Tuesday, December 3, 2013

WNU #1201: Anti-Monsanto Protest Attacked in Argentina

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1201, December 1, 2013

1. Argentina: Anti-Monsanto Protesters Attacked
2. Honduras: New Party “Breaks Chains” of Old System
3. Dominican Republic: Haitians Flee Amid Lynching Rumors
4. Bahamas: Haiti Migrants Killed in Boat Capsize
5. Links to alternative sources on: Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, US/immigration

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 http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com. For a subscription, write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/WeeklyNewsUpdat.

*1. Argentina: Anti-Monsanto Protesters Attacked
On the morning of Nov. 28 some 60 men and women attacked an encampment of protesters who for the past two months had been blocking construction of a seed-drying plant in Malvinas Argentinas, a town in the central Argentine province of Córdoba, by the Missouri-based biotech giant Monsanto Company [see Update #1200]. The attackers, arriving in two rented buses, used rocks and clubs to drive away protesters at two points where they were blocking access to the construction site. Once the road was cleared, seven trucks delivered construction materials. Later, a confrontation broke out between the attackers and the protesters, who included Malvinas Argentinas residents and environmentalists from other parts of Argentina. At this point police agents finally intervened by firing rubbers bullets. As many as 20 protesters were injured in the incident, along with three police agents; it was unclear how many attackers were hurt.

According to members of the Malvinas Struggles for Life Neighbors’ Assembly, which organized the blockade, the attack was arranged for Monsanto by the Construction Workers Union of the Argentine Republic (UOCRA), a major union which reportedly sponsored a similar attack on anti-mining activists in the southern province of Chubut in November 2012 [see Update #1154]. Monsanto and UOCRA spokespeople insisted the attackers were simply workers from the site and their families, but one of the injured was an UOCRA official, Luis Gutiérrez. The injured protesters also included a union official: Carlos Valduvino, secretary general of the Union Circle of the Córdoba Press and Communication (Cispren), was hit by a rock in the right eyebrow and required treatment at a clinic.

The Nov. 28 attack came after several incidents involving Monsanto supporters. Two weeks earlier an unidentified man had pulled a pistol on environmentalist Sofia Gatica, a winner of the 2012 Goldman environmental prize, while she was riding a bus; he told her that her brains would be splattered on Monsanto’s doors. On Nov. 22 two people beat and kicked Gatica as she was leaving work. The next day, a group leafleted against the protesters as they were holding a fair on a public plaza. The group’s leaflet claimed that “the people in the encampment aren’t from Malvinas,” that they “don’t want progress,” and that the blockade is financed “by other companies that don’t like Monsanto.” When a youth from the encampment lashed out at the leafleters, they beat him.

The protesters said they would maintain the blockade despite the attacks. They held a march in the nearby city of Córdoba, the provincial capital, the evening of Nov. 28, and are planning another march on Dec. 3, with the support of leftist parties. The French singer of Spanish descent Manu Chao, who was touring Argentina, visited the encampment on the morning of Dec. 1 as a demonstration of solidarity. (ANRed (Argentina) 11/28/13; La Voz del Interior (Argentina) 11/28/13, 11/29/13; Análisis Digital (Argentina) 12/1/13)

*2. Honduras: New Party “Breaks Chains” of Old System
Honduras’ Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) issued an official announcement on Nov. 30 declaring former Congress president Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, the presidential candidate of the rightwing governing National Party (PN), the victor in general elections that were held on Nov. 24 [see Update #1200]. According to the TSE, Hernández received 36.80% of the vote, while Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the candidate of the center-left Freedom and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), received 28.79%. Results announced the day before showed Mauricio Villeda of the center-right Liberal Party (PL) with 20.28% of the vote and Salvador Nasralla of the Anticorruption Party (PAC) with 13.72%. The TSE didn’t announce final results for the 128 deputies in the unicameral National Congress, but earlier projections showed the PN winning 47 seats, followed by LIBRE with 39, the PL with 26 and the PAC with 13; each of three smaller parties is expected to have one seat.

The TSE called the turnout historic, with 3.232 million voters participating out of some 5.3 million registered voters, about 61%. Observers and media reports also indicated that participation was high. In the November 2009 elections--which the left boycotted to protest the June 2009 military coup that overthrew president José Manuel (“Mel”) Zelaya Rosales (2006-2009)--the TSE gave several different turnout estimates but eventually said the rate was 49.4%; the left claimed participation was significantly lower [see Update #1017].

Both Xiomara Castro and Salvador Nasralla refused to acknowledge the official results and demanded a review of the ballots; a protest march was planned for Dec. 1 in Tegucigalpa. Castro, the wife of former president Zelaya, called the official results “a fraud of incalculable proportions,” although she said her supporters would protest “peacefully.” But Castro noted that even according to the official results LIBRE has become an “important political force.” Previously Honduran politics had been dominated by the PN and the PL. “We broke the chains of two-party rule,” she said.

Without a PN majority in Congress, Hernández’s powers as president will be limited, unless the PL deputies vote consistently with the PN. The LIBRE and PAC delegations may bloc together on some votes, and a LIBRE-PAC bloc would have a majority if 13 PL deputies voted with them. (Honduras Culture and Politics 11/29/13; InfoNews (Argentina) 11/30/13 from Télam; TeleSUR 12/1/13, some from EFE)

Most observer delegations upheld the elections’ validity. On Nov. 25, the day after the election, Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega Saavedra, the leader of the historically leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), phoned Hernández to congratulate him. Ortega expressed “to the new president of Honduras the willingness of Nicaragua to advance in all the programs of integration, of unity of the Central American region” and “to strengthen the ties” with Honduras, according to Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s spokesperson and wife. (La Prensa (Tegucigalpa) 11/25/13)

But there were many questions about the official results. On Nov. 26 the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) officially commended the electoral process for “transparency as well as respect for the will of voters in the tabulation.” But an EU-EOM member, Austrian journalist Leo Gabriel, said the majority of the European observers who had witnessed the elections on the ground had opposed the official report. “[T]he TSE pulled the results out of their sleeves according to a pre-defined political calculus,” Gabriel said, attributing the EU-EOM’s endorsement of the election to a desire to “clean up Honduras’ image around the world” so that a commercial project, the Association Agreement between the European Union and the Central American region, could proceed smoothly. (Upside Down World 11/29/13 from Opera Mundi (Brazil)) Adding to doubts about the election was a report that the clandestine internet activist group Anonymous had hacked into the TSE’s data base and found discrepancies pointing to fraud—and demonstrated that the data base lacked adequate security. (Honduras Culture and Politics 11/28/13)

“Indeed, far from announcing a democratic normalization and the overcoming of this country’s political fracturing after the 2009 coup, the electoral process that ended [on Nov. 24] demonstrated that the Honduran political crisis persists,” the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada wrote in a Dec. 1 editorial. It is not clear whether the country can avoid “a very deep social confrontation between the privileged sectors and a grassroots bloc that is still diffuse but is growing,” the editors concluded. (LJ 12/1/13)

*3. Dominican Republic: Haitians Flee Amid Lynching Rumors
Hundreds of Haitian immigrants fled the Dominican Republic from Nov. 23 to Nov. 25 following reports that mobs were killing Haitians in revenge for the murder of a Dominican couple; one or two men, reportedly Haitians, raped and murdered 63-year-old Luja Díaz Encarnación in the course of a robbery on Nov. 22 and killed her 70-year-old husband, José Méndez, in Neyba, the capital of the southwestern Dominican province of Baoruco. According to the Haitian nonprofit Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR), 347 Haitian citizens were repatriated in just two days, Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, at the southern border crossing between the Dominican city of Jimaní and the Haitian town of Malpasse; the refugees included 107 children. The fleeing immigrants told GARR that four Haitians had been killed with machetes and their bodies had been burned.

The Haitian government put the total number of refugees for the week at 464, including 133 children. On Nov. 29 Haitian interior minister David Bazile announced that only one Haitian had been killed and that the flow of Haitians across the border had ended as of Nov. 28. “We’re not at war with the Dominican Republic,” he said. Dominican authorities deniedreports that the police had deported Haitian immigrants who sought protection from the mobs. (AlterPresse (Haiti) 11/25/13; Noticias SIN (Dominican Republic) 11/25/13; Adital (Brazil) 11/27/13; El Nacional (Venezuela) 11/29/13 from AP; 7 Días (Dominican Republic) 11/29/13 from Le Nouvelliste (Haiti))

The violence in Neyba added to tensions among Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent following a Sept. 23 ruling by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal (TC) that denied citizenship to people born in the country to undocumented immigrant parents [see Update #1196]. The Haitian government has protested the decision, and on Nov. 27 the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an organization of 15 Caribbean countries that includes Haiti, expressed its disapproval of the anti-immigrant ruling by suspending the process of admitting the Dominican Republic to the group. Just hours later the Dominican Republic announced it was suspending participation in talks Venezuela was mediating between the Haitian and Dominican governments on the issue. (Aporrea (Venezuela) 11/27/13 from TeleSUR)

*4. Bahamas: Haitian Migrants Killed in Boat Capsize
As many as 30 Haitians were killed when the boat they were traveling on ran aground and then capsized on Nov. 25 near Harvey Cays in the southern Bahamas. Bahamian authorities said 111 survivors were rescued, many of them suffering from hunger and dehydration. The badly overloaded 40-foot boat was apparently headed for Florida; Haitians seeking to enter the US without authorization frequently travel through the Bahamas. Bahamas military spokesperson Lt Origin Deleveaux said the survivors would be processed at a military base on New Providence and then repatriated to Haiti.

This was the second fatal incident in less than two months involving Haitians seeking to enter the US. Four Haitian women died in mid-October when their boat capsized near Miami. As of Nov. 5 Bahamian authorities had detained more than 1,500 migrants this year, up from 1,447 in 2012; 90% were Haitians. “What we know is that this issue comes in waves. It ebbs and flows,” Bahamas Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell said. “It simply appears that people are more desperate and the numbers are increasing.” (The Guardian (UK) 11/26/13; Miami Herald 11/28/13 from AP and correspondent)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Puerto Rico, US/immigration

Pluspetrol Heavily Fined for Irreparable Environmental Damages in the Peruvian Amazon

Mariátegui online (Peru)

Ecuador: deadly clash in anti-mining operation

Colombian Coal: Fueling the Cycle of Conflict

Colombia: threatened indigenous group leader slain

Colombia: violent eviction at Cúcuta squatter camp

Women, War and Peace: Colombian Women Demand Truth and Justice

Venezuela Tightens State Control Over Its Economy (Video)

Nicaraguan President Ortega's Power Grab

Honduran Elections: Live Blog

Honduran Election Results Contested by International Observers

Honduran Election Results Contested Amid Reports of Fraud, Intimidation

Violence Against Demonstrators Follows Contested Result in Honduras Elections

SOA Watch: 2013 Honduran Presidential Elections Analysis

Honduran Congress will be Transformed

National Lawyers Guild Observers Question Validity of Honduran Elections

The Different Souls of the Libre Party and Repression against Honduran Students

The Results of the Elections in Honduras were Changed, Says European Union Observer

Alleged Voting Irregularities Mar Honduran Elections

Violation of Guatemalan Q’eqchi Maya community land rights

Mexico: protesters pledge to resist energy 'reform'

In Mexico, a victory for indigenous liberation

Citizens challenge media silence on Matamoros war (Mexico)

U.S. Alarmism Denies Complicity in Rising Mexican Asylum Requests

Adoption, Bigotry, Collagen: Some ABCs of Puerto Rico's LGBT

Q&A—Siege Mentality: the Border Patrol’s Northern Advance (US/immigration)

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