Tuesday, May 27, 2008

WNU #948: Cuban Dissidents Funded by Terrorist?

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #948, May 25, 2008

1. Cuba: Dissidents Funded by Terrorist?
2. Chile: 1 Convicted in Jara Murder
3. Mexico: Bishops Push Posadas Probe
4. Haiti: 1,000 Peasants Protest
5. Links to alternative sources on: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Panama, Nicaragua, 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. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. It is archived at http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/

*1. Cuba: Dissidents Funded by Terrorist?
On May 19 the Cuban government accused Michael Parmly, outgoing head of the US Interests Section in Havana, of supplying opponents of the government with money from Cuban American rightwinger Santiago Alvarez Fernández-Magriñat, who is currently serving a 46-month prison sentence in the US for illegally stockpiling weapons. According to the government, dissidents such as Martha Beatriz Roque, José Luis García and Laura Pollán were receiving money from a Miami organization called Fundación Rescate Jurídico ("Legal Rescue Foundation"), which is reportedly headed by Alvarez. The Cuban political police intercepted emails and telephone calls during the past two years between Roque and Carmen Machado, a woman said to be Alvarez's assistant. The government also displayed receipts it says opposition members signed for money they received from the foundation.

On May 23, Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque charged that Parmly, who was scheduled to leave his post this summer, personally carried out "at least three operations of supplying the money." Pérez Roque said this violated the May 30, 1977 Bilateral Agreement that established the Interests Section, and he called on the US government to respond to the charges.

Alvarez is a longtime associate of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) "asset" Luis Posada Carriles. The US has charged that he smuggled Posada into the US in a shrimping boat in March 2005; his current prison sentence stems from apparent plans for armed attacks on Cuba [see Updates #761, 875, 883]. The Cuban government says it has a tape of Alvarez in 2001 advising one of his associates on a planned attack with explosives against the Tropicana nightclub. Martha Beatriz Roque is an economist who has figured prominently in the opposition. She was one of 75 dissidents sentenced to long jail terms in 2003, but she was released for health reasons in July 2004 [see Updates #756, 811].

Cuba's accusations came as US politicians were focusing on Cuba. The likely candidates for the November presidential elections--Sen. John McCain (R-AR) and Barack Obama (D-IL)--were both visiting Miami during the week. McCain supports the hardline policies of US president George W. Bush, while Obama says he favors dialogue with Havana and the easing of some restrictions on Cuban Americans' visits and remittances to Cuba. On May 21 Bush announced that recent changes by the Cuban government were a "cruel joke" but said his government would now allow people in the US to send cellphones to Cuba, since Cuban president Raúl Castro is easing Cuban restrictions on owning cellphones. (La Jornada (Mexico) 5/20/08, 5/21/08, 5/22/08, 5/23/08 from correspondent)

Correction: Alvarez's prison term has been reduced to 30 months; see Update #949.

*2. Chile: 1 Convicted in Jara Murder
On May 15 Chilean judge Juan Eduardo Fuentes Belmar found retired army colonel Mario Manriquez Bravo guilty in the Sept. 16, 1973 murder of the internationally renowned singer Víctor Jara; the judge then closed the case, despite testimony that other officers were also involved. Joan Jara, the victim's widow, expressed surprise at the unexpected decision; the family's lawyer, Nelson Caucoto, indicated that he'll file an appeal so that other culprits can be identified. Caucoto noted that witnesses had referred to someone known as "The Prince" and identified him as the actual killer.

In addition to his singing career, Jara carried out studies in folklore and directed theatrical productions. He campaigned for leftist presidential candidate Salvador Allende in 1970 and was appointed cultural ambassador after Allende was elected. He was arrested on Sept. 12, 1973, the day after Allende's government was overthrown in a coup headed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Jara and 5,000 other prisoners were held in a stadium in Santiago which is now named for him. The military tortured Jara before cutting off his hands and shooting him. (Prensa Latina 5/15/08; La Jornada 5/16/08 from correspondent)

*3. Mexico: Bishops Push Posadas Probe
On May 21 José Leopoldo González, secretary general of the Conference of Mexican Bishops (CEM), said the Catholic bishops had voted unanimously to call for the government to make former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) testify again about the killing of Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo and six people in a bloody shootout at Guadalajara's airport on May 24, 1993. González said Salinas' previous testimony, on Aug. 2, 2006, was "full of omissions."

The official account is that Posadas Ocampo was shot because the killers mistook him for someone else when he happened to be present during a fight between the Tijuana and Sinaloa drug cartels. The director of Mexico's Forensic Medical Service at the time, Mario Rivas Souza, said the cardinal was shot directly 14 times, which casts doubt on the official explanation. On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the killing, the Guadalajara archdiocese has issued a book entitled: The Truth Will Set You Free. Don't Be Afraid. And the Homicide of Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo? The book suggests that the killing was organized by a high official in the government's "war on drugs" to make sure Posadas wouldn't reveal evidence of links between Salinas and drug trafficking networks.

The book reportedly also entertains a conspiracy theory involving the Freemasons. Independent journalist John Ross reports that some people think Posadas was targeted because he himself had drug trafficking connections. (Excelsior (Mexico) 5/20/08 from Notimex; Univisión 5/23/08 from EFE; Proceso (Mexico) 5/24/08; John Ross, Blindman's Buff #213, 5/27/08)

*4. Haiti: 1,000 Peasants Protest
More than 1,000 people, mostly peasants, marched through the streets of Savanette, near the Dominican border in Haiti's Central Plateau region, on May 19 to protest the local government's failure to issue proper identity papers. The march also commemorated the 88th anniversary of the assassination of Benoit Batraville ("Ti Benwa"), the commander of the KAKO peasant army, which fought against a 1915-1934 military occupation by the US. "Down with the occupation," "Long live an independent and sovereign Haiti," "Authentic birth certificates for small peasants" and "Down with corrupt civil servants" read the signs the protesters carried as they marched 4 km from the community of Kowos into the town of Savanette. There was a public meeting with local officials before the march, which was organized by Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen ("Small Haitian Peasants' Unity"). A number of groups sponsored a forum honoring Batraville in Kowos on the evening of May 18. (Alterpresse 5/22/08)

On May 20 the grassroots organization Chandèl issued a call for measures to reduce unemployment and the high cost of food, which had spurred violent protests in April [see Updates #942, 943]. The group asked for the authorities to suspend layoffs and the privatization process at the national telecommunications company, Téléco, and at the National Port Authority (APN); reopen state-owned warehouses in all 10 departments; and carry out agrarian reform measures aimed at restarting Haitian agricultural production. Other groups have raised similar demands, including the Collective of Small Haitian Peasant Organizations (KOTPA). (AlterPresse 5/20/08)

More breaking stories from alternative sources:

Argentina: A Different Kind of Land Occupation

Free Software in Brazil: Analysis & Interview with Marcos Mazoni http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1289/1/

FARC commander Mario Marulanda dead: Colombia

Colombia: More Doubts on Interpol's Laptop Findings

Colombia: seized guerilla computer leads to "farcpolítica" scandal

Hydro development exiles indigenous king in Panama

Colombian "farcpolítica" scandal hits Nicaragua

Guatemala: No End to the Assassination of Trade Unionists

Congress scales back "Plan Mexico"

Disappeared Oil Workers in Mexico - Out of Sight, Out of Mind http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1298/68/

Mexico's Battle Over Oil

Latin America: Report Slams Canadian Mining Industry

Behind Latin America's Food Crisis

Obama pledges new direction on Latin America

McCain to Prevent Venezuela and Bolivia from Becoming Another Cuba http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1299/68/

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

For immigration updates and events:


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