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Since I've been in Honduras, I've been hearing a constant refrain about the "medios golpistas," which is to say the pro-coup media. I avoided the papers for a while, preferring to listen to the radio, read online, and talk to Hondurans about the situation in the country (I generally do the same at home anyways).
That said, I caved and bought the paper today, and even though I was planning to spend the day transcribing, I feel compelled to write a post about flipping through La Prensa this morning over coffee.
"Government proposes break with ALBA" screams the headline on A1, with another story below on the assassination of the daughter of a pro-coup journalist.
The next three pages of the paper are dedicated to "The Keys of 2009," an ongoing series of unsigned opinion pieces presented as factual, objective reporting on the events that defined 2009.
Second of today's 12 "Keys" is a blurb titled "External aid pulled, commerce closed because of political crisis." I'm going to translate part of it here in an effort to get across the editorial perspective (again, masquerading as fact) in the paper.
The substitution of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was like a bucket of icy water for the depressed national economy... The Internaional Monetary Fund - with who Zelaya had broken relations and had negated to sign a new memorandum of understanding with, was one of the first to distance itself from Honduras after June 28.
Not only is this a Non Sequitur, it's not true.
Prominant LGBTT activist Walter Tróchez was assassinated by gunmen in Tegucigalpa on Sunday, marking the 10th murder of a gay or trans activist since the June 28 military coup.
According to journalist Dina Meza, police did not visit the scene of the killing until more than 12 hours after Tróchez was killed. Meza wrote that his murder is "being managed with all the negligence possible by police investigators."
Tróchez was kidnapped and beaten on December 4, but managed to escape. According to sources close to Tróchez, police did not investigate the kidnapping.
From a letter Tróchez wrote less than a month before his death:
Mariano Abarca, a community activist known for his opposition to mining was assassinated last night in Chicomuselo, a town in Chiapas, Mexico.
Abarca was shot in the head and chest by a man on a motorcycle. He had been abducted in August, and again received death threats in the week prior to his death.
In a November 28 email to supporters, Gustavo Castro, an organizer with Otros Mundos AC in Chiapas, wrote:
[Mariano was] a dear friend, admired for his struggle against the Canadian mining company Blackfire, and a member of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA-Chiapas). Yesterday we spoke to him on the phone and he told us he had filed a complaint against the company. Today he's dead.
It is with great sadness that I write these words. I will continue to update here as more news becomes available.
Update: Here is the English translation of an article about the assassination from La Jornada.
Public Works and Government Services Canada has awarded a $25,000 contract to a BC firm in return for a controversial service -- the design of urban camouflage specifically suited to Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver.
The contract requirements are as follows:
The Department of National Defence, Defence Research and
Development Canada - Suffield, (DRDC-S), AB, has a requirement to develop a Canadian Urban Environment Pattern (CUEPAT) based on the unique requirements of Canada's three major metropolitan areas, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The current CBR individual protective equipment (IPE) used by the Canadian military is provided in a woodland or desert camouflage. A camouflage suited to the Canadian urban environment is required when the milatary (sic) operates in urban terrain.
Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp, pride of Maple Ridge, BC, was the only firm invited to bid on the contract. The company has designed camouflage patterns for countries including Israel, Iraq and Malaysia.
The US-backed deal meant to restore a "government of national unity" in Honduras is dead. How dead depends on your taste for dictators.
Totally Dead, if you ask ousted president Manuel Zelaya, who is still holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.
"No, it's not dead, but maybe sleeping for the time being," if you doubted the US State Department's position on the deal.
Popular organizations around Honduras, after expressing an initial support for the reinstatement of Zelaya, have since denounced the deal.
"Once again, history has shown us that the United States is not anyone's friend; we were once again betrayed when we endorsed an agreement full of gaps and capricious interpretations," Indigenous activist Salvador Zúñiga told IPS.
The Civil Council of Popular and Inidigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) released a statement denouncing the coup and the negotiations on November 4.
In their statement, they "urge the National Front of Popular Resistance to raise an initiative of dialogue and negotiation towards more dignified agreements," call for a popular constituent assembly, and give the following message to international supporters:
The AP is reporting that Honduran legislators have the final say over a US backed deal that would see the restoration of Manuel Zelaya to power in Honduras.
However, Bloomberg reports that "opposition lawmakers could filibuster Zelaya’s return until after the elections, Antonio Rivera, the second highest ranking lawmaker for the National Party, said in an interview."
According to AP, which posted their most recent update at 0:00 PDT on October 31, the negotiations "drew praise from figures as diverse as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez." TeleSUR noted that while supportive, Chavez has not yet seen the agreement.
Seriously though, the negotiated solutions go along with what was laid out in the San José Accord back in July.
During a United Nations session in September, Zelaya expressed his disagreement with the San José Accord.
Both reports stem from a press release by the Honduran Central Bank (BCH).
The BCH release reads (in part):
"At the initiative of the twenty industrialized and emerging countries (G-20), presided by the Prime Minister of England, Gordon Brown, the International Monetary Fund injects liquidity into the world economy and Honduras augments it's international reserves by $150.1 million."
The CBH release goes on to state that the money was received on August 28th. Telesur is reporting that the IMF will give another $13.8 million to the coup regime next week.
The IMF does not have an update on their Honduras page since before the coup happened. The BCH has not posted a press release in English since last year.
The ongoing outsourcing in Afghanistan
Canada’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Kandahar, Afghanistan will not be put in harms way, despite the oft-repeated political promise that all of Canada’s ground troops will be withdrawn by 2011. The responsibility of the security of these specialists-contractors themselves- will instead be provided by private companies, who will need to go through a selection process, according to Canada’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Ron Hoffmann who spoke to journalists via video-conference, earlier this week.
This is not the first time that the Canadian government has decided to hire private security companies in Afghanistan. The British based firm, Saladin Security , has been protecting the Canadian Embassy in Kabul for many years, while many Afghan contractors including warlords, have been hired to protects convoys of Canadian personnel or provide a "security cordon" for high risk situations, such as roadside bombs going off.
Francisco Barrio Terrazas, Mexico's new ambassador to Canada, assumed the cushy diplomatic posting on February 26th, 2009. He had previously served as mayor of Ciudad Juarez, known as the Murder Capital of North America, and later as governor of Chihuahua state.
That's right ladies and gents.
Representing the regime of Felipe Calderón in Canada is a man who governed a city where more four hundred women have been killed since 1993. Many of the women killed were sexually assaulted first. Barrio Terrazas refused to call for an investigation until 1998.
"We can't accept that Canada, a model country that's culture is based on the respect of human rights and rule of law, could shelter a person who tolerated the murder and rapes of women and girls," reads a statement concerning Barrio Terrazas' appointment from May our Daughters Come Home, a women's group based in Juarez.
As if that weren't bad enough (because it certainly is), Barrio Terrazas has an equally distinguished past as governor of Chihuahua:
"During the Fox administration, the drug cartels penetrated the federal police and the security apparatus in Mexico in unprecedented levels, when (Barrio Terrazas) was the man in charge of making sure the federal bureaucracy operated without fraud, waste and abuse," Tony Payan from the University of Texas at El Paso told the Canadian Press.
Emails from the magic laptops found in a FARC camp that was bombed in Ecuador last March have surfaced yet again.
"In October, "Sara" says to "Reyes" that "Aníbal" - the apparent leader of the front - is worried because the ELN is taking his territory and because some of his recruits are touring around with [Hollman] Morris and Manuel Rozenthal [sic], a friend of [Morris]. In these moments, the FARC and the ELN are waging a bloody battle for territorial control in Cauca and Arauca."
The alleged emails from the magic laptops have led to threats against Morris which put him and his colleagues in danger.
The LA Times published an excellent interview with Colombia's defense minister Juan Manuel Santos today.
The interview focuses on Plan Colombia, which has failed in terms of coca crop eradication, but which has, as Santos states, allowed the Colombian military to "retake control of our territory."
Many simply call that military occupation.
Santos continues to explain that he's not worried about the fact that Obama has never been to Colombia, because "Vice President-elect Joseph Biden was one of the fathers of Plan Colombia and he promoted it a lot."
Another gem from Santos: "I have no doubt that the Colombian army is receiving more human rights training than any army on Earth."
Now that's a scary thought.
A Colombian military parade in Medellín. Photo by Michael von Bergen.
Eva Bartlett: "One hour later, Jihad Samour (approx. 55 years old), arrived with his 6 sons and one other youth, 15 year old Wassim Eid, HUto drop off scrap metal, the proceeds of which he was to use to buy food. A missile from a drone overhead hit the group, tearing them to pieces and exploding into an even larger blast than usual due to the oxygen tanks at the shop. One of the men, not immediately killed, ran around crying 'help me, I’m burning,' engulfed in flames from the explosion. Only one son, 23 year old Mohammed Samour, escaped the massacre, without an arm and a leg, and in critical condition."
Yoel Marcus: "This doesn't mean the situation is possible to live with, but it appears the hysterical reaction by the public as a whole and politicians in particular stems mainly from the fact that the country is in an election period."
Ali Abunimah: "Already I have received notices of demonstrations and solidarity actions being planned in cities all over the world. That is important. But what will happen after the demonstrations disperse and the anger dies down? Will we continue to let Palestinians in Gaza die in silence?"
Ha'aretz: "But Hamas officials and analysts said Monday that the organization would actually like Israel to launch a ground operation; it hopes this would let it inflict such heavy losses on Israeli tanks and infantry that Israel would flee with its tail between its legs."
Semana, a popular magazine in Colombia, ran a spoof article today titled Army and Police to be replaced by Indigenous Guard. The article describes the capacities of the Indigenous Guard, like their recent rescue of seven hostages in Jambaló. The article states that the Indigenous Guard would relieve police and army of their functions throughout the national territory.
The photo above is a photomontage done by the magazine, in which President Uribe and other members of his government traveled to Jambaló in a chiva with the Indigenous Guard to make the announcement.
Oh, if only it were true!
Constanza Vieira, IPS's Colombia correspondent, has written a couple of excellent pieces that explain the circumstances surrounding the assassination of Edwin Legarda last Tuesday.
The first, "There Was No Checkpoint" Where Army Shooting Took Place, explains in detail how the vehicle Legarda was traveling in was ambushed by the army.
The second, Q&A: Killing of Native Leader’s Husband "Was a Planned Operation" gives voice to the feelings of many people in this region regarding the killing.
Yesterday at four in the morning, Edwin Legarda Vázquez was killed by the Colombian Army. He was driving a vehicle that belongs to the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), in which his partner, Aida Quilcué often traveled in.
Aida Quilcué is the maximum leader of the CRIC, and gained national and international notoriety for her powerful words and actions during the Indigenous and popular movement, part of the Minga, which mobilized thousands of people throughout Colombia this fall.
The Minister of Defense has admitted that soldiers killed Legarda. They shot 17 bullets into the car. There is no doubt among Indigenous organizations here that the killing was politically motivated.
An urgent communique just went out from the ACIN because of fighting between FARC and the Colombian army, which is taking place in the town of Miranda, Cauca. The communique notes that "The criminal combat is taking place among and inside the houses of Indigenous people."
Also this morning in Miranda, the paramilitary group Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles) had leaflets passed around that read:
Las Águilas Negras Presente.
Limpieza Social para el bien de todos
The Black Eagles are Here.
Social cleansing for the benefit of all
More information will follow as it becomes available.
Update from Cauca, Colombia: Indigenous resistance and state repression is an 8 minute interview with Manuel Rozental, recorded on the evening of Thursday, October 16th.
Rozental talks about the status of the mobilizations and their significance on a national level, the repression faced by the movement, and the five point agenda being demanded by the communities in resistance.
More info at radio4all.
Photo by Simone Bruno.
The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team has been deployed to streets in the US. Amy Goodman has an excellent piece about the underreported shift of US soldiers from Iraq to US streets.
In December 2001, in the midst of restricted access to bank accounts due to a financial crisis, respectable, middle-class Argentines rose up, took to the streets, smashed bank windows and ultimately forced the government out of power, despite a massive police crackdown and a failed attempt to control the media. Here in the U.S., with the prospect of a complete failure of our financial system, the people have spoken and do not want an unprecedented act of corporate welfare. We don’t know how close the system is to collapse, nor do we know how close the people are to taking to the streets. The creation of an active-duty military force, the sea-smurfs, that could be used to suppress public protest here at home is a very bad sign.
This morning on Democracy Now! Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez did an excellent interview with Jeremy Hinzman, the first US war resister to seek asylum in Canada. Last Wednesday, Canadian border services ordered Jeremy and his family to leave Canada by September 23rd.
From the interview: "...on June 3rd, the Canadian parliament passed a non-binding motion by a vote of 137-to-110 saying that US war resisters should be able to remain in Canada. However, the conservative government is refusing to enact the legislation."
"Right now, there’s a conservative minority government. Canada has a parliamentary system, and they hold the balance of power. And I wouldn’t say they’re lapdogs to the US, but they share many of the same values of the Bush administration and aren’t really sympathetic to what we’re doing."
Photo by R. Whitlock.
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).
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.