Mexico: Who benefits from the massacre in Iguala?

In Guerrero more than in any other state in Mexico, the army rules more than the elected governor

[Translation of an article from Más por Más of Mexico City for October 13, 2014. See original here.]

by Diego Enrique Osorno

In the early ‘70s the Mexican government, under pressure from the United States, carried out an ostentatious operation to eradicate the production of illegal drugs in Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua, which for a while left United States consumers with no marijuana or opiates. Nevertheless, just as this was happening, drug baron Alberto Sicilia Falcón and a group of military chiefs brought to Guerrero, for the first time, the massive cultivation of marijuana and opium poppies. So Sicilia, the drug trafficker, benefited from the production and sale of drugs, filling the void in the market left by Operation Condor in the Golden Triangle, while the maneuver aided the generals in Guerrero in their dirty war against the movement led by teachers’ college professor and guerrilla Lucio Cabañas, since the campesinos growing marijuana and poppies with their consent were turning into informers and collaborators with the army.

This is the origin of the famous marijuana known as Acapulco Gold, which could be a brand of the Mexican army. Testimony, documents and analysis of this reality can be read in a chapter of the book El Cártel de Sinaloa: Una historia del uso político del narco (Grijalbo, 2009). Read the rest of this entry »

The double standard of the Mexican blue helmets

x pena nieto[Translation of an article from Proceso of Mexico City for September 24, 2014. See original here.]

by Jorge Carrasco Araizaga

Mexico City – The presidential announcement that the armed forces will participate in United Nations peace-keeping operations shatters the Mexican military’s traditional isolation in international questions. But basically it is a measure that contradicts the soldiers’ and marines’ activities inside the country.

If the army and the navy want to show the world that they are prepared to participate in humanitarian actions by joining the UN blue helmets, they would first have to demonstrate to Mexicans that they are capable of respecting human rights.

Just when the Mexican army is in the midst of a serious controversy over its probable responsibility for the summary execution of civilians in Tlatlaya, in the state of Mexico, President Enrique Peña Nieto has announced before the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York that Mexican civilian and military personnel will take part in humanitarian missions when requested by the UN and when the intervention has the consent of the country affected. Read the rest of this entry »

Rafael Correa: “Conservative restoration” threatens progressive governments of Latin America

((Photo by Miguel Romero))

((Photo by Miguel Romero))

Ecuadorian president calls for limits on for-profit communications media

[Abridged translation of an interview from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for July 22, 2014. See original here and related article here.]

by Beto Almeida, Emir Sader and Valter Xéu

On a recent trip through Brazil, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa granted an exclusive interview to Brasil de Fato. In addition to journalist Beto Almeida, representing newspaper and television show “Cidade Livre” of Brasília, journalist Valter Xéu of the web page Pátria Latina and sociologist Emir Sader also took part.

Correa, who has presided over Ecuador since 2007 and intends to run for re-election in 2017, was in Brazil to take part in a meeting of Unasur (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas), made up of South American countries, with BRICS, consisting of China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and India. Read the rest of this entry »

Environmentalists move to the right in politics

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo, Brazil, for September 20, 2014. See original here and related article here.]

By Emir Sader

Originally, environmentalist demands sprang from within leftist parties, thus enriching and expanding their platforms. Leaving behind the narrow vision that a resolution of the contradiction between capital and labor would resolve all others, demands about gender, about ethnicity, about the environment, came to rejuvenate the Left.

But this process also affected the traditional leftist parties. Some, like the social democrats or the nationalists, supported variants on neoliberalism; others,in particular the communist parties, were directly affected by the fall of the USSR. Within this context, social movements and even NGOs participated actively in resistance against ascendant neoliberalism. Read the rest of this entry »

Lacalle Pou and the New Right in Uruguay

((Luis Lacalle Pou))

((Luis Lacalle Pou))

[Translation of an article from Tiempo Argentino of Buenos Aires for September 7, 2014. See original here and related article here.]

By Juan Manuel Karg

Next October 26, Uruguay will hold new presidential elections. The Frente Amplio (FA) will try for another term in office, this time with the combination Tabaré Vázquez / Raúl Sendic to replace Mujica / Astori, current president and vice president. According to the polls released so far, the ticket headed by the former president [Vázquez] will win, although, like it or not, there will probably be a runoff with the young Luis Lacalle Pou, the surprise on Uruguay’s new political map. What are the main points of the Frente Amplio’s current campaign? What are the proposals of their opponents, represented principally by the candidacy of Lacalle and the Partido Nacional?

((Tabaré Vázquez))

((Tabaré Vázquez))

The Frente Amplio platform for the 2015-2020 term as published is striking in its review of conditions in Uruguay before 2004, when Tabaré Vázquez first won the presidential election for the FA. “We were handed the government of a country with one of the highest levels of per capita debt in the world, with a stagnant productive apparatus and with poverty and destitution at the highest levels in history,” the introduction reminds us, in a portrayal that was quite similar to every other country in the region. Then, before moving on to specific proposals for the new term, it points out the achievements by the two consecutive administrations: sustained growth of the gross domestic product, real increases in salaries and retirement pay, decreases in the rate of unemployment and an expansion of social policies to attack poverty and destitution. Read the rest of this entry »

The conservative restoration in Latin America

[Translation of an editorial from Página12 of Buenos Aires for September 6, 2014. See original here.]

By Emir Sader

The failure of the military coup against the government of Hugo Chávez in 2002 left the Latin American Right practically disarmed in the face of the proliferating progressive governments of the continent. Since then, it has managed to regain only two governments through bloodless coups – those of Honduras and Paraguay – where the processes of change had not yet managed to gain strength.

But there are signs of a rebuilding of conservative forces in countries on the continent with progressive governments. The threats to continuity in countries like Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, as well as the problems faced in Venezuela, and, in a different way, even in Ecuador, indicate a phenomenon of this kind.

What do these conservative attacks consist of and how are they carried out? Read the rest of this entry »

Brazil: A platform to please the bankers

((Marina Silva))

((Marina Silva))

An ecologically correct Thatcherite in the court of candidate Marina Silva

[Translation of an article from Página12 of Buenos Aires, Argentina, for August 25, 2014. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Dario Pignotti

Ever since the environmentalist leader announced she will run in the presidential election, the only person in her entourage to offer details on her platform has been María Alice Setúbal, of the dynasty that founded and still runs the most important private bank in Brazil.

((María Alice Setúbal))

((María Alice Setúbal))

María Alice Setúbal has promised that if Marina is chosen in the October 5 election, the future administration, beginning on January 1, 2015, will do away with President Dilma Rousseff’s heterodoxies, detested in the financial community, where she is described as a “statist and interventionist.”

Marina Silva (of the Brazilian Socialist Party) is diametrically opposite Dilma (of the Workers’ Party), Setúbal explained, since the ecologist’s economic plan “focuses on clear points, stressing tax reform and fiscal responsibility,” to be achieved by cutting expenses and shrinking the state. Marina, in second place in the polls, with 21 percent of the intended vote, 15 points below Dilma, was named candidate last Wednesday shortly after the death of former Socialist Party presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in an airplane crash in São Paulo. Read the rest of this entry »

Power, and Barrick Gold, corrupt: they take the gold and leave the cyanide

gold_barrick[Translation of an article from El Clarín of Santiago, Chile, for August 25, 2014. See original here and go here for more information.]

By Alicia Gariazzo

Eighty percent of the gold produced in the world is for jewelry. Supplying the gold for a wedding ring takes 18 tons of earth and leaves 12 cubic meters of waste. The low-grade mineral that is dug up is sprayed with a solution of cyanide, which releases tiny particles of gold as it lixiviates, or filters through. The waste cyanide is carried away in water through pipes to the tailings dams. The dams are left uncovered so the cyanide can disintegrate and the water can evaporate. Close to 100 toxic chemicals and heavy metals are released as the cyanide breaks down.

They remain intact after the process and they cannot be removed from an area several kilometers in diameter. One teaspoon of a two-percent solution can kill an adult. The method of lixiviation, banned in Canada and throughout the industrialized world, requires 180 tons of cyanide a month, which, since it is imported, has to be transported over land from the ports of entry. Another method, used less often, is amalgamation based on mercury. Modern dentistry now prohibits the use of the amalgam in teeth because of the secondary effect the mercury produces, even in small quantities. Read the rest of this entry »

Brazil: What workers can expect from the three leading presidential candidates

candidates [Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for August 23, 2014. See original here.]

By Najla Passos

Brasilia – The Departamento Intersindical de Assessoria Parlamentar (DIAP – Inter-Union Department for Parliamentary Consultation) has no doubt that of the three leading candidates President Dilma Rousseff is the one who can best assure moving forward on the workers’ agenda. According to the organization’s director of research, Antônio Augusto Queiroz, their conclusion is based on a combination of data taken from the candidates’ platforms, a close examination of each candidate’s political profile, an analysis of the correlation of forces they will have to face in parliament and, mainly, an evaluation of the advisers who surround them.

“Campaign platforms conceal more than they reveal. They are all made for winning elections. So citizens should pay attention to platforms because they give clues, to the candidates’ speeches, which also help, but mainly to the people who surround the candidates, who will form their team if they are elected. No president does anything in isolation. What they do begins with what their team thinks, with what their team puts together,” he states. Read the rest of this entry »

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Victims in Havana: The decisive moment in the Colombian peace process

[Translation of an article from Razón Pública of Bogotá for August 11, 2014. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Marco Alberto Velásquez Ruiz

Victims and peace

The question of the victims has taken the dominant position in the framework of the peace talks being conducted by the government and the FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia]. But political tensions and controversies over who the victims are and how they may be represented by those speaking in Havana threaten to destabilize or even to halt the negotiations.

It is therefore important to examine the process of selecting the victims who are to participate directly in the negotiations, the criticisms that have been made of the process and the possible implications for the continuation of the peace talks.

As Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo has said on several occasions, the Colombian transitional justice effort is based on a series of elements meant to make it effective and legitimate and among these the participation of civil society, especially that of the victims of the conflict, stands out in the development of the dialogue. Read the rest of this entry »

Chile: Bachelet in Washington

bachelet[Translation of an article from Punto Final of Santiago for July 11, 2014. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Álvaro Ramis

The president’s recent visit to the United States allows us to analyze the relations between the world’s leading power and our country in the context of the awakening of Latin American consciousness in defense of its sovereignty and in pursuit of integration. Michelle Bachelet showed up for her appointment in the Oval Office of the White House at an especially delicate time in the relations between the United States and Latin America. It is not trivial to stress this aspect of it. It is not just the countries of ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América — Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) that are currently in a state of open tension with the Obama administration. The differences also encompass countries like Brazil, affected by the policies of economic spying on its strategic enterprises, and Argentina, which finds itself attacked by the recent United States court ruling barring it from settling its credit commitments if it does not agree at the same time to pay the so-called “vulture funds” a sum greater than 13 billion dollars, which threatens its long-term stability. In the midst of all these serious contradictions, the relations between Chile and the United States may seem like a minor consideration. But Chile’s unique position gives it a strategic role in the eyes of Washington. When Obama called Bachelet his “second favorite Michelle,” after his wife, he was not exaggerating. The United States has few friends left in Latin America and those that remain are there more from obligation or duress than from conviction. Within that framework, Chile wants to be the pretty girl playing hard to get. Chilean diplomacy, led by Minister Heraldo Muñoz, has termed the strategy “convergence in diversity.” An elegant way of declaring that in strategic disputes Chile is not going to fall in line but will pursue its own interests, in a pragmatic way. That is the official position but is it the reality? Read the rest of this entry »

Dominican Republic: The struggle against Barrick Gold

[Translations of two articles, from Listín Diario for July 1 and 7dias.com for July 4, 2014, respectively. See originals here and here and related articles here, here, here and here. Dating from 1505, Cotuí is one of the first towns in the Americans to be established by the Spaniards, who exploited its rich deposits of gold for several centuries.]

Dominican Republic: Protests against Barrick Gold will continue

Residents of Cotuí complain of mine’s negative impact

By Lilian Tejeda

Residents of Cotuí, the capital of the province of Sánchez Ramírez, will continue their struggle next Monday against alleged abuses by the multinational mining company Barrick Gold, which in the five years since it was established in the country, they say, has left only a trail of disasters.

“You can’t live there, it is a disaster zone. There is no potable water, everything is contaminated, the animals are dying. Despite its being one of the richest provinces, right now it is the poorest,” said Miguel D’Oleo, president of the Confederación Nacional de Familias sin Casa y sin Tierra (National Confederation of Homeless and Landless Families). Read the rest of this entry »