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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 139,720

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El Salvador ex-president under house arrest

Source: Al Jazeera

El Salvador ex-president under house arrest

Francisco Flores, accused of misappropriating $15m from Taiwan for quake relief efforts, had earlier handed himself in.

Last updated: 06 Sep 2014 06:47

A court in El Salvador has ordered the house arrest of a former president after he turned himself in ahead of his trial on corruption charges.

Francisco Flores, who was president of the Central American country from 1999 to 2004, will be allowed to remain
under house arrest for the duration of the trial, judiciary spokesman Ulises Marinero said on Friday.

Flores, who had been on the run since January and was believed to have been in Panama, had turned up unexpectedly with his lawyer at a San Salvador court earlier on Friday.

He is accused of misappropriating $15m donated by Taiwan for earthquake relief efforts in 2001.

Read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2014/09/el-salvador-puts-ex-president-house-arrest-20149655351713.html

Posted by Brendan Fischer on August 16, 2012
U.S.-Funded War in El Salvador Casts Shadow over Romney/Ryan Campaign

Amidst reports that Mitt Romney launched Bain Capital with funds from investors tied to 1980s Salvadoran death squads, his new running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is getting foreign policy briefings from a man who actively covered-up some of the worst atrocities committed by those same death squads. The GOP's vice-presidential candidate also earned his political stripes working under neoconservative Republicans who funneled billions in U.S. aid to those military hitmen. Though the war in El Salvador was just one chapter in history, Romney and Ryan's relationship with that war may provide a snapshot into their worldview.

Between 1979 and 1992, an estimated 75,000 people were killed in the conflict in El Salvador and countless others were "disappeared" or displaced, an astonishing number for a country the size of Massachusetts. A United Nations Truth Commission estimated that the right-wing, military-led government was responsible for 85 percent of the violence while the left-wing insurgency fighting against vast economic and political inequality, including farmers, teachers, priests and union activists, was responsible for only 5 percent. Much of the violence was attributable to clandestine military or paramilitary death squads, which committed countless assassinations and acts of brutal violence against suspected political dissidents.

Recent reports suggest that some of the same members of the Salvadoran oligarchy that backed the death squads gave Romney the startup funds for Bain Capital.


Colombia expels Venezuelan student opposition activist

Colombia expels Venezuelan student opposition activist
Sep 5, 2014 posted by Matthew Sterne

A Venezuelan opposition activist has been deported from Colombia and handed to Venezuelan authorities on Friday, Colombia’s foreign ministry said Friday.

The Venezuelan political activist Lorent Enrique Gomez, director of the NGO Operacion Libertad Internacional, was expelled from Colombia according to a statement made by Colombian Migration.

The government body stated it is for reasons of national security to deport the student. According to the law, this decision may be taken whenever, in its judgment, “a foreign citizen engaging in activities disrupts public order, social peace, public security or when there is information indicating that the individual poses a risk in that sense. “

“The expelled citizen was delivered to the Venezuelan immigration authorities,” according to the Colombian Migration statement, “this procedure, which took place in the city of Bogotá, was conducted under the legal framework and respect for human rights. “


Member of Cuba 5 says he's optimistic about deal

Member of Cuba 5 says he's optimistic about deal

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN and ANNE-MARIE GARCIA, Associated Press | September 4, 2014 | Updated: September 4, 2014 5:54pm

HAVANA (AP) — A Cuban intelligence agent who spent more than 15 years in a United States prison said Thursday that he's optimistic that softening U.S. attitudes will lead to the liberation of three fellow agents who remain behind bars.

Fernando Gonzalez, whom the Cuban government lauds as a national hero, told The Associated Press that one of the most positive signs he's seen is former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's statement in a recent book that she recommended that President Barack Obama end the decades-long U.S. embargo on Cuba.

Cuba has linked the case of its three agents to that of Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor serving a 15-year prison sentence for bringing sensitive technology into the country. Havana has said repeatedly it wants to sit down with Washington to negotiate the fate of Gross and the Cubans, who were arrested in 1998 and convicted on charges including espionage. Cuba argues that they were only keeping tabs on militant exile groups blamed for terror attacks on the island.

Gonzalez said that "at this moment there's a political context that makes me cautiously optimistic."

"There's a growing interest there in changing U.S. policy toward Cuba," he said. "I would like to think that before finishing his term, President Obama would decide to improve relations with Latin America. That would involve a change with Cuba and that would necessarily take place through a solution to the case of my three colleagues."


Growing Calls for Reforms of El Salvador’s Privatised Pension System

Growing Calls for Reforms of El Salvador’s Privatised Pension System
By Edgardo Ayala

SAN SALVADOR, Aug 29 2014 (IPS) - Two of the promises made 16 years ago when El Salvador’s pension system was privatised have failed to materialise: There was no expansion of social security coverage and no improvement in pensions. Now pressure is growing for a reform of the system.

Although 20-year-old Kevin Alexis Cuéllar is one of the 2.7 million people enrolled in the private Pensions Savings System (SAP), he has no coverage. Cuéllar, who is self-employed and does not have steady work, told IPS that he does not pay into the private account which will supposedly provide his pension when he retires. Men in El Salvador retire at the age of 60 and women at 55.

The system established in 1998 has run up against the reality of employment conditions in this Central American nation of 6.2 million people. A 2013 report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) found that 65.7 percent of the economically active population works in the informal economy. Based on statistics from 2011, that is equivalent to 1,269,000 people.

Cuéllar operates a sound system at business events promoting brand awareness. Forced to drop out of school to work before finishing the eight years of basic education, it will not be easy for him to find formal employment in this country, which has no specific plans to reduce the size of the informal sector. The situation worries him. “The time will come when I won’t be able to work, because of old age or sickness, and we’ll be left without a pension,” he told IPS.

That fear is shared by the tens of thousands of families who have no social security coverage.


Global Greenpeace poll shows majority support creation of an Arctic sanctuary

Global Greenpeace poll shows majority support creation of an Arctic sanctuary
Emily Beament
Friday 5 September 2014

ALMOST three-quarters of people polled across 30 countries support the creation of a wildlife sanctuary in the Arctic, a survey has found.

Polling of more than 30,000 people in countries ranging from the UK to Brazil revealed that seven out 10 (71 per cent) believed the Arctic Ocean should be free from oil drilling.

And almost two-thirds (64 per cent) thought oil drilling, oil transportation and industrial-scale fishing should be banned in international waters around the North Pole.

Across the world 74 per cent of people backed an Arctic sanctuary.

Meanwhile in the UK support was even stronger at 78 per cent.


Sixth teacher assassinated this year in Colombia: union

Sixth teacher assassinated this year in Colombia: union
Sep 4, 2014 posted by Nicolas Bedoya

A sixth teacher has been reported murdered in Colombia this year on Tuesday, highlighting continuing challenges for President Juan Manuel Santos’s promise to make Colombia “the most educated in Latin America.”

Joaquin Gomez Muñoz was murdered in the southern state of Cauca by a masked assassin on Tuesday making him the sixth teacher to be killed this year, according to Fecode, Colombia’s teachers union.

Gomez was 54 years old and was born and raised in Cauca. He worked as a math professor at the school of the Huella indigenous reserve. He was also a member of the Cauca Regional Indigenous Council. Gomez was very active in the community and local education projects, according to a communique by ACIN, the association that represents indigenous communities in northern Cauca.

Gomez reportedly hadn’t received death threats and authority have not released details on any clues to who perpetrated the crime. .

At around 8pm on Tuesday, a masked man on a motorcycle walked into Gomez’s rural house which had its door open, walked into the room he was resting and shot him. His wife tried to stop the assassin, but was with her son and could do nothing against the armed man. After threatening the wife with the gun to stay back, the assassin proceeded to shoot the injured Gomez another two times.


Meet the Company Suing El Salvador for the Right to Poison Its Water

Meet the Company Suing El Salvador for the Right to Poison Its Water

In an obscure World Bank court, a multinational mining firm is suing El Salvador for attempting to protect its citizens from deadly mining pollution.

By Robin Broad and John Cavanagh, September 3, 2014. Originally published in OtherWords

An obscure tribunal housed at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. will soon decide the fate of millions of people.

At issue is whether a government should be punished for refusing to let a foreign mining company operate because it wants to protect its main source of water.

The case pits El Salvador’s government against a Canadian gold-mining company that recently became part of a larger Australian-based corporation. When OceanaGold bought Pacific Rim last year, it identified the Salvadoran mining prospects as a key asset, even though gold prices have sunk by more than a third from their 2011 high of more than $1,900 an ounce.

The case’s implications are chilling. If the company wins, this small country will have to either let the company mine or pay hundreds of millions of dollars.


Senator cannot use Uribe’s name in debate on politicians’ paramilitary ties

Senator cannot use Uribe’s name in debate on politicians’ paramilitary ties
Sep 4, 2014 posted by Nicolas Bedoya

Colombia’s opposition is not allowed to explicitly mention Colombia’s former president and current senator Alvaro Uribe in a pending debate on politicians’ ties to paramilitary groups.

In a massive turn of events, Cepeda won’t be able to direct any questions or the discussion of the debate towards Senator Uribe himself, effectively altering the content of the polemic debate that was accepted on August 5.

Polo Alternative Party Senator Cepeda fought hard to win the right to specifically debate Uribe’s links to paramilitaries during his time as President and Governor of the state of Antioquia. Now, on the set date of the debate on September 18, Cepeda must have a different question list that does not mention Uribe.

Cepeda stated, “my debate was requested, not to discuss in general terms the phenomenon of paramilitarism or narcotrafficking, but requested to debate the connections former president Alvaro Uribe had with paramilitarism and narcotrafficking,” according to Semana.


Colombia’s armed forces commander, 8 other generals, accused of ordering civilian killings

Source: Colombia Reports

Colombia’s armed forces commander, 8 other generals, accused of ordering civilian killings
Sep 4, 2014 posted by Adriaan Alsema

The commander of Colombia’s armed forces and eight other generals have been accused of being complicit in a scandal involving the killing of thousands of civilians to inflate the military’s apparent effectiveness.

According to former Colonel Robinson Gonzalez, himself charged with killing civilians and embezzlement of army funds, Armed Forces commander General Juan Pablo Rodriguez and eight more army generals directly ordered the killing of civilians that became a widespread activity under the command of former President Alvaro Uribe.

One of the generals reportedly is Mario Montoya, who was forced to step down as Armed Forces commander in 2008 when US newspaper The Washington Post and Colombian weekly Semana revealed the ongoing killings.

Testimonies that had been leaked to media before, revealed Gonzalez indicated Montoya to be the “creator” of the practice that has left at least 3,896 civilians dead and more than 4,o00 members of the military under criminal investigation.

Read more: http://colombiareports.co/colombias-armed-forces-commander-8-generals-accused-ordering-civilian-killings/

From Wikipedia:

The U.S. provides assistance to the Colombian army which has documented ties with paramilitary groups on the U.S. terrorist list.

From Amnesty International:

U.S. Policy in Colombia

Amnesty International USA has been calling for a complete cut off of US military aid to Colombia for over a decade due to the continued collaboration between the Colombian Armed Forces and their paramilitary allies as well the failure of the Colombian government to improve human rights conditions.
. . . .

Furthermore, after 10 years and over $8 billion dollars of US assistance to Colombia, US policy has failed to reduce availability or use of cocaine in the US, and Colombia's human rights record remains deeply troubling. Despite this, the State Department continues to certify military aid to Colombia, even after reviewing the country?s human rights record.

Despite the government sponsored "demobilization" process both Colombian and international human rights organizations have repeatedly documented and reported on continued military-paramilitary collaboration, including reports issued by the United Nations, are abundant. We see on-going use of military courts to handle cases of human rights violations and failure to take decisive action to combat impunity.

Human rights organizations also worry about extraditions of paramilitary leaders to the U.S. as another obstacle to justice. A 2010 report by the International Human Rights Law Clinic of the University of California, Berkeley, Truth Behind Bars: Colombian Paramilitary Leaders in U.S. Custody, describes how the extraditions of paramilitary leaders to the U.S. have had adverse consequences for Colombia's ongoing human rights and corruption investigations and undermine U.S. counternarcotics efforts. The report recommends that the United States incentivize the extradited leaders? cooperation with accountability efforts and improve cooperation with Colombian prosecutors and judges.

Year after year US policy has ignored the evidence and the cries of the United Nations, Colombian and international non-governmental organizations and the people of Colombia. Plan Colombia is a failure in every respect and human rights in Colombia will not improve until there is a fundamental shift in US foreign policy.


Chile: 3 more charged in Victor Jara murder

Source: Associated Press

Chile: 3 more charged in Victor Jara murder
| September 3, 2014 | Updated: September 3, 2014 10:36pm

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile charged three more people on Wednesday in the murder of folk singer Victor Jara during the country's 1973 military coup.


Jara, whose songs tackled social and political issues, was swept up with thousands of other supporters of socialist President Salvador Allende during a military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Last year, Jara's family filed a civil lawsuit in the United States accusing former Chilean army Lt. Pedro Barrientos Nunez of ordering soldiers to torture the singer. The lawsuit also said Barrientos personally fired the fatal shot while playing a game of "Russian roulette" inside a locker room in Santiago's Estadio Chile, where some 5,000 supporters of Allende were being detained.

Barrientos, who left Chile in 1989 and is living in the U.S., is part of the group of officers who also face criminal charges in Chile related to the singer's killing. Barrientos has denied all involvement, saying he wasn't there and didn't even know who Jara was at the time of the coup.

Read more: http://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Chile-3-more-charged-in-Victor-Jara-murder-5731175.php
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