Monday, October 6, 2014

WNU #1236: Mass Graves May Hold Missing Mexican Students

Issue #1236, October 5, 2014

1. Mexico: Mass Graves May Hold Missing Students
2. Argentina: UN Group Condemns Vulture Funds
3. Haiti: “Justice Denied” by Duvaliers Death?
4. Cuba: Kissinger Planned to “Clobber a Pipsqueak”
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, 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 For a subscription, write to Follow us on Twitter at

*1. Mexico: Mass Graves May Hold Missing Students
On Oct. 4 authorities in the southwestern state of Guerrero announced that they had found charred human remains in a group of mass graves in Iguala de La Independencia municipality, at Pueblo Viejo community in the countryside northwest of the city. Guerrero chief prosecutor Iñaky Blanco Cabrera would only say that there were human bones and that specialists would need to use DNA tests to identify the victims. State police agents at the site on Oct. 4 told reporters off the record that there could be anywhere from four to 19 bodies, but on Oct. 5 Blanco Cabrera said the total number was 28. It seemed likely that the remains were of teachers’ college students missing since the night of Sept. 26-27, when Iguala police opened fire on three buses carrying students from the militant Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College, located in the town of Ayotzinapa [see Update #1235]. Originally 25 students were reported missing after the incident, but parents and student leaders later raised the number to 43.

At least six people were killed in three different attacks during the violence on Sept. 26-27: three students from the Ayotzinapa college, including one whose body was mutilated and showed signs of torture; a soccer player and the driver of a bus carrying the player’s team; and a woman in a taxi. As of Oct. 4, 30 people had been arrested for the attacks on the students, including 22 Iguala police agents, and Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez had taken leave from office. Federal security officials suggested that two criminal gangs in the area, Los Rojos (“The Reds”) and Guerreros Unidos (“United Warriors”), were behind the attacks and may have been angry because the students, notorious in the state for their radical protests, had caused problems for businesses the gangs used for laundering drug money. State prosecutor Blanco said there is evidence that “various members of the Iguala municipal police are part of” Guerreros Unidos.

Thousands of students, teachers and parents demonstrated in the state capital, Chilpancingo, on Oct. 2 to demand the return of the missing students and to observe the 46th anniversary of a massacre of at least 44 students and their supporters by the military in the Tlatelolco housing development in Mexico City on Oct. 2, 1968 [see Update #1195]. The protest, whose organizers included the Federation of Socialist Campesino Students of Mexico (FECSM) and the State Organizing Committee of Education Workers in Guerrero (CETEG), opened with a four-hour march through the city starting at the Margarita Maza de Juárez park; FECSM activists then led a blockade of the nearby Mexico City-Acapulco highway that lasted six hours, until 9 pm. The protest finally ended when the Guerrero state governance secretary, Jesús Martínez Garnelo, agreed to hold a meeting the next day with the parents of the missing students. (The Guardian (UK) 9/30/14 from correspondent; La Jornada (Mexico) 10/3/14, 10/5/14, 10/5/14; Houston Chronicle 10/5/14 from AP)

Thousands of students and others also marched in Mexico City on Oct. 2 to commemorate the Tlatelolco massacre and to demand the return of the missing Ayotzinapa students. Organizers said 30,000 people participated; the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) police estimated the crowd at 9,000. The marchers included students from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), a huge and prestigious public technical university where protests began in late September against plans to change curriculum and fees. At the closing rally in Mexico City’s massive Zócalo, the protesters heard a recorded message from imprisoned Guerrero community activist Nestora Salgado [see Update #1231] and a speech by a representative of the Yaqui indigenous group in his native language calling for the release of Mario Luna Romero and Fernando Jiménez Gutiérrez, two Yaqui environmental and indigenous rights activists arrested in September by the government of the northern state of Sonora. (LJ 10/3/14)

Activists held Oct. 2 protests in 10 other states, including Baja California Norte, Chihuahua, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Morelos, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas. In the southeastern state of Chiapas organizers said 12,000 students, teachers and social activists marched in the capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, while a total of 900 people marched in two separate demonstrations in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Teachers unions sponsored demonstrations in Oaxaca City, the capital of the southern state of Oaxaca, and in five other Oaxaca municipalities. (LJ 10/3/14)

On Oct. 3 federal governance secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong announced after a meeting with IPN student leaders that the planned changes at the university were being dropped and that IPN general director Yoloxóchitl Bustamante Díez had resigned. Osorio Chang made the announcement at a demonstration attended by an estimated 18,000 youths, according to estimates by the DF police. (CNN México 10/3/14)

*2. Argentina: UN Group Condemns Vulture Funds
The Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Sept. 26 condemning “the activities of vulture funds” and regretting the effect payments to the funds could have “on the capacity of governments to fulfill their human rights obligations.” The resolution was presented by Argentina, which was forced into technical default on July 30 after US district judge Thomas Griesa in New York blocked the country from paying interest to its bondholders unless it settled with US two hedge funds, NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management [see Update #1230]; the two companies are known as “vulture funds,” investment groups that try to profit by buying weak debt the debtors are likely to default on. Argentina’s effort in Geneva was backed by Algeria, Brazil, Russia and Venezuela. The Human Rights Council approved the resolution in a 33-5 vote, with nine countries abstaining; the opposing votes came from Britain, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan and the US. “Vulture funds aren’t just an economic problem,” said Argentine foreign relations minister Héctor Timerman, who was in Geneva for the vote. “They represent a political, social problem that affects the lives of all the citizens” in many countries since they deprive governments of resources they could use for social services.

The vote in Geneva was Argentina’s second success in international diplomacy during the month. At a plenary meeting in New York on Sept. 9 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution promoted by Argentina entitled “Towards the establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes.” Currently countries have to negotiate debt restructuring deals with their creditors when they are unable to meet their debt obligations; the resolution seeks to set up an international system for countries similar to bankruptcy proceedings for companies and individuals. Argentina’s present default resulted from NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management’s refusal to join with the other creditors in a settlement Argentina had worked out for its massive 2002 default. The General Assembly resolution was sponsored by the Group of 77 (G77), joined by China; 124 countries voted for the measure, while 11 voted against it and 41 abstained. (United Nations 9/10/14; BBC 9/26/14; Adital (Brazil) 9/30/14)

Meanwhile, Argentina is trying to circumvent Judge Griesa’s decision blocking interest payments to the bondholders that have settled with the country. In September Argentina’s Congress passed legislation allowing the bondholders to be paid in Argentina rather than New York, taking the issue out of the judge’s jurisdiction. An obviously irritated Griesa declared Argentina in contempt of court during a hearing on Sept. 29. It is not clear what effect the judge’s contempt declaration will have. “We are in uncharted waters,” Arturo Porzecanski, an economist at American University’s School of International Service, told the New York Times. (NYT 9/29/14)

*3. Haiti: “Justice Denied” by Duvaliers Death?
Former Haitian “president for life” Jean-Claude (“Baby Doc”) Duvalier (1971-1986) died suddenly of a heart attack the night of Oct. 3 at a friend’s home in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Pétionville, according to his lawyer, Reynold Georges. He was 63. Duvalier succeeded his father, François (“Papa Doc”) Duvalier, at the age of 19. The older Duvalier had built and maintained a brutal dictatorship from 1957 until his death in 1971. The brutality continued under his son; an estimated 30,000 people were killed during the family’s 29 years in power. Massive demonstrations and the withdrawal of US support forced Duvalier to flee to France on Feb. 7, 1986, reportedly carrying off millions of dollars looted from the national treasury. He returned to Haiti on Jan. 16, 2011. Despite facing corruption charges, Duvalier never came to trial; he also never came to trial for human rights abuses committed by his regime, although a court finally ruled on Feb. 20, 2014 that the human rights cases against him could proceed [see Update #1210].

“I direct my sincere sympathies to the family and to the entire nation on this sad occasion,” current Haitian president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) wrote in his Twitter account, @MichelJMartelly, on Oct. 4. In contrast, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization said the ex-dictator’s passing resulted in “justice denied.” According to HRW special counsel Reed Brody, it was “a shame that the Haitian justice system could not bring ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier to trial before he died. Duvalier’s death robs Haiti of what could have been the most important human rights trial in its history.” But Haitian activist Danièle Magloire, of the Collective Against Impunity, told the online Haitian news service AlterPresse that “[t]he struggle for justice continues.” She called for judicial action against Duvalier’s collaborators and followers and warned against plans to organize a state funeral for the ex-dictator. “This would be one more effort to rehabilitate Duvalier,” she charged, calling the Martelly government “Duvalierist.” (AlterPresse 10/4/14, 10/4/14; HRW 10/4/14)

*4. Cuba: Kissinger Planned to “Clobber a Pipsqueak”
On Oct. 1 the National Security Archive, a Washington, DC-based research organization, published declassified US government documents about secret contingency plans that the administration of former US president Gerald Ford (1974-1977) made in 1976 for a possible military attack on Cuba. Then-secretary of state Henry Kissinger called for the plans in response to Cuba’s decision in late 1975 to send troops to support the left-leaning government of Angola against rebels funded by South Africa and the US; he was furious that Cuba had defied the US after a round of secret negotiations he had sponsored in 1975 aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries.

In meetings at the White House in February and March 1976, Kissinger talked about “clobbering the Cubans” and the need to “smash” Cuba’s leader at the time, Fidel Castro Ruz--a “pipsqueak,” according to Kissinger. “I think sooner or later we have to crack the Cubans.… I think we have to humiliate them,” the secretary of state said. “If there is a perception overseas that we are so weakened by our internal debate [over Vietnam] so that it looks like we can't do anything about a country of eight million people, then in three or four years we are going to have a real crisis,” Kissinger told Ford at another meeting. Donald Rumsfeld, who was secretary of defense under Ford as well as under former president George W. Bush (2001-2009), was involved in the planning for actions which ranged from economic sanctions to a naval blockade or even air strikes.

Security advisers warned Kissinger that “a Cuban/Soviet response [to the attacks] could escalate in areas that would maximize US casualties and thus provoke stronger response.” A situation that could lead to a military strike on Cuba “should be serious enough to warrant further action in preparation for general war,” they said. Kissinger and Ford were apparently willing to risk this, although they agreed that the attacks shouldn’t be carried out until after the 1976 elections. The plans were shelved when Ford lost to Jimmy Carter.

Documents on Kissinger’s plans to attack Cuba are available on the National Security Archive’s website and are also described in a new book, Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana, by Peter Kornbluh, the director of the group’s Chile Documentation Project, and American University professor William M. LeoGrande. (National Security Archive 10/1/14; New York Times 10/1/14; La Jornada (Mexico) 10/2/14 from correspondent) The new information was made public just as Kissinger, now 91, was busily promoting his own latest book, World Order, in radio and television interviews and at public events. (Washington Post 9/18/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico

Latin America on a Dangerous Precipice

Argentina’s Warning on Sovereign Debt

Vaca Muerta, Argentina’s New Development Frontier

Coordinadora Arauco Malleco: Recovering Pre-Colonial Autonomy in Wallmapu (Chile)

Uruguay: Environmental Analyst Eduardo Gudynas Dissects the Myth of President José Mujica

Brazilian Elections: What Happens Next?

Marina and Dilma: Different Visions for the Brazilian Economy

Brazil: Dilma or Marina—Or Luciana?

Indigenous towns swallowed up by São Paulo, South America’s biggest city (Brazil)

Bolivia: Elections in the Time of Evo

The great electoral “trafa” (Peru)

Choosing Lima’s New Mayor amid Scandal and Transit Reform (Peru)

Colombia: UN report blasts military justice bill

Venezuelan PSUV Legislators Allege Uribe May Be Behind Murder of Robert Serra

Venezuela Takes Over Clorox Factory

Municipality in El Salvador Bans Mining in Binding Vote

Hillary Clinton admits role in Honduran coup aftermath

Another Massacre of Indigenous People in Guatemala

Massacre and State of Exception in San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala

Echoes of ’68: Youth Massacres, Repression and Resistance Jolt Mexico

PPT confirms an extremely serious situation in the area of communication and media (Mexico)

CEO of Mexican Bank Banamex Resigns Over Fraud Scandal

National Day of Maize in Mexico: Protecting the Sacred Plant

Mexican Court Drops Criminal Charges Against Miners’ Leader

Guanajuato: campesino protesters occupy city (Mexico)

Covering Up for Walmart: The Mexico Scandal

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