls in Haiti

Police Should Not Be Managing the Drug Problem. Doctors Should Be. (US/policy)

We Reap What We Sow: The Link between Child Migrants and US Policy (US/immigration)

The Central American Child Refugee Crisis: Made in U.S.A. (US/immigration)

New Senate Bill Fails To Address Root Causes of Central American Migration (US/immigration)

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


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:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

WNU #1228: Latin Americans Protest Attack on Gaza

Issue #1228, July 27, 2014

1. Latin America: Gaza Attack Draws Strong Protests
2. Central America: Leaders Hold Summit on Child Migration
3. US: Police Try to Block Annual SOA Vigil
4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, El Salvador, Honduras, 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.

*1. Latin America: Gaza Attack Draws Strong Protests
An Israeli military offensive on the Palestinian territory of Gaza starting on July 8 has brought widespread condemnation from governments and activists in Latin America. The response to the current military action, which is codenamed “Operation Protective Edge,” follows a pattern set during a similar December 2008-January 2009 Israeli offensive in Gaza, “Operation Cast Lead,” when leftist groups and people of Arab descent mounted protests and leftist and center-left governments issued statements sharply criticizing the Israeli government [see Update #973].

In Argentina, dozens of people demonstrated on July 25 at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires to demand that the left-leaning government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner break off relations with Israel to repudiate “the brutal and criminal attack against the Palestinian people.” The protest was organized by the Argentine Committee of Solidarity With the Palestinian People and various left parties. While the government hasn’t broken relations with Israel, at a meeting of the United Nations (UN) Security Council Argentine representative Maria Cristina Perceval accused Israel of “indiscriminate abuse of militarism” and “disproportionate use of force.” (Terra Mexico 7/25/14; Fox News Latino 7/23/14, some from AP)

Some 5,000 Chileans marched to the Israeli embassy in Santiago on July 19 to protest the military operation. Some demonstrators glued pictures of children who have died in the attacks to the walls of the building; the marchers then proceeded to the US embassy to protest US support for the Israeli operation. The day before, on July 18, representatives of the Mapuche indigenous group joined some 200 protesters in Temuco, the capital of the southern region of Araucanía, in a march calling for “an end to the massacre of the Palestinian people.” The protest was organized by the Arab Union for Palestine in Temuco and included Romina Tuma, the regional housing secretary, who charged that the Israelis are committing genocide; President Michelle Bachelet supports the Palestinian people, Tuma added. Bachelet’s center-left government has in fact suspended free trade agreement negotiations with Israel to protest the Israeli operation, and the Foreign Ministry has announced plans for aid for Palestinian victims in Gaza, according to the Santiago Times. Chile has a population of about 300,0000 people of Middle Eastern and Arab ancestry. (AFP 7/21/14 via Times of Israel; Radio Bío Bío (Chile) 7/18/14; Mapu Express 7/18/14; Fox News Latino 7/23/14, some from AP)

Uruguay also condemned Israel’s military attacks. A government statement said the operation in Gaza “caused dozens of civilian deaths and injuries, including women and children, in a disproportionate response to the launch of rockets against the Israeli territory on the part of armed Palestinian groups.” The Palestinian organization Hamas came in for criticism as well, because of its “repeated [rocket] launchings that put the civilian population in central and southern Israel at risk.” (The Americas Blog 7/21/14)

Late on July 24 Brazil’s center-left government announced its condemnation of the “disproportionate use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip, from which large numbers of civilian casualties, including women and children, resulted.” Foreign Ministry officials said that they had recalled the Brazilian ambassador to Israel for consultations, and that Brazil had voted in favor of a United Nations Human Rights Council (OHCHR) decision to send a team to investigate accusations of war crimes in the region. Israeli officials appeared to be infuriated by the snub from a country which has bought and leased billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and fighter planes from Israel in the last 15 years. “Such steps do not contribute to promote calm and stability in the region,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor announced on July 25. “Rather, they provide tailwind to terrorism, and naturally affect Brazil’s capacity to wield influence.” He called Brazil “a diplomatic dwarf” and sneered at the Brazilian soccer team for losing a World Cup match to Germany 7-1 on July 8. (News Latino 7/23/14, some from AP; Wall Street Journal online 7/24/14; Haaretz (Israel) 7/25/14; Washington Post 7/25/14)

Bolivian president Evo Morales has petitioned the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to consider opening a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for “crimes against humanity” and “genocide.” Morales’ center-left government restricted diplomatic relations with Israel in 2009 because of the earlier operation against Gaza. (The Americas Blog 7/21/14)

Hundreds of Peruvians, many of them of Palestinian descent, protested at the Israeli embassy in Lima on July 25, calling for their own government to recall its ambassador to Israel. “Countries that don’t withdraw their ambassadors are becoming somewhat complicit in this massacre,” one of the protesters told the Canal N television channel. A week earlier, the government had expressed its great concern about the violence, condemning both the Israeli attack and the launching of rockets against Israel by Hamas. (Terra 7/25/14 from EFE)

Ecuadorian foreign minister Ricardo Patiño announced on July 17 that the center-left government of President Rafael Correa was recalling its ambassador to Israel for consultations “because of violence unleashed and deaths produced in the Gaza Strip.” “We condemn the Israeli military incursion in Palestinian territory; we demand an end to operations and indiscriminate attacks on a civilian population,” Patiño said. (El Universo (Quito) 7/17/14 from AFP) In related news, a July 12-16 meeting in Quito of the Women’s Collective of the South American section of the international small-scale farmers’ organization Vía Campesina denounced the Israeli operation as a “genocidal invasion” and demanded “respect for the principle of sovereignty and the right of Palestinian campesinas and campesinos to live, produce and remain in their land and territory.” The collective accused Israel of “colonial practices.” (Vía Campesina 7/22/14)

In Venezuela hundreds of protesters, including legislative deputies, demonstrated in Caracas on July 14 against the Israeli operation. The leftist government of then-president Hugo Chávez Frías broke off ties with Israel in 2009 to protest Operation Cast Lead. The government of current president Nicolás Maduro released a statement on July 19 charging that the latest attacks “initiated a higher phase of [Israel’s] policy of genocide and extermination with the ground invasion of Palestinian territory, killing innocent men, women, girls and boys.” The government “also rejects the cynical campaigns trying to condemn both parties equally, when it is clear you cannot morally compare occupied and massacred Palestine with the occupying state, Israel, which also possesses military superiority and acts on the margins of international law.” (HispanTV (Iran) 7/14/14; Chicago Tribune 7/19/14 from Reuters)

In Nicaragua hundreds of people marched to the UN office in Managua on July 14 to demand an end to the Israeli offensive, chanting: “No to genocide in Gaza and all of Palestine,” “Solidarity between the peoples” and “Long live free Palestine.” The marchers included the Palestinian ambassador to Nicaragua, Mohamed L. Saadat, who called for a “Palestine free of violence.” Along with Guatemala, Haiti, and Paraguay, Nicaragua hadn’t made an official statement on the conflict as of July 21. (Terra 7/14/14 from EFE; The Americas Blog 7/21/14)

About 50 students and other activists took to the streets in El Salvador on July 14 to protest the Israeli offensive. “Palestine is a free state, stop Israel’s terrorism” and “I’m no friend of Israel” were among the slogans the protesters chanted outside the Israeli embassy. “We want to show our indignation over the suffering of the Palestinian people, and so we demand that Israel end this genocide in the Gaza Strip,” Amalia Pineda, a representative of the Palestine Solidarity Network, told journalists. The center-left government of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén has condemned what it called “Israel’s increased armed aggression against the Gaza Strip,” citing the “loss of human lives, hundreds of injuries and the flight of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, besides serious material damage.” The UN’s legitimate self-defense clause “does not justify the use of disproportionate military force against another state, much less against its civilian population,” the government said. (Noticias 7/14/14; The Americas Blog 7/21/14)

In Mexico, indigenous Mayans who have converted to Islam held their first protest ever in the southeastern state of Chiapas. About 60 of the area’s 600 or 700 Tzotzil Muslims marched in San Cristóbal de las Casas on July 24 to demand that “the genocide end.” “We are few but we can’t be silent before the massacre against the people of Palestine,” Hibrahim Checheb, a representative of the Al-Kauz mosque, told a reporter. The group of Tzotziles, mostly from the nearby municipality of San Juan Chamula, converted about 18 years earlier. (La Jornada 7/24/14) Activists in Mexico City held a protest on July 11 outside the Foreign Relations Secretariat. About 300 people participated in the action, whose sponsors included the Solidarity With Palestine Coordinating Committee (Corsopal). The organizers expelled five members of a group called “Black Eagles” from the protest; they were carrying signs with anti-Semitic slogans. (Milenio (Mexico) 7/11/14)

Cuba’s Foreign Ministry charged Israel with “us[ing] its military and technological superiority to execute a policy of collective punishment with a disproportionate use of force which causes civilian casualties and enormous material damage.” The country’s Communist government broke off diplomatic ties with Israel in 1973 and has provided Palestinian groups with financial and diplomatic support over the years. (The Americas Blog 7/21/14; Fox News Latino 7/23/14, some from AP)

*2. Central America: Leaders Hold Summit on Child Migration
US president Barack Obama hosted a meeting in Washington, DC, on July 25 with three Central American presidents—Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador, Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala and Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras--to discuss the recent increase in unauthorized immigration to the US by unaccompanied minors [see Update #1227]. About 57,000 unaccompanied minors, mostly from the three Central American presidents’ countries, were detained at the Mexico-US border from October 2013 through June 2014. President Obama called for joint work to discourage further child migration; the US would do its part by making it clear that the minors would be repatriated unless they could convince US officials they were in danger if they returned, Obama said. The left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada headlined its coverage with the sentence: “The US has great compassion for child migrants; they’ll be deported: Obama.”

The Obama administration had been floating a proposal for setting up an office in Honduras, and possibly in El Salvador and Guatemala, to process youths and families seeking refugee status. But Obama played the idea down after the summit. “There may be some narrow circumstances in which there is humanitarian or refugee status that a family might be eligible for,” he said. “But I think it’s important to recognize that that would not necessarily accommodate a large number of additional migrants.” (La Jornada 7/26/14 from correspondent; Associated Press 7/26/14 via CBS (Washington, DC))

The Central American presidents all emphasized the importance of crime and poverty as forces motivating migration, but rightwing presidents Pérez and Hernández seemed mostly interested in getting more US military aid. The US-funded “drug war” programs in Colombia and Mexico, Plan Colombia and the Mérida Initiative, “were successful for the US and those two countries in the struggle against narco trafficking, but they gave us a tremendous problem,” Hernández said the day before the summit, referring to the relocation of some drug smuggling activities into Central America. “So we need to have our own plan.” (LJ 7/25/14 from AFP)

While media coverage stressed pressure on Obama from anti-immigrant conservatives, human rights groups and religious organizations were pressing him from the left. More than 40 organizations signed on to an open letter started by the DC-based Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) calling for the US to provide children and families with “all due [legal] protections.” “[M]ore border security will not help,” according to the open letter, which was released on July 24; the US must “face the root causes of violence at the community level.” Adam Isacson, WOLA’s senior associate for regional security policy, dismissed the calls for more military assistance to Central America. “What we’d like to see is a package of assistance to Central America that is focused entirely on the civilian side of what it takes to protect,” Isacson told the Inter Press Service (IPS): “getting police to respect people,” “a much stronger justice system,” and “more emphasis on creating opportunities…combined with Central American presidents’ commitment to raise more taxes from their wealthiest.”

Also on July 24, two organizations, the New York-based Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) and the DC-based Detention Watch Network, released a statement deploring conditions at the Artesia Family Detention Facility in New Mexico. After interviewing immigrant families at the detention center, 22 organizations concluded that “[t]he Administration’s intent to deport everyone as quickly as possible for optics is sacrificing critical due process procedures and sending families--mothers, babies, and children--back despite clear concerns for their safety in violation of US and international law.” (IPS 7/25/14 via Upside Down World)

*3. US: Police Try to Block Annual SOA Vigil
The US advocacy group SOA Watch reported on July 22 that the police in Columbus, Georgia, are trying to impose unacceptable restrictions on the annual vigil the group has held there every November since 1990 to protest the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the US Army School of the Americas (SOA) [see Update #1200]. According to SOA Watch, Columbus police chief Ricky Boren wants to limit the vigil to 200 people on sidewalks outside the US Army’s Fort Benning, where WHINSEC is based. In previous years thousands of people have demonstrated at a gate leading to the base. Boren is also seeking to deny a permit for the group to post its stage and sound system at the usual spot.

“This year, more than any other, we are called to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Latin America,” Roy Bourgeois, the Catholic priest who founded SOA Watch, said in response to the restrictions. “When our military training continues to target communities, forcing the unaccompanied migration of thousands of refugee children, we must speak out.” Noting that it won in federal courts in 2001 and 2002 against government efforts to restrict the vigils, SOA Watch has started a petition “calling on the Columbus police department to reverse its decision and to uphold the constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.” The petition can be accessed at http://org.salsalabs.com/o/727/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16129. (SOA Watch press release 7/22/14; National Catholic Reporter 7/22/14)

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

The BRICS Bank: part of a new financial architecture (Latin America)

Land Rights in Latin America: Where are the Voices of Indigenous Women?

Radical Cities – Latin America's revolutionary housing solutions

How Have Latin America’s Political Leaders Responded to Israel’s Siege on Gaza?

Challenging Myths About Chapare Coca Paste Production (Bolivia)

Bolivia’s Military and Police Protests: The “Children of Evo” Speak Out

Amazon Oil Spill Has Killed Tons of Fish, Sickened Native People (Peru)

Peru Passes a Packet of Neoliberal Reforms, Erodes Environmental Protections and Labor Rights

Peru and Colombia: Community self-defense against megaminería

Is Water Still a Human Right in Ecuador?

Global Climate Change in Rural Colombia Is About More Than Just the Climate

Chavista Debate More than Pragmatists vs Radicals (Venezuela)

Child Migrants Are Refugees the U.S. Helped Create (Central America)

U.S. Turns Back on Child Migrants After Its Policies in Guatemala, Honduras Sowed Seeds of Crisis

U.S., Regional Leaders Convene over Migration Crisis (Central America)

Violence, Main Motor of Child Migration in El Salvador

Hondurans don’t need yet another neoliberal boondoggle

Guatemala: Opposition to Mining, the New Threat to National Security

The Morena Party Obtains Legal Status, Prepares for 2015 Elections; What Will Morena Mean for Mexico’s Political Future?

Mexico Arrests Self-defense Force Leader Mireles and Others

Johnson Controls Workers in Reynosa Demand Their Rights (Mexico)

Mexican Fracking Foes Lose a Big Round

Forgotten Refugees: Mexico’s Displacement Crisis

Migrant Shelter Faces Police Abuses on the Border (Mexico)

Secretary General in Haiti for Cholera “Photo-op” as Transparency Questions Continue to Dog the UN

“Assessing Progress in Haiti Act” Passed by Congress

Blowback on the Border (US/immigration)

Massive Rights Violations Charged at New Mexico Detention Facility (US/immigration)

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


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:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

WNU #1227: US Deports Hondurans as Violence Continues

Issue #1227, July 20, 2014

1. Honduras: US Deports Migrants as Violence Continues
2. El Salvador: Workers Win $1.5 Million in Maquila Closing
3. Brazil: BRICS Nations Plan New Development Bank
4. Haiti: UN Head Makes "Pilgrimage" for Cholera Victims
5. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, 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. Honduras: US Deports Migrants as Violence Continues
A plane chartered by the US government carried 38 Honduran deportees from an immigration detention center in Artesia, New Mexico, to the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on July 14. This was the first US deportation flight entirely dedicated to mothers and children: eight mothers, 13 girls and nine boys were scheduled for the trip, although two couldn’t travel because of illness. Reporters, Honduran officials and Ana García de Hernández, the wife of President Juan Orlando Hernández, were on hand for the flight’s arrival. President Hernández's government promised the deportees job leads, a $500 stipend, psychological counseling and schooling, but a returning mother, Angélica Gálvez, told the Los Angeles Times that in the end she and her six-year-old daughter Abigail didn’t get enough money to pay for the three-hour trip to their home in La Ceiba. “They havent helped me before,” she said. “Why should I believe them now?”

The publicity around the flight was apparently part of a US effort to reduce a recent increase in unauthorized immigration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, mostly by unaccompanied minors and women with their children; some 57,000 unaccompanied child migrants have been detained at the Mexico-US border since October, 35,000 of them Central Americans [see Update #1225]. An unnamed official from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) described the deportation flight as “just the initial wave.” “Our border is not open to illegal migration, and we will send recent illegal migrants back,” the official said. (LAT 7/14/14)

Other US government efforts to discourage immigration include commissioning songs that stress the dangers of attempts to enter the US without authorization. This started in 2004 when the Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a DHS agency, sent a five-song CD to radio stations throughout Mexico. Currently 21 Guatemalan, Salvadoran and Honduran radio stations are playing a CBP-commissioned cumbia song, “La Bestia,” named for the notoriously dangerous train Central American migrants often ride to get through southern Mexico; migrants call it “The Beast” [see Update #1220]. The song, which the radio stations play without any reference to its US origin, is reportedly very popular. (The Daily Beast 7/12/14)

Honduran critics of US policies charge that these efforts don’t address the causes underlying the wave of departures from the country. Honduras has the world’s highest murder rate; with a population of about 438,00, San Pedro Sula, the home of many of the people heading north, had 778 homicides in 2013 and 594 so far this year, the municipal morgue reports. According to Hugo Ramón Maldonado, vice president of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (Codeh), some 80% of the people emigrating from Honduras are fleeing criminality or violence. He blamed the government’s failure to pursue criminals and dismissed the government reception of the deportees on July 14 as “a political show with our returned migrants.” “What is happening in this country is a great tragedy,” he added. (LAT 7/14/14)

In an interview published July 14 by the Mexican daily Excélsior, rightwing president Hernández blamed the violence on US drug policy. “The root cause is that the US and Colombia carried out big operations in the fight against drugs,” he said. “Then Mexico did it.” This “drug war” policy pushed drug traffickers into the northern Central American countries, El Salvador,Guatemala and Honduras, he indicated, “creating a serious problem for us that sparked this migration.” However, Hernández is apparently seeking US funding so that he can start similar operations in his own country. (Reuters 7/14/14 via Huffington Post)

In fact, drug traffickers appear to operate quite openly in parts of Honduras. On July 17 a group of heavily armed men seized some 20 members of the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH), a leading organization of the Garífuna ethnic group, in Vallecito in the northern department of Colón. Some OFRANEH members managed to escape and mobilize supporters, with the result that the gang eventually released the captives, who included OFRANEH coordinator Miriam Miranda. The Garífuna’s right to the Vallecito territory was recognized by the government’s National Agrarian Institute (INA) in 1997, and the Supreme Court of Justice upheld the group’s claim against cooking oil magnate Miguel Facussé Barjum’s attempt to seize part of the land the next year. More recently, drug traffickers invaded Vallecito and built a landing strip there. The Garífuna regained control in 2013, but the gang appeared to be trying to restore the landing strip this July. The OFRANEH members were investigating when they were seized. They noted that their kidnappers didn’t bother to hide their faces; as of July 18 there had been no arrests. (Adital (Brazil) 7/18/14; Rebelión 7/19/14 from Lista Informativa Nicaragua y Más (LINyM))

Meanwhile, Honduran police agents continue to be accused of major crimes [see Update #1203]. On July 14 three agents of the National Directorate of Special Investigation Services (DNSEI) were indicted in connection with the murder of two women, Yury Fabiola Hernández and Gessy Marleny García, at a restaurant in a Tegucigalpa suburb on July 9; they were also accused of wounding a third women, who is now a protected witness. Agent Marvin Joel Gallegos Suárez was charged with the murders, while agents Fredy Gerardo Mendoza Arriaza and Gregorio Alexander Anariba Meraz were charged with complicity in the murders and with violation of their duties. (Latin American Herald Tribune 7/13/14 from EFE; El Heraldo (Tegucigalpa) 7/15/14)

*2. El Salvador: Workers Win $1.5 Million in Maquila Closing
On July 12 the 1,066 laid-off employees of El Salvador’s Manufacturas del Río (MDR) apparel factory began receiving benefits, back wages and severance pay that they were owed after the plant closed suddenly on Jan. 7. MDR--a joint venture of the Mexican company Kaltex and the Miami-based Argus Group which stitched garments for such major brands as Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Lacoste, Levi Strauss and Adidas—shut down without notice after the Textile Industry Workers Union (STIT), an affiliate of the Salvadoran Union Front (FSS), spent two months attempting to negotiate a contract. No apparel plant in El Salvador has a labor contract.

Salvadoran unionists said that although they took the necessary steps with the Salvadoran Attorney General’s Office and the courts to win compensation, international solidarity was crucial to the victory. The STIT filed complaints with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) in the US and put pressure on the Argus Group with support from two US-based groups, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ. In Mexico student activists from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), and the Center for Labor Research & Consulting (CILAS) aided a campaign to pressure Kaltex. The German-based Christian Initiative Romero (CIR) backed the Salvadoran union’s efforts in Germany to inform Adidas shareholders about the MDR closing; Adidas had sourced garments from the plant for 10 years. (International Union League for Brand Responsibility 7/15/14)

*3. Brazil: BRICS Nations Plan New Development Bank
The BRICS group of five nations--Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa--held its sixth annual summit this year from July 14 to July 16 in Fortaleza in the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará and in Brasilia, the Brazilian capital. The main business for the five nations’ leaders was formalizing their agreement on a plan to create a development bank to serve as an alternative to lending institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, which are largely dominated by the US and its allies. Although the project will need approval from the countries’ legislatures, the BRICS leaders indicated that the group’s lending institution would be called the New Development Bank, would be based in Shanghai and would be headed for the first five years by a representative of India. The bank is to start off in 2016 with $50 billion in capital, $10 billion from each BRICS member. The BRICS nations will maintain control of the bank, but membership will be open to other countries; in contrast to the IMF and the World Bank, the New Development Bank will not impose budgetary conditions on loan recipients.

The BRICS nations--which together now account for about 20% of the world’s total gross domestic products, according to Russian president Vladimir Putin—all have major economies but lack the economic power of the traditional advanced industrial sector based in Europe, Japan and North America. However, there are important differences in their economies, their political systems and their objectives; the New Development Bank plan was held up for years as China, by far the largest of the five economies, sought to dominate the bank. (The Guardian (UK) 7/15/14 from Reuters; Wall Street Journal 7/16/14)

Grassroots organizations charge that the BRICS governments frequently don’t represent the needs and wishes of their populations. The Brazilian Network for the Integration of Peoples (Rebrip) joined with a number of other groups to hold a sort of counter-summit in Fortaleza on July 15. “[S]trong social inequalities and development models based on the super-exploitation of natural resources motivate social organizations and movements in the bloc’s countries to set up joint actions that aim to guarantee rights, equality, and social and environmental justice,” the event’s announcement said. “We believe that the BRICS’ impacts—positive or negative—in the international system and in our societies depend on the ability of the peoples to mobilize themselves, to debate and to dispute the directions taken by their countries and the international coalitions that they are part of.” (Adital (Brazil) 7/16/14)

On the way to the summit, Russian president Putin visited Cuba and then Argentina, where he and Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed several accords on July 12, including one on nuclear power. A Russian delegation was planning to visit the Vaca Muerta region’s shale deposits, which Argentina is planning to exploit through hydrofracking in a joint venture with the US-based Chevron Corporation [see Update #1221]. (La Jornada (Mexico) 7/13/14 from correspondent)

*4. Haiti: UN Head Makes "Pilgrimage" for Cholera Victims
United Nations (UN) secretary general Ban Ki-moon made a two-day visit to Haiti on July 14 and July 15 to promote a $2.2 billion program that he launched in December 2012 to eliminate cholera from the country over the next 10 years. He traveled with Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe to the village of Las Palmas, near Hinche in the Central Plateau, to announce a “Total Sanitation Campaign,” the second phase of the cholera elimination program, which remains underfunded. Ban called the visit a “necessary pilgrimage”; at a church service in Las Palmas he acknowledged “that the epidemic has caused much anger and fear” and that it “continues to affect an unacceptable number of people.”

Many Haitians remained critical of Ban, who has refused to accept UN responsibility for the cholera outbreak, despite overwhelming evidence that it was caused by poor sanitation in October 2010 at a base used by troops from the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) [see Update #1195]. Haitian human rights lawyer Mario Joseph said it was “an insult to all Haitians for the secretary general to come to Haiti for a photo opportunity when he refuses to take responsibility for the thousands of Haitians killed and the hundreds of thousands sickened by the UN cholera epidemic.” The Popular Democratic Movement (MODEP) said the visit would be a good occasion for Ban to say “when MINUSTAH will leave the country,” to “recognize officially the UN’s responsibility in the introduction of cholera in Haiti” and “to define a compensation plan for the victims.” (AlterPresse (Haiti) 7/14/14; The Guardian (UK) 7/16/14, some from unidentified wire services)

Ban’s visit came a month after a June 13 incident in New York in which a professional process server attempted to hand the secretary general a formal complaint in connection with a lawsuit filed in March at a Brooklyn federal court. Stan Alpert, one of the attorneys for the 1,500 plaintiffs in the suit, which seeks to make the UN accept responsibility for the epidemic, said Ban was given the complaint; the UN denies that he received it. (Miami Herald 6/17/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico

Argentina: Mapuche Community Takes Direct Action Against Oil and Gas Exploitation on Its Territory

Why did Uruguay Request its Own Integration into the Trade in Services Agreement?

The Promises and Limitations of Revolutionary Change in Bolivia: A Book Review of Evo’s Bolivia

Bolivia: 'dirty war' fears as Evo seeks third term

Ethnic cleansing on Peru's jungle border

A Massacre of Convenience: Democracy, Progress, and the Disappearance of a People In the Ecuadorian Amazon

The Problem with the Venezuela Sanctions Debate

Maduro Extends Planned “Shakeup” of Venezuelan State and Economy

Nicaragua Vive! 35 Years Since the Triumph of the Sandinista Revolution

Nicaragua: inter-oceanic canal route approved

Salvadoran Feminists Push Debate on El Salvador’s Stringent Abortion Ban

The Depths of Hell in Honduras: Honduran Collapse, Mining and Organized Crime

The Drones of Mexico

How the Mexican Drug Trade Thrives on Free Trade

Mexico’s Health Care Professionals Rise Up

NAFTA Advocates Continue to Make Misleading Claims (Mexico)

How the Mexican Drug Trade Thrives on Free Trade

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


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:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Links but No Update for July 13, 2014

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

U.S. on Its Own, Once Again, at OAS Meeting on Argentinean Sovereign Debt

Argentina: Communities to Resist Oil Extraction in National Park

Putin signs Argentina nuclear deals on Latin America tour

Conservatives in Uruguay Want to Put More Youth in Prison. Civil Society is Saying No.

Pioneering Cannabis Regulation in Uruguay

Cartes, A Year Later (Paraguay)

Brazil, Defeat and the High Cost of Hosting FIFA’s World Cup

Brazil’s Agribusiness Lobby Pushes Back Against Indigenous Land Recognition

Brazil: Where Indian Lives are not Worth a Traffic Sign

Brazil: Where Indian Lives are not Worth a Traffic Sign

Shining Path leaders indicted in US court (Peru)

Peru: interior minister linked to journalist's murder

Peru: protest new legal assault on environment

Cajamarca: police attack campesino community (Peru)

Peru: mass mobilizations for persecuted regional leader

Analysts Confused as Venezuelans Say Their Country is Second Most Democratic in Region

Venezuela: new attack on indigenous leader

Voices of the Resistance Movement in Guatemala

Guatemalan Government Moves to Expel Witnesses to Police Violence at US-Canadian Mine Site

A Day Like Today, Now. (Honduras)

Status of violence against women in Honduras

The Government of El Salvador Lacks Accurate Data on Child Migration

Juarez Violence and Arrest Patterns: Then and Now (Mexico)

Fracking Fights Loom Large in Mexico

Interview With the Last Peyote Guardians: José Luis “Katira” Ramírez And Clemente Ramírez (Mexico)

Carlos Slim’s Empire Broken Up But Oligarchs Still Control Mexico

A Cover-up in a Young Migrant’s Death? (Mexico)

US Border Patrol smuggled arms for Sinaloa Cartel? (Mexico)

Mexico: campesinos block Tabasco oil wells

Despite Flawed Electoral Process, International Community Support Continues Unabated (Haiti)

The Caribbean: A Clean Energy Revolution on the Front Lines of Climate Change

Does the US Have a Double Standard When it Comes to Spying on Latin America? (US/policy)

The U.S. Roots of the Central American Immigrant Influx (US/immigration)

Advice on Public Spending from an Undocumented Felon (US/immigration)

Latino Youth Activists Teach Murrieta and the Nation A Civics Lesson

Immigrant justice activists call upon Central American children to be treated as refugees

And a word from our friends at UDW:

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