Tuesday, April 14, 2009

WNU #985: US Files New Posada Indictment

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #985, April 12, 2009

1. Cuba: US Files New Posada Indictment
2. Chile: Police Victimize Mapuche?
3. Dominican Republic: Layoffs Hit FTZs

4. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, US Policy

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: US Files New Posada Indictment
On the night of Apr. 8 US federal prosecutors filed an 11-count indictment in El Paso, Texas, charging that Cuban-born former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) "asset" Luis Posada Carriles perjured himself and obstructed justice in 2005 when he told immigration authorities he was not involved in the bombing of two Havana hotels in 1997; Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo was killed in one of the attacks, at the Copacabana Hotel. Posada was quoted in a 1998 New York Times article as saying that he was in fact involved, and there is speculation that federal agents have found additional information linking him to the attacks. A New Jersey grand jury has also been investigating the bombings, although no charges have been filed in that case. Posada is scheduled to go on trial before US district judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso on Aug. 10.

This is the first time the US has filed charges connecting Posada to terrorist acts. Venezuela has been asking since 2005 for the US to extradite Posada, a naturalized Venezuelan citizen who entered the US illegally that year, so that he can face trial on charges of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner in which 73 people died. The US government has never acted on the extradition request. The US has ordered Posada deported, but since US immigration authorities refused to deport him either to Cuba or to Venezuela, he has been living in Miami on conditional release since 2007. The US charged him previously for immigration fraud not connected with the terrorism cases, but Judge Cardone threw the charges out on May 8, 2007 as “outrageous.” [Cuban authorities agreed with the judge, calling that case “phony” and “a charade”; see Updates #895, 898.] According to the Cuban newspaper Granma, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans reinstated the charges in 2008, but apparently the new charges supersede the earlier ones.

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez Frías said on Apr. 10 that the new indictment “seems like a good sign from the US, of the change that apparently is occurring,” but that noted that the trial will be for lying, not for the attacks themselves. “[T]hey’ve known that for some time, that he’s lying,” Chávez said. Cuban media called the indictment “a surprising change of strategy” and suggested that the US government’s “new posture” was connected to the Fifth Summit of the Americas, to be held in Trinidad and Tobago starting on Apr. 17. Analysts expected the question of Venezuela’s extradition request to come up at the summit, US president Barack Obama’s first meeting with the heads of state of the hemisphere.

The indictment appears to be part of a broader US strategy to improve relations with Cuba. The Obama administration was expected to make an announcement in time for the summit that it is lifting restrictions on travel to the island by Cuban Americans and on remittances to relatives in Cuba; it may also allow more academic and cultural visits. On Apr. 6 a delegation of US Congress members met with Cuban president Raúl Castro as part of a five-day visit to the island; they had a conversation the next day with former president Fidel Castro. On Apr. 9 the rightwing Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), which for decades has backed stronger restrictions, changed course and called for ''people-to-people'' exchanges.

Posada will be formally presented with the charges against him in El Paso on Apr. 17, the first day of the Trinidad summit and the anniversary of the Bay of Pigs incident, the CIA’s failed 1961 attempt to overthrow Cuba’s Communist government. The anniversary may be “a legal Bay of Pigs” for Posada, remarked José Pertierra, the DC-based attorney who is handling the Venezuelan extradition request. (Prensa Latina 4/9/09; Time 4/10/09; La Jornada (Mexico) 4/10/09; Latin American Herald Tribune 4/11/09; Miami Herald, 4/10/09; Inter-Press Service 4/7/09; Reuters 4/7/09)

*2. Chile: Police Victimize Mapuche?
After a five-day visit to Chile the week of Apr. 6, United Nations special rapporteur for indigenous rights James Anaya said there was evidence that police agents use excessive violence against the indigenous Mapuche communities, which make up about 4% of Chile’s population. Chilean human rights groups and international organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have reported that the police break up Mapuche street protests violently and have raided Mapuche communities without proper authorization.

"I've received a lot of documentation from NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] that I consider to do high quality investigative work," Anaya said. “I do find, I do feel, there is sufficient basis for taking these allegations very seriously." Anaya also heard from individuals and met with government officials, including President Michelle Bachelet. He said Bachelet’s government had helped the country's indigenous communities by reducing rural poverty and giving them greater access to health care, but he insisted that there was still much more to do. On Apr. 13 Interior Subsecretary Patricio Rosende denied “categorically that there is discriminatory treatment of the Mapuche people” in police operations, which he said are carried out in conformity with legal norms. (BBC News 4/10/09; Univision 4/13/09 from EFE)

On Apr. 11 the police arrested 11 leaders and members of the Arauco Mapuche Coordinating Committee (CAM) and charged them with involvement in an ambush against prosecutor Mario Elgueta and a police convoy on Oct. 6, 2008, in the Puerto Choque sector of Tirúa in southern Chile; Elgueta, the chief prosecutor in Mapuche cases, was shot in the hand, and five police agents were lightly injured. The CAM members were taken to the Lebu prison, where they can be held for six months while the investigation continues. Some 130 civilian police agents were involved the arrests, which an Apr. 13 communiqué from the CAM called “a repressive attack” to “smooth the way…for forestry investment in the zone” and for mining operations in Lleu Lleu lake. This “would mean the final annihilation of the Mapuche communities in this zone,” CAM said. (ANSA 4/12/09; Univision 4/13/09 from EFE)

Expansion of the agricultural industry in neighboring Argentina is putting pressure on Mapuche, Wichi, Guaraní and other indigenous communities there. In 1994 Argentina incorporated indigenous rights into its Constitution, but indigenous communities began being evicted in northern and central Argentina in 2002 as courts gave big farming company owners land titles to some of these areas for profitable soy cultivation. In 2006 legislators suspended the evictions for four years, but little has been done to grant land titles to the indigenous communities. (Latinamérica Press 3/25/09)

*3. Dominican Republic: Layoffs Hit FTZs
At least 5,000 workers have been laid off recently in free trade zone (FTZ) factories in the Dominican Republic's Santiago province, according to the United Unions Federation, which is made up of 38 unions in the northern Dominican Republic. FTZs are industrial parks for tax-exempt assembly plants producing for export. The job cuts included layoffs of 1,000 workers at FM Industries, which makes pants for export to the US, on Apr. 7; the dismissal of 2,000 workers by a plant that made cigars for export to the US and Europe; and the loss of 600 jobs when a footwear company closed after 50 years in business. (Latin American Herald Tribune 4/9/09 from EFE) The report on job losses came as the United Nations was preparing for an Apr. 14 donors conference in Washington, DC, with a focus on a two-year program for creating 150,000 jobs in Haiti, the Dominican Republic’s neighbor. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former US president Bill Clinton are to participate; they have been promoting FTZ expansion as an engine for Haiti’s economic development [see Update #984]. (Agence France Presse 4/10/09)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, US Policy

Interview with Brazilian Squatter Activist Nete Araujo

Bolivia: Evo Morales on hunger strike to press election law

Peru: ex-president Fujimori convicted of rights abuses

Fujimori Found Guilty of Human Rights Crimes

Peru: Rights Groups Applaud Fujimori Conviction

Peru: Ayacucho under siege following Sendero attacks

Colombia: More Attacks and Defamation Against ACIN's Communication Network

The Revolution Will Not Be Destabilized: Ottawa’s Democracy Promoters Target Venezuela

Economy in El Salvador: Passing the Poisoned Chalice

Scorched Earth: The Rio Negro Massacre at Pak'oxom, Guatemala

Mexican ambassador calls US to task on gun trade; Fox, Gun Lobby return fire

US deports Gulf Cartel kingpin back to Mexico

Toxic smoke on the border

Empire and Latin America in the Obama Era

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream andalternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


Your support is appreciated. Back issues and source materials are available on request. Update subscribers also receive, as a supplement, our own weekly Immigration News Briefs.

Order The Politics of Immigration: Questions & Answers, from Monthly Review Press, by Update editors Jane Guskin and David Wilson:

No comments: