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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 143,736

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Ailing Guatemalan ex-dictator requests retrial absence (Genocide)

Ailing Guatemalan ex-dictator requests retrial absence
January 3, 2015, 5:56 am

Guatemala City (AFP) - Lawyers for Guatemalan ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt said Friday he is too sick to attend court next week, when he faces a retrial for genocide over the killings of indigenous people in the 1980s.

"The health condition of General Rios (Montt) has been deteriorating during the past year and doctors are watching him very closely to see if he's in good enough shape to attend on Monday," Luis Rosales, a lawyer for Rios Montt, told AFP.

The lawyer had asked the court if Rios Montt could be absent. He said the 88-year-old suffers from back problems due to his advanced age, as well as heart and eye issues that would worsen during a lengthy trial.

Rios Montt "is being treated with absolute rest, and doctors say he is only allowed to move to go to the bathroom, nothing else," Rosales said, noting that the military continues to keep his client under house arrest in an upscale part of the capital.


Suicides Spread Through a Brazilian Tribe

Suicides Spread Through a Brazilian Tribe

JAN. 2, 2015

FRIENDS and family gathered around the limp body of a 15-year-old boy laid out on a bed in a thatched hut near the Brazilian town of Iguatemi, close to the border with Paraguay. A shaman shook a small wooden rattle while chanting and dancing — final rites for yet another victim of a suicide epidemic that has plagued the Guaraní Indians of the western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

The boy, Dedson Garcete, had hanged himself — one of 36 suicides among tribe members in 2014 through September, and one of about 500 among the tribe of 45,000 since 2004, according to Zelik Trajber, a pediatrician with the special secretariat for indigenous health within the Ministry of Health in Mato Grosso do Sul.

Indigenous peoples suffer the greatest suicide risk among cultural or ethnic groups worldwide. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men ages 25 to 29 have a suicide rate four times higher than the general population in that same age group in Australia, according to the country’s Department of Health.

In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death, behind accidents, for American Indian and Alaska Native men ages 15 to 34, and is two and a half times higher than the national average for that age group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.


Rethinking Solidarity with Cuba

January 01, 2015

The Road Ahead

Rethinking Solidarity with Cuba


President Obama recently announced changed U.S. policies toward Cuba. He gets high marks for defying an entrenched, hardline political opposition. Euphoria, however, is brief. Cuban suffering is recalled that could have been avoided, if only he or his predecessors had taken steps earlier.

Obama announced the release of the last three anti-terrorist “Cuban Five” prisoners. He indicated diplomatic relations with Cuba would be restored and travel restrictions eased. Obama invited Congress to begin dismantling the U.S. economic blockade. He spoke of preparations to drop Cuba from the U.S. list of terrorist-sponsoring nations. U.S. banking, credit card, and communications services would be available in Cuba.

Cuba’s victory was clear. All Cuban Five prisoners are home now. The Cuban people outlasted strong-arm policies that caused immense grief. The Cuban Five triumphed; their dignity, revolutionary fervor, and optimism never wavered.

Now the New York Times celebrates dissident bloggers in Cuba, Cuba’s supposedly grim economic prognosis, and the prospect of market forces prevailing in Cuba. The U.S. media remains silent on history that matters: anti-Cuban terror attacks, injustices visited upon the Cuban Five, half a century of suffering at U.S. hands, and Cuba’s socialist achievements.


Why USAID Could Never Spark a Hip Hop Revolution in Cuba

Why USAID Could Never Spark a Hip Hop Revolution in Cuba

Any attempt to engineer a U.S.-affiliated movement from above is destined to be revealed for the farce that it is.

Sujatha Fernandes

Between 2006 and 2007, I received numerous visits from two State Department officials at my home in Harlem, New York. I had just written a book on Cuban cultural production, with a large section on rap. I was never home when they came, so they left messages with my neighbors, telling them I should urgently contact them. When they finally found me at home one day, I agreed to meet with them at a nearby Starbucks. During the meeting, they wanted to know about my research on Cuban rap. One of the agents, a male, said that he enjoyed Cuban rap, he listened to it frequently and wanted to know what my favorite groups were. The other, a woman, pressed me for more details about my work in Cuba. I didn’t give out any information. I told them that anything I could say on the topic was already written in my book. After this meeting, the harassment continued. I finally sought out a human rights lawyer, Michael Smith. He informed me that it is never advisable to meet with an agent of the government alone, and that if an agent should try to make contact, one should have a lawyer write to the agent on one’s behalf. Smith then sent them a letter saying that I did not wish to speak to them anymore, and that if they had any questions, they could contact him directly. We didn’t hear from them again.

So last week, when the AP news story broke about USAID infiltrating Cuban rap groups between 2009 and 2010, I was not surprised. Infiltration is something that Cuban rappers have been wary of for some time. Navigating the legions of foreign journalists, producers, researchers, and artists has always been a challenge for Cuban rappers, especially during the heyday of the movement in the early 2000s, and there was sometimes a suspicion of people who didn’t enter the scene through someone known to the community. But in the latter half of the 2000s, when many rappers were emigrating and foreign contacts and state support were drying up, Cuban rappers were more vulnerable to the likes of outside actors like USAID, who sought to infiltrate the movement and manipulate it to its own ends.

But the USAID mission to “spark” a “pro-democracy” movement of Cuban rappers was bound to fail for many reasons. Cubans already had a movement. Over the last several decades, Cuban hip hoppers have built a multi-faceted movement that raises issues of racism within Cuban society, provides a channel of expression for Afro-Cuban youth, makes connections with activists and celebrated artists around the globe, and has had a long-lasting impact on Cuban cultural production. It was an organic movement built from the ground up, from the streets and the housing projects. Cuban rap is hope, and anger, and poetry, and no U.S. agency could create that.

The Cuban hip hop movement was not trying to overthrow the Castro government. Artists found ways to work within the system, while making their criticisms in veiled ways, or even openly at times. The “Hip Hop Revolución” that they talk about is one that is in dialogue with the historic Cuban revolution, and youth have been putting pressure on their leaders to live up to the promises of that revolution. Even the younger, more confrontational artists like Los Aldeanos, one of the groups that USAID tried to infiltrate, didn’t see themselves as trying to topple the government. That was never part of their agenda.

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