Monday, April 29, 2013

WNU #1174: 50 Injured as Argentine Police Attack Hospital

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1174, April 28, 2013

1. Argentina: 50 Injured as Police Attack Hospital
2. Mexico: Party Offices Trashed in Guerrero Teachers’ Protest
3. Mexico: Monsanto Pushes for More GMO Corn
4. Haiti: Quake Survivors Still Being Evicted From Camps
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, US/immigration, US/policy

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. It is archived at For a subscription, write to Follow us on Twitter at

*1. Argentina: 50 Injured as Police Attack Hospital
Some 200 to 300 agents of the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Police invaded the grounds of the José T. Borda public psychiatric hospital in the Argentine capital during the early morning of Apr. 26 to guard demolition workers as they bulldozed one of the hospital buildings. When hospital workers, patients and community members gathered later to protest the demolition, police agents used nightsticks and rubber bullets against the crowd. Protesters said some 50 people were injured, including at least 10 patients, seven nurses, three media workers and a member of the city legislature, María Rachid. The authorities reported 36 people injured, 17 of them police agents. Eight people were arrested.

Rightwing Buenos Aires mayor Mauricio Macri insisted that the agents, who were equipped with helmets and shields, had to use force to defend themselves from rock-throwing protesters. The protesters cited police attacks that appeared to be unprovoked. Leaders of the State Workers Association (ATE), which represents some of the hospital workers, charged that union delegates were attacked by agents when they tried to mediate the situation. Local legislator Rachid gave a similar account. “I went into the place,” she said, “and when I asked who was in charge of the operation, the police shoved me and beat me.”

The demolished building had housed a rehabilitation and job-training workshop for patients; it was being removed to make way for a new Civic Center, where the city government plans to relocate some of its offices. Opponents of the plan say Mayor Macri, who is linked to construction interests, originally intended to use the space for high-rise buildings; strong opposition forced him to switch to the Civic Center project. The city claims that the building was already empty and that the workshop was being relocated elsewhere. The ATE—an affiliate of the Federation of Argentine Workers (CTA), the more radical of the country’s two largest labor federations—was the only one of the five unions at the hospital to oppose the plan, according to the authorities.

Argentine journalist Stella Calloni writes that human rights groups say the Buenos Aires force includes officers who worked under the 1976-1983 military dictatorship, along with advisers from Israel and the US. The violence at the Borda hospital came a month and a half after Metropolitan Police agents used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to break up a sit-in protesting efforts to privatize part of a public cultural center [see Update #1168]. (Noticias Argentinas 4/26/13 via Terra Argentina; Buenos Aires Herald 4/26/13; La Jornada (Mexico) 4/27/13 from correspondent; Kaos en la Red 4/27/13)

On Apr. 27 a majority in the Buenos Aires city legislature, including members from rightwing parties, responded to the incident at the hospital by calling for the city’s security minister, Guillermo Montenegro, to resign; only members of Macri’s Republican Proposal (PRO) backed the city government. Center-left Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a longtime opponent of Macri, also condemned the police operation. The ATE will protest the action with a nationwide strike and a rally in Buenos Aires on Apr. 30, according to the union’s general secretary, José Luis Mataza. (LJ 4/28/13 from correspondent; Buenos Aires Herald 4/26/13)

*2. Mexico: Party Offices Trashed in Guerrero Teachers’ Protest
Thousands of teachers marched in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero, on Apr. 24 to protest the Guerrero legislature’s vote the day before to ratify a national education “reform” plan proposed by Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto [see Update #1172]. The march—sponsored by the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), an organization of dissident local members of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE)—stopped at the headquarters of various political parties, where masked participants vandalized offices. The main damage was at the office of Peña Nieto’s party, the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI); the attackers, armed with clubs, broke windows, threw furniture, papers and plants into the street, tore up a photograph of the president and started a fire in the office, which firefighters put out. There were also attacks on the offices of the center-right National Action Party (PAN), the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the social democratic Citizens’ Movement (formerly the Convergence for Democracy).

Within hours Guerrero governor Angel Aguirre Rivero announced that the state government would stop all negotiations with the CETEG and that arrest warrants had been issued for two of its leaders, Minervino Morán and Gonzalo Juárez; the governor described them as the force behind the vandalism. Aguirre also claimed that activities were normal at 95% of the state’s schools despite a strike carried out by CETEG supporters since March. Apparently there was confusion in the state government: at almost the same time Governance Secretary Humberto Salgado Gómez blamed the damage on “people infiltrated” into the protest. “What happened here was acts of barbarism,” he said. “It’s not a question of teachers but of people who are alien to the movement.” Later he changed course and said the state was investigating the teachers for the vandalism. (AFP 4/24/13 via Prensa Libre (Guatemala); El Economista (Mexico) 4/24/13; La Jornada (Mexico) 4/25/13)

Meanwhile, the National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), the national organization of SNTE dissidents, concluded its Fifth National Education Conference in Mexico City on Apr. 27 with an affirmation of its commitment to opposing the “reform” program; the group called for teachers, parents, students and social organizations to prepare for an open-ended national strike in defense of education. The group’s National Political Directorate agreed to meet on Apr. 30 to plan the strategies they would apply after the traditional May 1 labor marches. (LJ 4/28/13)

*3. Mexico: Monsanto Pushes for More GMO Corn
As of Apr. 26 environmental activists still hadn’t learned the Mexican government’s response to requests that the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company filed on Mar. 26 for permission to expand the sowing of transgenic corn in four northern and western states. Monsanto asked for clearance to sow commercial crops in 28 municipalities in the state of Chihuahua, 11 in Coahuila and nine in Durango. These requests were in an addition to filings it made in January and February to carry out noncommercial pilot projects in the same municipalities and in Comondú in Baja California Sur. Another biotech company, Swiss-based Syngenta AG, filed on Mar. 26 for permission to carry out pilot projects in the state of Sinaloa. People opposing the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) for crops say the total requests would affect 12 million hectares.

At the end of 2011 the Mexican government lifted the last barrier to growing GMO corn for consumption, although the sowing is still regulated and is confined to dry northern and western states where GMO proponents claim it is less likely to contaminate native corn [see Update #1118]. Environmentalists say even the limited sowing so far has already affected native crops as far away as the southern state of Oaxaca, where local communities and communities from other states testified this month to a committee of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP), an international group founded in Italy in 1979 to influence world opinion on various issues. The use of transgenic corn causes malformed plants and low productivity and puts small producers out of business, community representatives told the committee in what was called a “pre-hearing” to decide whether to go ahead with the case. The committee’s members are Camila Montecinos from the Chilean office of the Barcelona-based group Grain; Joel Aquino, a Mexican campesino leader; Mexican author Gustavo Esteva, who writes about autonomy and community development; and Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva. (La Jornada (Mexico) 4/5/13, 4/27/13)

Monsanto reported a net income of $1.48 billion for its second quarter, which ended on Feb. 13, up significantly from the $1.21 billion it earned in the same quarter last year. The company seems equally successful in influencing US politicians. A “continuing resolution” passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in late March to fund the US government’s budget this fiscal year turned out to contain a section protecting companies from lawsuits over health risks that might be related to genetically modified seeds. GMO opponents called the section the “Monsanto Protection Act.” (Huffington Post 4/3/13, some from AP)

*4. Haiti: Quake Survivors Still Being Evicted From Camps
At least 60,978 of the people left homeless by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit southern Haiti in January 2010 were forcibly evicted from displaced persons camps between July 2010 and the end of 2012, according to a report released by the human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) on Apr. 23. The report, “‘Nowhere to Go’: Forced Evictions in Haiti’s Camps for Displaced People,” says that another 977 families were forcibly evicted during the first three months of 2013 [see Update #1166]. The evictions have been tolerated by Haitian authorities, and in many cases government agencies have actively participated in the operations, Haitian human rights groups charge.

“The government says nothing” about the evictions, AI researcher Chiara Liquiori told an Apr. 23 press conference in Port-au-Prince. AI noted the need for a comprehensive national housing program, especially since Haiti had an estimated deficit of 700,000 houses even before the earthquake, but for the short term the group called for the authorities to declare a moratorium on the evictions. “Forced evictions threaten nearly a quarter of the more than 320,000 people still living in camps more than three years on from the earthquake,” AI special adviser Javier Zúñiga said in a press release issued by the organization on Apr. 23. (AI press release 4/23/13; AlterPresse (Haiti) 4/23/13)

One of the camps under the threat of eviction is the Gaston Magwon camp in Carrefour, a town just west of Port-au-Prince. Some 150 families were violently driven out on Feb. 15 by police agents and men armed with machetes and knives. A baby was reportedly injured when the armed men and police damaged a shelter with the child still inside. Some of these families returned to the camp, which now holds about 650 families; they have been warned that another eviction is eminent. AI issued an urgent action asking for letters to Haitian president Michel Joseph Martelly ( and National Police of Haiti General Director Godson Orélus ( calling for the authorities not to carry out more evictions at Gaston Magwon, to investigate the earlier incidents and “to seek durable solutions to the housing needs” of the earthquake’s victims. (AI urgent action 3/22/13)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, US/immigration, US/policy

Threat of the Trans-Pacific Agreement (Latin America)

Climate Debt: Who Profits? Who Pays? (Latin America)

Paid to Trash Argentina, Raben Does Just That, Without Disclosing Financial Interests

Chile: A Carnival in Defense of Water Sweeps through the Streets of Santiago

Uruguay: Birth of a Movement Against Mining and Extractivism

Paraguay: House of Cartes

Bolivia: TIPNIS Road On Hold Until Extreme Poverty Eliminated

Three Ecuadorans to appeal libel sentences

Colombia: Campesinos of Asoquimbo Liberate Lands under Control of Emgesa-Endesa-Enel

The Venezuelan Presidential Vote -- What is the Probability That It Could Have Been Stolen?

The New Yorker Should Ignore Jon Lee Anderson and Issue a Correction on Venezuela

Venezuela Faces a Soft War

Salvador legislator implicated in Venezuela destabilization

Honduras: Exhumations in the Aguán in Search of the Truth

Defending Rio Blanco: Three Weeks of the Lenca Community Roadblock in Honduras

If Enough Forces Weigh In, the Trial Can Resume (Guatemala)

New Wave of Attacks against Land Rights Activists in Guatemala

Israel’s Proxy War in Guatemala

Noopemig: The Global Rallying Cry from Capulálpam (Mexico)

“We are All Guerrero”: Mexico’s New Popular Revolt Takes on the State

Mexico: violence escalates in Michoacán

A Hard Day’s Labor for $4.76: the Offshore Assembly Industry in Haiti

Accused of Sexual Abuse, MINUSTAH Officer Flees Haiti

Memoirs of a Guestworker (US/immigration)

Chican@ Studies and the Fight Inside U.S. Schools to Drop the ‘I’ Word (US/immigration)

Federal Judge Orders Release of Names of School of the Americas/ WHINSEC Graduates (US/policy)

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. Feel free to reproduce these updates, or reprint or re-post any information from them, but please credit us as “Weekly News Update on the Americas” and include a link.

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

No comments: