Tuesday, August 12, 2014

WNU #1230: Opposition Grows to Mining in Haiti

Issue #1230, August 10, 2014

1. Haiti: Opposition Grows to Mega Mining
2. Argentina: US Sued at Hague Over Default
3. Cuba: Another USAID Program Exposed
4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, 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. Haiti: Opposition Grows to Mega Mining
At a July 25 meeting in Port-au-Prince, some 28 Haitian organizations expressed their interest in joining a movement to oppose plans under way for open-pit mining in the north of the country, with a focus on gold mining operations by the Vancouver-based Eurasian Minerals company. The meeting was organized by the Collective Against Mining, which was formed a year ago by Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen (“Small Haitian Peasants Unity”), the Defenders of the Oppressed (DOP), the Popular Democratic Movement (MODEP), the Haitian Platform of Human Rights Organizations (POHDH), the Haitian Platform Advocating an Alternative Development (PAPDA) and Batay Ouvriye (“Workers’ Struggle”).

There have been estimates that Haitian minerals--mostly gold, copper and silver-- could be worth as much as US$ 20 billion, and Haitian firms fronting for US and Canadian firms have reportedly received licenses for research, exploration or mining in some 2,400 square kilometers of Haitian territory. On July 11 the Collective Against Mining and the Global Justice Clinic--part of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHR&GJ) at New York University’s Law School—expressed concern about a new mining law proposed by the World Bank. The measure would change the 1976 mining code to allow the Bureau of Mines and Energy (BME) to sign directly with the mining companies without having to win approval from Parliament. In 2010 the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) invested about US$5 million in Eurasian Minerals’ Haiti operations, getting Eurasian shares in exchange. At the July 28 meeting PAPDA’s Camille Chalmers pointed to Haiti’s previous experience with mineral extraction. The mining of bauxite from the 1950s to the early 1980s by the now-defunct Reynolds Metals Company produced $83 million in profits; only $3 million of this went to the Haitian state, Chalmers said. (Haiti Grassroots Watch 8/1/13; Radio Television Caraibes (Haiti) 7/12/14; AlterPresse 8/1/14)

In other news, on Aug. 4 the labor organization Workers’ Antenna marked the fifth anniversary of the start of a wave of marches and wildcat strikes by garment workers demanding an increase in the minimum wage for the assembly sector [see Update #1000]. The struggle over the minimum wage has continued off and on since then; another wave of job actions last December led to the layoffs of a number of union leaders and supporters [see Update #1218]. Complaints that the laid-off workers filed with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MAST) have yet to be settled. (AlterPresse 8/5/14)

Meanwhile, 81 workers have been dismissed in a wage dispute at the Compagnie de Développement Industriel S.A. (Codevi) “free trade zone” in Ouanaminthe in Northeast department at the Dominican border. Workers at the AMI jeans plant were being paid 375 gourdes (about US$8.48) a day, well above the current minimum wage in the assembly sector, but management suddenly reduced their pay to 300 gourdes (about $6.78) and started laying them off on Aug. 1 after they protested the pay cut. (Haiti Press Network 8/7/14)

*2. Argentina: US Sued at Hague Over Default
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague said on Aug. 7 that Argentina had asked it to take action against the US for what the South American country called “violations of Argentine sovereignty and immunities and other related violations as a result of judicial decisions adopted by US tribunals” that interfered with the payment of its debts. Financial services agencies declared Argentina in default on July 30 when it failed to arrive at a settlement with a small group of investors led by US hedge funds NML Capital and Aurelius Capital Management [see Update #1229]. A federal judge in New York, Thomas Griesa, had ruled that unless it had an arrangement with the hedge funds, Argentina couldn’t make payments to the majority of its creditors, who had agreed to accept discounted exchange bonds.

The current dispute goes back to Argentina’s 2002 default on some $100 billion dollars following a December 2001 economic collapse brought on by a decade of extreme neoliberal policies. The country settled most of the debt with exchange bonds, but NML and Aurelius Capital, firms of the type often called “vulture funds,” held out against the settlement. The Argentina has run advertisements in US media saying it hasn’t defaulted, on the grounds that it tried to make a required interest payment on one of its bonds. The country deposited $539 million in a New York bank in June to cover the payment, but Judge Griesa ruled that the bank would be in contempt of court if it paid the money out. At an Aug. 8 hearing Griesa told Argentina’s lawyers, the firm of Cleary Gottlieb, that he would hold the country in contempt if it continued to say it had met its debt obligations.

The ICJ, better known as the “World Court,” is the United Nations’ highest court for disputes between nations. Court officials said Argentina’s request for action had been sent to the US government but that the court wouldn’t move ahead “unless and until” the US accepts the court’s jurisdiction in the case. The US has sometimes recognized the court’s jurisdiction in the past, but in at least one case, a 1984 suit over US funding and direction of attacks inside Nicaragua, the US government simply ignored the ICJ’s 1986 ruling when it turned out to be in Nicaragua’s favor. (The Guardian (UK) 8/7/14 from Reuters; La Jornada (Mexico) 8/9/14 from Reuters, Notimex)

In other news, on Aug. 7 Estela Barnes de Carlotto, the president of the Argentine human rights organization Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, and other family members met for the first time with her grandson, who is one of the estimated 500 children that the 1976-1983 military dictatorship secretly placed in adoption after executing their parents during its “dirty war” against suspected leftists. The military abducted Barnes de Carlotto’s pregnant daughter Laura Carlotto in November 1977 and executed her after she’d given birth. Oscar Montoya, the child’s father, was also executed. Their son, Guido Montoya Carlotto, was placed with a farming family that apparently didn’t know about his origins; he was reunited with his biological family through DNA testing. The organization Barnes de Carlotto heads is dedicated to locating the missing children of the military’s victims. (Associated Press 8/5/14; LJ 8/8/14 from correspondent)

*3. Cuba: Another USAID Program Exposed
From October 2009 to some time in 2011 the US Agency for International Development (USAID) sponsored a program that paid almost a dozen youths from Costa Rica, Peru and Venezuela to travel to Cuba in order to obtain intelligence information and identify potential government opponents among students and other youths, according to an investigation that the Associated Press (AP) wire service published on Aug. 4. The revelation comes four months after AP reported on the agency’s ZunZuneo “Cuban Twitter” program [see Update #1215]. Like ZunZuneo, the program employed the Washington, DC-based private contractor Creative Associates International for operations. Analysts said these revelations indicate that the US is losing interest in the older generation of Cuban dissidents and is trying to develop opposition among younger Cubans.

“USAID’s young operatives posed as tourists, visited college campuses and used a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in critical health work around the world: an HIV-prevention workshop one called the ‘perfect excuse’ to recruit political activists,” AP reported. The youths in the programs risked 10 years in prison for anti-government activities if caught, but some were paid as little as $5.41 an hour. On Aug. 4 US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki defended the program as “support for Cuban civil society,” but documents that AP posted online suggest something more like a secret intelligence operation. When speaking to AP, Yajaira Andrade, the administrator of a Venezuelan group called Renova that was involved in the program, described her group’s activities as “some Venezuelans…working to stir rebellion.”

On Aug. 8 Cuban public health official María Isela Lantero Abreu called the use of an HIV program for political purposes “monstrous.” The Cuba operation “may have been good business for USAID’s contractor,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the US Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees USAID, said on Aug. 4, “but it tarnishes USAID’s long track record as a leader in global health.” An editorial in the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada described the Cuba operation as “a reiteration of the inveterate US mania for destabilizing sovereign governments in the hemisphere.” As Latin American governments move towards increased cooperation among themselves, these programs “will end up deepening the isolation of the superpower in the region… Washington, far from being a guarantor of international legality, democracy and human rights, has become an habitual and systematic violator of such principles.” (AP 8/4/14; LJ 8/5/14 editorial, 8/9/14 from correspondent)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, US/immigration

The Crisis of Small-Scale Fishing in Latin America

Neoliberalism and Vulture Funds (Argentina)

Wall Street Journal Uses Bogus Numbers to Smear Argentine President

Why Argentina is Right to Defy the Taliban of Global Finance

Quinoa Soup: What Our Consumption Means for Bolivian Growers

Subsistence-Based, Non-Repressive Drug Programs Actually Work (Bolivia)

'Massacre' evidence on Peru's Amazon borderlands

Indigenous Seed Savers Gather in the Andes, Agree to Fight Climate Change with Biodiversity (Peru)

Peru: new ops against 'narco-senderistas'

Venezuela to Take in Palestinian Child Refugees “As Soon As Possible”, Gaza Aid Ready

El Salvador: Maternity and Maternalism

Finally Free: Mass Burial of Wartime Victims in Guatemala Exhumed from Former Military Garrison of Comalapa

Guatemala-Mexico Agreement on Migrants in Baja Signed

EZLN and Indigenous Peoples Will Gather to Share Experiences (Mexico)

Inauguration of the First Exchange of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico With Zapatista Peoples

Coffee, a crisis about to explode (Mexico)

The (Institutionalized) Revolution Will Be Televised (Mexico)

Extradition Sought in Border Massacre Probe (Mexico)

Mexico: still more 'narco-fosas' uncovered

Hell in the Icebox (US/immigration)

How We Scapegoat Children From Gaza to the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands (US/immigration)

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

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