Archive for November, 2011

La Bestia, the freight train that mutilates the bodies and the dreams of Honduran migrants

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

((José – Diario Tiempo photo))

[Translation of an Agence France Presse article as published in Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, for November 25, 2011. See original here and related article here.]

Tapachula, Mexico – Lying on a bed in a shelter for the undocumented, Honduran José Paz is recuperating from the amputation of his right foot, which occurred when he was pushed by a policeman and fell under the wheels of the “Train of Death,” which at the same time cut off his American dream.

“It is very painful when you remember how things happened. That federal policeman pushed me and I fell under the train, the wheel cut off my foot. This happened and now, today, I don’t want to go to the United States for that damned American dream. That is what fucked me up,” he told AFP in an angry tone.

José is one of the tens of thousands who every year board, on the run, the so-called “Train of Death” or “La Bestia,” a long, slow freight train on an uncertain schedule which, starting in Arriaga, Chiapas, in southern Mexico, takes a northern route toward Oaxaca and Veracruz with its load of corn, cement and undocumented migrants. (more…)

Nicaragua challenged, Guatemela approved

Friday, November 25th, 2011


((Daniel Ortega))

[Translation of an article from El Clarín of Chile for November 22. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

Last November 6 Nicaragua and Guatemala both held presidential elections, but while the Nicaraguan elections have been subjected to a series of challenges, those in Guatemala seem to satisfy those who claim to be troubled about the reelection of President Daniel Ortega.

It is striking that nobody is troubled about the triumph of General Otto Pérez Molina, who had been a candidate several times without winning. He was probably helped this time by the judicial denial of permission for Sandra Torres, former wife of current president Álvaro Colom, to run. (more…)

Mexico: Can lightning strike twice in the same place?

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

((José Francisco Blake))

Second interior minister dies in suspicious plane crash

[Translation of an article from El Faro of San Salvador, El Salvador, for November 14, 2011. See original here.]

By Blanche Petrich

Important pieces of the puzzle that is Mexico these days have again fallen into place. Faced with a new calamity – a helicopter crashed on a hillside, the bodies of eight officials and military officers amid the twisted metal – the figure of President Felipe Calderón is weakened even more. In a period of three years, mourning has befallen his cabinet on two occasions. First a secretary of the interior, Juan Camilo Mouriño, dies in a plane crash (September 21, 2008) [sic. — it was in fact on November 4, 2008] and now José Francisco Blake, his successor, dies in another airplane accident, last November 11.

But can lightning strike twice in the same place? Science and common sense would say that the probability is minimal. But nevertheless…

In fact we can speak of three bolts of lightning, three air “accidents” that kill three cabinet members in a period of only six years and leave strategic national security ministries leaderless during the past two Partido Acción Nacional administrations, if we include the helicopter crash in which José Ramón Huerta, the public security minister in the previous administration of Vicente Fox (September 21, 2005), died. (more…)

Repression in Juárez: Patriot Act, Mexican style?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for November 11, 2011. See original here.]

by Víctor M. Quintana S.

It looked as though the elaborate operation, directed personally by the head of Public Safety for Ciudad Juárez, Lt. Col. Julián Leyzaola Pérez, submachine gun in hand, was for the purpose of taking on a group of bloody hit-men. But what happened at a downtown intersection in Juárez on Tuesday, November 1, was that municipal and traffic police repressed, with night-sticks, a demonstration by young people of the Frente Plural Ciudadano in remembrance of the victims of this “war” against organized crime. Several journalists and graphic reporters were also beaten and had their cameras confiscated. (more…)

What happened in Guatemala?

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

((Brasil de Fato photo))

A country that for 36 years saw a revolutionary movement, with a political-military strategy, elects as president a former general of the counter insurgency

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for November 9, 2011. See original here.]

By Silvia Álvarez

In contrast with the neighboring countries of El Salvador and Nicaragua, which saw insurgent civil wars that solidified into electoral triumphs, the left in Guatemala seems not to have made the transition into a political party. On Sunday, the 6th, thousands of Guatemalan citizens went to the polls to elect as president the candidate of the extreme right, Otto Pérez Molina of the Partido Patriota (PP). In an electoral dispute whose ideological coloration was dominated by the right, the principal theme of the campaigns was security despite the fact that the country is suffering from other serious problems like poverty and unemployment, aggravated by the tropical storms that devastated the country in the past month. (more…)

Colombia: Santos dissolves security department

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Santos distances himself from Uribe in response to US pressure

[Translation of an Agence France Presse article as published in Vanguardia of Bucaramanga, Colombia, on November 1, 2011. See original here.]

“The country knows very well the reasons we have decided to take this step,” said President Santos as he announced Monday evening the elimination of the agency. “It is not a transformation, it is not a reform. In the case of the DAS (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad – Administrative Security Department) it is liquidation. DAS is being eliminated,” the president declared.

During the Uribe administration (2002-2010), DAS was involved in scandals over infiltration by paramilitary groups.

One of its former directors, Jorge Noguera, was convicted of homicide and complicity with these extreme right groups, which were demobilized between 2003 and 2006, and former vice director José Miguel Narváez is also charged with homicide. (more…)