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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 147,303

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Panama president values corruption scandal at nearly $100 million.

Panama president values corruption scandal at nearly $100 million.
May 07, 2015 - 12:00:00 am

Panama City - Panama may have lost nearly $100 million dollars to government corruption during the administration of president Ricardo Martinelli, his successor said in an interview published Wednesday.

Martinelli, who has been out of the country for three months, is currently under investigation by the Supreme Court for alleged involvement in inflating government contracts by $45 million.

Several former ministers, senior government officials, businessmen and a judge have either been jailed or face trial for alleged corruption and illegal enrichment.

. . .

Some of the worst cases have been traced to an aid program for disadvantaged school children, a tax company and the administration of parking facilities at Panama's Tocumen International Airport.

. . .

http://thepeninsulaqatar.com/news/international/336484/panama-president-values-corruption-scandal-at-nearly-100-million

Uribe appears before Supreme Court to respond to spying allegations

May 6, 2015

Uribe appears before Supreme Court to respond to spying allegations
posted by Talor Gruenwald

Former President Alvaro Uribe appeared before the Supreme Court on Tuesday to defend himself against allegations that he was involved in illegal spying of the peace talks to benefit the campaign of his hand-picked 2014 presidential candidate.

Uribe explained to the Court that Andres Sepulveda, a hacker who has testified that he was hired by Democratic Center candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga to spy on the peace talks, instead infiltrated the campaign of Zuluaga on behalf of incumbent president Juan Manuel Santos in an effort to sabotage it.

While addressing the allegations of Sepulveda was the primary reason Uribe appeared before the Court, he also took the opportunity to vehemently defend a slew of his associates who have recently been convicted of various crimes related to corruption and espionage, submitting a 74 point summary of the “injustices committed against officials who accompanied me in government” when president between 2002 and 2010.

The officials in question included former interior minister Sabas Pretelt and former social minister Diego Palacio, both convicted of bribing Colombian congressmen to support a constitutional amendment that allowed Uribe to run for reelection in 2006. Ex-spy chief Maria del Pilar Hurtado and former chief of staff Bernardo Moreno were also convicted of wiretapping opposition politicians, while Uribe’s former Agriculture Minister Andres Felipe Arias is in the US evading an embezzlement conviction.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/uribe-appears-before-supreme-court-to-respond-to-spying-allegations/

A Bluegrass Ditty By Way Of Uruguay

A Bluegrass Ditty By Way Of Uruguay

- VIDEO -

(Can't transfer video to post, must go to link.)


May 05, 2015, by Felix Contreras • Uruguay belongs high up any list of locations for musical discovery. Nestled between Argentina and Brazil way down on the southern tip of the Americas, it spends way too much time in the shadows of its better-known neighbors.

But a closer listen reveals something for just about everyone: rockeros, sure, but also fans of hip-hop, folk-influenced downtempo music and singer-songwriters with distinct voices and stories to tell.

Fede Graña Y Los Prolijos even manage to reflect good old Americana — of the variety situated to our south and their north. Wherever it came from, though, it works.

http://www.npr.org/event/music/402859518/fede-gra-a-y-los-prolijos-field-recoding?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=music

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Guatemalan Domestic Workers Reveal a Dirty Business

Guatemalan Domestic Workers Reveal a Dirty Business

By Louisa Reynolds

WeNews correspondent

Monday, May 4, 2015


"It's been hard," says a domestic worker who is struggling to organize and bring the country in line with the region. "The women are afraid and they have been told that if you're a labor organizer you're going to get killed."


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A young indigenous domestic worker in Solola, Guatemala.

Credit: Louisa Reynolds
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GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (WOMENSENEWS)-- At the age of 8, Fidelia Castellanos had just landed her first job as a domestic worker in Guatemala City and her tiny hands were already dry and chapped from washing, cooking and cleaning.

Castellanos had been raised on a coffee and sugar plantation in the municipality of Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, in the southwestern department of Escuintla, and she had never seen a TV before.

One day, as she cleared the table after dinner, she momentarily gazed up at the TV screen in amazement. Suddenly, a burning pain in her cheek brought her back to reality and tears began streaming down her face. Her employer's husband had slapped her so that she would never again forget that she was there to work from dawn to dusk and could not remain idle even for a few seconds.

That would be the first of many humiliations that Castellanos would face as a domestic worker.

Her last employer instructed another domestic worker to search her handbag before leaving the house at the end of the day. When she dared to complain, she was fired. Ironically, her employer worked for a well-known human rights organization.

More:
http://womensenews.org/story/labor/150501/guatemalan-domestic-workers-reveal-dirty-business

OPERATION CONDOR: National Security Archive Presents Trove of Declassified Documentation in Historic

OPERATION CONDOR: National Security Archive Presents Trove of Declassified Documentation in Historic Trial in Argentina

Argentine Newspaper, Pagina 12, Highlights Evidence Presented by Archive Southern Cone Project Director Carlos Osorio

Documents given to Court Reveal Condor Precedents; Secret Summary of Inaugural Condor Meeting Introduced into Court for First Time

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 514
Posted - May 5, 2015

Edited by Carlos Osorio

Washington, D.C., May 5, 2015 - The National Security Archive today posted key documents on Operation Condor, presented by its Southern Cone analyst, Carlos Osorio, at a historic trial in Buenos Aires of former military officers. During 10 hours on the witness stand recently, Osorio introduced one hundred documents into evidence for the court proceedings. His testimony was profiled on May 3 in a major feature article published in the Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12.

Operation Condor was an infamous secret alliance between South American dictatorships in the mid and late 1970s—a Southern Cone rendition and repression program-formed to track down and eliminate enemies of their military regimes. The Condor trial charges 25 high-ranking officers, originally including former Argentine presidents Jorge Videla (deceased) and Reynaldo Bignone (aged 87), with conspiracy to "kidnap, disappear, torture and kill" 171 opponents of the regimes that dominated the Southern Cone in the 1970s and 1980s. Among the victims are approximately 80 Uruguayans, 50 Argentines, 20 Chileans and a dozen others from Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador who were targeted by Condor operatives.

The tribunal requested Osorio’s testimony, which took place over two days on March 6 and 7, 2015, and included presentation of an Excel data base of 900 documents drawn mostly from U.S. government sources and from the Archive of Terror in Paraguay. Of these, Osorio focused on 100 declassified records selected for the tribunal, which was presided over by Judge Oscar Amirante, president of the Federal oral Tribunal N° 1.

The National Security Archive obtained the U.S. documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), primarily from the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and the State Department. Other notable records originated from the Chilean former secret police, DINA.

More:
http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB514/

100 journalists in Colombia need bodyguards

May 5, 2015

100 journalists in Colombia need bodyguards
posted by Talor Gruenwald

Some 100 Colombian journalists now use body guards to protect their safety while carrying out their responsibilities, according to newspaper El Tiempo.

The use of body guards is a necessity in an environment characterized by consistent threats and violence towards journalists.
For example, in 2015 alone, two journalists have been murdered while another 51 have reported assaults or threats of violence.

The violence is usually directed towards journalists of smaller publications, such as community newspapers and radio shows, presenting a large problem as oftentimes these journalists are the only way these communities have access to the news and are kept informed.

. . .

According to the CPJ, the majority of journalists murdered in Colombia since 1992 were covering either politics or corruption at the time of their death, indicating the main threats to journalists in Colombia are politicians and their associates and not criminal entities.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/100-colombian-journalists-need-body-guards/

Colombia’s Supreme Court loses key evidence against politicians

May 5, 2015

Colombia’s Supreme Court loses key evidence against politicians
posted by Alice Bradshaw-Smith

Colombia’s Supreme Court has turned its attention to the suspicious loss of key evidence that makes up part of processes against allegedly criminal politicians.

. . .

The supposition is the presence of a corrupt insider carrying out an intentional practice to manipulate evidence in favor of the accused “parapoliticians” or politicians who sought to boost their political career using paramilitary death squads. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, more than 11,000 politicians, officials and businessmen are suspected of having made pacts with the AUC.

With evidence going missing, it is possible for the accused criminals to escape justice.

. . .

The case against Uribe’s brother

The other episode involves the loss of evidence given by Carlos Meneses, a witness against former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s brother, Santiago, who is being investigated for allegedly founding and leading a paramilitary group that ended up killing leftist activists and politicians.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/colombias-supreme-court-loses-key-evidence-against-politicians/

LBN:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10141085404

Fugitive former Colombia minister given asylum in the US: Opposition

May 5, 2015

Fugitive former Colombia minister given asylum in the US: Opposition
posted by Talor Gruenwald

Andres Felipe Arias, former minister of agriculture in Colombia, has reportedly been given asylum in the United States, according to political allies in the conservative opposition.

Various political figures from the Democratic Center took to Twitter on Monday to announce the news, including representative Maria Cabal and the former director of the Democratic Center, Alicia Arango.

The Democratic Center, the party formed by former President Alvaro Uribe in opposition to the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos, has yet to publicly acknowledge Arias’ asylum in the US despite the allegations voiced by their members.

Arias (Conservative Party) was sentenced last year to 17 years in prison for his involvement in the scandal surrounding the “Agro Ingreso Seguro” embezzlement scandal, wherein he was discovered to have steered agricultural subsidies to wealthy families instead of poor farmers.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/fugitive-former-colombia-minister-given-asylum-in-the-us-opposition/

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Andres Felipe Arias and former President Alvaro Uribe

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LBN:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10141085407

Colombia’s neo-paramilitary groups ‘kidnapping girls to use as sex slaves': Ombudsman

May 4, 2015

Colombia’s neo-paramilitary groups ‘kidnapping girls to use as sex slaves': Ombudsman
posted by Adriaan Alsema


After Marxist rebel group FARC vowed to ban the recruitment of minors, Colombia’s authorities are looking into neo-paramilitary groups that are accused of kidnapping girls to submit them as sex slaves.

In an interview with Caracol Radio, a top Ombudsman official claimed that groups that formed from the now-defunct paramilitary organization AUC are kidnapping girls under 14 to force them to have sex with members of the neo-paramilitary groups, called BaCrim by the government.

“Girls aged 10, 11 or 12 are being kidnapped and forced to have sex” with members of neo-paramilitary groups like the Urabeños, said Maria Cristina Hurtado, the chief of the Ombudsman’s Office’s Childhood and Youth unit.

According to the Ombudsman official, girls are additionally drugged with the intention of converting them into drug addict, making them dependent of the drug trafficking organization. Some of the girls have caught sexually transmitted diseases because of unsafe sex with members of the neo-paramilitary groups.

More:
http://colombiareports.co/colombias-neo-paramilitary-groups-kidnapping-girls-to-use-as-sex-slaves-ombudsman/

Guatemala prosecutes a president, but progress falters

Guatemala prosecutes a president, but progress falters
Susan L. Kemp 29 April 2015

Guatamala's conviction of former president Efraín Ríos Montt set a precedent for holding heads of state accountable, but the power structures of the country's military dictatorship remain in place. From States of Impunity.


Barring hurricanes, landslides and the occasional drug trafficking story, Guatemala doesn’t often reach our newspapers or TV screens. But in spring 2013, this small Central American country made the headlines when it put its former president on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity. The charges against General Efraín Ríos Montt and his Intelligence Chief, General Rodríguez Sanchez, were based on a military campaign in 1982-3 that targeted indigenous Mayan civilians. This was not a case of rogue troops, but sophisticated and brutal social engineering thinly masked as counter-insurgency against leftist rebels. Unlike Yugoslavia and Rwanda however, Guatemala was not given an international tribunal, or even a 'hybrid' war crimes court like Sierra Leone or Bosnia. Instead, justice came only 30 years later and from the most unlikely of places: an official state tribunal.

For 59 days, in a vast courtroom a huge audience sat divided like guests at some sinister wedding, surrounded by journalists, film teams, and police guarding the exits with machine-guns. Indigenous survivors and human rights activists crammed down one side, military veterans and their supporters down the other, with the diplomats and VIPs distributed democratically across the front rows. On 10 May, 2013–a sweltering Friday–the president of the three-judge bench, Yasmin Barrios, read the summary of their decision. When she announced that General Ríos had been found guilty and sentenced to 80 years the room erupted in tears, applause and disbelief. Shouting frantically over the noise, and unable to stop the press blocking her view of the general, Judge Barrios had the police block the exits to prevent him from being bundled out of a side door by his supporters. He was transported to Matamoros prison while General Rodríguez left for home, acquitted. This was headline news indeed: the first conviction of a head of state for genocide in credible criminal proceedings. (Ethiopia and Bolivia had done so, but following highly questionable legal proceedings).

Both the euphoria of the victims and the indignation of the general’s supporters were short lived. Days later, in a controversial decision the constitutional court partly rewound and started afresh from the lawyers’ closing arguments. The judges refused this extraordinary direction, since they had pronounced on the guilt and innocence of the accused and could not function as impartial tribunal. In protest or through fear, scores of other judges likewise refused to hear the case. Finally a new chamber was named and a full retrial ordered but it may never happen. The general’s health is failing and defence procedural motions continue the delays.

Attempts to uncover the past

This is one dramatic development in Guatemala’s long journey towards overcoming impunity and the denial of wartime atrocities. Comprehensive peace agreements ended the 36-year war between state forces and guerrilla groups in 1996, and since then Guatemalan victims and civil society groups have achieved major advances, uncovering a violent past and pursuing those responsible for atrocities. They have been supported by international solidarity movements, committed international donors, and, in recent years, some state prosecutors and judges.

More:
https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/susan-l-kemp/guatemala-prosecutes-president-but-progress-falters
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