Monday, April 16, 2012

WNU #1125: Argentina Coup Aimed at Creating Market Economy

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1125, April 15, 2012

1. Argentina: 1976 Coup Aimed at Creating a Market Economy
2. Dominican Republic: Is a General Plotting Against Haiti’s President?
3. Mexico: Activist Stages Mock Crucifixion to Demand Child’s Return
4. Honduras: AFL-CIO Protests Labor Rights Violations
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Caribbean, 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. It is archived at For a subscription, write to Follow us on Twitter at

*1. Argentina: 1976 Coup Aimed at Creating a Market Economy
Imprisoned former Argentine dictator Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla has admitted for the first time that the military disappeared—detained and killed--thousands of people and sometimes abducted the victims’ children during its 1976-1983 “dirty war” against leftists and others [see Update #1110]. The killings “were the price that regrettably Argentina had to pay to go on being a republic,” Videla said in one of several interviews journalist Ceferino Reato held with him from October 2011 to March 2012 in the Campo de Mayo prison. Now 86, the former dictator was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for crimes against humanity. Human rights groups estimate that the military disappeared some 30,000 people in the violence and turned over several hundred of their children to foster parents.

The interviews appear in Reato’s book Final Disposition, which went on sale on Apr. 14; some interviews were also videotaped and are available on the internet.

“Our objective” in the Mar. 24, 1976 coup that started the seven years of bloody military rule “was to discipline an anarchized society,” Videla explained to Reato. The generals wanted “to get away from a populist, demagogic vision; in relation to the economy, to go to a liberal market economy. We wanted to discipline unionism and crony capitalism.” Argentine business owners were directly involved in the killings, Videla added, although “they washed their hands” of the actual violence. “They said, ‘Do what you have to do,’ and later they would add some on. How many times they told me, ‘You’ve come up short, you should have killed a thousand more, 10,000 more’!”

The coup leaders decided they needed to keep the extent of the killings secret. “[L]et’s say there were 7,000 or 8,000 people who had to die [so we could] win the war against subversion. We needed for it not to be obvious, so that society wouldn’t notice.” The remains had to be eliminated “so that there wouldn’t be protests inside or outside the country.” In the case of Mario Santucho of the Revolutionary Army of the People, for example, if the body appeared it would “provide an occasion for homages, for commemorations. It had to be made opaque.” The title of Reato’s book comes from the Argentine military term “disposición final” (final disposition or disposal), which is used for getting rid of worn-out clothes or equipment. The generals used the term for the process of eliminating the bodies of their victims. (InfoBAE (Argentina) 4/14/12; La Jornada (Mexico) 4/14/12 from correspondent; Reuters 4/14/12)

*2. Dominican Republic: Is a General Plotting Against Haiti’s President?
Retired Dominican general Pedro Julio (“Pepe”) Goico Guerrero has been heading a plot to destabilize the administration of Haitian president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”), Dominican president Leonel Fernández’s information secretary, Rafael Núñez, announced at a Santo Domingo press conference late on Apr. 12. The alleged plot also involves a Haitian citizen, Pierre Kanzki, according to Núñez, who was accompanied by Dominican foreign affairs minister Carlos Morales Troncoso, Haitian justice minister Michel Brunache, Dominican attorney general Radhamés Jiménez, and ambassadors Fritz Cineas (Haiti) and Rubén Silie (Dominican Republic). Returning to Haiti on Apr. 13, Justice Minister Brunache announced that his department was investigating Kanzki; he didn’t mention any criminal charges against either of the two men named in the alleged plot. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 4/13/12, ___)

The accusation that Gen. Goico was plotting against Martelly came a little less than two weeks after Dominican reporter Nuria Piera charged that two of Dominican senator Félix Bautista’s construction firms, which have contracts for replacing buildings destroyed in Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, had paid some $2.5 million to President Martelly over the past two years [see Update #1124].

Some observers connect both of these accusations with the Dominican Republic’s general elections on May 20, in which Danilo Medina, the candidate of Fernández’s centrist Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), is in a tight race against former president Hipólito Mejía (2000-2004), the candidate of the social democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). Sen. Bautista belongs to the PLD and is close to Fernández; the suggestion that he might be bribing Haitian officials comes on top of accusations of illegal enrichment in the past when he headed the Public Works Supervisory Office. Gen. Goico was in charge of security for Mejía during his administration and remains close to the former president. On Apr. 13 Mejía dismissed the claim that Goico was plotting against Martelly as “a smokescreen to cover up Félix Bautista’s scandals.”

Meanwhile, Mejía was facing criticism for a reference he made to US president Barack Obama during a recent visit to New York. “If Obama, who came from Africa, was born there and is [US] president,” he told a group of PRD supporters, “why can’t one of you make it, you who are a more attractive mixture than Obama?” On Apr. 13 the Dominican Senate, which the PLD controls, made an official apology to the US that was probably meant to add to Mejía’s embarrassment over the incident. (EFE 4/12/12 via Univision; El Nuevo Diario (Dominican Republic) 4/13/12; AlterPresse 4/13/12)

Opinion polls are split on the presidential race. A survey that the JZ Analytics firm released on Apr. 3 gave Mejía a five-point advantage over Medina, while a poll the New Link Group published a few hours later showed Medina with 49.1% of the vote against 44% for Mejía. The day before, a poll by Asisa Research had Medina winning with 52.8% to 45%. (Prensa Latina 4/4/12) The uncertainty of the polls reflects widespread disaffection with both parties. Asked which candidate they’d vote for, respondents have given such answers as: “Elections don’t matter to me,” “The two parties are the same thing,” “I don’t vote,” “For the devil,” “For Jesus Christ,” and “I don’t believe in politicians.” (Listín Diario (Santo Domingo) 4/15/12)

*3. Mexico: Activist Stages Mock Crucifixion to Demand Child’s Return
After 15 days on hunger strike, on Apr. 10 Antonia López Cruz sewed her lips together and had herself tied to the fence outside the federal Senate building in Mexico City in a mock crucifixion to demand the return of her six-year-old daughter, Concepción (“Cuco”) Antonia Fernández López. Puebla state Public Ministry coordinator Leticia Villaraldo took the child from her parents on Mar. 21 and turned her over to the state Integral Family Development (DIF) service, claiming she was an abuse victim because of an injury to her arm.

The father, Antonio Fernández Sánchez, who was encamped with López Cruz and their two sons outside the Senate, told reporters that the girl’s arm was hurt while she was playing with her little brother. “They took our daughter Concepción Antonia as a reprisal because my wife and I defend indigenous people and campesinos against arbitrary acts by the Puebla government, which is headed by [Gov.] Rafael Moreno Valle,” he said. “Villaraldo told us we should abandon the defense of indigenous and campesino human rights and then she’ll return our daughter.” Fernández Sánchez said he and López Cruz are members of an organization called the Supreme Mexican Fraternal Alliance in Defense of Human Rights.

Sen. Rosario Ibarra de Piedra [see Update #946], a longtime activist who heads the Senate Human Rights Commission, came out to meet with López Cruz. Ibarra then sent a request to the Puebla state attorney general for a report on the case, and spoke with the state governance under secretary, asking him to meet with the family. (La Jornada (Mexico) 4/11/12)

On Apr. 5 activist José Luis Castillo Carreón and his son were put in preventive detention in the northern state of Chihuahua on charges of armed robbery of a Ciudad Juárez massage parlor in August 2008. Castillo became politically active after his 14-year-old daughter Esmeralda Castillo Rincón disappeared in May 2009. He and his son participated in protests demanding government action to end the wave of violence that has left more than 500 women and girls dead in the Juárez area since 1993 [see Update #1121]. The police said the owner of the massage parlor identified the two men from photos in media coverage of the demonstrations. (Vanguardia (Mexico) 4/6/12; EFE 4/11/12 via Latin American Herald Tribune)

*4. Honduras: AFL-CIO Protests Labor Rights Violations
On Mar. 29 the AFL-CIO, the main US labor federation, joined with two Honduran union federations to file a petition with the US Department of Labor’s Public Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) asking the US to push the Honduran government to address labor violations. Evangelina Argueta Chinchilla, representing Honduras’ General Workers Central (CGT), and Francisco Joel López Mejía, deputy general secretary of the smaller Independent Federation of Workers of Honduras (FITH), traveled to Washington to file the petition.

The federations’ complaint is based on provisions for labor rights in the US-sponsored Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA). Unions and grassroots movements in the affected countries strongly opposed the agreement when it was proposed [see Update #988] and had little confidence in the labor right provisions. Six years after the agreement went into effect, the labor provisions have not in fact been meaningfully enforced in Honduras, according to the union representatives.

“For many years our government has neglected workers and even has violated their own promises,” Argueta said. “They have ignored Honduras’ unions, while dealing openly with corporations. They have passed laws that undermine unions and reduce standards of living.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stressed “the long-term cooperation and commitment of the AFL-CIO and the Honduran labor movement to promote and protect worker rights.” (Honduras Weekly 3/30/12; People’s Weekly World 4/9/12)

In other news, on Apr. 13 the military detained two campesinos, Juan Galindo López and Oveniel (or Obeniel) Cáceres in the Marañones settlement in the Lower Aguán Valley, the site of a long-running conflict between campesinos and large landowners over land rights [see Update #1123]. On Apr. 14 the Canadian-based organization Rights Action reported that Galindo had been released but Cáceres was apparently still in detention. (Adital (Brazil) 4/13/12 from Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH); Rights Action posting 4/13/12; Rights Action email 4/14/12)

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

Obama in Cartagena: No Change, Dwindling Hope (Latin America)

South American Fiber Optic Ring

Dismantling the monoculture mentality (Argentina)

Argentina Thirty Years After the Malvinas War: Demanding Sovereignty and Healing the Wounds of War

Brazil: judge suspends Teles Pires dam, upholds indigenous rights

Brazil, U.S. Deepen Ties Ahead of Obama's Latin America Week

Bolivia: Evo Morales cancels contract for controversial Amazon highway

Shifting Alliances in Bolivia’s TIPNIS Conflict

Peru: Sendero Luminoso take Camisea workers hostage

Peru defies UN breakthrough on uncontacted tribes

Peru: trapped miners freed —and scapegoated

Peru: civil strike against mining project shuts down Cajamarca —again

Peru: state of emergency as Sendero demands ransom for Camisea workers

Peru: Sendero fires on police helicopter in Camisea hostage crisis

Peru: Sendero hostages freed —but how?

Peru's President Humala faces "dirty war" complaint before OAS rights commission

Ecuador: A Revolutionary March Versus a Counter-Revolutionary March

More mining projects for Ecuador rainforest

Colombians Commemorate First Official Day Honoring Conflict Victims (photo essay)

Small-Scale Miners in Nariño Face Crackdown as Foreign Companies Set Sights on Colombia

New Low for Obama on Colombia Worker Rights; Reportedly Plans to Throw Away Trade Leverage at Summit

Llaguno Bridge: Keys to a Massacre (Venezuela)

New Agreements Between Haiti, Venezuela and Cuba for Social and Economic Development

Canada Deepens Ties with Deadly Regime in Honduras  

Honduran Campesinos in the Crosshairs

Gathering in Bajo Aguán: Oligarchy and Human Rights Violations in Honduras

Mexican Candidates Blast the Airwaves, Stir Up the Social Networks

A Colonial WikiLeaks? The Migrated Archives and the Caribbean Pt.1

Haiti Reconstruction Fund: Building Back …When?

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.

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

No comments: