Argentina: The Malvinas in memory

“The truth about the Malvinas is that they are a major NATO nuclear and military base in the South Atlantic”

[Translation of an article from Página/12 of Buenos Aires for April 4, 2014. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

During the observation of the Day of the Malvinas Veteran, President Cristina Kirchner reaffirmed Argentina’s sovereignty over the archipelago and declared that the motive for the United Kingdom’s maintaining control of the territory, “one of the most militarized in the world,” is because they “control their entire military deployment” from there, as well as “their system of electronic intelligence.” She revealed further that the government is seeking the identification of “143 unidentified bodies of Argentines who gave their lives for us” and who are in the Darwin cemetery and she presented a drawing of the new 50-peso bill with an illustration of the islands.

“The truth about the Malvinas is that they are the largest NATO military and nuclear base in the South Atlantic,” declared the president during a ceremony in the Casa de Gobierno honoring the combatants killed in the war by which the last military dictatorship attempted to recuperate the islands in 1982. “History shows that colonial enclaves are always recovered in the end. I have unlimited confidence in history and in the people that they will be recovered,” the president declared to former combatants and national and provincial officials. Read the rest of this entry »

Brazil: Truth and impunity

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for March 27. See original here. On March 31, 1964, Brazilian military forces, with the full support of the United States under President Lyndon Johnson, overthrew center-left President João Goulart. The coup in Brazil came six months after the US-backed coup against Dominican President Juan Bosch during the Kennedy presidency. The military ruled Brazil until they were replaced by an elected government in 1985.]

coupFifty years after the coup that toppled the government of João Goulart, the truth about what happened is beginning gradually to surface

By Eric Nepomuceno

On the eve of the 50th anniversary of the civilian-military coup that toppled the government of João “Jango” Goulart and initiated a 21-year dictatorship, there is a little of everything in Brazil. Some are nostalgic, some have forgotten those evil times and some are indifferent, believing that turning to the past is unnecessary. And the latter are the majority, the keepers of a very revealing silence about Brazilians’ chronic terror during a dreadful past.

And there are a few – very few – agents of state terrorism who, for some reason, have chosen to tell part of what they know. In this way, the truth is beginning gradually to be uncovered. This occurs with the support of a contorted and despicable amnesty law decreed by the military as the dictatorship was beginning to decline and ratified four years ago by the Supreme Court in a manner as surprising as it was cowardly. Read the rest of this entry »

Colombia: Gustavo Petro leaves a void in the Colombian Left

FARC warns that Santos’ ruling may affect peace process

[Translation of an article from El Telégrafo of Guayaquil, Ecuador, for March 21, 2014.  See original here and related article here.]

Political leaders and analysts believe that the removal of the mayor of Bogotá will have repercussions in the presidential elections next May. The former official has announced that he will promote voting for “none of the above.”

The former mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, a one-time militant with the M-19 guerrilla movement, is the only local official on the left who has managed to hold a high political office in Colombia. His removal from office is without doubt a blow to the left, which saw in him the possibility of governing [the country], analysts stress.

President Juan Manuel Santos removed Petro in compliance with a request by the attorney general, who held that the mayor committed serious errors in the course of transferring the Bogota garbage collection system from the private sector to the public in 2012, and after denying a petition for a preliminary injunction in the case made on Tuesday by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Read the rest of this entry »

Mexico: The effects of fracking for shale gas in Los Ramones, Nuevo León

((Don Alvaro Cortez Plata -- photo by Sanjuana Martínez))

((Don Alvaro Cortez Plata — photo by Sanjuana Martínez))

“The explosion, like a roar that comes from the earth, and everything shakes; I’ve never felt anything like it”

 [Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 16, 2014.  See original here.]

by Sanjuana Martínez

Los Ramones, Nuevo León, March 15 — Álvaro Cortez Plata does not know what fracking is, nor does he have any information on the so-called Plan Monterrey VI, much less does he know the name of the transnational that contracted with Pemex to extract shale gas from his village; but he has felt the earth shake a hundred times since last October, tremors that begin with a kind of roar, followed by a swaying like waves on the sea and, finally, a creaking sound that breaks walls, smashes glass and buckles floors.

“It is a roar that comes from the earth, an explosion; everything shakes, something I had never felt as long as I’ve lived,” says this 64-year-old campesino as he points out the cracks in his adobe house in this town at the epicenter of the earthquakes, 80 kilometers north of Monterrey.  His daughter, Argelia Sanjuanita, points out the damage inside the house. “Just last night and at eight this morning we felt more tremors. The people who live closer to the wells have more damage to their houses; some of them have collapsed.” Read the rest of this entry »

Venezuela: The Caracazo and civilian-military unity

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for March 2, 2014. See original here.]

By Beto Almeida

“The Bolivarian Revolution is peaceful but armed”

Twenty-five years ago, on February 27, 1989, the president of Venezuela at the time, Carlos Andrés Pérez, launched an explosive neoliberal package that drastically increased the prices of gasoline and food. The people of Caracas rebelled, took to the streets, looted supermarkets, clothing stores, butchers’ shops. Pérez ordered the army to repress them harshly. Hundreds of citizens were killed. The exact number is yet to be calculated, since many were buried in common graves or thrown onto the city garbage dump.

When I had the opportunity to interview President Chávez in the Miraflores Palace, he told me he was in the service then and knew when the order to repress was given and when the troops left for the poor neighborhoods, crushing the rebellion that came to be known as the Caracazo, without pity or remorse. Chávez said that the Caracazo was the fuse, the avalanche, the fundamental encouragement for the Bolivarian military movement, the building of which he led in barracks throughout the nation, to spring into action. That repression had provoked the progressive and nationalist ranks of the military. Read the rest of this entry »

Haiti: What’s left of the popular movement?


((Martelly and Duvalier))

((Martelly and Duvalier))

[Translation of an article from Haïti Liberté of Port-au-Prince for February 12, 2014.  See original here and related articles here, here, here, here and here.]

By Francklyn B. Geffrard

Last February 7 was the 28th anniversary of the fall of the Duvalier dictatorship.  Targeted by a popular revolt and abandoned by the Americans, Jean Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier and his associates had to flee the country early in the morning.  For close to three decades, François Duvalier (from 1957 to 1971), then his son Jean Claude (from 1971 to 1986), had ruled the country with an iron fist.  To facilitate the departure of Jean Claude Duvalier and his associates, a U.S. Air Force plane had been placed at their disposal by the administration of President Ronald Reagan.

During the long years that Haiti was ruled by the Duvaliers, the country faced serious economic, political and social crises.  Arbitrary arrests and assassinations carried out against thousands by the Tontons Macoutes sowed fear, in its most basic form, in the hearts of the people.  No opposition was tolerated.  Every opponent of the regime was condemned either to imprisonment in the regime’s numerous torture centers, to disappearance, pure and simple, or, for the lucky ones, to exile. This explains, furthermore, why it is outside the country that Haitian exiles tried to create a movement in opposition to the regime, which had enjoyed the unfailing support of France and the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

El Salvador: The crisis on the Right

((Salvador Sánchez Cerén))

((Salvador Sánchez Cerén))

[Translation of an article from Proceso of Mexico City for February 11, 2014. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Juan José Dalton

San Salvador – The Salvadoran Right, joined together as the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (ARENA), is in a crisis following its disastrous electoral failure in the first round of the presidential election of February 2.

This does not come as a surprise; their arch-enemy since the civil war (1980-1992), the governing leftist Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), won by ten percentage points, an advantage hard to overcome in the contest scheduled for next March 9.

As of a year ago, the outlook was different for ARENA and its presidential candidate, the current mayor of San Salvador, Norman Quijano, a staunch anti-communist in the McCarthyite tradition. The polls and the analyses were then giving Quijano the leading position as the sure winner in the first or second round over the FMLN, whose candidate was professor and former rebel commander Salvador Sánchez Cerén. Read the rest of this entry »

Chilean students prepare for 2014: “We want a response on our own terms”

a3 xx[Translation of an article from El Clarín of Santiago, Chile, for December 26, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Paula Correa

Before the presidential runoff, the students made it clear that neither of the two candidates represented them and that, beyond who won the election, the only guarantee they could see for going forward as a movement lay in mobilization and the pressure they could generate.

Melissa Sepúlveda, president of the Federación de Estudiantes de la Universidad de Chile (FECH), stressed the differences between president elect Michelle Bachelet’s platform and the demands the students have been making since 2011. “We have been emphatic in revealing the existence of profound differences, at a programatic level, with the Nueva Mayoría. We see that they mention only the end of profit making in institutions that receive resources from the state and, for us, since it is a social right, there can be no room at all for profit in education. Profiting has to end at all levels of education. What we want is a response on our own terms to the demands that the student movement has made,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

Mexico: The Buen Pastor Shelter, where injured travelers find support

((Juan Presentación Marroquín - La Jornada photo by Blanche Petrich))

((Juan Presentación Marroquín – La Jornada photo by Blanche Petrich))

Central Americans say Mexican government does not do enough to fight crimes against migrants

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for December 22, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here, here and here.]

by Blanche Petrich

Tapachula, Chiapas, December 21 – Anita Zelaya, from El Salvador, walks with determination into the men’s dormitory at the Buen Pastor Shelter, a unique place in the country where sick or injured migrants are taken in. In a bed in the back lies a countryman of hers, Juan Presentación Marroquín. “How are you, hijo? We came to say hello and to see how we can help you.” The boy, with both his legs amputated at the hip, turns toward the wall in annoyance. “Or rather, you help me. Look, this is my son, who is missing. Do you recognize him?”

The possibility of being useful stirs Juan from his lethargy. Ana and Juan talk; it turns out they are from the same place, Soyapango. And, no, Juan has not seen Anita’s son, Rafael Rolín Zelaya, kidnapped by extortionists in 2002, anywhere on the train known as La Bestia, which he has ridden five times. But he hastens to tell his story. Read the rest of this entry »

Chile: Cambridge professor José Gabriel Palma on Bachelet’s second term

x Michelle_Bachelet“Small changes with nothing changed”

[Translation of an article from Página/12 of Buenos Aires for December 20, 2013. See original here.]

There is more and more activism on the streets of Chile. Analyst José Gabriel Palma wonders how long president elect Bachelet can “continue to appease the demands with this ‘gatopardismo .’”

By Marcelo Justo

The runoff was the easy, predictable part. Now Michelle Bachelet’s problems begin. Surveys show that an overwhelming majority of the people want deep changes to a model that for a while was the wonder of the world but that is now a disappointment to Chileans themselves. The constitutional legacy of dictator Augusto Pinochet is hampering their aspirations decisively. Despite her sizable victory at the polls, she does not have the majority in the Senate she needs to bring about a profound transformation. Página/12 spoke by telephone with José Gabriel Palma, a Chilean professor of economics at the University of Cambridge, who is in his country keeping track of political developments. Read the rest of this entry »

After removal of Petro, Colombians question attorney general’s intentions and power

Attorney general is accused of persecuting leftists while sparing the Right

[Translation of an article from Opera Mundi of São Paulo, Brazil, for December 14, 2013. See original here.]

((Gustavo Petro -- Opera Mundi photo))

((Gustavo Petro — Opera Mundi photo))

by Simone Bruno

“And in spite of it, I am the mayor of Bogotá,” Gustavo Petro shouted during his speech, perhaps the last during his tenure, to thousands of supporters in the Plaza de Bolívar, in the center of the Colombian capital. On Monday, December 9, the attorney general of the nation, who is in charge of conducting administrative trials of public servants, removed him from office and made him ineligible for public office for the next 15 years.

Only two years earlier, the former member of M-19, an urban guerrilla force originating in the 1970s, won the election for the most important position in the capital, the second most important in the country, after the presidency. In his speech, Petro recounted the history of the violence the Left of Colombia has been subjected to in the past few decades, from the extermination of the Unión Patriótica, the party born of a peace accord with the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) guerrillas, when more than 5,000 people were assassinated in seven years, up to the homicides and attacks on former members of M-19 after they signed the peace accord and returned to civilian life. Read the rest of this entry »

Dominican Republic: A short history of anti-Haitianism

Economist Miguel Ceara-Hatton speaks on the Constitutional Tribunal ruling

CEARA HATTON[Translation of comments by Dominican economist Miguel Ceara-Hatton to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights as published in Espacinsular of Santo Domingo on December 8, 2013. See original here. Ceara-Hatton is a member of the Comité de Solidaridad con los Desnacionalizados, the Committee in Solidarity with the Denationalized.]

Almost from the beginning of the 16th century, the island of Santo Domingo was abandoned by Spain; their abandonment turned into depopulation in the 17th century, which gave rise to the French occupation of the northwestern part of the island and eventually to the establishment of the French colony of Saint Domingue, which became the wealthiest French colony during the 18th century.

Its wealth was created on the basis of sugar production, organized on the plantation system, which was based on an intense and cruel slavery. The cruelty was an integral part of the plantation system because it was the only possible way for a few thousand white landowners to live in the midst of almost 500,000 slaves. Read the rest of this entry »