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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
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Colombia: freed cartel hitman demands protection

Colombia: freed cartel hitman demands protection
Submitted by WW4 Report on Mon, 09/15/2014 - 15:55

Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vasquez AKA "Popeye" is notorious in Colombia as former personal enforcer for late drug lord Pablo Escobar—and is now a free man after 22 years behind bars, two-thirds of his original sentence. But he seems to be more troubled than relieved about his release on parole—just before getting popped from the top-security Cómbita prison in Boyacá, Popeye asked Colombia's official human rights office, the Defensoría del Pueblo, for protection. "Please grant me police security from the moment I leave the prison gate," he wrote. We can imagine that Popeye has made a few enemies over the years. In jailhouse interviews with journalists, he boasted that he personally killed around 300 people and helped arrange for the murder of 10 times that many. A judge granted nonetheless his parole application, and he was sprung on a bond of 9 million pesos ($4,700) Aug. 27. "In his own hand he asked [authorities] to protect his right to life," the Defensoría said of the request, adding that the office has contacted the appropriate authorities to arrange security measures.

Popeye was convicted in connection with the murder of presidential hopeful Luis Carlos Galán in 1989, but in 2006 testified against former justice minister Alberto Santofimio, a rival candidate in the 1990 presidential race who was convicted of ordering Galan's assassination. Galán, who campaigned promising a crackdown on Escobar's Medellín Cartel, was the favorite to win the election before he was gunned down in the public square of a Bogotá suburb as he prepared to give a speech. In his press interviews, Popeye also claimed responsibility for the 1988 kidnapping of Andres Pastrana—then the mayor of Bogotá and later president of Colombia. He also admitted to murdering his own girlfriend on Escobar's orders—and claimed involvement in the 1989 bombing of Avianca Airlines Flight 203, which killed all 107 people on board.

Popeye, who puts his odds on survival outside the prison walls at just 20%, is now contrite. "I want to teach the youth of Colombia that they don't have to sell their lives for a Mercedes-Benz or the pants of a beauty queen, like I did," he said upon his relase. "Perhaps they will give me that opportunity." (SMH, LAHT, Radio Australia, Colombia Reports, Aug. 28; EFE, Aug. 26)


(Short article, no more at link.)

Mexico: demand investigation of military massacre

Mexico: demand investigation of military massacre
Submitted by WW4 Report on Wed, 09/10/2014 - 18:27

Human Rights Watch on Aug. 22 called on Mexico's government to ensure an "impartial and effective" investigation into the killing of 22 civilians by soldiers on June 30, during an alleged confrontation at an empty warehouse at Tlatlaya, a town in the mountains of central México state. Witness accounts have cast doubt on the official version of events, HRW found. A press release from the National Defense Secretariat (SEDENA) said soldiers responded to gunfire when they raided the warehouse. The SEDENA statement said the soliders later found 38 firearms, a grenade, and several cartridges in the warehouse, and liberated three women who had been kidnapped. On July 1, the governor of México state, Eruviel Ávila Villegas, said that the soldiers had acted "in legitimate defense" and "taken down delinquents." However, an Associated Press reporter who visited the area three days after the incident filed a story July 8 saying there was "little evidence of sustained fighting," and that he found only a small number of bullet holes in the warehouse walls. In other words, what happened seems to have been a massacre rather than a shoot-out. Government officials have yet to disclose the names of those killed or the status of the investigation. "It's been two months since soldiers killed 22 civilians in Tlatlaya, and there are more questions than answers about what really took place that day," said HRW Americas director José Miguel Vivanco.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) also visited the site, and expressed concern with the official version of events. The OHCR team said that they did not find signs of stray bullets of the type that would be left by soldiers shooting automatic weapons from a distance—again pointing to the possibility of executions at close range.

Mexico's security forces are under growing pressure from international human rights groups. Almost exatcly a year before the Tlatlaya massacre, Amnesty International (AI) urged Mexican lawmakers to reform the nation's military justice system to combat abuses committed by army and navy personnel. Also last June, AI called on the Mexican government to investigate the disappearances of thousands of people—and acknowledge the government's involvement in the disappearances. AI's report stated 26,121 people were reported disappeared or missing between December 2006 and December 2012, and 40% of the cases were not even investigated. Earlier that year HRW also reported that Mexican security forces have participated in widespread "disappearances." The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns meanwhile urged the Mexican government to address the military's use of force against civilians. (Jurist, Aug. 23; Proceso, HRW, Aug. 22; APRO, June 30)


(Short article, no more at link.)

Former local Red Cross chief linked to paramilitary groups

Source: Colombia Reports

Former local Red Cross chief linked to paramilitary groups
Sep 15, 2014 posted by Christoffer Frendesen

A former local Red Cross head from the north of Colombia appears in court records where hundreds of hectares have been deprived by paramilitary forces. The now-Red Cross volunteer denies accusations.

Elkin Bechara, former head of Red Cross in northern Caribbean state Cordoba, owns 16 hectares of lands, which originally was stolen from peasants by now defunct paramilitary group United Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), according to newspaper El Tiempo.

Bechara, who owns the land with his son Ricardo Velásquez Bechara, claims that the hectares were bona fide purchases.

“I’m willing to prove it to the authorities. Also I am going to sue the person who sold me the land and make his name public,” stated Bechara to El Tiempo.

The cases of stolen land surfaced in 2013, when a Santa Marta family in the Magdalena state, reported to the prosecutor general that AUC forced them to give up their land, which after a couple of transfer ended in Bechara’s name.

Read more: http://colombiareports.co/former-local-red-cross-leader-connections-paramilitary-groups/#sthash.fzHguR7M.dpuf

West Colombian indigenous leader assassinated, another missing

West Colombian indigenous leader assassinated, another missing
Sep 15, 2014 posted by Adriaan Alsema

An indigenous leader has been assassinated in the west of Colombia while a second leader has gone missing, announced Colombia’s Ombudsman on Sunday.

Ernelio Pacheco’s body was found on Saturday in the town of Alto Baudo, after being kidnapped by men carrying firearms while on a boat on the by Nauca River a day before.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, the president of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Alto Baudo, Becheche Miguel Zarco, was kidnapped when he was traveling in a boat near Baudo.

He was approached by armed men who tied his hands and took him to another boat and then onto an unknown destination.

These attacks come just before the initiative “Baudoseando”, organised by different ethnic and territorial social organizations, in order to provide support to indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in Baudo to adddress the issue of armed conflict and human rights in the region.


Drought bites as Amazon’s ‘flying rivers’ dry up

Drought bites as Amazon’s ‘flying rivers’ dry up

Scientists say deforestation and climate change responsible for forests not producing vapour clouds that bring rain to Brazil, reports Climate News Network

Jan Rocha for Climate News Network, part of the Guardian Environment Network
theguardian.com, Monday 15 September 2014 07.52 EDT

[font size=1]
Amazon rainforest kick up humidity that brings rain to Brazil – it’s a giant water pump,
but human activity is damaging it. Photograph: Fernanda Preto/Getty Images
The unprecedented drought now affecting São Paulo, South America’s giant metropolis, is believed to be caused by the absence of the “flying rivers” − the vapour clouds from the Amazon that normally bring rain to the centre and south of Brazil.

Some Brazilian scientists say the absence of rain that has dried up rivers and reservoirs in central and southeast Brazil is not just a quirk of nature, but a change brought about by a combination of the continuing deforestation of the Amazon and global warming.

This combination, they say, is reducing the role of the Amazon rainforest as a giant “water pump”, releasing billions of litres of humidity from the trees into the air in the form of vapour.

Meteorologist Jose Marengo, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, first coined the phrase “flying rivers” to describe these massive volumes of vapour that rise from the rainforest, travel west, and then − blocked by the Andes − turn south.


Italy targets former Uruguayan naval officer over role in alleged torture

Italy targets former Uruguayan naval officer over role in alleged torture

Jorge Néstor Fernández Troccoli denies any wrongdoing after accusations relating to South American's dirty wars

John Hooper in Rome
The Guardian, Sunday 14 September 2014 14.50 EDT

[font size=1]
Former Uruguayan military officers, including Gilberto Vazquez (seen here in 2006), have
faced investigators over alleged abuses under Uruguay's 1970s rule.
Photograph: Alejandro Arigon/AP [/font]

Italian prosecutors are poised to seek charges of murder and kidnapping against a former Uruguayan naval intelligence officer accused of participating in South America's dirty wars.

Jorge Néstor Fernández Troccoli has denied any wrongdoing. But in a 24-page document, he was said to have acknowledged that, in the 1970s when Uruguay's civil-military government was cracking down on suspected leftwing insurgents and sympathisers, torture was a "normal procedure" in his unit. He insisted, however, that it did not go beyond "keeping prisoners for several hours on their feet without eating or drinking".

In what La Stampa reported was his only statement to investigators, he was quoted as saying: "I declare myself innocent. I do not accept the accusations."

Troccoli's lawyer likened his client to Christ on the cross, adding: "He was just a young lieutenant. He reported to his superiors." Police and prosecutors in Rome have been investigating Troccoli for more than seven years as part of an inquiry rooted in Italy's nationality laws. Since these put more emphasis on descent than place of birth, many people of Italian origin have – or, like Troccoli, can obtain – an Italian passport. But, for the same reason, some victims of repression in Latin America are considered Italians, and their fate a matter for Italian courts.


PR Mind Control

Weekend Edition September 12-14, 2014
Even Better Than the Real Thing

PR Mind Control


“As force is always on side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion.”

- David Hume

If a given market has the capability to supply a never-ending array of products, ideologies, concepts, and goods, how do we ultimately make our choices? What persuades pliable, willing consumers to select Coke or Pepsi, McDonalds or KFC, MasterCard or Visa, Crest or Colgate, Facebook or Twitter?

Bigger picture: What makes us believe we actually “need” any of these commodities in the first place? The easy answer, of course, is advertising.

We see the commercials, we hum the jingles, we even pay good money to adorn our bodies with clothing bearing corporate logos. Clearly the many billions of dollars spent each year on advertising profoundly influence our lives. But there’s also a parallel industry — albeit with a much lower profile.

“In societies like ours, corporate propaganda is delivered through advertising and public relations,” says author Derrick Jensen. “Most people recognize that advertising is propaganda. We understand that whoever paid for and designed an ad wants us to think or feel a certain way, vote for a certain candidate, or purchase a certain product. Public relations, on the other hand, is much more insidious. Because it’s disguised as information, we often don’t realize we are being influenced by public relations.”

If alarms began ringing in your head upon reading the term “propaganda,” you’re certainly not alone. Thanks to Joseph Goebbels, propaganda is officially a dirty word. But when Edward Bernays — nephew of Sigmund Freud, public relations pioneer, and America’s most innovative social engineer — got his start in the early 20th century it was a word less charged but equally as potent. In fact, Bernays unabashedly named one of his books Propaganda.

“Edward Bernays was surely one of the most amazing and influential characters of the twentieth century,” explains John Stauber, co-author of Toxic Sludge is Good for You: Lies, Damn Lies, and Public Relations. “ He was a nephew of Sigmund Freud and helped to popularize Freudianism in the United States. Later, he used his relation to Freud to promote himself. And from his uncle’s psychoanalysis techniques, Bernays developed a scientific method of managing behavior, to which he gave the name ‘public relations.’”


Latin America and US Techno-Empire

Latin America and US Techno-Empire

by Mateo Pimentel / September 12th, 2014

The notion that history tends to favor the hegemonies that would write it is nothing new. This is especially the case for the United States today. Take US-Latin American international relations, for example: they are indelibly stippled with gunboat diplomacy and seditious coups; even the many perverse trade agreements and subsequent growing poverty belie the neoliberal overtures that America continually makes. Yet, in spite of a most basic realpolitik approach to assessing America’s litany of hegemonic aggression, history is still quick to cite the anarchic nature of international relationships in general, and in doing so, it excuses fratricidal US ‘diplomacy’ throughout Latin America by simply referencing a manifest ‘self-help’ system amongst states.

America, in other words, is not to blame; rather, the anarchy of inter-state relationships is to be understood as a given, and its inherent culpability, understood.

This road, of course, is too easily taken. Though it may explain the what, it does not explain the why apropos general US meddling in Latin America. And while polemical inter-state issues between the US and its closest neighbors are well documented and investigated with some frequency, an “empire for empire’s sake” argument does not suffice as a believable impetus for such aggressive behavior in Latin America—at least, not any more than a phenomenon like self-interest can or does. No. To truly understand these international affairs, one must look beyond hackneyed tautologies. One must weigh the interest that runs the state, the lifeblood of the state’s moneyed organs, the whip that drives the imperial mule. Then, the raison d’être for America’s imposition and coercion in Latin America becomes clear.

From 1947 to 1973, Latin America experienced a 70% rise in real wages per capita. States had the capacity to both distribute wealth and sustain growth. They showed no need to subscribe wholesale to the capitalism that dominated the American economic scene. Many of the Latin American intelligentsia even thought their region’s economic momentum portended a powerful trading bloc would emerge. Some international economists speculated the same. What did occur, however, was quite to the contrary.

Between the Reagan and Clinton administrations (1980 to 1998), Latin America’s average per capita income did not increase at all. In the same two decades, US multinational corporations and Latin American elites grew awfully rich through the sale of virtually entire Latin American state industries. Thousands were sold; American multinationals assumed ownership of rails, energy, ports, mining, agriculture, mail, infrastructure, factories, communication, education, health care, jails, waste, water, television, pensions, etc. Indeed, Latin American states themselves commanded a lot of economic power when they co-operated these industries. As a result, the region boomed.


Paraguay: the return of social conflict

Paraguay: the return of social conflict
By Raúl Zibechi | 2 / September / 2014

Two years after the fall of the Fernando Lugo government and one year after the rise of Horacio Cartes of the Colorado party, social movements show signs of rebuilding, with remarkable leadership of the campesino movement facing agribusiness and repression.

“How do you say ‘walking stick’ in Guaraní?” A smile is painted across an austere face, some 60 years old, with a thin beard and gentle and serene countenance. “Symbol,” he says, lifting a 50-centimeter cane, polished, on which the acronym FNC can be read. It’s similar to the one raised by almost all the campesinos and campesinas who form the procession in front of the Ministry of Hacienda, a half block from Asunción’s most centric street corner. “Symbol of struggle and power,” a female voice jumps in. The man smiles, nodding, looks at his symbol with care, and–like a mantra–repeats the word “power.” They reflect the self-esteem of a movement born under the dictatorship, (a movement) that did not stop fighting under any government, whether of the Colorado Party or Lugo’s progressive government, (a movement) taking the streets back from the Hugo Cartes government’s criminalization of social movements.

It’s August 14th, the second of three days of protests for the Paraguayan campesino movement, with roadblocks, gatherings in various parts of the country, and marches in cities. Among the mobilized groups, the National Campesino Federation (FNC, Federación Nacional de Campesinos), the National Coordinator of Rural and Indigenous Women (Conamuri, Coordinadora Nacional de Mujeres Rurales e Indígenas), the Struggle for Land Organization (OLT, Organización de Lucha por la Tierra) and several trade union sections and political parties stand out. Among their stances: opposition to the Public-Private Partnership law, which plans the privatization of public services, health, and education; opposition to state violence and the criminalization of protest; and the demand for agrarian reform–in the country that boasts the highest concentration of land in the world. The central theme of the conference says it all: “Paraguay is not for sale.”

More soy, more repression

Adela and Adelaida, six months and three years old from the Húber Duré settlement, died on July 21st, probably contaminated by agro-toxins. The settlement–330 kilometers from Asunción in the Canindeyú department– is inhabited by 260 FNC families that won five thousand hectares in 2000. They are coping with four deaths in their ranks, among them 22 year old Húber Duré.

At the same time, a group of 18 children and 19 adults were treated for having the same symptoms: vomiting, back pain, nausea, fever, and respiratory insufficiency. Although health officials denied the possibility of pesticide contamination, community members claimed soy plantations near the settlement were sprayed two days before the girls’ deaths. The settlement is surrounded by GM monocultures. Nimia Galeano, in charge of settlement health, says that whenever there are soy fumigations, the same symptoms are recorded among residents. A month later, William, a 10 month old child born with deformities, died, and the community registered the deaths of 43 cows, 30 pigs, a goat, and 319 chickens within a few days. “Not even the crows eat the hundreds dead animals, and a dog that presumably ate the body of a cow died a few meters away.”

The death of children is one of the most terrible faces of the soy model implanted in Paraguay in recent years. But the model comes with two conditions that make it possible: repression and land concentration. The data says that Paraguay has ​​40 million hectares of land, of which 24 million are arable. Nearly 8 million are tierras malhabidas, irregularly adjudicated by the state since 1954. Or rather, since the beginning of the Stroessner dictatorship.


The Chilean muralists who defied Pinochet

The Chilean muralists who defied Pinochet
5 September 2013 Last updated at 20:23 ET
By Gideon Long
BBC News, Santiago

Walk around the side of the GAM, the main cultural centre in the Chilean capital Santiago, and you come across a striking mural, 25m (80ft) wide and 3m high, covering an entire wall.

In bold, bright colours, it shows a copper miner, a student, a fisherman and a member of Chile's largest indigenous community, the Mapuche.

Wander down the road to the headquarters of the CUT, the country's main trade union federation, and you find another mural overlooking a courtyard. This one tells the history of the country's workers.

Both walls are painted in the same distinctive style. The colours are primary and the faces - often indigenous in their features - are outlined in thick black lines.

Both murals, and many like them elsewhere in Chile, are the work of the Brigada Ramona Parra (BRP), one of Latin America's most remarkable and resilient artistic collectives.

Founded in 1968 by a group of young Chilean communists, the BRP took its name from Ramona Parra, a 19-year-old woman shot dead by the police during a protest in Santiago in 1946.

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