Archive for December, 2011

Brazil seeks agreements with foreign intelligence agencies to bar Haitians

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Some argue for open borders

[Translation of an article from the Brazilian website Carta Maior for December 27, 2011. See original here.]

by Najla Passos

Brasilia – The Agência Brasileira de Informação and the Polícia Federal are seeking the cooperation of the secret services of other Latin American countries in an attempt to break up the gangs responsible for facilitating the illegal entry of Haitians into the country across the borders with Bolivia and Peru.

“We have to put an end to the trafficking of persons and keep the criminal activity of the  ‘coiotes’ from becoming established in the region,” says Míriam Medeiros da Silva, coodinator general of the Secretaria de Acompanhamento e Estudos Institucionais of the Gabinete de Segurança Institucional of the presidency. (more…)

Mexico: Human rights groups say 2011 was the worst year of the ‘sexenio’

Friday, December 30th, 2011

‘Nothing to celebrate’

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for December 29, 2011. See original here. With considerable power vested in the executive branch, politics in Mexico is often described as cyclical, with six-year cycles, or sexenios, corresponding to the six-year terms for which presidents are elected.]

By Fernando Camacho Servín

As assassinations and disappearances of activists continued, the year that is about to end may have been the worst in this sexenio in terms of human rights, which positions the country “in a serious democratic deficit” and with an exponential increase in the number of victims of violence, warned members of organizations that defend individual rights, as they assessed 2011.

Gloria Ramírez, president of the Academia Mexicana de Derechos Humanos, declared, “This has been the worst year of the sexenio because the serious conditions that we have been through are getting worse. There are still assassinations, femicides and forced disappearances. It has been a brutal year and there is nothing to celebrate.” (more…)

Mexico: Security forces fail to deal with criminals in Ostula, Michoacán

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Only one communal leader survives

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

By Blanche Petrich

The minutes of the last meeting that federal and state authorities of Michoacán held in Morelia last November 28 with community leaders from Ostula in an attempt to curb the criminal activities of armed groups that ravage the coastal region bear at the bottom the wavering signatures of Trinidad de la Cruz Crisóstomo and Santos Leyva, the aging leaders, in their 70s, of the Nahua indigenous movement who for decades kept alive the desire to recover the lands on the edge of the town of Aquila that had been taken from them.

Santos Leyva was president of the commons. His son, Pedro Leyva, had been an outstanding leader in recent years and had carried the struggle to other venues of resistance, like the Congreso Nacional Indígena and the Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad. He was assassinated on October 6. He was victim number 27 of the unrelenting process of extermination suffered by that people, who had decided three years earlier to establish a new settlement, which they named Xayacalan, “Place of the Masks,” after their ritual dance of the Xayakates. (more…)

Honduran human rights defender Alexander Salgado on the current situation

Sunday, December 18th, 2011


((ContraPunto photo by Luis Velásquez))

“The president of Honduras is Micheletti”

[Translation of an article from ContraPunto of San Salvador for December 14. See original here and related articles here.]

by Fernando de Dios

San Salvador – Being a defender of human rights in Honduras these days is a job that carries with it the risk of imminent death.

As a member of the Comité de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de Honduras (CODEH – Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Honduras) who has been denouncing abuses by state security forces in the Bajo Aguán area, where 47 campesinos have been assassinated in the past two years, Alexander Salgado knows this first hand.

Salgado tells how he and others were attacked by soldiers who lay in ambush for them and fired at them with combat rifles in that rural area of the department of Colón, in northern Honduras. (more…)

Central America: Northern Triangle countries are being militarized

Friday, December 16th, 2011

Repressive strategies led by former soldiers are the new norm in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador

[Translation of an article from ContraPunto of San Salvador for December 14, 2011. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Gerardo Arbaiza

The Central American Northern Triangle, consisting of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, has been found in several studies to be the most violent region of the world not involved in an armed conflict.

According to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Honduras is in first place in the world in homicides, with a rate of 78 for every 100,000 inhabitants, followed by El Salvador with 66 and, three levels below, Guatemala, with a total of 41 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

The World Health Organization considers a country to be in an epidemic when the rate of deaths from any cause reaches ten for every 100,000 inhabitants.

The strategy these countries have adopted recently to reduce these figures is directed at taking members of the armed forces and using them together with police forces for tasks of citizen security. (more…)

El Salvador: Military has grown by 57% during the current administration

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

[Translation of an article from El Faro of San Salvador for December 7. See original here.]

by Sergio Arauz

After a steady reduction in the armed forces from the signing of the Peace Accord until they were stabilized at around 11,000 men, the administration of President Mauricio Funes has increased the number of men under arms by almost 57 percent, according to data from the National Ministry of Defense.

This growth in the number of soldiers is added to the fact that never before since the signing of the Peace Accords has the military played such an active role in the life of the country as during this first administration of Funes and the FMLN [Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional] that brought him to power. During the present administration, the military has been charged with carrying out public security tasks they had lost in 1992 or that they had never had, like guarding the perimeters of prisons. (more…)

Demonstration against denaturalized status of Dominicans of Haitian descent

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

In memory of Haitian-Dominican activist Sonia Pierre

[Translation of an article from AlterPresse Haiti for December 9, 2011.  See original here.]

Hundreds of people affected by the policy of denaturalization enforced by the Dominican Central Electoral Board held a demonstration in Santo Domingo on Thursday, December 8, in front of the parliament of the neighboring republic to denounce the condition of legal uncertainty created  by the administration of President Leonel Fernández, according to reports supplied to AlterPresse.

Coming from Puerto Plata, La Romana, El Seibo, Monte Plata, San Pedro de Macorís and the capital, Santo Domingo, the participants condemned a ruling by the Dominican Supreme Court recognizing the Electoral Board’s authority to issue administative writs when Dominican law specifically grants that authority to courts of the first instance.   (more…)

Police corruption thrusts Honduras into the arms of the military

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011


((Guardian photo))

[Translation of an article from El Faro of San Salvador, El Salvador, for December 1, 2011. See original here.]

By José Luis Sanz

To be a police officer in Honduras these days is to be looked at with fear and, above all, and this is new, with scorn. Last October 22 police agents killed two university students. Two more bodies in a country whose murder rate is the highest on the continent – 88 for every 100,000 inhabitants – and in which for years civil society organizations like the Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de las Víctimas de la Tortura (CPTRT – Center for Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture) denounce systematic abuse of authority committed by the National Police, the influence of drug trafficking in its ranks and the operations of uniformed extermination groups. (more…)

Brazil: The urgent need to demilitarize the police

Thursday, December 1st, 2011


((Brasil de Fato photo))

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for November 23, 2011. See original here.]

By Eduardo Sales de Lima

What after all is the role of the police in society? Considering this year alone, it is striking how actions of the militarized state police have been marked with “excesses.” Police violence has been seen especially in responses to public political demonstrations (taking as an example the Marcha da Maconha [Marijuana March], where journalists were injured by the police), in the troubled relations between the police and inhabitants of poor communities in large Brazilian cities and, more recently, in the evictions from the rector’s building of the University of São Paulo. (more…)