Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WNU #939: Women's Day Protests, Ecuador Probes US Role in Attack

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #939, March 16, 2008

1. Latin America: Women's Day Protests
2. Mexico: Rural Activist Killed
3. Ecuador: Probes US Role in Attack
4. Argentina: Ex-Officer in Suicide?
5. Uruguay: Ex-Officer Wins Round in Italy

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. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com

*1. Latin America: Women's Day Protests
Hundreds of Guatemalan women commemorated International Women's Day on Mar. 8 with a march through Guatemala City's Historic Center to demand an end to violence, to impunity and to discrimination against women. "Enough of all this violence," they chanted as they marched from the Supreme Court of Justice to the Plaza de la Constitución. In a theatrical presentation near the Metropolitan Cathedral, a group of women with painted faces mimed a rescue of a girl kidnapped by a soldier. Groups of indigenous women and girls also demanded an end to racism and to discrimination against women.

Hundreds of Salvadoran women marched in San Salvador, demanding greater "attention" to the violence women suffer. In Nicaragua, women demonstrated in different parts of Managua for the restoration of therapeutic abortion, which was criminalized by the National Assembly in October 2006 [see Update #873]. The protests were organized by the Women's Autonomous Movement and the Feminist Movement, which are composed of different civil society groups. Honduran women demanded the solution of murders of women in recent years, more respect for women's rights, and better working conditions.

In Uruguay women who work in the government and representatives of all the political parties met in a United Nations office to sign a joint work plan for the next two years. (El Diario-La Prensa (NY) 3/9/08 from combined wire services)

Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa used an official celebration in Emiliano Zapata, Morelos, to announce a new women's rights program, Pro-Equality, and regulations to enforce a year-old law to protect women from violence. Calderón listened as Eufrosina Cruz Mendoza, an indigenous Zapotec, charged that she was denied the post of mayor of Santa María Quiegolani, in Oaxaca, in a Nov. 4 election because she is a woman. Calderón said that by the end of his term in 2012 the government expects to bring about a 50% reduction in income disparity for women, a 30% reduction in the number of households in extreme poverty headed by women, and a 70% reduction in sexual harassment at the workplace. (La Jornada (Mexico) 3/11/08)

*2. Mexico: Rural Activist Killed
At around noon on Mar. 14 a group of armed men killed farmer leader Armando Villarreal Martha with submachine gun blasts near his house in Nuevo Casas Grandes municipality, in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. Villarreal Martha was the leader of the National Agrodynamic Organization (OAN). He was well-known for his campaigns for lower electricity rates for farmers and campesinos, and was imprisoned for a year and a half before being acquitted of charges in connection with the occupation of the Janos and Villa Ahumada customs station in 2002. Earlier this year he was involved in national protests calling for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) [see Updates #929-931, 933] and in demands for the reactivation of the petrochemical industry to make fertilizers and other chemicals cheaper for farmers. He ran as a local candidate for the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in 1988 and for the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in 1992. (La Jornada 3/15/08)

*3. Ecuador: Probes US Role in Attack
On Mar. 11 Fernando Cordero, vice president of Ecuador's Constituent Assembly, told Ecuavisa television that the Assembly's Sovereignty Commission would "do an audit" of the US military base at the southwestern town of Manta to see if the base was used in a Mar. 1 bombing raid by the Colombian military against a camp of the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) inside Ecuadoran territory [see Update #937]. The FARC second-in-command, Raúl Reyes, was killed in the raid, along with about 20 other guerrillas and four visiting Mexican students. On Mar. 6 Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa indicated that the attack was carried out with "smart bombs"; some people doubt that the Colombian air force has the capability to use these hi-tech weapons. The US will have to leave the base in 2009, when a 10-year lease expires. (La Jornada 3/12/08 from AFP, PL, DPA, Reuters)

On Mar. 4 the Mexican Attorney General's Office (PGR) started an investigation of the four dead Mexican students and the one surviving Mexican, Lucía Morett Alvarez, for possible links to the FARC. Some Mexican media have also suggested links to drug trafficking. In a Mexico City press conference on Mar. 14, family members denied that the students were members of any armed group. Morett's aunt, María Alvarez Moctezuma, said her niece, who is hospitalized in Quito for treatment of her injuries, was on a visit to the camp to carry out "interviews that would enrich her researches." Morett's parents have noted that Mexico failed to issue a complaint against Colombia for the attack on five unarmed Mexican citizens. (LJ 3/15/08)

*4. Argentina: Ex-Officer in Suicide?
On Feb. 25 the body of retired Argentine military officer Lt. Col. Paul Alberto Navone was found by an employee of the Air Force's Hotel Parque, in Ascochinga, a town some 55km north of Buenos Aires. He had been shot in the chest; a 9mm pistol and a suicide note were found near the body. Navone, who lived in Ascochinga, had been scheduled to appear that day before federal judge Myriam Galizzi in an investigation of the disappearance of twin babies born in Paraná, Entre Ríos province, in 1978, during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship's "dirty war" against suspected leftists. The parents were Raquel Negro and Tulio "Tucho" Valenzuela, a leader of the Montoneros rebel group. Claiming ill health, Navone had gotten his court appearance postponed to Mar. 3.

The government has been investigating the kidnapping of some 600 babies during the dictatorship, generally the children of leftists who were disappeared by the military. Former navy officer Héctor Febres was also expected to testify in the investigation when he died suddenly on Dec. 10. The cause of death was a heart attack, but there were traces of cyanide in his body, and two coast guard officers were charged with homicide [see Updates #927, 929]. Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which has agitated for decades for clarification of the theft of the babies, said she would demand an investigation to see if Navone "was eliminated, as may have happened with Héctor Febres." (Clarín (Buenos Aires) 2/26/08; Página 12 (Buenos Aires) 3/2/08)

*5. Uruguay: Ex-Officer Wins Round in Italy
On Jan. 17 the Review Court of Rome dismissed the Italian case against former Uruguayan navy captain Néstor Jorge Fernández Tróccoli, who was arrested in Salerno on Dec. 23 in connection with Operation Condor, a clandestine program of cooperation between South American militaries during the 1970s and 1980s [see Update #929]. Fernández Tróccoli, who headed Uruguay's secret services for the 1973-1985 military dictatorship, is one of 140 military officers and soldiers from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay that Italy is seeking for crimes against more than 25 people of Italian origin. The Italian court found that there was insufficient evidence against Fernández Tróccoli. However, as of February he was still held in prison because of an extradition request from Uruguay. (Terra (Spain) 2/6/08 from EFE)

More breaking stories from alternative sources:

Brazil: Activists protest at World Biofuels Market

Chile: Emerging Party Seeks Self-Government for Mapuche People http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1174/68/

Bolivian Social Movements Mobilize for Constitutional Referendum http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1175/1/

Colombia: US hand in Raul Reyes hit?

Hypocrisies of a US-backed Crisis

Photo Essay: Colombia--Massive Demonstrations Against Paramilitary and State Terror

Justice Department harasses Salvador solidarity committee

Waiting for Hector: An Implacable Fight for Justice in Nueva Linda, Guatemala

Belize Sows Seeds for Food Security

Mexico: Mass graves in Ciudad Juárez

Mexico: Pemex scandal hits Calderón administration

Mexico: guerilla convicts' sentences reduced

Mexico: Brad Will family protest Oaxaca investigation

Mexico: Oaxaca--APPO activist freed from prison

Mexico: Tabasco Maya community joins Zapatista movement

Mexico: Chiapas--two more sentenced in Acteal massacre

Mexico: Chiapas--prisoners on hunger strike; land conflicts continue

For more Latin America news stories:

For immigration updates and events:

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

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