Thursday, October 26, 2006

Solidarity News October 26th 2006

William Blum: Operation Because We Can:
For 27 years, the most powerful nation in the world has found it impossible to share the Western Hemisphere with one of its poorest and weakest neighbors, Nicaragua, if the country's leader was not in love with capitalism.

Bolivia for Single, Free Health Care:
The Bolivian government pledged its commitment to a single and free health system in which all citizens have the same rights, according to a proposal presented to the Constituent Assembly on Saturday.

Adios Ruiz, Bienvenidos AEPO

By Julie Webb-Pullman

Eight thousand members of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) arrived in Mexico City Monday, having left their home on 21 September to march almost 500 kilometres to Mexico City to demand the ouster of their Governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. They accuse him “of irreparable damage to human patrimony, of the assassination of social leaders, of the mismanagement of state finances, of “ethnocide,” of violating United Nations and UNESCO decrees including the guarantee of individual liberties, of promoting violence in the state” and of being incapable of resolving conflicts through diplomatic means.

Since taking power in December 2003, Ruiz has systematically persecuted his political opponents, killing 38 leaders of indigenous’, workers’, and independent organisations, ‘disappearing’ a few more, and detaining and incarcerating more than 200 political prisoners.

Whilst his relentless repression, corruption, and abuses of human rights terrorised many into silence, the teachers of Oaxaca spoke for all when on Mexico’s Teachers’ Day on 15 May this year they said, Ya Basta! Enough!

Atenco HUman Rights Commission Report

Nancy Davies' new commentary from Oaxaca reveals that, despite
the continuing repression in that rebel state and the seemingly
endless stalemate on a solution with the federal government, the
people continue to find new reasons to have hope. She describes ten
key developments from the last few days, including:

"Over the weekend in the capital city of Oaxaca, during a forty-eight
hour period, ten different marches took place. They followed a public
funeral in the zocalo's central pavilion for Alejandro García, who
died from a gunshot wound to the head while he was at the barricade
in Colonia Alemán, bringing coffee to the night team. A car with
four military men in civilian clothes, recently seen leaving a local
cantina, tried to beak the barricade. During the ensuing scuffle two
members of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in its
Spanish initials) were shot, the second victim in the arm. The
accused soldier, Jonathan Ríos Vásquez, declared himself innocent."

"...An indigenous Nahuátl and Mazatec community radio station,
Nandia, was attacked and destroyed by government agents. The women
who ran the station belong to an organization of Mazatec indigenous
women. After the attack they tried to leave the small northern town
of Mazatlán Villa de Flores to travel to the capital, hoping to make
known their outrage (non-licensed indigenous radio stations are
presumably guaranteed in the Oaxaca state constitution), but the only
road out of town was blocked by people identified only as
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) loyalists. The Mazatec women
were planning a hunger strike in the atrium of the Cathedral in
Oaxaca. La Jornada of October 7 indicates that the attack was called
for by the state interior secretary and was carried out by the local
PRI. Now the women are calling on international support for the

"...In order for the Oaxacan people, authorities, and indigenous
organizations to come together for discussions, the APPO and other
various sponsors held the Dialogue for Peace on Friday October 13 in
Oaxaca City. The importance of that meeting is that the former bishop
of Chiapas, Samuel Ruiz, once again showed up and spoke for five
minutes. This indicates that Ruiz - who has come three times that I
know of - has put his whole moral weight behind the Oaxaca movement,
most likely because of the movement's importance for indigenous

Read Davies' full commentary, and keep following the events in
Mexico's most indigenous and most revolutionary state:


After a heated all-night assembly, on the morning of Oct. 22
delegates of 70,000 teachers in the southern Mexican state of
Oaxaca voted down a proposal to end a strike that has paralyzed
the capital city, also named Oaxaca, for five months. At the
beginning of the assembly, Enrique Rueda Pacheco, general
secretary of Section 22 of the National Education Workers Union
(SNTE), announced that in a membership consultation held Oct. 19-
20, teachers had voted 26,000 to 15,000 to accept an agreement
negotiated with the federal Governance Secretariat (interior
ministry) and return to teaching on Oct. 30. But union delegates
charged that the voting was "rigged" because of the way the
questions were presented, and decided to hold a new consultation
Oct. 23-24. Many denounced Rueda as a "sellout" and "traitor."
Anger at Rueda is so intense that he tried to slip into the
assembly through a back entrance while wearing dark glasses.
[Reuters 10/22/06; La Jornada (Mexico) 10/21/06, 10/22/06]

The teachers went on strike for cost-of-living increases and
better schools on May 22. After Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz of the
centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) tried to end the
strike with a police assault on June 14, the teachers escalated
their demands to include Ruiz's removal from office. Indigenous
communities and social movements joined the mobilization, forming
a coalition, the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (APPO).
Together the teachers and APPO have occupied the capital's
downtown area and many government offices for most of the last
five months and have taken control of several radio stations.

The federal government, headed by outgoing president Vicente Fox
Quesada of the center-right National Action Party (PAN), has
negotiated on wage issues but refuses to discuss the removal of
Ruiz. The federal Senate has the power to remove a governor, but
on Oct. 19 senators from the PAN and PRI, along with the small
Green Ecological Party of Mexico (PVEM), joined to block efforts
to oust Ruiz. The APPO and many teachers say they will not end
their mobilization as long as Ruiz is in office. [LJ 10/20/06]

The teachers say 10 strikers or supporters have been killed since
the strike started. The most recent victim was Panfilo Hernandez
Vazquez, an indigenous elementary school teacher. Several unknown
persons in a blue Jetta without license plates pulled up to
Hernandez on the evening of Oct. 18 as he was leaving a local
APPO meeting in the Jardin section of Oaxaca city. They shot him
three times in the abdomen at close range. [LJ 10/19/06,

A revolution with an absolute minimum of violence:
- It’s not ‘news’ – but it should be
Today it’s Sunday (8 Oct 2006) in Oaxaca, beautiful clear air, sunny, a morning to enjoy a mole tamale and hot coffee for breakfast..........
Human rights workers attacked Colombia:

Amnesty International released a report Sept. 7 blasting the Colombian government for giving a "green light" for attacks against human rights workers in the country.
Tens of thousands of indigenous people and their allies focused
on neoliberal economic programs, US foreign policies and local
issues in protests throughout the Americas on Oct. 12, the 514th
anniversary of the arrival of European colonizer Christopher
Columbus in the hemisphere.

Thousands of marchers celebrated the "Day of Indigenous
Resistance" in Guatemala City after the conclusion of an
international meeting there on agrarian reform. The protesters--
including campesinos from six countries and members of dozens of
Guatemalan indigenous organizations and the National Coordinating
Committee of Campesino Organizations (CNOC)--carried signs
demanding "respect for multiculturalism," "no to discrimination
and exclusion" and "stop the removals," referring to police and
military operations against campesinos occupying private estates.
As the march passed by the US embassy, protesters denounced US-
imposed neoliberal policies and demanded an end to aggression
against Bolivia, Cuba and Venezuela.

On the Pacific coast, hundreds of Guatemalans blocked a highway
leading to the Mexican border to express opposition to the
government's rural policies. Other protesters blocked the Inter-
American highway in the northwestern department of Huehuetenango
to demand an end to licensing for foreign mining companies. There
were also protests in Quetzaltenango in the west, Coban in the
center, and various municipalities in the northern department of
Peten, according to Juan Tiney of the National Indigenous and
Campesino Coordinating Committee. [Prensa Latina 10/12/06; El
Mostrador (Chile) 10/12/06 from EFE; La Jornada (Mexico) 10/13/06
from AFP, DPA, Reuters]

Hundreds of Hondurans representing indigenous and African-
descended communities demonstrated in front of the US embassy in
Tegucigalpa on Oct. 12 to protest economic policies promoted by
the US. The organizations called European colonization "the most
gigantic robbery of world history" and denounced "neo-
colonization" by the "US empire." The participants included
indigenous Lencas from the western departments of Lempira and
Intibuca on the border with El Salvador; the Lencas had
demonstrated on Oct. 11 against the building of the El Tigre dam
in their territories [see Update #861]. [EM 10/12/06 from EFE; LJ
10/13/06 from AFP, DPA, Reuters]

The dam was also the target of a protest that dozens of Civic
Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras
(COPINH) members had held on Oct. 3 at the Club Campestre, 30km
north of Tegucigalpa, as Central American presidents met there
for a regional security summit. COPINH declared Salvadoran
president Elias Antonio Saca persona non grata in Honduras for
his promotion of El Tigre, which "would put an end to entire
villages in San Antonio, Mapulaca, Piraera, Santa Lucia, Virginia
and La Virtud municipalities in Honduras, and others in El
Salvador, displacing more than 20,000 people, who would lose
their homes, their culture, their lands, their way of life and
their social networks." The group also objected to the presence
of Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, Mexico's official president-elect,
"given that his designation as president of Mexico is the product
of shameful electoral fraud." [EFE 10/3/06 via Univision TV (US)]

In Colombia some 700 Bari indigenous people marched on Oct. 12 in
Tibu, near the Venezuelan border in Norte de Santander
department, to demand that the state oil company Ecopetrol
suspend its exploratory drilling near their territory. The Bari,
who say they have been victimized by government-backed
"genocides" since 1932, carried bows and arrows along with signs
in what was apparently their first protest. Interior Deputy
Minister Maria Isabel Nieto had told the media that according to
military intelligence reports the Bari were being supported by
the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Observers from human rights organizations and the United Nations
said they saw no evidence of involvement by armed groups. [El
Diario-La Prensa (NY) 10/13/06 from AP; LJ 10/13/06 from AP]

Lisardo Domico, general secretary of the National Indigenous
Organization of Colombia (ONIC), declared Oct. 12 a day of
mourning. He noted that violence against indigenous communities
continues--from the military, leftist rebels and rightwing
paramilitaries. Some 104 indigenous people died violently in
2005, he said, while 18 have been killed and 28 have been
disappeared so far this year; ONIC says 5,731 indigenous people
were displaced from January to September. [El Siglo de Torreon
(Coahuila, Mexico) 10/13/06 from Notimex]

In Argentina, the National Institute Against Discrimination,
Xenophobia and Racism, which is under the authority of the
Interior Ministry, proposed ending Oct. 12's status as a holiday.
Venezuela has already officially renamed the date "Day of
Indigenous Resistance" [see Update #820]. [LJ 10/13/06 from AFP,
DPA, Reuters]
Weekly News Update on the Americas

U.S. cuts economic aid for Colombia area:
Six years and more than $4 billion in American tax dollars after Plan Colombia was launched in Caqueta, Colombia's army is still fighting rebels here, and coca, the raw ingredient of cocaine, is still the region's No. 1 cash crop.

Friends of the Right to Know!
Great news: the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that there is a general right of access to information held by government. This is the first such ruling from an international tribunal. It's a decision to celebrate!
The Inter-American Court's decision in the case of Claude Reyes and others vs. Chile was released today and finds Chile in violation of the right of access to state-held information (The case dates from a request made in 1998 by three environmental activists about a controversial logging project; no information was provided nor a reasoned refusal. For a reminder/summary of the facts of the case, see
The decision also makes clear that to give full effect to this right, States must adopt legal and other provisions that ensure effective exercise of the right to information as well as define limited exemptions to be applied in ways that will cause minimum restriction of the right.
The Court further requires the Chilean state to train public officials on the right to information and the international standards for exemptions.
Spanish version of the decision:
Spies, Lies and Visa Red Tape
The Case of the Cuban Five and Their Wives
by Julie Webb-Pullman

Wow! The US doesn’t only do it in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Europe, Asia and North Africa – they practice cruel and inhuman imprisonment right there at home as well!! And despite the daily diet of anti-terrorist rhetoric their mainstream media dishes up as nauseum, for the last eight years there has been only misinformation, Miaminformation, or an iron curtain of silence regarding the treatment of five Cuban anti-terrorist political prisoners in the U.S. and their families. Http://