Judi LynnJudi Lynn's Journal
How Bolivia curbed coca production by moving away from violent crackdowns
September 29, 2016 11.52am EDT
A new leaf. EPA/Jorge Abrego
The US governments annual report on the drug trade has accused Bolivia once again of failing to do enough to tackle the production and trafficking of illicit narcotics. This has been the US mantra for the ten years since Evo Morales, Bolivias first indigenous president, made a radical break with the US-funded war on drugs.
The USs stance flies in the face of ample evidence that Bolivia has markedly reduced coca leaf cultivation. And in spite of cuts to US counter-narcotics assistance, Bolivian security forces are seizing illegal drugs at much higher levels than when the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was in charge.
Bolivia is the worlds third largest producer of cocaine, a drug manufactured from coca leaf which is central to Andean culture. Bolivias programme permits poor farmers to cultivate a small (up to 1,600 square metre) plot of coca, and encourages farmers to self-police to respect these limits.
This approach is known as social control. Its a world apart from the old US-led policy, which demanded that local security forces forcibly eradicate coca crops. That approach resulted in two decades of violence, and neither reduced coca production nor restricted the flow of drugs reaching the US.
Renata Flores Rivera "Earth Song" Michael Jackson - Versión en Quechua
A Favela-Born Political Up-and-Comer in Brazil
By Anna Jean Kaiser
The Daily Dose SEPT 30 2016
On a Friday night just before Rio de Janeiros municipal elections, city council candidate Marielle Franco arrives at a warehouse party in her neighborhood of Maré a favela, a low-income informal settlement, located in Rios North Zone. An Afrobeat band sings of the luta (the struggle), racism, machismo. People sport orange stickers bearing outline of an Afroed woman: Francos campaign image.
I am because we are, her campaign slogan reads, a nod to the African philosophy ubuntu, and a surprisingly telling message. Franco, an up-and-comer in one of Brazils new leftist parties, the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), is appealing to locals because of a shared identity. The 37-year-old, whos making her first run for elected office, is telling a story of a new era of progressivism in Brazil, one that draws on her childhood history growing up in a favela. The Olympic dust has settled; Rio is facing a deepening financial crisis and ever-deteriorating security issues, and all this is cast against the specter of ex-President Dilma Rousseffs ousting in September after a lengthy impeachment process.
Amid all this, Franco, whos widely expected to win her election on Sunday, hopes to begin her ascent into the highest echelons of Brazilian politics. Franco and her small but plucky party, which is just 11 years old, see themselves as the counterbalancing force to the current center-right government. Theyre calling for wider social safety nets, new public housing projects, community policing.
In addition to her partys platform, Franco has her own wish list: She wants standard bus routes rewritten so women can get off at designated brighter or safer spaces late at night. She wants more government-funded day care centers so moms can work. As Franco issues many of these calls for change, she uses her personal history expertly to compensate for a lack of experience in elected office. Day care is a case study in this Francoism: Though other politicians have been trying to up the number of centers for years, Franco says they didnt understand the complex cartographies of the city of 6.5 million, didnt see the invisible borders drawn by gangs or drug factions that might make a seemingly accessible center dangerous for a mother to reach.
After Years of Stoking Colombias Civil War, Washington Is Now Trying to Hijack the Peace Deal
The US-funded Plan Colombia imposed catastrophic violence on the country, resulting in a mountain of corpses and millions of displaced civilians.
By Greg Grandin
Today 3:01 pm
Some success. With peace within reach in Colombiaon October 2, Colombians will vote on approving a historic treaty that would end the war with the FARC, one of the longest-running insurgences on the planetpoliticians and opinion makers in the United States are holding up Plan Colombia as a modular success story, to be cut and pasted into other global hot spots. Hillary Clinton recently recommended that it be replicated in Honduras to fight crime: I think we need to do more of a Colombian plan for Central America, she said, when asked by Democracy Now!s Juan González about her role in legitimizing Hondurass 2009 coup, telling González to remember what was going on in Colombia when first my husband and then followed by President Bush were in office. Now, Clinton says, thanks to Plan Colombia, were in the middle of peace talks. And Shawn Snow, in Foreign Policy, thinks Plan Colombia can be franchised into Plan Afghanistan, to fight Islamist extremists.
Nick Miroff at The Washington Post has written a series of articles holding up Plan Colombiawhich was put into place during the Bill Clinton administration and passed more than $10 billion to Colombian security forcesas a victory, saying that it is widely credited with helping the government turn the tide against the FARC.
A more recent essay has Miroff extending the idea that Plan Colombia is responsible for the current peace: After 16 years and $10 billion, the once-controversial security aid package is celebrated today by many Republicans and Democrats in Congress as one of the top U.S. foreign policy achievements of the 21st century. Colombia, a fast-growing nation of 50 million, has become the leading U.S. ally in South America and a major free-trade partner.
The U.S. intervention tipped the war. It delivered a shot of confidence to Colombias institutions, particularly its military. It gave the country a vast, sophisticated intelligence-gathering system to hunt the rebels, as well as the lethal hardware to strike them from the skies. By 2003, nearly 5,000 staff members and private contractors were working out of the American diplomatic compound in Bogota, making it the largest U.S. embassy in the world. (Emphasis added.) Once outmaneuvered and intimidated by the FARC, Colombian soldiers received the training and technology to confront the guerrillas head-on. With American Black Hawk helicopters, they learned to deploy quickly into rugged guerrilla terrain. They are widely viewed today as Latin Americas best-prepared and most professional military. The rebels were pushed back, deeper into the jungle, and faced increased desertions
Guatemalan rights prosecutor arrested over alleged hit-and-run
Orlando López held on homicide charges related to incident reported by rightwing group linked to retired military generals
Nina Lakhani in Guatemala City
Friday 23 September 2016 04.22 EDT
Orlando López has investigated some of the worst crimes committed during Guatemalas bloody civil war and arrested powerful former military commanders for torture, genocide and forced disappearances.
But the efforts of the senior human rights prosecutor have not gone unnoticed by rightwing groups who claim he is spearheading a leftist conspiracy against the armed forces.
Now, López, 41, has been detained on homicide charges linked to an alleged hit-and-run incident, which his supporters say is part of a wave of malicious litigation against advocates seeking justice over civil war crimes.
The alleged traffic incident was reported by the Foundation against Terrorism, a rightwing group linked to retired military generals, which in recent years has accused dozens of senior judges, prosecutors and human rights activists of crimes including corruption, intimidation and links to organised crime.
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/23/guatemala-prominent-human-rights-prosecutor-orlando-lopez-arrested
Brazil’s Big Media Ignores Temer’s Confession – Except Estadão Columnist Who Falsely Claimed Video W
Brazils Big Media Ignores Temers Confession Except Estadão Columnist Who Falsely Claimed Video Was Altered
Sep. 23 2016, 9:57 a.m.
The Intercept Brasils Inacio Vieira yesterday reported one of the most significant pieces of evidence yet about the real reason for the impeachment of Brazils elected President Dilma Rousseff. Speaking to a group of U.S. business and foreign policy elites, the countrys installed President, Michel Temer, admitted that what triggered the impeachment process was not any supposed budgetary crimes, but rather Dilmas opposition to the neo-liberal platform of social program cuts and privatization demanded by Temers party and the big business interests that fund it.
But whats as revealing as Temers casual acknowledgement of coup-type motives is how Brazils large media which united in favor of impeachment has completely ignored his comments. Literally not one of Globos countless media properties, nor the nations largest newspaper Folha, nor any of the nations large political magazines, has even mentioned these stunning and incriminating remarks from the countrys president. Theyve imposed a total blackout. While numerous independent journalists and websites have reported Temers admission, none of Brazils major media outlets have uttered a word about it.
The only exception to this wall of silence was a columnist from the right-wing newspaper Estadão, Lúcia Guimarães, who spent several hours on Twitter yesterday completely humiliating herself in a spirited attempt to deny that Temer actually said this. She began by insinuating that The Intercept Brasil made a suspicious cut in the video that altered reality basically accusing Vieira of committing fraud without the slightest evidence, all to protect Temer.
Then, after a Folha columnist sent her a link to the full video showing that nothing was distorted, she nonetheless announced that she will only believe Temer said this once she sees the drives from each camera simultaneously played, and she added that what makes the story so suspicious is that President Temer is a best-selling author of a book on constitutional law who would not say such a thing about impeachment. Only once the full transcript of Temers remarks was posted would she finally admit that he really said it, but rather than retract her false accusations or apologize to Vieira and The Intercept Brasil for having implied the video was fraudulently edited, she instead simply posted the relevant part of Temers remarks without reference to her prior efforts to smear Vieira, as though she was the one who discovered and was reporting these comments for the first time. Even once she did finally admit the truth about Temers remarks, she bitterly claimed that impeachment opponents were turning the story into a carnival and were celebrating the revelation.
Cats sailed with Vikings to conquer the world, genetic study reveals
"I didnt even know there were Viking cats."
23 SEP 2016
Thousands of years before cats took up residence in 37 percent of American households, and managed to outnumber dogs by roughly 75 million across the globe, they were hopping continents with farmers, ancient mariners, and even Vikings, scientists have found.
The first large-scale study of ancient feline DNA has finally been completed, and the results reveal how our inscrutable friends were domesticated in the Near East and Egypt some 15,000 years ago, before spreading across the globe and into our hearts.
The study was presented at the International Symposium on Biomolecular Archaeology in Oxford, UK last week, and sequenced DNA from 209 cats that lived between 15,000 and 3,700 years ago - so from just before the advent of agriculture right up to the 18th century.
Found in more than 30 archaeological sites in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, these ancient feline specimens are helping researchers to finally piece together the beginnings of an animal that we share our beds with, but know surprisingly little about.
End U.S. Support for the Thugs of Honduras
By DANA FRANK SEPT. 22, 2016
Santa Cruz, Calif. Around midnight on March 2, the indigenous peoples rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres was shot dead by gunmen who entered her residence in La Esperanza, Honduras. A longtime campaigner against illegal logging operations, Ms. Cáceres had been repeatedly threatened because of her opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, one of the largest of its kind in Central America.
I have no doubt that she has been killed because of her struggle, and that soldiers and people from the dam are responsible, I am sure of that, her 84-year-old mother told a local radio station. I hold the government responsible.
On June 21, The Guardian reported the testimony of a Honduran soldier who said that his elite unit of United States-trained special forces had been given a hit list of activists to be killed that included Berta Cáceres. (He had deserted from the army, he said, rather than comply with the orders.) Six men have subsequently been arrested in connection with her case, including a serving army officer and two retired members of the military, but it remains to be seen if whoever commissioned the crime will be brought to justice.
It took the brutal assassination of Ms. Cáceres to finally provoke a public debate in the United States over the Obama administrations funding of Hondurass dangerous police and military forces. On June 14, Representative Henry C. Johnson Jr., Democrat of Georgia, and co-sponsors introduced the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, which called for the immediate suspension of security aid to Honduras. In response, the Obama administration has tried to justify continuing its support by pointing to an array of initiatives that are, at best, weak and token, and that, at worst, may even be harmful.
Dozens of Indigenous Absolved in Peru's 2009 'Baguazo' Massacre
A group of Indigenous people brandish spears while blocking a highway in Peru's Amazonian
region. | Photo: Reuters
Published 22 September 2016 (7 hours 4 minutes ago)
According to autopsy reports, the police killed in the massacre died from gunshots. Witnesses say Indigenous protesters were only armed with spears.
Dozens of Indigenous people in Peru have been absolved Thursday of accusations that they were responsible for a massacre seven years ago, known as the Baguazo, that killed at least 32 people, including several police, during an intense conflict as the military cracked down on protesters fighting to block oil drilling in the Amazon rain forest.
After four years of trial, the criminal court of Bagua stated that the people accused of blocking the roads were absolved "because the defense of the environment" was a "superior purpose," according to the CNDDH, a collective of 78 human rights groups in Peru.
The court also threw out the prosecutors' allegations that the people accused of homicide were carrying guns, as the medical experts had found, and that they were the direct authors of the homicides.
The Assassination of Orlando Letelier and the Politics of Silence
Sep. 21 2016, 5:16 p.m.
Forty years ago last night, agents working for the Chilean secret service attached plastic explosives to the bottom of Orlando Leteliers Chevrolet as it sat in the driveway of his familys home in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.
A few blocks away across Massachusetts Avenue my familys Pinto sat in our driveway unmolested. Our whole neighborhood, including my mother and father and sister and me, slept through everything.
Forty years ago this morning, the Chilean agents followed Letelier as he drove himself into Washington, down Massachusetts to the think tank where he worked. The bomb went off as Letelier went around Sheridan Circle, ripping off most of the lower half of his body. He died shortly afterward, as did Ronni Moffitt, a 25-year-old American whod been in the car with him. A second passenger, Moffitts husband Michael, survived.
Leteliers murder was ordered by the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whod overthrown the countrys democratically elected president Salvador Allende three years before in a military coup. Letelier, who had been Allendes defense minister, was arrested during the coup and tortured for a year until Pinochet bowed to international pressure and released him. But in Washington, Letelier became the leading international voice of the opposition to Pinochet, who decided he had to be eliminated.
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