Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WNU #964: Mexican Activists Charged in Reporter's Death

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #964, October 19, 2008

1. Mexico: Activists Charged in Reporter's Death
2. Haiti: UN Sends Tanks, Not Tractors
3. In Other News: Chile, Argentina, Cuba
4. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, US policy

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. Mexico: Activists Charged in Reporter's Death
On Oct. 16 Mexico's federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) arrested activist Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno for the shooting death of New York-based independent journalist Brad Will during a protest in the southern state of Oaxaca on Oct. 27, 2006. Octavio Pérez Pérez was also arrested and charged with concealing the crime; Hugo Jafit Colmenares Leyva was arrested on the same charge on Oct. 17. Pérez and Colmenares were released on Oct. 18 on bail of 25,000 pesos (about $1,925) apiece. All three of the arrested men are activists in the leftist Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), which along with the state local of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) spearheaded protests that shut down much of Oaxaca state for five months in 2006.

Will, a member of the New York Indymedia collective, was hit while he was standing with the demonstrators and videotaping apparent supporters of the state government as they fired at protesters and reporters. A Mexican journalist was also hit but suffered minor injuries [see Updates #872, 873]. Adrián Ramírez, president of the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights (LIMEDDH), said videos and photographs from the scene show that Will could not have been shot by the nearby protesters. The federal government's own National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) found that the shots came from a distance of 30m. "We've spent two years on this, and the PGR's investigation is an insult," Kathy Will, the journalist's mother, told the daily Milenio. In Mexico, she added, "the impunity is amazing." (Milenio (Mexico) 10/17/08, 10/19/08; El Informador (Guadalajara) 10/19/08 from EFE; La Jornada (Mexico) 10/19/08)

The activists' arrests came as the Mexican government was cracking down on a teachers' strike in neighboring Morelos similar to the strike that set off the Oaxaca uprising two years before [see Update #962]. Residents of the Morelos indigenous communities of Amayuca and Xoxocotla have charged that they were tortured and subjected to sexual aggression when agents and soldiers raided the villages on Oct. 8 and 9 to stop protests in support of the teachers. Demonstrations have continued around the state despite the repression at various communities. Some 40,000 people marched through the state capital, Cuernavaca, on Oct. 14 to reject the national government's Alliance for Quality Education (ACE); Morelos teachers were joined by local supporters and teachers from other states. On Oct. 15 some 10,000 residents, teachers and supporters marched in Xoxocotla to demand that the PFP and the military withdraw from the community.

Teachers are resisting the ACE in other states as well. On Oct. 14 some 3,000 teachers blocked the state legislature building in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, forcing the legislature to suspend its session. On Oct. 17, more than 15,000 teachers from Morelos, Michoacán, Oaxaca, México state, the Federal District (DF, Mexico City), Guerrero, Zacatecas, Tlaxcala and Puebla marched in Mexico City from the Zócalo plaza to the president's residence, Los Pinos, calling for a national strike. Teachers have maintained an encampment in front of the Public Education Secretariat (SEP) since Oct. 8. (Viento de Libertad 10/11/08, 10/14/08; LJ 10/14/08, 10/15/08, 10/16/08, 10/18/08)

*2. Haiti: UN Sends Tanks, Not Tractors
On Oct. 14 the United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1840 authorizing the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to remain for another year, until Oct. 15, 2009. The international force, which began its occupation of Haiti in June 2004, has a maximum of 7,060 soldiers and 2,091 police agents. Its annual cost is now more than $500 million.

For more than two years Haitian President René Préval has called on the force to provide long-term assistance with "fewer tanks and more tractors." However, UN Special Representative Hedi Annabi, who heads the mission, said development work wasn't the Security Council's priority. The Security Council is instead calling for an international donors conference to provide funds for development. On Oct. 15 UN coordinator in Haiti Joel Boutroue said Haiti has been set back three or four years in economic growth by four major tropical storms that hit it this summer; he estimated that 50% of the current season's crops were destroyed. On Oct. 3 Haitian Civil Protection announced that 793 people were killed in the storms. (Haiti Support Group News Briefs 10/3/08 from AFP, 10/9/08 from AP; Reuters 10/14/07; Radio Kiskeya (Haiti) 10/14/08; AlterPresse 10/16/08)

MINUSTAH is led by Brazil, and many of the troops come from Latin America. On Oct. 16 five Haitian groups published an open letter to the presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Guatemala saying the mission's "real purpose is to defend the rich's interests, as well as those of US imperialism"; they demanded "that the governments of all Latin American and Caribbean countries sending troops to Haiti pull out immediately." The groups were Batay Ouvriye (Workers' Struggle), Haitian Women's Solidarity (SOFA), Haitian Platform Advocating an Alternative Development (PAPDA), Popular Democratic Movement (MODEP) and Dessalines University Students' Association (ASID). (10/16/08)

*3. In Other News...
On Oct. 15 the Chilean Supreme Court sentenced the 88-year-old retired general Sergio Arellano Stark to six years in prison for the killing of four people shortly after a Sept. 11, 1973 coup that brought the late dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power. Another retired officer, Carlos Romero Muñoz, also received a six-year sentence in the same case; three others were sentenced to four years. The victims--Teófilo Segundo Arce Toloza, José Esteban Sepúlveda Baeza, Segundo Abelardo Sandoval Gómez and Leopoldo Mauricio González Norambuena--were killed at the San Javier military facility on Oct. 2, 1973. (La Jornada 10/16/08 from correspondent)... The public trial for the Argentine government's clandestine sale of arms to Ecuador and Croatia from 1991 to 1995 in violation of international agreements began in Buenos Aires on Oct. 16. There are 18 defendants; the best known, former president Carlos Menem (1989-1999), now a senator from La Rioja province, failed to attend, claiming health problems. Much of the evidence disappeared in the 1995 explosion of an arms factory; at least six potential witnesses had died by 1998, two in a helicopter crash, three from heart attacks and one in what was ruled a suicide [see Updates #449, 451, 452, 454, 458]. (LJ 10/17/08 from correspondent)... The main route for people trying to leave Cuba for the US is now through Mexico. According to the US Department of Homeland Security, 11,126 Cubans entered the US this way in 2007, while just 1,055 went directly to Florida. The immigrants usually pay $5,000-$10,000 for a trip in a high-speed fishing boat to Quintana Roo, Mexico, and then travel by land to the Texas border. The operations are generally run by Cuban Americans who have rented or stolen the boats from Florida. (El Nuevo Herald 10/19/08 from AP) [Mexican police arrested two Cuban American smugglers in June; they reportedly said they were members of the Miami-based rightwing Cuban American National Foundation (CANF)--see Updates #951, 952.]

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, US policy

Financial Crisis Jumpstarts Integration

Pentecostalism and South America's Social Movements

Dark Side of Brazil's Agribusiness Boom: Violence, Mutiny and Environmental Pillage in the Amazon http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1526/68/

Evo: Bolivia won't "kneel down" to US on drug war

Bolivia: Evo leads march for new constitution

Iran to open clinics in Bolivia

New Discoveries Reveal US Intervention in Bolivia

Ecuador Leads the Way; Now it's Pennsylvania's Turn to Protect the Environment

Refugees in Ecuador: Putting Post-Neoliberalism to the Test http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1530/1/

History Repeats Itself For Indigenous Communities in Colombia http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1527/1/

Colombia: police attack indigenous protesters

Colombia: paramilitaries stage "armed strike" in Urabá

Colombian government hampers justice efforts: HRW

Venezuela: army intelligence officials held in student's death

Venezuela: nationwide protests at prisons

El Salvador: US Government's Role in Human Rights Abuses and Political Intervention http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1523/68/

Guatemala: Americas Social Forum Rejects Neoliberalism, Celebrates Resistance http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1524/1/

Toll of unknown victims on Mexico-Arizona border rises

Mexico: narco-killing spree in Ciudad Juárez--and throughout country

The Monroe Doctrine Revisited: China's Increased Role in Latin America http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1528/1/

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