Tuesday, January 29, 2013

WNU #1161: EZLN Supporter Freed After Year in Jail

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1161, January 27, 2013

1. Mexico: EZLN Supporter Freed After Year in Jail
2. Chile: Mapuche Hunger Striker Reported Near Death
3. Haiti: Evictions of Quake Survivors Continue
4. Dominican Republic: Haitians End Labor Protest—Were They Tricked?
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, 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 http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WeeklyNewsUpdat.

*1. Mexico: EZLN Supporter Freed After Year in Jail
Francisco Sántiz López, a civilian supporter of Mexico’s rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), was released from prison in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the highlands of the southeastern state of Chiapas, on Jan. 25, more than 13 months after his arrest. Over the past year a movement has formed in some 30 countries to demand the release of Sántiz López and another prisoner, the schoolteacher Alberto Patishtán Gómez, a supporter of the ELZN-initiated Other Campaign [see Update #1129].

Sántiz López was arrested in December 2011 on charges of participating in violence that broke out in the indigenous Banavil community in Tenejapa municipality on Dec. 4 when a group connected to the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) attacked EZLN supporters. Two people died in the violence, one from each side; witnesses denied that Sántiz López was involved. A judge acquitted him three months later, but prosecutors then charged him with illegal possession of a firearm. On Jan. 24 of this year Judge Jesús Hidalgo ruled that the authorities hadn’t taken into account “all the existing evidence in favor of Sántiz López indicating that he hadn’t taken part in the acts he was accused of.” Hidalgo ordered the prisoner’s release within 24 hours. “We’re going to continue with the EZLN in the struggle,” Sántiz López said as he left the prison. “We’re going to win.”

Patishtán Gómez remains in the prison, where he has been serving a 60-year sentence since 2000 for his alleged involvement in the killing of seven police agents in El Bosque municipality in June of that year. He says prison authorities are denying him medicine he requires following surgery for a brain tumor late in 2012. (La Jornada (Mexico) 1/26/13)

*2. Chile: Mapuche Hunger Striker Reported Near Death
On Jan. 27 a group of academics, musicians and human rights activists said they were planning an emergency visit the next day to two indigenous Chilean prisoners to try to find a political solution that could end a hunger strike the prisoners started on Nov. 14. The prisoners--Héctor Llaitul Carillanca, the leader of the militant Mapuche organization Arauco Malleco Coordinating Committee (CAM), and CAM activist Ramón Llanquileo Pilquimán--were convicted in 2011 of arson and of attacking a prosecutor; this is their third hunger strike to demand a reduction of their sentences [see Update #1083]. They are now being held in a prison in Concepción, in the central Biobío region.

Ana Miranda, a representative of the Spanish autonomous region of Galicia in the European Parliament, visited Héctor Llaitul on Jan. 26. The prisoner’s health was deteriorating after 74 days on hunger strike, according to the legislator, who was in Chile for two joint European and Latin American summits. “It was painful to see him,” she said. “The people who visited him with me, who are friends of his, told me that to them he seemed much worse in terms of his weight, and basically that this could give him a heart attack at any moment—that is, Mr. Héctor Llaitul could die at any moment.” Miranda said it was time for Chile to recognize the rights of different ethnic groups and to create autonomous regions within the country.

The group planning to visit the prisoners includes the Uruguayan writer Raúl Zibechi, University of Chile history professor Sergio Grez, Chilean human rights activist Viviana Díaz Caro, Federation of Catholic University Students (FEUC) president Diego Vela, and singer and poet Manuel García. (Radio Bío Bío (Chile) 1/26/13; La Nación (Chile) 1/26/13; Radio Universidad de Chile 1/27/13)

Some 150 legislators from Europe and the Americas were in Santiago to attend the sixth meeting of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat), held Jan. 24-25, and the first summit of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held Jan. 26-27. A total of 30 of the legislators signed a declaration expressing their “concern about the situation experienced by the Mapuche people in the Republic of Chile” and about what they called “legal state terrorism.”

“We are alarmed by the harsh militarization that is taking place in the Mapuche territories, along with the emergency laws such as the state security law and the antiterrorist law that date back to the era of the dictatorship,” the legislators said, referring to the 1973-1990 military government of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. “We call for respect for the rights and guarantees of the Mapuche people, for recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples consecrated in International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169, and for an urgent response to the demands of the political prisoners on hunger strike who are at this time in critical health situations.”

Supporters of the declaration included legislators from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Uruguay, Venezuela, Spain and the Spanish autonomous regions of Catalonia and Galicia. (Terra.com (Chile) 1/24/13; European Parliament News 1/24/13; Puranoticia.cl (Viña del Mar) 1/27/13)

On Jan. 18, a week before legislators arrived for the summit, the Chilean national police fired Lt. Walter Ramírez, the agent convicted of killing the young Mapuche Matias Catrileo on Jan. 3, 2008; Catrileo was shot in the back [see Update #1159]. Despite the conviction, Ramírez was never imprisoned, and he had remained on the force. Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick released a statement saying the firing “shows that the force always follows the law.” Mónica Quezada, the victim’s mother, told reporters that she hoped this will help bring about “a policy of the state that when an officer commits unnecessary violence resulting in death, the crime does not go unpunished.”  (Miami Herald 1/18/13 from AP)

*3. Haiti: Evictions of Quake Survivors Continue
On Jan. 12, the third anniversary of a massive earthquake that devastated much of southern Haiti, municipal and national authorities forcibly removed hundreds of people left homeless by the quake from their encampment in Place Sainte Anne, a park a few blocks from the National Palace in downtown Port-au-Prince. “Several injuries have been recorded in this unexpected eviction,” Carnise Delbrun, a representative of the New Place Sainte Anne Management Commission (NCGPS), told reporters. The operation was carried out by officials from the mayor’s office and from the national Civil Protection Office, the country’s civil defense agency, according to the displaced camp residents.

Camp residents claim Civil Protection was supposed to provide each family with a check for 20,000 gourdes (about US$473), as part of the national government’s program to move homeless people out of the camps by giving them small amounts of money. “They evicted these poor people on the pretext that everyone had already received this 20,000 gourde check to go find shelter somewhere else,” Delbrun said. But 552 families never got their payment, according to another NCGPS representative, Mario James Michaud. “About 20 people out of every 100 have benefited from this money,” he said, claiming that municipal authorities had only distributed the checks to their friends.

Dozens of families demonstrated on Jan. 22, saying they still hadn’t received their payment and threatening to rebuild their temporary shelters in the park. (Haiti Press Network (Haiti) 1/14/13; AlterPresse (Haiti) 1/22/13)

In other news, a man identified as Pamphile Bellefort was killed on Jan. 22 in the city of Jérémie in the southwestern department of Grand'Anse during renewed protests over delays in a project for repairing the 69-km highway from Jérémie to Les Cayes in South department. Another man had been killed during an earlier protest on Nov. 27 [see Update #1154]. Bellefort was reportedly shot by a guard at the Jérémie penitentiary who thought the protesters were trying to invade the prison. Demonstrators reacted to the new violence by setting up flaming barricades and shutting down most economic activity in the city. (AlterPresse 1/22/13; Radio Métropole (Haiti) 1/23/13)

The three-year-old highway renovation was halted in August 2012 when the Brazilian company that won the contract abruptly suspended its operations. According to Susana Ferreira of the Reuters wire service, one factor was the common confusion about property titles in Haiti; it was unclear who should be compensated for some of the roadside homes that would be demolished to widen the highway. Government officials say the Dominican construction company Estrella will soon be taking over the project. (Reuters 1/27/13)

*4. Dominican Republic: Haitians End Labor Protest—Were They Tricked?
On Jan. 19 a group of Haitian immigrant workers reached an agreement with international organizations and Dominican authorities to leave an encampment they and family members had maintained in front of the Dominican Labor Ministry in Santo Domingo since Dec. 14. The 112 mostly undocumented workers said they were owed a total of 15 million pesos (about US$368,550) in severance pay and benefits after two coconut processing plants, Coquera Kilómetro 5 and Coquera Real, in nearby San Cristóbal province went out of business [see Update #1159].

Later the Haitians charged that they had been pressured by Dominican immigration authorities and Cy Winter, the local director of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to sign a form they thought would keep them from being deported; in fact it was an application for voluntary repatriation to Haiti, according to one of their lawyers, Carlos Sánchez Díaz. The workers also accused Edwin Paraison—a former Haitian minister for Haitians living abroad and now the head of the Zile Foundation, which seeks to improve Haitian-Dominican relations—of helping to trick them into signing. Paraison said he’d simply aided in the production of identity papers for the Haitians. Winter “didn’t tell me this would be to incorporate my compatriots into the voluntary return program,” Paraison said.

After leaving the Labor Ministry the Haitians went back to San Cristóbal province, where a relative of one of their lawyers was letting them camp out in a large parking lot. The workers are apparently continuing their lawsuit for severance pay. Some supporters of the workers say the owner of the closed plants, Rafael Alonzo (or Alonso) Luna, is a local leader of the governing Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) in Samaná province in the north and is being protected by an influential official. (EFE 1/20/13 via Univision; El Día (Santo Domingo) 1/21/13)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti

Martin Luther King’s Reasons for Opposing the Viet Nam War Apply to Today’s Drug War (Latin America)

Argentina, Iran in joint probe of AMIA bombing

Chile: Summit of the Peoples Demands Solidarity and Sovereignty

Brazil: landless leader assassinated

Peru: new mobilization against Conga project

Peru: new incident at Bagua

Ecuador: Building a Good Life - Sumak Kawsay

Colombia: prosecutor's transfer sparks outcry

Colombia: FARC assassinate indigenous leader

Shift in the FARC Position Regarding the Land Problem: A Social Democratic Program in the Making (Colombia)

Free Trade and Workers’ Rights in Colombia: “Peace” the European Way

Grassroots Activists Speak on Chavez’s Absence: “We’ll Fight Even Harder” (Venezuela)

Migration Now: Art that Moves (US/immigration)

Panama Canal expansion fuels inter-oceanic race

Constitutional Death Spiral in Honduras

Remilitarization Gives Rise to New Tensions and Violence in Guatemala

Guatemala’s War on Women

Subcommander Marcos speaks again (Mexico)

Grain Imports Soar (Mexico)

Hunger Strike Aims to Stop GMO Corn in Mexico

Mexico: campesinos bear arms against narcos

Mexico’s New Immigrants
New Cuba: Beachhead for Economic Democracy Beyond Capitalism

The Miami Herald Offers Free Publicity to Rightwing Lobbyist Jose Cardenas (Cuba)

Jamaica and the IMF: How Not to Learn From Past Mistakes

In Commemorating Earthquake, Very Different Approaches (Haiti)

The U.S. State Department’s Uninspiring Report to Congress (Haiti)

CIDA Continues its History of Controvery in Haiti

Phoenix Project... born again? (Haiti)

The Uses of Paul Farmer: The Doctor and the Haitian Machine

Letter From Haiti: Life in the Ruins

Collateral Damage on the U.S.-Mexico Border (US/immigration)

Why Do Poor People Living in an Abandoned Skyscraper So Outrage the New Yorker?

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

For immigration updates and events:

NOTE: An interview with Weekly News Update co-editor David Wilson appears in From Disaster to Hope, a series of interviews conducted by Nicole Titus with people affected by the 2010 earthquake in southern Haiti. Available at:

Update co-editor Jane Guskin is leading a dialogue on immigration at the James Connolly Forum in Troy, NY, on Friday, Feb. 15. The event starts at 7 pm at the Oakwood Community Center on 313 Tenth Street; for more information, call 518-505-0948.


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