Dominican Republic: An interview with Gabriel Sánchez of the Broad Front for Popular Struggle

Grabiel-Snchez-vocero-del-Falpo“Here, they don’t criminalize protests, they kill or wound the protesters”

[Translation of an article from Noticias Aliadas of Lima, Peru, for March 7, 2015. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Gabriela Read

The Frente Amplio de Lucha Popular (FALPO – Broad Front for Popular Struggle) is an organization that has taken part in popular protests in the Dominican Republic since it was founded in 1985. FALPO had been a radical movement that staged violent protests, but the demonstrations have changed in the past few years and they have opted for what they describe as national mobilizations of a civic, democratic, mass nature. Since its founding, the members of FALPO have been persecuted, repressed and assassinated by the police forces, says Gabriel Sánchez, national spokesman for the organization for the past three years, with 23 years of activism in FALPO. One of the most violent episodes, he says, occurred in June, 2012, during a protest over the death of an athlete at the hands of the police in the city of Salcedo, in the province of Hermanas Mirabal, 155 kilometers from Santo Domingo, the capital. According to Sánchez, the police opened fire on a crowd with the result of 22 injured and four killed, according to figures obtained by the press.

Gabriela Read, who works with Noticias Aliadas, spoke with Sánchez about the government’s persecution of those who protest.
_ Read the rest of this entry »

What will the Dominican Republic lose if it expels the Haitians?

haitianos[Translation of a BBC Mundo article from June 18, 2015. See original here and related articles here, here, here, here and here. See World Bank report referred to below here.]

By Natalia Guerrero

The Dominican Republic and Haiti are two small countries sharing a small island where a potentially large problem is brewing.

Beginning on Wednesday, at least 180,000 Haitians, of the 458,000 the government calculates are living on Dominican soil, became subject to deportation for lack of documents, under provisions of the new Dominican Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners.

The new migration measure, which became law in 2013 after a controversial ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal (CT), seeks to normalize the migratory and labor situation of citizens of foreign origins who live in Dominican territory, and affects above all the Haitian population, which makes up 87% of immigrants in the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Migration crisis has not ended but has been moved to Mexico, study shows

[Translation of an article from El Faro of San Salvador, El Salvador, for June 11, 2015. See original here.]

The wave of migration that generated a humanitarian crisis last year on the southern border of the United States has not stopped but has moved to the south of Mexico, according to a study released last Thursday by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

In the first seven months of the 2015 fiscal year (from October, 2014, to April, 2015), Mexico has detained more Central American citizens than the United States itself, indicating that the country is acting as a retaining wall to the wave of migration, according to experts in that organization.

During that period, the United States detained 70,440 Central Americans as they were trying to enter the country, but Mexico arrested 92,889 under the same conditions, according to official data from the National Institute on Migration of Mexico and Customs and Border Protection of the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

Honduras: An interview with Gilberto Ríos Munguía, a leader of the resistance

El-Grillo[Translation of an article from El Ciudadano of Santiago, Chile, for April 26, 2015. See original here.]

By Andrés Figueroa Cornejo

…Gilberto Ríos Munguía, Honduran rebel and political fighter, is known to his companions as “El Grillo” [“The Cricket”]. And currently El Grillo is coordinator of the Izquierdas Socialistas [Socialist Left], which is a part of the leadership of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP – National Popular Resistance Front) and of the Partido Libertad y Refundación (LIBRE ─ Liberty and Refoundation). The Central American country’s Izquierdas Socialistas are socialists in the sense of having a political agenda whose perspective is the end of class society and not accomodation within class society.

What is the function of the coordinating body of the Izquierdas Socialistas of Honduras?

We guide struggles within the FNRP and we are the voice of the Left in LIBRE. The FNRP is the mass response to the legalized dictatorship ruled formally by President Juan Orlando Hernández and LIBRE is its electoral apparatus.

What is happening in Honduras now, in late April, 2015?

In general, the Honduran people are experiencing a continuation of the 2009 coup d’état, when the FNRP and all the other democratic opposition forces chose not to participate in elections that had been militarized and were fraudulent. That episode carried Porfirio Lobo Sosa (of the Partido Nacional) to the head of the executive branch. Taking advantage of the dictatorship’s thrust, Lobo strengthened liberal policies on economic matters, to the degree of putting Honduran territory up for sale, a process that is still being carried out. Living conditions for the immense majority of the population grew worse. In 2013, the proven victory of LIBRE presidential candidate Xiomara Castro was stolen.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Brazilian Workers’ Party: Buried in systemic chaos

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for April 3, 2015. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Raúl Zibechi

Systemic crisis and chaos work like a pillaging machine that leaves nothing in place: it destroys, devastates, annihilates whatever it finds in its path. It subjugates the lives of the dominated and the dominating, although both have ways of dealing with the new situation. Those on top try to profit from the chaos in order to stay on top. Those below face greater challenges whenever their survival is at stake. They can come out unscathed only in movement and in community, struggling alongside others on whom disorder has forced brother- and sisterhood.

Systemic chaos tends to destroy all the actors as a whole (to neutralize and transform their identities), beginning with the most fragile and least resistant. The Lefts cease being Lefts not because they have little support — they can have millions of votes — but because, interwoven with power and with the powerful, they have cast aside the ethics for staying on top. What happened with the Workers’ Party [PT – Partido dos Trabalhadores] of Brazil is a good example.

It is worthwhile to read a recent interview with Frei Betto conducted on March 30 by O Estado de São Paulo. During the military dictatorship he worked in ecclesiastical base communities contributing to the founding of the PT. He acted as part of Lula’s first administration (from 2003 to 2005) as coordinator of the Hambre Cero [Zero Hunger] program. He quit after two years, at the time of the disclosure of the corruption scandal over monthly payments to opposition members of congress so they would vote for their bills and wrote Mosca Azul: Una Reflexión sobre el PT en el Poder. Read the rest of this entry »

The way it was: Telling on the Army

Out about the military

[A few years ago, when Bill Clinton was president and don’t-ask-don’t-tell was first being debated, I wrote an article for a proposed book of writings by lesbian and gay veterans on our experiences in the military. The book was never finished. But now the 50th anniversary of the April, 1965, uprising in the Dominican Republic and the subsequent U.S. invasion is approaching and since my own participation in that invasion was central to my experience of the army and to the article I wrote, I am posting the article here. It is, of course, dated by now but I believe it is still relevant.]

by David Holmes Morris

Life was really pretty easy by the time I got settled at Ft. Devens in the spring of 1964. I hadn’t expected it to be. Basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, (Fort Lost-in-the-Woods to us) was as miserable as basic training is cracked up to be, especially for those like me who weren’t physically fit enough to run miles in combat boots or competent enough with rifles to hit targets. We were the weaklings (the others had a different word for us) and the objects of abuse for the lifers who ran the place.

Some miracle got most of us through, though, or, in my case at least, some quota and the recognition that electronic spying called for different abilities than physical combat did. Once through basic, those of us destined for the Army Security Agency were sent to Ft. Devens, a few miles west of Boston, for specialized training.

At Devens we were schooled in the arts of intercepting radio communications and tapping telephones. There were other lessons for me, though. Even before I made my first trip to Boston I happened on a certain men’s room at a certain PX not far from my barracks that other GIs had long since found uses for besides those the Army intended. Read the rest of this entry »

What the coup and the dictatorship meant for Brazil

((Rachel Clemens refuses to shake hands with dictatorial President João Figueiredo))

((Rachel Clemens refuses to shake hands with dictatorial President João Figueiredo))

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for April 1, 2015. See original here and related article here.]

by Emir Sader

Brazil had spent three decades constructing a national development project, with equitable distribution of income, and less than two decades of political democratization when the military coup of 1964 broke with these two currents and installed a military dictatorship and an economic model of over-exploitation of labor, concentration of income, luxury consumption and exportation.

It was a movement promoted by big business, the government of the United States, the domestic and international media, with the support of the Catholic Church. For the sake, supposedly, of the salvation of democracy, which was said to be in danger – the marches were called Marcha com Deus, pela Familia e pela Liberdade (March with God, for the Family and for Freedom) – they instituted the most brutal dictatorship Brazil had ever seen.

It was a radical turn in Brazilian history. The building of democracy and a national and popular project begun in 1930 with Getúlio [Dorneles Vargas] were interrupted abruptly. In addition to repression of everything that appeared democratic to them – popular parties, labor unions, the media, universities, congress, the judiciary, among others – a tightening of salaries was decreed immediately. Because it was not just a political dictatorship against democracy, it was also a dictatorship of big business against the working class. Read the rest of this entry »

Brazil: Impeachment, coup d’état and the dictatorship of the market

impeachment ja[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for March 6, 2015. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães

Impeachment is the effort to annul, by legislative means, by the votes of 513 congress members and 81 senators, the results of the November, 2014, election, which reflected the will of the majority of the Brazilian people when they elected President Dilma Rousseff by 53 million votes.

Since 2003, the television networks, especially TV Globo, the major newspapers, like O Estado de São Paulo, A Folha de São Paulo and O Globo, and the principal magazines, whether A Veja, Isto É or Época, have dedicated themselves to a systematic campaign to demoralize the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT ─ Workers’ Party) and the progressive parties and to attempt to prove the inefficiency, the disarray and the corruption of the PT administrations, including their social programs, which have brought 40 million Brazilians out of destitution and poverty.

Now the communications media, their candidate having lost the election, are attempting, with the providential aid of members of the judicial branch, the Public Ministry and the Federal Police, to create a political climate and public opinion that would bring down or immobilize the president and thus annul the will of the majority of the Brazilian people.

Read the rest of this entry »

Soft coups: A textbook case in Argentina

cristina_fernandez_0801[Translation of an article from El Clarín de Chile of Santiago for February 22, 2015. See original here.]

By Guillermo Almeyra

The new kind of coups d’état don’t use armies but are formally institutional. President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was ousted by parliament, as was Bishop Fernando Lugo, the president of Paraguay. Rafael Correa in Ecuador experienced an attempted coup by the police; Evo Morales in Bolivia was subjected to one by the oligarchies that ruled the eastern regions; Hugo Chávez, one by the bureaucrats and technocrats who controlled the petroleum company PDVSA, the country’s source of currency, and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, an attempt by big business, organizers of the hoarding of essential goods and illegal capital flight.

Dilma Rousseff, in turn, is currently facing a campaign for impeachment and Cristina Fernández in Argentina has faced, successively, speculation against the peso to force devaluation, a judicial attack in the United States by the vulture funds to provoke a wave of collections that would force Argentina into bankruptcy and, since January, preparations for a judicial coup based on the dubious suicide of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. In an incoherent proceeding lacking any proof and refuted by Interpol, the latter had charged the president and her foreign affairs minister with covering up for the Iranians, who had supposedly organized the July 18, 1994, attack on the Asociación Israelita Argentina (AMIA – Argentine Jewish Association), which resulted in 85 deaths and 300 injuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Mexico: Anger and justice in Ayotzinapa

x ayotzinapa-march[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for February 14, 2015. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Tanalis Padilla

Four and a half months after the murders of three normal school students and the disappearance of 43 of their classmates, the Ayotzinapa students, the parents and a considerable portion of the national and international community are still in struggle. While the government tries to have the investigation over and done with and its apologists have tried to blame the students themselves for the violence of which they were the victims, the demonstrations for the disappeared still express anger and seek justice.

With a total of 100,000 dead and 20,000 disappeared since former President Felipe Calderón declared his war on drugs, it would seem that we have gotten used to (or worse yet accepted) the absurd level of violence his initiative, carried on by President Enrique Peña Nieto, has engendered. That is why it seemed obvious at first for the government to dismiss the attacks of September 26 and 27 as just another half a hundred victims. They have tried to portray it as a merely local matter, as fights between criminal gangs, like an exceptional case that has nothing to do with structural injustice, like anything except what it is: a state crime. Read the rest of this entry »

Honduras: Re-election or constituent assembly?

[Translation of an article from Contralínea of Mexico City for February 6, 2015. See original here and related articles here and here.]

by Daniel Urbino

Honduras is being visited by ghosts from the recent past. Some political sectors are moving pieces on the chess board and sparking debate on the need for a constituent assembly, for allowing re-election or for maintaining the status quo.

The dispute gained strength on December 8, 2014, when more than a dozen congress members from the ruling Partido Nacional (PN) and one from the Unificación Democrática submitted an appeal to the supreme court on the constitutionality of an article of the Honduran constitution. The article, number 239, declares that a citizen who has held the position of head of the executive branch cannot become president again. Anyone violating this provision or proposing its reform, as well as those who support [its reform], directly or indirectly, will immediately surrender their respective positions and will remain ineligible for any public function for ten years, the provision further states.

This is not the first time the topic has been taken up in Honduras. In 2009, then President Manuel Zelaya promoted what was known as the “fourth ballot,” a non-binding survey to determine if the people were in favor of a constitutional reform or not. This would take place on the same day as the elections of the president, congress members and mayors, for which reason it was called the “fourth ballot.” Read the rest of this entry »

Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico: Families’ perseverance forces authorities to act

((La Jornada photo))

((La Jornada photo))

They have their own methods and tools for finding remains

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for January 24, 2015. See original here.]

by Arturo Cano

Iguala, Guerrero — The families of the other disappeared understand the pain of Ayotzinapa because they feel it in their own flesh. And in their short history of struggle, they also know that only their stubbornness has forced federal authorities to undertake a search that the tragedy of the normalistas made possible.

The Vergaras, who declare themselves to be “apolitical,” participated in a march on October 22. “Is there justice only for the massive disappearances?” asked one of the signs they carried. Four other families joined them there and a committee was born, thanks to which there is now a registry of 235 disappeared and the remains of 39 people have been found (without counting, of course, the 28 found in the first mass graves dug up by the state government, where two more bodies that the Guerrero experts hadn’t seen were later found.)

“They were going to skip La Laguna,” says the quiet voice of Mario Vergara, who, along with other family members, leads the very sad hunt for the other disappeared from Iguala. He is looking for his brother Tomás, who disappeared in 2008. Read the rest of this entry »