Monday, July 5, 2010

WNU #1039: Pride Marches Mark Gains, Demand More

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1039, July 4, 2010

1. Southern Cone: Marchers Call for Marriage Equality
2. Andes Region: Demos Celebrate LGBT Gains
3. Caribbean Basin: Pride Marchers Praise Funes, Monsivais
4. Mexico: Court Frees Atenco Prisoners
5. Puerto Rico: Cops Attack Students at Capitol
6. Haiti: Elections Set, Disputes Continue
7. Links to alternative sources on: Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, 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

Note: There will be links but no Update on July 11. Co-editor David L. Wilson will be at the World Fellowship Center July 9-11 in Conway, New Hampshire, where he will facilitate workshops on Haiti along with Dahoud André of Lakou New York radio and Joanne Veillard and Bastien Jean-Baptiste of Seeds for Haiti. The three days of events will be dedicated to the memory of New York-based Haitian poet, author and activist Daniel Simidor, who died in New York on Jan. 10, two days before a massive earthquake devastated southern Haiti. For more information, got to: and

*1. Southern Cone: Marchers Call for Marriage Equality
This year Pride celebrations, held on the last weekend in June in much of the world, coincided with a debate in Argentina over proposed legislation that would make the country the first in Latin America to authorize same-sex marriages. On June 28, hundreds of supporters of the legislation marched in front of the Congress building in Buenos Aires in a demonstration organized by the Argentine LGBT Federation and supported by about a dozen social groups and cultural figures, including singers Fito Páez and Vicentico, who were to hold a recital at the end of the march.

The Chamber of Deputies approved the marriage equality law on May 5 by a 126-109 vote with five abstentions; organizers hope to have the support of 38 of the 72 senators when the measure goes before the Senate on July 14. Supporters of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner back the law; the Catholic Church is strongly opposed and is pushing for a referendum on the issue. Seven same-sex couples have been married in Argentina since December because of rulings by individual judges. (La República (Peru) 6/28/10 from AP; AFP 6/29/10 via Prensa Gráfica (El Salvador) )

LGBT organizers in Chile have been focusing on developing Pride events in regional capitals. This year in addition to a march in Santiago on June 26, there were Pride marches in Puerto Montt and Valdivia in the south and Calama and La Serena in the north. The largest of the regional events was the July 1 march in La Serena, which drew some 7,000 participants, 2,000 more than the year before. (Movimiento Chileno de Minorias Sexuales (Chile) 7/2/10; Opus Gay (Chile) 7/2/10) [In 2008 the Santiago Pride march drew an estimated 6,000 participants; see Update #953.]

Many think the largest Pride event in the world is the annual parade in São Paulo, Brazil. Organizers said 3.2 million attended this year’s event, held on June 6. During the week before the parade, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva issued a decree declaring May 17 the National Day to Combat Homophobia. The decree, which became official when it was published in the government gazette on June 7, met one of the demands made by Brazilian LGBT organizations. Presidential elections are scheduled for Oct. 3, and the decree is expected to win LGBT votes for Dilma Vana Rousseff, the candidate of Lula’s leftist Workers Party (PT). May 17 marks the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases. (W Radio (Mexico) 6/7/10 from unidentified wire services; EFE 6/7/10 via (Chile))

*2. Andes Region: Demos Celebrate LGBT Gains
LGBT organizations in Cochabamba, Bolivia, held their fourth annual Pride event on June 26, marching from Las Banderas plaza to Colón square. Two days later, on June 28, Bolivian LGBT activists celebrated the first official Day of People With Diverse Sexual Orientation, which the government of President Evo Morales created on July 1, 2009 with Supreme Decree 0189. “We want to give an acknowledgment to all those who have been supporting us continually in everything that’s a process of making human rights issues visible,” said Luis Ayllón Martínez, general director of the organization Equity. (Los Tiempos (Cochabamba) 6/27/10; SentidoG (Buenos Aires) 6/28/10)

Residents of Bogotá, Colombia held their 14th annual Pride event on June 27, marching from the National Park to the Plaza de Bolívar with the slogan: “Neither sick nor antisocial, proudly LGBT.” Cali and Medellín have been celebrating Pride for several years, but the country’s fourth largest city, Barranquilla, still doesn’t have a Pride event, although it holds an LGBT march during the Carnaval (Mardi Gras) celebration. ( 7/3/10)

*3. Caribbean Basin: Pride Marchers Praise Funes, Monsivais
On June 27 about 200 Costa Ricans joined a Pride march along Paseo Colón to the central park in San José. “Being gay isn’t a sickness, it’s a sexual preference,” said one of the participants in the march, which was initiated by a group of female impersonators who perform in local discotheques. Abelardo Araya, a spokesperson for the Diversity Movement, said his group didn’t support the march, which he said “reaffirms myths and prejudices.” The Diversity Movement is leading opposition to a referendum scheduled for Dec. 5 on the right to same-sex marriage; LGBT activists fear that conservative Catholics voters will defeat efforts for marriage equality.

On June 25 the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court suspended preparations for the vote while it considers a challenge from civil servant Esteban Quirós, who said that Costa Rica voters couldn’t approve a measure that would violate international human rights conventions that the country has signed on to. “It would be impossible to put a human rights issue to a vote,” he said. (SentidoG 6/28/10 from La Nación (Costa Rica); Inside Costa Rica 6/28/10; Tico Times 6/25/10)

El Salvador’s Pride march was held on June 28, starting at the Paseo General Escalón, west of San Salvador. In contrast to last year’s march, which was dedicated to victims of homophobic violence, this year the marchers celebrated efforts by leftist president Mauricio Funes to fight discrimination. “We have things to celebrate and things to mourn,” Willian Hernández, of the organization Between Friends, told the Spanish wire service EFE, “but what links us in this moment is the political steps forward that have been taken in this country.” He said that although two members of the community have been reported murdered so far this year, the number for all of 2009 was 23. (SentidoG 6/28/10 from EFE)

The 32nd annual Pride march in the Mexican capital, held on June 26, began with a moment of silence for journalist and activist Carlos Monsivais, who died on June 19 at the age of 72. Speakers noted Mexico’s many famous LGBT writers and artists, including Salvador Novo and Frida Kahlo. “This march isn’t about partying, it’s about struggle and protest” was the slogan of the contingent that started the march from the Angel of Independence down the Paseo de la Reforma. Many marchers were calling for the right to same-sex marriage, established in Mexico City on Dec. 21 [see Update #1024], to be extended to the rest of the country. Contingents from outside Mexico City included The Two Mommies organization from the northeastern state of Nuevo León and Catholics for the Right to Decide, based in the states of Querétaro, Oaxaca and Guerrero, which calls for education to prevent discrimination. (Milenio (Mexico) 6/27/10)

Hundreds of Puerto Ricans marched on June 6 in the island’s 20th Pride event, held in San Juan’s beachfront El Condado neighborhood. Olga Orraca, coordinator of the Rainbow Pride Coalition, which organized the march, said that that this year’s event was intended not only to reaffirm the community’s visibility but also to denounce hate crimes against LGBT people [see Update #1017]. Orraca and Human and Constitucional Rights Commission president Osvaldo Burgos criticized the inaction of the police in dealing with hate crimes eight years after a hate crimes law went into effect. (SentidoG 6/6/10 from El Nuevo Día (Puerto Rico))

*4. Mexico: Court Frees Atenco Prisoners
On June 30 a five-member panel of Mexico’s Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) announced that it had decided by a four-to-one vote to release campesino activist Ignacio del Valle Medina and 11 other members of the Front of the Peoples in Defense of the Land (FPDT) who had been imprisoned since a confrontation in May 2006 between México state police and residents of San Salvador Atenco municipality northeast of Mexico City [see Update #1038]. The justices ruled that the state’s charges against the activists—for kidnapping state officials—were based on “false and feeble premises” and used “impermissible evidence.”

Accompanied by 1997 Nobel peace prize winner Jody Williams, FPDT director Trinidad Ramírez, who is Ignacio del Valle’s wife, addressed supporters on the courthouse steps in Mexico City after the announcement. “Organize,” she said. “The message is that the government and the state aren’t invincible. Can you beat the government? Sure you can! Is it possible to do it? Sure it is!” (La Jornada (Mexico) 7/1/10, ___)

On July 3 Ramírez and Del Valle initiated a legal action to dismiss charges against their daughter, América del Valle. Since she hadn’t been tried, the SCJN ruling doesn’t automatically affect her case. América del Valle had applied for political asylum at the Venezuelan embassy on June 23, a week before the SCJN ruling. (LJ 7/4/10)

*5. Puerto Rico: Cops Attack Students at Capitol
Dozens of demonstrators were injured at Puerto Rico’s Capitol building the afternoon of June 30 when riot police used batons and tear gas to keep hundreds of students and their supporters from entering a session of the Legislature that was to vote on unpopular budget cuts and a measure to end student assemblies. Senate president Thomas Rivera Schatz had apparently closed the public galleries before the vote, and the next day a police agent reportedly testified that the police violence had been planned in advance.

After the protesters were cleared out, the Legislature passed a law which would eliminate student assemblies and replace them with a remote electronic voting system. Opponents say this violates the US Bill of Rights, which covers Puerto Rico, and a provision in the 1952 Puerto Rican Constitution: “No law shall be made abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” The move follows a two-month strike by students at the public University of Puerto Rico (UPR) this spring that defeated efforts by the conservative government of Gov. Luis Fortuño to cut back the university budget and raise tuition fees [see Update #1037]. (Argenpress (Argentina) 7/1/10 from correspondent, English translation at Dissident Voice 7/3/10; Prensa Latina 7/1/10)

After repeated questions in an interview with the Guaynabo daily Primera Hora on July 2, Gov. Fortuño finally said he condemned “the excessive violence that there may have been on the part of the police” in the June 30 incident. (Primera Hora 7/3/10) In Washington, DC, a US Congress member of Puerto Rican origin, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), called on July 2 for an investigation of the violence, while Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), also of Puerto Rican origin, called the police action “a abuse that is intolerable in a democracy.” The “person immediately responsible” was Police Superintendant José Figueroa Sancha, Gutiérrez said. (El Nuevo Día (Puerto Rico) 7/2/10)

*6. Haiti: Elections Set, Disputes Continue
On June 30 Haitian president René Préval rejected changes US senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), the leading minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, proposed for presidential and legislative elections that are now scheduled for Nov. 28. In a report earlier in the month, Lugar called for international “partners” to help restructure the eight-member Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and for candidates from the Lavalas Family (FL) party of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide (1991-1996 and 2001-2004) to be allowed to run. The legislative elections were scheduled for Feb. 28 but had to be postponed because of a massive earthquake on Jan. 12. The elections are expected to cost $29.6 million, with the Haitian government providing $7 million and international donors supplying the rest.

Préval blamed FL’s exclusion on the failure of two rival factions to agree on a list of candidates. The party presented two different lists of candidates for senatorial elections in April 2009, but Maryse Narcisse’s faction has since won the support of the exiled Aristide, who officially heads the party, for the current elections [see Update #1014]. The local station Radio Métropole reports that the legislative candidates from the two factions are now in fact running for other parties, including Ansanm Nou Fò (“Together We Are Strong”), Veye Yo (“Watch Them”) and Organization for the Future (OLA). (Reuters 6/30/10; Radio Métropole 7/1/10)

*7. Links to alternative sources on: Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, US

Peru: oil spill fouls rainforest communities

Peru : students deny Sendero link, march against police intervention

Colombia's President Rails Against Justice, Clinton Stands By

Workers’ Control and the Contradictions of the Bolivarian Process: An Interview with Gustavo Martínez (Venezuela)

Building a Future in the Barrio of Chapellín: An Interview with Rosa María González

Crisis of Legitimacy in Honduras?

Honduras Commemorates Tense Anniversary of Unresolved Military Coup

The Military Still Has Veto Power in Honduras

Honduras Failing to Tackle Coup Rights Abuses

Honduras One Year Later

The Coup Is Not Over: Marking a Year of Resistance in Honduras

National and International Clergy Assail the Arrest of Father Martin Octavio García Ortiz in Oaxaca (Mexico)

Unions Representing Workers in Canada, Mexico, and U.S. Explore Merger

Strategic Dialogue: The Cuban Embargo

Tuesday Hearing: Feierstein Nomination Raises Questions about USAID’s Role in Latin America

The Media Empire Strikes Back: Reviewing Reviews of South of the Border

U.S. Social Forum a Mechanism for Change

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

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