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

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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 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/

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

WNU #1235: Mexican Police Kill Guerrero Students, Again

Issue #1235, September 28, 2014

1. Mexico: Police Kill Guerrero Students, Again
2. Guatemala: Police Occupy Town After Violence
3. Haiti: Women Protest 1835 Abortion Law
4. Nicaragua: Contra-Drug Series Was CIA “Nightmare”
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, 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. Mexico: Police Kill Guerrero Students, Again
The Attorney General’s Office of the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero announced on Sept. 28 that 22 agents from the Iguala de la Independencia municipal preventive police had been detained and removed to Acapulco in connection with a violent outbreak the night of Sept. 26-27 that left six dead and 17 injured. At least two of those killed were students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College, located in the town of Ayotzinapa, and as of Sept. 27 some 25 of the students were still missing. Two students from the same school were killed in an assault by state and federal police during a protest on Dec. 12, 2011; Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre Rivero eventually had to apologize publicly for the killings after the federal government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued a recommendation for an apology and for compensation to the victims’ families [see Update #1153].

According to the authorities, the violence in Iguala began late on Sept. 26 when a group of students from the teachers’ college commandeered three buses to take them back to Ayotzinapa, about 125 kilometers away, after a visit to the city. Police agents responded by shooting at the buses, killing two students. Later that night, unidentified gunmen attacked a bus on the federal Iguala-Chilpancingo highway as it was taking a Chilpancingo soccer team, the Avispones (“Hornets”), home after a match with an Iguala team. A teenage player, David Josué García Evangelista, was killed, along with a passenger, Blanca Montiel Sánchez; the bus driver was wounded and died afterwards from his injuries. The military also found a man’s body at another location on the same highway; the victim still hadn’t been identified as of Sept. 28. It wasn’t clear whether he was a student, but the daily La Jornada suggested that the night’s attacks were “against anyone who looked like a student.”

As the violence was beginning on Sept. 27, Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez told a reporter that “apparently someone hired [the Ayotzinapa students] to come and make trouble.” The mayor’s wife, Municipal Family Development System president María de los Angeles Pineda Villa, was scheduled to deliver a report in a public plaza that night, although there was also a dance with a tropical music group, Luz Roja de San Marcos, at the plaza. Mayor Abarca Velázquez, a business owner and a member of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), is reportedly planning to have his wife replace him in city hall if he wins a seat in the federal Chamber of Deputies next year. The students said they simply came to Iguala to do fundraising in the streets, and they denied that they seized the buses by force. “There was some discussion with the bus drivers; they agreed to do us a favor,” Pedro David García López, a representative of the Ayotzinapa Student Executive Committee, told reporters on Sept. 27. “There wasn’t a kidnapping or a threat against a driver…. The buses had already let out their passengers.”

On Sept. 27 the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), an organization of dissident local members of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE), condemned the police attack and announced that the group’s campaign against the federal government’s “education reform” program [see Update #1174] would now include a demand for punishment of the people responsible for the Iguala killings. (CNN México 9/27/14, some from Notimex; La Jornada (Mexico) 9/28/14, 9/28/14; Informador (Mexico) 9/28/14)

*2. Guatemala: Police Occupy Town After Violence
On Sept. 22 Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina declared a 30-day state of emergency in San Juan Sacatepéquez municipality in response to the deaths of at least eight indigenous Kaqchikel in a confrontation the night of Sept. 19-20 in the municipality’s Pajoques community [see Update #1234]. Some 600 police agents were sent to the municipality; according to one report they were backed up by 1,000 soldiers. Under the state of emergency the police are free to break up any demonstration or public meeting held without government authorization. On Sept. 23 the police arrested five community members, charging them with murder, attempted murder, arson and illegal meetings and protests; there are warrants for several dozen other community members.

There is little agreement on what happened the night of Sept. 19-20, even on the number of deaths: press reports range from eight to 11. The confrontation was between supporters and opponents of two construction projects, a huge cement factory in the municipality and a section of a beltway around Guatemala City, and the two sides gave radically different accounts. Construction supporters—generally residents who have been hired by the cement factory’s owners or have sold land for one or both of the construction projects—claim that the resistance activists are thieves and rapists who regularly harass and rob other community members.

Opponents of the construction charge that the incident started when 10 armed men from the factory entered Pajoques and fired on opponents, killing one and wounding two others. Community members say they called the national police soon after the shooting began but the police never arrived. All five of those arrested on Sept. 23 appear to belong to the resistance. Two claimed they had solid alibis. Celestino Turuy Pajoj, the director of a local school, said he was at a private university taking a law course, while José Dolores Pajoj Pirir said he was at a hospital with one of his sons at the time of the killings he is charged with. Two of his sons were shot at the beginning of the confrontation; one died and the other was hospitalized with injuries.

The Guatemalan firm Productos Mineros Limited, a subsidiary of Cementos Progreso, is the principal owner of the cement factory, holding 80% of the shares; the remaining 20% are held by the Swiss multinational cement company Holcim Ltd. Cementos Progreso is controlled by Guatemala’s rightwing Novella family, which has contracts for millions of dollars worth of development projects arranged by President Pérez Molina and his Patriot Party (PP), according to a Sept. 22 report by the Guatemalan Independent Media Center. Cementos Progreso made large contributions to Pérez Molina’s campaign in the 2011 presidential election. (Latin American Herald Tribune 9/23/14 from EFE; Prensa Libre (Guatemala) 9/24/14, 9/27/14 from EFE; TeleSUR 9/25/14; NACLA 9/26/14)

*3. Haiti: Women Protest 1835 Abortion Law
Some 30 Haitian women held a protest in front of the Ministry for the Feminine Condition and Women’s Rights (MCFDF) in Port-au-Prince on Sept. 26 to demand the decriminalization of abortion. Under Article 262 of Haiti’s Criminal Code, in effect since 1835, the sentence for a woman having an abortion and for anyone who helps her is life in prison. The law is apparently never enforced, but because of it all abortions in Haiti are clandestine and unregulated. The country has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the Americas, with 530 deaths for each 100,000 births; 100 of these deaths follow abortions. In a 2012 survey of 352 women who had abortions since 2007, 40% reported having complications. “Criminalization isn’t a solution,” the protesters, mostly young women, chanted. “We want to be educated sexually to be able to decide.” The demonstration was sponsored by a number of women’s rights organizations, including the Initiative for an Equitable Development in Haiti (Ideh), Kay Fanm (“Women’s House”) and Haitian Women’s Solidarity (SOFA).

The Sept. 26 protest was in observance of the annual Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion, which is officially observed two days later on Sept. 28, but the issue had gained additional attention in Haiti because of a Sept. 20 article in the French newsweekly Le Nouvel Observateur. According to the article, in May 2013 a group of doctors, feminists and religious leaders adopted a resolution for decriminalization after a colloquium on abortion organized by Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP). “Haiti must remove the vagueness existing currently in its legislation on abortion by adopting a law that abrogates Article 262 of the Criminal Code of1835,” the resolution read. However, it has been kept secret and hasn’t been presented to the Parliament for legislative action. (Le Nouvel Observateur 9/20/14; AlterPresse (Haiti) 9/25/14, 9/27/14)

*4. Nicaragua: Contra-Drug Series Was CIA “Nightmare”
On Sept. 18 the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released a number of classified articles from its in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, including an article about “Dark Alliance,” a 1996 series in the San Jose Mercury News that linked the CIA-backed Nicaraguan contra rebels to the sale of crack in South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s. Other US media, notably the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, harshly criticized the series’ author, investigative reporter Gary Webb, noting, and often exaggerating, flaws in his reporting. Webb lost his job at the Mercury News and was never employed by a major newspaper again; he was found dead on Dec. 10, 2004 in an apparent suicide [see Update #777].

The CIA journal article, by a Directorate of Intelligence staffer named Nicholas Dujmovic, described the initial public reaction to the series as a “nightmare” and “a genuine public relations crisis.” Although the contras’ links to cocaine trafficking had been reported previously, Webb’s series had more effect, in part because it connected the contras to the explosion of crack use in African-American communities. It was also one of the first major stories to gain traction through circulation over the internet. Dujmovic attributed the popularity of “Dark Alliance” to “societal shortcomings.” “We live in somewhat coarse and emotional times-–when large numbers of Americans do not adhere to the same standards of logic, evidence, or even civil discourse as those practiced by members of the CIA community,” he complained.

The CIA’s response largely relied on “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists,” Dujmovic wrote. The agency managed to discourage “one major news affiliate” from covering the story, and in another case it helped out a reporter by making “a rare exception to the general policy that CIA does not comment on any individual’s alleged CIA ties.” But to a large extent the mainstream media did the job on Webb without prompting from the CIA. The Los Angeles Times, for example, assembled a group of 17 reporters in what one member called the “get Gary Webb team.” The group “put [Webb’s series] under a microscope,” another of the reporters, Jesse Katz, said in a 2013 radio interview. “And we did it in a way that most of us who were involved in it, I think, would look back on that and say it was overkill. We had this huge team of people at the L.A. Times and kind of piled on to one lone muckraker up in Northern California.” The result of the media attack was a “success,” according to Dujmovic, although only “in relative terms.” (The Intercept 9/25/14)

The story has never completely disappeared from public consciousness, however. A 1997 report by the CIA’s then-inspector general, Frederick Hitz, confirmed the contras’ link to drug trafficking, and a new story about contra drug dealing appeared in October 2013 in both the rightwing US-based Fox television network and the left-leaning Mexican weekly Proceso [see Update #1198]. A feature film about Gary Webb, “Kill the Messenger,” is scheduled for release on Oct. 10.

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, US/immigration

Global Drug Report: Don't Just Decriminalize, Demilitarize (Latin America)
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5063-global-drug-report-dont-just-decriminalize-demilitarize

REDD: A controversial mechanism (Latin America)
http://alainet.org/active/77477

Biodiversity Offsetting Advances in Latin America Amid Controversy
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5056-biodiversity-offsetting-advances-in-latin-america-amid-controversy

Until the Rulers Obey: Learning from Latin America’s Social Movements
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/5060-until-the-rulers-obey-learning-from-latin-americas-social-movements

How one Latin American peace group has persevered over 40 years
http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/40-years-serpaj-continues-peace-work-throughout-latin-america/

Trucks Set on Fire in Mapuche Conflict Zone, Chile
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Trucks-Set-on-Fire-in-Mapuche-Conflict-Zone-Chile-20140928-0002.html

What is at stake in Brazil
http://alainet.org/active/77401

An indigenous nation in the industrialized heart of South America (Brazil)
http://www.cipamericas.org/archives/12904

Police Violence and Forced Evictions in São Paulo: An Interview with Benedito “Dito” Barbosa (Brazil)
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/the-americas-blog/police-violence-and-forced-evictions-in-sao-paulo-an-interview-with-benedito-dito-barbosa

Washington Snubs Bolivia on Drug Policy Reform, Again
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5061-washington-snubs-bolivia-on-drug-policy-reform-again

Peru: rural mayor killed in jungle unrest
http://ww4report.com/node/13561

Peru: Newmont behind water authority shake-up?
http://ww4report.com/node/13562

Peru: massacre victims exhumed in Ayacucho
http://ww4report.com/node/13569

Peru: record coke bust points to Mexican cartels
http://ww4report.com/node/13566

Colombia's indigenous communities at risk: report
http://ww4report.com/node/13572

Colombia's Ecopetrol to process fracking licenses
http://ww4report.com/node/13568

Venezuela’s Maduro Responds to Scathing US Editorials and Blames Capitalism for ‘Environment Collapse’
http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/10928

When A Cement Factory’s Progress Drive Turns Deadly (Guatemala)
http://nacla.org/news/2014/9/26/when-cement-factorys-progress-drive-turns-deadly

El Salvador: Total Ban on Abortion is Killing Women and Girls and Condemning Others to Decades Behind Bars
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/news-briefs-archives-68/5063-global-drug-report-dont-just-decriminalize-demilitarize

Mexico Police Kill 2 Students During Protest, 25 Missing
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Mexico-Police-Kill-2-Students-During-Protest-25-Missing-20140928-0013.html

Sonora Spill adds to the Social and Environmental Consequences of Free-Market Mining in Mexico
http://upsidedownworld.org/main/mexico-archives-79/5066-sonora-spill-adds-to-the-social-and-environmental-consequences-of-free-market-mining-in-mexico

Memorial Planned for Famed Border Writer (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/memorial-planned-for-famed-border-writer/

Climate Ironies Expose the Vulnerable Borderlands (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/climate-ironies-expose-the-vulnerable-borderlands/

Bring on the Casinos-Tax Free! (Mexico)
http://fnsnews.nmsu.edu/bring-on-the-casinos-tax-free/

ISIS to attack US through Mexico —not!
http://ww4report.com/node/13579

Mexico: protests for imprisoned vigilante leader
http://ww4report.com/node/13578

The Growing Divide Between Democrats and Latino Voters (US/immigration)
http://nacla.org/news/2014/9/29/growing-divide-between-democrats-and-latino-voters

Expanding Insecurity (US/immigration)
http://nacla.org/blog/2014/9/24/expanding-insecurity

DHS Argues It Has Evidence That Locking Up Immigrant Families Deters Migration. One Problem: It’s So Wrong. (US/immigration)
https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/dhs-argues-it-has-evidence-locking-immigrant-families-deters-migration-one

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/