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Trinityz1   Wednesday, 07/20/11 03:39:59 PM
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Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1088, July 17, 2011

1. Chile: Students Defy Government, Copper Workers Strike
2. Dominican Republic: At Least Three Die in General Strike
3. Haiti: Hundreds of Families Evicted From Soccer Stadium
4. Mexico: The Economy Is Down and the Cartels Are Hiring
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil,
Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Costa Rica,
Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from
Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a
progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua
Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. For a subscription,
write to weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com . It is archived at

*1. Chile: Students Defy Government, Copper Workers Strike
Tens of thousands of Chilean students and supporters marched through
downtown Santiago on the central Alameda avenue on July 14 in their
fourth massive demonstration demanding a reversal of the system of
privatized education instituted under the 1973-1990 dictatorship of
Gen. Augusto Pinochet. As in previous days of action, there were also
large marches in other major cities.

The latest protest was only about half the size of the previous march,
on June 30, which was said to be by far the largest demonstration
since the restoration of democracy in 1990 [see Update #1086].
Santiago area authorities estimated that 30,000 people marched on July
14, while the organizers put the number at 80,000. The Santiago daily
La Tercera reported that 20,000 people participated in Valparaíso and
4,000 in Concepción. Many students may have stayed away from the
Santiago march because it proceeded through the downtown area in open
defiance of the government, which had authorized a route that would
have kept the marchers away from some important government buildings.

Violence broke out at the end of the demonstration when masked
youths—considered provocateurs by some protesters—began throwing rocks
and at least one Molotov cocktail at Carabinero police agents in front
of the La Moneda presidential palace. The otherwise peaceful action
then ended in the worst violence of the student protests to date, with
the police using water cannons and tear gas and youths smashing
windshields and setting one car on fire. The authorities reported that
32 agents were injured in Santiago; a total of 133 people were
arrested in Santiago, Valparaíso and Concepción. (LT 7/15/11; La
Jornada (Mexico) 7/15/11, __ from correspondent)

The protest appeared to mark a decisive rejection of efforts by
rightwing president Sebastián Piñera to slow the protests by
announcing a “Great National Agreement on Education” (GANE) on July 5.
Accompanied by Education Minister Joaquín Lavín, who ran
unsuccessfully for president in 1999 and 2005, Piñera proposed a $4
billion fund for the improvement of higher education, more
scholarships for poorer students, a lower interest rate for student
loans, and more supervision of the education system by the central
government. But the president rejected the students’ demands for
ending education for profit. (La Nación (Santiago) 7/5/11)

After a nine-hour meeting at the University of Biobío in Concepción on
July 16, the Chilean Student Confederation (CONFECH), the main student
organization, decided to continue the mobilizations while also seeking
ways to create a political platform for their demands. Camila Vallejo,
president of the Federation of University of Chile Students (FECH),
denied that the protesters were wearing out. “There’s a greater
conviction that it’s necessary to make a social accord, since the GANE
doesn’t represent us,” she said. (Radio Universidad de Chile
(Santiago) 7/17/11)

On July 11, three days before their own mobilization, student
organizations participated in another protest calling for a return to
policies from before the dictatorship. Some 17,000 workers held a
24-hour general strike against the National Copper Corporation of
Chile (Codelco), the state-owned copper enterprise, to mark the 40th
anniversary of Socialist president Salvador Allende’s 1971
nationalization of the copper mines.

The original goal of the nationalization was to use the proceeds from
the copper industry for education, heath care and industrial
development, and the students have been pointing to copper as a
possible source of funding for public education. The Confederation of
Copper Workers (CTC), the main union in the industry, says the
military dictatorship that overthrew Allende in 1973 worked to reverse
this policy, with “the result that Codelco just controls 30% of the
copper that’s mined and leaves the country, while the remaining 70%
has stayed in the power of companies like Phelps Dodge, Anglo
American, BHP Billiton and other big transnationals.” The July 11
protest marked the start of a campaign to get two million signatures
by October on a petition calling for a plebiscite on returning control
of copper mining to the government. (Adital (Brazil) 7/12/11)

*2. Dominican Republic: At Least Three Die in General Strike
A 24-hour national general strike on July 11 against the economic
policies of Dominican president Leonel Fernández was “95 to 100%”
effective, according to the organizers. After the first 12 hours,
Fidel Santana, a spokesperson for the National Strike Committee,
congratulated the Dominican people, calling them “the basic
protagonist of this day’s success.” He claimed that an important
element in the strike was the absence of efforts to force the
productive sectors, commercial enterprises and transportation
companies to observe the strike call; he said protesters were showing
respect for people who chose not to honor the work stoppage.

But there was significant violence during the strike, and at least
three people were reported killed. The National Police said Carlos
Luis Alonso Filión died during the night in a shootout with police
agents in the Rafey neighborhood of the northern city of Santiago.
Another man, Edwin Manuel Felipe Abreu, was killed in Santiago’s Don
Pedro neighborhood by two men on an all terrain vehicle, according to
Gen. Juan Ramón de la Cruz Martínez, police chief of the Cibao region.
In addition, 12 people were injured in Santiago and 20 were arrested.

The family of Anderson Parra Cruceta reported that he was shot dead
while he was taking pictures on his cell phone of violent
confrontations between the police and demonstrators in the Villa Faro
neighborhood of Santo Domingo Este, to the east of the capital. A
teenager and a police agent were both wounded in different incidents
in the southwestern city of Barahona, while a woman was hit by
birdshot while walking down a street there. Three youths received
shotgun wounds in Haina, about 20 km west of Santo Domingo.

The Broad Front of Popular Struggle (FALPO) and the Alternative Social
Forum (FSA), a coalition of grassroots organizations, were the main
organizers of the strike, which was backed by the social democratic
Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). The demands included a reduction
in the prices of food, medicine and fuel; a 35% increase in the pay of
public employees, including soldiers and the police; elimination of
recent increases in taxes and charges for electricity; and the
designation of 4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for education,
as required by the Constitution. The organizers gave the government
until Aug. 14 to comply with the demands; on that date the groups plan
to hold a national assembly to decide on further actions.

The FSA called a one-day strike around similar demands in October 2007
[see Update #918]. Father Regino Martínez of the Jesuit Service for
Refugees and Migrants (SJRM) said it was “sad” that the poor “have to
resort to striking against the authorities so that they’ll know about
the difficult conditions [the poor] are experiencing” as a result of
the government’s “indifference.” (Listín Diario (Santiago) 7/11/11;
EFE 7/12/11 via ADN.es; Adital (Brazil) 7/13/11)

*3. Haiti: Hundreds of Families Evicted From Soccer Stadium
Backed up by the National Police of Haiti (PNH) and the United Nations
Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), on July 15 Port-au-Prince
authorities began evicting some 400-450 families from the parking lot
of the Sylvio Cator soccer stadium, where they had been living after
being displaced by a January 2010 earthquake. The authorities said the
eviction was necessary so that workers could get the stadium ready for
an Aug. 4 match between two teams in the Confederation of North,
Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF).

The evictions, which were expected to take place over several days,
were orderly, especially In comparison to the forcible removal of
thousands of earthquake victims from the stadium itself in April 2010
[see Update #1028]. The city government had consulted in advance with
the camp’s coordinating committee, residents were allowed time to pack
their belongings, and the authorities gave each family a check for
10,000 gourdes (a little less than $250) as they left. But plans for
relocating the families seemed unclear. Apparently the residents were
originally going to be moved to another camp, known as “Caroussel,” at
the former site of the Simbi hotel, on the southern outskirts of the
capital, but the occupants there objected to having a large number of
new people. The authorities have mentioned two other possible sites.
(AlterPresse (Haiti) 7/15/11, 7/16/11; Haïti Libre (Haiti) 7/16/11)

It appears likely that as the displaced persons camps are closed down,
many of the earthquake survivors will end up returning to their
damaged homes. A draft report written for the US Agency for
International Development (USAID) this spring indicated that about one
million people in the affected area were living in their old homes
despite the danger that the buildings could collapse [see Update

*4. Mexico: The Economy Is Down and the Cartels Are Hiring
The average income of Mexican households fell by 12.3% between 2008
and 2010, the government’s National Statistics and Geography Institute
(INEGI) reported on July 15. The richest households generally lost the
most in percentages, but poorer households suffered more because their
income was already so low, according to the National Survey of
Household Income and Expenditure, which the INEGI conducts every two
years. The decline in income reflects a 6.1% contraction of the
Mexican economy in 2009 in the midst of a world economic crisis that
started in the US; the Mexican economy recovered partially in 2010
with a 5.4% expansion. (La Jornada (Mexico) 7/16/11)

The long-term economic situation is no better, according to José Luis
Calva Téllez, a member of the Economic Investigations Institute at the
National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Since the government
began applying neoliberal economic policies in 1982, the Mexican
economy has grown at an average rate of 2.1% a year, which is the
worst economic performance in Latin America, Calva says. The minimum
wage, the standard on which other wages are based, has lost 71.3% of
its purchasing power over the same period; even the comparatively
well-paid unionized workers have seen the purchasing power of their
salaries fall by 50%. The main source of new job growth in Mexico,
according to Calva, is narcotrafficking, when he says has created
600,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, the Mexican federal government is insisting that the
economy has stabilized after weathering the international economic
crisis. Economy Minister Bruno Ferrari announced recently that the
“fall in incomes is just a perception.” (LJ 7/17/11)

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Brazil,
Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Central America, Costa Rica,
Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic

WikiLeaks Cables of Interest on Latin America, Released June 27-July 10, 2011

Buenos Aires Mayor Macri To Face Run-Off Election Against Fernández de
Kirchner’s Candidate

Brazil: ranchers using Agent Orange to deforest the Amazon

Peru: strike against copper mine hits Ayacucho

Ecuador: Indigenous resistance is the new 'terrorism'

The Audacity of Free Trade Agreements (Colombia, Panama)

Embattled Colombian Unionists Rally Against ‘Free Trade’

In Colombia, watchdogs criticize an investigation into a presidential
wiretapping scandal

Venezuela’s Chavez Seeks to Combat Inflation, Enacts Law for Just
Prices and Costs

How the US Props Up Criminals and Murderers All in the Name of Our
Catastrophic Drug War (Central America)

Costa Rica Under Attack From Within

Action Alert! Violent Forced Evictions Leaves Families at Risk in Honduras

Indigenous and Afro-Honduran Women’s Constitutional Assembly

Resistance to Political and Business Assaults on Indigenous Land and
Resources in Honduras

Community radio station manager gunned down in Honduras

Argentine Singer-Songwriter Facundo Cabral Murdered in Guatemala

Photo Essay: Outrage over the Murder of Protest Singer Facundo Cabral

Facundo Cabral – A Musical Tribute (Guatemala)

US deports ex-Kaibil to face charges in Guatemala massacre

Migrants as Targets of Security Policies (Mexico)

Deciphering Drug Prohibition in Mexico: An Interview With Isaac Campos

Love and Its Purest Weapons: Resistance and Sacrifice (Mexico)

MexicoBlog: Fast and Furious Scandal Heats Up

Clinton Foundation Accused of Sending Haiti Shoddy Trailers (Video)

Dominican Republic Intensifies Targeting of Haitians

For more Latin America news stories from mainstream and alternative sources:

For immigration updates and events:


This Update is archived at:

"With experience, no explanation is necessary,
without experience, no explanation is possible."


My opinion is just that, my opinion.
So make no investment decisions based on my opinion.
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