Tuesday, May 31, 2011

WNU #1081: Two Chilean Hunger Strikers Are Hospitalized

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1081, May 29, 2011

1. Chile: Two Mapuche Hunger Strikers Are Hospitalized
2. Honduras: Zelaya Returns, Resistance Responses Vary
3. Mexico: Indigenous Group Protests Mining Concessions
4. Haiti: Cops Evict More Earthquake Survivors
5. Haiti: US Extends TPS, Deportations Continue
6. Links to alternative sources on: Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, 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. Chile: Two Mapuche Hunger Strikers Are Hospitalized
Two Chilean Mapuche prisoners, Ramón Llanquileo Pilquimán and José Huenuche Reimán, were admitted to a hospital in Victoria, Malleco province, Araucanía region, on May 26 after 72 days of a liquids-only hunger strike. Corrections authorities denied that the prisoners’ lives were in danger; Araucanía health secretary Gloria Rodríguez said “the Mapuches are being monitored permanently,” without offering an opinion on their condition.

Two other Mapuche prisoners, Héctor Llaitul Carillanca, Jonathan Huillical Méndez, are also on hunger strike; the four strikers have each lost about 20 kilograms (44 pounds). They are “very weak” and their relatives are concerned about their health, according to Millaray Garrido, Huenuche’s wife.

The four prisoners, who are held in the Angol prison, started the strike on Mar. 15 to protest their treatment in a “terrorism” case relating to a fire and an attack on a prosecutor, Mario Elgueta, in Arauco province in October 2008. All 17 defendants were acquitted of the terrorism charges on Feb. 22 this year, but the four hunger strikers were convicted of common crimes and given sentences of 20 to 25 years in prison. They say the trial was unfair because prosecutors used an unidentified witness and filed charges based on a harsh “antiterrorism” law that dates back to the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet and has been used to repress protests by the Mapuches, Chile’s largest indigenous group [see Update #1077].

Chilean indigenous communities and parts of the political opposition consider the case a show trial set up by prosecutors, police agents and business people to get Mapuche leaders behind bars and stop their struggle to recover Mapuche land. (Adital (Brazil) 5/25/11; La Tercera (Santiago) 5/27/11)

Solidarity with the hunger strikers was one of the themes of a large march in Santiago on May 28 whose main focus was opposition to the HidroAysén project, a plan to build a complex of five dams that environmentalists say would threaten fjords and valleys in the Patagonia region [see World War 4 Report 5/12/11]. Natividad Llanquileo, a spokesperson for the strikers, called on the protesters to participate in future demonstrations for Mapuche prisoners. The march also supported demands raised by university students and sexual minorities. (Radio Universidad de Chile (Santiago) 5/28/11)

Note: In previous reports we gave Ramón Llanquileo’s name as “Llanaquileo,” following some of our sources.

*2. Honduras: Zelaya Returns, Resistance Responses Vary
Thousands of Hondurans gathered at Tegucigalpa’s Toncontín International Airport on May 28 to greet former president José Manuel (“Mel”) Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009) as he returned from a 16-month exile. After arriving in a Venezuelan plane proceeding from Managua, Zelaya told the crowd at the airport that he would continue to fight for a Constituent Assembly to rewrite the 1982 Constitution; a similar call for a Constituent Assembly was the pretext for a military coup that removed Zelaya from office on June 28, 2009. “We are going to power with the popular resistance,” he said.

The military flew Zelaya to Costa Rica during the 2009 coup, but he managed to slip back into Honduras that September and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa. Zelaya agreed to go into exile in the Dominican Republic in January 2010 when current president Porfirio (“Pepe”) Lobo Sosa took office. The return from exile was arranged through an agreement, brokered by Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos Calderón and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez Frías, which Zelaya and Lobo signed in Cartagena, Colombia on May 22. The Organization of American States (OAS), which suspended Honduras after the 2009 coup, apparently agreed to readmit Honduras as a member once Zelaya was permitted to return. Honduras’ readmission might come as early as June 1,

On May 29 Zelaya was scheduled to meet with five teachers who have been on hunger strike in Tegucigalpa and to give an interview to the left-leaning Radio Globo. After that he was planning to go to his home in Olancho department. (El Universo (Guayaquil, Ecuador) 5/29/11; TeleSur (Venezuela) 5/29/11)

In addition to allowing Zelaya’s return, the accord signed in Cartagena also provides for the return of members of his government and other people who fled the country after the coup; it says the Lobo government will respect human rights and notes the creation of a new Ministry of Justice and Human Rights; it says that the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), a broad coalition of labor and grassroots organizations that formed to resist the coup, has the right to constitute itself as a political party; and it indicates that under a constitutional amendment passed in January this year a popular referendum can be held to call for a Constituent Assembly [see Update #1063]. (Honduras Culture and Politics blog 5/22/11)

The FNRP supports Zelaya and has designated him as its general coordinator, but it's a broad coalition and member groups have different views of the Cartagena agreement. Juan Barahona, an FNRP spokesperson and a campesino leader, told reporters on May 29 that the front was ready to start gathering signatures to get recognition as a political party, with the goal of “taking power.” But an official statement by the FNRP political committee was more discreet, simply referring to the possibility of forming a party as an “advance.” The statement also expressed skepticism about the Lobo government’s willingness to respect human rights.

The Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the country's main indigenous coalition, is an important force in the FNRP. Its May 27 statement welcoming Zelaya’s return was implicitly critical of the agreement. Far from accepting Lobo’s good faith, the group pledged to “deepen all our efforts at denouncing the criminal dictatorship led by Porfirio Lobo Sosa, peon of the oligarchy and of North American imperialism.” “We will not forget,” the statement concluded, “we will not forgive, and WE WILL NOT reconcile!!” (Europa Press 5/19/11; Honduras Culture and Politics blog 5/24/11, 5/27/11)

*3. Mexico: Indigenous Group Protests Mining Concessions
Some 500 people marched in Guadalajara, capital of the western Mexican state of Jalisco, on May 20 to demand that the federal and state governments honor their commitments to protect land that is sacred to the Wixárika (Huichol) indigenous group. The protesters’ main focus was the 22 concessions that the federal Economy Secretariat has given to First Majestic Silver Corp (FMS), a Canadian mining company, to extract gold and silver in some 6,000 hectares around Real de Catorce in the north central state of San Luis Potosí. They say this was done without the consent of affected indigenous groups.

The Wixárika now live in an area that includes parts of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit and Zacatecas, but they say their ancestral homeland was in San Luis Potosí, and every year some Wixárika walk 500 km to the Wirikuta area in Real de Catorce to gather the peyote that they use in religious ceremonies. The San Luis Potosí government declared the Wirikuta a protected area in 1994, and on Apr. 28, 2008, Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and the governors of Durango, Jalisco, Nayarit, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas signed the Pact of Hauxa Manaka’a, in which they agreed to respect the area’s ecological integrity.

The Wirikuta’s environment was damaged by silver mining in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the Wixárika protesters in Guadalajara expressed fears that even more damage would result from new methods of extraction that FMS is expected to use. Activist Antonio Hayanueme García Mijárez said the concessions were sold to FMS and its Mexican subsidiary, Minera Real de Bonanza, S.A. de C.V., for just $3 million, “less than was paid for Chicharito”—the Guadalajara born soccer star Javier Hernández, who plays with the English soccer club Manchester United.

There were also solidarity actions in Mexico City, New York and Vancouver. (La Jornada (Mexico) 4/9/11, 5/21/11; Upside Down World 4/1/11)

The Vancouver action was part of Mining Justice Week, a series of events the week of May 16 to call Canadians’ attention to the role of Canadian mining companies in Latin America. In addition to the FMS concessions in the Wirikuta, indigenous activists focused on Vancouver-based Goldcorp Inc’s Marlin mine in Guatemala, operated by the wholly owned subsidiary Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, SA, and Goldcorp’s San Martín mine in Honduras [see Update #1056, World War 4 Report 9/21/07]. (Intercontinental Cry 5/26/11)

*4. Haiti: Cops Evict More Earthquake Survivors
Armed with machetes and knives, Haitian national police and local officials destroyed some 200 tents in a homeless camp on a public space in the Delmas 3 neighborhood northeast of downtown Port-au-Prince the morning of May 23. Camp residents, who were living there because they lost their homes in a devastating earthquake in January 2010, ran for cover or protested the action while their temporary shelters were demolished. Wilson Jeudy, the mayor of Delmas, a subsection of the capital, claimed that the operation’s target was not the earthquake victims but criminal gangs he said had been using the camp.

“This is the work of animals,” resident Guérin Pierre told the Miami Herald after the raid. “This is the worst kind of humiliation someone can experience. They chose to do this at the start of the hurricane season. This is abuse.”

In contrast to many previous evictions from the displaced persons' camps, the Delmas 3 operation drew international attention. US congressional representatives Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Frederica Wilson (D-FL) issued a joint statement on May 25 deploring the evictions. On May 26 Sylvie van den Wildenberg, spokesperson for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), announced at the occupation force’s weekly press conference that “[f]orced expulsions go against the guiding principles regarding displaced persons.”

Rightwing Haitian president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) moved quickly to distance himself from Delmas mayor Jeudy; the new evictions took place just eight days after Martelly’s inauguration, leading to suspicions that Martelly was pushing for the evictions. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 5/23/11, 5/27/11; Agence Haïtienne de Presse (Haiti) 5/26/11; Haïti Libre (Haiti) 5/27/11; Miami Herald 5/27/11)

According to the intergovernmental International Organization for Migration (IOM, OIM in French and Creole), some 234,000 people were removed from camps from June 2010 to April this year and 166,000 of the 680,000 people still living in camps are currently under the threat of eviction [see Update #1080]. However, a report being prepared for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is said to challenge these numbers.

LTL Strategies, the Washington, DC-based business consulting firm that is writing the report, “Building Assessments and Rubble Removal in Quake-Affected Neighborhoods in Haiti,” says it conducted a house-to-house survey and concluded that the number of people living in the camps is just 5-10% of the IOM numbers. In its May 13 report, the consultants also estimated that 46,190 to 84,961 people were killed in the earthquake, about 2.2% of the population in the affected area. The Haitian government’s estimate is 200,000 to 300,000 killed, or nearly 10% of the population in the area.

The lower numbers of victims and of displaced persons could have a significant effect on the levels of aid Haiti receives. An unnamed Haitian official found it “surprising that we should be talking about new figures now.” Mark Toner, a US State Department spokesperson, noted that the report was still just a draft and that it had “internal inconsistencies” that would have to be examined. (Haïti Libre 5/28/11)

*5. Haiti: US Extends TPS, Deportations Continue
The US Department of Homeland Security announced the week of May 16 that it was extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians for another 18 months, until Jan. 22, 2013. TPS is a program that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the US because of temporary conditions in their homelands that would prevent them from returning safely, such as a natural catastrophe. TPS was first granted to Haitians living in the US without documents in January 2010 following an earthquake that devastated much of southern Haiti. (Haïti Libre (Haiti) 5/17/11; Homeland Security announcement 5/19/11)

However, the US is continuing to deport Haitians who have been convicted of a crime, despite the dangerous conditions in the country and the bad publicity the US received following the death of Wildrick Guerrier, apparently from cholera, shortly after he was repatriated in January of this year [see Update #1066]. Another mass deportation occurred on Apr. 15. The University of Miami Immigration and Human Rights Clinics, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, FAMN and Alternative Chance have prepared an internet petition calling on US president Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to halt the deportations. At the end of May 29 there were 4,044 signatures on the petition, which can be accessed at http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/383/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6590

To bring more attention to the issue, CCR created a 15-second ad calling for an end to the deportations and paid for it to run once an hour on a Jumbotron screen operated by CBS Outdoor in New York’s Times Square. But CCR received an email from the Neutron Media marketing firm saying: “The CBS censors have pulled down your creative for being too controversial.” CCR is calling for people to write CBS Outdoor at info@cbsoutdoor.com and ask the company to explain its reasons for removing the ad. (New York Daily News 5/24/11)

*6. Links to alternative sources on: Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Puerto Rico

Chilean Government Resumes Use of Tear Gas As HidroAysén Protests Continue

Fresh Chile autopsy to solve Allende mystery

Brazil lower house passes reforms easing restrictions on deforestation

2 Environmental Activists Shot Dead In Brazil, As Congress Debates Loosening Restrictions On Clearing Amazon Rainforest
http://latindispatch.com/2011/05/26/2-environmental-activists-shot-dead-in-brazil-as-congress-debates-loosening-restrictions-on-clearing-amazon-rainforest /

Bolivia: Communities Pioneer Sustainable Development

The Real Cola Wars (Bolivia)

Peru: indigenous protesters seize Lake Titicaca border city to oppose mining project

The “Fascist Threat” on Peru’s Doorstep

Colombia: ecology, indigenous rights in the balance as high court strikes down mineral code

Colombia passes victim compensation law —as armed conflict continues

Hugo Chávez pledges support to Syria's Assad against "fascist conspiracy" (Venezuela)

Venezuela Condemns U.S. “Imperialist” Sanctions

Interview: New Petrol Law Will Ensure that Profits from Crude-Oil Exports are Distributed to the People

Venezuela: Rural Killers Enjoy Impunity

El Salvadoran Government & Social Movements Say No to Monsanto

Honduras: "normalization" ...of political violence?

Zelaya's Return: Neither Reconciliation nor Democracy in Honduras

Ousted president’s return to Honduras doesn’t mean repression is over

The Hidden History of Mexico/U.S. Labor Solidarity

Labor Law Reform – A Key Battle for Mexican Unions Today

Zapatistas March in Solidarity Against Calderon’s Drug War (Mexico)

Mexico's No More Bloodshed Movement (Video report)

Calderón in Juárez (Mexico)

Mexico’s Agustín Carstens Bids To Head IMF; Faces Tough Competition From France’s Lagarde

Presumed Guilty: Oaxaca Justice (Mexico)

Haitian Mayor’s Office Launches Violent Campaign to Destroy Refugee Camps

Obama To Visit Puerto Rico In June; First Official Presidential Visit To Island Since Kennedy

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


Your support is appreciated. Back issues and source materials are available on request. Our weekly Immigration News Briefs has ended publication; for news, information and announcements in support of action for immigrant rights in the United States, subscribe to Immigrant Action at:
You can also visit the Immigrant Action blog at:

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Links but No Update for May 22, 2011

[There is no Update this week; we'll be back next week. Below are links to stories from other sources.]

WikiLeaks Cables of Interest on Latin America, Released May 9-22, 2011

U.S. Congress Votes “No” to Releasing Classified Argentina Documents

Uruguayan Congress Fails to Gain a Majority to Annul Amnesty Law

Suicide Taking Heavy Toll on Brazil’s Indigenous Youth

Brazil: BRAZIL Megaprojects Revive Class Struggle

Ecuador, Bolivia throw in with Peru in maritime border case against Chile

Bolivia: The COB vs. the GOB

Bolivia - También La Lluvia: Postscript

Ecuador’s Referendum Reveals a Fragmented Country

Colombian Supreme Court Refuses FARC Files As Evidence

The Never-Ending Paramilitaries (Colombia)

President Chavez Expresses Solidarity with Syrian People "Facing Imperialist Attacks" (Venezuela)

Panama: Indigenous movement deeply concerned about the Barro Blanco Dam

Zelaya Signs Agreement Allowing His Return To Honduras

Honduras: "normalization" ...of political violence?

Honduras is Open for Plunder

Guatemala arrests ex-Kaibil in Zeta massacre

Guatemala Looking Increasingly Like a 'Narco-State'

The Citizens’ Pact for a Mexico in Peace

Naming the Killers and the Dead

The Zapatista March and the Drug War in Mexico

The Return of the Zapatistas? They Never Left

Indigenous Mexico Resists

Attorney Jose Pertierra: Evidence in El Paso Showed that Cuba is Right

Uniting in the Face Of "Unnatural" Disasters (Haiti)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

WNU #1080: Homeless Haitians Face Evictions as Aid Falls Short

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1080, May 15, 2011

1. Haiti: Aid Falls Short, and the Homeless Face Evictions
2. Haiti: New President Inaugurated in the Dark
3. Honduras: Violence Continues Against Activists and the Media
4. Mexico: Government Accused of GMO Violations
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, 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 http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/

*1. Haiti: Aid Falls Short, and the Homeless Face Evictions
As of May 12 a group of Haitians left homeless by a massive January 2010 earthquake were facing possible expulsion from their displaced persons’ camp at the Palais de l’Art, in Delmas 33 in the northeast of Port-au-Prince. A lawyer for the property’s owner said he was asking the Interior Ministry to remove the camp residents within eight days. The residents reported that the owner had already started harassing them: on May 9 they found the doors to the toilets locked, and on May 10 the front gate was locked, trapping them in the camp. More than 150 families have been living at the site, according to the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS).

The intergovernmental International Organization for Migration (IOM, OIM in French and Creole) reported in April that some 234,000 people have been removed since June 2010 from 247 of the more than 1,000 improvised camps that formed after the earthquake. Of the 680,000 homeless people still living in the camps--in unsanitary conditions, without basic services and with the constant danger of violent crime, especially against women and children—about 166,000 were also threatened with the possibility of eviction into even worse conditions, according to the IOM. With the season for tropical storms set to begin in June, the Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR), a Haitian human rights organization, is calling on the government to intervene to protect the displaced. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 5/12/11; Adital (Brazil) 5/12/11 from JRS)

The size and condition of the homeless population in Haiti 16 months after the earthquake has inspired calls for government action in the US as well.

On May 10 the House of Representatives passed a bill, HR 1016, requiring the president to report on the effectiveness of US assistance to Haiti. This followed the Apr. 19 release of an audit by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which administers US foreign aid programs. The audit covered 16 grants, totaling $139 million, awarded from January 2010 through June 2010 to provide temporary housing to the earthquake victims; the main grantees were CHF International, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and GOAL Ireland.

The OIG found that the grantees had only completed 22% of the planned shelters by November 2010 and that there was a 65% shortfall in the efforts to repair “14,375 homes minimally damaged in the earthquake.” The shelters themselves were inadequate, the auditors reported, and unlikely to last the three years required by the USAID. The way the grants were made excluded Haitian businesses, and even though USAID was informed of the importance of clearing space for reconstruction, the agency didn’t arrange for using heavy equipment to remove rubble until November.

The DC-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) notes that while little is being done for Haiti’s displaced population, one US charitable organization is addressing what it calls a “critical shortage of hotel space that meets even the most basic standards for business travelers.” The Clinton Bush Fund, which was established after the earthquake by former presidents Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and George W. Bush (2001-2009), is spending $2 million to finish building the Oasis Hotel, a luxury facility whose construction was delayed because of the earthquake. “The Oasis Hotel symbolizes Haiti ‘building back better,’ and sends a message to the world that Haiti is open for business,” according to Paul Altidor, the fund’s vice president of programs and investments in a May 9 press release. (CEPR, Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch, 5/6/11, 5/11/11; Clinton Bush Fund press release 5/9/11)

International aid and recovery efforts were the subject of a conference that Haitian organizations and international solidarity groups held in Port-au-Prince on Apr. 28 and 29 [see Update #1073]. Participants in the gathering--entitled “What Financing for What Reconstruction?”—criticized international aid efforts that they said increase the country’s political and financial dependency and are “led by foreign businesses,” according to Beverly Keene, an Argentine-based activist who works with Jubilee South. The participants contrasted this with aid provided by Cuba and other countries in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), which they said had respected the needs and culture of the Haitian people.

The conference proposed the establishment of a Permanent Assembly of Social Movements to insure a leading role for the Haitian people in the reconstruction. The participants also called for the withdrawal of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), a 13,000-member international military and police operation, and the elimination of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC, or CIRH in French and Spanish), which international donors set up in March 2010 to monitor aid distribution. The IHRC is co-chaired by former US president Clinton, who is also the United Nations special envoy for Haiti. (Adital 5/11/11)

*2. Haiti: New President Inaugurated in the Dark
Popular Haitian singer Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) was sworn in as his country’s 56th president on the morning of May 14 in a ceremony attended by outgoing president René Préval, members of Parliament and a group of foreign dignitaries, including Dominican Leonel Fernández, Honduran president Porfirio Lobo, Surinamese president Desiré Bouterse and former US president Bill Clinton. The event was held in a temporary structure set up in downtown Port-au-Prince for the Parliament after a January 2010 earthquake destroyed much of the capital. The actual administration of the oath of office took place without electric lights or a working sound system because of a brief power outage in the building. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 5/14/11; Radio Kiskeya (Haiti) 5/14/11; Radio Métropole (Haiti) 5/14/11)

Martelly’s term officially runs until Feb. 7, 2016; he was elected in a runoff vote on Mar. 20, more than a month after outgoing president Préval’s term officially expired.

In a joint session on May 9, the two chambers of Parliament rushed through a group of amendments to the 1987 Constitution. The revised document will allow dual citizenship, a provision supported by many people in Haiti’s large diaspora, and sets up a Constitutional Council to rule on constitutional issues. The Constitution continues to provide for the existence of an army, although the country has had no military force since then-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide disbanded the Armed Forces of Haiti (FadH) in 1995. An attempt to allow two consecutive presidential terms was defeated; presidents are still limited to two non-consecutive five-year terms. (Radio Kiskeya 5/13/11)

*3. Honduras: Violence Continues Against Activists and the Media
Honduran campesino Henry Roney Díaz was killed on May 7 when soldiers, police and private guards tried to remove campesinos occupying an estate in the Aguán River Valley in the northern department of Colón. Díaz was a member of the El Despertar cooperative, one of the groups forming the Authentic Claimant Movement of Aguán Campesinos (MARCA). Manuel Vásquez, another member of the cooperative, was wounded in the same clash.

The FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) reports that the security guards were working for the wealthy Nicaraguan René Morales, one of the largest landowners in the region. Morales’ farms have been the target of several land occupations since April 30, when campesinos from MARCA and the larger Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA) decided to take over the La Trinidad, El Despertar, San Esteban and Guanchías estates to protest what they consider the government’s failure to comply with agreements signed in April 2010 [see Update #1029].

Another campesino, José Paulino Lemus Cruz, was shot dead on May 10 as he traveled from the Guadalupe Carney community to Los Leones, also in the Aguán Valley. Lemus Cruz belonged to a third local organization, the Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MCA). Other members of the group discounted robbery as a motive; none of the victim’s belongings appeared to have been taken. Supporters of the campesino movements say the two latest deaths bring the number of activists killed in the valley over the last 15 months to 27. (Adital (Brazil) 5/10/11 from defensoresenlinea.com; Rel-UITA (Argentina) 5/11/11 via Lista Informativa Nicaragua y Más blog; La Tribuna (Tegucigalpa) 5/11/11)

Violence against journalists also continues. Two men on a motorcycle gunned down television reporter Francisco Medina outside his home in the northern city of Morazán on the night of May 10. Medina was often critical of the police and of private security firms contracted by ranchers in the area and had received death threats, according to colleagues. He was the 11th journalist killed during the last year and a half in Honduras. Only two of the murders have been solved. (Tico Times (Costa Rica) 5/13/11, some from AP)

While violence flared in the north, from May 4 to 7 the Honduran government hosted a conference in Tegucigalpa to promote business investment in the country. Speakers at the conference, “Honduras Is Open for Business,” included President Porfirio (“Pepe”) Lobo Sosa, former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe (2002-2010), US under secretary of commerce for international trade Francisco Sánchez and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim. Foreign investment declined by 46% during the unrest following the June 2009 coup that overthrew then-president José Manuel (“Mel”) Zelaya Rosales. (New Statesman (UK) blog 5/8/11)

*4. Mexico: Government Accused of GMO Violations
The Mexican government is violating its own laws on genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the way it handles experimental corn crops, according to a complaint the Greenpeace organization has filed with federal environmental protection authorities. The group charges that the government has failed to monitor experimental transgenic corn adequately, has allowed the corn to be planted on private farms, and hasn’t ensured that the plants are disposed of properly after cultivation.

Raising GMO corn is illegal in Mexico, but the government can permit some experimental cultivation as long as there are strict controls to prevent contamination of the country’s at least 52 native varieties, which indigenous farmers developed over thousands of years. Experimental planting has been allowed in the Cuauhtémoc Valley in Chihuahua and the Laguna region of Coahuila, both in the relatively arid north, where the government claims there are few native varieties of corn at risk. However, contamination was detected in 70 hectares of land in the Cuauhtémoc Valley in September 2008.

Greenpeace calls experimental planting “a farce.” According to Aleira Lara Galicia, coordinator of the group’s National Sustainable Agriculture Campaign, corn reproduces through open pollination, so that the wind or insects can spread the GMO breeds to places far away from the experimental areas. Pollen doesn’t respect borders, she says, and transgenic corn was already detected in the southern part of Oaxaca as early as 2001. (Vanguardia (Coahuila) 5/9/11; Adital (Brazil) 5/9/11 from Servindi and Vanguardia)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba

WikiLeaks cables expose Israeli military intrigues in Latin America

Argentina: dirty war "death pilots" arrested

Argentina: ex-military officers get life in Margarita Belén massacre

Protests as Chile approves mega-scale Patagonia hydro project

Brazil's disappearing favelas

Brazil: Accusations Mount against Pulp and Paper Giant

También La Lluvia: Postscript (Bolivia)

Judge Won't Recuse Self from Chevron Trial (Ecuador)

U.S. Senate Could Vote On Free Trade Agreement With Colombia In June

Colombia Extradites Controversial Alleged Drug Trafficker Makled to Venezuela

What the Farc files really reveal

Venezuela disses "dodgy dossier" on FARC ties

Panama: Indigenous Movement Deeply Concerned About the Barro Blanco Dam

El Salvador Urged to Protect Journalists After Death Threats

Who’s Killing The Journalists Of Honduras?

Guatemala: Zetas massacre 27 farmworkers

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya May Return To Honduras

Mexico’s Anti-Drug War March Demands Far-Reaching Political Reforms

March for Peace with Justice and Dignity, May 5-8

Mexico’s March for Peace, Justice and Security

Mexico’s Drug War Victims Find Their Voice in Massive Silent March

Mexico: nine dead in Oaxaca electoral violence

Apartheid Housing Posed as Solution to Climate Vulnerability in Chiapas

Cuban Government Says Dissident Died of Pancreatitis, not Police Beating

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


Your support is appreciated. Back issues and source materials are available on request. Our weekly Immigration News Briefs has ended publication; for news, information and announcements in support of action for immigrant rights in the United States, subscribe to Immigrant Action at:
You can also visit the Immigrant Action blog at:

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

WNU #1079: UN Admits—and Denies—Role in Haiti’s Cholera

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1079, May 8, 2011

1. Haiti: UN Admits--and Denies--Role in Cholera Deaths
2. Mexico: Rebels and Immigrants Join March Against “Drug War”
3. Mexico: LGBT Rights Activist Murdered in Guerrero
4. Puerto Rico: ACLU Delegation Criticizes Abuses
5. Latin America: May Day Marches Protest High Cost of Living
6. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, 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. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com . It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/

*1. Haiti: UN Admits--and Denies--Role in Cholera Deaths
On May 3 a panel of four experts presented United Nations (UN) secretary general Ban Ki-moon with their report on the origin of the cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti last October. As of Apr. 21 the disease had caused 4,575 deaths, according to the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP). Almost 300,000 people have contracted cholera, and the number is expected to rise as the rainy season starts.

The report, made public on May 4, agreed with most of the conclusions of Haitian and foreign observers who blame the outbreak on bad sanitation practices at a base operated by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), a 13,000-member military and police force that has occupied the country since June 2004 [see Update #1060].

The panel, which General Secretary Ban appointed in January, found that the cholera bacteria “did not originate from the native environs of Haiti,” where the disease was unknown for nearly a century. “Preliminary genetic analysis…indicate[s] that the strains isolated during the cholera outbreak in Haiti and those circulating in South Asia, including Nepal, at the same time in 2009-2010 are similar,” according to the report. The disease was first reported on Oct. 17 in Mirebalais in the Central Plateau, the panel found, and the “likely route of spread” to the rest of the country was from the Meye (or Meillé) River into the Artibonite, Haiti’s largest river. MINUSTAH maintains a base on the Meye near Mirebalais. “The sanitation conditions at the Mirebalais MINUSTAH camp were not sufficient to prevent fecal contamination” of the river system, the report noted. The troops stationed there in October had just arrived from Nepal.

The report didn’t suggest any possible source for the disease other than the MINUSTAH base. However, the panel’s only stated conclusion was “that the Haiti cholera outbreak was caused by the confluence of circumstances…and was not the fault of, or deliberate action of, a group or individual.”

At a May 5 French-language press briefing in Port-au-Prince, MINUSTAH spokesperson Sylvie van den Wildenberg repeated that the report blamed no one for the outbreak. “What’s important, today, is the response to the epidemic,” she told the reporters. “The priority of the UN in Haiti and of MINUSTAH is and will remain the response.” She “invited” the Haitian reporters to read the 32-page report, noting that “[f]or the moment, unfortunately, the text is only available in an English version.”

When a reporter from Radio Solidarité and Agence Haïtienne de Presse (AHP) asked “how we can hope the United Nations will accept its responsibilities,” Van den Wildenberg answered that she was against “pointing a finger at some blue helmet [UN soldier] who might be responsible for a cholera epidemic and 5,000 deaths in Haiti. This makes no sense, it’s reductionist, and it’s not fair.” (UN press release 5/4/11; AHP 5/5/11; National Public Radio blog 5/6/11; MINUSTAH press briefing 5/6/11)

The UN may be concerned about threats of legal action. Last January the feminist organization Haitian Women’s Solidarity (SOFA) said the Haitian government should file a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) charging MINUSTAH with a crime against humanity and should demand compensation for the cholera victims and the farmers and vendors who have suffered economically because of the epidemic [see Update #1062].

*2. Mexico: Rebels and Immigrants Join March Against “Drug War”
Tens of thousands of people participated in a silent “March for Peace With Justice and Dignity” in Mexico City on May 8 to call for an end to the US-backed militarization of Mexico’s fight against drug trafficking. Protesters, most of them dressed in white, carried signs reading: “No more blood,” “Justice,” “Peace,” “Let’s stop the bullets,” “Life isn’t trash” and, above all, “We’ve had it up to here” (estamos hasta la madre). More than 35,000 Mexicans have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa sent troops into the streets soon after taking office in December 2006.

As of the early afternoon on May 8, while the demonstration was still growing, the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) police gave a crowd estimate of 24,000; later the police raised their estimate to more than 80,000, while the organizers said 200,000 people had participated. Similar demonstrations were scheduled for the weekend of May 7-8 in 38 other Mexican cities in at least 12 states, with plans for support events in some 30 cities in Europe and North America.

The mobilization was inspired by Javier Sicilia, a well-known poet whose son Juan Francisco was killed in late March, apparently by gang members. Starting on May 5, Sicilia had led several hundred people from Cuernvaca, Morelos, where he lives, on an 85-km walk to Mexico City. They arrived in the Federal District on May 7 and spent the night at the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), after an evening event that included Mexican music and a performance of Mozart’s Requiem. The May 8 march proceeded from the campus to the Zócalo plaza in downtown Mexico City.

Over 150 organizations endorsed the weekend’s demonstrations, along with many victims of the violence. Olga Reyes Salazar, whose family took refuge in Mexico City after six members had been murdered in Ciudad Juárez [see Update #1071], was scheduled to read demands at the protest in the capital.

Immigrants and immigrant rights activists were also prominent in the events: drug gangs regularly rob, kidnap and even murder immigrants from Central America. A group of immigrants and activists set off for Mexico City on May 4 from Ciudad Ixtepec, in the southern state of Oaxaca, riding “The Beast”-- the freight train often used by immigrants traveling north [see Update #1062]. Another contingent of 80 immigrants joined hundreds of Mexicans in the March for Peace in Puebla, capital of the central state of Puebla. Their banner read: “We immigrants too have had it up to here.” (Adital (Brazil) 5/4/11; Agencia Reforma (Mexico) 5/4/11 via NTRzacatecas.com; El Universal (Venezuela) 5/8/11; El Universal (Mexico) 5/8/11; La Jornada (Mexico) 5/8/11, 5/9/11)

At least 15,000 members and supporters of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), some wearing ski masks, turned out for the May 7 March for Peace in San Cristóbal de las Casas in the southeastern state of Chiapas. At what was the mostly indigenous group’s largest mobilization at least since 2001, speakers stressed that they hadn’t come “to speak of our sorrows, of our struggles, of our lives and deaths”; instead, they were there to express solidarity with “those who want life.” The violence in the “drug war” has largely been concentrated in the north, near the US border. (LJ 5/8/11)

*3. Mexico: LGBT Rights Activist Murdered in Guerrero
Quetzalcóatl Leija Herrera, the president of the Center of Studies and Projects for Integral Human Development (Ceprodehi) in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, was found dead in the early morning of May 4 near the main plaza in Chilpancingo, the state capital. According to the Forensic Medical Service, he was been badly beaten, especially on the head, and died of the injuries.

Leija Herrera was a prominent defender of the rights of sexual minorities in the state. In 2008 he lobbied unsuccessfully for a civil union bill then before the state legislature. He and Ceprodehi also worked on HIV/AIDS prevention and other issues, sponsoring workshops on the correct use of condoms and on defending the human rights of non-heterosexuals. A number of Guerrero-based social organizations, writers and academics signed on to an open letter to Gov. Ángel Aguirre Rivero and the state prosecutors’ office calling Leija Herrera’s murder “a homophobic hate crime” and calling for punishment for this and other assaults against LGBT people. The letter denounced what it called “complicit silence and impunity on the part of the state and its institutions.” (Adital (Brazil) 5/4/11; La Jornada de Guerrero 5/6/11)

*4. Puerto Rico: ACLU Delegation Criticizes Abuses
Following up on earlier efforts to highlight human rights abuses in Puerto Rico [see Update #1072], the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) hosted a high-publicity fact-finding delegation in San Juan on May 2 and 3. The group, which included ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero, political scientist Angelo Falcón, actress/choreographer Rosie Perez and recently retired baseball player Carlos Delgado, interviewed University of Puerto Rico (UPR) students, UPR rector Ana Guadalupe, union leaders, journalists, police chief José Figueroa Sancha and others.

At an emotional May 3 press conference, the delegation members said the situation was worse than they had expected. They found clear evidence of police abuses in the handling of student strikes and protests at the UPR over the past 18 months, they said, and even police chief Figueroa had finally acknowledged that there had been abuses. Perez called the treatment of the students “deplorable.” She charged that “the culture of fear here” inhibits free speech. “It breaks my heart,” she added.

Puerto Rican secretary of state Kenneth McClintock criticized the delegation for announcing its preliminary findings so quickly and said the “rights of those thousands of students” who wanted to attend classes “should be equally entitled to ACLU interest and protection as the rights of the hundreds who participated in the demonstrations.” Romero agreed that students have the right to attend classes, but he called the use of “excessive force against students who are exercising their right to free expression in a public place anti-American and unacceptable.”

The delegation expects to present a final report to the US Department of Justice by September. (ACLU announcement 4/27/11; El Diario-La Prensa (New York) 5/3/11; Associated Press 5/4/11 via CBS News; Primera Hora (Guaynabo) 5/4/11)

*5. Latin America: May Day Marches Protest High Cost of Living
This year many of the traditional International Workers Day marches on May 1 focused on demands for wage increases and for fighting the high cost of living following recent jumps in food and fuel prices.

Chile’s major unions commemorated May 1 with a massive march in Santiago criticizing the government of rightwing president Sebastián Piñera and demanding a new labor accord.

Colombian unions held marches in the main cities, with about 10,000 people joining the protest in Bogotá, according to the Unitary Workers Central (CUT), the largest labor federation. The marchers’ demands included rejection of a planned free trade agreement (FTA, TLC in Spanish) [see Update #1075].

In Panama, several thousand marchers called for pay raises and the freezing of prices for the main commodities in the “consumer basket” (canasta básica), the combination of foods and other staples the average family is expected to need. Latin American governments generally use the consumer basket to measure inflation.

Thousands of Salvadoran public employees and members of labor and campesino unions held three marches from different points in El Salvador to demand better working conditions and to protest the high cost of living and the crime situation.

In Honduras thousands of members of the three main labor federations—including the militant teachers’ unions—marched to demand a pay raise, the lowering of costs in the consumer basket, a constituent assembly to revise the Constitution, the return of deposed president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009), and the country’s reintegration into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), a regional trading bloc created by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004.

More than 50,000 Guatemalans marched in the capital to show their concern about the cost of living and to protest labor rights violations. Their demands also included the abolition of child labor and the promotion of rights and opportunities for women.

Mexico’s largest independent labor federation, the National Workers Union (UNT), led its May 1 march to the Zócalo plaza with a demand for the Congress to reject a proposed reform of the labor code [see Update #1074].

Hundreds of Dominican workers marched to demand a general increase in pay now being discussed with the government and the employers’ associations. The current legal minimum wage in small businesses is just 5,158 pesos ($136) a month; the legal minimum is 5,820 pesos ($153) for medium-sized companies and 8,465 pesos ($223) for the large ones. The National Confederation of Union Unity is demanding a 30% increase for workers who are paid the minimum wage and a 25% increase for workers who receive up to 50,000 ($1,319) a month. (La Jornada (Mexico) 5/2/11 from AFP, PL and correspondent; El Diario-La Prensa (New York) 5/2/11, print version only, from EFE, Notimex and correspondent)

*6. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti

Cables of Interest on Latin America, released April 25-May 8, 2011

Brazilian Supreme Court Legally Recognizes Same-Sex Couples

Brazil Breaks Relations With Human Rights Commission Over Belo Monte Dam

Bolivia: The Boomerang Effect for Morales

Bolivia Steps Up Campaign at U.N. to Legalise Coca Leaf

Peru: "uncontacted" peoples resist encroachment as Amazon oil leases proliferate

Displaced Campesinos in Colombia Want a Say on Land Restitution Bill

Honduras: Teargassed Open, for Business

Video Reports: Repression and Resistance in Post-Coup Honduras

Community Radio Stations: The Voice of Honduran Resistance

Anti-Drug War Movement Emerges in Mexico

Protesters Demand End to Drug War, Calderón Digs In

Mexico: Zapatistas join Drug War protest

Consumers and Guns, Assassins and Money: Mexico’s Transnational Violence

“Operation Fast And Furious” Under Scrutiny For Passing Guns To Mexican Drug Smugglers

Mexico No Longer Has Free Press Thanks To Drug War & Violence

'Sustainable Rural Cities', a Nightmare Come True in Chiapas

Mexico: coal mine hit by deadly disaster operated "outside of the law"

Castro Critical Of U.S. Attack That Killed Osama bin Laden

American Professor Prohibited From Returning to Cuba

‘Our Misery, Their Jobs’: the Humanitarian Industry in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Haiti: Just When You Think It Can't Get Worse

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


Your support is appreciated. Back issues and source materials are available on request. Our weekly Immigration News Briefs has ended publication; for news, information and announcements in support of action for immigrant rights in the United States, subscribe to Immigrant Action at:
You can also visit the Immigrant Action blog at:

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

WNU #1078: Central American Militaries Arm the Drug Cartels?

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1078, May 1, 2011

1. Central America: US-Backed Militaries Arm the Drug Cartels?
2. Mexico: “Drug War” Has Intensified Violence Against Women
3. Haiti: Election Results Challenged, Media Threatened
4. Cuba: Rightwing Terrorist Bosch Dies in Miami
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, 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. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com . It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/

*1. Central America: US-Backed Militaries Arm the Drug Cartels?
Military officers in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have been selling significant amounts of heavy weaponry to drug trafficking organizations in Colombia and Mexico, according to US diplomatic cables and criminal charges filed in a US court against a retired Salvadoran captain. The sales have been made possible by what US diplomats called “lax controls” by military authorities and also by the authorities’ failure to bring criminal charges against officers who have been caught.

Some of these weapons were among those supplied by the US government to rightwing Central American armies at a time when they were fighting leftist rebels and social movements. The US is now spending $1.6 billion over a three-year period on a cooperation agreement known as the Mérida Initiative to fight drug trafficking in Central America and Mexico.

Secret US diplomatic cables from Oct. 2, 2008 and Oct. 17, 2008—released by the WikiLeaks group and acquired by McClatchy Newspapers—discuss 50 light anti-tank weapons (LAWs) that “were originally transferred to Honduras in 1992 as part of a US Foreign Military Sales program.” The Honduran military cannot account for 26 of the 50 LAWS. According to the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), three of these weapons turned up Mexico City in January 2008, one was found in Ciudad Juárez in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua in April 2008, and six were recovered in March 2008 on Colombia’s San Andrés Island, east of Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast.

The DIA also reportedly found that “at least two US-produced M433 40-mm grenades have been recovered in Colombia and Mexico.” These apparently came from a 1985 US military sale to Honduras.

A secret June 8, 2009 cable from the US embassy in Guatemala—also released by WikiLeaks—reported on “new information indicating rogue elements within the Guatemalan army are selling military-grade weapons and munitions to narco traffickers.” In April 2009 Guatemalan drug control agents raided a warehouse about 30 km south of Guatemala City containing “11 light machine guns, a light anti-tank weapon (LAW), 563 rocket-propelled grenades, 32 hand grenades, eight Claymore anti-personnel mines, almost 8,000 rounds of small arms ammunition, and three fully armored Suburbans.” US military analysts “were able to determine with a high degree of confidence that many of these weapons and munitions came from Guatemalan military stocks.” Some were made by the Guatemalan military industrial facility (IMG); the cable didn’t indicate whether any of the weapons might have come from the US.

“Twelve junior officers were recently relieved by their commanders for suspicion of selling armaments under their control to drug organizations,” the embassy wrote. The officers weren’t arrested, however--they were “sent home” pending an investigation.

El Salvador has less of a problem than Guatemala, Defense Minister David Munguia Payes told McClatchy Newspapers. But last year former Salvadoran captain Héctor Antonio Martínez Guillén (“El Capitán”) allegedly offered US undercover agents C-4 explosives, up to 3,000 hand grenades and several Russian-made Sam-7 shoulder-fired missiles, presumably from Salvadoran military supplies. The agents lured Martínez Guillén to the US and arrested him at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, DC, on Nov. 18. According to a Feb. 24 indictment, he thought he was dealing with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and expected to be paid in cocaine. (McClatchy Newspapers 4/21/11)

Although the report didn’t indicate that any of Martínez Guillén’s promised weapons came from the US, a US cable released by WikiLeaks in February reported that some fragmentation grenades used by drug traffickers in Monterrey came from shipments the US made to the Salvadoran military in the early 1990s [see Updates #1067, 1075].

Central American militaries are the main source of the Mexican cartels’ heavy weapons, the US embassy in Mexico wrote in a confidential Mar. 25, 2009 cable provided to the Mexican daily La Jornada by WikiLeaks. “At least 90% of military-origin weapons (such as grenades and light anti-tank weapons)” seized by security agents in Mexico “are traced to Central American military stocks,” according to the cable.

Small arms like rifles come directly from the US to Mexico, the embassy reported. “While estimates vary regarding the percentage of US commercial weapons recovered in Mexico, approximately 90% of all firearms seized and traced are from the United States.” (LJ 3/29/11)

CBS News reported on Apr. 25 that “the Mexican Government has retained an American law firm to explore filing civil charges against US gun manufacturers and distributors over the flood of guns crossing the border into Mexico.” (CBS News 4/21/11) [See Updates #1070, 1073 for information on the US government’s Operation Fast and Furious, which let firearms “walk” into Mexico.]

*2. Mexico: “Drug War” Has Intensified Violence Against Women
Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa’s militarization of the fight against drug trafficking has increased the level of violence against women, a leading Mexican feminist, María Marcela Lagarde y de los Ríos, told the Spanish wire service EFE on Apr. 29. “Everything that is happening favors violence against women,” she said. Calderón’s strategy “cultivates a very violent culture” and “establishes an ideology of violence, of defeat, of war… That’s a very macho culture, very misogynist, and we women are left defenseless.”

A member of the Chamber of Deputies for the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) from 2003 to 2006 and now a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Lagarde is part of the movement to have femicide (misogynist murders) categorized as a special crime, not simply as murder or a hate crime [see Update #1076]. (EFE 4/29/11 via Latin American Herald Tribune)

Ciudad Juárez, near the US border in the northern state of Chihuahua, is one of the places that have suffered the most from femicide and from Calderón’s “drug war,” which has claimed some 35,000 lives since the beginning of 2007. In March this year the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) reported that nationally some 230,000 people had been displaced by drug-related violence [see Update #1073]. A new report by María del Socorro Velázquez Vargas, a researcher at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, gives an even higher number.

Using a survey by Juárez’s municipal government and statistics from Chihuahua’s State Investigation Agency and the federal government’s National Statistics and Geography Institute (INEGI), Velázquez Vargas estimates that 273,000 people were displaced during 2008, 2009 and 2010 in Juárez alone—a full 21% of the municipality’s population. (El Diario (Ciudad Juárez) 4/17/11)

*3. Haiti: Election Results Challenged, Media Threatened
As of Apr. 30 the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the US were all pressuring Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to change 18 questionable decisions in the Mar. 20 runoff races for Parliament.

On Apr. 20 the CEP announced final results for the long-delayed second round of the 2010 presidential and legislative elections. As expected, the CEP confirmed the victory of conservative presidential candidate Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”). However, the final results for legislative seats changed from the preliminary count in 19 cases, and critics questioned the decisions for 18 of them: 17 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and one in the Senate. All but two of the changes awarded the seats to candidates from the centrist Unity party of outgoing president René Préval. The CEP didn’t offer any explanation for its decisions, which would give Unity a majority in the 99-member Chamber and a strong position relative to president-elect Martelly, since the party already had a majority in the Senate [see Update #1075].

An Apr. 29 statement by an OAS-CARICOM observer mission “recommend[ed] a return to the preliminary results in each of the 18 cases examined.” On the same day, US senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the influential chair of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, sent an open letter to US secretary of state Hillary Clinton questioning the CEP’s final results. Saying that “Haiti's future depends on a Parliament that is recognized as legitimate,” Leahy urged the State Department “to take appropriate steps to convey our concern, including assessing the visa suitability and the lawful permanent status in the United States of Haitians officials who may be involved in election fraud.”

According to the Haitian radio station Radio Kiskeya, Leahy also intervened on Martelly’s side in December when questionable CEP results in the Nov. 28 elections gave Unity presidential candidate Jude Célestin second place, eliminating Martelly from the runoffs. (Leahy press release 4/29/11 via Sun Herald (Biloxi, Gulfport and South Mississippi); Radio Kiskeya 4/29/11; AlterPresse (Haiti) 4/30/11)

In a statement published on Apr. 29, the French-based organization Reporters Without Frontiers called on Martelly to “defuse” tensions and to “promise to guarantee pluralism, civil liberties and basic constitutional principles” when he assumes office on May 14. A number of Haitian journalists have accused Martelly of threatening the local media [see Update #1075]. (AlterPresse 4/29/11)

*4. Cuba: Rightwing Terrorist Bosch Dies in Miami
Far-right Cuban activist Orlando Bosch died in Miami on Apr. 27 at the age of 84. He had “a long and painful illness,” according to a statement by fellow rightwinger Pedro Corzo.

Although accused of involvement in a number of terrorist actions targeting Cuba’s leftist government, Bosch was only convicted of one: a Sept. 16, 1968 rifle attack on a Polish freighter docked at the Port of Miami. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison but fled the US after getting parole. In 1976 Venezuelan prosecutors charged Bosch and longtime US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asset Luis Posada Carriles [see Update #1075] in the 1976 bombing of a Cubana de Aviación jetliner; 73 people died in that attack. A Venezuelan military court acquitted Bosch and Posada in 1980, but they remained in prison pending a prosecution appeal to a civilian court. Posada escaped in 1985 and went on to work in US operations to supply the rightwing contra rebels in Nicaragua. The Venezuelan civilian court acquitted Bosch in 1987.

Bosch returned to Miami in 1988 and served three months in federal prison for violating parole in the 1968 case. Legally he could have been deported from the US as a convicted felon, but apparently the US refused to repatriate him to Cuba and no other country would accept him. This left Bosch free to live in Miami until his death, openly raising money for a campaign he called “Mortar for Masons.” “We’re not talking about flowers or hot meat pies,” Bosch explained in an interview the Miami Herald published in 1993. (Miami Herald 4/28/11)

In 1997 Bosch denied that he and Posada were involved in the bombings of Cuban hotels that year that left one Italian tourist dead. “The last news I had from [Posada] was about three months ago,” Bosch told Miami’s daily El Nuevo Herald. “I sent him money from some paintings of his that I sold here in Miami.... “We have nothing to do with these attacks. Besides, if we did, we'd still be denying it, since that's illegal in this country” [see Update #405].

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Haiti

Mexico, Colombia, Peru & Chile Look To Integrate Their Economies And Expand Trade With Asia

Argentina’s Qom-Toba Community Call for an End to Repression and Discrimination

MST Leader: Brazil Doesn’t Need Poisons to Maintain Food Production

Bolivia to enshrine "rights of nature" in law

The Law of Mother Earth: Behind Bolivia’s Historic Bill

Peru: one dead as strike paralyzes Puno

No Justice, No Peace: Canadian Mining in Ecuador and Impunity

FARC Car Bomb Kills Two Colombian Police Officers; Separate Attack Kills Two More

Deportation of Alternative Journalist Becerra Causes Protest in Venezuela

Libyan Delegation in Venezuela to Find Peaceful Solution

Director of Radio Uno Survives Assassination Attempt (Honduras)

Globalizing the Struggle: Women’s Voices from the Mesoamerican People's Forum in Mexico

Mexico: rights activists threatened as more mass graves unearthed

Mexico’s House of Deputies Likely to Approve Police State Law

Mexico’s National Security Law Can’t Be Evaluated, Says PRI’s Navarrete

Union-Busting Bill Stopped by Union Action—in Mexico

Martelly-Clinton Seal Deal for Next Wave of Disaster Capitalism in Haiti

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


Your support is appreciated. Back issues and source materials are available on request. Our weekly Immigration News Briefs has ended publication; for news, information and announcements in support of action for immigrant rights in the United States, subscribe to Immigrant Action at:
You can also visit the Immigrant Action blog at:

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