Tuesday, March 18, 2014

WNU #1213: Brazilian Street Sweepers Win With Wildcat

Issue #1213, March 16, 2014

1. Brazil: Rio Street Sweepers Win With Wildcat
2. Mexico: Community Radio Announcers Imprisoned
3. Dominican Republic: Haitian Descendants Continue Protests
4. Links to alternative sources on: Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, 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: Rio Street Sweepers Win With Wildcat
Opposed by the media, the city government and their own union, street sweepers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second largest city, won a 37% raise and an increase in benefits on Mar. 8 after an eight-day wildcat strike that left streets littered during Rio’s famous Carnaval celebrations. The settlement reached by the municipal government and the strikers’ committee increased the sweepers’ base monthly pay from 802 to 1,100 reais (US$338.61 to US$466.64). The sweepers also gained an increase in their daily meal tickets from 12 to 20 reais (US$5.09 to US$8.49), payment for extra hours, and increases for medical and dental care. The settlement included a guarantee that no workers would be fired for taking part in the strike.

The Union of Employees of Cleaning and Conservation Companies of Rio de Janeiro Municipality (SEEACRMJ) had previously made a settlement with the city for a 9% pay raise, but a group of workers walked out on Mar. 1 to demand an increase of 50%. According to the strike committee, 6,000 of the city’s 15,000 sweepers participated in the wildcat, but Rio mayor Eduardo Paes, from the centrist Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) dismissed the strike and its supporters, calling them “marginal and criminal.” The city's Municipal Company of Urban Cleaning (Comlurb) at first tried to squelch the walkout by firing 300 strikers; later Paes threatened to lay off 1,100-1,200 strikers, in effect admitting that participation was more than marginal. The government also claimed that the strikers were using the threat of violence to get other sweepers to join them. Under this pretext, police “escorts” accompanied the sweepers who continued to work; strike supporters said these agents were in fact sent to keep the sweepers from participating in the walkout.

The strikers claimed they had broad support from the public, despite constant hostility in the media and the problems the strike caused for Carnaval, which ran from Feb. 28 to Mar. 4 this year. There was similar support for a lengthy strike by Rio teachers last summer and fall, reflecting the public’s anger over police brutality and inadequate health and education services, which led to massive protests throughout the country in June 2013 [see Update #1195]. After the settlement was announced, strike committee member Bruno Lima said the movement had motivated the sweepers to follow up with more grassroots organizing. “We’re very happy,” he said, “but we’re aware that this is a process that isn’t ending here.” (Agencia Púlsar 3/10/14; Adital (Brazil) 3/10/14, 3/13/14; Global Voices 3/11/14)

The national government has been trying to contain the recent upsurge in protests, with the Senate considering a bill that would designate some types of violence at demonstrations as terrorism [see Update #1210]. The São Paulo State Department of Criminal Investigations (Deic) has been carrying out an inquiry since Oct. 9 that supposedly targets the anarchist Black Bloc tendency, which the police consider responsible for acts of vandalism by masked youths at demonstrations. The investigation has been very broad. For example, 40 youths were given summonses to testify on Feb. 22; they were asked questions about their political beliefs and even how they voted in the previous election. Summonses were also given to 10 members of the Free Pass Movement (MPL), a group whose protests against high transit costs helped spark last year’s demonstrations. The Deic decree authorizing the investigation indicates that the department plans to charge protesters with “criminal association” under Article 288 of the Criminal Code; the crime carries a prison sentence of one to three years. (Adital 3/10/14)

*2. Mexico: Community Radio Announcers Imprisoned
Alma Delia Olivares Castro, an announcer on the La Cabina community radio station in Omealca municipality in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz, was arrested on Feb. 28 and was held in a federal prison in Nayarit state for five days on charges of “auditory contamination.” The authorities released Olivares Castro on Mar. 4 after her family put up 25,000 pesos (about US$1,893) in bail, but she still faces criminal charges. After realizing that “auditory contamination” is not an offense under Mexican law, the authorities changed the charge to “undue use of a national good” (the airwaves). The station has already been closed and fined 29,000 pesos (about US$2,199) under the Federal Radio and Television Law, which regulates the licensing of radio and television stations.

Olivares Castro and some friends started La Cabina to meet the lack of local news in the area. According to supporters, the station quickly became a forum for the community where people could debate political issues and even question the mayor’s decisions. Mexican activists say the government is slow to grant licenses to community radio stations, so many operate without authorization. The Mexican section of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) denounced the government’s penalization of La Cabina and Olivares Castro as an attack on freedom of speech.

In a similar case, Paola Ochoa Tlapanco, an announcer on Radio Identidad in Paso del Macho, Veracruz, was arrested in 2009 along with two other employees, José Maza and Juan José Hernández. According to one report, this year she was sentenced to two years in prison, the payment of a fine and the loss of civil and political rights for the unauthorized use of the airwaves. (elgolfo.info (Veracruz) 2/25/14; Ifex 3/13/14; Adital (Brazil) 3/13/14)

*3. Dominican Republic: Haitian Descendants Continue Protests
Chanting “We’re Dominicans and we’re staying here,” hundreds of people of Haitian descent and their supporters gathered in front of the Congress building in Santo Domingo on Mar. 12 in the latest protest against Decision 168-13, a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) last September declaring that no one born to undocumented immigrants since 1929 was a citizen [see Update #1208]. Among the groups participating in the “Day of Fasting and Prayer” were the Bonó Center, a Catholic human rights organization, and Reconoci.do, a youth movement that has been organizing demonstrations for two years on the 12th day of the month to demand papers for the Dominican-born children of immigrants [see Update #1184]. Manuel María Mercedes and other members of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) joined the protest, as did legislative deputies Hugo Tolentino Dipp and Guadalupe Valdez and former labor minister Max Puig.

The protesters focused on a legislative proposal that President Danilo Medina had said he would introduce to Congress on Feb. 27 to regularize the status of the tens of thousands of Dominicans who had been deprived of their citizenship by Decision 168-13. “We’re still consulting the sectors” involved, Medina said on Mar. 12 to explain why he hadn’t presented the legislation. “We’re going to look for the most suitable form.” (7días.com.do (Santo Domingo) 3/12/14; Associated Press 3/12/14 via Terra Argentina)

Groups in Haiti joined in the criticism of Medina, whose government has been holding talks with the Haitian government on the treatment of Haitian descendants. Dominican representatives had indicated during the bi-national dialogue’s February meeting that the regularization bill would be introduced that month. On Mar. 12 the Haitian section of the Jesuit Service for Refugees and Migrants (SJRM) and the Haitian nonprofit Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR) said Medina’s failure to act had jeopardized the talks, which are scheduled to continue on Mar. 20. “Dialogue is bringing nothing for Haiti,” GARR’s Jean Baptiste Azolin said. “Nothing for migration. Nothing has been done yet, and nothing has changed.” (AlterPresse (Haiti) 3/12/14)

In other news, GARR reported that a Haitian worker was killed and at least 27 were wounded by bullets and knives during a demonstration they were holding on Mar. 1 in the Boca de Cachon neighborhood of Jimaní, a city in the southwestern province of Independencia at the border with Haiti. The workers organized the protest to demand more than three months of wages they said Dominican authorities owed them for work on the construction of a village for the relocation of 560 families who are threatened by flooding from Lake Enriquillo. (GARR 3/4/14)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Chile, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, US/immigration

Resurgent Chilean Social Movements Advance Cross-Border Solidarity

Chile’s Student Movement Leads the Way: Progressive Prospects for Michelle Bachelet’s Second Term

Repsol Sells Oil Stake in ‘Isolated’ Indigenous Peoples’ Territory in Peruvian Amazon

US Oil and Gas Firm Hunt Urged to Suspend Amazon Exploration (Peru)

The Quimbo Hydroelectric Project Moves Ahead without Complying with its Environmental License (Colombia)

Understanding the Facts on Violence and Human Rights in Venezuela's Unrest

Venezuela: Who You Gonna Believe, the New York Times or Your Lying Eyes?

Lula Sends Letter of Support to Maduro (Venezuela)

Venezuelan Attorney General Meets with Human Rights Group and Holds Members of the Security Forces Responsible for Their Actions

Venezuela's Polarizations and Maduro’s Next Steps

Venezuelan Community Pie Del Tiro Explains Opposition Violence (Video)

Fair FMLN Presidential Victory in El Salvador (Interview with Election Observer Richard Hobbs)

In the Face of an Expected Election Defeat, El Salvador’s Right-wing ARENA Party ‘Prepared for War’

Honduras: Indigenous Tolupanes Return to Their Territory with IACHR Orders of Protection

Guatemala: The Peaceful Anti-Mining Resistance at "La Puya" Celebrates Two Years of Struggle

My Life in Juarez: Women Speak Out (Mexico)

Lime, Gangsters and the Yellow Dragon (Mexico)

Border Patrol Agents Train for War on the U.S.-Mexico Border (US/immigration)

Immigration crisis disrupts Boehner’s breakfast, again (US/immigration)

Hunger strike in Tacoma detention center enters second week (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:

No comments: