Tuesday, February 8, 2011

WNU #1066: Haitian Deportee Dies, the Displaced Are Forgotten

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1066, February 6, 2011

1. Haiti: Deportee Dies, the Displaced Are Forgotten
2. Haiti: Coup Enforcer’s Son Murdered in Honduras
3. Puerto Rico: Student Protesters Face “Egyptian” Repression?
4. Mexico: Rights Group Pins Killings on Military
5. Links to alternative sources on: Chile, Amazonia, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico

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. Haiti: Deportee Dies, the Displaced Are Forgotten
A Haitian national with symptoms of cholera died in Haiti just two days after his Jan. 20 deportation from Florida by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Wildrick Guerrier was one of 27 Haitians repatriated in ICE’s first deportation of Haitian immigrants since an earthquake devastated southern Haiti in January 2010 [see Update #1064]. Immigrant rights advocates had warned about the dangers of resuming deportations, especially after a cholera epidemic struck Haiti in mid-October. “This is death by deportation,” Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) executive director Cheryl Little said in a Jan. 31 press release.

On arriving in Haiti the detainees were put in one of the country’s notoriously unsanitary prisons. Guerrier, 34, suffered from “extreme vomiting and uncontrollable diarrhea,” according to FIAC. These are symptoms of cholera, which can develop in less than one day after exposure, although the cause of death seems not to be established--Guerrier was complaining of stomach pains before his deportation.

ICE officials say they are only deporting Haitians convicted of violent crimes. Guerrier, a permanent US resident who came to Florida as a teenager in 1993, had been sentenced to an 18-month prison term, but it’s not clear what he was convicted of. “A criminal record should not be a death sentence for Haitians,” Little said. “Sadly, Guerrier's family now mourns his loss.” (FIAC press release 1/31/11; Miami New Times blog 2/3/11)

Dominican authorities are also deporting Haitians, but their pretext is that the immigrants could spread the cholera among Dominicans. More than 3,000 Haitians were expelled in January, according to Dominican officials cited in a press release from Haiti’s Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad. The ministry said “a number of repatriated citizens” reported “acts of brutality, humiliating persecutions on public streets, the separation of families, the loss of goods and merchandise.” A Dominican group, the Jesuit Service for Refugees and Migrants (SJRM), charged that “[t]hese actions are not effective for avoiding the spread of the epidemic, but instead they undermine the rule of law, give rise to violations of migrants’ human rights, promote racism and generate economic losses.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Haitians remain homeless in the Port-au-Prince area more than a year after the 2010 earthquake. The International Organization for Migration (IOM, or OIM in French) reports that the number of people living in temporary camps has gone down to 810,000 from 1.5 million in January 2010, but it is not clear how many actually obtained shelters and how many continue to live outdoors after leaving the camps--or being expelled from them by people who claim to own the land.

The deportations and the situation of displaced persons are largely ignored in the media as attention stays focused on disputes over the chaotic Nov. 28 presidential and legislative elections, according to Haitian journalist Wooldy Edson Louidor. “The current post-electoral political crisis tends to make people forget more and more the multiple urgent problems the country faces,” he wrote on Feb. 4. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 2/4/11)

On Feb. 3, one day behind schedule, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced its official election results. As expected, the council named two conservatives--Mirlande Hyppolite Manigat (Coalition of National Progressive Democrats, RDNP) and popular singer Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky,” Peasant Response)—as the candidates for the Mar. 20 presidential runoff [see Update #1065]. US ambassador Kenneth Merten congratulated the CEP on its decision. “Finally it’s a good day for Haiti,” he said. (Radio Kiskeya (Haiti) 2/3/11)

*2. Haiti: Coup Enforcer’s Son Murdered in Honduras
Jean-Michel François, the son of exiled former Haitian police chief Joseph Michel François, was killed the night of Feb. 3 in the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. The younger François, a law student, was thrown from a moving vehicle in front of his father’s electronic appliance store in the Medina neighborhood; he died hours later at a nearby hospital. According to some sources he died of bullet wounds, while others say he was badly beaten and died from his injuries. No motive had been given as of Feb. 5.

The elder François, then a lieutenant colonel, was part of a triumvirate of military officers that overthrew then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a bloody September 1991 coup and ran a ruthless dictatorship until a US military intervention restored Aristide to office in the fall of 1994. François was allowed to leave for the Dominican Republic but was expelled in 1996. He then moved to Honduras. The US indicted him for drug trafficking in 1997 [see Update #372], but the Honduran Supreme Court rejected the US extradition request. The other coup leaders, Gen. Raoul Cédras and Gen. Philippe Biamby, both moved to Panama, where Biamby died of cancer in 2008.

“Crime isn’t just in Honduras,” François said after his son’s murder, according to the Honduran daily La Prensa. “It’s in all countries…. [T]here’s a saying that ‘everything that happens in the life of a believer is for the good,’ because God is sovereign.” (La Prensa 2/4/11; Latin American Herald Tribune 2/4/11 from EFE; Radio Kiskeya (Haiti) 2/4/11, 12/15/08)

*3. Puerto Rico: Student Protesters Face “Egyptian” Repression?
Students protesting an $800 tuition surcharge imposed this year at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) marked the beginning of the spring semester on Feb. 7 with a two-hour march and rally at the school’s Río Piedras campus in San Juan. Adriana Mulero, a spokesperson for the protesters’ Student Representative Committee (CRE), called the demonstration a success, since “they didn’t use brute force,” referring to the large police presence at the campus.

The CRE had made it clear on Feb. 4 that at this point they were simply calling for an interruption of classes, not a strike like the one that shut down the UPR last spring. The UPR administration has been trying to maintain a ban on all demonstrations at the system’s 11 campuses. (El Nuevo Día (Guaynabo) 2/7/11; Primera Hora (Guaynabo) 2/4/11 from Inter News Service)

Civil disobedience actions by the students during the school’s registration period over the previous two weeks were met with harsh police tactics, which were forcefully denounced by UPR professors and the local media [see Update #1065]. On Feb. 5 four women legislators presented a resolution in the Chamber of Representatives calling for an investigation into “offensive and undue” acts by police while arresting protesters at the Capitol on Jan. 27. Rep. Brenda López de Arrará said a young woman “was touched inappropriately by an agent” while she was handcuffed inside a police vehicle. (END 2/3/11 from INS) Wanda Vázquez Garced, conservative governor Luis Fortuño’s nominee to head the Office of the Women’s Advocate, has also condemned the groping of women protesters by police agents. (La Opinión (Los Angeles) 2/6/11 from INS)

Some commentators drew parallels with the repression of protesters in Egypt, where massive demonstrations started shaking the 30-year reign of President Hosni Mubarak the week of Jan. 24.

“As I watch the news from the States and I see [US secretary of state Hillary Clinton] exhort the Egyptian police and military to use ‘restraint’ and demand that leaders in the Middle East open up to reforms,” Puerto Rico-based constitutional law professor Judith Berkan told US senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in a Feb. 2 open letter, “I ask myself--why the silence about Puerto Rico, the largest remaining direct colony of the United States?” (Puerto Rico Daily Sun 2/2/11) Elba Carrasquillo, a Puerto Rican living in Egypt, praised the UPR protesters and warned that “if Puerto Ricans don’t wake up about what has been going on in my island…the road to becoming a country like the Egypt of the past 30 years will get shorter and shorter.” (NotiCel (Mayagüez) 2/3/11 from INS)

Meanwhile, UPR students were trying a new tactic in fighting police repression. On Feb. 4 the Student Communication Center (CCE) released a short video, “No, Sir: 7 Arrested Students Talk to the Police.” Noting that police agents too are exploited, the students explain that the struggle against the tuition surcharge “isn’t just for those of us who are here, because we want a university that’s accessible to all, because we want for you too to be able to aspire to it.” “[Y]ou too can disobey,” the students said. “You don’t have to carry out an unjust order that goes against your principles--orders that seek to go on fomenting injustice and to go on committing abuses and violations of civil rights.” (Primera Hora 2/4/11 from INS)

*4. Mexico: Rights Group Pins Killings on Military
There were at least eight killings last year in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo León “that evidence indicates were the result of unlawful use of lethal force by army and navy officers,” according to a Feb. 3 press release from the New York-based nonprofit Human Rights Watch (HRW). A recent fact-finding mission by the group to Nuevo León also “documented more than a dozen enforced disappearances in which the evidence points to the involvement of the army, navy, and police,” HRW said.

One case the group researched was the shooting of a married couple, Rocío Romeli Elías Garza and Juan Carlos Peña Chavarria, by soldiers on Mar. 3 in Anáhuac. The couple was caught in a shootout between the military and armed men; Peña was wounded, but he and Elías managed to take cover behind an automobile. “When the shooting stopped, Elías raised her hands and pleaded for help for her husband, yelling that they were civilians and were unarmed. She was shot by a soldier standing approximately 10 feet away. Soldiers approached the bodies and shot them again from point-blank range. Then, the witnesses said, the soldiers moved the bodies and planted arms near both victims.”

Another case was the killing of a Vicente de León Ramírez and Alejandro Gabriel de León Castellanos, a father and his teenage son, near Apodaca on Sept. 5 when soldiers opened fire on the family car on a highway [see Update #1049]. Other victims included Jehú Sepúlveda Garza, who disappeared on Nov. 12 after being arrested in San Pedro Garza García and José Guadalupe Bernal Orzúa, who disappeared on May 23 in Monterrey.

“Victims' families told Human Rights Watch that they had complained to state and federal authorities, and that in most cases investigations had been formally opened,” the report says. “But no one has been held accountable for any of the crimes Human Rights Watch documented in Nuevo León, according to the families.” (HRW press release 2/3/11; La Jornada (Mexico) 2/4/11) Human rights complaints against the military have risen dramatically since President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa deployed soldiers in a “war on drugs” shortly after taking office in December 2006 [see Update #1065].

In other news, thousands of unionists and campesinos marched in Mexico City on Jan. 31 in what has become a traditional annual protest against the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the federal government’s neoliberal economic policies [see Updates #933, 1020]. This year about 40,000 people participated, according to the organizers; the Mexico City police estimated 22, 000. Martín Esparza, general secretary of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) [see Update #1057], called for driving President Calderón out of office, even though his term ends in less than two years. “This government only has a few months left,” Esparza told the marchers, “but we should overthrow it, the way they did in Tunisia and the way it’s being done in Egypt. We need to raise up a civil and peaceful insurgency throughout the country.” (LJ 2/1/11)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Chile, Amazonia, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico

Living under the Oppression of Democracy – The Mapuche People of Chile

Is Amazon rainforest becoming net CO2 emitter?

New photos of "uncontacted" Amazon tribe released (Brazil)

Brazil: construction of Belo Monte dam (illegally) approved

Brazil: Why land reform makes sense for Dilma Rousseff

Brazil Lending a Hand to Less Developed Countries

Bolivia: Cochabamba coca chew-in for legalization

Peru: appeals court upholds release of Lori Berenson

Peru: Camisea consortium in royalty dispute

Ecuador: protest demands release of Amazon indigenous leaders

Colombia: indigenous reintegrate demobilized guerrillas

Multinational Banana Corporation Displaces Afro-Colombian Peace Communities

Banana companies steal land from Afro-Colombian peace communities

An Assessment of Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution at Twelve Years

Venezuela’s Chavez Calls for Non-Interference in Egypt

Venezuela: Chávez threatens to boot Coca-Cola

Central America Raises Its Voice in Defense of Its Migrants

Panama: indigenous protesters blockade capital

Hondurans march in solidarity with Egyptian uprising

Action Alert! Death Threats against Environmental Defenders in El Salvador

Guatemala: campesinos targeted in "state of siege"

MexicoBlog Editorial: Napolitano in Texas: Tough Talk, Little Coherence

Mexican Political Transition Underway

Mexico: narcos escalate war on security apparatus

New Cuba Travel Regulations Published in Federal Register Today

The Right to Housing for Internally Displaced Haitians

Violence Against Student Strike in Puerto Rico Escalates With Police Brutality and Rubber Bullets

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1 comment:

Weekly News Update on the Americas said...

The last few items on the protests in Puerto Rico have stirred up a number of comments at World War 4 Report, where Update items are regularly reposted:

Just pay the money!

PAY the dam surcharge

Puerto Rico is not Egypt