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Judi Lynn

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The Fight to Keep Toxic Mining Out of El Salvador

The Fight to Keep Toxic Mining Out of El Salvador
Diana Anahi Torres-Valverde and Foreign Policy In Focus on September 23, 2014 - 5:30

This article is a joint publication of TheNation.com and Foreign Policy In Focus.

For miners, investors and artisans, few things are more precious than gold. But for human life itself, nothing is more precious than water.

Just ask the people of El Salvador.

Nearly thirty years ago, the Wisconsin-based Commerce Group Corp. purchased a gold mine near the San Sebastian River in El Salvador and contaminated the water. Now, according to Lita Trejo, a native Salvadoran and school worker in Washington, DC, the once clear river is orange. The people who drink from the arsenic-polluted river, she says, are suffering from kidney failure and other diseases.

On September 15, Trejo and more than 200 protesters—including Salvadoran immigrants, Catholic priests, trade unionists and environmentalists—gathered in front of the World Bank to support El Salvador’s right to keep its largest river from suffering the same fate as the San Sebastian River. The event was co-sponsored by a raft of organizations, including the Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam America, the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club and the Council of Canadians, among others. Over the past few weeks, similar protests have taken place in El Salvador, Canada and Australia.

Mining for gold is not as neat and clean as the harmless panning many Americans learned about as kids. Speakers pointed out that gold-mining firms use the toxic chemical cyanide to separate gold from the surrounding rock, which then leaches into the water and the soil. And they use large quantities of water in the mining process—a major problem for El Salvador in particular, which has been described as “the most water-stressed country in Central America.” Confronted by a massive anti-mining movement in the country, three successive Salvadoran administrations have refused to approve new gold-mining operations.

That’s where the story should end. But it’s far from over.

An Australian-Canadian mining company, OceanaGold, is suing the Salvadoran government for refusing to grant it a gold-mining permit to its subsidiary, Pacific Rim. Manuel Pérez-Rocha, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies, explained the situation: “OceanaGold is demanding more than $300 million from El Salvador. They are saying, ‘If you do not let us operate in your country the way we want, you must pay us for the profits that you prevented us from making.’”


Last miners union in 'Salt of the Earth' area ends

Source: Associated Press

Last miners union in 'Salt of the Earth' area ends
The Associated Press
September 23, 2014 Updated 13 minutes ago

SILVER CITY, N.M. — Miners in a southwestern New Mexico county once famous for its labor activism have voted against participating in the union.

The United Steelworkers Union members at Chino Mine in Hurley, New Mexico, recently voted 236 to 83 against participating in the union in a decertification election, the Silver City Sun-News reports (http://goo.gl/L7ktPx).

Grant County, where the 1954 "Salt of the Earth" movie based on an actual strike against the Empire Zinc Mine was filmed, now won't have union representation at any mine within the county.

The decertification vote was brought about by one man who began a successful petition to end the union.

"Salt of the Earth" was blacklisted in the U.S. during Cold War retribution against communist filmmakers and gained an underground following more than a decade later when it was finally shown. In the film, Mexican-American miners barred by federal law from striking against a zinc company were replaced on the picket lines by their wives.

Read more: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2014/09/23/3390579_last-miners-union-in-salt-of-the.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Ex-Medellin prosecutor convicted of aiding drug lord

Ex-Medellin prosecutor convicted of aiding drug lord
Sep 23, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

Guillermo Valencia

Colombia’s Supreme Court has found Medellin’s former chief prosecutor guilty of aiding a head of the now-defunct Norte del Valle drug cartel, according to local media.

Guillermo Valencia, currently serving time for his ties to drug traffickers belonging to “Los Urabeños,” was convicted of omission and concealment in a case against Juan Carlos Abadia, alias “Chupeta.”

Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper reported Monday that the courts found that Valencia Cossio had received charges against Chupeta, but had decided not to process them. In addition, some of the evidence submitted subsequently disappeared.

Guillermo is the brother of Fabio Valencia, the former Justice Minister under Alvaro Uribe’s administration
The Valencia family is a powerful and controversial political clan from Medellin with strong ties to the Uribe family.

Fabio Valencia came under fire while serving under Uribe because his brother Guillermo’s ties to drug lords, though he did not resign, claiming he never knew of his brother’s criminal activity.



Juan Carlos Abadia [/center]
Colombian Drug Lord Vanishes After Conviction… in the US!

Posted on August 30, 2013 by Daniel Hopsicker

A major Colombian drug trafficker who willingly sought extradition to the United States—even offering a $40 million bribe to officials in Brazil to send him to the US—apparently knew what he was doing. After being extradited and convicted in Federal Court in New York of felony drug charges that could have put him in jail for life, he disappeared.

[center] [/center]

His name is Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia (nickname: Lollipop). He's a figure in the recent scandal over the President of Costa Rica’s use of a drug plane belonging to Gabriel Morales Fallon, who was identified as one of his former lieutenants.

Juan Carlos Abadia's extradition to the US from Brazil in 2008 received major media coverage.The DEA was calling him the biggest drug cartel boss since Pablo Escobar. They say he led the world’s biggest drug cartel, exporting more than 500 tons of cocaine—worth in excess of $10 billion—just to the United States alone.

His name was in the news again several months later, when he asked (citing claustrophobia) to be placed in a bigger detention cell while awaiting trial in New York. But when he pled guilty in March of 2010 to felony counts of drug trafficking and racketeering, not one newspaper in America carried the story. His conviction went completely unreported. The DEA didn't didn’t even issue a press release.



Juan Carlos Ramirez-Abadia

Other names
Chupeta, Cien,
Don Augusto,
El Patron,
Gustavo Ortiz,
Charlie Pareja

(Earlier photo)[/center]

Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía (Alias "Chupeta" (born February 16, 1963 in Palmira, Colombia) is a drug trafficker who, until his capture, was one of the leaders of the North Valley Cartel (Norte del Valle Cartel), who was wanted on drug smuggling, murder and RICO charges in the United States of America. In addition to the trafficking of cocaine, it is believed Abadia also participated in money laundering and trafficking of heroin. Through Abadias' illegal enterprise, he has amassed a fortune estimated at $1.8 billion by the US Department of State. He has been cited as "... one of the most powerful and most elusive drug traffickers in Colombia" by Adam J. Szubin, Director of the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).[1][2][3][4]

On August 7, 2007 Ramírez Abadía was arrested in São Paulo, Brazil, in an exclusive area called Aldeia da Serra.[5][6] On March 13, 2008, the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil granted his extradition to the United States.[7] "Chupeta" was extradited to the United States on Friday, August 22, 2008.[8]


Colombia’s emeralds generating more fear than revenue

Colombia’s emeralds generating more fear than revenue
Sep 22, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

While fear continues to grow in Colombia’s central Boyaca state over emerald trade-related violence, locals are complaining that they see little revenue from an industry which benefits just a few wealthy families.

Colombia’s El Tiempo newspaper reported Monday that Boyaca, the center of the country’s emerald trade, has received just under $760,000 in royalties from mining companies since January. That amounts to only 0.5% of the state’s royalties this year.

This, despite the fact that last year international markets received well over $100 million worth of Colombian emeralds. Many believe one of the reasons for such inconsistencies is the lack of state control over the industry.

Commenting on the topic, Boyaca’s governor, Juan Carlos Granados, recently stated that what his region receives from the emerald trade is “derisory.” Granados also attempted to soothe fears regarding the possibility of another “Green War” in which the various emerald barons would return to the violence which marred the trade in the 1970s and 1980s.


Here's What It's Like To Live With The Zapatistas, 20 Years After Their Attempted Revolution In Mexi

Here's What It's Like To Live With The Zapatistas, 20 Years After Their Attempted Revolution In Mexico
Christian Storm
56 minutes ago

Twenty years ago, in direct protest against the then-recently signed North American Free Trade Agreement, a makeshift uprising of Mayan farmers seized a collection of cities and towns in Chiapas, in Mexico's remote southeastern corner. They were demanding rights for Mexico's indigenous people, who they thought had long been treated unfairly and would suffer even more under the landmark economic deal.

Naming themselves the Zapatistas after Emiliano Zapata, a principal leader of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, they emerged as a populist left-wing movement that openly called for a new revolution in Mexico, one that would replace a government which they argued was completely out of touch with the needs of its people.

While that revolution never came to pass, the Zapatistas and their ideologies have remained a presence in Chiapas and in Mexico. They continue to vocally oppose and resist the government, and have broadened their rhetoric to include larger issues of globalization and social justice. To this day, they live by their doctrine of upholding, at all costs, the importance of "work, land, shelter, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace."

In January, photographer Giles Clarke was invited to travel to Chiapas and immerse himself in the culture of the Zapatistas, staying with a family high in the mountains.

"I was honored to live off-the-grid with my appointed family and witness just a glimpse of this dignified, self-governed collective," Clarke says.


Putin kicks off Latin America tour with Cuba stop

Putin kicks off Latin America tour with Cuba stop
Associated Press, Havana | World | Sat, July 12 2014, 11:01 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin began a six-day Latin American tour aimed at boosting trade and ties in the region with a stop Friday in Cuba, a key Soviet ally during the Cold War that has backed Moscow in its dispute with the West over Ukraine.

The two countries signed about a dozen accords in areas such as energy, industry, health and disaster prevention. Russian companies will participate in petroleum projects around Boca de Jaruco on the island's north coast, and that cooperation will extend to offshore oil deposits, Cuban government website Cubadebate said.

Another agreement covered infrastructure at a big new port project that Cuba hopes will become a regional shipping center and attract much-needed foreign investment.

"We are talking about the possibility of creating in Cuba a grand transportation hub with a possible modernization of the maritime port of Mariel and the construction of a modern airport with its respective cargo terminal," Putin said, according to an official Spanish translation of his remarks in Russian.


Cuba to build pharmaceutical plant in Bolivia

Cuba to build pharmaceutical plant in Bolivia
By Nelson Acosta
HAVANA, Sept 22 Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:03pm EDT

(Reuters) - The Cuban state-owned pharmaceutical and chemical company Labiofam plans to build a complex in Bolivia that would help the South American country meet 100 percent of its demand for basic medicine, the company said on Monday.

Bolivian President Evo Morales requested the project and Bolivia will finance it, Labiofam Director General Jose Antonio Fraga said without disclosing the cost.

"We should sign the contract at the end of this month," Fraga told Reuters at a company meeting on Monday. "If we sign the contract we will start right away."

Bolivia hopes to supplement current supplies and meet 100 percent of its domestic demand for basic medicine once the project is complete, and any excess production would be exported mostly to countries within the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America (ALBA), an association created by leftist governments in Latin America.

"This is basically for poor people because they can't afford the prices set by the trans-nationals," Fraga said. "So these industries will be subsidized by the state or their products will be sold at a very small profit margin, just to sustain themselves, not to get rich."


State, ‘paramilitaries’ responsible for most of Colombia’s human rights violations: Report

State, ‘paramilitaries’ responsible for most of Colombia’s human rights violations: Report
Sep 22, 2014 posted by Joel Gillin

The vast majority of human rights violations in Colombia last year were committed by paramilitaries and government forces, according to a conflict analysis NGO.

In the report published this summer by the Center for Research and Public Education (CINEP), the group registered a total of 1,332 human rights violations against Colombian civilians last year.

Groups that had emerged from officially defunct paramilitary organization AUC were the biggest offenders, responsible for some 44% of the violations, while state forces, including the military and police, were responsible for 43%. The FARC and other guerrilla groups committed about 15% of the violations.

Groups like the Urabeños or the Aguilas Negras were suspected of carrying out the vast majority of homicides and threats, while the police received most complaints over assault.


Peru Plans to Abolish Iconic Amazon Indigenous Reserve, NGO Claims

Peru Plans to Abolish Iconic Amazon Indigenous Reserve, NGO Claims
Written by David Hill
Friday, 19 September 2014 16:31

Plans are afoot to abolish a reserve for vulnerable indigenous peoples in Peru’s Amazon in order to exploit massive gas deposits and facilitate Christian evangelization, according to a report by Lima-based NGO Perú Equidad - Centerfor Public Policies and Human Rights. The report, La Batalla por “los Nanti,” argues that Peruvian state institutions, gas company Pluspetrol, and the Dominican mission have adopted a series of behind-the-scene tactics intended ultimately to “dissolve” or “extinguish” the reserve.

Established in 1990, what is now called the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti and Others’ Reserve (KNNOR), is officially intended to protect the lives and territories of indigenous peoples living in what Peruvian law calls “isolation” and “initial contact.”

Although almost 25 percent of the KNNOR has been included within a gas concession run by Pluspetrol for over 10 years, Perú Equidad believes the reserve now stands to be abolished altogether in order to facilitate operations in the concession as well as open up new areas outside of it. Pluspetrol’s concession, called “Lot 88”, includes the San Martín and Cashiriari gas fields to the north and south of the River Camisea. The Camisea gas project, as operations are known, is Peru’s largest ever energy development scheme.

“There is an obvious strategy to dissolve the reserve, which will mainly benefit Pluspetrol,” the report reads. “State sectors interested in expanding the gas frontier are participating actively. So too is the Dominican mission, for which the reserve is an obstacle to missionizing.”


Terror on Embassy Row: The assassination of Orlando Letelier

Sun Sep 21, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Terror on Embassy Row: The assassination of Orlando Letelier

by Denise Oliver Velez
for Daily Kos.


Those who escaped being massacred, disappeared, or tortured in Chile became part of a global resistance and protest movement. One major center of that resistance was the Chilean ex-pat community in Washington, D.C., home to former members of the Allende regime and their families.
I was living in D.C. in the mid-'70s, working on building a Pacifica radio station, WPFW-FM. Pacifica already had a Washington News Bureau there, and the bureau head was a Chilean-American, Paz Cohen. One of the volunteers at the bureau, who was helping to build the new station was José, a young Chilean, son of the former ambassador to the U.S., Orlando Letelier, one of the most vocal and visible leaders of the resistance.

On the morning of September 21, 1976, Pacifica staff and volunteers were already at work. Paz had planned to catch a ride into downtown from Adams Morgan, with her friend Orlando, but stayed home with a head cold.

At 9:35 AM the car, driven by Orlando Letelier, carrying his co-worker Ronni Moffitt and her husband, Michael, blew up at Sheridan Circle, in the city's Embassy Row. Orlando and Ronni were killed, and Michael was injured. It was a political assassination.

We got the news right away and listened in pain, horror and disbelief. The rest is part of history, a history with a story that continues up to this day and beyond.

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