Tuesday, June 25, 2013

WNU #1181: Brazil’s Giant Protests Continue

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1181, June 23, 2013

1. Brazil: Giant Protests Continue Despite Government Concessions
2. Brazil: Tensions Had Been Growing Before the Protests
3. Brazil: Where Is the Protest Movement Heading?
4. Honduras: Judge Suspends Case Against Indigenous Leader
5. Puerto Rico: Monsanto Blows Off Legislative Hearing
6. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, 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 http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WeeklyNewsUpdat.

*1. Brazil: Giant Protests Continue Despite Government Concessions
The massive protests that have shaken Brazil for more than a week continued on June 22, although on a smaller scale than during the previous two days. The largest actions of the day focused on the protesters’ objection to the allocation of money to preparations for the 2014 World Cup soccer championship and the 2016 Olympic Games while health, education, transportation and infrastructure remain underfunded. Some 70,000 people marched on the soccer stadium in the country’s third largest city, Belo Horizonte in the eastern state of Minas Gerais, where the Mexican and Japanese teams were playing. “World Cup for whom?” and “FIFA out!” the marchers chanted, referring to the International Federation of Association Football, which sponsors the championship. Police agents used tear gas to keep the protesters from approaching the stadium. In Salvador de Bahia, in the impoverished northeastern state of Bahia, about 12,000 protesters marched on the Fonte Nova stadium, site of a soccer match between Brazil and Italy. Some protesters carried signs with cartoons of business owners and sports association directors sitting on big bags of money.

The protests come after two years of slow economic growth under President Dilma Rousseff, who took office in January 2010. She is a member of the center-left Workers Party (PT), which has governed Brazil since 2003. An opinion poll published on June 22 by the magazine Epoca showed 75% of respondents supporting the demonstrations. Some 6% said they had taken part in the marches, and 35% said they were willing to demonstrate publicly. Brazil’s population is about 197 million. (La Jornada (Mexico) 6/23/13 from AFP, Reuters, DPA)

The wave of marches started earlier in June with protests in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, over an increase of 20 centavos (a little less than nine US cents) in bus, subway and train fares, raising the cost of a ticket to about $1.70. Some 2,000 people marched down Paulista Avenue on June 6 to protest the increase; 50 people were injured and 15 were detained in clashes with the police. There were also small demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city; in Salvador de Bahia; in Natal in the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte; and in Goiania, capital of the central state of Goiás.

One week later, on June 13, more than 50,000 people marched in São Paulo, and there were protests in many other state capitals. The militarized police in São Paulo responded to the march with rubber bullets, tear gas and violent beatings—with the result that photos and videos of police brutality circulated through the internet and triggered still more demonstrations.

By June 17 a largely spontaneous nationwide protest movement had developed, expanding its focus from the fare increases to include poor services in general, the heavy investment in the World Cup and the Olympics, government corruption and police repression. At least 100,000 people marched that night; there were also demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro; São Paulo; Belo Horizonte; Salvador de Bahia; Brasilia, the national capital; Belém in the northern state of Pará; and many other cities.

On June 19 Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes, São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad and São Paulo state governor Geraldo Alckmin announced a rollback in the fare increase. Apparently this decision resulted largely from a meeting the night before that President Rousseff and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011) held with Mayor Haddad. Lula and Rousseff reportedly accused Haddad, a rising star in the PT, of incompetence and lack of vision in relying on police repression rather than negotiations to deal with the demonstrators.

But the fare rollback wasn’t enough to slow the protests’ momentum. The night of June 20 brought 1.25 million people to the streets in 460 cities and towns. With 100,000 protesters marching in Recife in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, more than 100,000 in São Paulo and 300,000 in Rio, Brazil was said to have experienced its largest day of demonstrations at least since the marches 29 years earlier that helped end the 1964-1985 military dictatorship. Acts of vandalism were reported in Rio and in Brasilia. Two deaths were also reported: an 18-year-old was killed by a car in the city of Ribeirão Preto, in São Paulo state, and a street sweeper died in Pará, possibly of a heart attack.

More huge demonstrations followed on June 21, despite a call from Rousseff for dialogue. (AFP 6/7/13 via Global Post; The Guardian (UK) 6/18/13 from correspondent; LJ 6/20/13, 6/21/13, 6/23/13 from correspondent; Adital (Brazil) 6/21/13, some from unidentified wire services)

*2. Brazil: Tensions Had Been Growing Before the Protests
Although commentators expressed surprise at the size and spontaneity of the protests that swept Brazil in the third week of June, leftist and grassroots organizations had been focusing on some of the issues for some time. In May groups in Rio de Janeiro issued a report highlighting the displacement of thousands of families to make way for facilities to be used in the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics [see Update #1177]. Impacted communities in Rio were planning to hold a “People’s Cup Against the Removals” on June 15, the day that the Confederations Cup soccer matches were to start in Brazil in the lead-up to the World Cup next year. The grassroots event, which included amateur soccer matches, an exhibit of photos and videos, political discussions and cultural events, was intended to build ties among the affected communities. (Adital (Brazil) 6/13/13)

Another issue has been the influence of social conservatives in the National Congress. In March the Chamber of Deputies appointed Marcos Feliciano, a Social Christian Party (PSC) deputy from São Paulo who is also an evangelical minister, to head the body’s Commission for Human Rights and Minorities. Feminists, LGBT rights activists and human rights activists fought against his appointment. Feliciano opposes abortion even when the mother’s health is in danger, and he has made homophobic slurs—for example, a reference in a tweet to AIDS as “gay cancer.”

On June 18, when the protests were near their height, Feliciano’s commission approved a bill that would allow psychologists to treat homosexuality as a disorder or pathology, despite a 1999 decision by the Federal Psychology Council banning such treatments. Feliciano’s “gay cure” law isn’t expected to win approval from the full Congress, but it quickly became an issue in the protests. During the June 20 march in Brasilia, demonstrators chanted “I’m a Brazilian with much pride” at the Congress building and “Even the Pope resigned; Feliciano, your time has come,” a reference to Pope Benedict XVI, who left the papacy in February. (Miami Herald 6/18/13 from AP; Clarín (Argentina) 6/20/13 from correspondent; La Jornada (Mexico) 6/23/13 from correspondent)

Tensions had also been increasing among indigenous groups over what they consider threats to their way of life. On June 6 indigenous Terena seeking to regain ancestral territory in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul held a joint demonstration in Brasilia with indigenous Munduruku who were protesting the construction of the giant Belo Monte dam in the northern state of Pará [see Update #1180]. Violence against indigenous people may be on the rise in Mato Grosso, where cattle ranches and sugarcane and soy plantations have been spreading, generating land disputes with local communities. An indigenous Guaraní, Celso Rodrigues, was shot dead on June 12 while walking with his father near the city of Sete Quedas; a masked man shot Rodrigues with a handgun and then again with a rifle, according to Rodrigues’ father, who wasn’t harmed. However, a police investigator, Rinaldo Moreira, told Agência Brasil that the murder might not be connected to a land conflict. (BBC News 6/13/13)

*3. Brazil: Where Is the Protest Movement Heading?
Soon after massive protests started spreading in Brazil in mid-June, Spanish-language media began calling the protesters los indignados—“the angry ones,” or “the indignant ones,” a reference to May 2011 anti-austerity protests in Spain [see Update #1101]. It was obvious to most commentators that the Brazilian uprising fit into a pattern of spontaneous mass protests in response to the ongoing world economic crisis: the “Arab Spring” of early 2011, the Spanish protests, Occupy Wall Street in the US, demonstrations for free education in Chile and in Canada’s Quebec province, and the more recent protests in Greece and Turkey.

The demonstrations in Brazil “raise awareness among people, they allow the whole of society to speak and serve as a strong point of pressure on governments,” Emir Sader, a leftist professor emeritus of political science at the University of São Paulo, wrote on June 20. “Moreover, the movement opened up a discussion on an essential question in the fight against neoliberalism: the polarization between public and private interests, and the issue of who should finance the costs of essential public services.” But a movement that is amorphous and politically inexperienced is also vulnerable to “external manipulation,” according to Sader.

This is especially true in Brazil, after 10 years of government by the center-left Workers Party (PT). Some elements of the PT at first seemed to attribute the protests to rightwing anti-government sentiment. Other PT elements were more supportive, but their association with the government undercut their credibility, and the hostility carried over to parts of the left with no connection to the PT. On June 20 some unions, social organizations and political parties, including the PT and the National Student Union (UNE), tried to join the marches carrying their banners. But in São Paulo other protesters jeered them, calling them “opportunists” and telling them: “Go to Cuba!” and “Go to Venezuela!” The mainstream media have worked to use these sentiments to push the protests to the right. But in other cases leftists seemed to have a presence. A São Paulo newspaper ran a photo of a young woman carrying a sign with a picture of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff in her youth, when she belonged to a guerrilla organization fighting the 1964-1985 military dictatorship. Under the picture the sign read: “We want this Dilma back.”

“The correct attitude [for the left] is to learn from the movement and act together with it,” Sader advised, “in order to help it achieve a clear consciousness of its objectives, of its limitations, of the [right’s] attempts [to use it], of the problems that have emerged and how to carry out a discussion regarding its significance and the best way to confront challenges.” (Carta Maior (Brazil) 6/20/13, translated in Links (Australia) 6/22/13; Clarín (Argentina) 6/20/13 from correspondent; Estado de São Paulo (Brazil) 6/22/13)

Some of the movement’s ambiguities were present in a support demonstration that several hundred Brazilians and others attended in New York’s Lower Manhattan on June 22. The organizers stressed the similarities with other movements by holding the protest in Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street’s headquarters in the fall of 2011, and by inviting participation by New York-based Turkish and Greek activists. Despite the clearly internationalist and leftist orientation, rightwing elements were on hand. One man held a poster denouncing President Rousseff as a “terrorist” and a “communist.” But the participants also cheered a speech by a Brazilian socialist who criticized the rightwing and notoriously homophobic legislative deputy Marcos Feliciano. The crowd joined her in the chant: “Fora Feliciano” (“Feliciano out”). (World War 4 Report 6/22/13; report from Update editor)

*4. Honduras: Judge Suspends Case Against Indigenous Leader
After an eight-hour hearing on June 13, a court in Santa Bárbara, the capital of the western Honduran department of the same name, suspended a legal action against indigenous leader Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores for the alleged illegal possession of a weapon. According to Cáceres’ lawyer, Marcelino Martínez, the court found that there was not enough evidence to proceed with the case. Cáceres, who coordinates the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), is now free to travel out of the country, although the case could still be reopened. Representatives from some 40 organizations came to the city on June 13 in an expression of solidarity with the activist.

Cáceres was arrested along with COPINH radio communicator Tómas Gómez Membreño on May 24 when a group of about 20 soldiers stopped their vehicle and claimed to find a pistol under a car seat [see Update #1178, where we gave the date incorrectly as May 25]. Cáceres and Gómez Membreño had been visiting Lenca communities that were protesting the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project. The leader of the military patrol, First Battalion of Engineers commander Col. Milton Amaya, explicitly linked the arrests to the activists’ political work: the Honduran online publication Proceso Digital reported that Amaya “accused Cáceres of going around haranguing indigenous residents of a border region between Santa Bárbara and Intibucá known as Río Blanco so that they would oppose the building of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam.”

According to SOA Watch—a US-based group that monitors the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the US Army School of the Americas (SOA)—Amaya has studied at the school on two occasions. (Proceso Digital 5/26/13; Adital (Brazil) 6/14/13; Kaos en la Red 6/14/13 from COPINH, Radio Mundo Real, Honduras Libre, Derechos Humanos; SOA Watch 6/21/13)

In other news, on June 12 US State Department official William Brownfield denied accusations that he had “stymied” an investigation into the killing of four indigenous Honduran civilians in a bungled US-backed narcotics operation at the Caribbean village of Ahuas on May 11, 2012 [see World War 4 Report 5/28/13]. Agents from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) were part of the operation, which also employed a State Department helicopter. The accusation against Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law-enforcement affairs, came from Aurelia Fedensin, a former investigator for the State Department inspector general’s office who has been leaking internal department memos. One of the memos reported that Brownfield “was not forthcoming” when interviewed by an unnamed agent. He “gave the impression [that State] should not pursue the investigation,” the memo said. (Foreign Policy 6/12/13)

*5. Puerto Rico: Monsanto Blows Off Legislative Hearing
The Monsanto Company, the Missouri-based biotech giant, has been refusing to cooperate with efforts by Puerto Rico’s legislature to regulate the development and sale of seeds on the island. The company chose not to testify at a hearing the Senate Agriculture Committee held on June 17 for a bill, PS624, that would create a seed board and a certification and licensing system to regulate seed development and sale. Monsanto representative Eric Torres-Collazo wrote to the committee that the company’s activities are not subject to regulation by Puerto Rico’s legislature. “Monsanto does not produce, sell (or) offer... basic or certified seed with the purpose of planting in Puerto Rico,” Torres-Collazo explained. The company has used the same reasoning to claim that it is exempt from a constitutional ban on individual farms larger than 500 acres [see Update #1178].

In fact, Puerto Rico has been an important part of the development of genetically modified (GM) seeds by Monsanto and other companies since 1987, and while Monsanto doesn’t sell the seeds in Puerto Rico, it exports them to other markets, notably the US. The Agriculture Committee chair, Sen. Ramón Ruiz-Nieves of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), said Monsanto should be regulated because it receives local and US government subsidies for its activities in Puerto Rico and is registered as a farmer with the Puerto Rican Agriculture Department. According to local media, the department provided Monsanto with $4.9 million in subsidies to help cover payroll expenses from 2006 to 2013. Sen. Ruiz-Nieves told reporters that he would push Monsanto to testify before the committee at another hearing. (Corrpwatch 6/19/13)

*6. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Chile, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, US/immigration

Norway’s Foreign Policy in the Americas: A Better Way Forward? (Latin America)

"El Mauro" Tailings-Dam Pits Community Against the Oligarchy in Chile

Mass Protests Sweep Brazil in Uproar over Public Services Cuts & High Costs of World Cup, Olympics

Protests roil Brazil despite fare rollback

Brazil comes to Zuccotti Park

Resurgence of Indigenous Identity in the Crossfire in Brazil

Gas, Mother Earth, and the Plurinational State: Vice-President García Linera Embodies Bolivia’s Contradictions

NY Left Forum dissidents make Bolivian yellow press

Peru: new stand-off at Conga mine site

Colombian Peace Talks Move to FARC's Political Participation

Colombia: protest militarization of Peace Community

A Timeline of Venezuelan Opposition Reactions to the Recent Elections

Venezuela Promotes Breastfeeding over Baby Food, Corporate Media Spins Out of Control

Twenty-one U.S. Senators Ask Kerry to Conduct “Thorough Review” of Security Assistance to Honduras

Mexico: Israel training Chiapas police?

Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and Their Godfathers - Book Review

Migrant Deaths and the New Disappeared on the South Texas Border (US/immigration)

Arizona law denying bail for undocumented immigrants upheld (US/immigration)

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:

Monday, June 17, 2013

Links but No Update for June 16, 2013

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

João Pedro Stédile of Brazil's Landless Movement: The Integration of Capital vs. the Integration of Peoples in the Americas

Argentina: ex-president gets prison term —almost

First Prisoners’ Trade Union Defends Rights in Argentina

Argentine high court unfreezes Chevron assets

Bolivia: how many indigenous nationalities?

Peru: Setback in the implementation of the Prior Consultation law

Peru Backslides on Indigenous Rights

Peru: demands emerge for 'plurinational state'

Peru: is Conga project cancelled?

How the Correa Government is Neoliberalizing Ecuador’s Mining Legislation

After Chavez: Grassroots Fight on Despite Opposition’s War of Attrition

Nicaragua approves China-backed canal plan

Bad Cop, No Dollar (Honduras)

Leaked State Department Memo’s “DEA Shootings in Honduras” Portion, Dissected

Land Grabs, the Latest Form of Genocide in Guatemala

Guatemala militarized after armed attack

Guilty in Guatemala

Rule of U.S. Law in Mexico

Like During Spanish Colonialism, Looting Indian Gold (Mexico)

Photo Essay: Mexico Celebrates World Day Against Monsanto

Sonora Highway Blockades to Continue (Mexico)

Pivotal Border Elections (Mexico)

Belize’s Conservation Balancing Act

Slum will cost "hundreds of millions" (Haiti)

New Details Emerge on Elimination Plan as Cholera Continues to Spread (Haiti)

Delegation Finds Militarization Causes Suffering, Family Separation and Death at the Border (US/immigration)

Food Aid Reform Becomes More Urgent as Food Insecurity and Malnutrition Increase (Haiti)

Arizona Border Deaths Detailed (US/immigration)

Beyond Borders: Culture, Movement, and Bedlam on Both Sides of the Rio Grande

On the Migrant Trail: Beauty and War in the U.S. Borderlands (Photo Essay,US/immigration)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

WNU #1180: Mexican Army Rescues 165 Kidnapped Migrants

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1180, June 9, 2013

1. Mexico: Army Rescues 165 Kidnapped Migrants
2. Brazil: Top Indigenous Official Resigns as Conflicts Continue
3. Argentina: Eight Activists Arrested in Mining Protest
4. Panama: Campesinos Demonstrate Against Dams
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico

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.

Note: There will be links but no Update on June 16, 2013. Publication will resume the following week.

*1. Mexico: Army Rescues 165 Kidnapped Migrants
On June 4 Mexican army soldiers freed 165 people, mostly Central Americans, who the authorities said had been held for as much as three weeks by an unidentified criminal organization at a safe house in the Las Fuentes neighborhood in Gustavo Díaz Ordaz municipality, a few miles from the US border in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas. One person, apparently a lookout for the kidnappers, was arrested. The captives were reportedly migrants who were planning to cross illegally into the US; the smugglers (“polleros”) they had hired may have turned them over to a criminal group, possibly the Gulf drug cartel or the Los Zetas gang.

According to the government, the group kidnapped was composed of 77 Salvadorans, 50 Guatemalans, 23 Hondurans, 14 Mexicans and one Indian national. There were 20 minors, including seven under the age of 13; two of the women migrants were pregnant. The federal National Migration Institute (INM) removed the 151 foreign nationals to Mexico City and began deporting them on June 7.

The June 4 rescue was the second largest such operation reported by the government to date, but the kidnapping of migrants—either for ransom or to be used as drug couriers--has become increasingly common over the past few years. In January 2009 a total of 189 Central Americans were found hidden in Reynosa, Tamaulipas; the kidnappers were demanding a $5,000 ransom for each. A military operation rescued 88 migrants in Arriaga in the southeastern state of Chiapas in 2010; 54 kidnapped migrants were found in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state’s capital, in March of this year. Some 11,000 migrants were kidnapped in just six months in 2010, according to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). The most notorious case occurred in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, in August 2010, when a Los Zetas group massacred 72 Central and South American migrants who refused to turn over their cash or work for the gang [see World War 4 Report 8/24/10].

Alberto Xicoténcatl, director of the Migrant House shelter in Saltillo, Coahuila, warned that the kidnapping of migrants is on the rise, partly because of complicity by government employees. “We know that the army goes to the [criminal groups’] safe houses and gets paid to keep quiet,” he told the Mexican daily La Jornada. “What happened a few days ago in Tamaulipas was a matter of an accidental discovery and didn’t result from a real investigation.” The military found the 165 kidnap victims because of a tip from a civilian. (New York Daily News 6/6/13; La Jornada (Mexico) 6/7/13, 6/9/13, 6/9/13)

Foreign nationals aren’t the only victims; thousands of Mexicans are being murdered or kidnapped each year. The Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) reported on Feb. 26 that 26,121 people disappeared in the 2006-2012 period. The British-based human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) released a 16-page report in Mexico City on June 4 citing the “systematic failure” of the government in dealing with the phenomenon. The report, “Confronting a Nightmare: The Disappearance of People in Mexico,” noted the complicity or responsibility of government employees in many of the cases. AI reviewed 152 disappearances for the report; in 85 of them “there are sufficient signs of the implication of public officials… and of a lack of diligence on the part of the authorities to locate the victims.” (LJ 6/5/13; Los Angeles Times 2/16/13)

In other news, the bodies of three activists in the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) were found on June 3 beside a road in the southwestern state of Guerrero. One of the victims, Arturo Hernández Cardona, was the leader of the Popular Union (UP) in the city of Iguala; the other two, Félix Rafael Bandera Román and Ángel Román Ramírez, were members of the organization. The men were last seen on May 30 when they blocked a tollbooth on the Mexico City-Acapulco highway to demand that Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez, also a PRD member, provide fertilizers for campesinos. Media reports suggest that the killings might have been a common crime, since drug gangs are active in Guerrero. But Sofía Lorena Mendoza Martínez, Hernández Cardona’s widow, insisted the motivation was political. “[W]e are never going to accept that [the victims] could be linked to organized crime,” said Mendoza Martínez, who is a local rural development official. Some1,000 people attended the three activists’ funeral on June 4. (BBC News 6/3/13, LJ 6/5/13)

*2. Brazil: Top Indigenous Official Resigns as Conflicts Continue
Security guards shot and seriously injured an indigenous Terena, Josiel Gabriel Alves, on June 4 when a group of about 60 protesters tried to occupy the São Sebastião estate in Sidrolandia municipality in the southern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Doctors said Gabriel might lose the use of his arms and legs. This was the second shooting in less than a week in an ongoing dispute over lands claimed by the Terena: Osiel Gabriel, Josiel Gabriel’s cousin, was killed by federal police on May 30 at a nearby estate [see Update #1179]. The Terena have been occupying several large estates in Sidrolandia since May 15; they say the estates are on land the federal government designated as indigenous territory in 2010. The 28,000 Terena live on just 20,000 hectares in Mato Grosso. (Adital (Brazil) 6/5/13)

On June 6 Terena activists joined with representatives of the Munduruku indigenous group for protests at government offices in Brasilia. The Munduruku are among eight indigenous groups that have repeatedly occupied construction sites at the Belo Monte dam in the northern Brazilian state of Pará over the past year; the most recent occupation took place on May 28. The protests have held up work on the dam, which is projected to be the world’s third largest when completed. Some 140 Munduruku were in Brasilia for a meeting with Presidency Minister Gilberto Carvalho and other government officials on June 4. Valdenir Munduruku, a spokesperson for the group, told Brazilian media that the activists are demanding a complete halt of construction until indigenous people in the region have been consulted on the project, as required by International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169. Brazil has signed on to the convention, which guarantees a number of rights for indigenous people, including the right to prior consultation on projects that will affect their communities. The Munduruku are threatening to resume the occupation if they aren’t satisfied with the results of negotiations.

Brazil recognizes 305 different ethnic groups, representing some 896,900 indigenous people, less than 0.5% of Brazil’s 194 million citizens; officially designated indigenous lands take up about 12% of the national territory. The protests in Mato Grosso and Pará confront Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff with the most serious indigenous conflicts since she took office in January 2011. On June 7 the president of the government’s National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI), Marta Azevedo, announced her resignation. FUNAI is the agency responsible for Brazil’s indigenous policies. Azevedo cited health problems. (Agência Brasil 6/7/13 via Ultimo Segundo (Brazil); TeleSUR 6/7/13, some from AFP)

*3. Argentina: Eight Activists Arrested in Mining Protest
The Argentine branch of the international environmental organization Greenpeace marked World Environment Day--a United Nations-sponsored event held each year on June 5--with a protest highlighting damage that the pro-mining policies of José Luis Gioja [see Update #1162], governor of the northwestern province of San Juan, could have on Argentina’s San Guillermo Biosphere Reserve. Eight Greenpeace activists climbed the Civic Center building in the city of San Juan and unfurled a 20-meter banner with a photograph of a puma and a caption reading: “Gioja: no mining in San Guillermo.” The activists were arrested and taken to the central police station.

The Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation has two open-pit gold mines in San Juan province: the Veladero mine and the massive Pascua Lama mine, still under construction, which extends from San Juan province into Chile’s Huasco province. San Juan province also hosts part of the large San Guillermo reserve, which includes both swampy lowlands of the Chaco region and Andean highlands. Greenpeace says that Barrick’s mining projects endanger Andean glaciers, a major source of water for the region, and the animals and vegetation in the reserve; the group has launched a “Save the San Guillermo Campaign” and as of June 5 had gathered more than 320,000 signatures from Argentine citizens on an internet petition. Barrick insists that the mines won’t affect the reserve.

On May 24 rightwing Chilean president Sebastián Piñera’s government ordered construction work suspended on the Chilean section of the Pascua Lama mine; the project’s completion may be postponed for years [see Update #1179]. In Argentina the center-left government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner continues to back the massive open-pit mining projects that environmental activists refer to as “mega-mining.” Greenpeace’s June 5 demonstration fell on a day when Gov. Gioja, a Fernández ally, and national officials were scheduled to present a “Plan for Management of the San Guillermo Reserve.” Once the plan is approved, San Juan province will receive $7 million from Barrick designated for care of the reserve. (Perfil (Buenos Aires) 6/5/13; Adital (Brazil) 6/5/13)

*4. Panama: Campesinos Demonstrate Against Dams
Members of 27 campesino communities in the San Francisco district of Panama’s western Veraguas province held a protest on June 7 to demand the cancellation of permits given for the construction of the Lalin 1, Lalin 2 and Lalin 3 hydroelectric projects on the Gatú river. The protesters charged that there were irregularities in the environmental impact studies for the dams. They also said that they hadn’t been consulted on the projects and that the companies involved were ignoring an order from San Francisco’s mayor to suspend construction. The communities proposed the promotion of cooperatives, ecological tourism and farming based on ecological principles as alternatives to what they consider the government’s bad development policies. The demonstration ended without incident, although the protesters complained about the presence of investigative and anti-riot police. Veraguas’ governor agreed to start negotiations with the campesinos. (Radio Temblor (Panama) 6/7/13)

Meanwhile, the indigenous Ngöbe-Buglé are continuing to protest the Barro Blanco hydroelectric project in their territory in the western province of Chiriquí [see Update #1170]. According to Ricardo Miranda, a spokesperson for the Apr. 10 Movement, various communities in the area carried out actions on May 24 to demand the project’s cancellation. Miranda called on traditional Ngöbe-Buglé leader (cacica) Silvia Carrera to give up on the negotiations being held with the government at the United Nations (UN) office in Panama City. Even though an independent study mandated by a UN report last year still hasn’t been completed, Generadora del Istmo, S.A. (GENISA), the Honduran-owned company building the dam, says the project is now 40% complete. The company indicated that it was reforesting the area around the dam to compensate for clearing done in the construction. (Radio Nacional de Venezuela 5/27/13, some from Prensa Latina)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico

Latin America Just Says "No" to the War on Drugs

'Drug war' dissent at OAS summit

From Water Wars to Water Scarcity: Bolivia’s Cautionary Tale

Bolivia: break between Evo, labor federation?

Vigilante justice in Bolivia —or autonomy?

Peruvian left bids farewell to Javier Diez Canseco

Peru: life term for neo-senderista

Peru: protest vigil against Trans-Pacific trade pact

Peru: new confrontation at Conga mine site

The Peace Process in Colombia and U.S. Foreign Policy: Plan Colombia II

Venezuela-U.S. Relations May Improve, Following Meeting of Foreign Ministers

Gang truce extends to Honduras

Civilian Policing "Reform" Consolidates Power (Honduras)

In Guatemala, a long road to justice

Guatemala: criminalization of peasant protests

Report Dubs Mexico “A Graveyard for Migrants”

Mexico Celebrates “Carnival of Corn” and Rejects Monsanto

Feggo: Political Neighbors (Video, Mexico)

Maya pyramid bulldozed in Belize

New Report Shows that Migrant Deaths Remain High in Arizona (US/immigration)

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.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Panels on the Americas at Left Forum in New York City, June 8-9, 2013

If you are able to attend the Left Forum conference in New York City this weekend, you might be interested in these panels dealing with Latin America and the Caribbean or related subjects.

For more information on the Left Forum and for schedule updates:

There is also a panel on Honduras on Saturday morning at the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA) conference, a few blocks away at 25 Broadway:

Neoliberalism, Labor and Militarization in Central America: Honduras
Saturday, June 8, 8:30 - 10:15am, CWE Room 7-19

Judith Ancel -- University of Missouri, Kansas City
Annie Bird -- Rights Action, Washington D.C.
Alex Main -- Center for Economic and Policy Analysis
Lucy Pagoada -- Front for National Resistance of the People
Liana Foxvog -- International Labor Rights Forum

For more information on the LAWCHA conference:


10:00 p.m. – 11:50 p.m.

After Liberation: The Promise and Perils of Power
Session 1 E310 Sat 10:00am - 11:50am

Nancy Holmstrom -- Daniel Singer Millennium Prize Foundation
Mazibuko Jara -- Amandla! Magazine, South Africa
Samuel Farber -- Professor Emeritus, Brooklyn College
Maria (Josie) Saldana-Portillo -- Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University

Venezuela Beyond Chávez I: The Policy Perspective
Session 1 E307 Sat 10:00am - 11:50am

Alex Main -- Center for Economic and Policy Research
Mark Weisbrot -- Center for Economic and Policy Research
Gregory Wilpert -- Venezuelanalysis.com/NACLA
Julio Rodriguez -- Radio El Comunitario, Venezuela

Cuba's Changing Economic System Remains an Environmental Model
Session 1 E321 Sat 10:00am - 11:50am

Stan Smith -- Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5
Ovidio Roque -- Cuban Mission to the United Nations
Jairo Rodriguez Hernandez -- attache, Cuban Mission to the United Nations
Arnold August -- author "Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections" and "Cuba and its Neighbors: Democracy in Motion"

Rebel from Below: Global Capitalism and Local Resistance in Comparative Perspective
Session 1 W608 Sat 10:00am - 11:50am

Lu Zhang -- Temple University
Kimberly Lok -- Temple University, Food Chain Workers Alliance
Jennifer Candipan -- USC
Konrad Aderer -- Life or Liberty (lifeorliberty.org)
Esther Hio-Tong Castillo -- Temple University
René Ropac -- Temple University

12:00 p.m. – 1:40 p.m.

Human Paths of Development vs. Capitalist Development
Session 2 E327 Sat 12:00pm - 01:40pm

Michael Gilbert -- News and Letters Committees
Terry Moon -- National Organization of Women
Franklin Dmitryev -- Defense Depot Memphis Tennessee Concerned Citizens Committee
Gerry Emmett -- News and Letters Committees

Drug War and the Environment in Latin America
Session 2 E310 Sat 12:00pm - 01:40pm

Fred Rosen -- North American Congress on Latin America
Liliana Davalos -- SUNY Stony Brook
David Barkin -- Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco (Mexico)
Sanho Tree -- Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies
Nicole Fabricant -- Towson University

Venezuela Beyond Chávez II: The Grassroots Perspective
Session 2 E307 Sat 12:00pm - 01:40pm

Alejandro Velasco -- New York University
Dario Azzellini -- CUNY
Sujatha Fernandes -- Queens College
T.M. Scruggs -- The Real News
Julio Rodriguez -- Radio El Comunitario, Venezuela

Radical Alternatives to Immigration Reform
Session 2 W510 Sat 12:00pm - 01:40pm

Sarah Flores -- CUNY Hunter College student and activist
Immanuel Ness -- Author, Guest Workers and U.S. Corporate Despotism
Jane Guskin -- Author, The Politics of Immigration: Questions and Answers
Donald Anthonyson -- Families for Freedom
Sonia Guinansaca -- Education Not Deportation Campaign; Board Member of the New York State Youth Leadership Council
Shaun Harkin -- International Socialist Review editorial board

3:40 p.m. – 5:20 p.m.

A changing Cuba, a stagnant America strategy and the continuing plight of the Cuban Five
Session 3 E323 Sat 03:40pm - 05:20pm

Hobart Spalding -- City University of New York
Stephen Kimber -- University of King's College Shool of Journalism
Peter Roman -- Hostos Community College of the City University of New York
Keith Bolender -- University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies
Martin Garbus -- attorney, member of team appealing the convictions of the Cuban Five
Gloria La Riva -- National Committee to Free the Cuban FIve

A Conversation with Alvaro Garcia Linera: A Film and Discussion
Session 3 E306 Sat 03:40pm - 05:20pm

Josefa Salmon -- Loyola University
Bruno Bosteels -- Cornell University

The Drug War in Latin America: ¡Estamos Hasta la Madre! (We are fed up!)
Session 3 E310 Sat 03:40pm - 05:20pm

Nurit Mablu -- International Socialist Organization
Héctor Agredano -- International Socialist Organization
Helen Redmond -- Alternet.org, International Socialist Organization, SocialistWorker.org
Gabriel Chaves -- International Socialist Organization

Two, Three, Many Transitions to Socialism in Latin America
Session 3 E307 Sat 03:40pm - 05:20pm

Roger Burbach -- Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA)
Michael Fox -- United Workers
Eric Leenson -- Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA
Carol Delgado Arria -- Consul General in New York of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

5:30 p.m. – 7:10 p.m.

Occupying Language
Session 4 W612 Sat 05:30pm - 07:10pm

Manissa McCleave Maharawal -- Cuny graduate center
Marina Sitrin -- CUNY Graduate Center
Dario Azzellini -- Cuny graduate center / JKU Linz (Austria)

Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoner Oscar Lopez Rivera
Session 4 W610 Sat 05:30pm - 07:10pm

Professor Ana M Lopez -- Humanities Department, Hostos Community
Jan Susler, Esq. -- Peoples Law office
Graciano Matos -- National Boricua Human Rights Network
Clarissa Lopez -- Comite de Derechos Humanos

The Twenty-First Century Latin American Left
Session 4 E307 Sat 05:30pm - 07:10pm

Fred Rosen -- NACLA
Steve Ellner -- Universidad del Oriente
George Cicariello-Maher -- Drexel University
Arnold August -- author, Democracy in Cuba

SUNDAY, June 9

10:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

Ecological/Economic transformation for Jamaica and Haiti?
Session 5 E323 Sun 10:00am - 11:50am

Cecile Lawrence -- Green Party of NYS
Colia Clark -- Green Party of NYS
Pascal Robert -- Thought Merchant blog, Haitian Bloggers' Caucus
Kiki Makandal
Chris Silvera -- Teamsters Local 808 Secretary-Treasurer

Reinvisioning Global Energy Turmoil
Session 5 E329 Sun 10:00am - 11:50am

Mohammad Soleymani -- Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Matthew Ally -- Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Fabian Balardini -- Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Enrique Lanz Oca -- Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY
Kenneth Levin -- Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

Against Privatization & Towards the Commons: Experiences from Bolivia, Greece & Argentina
Session 5 E310 Sun 10:00am - 11:50am

Marina Sitrin -- author, Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina
Marcela Olivera - Latin American coordinator, Water for All campaign
Theodoros Karyotis -- sociologist, translator and activist

Primitive Accumulation: Then and Now
Session 5 E324 Sun 10:00am - 11:50am

Kanishka Chowdhury -- University of St. Thomas, St. Paul
Stephanie McMillan -- cartoonist ("Code Green" and "Minimum Security")
Ariane Fischer -- Temple University
Mario Kawonabo -- Batay Ouvriye (Workers Fight, Haiti) Solidarity Network

12:00 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.

In the Eye of the Storm: Haiti Battle for National Soveriegnty
Session 6 E323 Sun 12:00pm - 01:50pm

Tom Siracuse -- Chair Manhattan Green Party
Ray LaForest -- Union Activist and Organizer
Colia L. Clark -- Guadeloupe Haiti Tour USA, MNN Producer, NY Green Party
P.J. Fleury -- 4Haiti Magazine

Challenges for the Latin American Left in Power
Session 6 LHS Sun 12:00pm - 01:50pm

Gregory Wilpert -- Venezuelanalysis.com/NACLA
Alvaro Garcia Linera -- Vice-President of Bolivia
Calixto Ortega -- Charge D'Affaires of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the United States
Maria Perceval -- Ambassador of Argentina to the UN

Latin America Rises Up: Resistance to Mega Mining Across the Americas
Session 6 E310 Sun 12:00pm - 01:50pm

Dana Brown -- US Office on Colombia
Manuel Perez-Rocha -- Institute for Policy Studies
Paul Bocking -- York University

3:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

Imperialism and Ecology
Session 7 LHS Sun 03:00pm - 04:50pm

Geoff Bailey -- International Socialist Review
Chris Williams -- Pace University
Ashley Smith -- International Socialist Review
Marcela Olivera -- Red VIDA, Food & Water Watch
Patrick Bond -- Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Resist Empire, Build Justice through Solidarity, Close the SOA!
Session 7 E310 Sun 03:00pm - 04:50pm

Bernie McAleer -- NYC School of Americas Watch
Arturo Viscarra -- School of Americas Watch
Phil Josselyn -- Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

WNU #1179: Indigenous Brazilian Killed in Land Dispute

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1179, June 2, 2013

1. Brazil: Indigenous Protester Killed in Land Dispute
2. Chile: Barrick Gold Mine May Be Delayed for Years
3. Haiti: Activists Protest UN Troops, Demand “Decent Wage”
4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Central America, Honduras, 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. 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. Brazil: Indigenous Protester Killed in Land Dispute
Osiel Gabriel, an indigenous Terena, was killed on May 30 when Brazilian federal police violently removed a group of Terena protesters who had been occupying the Buriti estate in Sidrolandia, in the southern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, since May 15. At least three indigenous people and one police agent were treated at a local hospital with light injuries; eight protesters were arrested. The occupiers reportedly fought back with wooden clubs and bows and arrows and set some of the estate’s buildings on fire. The authorities claimed police agents only used rubber bullet and tear gas; according to state police superintendent Edgar Paulo Marcon, the protesters fired on the agents.

Hundreds of Terena have occupying four estates in what they say is their territory. The Buriti estate, the first to be taken over, is claimed by Ricardo Bacha, a former legislative deputy for the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) who says the property has been in his family since 1927. According to the Indigenist Missionary Council (CIMI), the estate is on land that the Justice Ministry designated as traditional indigenous territory in 2010; of the 17,000 hectares recognized as indigenous in the area, indigenous people currently occupy just 3,000 hectares. “We aren’t dogs, we aren’t savage animals,” Argeu Reginaldo, an indigenous leader injured in the confrontation, told reporters. “We have dignity…. We’re people, we’re a nation.”

The Terena protesters reoccupied the Buriti estate on May 31. As of June 1 negotiations between the Terena, landowners and the National Justice Council were under way but hadn’t resulted in an agreement. The government started an investigation into possible police abuse in the May 30 confrontation, and Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo said it would be pursued rigorously. (Servindi 5/31/13; Agência Brasil 6/1/13)

Meanwhile, on May 28 some 200 protesters from the Mundurukú, Xipaya, Kayapó, Arara and Tupinambá indigenous groups resumed their occupation of a construction site for the massive Belo Monte dam, which is being built in the northern Brazilian state of Pará [see Update #1176]. In an open letter they condemned the presence of the federal government’s National Public Security Force in their territory and repeated their demand for an independent environmental study on the dam’s impact. Indigenous groups have occupied the dam several times over the past year, most recently from May 2 to May 9. According to the letter, the protesters ended the previous protest because “[t]he government said that if we left the construction areas, we would be listened to. We left quietly, but they didn’t fulfill their promise; the government didn’t receive us; and we called [Presidency Minister] Gilberto Carvalho, and he didn’t come.” The protesters are now demanding direct talks with President Dilma Rousseff. (Prensa Latina 5/28/13)

“History is repeating itself,” Stephen Corry, the director of the British-based nonprofit Survival International, said on May 31, charging that the “attacks on the Indians are unleashed” at the same time that a report “chronicling the genocidal atrocities of a past generation has been unearthed.” He was referring to a 7,000-page report that public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia submitted in 1967 detailing abuses by the federal government’s Indian Protection Service (SPI). The report was supposedly destroyed in a fire at the Agricultural Ministry, but most of the document was rediscovered recently and is now being used by a National Truth Commission investigating human rights violations between 1947 and 1988.

Figueiredo wrote in the report that the SPI “degenerated to the point of chasing Indians to extinction,” with officials stealing indigenous land, property and funds and sometimes resorting to torture or even mass murder to achieve their ends. Among the atrocities are an attack on a community of 30 indigenous Cinta Larga in Mato Grosso with dynamite dropped from airplanes and incidents in which officials and landowners infected isolated villages with smallpox and donated sugar mixed with strychnine. None of the 134 people charged because of the Figueiredo report were ever imprisoned. (The Guardian (UK) 5/29/13; Survival International 5/31/13)

*2. Chile: Barrick Gold Mine May Be Delayed for Years
On May 24 Chile’s environmental regulator, Juan Carlos Monckeberg, ordered a suspension of construction at the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation’s giant Pascua Lama mine because of violations of environmental laws. He also fined the company $16 million, the largest penalty Chile has ever imposed for an environmental violation. Monckeberg told the Reuters wire service on May 30 that the company would probably require one to two years to make the repairs that would allow it to resume construction.

This is another of a series of setbacks for the $8 billion project, an open-pit gold, silver and copper mine high in the Andes on both sides of the border between Argentina and Chile; if completed, it is expected to be the third largest mine in the world. A Chilean appeals court had already ordered a temporary suspension on Apr. 10 [see Update #1172]. Indigenous people and other local residents in both Argentina and Chile have repeatedly protested the project, which is now about 40% complete. One concern has been the mine’s potential effect on glaciers, a major source of water in the region. Climate change has already shrunk Andean glaciers by 30-50% since the 1970s, according to a study published in January in the journal The Cryosphere. Indigenous Diaguita who live in the foothills near the mine blame cancerous growths and stomach problems they are experiencing on minerals such as arsenic, aluminum and sulfates used in the construction

Barrick officials deny that they might cancel the project. They expect to resume work on the Chilean side eventually, they say, and work on the Argentine side is not affected so far. The international environmental organization Greenpeace called the $16 million fine “laughable” given the seriousness of the violations. The group noted that Barrick posted a $847 million net profit in the first quarter of 2013. (Miami Herald 5/24/13 from AP; Reuters 5/31/13)

*3. Haiti: Activists Protest UN Troops, Demand “Decent Wage”
The Collective for the Compensation of Cholera Victims (Comodevic) and Moun Viktim Kolera (“People Who Are Cholera Victims,” Movik) sponsored a march in Port-au-Prince on May 31 to mark nine years since the arrival of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Marching from the Fort National neighborhood to the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Public Health and Population (MSPP), the protesters demanded that the international military and police force leave Haiti and called on the government to join legal actions seeking compensation from the United Nations (UN) for people affected by cholera. At least 8,096 people have died in a cholera epidemic that was set off in October 2010 by poor sanitation at a MINUSTAH base in the Central Plateau where Nepalese soldiers carrying the disease were stationed [see Update #1165].

“MINUSTAH should compensate me,” said a man from Carrefour, a town southwest of Port-au-Prince. “The government should join with me to get justice for my 17-year-old son killed last year by MINUSTAH’s cholera.” UN officials have refused to accept responsibility for the disease, and Haitian president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) has denied knowing about legal actions that have been started against the UN. The marchers were also protesting the sexual abuses and the killing of civilians attributed to the UN troops over the past nine years. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 5/31/13)

On June 1, the actual anniversary of the UN troops’ arrival, Haitian activists continued the protest by holding an outdoor exhibit in Port-au-Prince with photos showing crimes allegedly committed by MINUSTAH troops. There were also June 1 protests in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Santiago, Chile; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Most of MINUSTAH’s soldiers and police agents have been sent by Latin American countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay—many of them countries with left or center-left governments. “Haiti must cease to be the laboratory for neoliberal economic and ‘security’ policies,” a number of Latin American and Haiti organizations wrote in a statement calling for the demonstrations. “Haiti does not need military troops, or MINUSTAH, or any other country. Haiti needs recognition and its dignity, its potential and its right to self-determination.” (HispanTV 6/1/13; El Ciudadano (Chile) 6/2/13)

In other news, on May 27 spokespeople for four unions held a press conference in Port-au-Prince to protest a recent government statement on the minimum wage for assembly plant workers. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST) put out a press release on May 6 setting the minimum wage at 200 gourdes (about $4.80) a day for the sector. In their own press release, the unions quoted a 2009 law establishing that as of Oct. 1, 2012, “the price per unit of production (notably the piece, the dozen, the gross, the meter) should be set in such a way as to allow the worker to receive at least three hundred (300) gourdes [about $7.08] for his or her day’s work of (8) eight hours” [see Update #1145]. “Work yes, slavery no!” the union press release concluded. “We want a decent wage so that all workers can live like people.”

Former MAST head Josefa Gauthier had confirmed the 300 gourde figure in official statements on Aug. 28 and Sept. 13 in 2012, the unionists said. A report released this April by Better Work Haiti, a partnership of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), confirmed that the minimum for piece-rate workers was 300 gourdes; the group found that none of the 23 assembly plants surveyed were in compliance with the legal minimum wage. The press conference was sponsored by the Collective of Textile Union Organizations (KOSIT), which is made up of the National Confederation of Haitian Workers (CNOHA), the Confederation of Haitian Workers’ Forces (CFOH), the Autonomous Confederation of Haitian Workers (CATH) and the May 1 Union Group-Batay Ouvriye (ESPM-BO, “Workers’ Struggle”). (Haiti Press Network 5/27/13; KOSIT press release 5/27/13)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Central America, Honduras, Mexico, Haiti, Puerto Rico

Social Movements Map Solidarity with ALBA Alliance

Latin America’s Radical Left in Power: Complexities and Challenges in the Twenty-First Century

Chasing Islamic 'terrorists' in Paraguay

Amid Gas, Where Is the Revolution? (Bolivia)

Peru: protests over militarization of coca zone

'Narco-pardons' scandal shakes Peru elite

Peru: 'opium mafia' revealed in national police

Venezuelan Election Audit Nears its Finish with 99.98% Clean Results So Far

Opposition Governor Capriles Meets with Colombia’s Santos, Venezuelan Government Concerned

Grassroots Organizations Call For New Security Model, Human Rights (Central America, Mexico)

Obama Downplays Drug War, Recasts Mexico, Central America as Economic Allies (Central America, Mexico)

More Presidential Polling: Bad News for Main Parties (Honduras)

Honduran Gangs Claim Truce, but Police and Military Still Deadly

Mexico: Risking Everything to Migrate North

Mexico: Efforts to Provide HIV-AIDS and Other Health Services to Migrants Face Major Obstacles

Mexico’s Desaparecidos: Unspoken, Unseen, Unknown

Mexico protests Monsanto with a Carnival of Corn

Border Environmental Controversies Considered (Mexico)

Deportations and Economic Crisis (Mexico)

A Grandmother Stronger Than the U.S.-Mexico Border Wall

Burning Questions: The Life and Work of Michel-Rolph Trouillot, 1949–2012 (Haiti)

Book Review: Puerto Rican Independentista Oscar López Rivera’s 32 Years of Resistance to Torture

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: