Tuesday, May 13, 2008

WNU #946: US Blamed in Reporter's Death in Haiti

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #946, May 11, 2008

1. Haiti: US Blamed in Reporter's Death
2. Mexico: Rebel Talks Advancing
3. In Other News: Argentina, Dominican Republic
4. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba

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 weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com

*1. Haiti: US Blamed in Reporter's Death
Foreign troops and not Haitian demonstrators killed Spanish journalist Ricardo Ortega in Port-au-Prince during a protest on Mar. 7, 2004, according to the reporter's family. Haitian judge Bernard Saint-Vil has dismissed charges against the Haitian suspects in the killing, Ortega's parents, José Luis and Charo Ortega, told the media in Madrid on May 9; Saint-Vil reportedly blamed the foreign soldiers deployed in the country during the three months after then-president Jean Bertrand Aristide, was removed from office on Feb. 29, 2004.

Ortega and four other people were reported killed when armed people fired into a Mar. 7 march by opponents to Aristide [see Update #737]. Initial reports pointed to Aristide supporters in Ortega's death. Jesús Martín, who worked with Ortega at the Spanish Antena 3 television network, originally blamed pro-Aristide gangs, but an investigation by Antena 3 on the ground six months later changed Martín's mind. The family now believes that Ortega and his translator had been in a courtyard contacting the US ambassador to get medical attention for a wounded US reporter. Ortega was shot as he and his translator left the courtyard and headed for the street. Witnesses reported that a soldier in a passing "Hummer"--a US military vehicle--fired the shot, even though there was no sign that the soldiers were in danger. Martín said the soldier probably wasn't targeting Ortega.

According to Ortega's family, an autopsy carried out in Spain after Ortega's body was returned showed traces of bullets from the heavy arms used by US soldiers. The family ruled out any possibility that Ortega was shot by French or Canadian troops, the other components of the interim "peacekeeping" force that occupied Haiti from the time of Aristide's removal until the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) took over in June 2004. The family is asking the Spanish government to demand a clarification from the countries that made up the interim force. (AlterPresse 5/9/08; La Rioja (Spain) 5/10/08 from Reuters)

*2. Mexico: Rebel Talks Advancing
On May 9 the government of Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa accepted a seven-member mediation commission proposed by the rebel Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) on Apr. 28 to start a talks to end 12 years of conflict. The center-right government had initially rejected the proposed mediation commission, which would be made up mostly of leftists or left-leaning intellectuals; on Apr. 29 the government proposed a direct meeting between the two sides in which the commission members would be "social witnesses" rather than mediators. The EPR responded with an angry communiqué released on May 7, dismissing the government's proposal as "perfidious, vulgar [and] cheating." The government then said it would accept the commission in order "to establish the principles of understanding and a process of dialogue."

The EPR emerged in a series of bloody attacks on police and military outposts in 1996. Afterwards the group was relatively quiet while various factions split off, but in July 2007 the EPR bombed pipelines belonging to the state oil monopoly, Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), in a campaign for the release of two of its leaders, Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Alberto Cruz Sánchez, who were apparently detained in the southern state of Oaxaca on May 25, 2007 [see Updates #907, 909, 910]. The release of the leaders is one of the main issues in the proposed talks.

The mediators include the writer Carlos Montemayor, who is the commission's spokesperson; anthropologist Gilberto López y Rivas; Samuel Ruiz García, bishop emeritus of San Cristóbal de las Casas in the southeastern state of Chiapas; and human rights activist Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, a senator for the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). At a press conference in Mexico City on May 9, Montemayor said the commission planned meetings with the government in the near future and would communicate with the rebels through the media, which he called "the red telephone with all the sides involved." (La Jornada (Mexico) 5/8/08, 5/10/08)

*3. In Other News...
Thousands of Argentine farmers blocked highways on May 8 to protest increased taxes on soy, a major export crop. The farmers had struck in March, halting shipments of grain throughout the country and presenting the center-left government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with its biggest challenge since she took office in December [see Update #941]. The new protests come after a 30-day truce failed to produce an agreement. Farmers said they planned eight days of protests; if these produce no results, they may continue the actions past May 15. Argentina is one of the world's major soy exporters, and the Chicago commodity exchange reponded to the renewed strike with a rise in soy prices. (La Jornada 5/9/08 from Reuters)... The Jesuit Service for Refugees and Migrants reports that at least 1,693 Haitians were deported from the Dominican Republic in the first four months of 2008. The mass repatriations are "almost always marked by violations of the migrants' human rights," the group said, noting that some immigrants reported that soldiers released the Haitians who could afford to pay bribes. (Adital 5/9/08)

4. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba

Argentina: Human Rights Witness Goes Missing and is Released http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1273/1/

Brazilian police occupy Amazon indigenous reserve

Accused mastermind acquitted in murder of Amazon defender

Santa Cruz Divided: Report from the Streets on Referendum Day in Bolivia

Polarizing Bolivia: Autonomy Vote in Santa Cruz

Peruvian Women Rally Against Rising Food Prices

Indymedia Journalists Targeted in Ecuador

Reflections on Ecuador's Mining Mandate

Ecuador accuses Colombia of extrajudicial executions

Colombia extradites paramilitary leader

US Re-establishes Navy Fleet in South America

US Navy revives Fourth Fleet to police Latin America

South America: Leaders Warn of Autonomy Attempts in Venezuela, Ecuador

Separatist "contagion" spreading in Andes?

El Salvador: Hector Ventura of the Suchitoto 14 Assassinated

El Salvador: Hector Ventura of Suchitoto 14 assassinated

Nicaragua hosts emergency food summit

Guatemala: Río Negro Survivors Identify Executioners

Mexico: open season on police commanders

Arizona gun bust linked to Mexican cartels

Miami fetes terrorist

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