Monday, June 28, 2010

WNU #1038: Most Cocaine Profits Stay in the US

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1038, June 27, 2010

1. Latin America: Most Cocaine Trade Profits Stay in the US
2. Honduras: Police, Military Kill Aguán Campesino
3. Guatemala: Goldcorp, Government Stall on Mine Suspension
4. Mexico: Activist Seeks Asylum at Venezuelan Embassy
5. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti, US

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 . It is archived at

*1. Latin America: Most Cocaine Trade Profits Stay in the US
Some 85% of the gross profits from trafficking cocaine from South America to the US remain with US distribution networks, Antonio Luigi Mazzitelli, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) representative for Mexico and Central America, told the Spanish wire service EFE on June 26.

According to Mazzitelli, gross profits from trafficking to the US came to about $35 billion in 2008. The growers in the Andean region got some $500 million, while $400 million went to the local traffickers. The Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, which transport the cocaine from South America to the US, made some $4.6 billion in gross profits in 2008. Of the remaining $29.5 billion, $5.3 billion went to the 200 major distributors in the US and $24.2 billion to 6,000 US intermediaries and an unknown number of small-scale vendors.

Mazzitelli said that these figures, which appear in the UNODC’s World Drug Report 2010, released on June 23, “demythologize” the idea that the Latin American drug traffickers are the main beneficiaries of the drug trade. (El Diario-La Prensa (NY) 6/27/10 from EFE; El Colombiano (Antioquia, Colombia) 6/26/10 from EFE)

*2. Honduras: Police, Military Kill Aguán Campesino
On June 20 the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA) reported that Honduran soldiers from the Cobra Battalion, agents of the Preventive Police and private security guards from the Orión company had entered the La Aurora estate in northern Honduras that morning and attacked campesinos who were encamped there. A teenage campesino whose name was given as Oscar Yovani Ramírez or Oscar Geovanny Ramírez died in the operation, and five other campesinos were detained, according to MUCA.

The campesinos in La Aurora are parties to an agreement MUCA and Honduran president Porfirio (“Pepe”) Lobo Sosa signed on Apr. 18 to bring an end to a land dispute between Aguán Valley residents and large landowners Miguel Facussé, René Morales and Reinaldo Canales [see Update #1033]. The 24 campesino cooperatives that make up MUCA say they withdrew from the 24 farms they’d been occupying and settled in five estates--La Lempira, La Confianza, La Aurora, La Concepción and Camarones—while waiting for the government to turn over the 11,000 hectares promised them in the accord. They blame the government for delays in providing the land and for its refusal to end the heavy military and police presence in the area. ( 6/20/10; FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) communiqué 6/20/10 via Vos el Soberano)

The latest violence in the Aguán Valley came as people in Honduras and elsewhere prepared to mark the first anniversary of a military coup that removed then-president José Manuel (“Mel”) Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009) from office on June 28, 2009 [see Update #995]. In the US, 27 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on June 24 calling on the administration of US president Barack Obama to suspend aid to Honduras and to send a mission there to investigate human rights violations. The letter, signed by House National Security Subcommittee chair John Tierney (D-MA) and Judicial Committee chair John Conyers (D-MI), noted that nine journalists were murdered in Honduras during the last year. (La Jornada (Mexico) 6/26/10 from AFP)

In Honduras, the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), a coalition that grew out of resistance to the coup, was planning a series of events for June 28 and the days leading up to it. The front is trying to collect more than 1.2 million signatures calling for Zelaya’s return from his exile in the Dominican Republic and for the convocation of a constituent assembly to rewrite the 1982 Constitution. The coup halted a nonbinding referendum scheduled for June 28, 2009 that would have asked voters if they wished to vote on a constituent assembly in the national elections to be held on Nov. 29, 2009. (LJ 6/27/10 from AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Correction: We originally reported in error that the FNRP "has collected more than 1.2 million signatures."

*3. Guatemala: Goldcorp, Government Stall on Mine Suspension
On June 23 the Guatemalan government agreed to suspend operations at the Marlin gold mine in the western department of San Marcos, which is owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, SA, a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish), a Washington, DC-based agency of the Organization of American States (OAS), had ordered Guatemala on May 21 to carry out the suspension within 20 days; the IACHR was responding to a complaint filed by indigenous inhabitants of the communities of Sipacapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacán who say the mine has caused significant damage to residents’ health and the local environment [see Update #1035].

Fernando Barillas, an adviser to Guatemalan president Alvaro Colom, told Bloomberg News on June 23 that there was “no exact day yet” for the suspension. “Perhaps within 15 days or a month," he added. On June 25 Guatemalan vice president Rafael Espada said that “many steps have to be completed” to shut down the mine and that it might take three months. A mission of IACHR technicians is slated to visit the mine in July, and Goldcorp spokesperson Jeff Wilhoit indicated that the company expected the IACHR mission not to find serious problems with the mine and that the suspension would never take place. (Vancouver Sun 6/25/10; ACAN-EFE 6/25/10 via (Spain))

*4. Mexico: Activist Seeks Asylum at Venezuelan Embassy
Mexican campesino rights activist América del Valle applied for political asylum at the Venezuelan embassy in Mexico City on the morning of June 23, citing "four years of unceasing political persecution.” Del Valle is a member of the Front of the Peoples in Defense of the Land (FPDT), a campesino movement that formed in 2001 and successfully opposed plans to build a new international airport on farmlands in and around San Salvador Atenco municipality northeast of Mexico City in México state.

América del Valle’s father, Ignacio del Valle Medina, and 11 other FPDT members are serving lengthy prison sentences stemming from a May 3-4, 2006 confrontation between police and Atenco campesinos which resulted in the deaths of two protesters, 209 arrests and accusations that police agents systematically beat and sexually abused prisoners [see Update #959]. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) is currently reviewing the FPDT members’ cases, but América del Valle said while the court might reduce some sentences or release a few prisoners, “the reality is that injustice will prevail." (Latin American Herald Tribune 6/24/10 from EFE; Adital (Brazil) 6/25/10)

1997 Nobel peace prize winner Jody Williams and 10 other Nobel peace laureates have expressed support for the Atenco prisoners. The other signers are: Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1984) and Frederick de Klerk (1993), South Africa; Mairead Carrigan Maguire (1976), Betty Williams (1976) and John Hume (1998), Ireland; Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1980), Argentina; Elie Wiesel (1986), Romania; Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992), Guatemala; Shirin Ebadi (2003), Iran; Wangari Maathai (2004), Kenya. “Behind each one of these signatures there are legions of activists,” Jody Williams, a US citizen who lived in Mexico for two years when she was a teenager, told the Mexican daily La Jornada on June 25. (LJ 6/26/10)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti, US

Brazilian Union Assists in Land Takeovers, Showing Power of a Good Example

USAID: The Bone of Contention in U.S. - Bolivia Relations

Peru: authorities challenge UN findings on coca leaf boom

Peru: President García refuses to sign indigenous rights law

Bagua, Peru: A Year After

Leader Returns from Asylum to Slam French Oil Company in Peru

Reencounter of the Original Peoples and Nationalities of Abya Yala in Ecuador

Colombia: New President-Elect, Same Old Story

Venezuela Nationalizes 11 Oil Rigs Owned By U.S.-Based Helmerich & Payne

Venezuela to Nationalize 11 Oilrigs Owned by US Oil Company

Washington Resumes Military Aid to Honduras

The Honduran Business Elite One Year After the Coup

Two Dead in Confrontation in Oaxaca, Near Site of Canadian Mine

An Uprising of Bones (Mexico)

Flashback: An Interview With Carlos Monsiváis (Mexico)

Lethal Force on the Border (Mexico)

Dudus Coke pleads guilty in NYC (Jamaica)

Haitian Farmers Leery of Monsanto's Largesse

Haitian Peasants March against Monsanto Company for Food and Seed Sovereignty

Based Out in Latin America

Oliver Stone's New Documentary Explains Progressive Governments in Latin America, Exposes Adversarial Media Bias

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