Archive for September, 2011

An interview with Gabriel Salazar of Chile: Burying Pinochet for good

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011


((Gabriel Salazar — Brasil de Fato photo by Fábio Nassif))

The movement for public education in Chile gains strength, urges new constitution to counter legacy of the dictatorship

[Translation of an interview from Brasil de Fato for September 23, 2011. See original here and related articles here.]

by Fábio Nassif

This was a different kind of September 11 for Chile. The same script was used again but this time in a political climate that stresses more forcefully the ideas of the government that was interrupted in 1973. The march organized by human rights groups brought out close to 5,000 people, who walked to the cemetery where the monument to the executed and the disappeared is located. The colors of the political organizations moved gradually to the immense mural where the names of those to be honored are listed. At former President Salvador Allende’s grave, flowers were placed, songs were sung and his presence was remembered. The same for the singer Víctor Jara.

At a certain moment in the activities, the police, faced with young people who were setting up barricades on the avenue leading to the cemetery, began their repression. And, as a form of physical and moral intimidation, they made an incursion into the cemetery with water cannons, horses and all their weapons. More than 20 cars made their way through the midst of the homage. (more…)

Active in the Honduran resistance, he is now in political exile in Argentina

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

An interview with Guillermo Padilla Amador

[Abridged translation of an interview from Página/12 of Buenos Aires for September 19. See original here.]

by Gustavo Veiga

In Honduras, he took part in the resistance movement against the coup that deposed President Manuel Zelaya and a year later he had to seek exile. Despite the fact that Zelaya returned to Honduras and there is now an elected government, dozens of opponents have been assassinated with the coming of a wave of supposed street violence.

Why did you have to go into exile in Argentina after fighting for a year against the coup d’état against Manuel Zelaya in Honduras?

Because there are disguised political assassinations in my country and the Honduran army has the best advisers, Colombians as well as Israelis, for carrying them out. Singers of popular music are turning up run over by cars or activists done away with, with their pants pockets turned out. Street violence has been increased deliberately to cover up political assassinations. The Porfirio Lobo government has allowed these deaths. Fourteen journalists have been assassinated in Honduras during his government. That’s why I’m not going back. (more…)

Uruguay: Military court sentences five marines to prison

Monday, September 19th, 2011

[Translation of an article from El País of Montevideo, Uruguay, for September 19. See original here and related articles here.]

The military court late yesterday convicted and sentenced to prison the five Uruguayan marines involved in the case of abuse of a youth in Haiti, made known through a video recording.

Military Judge Washington Vigliola, who investigated the charges, interrogated the five accused marines over the weekend after they had been transferred from Haiti and were held incommunicado at the Carrasco naval school. The military judge ruled at 11:00pm yesterday that the marines, who were part of MINUSTAH, a peace force sent to Haiti by the United Nations, committed the crimes of disobedience and dereliction of duty, as established by the military penal code. The sentence includes prison terms and the five will be transferred to a military unit to serve their terms, information obtained by El País indicates. As of press time, it was not known where they will be held.

The military court ruled quickly, 48 hours after the marines returned. An examining magistrate had been sent to Haiti for the purpose of furthering the investigation.

Meanwhile, the case of these members of the National Navy will be taken into consideration by the Supreme Military Tribunal, which will make a ruling on the discharge of the five involved in the case.

The ruling does not prevent an investigation by the civilian justice system, since the Ministry of Defense filed a criminal denunciation to have the controversial incident investigated.

The civilian case will go to criminal judge Alejandro Guido, who could begin the proceedings next week…

Brazil: Company fined for recruiting indigenous adolescents to harvest cane

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Lawsuit concerns deaths resulting from illegal work in cane harvest

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato for September 16, 2011. See original article here and related article here.]

The deputy labor division judge in Amambai, Antonio Arraes Branco Avelino, has ordered the companies Agrisul Agrícola Ltda and Companhia Brasileira de Açúcar e Álcool (CBAA) of Sidrolândia, known as the Santa Olinda mill, to pay compensation of five million reais [about 2.9 million US dollars] for personal injury and to stop contracting adolescent workers to harvest sugar cane. (more…)

Haiti: Chamber of Deputies ratifies Garry Conille as prime minister

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

((Clinton and Conille -- Haiti-Liberté photo))

[Translation of an article from AlterPresse Haïti for September 16. See original here and related articles here and here.]

Port-au-Prince, September 16 – The Chamber of Deputies voted unanimously on September 16 in favor of Dr. Garry Conille, adviser to former US President William Clinton, as prime minister.

After a session with practically no debate in which 90 representatives took part, 89 voted in favor of Conille. According to regulations, the president of the Chamber of Deputies does not vote.

After the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate will also have to decide on the choice of Conille. In the event of a favorable vote there, he will be enabled to present a statement of his general policies in each of the two chambers.

The 45-year-old Dr. Conille is a regular in the United Nations system, where he has held several positions in the past few years. Since June, 2011, he has been the humanitarian coordinator for Niger.

He has also played the role of head of office for the United Nations special envoy to Haiti, William Clinton.

Two other candidates for the position of head of government nominated by [President Michel] Martelly, Daniel Gérard Rouzier and Bernard Honorat Gousse, failed to obtain the approval of parliament, in June and August, 2011, respectively.

Mexico: Canadian mining companies accused of bribing officials, rousing violence

Friday, September 16th, 2011


((In a Canadian owned mine in Oaxaca -- La Jornada photo by María Meléndez Parada))

San Xavier and Blackfire said to have forced repeal of laws they had violated

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for September 15. See original here and related article by Mandeep Dhillon, mentioned below, here.]

Canadian mining companies are not only the prinicipal producers of gold in Mexico but are also those most often involved in social and legal conflicts. Currently, of the 279 foreign corporations involved in mining, 210 are Canadian, with concessions in 26 states.

The Canadian firm Goldcorp is the number one producer of gold and in 2010 it extracted 680,000 ounces in four mines. At the same time, Minera San Xavier, owned by New Gold, which operates in Cerro San Pedro, San Luis Potosí, without environmental permits, in that same year attained production valued at 145.6 million dollars, according to information from the Cámara Minera of Mexico. (more…)

El Salvador: Feminist organizations join together to demand decriminalization of abortion

Friday, September 16th, 2011

[Translation of an article from ContraPunto of San Salvador for September 12, 2011. See original here.]

By Gloria Morán

San Salvador – Twelve women’s organizations united as the Articulación por el Derecho a Decidir (Coalition for the Right to Choose) on Monday declared their support for therapeutic abortion and called on the Salvadoran government to decriminalize it.

Their statement comes within the framework of the day for the decriminalization of abortion in Latin America and the Caribbean, to be observed next September 28.

Until 1997, the law in El Salvador permitted abortion in three circumstances: therapeutic abortion, when the life of the woman was in danger; eugenic abortion, when the fetus was not viable due to malformations; and ethical abortion, when the baby was the product of rape or incest. (more…)

Guatemala: Salvadoran legislator denies turn to the right in Central America

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Two rightist candidates will contend for the Guatemalan presidency in November runoff election

[Translation of an article from Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, for September 12, 2011,based on an Agence France Presse dispatch. See original here.]

The president of the Salvadoran legislature, leftist Sigfrido Reyes, on Monday denied that the rightist win in Sunday’s elections in Guatemala signals a general turn to the right in Central America.

“Guatemala has taken a step within its democratic development,” said Reyes, who led a mission from the Salvadoran legislature to observe the elections in Guatemala. Two rightists, retired General Otto Pérez and businessman Manuel Baldizón, will compete for the presidency of Guatemala in a runoff in November, as indicated by a count of 95 percent of the polls in the Sunday election.

Reyes, leader of the ruling Frente Farabundo Martí (FMLN) of El Salvador, denied that the results signal “the return to power of the right” in Central America and declared that the case of Guatemala is “atypical.” In Guatemala, “the party institutions are young, some of them weak, in other cases they tend to be short-lived. This last element is very characteristic of the Guatemalan political tradition, so each election is a surprise,” he stressed. The legislator denied a general return to power of the right on the isthmus, affirming that in the other Central American countries “there are established parties (on the left), with histories and with very well defined ideologies.”

Three leftists won presidencies in Central America between 2007 and 2009, an unprecedented occurrence: Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua (Sandinista), Álvaro Colom in Guatemala (Social Democrat) and Mauricio Funes in El Salvador (FMLN). Honduras and Panama have rightist governments, while that of Costa Rica is nominally social democrat but is considered on the right because of its neoliberal policies.

Wikileaks uncovers US government LGBT project in Cuba

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

The perverse nature of certain money

[Translation by Larry Goldsmith of comments from the blog Paquito, el de Cuba for September 4, 2011. See original here, diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks here, Miami Herald article mentioned below here, in Spanish, and here in English, and other related articles here.]

It didn’t appear in any pro-government Cuban publication; this time it wasn’t even necessary for State Security to unmask any of its agents: it is a document of none other than the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba — a gift from Wikileaks — that confirms US government financing of “Project B: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual (LGBT)” of the so-called dissidence.

The first thing I want to say is that this revelation hardly makes me happy. When I wrote about the march of nine people by a group of supposedly “independent” activists last June on the Prado, what hurt me was this apparent political manipulation of a cause to which so many of us in Cuba try to contribute our grain of sand — the effort to overcome homophobia and promote the freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity as a human right in our society. (more…)

Uruguay, Haiti and United Nations missions

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

[Translations of three articles from Uruguay for September 9, 2011, from El País, El Espectador and Montevideo Portal respectively. See original articles here, here and here and related articles here and here. Uruguay’s participation in United Nations missions, which has been controversial from the outset, became particularly so when Uruguayan navy personnel were filmed allegedly raping a Haitian youth in Port Salut and another Uruguayan was accused of impregnating a 16-year-old Haitian girl. With a population of about 3.5 million, Uruguay has a military force of about 23,500, of whom about 2,500 are assigned to 12 different United Nations missions. The Uruguayan government is dominated by the Frente Amplio (FA), the Broad Front, a coalition of leftist and center-left parties. The president and the majorities of both chambers of the legislature are members of the FA. The president, 76-year-old José Mujica, is a former member of the Tupamaro guerrillas, as is Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro. Mujica spent 14 years in prison as a result of his Tupamaro activities. As president, his political outlook is closer to that of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva than to Hugo Chávez or Evo Morales.]  

Mujica wants to keep troops in Haiti despite scandal over abuse

President José Mujica referred today to the rape of a youth by Uruguayan navy personnel in Haiti and described response to the event as “a hard road to travel” (“un viaje de arena gruesa”) for Uruguay.

The president said in a press conference that “this kind of thing has been happenings as long as the world has existed” and added that “among soldiers there is always a fringe of rowdy gangs, it is inevitable.” (more…)

João Pedro Stédile of the Landless Workers’ Movement

Friday, September 9th, 2011

“Brazil’s solutions won’t work for Mexico”

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for September 4, 2011. See original here.]

By Arturo Cano

The subject is Brazil, that “miracle” so admired by Mexicans of the left and the right, of the top and the bottom. And João Pedro Stédile, founder and leader of the Movimento dos Sem Terra (MST – Landless Workers’ Movement) of Brazil talks about it: “Mexicans think that we have solved all our problems and we haven’t even solved the soccer problem.”

Stédile has been in Mexico for only a few days now but he knows this country well because he was here a few decades ago as a graduate student in the Universidad Nacional. With that familiarity, he is surprised that Mexican governors and intellectuals never tire of talking about Brazil and Petrobras as models. “Don’t take us as a model for anything. You are okay here with the Under-17 [World Cup soccer games],” this white bearded man says laughingly, looking like a university professor, the descendant of Italian immigrants, born in Rio Grande do Sul where Brazilians, he agrees, look like Argentines and Uruguayans. (more…)

Ministers agree to gradual withdrawal of troops from Haiti

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

[Translation of an article from El País of Montevideo, Uruguay, for September 8. See original here.]

The defense ministers who met today in Montevideo have agreed to a gradual withdrawal of blue helmets deployed in Haiti. The intention is to reduce the personnel to the level that existed before the earthquake of 2010, when there were 9,000 military and police personnel in the country.

In a press conference, Foreign Minister Luis Almagro read a joint statement by Unasur (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas) that “recommends supporting the United Nations in the reduction of troops to the levels authorized before the earthquake without damaging the stability and security of the country.” (more…)