Archive for March, 2012

Mexico: Behind closed doors, senators pass controversial religious reform

Friday, March 30th, 2012

(("No to reform of Article 24. Yes to the secular state." -- La Jornada photo by Francisco Olvera))

Constitutional reform seen as threat to secular state

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 29.  See original here.]

by Andrea Becerril and Víctor Ballinas

In a closed chamber yesterday, with empty galleries so no protesters could slip in, the PRI-PAN [Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Partido Acción Nacional] majority of the Senate had to work  hard to do it but finally attained the required vote and approved reforms to Article 24 of the constitution.

The change consists of adding to the concept of freedom of religion, already addressed in that provision of the document, the “freedom of conscience and ethical convictions.” (more…)

Haiti: Disbanded soldiers vow to fight until victory

Monday, March 26th, 2012


((Haiti Press Network photo))

[Translation of an article from Le Matin for March 23. See original here and related article here.]

Secretary of State for Public Security Réginald Delva has ordered the former soldiers to go home. According to the minister, drastic measures are being taken to promote a climate of security in the country. Therefore, a set of arrangements against them has already been planned. Among others, they have already been formally prohibited from moving about on the streets in uniform. They have also been ordered to leave the occupied spaces quickly.

But these armed men have so far shown no inclination to obey. The are still occupying the Lamentin 54 camp [in Ouest province]. Instead of submitting to the government orders, they are rather asking President Martelly to fulfill his promises. (more…)

U.S. wants Benedict XVI to adopt a harder line on Cuba

Saturday, March 24th, 2012


((Reuters photo))

Anti-Castro forces say pontiff’s trip serves the interests of Havana

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 24. See original here.]

by David Brooks

New York, March 23 – When the United State government and anti-Castro forces in Miami denounced the brief detention of opponents by Cuban authorities on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the island, they did not mention that those “dissidents,” like a wide range of the political opposition on the island, are supported and in many cases financed, in violation of Cuban laws, by Washington and the anti-Castro organizations in Miami, whose stated goal is “regime change.”

So the statements on Cuba coming from Washington and Miami concerning the pontiff’s visit to Cuba next Monday and Tuesday have a more dangerous edge than appears at first sight. (more…)

Mexico: Diplomatic cable reveals “quiet intervention” by US in oil production

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Despite constitution, Calderón requested US involvement

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for March 16. See original here, related article here and cable in question, as released by Wikileaks, here.]

by Roberto González Amador

Mexico is on the verge of becoming an importer of petroleum. Production of crude oil in the country is declining rapidly. “Despite some optimistic GOM [government of Mexico] forecasts, there are no realistic options for reversing this decline in the short to medium term.” This from a February, 2010, report to the State Department by Carlos Pascual, United States ambassador to Mexico.

In the cable, the diplomat reports that at the request of the administration of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa the United States government has become “quietly” involved in areas related to the domestic energy sector. (more…)

Chile: Government invokes state security law after more violent protests in Aysén

Sunday, March 18th, 2012


((La Tercera photo))

[Translation of an article from La Tercera of Santiago for March 16, 2012. See original here and related articles here and here.]

by L. Ferraro y S. Labrín

After one of the coldest days in Aysén, following the breakdown of negotiations between the government and the Social Movement, La Moneda [the presidency] decided yesterday to invoke the State Security Law and to bring charges against some 20 participants in the violent incidents that have taken place in the region. These include the burning of a bus and a water cannon belonging to the Carabineros [the militarized national police], as well as the stoning of a police airplane that was to transport agents injured during the protests. (more…)

Brazil: The discourse on the right

Friday, March 16th, 2012


((Carta Maior photo)

[Translation of a column from Carta Maior of São Paulo for March 8, 2012. See original here.]

by Emir Sader

The Brazilian right carries within its DNA the 1964 coup and the military dictatorship. At the most decisive moment in Brazilian history to date, when the future of the country was at stake, in the clash between democracy and dictatorship, the right, in all its incarnations – intellectual, journalistic, entrepreneurial, religious – stuck with the dictatorship.

The question of the moment for every public figure, for every institution, every political force, every journalist, every intellectual, every Brazilian, every citizen, is where were they at that crucial moment: defending democracy or supporting the coup and the military dictatorship? (more…)

Dominican National Police charged again with abuse

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012


((José Polanco Gómez – Listín Diario photo))

[Translations of three articles, from Noticias SIN for March 10, from Listín Diario for March 1, 2012, and from Diario Digital for March 10. See originals here, here and here and related articles here and here.  See related Amnesty International documents here and here.]

Human rights organizations back Amnesty International report on police violence

By Yudelki Guerrero

Human Rights Commissioner Domingo Porfirio Rojas Nina has backed a report by Amnesty International which stresses alarming violations of the rights of citizens of the Dominican Republic, stating that it is indisputable and true.

He stated that there is a sector, which he did not identify, that does not want the country to move forward in human rights matters. (more…)

Elections in El Salvador: Social aspirin

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

[Translation of a column from ContraPunto of San Salvador for March 8. See original here.]

By Armando Salazar

San Salvador – While capital looks upon the elections as the continuation of its hegemony and its business deals, resulting in the renewal of functionaries who would “improve and perfect” institutions, reality and history have demonstrated that, so far, elections have reproduced an establishment that generates opulence and impunity as well as extensive poverty, exclusion and institutional offense.

The left, inserted into electoral political life since 1992, has little by little taken more institutional positions in mayoralties (96), legislatures (41%) and a contentious presidential election won in alliance with other sectors, which has allowed it to control some government functions. (more…)

Chile: Human Rights Institute confirms excessive use of shotguns in Aysén

Friday, March 9th, 2012


((El Mostrador photo))

Lorena Fríes says they were aimed directly at demonstrators

[Translation of an article from El Mostrador of Santiago for March 8, 2012. See original here and related article here.]

The director of the National Human Rights Institute has submitted to the Human Rights Committee of the Chamber of Deputies a report drawn up by professionals in the Institute who were in the Aysén region between February 22 and February 25 as part of the organization’s Police Violence Observation Program.

Fríes stated that, in drawing up the report, “We were able to confirm a disproportionate use of anti-riot shotguns, which apparently are not used to warn but are used directly on the bodies of the demonstrators, which is reflected in the large proportion of persons wounded; more than 50 percent of those arrested have superficial wounds from the pellets that are fired with these shotguns.” (more…)