from PA Editors Blog by Political Affairs
United Nations Recognizes Cuba’s Efforts and Results against Racism
HAVANA, Cuba, Jun 17 (acn) Representatives of the United Nations recognized on Thursday the efforts and advances of Cuba in the struggle against racist discrimination thanks to a State policy that benefits all the sectors of society.
Rolando Garcia, assistant representative of the United Nations Population Fund, told Granma newspaper that, regarding the existence of equal opportunities for all citizens, Cuba is the leading country in Latin America.
“These advances match the inclusive and participatory policies promoted and implemented by the Cuban State,” he added.
“We can affirm in the case of Cuba that it solved the main problems of discrimination and managed to integrate everyone into society,” said Garcia, who is participating in the seminar “Cuba and Afro-Descendant Peoples in the Americas”, which concludes on Friday at Havana’s Juan Marinello Cultural Research Institute.
In this regard, the representative in Cuba of the UN Children’s Fund, Juan Jose Ortiz, said that thousands of Afro-descendant children in the region suffer extreme poverty and its consequences. “However,” he noted, “thanks to the political will of the Cuban government, none of them lives in Cuba.”
He also highlighted that Cuba and Norway are the countries with the lowest infant mortality rate in the world, but he particularly extolled the results attained by the Caribbean nation in this regard, considering that it does not have the same development and riches as the European country.
In addition, Barbara Pesce, resident coordinator of the United Nations System in Cuba, pointed out that Cuba is an example in the struggle against racial discrimination.
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from World War 4 Report blogs by Jurist
The governments of Mexico and several other countries, along with the Anti-Defamation League filed amicusbriefs on June 16 in support of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) class action lawsuit againstGeorgia’s new immigration law. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru all filed briefs in support of the ACLU. In its brief, Mexico said the law will irreparably harm diplomatic interests between the US and Mexico. The suit is scheduled for its first hearing next week, where Judge Thomas Thrash is expected to rule on the ACLU’s request for an injunction and Georgia’s motion for dismissal.
A caravan of Mexican anti-violence protesters arrived in the United States over the weekend calling for a massive shift in U.S. drug policy. Mexican poet Javier Sicilia led the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity following the brutal murder of his 24-year-old son by drug traffickers earlier this year. The caravan’s demands include an end to the Merida Initiative, in which the United States provides training and support for the Mexican army in its “war on drugs.” We speak to Laura Carlsen, director of the Americas Policy Program of the Center for International Policy, and play an excerpt from her interview with Sicilia as she traveled with him to document the caravan’s journey. [includes rush transcript]
Some 70 percent of guns seized in Mexico from 2009 to 2010 came from the United States, according to a new report from three U.S. senators. The report finds Mexican drug cartels are arming themselves with U.S. military-style weapons and urges a strengthening of U.S. regulations to stem the flow of guns to Mexico. It comes as lawmakers are holding hearings into a once-secret government plan to encourage U.S. gun shops to sell thousands of guns to middlemen for Mexican drug cartels. The operation, called “Fast and Furious,” focused on using middlemen to gain access to senior-level figures within Mexico’s criminal organizations. Run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the operation has come under severe criticism since hundreds of the guns that were sold to the cartels were later found at crime scenes in both countries, including two at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. We speak to David Heath at the Center for Public Integrity. [includes rush transcript]
Statistics given to US senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) confirm claims that a high percentage of the illegal firearms in Mexico are smuggled from the US, although less than the 90% sometimes claimed in the past. The availability of illegal weapons in Mexico is a major factor in the more than 35,000 drug-related deaths in the country since President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa began militarizing the fight against drug cartels in December 2006.
A group of Haitians left homeless by a January 2010 earthquake demonstrated in Port-au-Prince on June 10 to demand action on the housing situation and an end to forced evictions from the displaced persons camps. “We’ve had enough of living in tents, we want decent housing” was one of the slogans. The protest followedviolent evictions from camps in the Delmas section of Port-au-Prince carried out on May 23 and May 25 by Delmas municipal authorities and agents of the National Police of Haiti (PNH).
Leaked US diplomatic cables show that “[t]he US embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi’s, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to aggressively block a paltry minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers” in 2009, according to an article in the New York and Haiti-based weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté. The article, published jointly with the US weekly magazine The Nation, is based on some of the 1,918 previously unpublished cables concerning Haiti that the WikiLeaks group has released to Haïti Liberté.
Local environmental activist Juan Francisco Durán Ayala of El Salvador’s Cabañas department was found dead June 16, in an open field in the Lamatepec district of Soyapango municipality, outside San Salvador. Durán Ayala went missing on June 3—a day after hanging up posters and distributing flyers in his hometown of Ilobasco opposed to a gold mine operated by the Canadian Pacific Rim corporation. (See map.) He had continued his public opposition to the mine despite having received numerous threats. Activists are expressing outrage that his body was promptly buried by authorities in a “common grave” in the capital’s Bermeja cemetery. The Environmental Committee of Cabañas (CAC), the National Board Against Metal Mining and the local Radio Victoria—whose operators have also recently received threats—are demanding that the national authorities reveal what they know in the case and launch an aggressive investigation. Durán is the fourth Pacific Rim opponent killed in El Salvador in the last two years. (Mining Watch, June 20;LaPágina, San Salvador, June 18; FSRN, Diario CoLatino, San Salvador, CAC statement, June 16)
Campesino organizations from the Lower Aguán Valley in northern Honduras marched in Tegucigalpa on June 9 to protest the killings of Aguán campesinos and to demand that the government act on its promise last year to distribute 3,000 hectares of land to campesino families. The Honduras section of the international campesino group Vía Campesina joined in the demonstration, along with the Alliance for Food Sovereignty and Agrarian Reform (SARA) and members of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP), the country’s main alliance of social movements. The groups say 39 campesinos have been murdered in the course of a longstanding land dispute in the valley.
Afro-Colombian community leader Ana Fabricia Córdoba, from the Santa Cruz neighborhood in Medellín, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman on a bus in the city June 7. Córdoba was a leader of communities displaced to Medellín by political violence in the Pacific coastal department of Chocó. She arrived in the city in 2001 when she was forced to flee after paramilitary groups killed her son in Urabá, the violence-torn region that straddles the north of Chocó and Antioquia departments. A second son was killed at the hands of presumed paramilitaries just last year. With her organization, Ruta Pacifica de las Mujeres, she was a leading advocate for the recovery of usurped Afro-Colombian lands in the coastal region.
Ecuador’s government sent in army troops backed up by helicopters into the jungles of the northwest coastal province of Esmeraldas to shut down illegal gold mining operations last week, saying the highly polluting activity is associated with drug trafficking and protected by armed militias. Several back-hoes, diesel generators and dredges were destroyed in controlled explosions. The small-scale mining operations in the cantons of Eloy Alfaro and San Lorenzo near the Colombian border were “totally illegal” and violated the country’s mining, environmental and tax codes, Minister of Non-Renewable Natural Resources Wilson Pástor and Environment Minister Marcela Aguiñaga said in a press conference. Aguiñaga reported that arsenic and heavy metals like mercury are found in the waters of tributaries of the Rio Santiago. “This will cause cancer and other diseases in the short term,” she said. Added Pástor: “Ecuador is not a no man’s land. Illegal mining has to stop. We have to put a stop to exploitation of the local workforce. We have to put a stop to drug money laundering. And we’re tired of the plundering of our natural resources.” (IPS, June 1)
Walter Aduviri, leader of the Aymara protest movement in Peru’s conflicted Puno region, on the morning of June 17 left the installations of Lima’s Panamericana TV, where he had spent the last 24 hours holed up under threat of arrest, after authorities agreed not to carry out the warrant against him pending a review. Upon leaving the building, he was met with a tumultuous crowd of his Puneño supporters and the media. After telling reporters that the warrant against him “doesn’t have legal or technical substance, nothing,” he led the crowd to the Congress building, where a protest vigil is currently underway. Aduviri pledged to remain at chambers until he is granted the right to address the Congress over his demands that controversial mining leases in the Puno region be overturned. (La Republica, Lima, June 17)
Officials in Peru this week denied claims by the UK-based Survival International that the government plans to abolish the Murunahua Territorial Reserve, created in 1997 to protect almost 1.2 million acres (482,000 hectares) of Amazon rainforest thought to be home to “uncontacted” bands of the Murunahua and other native peoples. “We have in no way even considered abolishing the Murunahua Reserve,” said José Carlos Vilcapoma, vice-minister for Interculturality, who administers the country’s indigenous affairs department,INDEPA, characterizing Survival’s press release as “absolutely false.”
Quechua indigenous leaders in on the Peruvian side of the Pastaza river basin, which is divided between Peru and Ecuador, reached an accord with the government last week for a survey to be conducted of health and environmental impacts of oil development in the area, where indigenous peoples have been opposing leases by the Argentine company PlusPetrol. Aurelio Chino Dahua, president of the Quechua Indigenous Federation of Pastaza (FEDIQUEP), said the organizaiton would meet again on July 12 to work out details with the regional government of Loreto. (TruthOut, June 9; Erbol, June 1) Just days earlier, however, Ramiro Cazar, Ecuador’s sub-secretary of Hydrocarbons (a division of the Natural Resources Ministry), announced that Quito and Lima are studying a joint project to export oil from the Ecuadoran side of the basin to the Pacific through Peru’s pipeline from the northern Amazon over the Andes. Cazar said a “commission to evaluate the project” had been formed. (AP, May 24)
Rolando Páucar, president of the Lima-based Institute for the Investigation of Energy and Development (IEDES), hailed the Peruvian government’s official cancellation of the Inambari hydro-electric complex, saying that while he is not opposed to hydro-power in general, projects that would flood vast expanses of land must be rethought. “the Inambari project alone would inundate 47,000 hectares of Amazon rainforest,” he said. But he proposed nuclear energy as an alternative to the project, calling upon president-elect Ollanta Humala to pursue development of a nuclear plant in Peru, as pledged in his official Plan of Government. The platform pledges that within his first 100 days in power, Humala will approve an expansion of uranium mining in Peru, as a first step towards a nuclear development plan. Páucar also proposed that Peru and Brazil jointly build a “binational” nuclear plant as a substitute for the 1,200-megawatt Inambari project, which would have exported electricity to Brazil. (La Republica, June 13)
Residents in potentially impacted areas of Puno and Madre de Dios regions of the Peruvian Amazon agreed to call off their protest roadblocks when the government announced cancellation of the Inambari hydro-electric dam this week. But Puno congressman Yonhy Lescano charged that the announcement was a “trick” by the government to defuse the protest movement and buy time to move ahead with the project definitively. “There hasn’t been any solution to this issue, the concession has not been cancelled; they have only put an end to the temporary concession that the company had, but the process will continue,” he said. “Already they are preparing the definitive concession, although the people of Puno are against it, and are demanding its cancellation.”
On June 9 four Mapuche activists imprisoned in Chile’s central Araucanía region decided to end a liquids-only hunger strike they started on March 15 to protest their convictions in what they considered an unfair trial. The prisoners—José Huenuche Reimán, Jonathan Huillical Méndez, Héctor Llaitul Carillanca and Ramón Llanquileo Pilquimán—stopped the fast after relatives, human rights organizations and members of the Catholic church made an agreement to form a Commission for the Defense of the Rights of the Mapuche People to promote and defend indigenous rights.