Judi LynnJudi Lynn's Journal
Guatemala ex-police on trial in 1980 embassy fire
Published on NewsOK Modified: October 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm Published: October 1, 2014
GUATEMALA CITY (AP) A former police officer is on trial in Guatemala for the deaths of 37 people more than three decades ago when the Spanish Embassy burned down during Guatemala's bloody civil conflict.
Pedro Garcia Arredondo is a former special investigations chief for the Sixth Commando of the National Police.
He is accused of homicide and crimes against humanity for allegedly ordering agents to keep anyone from leaving the diplomatic mission as it burned in 1980.
The first witness called Wednesday was 1992 Nobel peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu, whose father was one of those killed in the blaze.
Pedro Garcia Arredondo
Source: Associated Press
Former Chilean marines sentenced in priest slaying
8:10 AM Thursday Oct 2, 2014
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) Chile's Supreme Court has sentenced three retired marines to prison terms of three to five years in the torture-death of priest Michael Woodward Iriberry during the country's dictatorship. The government was ordered to pay Woodward's sister $166,000.
The high court increased to five years the sentences imposed in 2013 for Jose Manuel Garcia and Manuel Leiva Valdivieso. It also set a three-year sentence for Hector Palomino Lopez, who was initially absolved due to dementia.
The decision adopted Tuesday was made public by judicial authorities on Wednesday.
The Woodwards' mother was Chilean and their father was British.
Read more: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11335412
La Esmeralda, one of Pinochet's Chile's three torture ships,
and the last place where Michael Woodward drew his last breath.[/center]
From a blog where I obtained the photo above:
~snip~.....a four masted barquentine of the Chilean Navy named Esmeralda. They call her the White Lady. The steel hulled vessel is the second longest and tallest sailing ship in the world. This boat was built in Cadiz, Spain in 1954 and is the sixth Chilean ship to bear the name Esmeralda.
In fact she has a rather sordid history. According to reports by the United States Senate, Amnesty International and the Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Esmeralda was used as a floating torture chamber for dissidents and political prisoners from 1973 to 1980. This is during the reign of Dictator General Augusto Pinochet, who aided by the United States government, successfully plotted and carried out a coup to kill and usurp the democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende.
In 1973, Maria Comene was held as a political prisoner on the ship for 10 days."It is a bad boat," Comene says. "A boat where blood was spilled."
It is suggested that over 110 prisoners, seventy men and forty women, were kept on board, subject to rape and genital shocks and brutal beatings. It is said that the British priest Michael Woodward died as a result of the brutal interrogation and torture he endured on the rigger. A good synopsis of the ship's bloody history can be found here. The Amnesty International document here.
[center]~ ~ ~
Saturday, August 28th 2010 - 06:46 UTC
Indictments related to the killing of Anglo Chilean priest in 1973 total 33
Chilean Justice indicted on Friday fourteen former members of Carabineros (militarized police and Navy) for the kidnapping and killing of Anglo-Chilean Catholic priest Miguel Woodward.
He was tortured to death in 1973 by agents from General Pinochets military dictatorship on board the Navy school vessel, Esmeralda.
It is with great satisfaction that we have been informed of the indictment which is now completed and closes this line of investigation that has been on-going for years, said Karina Fernández, solicitor from the Ministry of Interior Human Rights Program which acted as plaintiff.
Magistrate Eliana Quezada from Valaparaíso Appeals Court said that it was a kidnap, a crime related to crimes coordinated from the very organization of the (Chilean) Navy.
Contrary to other human rights violations case, the homicide of Father Woodward was not executed by a repressive organism from the (Chilean) State but rather by an institution such as the Navy.
Source: Associated Press
Records: Kissinger made plans to attack Cuba
| October 1, 2014 | Updated: October 1, 2014 2:18pm
NEW YORK (AP) Newly revealed government records show that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger drew up contingency plans nearly 40 years ago to attack Cuba over their deployment of troops to Angola.
The documents were declassified at the request of the National Security Archive, which published them online Wednesday. An account of the episode is being published in a new book, "Back Channel to Cuba," written by William M. LeoGrande, a professor at American University, and Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuban Documentation Project at the National Security Archive.
Among other things, the documents detail a Feb. 25, 1976, Oval Office meeting where Kissinger told President Gerald R. Ford, "I think we are going to have to smash Castro. We probably can't do it until after the election."
Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/us/article/Records-Kissinger-made-plans-to-attack-Cuba-5794275.php
Journalists threatened with death in three Colombian states
Bogotá, September 30, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by death threats against numerous journalists in different states in Colombia over the past week and calls on authorities to ensure the journalists' safety. All of the journalists had reported on criminal activities in the region.
"Local criminal groups are unabashedly and publicly threatening journalists as a means of silencing reporting on their activities," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. "Authorities must investigate these threats and bring those responsible to justice so these intimidating messages do not continue. The victims are not only the journalists but the public, which is deprived of information on criminal activity in Colombia."
On Sunday, the drug trafficking group Los Urabeños threatened in an email pamphlet to kill eight journalists unless they fled the cities of Buenaventura and Cali in Valle del Cauca state, according to news reports. The journalists cover criminal justice issues in both cities. The Urabeños group is one of Colombia's largest crime gangs.
It is not clear if the journalists have left the cities. Some of them have asked that their names not be publicized. One, Henry Ramírez, a photographer for the Buenaventura newspaper Q´Hubo, told CPJ he planned to meet with his editors to decide whether or not to continue reporting in Buenaventura.
Monday, September 29, 2014
Soldier's Heart: Jacob George's Sorrowful Ride Till the End
by Abby Zimet, staff writer
Oh so heartbreaking to hear of the suicide - or as some call it, the death from moral injuries - of Jacob George, 32-year-old Arkansas farmer, musician, anti-war activist and veteran of three tours of Afghanistan who came home shattered by post-traumatic horror he insisted was not a disorder but a natural human response to inhumanity. George fought hard to heal - riding his bike 8,000 miles over 3 years to sing his songs and tell his stories, testifying wherever he could about the hard truths he'd come to, seeking solace with brothers and sisters who shared his sense of betrayal by his country, returning to Afghanistan to work with young Afghan anti-war activists, and on what he sometimes called his best day, throwing his medals back to the generals who sent him to the wars that broke him. It's only right, note many of the sorrowful remembrances of him, that we honor him by fighting as hard in his name. Rest in peace.
Colombia peace talks suffer from humanitarian void': NGO
Sep 30, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin
The peace process between the FARC and the Colombian government suffers from a lack of credibility and a humanitarian void, citing the lack of a ceasefire and continued violations of human rights by neo-paramilitary successor groups, according to a prominent conflict-monitoring NGO.
Camilo Gonzalez, president of the Institute for the Study of Development and Peace (Indepaz), told Colombia Reports that the government needs to reach accords and commitments regarding human rights and a ceasefire so that the population can give credibility to the peace process.
These comments come in the wake a recent study that attributed 43% of the human rights violations in Colombia in 2013 to the state, while paramilitary successor groups were allegedly responsible for 44% of the violations.
MORE: State, paramilitaries responsible for most of Colombias human rights violations: Report
Human rights ignored
Gonzalez said the publication of these numbers by the Center for Research and Public education (CINEP), a conflict analysis NGO, was important in order to alert the government of the need of the armed forces to decisively respect the civilian population.
THE YELLOW BOOK
Secret Salvadoran military document from the civil war era catalogued enemies, many killed or disappeared
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 485
Posted - September 28, 2014 in recognition of International Right to Know Day
A 1980s-era document from the archives of El Salvadors military intelligence identifies almost two thousand Salvadoran citizens who were considered delinquent terrorists by the Armed Forces, among them current President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla leader. Other individuals listed include human rights advocates, labor leaders, and political figures, many known to have been victims of illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial execution, forced disappearance, and other human rights abuses.
Called the Libro Amarillo or Yellow Book, the report is the first-ever confidential Salvadoran military document to be made public, and the only evidence to appear from the Salvadoran Armys own files of the surveillance methods used by security forces to target Salvadoran citizens during the countrys 12-year civil war. Now the Yellow Book has been posted on-line, along with related analysis and declassified U.S. documents, through a collaboration between the National Security Archive, the University of Washington Center for Human Rights and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG).
According to the documents introduction, the Yellow Book, dated July 1987, was compiled by the Intelligence Department (C-II) of the Estado Mayor Conjunto de la Fuerza Armada Salvadoreña (EMCFA, Joint Staff of the Armed Forces). It consists of a systematic list with 1,915 entries on targeted individuals, 1,857 identified by name, along with corresponding photographs, and notes on their alleged connections to suspect organizations including unions, political parties, and rebel groups of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). A hand-written note on its cover page indicates the report was intended to aid security forces in identifying the opposition. Use it, the note says, Make copies of the photographs and put them on your bulletin board so you will know your enemies.
Although analysis of the Yellow Book continues, preliminary research makes clear that some of the individuals listed in it were killed or disappeared and never seen again; others were captured, tortured, and later released. Under the direction of HRDAG Executive Director Patrick Ball, researchers cross referenced names listed in the Yellow Book with four historical databases of reports of human rights violations collected from 1980-1992. This process found 273 names in the Yellow Book, or 15%, that matched reports of killings or extrajudicial executions; 233 or 13% matching reports of forced disappearance; 274 or 15% matching reports of torture; and 538 or 29% matching reports of detention or arrest. In total, at least 43% of names listed in the Yellow Book correspond with these historical human rights databases. View the full report here.
A former U.S. military source who served in El Salvador during the 1980s, who declined to be named, has stated that the Yellow Book appears to be an authentic product of Salvadoran military intelligence, one of many related documents created to track and register perceived threats. The original document, a photocopy of an unknown master copy, was donated to a Salvadoran civil society organization by an individual who claimed to have found it in a house during a move. The document analyzed here is a photocopy of this reproduction. The document has previously circulated privately in El Salvador and was described in reports by Al Jazeera and La Jornada in 2013.
The emphasis in the Yellow Book on the use of intelligence to identify not only guerrilla combatants but enemy civilians corresponds with the findings of human rights investigations conducted over the years. The United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador (UNTC) report, From Madness to Hope: The 12-Year War in El Salvador, for example, indicated that dating back to the 1960s, [National security] institutions helped consolidate an era of military hegemony in El Salvador, sowing terror selectively among alleged subversives identified by the intelligence services. In this way, the armys domination over civilian society was consolidated through repression in order to keep society under control (p125). The commission urged that Salvadoran intelligence agencies be targeted for reform as part of the post-war process of peace and reconciliation.
It is especially important, concluded the UNTC report, to call attention to the repeated abuses committed by the intelligence services of the security forces and the armed forces. It is crucial for the future of El Salvador that the State pay attention to the use of intelligence services and to the exploitation of this arm of the Government to identify targets for murder or disappearance. Any investigation must result both in an institutional clean-up of the intelligence services and in the identification of those responsible for this aberrant practice (pp129-30).
The UN Truth Commission identified military intelligence with a proliferation of death squad activities. According to the UNTC report, In many armed forces units, the intelligence section (S-2) operated on the death squad model. Operations were carried out by members of the armed forces, usually wearing civilian clothing, without insignias, and driving unmarked vehicles.
Death squad operations were also carried out at the national level: The Intelligence Section had subsections such as operations and intelligence. Within the intelligence sub-section, there was a smaller group in charge of dirty work, which specialized in interrogations, torture and executions. Within the C-V (Civilian Affairs Section) of the Armed Force General Staff as well, the report found, the military maintained a secret, clandestine intelligence unit for the surveillance of civilian political targets, which received information from the S-2 sections of each military unit or security force. The purpose of this unit was to obtain information for the planning of direct actions that included the elimination of individuals. In some cases, such plans were transmitted as actual orders to operational units in the various security forces or the armed forces themselves.[iii]
Individuals listed in the Yellow Book were also targeted by the death squads. For example, a 1980 communique signed by the Secret Anti-Communist Army, a coalition of seven extreme right-wing terrorist groups, circulated a blacklist of more than 200 names, at least 32 of which also appear in the Yellow Book.
The fingerprints of the United States
U.S. security assistance flowed to the El Salvador counterinsurgency effort throughout the war, totaling some $5 billion by 1992. It included millions of dollars for enhanced intelligence gathering. While there is no direct evidence suggesting that the U.S. was involved in the creation of the Yellow Book, the extensive material and operational support provided by the U.S. to the Salvadoran intelligence services touched on themes central to the Yellow Book.
The blueprint for the U.S. security program was developed by Brigadier General Fred Woerner, when he headed a U.S. military team to El Salvador to carry out an assessment of the governments war strategy for the new Reagan administration in 1981. The report that resulted in November of that year proposed a massive injection of U.S. military aid to help the Salvadoran security forces win what the report called a strategic victory.
One of the Woerner teams primary concerns about the armed force was its weak military intelligence capacity, calling The absence of good intelligence and the derivative understanding of enemy capabilities and intentions a particularly limiting factor.[iv] To remedy the shortcomings in Salvadoran intelligence, the Woerner team recommended intelligence training, dedicated intelligence equipment, and the creation of an intelligence communications net.
One means recommended by Woerner to separate the insurgents from their base among the Salvadoran people and to identify militant supporters was the creation of population control measures. The Woerner Report proposed the establishment of a national registry and new national ID document, to be maintained in a central file with photo and fingerprints, and advised that the military Publish and maintain blacklists with photos of all known insurgents and their aliases at ports of entry/exit, border crossing points, and internal checkpoints.[
USAID is leaving Ecuador today
President Rafael Correa is the latest Latin American leader who's grown irritated with America's aid agency.
John Otis September 30, 2014 10:40
BOGOTA, Colombia Under pressure from Ecuadors left-wing government, the United States Agency for International Development is today shutting down its operations in the South American nation after 53 years.
In a telephone interview with GlobalPost, Adam Namm, the US ambassador to Ecuador, called the decision very disappointing.
But it was no surprise. The government in Quito had refused to allow Washington's aid agency to renew its programs or start any new activity in the country.
President Rafael Correa is a fierce US critic who has already pulled the plug on US counter-narcotics operations at a Pacific coast base and expelled Namms predecessor as well as 14 US military advisers, whom he claimed were infiltrating Ecuadors security forces.
Guatemala: police occupy town after violence
Submitted by Weekly News Update... on Tue, 09/30/2014 - 09:26 Central America Theater
On Sept. 22 Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina declared a 30-day state of emergency in San Juan Sacatepéquez municipality in response to the deaths of at least eight indigenous Kaqchikel in a confrontation the night of Sept. 19-20 in the municipality's Pajoques community. Some 600 police agents were sent to the municipality; according to one report they were backed up by 1,000 soldiers. Under the state of emergency the police are free to break up any demonstration or public meeting held without government authorization. On Sept. 23 the police arrested five community members, charging them with murder, attempted murder, arson and illegal meetings and protests; there are warrants for several dozen other community members.
There is little agreement on what happened the night of Sept. 19-20, even on the number of deaths: press reports range from eight to 11. The confrontation was between supporters and opponents of two construction projects, a huge cement factory in the municipality and a section of a beltway around Guatemala City, and the two sides gave radically different accounts. Construction supportersgenerally residents who have been hired by the cement factory's owners or have sold land for one or both of the construction projectsclaim that the resistance activists are thieves and rapists who regularly harass and rob other community members.
Opponents of the construction charge that the incident started when 10 armed men from the factory entered Pajoques and fired on opponents, killing one and wounding two others. Community members say they called the national police soon after the shooting began but the police never arrived. All five of those arrested on Sept. 23 appear to belong to the resistance. Two claimed they had solid alibis. Celestino Turuy Pajoj, the director of a local school, said he was at a private university taking a law course, while José Dolores Pajoj Pirir said he at a hospital with one of his sons at the time of the killings he is charged with. Two of his sons were shot at the beginning of the confrontation; one died and the other was hospitalized with injuries.
The Guatemalan firm Productos Mineros Limited, a subsidiary of Cementos Progreso, is the principal owner of the cement factory, holding 80% of the shares; the remaining 20% are held by the Swiss multinational cement company Holcim Ltd. Cementos Progreso is controlled by Guatemala's rightwing Novella family, which has contracts for millions of dollars worth of development projects arranged by President Pérez Molina and his Patriot Party (PP), according to a Sept. 22 report by the Guatemalan Independent Media Center. Cementos Progreso made large contributions to Pérez Molina's campaign in the 2011 presidential election. (Latin American Herald Tribune, Sept. 23, from EFE; Prensa Libre, Guatemala, Sept. 24, Sept. 27 from EFE; TeleSUR, Sept. 25; NACLA, Sept. 26)
(Short article, no more at link.)
Nicaragua: contra-drug series was CIA 'nightmare'
Submitted by Weekly News Update... on Tue, 09/30/2014 - 09:15
On Sept. 18 the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released a number of classified articles from its in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, including an article about "Dark Alliance," a 1996 series in the San Jose Mercury News that linked the CIA-backed Nicaraguan contra rebels to the sale of crack in South Central Los Angeles in the 1980s. Other US media, notably the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, harshly criticized the series' author, investigative reporter Gary Webb, noting, and often exaggerating, flaws in his reporting. Webb lost his job at the Mercury News and was never employed by a major newspaper again; he was found dead on Dec. 10, 2004 in an apparent suicide.
The CIA journal article, by Directorate of Intelligence staffer Nicholas Dujmovic, described the initial public reaction to the series as a "nightmare" and "a genuine public relations crisis." Although the contras' links to cocaine trafficking had been reported previously, Webb's series had more effect, in part because it connected the contras to the explosion of crack use in African-American communities. It was also one of the first major stories to gain traction through circulation over the internet. Dujmovic attributed the popularity of "Dark Alliance" to "societal shortcomings." "We live in somewhat coarse and emotional timeswhen large numbers of Americans do not adhere to the same standards of logic, evidence, or even civil discourse as those practiced by members of the CIA community," he complained.
The CIA's response largely relied on "a ground base of already productive relations with journalists," Dujmovic wrote. The agency managed to discourage "one major news affiliate" from covering the story, and in another case it helped out a reporter by making "a rare exception to the general policy that CIA does not comment on any individual's alleged CIA ties." But to a large extent the mainstream media did the job on Webb without prompting from the CIA. The Los Angeles Times, for example, assembled a group of 17 reporters in what one member called the "get Gary Webb team." The group "put [Webb's series] under a microscope," another of the reporters, Jesse Katz, said in a 2013 radio interview. "And we did it in a way that most of us who were involved in it, I think, would look back on that and say it was overkill. We had this huge team of people at the L.A. Times and kind of piled on to one lone muckraker up in Northern California." The result of the media attack was a "success," according to Dujmovic, although only "in relative terms." (The Intercept, Sept. 25)
The story has never completely disappeared from public consciousness, however. A 1997 report by the CIA's then-inspector general, Frederick Hitz, confirmed the contras' link to drug trafficking, and a new story about contra drug dealing appeared in October 2013 in both the righ-twing US-based Fox television network and the left-leaning Mexican weekly Proceso. A feature film about Gary Webb, Kill the Messenger, is scheduled for release on Oct. 10.
(Short article, no more at link.)
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