Archive for July, 2010

Mexico and Chile normalize relations with Honduras

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

[Translation of an article from Excelsior of Mexico City for July 31, 2010.]

Tegucigalpa, July 31 – The government of Honduras today celebrated the re-establishment

Mario Canahuati and Hillary Clinton

of diplomatic relations with Mexico, broken as a result of the coup d’état against then-President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009.

“We have to feel glad, happy, very happy,” Honduran foreign minister Mario Canahuati told reporters as he confirmed that the Mexican government had announced today the decision to normalize relations with Honduras, whose government is headed by Porfirio Lobo.

The government of Mexico stated today that it had instructed its ambassador to Honduras to return to Tegucigalpa early next week.

The government of Chile, which had also suspended relations with Honduras, announced a similar move yesterday, which Lobo described simply as “very positive” for the good relations that have existed with the people and the government of Chile. (more…)

Salvadoran President Funes vetoes required Bible readings in schools

Friday, July 30th, 2010

[Translation of an article from El Faro of San Salvador for July 27. See also “El Salvador: The congressmen and the Bible” posted here on July 10.]

By Sergio Arauz

After almost a month of debate throughout the country, President Mauricio Funes, who initially supporting the bill enthusiastically, has rejected a measure that would require the daily reading of passages from the Bible in all schools of the country.

The president argued that requiring the reading of biblical texts goes against the constitution by violating the religious freedom established in the document. (more…)

Haiti: Occupations that dehumanize and that kill

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

[Translation of an article from Haïti Liberté for July 28, 2010.]

By Hervé Jean Michel

A bust of Charlemagne Peralte on a monument in Hinche, where he was born.

July 28, 1915 to July 28, 2010 — 95 years have passed since the military forces of the United States of America first landed in Haiti. They trampled and crushed this land and its sovereignty, won at the high cost of suffering, struggles and death on the battlefields of Ravine-à-Couleuvre, Crête-à-Pierrot, Vertière, etc.

United States capitalists, who saw in the attainment of Haitian independence nothing but a bad example for the millions of Blacks, their countrymen (historically, Haitian independence was recognized by the United States government during the second decade of the second half of the nineteenth century), wanted to apply the brakes to that rising up of the former slaves by means of their Monroe Doctrine, which opened up for them prospects of the pillage of the continent. They swore to reduce the sovereignty of that country to nothing. (more…)

Colombian campesinos break the silence and denounce massacres

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

[Translation of an article from the Venezuelan website TeleSUR for July 27, 2010. See also “International team confirms mass grave in Colombia” below.]

Colombian campesinos in the northern area of San Onofre, in the department of Sucre, broke the silence by deciding to denounce to communications media the massacres committed by paramilitary groups since their incursion into this territory more than ten years ago.

The Movimiento de Víctimas en Colombia recorded more than 75 massacres, with more than 4,000 victims, since insurgents arrived in the town, where a large number of those killed are buried in mass graves, while a number of displaced persons have not been able to return to their homes because the state does not offer them adequate guarantees. (more…)

Colombian President-Elect Santos greeted with protests in Argentina

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Social organizations repudiate Colombia’s policies, support Venezuela

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for July 27, 2010.]

Juan Manuel Santos

By Stella Calloni

Buenos Aires, July 26 – President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner met tonight with the president-elect of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who is on a tour of the region in the midst of a severe crisis with Venezuela and while an emergency meeting of the Unión de Naciones Sudamericanas (Unasur – Union of South American Nations) is being planned for Quito, Ecuador.

During the afternoon, thousands of demonstrators gathered in the Plaza de Mayo to reject Colombia’s policies and the Colombian visitor and to support Venezuela, a country they consider to be the target of “generalized activity by the United States that threatens all of Latin America.”

The meeting between Fernández de Kirchner and Santos, which lasted an hour, included a broad review of the situation in the region. It included the participation of Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, the foreign minister designate of Colombia, María Angela Holguín and the Colombian ambassador in Buenos Aires, Álvaro Eduardo García Giménez. (more…)

The richest man in the world to come to Honduras

Monday, July 26th, 2010

[Translation of an article from Revistazo of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, for July 25.]

Tegucigalpa – Foreign minister Mario Canahuati said yesteday that former United States President Bill Clinton and the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, will come to Honduras to participate in an event to promote investment.  The event, called the  Relanzamiento de Honduras como País Atractivo para la Inversión [Relaunching Honduras as an Attractive Country for Investment] will be held in San Pedro Sula next November 4 and 5.

The foreign minister made the announcement during a meeting with the diplomatic corps in which he asked ambassadors to spread the word about opportunites the government is providing for foreign investments.

He asked them to get in contact with the businessmen of their countries so they can visit Honduras and confirm that the country is an attractive place for investments.

He also asked them for help in the development of economic and investment fairs since the government seeks to “raise the spirits of Hondurans in order to move toward what could be an alternative development and improvement in our fellow citizens’  living conditions.”

The governnment is counting on 20 million dollars of support from the Inter-American Development Bank to launch the project, Canahuati declared.

The World Bank is  expected to contribute a similar amount in hopes that Honduras will regain the position in the region that it once held.

Carlos Slim is a Mexican businessman involved in telecommunications who, according to Forbes magazine, is the richest man in the world.

International team confirms mass grave in Colombia with at least 2,000 bodies

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Deaths attributed to army and paramilitaries

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for July 24, 2010,  based on dispatches from Agence France Presse and Notimex.]

Bogotá, July 23 –In a public hearing on Friday with residents of La Macarena, in the department of Meta, a delegation from the United States and Europe confirmed the existence of a mass grave containing some 2,000 unidentified bodies whose deaths they attribute to rightist paramilitaries and the Colombian army.

The delegation was headed by six Members of the European Parliament (MEP), who denounced that “the army is killing its own people.” Ana Gómez, an MEP in the Commission on Human Rights, said the grave is an abnormality she cannot understand, since the armed forces exist to protect the people and not to act against them.

“They’re not there to kill the people; there is a horrible perversion in these acts in which innocent youths, men and women, area taken by members of the armed forces who turn them into false positives and are rewarded for it,” she said in reference to civilians who are executed extrajudicially and displayed as guerrillas killed in battle. (more…)

Dora María Téllez, Daniel Ortega and the Nicaraguan revolution

Monday, July 19th, 2010

((Dora María Téllez — la Prensa photo))

[Abridged translation of an article from La Prensa of Managua, Nicaragua, for July 18, 2010.  July 19 is the anniversary of the 1979 triumph of the Sandinista revolution that ousted the regime of dictator Anastasio Somoza. Dora María Téllez, a medical student at the time, played an important role in the uprising. In 1978, when she was 22, she was third in command of Sandinista forces that occupied the national palace in Managua, a pivotal event in the revolution.

After government by a revolutionary junta from 1979 until 1985, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega was elected president. Hampered by a war waged by counter-revolutionaries, the contras, who were supported by the Reagan administration in Washington, Ortega nevertheless managed during his first five-year term to carry out some land reform measures and wealth redistribution. Ortega lost the next presidential election, however.

He was still a powerful figure in the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, though, and ambitious. He formed practical alliances with the government of President Arnoldo Alemán of the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC), an administration marked by serious corruption, which led eventually to a criminal trial and a 20-year prison sentence for Alemán, later reversed by the Supreme Court.

Ortega was elected president again in 2006. In the meantime, though, he and other FSLN leaders, tainted by association with the Alemán regime, came under serious criticism of corruption and caudillismo, undemocratic rule by strong men in powerful positions. The Movimiento de Renovación Sandinista (MRS – Movement for Sandinista Renewal) was formed by dedicated Sandinistas like Téllez to restore Sandinismo to the revolutionary principles with which it was formed.] (more…)

Honduran resistance movement reforms

Friday, July 16th, 2010

[Translations of two articles from Tiempo of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the first, from July 12 based on an Agence France Presse dispatch, the second from July 15. The movement against the coup d’état of June 28, 2009, has been divided since its inception between zelayistas, motivated primarily by support for Manuel Zelaya, and leftists like labor organizer Juan Barahona and campesino leader Rafael Alegría of Via Campesina (currently hospitalized with hemorrhagic dengue, which has reached epidemic proportions in the entire region). The leftists, dedicated to making fundamental changes in the country, initially through a constituent assembly, are understandably mistrustful of both traditional parties, the Partido Nacional and the Partido Liberal, the latter of which includes among its adherents not only Manuel Zelaya but also Roberto Micheletti, the de facto president installed in the coup. In a letter sent in late April from the Dominican Republic, where he is currently living in exile, Zelaya accused resistance leaders of attempting to exclude him from the movement by dismissing the possibility of his returning to Honduras.]

Resistance movement elects Zelaya as coordinator

Tegucigalpa – The Frente Nacional de Resistencia de Honduras [National Resistance Front of Honduras], formed to oppose the coup d’état of June, 2009, was divided as it ended an assembly this weekend but named former President Manuel Zelaya as its general coordinator in an attempt to restore unity.

The group, which has adopted the name Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP – National Popular Resistance Front ) and promotes a constituent assembly, is made up of members from the traditional left and of dissident members of the Partido Liberal, a traditionally rightist party which moved leftward with Zelaya. (more…)

Haiti: Land ownership questions hinder reconstruction

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

[Translation of an article from HaitiLibre for July 6, 2010.]

Disputes over the ownership of land, which can take years to resolve, are hindering reconstruction efforts in Haiti and discouraging needed foreign investment, experts say.

The Haitian government and international aid organizations are in competition over construction of dwellings for the 1.5 million people living in camps. But before even beginning reconstruction, they need to determine who owns the land – a major challenge after the earthquake, which killed some 16,000 government officials and destroyed an unknown number of land title records.

“The catastrophe has made land claims more difficult and this situation is going to get worse. After close to 250,000 deaths, inheritance and the sale of land raise a number of questions. Is the owner dead or alive? If he is dead, are there children with rights to the land?”asks Erik Vittrup, head of the United Nations Human Settlement Program (UN-Habitat), based in Rio de Janeiro. (more…)

El Salvador: The congressmen and the Bible

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

[Translation of an article from ContraPunto of El Salvador for July 5 concerning passage on July 1 of a bill to require that Salvadoran school children be read passages from the Bible for at least seven minutes at the beginning of every school day. The measure, supported by the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista (Arena, the former ruling party) and other rightist parties and opposed by the leftist Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional , received the votes of 45 members of the 84-member unicameral legislature. President Mauricio Funes initially supported the bill but said later he would consult religious leaders before deciding whether to sign it into law or veto it. As of this posting, he has yet to decide.]

by Julián González Torres

San Salvador – More than a century ago, Julio Interiano, secretary of public education, development and welfare, wrote in his report on efforts concerning primary education, “A school is a model of society. And society is heterogeneous; there is no uniformity of beliefs. The state, then, which recognizes the rights of all and guarantees the fullfillment of them, cannot teach the practice of any specific sect, much less of a number of them, nor can it instill dogmatic beliefs outside the domain of reason”… (more…)

Honduras renews relations “with countries that matter” as Porfirio Lobo celebrates

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for July 7, 2010.]

by Arturo Cano

Tegucigalpa, July 6 – “Minute 94. God is Honduran,” say the t-shirts still for sale in Valle de Angeles [a wealthy city 30 kilometers northeast of Tegucigalpa, popular with tourists], referring to a last-minute goal which last year helped Honduras qualify for the World Cup in South Africa. The rest was done by the United States team when it beat Costa Rica. Maybe that’s why the souvenir stores also sell US flags, displayed next to the t-shirts. Crowds of Christian gringos, who come here to proselytize and to see the sights buy them while flocks of musicians playing Mexican music follow them around.

In the capital and in San Pedro Sula, almost all the private schools have “school” [in English] in their names. In Comayagua, the city next to the United States airbase, the directions signs on the streets say “one way” [in English]. Busses traveling on them, which used to carry United States kids to their schools, now make up the bulk of public transportation in this country. On Sundays it it hard to find a place where you don’t hear hymns or loudspeakers spewing strict sermons by preachers, many representing  churches whose sees are far to the north. On those days it is hard to take a ten-minute walk without running into three or four Mormons in white short-sleeved shirts and wide ties. (more…)