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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Federal judge allows lawsuit to proceed in slaying of Chilean folk singer killed after 1973 coup

Source: Washington Post

Federal judge allows lawsuit to proceed in slaying of Chilean folk singer killed after 1973 coup
By Nick Miroff April 17 at 3:19 PM

A woman in Santiago waves a flag with a portrait of Chile's slain folk singer Victor Jara in 2009. Florida is set to reopen a trial in Jara's 1973 slaying. (AP)

One of Latin America's darkest Cold War-era crimes is being reopened in Florida, where a U.S. judge has allowed a lawsuit to go forward against a former Chilean officer accused of torturing and murdering folk singer Victor Jara in 1973.

Jara's grisly death in the days following Gen. Augusto Pinochet's U.S.-backed coup d'etat remains an open wound in Chile. The killing became an early symbol of the cruelty of Pinochet's 17-year military rule, in which some 3,000 Chileans were slain or forcefully disappeared.

Scores of murder and torture cases from the Pinochet era remain under investigation, including Jara's. In 2012, several former soldiers implicated in Jara's murder named an ex-lieutenant, Pedro Barrientos, as the commanding officer and triggerman.

Barrientos has been living quietly in central Florida since 1989, according to local media accounts, and had obtained U.S. citizenship.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/04/17/florida-reopens-trial-in-slaying-of-chilean-folk-singer-who-opposed-u-s-backed-dictatorship/?tid=hpModule_04941f10-8a79-11e2-98d9-3012c1cd8d1e

Victor Jara

Open Veins, Healing Wounds, in Latin America

Open Veins, Healing Wounds, in Latin America
Thursday, April 16, 2015

By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan

For the first time in more than half a century, the presidents of the United States and Cuba have had a formal meeting. Barack Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro at the 7th Summit of the Americas, held this year in Panama City. Cuba’s participation has been blocked by the U.S. since the summit began in 1994. This historic moment occurs with some sadness, however: Eduardo Galeano, the great Uruguayan writer who did so much to explain the deeply unequal relations between Latin America and the U.S. and Europe, died as the summit ended.

Galeano’s best-known book is “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.” It was published in 1971, and was among the first to explain the impact of colonial domination of the hemisphere, across the broad sweep of history. Galeano himself was swept away by events as well. He wrote the book “in 90 caffeinated nights,” he said, “to interlink histories that have been before told separately and in this codified language of historians or economists or sociologists. I tried to write it in such a way that it could be read and enjoyed by anyone.”

The book’s success made him a target, as U.S.-sponsored coups toppled democratic governments in the region. He was imprisoned in Uruguay, then, after release, began a life in exile. He settled in Argentina, where he founded and edited a cultural magazine called Crisis. After the U.S.-backed military coup there in 1976, Galeano’s name was added to the list of those condemned by the death squad. He fled again, this time to Spain, where he began his famous trilogy, “Memory of Fire," which rewrites North and South American history.

And now, a piece of that history is being rewritten, between the United States and Cuba. President Obama has sent a State Department report to Congress, which recommends that Cuba be removed from the official U.S. government list of nations that sponsor terrorism. The peace group CODEPINK applauded the move, saying in a statement, “The infamous U.S. terror list includes only three other nations: Iran, Sudan, and Syria and curiously omits North Korea.


Good reads:

San José de Apartadó: Lessons from Colombia’s Peace Community

San José de Apartadó: Lessons from Colombia’s Peace Community
Written by Chris Courtheyn
Wednesday, 15 April 2015 08:04

On March 23rd, the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó celebrated its 18 year anniversary. This community of campesinos , located in the war-torn northwestern Urabá region of Colombia, refuses collaboration with any of country’s armed groups, including guerrilla, paramilitary, and State forces.

The celebration followed February’s annual commemoration pilgrimage to the villages of Mulatos and La Resbolosa, where eight people, including Community leader Luis Eduardo Guerra and three children, were massacred in a joint military and paramilitary operation in February 2005. These two anniversaries testify to San José’s amazing resistance to war over18 years, in which they have committed to constructing peace through collective farming, autonomy, and solidarity. I first visited the Peace Community in 2008 as a Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence accompanier. To honor their 18th anniversary, I wish to share a series of lessons about social change that I have learned from them over the past seven years.*

Lesson 1) The experience of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó unmasks the modern State.

Since 1997, the Peace Community has demanded the right to live as campesinos without the presence or control of armed groups.

One might imagine that such a community of 1,300 farmers wanting to live nonviolently and with autonomy by expelling guerrillas and paramilitaries — that the government claims to combat — would be welcomed by the Colombian State, even if this also means the retreat of its own military forces, since such a retreat would reflect a step towards peace. However, the State’s reaction has been the opposite, as illustrated by 186 assassinations of civilians attributed to army soldiers and paramilitaries over the past 18 years, in addition to 24 killings the Community attributes to guerrilla groups.

The violence in San José de Apartadó is linked with the region’s abundant natural resources — water and mineral reserves — targeted for extraction. Private and public corporations that profit from such exploitation covet these resources, but in the process, they destroy the land and forcibly displace the people that live there through armed intimidation. Such processes have occurred in many parts of Colombia and the world: nearby areas in Chocó and Córdoba where black and campesino communities were displaced in the 1990s have been transformed into mass oil palm plantations and the Urrá hydroelectric dam, respectively. The majority of human rights violations in Colombia today are committed in zones of mining and oil extraction.


Argentine farmers say Monsanto soy contract breaks local law

Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:39pm EDT

Argentine farmers say Monsanto soy contract breaks local law

BUENOS AIRES, April 15 | By Maximilian Heath

(Reuters) - Argentine farm groups on Wednesday asked soy export companies to stop inspecting cargoes for bootlegged biotechnology at the behest of U.S. seed company Monsanto, the latest move in a long conflict between the country's farmers and Monsanto.

Growers in Argentina, the world's top exporter of soymeal livestock feed, have signed agreements with Monsanto Co. for inspections of soybean shipments to ensure the company receives royalties for beans grown with its Intacta technology.

Under the contracts, farmers must pay the royalties if they use saved seed from prior harvests of the genetically modified beans. Monsanto's Intacta soybeans have a gene that allows the soybean plant to protect itself against crop-devouring worms.

In their statement Wednesday, the farm groups said their crops should not be subject to inspection by anyone but the state.

"Monsanto is trying to control all soy production in Argentina by forcing the payment of royalties under a system that runs contrary to the Argentine legal system," said the statement by the country's top farm groups including the Argentine Rural Confederation (CRA) and Rural Society (SRA).


San Francisco board approves wild animal performance ban

Source: Reuters

San Francisco board approves wild animal performance ban
Source: Reuters - Wed, 15 Apr 2015 22:35 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO, April 15 (Reuters) - San Francisco's Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to ban performances of wild or exotic animals for public entertainment, including appearances in circuses or on the sets of movies, television shows and commercials.

The measure, approved 11-0 by the board on Tuesday and expected to be enacted in a final vote next week, would make San Francisco the largest city to adopt such a sweeping prohibition on the commercial use of wild animals for public amusement, supporters said.

The ordinance would not apply to domesticated animals, including dogs, cats, horses and other livestock or pets. Educational activities or exhibitions accredited by certain zoological and museum organizations would also be exempt.

But the measure bars any public showing, carnival, fair, parade, petting zoo, ride, race, film shoot or other undertaking in which wild or exotic animals "are required to perform tricks, fight or participate as accompaniments for the entertainment, amusement or benefit of an audience."

Read more: http://www.trust.org/item/20150415223616-23mfk/

Colombia’s Constitutional Court president also linked to paramilitary land theft

Colombia’s Constitutional Court president also linked to paramilitary land theft
Apr 14, 2015 posted by Ardalan Al-Jaf

The president of Colombia’s Constitutional Court — already in trouble over bribery allegations — has also been linked to paramilitary violence after investigators found that land he owns had been stolen from displaced farmers.

Prosecutors have called the wife of court president Jorge Pretelt, Martha Patron, for questioning after finding that the Pretelt family owns plots of land that was stolen from local farmers from the northwestern Uraba region by paramilitaries in the 1990s.

. . .

Towards the end of the 1990s, in an apparent alliance with leaders of paramilitary organization AUC, the ranchers appropriated at least 6,500 hectares of land belonging to 60 families of farmers in Uraba.

. . .

Other than being a training ground for the AUC and the site of their victims’ mass graves, two country houses on the land owned by Pretelt were allegedly obtained through forced displacement.



Colombia remains Latin America's largest recipient of US taxpayers' boatloads of foreign aid.

Artic drill rig protesters will have to stay in safety zone

Artic drill rig protesters will have to stay in safety zone
By CHRIS GRYGIEL, Associated Press | April 14, 2015 | Updated: April 14, 2015 4:22pm

SEATTLE (AP) — The Coast Guard says protesters opposed to offshore drilling in the Arctic will have to stay in safety zones when a drill rig arrives in Seattle.

Chief Petty Officer Sara Mooers says a Seattle-bound drill rig and a heavy-lift vessel are expected to arrive in Port Angeles later this week, though an exact day wasn't known. She says when the rig and vessel enter Elliott Bay off Seattle protesters will have to stay 500 yards away from a moving vessel and 100 yards from one that is anchored.

Conservationists oppose Arctic offshore drilling and say oil companies have not demonstrated they can clean up a major spill.

Protesters have said they plan use kayaks to meet the 400-foot Polar Pioneer and the heavy-lift vessel called the Blue Marlin that is carrying it when the vessel comes to Seattle for staging.


Government and Media Fantasies About Cuban Politics

Government and Media Fantasies About Cuban Politics
by Matt Peppe / April 13th, 2015

The historic meeting between President Barack Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba at the Summit of the Americas in Panama over the weekend could be interpreted as a stepping stone toward the end of U.S. subversion and economic warfare relentlessly carried out since the success of the Cuban revolution 55 years ago. But it is questionable whether President Obama intends to transform relations, treating the government of Cuba as a sovereign equal and recognizing their right to choose different political and economic models, or merely to continue the same decades-old policy with a more palatable sales pitch – the way he has done with drones and extrajudicial surveillance. U.S. media, however, appear to have fully embraced the propaganda line that Washington is acting in the best interests of the Cuban people to liberate them from political repression. The New York Times weighed in the day before the Summit by claiming that most Cubans identify not with the sociopolitical goals advanced by their country’s government, but rather with those supported by Washington.

In an editorial titled “Cuban Expectations in a New Era” (4/7/2015), the New York Times advances the proposition that engagement between the two governments will lead to Cuba’s integration (at least partially) into the global capitalist economy. This in turn will create increased financial prosperity as Cuba grows its private sector and turns away from the failed model the government has imposed since the start of the revolution.

The New York Times portrays the Cuban government as intransigent, stubbornly holding its citizens back from the inevitable progress that would result from aligning itself with Washington. The Times claims that the Cuban government maintains a “historically tight grip on Cuban society.”

They insinuate there is a Cuban version of the U.S.’s political police, the FBI, who for decades spied on nonviolent activists representing African Americans, Puerto Rican nationalists, the anti-war movement, animal rights and environmental groups to prevent social change through political action. Many of the activists illegally targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program still remain incarcerated as political prisoners. But the Times doesn’t mention any such Cuban equivalent, likely because none exists.


71 Years Ago FDR Dropped a Truthbomb That Still Resonates Today

Kevin Drum

71 Years Ago FDR Dropped a Truthbomb That Still Resonates Today

—By Marianne Szegedy-Maszak
| Sun Apr. 12, 2015 6:00 AM EDT

When was the last time you heard an American politician invoke Franklin Delano Roosevelt's policies as models to be emulated? Democrats avoid him because his New Deal policies seem to embody the tax-and-spend, overbearing, and intrusive central government that always puts them on the defensive. And why would a Republican bother with Roosevelt when they believe that Obama is so much worse?

Sunday is the seventieth anniversary of FDR's death on April 12, 1945. Since anniversaries are always good opportunities to reflect on the past, I reread one of Roosevelt's speeches that I somehow still remember studying in college. It was his penultimate State of the Union Address, which he delivered on January 11, 1944, and the one in which he outlined a "second Bill of Rights"—a list of what should constitute basic economic security for Americans.

The world was still at war. Roosevelt had returned in December from meeting Stalin and Churchill at the Tehran Conference where the three leaders discussed not only the final phase of the war, but also how Europe would be divided after the conflict was over. The worst of the Great Depression was over, remedied in large part by the wartime economy. Roosevelt, who was starting his fourth term and was sick with the flu, decided not to go before Congress. Instead, he delivered the address from the White House. Across the country, people could tune in on their radios and hear their president speak.

Looking at his speech again, I was struck by how he grapples with so many of the same issues that we do now. Here he is on the domination of special interests:

While the majority goes on about its great work without complaint, a noisy minority maintains an uproar of demands for special favors for special groups. There are pests who swarm through the lobbies of the Congress and the cocktail bars of Washington, representing these special groups as opposed to the basic interests of the Nation as a whole. They have come to look upon the war primarily as a chance to make profits for themselves at the expense of their neighbors—profits in money or in terms of political or social preferment.


Opposition hacker gets 10 years for spying on Colombia peace process

Opposition hacker gets 10 years for spying on Colombia peace process
Apr 12, 2015 posted by EFE

A Colombian court sentenced a former employee of a presidential candidate in the 2014 elections to 10 years in prison after he admitted to spying on the government’s peace talks with the FARC, and accepted the prosecution’s offer of a reduced penalty in exchange for his cooperation.

Hacker Andres Sepulveda was judged guilty of five crimes, including illegal interception and espionage, according to the sentence handed down by the a Bogota court. He must also pay a fine worth approximately $30,000 as part of the agreement.

The Internet pirate was arrested in May 2014 after being traced to secret offices that hacked confidential information and messages, including one whose objective was to sabotage the peace process.

Several months earlier he had been contracted by the Colombian presidential campaign of then-candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga of the Democratic Center Party, led by ex-President and Senator Alvaro Uribe.

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