Monday, May 29, 2006

Response from the Mexican Embassy, 29 May

Mexican Ambassador Responds to LASC

We recieved the following response from the Mexican Embassy to the correspondence detailed in the press release titled "Mexican Government Must Act on Human Rights in Atenco" dated 28 May 2006:

Mr Elliott O’Brien

Latin American Solidarity Committee

Dear Mr O’Brien,

Thank you very much for the letter that you delivered to the Embassy
earlier this afternoon.

Please be assured that we have sent this document directly to the Mexican authorities and that we shall forward to you any additional information we are able to obtain.

Yours sincerely,

Angélica Arce
Ambassador of Mexico

Fiesta del Sol

Celebration of Matariki (Fiesta del Sol)

All groups or individuals from Latin America are invited to participate in the celebrate the Fiesta del Sol (New Year for the Indigenous People of Latin America, which is the month of June, the same date as Matariki - New Year for the Maori People.) There will be an artistic performance and something to eat.

The reponsibility of each performance rests with the group performing, however it may include theatre, song, dance, poems, short stories etc. and must not exceed twenty minutes.

The performance will take place on Saturday 10 june between 5.30pm and 8.30pm
in the Petone senior Citizen's Hall (located on Elizabeth Street, carpark on Silvery Place). The hall has capacity for 120 people. The cost of hiring the hall is $60 for three hours. Members of performing groups should bring food and drink to share.

Entry will be free, however those attending will be encouraged to give a donation to pay the hall and publicity costs.

The event is being co-ordinated by Incal-Casa Latina Wellington.
For more information contact:

Rolando Olmedo
Phone: 568 7095



Celebracion de Matariki (Fiesta del Sol)

Se invita a todos los grupos y personas de Latin América que desean participar en la celebración de Fiesta del Sol. (Ano Nuevo de Pueblos Indígenas de Latín América, que es en el més de Junio,misma fecha de Matariki – Ano Nuevo de los Maori.) Se realizará un acto artístico con algo para comer.

Es reponsabilidad de cada grupo su actuación y tendrá un máximo de 20 minutos y pueden actuar con teatro, cantos, bailes, poemas, historias cortas, etc

El acto será el Sábado 10 de Junio entre las 5:30 y 8:30 pm en el Hall de Señior Citizen Petone (Silvery Place car park-Elizabeth Street- Petone). El hall tiene una capacidad para 120 personas). El pago por el arriendo es de $60.00 por trés horas.

Se solicita cada integrante llevar un plato de comida y bebidas para compartir.

La entrada será gratuita y se solicitará a los asistentes una donación para pagar gastos del Hall y poster de publicidad. Han comprometido su asistencia los siguientes personas y paises.:

Bolivia encargada Maggie

Perú encargada Claudia

Chile encargado Rolando

Colombia encargada Saray

Por favor pasar esta información a los companeros de Cuba, México, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina,etc.

Este evento es coordinado por Incal-Casa Latina Wellington.

Para mayores informaciones comunicarse con

Rolando Olmedo

Fono :568-7095


Progress on Film Database

The Films Keep Rolling In!

The film database project is progressing well. We have seventeen dvds on file covering a wide range of issues. If you have any of interest keep sending in the details.

Contact with the directors and distributors has been positive so far with most not requiring any fee for screening. Notably Amund Prestegard suggested an we might be interested in a Costa Rican film he was involved in called Intima Raiz. If we can get a copy we may screen in with the Greening of Cuba in early August.

Watch this space!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Refugee and Migrant Garden Project

Expression of Innermost

A garden project for migrant and refugee women.

All women are welcome!

Women from non-English speaking backgrounds are strongly encouraged!

You are invited to participate in the first meeting of your own
innermost garden project in Wellington.

Come and enjoy meeting with other women from different backgrounds!

Venue: Aro Valley Community Centre
Address: 48 Aro Street. Aro Valley, Wellington
Date: 11th of June 2006
Time: 2.30-5pm
Contact: Emet Alpay -Degirmenci on 02102397107 or

Media Release 28 May

Sunday 28 May 2006

Mexican Government Must Act to Secure Human Rights in Atenco

The time has come for the Mexican police to be held accountable for their actions. A spokesperson for the Latin America Solidarity Committee, Elliott O'Brien, called for Mexican President Vicente Fox to honour his word by freeing the prisoners, bringing police guilty of abuses before the courts and taking steps taken to bring police protocol into line with Mexico’s commitments to human rights. A delegation in support of the people of Atenco and Texcoco, will take these concerns, once again, to the Mexican Embassy at 1pm Monday 29 May.

On Friday 12 May a number of concerned individuals protested this abuse outside the Mexican Embassy in Wellington. A group initiated a dialogue with embassy officials. At the time there was a lack of clarity on many issues surrounding the developments in Atenco. Mr O' Brien said that Embassy officials insisted the Mexican government believes that the human rights of its citizens should be upheld, investigations were underway and where abuses were found to have occurred, action would be taken.

However, O'Brien said that, so far, the actions of the Mexican government have been face-saving at best. The 189 arrested were charged with hostage-taking, blocking roads and
organised delinquency. The fact that charges against the foreigners have been dropped, but those against locals stand, suggests that there is not evidence or basis in law to bring them.

On 3 May, Mexican police and army officials forcibly evicted flower vendors occupying a marketplace in Texcoco, Mexico. 189 people, including five foreigners were arrested, and a 14 year old boy named Francisco Javier Cortes Santiago was killed. Imprisoned in Santiaguito, Almolaya de Juárez, the National Human Rights Commission has received 182 separate claims of rights violations including severe and repeated beatings, degrading treatment and violation of legal protocols. 30 women reported
sexual abuse by security forces.

Since this time both national and international human rights organisations have been allowed access to the prisoners and further information has surfaced. Notably, Amnesty
International has questioned the arrests of the vendors and demanded their immediate release.

The Miguel Augstin Pro Human Rights Center released video testimony from three state police officers confirming responsibility for the death of the 14-year-old." The youth saw an officer who was trying to hide. He shouted that there was a state police officer and (the officer) took out his gun and shot him," said the officers. The three policemen revealed that state police arrived in Atenco armed with R-15 caliber rifles and .38 and 9 millimeter pistols. "We were under orders to beat anything that moved, but only out of sight of the media," said the police.

Public Security Secretary Eduardo Medina admitted officials used excessive force in dealing with flower vendors and then quelling street protests. The National Human Rights Commission reported that police used prophylactics during the abuse, a strong indication that they came to
Atenco with the intention of committing rape.

Given the haste that charges have been laid against the vendors, O'Brien said that it was unacceptable that the police continue to hide behind open-ended investigations. “When
questioned about the issue, Mexican president Vicente Fox 'if there were excesses, then they should be punished by applying the law.' Evidence and testimony of excesses are now available, it is time for action.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Police Brutality in Mexico

Summary of News from Atenco, Mexico
Sources: Mexico Solidarity Network, MSN News

- The Miguel Augstin Pro Human Rights Center released video testimony from three state police officers confirming responsibility for the death of the 14-year-old." The youth saw an
officer who was trying to hide. He shouted that there was a state police officer and (the officer) took out his gun and shot him," said the officers.

- The three policemen, whose identities were protected during filming, revealed that state police arrived in Atenco armed with R-15 caliber rifles and .38 and 9 millimeter pistols."We were under orders to beat anything that moved, but only out of sight of the
media," said the police.

- Public Security Secretary Eduardo Medina admitted officials used excessive force in dealing with flower vendors and then quelling street protests.

- Of the 47 women arrested in Atenco, 30 reported sexual abuse - "having been violated with penetration of the penis, fingers or other objects" in formal complaints taken by the federal Attorney General and the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).Police used prophylactics during the abuse, a strong indication that they came to Atenco with the intention of committing rape.

- A CNDH investigation revealed extreme physical abuse of arrestees by police, including severe and repeated beatings, degrading treatment and violation of legal protocols.As of Thursday, the CNDH received 182 separate complaints.The internal affairs department of the Federal Preventative Police initiated a separate investigation targeting at least five high level officials for involvement in the abuse.

- Human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have questioned the arbitrary early morning arrest of over 200 people, and have demanded their immediate release.

- A coalition of more than two dozen human rights organizations noted, "In other parts of the country, most recently in Michoacan, we've seen the government act in the same way, combining state and federal forces to repress social movements."

- When asked by reporters about the demonstration, Fox was on the defensive: "If there were excesses, then they should be punished by applying the law."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Film Screenings

Help us screen more films!

If you know of or have any films with a Latin America and/or development focus we're really interested to hear about them.

At the moment, we're going through the films that we currently have access to and ascertaining what arrangements have to be made with rights holders for screening. The goal is to have a database of the films at our disposal so that should a screening opportunity arise, we can take advantage of it.

We would really appreciate it if you could notify us of any details you have about relevant films:

- title
- year produced
- director
- producer
- distributor
- subject matter etc.

You can do this by posting a comment or emailing

The sooner we know about them, the sooner you could be seeing them on a big screen near you!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

CID Training Opportunities

The Council for International Development runs a number of workshops open to those involved in development. They are well worth attending if you can make the time.

Council for International Development



1st Week: CID/NZAID Regional Meetings, including discussions of new EMDR guidelines

1st Christchurch

3rd Wellington

5th Auckland

17th May: What is Development? Concepts and structures in the development sector for agency support staff. Wellington.

This half day workshop is for support staff who may not have any background in development. If you are working in the sector and would find it useful to have a chance to explore the basic ideas of development, and to find out who MFAT, NZAID, VASS, CID etc are, what they do and how they relate to each other, well this is for you - receptionists, finance people, support staff of any sort…..

30th May: The Launch of the new EMDR and VASS guidelines and an opportunity to workshop these. Wellington.

A must-do for all organisations so that we understand and can use the new guidelines effectively.

VASS Guidelines – 9.30am – 12.30pm;

EMDR Guidelines - 1.30pm – 4.30pm


14 June: Introduction to the VASS Wellington.

A must-do for all new member organisations and new staff of longer established member organisations. Explains how the system works and how you can best make successful applications to the VASS.


12 July: Toolshare For Programme Officers. Wellington

Come and share experiences with your peers. What has worked well for you? What problems have you encountered? A chance to discuss your work with others who have similar experiences.


2nd August: A Rights Based Approach to Development. Wellington.

A follow up of the 2005 introductory workshop on this topic. More details later.

30th August: Gender and development. Wellington.

An exploration of power as it impacts on gender relations, in our own communities and those of our partners. A good understanding of these issues is vital for ethical and successful work, and for access to VASS funding. Well worthwhile having at least one representative from your organisation attend this workshop.


12 September After a Partnership for Development (PfD) Grant – taking the next step. Auckland.

This workshop provides guidance for those organisations which have taken up one or more PfD grants but not yet proceeded with any partner organisation to the development of a full project/programme.

27 September: The implications of the Treaty for international development work. Wellington.

The Treaty is a fundamental document for Aotearoa NZ. How does this affect the work we do overseas? What principles and values from the Treaty can/should we carry into the work in our own organisations and with our partners. This is a chance to explore these thoughts with a facilitator and your peers.


12 – 14 October: NZAID/NGO AGM and CID AGM


8 November: VASS – Risk assessment in Project Management. Wellington. This will be a very useful, practical workshop on identifying and managing the many things that can wrong with a project/programme. We all know some risks – come and find out how much more can go wrong and what you can do to prevent or minimise the potential chaos!

29 November: Toolshare: Multi-media and other innovative teaching methodologies Wellington.

Dev-Ed Group. A chance to share good ideas, brainstorm solutions to problems and generally be inspired for the new year!

For more info contact:

Eleanor Doig

Training and Capacity Building Manager

Council for International Development

+64 4 496 9615

Travel subsidies are available from CID – up to 60% for workshops and 100% for DevEd Tool Shares.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Posting Comments on this Blog

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Zapatista Profile

Info and Updates on the Zapatistas

Below are links to information on the Zapatistas.

(en español)

(in english)

This highlight from Mexico Solidarity describes possible outcomes for a hospital in Chiapas:

The largest autonomous hospital in Chiapas is located in Oventic, where doctors and health care promoters provide everything from free consultations to surgery. The hospital served 8,214 patients in 2003, nearly 23 a day, an impressive track record for a hospital that works with few resources and without assistance from the state or federal governments. The hospital did 5,084 general consultations, hospitalized 216 patients and attended the needs of 625 pregnant women. The hospital oversees eight smaller clinics, one in each of the autonomous municipalities governed by the Oventic Junta, as well as a training program for health care promoters. Eventually the training program will provide at least two health care providers for each community.

VASS Information

The VASS System

This is straight from the NZAID website:

Important Notice

Following recommendations made in the 2004/05 VASS Evaluation, all VASS grants are now on a 4:1 basis, including general projects which were previously on a 2:1 basis. This means that for every dollar provided by the New Zealand NGO, NZAID will provide 4 dollars.

Here are a couple of links that provide information on the VASS Criteria:

The criteria are briefly summarised in section A3, pg 3. It's worthwhile reading around them however, as there are other requirements such as evidence of "financial and managment capacity to assess, manage and report accurately on projects and activities for which funding is recieved."

To get an idea of the actual paperwork that must be filled out for the grant follow this link (downloadable word document):

An example of how the forms are filled out is detailed at:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Art and Culture Event

Fans of Latin American Art and Culture take note!

Folklore Group "Los Andes" presents Dances and Songs of Latin America (from Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Cuba) this Sunday 14 May from 1 to 2pm. Entry is free. For more information contact coordinator Rolando ph. 04 568 7095

At the Marae-Te Papa-

Grupo Folclorico “Los Andes” Presenta

Bailes y Canciones de Latin America

(from Chile,Peru,Bolivia,Colombia,Venezuela,Mexico,Cuba)

Domingo(Sunday) 14 de Mayo de 1 a 2 pm

Entrada Gratuita -Free Admission

Mas informaciones llamar al Coordinador Rolando Ph-04-568-7095

Emergency Protest Action

at the Mexican Embassy
Friday, 12th May, 12.30pm,
corner of Willis St and Lambton Quay, Wellington

A strong presence is felt outside the Mexican Embassy

While inside we sought answers from Embassy Official Enrique Franco

Thanks to all those who turned out in solidarity with the Zapatistas and the FPDT. The effort that went into placards, flowers and dress ensured the public and Embassy officials were well aware of the cause. Thanks also to the Embassy Officials who took the time to listen to our concerns, forward our correspondence to the Mexican government and promised to make the information at their disposal available to the Committee. If only it was that easy for the Zapatistas to secure dialogue with Mexican officials!


STOP police brutality in Texcoco and Atenco!
:: Solidarity with the Zapatistas and the Other Campaign!
:: Freedom for all political prisoners!
:: ¡Pare la brutalidad del policía en Texcoco y Atenco!
:: ¡Solidaridad con los Zapatistas y la Otra Campaña!
:: ¡Libertad para todos los presos políticos!

On Wednesday morning, 3rd May, flower vendors from People in Defense of the Land Front (Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra) occupying a space in the Texcoco market were brutally repressed by state police. While defending their space in the market in Mexico state, a 14 year-old boy died and hundreds of people were arrested. 217 prisoners began a hunger strike in central Mexico Friday protesting the conditions of their arrests and their treatment at the hands of local police. Reports have been filtering out from jail of rape, physical and mental abuse experienced by people who were arrested for their involvement in the defense of Texcoco and Atenco.

This happened a few days after the Zapatista initiated 'Other Campaign' visited the area. The EZLN (National Zapatista Army of Liberation) subsequently issued a new Red Alert for the autonomous communities in Chiapas.

"The municipal president wants to evict these people because he thinks their market leaves the area dirty and he wants to put a commercial center, a Wal-mart in Texcoco," Subcommandante Marcos of the EZLN (National Zapatista Army of Liberation) said before thousands of people during a public rally in Tlatelolco.

The peasant flower vendors have been resisting eviction for weeks. The area they use has been eyed by local authorities for a new commercial center. As part of the People in Defense of the Land, the flower vendors have been joined by people in struggle from Atenco, a municipal adjacent to Texcoco. In 2002, the people of Atenco successfully resisted the construction of a national airport on their land with machetes and popular organization.

America del Valle a member of People in Defense of the Land spoke before the crowd. "The reason of this aggression is something that they repeat every day; it is for the crime of reclaiming one piece of land to sell products that we produce from our land: nopales, verduras, flowers," she said.

She announced the demands of the movement: liberation of arrested individuals and return of the market space.

Marcos called for regional coordinators throughout the country of Mexico to organize themselves in solidarity with Texcoco.

"We will see who is really with la Otra [The other campaign]. Here we will see if this is true of la Otra; if it is not only speeches but if its solidarity and urgent action."

Marcos announced meetings after the rally to coordinate actions for Thursday, which will begin at 8 a.m. He also announced a new red alert, closure of Zapatista caracoles and suspension of activities in La Otra Campaña, which is wrapping up its tour in Mexico City.

"The Zapatistas are, today, Texcoco. We are going to be alert to their demands. Closure of streets, highways, flyering, painting, protests. We respect their decisions, we will arrive to where they tell us to go," Marcos said.

More information:

English language coverage on IMC Mexico:

San Diego IMC:


Audio from Marcos (Delegate Zero) in Atenco:

Further info on Atenco from BBC MUNDO:

Mexico/Atenco: Reports of Sexual Abuse Surface

An organisation that safeguards human rights in Mexico denounced alleged violations of the human rights of women detained during the protests in San Salvador Atenco the last week.

Mujeres en Atenco
Women protest in front of the jail where their comrades are detained
The report of the National Committee of Human rights (CNDH), a
governmental agency, indicate that seven detainees have been violated
and a further 16 underwent sexual abuses.

According to the report of the CNDH, the women they claim that ''they
were ordered to lift their dresses above their waists, and in the trucks
in which they were transferred from Atenco to the penitentiary of
Santiaguito, the police sexually abused them, in some cases with
foreign objects. Others were forced to perform oral sex .''

The abuse occured when the women and another group of people were detained during a violent protest that began when police evicted a group
of flower vendors.

BBC correspondent in Atenco, James Hidier, reported that these denunciations have generated the fear that such violence may be repeated before the upcoming elections.

Foreign testimony

Three of the women who were supposedly subjected to abuses are foreign.

Valentina Palma, a Chilean studying cinematography in Mexico, said to local newspaper La Jornada that she was robbed of her possessions and assaulted by the police.

“They insulted me, man-handled me, did everything to me,” she indicated.

“When they locked me up, I saw girls crying with clothes and underwear dishevelled,” she added.

Negation by the police

The head of the regional police denies the accusations.

Wilfredo Robledo, responded to local media that the allegations levelled are part of a campaign by the lawyers of the prisoners to keep the security forces in disrepute .

On the other hand, Emanuel Avila, spokesman of the Department of the Interior of the state of Mexico (where is Atenco located), indicated that “none of the prisoners, who were violated supposedly, have lodged a formal complaint or has allowed themselves to be examined by doctors.”

Hundreds of police took the town after several local farmers, with machetes, kidnapped and attacked several agents who had detained the flower vendors.

An adolescent died in the incident and many were wounded, including 50 police.

The images of the security forces attacking the demonstrators generated a strong public backlash in the country.

For the original article in Spanish see: