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Judi Lynn

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The Case That Shows How Far Indigenous Mexicans Are from Achieving Equality

The Case That Shows How Far Indigenous Mexicans Are from Achieving Equality
By Andalucía Knoll
June 15, 2014 | 7:50 am

An outrageously faulty case in Mexico illustrates how the country’s indigenous citizens struggle to be treated fairly under the law.

In August 2006, police in the central Mexican state of Querétaro arrested a middle-aged indigenous street vendor named Jacinta Francisco Marcial, accusing her of kidnapping six federal agents during a melee months earlier at a market in the town of Santiago Mexquititlán.

According to town residents and eyewitness testimony, the agents, who were not in uniform, broke proper protocol in late March and illegally confiscated the vendor’s products. They raided the market under the pretext that it was selling pirated DVDs, which are ubiquitous in stalls across Mexico.

The vendors, suspecting that the “operation” was really a robbery on the part of the plainclothes agents, fought back.

Arguing and scuffling ensued. According to a brief on the incident written by Amnesty International, authorities that day agreed to negotiate with the vendors and compensate them for the merchandise. They also agreed that an agent would remain as collateral while the others collected the money. By 7PM the vendors had been paid, the agents had left, and the incident was over.


Wall Street Journal: Colombia's Peace Gamble

Colombia's Peace Gamble

Santos wins re-election but now must deal with the FARC.

Updated June 15, 2014 10:28 p.m. ET

One of the world's success stories in the last decade has been Colombia, thanks to free-market economic reform and especially a campaign against domestic terrorists. Now the Latin American nation's people are taking a high-risk gamble that President Juan Manuel Santos's peace process can consolidate those gains.

That's the main message of Mr. Santos's re-election Sunday to a second four-term after an election campaign in which his peace initiative against the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was the major issue. Mr. Santos, a defense minister under former President Alvaro Uribe, fell out with Mr. Uribe over the peace negotiations. Mr. Uribe endorsed challenger Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who opposed the negotiations and forced Mr. Santos into a runoff but lost Sunday by 51% to 45%.

The desire for peace is understandable after a civil war that has cost 200,000 lives, but now Mr. Santos will have to deliver. He vowed during the campaign that there will be no immunity for past crimes, but the FARC is claiming that none of its members will spend a day in prison. They can't both be right.

Mr. Santos also benefited from a 1.9% inflation rate last year and 4.7% average economic growth during his term. But the success of his second term, and perhaps his legacy, will depend on whether the FARC has really chosen to put down its guns.



Funny enough to make a Republican laugh!


Salmon migrate by truck during California drought

Salmon migrate by truck during California drought
By Terence Chea, Associated Press | June 15, 2014 | Updated: June 15, 2014 12:43pm

MARE ISLAND, Calif. (AP) — In drought-stricken California, young Chinook salmon are hitting the road, not the river, to get to the Pacific Ocean.

Millions of six-month-old smolts are hitching rides in tanker trucks because California's historic drought has depleted rivers and streams, making the annual migration to the ocean too dangerous for juvenile salmon.

"The drought conditions have caused lower flows in the rivers, warmer water temperatures, and the fish that would normally be swimming down the rivers would be very susceptible to predation and thermal stress," said Kari Burr, fishery biologist with the Fishery Foundation of California.

California has been trucking hatchery-raised salmon for years to bypass river dams and giant pumps that funnel water to Southern California and Central Valley farms.
But this year state and federal wildlife agencies are trucking nearly 27 million smolts, about 50 percent more than normal, because of the drought, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Each spring, the Coleman National Fish Hatchery usually releases about 12 million smolts into Battle Creek, a tributary of the Sacramento River near Redding. But this year, it trucked 7.5 million of them to San Francisco Bay because the drought had made the 300-mile swim too perilous.


Extinction Forecast for Indigenous Colombians:Plan Colombia’s Genocidal Legacy

May 27, 2014
Extinction Forecast for Indigenous Colombians

Plan Colombia’s Genocidal Legacy


Extinction may well be the shared fate awaiting some 40 Colombian indigenous groups, UN official Todd Howland announced last month. Howland’s assessment underlined the risks mining operations pose to these communities, and echoes the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia’s finding, presented last year, that 66 of the country’s 102 indigenous communities could soon vanish—“victims of a genocide that is forcing cultural and physical extermination.” The government, for its part, considers mining “one of five ‘engines’ of the Colombian economy,” the U.S. Office on Colombia notes, adding that, in “the last twelve years, over 1.5 million hectares of Colombian land have been sold off to large-scale mining corporations for exploration and exploitation of Colombia’s extensive mineral deposits [.]”

These land sales mark one success of former President Álvaro Uribe’s (2002-2010) “Democratic Security and Defense Policy,” rolled out in 2003, and geared towards “defending Colombia’s sovereignty, the integrity of the territory and the constitutional order,” the government claimed. The state’s expanded presence, consolidation of territorial control, and subsequent auctioning of acquired regions seem to be the real legacies of the Plan Colombia era, too often discussed in “counterdrug” terms, and thus dismissed as a failure. A 2008 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) document, for example, pointed out that “coca cultivation and cocaine production levels [had] increased by about 15 and 4 percent, respectively” since the Plan’s 1999 launch, while Amnesty International mentions that “US policy has failed to reduce availability or use of cocaine in the US,” one indication that “Plan Colombia is a failure in every respect [.]”

Perhaps, but does Washington even want to roll back drug smuggling? “The vast profits made from drug production and trafficking are overwhelmingly reaped in rich ‘consuming’ countries,” Ed Vulliamy wrote in the Guardian two years ago, summarizing two Colombian academics’ conclusions. Alejandro Gaviria and Daniel Mejía’s research determined that “a staggering 97.4% of profits are reaped by criminal syndicates, and laundered by banks,” in Europe and the U.S. How many bankers has the “drug war” put in jail? Or would Washington undercut an ally’s source of funds? The Colombian paramilitaries, for example, function as the army’s unofficial “Sixth Division,” according to Human Rights Watch. And Carlos Castaño, the paramilitaries’ former leader, admitted in March 2000 that some 70% of their funding came from drug trafficking, an assessment in line with U.S. intelligence estimates, which “have consistently reported over a number of years that the paramilitaries are far more heavily involved than the FARC [guerrillas] in drug cultivation, refinement and transshipment to the US,” International Security expert Doug Stokes writes.

But while “counterdrug” efforts have been predictable failures, U.S.-supported Colombia policy has succeeded on other fronts. The Colombian Ministry of National Defense, for instance, repeatedly stressed in its progress reports a decade ago that the state was aiming to increase its territorial control, and it appears to have achieved this goal. In 1998, “the FARC controlled or operated freely in 40-60 percent of Colombian territory,” María Clemencia Ramírez Lemus, Kimberly Stanton and John Walsh write in their chapter in Drugs and Democracy in Latin America. The GAO later found that, by 2003, the Colombian government had gained control of 70 percent of the nation’s territory, and “was in full or partial control of about 90 percent of the country in 2007,” its extended reach coinciding with the killing of tens of thousands, the displacement of millions—and heightened investor confidence. “Capital is flowing back into Colombia,” a 2012 International Business Publications book on Colombia’s mining sector noted, “compared to a high rate of capital flight at the start of Plan Colombia.”


Colombia's freedoms are threatened by a campaign of far-right lies

Colombia's freedoms are threatened by a campaign of far-right lies

As his country votes for a new president, a leading writer fears a result that could lead to years of hatred and butchery

Héctor Abad
The Observer, Saturday 14 June 2014 08.55 EDT

According to the most recent polls, former president Álvaro Uribe and his puppet, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, will win the elections on Saturday. His campaign, deceitful but effective, will bring the far right to power in Colombia, actively assisted by the utopian, Chavist left – represented by the bard William Ospina – and assisted (through blank votes) by the Maoist left, represented by senator Jorge Enrique Robledo. Zuluaga is Uribe's puppet in much the same way that Dimitri Medvedev was Vladimir Putin's when he placed Medvedev in the Kremlin while he (briefly) stood down.

As an Italian politician once said, power corrupts those who do not have it, as they are prepared to do whatever it takes to regain it. The strategy of lying has worked and everything seems to indicate that most Colombians have fallen for these tall campaign tales and so will return Uribe to power and, with him, the most fanatical representatives of the Colombian far-right. Because, if we don't pinch ourselves before we vote, something even more serious than lies will triumph in these elections: a backlash against the most precious gains of freedom in recent times.

In fact, part of this far right has already taken control of one of the state's most important departments. It is there that an ally of Uribe-Zuluaga, Alejandro Ordóñez, Colombia's Inspector General (akin to a US attorney general) is fighting what they consider a Catholic crusade against liberalism and modernity. Among the rights they do not support and would like removed are such fundamental things as birth control, gender equality and sex education in schools and others, such as gay marriage, that are still battles we are far from winning.

Another element of the far right that looks set to gain is represented by the guild of cattle farmers, headed by José Félix Lafaurie, who still defends feudal land ownership privileges. Lafaurie was cleared by his friend the Inspector General of having been among those who bribed an ex-minister to change her vote so as to ensure Uribe's re-election. Lafaurie does not deny that he financed paramilitaries although, he makes clear, only as a way to protect himself from guerrilla groups.


Former Colombia minister found guilty of embezzling $25M in farming subsidies: Reports

Former Colombia minister found guilty of embezzling $25M in farming subsidies: Reports
Jun 14, 2014 posted by Adriaan Alsema

Colombia’s former agriculture minister has been found guilty of embezzling of $25 million earmarked to support ailing farmers but ended up in the wallets of political elites, local media reported Friday.

According to an alleged Supreme Court verdict that had not been formally released, former Minister Andres Felipe Arias is guilty of embezzlement after prosecutors successfully demonstrated that the minister had funneled state subsidies for poor farmers to wealthy and politically powerful families, a beauty queen and even former paramilitary frontmen.

The court did not yet rule on a sentence, but media reported that the Conservative Party politician and close ally of former President Alvaro Uribe will pay between 10 to 15 years in prison for the embezzlement scheme that broke in 2009.

Uribe, who has seen dozens of his political allies be put behind bars on corruption charges or proven ties to paramilitary death squads, denounced the announced sentence on Twitter as “politicking of justice and media.”


Segregation by Incarceration: America’s New Apartheid

Weekend Edition June 13-15, 2014

Segregation by Incarceration

America’s New Apartheid


Many people associate the mass imprisonment of a population with authoritarian regimes. Consequently, many Americans are surprised when they learn that the country that incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other is the United States. With 2.3 million prisoners, the “land of the free” has more people in prison than China, which has a population four times the size of the United States. A hugely disproportionate percentage of those incarcerated are African-Americans as Washington’s war on drugs constitutes the latest incarnation of racist policies that have existed since the country’s founding.

The United States has a long and ongoing history of implementing policies ensuring that Blacks are segregated from whites, both physically and in terms of experiencing different rights. While still a British colony, the white settlers, having exterminated much of the indigenous population, imported Black slaves from Africa to work the plantations and to serve as domestic servants. Upon achieving independence from Britain, the new “democracy” with its “Bill of Rights” immediately made evident its hypocrisy to the benefit of privileged white males by continuing the practice of slavery and only allowing white male property owners to vote. In short, there was no “independence” for Blacks.

Our history classes celebrate that white hero Abraham Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves while ignoring the fact that most nations in the Americas had abolished slavery almost half a century before the United States. In fact, only two countries—Brazil and the Spanish colony of Cuba—maintained slavery longer than the “land of the free.” That celebrated champion of freedom, Thomas Jefferson, only freed his slaves upon his death, when he no longer had a need to exploit them. In fact, slavery wasn’t abolished until almost one hundred years after independence. And when slavery was finally abolished in the United States in 1865, blacks still remained second-class citizens under a system of apartheid in which a series of Jim Crow laws kept African-Americans segregated from whites.

It wasn’t until the mid-1960s, one hundred years after the abolition of slavery and almost two hundred years after independence, that officially-sanctioned segregation eventually ended and all Blacks in the United States finally obtained the right to vote and to equal access to public schools and other public spaces. But the US government soon found another tool for implementing social control over Blacks in order to segregate them from the general white population: the war on drugs. In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared illegal drugs to be “public enemy number one.” During the next two years, drug arrests and incarceration rates increased significantly, with a disproportionate number of those targeted being African-Americans.


Peru’s “Bagua Massacre” Haunts the TPP

Weekend Edition June 13-15, 2014
The Amazon's Tiananmen

Peru’s “Bagua Massacre” Haunts the TPP


Five years ago last week, Peruvian police opened fire on indigenous people protesting the implementation of U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) terms providing new access to exploit their Amazonian lands for oil, gas and logging.

On June 5, 2009, Peruvian security forces attacked several thousand Awajun and Wambis protestors, including many women and children, who were blocking the “Devil’s Curve,” a jungle highway near Bagua, 600 miles north of Lima. The protestors were demanding revocation of decrees enacted to conform Peruvian law to FTA requirements.

Thirty-two Peruvians died in the infamous Bagua massacre and hundreds were wounded.

The FTA’s foreign investor privileges also allowed a U.S. firm to pressure Peru’s government to reopen a smelter that had severely lead-poisoned hundreds of children in La Oroya, Peru — a story revealed in a Bloomberg exposé. Outrageously, now the Obama administration is pushing for inclusion of the same extreme foreign investor privileges in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) it is negotiating with Peru and 10 other Pacific Rim countries.

Opposition to these terms, which empower foreign investors to circumvent domestic courts and laws, and sue governments for cash compensation in foreign tribunals, is just one issue that is bedeviling TPP negotiations, which have missed repeated deadlines.

The Baguazo, as Peruvians call the 2009 massacre, was caused in part by Peruvian President Alan Garcia. His decrees implementing the FTA violated the rights of indigenous people established both under the Peruvian Constitution and treaties Peru had signed guaranteeing prior informed consent by indigenous communities on projects involving their land. And, Garcia demonized the protestors as perro del hortelano – “manger dogs.” He likened the indigenous protestors to dogs growling over food that they neither eat nor let others eat.

Thanks to WikiLeaks, we can now see that the U.S. government was urging Garcia on.


Obama: U.S. can do more to help Native Americans

Source: Associated Press

Obama: U.S. can do more to help Native Americans
Associated Press 4:54 p.m. MST June 13, 2014

CANNON BALL, N.D. — President Barack Obama on Friday became only the third U.S. sitting president in eight decades to set foot in Indian Country, encountering both the wonder of Native American culture and the struggle of tribal life on a breeze-whipped afternoon in the prairie. Amid snapping flags and colorful, befeathered dancers, Obama declared that there was more the U.S. could do to help Native Americans.

Obama drew attention to inroads his administration has made with tribes even as he promoted the need to help reservations create jobs, strengthen justice, and improve health and education.

"Young people should be able to live, and work, and raise a family right here in the land of your fathers and mothers," Obama told a crowd of about 1,800 during a Flag Day Celebration at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Citing legendary tribal chief Sitting Bull, Obama said: "Let's put our minds together to build more economic opportunity in Indian country. Because every American, including every Native American deserves a chance to work hard and get ahead."

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/politics/2014/06/13/obama-native-americans-us-can-do-more-help/10503295/

Bolivian president gives U.N. chief coca birthday cake

Bolivian president gives U.N. chief coca birthday cake
June 14, 2014, 7:00 am

[font size=1]
US-BOLIVIA-UN-COCACAKE:Bolivian president gives U.N. chief coca birthday cake
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blows the candles on a cake during
a celebration for his 70th birthday at an event organized by Bolivia's President Evo
Morales in El Torno, near Santa Cruz de la Sierra, June 13, 2014.
REUTERS/David Mercado[/font]

By Hugh Bronstein

SANTA CRUZ Bolivia (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon got an unusual treat for his 70th birthday on Friday when the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, presented him with a cake made with coca leaves.

The UN chief was in Santa Cruz, Bolivia for a meeting this weekend of the G77 group of countries to discuss measures for reducing poverty.

Coca is used to make cocaine but host Morales, a former coca farmer, has long defended its legal use as an "ancestral rite" for tea, sweets and medicines, going so far as to pull coca leaves out of a small plastic bag during a UN anti-drug meeting in Vienna in 2012 and chew on a wad of them. People in the Andean region also traditionally chew on coca leaf as a source of energy or as an antidote to altitude sickness.

"The Bolivian people will never forget your visit," Morales told Ban on Friday in front of hundreds gathered for the presentation of the cake and a traditional Bolivian jacket.

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