Weekly News Summary

April 1st to April 16th  News received by IFCLA

Honduras, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Chile, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Peru, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti

3/31/12 (Honduras): At least 13 prisoners died Thursday in a prison riot and fire in Honduras that has once again exposed not only the desperate conditions in the country’s prison system, but also the overall assault on basic rights of the population by the country’s US-backed government.  Full Article: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/mar2012/hond-m31.shtml


4/2/12 (Venezuela): The Venezuelan Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Roy Chaderton, has vehemently rejected calls from U.S. congressman, Eliot Engel, for the Venezuelan government to accept an OAS mission to monitor this year’s presidential elections. Full Article: http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/6900


4/2/12 (Bolivia): The government will hold a summit with lowland indigenous peoples to define a policy that favors quickly and effectively these communities, Juan Ramon Quintana, minister of the Presidency, announced on Monday. The government conducts agreements in a first phase with nine of 13 organizations of the Confederation of

Indigenous Peoples of Eastern Bolivia (CIDOB) and announced that the idea is to sign similar documents with all indigenous peoples of the lowlands, while seeking the national meeting, Quintana told the state-owned television.  Full Article: http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=493589&Itemid=1


4/3/12 (Ecuador): President Rafael Correa of Ecuador says he will boycott this month’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia because Cuba is not invited. Full Article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-17594034


4/3/12 (Chile):Thousands of Chileans turned out in Santiago on Mar. 30 for the funeral of Daniel Zamudio, a young gay man killed by a group of neo-Nazis. Many people brought flowers and signed petitions calling for an end to discrimination; almost 100 vehicles accompanied the cortege from the Zamudio family’s home to the General Cemetery.  Full article: http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/2012/04/wnu-1123-gay-chileans-death-focuses.html


4/3/12 (Honduras): Four Honduran campesinos were killed and 11 were wounded in an ambush Mar. 29 at the Marañón estate, near the city of Trujillo in the northern department of Colón. The victims were members of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), one of several organizations struggling to gain farmland in the Lower Aguán Valley.  Full article: http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/2012/04/wnu-1123-gay-chileans-death-focuses.html


4/3/12 (Guatemala): Some 1,500 indigenous campesinos arrived in Guatemala City on Mar. 27 after an eight-day, 214-km walk from Cobán, Alta Verapaz department, to promote their demands for land, debt cancellation and a halt to mining operations. Supporters joined them as they approached the capital, and the number of marchers eventually swelled to about 10,000, forming a line that stretched for 6 km. The protesters announced that they would stay encamped in the central Plaza de la Constitución until their main demands were me.  Full article: http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/2012/04/wnu-1123-gay-chileans-death-focuses.html


4/3/12 (Puerto Rico): Puerto Rico’s governor, Luis Fortuño, has officially named Héctor Pesquera, the former head of the FBI in Miami and the mastermind of a conspiracy that led to the arrest of five Cubans who’d infiltrated terrorist groups in Florida, as the new Superintendent of the Puerto Rican police.

Puerto Rico is facing its most serious wave of crime, violence and corruption in many years.

Pesquera arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a flight from Fort Lauderdale, and was immediately escorted by FBI agents to the Federal Building, his “alma mater,” at Chardón Street in Hato Rey, where the federal agency is headquartered.  Full Article: http://www.tlaxcala-int.org/article.asp?reference=7089


4/4/12 (Chile): A total of 10 former executives from the company CMPC in Laja will have to testify in the context of the inquiry into the detention and disappearance of 19 people [that] will interrogate former executives [who managed] the cellulose plant in 1973.  The investigation is into one of the most emblematic human rights cases, in which these 19 people, mainly workers of the factory, were arrested, murdered and disappeared.  Full Article: http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1012092


4/4/12 (Argentina): Representatives of 33 indigenous communities living in the vicinity of Salinas Grandes made their case before the national Supreme Court.  A large number of Kolla and Atacama indigenous communities whose livelihood depends on salt claim it as their ancestral territory.  At the public hearing the attorney-general said the provincial government has not licensed any exploration or exploitation of lithium in the area occupied by the 33 communities.  Full Article: http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1012109


4/4/12 (Peru): Archbishop Pedro Jimeno Barreto of Huancayo and his team, received anonymous death threats for opposing the re-opening of a [Doe Run, part of Renco] smelter in La Oroya.  Its activities have made La Oroya one of the most polluted cities in the world. Alarming rates of lead and other metals have been found present in the blood of local residents.  In 2009, Doe Run was forced to close down operations, resulting in dramatic improvements in public health.  Full Article: http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1012125


4/4/12 (Peru): At last week’s Compassion, Peace and Justice Training Day and Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference, both in DC, several workshops focussed on Doe Run Peru/La Oroya and it’s suit for $800million vs. the Peru Govt. and subsequent arbitration based on the State Investor chapter of the Peru-US Free Trade Agreement.  Simultaneously, inter-faith vigils were held in Peru, St. Louis, DC, Ohio and Phoenix. Article: La Oroya reopening stalls again on new Doe Run Peru demands


4/4/12 (Peru): Several residents of La Oroya, and workers from the Doe Run Peru mining company blocked a section of the Central Highway, early Wednesday morning, El Comercio reported.  The protestors blocked the highway near the entry to Marcona, causing traffic to reach a standstill.  According to El Comercio, the protestors are demanding the immediate reactivation of the La Oroya metallurgical complex, which is closed until Doe Run Peru completes its restructuring process, and launches its environmental management program.  Full Article: http://www.peruthisweek.com/news-1890-Peru-Doe-Run-workers-block-Central-Highway/


4/4/12 (Nicaragua): On Mar. 27, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported out a resolution sponsored by Sen. Marc Rubio (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Christopher Coons (D-DE) which “deplored the interruption of constitutional order in Nicaragua that led to the fraudulent reelection of Daniel Ortega on November 6, 2011” and urged President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take measures “to encourage the restoration of constitutional rule in Nicaragua including withholding waivers” certifying progress in transparency and resolution of property disputes. The resolution also urged the US ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) to “work in concert with other member states to use the full power of the organization in support of meaningful steps to restore democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua in accord with the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”  http://www.nicanet.org/


4/4/12 (Nicaragua): The United States Senate last week confirmed Phyllis Powers to be the new US ambassador to Nicaragua.  http://www.nicanet.org


4/4/12 (Nicaragua): National Police Commissioner Aminta Granera announced a joint operation with Costa Rica and Panama that has broken up an important drug trafficking ring that moved drugs from Colombia to Mexico. She said that in the past months 55 arrests have been made and 2.3 tons of cocaine recovered in 19 police actions in the three Central American countries. Costa Rican authorities said that the principal leader of the ring was killed in Colombia on Mar. 16. Granera said that the Nicaraguan leader of the group, Marcial Beltran Corrales, was detained and from him have been confiscated 13 houses, four farms, 12 cars, six trucks, seven pickups, eight motorcycles, 596 head of cattle, a store and other goods.  http://www.nicanet.org/


4/4/12 (Peru): Two workers for metals producer Doe Run Peru were arrested smelter in the central Peruvian city of La Oroya and payment of back salaries.  Two Arrested in Protest to Demand Peru Smelter Restart


4/6/12 (Guatemala): Political divides in the Central American region around drug control surfaced sharply at the recent regional summit on “New Routes against Drugs Trafficking”, that took place on Saturday 24 March in Guatemala. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina called for an open debate on the security crisis and on policies to reduce the rampant drug-related violence, stating that current policies have been so ineffective that all options including the ‘depenalisation’ of drugs should be on the table.  http://druglawreform.info/en/weblog/item/3340-chronicle-of-a-debate-foretold


4/6/12 Article on the recent ALBA conference help in Chicago.  http://www.workers.org/2012/us/alba_0412/


4/6/12 (Honduras) http://vimeo.com/39803864  This 5-minute video is a contribution from the US Solidarity Delegation that participated in the International Gathering for Human Rights in Aguan, Honduras this past February 16-23.  More than 1,000 people came from 20 countries and all the departments of Honduras, with large delegations from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, and from Asia, Europe, and the U.S., among other regions of the world.


4/9/12 (Chile): A sergeant in Chile’s carabineros militarized police force, Hugo Albornoz, died in a hospital in Temuco, the capital of the southern region of Araucanía, the evening of Apr. 2; he had been shot in the neck by unknown attackers earlier in the day. Sgt. Albornoz was part of a large group of police agents from the carabineros Special Operations Group (GOPE) that had searched through homes of indigenous Mapuche that morning in the village of Wente Winkul Mapu in Ercilla commune, Araucanía, for evidence about an October 2011 attack on the Centenario estate, the property of Juan de Dios Fuentes.  Full Article: http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/


4/9/12 (Argentina): Unidentified Argentine judicial sources reported on Mar. 30 that federal judge Ariel Lijo has ordered former president Carlos Saúl Menem (1989-1999) to stand trial on charges that during his presidency he impeded the initial investigation into a July 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires.  The judge in charge of the original investigation, Juan José Galeano, is also to stand trial, along with former intelligence service directors Hugo Anzorreguy and Juan Carlos Anchezar, and two commanders of the federal police.  Full Article: http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/


4/9/12 (Mexico) A study published in the March issue of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health finds that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may be partly responsible for the sharp increase in obesity among Mexicans since the accord took effect in January 1994. Entitled “Exporting obesity: US farm and trade policy and the transformation of the Mexican consumer food environment,” the study indicates that by opening Mexico up to investment and food imports from the US, NAFTA altered Mexicans’ eating habits in a way that has affected their health.  Full Article: http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/


4/9/12 (Haiti):  Several construction companies controlled by Dominican senator Félix Bautista have paid a total of more than $2.5 million to Haitian president Michel Martelly (“Sweet Micky”) since 2010, according to a Mar. 31 television report by Dominican investigative reporter Nuria Piera. At least two of the companies were awarded major contracts by the Haitian government for rebuilding in Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake: Hadom S.A., which won a $33 million contract to construct a new building for the Parliament, and Roffy S.A., which is getting $174 million for a housing project in the capital’s Fort National section.  Full Article: http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com/


4/10/12 (Honduras): The AFL-CIO and two leading Honduran union federations formally complained to the U.S. Labor Department that Honduras is violating the Central American Free Trade Agreement by not enforcing its own labor laws.  The groups asked the DOL to investigate, negotiate changes, and punish Honduras if necessary.  http://www.peoplesworld.org/afl-cio-tackles-rights-violations-in-honduras/


4/10/12 (Colombia): The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Latin America Working Group (LAWG), U.S. Office on Colombia (USOC), Center for International Policy (CIP) and the U.S. Labor Education in the Americas Project (USLEAP) urge President Obama to refrain from declaring that key elements of the Labor Action Plan (LAP) linked to the Free Trade Agreement have been effectively implemented at this week’s Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia or in his subsequent meeting with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. The labor and human rights situation in Colombia has not improved sufficiently to implement the Free Trade Agreement.  http://www.wola.org/publications/progress_on_labor_and_human_rights_must_come_before_colombia_free_trade_agreement_goes_


4/11/12 (Guatemala):  A villager, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, explained that the security guards were detained because they entered private property and fired shots into the air, threatening the community.  The villager explained that the physical integrity of the security guards has been respected and the Justices of the Peace of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc were participating in the discussion concerning the detained agents.  Villagers demand the ceasing of mining activities, in the area, and the carrying out of a binding consultation to determine whether the project should proceed or not.  http://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/comunitario/Guatemala-Mineria-San_Jose_del_Golfo-Protesta_0_679132336.html


4/11/12 (Ecuador): March 5th 2012, a group of women…occupied for a few hours the Chinese Embassy in Quito, to reject the signing of a mining contract between the Ecuadorean State and the Chinese company ECSA (EcuaCorriente) [part of Corriente Resources]. Inside the building, a request was presented to Ambassador Yuan Guisen to be transmitted to the company asking it to refrain from signing the contract that would allow large scale copper mining, something new in Ecuador saying that the project would trigger serious damage to watersheds, biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ ancestral territories.  http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1011596


4/11/12 (Peru): Peru’s government appealed to mining companies on Sunday for heavy equipment and experts to help free nine miners trapped for four days in an informal copper mine.  Thursday’s collapse occurred following a blast set by the miners themselves in a mine last exploited commercially in the 1980s.  Officials worry, however, that some could suffer from exposure though none appear to be hurt. “They’re being subjected to a lot of cold. http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1012277


4/11/12 (Venezuela) Today is the 10th Anniversary of the attempted Coup of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.


4/11/12 (Peru): International humanitarian organization Oxfam America calls on Peru’s government to stand firm against reopening Doe Run lead smelter in La Oroya, one of the most contaminated places in the world, until it meets its environmental clean-up commitments. http://www.oxfamamerica.org/press/pressreleases/toxic-doe-run-lead-smelter-could-reopen-in-la-oroya-peru


4/11/12 (Peru) A group of lawmakers is urging Obama administration officials to oppose a multinational U.S. company’s efforts to sue Peru in a mining dispute, citing the company’s environmental and health record.  The request, made in a letter last month to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, pits the lawmakers against a secretive billionaire and big U.S. political donor—and, in some cases, against themselves. http://reporting.sunlightfoundation.com/2012/Renco-lobbying-drive-fades-so-does-congressional-support-in-Peru/


4/12/12 (Peru) After many years of work, twists and turns, the Peru Govt has rejected Doe Run Peru’s/Renco’s restructuring plan!  http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/12/doerun-peru-idUSL2E8FCH0N20120412


4/12/12 (Mexico): Read Kerry Kennedy’s Op-Ed, ‘Get Your Boot off My Neck’, printed this week in English on IPS and Huffington Post as well as in Spanish (Quita tu bota de mi cuello) in Reforma.  http://rfkcenter.org/get-your-boot-off-my-neck


4/12/12 (Nicaragua): Join Roy Bourgeois on a delegation to Nicaragua Aug. 27-Sept. 5, 2012! Co-sponsored by SOA Watch and Nicaragua Network, we invite you to join this important delegation jointly organized by the largest and the oldest US Latin America solidarity groups. SOA Watch Latin America Coordinator Lisa Sullivan and Nicaragua Network National Co-Coordinator Chuck Kaufman will lead the delegation.  For an application or more information send an email to chuck@AFGJ.org.


4/12/12 (Peru): The Peruvian government and other creditors of shuttered smelter-operator Doe Run Peru rejected a restructuring plan offered by the U.S-owned company on Thursday, saying they would seek a new operator for the metallurgical plant. AIDA applauds Peru’s decision to finally stand up to DRP, but calls on the government to ensure that an environmental cleanup of La Oroya and the troubled smelter is completed before a new operator reopens the plant.  http://www.aida-americas.org/en/project/doerun_en


4/13/12 (Honduras): Honduras is just days away from approving an extremist law that would put teenagers in prison for using the morning-after pill, even if they’ve just been raped. But we can stop this law and ensure women have the chance to prevent unwanted pregnancy. http://www.avaaz.org/en/no_prison_for_contraception_global/?tta


4/13/12 (Colombia): Opinion Article on Obama’s visit to Colombia.  For Latin America’s leaders, the most memorable sight might have been that of Obama patiently sitting through the long speeches of other presidents, studiously taking notes with a look of intense concentration. In his own speech, Obama spoke of the need for “equal partnerships” and “a new chapter of engagement” with the countries of the region.  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/201241272337682401.html


4/13/12 (Honduras): Three members of MUCA  were detained, from the land settlement known as Marañones in the Aguan Valley of northern Honduras.  Juan Galindo, Oveniel Caceres and a third person, Jose Caceres are reportedly being detained in the Trujillo Police station, despite the report that there was no warrant issued for their arrest.  The police station is evidently not answering their phone at this time, and hung up on previous callers. This pattern of repression comes alongside the chronic impunity that has plagued the land disputes of the Aguan Valley in Honduras, becoming murderous since the coup of 2009, with more than 50 deaths associated with land reform disputes in the region.


4/13/12 (Mexico): The Drug War continues to deepen in Guatemala, with the implementation of new militarized approaches to combating the drug trade alongside the successful criminal targeting of key traffickers.  During Holy Week, drug smuggler Horst Walther Overdick was arrested in a joint operation between the U.S. DEA and Guatemala’s police forces and on March 30th, Defense Minister Ulises Anzueto announced the creation of the “Tecun Uman” military task force, which will be partially financed by the U.S. http://nisgua.org/themes_campaigns/index.asp?id=3794


4/13/12 (Guatemala): Legal victories for survivors and human rights advocates continue to mount, with strong convictions delivered in recent weeks for the Plan de Sanchez and Dos Erres massacres.  Meanwhile, lawyers for former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and two members of his Military High Command have used a variety of legal strategies to delay the opening of a trial in which they will be charged with genocide against the Maya Ixil people.  http://nisgua.org/themes_campaigns/index.asp?id=3791


4/16/12 (Colombia):  This article summarizes the activities of el Cumbre de los Pueblos in Colombia this past weekend.  Major themes included the unjust exclusion by the U.S. of Cuba at the Summit of the Americas, the destructive juggernaut of mining and other extractive in the hemisphere, the need to develop new models of development to increase social inclusion and reduce climate change in light of the failure of the neo-liberal model to provide economic wellbeing and environmental integrity, and the urgency to demilitarize the hemisphere by closing all foreign military bases.  Article in Spanish: http://www.cumbredelospueblos2012.org/


4/16/12 (Cuba): This Economist report discusses Cuba’s movement toward capitalism and inclusion into the global economy. http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2012/03/special-report-cuba


4/16/12 (Guatemala): On March 24, in the Public Health Workers neighborhood in Guatemala City, community leaders and neighbors chatted in a regular gathering place in front of a local store.  The relaxed Saturday night was broken up by gunfire, a massacre that killed health care union leader Ovidio Ortiz, along with Bildave Santos Barco, Fredy Leonel Estrada and Oscar Alexander Rodriguez.  Public health workers unions are a strong force in defense of public services and natural resources, and among the most outspoken critics of the abuses of transnational corporations in Guatemala. http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=483279&CategoryId=23558


4/16/12 (Argentina): Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner has stormed out of the Summit of the Americas in protest against a perceived lack of regional support for her country’s claims in the dispute with the UK over the Falkland Islands.

The summit in Colombia had already been marred by a lack of consensus among attendees, with Latin America countries opposing the decades-old US isolation of communist Cuba.  Several countries put pressure on Barack Obama to end the ban, as the US president continued to be plagued by a US secret service scandal involving prostitutes.  http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2012/04/201241517107911574.html