Archive for February, 2011

Arms, drugs and intervention

Friday, February 25th, 2011

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for February 24, 2011. See original article here and the Página/12 article quoted below, in English translation, here.  See US embassy cables on Argentina as released by Wikileaks here.]

by John Saxe-Fernández

An enormous C17 (Globemaster III) belonging to the United States air force, with equipment for police “training,” tried to bring into Buenos Aires an undeclared cargo of powerful long weapons, equipment for encrypted communications, secret information programs and narcotic and stupefacient drugs, “with no satisfactory explanation of what it would be used for” (Página 12, 13-II-2011). In view of the regime change operations against Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador and the Honduran putsch, the resumption of this type of operation with United States personnel, halted by Néstor Kirchner, is surprising; the secret cargo on the C-17 demonstrates the serious risk of these schemes in view of a diplomacy of power that is growing more intense: were they going to teach a course or stage a coup? (more…)

Chile: Court rules Mapuche hunger strikers are not terrorists

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

[Translation of an article from El Mostrador of Santiago, Chile, for February 24, 2011. See original article here and related article here. The Chilean anti-terrorism law was originally enacted during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet as a brutal means of silencing dissent.]

By Ricardo Brodsky

The Cañete tribunal has absolved the Mapuche activists of charges of the crime of illegal terrorist association. The ruling confirms what many of us have argued in the debate that began with a hunger strike that the Mapuche defendants carried on for close to 100 days in 2010: there is no basis for applying the anti-terrorism law against members of the Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco or members of other Mapuche organizations.

There is none now nor has there ever been. A serious error in assessment and political management moved previous administrations to apply the anti-terrorist law. The public ministry in turn, encouraged by this misjudgment and bringing its own, utilized to a repugnant degree the corrupt procedures established by the anti-terrorism law: secret testimony paid for by the prosecutor, the tapping of telephones, mistreatment of detainees, the presumption of the defendants’ guilt, the seeking of disproportionate punishment, publicity campaigns – remember, for example, the Colombian “witnesses” – and widely spread accusations with broad resonance in the rightist press. (more…)

Danger of social outbreak in Panama over mining

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Indigenous peoples protest against Martinelli government’s offering their lands to foreigners

“Mining = Death, Hunger, Blood and, for the Congressmen, Benefits” — ContraPunto photo

[Translation of an article from ContraPunto of San Salvador, El Salvador, for February 18. See original here.]

By Fernando de Dios

The reform of the Mineral Resources Code approved last Thursday by Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has sparked rejection by a number of social sectors led by the indigenous peoples of the Ngäbe Buglé district, in the west of the country.

They have organized protests in the past few weeks and the situation threatens to bring on a re-enactment of the violent repression that occurred in the Bocas de Toro province last July, which cost the lives of ten people. (more…)

Malnutrition is killing Argentine children

Monday, February 21st, 2011

[Translation of a BBC World article from El Mostrador of Santiago, Chile, for February 19, 2011. See original here.]

In the past few weeks, the deaths of at least eight children in northern Argentina from serious malnutrition problems has again focussed attention on a problem that baffles many: why do children die of hunger in a country that is one of the world’s main producers of food?

According to the Cooperadora para la Nutrición Infantil (CONIN – Cooperating Agency for Childhood Nutrition), 260,000 children under the age of five suffer some degree of malnutrition, while 2,100,000 people do not have assured daily access to food.

Among the most vulnerable groups are the indigenous communities, especially those living in the northeast of the country, in the area known as Gran Chaco or Chaco Salteño, which includes the provinces of Salta, Formosa, Chaco, Santiago del Estero and Santa Fe. (more…)

Dominican exports, Haitian deportations

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Profits and xenophobia

[Translations of three articles from Dominican newspapers on relations with Haiti and Haitians.]
Dominican exports to Haiti doubled last year
Haiti is now the country’s largest trading partner

[From Nuevo Diario for February 18, 2011. See original here.]

Dajabón – The export of Dominican products to Haiti last year reached a value of 462 million dollars, making the neighboring country the Dominican Republic’s most important trading partner, ahead of Puerto Rico and the United States, general director of customs Rafael Camilo announced in this border city on Thursday. The government official stated that among the principal food products sold to Haiti are wheat flour, soybean oil, broken rice, bottled water, crackers, pasta, bananas and chicken parts and giblets.

He added that construction products like cement, steel reinforcing rods, zinc sheets and stainless steel cable are another important part of the commercial exchange between the two countries occupying the island of Hispaniola.

Camilo offered these data after participating in the inauguration of a new building to house the offices of Customs and Migration in Dajabón, on the border in the northern region… (more…)

Argentina: Undeclared weapons and drugs found on US military plane

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Página/12 photo

[Translation of an article from Página/12 of Buenos Aires for February 13, 2011. See original article here and related article here.]

By Horacio Verbitsky

The federal government has blocked the entry of secret “sensitive cargo” that arrived at the Ezeiza international airport aboard a United States air force flight with no satisfactory explanation of what it would be used for.

The expression “sensitive cargo” was used last Monday by [United States] embassy management counselor Dorothy Sarro when she requested authorization to have a truck with an attached trailer enter the operations area. The enormous C17, a Boeing Globemaster III cargo plane, larger than the well known Hercules, arrived on Thursday afternoon with an arsenal of powerful weapons aboard for a course on management of crisis and hostage taking offered by the United States government to the federal police Grupo de Operaciones Especiales Federal (GEOF – Federal Special Operations Group), which was to be held through the entire months of February and March. The government estimates that the total cost for transportation and for conducting the course approaches two million dollars. The course was authorized by the Argentine govnernment, but when personnel checked the content of the cargo against a list submitted beforehand, machine gun and rifle barrels and a strange suitcase were discovered which had not been included on the manifest. (more…)

Wikileaks: Poverty and wealth in Mexico

Monday, February 14th, 2011

[Translations of two articles from La Jornada of Mexico City for February 14, both by Roberto González Amador, on newly released Wikileaks cables. See original articles here and here and Wikileaks cables here and here. More complete list of recently released cables on Mexico here.]

Felipe Calderón, Beatriz Paredes, Jesús Ortega -- La Jornada photos

Calderón and political parties concealed information on poverty
Diplomatic cable reveals plot to withhold data until after 2009 elections

The panista [Partido Acción Nacional] administration of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and opposition parties reached an agreement in 2009 to withhold figures on the increase of poverty in the country until after the legislative elections of that year, in which the Partido Revolucionario Institucional won the greatest number of seats in Congress, according to a report by the United States embassy in Mexico.

Information on poverty is “politically sensitive” and it is more so during a campaign season. The cable from the United States embassy, supplied to La Jornada by Wikileaks, gives an account of an agreement between the government and the opposition to conceal the data.

The cable cites “semi-independent analysis based on official 2008 figures” to show that poverty increased from 42.6 percent of the total population in 2006, the year Calderón assumed the presidency, to 47.4 percent in 2008. Not mentioned is what happened in 2009, when the economy fell into recession. (more…)

Honduran general instrumental in coup moves to Mexico

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

García Padgett nominated as military attaché to embassy

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for February 11. See original here.]

By Arturo Cano

Janet Napolitano can relax. The man who blocked “the plan to carry to the heart of the United States a socialism, a communism, a chavismo disguised as democracy,” the general who kept “narcotrafficking and terrorism” from arriving in US territory, is coming to Mexico.

Miguel Ángel García Padgett, one of the four main perpetrators of the coup d’état that ousted President Manual Zelaya in June, 2009, will be the military attaché to the Honduran embassy in our country.

After his ascendancy to the highest military position in his country was vetoed by United States Ambassador Hugo Llorens, according to a cable released by the Wikileaks web site [here], García Padgett, the commanding general of the Honduran army, will return to the place where he received part of his training, in the Colegio Militar. (more…)

Mexico: Farm workers escape from conditions of slavery in Sinaloa

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for February 8. See original here.]

By Irene Sánchez

Mazatlán, Sinaloa – Six farm laborers escaped from an encampment in the agricultural fields in Cruz de Elota, where they had been harvesting tomatoes, after being exploited and mistreated, receiving no food or pay. They fled on foot and were rescued by the municipal police, who transported them to a civil protection shelter. The human rights commissioner for the southern region announced they will investigate the case.

The campesinos, natives of San Luis Potosí, were assisted by members of the municipal police on Monday afternoon when they arrived at the toll booth in Mármol, after walking along the Maxipista highway. (more…)

Brazil: Indigenous leaders and supporters protest hydroelectric project

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

“604,317 People Say: Stop Belo Monte” — AP photo by Evaldo Peres

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato for February 7, 2011. See original article here and related article here.]

By Luana Lourenço

The process of constructing the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant on the Xingu river [in the state of Pará] has not taken into account the rights and the voices of the indigenous peoples and the traditional communities of the region. That criticism comes from anthropologists and the indigenous leadership.

One hundred ethnic Kayapó people will attempt tomorrow to deliver to the president a manifesto against the hydroelectric plant with more than half a million signatures. (more…)

Uprising in Egypt, lessons for Mexico

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for February 2. See original here.]

By Alejandro Nadal

The popular uprising in Egypt has been portrayed in the international press as a surprising event. But the truth is that the revolt is the culmination of a process that has been developing for a long time. It is important to analyze it for its similarities and its differences with Mexico. In Egypt as well there was a façade of democracy, with parties and elections manipulated always to produce the results that the ruling powers wanted. Poverty is widespread and expectations for the youth have been deteriorating year after year. Scarce opportunities for employment, almost non-existent hope for education. Public services more and more deficient, while the regime’s repression against workers’ struggles grows. (more…)

Argentine foreign minister accuses Buenos Aires mayor of behaving like a “feudal lord”

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Timerman faults Macri for accepting US anti-terrorism training for city police without federal approval

[Translation of an article from Diario Hoy of La Plata, Argentina, for February 6, 2011. See original here.]

Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman today accused Mauricio Macri [head of government of the autonomous city of Buenos Aires] of turning into “a feudal lord” within the city and repeated his criticism of Buenos Aires management for accepting financing from the United States for training of city police without notifying the federal government.

“I am a firm opponent of having the security forces trained by other countries,” declared the Kirchner administration’s head of diplomacy, who also said of recent statements by national and provincial authorities concerning the conflict, “The only thing they do is verify that my criticism was correct.”

In the same vein, he pointed out that he had always rejected that “the United States finance courses for Argentine security forces because that is a violation of national sovereignty.” (more…)