Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Latin America Solidarity News 16th July 07

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Cuba consistently makes the news: whether it is it’s health care system (see Salud or Sicko), its response to its oil crisis, its environmental programmes, or by remaining a political opponent of US imperialism for forty years. It is also the home of salsa and its music is world renowned.
Registrations are open for the 25th Southern Cross Brigade to Cuba. Members of the Brigade, which is made up of Australians and New Zealanders, spend approximately four weeks in Cuba, leaving 27th December and returning 24th January.

The Brigade stays in the Julio Mella International Camp and the time there co-incides with visits by Brigades from the Nordic countries and South America, which gives an excellent opportunity for dialogue.

The programme is varied and includes social occasions, dance lessons, cultural events, talks by community groups e.g. the Women’s Federation, visits to schools, hospitals and trade unions, resorts and national parks, as well as free time in Havana. A homestay is always a highlight, this year in Guantanamo Province. Some voluntary work is included in the programme, usually work in the orange orchards. Brigade members with a special interest in an area can usually be provided for.

The trip is suitable for people of any age group. Children are welcome and an 85 year old has coped well. While some knowledge of Spanish is useful, an interpreter is always on hand. As an initial introduction to Cuban society and Cuban people the Brigade is an excellent opportunity to quickly gain insight into this unique country and to express solidarity.
The all up cost is $5500, including airfare, spending money and all accommodation and meals. Members of the Brigade often stay longer in Cuba as private travelers or move onto other countries in the region.

For further enquiries and registration e- mail Ina at inashina@clear.net.nz or Paul at HYPERLINK "mailto:wkcultur@ihug.co.nz" wkcultur@ihug.co.nz; (03 732 4010).

Women in El Salvador
If any LAC people are planning on being Central America later this the year....!

From: cis_elsalvador@yahoo.com

Hello Friends:

The CIS would like to invite you to two special programs we are preparing to learn about the struggles of women in El Salvador and accompany women's organizing, empowerment, and women's businesses.

November 11 - 25 - special spanish program focused on women's issues and Jesuit Anniversary. November 26 - Dec. 4 - special delegation focused on women's organizing and anniversary of U.S. church women.

Please consider participating and pass on the invitation to friends. Women and men are encouraged to participate.

In Solidarity,
Colonia Libertad
Avenida Bolivar Nº 103
San Salvador, El Salvador
Teléfonos: 2226-5362 y 2235-1330
e-mail: cis_elsalvador@yahoo.com



Some 20,000 people marched in Oaxaca city, capital of the
southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, on June 14 to mark the first
anniversary of a violent but unsuccessful attack by state police
on a downtown encampment by the state's striking teachers [see
Update #855]. The police attack escalated the strike and led to
the formation of the broad-based Popular Assembly of the Peoples
of Oaxaca (APPO), which kept much of the city and the state
paralyzed until federal police and troops ended the uprising in
late October and early November. Marchers in the June 14
demonstration called for punishment for those responsible for 21
deaths in Oaxaca from June through November; the resignation of
Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz; the release of political prisoners; the
reopening of almost 200 schools; and more resources for teachers.
[El Diario-La Prensa 6/15/07 from La Opinion]

On June 12 Justice Juan N. Silva Meza of the Supreme Court of
Justice of the Nation (SCJN) called for the court to set up a
special commission to investigate actions by federal, state and
local authorities in Oaxaca from June 2, 2006 to Jan. 31, 2007,
and to establish "why these serious violations of individual
guarantees took place, who ordered them, and whether [this]
followed a government strategy." His call responded to a May 24
report by the government's National Human Rights Commission
(CNDH), which concluded that government authorities had
"physically harmed a great number of people in a cruel and
inhumane manner." [La Jornada (Mexico) 6/13/07; Noticias de
Oaxaca 5/25/07]

On June 14 CNDH president Jose Luis Soberanes Fernandez confirmed
that soldiers had raped at least two underage girls and possibly
two others during an anti-drug operation in Caracuaro, Michoacan,
from May 2 to May 4. Soberanes was unable to say whether the
military would punish the soldiers. But he added that the
"Secretariat of National Defense [SEDENA] can't be the judge and
a party [in the case] at the same time." President Felipe
Calderon Hinojosa's campaign to use the military across the
country to control organized crime has led to several abuses,
including the June 1 shooting deaths of five members of an
extended family--three of them children--by soldiers in Sinoloa
state [see Update #902]. "[W]hat happened in Sinoloa tells us
that the army isn't prepared to take on the functions of the
police," Soberanes told the press on June 14. [LJ 6/15/07]

Cuba Health Reports online.

Published online by the editors of MEDICC Review journal, Cuba Health Reports (CHR) offers you health and medical news from Cuba with the same standard of reliable, evidence-based analysis.

CHR is the premier destination if you want to keep up with Cuban health and medicine—including initiatives to tackle domestic health problems, updates on the country's global health cooperation, and key research developments.

New articles include:

§ Health Minister Discusses ‘SICKO’ in Internet Debate

§ Cuba’s Aging Pains (and Gains)

§ New Cancer Control Unit Established; Latest Data

§ Cuba Rising in Major UN Indices

Colombia's Para-Political Crisis

President Alvaro Uribe has enjoyed back-to-back election landslides and credit for restoring some stability in Colombia’s decades old conflict. But now a scandal is erupting taking the shine off America's most loyal Latin ally and the largest recipient of US aid outside the Middle East.

Prominent members of the Uribe government have now been linked to right-wing death squads responsible for thousands of murders.

All this comes at an awkward time for Colombia and the US, effectively putting a multinational-pushed free trade deal on ice. About the only big corporation happy is Burson-Marsteller, the PR giant hired by the Colombian government for some emergency re-branding.

Avi interviews Raul Fernandez, an economist and professor of US-Latin American Relations at the University of California.

Venezuela Takes Control of Orinoco Oil

Caracas, Jun 26, 2007 (Prensa Latina) The nationalization process of the Orinoco Oil Strip is expected to conclude in Venezuela Tuesday with the construction of joint companies, with majority in the hands of the Venezuelan state.

Thus, the four heavy and extra-heavy crude oil processing associations, which produce a half million barrels daily, become companies with Petroleos de Venezuela the majority shareholder, at a minimum of 60 percent.

With this decision, Venezuelan authorities end the so-called oil opening, regarded by the present National Assembly (Congress) as covert privatization of the South American country's main natural resource.

Currently Venezuela and 13 joint companies are certifying the quantity of crude in the strip, which should make the country first in the world for oil reserves by 2008.

Exxon, Conoco Nix Deals With Venezeula:

Venezuela's state oil company said Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips had refused to sign deals Tuesday that would allow them keep pumping oil under tougher terms in the South American country.

Be ready for guerrilla war against the US, Chávez tells army
Rory Carroll in Caracas
Tuesday June 26, 2007

President Hugo Chávez has ordered Venezuela's armed forces to prepare for a guerrilla war against the United States, saying there must be a strategy to defeat the superpower if it invades.
He said Washington had already launched a non-military campaign using economic, psychological and political means to topple his socialist government and seize control of Venezuela's vast oil reserves.

"We must continue developing the resistance war, that's the anti-imperialist weapon. We must think and prepare for the resistance war every day," the president told hundreds of soldiers assembled at Tiuna Fort, a military base in the capital Caracas, on Sunday.

Wearing an olive-green uniform, red beret and presidential sash, Mr Chávez said Venezuela was locked in "asymmetrical warfare" with the US and that, if it led to combat, soldiers must be prepared to lay down their lives.

"It's not just armed warfare, I'm also referring to psychological warfare, media warfare, political warfare, economic warfare," he said.

There was no immediate response from Washington, but the Bush administration has rejected previous claims that it was plotting to attack its outspoken South American foe.

Mr Chávez's speech came on the eve of a trip to Russia, Belarus and Iran, hosts who share much of his antipathy towards Washington.

He said that while in Minsk he would put "the final touches" to a deal to buy an air defence system with long-range radar and missiles and in Moscow he would discuss the possible purchase of submarines.

Venezuela has recently purchased £1.5bn worth of Russian weapons including 53 military helicopters, 24 SU-30 Sukhoi fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles.

Mr Chávez stressed the build-up was a deterrent. "We are strengthening Venezuela's military power precisely to avoid imperial aggressions and assure peace, not to attack anybody."

The air system was purely defensive, he said. "But if somebody comes here, well then, ssssssshhh," he said, imitating the sound of a missile.

The former paratrooper said US dirty tricks were evident in the student-led protests which greeted his decision last month not to renew the licence of RCTV, an opposition-aligned television station. He also said Washington was trying to sabotage the Copa America, a pan-regional football tournament which Venezuela is due to host over the coming weeks.

The Bush administration tacitly backed a coup that briefly ousted Mr Chávez in 2002 and has made no secret of its distaste for a leader who has thrown an economic lifeline to Fidel Castro's Cuba.

Mr Chávez claimed there have been numerous US-sponsored attempts on his life since the coup, but he has not provided details.

Lula resumes nuclear program to make Brazil 'world power'
11 Jul 2007, 0456 hrs IST,AFP

SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates

SAO PAULO: President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday relaunched the country's nuclear program, promising to complete a nuclear submarine and a third atomic power plant both mothballed 20 years ago.

"Brazil could rank among those few nations in the world with a command of uranium enrichment technology, and I think we will be more highly valued as a nation -- as the power we wish to be," Lula said at the navy's Technological Centre in Sao Paulo.

"If money was lacking, it won't be lacking now," Lula said. Finishing the nuclear submarine would cost an estimated 68 million dollars over eight years, he said.

"And who knows, with a little more (money), we may build it sooner, because it is running late," Lula said, 20 years after the project was abandoned.

He also confirmed the government would complete the Angra III nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro state, after the National Committee on Energy Policy approved the project two weeks ago.

"We will complete Angra III, and if necessary, we'll go on to build more (nuclear plants) because it is clean energy and now proven to be safe," Lula said. The plant will cost 3.5 billion dollars over five and a half years, he said.

"Nuclear energy has been tested and approved in Brazil. It is safe and we have the technology. So why not go for it?" Lula said.

Two weeks ago Lula said the country's energy demand was growing at five percent a year. He said the government had to assure investors that there will be no energy shortage after 2010.

However, Greenpeace criticized Lula's announcement as reviving a dream of Brazil's 1964-1985 military regime, which Lula battled as a trade union leader.

"He will reignite the 30-year dream of the military, with no benefit -- but lots of problems -- for the country," Greenpeace anti-nuclear leader Guilherme Leonardi said.

Leonardi said the submarine could be "used for spying or sneak attacks and is unneeded in peacetime."

"Nuclear energy is unnecessary because it is expensive, dirty, dangerous and outdated," he said, adding: "Brazil has enormous potential in clean, environmentally friendly solar and biomass energy."

Brazil has the world's sixth largest reserves of uranium, and completing the nuclear submarine would help Brazil to learn uranium enrichment.

Brazil could then command the complete nuclear fuel cycle, from mining to recycling, navy commander Julio Moura said recently. A submarine-size reactor could also power a small city, he said.

"We have what it takes to become a great energy power and we are not going to give that up," Lula said.

However, Lula's Environment Minister Marina Silva opposes the projects: "In the last 15 years, no country has built nuclear power plants because of the problems with the waste.

"We have other sources of power: a great potential in hydroelectric, and clean energies in which we should invest," she said.

The 2004 opening of a uranium enrichment facility in Resende, outside Rio de Janeiro, triggered international controversy.

Brazil, a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, obliged the International Atomic Energy Agency to accommodate Brazil's demand for an inspection regime that protected the plant's technology and trade secrets.

Latin America Solidarity Committee
Lac Email lac@apc.org.nz
LAC website www.converge.org.nz/lac
LAC blogg www.lascnz.blogspot.com
Zapatista email zapatistasolidarity@gmail.com
Zapatista blogg http://vivazapatanz.blogspot.com/
Incal-Wellington http://incal.orcon.net.nz
Peña Cultural Latina Alternative Mondays 6pm 128 Abel Smith St

Help is needed for:

1: Put notices on web site once or twice a month.
2: Make posters for occasional events, public meetings.

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Other NZ links
Casalatina Auckland: www.casalatinanz.com
Human Rights Portal www.humanrights.net.nz/
Global Peace & Justice Auckland: http://gpja.org.nz/
Cuba Friendship Society: www.cubafriends.org.nz
Dev-Zone library DVD requests etc http://www.dev-zone.org/library/index.php
Dev-Zone: www.dev-zone.org/
EMAIL info@drc.org.nz, PH +64 4 472 9549, Level 2, James Smith Building, Wellington.

Overseas Links
News from Brazil www.braziljusticenet.org
Mexico Solidarity Network: http://www.cislac.org.au/

LASNET Latin American Solidarity Network www.latinlasnet.org
CISLAC - Latin America Solidarity Australia www.cislac.org.au/
Network Opposed to the Plan Puebla Panama (NoPPP); www.asej.org
ACERCA - Plan Puebla Panama, Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA),
Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Acerca@sover.net
Latin American Solidarity Coalition: www.lasolidarity.org
Latin American Agenda project team of the Social Justice Committee www.s-j-c.net
Información sobre Puerto Rico y sus luchas
www.redbetances.com http://capaprieto.tripod.com/index.html