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Name: Catherina
Gender: Female
Member since: Mon Mar 3, 2008, 02:08 PM
Number of posts: 35,568

About Me

There are times that one wishes one was smarter than one is so that when one looks out at the world and sees the problems one wishes one knew the answers and I don\'t know the answers. I think sometimes one wishes one was dumber than one is so one doesn\'t have to look out into the world and see the pain that\'s out there and the horrible situations that are out there, and not know what to do - Bernie Sanders http://www.democraticunderground.com/128040277

Journal Archives

After Chavez: Grassroots Fight on Despite Opposition’s War of Attrition

After Chavez: Grassroots Fight on Despite Opposition’s War of Attrition

By Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com, May 31st 2013

Clown doctors dancing with elderly women for a communal council event, debates about Venezuela’s political culture organised by the PSUV (Socialist Party) youth, the kids reading books at the annual book festival held in the basement of the cultural centre, a week of vaccinations through the Barrio Adentro health centres, a short queue for the free cable car, another communal council meeting with the governor to discuss a tourism socio-productive project, rumours that Maduro will visit Merida, but he doesn’t, a parade of kids in historical costumes to mark 200 years since campana admirable... three months after the heart wrenching collective sadness following Chavez’s death, life seems to be going back to normal here. The happy revolution continues. Yet the fact that things are largely the same as before Chavez died is both a huge achievement and statement about the maturity of this revolution, and also a concern.

The opposition’s war of attrition

We are in a qualitatively different period right now. Chavez has died, Nicolas Maduro is president, and the rightwing is making a real effort to take power. For the first time in 14 years they feel that, without Chavez, they have a chance, and have gone on the offensive. Opposition leaders began their strategy while Chavez was still sick in hospital. It consists of discrediting the government through media conferences and stunts like the national assembly fight, the ‘hunger strikes’ over Chavez being treated in Cuba, going to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Venezuela’s Supreme Court, with full coverage by the national and international corporate media. The opposition leaders have created a cause, a movement of sorts, which opposes the “undemocratic” Venezuelan government, and we can see that opposition supporters are now more willing to mobilise than before. A very large proportion of them participated in the cacerolazos (pot banging) when Capriles refused to recognise Maduro’s win on 14 April. On May Day, though the opposition march was smaller than the Chavista one, it was much bigger than the few hundred people the opposition has mobilised on that day in the past. Previously, opposition supporters were quieter- they’d mutter their criticisms or complaints to friends, but not much more. Now they walk the street in their Capriles caps and t-shirts somewhat proudly, and with confidence.

However, while the opposition has become a little stronger, they expected things to really fall apart without Chavez, and that hasn’t happened either. Their strategy is consistent, persistent, yet somewhat desperate. They are also trying to wear down the Chavista movement morally, through their media war, and economically, by propelling inflation (while the government’s fixed exchange rate doesn’t quite reflect the real value of the Bolivar, neither does the parallel rate which has gone up from 10:1 to 28:1 in just 6 months) and contributing to food hoarding. (I say ‘contributing’ because the food scarcity issue is complex, it has to do with production and distribution issues, the exchange rate, but also the real coincidence that most products became scarce right after Chavez’s death and when elections were called, not after the devaluing of the Bolivar in February).

Though we’re used to shortages now- as they do tend to coincide with the numerous elections held here, it has been just a bit harder this time round, though I’d argue more on a psychological level of not feeling confident of what products will be available, than on an actual, practical food level. Despite what the mainstream media says, that there is a “crisis” in Venezuela, the truth is no one is hungry or anything close to it, we just have to improvise a bit and have pasta for dinner instead of arepas (corn patties) sometimes.

However, this time the opposition’s strategy isn’t a short term, two month type one. It’s a long term, three year long one, which aims to win a recall referendum of President Maduro. It’s a war of attrition that seeks to demoralise, disorientate, plant doubts, divide, and demobilise the Chavista movement gradually.

Capriles the media showman, and the opposition’s terribly fabricated “evidence” of fraud etc (check out their kindergarten project style document made after the election, or perhaps before) – awkward, and unintelligent. Their latest stunt though, the “recording” of Silva, was a bit more craftily done- perhaps because they are learning or received help, or perhaps because it was real- it doesn’t really matter. All Chavistas know already that there is corruption within the government and its institutions, though they might disagree on the extent, or the particular names. Further, the opposition didn’t release the recording because they had some kind of charitable aim of helping us clean out the government, but for their own purposes. Capriles, in his showman style, announced that something “big” would be coming out days before the recording was released, and low and behold the recording fulfilled all the opposition’s wildest dreams; backing up their ridiculous argument that Cuba “controls” Venezuela’s decisions, that there are divisions in the government, that the new national police- a serious government attempt to deal with the crime situation – is controlled by Cabello, all said by a well respected Chavista figure- Mario Silva.

And while the release of the recording probably did its little bit of damage, to add to the accumulated damage done recently and over the next three years, as a strategy it also underestimates most Chavistas. Because we are already regularly, openly, publically, and happily criticising the government when necessary, and self criticising the revolution.

Trapped in a binary

What the opposition offensive means however, is that politics in Venezuela has become even more trapped in an opposition v government binary, with the grassroots sidelined, in some respects, and less time for the more important revolutionary tasks.

With the opposition attacks, the PSUV especially has focused on “loyalty” to the government. Its energy has gone into constant counter-accusations against the opposition, rather than into radicalising and deepening the revolution. It feels like we are still in an election campaign, with the government also focused on getting things done- public works and so on – a good thing of course, but a revolution is about more than that. And with everyone clear that the opposition will seek a recall, Capriles even announcing it earlier this month, it is in fact looking a bit like 3 years of that sort of electoral oriented dynamic.

We should be marching, yet the opposition has managed to move politics more into the media war and further away from the streets. While before, say around 2006, having an active opposition meant that we were kept on our toes – didn’t become complacent, now it means that our energy is often taken away from what we should be doing, and put into arguing with their latest stunt, which the corporate media of course de-contextualises, manipulates, sensationalises, and uses to create fear.

Interestingly though, post 14 April, the government has also shown some real signs that it cares about, and/or is feeling the pressure of the grassroots. I was surprised when a meeting called by the National Anti-drug Organisation (ONA) in Merida with fire-fighters, police, communal council representatives and others (around 150 people attended in total) to apply the “movement for peace” program in Merida, actually broke up into working groups so that we, the spokespeople and workers, could make concrete proposals. It’s quite a change to our usual dealings with the ONA, where typically 80 communal councils will submit full project proposals (months of work) and compete for funding which the ONA will ultimately award to perhaps 5 of them.

Then there’s this new ‘street government’, where Maduro and his ministers spend around 4 days in each state, talking with various communities and productive sectors. When they come to Merida, VA will no doubt write up something specifically on this initiative, but for now, the organised grassroots’ high expectations are notable. Here, people are already putting together proposals, with the aim of getting more financing. One report though from the street government in Guayana indicated that Maduro and the government were badly informed about various facts of the worker situation there, and the government announced funding for public works which had already actually been allocated and provided. The works, while desired by the communities, weren’t actually discussed or approved by them.

Mixed reaction by the grassroots

So with this offensive by the opposition, something more than just ‘business as usual’ is required of the bases. But first, it’s important to stress the big deal it is that the revolution went on after Chavez – a feat utterly ignored by the corporate media.

That we are still organising, debating, painting murals, writing, planting, and working as hard as before shows that a proportion of the population is consciousness enough to fight even without Chavez’s rallying speeches and initiatives. The political stamina- marching and fighting after 16 elections and despite all the problems and attacks, is inspiring. The revolution has developed to a point where politics is a basic part of life – something that is uncommon in other countries, and that explains the deep love and connection people also felt for Chavez. People outside Venezuela, especially the press, naively and condescendingly dismissed that connection as “cultism”, but things have reached a point here where basically everyone is glued to the news more than the strongest sports fanatics are glued to their games. People of both sides debate politics like it has everything to do with them, because of course it does, and that will not change soon.

Even some problems can be positive, if we organise well. The shortages of toothpaste and toilet paper for example, have seen some sectors of Chavismo discussing how dependent capitalism has made us on consuming products we don’t actually need, or are capable of producing ourselves, at home, or collectively in communities. In one of my communities, we’ve held toothpaste and yoghurt making workshops, for example. Food is actually a great organising tool. Unfortunately though, such a response is by a small minority; the government has dealt with the situation by importing tonnes of toilet paper, and many Chavistas would still describe the situation as “serious”, even though they actually have certain products, or are managing fine without them.

And, as we say here, we’ve “fallen into routine”. There are a few initiatives, but they aren’t enough to respond to the new situation, and to the threat to the revolution that is certain in three years, if not before. Here in Merida both the youth of the Communist party and of the PSUV are organising weekly ideology workshops now, and some of the key political groups, such as the PSUV, PCV, Tupamaros, and the Frente Francisco de Miranda, have taken steps towards forming an “anti-imperialist front”, to basically defend the government and the revolution from internal and external attacks (be they economic, media based, etc). People are more polarised, and both sides are less passive and polite when it comes to disagreeing in arguments in the street, the media, and over social media.

However, to deepen and protect the revolution, the activist bases and activist, revolutionary leadership need to be less disarticulated and start taking on more of a proactive role. But the government is seen to be, and is for now, the leadership – logical in a way, and in terms of many individual members of the government, often deserved. However, it is the grassroots organising- as workers, community, students, consumers, in cadre parties etc, that is the antidote to all the bureaucracy, corruption, and inefficiency. And everyone here knows that if those things aren’t truly smashed over the next three years, it will be hard to deepen the revolution, and we will definitely lose the recall.

I also think that some Chavistas are a bit confused, disoriented, and have an idea of what needs to be done, but not how to kick it off (myself included). Others have even changed sides. One friend, who has to be anonymous, was one of the founders of the Tupamaros (a pro-government Marxist organisation), and of a radical student movement. He now supports Capriles; he believes the recording released by the opposition is real, and he doesn’t want to keep supporting Chavismo, arguing that when the grassroots organise, all they are doing is supporting opportunists in government. He saw the cacerolazo in his community and feels it has gone to the opposition, and that things are largely hopeless. Unfortunately, for some Chavistas, it’s conceivable to see Capriles as someone who can fix all the problems, rather than as the super-rich man who participated in a coup against Chavez. Other Chavistas are staying “loyal”, others constructively critical, and others are doubting. Most supporters though are clear that opportunism and corruption are obstacles to fight, rather than representative of what the Bolivarian revolution actually is.

This coyuntara, this situation, is something we had to go through sooner or later, and is part of the long term change process. It is worrying, to be honest, but as a chance to grow- politically and collectively, it’s a welcome challenge.

This work is licensed under a Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives Creative Commons license


Uribe ordering Santos around? Missing the target!

Uribe ordering Santos around? Missing the target!
By: Nestor France

(First paragraph states that under normal circumstances there would be little to say about Capriles meeting with Santos, the problem is the time and the circumstance because Capriles isn't just a simple opposition candidate, he's on a belligerent tour and refuses to recognize the legitimate government and legitimate institutions of Venezuela), in addition to being under investigation for the post election homicides.

(Second paragraph, we only have Capriles' Ladino-style misleading interpretation of what was said at the meeting. He says they talked about Venezuela's democratic limitations, about audits, the breach of UNASUR agreements, lack of institutional balance, bilateral relations etc... but nowhere do we have Santos' reactions, agreement, much less approval of Capriles' babbling. It's only Capriles giving the impression that Santos agreed with anything he said.)

(Third paragraph, Maduro's reaction was necessary, given the time and circumstance, but it shouldn't go beyond that. It would be a mistake to drown in a glass of water and give up Venezuela's role in the Colombia peace talks, which would delight Venezuela's historical enemy {Uribe} who tried to poison the peace talks)


The two keys to Santos' meeting with Capriles need to be placed in the context of the recent Summit of the Pacific Alliance, an alliance promoted by imperialism, which convened all the right wing leaders of the continent in response to ALBA, and the visit the Yankee vice president, Joe Biden, made a few days ago to Colombia.


Promoting the Pacific Alliance and its clear orientation economic and political competition with Mercosur is one of the most important political movements of imperialism in recent years, in order to torpedo the progress of Latin American integration and foster division among our countries. It is in the latter lies the crux of the issue-Santos meeting Capriles.

Next paragraph says that the other key is the recent visit of the VP Joe Biden to Colombia. ... Biden said he's an old friend of Colombia and knows Latin America well and that the days are gone when the US message to Colombia was 'What can we do for you?' and today the message is 'What can we do with you?' Since the Santos-Capriles meeting appeared out of the blue, totally unannounced, it looks like a concession from Santos to a request from Biden, another imperialist ploy to divide and conquer. On this, I have to agree because three weeks ago, the Venezuelan opposition, led by Bandaid Machado, tried to meet with Santos and he refused to meet with them)


Promoting the Pacific Alliance and its clear economic orientation of political competition with Mercosur is one of the most important political movements of imperialism in recent years, in order to torpedo the progress of Latin American integration and foster division among our countries. It is in the latter lies the crux of the issue-Santos meeting Capriles.

Next paragraph says people need to understand that the principal contradiction of the current historical period is between imperialism, on the one hand, and oppressed countries and peoples on the other and that Chavez understood this so well it's why he tried to maintain good relations with Uribe, mediated between Lobo and Zelaya, promoted peace talks in Colombia etc... His great passion was the integration of Latin America, the Bolivarian dream.


With the Santos-Capriles meeting, imperialism mounted a high caliber divisive provocation. In order to give priority to the main strategic objective of the time history, we must avoid taking the bait. It would be very unfortunate if a character as transient in political history of the continent, Henrique Capriles, be the imperial instrument to achieve the objective of disrupting, definitely, Colombian-Venezuelan relations. In this regard we must measure every step, lest we destroy with feet which Chavez built with hands.


Latin American Social Movements Map Solidarity with ALBA Alliance

Latin American Social Movements Map Solidarity with ALBA Alliance

By Federico Fuentes - Green Left Weekly, May 30th 2013

An important summit of global significance, held in Brazil May 16-20, has largely passed below the radar of most media outlets, including many left and progressive sources.

This summit was not the usual type, involving heads of states and business leaders.

Instead, it was a gathering of social movement representatives from across Latin America and the Caribbean -- the site of some of the most intense struggles and popular rebellions of the past few decades.

This region also remains the only one where an alternative to neoliberal capitalism has emerged. Pushing this alternative is the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA). Spearheaded by the radical governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba, it has eight member states, but seeks to relate to people's movements, not just governments.

The purpose of the Brazilian gathering, the First Continental Assembly of Social Movements Towards ALBA, was to go beyond a simple talk shop. It aimed to set up a region-wide coalition that could, as its final declaration states, “build continental integration of social movements from below and from the left, promoting ALBA and peoples’ solidarity against imperialism’s project”.

The document defines ALBA as “essentially a political, anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist project. It is based on the principles of cooperation, complementarity and solidarity, that seeks to accumulate popular and institutional forces for a new declaration of Latin American independence.

"It is a movement of peoples and for peoples, for peoples’ integration, for life, justice, peace, sovereignty, identity, equality, for the liberation of Latin America, through an authentic emancipation that envisions Indo-Afro-American socialism.”

The assembly also adopted the name “Hugo Chavez” in honour of the recently deceased Venezuelan president, who together with Cuban leader Fidel Castro first proposed ALBA.

It was no coincidence that the assembly was held in the state of Sao Paulo at the national education school of Brazil’s Movement of Landless Workers’ (MST), not only the largest and best-known social movement in the region but also a key proponent of this initiative.

Speaking to Green Left Weekly in November 2011, the coordinator of the ALBA social movement’s council, Ruben Pereira said: “At the ninth ALBA summit in Caracas in April (2010), the social movement council was proposed as a space to propose social and economic polices for ALBA, rather than to simply raise sectorial concerns.”

However, it quickly became clear that many social movements from non-ALBA countries, in particular Brazil's Landless Workers' Movement (MST), which had met with Chavez to discuss the initiative, wanted to be part of a coalition of all social movements supporting the ALBA project.

Addressing the assembly, MST leader Joao Pedro Stedile said the gathering represented a third phase in the struggle of Latin America’s social movements.

According to a May 16 Comunicacion ALBA-Movimientos report, Stedile said the first phase, from 1990 to 1998, represented “a moment of resistance, in which we were able to halt the advance of neoliberalism and imperialism, and when networks, organisations and continental forums began to emerge, and which had as its culminating point the overwhelming victory of Chavez” in 1998, when he was first elected president.

The second phase involved a series of debates and gatherings that led to the creation of the Assembly of Social Movements, a broad anti-neoliberal alliance, but one that did not have socialism as its explicit goal. This period also involved the election of other progressive governments and the creation of government-based regional integration organisations.

However, the third phase now required social movements to “create a proposal for integration independent of the governments, although united behind the same project,” said Stedile. Social movements needed “an autonomous space, with the moral obligation to criticise and support these governments when needed.”

An example of this stance of critical support was the assembly’s call to end the United Nations occupation of Haiti, which involves troops from a number of Latin American countries, including ALBA member Bolivia.

However, the newly formed Continental Coalition of Social Movements towards ALBA was clear in identifying its main enemy: US imperialism.

The final document notes that since the onset of the global economic crisis, the US has unleashed “an even greater imperialist counteroffensive across the continent, expressed through an increased presence of transnationals in our territories; the plundering of our natural resources and the privatization of social rights; the militarization of the continent, the criminalization and repression of popular protest; US involvement in coups in Honduras and Paraguay; the permanent destabilization of progressive Latin American governments; the attempt to recover political and economic influence through initiatives such as the Pacific Alliance and other international agreements.

“Within this context marked by an imperialist offensive on the one hand, but also by the opening up of new possibilities in the direction of the project outlined by the ALBA governments, coordination among social movements across the continent is more necessary than ever.”

A number of proposals were adopted including the creation of a publishing house, establishment of a network of ALBA movement media outlets, and continent-wide days of action against the occupation of Haiti, in support of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution, against militarisation, and in defence of the environment.

An organisational sectariat was formed, comprised of delegates from Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia. It aims to help consolidate local based chapters of the coalition.

A coordinating commission made up of two representatives from each country and a number of working groups -- media, education, mobilisation and solidarity -- were established

Below is printed a translation of the final declaration of the Assembly.

* * *

From the 16th to the 20th of May, at the Florestan Fernandes National School, in the municipality of Guararema, state of São Paulo, Brazil, we – more than 200 delegates representing women’s, peasant, urban, indigenous, student, youth, worker’s and agro-ecological movements and organisations from 22 countries – made up the First Continental Assembly of Social Movements towards ALBA (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas).

We came here as part of a historic process that has seen us unite in forums, campaigns, international networks, sectorial organisations and diverse struggles within our countries, raising the same banners of struggle and sharing the same dreams for real social transformation.

We are living through a new epoch in Our Americas, which over the last few years has expressed itself in diverse mobilisations and popular rebellions, attempts to overcome neoliberalism and in the construction of an alternative society which is just and inclusive, something that is now both possible and necessary.

The defeat of the FTAA (Free Trade Agreement of the Americas) in 2005 was evidence of the existence of social movement resistance and a new continental geopolitical configuration, characterized by the emergence of popular governments that have dared to confront the empire. Its most advanced element in this regard, launched in 2004 by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, is today called the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA).

ALBA is essentially a political, anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist project, it is based on the principles of cooperation, complementarity and solidarity, that seeks to accumulate popular and institutional forces for a new declaration of Latin American independence, a movement of peoples and for peoples, for people's integration, for life, justice, peace, sovereignty, identity, equality, for the liberation of Latin America, through an authentic emancipation that envisions Indo-Afro-American socialism.

However, the empire continues to mobilise against the reorganization of popular forces and the emergence of new autonomous projects for the integration of the Great Homeland. In the wake of the first anti-neoliberal rebellions, the US has begun to reorient its foreign policy, seeking to recover its hegemony over the continental process across various spheres: economic, military, legal, cultural, media, political and territorial.

The explosion of the capitalist crisis in the heart of Wall Street in 2008 reinforced these plans. Since then, we have seen an even greater imperialist counteroffensive across the continent, expressed through an increased presence of transnationals in our territories, the plundering of our natural resources and the privatization of social rights; the militarization of the continent, the criminalization and repression of popular protest; US involvement in coups in Honduras and Paraguay; the permanent destabilization of progressive Latin American governments; the attempt to recover political and economic influence through initiatives such as the Pacific Alliance and other international agreements.

Within this context marked by an imperialist offensive on the one hand, but also by the opening up of new possibilities in the direction of the project outlined by the ALBA governments, coordination among social movements across the continent is more necessary than ever.

We have to assume the historic challenge of coordinating our resistances and go on the offensive with an original ideology and new proposals for models of civilisation, that build upon the best traditions of our peoples.

We ratify the principles, guidelines and objectives set out in our first Charter of Social Movements of the Americas to build continental integration of social movements from below and from the left, promoting ALBA and peoples solidarity against imperialism’s project.

We affirm our commitment to the project of Latin American integration, to continue the anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and anti-patriarchal struggles, based on the principle of permanent and active solidarity between the peoples, via concrete actions against all forms of power that oppress and dominate.

We reaffirm our commitment to achieving the self-determination of our peoples, and popular sovereignty in all spheres: territorial, food, energy, economic, political, cultural and social.

We will defend the sovereignty of our peoples to decide what happens in their territories, to their natural resources and we commit ourselves to defending the rights of Mother Earth.

The social movements of Our Americas call for:

- The promotion of regional unity and integration cantered on an alternative, sustainable, durable and solidarity-based model, where the modes of production and reproduction are in the service of the peoples.

- The re-launching of the struggles of the masses and the class struggle at the national, regional and continental level, in order to halt and dismantle neoliberal capitalist programs and projects.

- The creation of effective networks and coordination between popular media outlets, that can allow us to carry out a battle of ideas, and put a halt to the manipulation of information by media corporations.

- Deepen our processes of political and ideological education in order to strengthen our organisations, as well as advance in processes of unity that are consistent and consciously in accord with needed transformations.

At the same time,

- We declare our support and solidarity with the Colombian people during this crucial moment in the process of dialogue and negotiation towards the signing of a peace agreement based on social justice, and that truly resolves the problems that gave rise to the armed conflict. We are attentive to the development of this process, and willing to collaborate and accompany it in any manner the Colombian people see fit.

- We declare our support for the Bolivarian government of Venezuela, headed by comrade President Nicolas Maduro, who represents the unmistakable popular will of the Venezuelan people as reflected in the elections of April 14, in the face of continuous attempts at destabilization by the right that seek to ignore the sovereign decision of the people and lead the country towards a political, institutional and economic crisis.

This Continental Coalition of Social Movements towards ALBA is part of an emancipatory process that since the Haitian revolution until today has sought to construct a more just and profoundly human society. Our commitment is to continue the legacy of millions of revolutionaries such as Bolívar, San Martín, Dolores Cacuango, Toussaint L’Overture, José María Morelos, Francisco Morazán, Bartolina Sisa and many others who in solidarity dedicated their lives for these ideals.

Reaffirming our own history, our Assembly has adopted the name of one of them, that of our Comandante Hugo Chavez, whom we honour by re-raising his banners of struggle for unity and fraternity between all the peoples of this great, free and sovereign Homeland.

“The unity and integration of Our Americas is our goal and our path!”

{Translated by Federico Fuentes. Together with Roger Burbach and Michael Fox, he is the co-author of Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First-Century Socialism (Zed Books 2013). Fuentes also edits Bolivia Rising.}
Source: Green Left Weekly

This work is licensed under a Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives Creative Commons license


Kerry to lead US delegation to OAS Assembly in Guatemala

Kerry to lead US delegation to OAS Assembly in Guatemala

Washington, May 31 (Prensa Latina) Secretary of State, John Kerry, will lead the US delegation to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) which will take place in Guatemala next week, an official source informed today.

In his first visit to the region, the chief. diplomat of Washington will arrive in Antigua (Guatemala) on June 4 for the annual meeting of the foreign ministers of the area, said Jen Psaki, the spokesman for the State Department in a statement.

A US functionary has not attended these meetings since 2010 when Secretary Hillary Clinton went to Lima, Peru.


Recently President Barack Obama traveled to Costa Rica to meet with Central American leaders and currently Vice President Joseph Biden is on tour in Brazil, Colombia and Trinidad and Tobago.


According to the same right wing that plundered our own country, outsourced our jobs, puts profit over everything:

This is good news. Congress and the Obama Administration should pay more attention to this trade bloc—one that is considerably more pragmatic and less ideological than others in the region (e.g., La Alianza Boliviariana para América (ALBA), La Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños (CELAC), and La Unión de Naciones Sudamericanas (UNASUR)—all of them Chavista).


Guatemala and Costa Rica moving closer to joining Pacific Alliance

May 23 2013 - Pacific Alliance Meeting Looks to China As America Doesn't Bother To Show Up

May 23 2013 4:42 PM

The presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Peru met on Thursday in Cali, Colombia, for the seventh Pacific Alliance meeting to discuss the economic integration of Latin America. The four fastest-growing economies in the region agreed to liberalize 90 percent of their transactions, and open the way to a more fruitful relationship with Asian markets.

The four alliance members, which between them represent half of the region's total exports, are setting their sights on China as their next big trade partner. The meeting, which included six other Latin American countries as well as three from outside the continent, did not have the United States as an attendee -- a significant absence from a country that is currently Latin America's main export market.

The countries of the Pacific Alliance, which was established in June 2012, represent together 35 percent of the region’s GDP. The economic venture also means a change in the geopolitics of the region, reports Spanish newspaper El País, after the stagnation of Mercosur, an older economic alliance that includes Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Venezuela.


The alliance has been open to receiving new members, but as they made clear in a meeting of their diplomats in Washington on May 21, two requirements must be met. First, the aspiring member must adhere to the charter of the alliance, which stresses respect for democracy; second, the new country needs to have free trade agreements with the other alliance members before becoming a full member. Costa Rica fulfilled this last requirement Thursday, when President Laura Chinchilla signed the agreement with Colombia, the only country with which it did not have previous deals.

During the Washington meeting, the alliance stressed that it is an economic bloc, not a political forum, reported Hispanic website VOXXI. The statement was meant to allude to the possibility that countries with a less than spotless political record might seek membership, namely Venezuela.


We'll see how this goes. Last time it didn't go so well for the US. Everyone basically told the US to fuck off. This time, who knows.

OAS Meeting Begins in Peru Amid Tensions Over Status of Honduras
June 7, 2010 7:00 am


One of the main underlying tensions at the OAS meeting will be the question of whether to allow Honduras back into the organization, after it was ousted following that usurped then-President Manuel Zelaya. After the election of current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, Clinton said the Obama administration favors permitting Honduras back into the OAS.

“President Lobo has done everything he has said he would do,” Clinton told reporters Sunday, according to The Associated Press. “He has been very committed to pursuing a policy of reintegration.”

Clinton will face opposition to her stance on Honduras, especially from Brazil, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Ties have recently been strained between the U.S. and Brazil, especially concerning the issue of Iran.... The Obama administration has faced some difficulties in Latin America as the early promises close cooperation, easing treatment toward Cuba and immigration reform have not yet materialized.



At an OAS meeting Monday in Lima, Peru, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged allowing Honduras to rejoin, saying the new president, Porfirio Lobo, has shown "strong and consistent commitment to democratic governance and constitutional order."

But a majority of ministers opposed even adding the question of Honduras to the agenda.

The Obama administration had joined with the OAS last year in ousting Honduras after then-President Manuel Zelaya was forced out of the country, but it shifted course after new elections were held, arguing that it was time to move on.


Clinton has invested heavily in building ties with Latin America, making her second trip to the region this year. But the spat over Honduras -- as well as anger over Arizona's new immigration law and U.S. policy toward Cuba -- has made progress difficult.



Of course, there's a history of hypocrisy, coups, plundering, pushing countries around and interference there that's not lost on Latin America

No OAS deal over Cuba says Clinton

Western Hemispheric countries could not reach a deal over readmitting Cuba to the Organization of American States (OAS) claimed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Before departing the OAS summit in Honduras, Clinton said that the “Obama administration is obviously pretty much by itself” in terms of how to allow Cuba to return. Though she admitted that some countries were fine with the U.S. plan, others were reluctant to give in to preconditions on human rights, political prisoners, and elections.

One of the most vocal leaders backing Cuba’s readmission was Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega who said the 1962 expulsion of Cuba was "imposed by tyrants." His proposal called for readmitting Cuba sans clauses while two other plans were presented seeking a compromise. The lack of consensus may create the real possibility that Cuba is let in to the OAS without conditions.



Peru's President walks out on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Lima - It was to be a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Peru's President Alan Garcia in Lima. But it ended abruptly with Clinton left sitting alone at the table, after Garcia walked out.
It happened in Lima Peru at the meeting of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), often called the Western Hemisphere's premier multilateral organization.


Secretary of State Clinton walked into the hall with Peruvian President Alan Garcia. She sat down on the chair where the American flag was placed, along with a blue folder for her prepared remarks.
Garcia, however, did not sit, but remained standing at the side of table where he gave a lengthy statement in Spanish. He then walked quickly out of the room, leaving Clinton alone at the table.
As frantic attempts were made to translate Garcia's statement, his aides rushed around, removing Garcia's chair and microphone. Clinton remained seated with a calm look on her face.


A perspective from the other side, with my observation of how petty the US looks for not attending other OAS sessions that take place in countries we don't like and have agenda items we don't like

The Fate of OAS to be Decided in 2013: Overhaul or Dissolution
Nil NIKANDROV | 15.06.2012 | 00:00

The 42 session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly was to be focused on food security. But it wasn’t the case: the agenda was dominated by other burning issues, the ones the permanent OAS behind the scenes supervisor - the US State Department – tried to neutralize and silence. The forum took place in Cochabamba, Bolivia, the “populist government” of President Evo Morales, an Indian by origin, was the receiving party.

The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América - or ALBA) had accumulated a real strong potential to reject the OAS, so the most sharp speeches were be expected. Not once the ALBA states have said the OAS bureaucracy acted as told by the Empire, it took decisions meeting its interests while ignoring important initiatives of the Latin America and the Caribbean countries. But the most unacceptable thing is using the organization to exert pressure on the member states that refuse to be Washington’s puppets.

Before the General Assembly’s session started it had come under harsh criticism by President Hugo Chavez speaking in Caracas. He called the organization “worn and archaic”, serving the interests of the USA and ignoring the idea of Latin America’s integration. The Venezuelan leader spoke for the organization’s reform, he said: “if it doesn’t happen we’ll eliminate the OAS”. The President of Ecuador Rafael Correa came personally to take part in the forum, he demanded comprehensive reshaping of the organization and sound thrashing of the bureaucrats enjoying warm places in the OAS structures.

It’s understandable the US State Secretary Hillary Clinton had no wish to be in the epicenter of “Latin American revolt”, so she refused to attend (giving no intelligible explanation). The OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said she had “more important things to do”. How should it be understood? Does it mean working out joint approaches to tackling the problems of the Western Hemisphere is not on the US State Department’s priority list? Or whatever happens to the South of Rio Grande it’s not of special importance for Washington? The underlying message of Insulza, expressed with irritation, was clear: the State Department set him up again. He’d have to fend for himself. Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, has no authority whatsoever. Before the US presidential elections Barack Obama wants no public confrontations on the “Latin American stage”. The opposing Republicans will no doubt use the “rebellious mood” to their advantage and say the Democrats lost Latin America giving away one position after another to the “populists” headed by Hugo Chavez and the Castro brothers.


More of this article here: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2012/06/15/fate-oas-to-be-decided-in-2013-overhaul-or-dissolution.html

Venezuela’s Globovision Seeks to Moderate Coverage

Venezuela’s Globovision Seeks to Moderate Coverage

By Ewan Robertson

Mérida, 30th May 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan private news channel Globovision is attempting to develop a more moderate image, however recent changes have been criticised by the conservative opposition.

The television station, known for its strident anti-government line, was bought over by a group of businessmen led by investor Juan Domingo Cordero earlier this month. Holding only a 4.3% audience share according to one study, a shift in editorial policy “toward the centre” was predicted by several media commentators at the time.

However recent changes at Globovision, in particular the dismissal of two opinion show hosts and the likely end of one current affairs program, have proved unpopular with some opposition supporters.

Last week Globovision’s management asked Ismael Garcia, the host of Sunday talk show Hello Venezuela, to discontinue his role on the program. Garcia is an opposition lawmaker who hit headlines recently when he released an audio recording which potentially implicates some government officials in acts of corruption.

Then, on Monday the dismissal of the host of current affairs show Good Night was confirmed. The reason given by Globovision’s management was that the host, Francisco “Kiko” Bautista, had undermined management by publicly complaining on twitter about Garcia’s dismissal.

Bautista argued that his exit was also because he had broadcast a live speech by opposition leader Henrique Capriles, after the channel had taken the decision to no longer broadcast Capriles’ speeches live. Capriles narrowly lost to Nicolas Maduro in April’s presidential election, and still refuses to recognise Maduro’s win.

Bautista’s co-hosts on Good Night also left the channel in solidarity with their colleague, effectively ending the show in its current form.

Globovision’s conduct since the new owners took charge will come as a blow to the opposition, whose strategy since the presidential election has been to question the Maduro government’s legitimacy and capacity to govern.

As with other private stations, Globovision’s new owners met with Maduro last week, an act which was seen as lending legitimacy to the government and a distancing from the opposition’s position.

On Sunday Henrique Capriles attacked Globovision’s owners over the apparent decision to end live coverage of his activities, accusing them of being allied to the government and of being enchufados (those with political connections).

Globovision’s management defended its actions, explaining in a statement on Monday that the channel’s editorial policy is “to broaden its line of opinion and information to all voices in the country, without any discrimination”.

“No journalist at this channel has been told or ordered how to make their programs. Not one,” the statement read.

Other reports have placed doubt over the idea that Globovision’s new owners are allied to the government. A recent article in newspaper Ciudad CCS cites that Raul Antonio Gorrin, one of the new buyers and a majority stakeholder in Globovision, is known to have signed a document against late President Hugo Chavez to provoke the 2004 recall referendum.

The president of Venezuela’s National College of Journalists (CNP), Tinedo Guía, further clarified Globovision’s editorial position following a meeting with owner Juan Cordero on Monday afternoon.

Guía reported that Capriles had not been “banned” from Globovision’s coverage, as some had claimed, but rather that the channel was set to scale back coverage of the opposition leader, “because it’s not an electoral campaign anymore”.

The CNP president added that Globovision’s owners “guaranteed to us that the channel’s editorial line isn’t going to go down, (however) there will be changes to maintain a balanced line”.

Maryclen Stelling, a media analyst with the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), thinks the shift in Globovision’s editorial line shows their “social responsibility with the present and future of Venezuela”.

She said that her investigations had shown that many media outlets in the country “behave more like political parties” than informative media, and that Globovision’s new owners “appear to have reflected and assumed their responsibility” as a news channel.

Nevertheless, the attempt to set a “balanced” editorial policy is proving unpopular with the channel’s core audience, and over 300,000 people have stopped following Globovision on Twitter in protest.

Changes in late-night scheduling have occurred on both sides of the political spectrum recently, with state channel VTV confirming this week that political talk-show The Razorblade has been pulled, after its host Mario Silva was heavily featured in the potentially incriminating audio recording released last week.

The majority of print, radio and television in Venezuela is privately owned, and is considered either neutral or critical of the government. VTV, the main pro-government television channel, holds a 6% audience share, according to official figures.

Published on May 30th 2013 at 7.31pm

This work is licensed under a Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives Creative Commons license


300,000 have stopped following, lol. The opposition's twitter campaign #UnfollowMasivoAGlobovision wasn't as successful as they imagined it would be in their delusion. Globovision still has 2,332,874 Followers.


... Globovisión confirmed rumors that Ismael García (opposition National Assembly representative and responsible for making public the Mario Silva audio) would leave his morning opinion program “Aló Venezuela.” The program will still be aired with co-host Delvalle Canelón but without Mr. García. The statement explained that the policy of the channel was not to air programs hosted by candidates for political office, and since García would be a candidate for Mayor of Caracas in the upcoming municipal elections, the channel had asked him to leave the program. In Venezuela it is common for elected leaders and candidates for office to simultaneously work as broadcast journalists.

The next day the channel also announced that the popular late night host of the show “Good Night,” Francisco Bautista “Kiko,” would leave Globovisión. On the same night of the 26th Henrique Capriles tweeted several times about Globovisión. He expressed solidarity with the workers of the channel and claimed that the new owners had given express orders not to provide live coverage of his speeches and declarations.

On Monday the 27th, news anchor Pedro Luis Flores, and “Buenas Noches” cohost Carla Angola announced they had quit Globovisión in solidarity with Kiko. The Globovisión web page announced the reporters where leaving the channel on “the best of terms.” That same day Globovisión published a statement on its web page reaffirming that the exit of García had been on friendly terms and that Kiko had made misinformed declarations on the matter. The statement denies the existence of a “list of professionals” that will be fired, and ends with the assertion that “media outlets are not political parties.”

That same afternoon, reporter Leopoldo Castillo (popular host of the show “Aló Ciudadano” and now temporary director of Globovisión), in a statement aired by Globovisión declared that there had been misunderstandings recently and that he would do everything in his power to keep the channel’s personnel “united,” but if that was not possible, he would simply leave. He also asked his fellow reporters to “not respond emotionally” and impulsively. He added that if he discovered recent events in the channel where part of a “systematic policy, which up to date I have not uncovered, you can be sure that I will speak out.” (The video can be seen here.)



Child prostitution: The scourge of Colombia’s mines

Child prostitution: The scourge of Colombia’s mines

By: JINETH BEDOYA LIMA | 25 de Mayo del 2013

These girls are sexually exploited in the center of Medellin.

Some mines are organized networks of human trafficking.

Her days are filled with (sniffing) glue, inhaling it to forget her hunger, abuse by her clients and long hours with drunk miners and assailants in clandestine camps located on the lower Atrato, between Murindó (Antioquia) and Carmen del Darién (Chocó).

In these ancestral lands of the Embera tribe, copper and gold aren't the only things being exploited. There are young bodies which haven't even reached maturity yet, which are also being traded, by human trafficking networks, into forced prostitution and sexual exploitation. But it is not the only thing. El Tiempo documented how wherever the mines are located, criminals groups mounted a side business that is not limited to extortion and deforestation.

Hidden behind the titles of all the articles about mining that have generated so much controversy in the past year, illegal mining and the use of the armed groups to maintain their funding source, there's a crime that no one has attacked and for many regions this crime is almost part of the landscape. Officials say that where there are many men, there's prostitution, and since that's the world's oldest profession, there's no cause for alarm.

But the truth is that dozens of girls under the age of 16 have been sexually enslaved and today are part of a statistic, an unclear number. This lack of clarity goes hand in hand with the total absence of a government plan to save them from exploitation.


After a journey of several days, in the March 2011, Mireya was gathered with 11 other children. Remember that "one of them had just turned nine years old and was still speaking a half tongue", the five who were virgins were separated from the group and on Saturday night were given to four miners. "They were more or less old. First we were given brandy and then ... it began. " No tears. This child's words are full of hopelessness only.

An illicit, suffering


http://www.eltiempo.com/justicia/explotacion-sexual-de-ninas-en-zonas-mineras_12824463-4 (Spanish)

Mobile brothels. Children. Forced at gunpoint to perform any number of aberrant acts. Their "wages" stolen to pay for their "room and board". No help from the state. "in recent months has affected a number of indigenous communities, as their girls are over exploited".
"coltan extraction has also unleashed a wave of sexual exploitation". The police says it's the army's responsibility, the army says they're not competent to manage children and pass the ball (where?).

An illicit, suffering

Here's an unrelated picture of a pretty Embera girls

Venezuela Opposition to Maduro calls on Mexico & International Community

Opposition calls on Mexico and the international community to show solidarity with the economic and political crisis facing the country

International - Thursday, May 30, 2013 15:38


In the framework of a meeting of members of the National Assembly of Venezuela with the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Mexican Senate, opposition and independent lawmakers, they exposed Mexican senators to the situation in Venezuela.


At the invitation of the Foreign Relations Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean, chaired by Senator Mariana Gomez del Campo, Opposition deputies Julio Cesar Montoya and Miguel Angel Rodriguez Vega announced that they will go to international bodies to challenge the results of the April's Venezuelan presidential election.

They noted that in the 14 years the government of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela suffered economic and social decline creating shortages of commodities, so this week Venezuela's National Assembly approved a loan to import toilet paper, soap and toothpaste before a shortage (occurs).

In that sense, the deputy Julio Cesar Montoya said that "if a country has to approve a loan to buy commodities for domestic shortage means that this face of serious problems, since ended its operations, employment and the progress in Venezuela ".

In turn, the deputy Miguel Angel Rodriguez, said the opposition does not want a repeat of the "Caracazo" over the serious deterioration of purchasing power and the shortage of commodities, so they are calling on the international community to show their understanding and solidarity to avoid a major crisis.


Busy little fuckers.

Opposition Governor Capriles Meets with Colombia’s Santos, Venezuelan Government Concerned

Opposition Governor Capriles Meets with Colombia’s Santos, Venezuelan Government Concerned

By Tamara Pearson

Merida, May 30th 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday afternoon, Miranda state governor and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles met with Colombian president Juan Santos in Bogota.

After Capriles first announced the visit yesterday, Venezuelan foreign minister, Elias Jaua, accused Capriles of going to Colombia to put together “economic sabotage plans in Venezuela”.

Jaua said the meeting between Capriles and Santos was a “step towards derailing” relations between Colombia and Venezuela, and denounced that a “conspiratorial process” against Venezuela was underway in Colombia.

“We didn’t want to believe that this conspiracy had reached the highest powers of the Colombian state,” he said, warning that it was a “bad sign” that the Colombian government “received the person who convoked violence ”.

Further, Jaua warned that the Venezuelan government will “re-evaluate” its role in accompanying the peace process between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Santos government and the FARC have been in a process of dialogue since October last year, with Norway and Cuba facilitating the process, and Venezuela and Chile accompanying it.

“It’s difficult to work for the peace of a brother people when its highest institutions are encouraging and feeding into destabilisation in Venezuela,” Jaua said.

Jaua also criticised Capriles’ for “abandoning” Miranda state and his tasks there, “He should explain to the legislative council and the people of Miranda how this trip benefits his state,” he said.

This afternoon, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro also commented on the meeting, calling on the armed forces and Venezuelan people to be “alert” in the face of the “psychological operation from Bogota to weaken Venezuelan democracy”

Head of Venezuela’s national assembly, Diosdado Cabello, said yesterday that the meeting with Santos was “an aggression and not a courtesy visit”. He asked how Santos would react if the Venezuelan government met with “violent agents who affect peace in Colombia”. Cabello requested that the Colombian government clarify if its “with the golpista (Capriles) or the constitutional government of Nicolas Maduro”.

According to Telesur journalist in Colombia, Vladimir Carillo, the meeting between Santos and Capriles has created “a very unpleasant atmosphere” there, and after the meeting both men “avoided” any statements to the press.

Carillo said the meeting was held on Wednesday morning, lasted around 30 minutes, and that it “could affect commercial and political relations” between Venezuela and Colombia . He also reported that “Capriles wanted to speak in the senate, but they denied him that, and he only got to meet with the president of the chamber”.

Today Capriles’ only comments have been to criticise the government’s re-evaluation of its role in the peace process. Capriles said it was “unacceptable” because “peace can never be an object of bribery”. According to El Nacional, Capriles is visiting some Latin American countries to garner support for his challenge of the 14 April presidential election results.

Former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, via his Twitter account also reacted today to the Venezuelan government’s concerns, saying the meeting “wasn’t clandestine” like the alleged meetings between “the Venezuelan government and the terrorist FARC”.

Capriles’ meeting with Santos yesterday was his second one. They first formally met last September during Capriles’ campaign to win the October presidential elections.

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Guatemalan Constitutional Court Considers Whether Rios Montt Should Benefit from 1986 Amnesty

May 30, 2013

One Week After Overturning Former Dictator’s Genocide Conviction, Guatemalan Constitutional Court Considers Whether Rios Montt Should Benefit from 1986 Amnesty

by Emi MacLean

In a tense political climate, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court last week overturned the historic conviction of former Guatemalan strongman Efrain Rios Montt, who ruled Guatemala for 17 months in what Guatemala’s truth commission recognized as the most brutal period of Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict.

Now the Constitutional Court has resuscitated long-dormant defense claims that a historic amnesty prevents any prosecution of Rios Montt or his co-accused, Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez.

Constitutional Court Ruling Creates a Legal “Labyrinth”

On May 10, a Guatemalan trial court convicted Rios Montt of genocide and crimes against humanity for killings, forced displacement, rapes and torture committed under his rule. The trial court acquitted Rodriguez Sanchez, Rios Montt’s head of military intelligence, on the same day. One week later, the trial court issued a 718-page sentence in the case.

Then, on May 20, a divided Constitutional Court annulled the verdict and sent the trial backward. In its 3-2 judgment, the Constitutional Court rejected the outcome of the trial and left the entire future of the process uncertain—essentially on a technicality.

A representative of the civil party CALDH, working alongside the prosecutors to bring the case against Rios Montt, described the current situation as at an impasse. The civil party insists that, without further clarity from the Constitutional Court, it is impossible for a new trial to begin.

The Constitutional Court ordered the trial to pick up from the middle of the process. However, as the trial court had already issued its voluminous and reasoned sentence, all of the judges in that tribunal stepped aside, requiring the case to be transferred to a new court.

A new court might find it impossible to begin at a stage where it would have to rely on evidence already heard by another court. Yet, the new trial court would lack the authority to invalidate the earlier trial court’s proceedings. A new trial court would also lack the authority to begin afresh without clear guidance from the Constitutional Court, as initiating a brand new trial would contradict the Constitutional Court’s order that the case pick up from the middle.

There are only two so-called “high-risk” trial courts in Guatemala, so many anticipate that the case will be transferred to the other high-risk trial court (“B”). However, to make matters even more complicated, a three-judge high-risk appeals court must assign a new tribunal. Yet, two of the three judges from this appeals court are unavailable—one recused herself and the other is out of the country.

So the genocide case, with the trial phase deemed completed only weeks ago, now exists in a legal limbo—with the prior trial court having disqualified itself as a result of the Constitutional Court’s decision; no new trial court assigned; no appellate court that is composed that would even be able to order the case to be re-assigned; no clear deadline for when the case will be transferred; and no clarity about what will happen if and when the case is transferred to a new trial court.

Francisco Garcia Gudiel, Rios Montt’s defense attorney, insists that the Constitutional Court judgment is appropriate, and that he will be ready to defend Rios Montt whenever a new tribunal convenes to hear the case.

Constitutional Court Hears Amnesty Challenge

Now, in the midst of this tremendous uncertainty, the Constitutional Court is opening again the question of whether Rios Montt should be entitled to amnesty for crimes committed during his 1982-83 rule.

On Wednesday, May 29, the Constitutional Court held a public hearing on whether a 1986 amnesty should prevent Rios Montt’s prosecution. This hearing was in response to legal challenges filed long ago, but left unresolved by the Court.

In 1986, Rios Montt’s successor, General Humberto Mejia Victores, who had himself taken over rule of Guatemala in a military coup, issued a general amnesty for all crimes committed between March 1982 and January 1986, including the entire period of Rios Montt’s rule. However, during the peace accords, Guatemala enacted a law repealing all prior amnesty laws (Decree 133-97) and a National Reconciliation Law (Decree 145-96) which provided a limited amnesty, but excluded explicitly from any amnesty the crimes of genocide, torture, forced disappearance, and other international crimes.

The defense argues that the National Reconciliation Law may not apply retroactively. Both lower courts rejected the defense arguments and insisted that no amnesty could prevent the prosecution of these two former generals on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The Constitutional Court is due to issue a judgment within five days in response to the legal challenge just heard.

But there are other unresolved amnesty challenges. The Constitutional Court scheduled another public hearing next week, on Thursday, June 6, in response to a separate amnesty challenge lodged by Rios Montt’s defense attorneys. Francisco Garcia Gudiel, one of Rios Montt’s defense attorneys, says that on June 22 the Constitutional Court is due to hear yet another defense assertion that an amnesty prevents any prosecution.

Wednesday’s Constitutional Court hearing comes only weeks after Guatemala's Secretary of Peace, Antonio Arenales Forno, represented to a skeptical United Nations Committee Against Torture that an amnesty prevents the prosecution of historic crimes in Guatemala. Claudio Grossman, President of the UN Committee Against Torture, and a former head of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, challenged Arenales Forno, recalling Guatemala’s long history of impunity concerning crimes committed during Guatemala’s armed conflict. “Guatemala is a signatory to the Inter-American Convention of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court has recognized the incompatibility of amnesty laws with certain war crimes,” he said.

Head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala Slated for Early Departure

Meanwhile, Guatemalan media reported on Wednesday (and the United Nations later confirmed) that Francisco Dall’Anese, the Commissioner of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (or CICIG, for its initials in Spanish), will step down in September. He had been expected to carry the post until September 2015, but will not renew his contract.

Guatemala’s Foreign Minister Fernando Carrera remarked that the Guatemalan government complained to the United Nations, which appoints the CICIG Commissioner, about public statements CICIG made during the course of the Rios Montt genocide trial. Carrera, however, expressed continued support for the institution of the CICIG. (”Hemos dicho a la ONU que nos parece importante que el Comisionado sea siempre una persona que guarde equidad en los procesos. Lo importante es que continúe el fortalecimiento de la CICIG.”) Dall’Anese insists that his early departure is because he wants to spend more time with his family

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Sales drop at Coca-Cola Femsa Venezuela as strike hits day 9

The "outrageous (crazy) claims" from the workers are a proposal for a 44% salary increase, 140% of the food basket and health/emergency services coverage to 300,000 bolivars per claim and 25,000 for paternity.

Sales drop at Coca-Cola Femsa Venezuela as strike hits day 9

Wed May 29, 2013 10:03pm IST

* Management says has lost 15 pct of May sales

* Workers solder plant gates shut on wage demands

May 29 (Reuters) - A strike at the Venezuelan division of Coca-Cola Femsa , Latin America's largest Coke bottler, reached its ninth day on Wednesday as the company said the stoppage had cost it 15 percent of its expected sales for the month.

Some 50 workers protesting for higher wages soldered shut the gates of the company's largest plant in the central-western city of Valencia, preventing products and personnel from entering or leaving the compound, the company said.

"During the course of the strike, 15 percent of our sales at a national level have already been lost, what has not been sold will not be recovered," Mariana Parma, director of corporate affairs at Coca-Cola Femsa Venezuela said, describing worker demands as "crazy."


Mexico's Coca-Cola Femsa, a joint venture of Coca-Cola Co and Mexican company Femsa , this year said 18 percent of its 2012 sales came from Venezuela.


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