News from the Americas, June 24

The Headlines

Scenes from the June 9, 2009 strikes in Peru

Scenes from the June 9, 2009 strikes in Peru; the opposition to the government's policies continues

Peru: 3,000 miners are continuing a protest that began two days ago in La Oroya as President Alan Garcia’s popularity is at Bush-levels, 21 percent.

Guatemala: Six miners killed in Cerro Potosi, Guatemala. Raises the questions of “independent contractors” and employees of the mines, often a trick by employers to relax safety measures to induce cheap labor.

World: Global growth and development contracts in 2009, following the trends following the economic collapse last September. Developing nations are the hardest hit.

Peru: In 1989, the Peruvian military killed 8 in the town of Pucará, claiming to find Shining Path guerrillas. Twenty-eight members of the military are on trial with prosecutors looking for 20+ years.

Mexico: According to the Los Angles Times, “Mexico moves quietly to decriminalize minor drug use.” The move is seen to try to alleviate the violence and influx of cash and guns into the country from the United States.

Colombia: National Association of Hospital Workers of Colombia leader Rafael Antonio Sepulveda was murdered over the weekend. Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place for union activists on earth – of the 76 killed last year, 49 were Colombian.

Colombia: From Memory in Latin America, “25 percent of the population shows symptoms of mental disorders such as severe depression and posttraumatic stress, but among displaced people (of whom Colombia has the highest number in the world) this rises to 75 percent.”

US/Mexico: In the continuation of the “House of Death” orchestration occurring outside Juarez, it is now reported that first victim was indeed a US citizen, David Castro.

Mexico: The murder rate has no subsided in parts of Mexico, which witnessed ten murders this weekend.

Argentina: “Polluting Mining Company Finances Public Universities”

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The Stories You Need to Read

President Funes seeks to end corruption and investigate former administration

President Funes seeks to end corruption and investigate former administration

EL SALVADOR: Leftist Govt Clamps Down on Corruption by Raúl Gutiérrez

Serious allegations of corruption involving central figures in the government of right-wing former Salvadoran president Antonio Saca (2004-2009) will be investigated by a commission led by Finance Minister Carlos Cáceres.

Left-wing President Mauricio Funes, who took office on Jun. 1, announced the decision in his first address to the nation, in which he referred to situations encountered by members of his cabinet in several of the ministries they took over…

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Rare Metals Could Trigger Next Trade War by Emilio Godoy

Used in electric car motors and wind turbines, neodymium, a “rare earth metal”, is at the epicenter of the race between wealthy and emerging nations to create green technologies, while poorer countries appear to be relegated to spectators.

Neodymium is a lanthanoid, 60 on the periodic table of elements for the number of atoms in a single molecule. Its production and wide range of uses suggest that green technologies will be a major stage for competition over raw materials.

José Luis Giordano, associate professor of engineering at Chile’s University of Talca, noted in an interview that there is a battle between the United States, China and Japan over neodymium, samarium and praseodymium, over ceramic superconductors, and for alternatives to these materials, still in the experimental stages.

These elements belong to Group 15 of rare metals whose unique properties — like their great magnetic capacities and resistance to high temperatures — make them indispensable for a wide range of new technologies that the world needs urgently to confront global problems like climate change.

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COLOMBIA: Spying in the Name of ‘Democratic Security’ by Constanza Vieira

While the world’s attention was riveted on the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama, an operation was surreptitiously being carried out Jan. 19-21 at the headquarters of Colombia’s domestic intelligence agency, the Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad (DAS), which answers directly to the president’s office.

Over the course of those three days, dozens of boxes of files, computer hard drives, tape recordings and transcripts containing the results of months or even years of spying on Supreme Court judges, prosecutors, human rights defenders, opposition politicians and journalists were destroyed on orders from above.

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Victory in the Amazon by Laura Carlsen

Thousands of indigenous people from the Amazon jungle of Peru accomplished the unthinkable early this month. Their movement to save the Amazon and their communities forced the Peruvian government to roll back implementing legislation for the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that would have opened up the vast jungle to transnational oil and gas, mining, and timber companies.

The decision did not come without blood. Police attacked indigenous roadblocks and sit-ins in Bagua in Northern Peru, killing some 60 indigenous protestors, members of a 300,000 strong interethnic association of Amazon groups. The Peruvian government claims that 24 police officers and nine civilians died in the violence. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the UN Special Rapporteur, and other human rights and environmental organizations throughout the world have initiated investigations into the massacre.

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Guatemala at a Crossroads by Mark Schneider

Testimony by Mark L. Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group on “Guatemala at a Crossroads” to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. 9 June 2009, Washington, DC.

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~ by Daniel on June 24, 2009.

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