Monday, September 2, 2013

WNU #1190: Three Indigenous Hondurans Killed at Mine Protest

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1190, September 1, 2013

1. Honduras: Three Indigenous People Killed at Mine Protest
2. Mexico: Thousands March Against “Energy Reform”
3. Mexico: Activists Protest Delays in Shabazz Murder Inquiry
4. Haiti: Will Case Against Rights Lawyer Be Dropped?
5. Links to alternative sources on: Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, St. Lucia, US/immigration

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. Honduras: Three Indigenous People Killed at Mine Protest
Three members of Honduras’ Tolupan indigenous group were shot dead on Aug. 25 near an anti-mining and anti-logging protest in the community of Locomapa in the northern department of Yoro. According to witnesses the killers were employees of a nearby antimony mine who were themselves members of the Tolupan group. Some 150 Locomapa residents have been demonstrating against logging in their territory and against the mine, which the protesters say is operating without a permit. At the time of the shooting, residents had been blocking the San Francisco Campo highway for 12 days, allowing local traffic to pass through but turning back loggers and vehicles that belong to the mine.

Witnesses said the two mine employees, Selvin Fúnez and Carlos Matute, apparently drunk, rode up to the blockade on a motorcycle the afternoon of Aug. 25; after a verbal dispute with two protesters, the brothers Ricardo Soto Fúnez and Armando Fúnez Medina, they pulled out a gun. Soto Fúnez and Fúnez Medina sought shelter in a house beside the road, but the two mine employees followed them into the house and shot them there. When the house’s owner, María Enriqueta Matute, reproached the killers for the murders, they killed her as well.

As of Aug. 26 the two mine employees were still free, according to Pablo Munguía, the coordinator of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), a group that fights against corruption and for the defense of natural resources. “[I]f these individuals, who are part of the same community, dared to murder three members of their own group, let’s not think what other people who are strangers to the village could do,” Munguía said. “For this reason we demand justice, so that these three deaths don’t remain unpunished.” (La Tribuna (Tegucigalpa) 8/27/13; Honduras Accompaniment Project 8/27/13; El País (Costa Rica) 8/31/13)

*2. Mexico: Thousands March Against “Energy Reform”
In the first street demonstration that former center-left presidential candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano has led since 2000, thousands of Mexicans marched in Mexico City on Aug. 31 to show their opposition to President Enrique Peña Nieto’s plan for opening up the state-owned oil and electric companies, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and the Federal Energy Commission (CFE), to greater participation by foreign and Mexican private companies [see Update #1188]. The marchers set off from the Angel of Independence, a traditional starting point for Mexico City demonstrations, but they stopped short of the usual destination, the Zócalo plaza, which dissident teachers are occupying as part of a series of protests that have tied up various parts of the capital since Aug. 21. The education workers are protesting President Peña’s plans for teacher evaluations [see Update #1189].

Although the Aug. 31 march was relatively small--Mexico City police estimated the crowd at 8,000—the protest was significant because of the forces and issues it brought together, with some 300 individuals and dozens of organizations joining Cárdenas in the call for the action. Supporters included Cárdenas’ longtime rival Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, leaders of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and members of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), which split from the PRD last year. Cárdenas began his speech with a greeting to Alberto Patishtán, a supporter of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) imprisoned in the southeastern state of Chiapas [see Update #1183], and then expressed support for the dissident teachers [see Update #1189]. Marchers carried signs opposing the president’s entire “reform” agenda—which in addition to teacher evaluations and the partial privatization of the energy sector includes changes in the labor code and increases in the value-added tax (a sales tax known by its initials in Spanish, IVA). (La Jornada (Mexico) 9/1/13)

The Aug. 31 march was only one of the activities Mexicans are carrying out against Peña’s proposals. The PRD organized a “consultation” (unofficial referendum) on Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 with three questions on the energy proposals and three on the IVA, which Peña wants to extend to food and medicine. (LJ 9/1/13) Morena and its founder, former center-left presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, are building for another street demonstration on Sept. 8. Raquel Dávila Salas, Morena’s secretary general in the Federal District (DF, Mexico City), said she expected the dissident teachers to cooperate and make it possible for this protest to be held in the Zócalo. (LJ 9/1/13)

In related news, the Ecological Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) faction in the federal Chamber of Deputies announced on Aug. 31 that it would try to have DF head of government Miguel Ángel Mancera impeached for failing to use harsher methods to control the dissident teachers’ recent protests in the capital. The small PVEM is closely allied to the president’s centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). (LJ 9/1/13)

*3. Mexico: Activists Protest Delays in Shabazz Murder Inquiry
In an Aug. 10 press release the Citizens Committee for the Defense of the Naturalized and of Afro-Mexicans (CCDNAM) charged that the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) had failed to carry out an adequate investigation into the beating death of US rights activist Malcolm Latif Sabazz the night of May 8-9 [see Update #1176]. “It’s shameful that after three months there is no punishment of those responsible for this crime,” the CCDNAM’s president, Haitian-born Mexican activist Wilner Metelus, said. “Those who assassinated our brother Malcolm Latif remain free from justice, with the complicity of the authorities.”

Shabazz, the grandson of assassinated US rights activist Malcolm X and educator Betty Shabazz, was killed when he and a friend disputed an inflated bill at The Palace, a bar catering to tourists in Mexico City’s Plaza Garibaldi neighborhood. Two waiters have been charged with the homicide, but Afro-Mexican activists suspect others were involved and have demanded that prosecutors release tapes from surveillance cameras. They were also outraged by a July 24 report—later denied—that local authorities were allowing The Palace to reopen under a new name, La Regadera. Activists held a weeklong hunger strike in July in front of the DF government offices to protest the lack of action by prosecutors.

Metelus and other activists say the Shabazz case is reminiscent of the killing of Isaac Echinedu (or Chinedu), a refugee from Nigeria, who died almost exactly two years earlier, the night of May 11, 2011. At least two auxiliary police agents beat Echinedu unconscious at the Calzada de Tlalpan avenue in Mexico City. Local residents rescued him and sent for emergency medical services, but the immigrant was struck by a car when he regained consciousness and suddenly ran into traffic. Echinedu was a legal resident with a Mexican wife, Liduvina Castillo; the couple had two children. “This was an act of discrimination,” Castillo told a news program. “[T]hey detained him simply because he was black. He wasn't doing anything. Isaac was waiting for a taxi to return to his home in peace.” Four police agents were arrested after Castillo and Metelus held a hunger strike, but the agents were released later. Metelus says that in June 2012 he received an implicitly threatening phone call from one of the released agents, who said: “I’m Juan Carlos Rosales, and I’m free.”

The CCDNAM was formed in 2005, after then-president Vicente Fox Quesada (2000-2006) told a group of US business executives that Mexican immigrants “are doing jobs that not even Blacks want to do there in the US.” (Los Angeles Times blog La Plaza 6/1/11; La Jornada (Mexico) 7/25/13; Proyecto Ambulante (Mexico) 7/27/13; Los Angeles Sentinel 8/22/13 from New York Amsterdam News)

*4. Haiti: Will Case Against Rights Lawyer Be Dropped?
Reynold Georges, a lawyer for former Haitian “president for life” Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier (1971-1986), is planning to drop a complaint he filed in August against human rights attorney Patrice Florvilus, according to Florvilus’ lawyers [see Update #1188]. Flovilus, who represents homeless people living in the Acra displaced persons camp in the Delmas section of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, has been working to get prosecutors to investigate fires set at the camp in April and the death of a camp resident while in police custody at the same time; the incidents occurred shortly after Georges and Duvalier claimed that the land belonged to the former dictator.

Georges retaliated by charging Florvilus with arson and “association with wrongdoers,” apparently an effort to blame camp residents and their attorney for the fires. Florvilus’ lawyers countered by filing a complaint  with the Port-au-Prince bar association over Georges’ unprofessional conduct. Georges indicated at an Aug. 22 meeting in the Port-au-Prince prosecutor’s office that he was now backing off from his complaint.

Florvilus and his organization, the Defenders of the Oppressed (DOP), received strong support from Haitian rights organizations and from people still living in camps three and a half years after they were made homeless by a January 2010 earthquake. Hundreds of camp residents and others marched to the prosecutor’s office on Aug. 19 in solidarity with Florvilus, and on Aug. 21 eight organizations--including the Reflection and Action on Housing (FRAKKA) coalition, the Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR) and the labor rights organization Batay Ouvriye (“Workers’ Struggle”)--issued a statement backing Florvilus and denouncing “the repeated maneuvers of manipulation of the legal system to carry out repression against human rights defenders.”

Despite the apparent legal victory, Florvilus and the DOP have received several death threats, and the lawyer and the group’s staff have had to take various security measures. The London-based rights organization Amnesty International (AI) issued an urgent action in May on behalf of Florvilus and one of his clients, Darlin Lexima. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 5/23/13, 8/21/13, 8/23/13; Collective of Organizations for the Defense of the Right to Housing statement (Haiti) 8/21/13; Truth-Out 8/22/13)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, St. Lucia, US/immigration

Bolivia: Criminal Charges Against Indigenous Leaders, Revelations of Police Infiltration Reignite TIPNIS Conflict

Bolivia: wanted rainforest defenders hold out

Ecuador: clashes at Quito protest over Yasuni

With a “Mea Culpa," the Arrogant Santos Government Relents (Colombia)

Colombia: ex-senator wanted for para links

Venezuela: Desiring the Commune

Workers in Venezuelan State Run Companies Protest “Bureaucratic” Management

Central America: Misunderstanding, Militarized

Three Indigenous Murdered for Defending their Territory in Honduras

Honduras: The Struggle for Land in Agua Blanca Sur

“They Fear Us Because We’re Fearless”: Reclaiming Indigenous Lands And Strength In Honduras

A New Era for Guatemala's Indigenous Peoples?

Autonomous Zapatista Education: The Little Schools of Below (Mexico)

Freedom According to the Zapatistas: The Launch of the Escuelita (Mexico)

Students leave the Zapatistas’ first school with homework (Mexico)

Mexico: army clashes with 'community police'

Mexico: Communiqué From the People of San Sebastián Bachajón, Read to the Indigenous National Congress

Transnational Mercenaries behind Energy Reforms in Mexico

U.S. Aid to St. Lucian Police Suspended over Human Rights Violations

Choosing ‘Exile’ Over Break-up, US Citizens Follow ‘Banned’ Spouses Abroad (US/immigration)

Immigration activists arrested at detention center protests as movement grows nationally (US/immigration)

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

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