Archive for March, 2011

Mexico: Fast and Furious controversy continues

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

[Translations of three articles from La Jornada of Mexico City. See related article here.]

Barack Obama declares he never authorized arms trafficking to Mexico

[From La Jornada for March 24. See original here.]

Washington, March 23 – United States President Barack Obama said during an interview granted to the Spanish-language television network Univisión that there will be an investigation into the trafficking of weapons to Mexico, which had been authorized by a federal agency, an operation he declared he knew nothing about.

“In the first place, I did not authorize it. Nor did Eric Holder, the attorney general, approve that operation… So what he has done in this case was to assign an inspector general to investigate exactly what happened,” Obama declared in the first part of an interview broadcast by the news network last Tuesday night. (more…)

Obama in Chile: Trapped by his own history

Monday, March 28th, 2011

[Translation of an article from Rebelión.org for March 27, 2011. See original here.]

By Eduardo Contreras

It could not have been otherwise. President Obama’s visit was a useless and regrettable spectacle. The repetition of well known generalities, reiteration of the imperialist will, cowardly avoidance of responsibility for the criminal coup d’état of ’73. If Piñera or the Yankee ambassador in Santiago or [OAS Secretary General José Miguel] Insulza or José Miguel Vivanco [director of Human Rights Watch Americas Division] or others of their ilk have called the visit “excellent,” it is only because they are fulfilling the role assigned to them in the script; but no one in his right mind could argue that the president’s visit holds any genuinely important meaning for our country or for the peoples of the continent. His speech “for the Americas” was a fiasco. (more…)

Chile: Mapuche leaders sentenced to 20 and 25 years

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

El Ciudadano photo

[Translation of an article from El Ciudadano of Santiago, Chile, for March 22, 2011. See original article here and related article here.]

By Christian Armaza Benavides

You could see it coming but nobody thought the sentence would be so harsh. On Tuesday the Tribunal Oral of Cañete issued a sentence of 25 years in prison against Héctor Llaitul, leader of the Coordinadora Arauco-Malleco (CAM), who, together with three other leaders, had been convicted under the controversial Ley Antiterrorista.

The other three comuneros involved were Ramón Llanquileo, José Huenuche and Jonathan Huillical, who received sentences of 20 years in prison. (more…)

An interview with Manuel Zelaya Rosales, deposed president of Honduras

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

La Jornada photo by Francisco Olvera

“The president of my country controls absolutely nothing.”

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 22, 2011. See original here.]

By Arturo Cano

Without his hat, Zelaya doesn’t even look like Zelaya. But seeing his demeanor, that of a president without a presidency, will tell you this is the same man who in June, 2009, went from being an obscure Central American president to being an international figure, thanks to, and to the disgrace of, a coup d’état. This is Manuel Zelaya, and one sentence sums him up: “I arrived with the Right and governed with the Left.”

In Honduras, that statement would spark loud protests, but Zelaya is involved now in a leftist event – he came to Mexico at the invitation of the Partido del Trabajo [PT – Labor Party] – and he adapts to the setting: “I am a pro-socialist liberal.”

Ever since the new Honduran administration allowed him to leave the Brazilian embassy, Zelaya has lived in the Dominican Republic as a “distinguished guest.” The Dominicans, he himself states, take care of his expenses: a house, transportation and schooling for his children and grandchildren. “Chávez gave me a stipend but so far they haven’t paid me anything,” he says, without making it sound like a complaint. (more…)

McDonald’s in Brazil: A campaign to cover up exploitation

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Brasil de Fato photo

To avoid a sizeable fine for failing to provide basic work conditions for its employees, McDonald’s has signed an agreement with the public ministry to finance a campaign against child labor.

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for March 15, 2011. See original here.]

By Michelle Amaral

“Once I was holding a tray full of orders ready to serve and I slipped. As I was falling to the floor, my supervisor noticed, grabbed the tray, let me fall and said, ‘First the product, then the worker,’” says Kelly, who worked for the McDonald’s fast food chain for five months.

“You can’t stand still there, and sitting down will get you yelled at,” says 16-year-old Lúcio, who has been working in one of the chain’s establishments in São Paulo. “You don’t even have time to take a drink of water,” adds 17-year-old José. “Once I burned my hand, I told the supervisor and she told me to keep working,” the teenager recalls. Maria, who is 16, says that despite the hard work at the restaurant, she gets only 2.38 reais [about US$0.83] an hour for working there. (more…)

Privatization still threatens Mexican petroleum

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Lázaro Cárdenas announces expropriation in radio address to the nation

[Translations of two articles from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 18, 2011, a day celebrated in Mexico as the anniversary of the expropriation of the country’s petroleum industry in 1938, during the administration of President Lázaro Cárdenas, in office from 1934 to 1940. The resulting state enterprise, Pemex, has supplied the country’s petroleum successfully ever since but in recent years has been the target of privatization attempts by conservatives. Cárdenas is considered the most leftist of the country’s presidents. His son, Cuauhtémoc, also a leftist and also prominent in politics, was at one time head of the government of the Distrito Nacional, ran for president in 1988 and was one of the founders of the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD).]

Cárdenas says Pemex contract “clearly in violation”

[See original here.]

By Alma E. Muñoz

Mexico, DF – On the 73rd anniversary of the expropriation of petroleum declared by Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, his son, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, spoke of the unconstitutionality of the incentive contracts Petróleos Mexicanos is preparing to award for the exploitation of its Magallanes, Carrizo and Santuario fields. (more…)

Honduras: Businessmen demonstrate their stinginess

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Revistazo photo

They withhold wage increases from maquila workers

[Translation of an article from Revistazo of Tegucigalpa for March 11, 2011. See original here.]

By Germán Reyes

Despite numerous benefits granted to them by the state and the great cost to the citizens that their operations represent, maquila operators continue to show their unwillingness to provide minimal conditions to benefit their workers.

Demonstrating an interest in benefitting businessmen in the field, the government for the past three years has excluded maquila workers from legislated pay increases. This year, workers proposed inclusion of maquila workers in the agreements, a proposal that became explosive to the degree that representatives of private enterprise declared the negotiations a failure. (more…)

Mexico: Police homophobia in Puebla

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

[Translations of two articles on recent arrests of gay men in Puebla.]

Police in Puebla round up gays
Five arrested as “a nuisance and a danger to families”

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 10. See original here.]

by Javier Puga, América Farías and Arturo Alfaro

Puebla, Puebla, March 9 – Police in this city arrested five homosexuals and sent them before an examining magistrate for the “crime” of “being a nuisance and a danger to the families” who had accused them of practicing prostitution, the secretariat of public security and municipal transit reports.

The homosexuals were arrested by the K-9 Immediate Response Group, made up of elite agents of the municipal police, at the intersection of Bulevar Norte and Avenida 25 Poniente, one of the most important intersections in the capital.

The legal code of the city stipulates a fine equal to 10 to 100 days of the minimum wage, with 36 hours of detention or community service, for persons who “exercise, permit or are patrons of prostitution in public places,” but does not specify as a punishable offense being “a nuisance and a danger to families.” (more…)

Chile: Resources plundered in broad daylight

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

An interview with economist José Manuel Flores

[Translation of an interview from Brasil de Fato for March 5, 2011. See original here.]

by Pedro Carrano

Since 1973, the Chilean economy has traced a long path, beginning with the coup headed by General Augusto Pinochet against the popular government of Salvador Allende, and today is being consolidated into an economy controlled by large domestic and foreign businesses that holds the line on exportation and keeps the internal market strangled – despite representing only one percent of the productive capacity of the country. So they control 80 percent of the internal market and provide jobs for only 20 percent of the population.

This is the analysis of Chilean economist José Manuel Flores. In a country in which neoliberalism has gained hegemony and has brought about a radical alteration in the economy, the export of copper is central, a target of control and export. “Before, copper was exported and now copper concentrate, its raw material, is being exploited. Transnationals control 76 percent of Chilean copper,” the economist calculates. In an interview with Brasil de Fato, Flores talks about the relation between natural resources and the Chilean economy, the failure of the Concertación as an alternative government after Pinochet’s departure, and now as the opposition to the government of rightist Sebastián Piñera, in office for a year. In this scenario, popular movements take on a new importance. The recent popular revolt in the province of Magallanes against an increase in the price of gas demonstrates this. (more…)

Important changes made in Dominican government

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

New director of immigration is openly anti-Haitian

[Translation of an article from Agence Haïtienne de Presse for March 9. See original article here and related article here.]

Santo Domingo, March 9 – The ministers of the treasury, the interior and education of the Dominican cabinet, as well as the director of immigration, have been replaced.

The new functionaries are Daniel Toribio, José Ramón Fadul and Josefina Pimentel. In the General Directorate of Immigration, involved mostly with Haitian migration, the appointment of the secretary general of the Fuerza Nacional Progresista (FNP – National Progressive Force) party, known for openly anti-Haitian rhetoric, is seen as a sign of a hardening of Dominican migration policy toward Haiti. (more…)

Controversy erupts after ATF allows illegal arms shipments to Mexico

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

ATF agent John Dodson — CBS News photo

[Translations of two articles from Mexican newspapers on revelations that the ATF’s “Operation Fast and Furious” had permitted assault rifles to be smuggled from the United States into Mexico, where they were used by drug cartels.]

United States allowed illegal arms shipments to Mexico
Traffickers sent 1,765 weapons, one of which killed border guard

[Translation of an article from El Universal of Mexico City for March 5. See original here.]

by J. Jaime Hernández

Washington – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) carried out an operation that allowed the shipment of thousands of weapons into Mexico over a period of more than a year and the death of a border patrol agent shot with one of those weapons last December. The operation, named “Fast and Furious,” was carried out without notifying the Mexican government. (more…)

Colombia: Plans for gold mine face strong opposition

Monday, March 7th, 2011

[Translations of two articles from Colombian newspapers concerning plans by Greystar Resources of Vancouver, Canada, for an open-pit gold mine in the páramo, a large, diverse and environmentally sensitive area in the heights of the Andes consisting of  lakes, wet grasslands, peat bogs and forests.]

“Bucaramanga without cyanide” — El Tiempo photo

Protests held against Greystar plan for gold mining in Santurbán

Experts say it would affect rivers supplying metropolitan aqueduct

[Translated from El Tiempo for February 26, 2011. See original here.]

More than 15,000 people marched on Friday along the main streets of Bucaramanga to demand that the government not issue an environmental permit for a project in which the Canadian firm Greystar would attempt to exploit gold deposits in the páramo de Santurbán. (more…)