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Weekly News Update on the Americas

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Trinityz1   Thursday, 08/30/12 07:42:31 AM
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Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1142, August 26, 2012

1. Mexico: Police Shoot Up US Embassy Car, Wound Two
2. Honduras: Aguán Campesinos Arrested in Supreme Court Protests
3. Colombia: GM and Hunger Strikers Agree to Mediation
4. Colombia: Paramilitaries Issue Death Threats in Barrancabermeja
5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile,
Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras,
Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, US/immigration

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. It is archived at
http://weeklynewsupdate.blogspot.com. For a subscription, write to
weeklynewsupdate@gmail.com. Follow us on Twitter at

*1. Mexico: Police Shoot Up US Embassy Car, Wound Two
A group of Mexican federal police agents attacked a US embassy car at
around 8 am on Aug. 24 in the state of Morales just of south of Mexico
City, near the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway. The police agents shot
a number of times at the car, lightly wounding two US officials who
were traveling with a member of the Mexican Navy to a nearby Navy
training installation. The embassy car had diplomatic license plates,
while the federal police were reportedly traveling in four unmarked

Mexican authorities detained 12 federal police agents the evening of
Aug. 24 in connection with the shooting and began an investigation.
The federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) is reportedly focusing on
“confusion” on the part of the agents, who claimed they had been in
the area to investigate a kidnapping by a criminal group that operates
in Huitzilac and Cuernavaca municipalities in Morelos. The US embassy
described the attack as an “ambush.”

Mexican media identified the wounded US officials as Jess Hood Garner
and Stan Dove Boss, said to be shooting instructors from the US Drug
Enforcement Administration (DEA). They were apparently on their way to
the installation to train Navy personnel. The US government strongly
promotes the militarized “drug war” that President Félix Calderón
Hinojosa declared shortly after taking office in December 2006, and
the US supplies the Mexican military and police with training and
equipment under the $1.4 billion Mérida Initiative, an aid program
that was launched in 2008. Since the beginning of 2007 Mexico has
suffered some 50,000 drug-related deaths. (La Jornada (Mexico)

On Aug. 25 the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada noted that US
agents have been involved in Mexican anti-drug operations, and
sometimes in operations Mexican agencies don’t know about [see Update
#1103]. The newspaper charged that by interfering in drug operations
the US has encouraged lack of coordination and even rivalry between
different Mexican security forces, especially through US officials’
“marked favoritism for the Navy.” “[T]he strategy for combating drugs
that the United States has imposed on various nations south of its
border…has turned out to be detrimental for bilateral relations
[between Mexico and the US]—now plunged into a mutual loss of
confidence—and for national sovereignty, and has represented, at the
end of the day, a risk for the security of US officials themselves in
our country.” (LJ 8/25/12)

*2. Honduras: Aguán Campesinos Arrested in Supreme Court Protests
Some 45 campesinos from the Lower Aguán Valley in northern Honduras
were arrested during protests on Aug. 21 and Aug. 22 demanding that
the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) issue rulings in favor of campesino
struggles for land. The protests were sponsored by a number of
organizations—including the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán
(MUCA) and the Authentic Claimant Movement of Aguán Campesinos
(MARCA)—that have led land occupations and other demonstrations since
2009 in an effort to obtain farmland that they say big landowners
acquired illegally during the 1990s [see Update #1137].

Tensions started to mount on Aug. 20 when a group of campesinos
arrived at the CSJ building in Tegucigalpa expecting to meet with
judges. But according to MUCA members, CSJ president Jorge Rivera
Avilés decided not to receive their representatives and in fact had
already made an agreement with representatives of two major
landowners, Miguel Facussé and René Morales. The protesters also
reported being attacked by the police at the building that day.

On Aug. 21 a group of about 80 campesinos escalated their protest by
taking over the CSJ building’s five main doors; they also set up
barricades on the street in front of the court, blocking traffic.
(According to the Brazilian news service Adital, a total of 350
protesters, including children and older people, were participating in
the demonstration.) After the campesinos had kept employees and others
from entering or leaving the building for about three hours, agents
from the Preventive Police arrived and asked the protesters to end the
blockade. The campesinos refused. A squadron of Cobras, the notorious
anti-riot police, then appeared and carried out a surprise attack,
using tear gas and nightsticks.

A total of 27 or 28 protesters were arrested, including two women, a
minor, and three people who had to be taken to a hospital for
emergency treatment. Some of the protesters sought refuge in the
headquarters of the militant Union of Workers of the Brewery Industry
and the Like (STIBYS), but police agents used tear gas on them as well

On Aug. 22 a campesino group in the Aguán Valley--at first mostly
women carrying machetes and clubs--responded to the arrests in
Tegucigalpa by blocking the highway that connects Saba and La Ceiba
with rocks and two trucks to demand the release of the 27 detained
protesters. Police and military units broke up the blockade, arresting
18 protesters; several injuries were reported.

The Aguán campesinos’ eight demands on the CSJ included the suspension
of criminal cases against campesinos detained for protesting and the
removal of judges that the protesters said had favored the big
landowners over campesinos in their decisions; the protesters were
referring especially to a case in July in which the Ceiba and
Francisco Morazán Appeals Court overturned a June decision by a lower
court awarding 2,000 hectares of land to MARCA members. The campesinos
were also asking the CSJ to declare unconstitutional a government move
to ban firearms in Colón department, which includes the Aguán region.
The measure discriminates in favor of the landowners, according to
Rafael Alegría, a national campesino leader. The security guards hired
by the big landowners and the business owners can go around with
whatever arms they want, he told reporters, but ranchers, shopkeepers
and campesinos can’t.

More than 70 people have been killed in the Aguán region over the past
three years, most of them campesinos. (Vos el Soberano (Honduras)
8/21/12; La Prensa (Tegucigalpa) 8/21/12, 8/22/12; Adital (Brazil)
8/22/12; Agencia Venezolana de Noticias 8/23/12)

On Aug. 22 the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous
Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) issued a statement condemning the
“brutal aggression” against campesino protesters on Aug. 21. The
statement also cited death threats made against Donny Reyes, the
coordinator of the LGBT Rainbow Coalition, and against members of the
Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), a group that fights
against corruption and for the defense of natural resources. The
statement suggested writing letters to CSJ President Jorge Rivera
Avilés (presidencia@poderjudicial.gob.hn) and Justice and Human Rights
Minister Ana Pineda (info@sjdh.gob). (Copinh statement 8/22/12)

*3. Colombia: GM and Hunger Strikers Agree to Mediation
A group of former employees of GM Colmotores, the Colombian subsidiary
of the Detroit-based General Motors Company (GM), announced on the
morning of Aug. 24 that they had agreed to enter into mediation to
resolve a dispute with the company. As part of the agreement, they
were ending a liquids-only hunger strike that 12 workers started on
Aug. 1 to pressure Colmotores to reinstate them and compensate them
for injuries. They said that until the dispute was settled, they would
continue an encampment in front of the US embassy in Bogotá which they
have maintained for more than a year [see Update #1141].

According to the former employees’ organization, the Association of
Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of Colmotores (Asotrecol), some 200 of
the company’s workers have disabilities caused by injuries on the job,
repetitive stress injuries or work-related illnesses. Asotrecol says
the company simply fires injured workers instead of compensating them
and moving them to jobs they can handle. Colomotores management has
repeatedly denied Asotrecol’s claims, but apparently it decided to
accept mediation rather than face the negative publicity being
generated in the US by the three-week hunger strike and by photographs
of seven fasters who sewed their lips shut. The workers’ supporters in
the US include the nonprofit organization Witness for Peace and the
main US labor confederation, the AFL-CIO.

The US Labor Department issued a statement on Aug. 24 welcoming the
accord and highlighting its own role, along with the US embassy in
Bogotá and the US Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, in
brokering the deal. The statement failed to mention that the US
government itself is a party to the dispute, since it is General
Motors’ largest shareholder as a result of a major bailout in 2009.
“To us it seems unjust and a double standard,” Asotrecol president
Jorge Parra told reporters, “for the government of [US president
Barack] Obama to demand respect for labor rights in Colombia and the
same time allow the abuses that have happened to us.” (AFP 8/24/12 via
Univision; AFL-CIO Now blog 8/24/12; US Labor Department press release

*4. Colombia: Paramilitaries Issue Death Threats in Barrancabermeja
A reconstituted paramilitary group, “Los Rastrojos Urban Commandos,”
made a series of death threats the week of Aug. 13 against members of
four human rights organizations and one union in Barrancabermeja in
the northern Colombian department of Santander. The first threats came
in a manila envelope found on Aug. 14 at the home of human rights
activist Himad Choser. The envelope contained a 9 mm bullet and a
pamphlet by “Los Rastrojos” declaring Choser an enemy because he had
been “denouncing and attacking our economic structure, based on drug
trafficking in the region.” The pamphlet described Choser as “at the
service of the FARC,” the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia. The pamphlet also named four organizations and the National
Union of Food Industry Workers (SINALTRAINAL) as collaborators with

On Aug. 18 another "Los Rastrojos" pamphlet was left in the office of
the People in Action Organization, a group that defends LGBT rights.
In this pamphlet the paramilitaries declared a “death sentence against
Mr. Ovidio [Nieto], of the organization that defends the gays”;
against “the guerrilla William Mendoza,” the local SINALTRAINAL
president; and against Choser, “so that this defender of fags won’t
agitate the city.” “We’re going to be blunt,” the pamphlet continued.
“We won’t give more warnings.”

Local human rights organizations called on the authorities “to fulfill
their role as guarantor[s] of the life and tranquility of the
residents of our city,” and they asked the international community to
monitor and publicize the threats and to demand that the national
government take action against criminal groups. (Communiqué 8/20/12
posted on SINALTRAINAL website) [Earlier in the month Colombian
unionists called for international solidarity for SINALTRAINAL
president Mendoza, who says the government is trying to have him
sentenced to prison, where he fears he will be killed; see Update

"Los Rastrojos" is one of several criminal groups that carry on the
work of rightwing paramilitary groups which ostensibly demobilized
during the middle 2000s [see Updates #1086, 1087, World War 4 Report
5/8/12]. On Aug. 18 the Colombian radio station Caracol reported that
a leading paramilitary group, the United Self-Defense Forces of
Colombia (AUC), acquired weapons from criminal groups in the US in
2004 and 2005, at the same time that the group claimed to be
demobilizing. Basing its report on documents from the US Drug
Enforcement Agency (DEA), Caracol said the AUC acquired 200 M16
rifles, 100 fragmentation grenades, 150 rocket-propelled grenades and
50,000 .22 cartridges from Miami in just one year.

The last section of the AUC to demobilize, the Elmer Cárdenas Bloc,
officially gave up its arms on Aug. 16, 2006. Some of its former
members then formed “Los Urabeños,” which the Medellín-based news
service Colombia Reports describes as “one of the most powerful drug
trafficking organizations in Colombia and in control of the drug
routes in what used to be the heartland of the AUC.” (Colombia Reports

*5. Links to alternative sources on: Latin America, Argentina, Chile,
Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Honduras,
Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, US/immigration

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Peoples' in Argentina

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Brazil: court blocks mega-hydro to protect Pantanal

Brazil: high court orders release of rancher convicted in Dorothy Stang slaying

Bolivia: Aymara communities occupy Oruro mine

Peru: Newmont Mining to abandon Conga project?

To the Colombian Military: “Don’t be afraid of peace!”

The Colombian Paradox: Capital Mobility, Land, and Power

Colombia: Despite Repression, the Minga in Huila Continues for the
Liberation of Mother Earth

Colombian GM Workers on Hunger Strike Until Death Sew Their Mouths Shut

US Carter Center: Venezuelan Electoral System one of the Most
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U.S.-Funded War in El Salvador Casts Shadow over Romney/Ryan Campaign

Broken Anvil: Victims Fight for Justice After DEA Operation Leaves
Four Dead in Honduras

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Guatemala: The Spoils of an Undeclared War

Guatemala: ex-National Police chief gets 70 years for "disappearance"

Mining, Repression and the Rhetoric of Democracy and the Rule of Law
in Guatemala

Mexico: victory for campesino struggle against La Parota dam

Mexican Farmers Battle Canadian Mining Company for Control of Their Land

Miners in Coahuila Died for Seven Dollars a Day (Mexico)

Stop, Frisk and Demolish in Ciudad Juarez (Mexico)

The Caravan for Peace Begins a Long Ride Across the USA

Caravan of Peace, Cities of Death

On Haiti, Jared Diamond Hasn't Done His Homework

A Twenty-First Century Border: The Ever-expanding U.S. Boundary
(Dominican Republic, US/immigration)

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

For immigration updates and events:

This Update is archived, with links, 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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