Archive for April, 2010

Brazilian President Lula: “If necessary, we will build Belo Monte solely with state money”

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

For the president, those opposed to the power plant are a “blackout industry”

[Translation of an article from Hora do Povo of Brazil for April 28, 2010, concerning controversial plans to build a hydroelectric plant in the Amazonian region of Pará state. The project, supported by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is being opposed by environmentalists, indigenous groups and by José Serra, until recently governor of São Paulo state and now presidential candidate for the center-right Social Democratic Party.  Serra’s opposition is likely more a case of campaign opportunism than concern for the environment or for indigenous rights.  See also “Equivocations of a ‘people’s’ govnernment” below.]

On Monday, April 26, during his weekly radio program “Café com Presidente,” Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva responded to criticism from tucano [Social Democratic Party] candidate José Serra of construction of a hydroelectric plant at Belo Monte, in Pará state. For the president, opponents of the project are the same people who are “manipulating for another blackout in the country.” He said the plant will be the third largest hydroelectric plant in the world. “There will always be those who don’t want us to act because they hope for a national disaster so they can find somebody to blame,” Lula charged. “There were five years of study before authorization could be obtained. Now, at last, the project will be built,” the president declared. (more…)

Zelaya says the popular resistance is leaving him out

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

[Translation of an article from Listín Diario of  Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for April 27, based on a dispatch from the Spanish news agency Efe.]

Former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya believes that the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP – National Popular Resistance Front) is leaving him aside, which, in his opinion, stengthens those who ovethrew him on June 28, 2009.

Such was the opinion Zelaya expressed in a letter sent from the Dominican Republic to an FNRP leader, and made public today, in which he also indicates that the organization is minimizing the possiblity of his return to the country after his January 27 departure…

“They are leaving me out of the strategy they have devised, in my effort to return to my country and to regain my rights as a Honduran,” the former ruler stresses in the letter, which was distributed to local media today. (more…)

Bolivian President Morales denies attacking homosexuals

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

[Translation of an article from the Agencia Boliviana de Información, the Bolivian government news agency.]

La Paz, April 26, 2010 – It never crossed President Evo Morales’ mind to attack the rights of homosexuals and he absolutely was not referring to them in his speech opening the World Conference on Climate Change held in the city of Cochabamba, presidential spokesman Iván Canelas declared on Monday.

Canelas said during a press conference that there had been “widespread speculation on the subject” and that the media and some organizations had given his statements “the interpretation they chose to give them”…

Canelas argued that any position of that kind would be a contradiction and recalled that Morales comes from a “deep indigenous tradition” which, in his view, vindicates diversity in all its forms, the diversity of nature, human diversity, the diversity of ideas, “and of course sexual diversity.”

In the same vein, he reported that the Bolivian government had sent a letter through the Ministry of Justice to a Spanish gay and lesbian organization confirming respect for sexual diversity, which is even recognized in the new political constitution of the nation, which was promoted by President Morales.

He said Article 14 of the new constitution states very clearly that the state prohibits and punishes all forms of discrimination based on gender, color, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, origen, culture, nationality, citizenship, language, religious creed, ideology or affiliation.

He urged journalists to review carefully Morales’s speech at the opening of the World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, held in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba from April 20 to 22, to verify that he did not refer to homosexuals.

“What happens is that sometimes a speech is exaggerated or is interpreted in whatever way one chooses,” he explained…

Honduras: Death threats and the news

Monday, April 26th, 2010

[Translation of an article from of Honduras for April 26, 2010. See also “Red Alert: Killing of journalists in Honduras continues” below.]

Gerardo Chevez — Revistazo photo

After seven years of investigations and denunciations, argued with clarity and justice, Gerardo Chévez, a reporter for Radio Progreso, is now in the sights of those who would silence him. Now he himself is the news and it is in that position that we interviewed him.

In December of 2009, Chévez accompanied the team on a tour of the city of El Progreso. The objective: to uncover the negligence of municipal authorities in the handling of 15 million lempiras [793,000 US dollars] dispursed by the national congress in 2006 for purchasing land to be used as a sanitary landfill. Four years later nothing has been done. The money, it is said, is still in the bank.

This type of investigation and others he has performed during his career as a reporter keep Chévez on a list of threatened journalists which has included seven who have already been assassinated… (more…)

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo says there will be no human rights abuses during state of emergency

Monday, April 26th, 2010

[Translation of an article from TeleSUR for April 26, 2010, concerning the state of emergency the senate recently delared, at the president’s request, for part of the country. The object of the measure is to permit military action against the EPP, the Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo, Paraguayan People’s Army, a guerrilla group active in the region. In the meantime, Vice President Federico Franco, a political enemy of the president, has accused Lugo of deception, claiming the operation has a hidden purpose. See also “Paraguayan senate declares state of emergency” below.]

The president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, promised on Monday that public forces will not commit any type of abuse during the 30-day state of emergency the senate has declared for five departments in the north of the country.

The president called on the citizenry to avoid comparing the measure to political actions of the past, like the states of siege imposed by the dictatorship, which sought only to sow fear.

“I want to make it clear, very clear, that no constitutional guarantee is suspended with this measure. People’s lives should go on in a normal way in the region in question while the state works on security operations… This is an emergency measure undertaken by a democratic government that is respectful of its citizens,” the leader declared. (more…)

Brazil: Equivocations of a “people’s” government

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

[Translation of an article from Correio da Cidadania of Brazil for April 20, 2010.]

by Waldemar Rossi

The debates and clashes over construction of one more Lula administration mega-project are in full swing: construction of the Belo Monte dam and power plant on the Xingu River, in the state of Pará, in the heart of the endangered Amazon.

Speaking on behalf of the great extractive industries, of agribusinesses and

Xingu protest against Belo Monte dam project

agricultural exporters, among others, is Maurício Tolmasquim, president of the Empresa de Pesquisa Energética [Energy Research Company]. Tolmasquim claims that the project will save the residents of the area, guaranteeing that they will be trained for jobs in constructing it. He doesn’t say, however, what will happen to that population after the work is done, where they will live or what productive activities will be guaranteed them for supporting their families. Nor does he say how many will have to be removed from the lands where they live. That is, the people interest the investors solely as a source of cheap labor. (more…)

Mexicans make up 50% of the new poor in Latin America

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Crisis has cast 10 million Latin Americans into deep poverty

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for April 22, 2010.]

By Roberto González Amador

Washington, DC, April 21 – Half of the Latin Americans who fell into poverty in 2009 as a result of the economic crisis are Mexican, according to estimates by the World Bank and the Mexican government.

“Mexico accounts for an important portion” of the increase in the number of poor people in Latin America, the World Bank says.

The effect of the crisis in the region that should concern us the most is the increase in poverty, Augusto de la Torre, chief World Bank economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, declared on Wednesday.

The number of poor people in the region increased by nine to ten million as a consecuence of the economic crisis, he said. (more…)

Haitian President Préval reiterates his desire to hold elections at the end of the year

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Citizens divided on the possibility of valid elections at the appointed time

[Translation of an article from Agence Haïtienne de Presse for April 21, 2010.]

Port-au-Prince, April 21 – President René Préval on Wednesday reiterated his administration’s desire to organize elections before the end of the year.

The head of state reported that a mission of technicians and jurists sent by the secretary general of the United Nations is currently touring the country to evaluate the possibility of organizing elections as scheduled.

Concerning claims by opposition leaders that elections are not possible because of the lack of credibility of the current Conseil Electoral Provisoire (CEP – Provisional Electoral Council), the chief executive counters that the CEP was formed on the basis of consensus.

Elections should be held in such a manner as to assure the continuation of democracy and political stability, Préval said, and reaffirmed his desire to relinquish power at the end of his mandate in February, 2011. (more…)

Paraguayan senate declares state of emergency in northern departments after EPP attack

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

[Translation of an article from TeleSUR for April 22, 2010.]

At the request of President Fernando Lugo, the Paraguayan senate on Thursday approved declaration of a state of emergency in five departments in the north of the country after armed attacks, presumably carried out by the so-called Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP – Paraguayan People’s Army), which left four dead, including one police officer and three civilians.

By a vote of 31 out of 45 seats, the upper chamber passed a bill which includes changes to the proposal Fernando Lugo had offered to the legislators in the morning.

The government measure includes the departments of Concepción, San Pedro, Presidente Hayes, Alto Paraguay and Amambay… (more…)

Red Alert: Killing of journalists in Honduras continues

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

[Translation of an article from of Honduras for April 20, 2010.]

A bullet to the head ended the life of journalist Georgino Orellano, making him the seventh reporter killed in the country in 2010. Another murder to deplore, along with the negligence with which police forces operate in Honduras.

Preliminary accounts say Orellano had been stalked by an individual who would wait for him at the exit to the television network installation in San Pedro Sula where he worked.

A gunshot wound in the head inflicted as he got into his car is said to have caused his immediate death. Other accounts say he died as he was being admitted to a public hospital in the city. (more…)

Argentina: Punishment for the last dictator

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Bignone to spend 25 years in a common jail

[Translation of an article from Página/12 of Argentina for April 20, 2010.]

Reinaldo Bignone — El Pais photo

The First Federal Hearings Tribunal has pronounced sentence for crimes committed at the clandestine detention and torture center that once operated at the Campo de Mayo military garrison. The last de facto president of the dictatorship, Reinaldo Bignone, was sentenced to 25 years in prison, as were the former head of the Campo de Mayo intelligence department, Exequiel Verplaetsen, and the former chief of the Military Institutes Command of the base, Santiago Omar Riveros. “Nobody could question that it was a war,” Bignone said during his final argument in defense of his actions. The nation’s Human Rights Secretary, Eduardo Luis Duhalde, and Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo President Estela de Carlotto expressed satisfaction with the ruling and praised the work of the court.

Also sentenced were the former head of Intelligence Batallion 601 of the general staff of the army, Carlos Alberto Tepedino (20 years), the former director of the General Lemos Combat Support Services School, Eugenio Guañabens Perelló (17 years) and the former head of the Campo de Mayo infantry school, Jorge Osvaldo García (18 years). The former head of the Germán Montenegro Bella Vista commisary, meanwhile, was acquitted. (more…)

Ecuador plans expropriation of foreign oil holdings

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

[Translation of an article from El Mercurio of Cuenca, Ecuador, for April 18, 2010, based on a dispatch from Agence France Presse.]

Quito – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced on Saturday that he will introduce a bill in congress to expropriate the holdings of foreign oil companies that refuse to sign new contracts giving the state control of all production.

“We are sending a bill to the legislative assembly that would give me the means of expropriating oil fields in case the petroleum companies refuse to sign new contracts for the provision of services,” the president stated in his weekly message. (more…)