Monday, December 8, 2014

WNU #1245: One Ayotzinapa Student Confirmed Dead

Issue #1245, December 7, 2014

1. Mexico: One of Missing Students Confirmed Dead
2. Mexico: Protests Link Ayotzinapa, Ferguson, Garner
3. Costa Rica: State to Compensate Nemagon Victims
4. Chile: Four Women File Sexual Torture Complaint
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Central America, Mexico, Puerto Rico

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 For a subscription, write to Follow us on Twitter at

*1. Mexico: One of Missing Students Confirmed Dead
The remains of one of 43 students abducted the night of Sept. 26-27 in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero have been identified by DNA tests, parents of the missing students said on Dec. 6. Technicians in Innsbruck, Austria, established that one of 14 bone fragments sent them by the Mexican government came from the body of Alexander Mora Venancio, a 19-year-old student at the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the Guerrero town of Ayotzinapa; gang members and municipal police had detained him along with 42 other Ayotzinapa students in Iguala de la Independencia during attacks which also left three students and three bystanders dead. The bone fragments were found in a dump near Iguala in Cocula municipality after three members of the Guerrero Unidos (“United Warriors”) gang told federal authorities they had helped burn and dispose of the bodies of the missing students there [see Update #1241].

The students’ parents acknowledged the identification of Mora Venancio after talking with a group of independent forensics experts from Argentina; the parents say they don’t trust information from the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto. A notice was posted in the victim’s name on the college’s Facebook page. “Compañeros,” it read, “to all those who have supported us, I am Alexander Mora Venancio…one of the 43 who fell on Sept. 26 at the hands of the narco-government…. I feel proud of you, who have lifted up my voice, courage and freedom-loving spirit. Don’t leave my father alone with his sorrow; for him I mean practically everything—hope, pride, his efforts, his work and his dignity…. I invite you to redouble your struggle. Let my death not be in vain. Make the best decision, but don’t forget me. Rectify if it’s possible, but don’t forgive. This is my message.” (La Jornada (Mexico) 12/7/14)

The DNA identification seems unlikely to end the widespread anti-government protests that have dominated the two months since the Iguala attacks [see Update #1244]. On Dec. 2 the federal Chamber of Deputies voted 292-100 to pass a measure that would amend the Constitution’s Articles 11 and 73 so that the authorities could limit a demonstration if they judge that it violates citizens’ “right of mobility.” The Chamber’s committee on constitutional matters had returned the measure to the full body for voting on Apr. 23, but the deputies didn’t take action until the current crisis. The center-right National Action Party (PAN) proposed the measure, and deputies from President Peña Nieto’s centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and a small PRI satellite party, the Ecological Green Party of Mexico (PVEM), joined them to approve it. The small leftist Labor Party (PT) and two center-left parties, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and the Citizens’ Movement, opposed the bill, although PRD and Citizens’ Movement deputies on the constitutional committee had backed it in April. The PRD has lost popular support--and even party founder Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano--over the Iguala violence; former Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez, accused of ordering the attacks, is a PRD politician.

Rights activists promptly denounced the anti-protest measure. “We are concerned that amid the human rights crisis that the country is going through, the response of the Mexican state is send a message to inhibit social protests,” Carlos Ventura, of the Fray Francisco de Vitoria Human Rights Center, told a press conference in Mexico City on Dec. 3. The measure was received in the Senate on Dec. 4, but it was unclear how soon the senators would schedule a vote. (LJ 12/3/14, 12/5/14; TeleSUR English 12/4/14)

Meanwhile, evidence is mounting that at least some of the violence by alleged anarchists at Ayotzinapa protests has involved agents provocateurs. On Dec. 3 the online Mexican publication Animal Político posted two videos showing officials or police agents from the Federal District (DF, Mexico City), which has been governed by the PRD since 1997, in civilian dress among the protesters at a Dec. 1 march along the city’s Reforma avenue. In one of the videos, a man later identified as an official in a city agency is seen throwing a metal tube during a confrontation at the end of an otherwise peaceful protest. Two police agents seize the official and begin beating him, but other agents say: “Wait, he’s a compañero.” Agents then lead the official away and release him. (VICE 12/3/14)

*2. Mexico: Protests Link Ayotzinapa, Ferguson, Garner
Hundreds of Mexican immigrants and other activists held actions in at least 47 US towns and cities on Dec. 3 to protest the abduction of 43 teachers’ college students by police and gang members in Mexico’s Guerrero state in September; each of the 43 students had one of the actions dedicated to him. The protests were organized by UStired2, a group taking its name from #YaMeCansé (“I’m tired now,” or “I’ve had it”), a Mexican hashtag used in response to the violence against the students, who attended the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the Guerrero town of Ayotzinapa. The protesters focused on US government financing for the Mexican government--especially funding for the “war on drugs” through the 2008 Mérida Initiative [see Update #952]--but they also expressed outrage over the US court system’s failure to indict US police agents in two recent police killings of unarmed African Americans.

The protest “is a community effort by Mexicans living in the US [to show] that we don’t want our tax money to finance the Mexican government, which is corrupt,” Karla de Anda, one of the organizers of the protest in Miami, told the Associated Press wire service. “They’re giving [Mexican authorities] money for arms,” US writer and activist Roberto Lovato said at a New York vigil. “They’re giving armament for disappearing people, for creating mass graves.” Signs at the various protests called for an end to “Plan Mexico,” comparing the Mérida Initiative to the bloody US-funded Plan Colombia of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The US has given Mexico $1.2 billion under the initiative, according to Maureen Meyer of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

The Mexican actions were planned just as many people in the US were protesting a grand jury’s decision on Nov. 24 not to indict a white Ferguson, Missouri police agent, Darren Wilson, for the August shooting death of an unarmed African-American youth, Michael Brown. On Dec. 3, as many of the Ayotzinapa actions were starting, a grand jury announced its decision not to indict white New York City police agent Daniel Pantaleo for the chokehold-induced death in July of an unarmed African-American street vendor, Eric Garner. Mexican protesters highlighted the parallels with the Mexican killings, which St. Louis University student Ale Vázquez Rubio called “too obvious to ignore.” “The connection is having a government that doesn’t value brown and black bodies,” she said at a protest in St. Louis; Ferguson is a suburb of the city. “The connection is also in the silencing of a lot of voices.” “Our governments are working together to oppress us, so why shouldn’t we be working together?” another St. Louis protester asked. “United we stand” and “Somos unidos,” the participants chanted, alternating English and Spanish.

In New York, UStired2 was holding its scheduled vigil in Times Square in the evening when thousands of people marched to the site in a spontaneous protest of the Garner decision. The Mexican protesters joined in with the chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot,” a reference to the Brown shooting. “Do you hear that?” Lovato asked a reporter. “It’s like an echo.” Lovato noted that USTired2 put together a conference call between the mothers of the missing students and parents of children in Ferguson the evening before. “The most moving moment was when the indigenous mothers who were looking for their sons who [have] been disappeared by the Mexican police were speaking to African-American mothers about what is happening in Ferguson. They were both saying ‘I know what you feel, I know what this is like.’” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 12/3/14; Univision 12/4/14; Fox News Latino 12/4/14; Voices of NY 12/4/14)

*3. Costa Rica: State to Compensate Nemagon Victims
A decree by Costa Rican president Luis Guillermo Solís authorizing payments to former banana workers sickened by the pesticide Nemagon became official on Dec. 1 with the measure’s publication in the government’s gazette. Under the decree the government’s National Insurance Institute (INS) will pay out from 25% to 100% of the medical bills for workers who suffered physical or psychological damage from Nemagon, with the percentage based on their years of exposure to the pesticide. The decree currently covers 13,925 former banana workers; cases are pending for 9,233 of the workers’ children and 1,742 of the workers’ spouses. More than 11,000 other applications were dismissed.

Nemagon is a brand name for dibromochloropropane (DBCP), a chemical known to cause sterility, cancer, miscarriages, genetic deformities and other health problems. It was formerly in wide use in Central American banana fields; it was applied in Costa Rica from 1967 until the government banned the chemical’s importation in 1979. Affected Central American banana workers have been demanding compensation for decades. Costa Rica passed a compensation law in September 2001 but without setting up a mechanism for paying the workers. Some 780 Costa Ricans already won a separate settlement in 2011 from California-based fruit and vegetable producer Dole Food Company, Inc., which began making payments in September 2012 [see Update #1144]. The agreement with Dole also covered 3,157 Nicaraguans and 1,000 Hondurans. (La Nación (Costa Rica) 12/2/14; Tico Times 12/3/14)

*4. Chile: Four Women File Sexual Torture Complaint
On Dec. 1 Nieves Ayress Moreno, a Chilean-born naturalized US citizen, formally joined a criminal complaint filed earlier by three other Chilean women over sexual political violence that they say they suffered under the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Chilean law doesn’t treat sexual violence as a separate complaint; instead, the crimes are considered “illegitimate pressure,” allowing some of the perpetrators to escape justice. The complaint seeks to have the crimes “incorporated into the penal code and those responsible for them to be able to be punished,” according to another of the plaintiffs, Alejandra Holzapfel. Ayress Moreno, who lives in New York, delayed joining Holzapfel and the remaining two plaintiffs, Soledad Castillo and Nora Brito, in the complaint until she could travel to Chile.

After meeting with Santiago Appeals Court president Mario Carroza on Dec. 1, Ayress described some of her experiences to reporters at a press conference. She was abducted by security forces along with her father and 15-year-old brother in the fall of 1973, she said, and was subjected to electric shocks and sexual violence in the Londres 38 torture center of the now-defunct National Intelligence Directorate (DINA). “Later they brought my father so that he could hear the tortures,” she said, adding that the torturers included Argentines, Brazilians and Paraguayans. “Afterwards they transferred me to Tejas Verdes [a concentration camp], always bound and hooded. The most terrible part was there, because the torture school was there, and the forms of aggressions and sexual violence I was exposed to are unspeakable.” At one point, she said, she witnessed DINA director Manuel Contreras personally directing her torture.

Court president Carroza told the website for the memorial park at Villa Grimaldi, another DINA torture center, that while technically the complaint would have to be treated under Chilean laws in effect at the time of the alleged abuses, Chile had signed on to international human rights conventions that might apply to the cases. “As the judicial power, we need to look at this situation, analyze it and confront it in the shortest possible time,” he said. “We’ve already been condemned in the past by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [CorteIDH], precisely for not carrying out this type of investigation in depth.” (Fox News Latino 12/1/14; Rebelión 12/1/14)

Nieves Ayress is well known in New York as an activist for immigrants and for human rights. Her husband, Víctor Toro, was a founder of Chile’s Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR); he too was tortured by the Pinochet regime. In 2007 the US government started a seven-year effort to deport Toro as an undocumented immigrant, but on Oct. 23 of this year a US immigration court granted him a work permit and permission to remain in the country, while denying his request for political asylum. (TeleSUR English 10/24/14)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras, Central America, Mexico, Puerto Rico

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Andes: repression ahead of Lima climate summit

Ecuador indigenous leader found dead days before planned Lima protest

Colombia: peace talks resume; Uribe urges 'rebellion'

Colombian general captured by FARC resigns

Pemon Indigenous Occupy Airport in Venezuela: “We Have Had Enough of Broken Promises”

Community Democracy Confronts Mining in El Salvador

Palm Oil and Extreme Violence in Honduras: The Inexorable Rise and Dubious Reform of Grupo Dinant

In Oaxaca, Caravan of Central American Mothers Calls for Unity of Movements

Central American Mothers Build Bridges of Hope

Mexican Immigration Authorities Impede Humanitarian Aid to Central American Migrants

Mexico’s Civic Insurgency

Students March for Ayotzinapa and for Their Future (Mexico)

Ayotzinapa: I read and I share (Mexico)

The Spectre of Ayotzinapa Haunts the Continent (Mexico)

Wixarika Leaders to First Majestic Silver: Follow IMD Mining Ltd Example, Abandon Mining Project in Sacred Lands (Mexico)

Mexico: In the Land of Zapata, a Community Fights Natural Gas Development

The Rebirth of an Urban “Dead Zone”? (Mexico)

We Can Pretend Mexico’s War Isn’t ‘Made in the U.S.A.’, But the Numbers Don’t Lie

How Canada and Mexico Have Become Part of the U.S. Policing Regime

In Memoriam Juan Flores 1943-2014 (Puerto Rico)

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