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A Contrast in Discourses: Sicilia and the Peace Caravan in Oaxaca

The Annihilating Language of the Left Meets the Language of Humanity of Drug War Victims

This month’s journey by Javier Sicilia, family members of drug war victims and the Caravan of Peace provided a closer look at how different sectors of the Mexican left are receiving the emergence of the country’s first explicitly nonviolent movement on a national scale. The difference between Sicilia’s Gandhian strategy and discourse and those of more strident and militant traditions was especially magnified in the state of Oaxaca, where the caravan traveled September 11, 12 and 13, a majority-indigenous state which has its own deep history of struggle. ...

Oaxaca’s history of popular struggle is among the deepest in the hemisphere. We’ve learned a lot from it, particularly from the Zapotec communities of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, who in the 1980s launched the first resistance against the one-party rule of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, in its Spanish initials). Much of my own early formation in Mexico came learning from my late friend, the exceptional community organizer and labor lawyer Carlos Sanchez, assassinated in 2003 in Juchitán, at the age of 49, while returning from his daughter’s 15th birthday celebration.

It is not easy to work or live in Oaxaca with a social conscience and not become overwhelmed at times with grief over the sheer volume of political assassination, unjust imprisonment and violence inflicted on good people who have worked to right wrongs and injustices. One day your friend and neighbor are there, fighting the good fight. The next day he and she are gone, forever. Then you watch helplessly as their children are raised fatherless or motherless. You see and feel the gaping holes left in communities throughout the state’s seven regions, and the long term consequences of such political violence, compounded today by the economic violence of the prohibitionist drug policy and its escalating consequences on all of Mexico, including Oaxaca, a key south-to-north funnel in the routes of South American cocaine.

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MEXICO Peace Movement Meets Zapatistas


PALENQUE, Mexico, Sep 19, 2011 (IPS) - The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, headed by Mexican writer Javier Sicilia, travelled through southeastern Mexico and reached the heart of the territory controlled by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), bringing a message of solidarity.

Sicilia and other relatives of victims of the wave of violence triggered by the militarisation of the war on drugs by the government of Mexican President Felipe Calderón visited the "autonomous community" of Oventic, in the southern state of Chiapas, Friday Sep. 16.

The community is part of the territory under the influence of the EZLN, guerrillas who took up arms in 1994 in Chiapas to demand democratic reforms and greater recognition of indigenous rights. After two weeks of skirmishes with the army, a truce was agreed. The barely-armed group remains in political and administrative control of part of the state, where communities are organised autonomously under local councils.

No Zapatista commanders took part in the meeting, but the peace movement activists were welcomed by the Junta de Buen Gobierno (Council of Good Government). The meeting lasted for over three hours. Five EZLN representatives listened to the victims' testimonies, but made no statement.

"They have their own methods and sense of timing. The main thing is that it was possible to hold this meeting," one of the coordinators of the peace movement, Pietro Ameglio of the Peace and Justice Service (SERPAJ), told IPS.

On May 8, when a national march convened by Sicilia arrived in the Zócalo, Mexico City's central square, the Zapatistas held a demonstration in the southeastern town of San Cristóbal de las Casas in support of the peace movement.


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MEXICO Peace Caravan 'Has Made Us Feel Stronger'

OAXACA, Mexico, Sep 13, 2011 (IPS) - With a huge hug, Olga Reyes from Chihuahua, who has lost six family members in Mexico's wave of drug-related violence, greets Araceli Rodríguez from Mexico state, the mother of a young federal police officer who "disappeared" in Michoacán two years ago.

They are both travelling with the Peace Caravan, heading for Mexico's southern border with Guatemala.

Reyes and Rodríguez then embraced Rosario Ocampo, the niece of Lucio Cabañas (1939-1974), a rural schoolteacher and leader of the insurgent Partido de los Pobres (Party of the Poor). Her family were displaced from their home and forced to flee from the southern state of Guerrero after the legendary guerrilla fighter's widow was murdered two months ago.
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MEXICO
Peace Caravan Tells Migrants 'You Are Not Alone'


TECÚN UMÁN, Guatemala, Sep 16, 2011 (IPS) - Lucía and her family left their village in Guatemala village at 8:00 am to join the Peace Caravan, but they had to wait for six hours at the Rodolfo Robles bridge between Ciudad Tecún Umán, in Guatemala, and Ciudad Hidalgo, in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

When the motorcade, led by writer Javier Sicilia and activist Julián Le Barón, of Mexico City and Chihuahua state, respectively, finally arrived at the Guatemalan border, Lucía had held her one-year-old son in her arms for ages. Tired out by the wait, he was fast asleep, oblivious of the commotion on the international bridge.

"We came to represent our organisation (the Campesino Unity Committee), because there is a lot of crime, a lot of poverty, and many people are being killed or are victims of extortion in Mexico," the young mother told IPS.
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We didn't have our sons and daughters for war:Indigenous Peoples From Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Mexico Meet in Cauca, Colombia

North Cauca, Colombia, June 24, 2011: The first meeting of indigenous women in resistance for the survival and autonomy of their peoples concluded on Friday, after taking place at a shelter in Huellas Caloto in the Bodega Alta district in the Cauca department of Colombia. For four days, women and men from northern Cauca, joined with around 26 national and international organizations, discussed “weaving a memory with words,” and finished the event with a march to the town of Santander de Quilichao.

At the meeting, attendees discussed the need for autonomy with their food, and resistance from women. Seeds and traditional agricultural products were exchanged to reflect truth, justice, reparation and law for both indigenous women and a peace proposal. They also denounced and discussed the armed conflict that the country is living in.


In 1971, indigenous people from northern Cauca formed the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, which was made up of nine chapters. Currently there are 19 chapters. They fight for their land, food, education, work opportunities and to live in harmony with mother earth. Nelson Lemus Consejero de Paz, with the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN in Spanish initials), said that “the multinational corporations want to dispossess us of our land through war.”

The people have organized cooperatives, including a trout hatchery, yogurt business, crafts market, and more. They are nonviolent, but for many years they have lived with harassment from soldiers. On May 28, 2001, they decided to organize and create what they call the Indigenous Guard, or, Kiwe Thegnas in the Nasa Yuwe indigenous language. The three goals of the group are to “care for, protect, and defend the people,” said Don Germán Valencia and Luis Alberto Mensa, coordinators with the Guard. MORE
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If Crime Is Organized, then Why Not Us?


Sicilia: “We Are Taking the First Steps in this Great Crusade to Dignify Our Country”

Before the Caravan of Solace, many of the families who had lost their own to the war on drugs remembered them in the privacy of their living rooms. They lived below a yoke of fear imposed by the government’s criminalization of the victims and they didn’t dare raise their voices in a cry for justice. Now, as a result of the caravan, many know each other and recognize each other. They dare to go out into the street and say that their son, daughter, husband, wife, father or mother was not a criminal. Families that beforehand did not know each other began to share their pain, hugging each other, in the street, to appeal for justice, peace and dignity.

The recognition between them, the sharing of stories of life and death, the pain and solace, the love, the desires for justice, helped them to dignify the names of their fallen family members, friends and neighbors. This is what unites María Elena Herrera Magdalena of Morelia, Michoacán, whose four children were disappeared, with the parents of Juan Martín Ayala and of Sarahy Méndez Salazar, murdered in San Luís Potosí. This is what joins María América Nava of Ecatepec, in the state of Mexico, whose brother, a community organizer, was assassinated, in a hug with Nepomuceno Moreno, from Sonora, who joined the caravan to continue seeking justice for his son. Estela Ángeles Mondragón, of the Rarámuri, (also known as Tarahumara) indigenous community, shares with them the constant pilgrimage she makes from the mountains to the courtrooms to claim justice for her daughter, gunned down, and her assassinated husband. MORE


Mexican Community Uses Barricades to Drive Out Organized Crime and Political Parties


Armed with machetes, sticks, and farm tools, residents of Cherán, Michoacan, covered their faces with bandanas and set up barricades around their community on April 15. It is a scene reminiscent of Oaxaca in 2006, except this time, the barricades aren't meant to keep out paramilitary death squads; they keep out organized crime.

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A Mexican Movement at a Crossroads: A Paper Pact or an Organized Community?


While the Media and Some Activists Obsess Upon the “National Pact,” a Deeper History Unfolds Among Drug War Victims

“Invention,” Javier Sicilia reminded this week, is “the daughter of necessity,” and a venture as ambitious as ending a war that has taken 40,000 Mexican lives in half a decade, by definition, requires a lot of creativity and innovation.

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World Economy: Women Weigh in on Poverty, Work and Debt


The International Museum of Women's online exhibit on women and the economy, features slideshows, podcasts, videos and essays on women from countries such as Sudan, Denmark, Philippines, USA, Costa Rica, Mexico, Argentina and how they view issues such as poverty, business, family, rights, money and much more.

Economica, IMOW's online interactive exhibit sets out to explore women's contribution in the global economy. Picturing Power and Potential, was a juried photography exhibit showing different ways in which women participate in the economy and are agents of change.

For example, the exhibit's Community Choice Award winner was Brenda Paik Suno, a third generation Korean-American who took pictures of a Jeju Granny of the Sea, a woman who is part of the tradition of female divers of the Jeju Islands who have harvested the sea for generations:


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White House Communications Director Dodgey When Asked about War on Women


Daily Kos Associate Editor Kalli Joy Gray: I'd like to ask you about a different kind of war, and this is a war that I am particularly concerned about.

White House Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer: Okay.

Gray: The war on women. [Audience applause.] We're seeing an unprecedented number of attacks on women at the state and federal level—everything from contraception to health care to food stamps, um, drug-testing of women receiving welfare in Florida. Women in Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, are talking openly about a war on women. So, I want to know if the president agrees with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and our new DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz: Is there a war on women?

Pfeiffer: Well, what I can say is that there is no question that there is a sustained effort from Republicans at the federal and state level to, uh, undo a lot of the progress we've done. I think the most, uh, prominent example was the effort to defund Planned Parenthood, uh, during the government funding battle a few months ago, which the president, uh, at that point told the House Republicans that if they wanted to defund Planned Parenthood, that they were going to have to shut down the government over it. We see this in Indiana, where, uh, Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law an effort that would, uh, illegally defund Planned Parenthood, and the federal government is involved in a lawsuit to stop that. And so he, the president, is very concerned about all of these efforts, uh, and the ones on the federal level that we can play an active role to stop, including the use of the veto pen, uh, the president will do that.

[Note from Liss: Notice that Gray asked him a yes or no question: Does the president agree that there is a war on women? And instead of straightforwardly answering her question, Pfeiffer mansplains the problem to her, as if she and her audience are stupid and/or unaware of the issues affecting women. The thing is, he implicitly answers yes just by his reflexive defensiveness; there's no need to defend the president's record if you don't agree that there's a war on women—but he won't say it, because openly acknowledging there is a war on women is to then admit that the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Act ain't fucking enough. Gray, fortunately, zeroes in and does not let him off the hook.]

Gray: Yes, but we also saw during the healthcare debate that, when it comes down to it, women's issues take a back seat for the "larger" issues, so, for example, the president said that accepting the Hyde Amendment, which punishes poor women in this country, was an acceptable status quo and that we needed to put that aside for the bigger picture. So, I'll ask again: Is there a war on women?

Pfeiffer: [pause] Let's talk about healthcare for a second, which is— [Gray laughs mirthlessly at his obvious evasiveness; the audience laughs; Pfeiffer holds up his finger, gesturing to her to hold on and listen.] The, the, the Hyde Amendment— ["Just say yes!" someone shouts from the audience] The Hyde Amendment was, uh, was the law of the land, and so—

Gray: It's renewed every year. It is not the law of the land. It is renewed every year. [Audience applause.]

Pfeiffer: Right, and, and if we tried to repeal it in health reform, there would be no health reform. And that, that was, that was the choice. It was a very simple choice, and so—

Gray: It was a simple choice?

Pfeiffer: It was, well, it's, you have two options—it's simple in the fact that you have two options; it's not an easy choice! [He says this like Gray is being a jerk.] You have two choi—you have two options: And it was no health reform and make that attempt, which would've failed and would most certainly not have passed the United States Senate, so that's the choice you have to make.

[He says this in this really matter-of-fact way, as if anyone would question the decision is an asshole, and when he says "the choice you have to make," I wonder who that "you" is supposed to be, really, because it's definitely not the women who are left without any choice because of the Hyde Amendment.]
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I... didn't know that the Hyde Amendment was renewed every year. Are we for real??? Instead  of  making progress so that the damn thing LAPSES, we keep passing it like its no big thing????
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Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

We need to move beyond the shock and titillation of sex crimes. We need to move beyond any scintilla of belief that some men—elite economists, for example—couldn’t possibly be perpetrators and some women—prostitutes, for example, or wives—couldn’t possibly be victims. Haven’t the scandals involving Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, Peace Corps workers, heads of state, and UN Peacekeepers taught us at least this? Haven’t the statistics and personal accounts and visual evidence of the sexual victimization of half of humanity—from infant girls to the most fragile elderly women—taught us at least this? The ubiquity of sexual violence points to some very stark realities about the mundane lives of “ordinary” women and girls, and men and boys.

[...]

William Simmons and Michelle Tellez conducted a study in Arizona and northern Mexico that documented the multiple sexual victimizations endured by undocumented migrant women and girls on their journeys to the United States. Though this phenomenon is shockingly widespread and fairly well documented, it is rarely reported in the mainstream media or even among scholars. While estimates of prevalence are difficult to verify, it is clear that hundreds if not thousands of migrants are the victims of violent sexual assaults each year in Arizona. If such crimes were perpetrated against Anglos, or citizens, or visitors from Europe, or just about anyone other than poor, Latina, undocumented migrants, it would be front-page news for weeks.

Far more is known about the horrendous sexual violence in the Eastern areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo than is known about the crimes against migrant women and girls in the United States. Somehow it is easier on our consciences to show outrage at the mass rapes in Eastern Congo than it is to pay attention to chronic sexual violence perpetrated against our migrant neighbors. Clearly, as media coverage of the DSK scandal has illustrated, it is a more intriguing spectacle to focus on sexual violence (allegedly) committed by a high-ranking French economist than to focus on an epidemic of terror and violence in our own communities.
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Community Currencies Offer Refuge from Economic Forces


MEXICO CITY, Dec 21, 2010 (IPS) - Túmin, which means "money" in the Totonaca indigenous language, is a community currency now circulating among 80 vendors selling their products at an alternative market in the town of Espinal, in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz.

It is equivalent to one Mexican peso, and each vendor was initially given 500 units, which they are using to buy and sell goods and services.

The túmin was launched in November by Juan Castro, a professor at the public Intercultural University of Veracruz, and members of a development research centre and a human rights network in Espinal, 400 km southeast of the Mexican capital.

"We created it to strengthen the local economy, so that people will buy locally and not go outside of their community to spend their money," Castro told IPS. "It's gaining acceptance; more and more people are interested in participating."

The túmin is the latest experiment in Mexico in parallel currency systems, which began to be used at least two decades ago in this Latin American country, although none of them has really taken off.

"We haven't been able to grow as we would like to," said Luís Lópezllera, director of Promotion of Popular Development, a local NGO. "We have run up against mistrust and irresponsibility. It's really hard to get people to believe that credit lies in people, not in the authorities," he told IPS.

Lópezllera was one of the driving forces behind the Red Tláloc, a network dedicated to the solidarity economy that emerged in 1996, in the wake of the financial crisis that two years earlier had devastated the savings of millions of Mexicans and spread to other countries in a contagious phenomenon dubbed the "tequila effect".

The network created a directory to enable those offering or looking for goods and services to contact each other and do business using the Tláloc currency, which takes its name from the Aztec god of rain and is equivalent to one hour of community work.

The parties involved in the transaction agree on what proportions will be paid for in Tlálocs or Mexican pesos. The hour of community work is valued at four dollars -- the official minimum daily wage in Mexico.



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USA

2005 The Housewife theory of History


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Reflections from Detroit: Reflections On An Opening: Disability Justice and Creating Collective Access in Detroit

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Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty in the Face of Invisibility

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2010: Domestic Workers Organize for Workers Bill of Rights; MUA 20th Anniversary in San Francisco, May 27th

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CANADA


PDF - Immigrant Women Organizing for Change:Integration and Community Development
by Immigrant Women in the Maritimes


DisAbled Women Network: DAWN ONTARIO Herstory



AUSTRALIA

March 21, 2011 Australia: Lake Tyers Women Holding Blockade Against the Government

For the past two weeks, Indigenous women from the community of Lake Tyers, in East Gippsland, Victoria, have been holding a blockade against the state government's self-imposed rule over their community.

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BOLIVIA


Jan 2011 Bolivia: People with Disabilities Demanding Rights and Payment


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COLOMBIA


We Women Warriors

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NEW ZEALAND



Maori Women's Welfare League


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2007 New Zealand’s Maori Women’s Welfare League: Working Toward Women’s Rights in Saving Maori Culture

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TUNISIA EGYPT YEMEN


Arab Women: The powers that be

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BANGLADESH & INDIA


Grameen vs Bangladesh

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Q&A: Ela Bhatt on SEWA, Harvard Award

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Survivors of Mumbai Bombings Trained to Recover

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Dalit Women Organize Against Caste, Gender Discrimination

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Vandana Shiva: Environmentalist and founder of Diverse Women for Diversity


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NEW GUINEA


ANF demands release of jailed striking nurses in West Papua

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SOUTH AFRICA



War declared against domestic worker abuse

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MEXICO


Welcome to Mujeres Libres; a celebration of the struggle of the Zapatista Women (Website)


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1994 Chiapas and the women? free electronic book

2007 Zapatista Women: 'We Are What Holds the Community Together': A Year After the Passing of Comandanta Ramona, Civilian and Insurgent Women Tell of Their Movement Within a Movement

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'WE LEARN AS WE GO' - ZAPATISTA WOMEN SHARE THEIR EXPERIENCES

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Zapatismo, a feminine movement

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Indigenous Feminism in Southern Mexico

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2008 The First Zapatista Women's Encuentro: A Collective Voice of Resistance


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NIGERIA

2010 Censored Story, Nigerian women act against abuses of Big Oil, Sign on letter to Secretary Clinton

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Nigeria: Niger Delta Demands for Justice Undaunted By Decades of Violence

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2003Hands up or we strip!

Six hundred Nigerian women held a US oil giant to ransom armed with a simple weapon - the threat of taking all their clothes off. And it worked. Tania Branigan and John Vidal explain


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2002 NIGERIAN WOMEN IN OIL-RICH DELTA REGION PROTEST

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WORLD

The Guardian: Top 100 Women Campaigners and Activists Ongoing series

Sweatshop Warriors By Miriam Chin Yoon Louie

The Global Women's Movement by Peggy Antrobus Interview with Grenadian Peggy Antrobus 2003
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MEXICO

We Have Everything And Lack Everything: In Mexico, Community Police Resist Mining Companies

The southern Mexican state of Guerrero in the 1980's and 90's saw rising violence and insecurity due to government neglect, and in some cases involvement, and a corrupt judicial system. The problem came to a head in 1995 when state police massacred 39 campesinos at Aguas Blancas.

That same year, a series of regional assemblies were held in the Costa Chica and Montaña area in southeast Guerrero leading to the decision that the communities would start their own police force comprised of volunteers. In 1998, in addition to patrolling and detaining suspected criminals, the communities began their own justice and community reeducation program to deal with offenders. The CRAC (Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities), as this effort was christened, is now comprised of over 60 communities and around 100,000 people, and counts on the assistance of 750 volunteer police from the communities themselves. It acts as a parallel authority to state and local government, dealing with almost all aspects of community life through traditional assemblies and consensus.And then came the mining companies...




ATF’s PR Gun Busts Perpetuate Drug-War Fairy Tale

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Women Human Rights Defenders Risk Death, Discrimination

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Meet the 41 Narco News Authentic Journalism Scholars, Class of 2011 :These Talents of Social Conscience Will Come Together for Ten Days of Intensive Training in Mexico in May

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BOLIVIA

From Red October to Evo Morales: The Politics of Rebellion and Reform in Bolivia

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Bolivian President Uses Former DEA Agent’s Book to Send Message to the World


Bolivian President Evo Morales earlier this week held up a book, titled “La Guerra Falsa,” for the world to see.



COLOMBIA


Celebrating Popular Struggle in Cauca, Colombia

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Colombia Students talk about sexual diversity

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BAHRAIN and SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi soldiers sent into Bahrain
Saudi troops and police from UAE deployed to Gulf neighbour to help protect government facilities after weeks of unrest.

Hundreds of Saudi troops have entered Bahrain to help protect government facilities there amid escalating protests against the government.

Bahrain television on Monday broadcast images of troops in armoured cars entering the Gulf state via the 26km causeway that connects the kingdom to Saudi Arabia.

The arrival of the troops follows a request to members of the Gulf Co-Operation Council (GCC) from Bahrain, whose Sunni rulers have faced weeks of protests and growing pressure from a majority Shia population to institute political reforms.

The United Arab Emirates has also sent about 500 police to Bahrain, according to Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Emirati foreign minister.

The US, which counts both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among its allies, has called for restraint, but has refrained from saying whether it supports the move to deploy troops.MORE




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Via [personal profile] colorblue: Presunto Culpable, Censorship, Copyright, and Philanthropy.

Four months ago I published a detailed series of posts looking at internet censorship and freedom of expression in Latin America. One of my objectives was to show that online censorship is much more complicated than just blocking web pages. For example, copyright claims have been used to take down political content, financial regulatory laws have repeatedly been used to silence bloggers in Guatemala and Venezuela, and a high power judge in Argentina filed lawsuits against Google and Yahoo to remove her name (and all others who share the same name) from search results. But I also wanted to emphasize that despite rising online censorship, the Internet should still be seen as an appealing alternative to mainstream media, which is more susceptible to government censorship and influence. We see this play out again and again in Honduras, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Argentina.

And now Mexico. This week the country’s top grossing documentary – Presumed Guilty – has been pulled from movie theaters following the order from federal judge Blanca Lobo Domínguez who claims that the directors violated the privacy of a witness who appears in the movie. Most Mexican bloggers and analysts view Justice Lobo Dominguez’s ruling as a politically motivated attempt to censor the critical exposé of the country’s justice system. From the William Booth at the Washington Post:

When the documentary “Presumed Guilty” opened in theaters here, many Mexicans saw for the first time the inside of one of their own courtrooms – and they watched the brutal, terrible grinding of the wheels of justice in stunned silence. And now, the story gets even stranger: The movie about the Mexican judicial system is being ordered shut down by the Mexican judicial system.
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[personal profile] azuirehas links and commentary including ways to help.

Massive tsunami devastates Japan

Coastline swamped and hundreds dead as biggest quake in centuries sends wave crashing ashore and puts Pacific on alert.


Hundreds of people are dead after one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded struck Japan, triggering a devastating 10-metre-high tsunami along parts of the country's northeastern coastline.

The massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck on Friday afternoon local time, creating gigantic waves which swept away cars, boats, homes and people as the surging water overwhelmed coastal barriers.

Widespread fires burned out of control and Japan's nuclear industry was on alert as reactors shut down automatically as a safety precaution. Millions are reported to be without electricity, airports are closed and public transport in Tokyo and other cities has come to a halt as Japan reels amid the twin devastations.

Police said 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai where hundreds of buildings have collapsed. Japan's NHK television said the victims appeared to have drowned. Police said another 88 were confirmed killed and 349 were missing.

Thousands of people living near a nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture were ordered to evacuate after the reactor developing a cooling fault. Officials said the move was a precaution and there was no evidence of leaking radiation.

Meanwhile, countries around the Pacific basin are on tsunami alert amid warnings that a wall of water could completely wash over low-lying islands.MORE


Why Japan is prone to earthquakes

Al Jazeera's senior meteorologist Steff Gaulter gives insight into why earthquakes and tsunamis strike the island nation of Japan:

To put the effects of the latest earthquake in Japan in context, it could help to compare it to other recent quakes: the Haiti earthquake was 7.0 magnitude; the Chile one was 8.8 and the New Zealand one was 6.3.

"So, this as an 8.9, bigger than any of those. It is the seventh-most powerful earthquake that has ever been recorded. So we are talking about a massive earthquake there.

The reason for this activity is because of where Japan is situated, on the joint of four different plates.

"So we have got the Pacific plate and the Philippine plate to the east; and to the west, we have got the North America plate and the Eurasian plate. And what is happening is that the Philippine plate and the Pacific plate are heading towards the west; they are going underneath the other two plates and that is what is causing all the problems.MORE
Video too at link


From California to Chile, residents prepare for waves


Nicaragua: The government issued a green alert for the Pacific area, which makes up 427 coastal kilometers and is home to 100,000 people early this morning. The Chief of Civil Defense, Mario Perezcassar mobilized units to the area, though he has not yet ordered evacuation.

(More on TIME.com: See stunning video of the Japan quake)

Ecuador: President Rafael Correa declared a national emergency and ordered evacuation of the entire coastal region as well as the Galápagos Islands, taking a “better safe than sorry” approach. “If nothing happens, then that's great, but we can't take any risks,” Correa told reporters. Ecuador's heavy crude oil pipeline operator suspended oil shipments.

Colombia: Issued an alert, though no evacuation was ordered. Luz Amanda Pulido, the director of the National System for Disaster Attention and Prevention had a higher alert for the four Pacific coastal regions of Chocó, Valle del Cauca, Cauca and Nariño.


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Cost of Living: Venezuela


The Central Bank of Venezuela has announced that produce prices went up nearly 70 per cent in 2010.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, blames the jump on vendors. However, they say they have no choice but to raise prices.

Al Jazeera's Craig Mauro reports from the capital, Caracas.


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Fer instance: Haiti to issue ex-president Aristide with passport

The Haitian government says it is ready to issue former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide with a passport, opening the way for his possible return.

Mr Aristide was ousted seven years ago, and has been living in exile.

The news comes at a critical time, with the final results of the disputed first round of the presidential election due on Wednesday.

He would be the second ousted president to return, after the surprise arrival two weeks ago of Jean-Claude Duvalier.

General Secretary for the Haitian Presidency Fritz Longchamp told the Reuters news agency that "the Council of Ministers, under the leadership of President Rene Preval, decided that a diplomatic passport be issued to President Aristide, if he asks for it."MORE


This is big news because the US has been working hard to make sure that he never goes back home:
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Poet Susana Chavez’s Death Sparks Outrage in Juarez

Chavez is one of over 500 women in Juarez who have been found murdered in the last decade. And her death has caused an uproar because she had been one of few to speak out against the growing femicide, coining the phrase, “Ni una mas,” (“Not one more) and routinely criticizing local authorities for refusing to properly investigate the crimes. Her death has cast new suspicions about local authorities’ ability to handle the cases. That is to say that they’ve largely chosen to ignore them; so far, 92 percent of cases of women who’ve been murdered in the region remain unsolved.
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BRASIL:More than 200 ways of being a mother


RIO DE JANEIRO, Jul 13, 2010 (IPS) - "You can only have one mother," as the saying goes, but in Brazil there are 215 ways of becoming a mother, one for each of the ethnic groups in this South American country. Promoting maternal health while respecting cultural traditions is a major health challenge.

Silvia Angelice de Almeida, who works at the state National Health Foundation's (FUNASA) Department of Indigenous Health, knows all about it from her nursing experience.

Some indigenous peoples believe the placenta must be returned to the community after birth. Others regard it as important that people should be born, and die, on their own land. In some native villages, special care is given to pregnant women, including particular haircuts and body painting.

"We have general guidelines for infant and maternal health, but we found we needed others, specifically for indigenous peoples," Almeida told IPS.

One of these, on "inter-cultural healthcare," includes respect for native healers or "pajés," shamans, traditional midwives and natural medicine.

"The concept of pregnancy is different among native peoples. Field staff have to undertake training in order to be able to address these issues," Almeida stressed.

According to the state National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), Brazil has 460,000 indigenous people divided into 215 ethnic groups, making up 0.25 percent of the national population of over 193 million.

There may be between 100,000 and 190,000 more native people living outside the indigenous territories, some of them in urban areas, and an unknown number have not yet been contacted, according to FUNAI.

The known native population is spread over 24 of the country's 26 states, 336 administrative centres, 4,413 villages and 615 indigenous territories comprising 107 million hectares, equivalent to 12.6 percent of the area of Brazil. MORE



COLOMBIA:
Midwives Seek Legal Recognition, Respect


BOGOTÁ, Jul 13, 2010 (IPS) - In Colombia, western medicine has nearly succeeded in pushing midwives -- "parteras" or "comadronas," as they are known in Spanish -- out of existence. But some tenacious practitioners are pushing for a law to formalise the role of midwife as a health worker.

"Through 2009 and so far in 2010, there have been no deaths of women attended by a member of the United Midwives of the Pacific Association," said Liceth Quiñones, 22, who works as a midwife in Buenaventura, the principal Colombian port on the Pacific coast.

Daughter of 60-year-old midwife Rosmilda Quiñones, Liceth was three in 1991 when her mother founded the association, which she still heads. With the acronym ASOPARUPA, it has 250 members in the western departments (provinces) of Chocó, Valle, Cauca and Nariño.MORE



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Mexico drug war cartels join forces

The Mexican government says nearly 23,000 people have died in drug-related violence since a military crackdown on cartels began in 2006.

That announcement comes as officials face a new front in their war against the drug gangs.

Two of Mexico's most powerful cartels have joined forces to battle government security forces as well as a third cartel seeking its own slice of the cross-border drug trade.

Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez reports from Mexico City (14 April 2010).



Drug wars haunt Colombian city Medellin


The Colombian city of Medellin has seen a resurgence of deadly violence that has brought back memories of its notorious drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar.

Since the beginning of last year, more than a thousand people have been killed in confrontations between street gangs working for rival drug cartels.

Sadly, most of the victims fit the same profile - young men between the ages of 18 and 26.

From Medellin, Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo has this report.
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Mexico's Union Bust Reveals Flaws in NAFTA


The Mexican economy is at a crossroads as it faces a multi-billion dollar deficit this year. Due to its heavy dependency on the U.S. economy under NAFTA, it is the hardest-hit country in Latin America and predicts a 7.5% drop in gross domestic product (GDP) for 2009. The number of poor has increased above pre-NAFTA levels, leaving millions more families in poverty, while the unemployment rate has doubled.

The congressional leader of Calderon's National Action Party, Mario Alberto Becerra, estimated that even after doling out severance pay, the government will save money through the reduced costs of operating Central Light. The government plans to use some of that money for hand-out programs for the poor, a model it considers preferable to maintaining unionized workers in jobs. Treasury Secretary Agustin Carstens announced that the 42,000 SME workers will be replaced with 10,000 new hires. He didn't say any would be hired back; the message was clear—union members need not apply.

Obama promised a renegotiation of NAFTA to incorporate the toothless labor side agreement into the text and integrate core International Labor Organization principles in defense of workers' rights. At the recent Summit of North American Leaders he said that the promise has been placed on the back burner. But that burner seems to be turned off. At an October 19 meeting between trade representatives of the three NAFTA nations, they reaffirmed their commitment to the trade agreement with no mention of renegotiation.

Unionized workers are not the only ones who suffer. NAFTA has displaced some two million Mexican small farmers in the countryside due to competition with U.S. agricultural imports. A recent ruling of a NAFTA tribunal delivered a record ruling of $77.3 million to Cargill Incorporated to compensate the company for a government program that blocked the use of corn syrup to save Mexico's sugar industry—an industry heavily protected in the United States. NAFTA's investment provisions (known as "Chapter 11") allow corporations to sue governments under special tribunals as one of the many privileges offered transnational corporations under the agreement. This obscene ruling to one of the world's wealthiest agro-businesses illustrates the priorities of NAFTA and the constant erosion of worker's rights and livelihoods.MORE

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