Archive for August, 2011

From Monterrey to Atlántida

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

A demonstration against violence in Monterrey

[Translation of an editorial from El Faro of San Salvador for August 29, 2011. See original here. Atlántida is a state on the Caribbean coast of Honduras, best known as a luxury tourist attraction but recently also a center of drug trafficking and other organized crime, and of the violence that results.]

The recent attack on a casino in Monterrey, which left more than 50 dead, raised even higher the level of horror that drug trafficking gangs have unleashed in Mexico in their delivery of drugs to the United States.

President Felipe Calderón, besieged by a population fed up with so much bloodshed, pointed rightly toward the United States, asking that country to begin the task it has never been willing to take on: that of decreasing the drug use and toughening its control over the sale of fire arms. (more…)

Brazil: Another activist assassinated in Pará

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato for August 26, 2011. See original here.]

By Aline Scarso

Another leader of rural workers has been assassinated in the state of Pará. Valdemar Oliveira Barbosa, 54 years of age, was killed by gunshots to the face and neck at about 10:00 on Thursday, August 25, on Belém-Brasília Avenue in the São Felix neighborhood, on the outskirts of Marabá. Witnesses of the killing said that shots were fired by a gunmen who fled, with the help of another man, on the backseat of a motorcycle. Since they were wearing helmets, they could not be recognized.

Known as Piauí, Valdemar is the sixth leader of rural workers in the southern and southeastern region of the state killed by gunmen this year. In May he had contacted the Delegacia de Conflitos Agrários (DECA – a unit of the civil police dealing with agrarian conflicts) in Marabá and reported that his life had been threatened by Vicente Correa, owner of the Califórnia farm, located in a rural area of the community of Jacundá, where Valdemar had been leader of an occupation in 2010. (more…)

Brazil: Government says opponents of hydroelectic plant are a minority

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Demonstrations held in 15 Brazilian cities on Saturday, in 16 foreign cities on Monday

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato for August 22, 2011. See original here.]

By Aline Scarso

Minister of Planning Miriam Belchior said on Monday that anyone with a technical, rather than an ideological vision, will be convinced of the viability and the necessity for the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant on the Xingu River, in Pará. According to the minister, Belo Monte will be a model for the introduction of hydroelectric plants into the Amazonian region with social and environmental respect.

Her statements were made during an event on the subject “Hydroelectrics: The country’s needs and respect for sustainability,” promoted in São Paulo by the magazine Carta Capital. The minister also announced that the government will issue a decree in September for the purpose of accelerating the environmental licensing process for future hydroelectric plants. (more…)

Honduras: Group charges landowners are financing death squad in Bajo Aguán

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for August 21. See original here and related article here.]

Tegucigalpa – The Comité Hondureño de los Derechos Humanos (CODEH – Honduran Human Rights Committee) today denounced the presence of a death squad in the Bajo Aguán region, where thousands of campesinos are in conflict with landowners over land ownership.

Secundino Ruiz Vallecillos, a member of the Movimiento Auténtico de Campesinos del Aguán (MARCA), was killed yesterday by two assassins riding a motorcycle while he was on his way to the San Isidro cooperative, in the department of Colón on the country’s Atlantic coast.

Eliseo Pavón, another campesino leader who was with him, was also injured.

“CODEH believes that a death squad has been established in Aguán, financed by the landowners of the area and led by former military who were linked in the ‘80s with the repression that was seen in the country,” according to a communiqué distributed by the humanitarian organization.

The 3-16 was a death squad that operated in Honduras during the ‘80s and, together with the armed forces, kidnapped and disappeared around 184 popular leaders, according to charges made by CODEH.

As a result, Honduras was ordered by the International Human Rights Court, with headquarters in Costa Rica, to compensate the families of several of the disappeared of the time, among them that of Ángel Manfredo Velásquez.

CODEH reports that the death squad’s method is to disguise their crimes by making them appear to be common delinquency, taking any money the victims were carrying.

Aguán is a valley that has been militarized since last October, a situation that is dangerous for the population, especially for the campesinos, who have lost the freedom of movement because of the siege to which they are subjected.

Government hardens position while citizen support for student movement remains strong

Sunday, August 21st, 2011


El Mostrador photo

[Translation of an article from El Mostrador of Santiago for August 19, 2011. See original here and related articles here.]

by Claudia Rivas Arenas

Despite the heavy rains falling on the center of the capital, the student movement did not slacken in its enthusiasm for demonstrating against the latest proposal by the chief executive. Similarly, President Sebastián Piñera sent a clear message that the government will not back down and that it is not willing to give in to what it considers the intransigence of the students, something the president made clear when he warned that “we remember that road from the past and it led us to the breakdown of democracy, to the loss of a healthy coexistence and it had many other consequences,” making a comparison with the climate of the days before ’73 [when the military overthrew Salvador Allende] . (more…)

Honduran government announces further militarization of Bajo Aguán

Friday, August 19th, 2011

[Translation of an article from Revistazo of Tegucigalpa for August 16. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Germán Reyes

Honduras is experiencing its worst crime wave in history and although crime is spread through every region of the country, Security Minister Óscar Álvarez has announced the launch of a new joint operation by the military and the police in the Aguán region, an area characterized by struggle between campesinos and landowners.

More than 150 campesinos and security guards have died in armed confrontations in the Aguán area. The government, incapable of complying with signed commitments, has announced a militarization through Operation Xatruch II.

The security minister reports the deployment of 600 additional men, to be added to the contingent that has been stationed in the region for several months. (more…)

Chile: University and high-school students differ on dialogue with Congress

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

El Mostrador photo

Santiago mayor says armed forces could be deployed if demonstrations escalate

[Translations of three articles from El Mostrador of Santiago for August 14 and 15, 2011. See originals here, here and here and related articles here.]

University students reject dialogue with Congress, call for another march

University students have rejected a dialogue with Congress on putting an end to the demonstrations for better public education that have been taking place since mid-May and have called for another march next Thursday.

Meeting in extraordinary session in the city of Concepción, the students explained their decision by pointing out that the government is not responding to their fundamental demands and has passed up a settlement by plebiscite. (more…)

Honduras: Students continue protests against threat of privatization of education

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

[Translations of two articles from Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula for August 15. See originals here and here and related article here.]

Education panel begins work today without students

Tegucigalpa – The Frente Amplio Estudiantil Revolucionario de Honduras (FAERH), which includes most secondary school students, has annnounced that it will not send representatives to the Presidential Palace today to take part in a dialogue called by the government, while leaders of teachers’ groups have confirmed they will attend.

The heads of the executive and legislative branches, Porfirio Lobo Sosa and Juan Orlando Hernández, stressed that the talks will begin from scratch, with a view to putting together a new general education law. The executive extended the invitation again yesterday in a communiqué which makes it clear that the only non-negotiable point for the government is that “education is public and free for children, because education changes our lives.” (more…)

Haiti: UN soldiers accused of contaminating river again as Brazil considers withdrawing its troops

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

[Translations of two articles from August 9, the first from Radio Metropole, the second from AlterPresse Haïti. See originals here and here.]

Brazil contemplates departure of Blue Helmets from Haiti

The new Brazilian defense minister, Celso Amorim, is contemplating withdrawal of the  Blue Helmets of the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH). The former foreign minister, who has made two visits to Haiti, Amorim considers that the Brazilians’ mission is nearing its end with the strengthening of democracy and economic growth.

This represents a radical change of position for Amorim, who, during the Lula administration, had encouraged Brazil’s involvement at the center of MINUSTAH.

Assuming office last Monday, Amorim bases his decision on a slow-down of the Brazilian economy. “On the international level, this is a time for military disengagement and from the economic point of view, Brazilian growth has slowed,” he explains. Amorim draws attention as well to an improvement in the security climate in Haiti. “Even if the country is far from being a haven of peace, it is now endowed with a president with the outlook of institutions regaining their normal functioning,” he remarked.


Honduran students oppose privatization of schools

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011


Diario Tiempo photo

With teachers’ support,  students occupy schools in response to proposed reforms

[Translations of four articles from Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula and El Heraldo of Tegucigalpa, for August 6, 7, 8 and 9. See originals here, here, here and here.]

Diario Tiempo, August 9

Police continue removing students from occupied schools

Tegucigalpa – Hundreds of Honduran police on Tuesday removed groups of high-school students who were occupying some ten schools in different departments of the country in opposition to what they consider a proposal for privatizing education, a police source reports.

“We have recovered eight institutions so that children in the capital can go to class,” declared police commissioner and coordinator of the operation, René Maradiaga, in an interview broadcast on ABC. “We have detained 48 people,” who were taken to police headquarters in the capital. (more…)

Chile: Harshest repression yet for student demonstrations

Friday, August 5th, 2011


“The struggle belongs to the whole society. All for free education.”

[Translations of three articles from August 5, 2011, the first from La Tercera, the second and third from El Mostrador. Both publications are in Santiago, Chile. See originals here, here and here and related articles here.]

Government confirms 874 arrested in student protests and 90 police injured

Government spokesman Andrés Chadwick confirmed this morning that the nation-wide total of persons detained in the student march yesterday was 874 and that there are “more than 90 injured police officers.” He further added that the demonstrators’ constitutional right to assemble was not violated since it “depends on a request” and this was denied by local authorities…

In response to student claims concerning violation of the right of assembly, Chadwick declared that “the constitutional right to assemble is subject to a request, to authorization, when it is to occur in a public place, and that has to be submitted to the local authorities and the local authorities determine the place where the right will be exercised.” (more…)

Amnesty International finds sexual violence to be a serious problem in Nicaragua

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

((Women demonstrate in Managua — Confidencial photo))

AI expresses concern over criminalization of therapeutic abortion, regrets Ortega’s refusal to meet with them

[Translation of an article from Confidencial of Managua for July 29, 2011, based on a dispatch from the Spanish news agency Efe. See original here and related article here.]

Managua – Amnesty International warned today in Nicaragua that sexual violence against women and girls is a “very serious problem” in the country and criticized the state’s response to such cases, which it characterized as “limited” and sometimes “disheartening.”

The Amnesty International mission, which on Friday concluded its five-day visit to Nicaragua without meeting with President Daniel Ortega, also expressed “grave concern” over the criminalization of therapeutic abortion. (more…)