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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
December 28, 2017

Don't shoot the press: Argentine photojournalists protest in front of Congress

Argentine photojournalists held a demonstration this morning in front of the nation's Congress in Buenos Aires to protest police violence against members of the press.

The demonstration, called a Camarazo - a show of force by camera - was called by ARGRA (Association of Argentine Graphic Reporters) and SIPREBA (Press Union of Buenos Aires).

The event sought to highlight efforts by journalists to cover last week's protests against a pension reform bill sponsored by the right-wing Mauricio Macri administration - and the attacks suffered by the press and peaceful demonstrators alike at the hands of federal forces commanded by Security Minister Patricia Bullrich.

A reported 36 members of the press were injured on the day of the bill's passage on December 18, including 24 by police rubber bullets and one (Suyai Serrano of the state news agency Télam) who was run over by a police motorcycle.

Another five were injured by what ARGRA and SIPREBA consider inciting agents - a tactic previously shown to have been used by Bullrich during protests in September over the apparent murder of activist Santiago Maldonado.

Seven journalists were also detained.

"Macri and Bullrich are responsible for at least 30 police attacks against the press," SIPREBA Human Rights director Tomás Eliaschev said. "They fire at the press because they wish to trample people's rights with impunity."

Eliaschev added that radio journalist Oscar Delgado was detained four days ago while covering a protest by sugar workers in the northwestern province of Jujuy seeking better wages, and remains in prison without charges.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed concern over the inappropriate and indiscriminate use of force by federal security agents in Argentina

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.diarioregistrado.com%2Fsociedad-%2F-camarazo--frente-al-congreso--no-disparen-contra-la-prensa_a5a43cf26a4d76178ffbd538a&edit-text=

Argentine photojournalists protest in front of Congress over police attacks on the press during last week's protests against Macri's pension cutbacks.

Some 30 journalists were wounded and seven were detained.
December 25, 2017

IACHR expresses concern over police actions in protests and attacks on journalists in Argentina

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression express concern over the inappropriate and indiscriminate use of force by federal security agents in Argentina.

According to information received by the IACHR, on December 14 the Police and the Gendarmerie violently broke up demonstrations headed toward the National Congress in Buenos Aires to express opposition to a law reforming the pension and retirement system.

On December 18, new protests culminated in violent disturbances and left more than 183 people injured, including at least 88 police and 95 citizens - among them seven members of Congress. At least 70 individuals were arrested and complained that they had been harassed during the arrests. Four protesters - including a schoolteacher - lost an eye due to rubber bullets.

In addition, purported groups of protesters used violence during the demonstrations, throwing rocks and blunt objects at the police. Numerous undercover security agents were photographed throwing rocks, and then detaining protesters.

During the protests, at least 26 journalists and media workers were reportedly attacked by police forces while they were covering the demonstrations on both days. Of this group, 18 journalists reported being hit multiple times by rubber bullets. Several journalists were also reported to have suffered the effects of the tear gas launched by the police.

The IACHR and its Office of the Special Rapporteur call on the authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate the conduct of the police during these demonstrations and establish the appropriate penalties.

They also urge the State to ensure strict adherence to the general principles of legality, exceptionality, proportionality, and absolute necessity in the use of force in contexts of social protest.

At: http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/media_center/PReleases/2017/214.asp

December 22, 2017

Former Foreign Minister Hector Timerman: I Am a Political Prisoner in Argentina

Former Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman who has been held under house arrest for the past week, published an editorial in the New York Times on Wednesday entitled 'I Am a Political Prisoner in Argentina'.

Timerman was arrested on December 14 on the orders of Argentine Federal Judge Claudio Bonadío on “treason” charges in which former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, now a senator, was also included. The judge also sought her expulsion from the Senate to facilitate her arrest - a request rejected by the Senate for being “partisan and unjustified.”

The charges stem from the Memorandum of Understanding Timerman signed with Iran in 2013 for a joint investigation of the AMIA bombing, a still-unsolved 1994 incident in which 85 died in a Buenos Aires Jewish community center.

“Advancing the case was a key goal of the administration in which I served as foreign minister from 2010 to 2015,” Timerman wrote. “An Argentine judge would question the suspects in Iran and begin judicial proceedings to bring truth and justice to the victims, with a nonbinding truth commission of international jurists to observe the case.”

“For Mr. Bonadío, the agreement 'undermines' the investigation into the AMIA case and is the pretext for my indictment.”

Timerman noted, however, that before the agreement “the investigation into the attack was so flawed and corrupt that in 2004 the entire trial was annulled and the judge who led it was put under investigation. Judge Bonadío — who now accuses me of treason — led the investigation into that cover-up but was removed from it in 2005.”

Bonadío's charges rest on allegations that Fernández de Kirchner and Timerman petitioned Interpol to lift Red Notices against Iranian officials implicated in the AMIA attack - a claim rejected by the former Secretary General of Interpol, Ronald K. Noble. The three year-old claim, dismissed by Argentine courts in seven instances - including two appeals - was revived on December 14 by Bonadío.

“A biased Judge Bonadío report cannot change the truth,” Noble tweeted. “INTERPOL was never asked by Argentina or Timerman to remove the AMIA Red Notices!” He offered to testify in Argentina to that effect.

CELS, a prominent Argentine human rights organization, condemned the “use of the penal system to persecute political opponents.”

“Even if the agreement with Iran provided little guarantee of justice for the AMIA victims,” Human Rights Watch Americas director José Miguel Vivanco said, “pursuing criminal charges for treason against officials responsible for negotiating an international accord seems strained and unreasonable.”

Bonadío had been exposed in 1996 as a “napkin judge” - a shortlist of judges who lent themselves to politicized trials at the behest of then-President Carlos Menem. More recently, he has dismissed numerous corruption charges against President Mauricio Macri - including those stemming from the Panama Papers.

“Sadly, it is not the first time my family has been a victim of political persecution,” Timerman concluded. “Forty years ago, my father, the journalist Jacobo Timerman, was also a political prisoner. He spent over a year under house arrest, after being kidnapped and tortured in clandestine centers run by the military during my country’s last dictatorship.”

“Defense of human rights has been vitally important in my personal and professional life. I considered my diplomacy in this case to be part of that ideal. Instead, I find myself in a Kafkaesque process that aggravates my cancer and robs me of the time I have left.”

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/20/opinion/timerman-argentina-political-prisoner-bonadio.html

Former Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and former Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble discuss the AMIA case in 2013.

Noble has refuted claims that Timerman sought the lifting of Red Notice alerts against Iranian officials,
and has offered to testify in Argentina to that effect.
December 22, 2017

Peru's President Pedro Kuczynski survives impeachment vote

Congress in Peru has voted not to impeach President Pedro Kuczynski over alleged corruption.

Kuczynski's opponents wanted to impeach him for allegedly receiving illegal payments from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

The president appeared in person in Congress during the 10 hours of debate to deny the allegations. He accused the opposition of trying to stage a coup.

The motion to impeach required at least 87 votes to pass; but received only 79, with 19 against and 21 abstentions. Ten other lawmakers failed to attend the session.

Kuczynski, 79, initially denied receiving any money from Odebrecht. However, he later denied receiving any illegal payments but admitted working on an advisory basis for the firm.

The payments by Odebrecht were made to Westfield Capital Ltd, a company owned by Mr Kuczynski. He said that although he owned the company, he was not its manager when it received the payments.

Critics of the impeachment vote said it was an attempted power grab by the right-wing opposition Popular Force party, which controls Peru's congress. The party's leader, Keiko Fujimori, lost the 2016 election to Kuczynski by a slim margin.

At: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42451959

Peruvian President Pedro Kuczynski
December 20, 2017

Argentine actor and activist Lito Cruz dies at 76

Born Oscar Alberto Cruz in the working-class port town of Berisso, about 35 mi SE of Buenos Aires, in 1941, he began performing in local theaters at 15.

He graduated from the School of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires in 1964; but returned to his earlier calling in the University Theater Institute of Chile (ITUCH).

Cruz in 1969 co-founded the Experimental Theater Team of Buenos Aires (ETEBA), which toured successfully through Europe in festivals at Nancy (France), Berlin, and Florence. ETEBA was invited to perform their production of the Greek fable 'The Toad and the Serpent' at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

He later studied in Lee Strasberg's famed Actors Studio. Cruz's courses at ETEBA made it one of Argentina's most coveted drama schools during the 1970s and '80s, where he became known for his demanding but approachable style; an unconvincing student performance, for instance, would elicit a sly "I don't believe you."

His leftist views put him at odds with both the Isabel Perón administration in the mid 1970s, and the dictatorship that took power in 1976. His production of Eduardo Pavlovsky's political drama El Señor Galíndez, led to the bombing of the Payró Theatre by the fascist Argentine Anticommunist Alliance in 1975, and his work was largely limited to his drama school and the theater during the military regime.

Cruz, however, helped lead the Open Theater movement against dictatorship-era censorship in 1981. Censorship in Argentina eased considerably partly as a result, and continued doing so through the return of democracy in 1983.

He performed with Robert De Niro in Reinaldo Povod's Cuba and His Teddy Bear, which opened on Broadway in 1986, and starred in numerous Argentine political fims afterward - notably as the happy-go-lucky ghost of an assassinated stockyards worker in Fernando Solanas' acclaimed Sur (1988).

Cruz remained devoted to his drama school, accepting few film roles in later years and instead becoming a leading advocate for the Argentine theater during the 1990s and 2000s.

He headed the Argentine Actors' Association and was appointed National Theater Director in 1995. His advocacy persuaded Congress to pass the National Theater Law in 1998, helped protect struggling stages against demolition and guaranteed annual subsidies for the stage.

Cruz, who struggled with alcohol and depression in his later years, was accused of domestic violence by his domestic partner, 39 year-old actress Patricia Perrotta. She described him as "obsessively possessive" and when their two-year relationship ended in 2016 he, according to Perrotta, threatened to die "like Othello."

The noted actor remained active on stage until last month. Cruz was found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment by his daughter earlier today; he was 76.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lanacion.com.ar%2F2093907-murio-lito-cruz&edit-text=

Argentine actor Lito Cruz, 1941-2017.
December 19, 2017

Argentina's Congress approves pension reform amid strike

Argentina's Congress has approved a controversial pension reform bill that has prompted violent protests.

Lawmakers passed the measure Tuesday in the lower house in a 127-117 vote after debating for over 12 hours.

The measure had already passed the Senate. It is part of a series of economic changes pushed by President Mauricio Macri to reduce Argentina's high budget deficit, projected to rise to a record $35 billion this year following a series of corporate tax cuts decreed by Macri upon taking office two years ago and a severe recession in 2016.

About 150 people were injured and about 60 were arrested - including seven journalists - when clashes between police and demonstrators broke out Monday outside the Congress building in Buenos Aires. One protester, a 33 year-old cancer patient named Leo Chávez, remains missing since disappearing from last week's protests against the bill.

Argentina's largest labor federation, the CGT, also called a 24-hour general strike that is grounding hundreds of flights.

The bill cuts payments to retirees, pensioners, veterans, the disabled, and the poor by 8.5% in the first year alone. The full retirement age is likewise raised from 65 to 70.

The savings of at least $6 billion in the first year are mostly lost, however, to a revenue stream change projected to cost the ANSES social security agency some $4 billion in annual revenue.

The bill passed with the last-minute support of 15 legislators, mostly from small provinces that depend heavily on federal revenue sharing to finance their budgets.

The move, which followed a meeting with 11 governors who flew to Buenos Aires to pressure legislators for passage, prompted Congresswoman María Emilia Soria to refer to these governors as “Macri's prostitutes.”

“But with apologies to prostitutes,” she clarified. “Because this was extortion.”

At: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/12/19/argentinas-congress-approves-pension-reform-amid-strike.html

An Argentine senior citizen is assisted by fellow protesters after being doused with tear gas during yesterday's protests in Buenos Aires. Seniors, who would have received a 15.5% hike in pensions next March under current law, will now see a 5.7% increase.

Prices have doubled since Macri took office two years ago, and inflation remains at 23%.
December 19, 2017

Sandy Hook Mom Slams Trump For Partying With NRA Head On Massacre Anniversary

The mother of one of the 20 children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 slammed President Donald Trump on Sunday for “appalling lack of humanity and decency.”

Nicole Hockley, who lost her 6-year-old son Dylan in the massacre, ripped Trump for failing to acknowledge Thursday’s five-year anniversary of Sandy Hook, and for inviting National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre to the White House Christmas Party on the same evening.

“Not only did he ignore the five-year remembrance completely ― not even a single tweet ― he slapped us all in the face by having none other than NRA President Wayne LaPierre at his White House Christmas party that night. The appalling lack of humanity and decency has not gone unnoticed,” Hockley wrote in a Facebook post that went viral.

“While they ignorantly partied and remained uninformed on an issue that kills thousands of Americans every year, I was crying myself to sleep,” Hockley continued. “While they got the chance to kiss their children goodnight, I kissed the urn holding my beautiful boy’s ashes.”

Hockley was one of two parents who founded Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit that focuses on protecting children from gun violence. In an interview with HuffPost, Hockley said Dylan was the glue that held her family together.

“He had a huge smile and beautiful eyes, and everyone was so in love with him. He was an amazing little boy,” she said.

At: https://www.yahoo.com/news/sandy-hook-mom-slams-trump-093350008.html

Nicole Hockley, and her late son Dylan
December 17, 2017

Sebastian Pinera winner of Chile's presidential election

Sebastián Piñera won Chile’s presidency on Sunday, with his centre-left opponent Alejandro Guillier conceding the election as Chile followed other South American nations in a political turn to the right.

With 98.44% of the ballots counted, the billionaire conservative, 68, had won 54.57% in the runoff vote, to 45.43% for senator Guillier, a wider than expected margin in a race that pollsters had predicted would be tight.

Months of campaigning exposed deepening rifts among the country’s once bedrock centre left, an opening former president Piñera leveraged to rally more centrist voters around his proposals to cut corporate taxes, double economic growth and eliminate poverty in the world’s top copper producer.

In his concession speech at a hotel in downtown Santiago, Guillier called his loss a “harsh defeat” and urged his supporters to defend the progressive reforms of outgoing President Michelle Bachelet’s second term.

Many Chileans had viewed the election as a referendum on her policies, which focused on reducing inequality by making education more affordable and overhauling the tax code.

At: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/17/chileans-cast-their-ballot-in-decisive-presidential-runoff

December 15, 2017

Amid protests and scandal, Argentine Congress suspends vote on Macri pension reform bill

Argentina’s lower house of Congress suspended a vote on President Mauricio Macri’s pension reform plan, after supporters of the bill were found to have sneaked at least two fake lawmakers to obtain quorum and as protesters and police clashed violently outside.

The bill, which passed the Senate last month, would cut benefits to retirees, pensioners, veterans, the disabled, and the poor by a total of at least $7 billion next year alone.

Officials in the right-wing Macri administration describe the bill as “essential to cut the fiscal deficit,” which is projected to rise to a record $35 billion this year.

Opposition politicians and labor unions, however, note that besides cutting pensions and benefits by 8.5% in the first year, and likely more later, the bill would also deprive the ANSES social security agency of some $4 billion in annual revenue - thereby diluting most of the savings.

Facing a possible legislative defeat, Macri is reportedly preparing to enact the changes by decree - a move which even staunch allies such as Congresswoman Elisa Carrió have slammed as unconstitutional.

Before Thursday’s scheduled vote, the country’s top labor federation, the CGT, called a general strike for the following day. Demonstrators threw stones at metal barriers set up outside Congress, and security forces responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Among the injured were four opposition lawmakers.

Diputrucho scandal

The vote on the bill itself was suspended this afternoon when opposition lawmakers noted that two of the “congressmen” gathered on the floor of the house to provide quorum were actually impersonators.

The impersonators - known in the Argentine vernacular as “diputruchos” (congressfakes) - were reportedly ushered to the floor by the leader of Macri's PRO caucus, Nicolás Massot.

Despite it being a felony to impersonate a lawmaker on the floor of Congress, no charges were pressed.

“We will not back down,” opposition lawmaker Mirta Tundis of the centrist Renewal Front said. “It is outrageous that year after year, those who have less are affected most.”

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.diarioregistrado.com%2Fpolitica%2Fel-gobierno-queria-lograr-quorum-con---diputruchos-_a5a32c479a4d76178ffbd378a&edit-text=

Water cannon aims at protesters outside Congress during today's vote; yellow is the official color of Macri's right-wing party, the PRO.

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