Archive for June, 2011

Honduras: FNRP forms Broad Front for electoral politics

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Divisions and questions about process persist

[Translation of an article from Revistazo of Tegucigalpa for June 26, 2011. See original here and related articles here. An excellent interview with Bertha Cáceres of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras is here. Father and son Jaime and Yany Rosenthal, mentioned in the article, are members of a prominent Honduran family with ties to the Partido Liberal. Both opposed the coup. Yany Rosenthal, at one time editor of the newspaper Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula, was minister of the presidency in the Zelaya administration.]

Amid questioning, doubts, divergent opinions and the possible withdrawal of some of the groups making it up, an assembly of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular has created the Frente Amplio [Broad Front] as the political arm of the movement, through which it intends to participate in the elections of 2013.

With delegates from the 18 departments of the country attending the assembly, after little deliberation and participation, including speeches by union leaders and others, the coordinator of the FNRP, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, and the sub-coordinator, Juan Barahona, offered a proposal which, in the opinions of many, was conceived beforehand and lacked consultation with the bases of the movement. (more…)

Honduras: What now, Zelaya?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Back in his country, the former president talks about the challenges of building unity on the left and about the disputes within his base

[Translation of an interview from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo, Brazil, for June 24. See original here and related articles here.]

by Sílvia Álvarez

Tegucigalpa — At 59 years of age, Manuel “Mel” Zelaya is a man in search of his identity. “I still feel like a stranger; it is not easy to live outside your country, you lose your origins,” he declares when we ask how he has spent his first days back in Honduras after 17 months in exile in the Dominican Republic. The former president is back in his home, from which he was taken, still in his pyjamas, on the morning of June 28, 2009, in a civilian-military coup d’état. The gate is better guarded now, but the house has the same rustic furniture as before, together with framed photographs of his family. (more…)

El Salvador: Muricio Funes on pragmatism and Utopia

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

La Jornada photo by Marco Peláez

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

by Blanche Petrich

Two years as president and he has three to go. The first ruler of his country, El Salvador, not to come from the oligarchy. He defends his pragmatism as an indispensable attribute at this juncture. Mauricio Funes Cartagena, 53 years old, recognizes beforehand that in 2014, when he leaves the presidential residence, he will be “halfway done,” leaving unfulfilled many of the aspirations that led partisans of the leftist Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) and the popular sectors to vote for him in 2009.

“I am aware that people are going to be disappointed. I never thought in a utopian way; I knew I would diverge from the historical aspirations of the people. I understand that the unions are frustrated, I understand the frustration of the teachers, with whom I reached an agreement for an improvement in their salaries and now we are not going to achieve that in the terms we agreed on. It is just that I do not have any more resources to improve the hospitals, to improve the living standards for many. But despite it all, El Salvador has changed. (more…)

Haiti: Martelly’s first setback: legislature rejects nominee

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Rouzier and Martelly[Abridged translation of an article from Haïti-Liberté for June 22. See original here.]

By Berthony Dupont

The meeting for approval of Prime Minister-Designate Daniel Gérard Rouzier ended in a setback for the Martelly camp and for the United States ambassador, who last week tirelessly expressed his support for the ultra conservative partisan of the neoliberal plan, who is Rouzier.

The meeting of members of the lower chamber of the parliament had in fact been scheduled for Monday, June 20, and was to begin at 1:00 in the afternoon. It was about 4:00 when it finally began, with the attendance of 73 representatives, among them the 13 new members declared by the Bureau du Contentieux Electoral National [National Bureau of Electoral Disputes] to be the winners in the controversial legislative elections of last March. It was President Michel Martelly who finally published the names of the 13 representatives and two senators in the official journal Le Moniteur… (more…)

Chile: Government prepares to remove demonstrators from schools they are occupying

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

Colegio Tomado — El Mostrador photo

[Translation of an article from El Mostrador of Santiago for June 18, 2011. See original here and related article here.]

The government is preparing to remove demonstrators from the 200 or so educational institutions currently not holding classes because of demonstrations being carried out by secondary school students.

Minister of Education Joaquín Lavín held a meeting in La Moneda [seat of the executive branch of the Chilean government] with President Sebastián Piñera in which, according to El Mercurio, a strategy for ending the occupations of high schools was discussed.

Despite the fact that the Friday meeting seemed to be an attempt to find a means of clearing the educational institutions and resuming normal classes, La Tercera quotes government sources who dismiss that intention.

In another meeting on Wednesday, there was agreement on the need for the president to harden the way he is confronting the student conflict. (more…)

Chile: Attendance at student march exceeds expectations, stengthens demands for changes in public education

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

La Tercera photo

More than 70,000 gather in Central Santiago

[Translation of an article from El Mostrador of Santiago for June 16, 2011. See original here and related article here.]

The president of the Federación de Estudiantes de la Universidad de Chile (FECh), Camila Vallejo, has called attention to the large attendance of close to 70,000 at the march called as part of the Paro Nacional de la Educación [National Strike for Education] held in the capital, with other similar demonstrations at the same time in most of the other important cities of the country.

A column made up of university and high-school students, as well as workers, teachers and members of congress, began shortly after 11:00 in the Plaza Italia sector, moving westward on Alameda Street. (more…)

Honduras: Zelaya says judge’s ruling imperils reconciliation

Friday, June 17th, 2011

[Translation of an article from Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula for June 16. See original here and a number of related articles here. The “Cuarta Urna,” or “Fourth Ballot Box,” referred to in the article would have added to the general election ballot the question of whether to hold a referendum allowing citizens to decide whether to convoke a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. Proponents of the coup d’état against Zelaya claimed the attempted referendum was unconstitutional and provided grounds for removing the president from office.]

Tegucigalpa – Former President of the Republic and coordinator of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular (FNRP) Manuel Zelaya Rosales yesterday denounced a violation of the Cartagena Accord in the form of a judicial rulings against former Minister of the Presidency Enrique Flores Lanza.

Penal court judge Claudio Aguilar sentenced the former minister to house arrest and imposed a fine of 27 million lempiras for alleged misappropriation of funds, which were to be used presumably for promotion of the Cuarta Urna.

Zelaya announced that next Monday, when Flores Lanza is to return to court, he will lead a demonstration to the capital city’s courts, located in the La Granja neighborhood, in support of the former member of his cabinet.

He declared that what happened to Flores Lanza “reflects badly and bodes ill for the hopes and efforts President Porfirio Lobo Sosa has shown for a politial reconciliation among Hondurans and attests to the lack of coherence of the Honduran government, which signed an accord that was ratified by the OAS and is being violated 15 days later.”

Zelaya, whose return to the country was a product of the accord in question, emphasized that on the day of the rulings against the former minister “violation of the Cartagena de Indias Accord began, an international agreement that allowed Honduras to return to the Organization of American States, but that has begun to be violated, disrespected and not fulfilled.”

“We protest directly this violation and we demand the fulfillment of the accord. Citizen Enrique Flores Lanza, a former minister and a member of the political committee of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, returned to the country peacefully to appear before the court voluntarity on the basis of the presumption of innocence,” he declared…

Honduras: “Cheap and easy to stage a coup”

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Porfirio Lobo, Hillary Clinton

Human rights group charges Honduras has not met minimal conditions for rejoining OAS

[Translation of an article from ContraPunto of San Salvador, El Salvador, for June 13, 2011. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

by Juan José Dalton

San Salvador – The return of Honduras to the bosom of the Organization of American States (OAS) was the pebble in the shoe for its 41st General Assembly, which ended in San Salvador on June 7 and which had as its principal theme public security, which concerns the Central American region in particular, categorized by international experts, and even by the United States military, as a more deadly region than even Iraq or Afghanistan. (more…)

Humala: “I will make every effort to heal Peru’s fractures”

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

[Abridged translation of an article from El Comercio of Lima for June 12, 2011. See original here. El Comercio was an ardent supporter of Keiko Fujimori, Ollanta Humala’s opponent in the presidential elections, one result of which was that Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, who supported Humala as the lesser of two evils, cancelled publication of his weekly column, “Piedra de Toque,” in El Comercio. The politically conservative writer said the paper had violated journalistic standards in its all-out support for the rightist Fujimori.]

By Milagros Leiva Gálvez

“Come quick, maybe Ollanta will give you an interview.” That was the message I got at four in the afternoon, Wednesday, June 8. President-elect Ollanta Humala was seeing members of congress, businessmen and officials at the Los Delfines Hotel and interviewing him was usually an impossiblity. I left on the run. At the hotel, Blanca Rosales, the woman who had been his principal advisor in dealing with the press, told me he didn’t have much time. The president of the congress was expected, the Nicaraguan ambassador, the transition team.

That morning the mayor of Lima, Susana Villarán, had been there and the businessmen. The president-elect was leaving for Brazil that same night. “You only have 30 minutes,” Blanca told me and I gave her a disappointed look. Accustomed to speaking to politicians for over an hour, I made decisions in seconds… (more…)

Child labor common in Mexican mines

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Charges made before UN International Labor Organization

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for June 13. See original here. Pasta de Conchos, in the northern state of Coahuila, is the site of a coal mine in which an explosion in 2006 killed 65 miners. See more on the Pasta de Conchos mine here.]

Mexico City — Carlos Rodríguez Rivera, a member of the Organización Familia Pasta de Conchos (Pasta de Conchos Family Organization), submitted a charge to the [United Nations] International Labor Organization (ILO) that child labor in mines “for the purpose of lowering production costs” is common in Mexico.

While taking part in the World Day Against Child Labor, he explained that in the so-called pocitos [small pits] at coal mines children and youths who have not reached adult height are very useful because they can move through narrow spaces.

In addition, Rodríguez Rivera said, because of the shape of the mines it is easy to hide them when inspectors from the Secretariat of Labor appear and, of course, it is cheaper to hire them because they are paid less than adults.

Evidence of this is the case of 14-year-old Jesús Fernando Lara, who survived an accident in Pocito Tres of the Beneficios Internacionales del Norte mining operation in Sabinas, Coahuila, last May 3.

The young man, who has just turned 15, had one of his arms amputated as a result of the accident. In addition, they have proof that he was no longer studying mining as an occupation and that he was being paid 900 pesos a week.

Rodríguez Rivera also referred to the Ferber case, in which a mine was inspected in 2009. Several under-age miners worked there three years before being registered with social security at the age of 19.

He reported that the Organización Familia Pasta de Conchos has identified at least six locations inspected last year by the Secretariat of Labor and Social Security in which 15 youths between 14 and 17 years of age worked.

Carlos Rodríguez Rivera commented that all of this constitutes a flagrant violation of  ILO Convention 182, which Mexico has ratified.

Chile: Mapuche hunger strike ends after 86 days

Monday, June 13th, 2011

[Translation of an article from El Mostrador of Santiago, Chile, for June 9, 2011. See original here and related articles here and here.]

Natividad Llanquileo on Thursday confirmed the end of the hunger strike that four Mapuche prisoners in the Angol Prison began on March 15 to protest the application of the anti-terrorist law to their sentencing.

After losing between 20 and 25 kilograms because of the prolonged fast, the comuneros had been transferred to different facilities for medical reasons, according to authorities, but for that day they were brought together at the Victoria hospital.

“We had a conversation and they have decided to end this hunger strike, creating a committee for the defense of the rights of the Mapuche people,” spokeswoman Natividad Llanquileo told Radio Cooperativa.

Ramón Llanquileo, José Huenuche, Héctor Llaitul and Jonathan Huillical decided to end the strike after agreeing to form a work council in which the archbishop of Concepción, Fernando Chomali, and the director of the Instituto de Derechos Humanos, Lorena Fries, will participate.

Mexico: “Has your war been worth it?” Sicilia asks Calderón

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Javier Sicilia, Julián LeBaron — La Jornada photo by Víctor Camacho


Caravan arrives in Chihuahua, an area torn apart by violence

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

By Alonso Urrutia

Chihuahua, Chihuahua, June 9 – Pained testimonies could be heard from the stage: the massacre in Creel, the descriptions of executions in the place with the most homicides in the country, the domination of the sierra by the assassins, the defenselessness of the indigenous, the abuse by the police and the military… With all the savagery described, there is one crime that generates a particular collective pain, the killing of Marisela Escobedo.

It has been seven months since the murder and the Caravana por la Paz con Jusiticia y Dignidad arrives at the capital of the state of Chihuahua to open a space for a heartfelt memorium: “Marisela Escobedo was murdered here on December 16, 2010, for demanding justice for the femicide of her daughter Rubí.” The poet Javier Sicilia and Julián LeBaron placed a plaque three meters from the government palace, exactly where she was killed. (more…)