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Judi Lynn

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Killing of Venezuelan Indigenous leader nets 30-yr sentence

Killing of Venezuelan Indigenous leader nets 30-yr sentence
By Staff Writers, teleSUR
Sunday, Aug 16, 2015

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Indigenous leader Sabino Romero of the Yukpa was murdered in 2013. | Photo: ALBA TV
One of the accused murderers of the prominent Venezuelan indigenous leader Sabino Romero was sentenced to 30 years in prison for homicide on Friday in a landmark move to prosecute the killer of an indigenous person for the first time.

Angel Romero Bracho, known as “El Manguera,” was given the maximum sentence for his role in Sabino’s murder, according to a statement from the attorney General’s office. Another five suspects had already been sentenced to seven years in prison for their involvement in the crime.
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Sabino, a leader of the Yukpa indigenous group in western Venezuela and famed national symbol of indigenous resistance, was killed in March 2013 after a heated land conflict between indigenous groups with legal title to the land and large ranchers who wanted to stake their claim to the farmland.

Although the trial in the case of Sabino’s death was lengthy, justice has finally been served in a historic ruling to punish the murderer of an indigenous leader. Violence against indigenous people has long been treated with impunity in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America. While the national government has taken many steps to support indigenous rights, ranchers are usually able to bribe judicial officials. In the trial of Romero Bracho, the public prosector received death threats.


WATCH: Band leaves passersby stunned by bringing an 800-year-old Icelandic song back to life

WATCH: Band leaves passersby stunned by bringing an 800-year-old Icelandic song back to life

Bethania Palma Markus
14 Aug 2015 at 13:03 ET

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Árstíðir sings Heyr himna smiður (Screenshot/YouTube)
The eclectic Icelandic band Árstíðir is currently touring the United States, but they may be best known for stopping rushing commuters cold in their tracks with a demonstration of ancient Icelandic music.

Five band members sang the Icelandic hymn, Heyr himna smiður, which was written by chieftan Kolbeinn Tumason 1208, reportedly on his deathbed, at the cusp of the most violent and tumultuous time in Icelandic history.

The newly-Christianized region would soon break out in inter-clan warfare and decades after the hymn was written, fall to Norway.

The song is a poem asking for guidance and peace in the face of looming warfare.


In Bolivia's High-Altitude Capital, Indigenous Traditions Thrive Once Again

In Bolivia's High-Altitude Capital, Indigenous Traditions Thrive Once Again

Aymara people prepare an offering to Mother Earth during the sunrise of the winter solstice ceremony in La Apacheta, El Alto, on the outskirts of La Paz. (© Gaston Brito/Reuters/Corbis)

By Annie Murphy
August 13, 2015

For most of the seven years I lived in La Paz, my home was a small stucco cottage pressed into a hillside. The cement floors were cold, and the second-story roof was corrugated metal, which made rain and hail such a racket that storms often sent me downstairs. But the views more than compensated for the hassles. When I moved in, I painted the bedroom walls heron-egg blue and put the mattress so close to the window I could press my nose against the glass. At night I fell asleep watching the city lights knit up into the stars, and in the morning I woke to a panoramic view of Illimani, the 21,000-foot peak that sits on its haunches keeping watch over Bolivia’s capital. It was like living in the sky.

Once you get used to all that altitude, La Paz is best explored on foot. Walking allows you to revel in the staggering vistas while dialing into an intimate world of ritual and ceremony, whether inhaling the sweet green aroma of burning herbs along a well-worn path or coming upon a procession celebrating the saints who safeguard each neighborhood. One of my closest friends, Oscar Vega, lived a ten-minute walk from my house. Oscar is a sociologist and writer with dense gray hair, freckled cheeks, and thick eyeglasses. Every few days we had a long, late lunch or coffee, and I liked nothing better than going to meet him, hustling along steep cobblestone streets that cascade down into the main avenue known as the Prado, hoping to imitate the elegant shuffle-jog used by many paceños as they negotiate the pitched terrain. Men in leather jackets and pleated trousers, women in full skirts or 1980s-style pantsuits, or teenagers in Converse sneakers; they all seemed to understand this common way of moving. In La Paz, life happens on a vertical plane. Negotiating the city is always spoken of in terms of up and down because it’s not just surrounded by mountains: It is mountains.

The most important things to consider in La Paz are the geography and the fact that its identity is closely tied to indigenous Aymara culture. “The mountains are everywhere,” said Oscar. “But it’s not just that they’re there; it’s also the way we’re influenced by the indigenous notion that these mountains have spirits—apus—and that those spirits watch over everything that lives nearby.”

Oscar is also passionate about seeing the city on foot. Ten years ago, when we became friends, he told me about Jaime Sáenz, the poet-flaneur of La Paz, and Sáenz’s book, Imágenes Paceñas. It’s a strange, unapologetic love letter to the city, a catalog of streets and landmarks and working-class people, punctuated by blurred photos with captions that resemble Zen koans. The very first entry is a silhouette of Illimani—the mountain—and after it, a page with a few sentences:

Illimani is simply there—it is not something that is seen… / The mountain is a presence.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/la-paz-bolivia-aymara-indigenous-traditions-reawaken-180956143/#ISuHohmTK9AeYDZF.99

Mexico’s War on Journalists

August 14, 2015
Mexico’s War on Journalists

by Laura Carlsen

Earlier this summer, Ruben Espinosa fled Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz after receiving death threats. His work as a photojournalist there had made him an enemy of the state’s governor, who presides over one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a reporter.

On July 31, Espinosa was found beaten and shot dead in a Mexico City apartment.

Eight months ago, Nadia Vera, a student activist and cultural worker, looked boldly into a camera lens and told an interviewer that if anything happened to her, Veracruz governor Javier Duarte and his cabinet should be held responsible. She also fled Veracruz to the nation’s capital after suffering attacks.

On July 31, Nadia Vera was found sexually tortured and murdered, shot point-blank in the same apartment.

Three more women were assassinated in the normally tranquil, upper-middle class neighborhood that afternoon — an 18 year-old Mexican named Yesenia Quiroz, a Colombian identified only as “Nicole,” and a 40 year-old domestic worker named Alejandra. The press generally refers to the case as “the murder of Ruben Espinosa and four women,” relegating the women victims to anonymity even in death.


Swiss boost development aid to Cuba

Swiss boost development aid to Cuba
Aug 14, 2015 - 08:59

Switzerland’s foreign minister, Didier Burkhalter - in Cuba to mark the reopening of the United States embassy in Havana - has used the opportunity to announce a CHF3 million ($3.1 million) increase in development funding to Cuba.

This is the first ever ministerial-level visit between Switzerland and Cuba. During a meeting with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla on Thursday, Burkhalter offered his congratulations on the resumption of relations between Cuba and the US, foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Marc Crevoisier said.

Both foreign ministers pledged to deepen relations between their own countries, with Burkhalter telling Rodriguez that Swiss development aid to Cuba would rise to CHF12 million in 2016.
Cuba is a priority country for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which is mainly working in the area of decentralization and municipal development in the Caribbean island.

Good offices

At another meeting, Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, Cuba's vice president of the Council of Ministers, thanked Switzerland for its good offices role. It acted as a discreet diplomatic go-between between Cuba and the US for 54 years. This service is coming to the end with the resumption of US-Cuba relations.


Colombian army unit commander sentenced to 58 years for murdering civilians

Colombian army unit commander sentenced to 58 years for murdering civilians
Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Aug 13, 2015

A lieutenant colonel of Colombia’s National Army has been sentenced to 58 years in prison for the murder of five civilians who were fraudulently presented as guerrillas killed in combat. Lieutenant colonel Beismarck Salamanca was the commander of the Urban Counter Terrorist Special Forces (AFEUR) unit, an elite unit created to carry our counter-terrorism and hostage rescue operations.

However, instead of going after alleged terrorists, Salamanca’s unit executed innocent civilians in separate operations in 2004 and 2005, dressed their victims’ bodies in guerrilla outfits and presented the homicides as combat kills.

. . .

What Salamanca and his unit did during at least three operations was lure victims to remote areas outside the city of Caldas, Antioquia, where the civilians were executed, dressed up and reported as guerrillas killed in combat.

. . .

This practice to inflate the military’s success in Colombia is euphemistically called “false positives.” The gruesome practice became widespread during the administration of former President Alvaro Uribe (2002 – 2010) and cost the lives of more than 4,500 civilians.



(Colombia has been one of the top recipients of US foreign aid and military aid for many years.)

Peace negotiator implicated in one of Colombia’s most traumatic political murders

Peace negotiator implicated in one of Colombia’s most traumatic political murders
Posted by Adriaan Alsema on Aug 13, 2015

A former top commander of paramilitary AUC has testified that a military general who takes part in peace negotiations with FARC rebels also took part in the killing of journalist and comedian Jaime Garzon.

According to weekly Semana, the ex-commander of the AUC’s Bloque Cacique Nutibara, “Don Berna,” testified before prosecutors that among those conspiring to kill Garzon on August 13, 1998 were then-Police Mayor Mauricio Santoyo, National Army General Harold Bedoya and, most controversially, then army commander General Jorge Enrique Mora.

Santoyo, who was later promoted to General and became the personal security chief of former President Alvaro Uribe, was sentenced to 13 years by a US court after prosecutors successfully demonstrated the top police official had been working together with drug trafficking organizations.

Bedoya, currently a close ally of Uribe in opposing the peace talks, has long been accused of ties to the AUC, a paramilitary organization that committed tens of thousands of human rights violations between 1997 and 2006 when its last unit was demobilized. But also Mora was cooperating with paramilitary groups and helped conspire the killing of Garzon, said Don Berna according to Semana.



Jaime Garzon's car after his assassination

Statue created to memorialize one of Garzon's well- tv program,
including famous military personnel, politicians, etc.

Image of Jaime Garzon's shoe-shine boy giving Jaime Garzon a shoe shine.

He often wrapped himself in the flag.

~ click for photo ~

"Jaime Garzon" by Chrihern - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jaime_Garzon.JPG#/media/File:Jaime_Garzon.JPG[/center]

How El Salvador’s Supreme Court Is Undermining Democracy—With Washington’s Help

 How El Salvador’s Supreme Court Is Undermining Democracy—With Washington’s Help

WikiLeaks has exposed US government collusion with the chamber’s destabilization strategy.

By Hilary Goodfriend
August 8, 2015

 On July 20, 2015, the government of El Salvador issued an official warning that right-wing forces are orchestrating “a movement for a coup d’état,” against the “government of the people, a legal government, a legitimate government that fights every day for the interests of the population.”

 It’s not the first time allegations of coup-plotting have arisen lately in the small Central American republic. Two months after the March 1 mid-term elections, El Salvador found itself without a legislature. In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court’s constitutional chamber had suspended the swearing-in of the newly elected representatives pending a recount, effectively shutting down an entire branch of government. The current president of the National Legislative Assembly called the action a “technical coup d’état.” The US Embassy called it “institutionality.”

The past several weeks in El Salvador have seen the escalation of a series of tactics that state officials and activists have deemed part of a “soft coup” strategy against the country’s democratically elected progressive government. Since the 2014 inauguration of leftist President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a spike in gang-related homicides has strained state resources, in what Police Chief Mauricio Landaverde has called a deliberate campaign ordered by gang leaders to increase murder rates with possible political motives. Earlier this month, a group of armed soldiers in uniform rallied to demand greater compensation; military leadership disavowed their actions and charged fourteen of them with sedition. Last week, gang threats against bus drivers caused the suspension of dozens of mass-transit routes throughout the San Salvador metropolitan area, which officials deemed an act of “sabotage” against the population. Right-wing groups have circulated calls on social media for the president’s resignation, and the country’s conservative mass media’s onslaught against the governing party contributes daily to a climate of insecurity.

In fact, plans to undermine leftist governance in El Salvador go back years before the election of Sánchez Cerén, the first guerrilla leader of the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party to become president of El Salvador. The strategy centers on the country’s Supreme Court—and the US government has been in on it from the beginning.


Unravelling the mysteries of the Mayans

Unravelling the mysteries of the Mayans
11 Aug 2015
Ashleigh Murszewski Ashleigh Murszewski

Beneath the tropical rainforests of Guatemala lies what remains of ‘one of the foremost archaeological sites in the world’ (Sharer & Traxer, 1946). Its modern name is Tikal, but when it was one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya, it was known as Yax Mutul meaning “First Mutal”.

This ancient site holds within it archaeological evidence acting as the foundation of the knowledge that has been recorded on the Mayans dating back more than 1200 years. One of the most fascinating Mayan Ruins, through the analysis of ancient artefacts found in Tikal, modern day archaeologists can determine the lifestyle of the Mayan civilisation.

One of the characteristics that differentiate Tikal from other historically recognised sites is the phenomenal architecture that was built by the Mayans. These temples, some of which rising 70 meters above the ground, illustrate a division of the classes in the Mayan civilisation, establishing social hierarchy amoung its people (Sharer & Traxler, 1946). In particular, there is a high degree of variation residential architecture within Tikal. Housing shows both small poll and thatch buildings and larger complex or masonry structures such as the royal households (Becker, 1973).

It can be suggested that those who inhabited grand edifices were that of higher social status then persons who lived in smaller housing made of perishable materials (Smith & Masson, 2000). Buildings that are also thought to be the houses of elite royals tend to have a higher complexity, including a greater effort to protect the occupants’ privacy (Smith & Masson, 2000). Furthermore at the heart of Tikal the Central Acropolis stands. It can be inferred that this building houses the ruling family. This distribution of complexity in the residential architecture of Tikal is evidence for division within the classes in the ancient Maya.


Bolivia ready to rebuild ties with US: Morales

Source: Gulf Today

Bolivia ready to rebuild ties with US: Morales
August 13, 2015

SUCRE: Bolivia is set to try to rebuild ties with the United States and exchange ambassadors again, President Evo Morales said on Tuesday, citing Washington’s warmer Iran and Cuba stances. “We are here today to get back on course to good relations with the United States,” Morales told a briefing at the presidential palace, ahead of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s historic visit to Havana on Friday.

The leftist leader, a key ally of Communist-led Cuba and socialist Venezuela, said the top US diplomat here, business attache Peter Brennan, had been informed about Bolivia’s wish to work with him on restoring normal ambassadorial-level ties. “I cannot say when this may happen, but hopefully, we will be able to achieve it,” Brennan added.

The United States and Bolivia have not had ambassadors in their respective capitals since 2008.
Morales threw out the last US ambassador in 2008 accusing him of allegedly plotting with local conservative opposition seeking to oust him. The United States reciprocated.

Since then, the diplomatic outlook has improved, Morales said. In December, US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro made a surprise announcement to seek normal diplomatic relations after more than 50-year break in relations. Kerry is due in Havana for a ceremony to raise the US flag at its reopened embassy, a first since January 1961.

Read more: http://gulftoday.ae/portal/dd05ed98-8cd3-40d1-b9eb-0ec861073072.aspx
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