We wrote to you on December 26 to inform you of the death of Ramiro Rivera, anti-mining activist and vice-president of the Cabañas Environmental Committee (CAC). Rivera was murdered alongside his neighbor Felicita Echeverría in front of his thirteen year old daughter. This was the second attack on Ramiro Rivera, the first one was committed in August of this year when he was shot eight times by hitman Oscar Menjiver. Ramiro was from the small community Canton Trinidad, where the level of gold found in the ground is higher than in most other parts of Cabañas.
Tragically, on the very day we sent the last email, another person fell victim to the violence in Canton Trinidad. Dora "Alicia" Recinos Sorto, eight months pregnant at the time, was shot and killed while returning from the river where she was washing clothes. She was carrying her two year old son in her arms when she was shot. The child was shot in the foot, but survived the attack. Alicia, who was thirty-two years old and the mother of six children, was an active member of the Cabañas Environmental Committee alongside her husband Jose Santos Rodriguez. According to witnesses, armed men showed up at Alicia's home looking for José just a few days prior to her killing, and he had previously been attacked with a machete by Oscar Menjiver, a well-known promoter of Pacific Rim Mining corporation. Menjiver is currently in jail for his attempt on Ramiro Rivera's life in August.
As you can imagine, the people of Cabañas are living in fear, as this a horrible end to the very violent year of 2009 for the environmentalist struggle in Cabañas. The first victim of the anti-mining movement was environmental activist Marcelo Rivera, who was disappeared, tortured and murdered last June. Various other members of the anti-mining movement have fallen victim to threats as well, including Father Luis Quintanilla and the community radio "Radio Victoria," whose staff has received a slew of threats by text message and email throughout the year. One of the threats, via email, after the killings of Marcelo and Ramiro, read: "We're not messing around. We've shown that we have the logistical and financial capacity to get rid of who we want, it doesn't matter if you have a whole battalion of police watching your back like dogs, we'll shoot you when we want to, the deaths will continue and nothing is going to stop the revenge that has begun..."
Unfortunately, the local police and mayor's office as well as Canadian mining company Pacific Rim write these murders off as unrelated instances of common crime in El Salvador. In regards to the December murders, Pacific Rim posted this statement on their website: "The same anti-mining groups that have wrongfully implicated PacRim in the murders have portrayed the incidents as the result of an allegedly hostile conflict related to the debate over mining in El Salvador. However, there is no evidence indicating these violent acts bear any relation whatsoever to the debate over mining in the country. PacRim encourages all parties affected by the recent violence in Trinidad to rely on the appropriate legal processes to determine the true facts of these cases." The United States Embassy in El Salvador took a similar tone when they chastised the environmental movement in Cabañas for blaming the mining companies for the violence without concrete proof and placed blame on anti-mining activists in the zone for the escalating violence. However, the sub-director of the National Police Department, Augusto Cotto had a different tone in a statement made on ContraPunto, on online Salvadoran news source, in which he is quoted as saying: "It's clear there is a link between the two homicides (of Ramiro and Alicia). The acts have to do with the differing opinions for and against mining exploitation in the zone. Both homicides show evidence of previously planning and were committed by hired assassins."
SHARE, The National Working Group on Metallic Mining in El Salvador, and a number of other organizations, communities and individuals in the social movement are working to ensure the safety of the affected communities with a team of lawyers who are working to request protection from the Organization of American States (OAS). In the long-term, they will work on presenting a case in the Salvadoran Supreme Court to declare CAFTA unconstitutional under Salvadoran law, based on the Pacific Rim lawsuit. We will also work to mobilize Salvadorans to demand that the Attorney General properly investigates these murders. Now more than ever, the people of El Salvador are standing strong to say NO to the mining in El Salvador, as mining companies have shown that economic interests rule over concern for peoples lives.
For the people of El Salvador, international solidarity is incredibly important in this difficult time. For immediate action, visit the CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador) website.
From Rights Action:
BODY COUNT RISING
4th KILLING OF COMMUNITY MEMBER
WHERE CANADIAN COMPANY “PACIFIC RIM”
WANTS TO MINE FOR GOLD IN EL SALVADOR
December 30, 2009
On December 26, Dora “Alicia” Sorto Recinos (8 months pregnant) was murdered in the community of Trinidad, department of Cabañas, where Pacific Rim Mining Corp. wants gold
On December 20th, Ramiro Rivera Gomez, and his neighbor Felicíta Echeverría, were assassinated
In early July, Marcelo Rivera (no relation to Ramiro) was found tortured and killed in Cabañas
BELOW, REPORT BY: CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador)
On December 10, Rights Action published an article “International Mining & Impunity Day” (http://www.rightsaction.org/articles/mining_&_impunity_day_121009.html) about the assassinations of community leaders in Chiapas, Guatemala and El Salvador involved in community development and environmental justice struggles with Canadian mining companies.
See “The Real News” report on the death of Marcelo Rivera in El Salvador, linked to the struggle against the mining interests of Pacific Rim: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4118
On December 23, RA published a report about the December 20th killing of two community members in Cabanas, linked to the mining interests of Pacific Rim: http://www.rightsaction.org/articles/mining_salvador_122409.html
Now, another killing in Cabanas, El Salvador, linked to the mining interests of Pacific Rim.
EMERGENCY RELIEF FUNDS NEEDED: As in the cases of recent assassinations in Chiapas, Guatemala and El Salvador, RA is providing emergency relief funds for the family and community members of the murder and repression victims. To make tax-deductible donations, see below.
WHAT TO DO – See below
Please re-distribute & re-publish this information all around
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FOR INTERVIEW & MORE INFORMATION: Annie Bird, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-202-680-3002; Grahame Russell, email@example.com, 1-860-352-2448
* * *
Action Alert, December 29, 2009
By CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with El Salvador), www.cispes.org, 202 521-2510, firstname.lastname@example.org
On December 26, Dora “Alicia” Sorto Recinos was murdered in the small community of Trinidad in the department of Cabañas. Sorto Recinos was eight months pregnant and carrying her two-year old child when shot after doing laundry at a nearby river. The child, who was also shot in the leg is currently receiving medical attention.
Watch a Democracy Now interview with CISPES director: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/12/29/anti_mining_activists_killed_in_el
Sorto Recinos and her life partner, José Santos Rodríguez, were opponents of the “El Dorado” gold mine, which Pacific Rim, a Vancouver BC (Canada) company, is desperate to open despite widespread community and governmental opposition.
DEATH TOLL FOR CABAÑAS ANTI-MINING ACTIVISTS:
1- Dora Alicia Sorto Recinos was a member of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas, active in educating and mobilizing the local community against Pacific Rim’s El Dorado gold mine; her life partner José Rodríguez is a board member of the committee and has received death threats and survived three separate attempts against his life.
2- Last week, the Committee’s vice-president, Ramiro Rivera, was gunned down in front of his daughter, despite his 24-hour police protection since being shot eight times in August.
3- His neighbor Felicíta Echeverría was also killed in the attack.
4- The first murder related to this gold mining struggle occurred last June, when anti-mining and FMLN activist Marcelo Rivera (no relation to Ramiro) was found tortured and killed in Cabañas.
A common thread among the two most recent slayings is Oscar Menjívar. Currently awaiting trial for shooting Ramiro Rivera 8 times in August, he was previously arrested for attacking José Rodríguez with a machete. Menjívar’s neighbors report that he was one of Pacific Rim Mining’s paid “promoters,” though Pacific Rim denies that he has ever been on payroll.
Violence has become a harsh reality for Cabañas residents since the arrival of Pacific Rim. After community organizing efforts successfully blocked Pacific Rim’s attempts to obtain gold mining permits, the company filed a lawsuit against the Salvadoran government under CAFTA, the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. In recent months, it has proven especially dangerous to oppose mining in Cabañas, with a steady stream of attacks, death threats and attempted assassinations and kidnappings against community leaders and anti-mining activists.
Despite the overtly political overtones of these violent acts, whose frequency is only increasing, local police authorities and the former Attorney General's office have classified these cases as “common crimes”. Salvadorans are fearful and outraged by the continued violence and by the inability or unwillingness of the police and the office of the Attorney General to protect community activists like Alicia Sorto Recinos, Ramiro Rivera and Marcelo Rivera.
Community members believe that until these cases are thoroughly investigated for political motives and the perpetrators brought to justice, impunity against the mining resistance movement in Cabañas will continue, sending a message to the intellectual authors of these crimes that they can continue their wave of violence and murders without punishment.
* * *
WHAT TO DO
WRITE TO CANADIAN GOVERNMENT & POLITICIANS & TO PACIFIC RIM
TALKING POINTS (From CISPES)
“I have been following the news about Pacific Rim’s El Dorado mine in El Salvador and am extremely disturbed by the news of three community members murdered this past week, as well as a 4th in July. These individuals were part of local organizations that have been promoting community development and environmental justice – and opposing Pacific Rim’s mine since 2004. I call on CEO and President Thomas Shrake and Pacific Rim’s board of directors to:
Immediately withdraw from Cabañas and cease all efforts to mine gold from the El Dorado site
Immediately withdraw its lawsuit against the government of El Salvador. It is disgraceful for a company to sue a poor nation like El Salvador, especially when the Salvadoran people and government have every right to prevent cyanide gold extraction from destroying their lands and communities.
Cooperate fully with the official investigations surrounding the murders of Alicia Sorto Recinos, Ramiro Rivera and Marcelo Rivera, providing full disclosure on all the people the company has contracted in the region and any other monetary transactions it has conducted among community members, organizations and local government officials. Violence is tearing apart Cabañas, and the company has every obligation to offer its full support to bring to justice the perpetrators of these murdered community members, all of whom have openly opposed the El Dorado mine.”
Toll Free: 1-888-775-7097
T: (604) 689-1976
#1050 - 625 Howe Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C 2T6
Thomas Shrake, CEO and President
Barbara Henderson, VP Investor Relations
END IMPUNITY FOR CANADIAN COMPANIES
SEND COPIES TO YOUR OWN POLITICIANS, ASKING THEM:
Why the Canadian government fully supports the expansion of Canadian mining companies across the globe, often contributing to repression, death, human rights violations and environmental harm?
Why the Canadian government opposes the passing of any legislation whatsoever so that Canadian companies and investors can be held criminally and civilly accountable in Canadian courts for repression, human rights violations and environmental harms caused in other countries.
(Thanks to www.ccic.ca for this list)
Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
125 Sussex Dr
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
T: (613) 992-0253
F: (613) 992-0887
Rafael Angel Alfaro Pineda
Ambassador of El Salvador to Canada
209 Kent St,
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1Z8
T; (613) 238-2939
F: (613) 238-6940
Claire A. Poulin
Canadian Ambassador to El Salvador
Centro Financiero Gigante
63 Av. Sur y Alameda Roosevelt, Local 6, Nivel Lobby II
San Salvador, El Salvador
T: (503) 2279-4655
F: (503) 2279-0765
Kevin Sorenson, MP
Chair, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
T: (613) 947-4608
F: (613) 947-4611
John MacKay, MP
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
T: (613) 992-1447
F: (613) 992-8968
Bob Rae, MP
Liberal Party Foreign Affairs Critic
T: (613) 992-5234
F: (613) 996-9607
Francine Lalonde, MP
Bloc Québecois Foreign Affairs Critic
T: (613) 995-6327
F: (613) 996-5173
Paul Dewar, MP
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic
T: (613) 996-5322
F: (613) 996-5323
Director Caribbean, Central America & Regional Policy, Central America Division, DFAIT
125 Sussex Dr
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
Director, Canadian International Development Agency, Central America Division
200 Promenade du Portage
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0G4
E: barbara.curran@ acdi-cida.gc.ca
How to contact your Member of Parliament in their ridings:
* * *
HUMANITARIAN RELIEF FUNDS
To donate tax-deductible funds to family members of the victims of mining-related violence and repression and to community organizations in mining affected regions, make tax deductible donations to “rights action” and mail to:
UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA: 552-351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm
Upon request, Rights Action can provide a proposal of which community organizations resisting the harms and violations caused by mining in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador we are working with and channeling your funds to.
The Guatemala Times: Guatemala: Rosenberg murder was suicide
Tuesday, 12 January 2010 09:01 Barbara Schieber
Guatemala City. Guatemala's Rosenberg murder was suicide, according to today's statements of Dr. Carlos Castresana, Director of the CICIG, International Commission against Impunity, entity in charge of the investigation of the Rosenberg murder.
Lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg was killed on May 10, 2009 while riding his bicycle in Zona 14 of Guatemala City.
The intellectual authors of the murder of lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg where his cousins and friends, businessmen Jose Ramon Francisco and Jose Estuardo Valdez Paiz. The brothers Valdez Paiz where identified by 11 suspects arrested in September 2009, for shooting lawyer Rodrigo Rosenberg on May.10, last year. But in reality it was Rosenberg who asked the brothers Valdez Paiz to help him to order a hit. The brothers did not know that the hit was on Rosenberg himself.
He was severely disturbed by the murders of Khalil Musa and his daughter Marjorie Musa and was sentimentally linked to Marjory Musa, Rosenberg's mother had also recently died.
After the murder of the Musa family members he tried to prove that the government and other officials he named in the video where responsible for Kalil and Marjory's Musa´s murder. He could not find any proof. To intimate friends he says repeatedly "I am disintegrating emotionally, I am in despair and there is no justice in Guatemala."
Previous to his death, he buys 2 graves, one for himself and one for Marjory Musa. He leaves all his personal and professional issues in order. He announces to his staff at the office that he will retire from the law office. He leaves lawyers in charge of legal issues of his children.
In his disturbed and depressed mindset he decides to order a hit on himself and to make the video launching murder accusations and accusations of other illegal activities - money laundering and corruption, against the current government. Rosenberg made the video with the help of journalist Mario David Garcia, Luis Mendizábal distributed copies at Rosenberg's funeral.
In a video released after his death, Rosenberg accused President Colom, his wife and other high ranking government officials to have ordered his killing.
After the murder took place, President Colom required the assistance of the FBI and CICIG to investigate the crime and stated that he was innocent.
Rosenberg's murder was used by the right wing conservative interest sectors of Guatemala to try to remove Colom from office. The media and right wing bloggers played a key role in inciting the public to protest against Colom and to demand his resignation. The exception in the Guatemalan media was The Guatemala Times and the newspaper "La Hora". Oscar Clemente Marroquin, President of La Hora, maintained an objective editorial and reporting line.
The mobilized the middle and upper classes demanded that Colom step down and the country's poor where mobilized to stand behind the head of state. It was a very serious political crisis for the government.
The case was less important internationally for the murder than for the political campaign springing from it, a campaign to remove Colom from office. That would have been a giant step backward for the country's fragile democratic institutions.
The first arrests came in September and Castresana said then that the suspects were members of a gang dedicated to kidnapping, extortion and murder-for-hire.
December 10, 2009, arrest warrants where extended for the Valdez Paiz brothers. They disappeared and have not been located to this day.
CICIG requested a media blackout of the case to avoid further killings related to the case. An investigator of the Public Ministry in charge of the Rosenberg case was murdered last year and the media had been leaking information related tot eh investigation. .
Today's Press Conference was organized by Dr. Castresana to provide first hand information about the case and end the rumors and speculations in the press.
Present at the Press conference was Guatemala's Attourney General Amilcar Sarraté who introduced the case at the Press Conference. Several ambassadors of the countries that support the efforts of CICIG where present as well.
Castresana expressed that this case had special relevance because of the impact it had on the political situation and governance in Guatemala.
Castresana stated that in Guatemala had 6,451 violent deaths, with an impunity rate of 96.5%.
Castresana indicated that Guatemala's Attorney General had been an active part of this investigation since the beginning.
More than 300 people had been involved in the investigation, from eleven countries.
CICIG started the investigation on the 10 of May, the same day that Rosenberg was killed. CICIG had been alerted about the murder before it became public knowledge because the case was considered of extreme importance.
Surveillance camera footage obtained from several residences of this residential area provided the evidence for CICIG to start to track down the murderers. The cars used in the killings where filmed, the owner of the cars where identified.
That is how CICIG started to identify the people involved in the crime.
The cell phones of the suspects where intervened, and CICIG and the Public Ministry where able to identify all the members of the gang and the intermediaries who contracted the killers.
Rosenberg told Luis Medizabal that he was receiving death threats from a certain phone. After the murder, Luis Mendizabal told CICIG that Rosenberg received death threats from a specific phone, from the 5 to 10th of May 2009.
A person gave the instruction to buy the cell phone to Luis Lopez, he told him to never give a name, but he did, that is how CICIG was able to track down the owner of the phones.
Two phones where bought on the 5th of May.
Vide camera footage showed that this cell phones where handed over to the driver and body guard of Rodrigo Rosenberg.
Interviewing employees at Rosenberg's offices, CICIG established that it was Rosenberg who ordered to buy the cell phones.
Experts established that Rosenberg made the death threat calls himself, from one cell phone to a second cell phone at his own residence.
One of the phones was send by Rosenberg with his bodyguard to the brothers Valdez Paiz.
Luis Alejos, was friend of Rodrigo Rosenberg, he send the check of $40,000 from Panama to the offices of Rosenberg by DHL.
The secretary of Rosenberg sends the check to Francisco Valdez Paiz. Valdez Paiz realizes the purpose of the chek and decides not to use it.
Luis Alejos did not know what the money was to be used for.
Conclusion: Rodrigo Rosenberg ordered a hit on himself. It was suicide.
CICIG will continue to investigate other pending issues.
Saturday, 2 January
There have been a lot of pieces in the press on how Mel celebrated Christmas and New Year still holed up in the embassy. Pepe Lobo has been in the States for the holidays. He came back to the country today.
Sunday, 3 January
Tiempo’s headline today is “Pepe Lobo assures there will be no devaluation.” That’s almost a sure sign that there will be devaluation. It’s hard to see how there can be any other choice, given the blow to the economy that this pariah government de facto has dealt – we are only beginning to feel the economic effects of that. And it is to the golpistas’ advantage because a devaluation is a way of devaluating the gains in the minimum wage – Mel had raised the minimum by 60%.
Monday, 4 January
Pepe Lobo is proposing to the Congress an amnesty for all things related to the golpe. That was a request of the presidents of Costa Rica and Panamá (obviously acting as agents for Washington) when Pepe met with them at the beginning of December. (The same meeting where they conveyed the demand that Micheletti resign – which he has loudly refused to do). I have not been able to figure out if this includes amnesty for Mel, or only for the golpistas. And I guess it would have to cover the supreme court and the Congress itself.
Mel remains holed up in the Brazilian embassy.
Tuesday, 5 January
Pepe Lobo is coming on strong. He is using the line that he is trying to put into practice the Tegucigalpa/San José accords. According to the reading he is presently espousing, Micheletti should resign; and Mel is already the ex-president since he freely submitted his fate to the vote of the Congress. What he is missing is the government of reconciliation. He’s making it sound like his own cabinet (which he will not announce until the day before he takes power) will be that.
The minister of finance says there will not be a devaluation. That makes it ever more probably that there will be.
Wednesday, 6 January
Yesterday Craig Kelly, the #2 Latin America person in the U.S. State Department, paid a surprise visit to Tegucigalpa. He arrived in a commercial flight around noon; together with the U.S. Ambassador, he visited the Brazilian embassy and had an hour with Mel.
Then they had a meeting with Pepe Lobo. This morning Micheletti said again he would not resign, but also that he will not attend the investiture of Pepe on January 27. Then he had his turn with Craig Kelly. There has been no public statement by any of the principals as to what went on.
On another front, the Attorney General has accused the head of the Armed Forces and several others who were in on the coup, of the crimes of abuse of authority and of illegal expatriation of Mel. This has to have something to do with the amnesty which the Congress is expected to pass next week.
This with the generals has to be a result of the visit from Washington.
Kelly undoubtedly made one more attempt to get Micheletti to resign before January 27 inauguration. They are going back to stressing that they are trying to carry out the Tegucigalpa/San José accords. Diplo-speak.
Thursday, 7 January
Here’s the BBC on the accusation against the Generals:
And the Times:
The Resistencia seems to be getting back to business after the holidays: there was a large protest march in Tegucigalpa today. (The leaders of the Resistencia say 15,000 participants, which of course has to be taken with a grain of salt; I would imagine that means around 10,000. Still, not bad for a start).
Friday, 8 January
The text of the amnesty is supposed to be ready.
I don’t get exactly what is the game here with the Generals. They are ONLY being accused of the super-vague “abuse of authority”, and of sending Mel to Costa Rica – according to this logic so far, they were correct in breaking in and arresting him, but incorrect in sending him out of the country, for in the sacred constitution a Honduran cannot be deported. So indirectly it’s a way of legalizing the golpe itself.
The countries that recognize the elections (U.S., Costa Rica, Panamá, Colombia, Perú) are going to bring a motion to the OAS to readmit Honduras once Pepe Lobo takes command.
Published on Monday, January 4, 2010 by CommonDreams.org
From Coup-lite to Truth-lite: US Policy and Death Squad Democracy in Honduras
by Andrés Thomas Conteris
In the Top Ten Ways You Can Tell Which Side the United States Government is On With Regard to the Military Coup in Honduras, Mark Weisbrot correctly illustrates U.S. backing for the coup regime and its lack of support for democracy. For more than 100 days, I have been holed up inside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, accompanying President Manuel Zelaya and covering the story for Democracy Now! and other independent media. In case Mark's points were not convincing, here are 10 more ways to help you decide.
10. The resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on June 30th strongly condemned the coup in Honduras. The United States, however, prevented the UN Security Council from taking strong measures consistent with the resolution.
9. When President Zelaya returned to Tegucigalpa and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy on September 21st, Lewis Amselem, the U.S. representative at the Organization of American States (OAS), called it "foolish" and "irresponsible." Amselem, whose background is with the U.S. Southern Command, is known in the halls of the OAS as "the diplomator." He led the charge for validating the Honduran elections, while most countries opposed recognition of elections held under the coup regime.
8. The U.S. Southern Command sponsored the PANAMAX 09 joint maneuvers from September 11-21 off the coast of Panama with military forces from 20 countries. Even though the U.S. publicly stated that ties had been severed with the Honduran military, the invitation for Honduras to participate in these maneuvers stood firm. The Honduran armed forces finally said they would withdraw from the exercises, only after several Latin American countries threatened to boycott them.
7. Key members of the Honduran military involved in the coup received training at the School of the Americas (which changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation -- WHISC), including Generals Romeo Vasquez and Luis Javier Prince. Even after the June 28th coup, the Pentagon continued training members of the Honduran military at WHISC in Ft. Benning, Georgia.
6. The negotiating teams for both sides of the conflict reached an Accord on October 30th. Days later, when the U.S. made it clear it would honor the November 29th election whether or not he were reinstated as president, Zelaya declared the Accord to be a "dead letter". In spite of the U.S. claim that they only recognize Zelaya as the president of the country, they refuse to accept that he withdrew from the Accord. The practice of ignoring the will of the Honduran president is also evidenced by the failure Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and President Barack Obama to respond to letters he sent them.
5. Although U.S. officials continue to sing the praises of the Accord, they have been cherry picking around which parts of the agreement to underscore and which to ignore. The Verification Commission mandated by the Accord only came together on one occasion for a photo-op. The Accord stipulates the need for international aid for the Commission to function, but the U.S. provided no economic or political support. Had the Verification Commission been activated, it would have denounced the November 5th deadline passing without the formation of a government of national unity. It would have to consider rebuking coup leader Roberto Micheletti for assuming he would preside over this new government. Given these violations, the Commission would have to rule whether or not the November 29th elections should have proceeded, or be recognized.
4. The U.S. supports a comprehensive amnesty, a component intentionally left out of the Accord. The coup regime filed 24 criminal charges against President Zelaya, yet he is willing to face all of them in an impartial court of law. He has called for an independent international tribunal and rejected the option of amnesty for himself and the coup perpetrators. If amnesty is declared, impunity will be enshrined for the "golpistas," as well as for the U.S. Pentagon and civilian officials complicit in the crimes of the coup.
3. The Accord calls for the establishment of a Truth Commission during the first half of 2010. U.S. officials say they favor this; however, "truth-lite" seems to be what they prefer. In recent decades, most Truth Commissions have limited truth-telling to circumstances within their country's borders. One exception occurred in Chad where the role of foreign governments in funding and training the perpetrators of human rights crimes was investigated. If Honduras followed Chad's example, its Truth Commission could examine the U.S. role before, during and after the coup. Some possible questions: What role did those formerly employed by the U.S. government, like John Negroponte, Otto Reich, and Lanny Davis, play before and after the coup? Why did the plane carrying the kidnapped president on June 28th land just 60 miles away from the capital at the airbase where the U.S. Joint Task Force Bravo is headquartered? (U.S. officials claim it was to "refuel"). Why did the U.S. allow aid to continue to flow to the coup regime while not declaring that a "military coup" took place against the advice of the State Department's legal advisors? Top U.S. officials labeled what happened in Honduras as a coup; but given their actions, it's more like "coup-lite."
2. In August 2009, at the Summit of North American Leaders in Mexico, President Obama had harsh words for opponents of his policy by declaring, "The same critics who say that the United States has not intervened enough in Honduras are the same people who say that we're always intervening. . . I think what that indicates is that maybe there's some hypocrisy involved in their approach to U.S.-Latin American relations. . ."
The ongoing U.S. intervention and hypocrisy in Honduras goes well beyond what Mark Weisbrot and I have described. Aid continues to flow to the de facto regime, despite U.S. law that mandates cutting aid to military coups; that is intervention. Lifting the symbolic sanctions temporarily imposed on the dictatorship after the Accord was signed but not implemented; that is intervention. Bestowing harsher criticism on President Zelaya and his nonviolent supporters rather than on the perpetrators of gross human rights crimes; that is hypocrisy.
1. Here in the Brazilian embassy, death threats are part of the psychological warfare directed against those who continue to accompany President Zelaya. Elsewhere in Honduras: resistance leader Carlos Turcios was kidnapped and beheaded on December 16th; two members of the United Peasant Movement of Aguan were abducted by four hooded men on December 17th; resistance member Edwin Renán Fajardo, age 22, was tortured and murdered on December 22nd. In an open letter to fellow Central American Presidents on December 28th, President Zelaya cited over 4,000 human rights violations by the coup regime, including 130 killings, over 450 persons wounded, over 3000 illegal detentions, and 114 political prisoners.
The silence of the U.S. government over the last six months regarding the ongoing human rights atrocities by the "golpistas" in Honduras confirms that the Obama regime has sought to support a death-squad democracy, rather than reinstating its elected leader.
That is intervention. That is hypocrisy.
Andrés Thomas Conteris is Program on the Americas Director for Nonviolence International, and works with Democracy Now! en Español.
The good news is that together with LAWG (Latin America Working Group) we have momentum coming from the work we did together last year.
First, we took the rather disappointing foreign aid budget that the Obama Administration proposed, and through educating our members of Congress and keeping the pressure on, we encouraged real improvements in the final bill. This included:
• $8 million more in nongovernmental aid to Colombian refugees, along with $45 million for aid to internally displaced persons;
• A ban on funding to the DAS, the Colombian intelligence agency that has been embroiled in an illegal wiretapping scandal;
• And a new human rights condition that calls for the Colombian government to respect the rights of human rights defenders, journalists, political opposition, religious leaders, and trade unionists, as well as indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
Then, we joined up with some of our congressional allies to support this strong letter to the State Department, making it clear that this year we expect the administration to fulfill its promise of change by taking a fresh, sensible approach towards Colombia, one that puts support for victims and respect for human rights at the top of the agenda. Working together in November, we made thousands of calls into congressional offices and grew the list of signers on this letter from 4 to 53 members of Congress when it was finally sent to Secretary of State Clinton! Take a look at the final version of the letter here.
[Reps. Clay and Carnahan both signed this letter]
PARAGUAY: Watch out! …coup in sight byNidia Diaz
PARAGUAY: Public Health Free of Charge
BOLIVIA: Bolivian Indians see rocky exodus from serfdom
ECUADOR: In April 2009, *Rafael Correa* was elected to his second term as
president of Ecuador with 51% of the vote. This gave him a mandate to continue and deepen the program of reforms and structural changes initiated since he first became president in November 2006. In three years Correa’s government has introduced unprecedented social and economic reforms – known as the Citizens’ Revolution – to reverse the poverty and exploitation suffered by the majority of the population in a country which has been ravaged by neoliberalism... *Helen Yaffe* had the privilege of interviewing President Correa during a boat trip on the River Thames ...
Full interview at http://links.org.au/node/1460
Ecuadorean Government Raises Minimum Wage
The minimum wage in Ecuador rose from 218 to 240 dollars a month as one of the first measures aimed at assuring a "decent salary" for all
2010-01-11 | 14:41:28 EST
The Ecuadorian government has raised the national minimum wage as part of its policy to focus on decent salaries as the basis from which to deal with the existing social inequalities in the country, reported PL.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa made the announcement as his administration celebrates their third anniversary and what has been called the Citizen's Revolution. The minimum wage in Ecuador rose from 218 to 240 dollars a month as one of the first measures aimed at assuring a "decent salary" for all.
Correa said that the road to greater equity could be reached by charging fairer taxes to the country's highest wage earners and to raise workers' salaries.
Correa said that no company in Ecuador could report profits until every worker is earning at least 320 dollars, a wage that, with an average of 1.6 wage earners per household, would allow each family to afford the cost of basic foodstuffs calculated at 517 dollars per household per month.
Labor Relations Minister Richard Espinosa explained that standard minimum wage was reached by analyzing three main elements: inflation, productivity index, and balanced increase.
This increase of 22 dollars in the minimum wage is equivalent to 10 percent across all sectors. However, for crafts workers, light industry workers, farmers and factory workers, such new wage epresents a 30 percent increase; and a 20 percent increase in the domestic service sector.
Under the decent wages policy, the government is considering implementing measures at profit sharing with workers through company stocks, backed by credits issued by the state.