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August 27, 2008 Original Peoples

Battle for the Amazon

Brazilian Supreme Court case pits farming in the Amazon against indigenous rights

August 23, 2008 Weblog:

Peru: Indigenous occupations end with victory in Congress

On August 22nd, the Peruvian Congress repealed two legislative decrees at the root of the indigenous demonstrations that paralyzed various roads and energy installations from August 9th through 20th. The indigenous movement of the Amazon, home to 65 different indigenous nations, declared victory.

[note: several of the hyperlinks are to articles and websites in Spanish.]

Background

Peruvian President Alan Garcia approved more than 100 legislative decrees in the first half of 2008, making use of special powers bestowed upon the Executive branch by the Congress in order to bring the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the US and Peru into effect. The FTA was signed in 2006 and passed - despite opposition - by the US House and Senate in late 2007.

» continue reading "Peru: Indigenous occupations end with victory in Congress"

August 18, 2008 Weblog:

Colombia: ICC investigates extraditions

The International Criminal Court is sending Argentine attorney Luís Moreno to Colombia to investigate the extradition of paramilitary bosses from Colombia to the US.

The ICC will also investigate the connections between congresspeople and senators with paramilitary groups, a scandal known as parapolitica in Colombia.

The New York Times ran an article on August 15th titled International court may investigate Colombian rebels' backers, which portrays the ICC investigation as primarily related to the FARC and their international funding sources.

Information linking the investigations to the extraditions of paramilitaries and the parapolitica is buried in one sentence at the end of the NYT article. There is no mention of the FARC in the letter to the Colombian government from an ICC representative.

Instead, the letter from Moreno to the Colombian ambassador at The Hague warns the government that if justice can not be done by the Colombian judicial system, the International Criminal Court will intervene.

» continue reading "Colombia: ICC investigates extraditions"

August 12, 2008 Weblog:

Video: Plan of Aggression in Northern Cauca, Colombia

This brand new video may help put into context yesterday's threats on these communities and their leaders.

The five minute short was scripted, filmed and edited by members of the communication network of the Association of Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca (ACIN).

August 12, 2008 Weblog:

Nasa communities in Colombia on Maximum Alert

The following was translated to English by La Chiva:

ALERT: CAMPAIGN OF TERROR BEGINS AGAINST INDIGENOUS NASA IN CAUCA, COLOMBIA

11 August 2008

Earlier this afternoon, the Association of Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca (ACIN) received the text of a threat by email, which we are attaching below for you to read. This letter of terror, signed by the CEC (Campesinos Embejucados del Cauca, or ‘Furious Peasants of Cauca’), announces that “at approximately 00:00 tonight, you will receive information regarding the murders at the hands of peasants of paHECES [1] and the ex-guerrilla heads of the CRIC, which will be confirmed by phone and a consequences of their disrespect.” In this threat, we are referred to as paHECES, or ‘excrement,’ exposing the racism of the author(s).

The 7-page threat states throughout its hateful and false content the decision to defame the indigenous process and the commencement of a campaign of terror and death. The context in which this letter has been sent is that of the parapolítica [2], with the clear collusion of the Colombian government:

The threats against the indigenous movement made by the President of the Republic, who has ordered the payment of rewards for the arrest of indigenous Senator Jesús Piñacué, who is mentioned in the threat;

The recent confession of the paramilitary member Orlando Villa Zapata, involved in the 1991 massacre in El Nilo [Cauca], that said massacre was planned in the Hacienda La Emperatriz in the presence of the landowners;

» continue reading "Nasa communities in Colombia on Maximum Alert"

August 5, 2008 Media Analysis

The Media's FARCed

Mainstream coverage of Colombia

July 21, 2008 Weblog:

Haiti: Setting the Record Straight

Peter Hallward sets forth the crucial facts of the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti which ushered in a two-year reign of terror. From the myth of "Aristide the dictator" to the ongoing military occupation of the country by foreign troops, Hallward debunks the mainstream media version of the facts which exonerated imperial powers and obscured the causes of the crisis. Read on...

June 30, 2008 Weblog:

Merida Initiative: More US backed militarization in Mexico, Central America and DR-Haiti

The War Funding Bill was signed into law by President Bush today, allocating another $162 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan without a timeline for troop withdrawl.

Buried away in the Bill is $465 million for the first year of the 'Merida Initiative.'

The Merida Initiative, formerly known as 'Plan Mexico,' is a military plan whose aim, according to the Bush Administration, is to "combat the threats of drug trafficking, transnational crime, and terrorism in the Western Hemisphere."

The Merida Initiative will further militarize Mexico and Central America, and will likely mark an increase in the criminalization of migrants heading towards the US.

The total budget for the Merida Initiative is 1.6 billion dollars. During the first year, $400 million is destined for Mexico, and $65 million will be divided between Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Belize, Panamá, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The budget is destined for: helicopters and surveillance aircraft, increased US participation in policing, communications surveillance technologies, and "non-intrusive" inspection equipment, ion scanners and canine units for Mexican customs, the new federal police and military to "interdict trafficked drugs, arms, cash and persons."

The War Funding Bill, which was rejected by Democrats in May, was passed by 311-106 last week by the Democrat led House of Representatives.

» continue reading "Merida Initiative: More US backed militarization in Mexico, Central America and DR-Haiti"

June 21, 2008 Weblog:

Goldcorp: Occupation and Resistance in Guatemala (and Beyond)

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Goldcorp Inc.'s Marlin mine in Guatemala has been a hotbed of controversy since locals became aware of the presence of the company (then Glamis Gold) in their municipalities.

Adding weight to the resistance to the mine is a ruling made public on June 9th by the Constitutional Court in Guatemala, which has found eight Articles (or sections thereof) of the Mining Law to be unconstitutional. (full text of the ruling in pdf format).

Among the Articles deemed unconstitutional are 19 and 20, which allow mining activities to start while the corresponding paperwork is still being processed, Articles 21, 24 and 27, which allow mining activity to take place to unlimited depths of the subsurface, Article 75, which allows mining companies to discharge water from their tailings pond directly into surface water, as well as Articles 81 and 86.

Goldcorp has refused to comment on the ruling, as they are in this case unable to use their regular discourse about the importance of the "rule of law."

Lawyers and environmentalists in Guatemala hope that the ruling will prevent Goldcorp from discharging untreated water from the tailings pond at the Marlin Mine (pictured) into local rivers, which the company had planned to begin doing in the next few months.

¡Viva la Consulta Comunitaria, Bajo la Represión!

» continue reading "Goldcorp: Occupation and Resistance in Guatemala (and Beyond)"

June 18, 2008 Opinion

Evo Morales on Europe and Migration

An open letter from Evo Morales to the European Parliament

May 4, 2008 Weblog:

Haiti Appoints Free Market Economist as Prime Minister

From Haiti Liberte, via Haiti Analysis:

Preval was also pressured to choose Ericq Pierre by several visiting foreign officials such as Alain Joyandel, French Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), and Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.

...Pierre also eloquently expressed his technocratic vision when he said: "There is no reform of the left or the right, there are only necessary reforms." The greatest outcry against Ericq Pierre's nomination may come from the Haitian people themselves. The uprising that began of April 3 and swept away Alexis was not just against food's high cost but against neoliberal austerity policies in general. In this light, Pierre's nomination is likely to provoke more anger and demonstrations in the weeks ahead.

Canada's Response? Foreign Affairs Minister Maxine Bernier stated that his government "welcomes this first step in forming a new government in Haiti, in keeping with the provisions of the Haitian constitution."

First step? As if the Haitian people had never elected their own governments before. Wasn't the appointment of Jacques Edouard Alexis back in 2006 the "first step in forming a new government?"

» continue reading "Haiti Appoints Free Market Economist as Prime Minister"

May 3, 2008 Ideas

Amplifying Haiti's Lost Years

A review of Peter Hallward’s Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment

April 26, 2008 Weblog:

Gerardi's Memory is Alive!

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"Knowing the truth is painful, but it is a highly liberating action" - Bishop Gerardi, April 24, 1998

Bishop Juan Gerardi was assassinated 10 years ago today. He was beaten to death with a concrete slab in front of his residence. His killers have never been brought to justice.

The assassination took place two days after the release of "Guatemala Nunca Mas" (Guatemala Never Again), the comprehensive document on the 36 year internal conflict in Guatemala put together by the Recovery of Historical Memory (REMHI) project of the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Rodolfo Quezada Toruño gave a powerful sermon in memory of Gerardi this morning in the Cathedral in Guatemala City. He received an extended round of applause when he stated that "the Catholic Church will not stop demanding that the case of Bishop Gerardi be clarified, until we know who was responsible for doing what."

Toruño finished the mass by stating that in remembering Gerardi, the Catholic Church is reaffirming that in Guatemala, they have taken a "fundamental option for the poor."

April 20, 2008 Weblog:

Paraguay Elections: Fernando Lugo wins presidency (preliminary results)

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Preliminary official results are showing that former Bishop Fernando Lugo has won the presidential elections that took place April 20 in Paraguay.

According to the Supreme Elections Tribunal in Paraguay, Lugo's party, the Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC) has an estimated 40.46% of votes, compared to 31.12% for Blanca Olevar's Colorado party and 21.8% for General Lino Oveido. This figure is still preliminary but includes 70.87% of the polling stations.

According to AP, "News broadcasts showed two minor scuffles outside polling places Sunday" but voting was generally peaceful.

April 9, 2008 Weblog:

Ni una muerte más! Elections in Paraguay

Paraguayan news agency Jaku'éke reports today that "death threats to the Alliance Campaign are being followed through."

Alfredo Avalos, a journalist and organizer with the opposition presidential campaign remains in critial condition with gunshot wounds to his head, and his partner Silvana Rodríguez was killed last night in Curuguaty, in the state of Canindeyúby, 250km northeast of the capital, Asunción.

Avalos worked for Tekojoja, a movement which has allied with the opposition presidential campaign, Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC), headed by presidential candidate and former Bishop Fernando Lugo.

This is the second murder of a Tekojoja organizer in the last two months. Local police and officials refute that the killings were politically motivated.

According to Carrillo Iramain, an organizer in Canindeyúby "there are constant telephone messages, indirect messages and direct threats happening in these final days [before the elections]. This is an area where fear rules."

Elections are planned for April 20, 2008 in Paraguay.

The current government of the landlocked South American country is one of the strongest US allies in the region. The government has come under international scrutiny for allowing the setting up of US military bases in the country, near the Bolivian border.

UPDATE: A new article by Ben Dangl and April Howard: Dissecting the Politics of Paraguay's next President.

February 18, 2008 Weblog:

Venezuela government supports community television in response to “savage” opposition media campaign

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In a surprise move, the Venezuela government has donated audio-visual production equipment to 69 community television facilities across the country. The Communication and Information Minister Andres Izarra, speaking to over 400 community television representatives in Caracas, said that community television has a crucial role to play in the struggle for truth. The donation comes in response to what has been described as a “savage” opposition media campaign currently underway by Globovision.

The donation has been well received by community television producers, according to Jhonny Pancho, representative of Catia TV, one of Venezuela's oldest community television stations. As for any perceived influence peddling by the government, Pancho and Caita TV president Gabriel Gil were adamant that community television remains independent of government.

Community television responds to people's needs rather than government needs, said Gil. More than 70 per cent of the programming is produced by community collectives.

Go to venezuelanalysis.com for the more story.

Also, for some background check out Justin Podur's piece on Znet.

February 12, 2008 Weblog:

Haiti: SOS Education

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If you have twenty extra dollars or more, you could help 31 children in Haiti’s second city, Cap Haitian, finish their school year. Let me explain. I recently completed my third trip to Haiti as an independent journalist investigating the ongoing impact of the US-France-Canada coup d’état of 2004. It is no exaggeration to say that this event and the policies which followed have left 8 million people in a desperate state. When I was introduced to Madame Bwa, a key community activist in the poorest community of Haiti’s second city, Cap Haitian, I was faced with a startling sight: 26 young people, aged 4 to 18 who had all been sent home from school in the previous 2 weeks because their families couldn’t afford their children’s basic school fees. Madame Bwa informed me that there were five more, bringing the total to 31, but that they were not present that day.

I have maintained close contact with Madame Bwa since returning to Canada. She has done the math, and says that she needs $650 to pay the school fees for all of these children so they can finish the year. This is the current reality in Haiti. The state has been crippled by the last two coup d’états and is unable to subsidize anyone’s education. People are left to themselves in a society where unemployment sits at 70%. 96% of Haitian children never finish high school because of poverty. Your donation will not solved Haiti’s economic crisis. It will however ensure that 31 young people finish the 2008 school year. If you have some extra money, please contribute.

» continue reading "Haiti: SOS Education"

January 24, 2008 Weblog:

Haiti: Foreign interference and the Attack on Haitian Sovereignty

Roger Annis is one of Canada’s most dedicated and lucid voices on the subject of the ongoing impact of Canadian policy in Haiti. In this two-part podcast interview by Canadian photographer Darren Ell, Roger describes what he calls a social and economic calamity in Haiti. He traces key elements of this crisis to the 2004 coup d’état in which Canada, France and the US participated, and to a foreign aid system which is keeping Haiti dependent. He addresses what he describes as the failures of NGO’s and human rights organizations to defend democracy in Haiti, the propaganda campaign that deluded the public as to the events surrounding the coup d’état of 2004, and foreign-imposed economic policies that are destroying the country and undermining its sovereignty.

The interview includes a discussion about the way forward for Haiti in light of the new developments in neighbouring South America. Click here to hear the podcast.

January 23, 2008 Original Peoples

Indigenous Rights and the Mayan Victory in Belize

Implications for Indigenous Title Rights in Canada

January 18, 2008 Foreign Policy

Canada's Mining Continuum

Resources, Community Resistance and "Development" in Oaxaca

January 16, 2008 Month in Review

December in Review

Halted deportations, Lakota secession, and social tension in Latin America

January 12, 2008 Accounts

Fear, Impunity and State Power

Colombia's paramilitary regime and social movements

January 8, 2008 Foreign Policy

Endorsing Death Squad Economics

Canada's Lightning Speed Trade Negotiations with Colombia

December 29, 2007 Weblog:

Haiti: Fanmi Lavalas Supporters March Against the Cost of Living

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By:
Wadner Pierre

On Friday, December 28th, 2007, several hundred supporters of Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, marched through several streets of Port-au-Prince protesting the rising the cost of living in Haiti. Slogans on placards reflected the denunciations of demonstrators of the Minister of Trade, Ms. Maggy Durce of the Democratic Alliance Party of Mr. Evans Paul, for having done nothing to improve the living conditions of the population. Some demanded the departure of the Minister and others a profound change in the government of Jacques Edouard Alexis.

As usual they did not hide their commitment to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, demanding his physical return to the country, which many insisted could help the country, especially the poorest regions.

"Titid we love you and we hope you will return very soon," said Deshommes Presengloire, member of Base cell of Fanmi Lavalas. "This is the year of mobilizations for the return of our historic leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and this is one of the main demonstrations."

The march against the high cost of living would end in front of the Ministry of Commerce. Organizers insisted that the Minister takes her responsibilities seriously or withdraws from this post.

"We are here to ask for Madam Maggy Durcé to take control of her responsibilities, because women can no longer continue to be cope with the rising prices of basic necessities," added Mrs. Kermeline. "As a woman, she knows our pain very well."

This march was well secured by several units of the Haitian National Police (HNP), police of the United Nations mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and a jeep contingent of Brazilian MINUSTAH soldiers.

» continue reading "Haiti: Fanmi Lavalas Supporters March Against the Cost of Living"

December 23, 2007 Weblog:

Is this really Christmas?

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By:
Wadner Pierre

Christmas is the celebration of love, sharing, solidarity and reconciliation, which is often conducted in the popular neighborhoods.

With this sentence we wonder too how can one celebrate Christmas in a country like Haiti, the poorest country in the American continent, which is going through a horrible and inhuman situation, despite the efforts of its people? A government able to fulfill the needs of its citizens, to relieve the misery of its people, renders street-level demands of respect for the principles voted for during elections unnecessary.

Today, members of Haiti's diaspora, despite their best efforts, are unable to meet the needs of their relatives in Haiti. Why not? The current blockade of the ports deprives much of the Haitian population, which depends directly upon the Haitian Diaspora for its livelihood. The Eleventh Department has recently made a gesture about removing the blockade, but we still hear sighs, grinding of teeth, continually climbing commodity prices. Is this is a conspiracy against the people? Where are the forces of nation, the Church, especially the Catholic church, which is the official religion of this country, the economic sector, the Haitian bourgeoisie?

Children from neighborhoods, people who are accustomed to receiving toys from the Haitian presidency during the years of the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, complain today because of the backwardness of the Ministry of Social Affairs in this case. But this year, it seems, is the worst since 2004, despite statements by authorities. We see nothing new.

"On the wings of time the sadness flies and the time brings pleasure."

» continue reading "Is this really Christmas?"

December 4, 2007 Weblog:

Canada and the Coup in Haiti

Canadian photographer Darren Ell's films, photographs, interviews, podcasts and weblinks about Canada's involvement in the 2004 coup d'état in Haiti and its ongoing impact is all online now with the National FilmBoard of Canada website Citizenshift. This work was released several months ago, but there were problems with the video pieces. Everything is now fully functioning! So dive in and learn!

November 29, 2007 Weblog:

News item: Polls can be faked

Venezuela Analysis: "This opens up the possibility for the use of fake polling, as was done in the last (2004) referendum, to cast doubt on the results if the proposed constitutional reforms are approved"

October 23, 2007 Accounts

Haiti: The Kidnapping of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

New book chronicles events surrounding Aristide's removal from Haiti

October 2, 2007 Weblog:

Yves Engler on Canada in Haiti: New Podcast

Yves Engler is the co-author with Anthony Fenton of the most significant book on Canada's involvement in the 2004 overthrow of democracy in Haiti: Canada in Haiti: Waging War On the Poor Majority. The full audio interview with Yves Engler regarding Canada's involvement in the crisis in Haiti since 2004 is now online with the NFB website Citizenshift. The interview develops further ideas not presented in the video interviews published in Darren Ell's Citizenshift dossier about Haiti and Canada. In particular, Yves addresses the role of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Canadian Embassy in blocking meaningful progress in Haiti.

September 26, 2007 Weblog:

Evo Morales on the Daily Show

His delivery of the closing line is pretty great.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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