Archive for January, 2011

Chile: Human Rights Watch urges transparency in investigation into Allende’s death

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Salvador Allende

[Translation of an article by the Spanish news agency Efe from El Mostrador of Santiago, Chile, for January 29, 2011. See original article  here , or read Salvador Allende’s  last message to the Chilean people, in Spanish and in English translation, here.]

The United States organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) today asked Chile to insure that the investigation into the death of President Salvador Allende, approved this week by the Justice Department, be carried out “with the greatest transparency.”

“It is necessary to act with the greatest transparency,” declared José Miguel Vivanco,  HRW director for Latin America, in statements to Radio Cooperativa.

“It is necessary to provide all the facilities needed by the Justice Department, which has shown itself to be independent and objective, in order to get to the bottom of the question and to establish the truth of what happened,” Vivanco stressed. (more…)

Conservative Senator Coloma calls for review of Chilean military’s participation in Haiti

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

[Translation of an article from La Tercera of Santiago, Chile, for January 30, 2011. See original here. Senator Juan Antonio Coloma and the party he leads, the Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI), are politically rightist, both having supported the Pinochet regime. The UDI is the largest party in Congress, holding eight of 38 seats in the Senate and 38 of 120 in the Chamber of Deputies.]

Senator and president of the UDI [Unión Demócrata Independiente] Juan Antonio Coloma today called for the government to “review the participation” of Chilean troops in Haiti.

The senator based his request on the fact that, in his judgement, the UN forces in which Chile participates are seen lately “as forces of occupation” more than as forces for aid and order.

Coloma holds that the aid the country should be offered, especially since the earthquake, should be “more on the institutional level than on the military level.” Specifically, he said, this should be the case in the tasks of reconstruction and overcoming poverty.

The gremialista [right-wing] senator explained as well that the purpose of having Chilean troops in the country was, at the beginning, “to avoid a genocide” and that they remained there “to assure the election of René Préval.” Later, Coloma added, the people of Haiti began to see them as “forces of occupation.”

He thus requested a review of the renovation of the Chilean contingent in the next few months.

The UDI president’s stance comes days after the Senate defense committee, of which he is a member, asked the government to redefine and expand the role of Chilean troops in Haiti, placing an emphasis on reconstruction.

On that occasion, the president of the institution, Patricio Walker (Demócrata Cristiano) said that “we need to expand our efforts after the earthquake in that country. We have to support more forcefully the reconstruction and aid in the creation of a new institutionality so the state can have a greater participation.”

US should curb its insatiable demand for drugs, former presidents say

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Commission meeting in Geneva proposes decriminalizing drug use

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for January 26, based on Notimex and Agence France Presse dispatches. See original here.]

Geneva, January 25 – The former presidents of Colombia and Brazil, César Gaviria and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, agreed today that the United States should curb its great demand for drugs in order to end the escalating violence it produces.

Within the framework of the Global Commision on Drug Policy, in which former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo also participated, Gaviria and Cardoso said separately that it is essential to ask the United States to demonstrate that it is reducing its consumption and that it is struggling to curtail the dimensions of the trade.

Mexico: Clinton urges no change in anti-crime strategy

Saturday, January 29th, 2011

Academics point out enormous disparity in costs to Mexico and US

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for January 26. See original here.]

By Emir Olivares, Andrea Becerril and Ciro Pérez Silva

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Mexico evoked several different readings among academics and politicians. For the former, it represents a demand by Washington that the federal government not change its strategy against organized crime; senators of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional), the PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) and the PT (Partido del Trabajo), meanwhile, consider that the purpose was “damage control” in bilateral relations after Wikileaks revelations in which United States diplomats were critical of the army and government authorities.

Academics and politicians agreed that there are enormous disparities in the countries’ struggle against organized crime: while Mexico has spent more than seven billion dollars during the Calderón administration and has seen more than 35,000 deaths, in addition to the 55,000 military personnel occupied in the struggle, in some places in the United States there are efforts to legalize the use of drugs and the businesses of arms and drug dealing are reporting enormour profits. (more…)

Chile: Government says it will seek trials of four officers in Víctor Jara case

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

[Translation of an article by the Spanish news agency Efe from La Nación of Santiago for January 25, 2011. See original here.]

The government, through the Programa de Derechos Humanos [Human Rights Program] of the Interior Ministry, will again seek the trials of four retired officers who testified as indictees in the murder in 1973 of singer Víctor Jara, sources in the agency told Efe today.

The Program had already asked for the trials last December but the Justice Department declined to accept the first petition.

The executive secretary of the Program, Rossy Lama, explained to Efe that the agency will submit a new request once details are worked out concerning Edwin Dimter, Hugo Sánchez, Raúl Jofré and Rolando Melo, the latter a former military prosecutor. (more…)

Colombia: Piedad Córdoba says trial proves links between government and paramilitaries

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Piedad Córdoba — El Tiempo photo

[Translation of an article from TeleSUR for January 22, 2011. See original article here and related article here.]

Colombian defender of human right Piedad Córdoba said on Friday that the public trial of former subdirector of the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS – Administrative Security Department), José Miguel Narváez, demonstrates the truth of charges she has made for years concerning links between paramilitaries and the government.

“The link between the paramilitaries and the government, through DAS, is confirmed, there is overwhelming proof,” Córdoba declared in an interview granted to TeleSUR. (more…)

Guatemala: Trial against former President Portillo begins at last

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

El Periódico photo

[Translation of an article from La Hora of Guatemala for January 21. See original here.  Alfonso Portillo was president of Guatemala from 2000 to 2004. He was elected as the candidate of the Frente Republicano Guatemalteco, the party of brutal dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, the military ruler who had come to power through a coup d’état in 1982.  With political origins on the left, Portillo had pledged to support human rights and fight corruption but his administration was soon charged with serious abuse. He fled the country as soon as his term and the legal immunity it provided ended.]

by Gerson Ortiz

The historical trial of former President Alfonso Portillo and two officials of his government finally began this morning after a delay of several hours due to moves by the defense.

Along with the former president, former Defense Minister Eduardo Arévalo Lacs and former Finance Minister Manuel Maza Castellanos will also be tried, all three for the embezzlement during Portillo’s term in office of 120 million quetzales [about 15.6 million US dollars] from the Defense Ministry. (more…)

Dominican drivers demand transparency on Petrocaribe

Friday, January 21st, 2011

[Translation of an article from Listín Diario of Santo Domingo for January 19. See original here.]

Santo Domingo – Hundreds of drivers gathered in front of the Venezuelan embassy on Wednesday to denounce the lack of transparency on the part of Dominican authorities in the management of resources resulting from the agreement on petroleum between the two countries.

“Since we have been in Petrocaribe, fuel prices have never fallen,” said Ramón Pérez Figuereo, leader of the Central de Transportistas Unificados (United Transportation Workers Union) after delivering a statement to Venezuelan ambassador Alfredo Murga. (more…)

Brazilian general says withdrawal of troops from Haiti is not predictable

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Agencia Brasil photo

[Translation of an article from A Gazeta of Vitória, Brazil, for January 12, 2011. See original here.]

In charge of troops from the 19 countries making up the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH), including Brazil, General Luiz Guilherme Paul Cruz declared in an interview that at this time it is not possible to predict when the reduction of the international military presence in Haiti will begin.

Last year, Brazil increased its military contingent in the country from 1,300 to 2,600. Expectations that a gradual withdrawal of military forces would begin in 2011, as planned before the earthquake, will not be fulfilled, according to Paul Cruz.

“The (UN) Security Council resolution requires me to make an evaluation on the question of security and stability in order to propose a possible reduction of troops here.” (more…)

Brazil supports Argentina in dispute over Malvinas

Friday, January 14th, 2011

As solidarity grows among  South American nations

Three articles

[Translations of articles from Clarín of Buenos Aires for January 4 and January 8, 2011, and from Folha of São Paulo for January 11, 2011.  See original Clarín articles here and here, Folha article here. Related article from the British Daily Telegraph is here, related article on this site is here, related article from Sartma of the disputed islands is here.]

Foreign office hardens position on Malvinas
Says English military maneuvers hinder cooperation

[From Clarín]

By Natasha Niebieskikwiat

Every January 3, on the occasion of another anniversary of the British occupation of the Malvinas, which began in 1833, making this anniversary number 178, successive Argentine governments have customarily unleashed, with more or less acrimony, their claim of sovereignty over the islands. In the one unleashed yesterday, the Foreign Office declared that unilateral actions by the United Kingdom regarding natural resources, like the exploitation of petroleum, or military exercises on the archipelago, are an “unbridgeable obstacle” to the continuation and the development of “bilateral cooperation” under the “provisional understandings” signed by London and Buenos Aires, which are currently being completely disregarded.

Argentina: Slave labor in the fields

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Página/12 photo

[Abridged translations of two articles, the first from Página/12 of Buenos Aires for January 2, 2011, the second from La Jornada of Mexico City for January 8, 2011. See original articles here and here.]

Slave labor for an elusive grain dealer

By Horacio Verbitsky

The operation carried out in San Pedro on December 30 illustrates what is possible in uncontrolled markets. Nidera, a transnational grain company that the AFIP [Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos – Federal Public Revenue Administration] has charged with tax evasion amounting to 260 million pesos, had confined 130 workers from the north, adults and adolescents, who did not know where they were, could not leave, had no electric lights or water and were charged exorbitant prices, deducted from the salaries they had accrued, for food the company sold them, including pasta from the Scioli social services plan. (more…)

Honduras: Immoral land holdings and national impoverishment

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

[Tanslation of an article from for December 30. See original article here and related article here.]

The latest massacre of five campesinos in the north of the country has once again attracted national and international attention. The bodies of campesinos scattered about and the rifles they embraced awkwardly traveled around the world, revealing the lie and the barbarity in which Honduras survives.

The most grotesque part was that Miguel Faccusé, the landowner implicated in the murders, came out declaring, “Why did they approach my properties knowing that my men were armed?” The central government, in an irresponsible way, immediately alerted the population to the presence of campesino guerrillas trained outside the country. At almost the same time, the National Congress approved the Anti-Terrorist Law to criminalize social movements. In this way, the country’s core problem, which is the immoral monopoly of land by the landowners, is moved to second place. (more…)