Archive for May, 2013

Colombia: First political agreement between government and FARC in 30 years of negotiations

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

[Translation of an article from Semana of Bogotá for May 27, 2013. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Álvaro Sierra Restrepo

The peace process between the government and the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) got a powerful boost on Sunday. After six months of talks, the parties announced they had reached agreement on the question of rural development, the first of the five items on the agenda, and that they will move on to the second, that of participation in electoral politics, in the next round of talks, beginning on June 11.

The announcement, which both sides clearly wanted especially to stress, as they charged Norway and Cuba, the host countries, with reading their joint communiqué to the press for the first time, has both a deep meaning and a powerful impact. (more…)

El Salvador: New evidence shows links between army and paramilitary

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

 

((Ricardo Castrorrivas looks at a photo of his daughter Carminda -- La Jornada photo by Edgardo Ayala))

((Ricardo Castrorrivas looks at a photo of his daughter Carminda — La Jornada photo by Edgardo Ayala))

Recently found army document lists names of leftists to be pursued or assassinated

[Translation of an article from La Jornada of Mexico City for May 24, 2013. See original here.]

San Salvador, May 23 — A confidential Salvadoran army document from the 1980s could be the missing link confirming involvement of the armed forces in activities of the death squads during the civil war, including torture and forced disappearances.

The Yellow Book, as it is titled on the cover, is a report apparently written by the Estado Mayor Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas (EMCFA – Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces), the army’s elite operations unit, whose initials can be clearly seen printed on each of the 270 pages of the document, confirming its official nature. (more…)

Argentina: Three Ford executives indicted for involvement in kidnapping of 24 workers

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

[Translation of an article from Página/12 of Buenos Aires for May 21, 2013. See original here.]

The automobile company executives were indicted by San Martín federal judge Alicia Vence on charges of “having arranged the means necessary to identify and point out” union representatives and employees who were then kidnapped. They are further charged with “having allowed a detention center to be set up inside the factory building.”

Those charged, who are not being held in preventive detention, are Pedro Müller, former production manager, Guillermo Galárraga, former labor relations manager, and Héctor Sibilla, former head of security. The three were summoned for an inquiry in late March but refused to testify. The judge explained that the president of Ford in Argentina, Nicolás Enrique Julián Courard, would also have been cited for indictment but the court received notice of his death in 1989 in Chile. (more…)

Haiti: Two years of catastrophic politics

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Haitian  presidential candidate Michel M[Translation of an article from Haïti-Liberté for May 18, 2013. See original here.]

By Isabelle L. Papillon

May 14, 2013, is the second anniversary of the inauguration of President Michel Joseph Martelly as head of the country. This second anniversary is marked by catastrophe on political, economic and social levels. The situation of degradation moves inhabitants of poor neighborhoods to demonstrate in the streets of the capital to denounce the drift of tètkale-kaletèt Martelly-Lamothe rule.

Hundreds of people took to the streets at the call of the Mouvement de Liberté, d’Égalité et de la Fraternité des Haïtiens, the Parlement Populaire Haïtien and the Union Nationale des Normaliens d’Haïti to protest against the  tètkale regime, which has done nothing but increase the misery of the masses, the hunger, the unemployment. The demonstrators criticized the so-called priorities of the tètkale authorities, which rest on the “4-Es”: education, the rule of law (l’état de droit) employment and energy. According to the protesters, these priorities are so far nothing but words. Each of the organizations gave press conferences on Monday, May 13, to make an assessment of the government. The government’s tally is completely negative, according to the organizers. (more…)

Colombia: Analysts say peace talks need to start showing results

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

[Translation of an article from El Colombiano of Medellín for May 16, 2013. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Daniel Rivera Marín

Sunday, April 19, marks six months since the government and FARC sat down in Havana, Cuba, to negotiate peace and the first item on the agenda has not been exhausted, although both sides expect that by the end of this cycle, which is the ninth, a first agreement can be announced.

And if not, analysts agree, a signal that is not very favorable will shape public opinion, considering that President Juan Manuel Santos has spoken of a short peace process, with negotiations beginning in November, 2012, and ending, supposedly, in November, 2013, while FARC has said repeatedly that no exact period can be set.

On this topic, Sergio Jaramillo, high commissioner of peace [in the Santos administration], said, “The government is not interested in talking with FARC in Havana forever; the government does not want to talk with FARC beyond this year. The government wants to arrive at the signing of a final accord that allows us to begin the phase of a transition to peace.” (more…)

Honduras: One more campesino killed in Bajo Aguán, for a total of 99

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Campesinos claim soldiers and police favor the landowners

[Translation of an Agence France Presse article as published in Diario Tiempo of San Pedro Sula for May 13, 2013. See original here an related articles here, here and here.]

A campesino leader was assassinated by armed men in the troubled valley of Aguán, 600 kilometers northeast of the Honduran capital, bringing to 99 the number killed in the region, the scene of a conflict between farmers and landowners, a leader of the agrarian movement reported on Sunday.

“Three heavily armed men assassinated José Omar Pérez, 37, president of the Los Laureles operation, in the La Concepción settlement, which belongs to the Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA), around 9:30pm Saturday night,” the spokesman for the organization, Vitalino Álvarez, told AFP.

The attack occurred 100 meters from Pérez’s home as he and his wife were returning from his mother-in-law’s house in the city of Tocoa.

“The assassination of comrade Pérez makes 99 campesinos killed by the deadly bullets of the landowners’ security guards and the paramilitary groups who operate in the region,” stated a MUCA communiqué.

The conflict began in the Aguán in January, 2010, a month after more than 5,000 campesinos occupied 7,000 hectares of land claimed by the landowners.

The campesinos hold that these lands have belonged to them since they were granted to them as part of an agrarian reform in the 1980s.

In 1992, a law allowed the parcels of land to be sold and some leaders of the farmers, behind the backs of their base, sold them to the landowners at low cost.

In August, the government ordered a military deployment, reinforced by the police, to carry out a “general disarmament” but deaths continue and the campesinos hold that the soldiers and the police are backing the landowners.

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“In Haiti, Brazil is just a puppet,” Haitian senator declares

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Tropas_brasileiras-Marcello-Casal-Jr_After almost nine years in the country, MINUSTAH prolongs conditions of poverty and repression, securing the political and economic interests of the United States

[Translation of an interview from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for May 9, 2013.  See original here and related articles here, here, here and here.]

By Márcio Zonta

The United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) will be nine years old in June.  Created in 2004 by the UN Security Council, it brought the activities of foreign troops into the country after the coup against then President Bertrand Aristide.  He was kidnapped and deposed by United States forces, being forced into exile in Africa. (more…)

Brazil: 75 percent of Quilombolas live in extreme poverty

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

x QuilomboOnly 207 of the 2,197 recognized communities hold land titles, making access to family agricultural incentives difficult

[Translation of an article from Brasil de Fato of São Paulo for May 8, 2013. See original here. Quilombolas are the residents of Quilombos, settlements established in the Brazilian jungle during the early colonial era by escaped slaves, who also gave refuge to indigenous peoples, Arabs, Jews and others suffering colonial oppression. In the early days, some Quilombos were strong enough to pose a serious threat to Portuguese rule, leading to harsher repression by colonial forces, who drove them deeper into the jungles. The Quilombos were widely thought to have disappeared, until the 1970s when a number were found still in existence. For more on the history of Quilombos go here. ]   

By Sarah Fernandes

A report released by the federal government confirms the view that there is still much to be done in assuring the basic rights of the Quilombola communities. Of the 80,000 Quilombola families in the Cadastro Único [Single Registry], the data base for social programs, as of January of this year 74.73 percent still lived in conditions of extreme poverty, according to a study, “Brasil Qilombola,” released on Monday, May 6, by the Secretaria de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial (SEPPIR – Secretariat for the Promotion of Policies for Racial Equality). Those registered and not registered make up a total 1.17 million persons in 214,000 families. (more…)

The governments of Latin America after Chávez

Monday, May 6th, 2013

[Translation of an opinion piece from La Jornada of Mexico City for May 5, 2013. See original here.]

By Guillermo Almeyra

From the point of view of governments and institutions, the changes in Latin America brought about by the death of Hugo Chávez are important but not fundamental. The Venezuelan revolutionary process is weaker and its adversaries are therefore stronger, but if the leadership of the state and of the PSUV (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela) are determined, with the support of their bases, to radicalize and deepen transformation of the country, if they reduce waste and improve somewhat the distribution of food and goods, social change could take a new leap forward, since the current moderate recovery in consumption and production in the United States, Venezuela’s principal market, gives certain stability to the price of oil.

This is the basis, on the other hand, of the security offered by the Maduro administration to Cuba, ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América — Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) and the Caribbean against the uproar of the Venezuelan Right about the “giveaway” of oil and financial support to Venezuela’s allies and against the same concessions of this kind that the right-wing Chavistas want to make to the anti-Chavista Right. At the same time, in Brazil, with next year’s elections impending, the Right does not seem to have either a clear candidate or the possibility of winning; the economy is somewhat better and the government enjoys the support of the transnationals, agribusiness and domestic large-scale capital, to which it has made considerable concessions, and it does not face strong social protests. (more…)

Relations between Brazil and Venezuela after Chávez

Monday, May 6th, 2013

[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of Brazil for May 3, 2013.  See original here.]

By Marcel Gomes

Rio de Janeiro – The strengthening of relations between Brazil and Venezuela during the administrations of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Hugo Chávez will allow Brasilia and Caracas to maintain close political and economic ties, even after the death of the Venezuelan.

Those who hold this view are supported by the high degree of institutionalization of the bilateral relations. The new president, Nicolás Maduro, has at his disposal UNASUR (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas – Union of South American Nations) and MERCOSUR (Mercado Común del Sur – Southern Common Market), energy projects, local branches of IPEA (Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada – Institute of Applied Economic Research), EMBRAPA (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária – Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) and Caixa (Caixa Econômica Federal – Brazilian publicly owned bank), as well as a commercial exchange that has jumped from 800 million US dollars to six billion reais [about three billion dollars] in a decade – 80 percent of it, keep in mind, to Brazil’s benefit. (more…)

The same old Paraguay

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

x cartes[Translation of an article from Carta Maior of Brazil for April 30, 2013. See original here and related article here.]

By Eric Nepomuceno

Fernando Lugo, removed by force from the Paraguayan presidency last year through an unusual parliamentary coup – he was tried and convicted in 48 hours, with no time for a defense – was as evasive as he was inconsistent. What seemed at the outset to be a hurricane of hope for change turned out in the end to be a breeze. The fragile movements meant to change, even if only a little, the deformed face of an unjust and rotten country, led to nothing.

Now everything is back on track. A candidate for the Partido Colorado, the very same party that for decades smothered the country in violence, corruption and fraud, has been elected president. His name is Horacio Cartes. He is a controversial businessman, a millionaire many times over, completely inexperienced (okay, it is true that he presided over a soccer club, but in politics, nothing) and with an embarrassing list of accusations against him that range from money laundering to the smuggling of cigarettes. At the age of 56 he had never in his life voted. (more…)