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12/8/2016

Las Patronas

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Doña Leonilda Vázquez. She, her daughter and other 13 women founded the group known as Las Patronas in 1995. Their mission is to provide free food for undocumented migrants crossing Mexico between the Tierra Blanca and Córdoba train stations.

Migrants hopping aboard the moving cargo trains face many dangers along the way. From amputation or death if they fall or are pushed from the train, to kidnapping, rape and extortion at the hands of the gangs and organised crime groups that control the routes.

La Patrona Mexico.But in the Mexican state of Veracruz, a small group of women have dedicated themselves to feed the migrants as the trains pass through their small town of La Patrona. Driven only by kindness, the small group now known as “Las Patronas” is made of about 14 wives and mothers that spend each day of the week cooking for migrants.

Coordinated by the founder Norma Romero Vázquez, they prepare hundreds of bags of rice, beans and tortillas

“(…) more people will become aware, join forces and show support to the needy, the vulnerable, the brother migrants, the elderly, the sick, the prisoners, the unemployed and the destitute. When they cross our path let’s not be indifferent and overlook them, oblivious to the cause of their problems. Let us take the time to listen to them, respect them, love them and help to find a solution to such a problem. We are human beings and we should not remain indifferent.” (Traduction NADJA)

The reward for their selfless and hard work? The gratitude and blessings from migrants they may never see again.

Julia Ramírez has been a volunteer with the group for 17 years. She is in charge of cooking every Tuesday, and fulfills other duties during the rest of the week. She works every day, even on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Ramírez lives near the train tracks, and remembers one Sunday when “La Bestia” stopped its march. A 16-year-old boy came knocking on her door asking for food. The first thing that came to her mind was her son, who was of a similar age at that time. “It really moved me to tears,” she recalls. She took the boy in and fed him tortillas, beans, and eggs—a fast meal before the train continued with its journey again. “Thank you mother. God bless you,” the immigrant said.

Before leaving, the young man asked for her blessing. “May God bless you and the Virgin Mother be always with you on your journey,” she told him. That same day, she went and joined Las Patronas.

La Patrona, a community in Amatlán de los Reyes, in the center of the Veracruz state. Bernanda is one of the 14 women who are part of a group that is known around the world as “Las Patronas,” an organization that for the last 20 years has been feeding Central Americans immigrants who travel on top of a freight train known as “La Bestia” that’s bound for the United States. These men, women, and children travel out of necessity due to the tremendous violence and economic crises that grip much of Central America. The meals provided to them by Las Patronas are the first they will have for days, or even weeks. Nobody knows when will they eat again. The lunches are made out of beans, rice, bread, tortillas, and tuna, or sometimes, boiled eggs, vegetables, or fruit. Sometimes a local bakery will donate a pie, but that doesn’t happen very often. Las Patronas’ 20 years of experience is reflected on a board that hangs in the kitchen. Each day of the week, one of them is in charge of preparing at least 100 lunches. (In earlier times, they had to prepare 800 a day.) Others will be in charge of packaging the food, or washing plastic bottles and filling them with water to later tie up in pairs (to make the delivery easier). They also pick up bread donations at different supermarkets and produce from a market in Cordoba.

11/6/2016

MAY THE EARTH TREMBLE AT ITS CORE

To the people of the world:

To the free media:

To the National and International Sixth:

Convened for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the National Indigenous Congress and the living resistance of the originary peoples, nations, and tribes of this country called Mexico, of the languages of Amuzgo, Binni-zaá, Chinanteco, Chol, Chontal de Oaxaca, Coca, Náyeri, Cuicateco, Kumiai, Lacandón, Matlazinca, Maya, Mayo, Mazahua, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Nahua, Ñahñu, Ñathô, Popoluca, Purépecha, Rarámuri, Tlapaneco, Tojolabal, Totonaco, Triqui, Tzeltal, Tsotsil, Wixárika, Yaqui, Zoque, Chontal de Tabasco, as well as our Aymara, Catalán, Mam, Nasa, Quiché and Tacaná brothers and sisters, we firmly pronounce that our struggle is below and to the left, that we are anticapitalist and that the time of the people has come—the time to make this country pulse with the ancestral heartbeat of our mother earth.

It is in this spirit that we met to celebrate life in the Fifth National Indigenous Congress, which took place on October 9-14, 2016, in CIDECI-UNITIERRA, Chiapas. There we once again recognized the intensification of the dispossession and repression that have not stopped in the 524 years since the powerful began a war aimed at exterminating those who are of the earth; as their children we have not allowed for their destruction and death, meant to serve capitalist ambition which knows no end other than destruction itself. That resistance, the struggle to continue constructing life, today takes the form of words, learning, and agreements. On a daily basis we build ourselves and our communities in resistance in order to stave off the storm and the capitalist attack which never lets up. It becomes more aggressive everyday such that today it has become a civilizational threat, not only for indigenous peoples and campesinos but also for the people of the cities who themselves must create dignified and rebellious forms of resistance in order to avoid murder, dispossession, contamination, sickness, slavery, kidnapping or disappearance. Within our community assemblies we have decided, exercised, and constructed our destiny since time immemorial. Our forms of organization and the defense of our collective life is only possible through rebellion against the bad government, their businesses, and their organized crime.

We denounce the following:

1. In Pueblo Coca, Jalisco, the businessman Guillermo Moreno Ibarra invaded 12 hectares of forest in the area known as El Pandillo, working in cahoots with the agrarian institutions there to criminalize those who struggle, resulting in 10 community members being subjected to trials that went on for four years. The bad government is invading the island of Mexcala, which is sacred communal land, and at the same time refusing to recognize the Coca people in state indigenous legislation, in an effort to erase them from history.
2. The Otomí Ñhañu, Ñathö, Hui hú, and Matlatzinca peoples from México State and Michoacán are being attacked via the imposition of a megaproject to build the private Toluca-Naucalpan Highway and an inter-city train. The project is destroying homes and sacred sites, buying people off and manipulating communal assemblies through police presence. This is in addition to fraudulent community censuses that supplant the voice of an entire people, as well as the privatization and the dispossession of water and territory around the Xinantécatl volcano, known as the Nevado de Toluca. There the bad governments are doing away with the protections that they themselves granted, all in order to hand the area over to the tourism industry. We know that all of these projects are driven by interest in appropriating the water and life of the entire region. In the Michoacán zone they deny the identity of the Otomí people, and a group of police patrols have come to the region to monitor the hills, prohibiting indigenous people there from going to the hills to cut wood.
3. The originary peoples who live in Mexico City are being dispossessed of the territories that they have won in order to be able to work for a living; in the process they are robbed of their goods and subjected to police violence. They are scorned and repressed for using their traditional clothing and language, and criminalized through accusations of selling drugs.
4. The territory of the Chontal Peoples of Oaxaca is being invaded by mining concessions that are dismantling communal land organization, affecting the people and natural resources of five communities.
5. The Mayan Peninsular People of Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo are suffering land disposession as a result of the planting of genetically modified soy and African palm, the contamination of their aquifers by agrochemicals, the construction of wind farms and solar farms, the development of ecotourism, and the activities of real estate developers. Their resistance against high electricity costs has been met with harassment and arrest warrants. In Calakmul, Campeche, five communities are being displaced by the imposition of ‘environmental protection areas,’ environmental service costs, and carbon capture plans. In Candelaria, Campeche, the struggle continues for secure land tenure. In all three states there is aggressive criminalization against those who defend territory and natural resources.
6. The Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Chol and Lacandón Maya People of Chiapas continue to be displaced from their territories due to the privatization of natural resources. This has resulted in the imprisonment and murder of those who defend their right to remain in their territory, as they are constantly discriminated against and repressed whenever they defend themselves and organize to continue building their autonomy, leading to increasing rates of human rights violations by police forces. There are campaigns to fragment and divide their organizations, as well as the murders of compañeros who have defended their territory and natural resources in San Sebastián Bachajon. The bad governments continue trying to destroy the organization of the communities that are EZLN bases of support in order to cast a shadow on the hope and light that they provide to the entire world.
7. The Mazateco people of Oaxaca have been invaded by private property claims which exploit the territory and culture for tourism purposes. This includes naming Huautla de Jimenéz as a “Pueblo Mágico” in order to legalize displacement and commercialize ancestral knowledge. This is in addition to mining concessions and foreign spelunking explorations in existing caves, all enforced by increased harassment by narcotraffickers and militarization of the territory. The bad governments are complicit in the increasing rates of femicide and rape in the region.
8. The Nahua and Totonaca peoples of Veracruz and Puebla are confronting aerial fumigation, which creates illnesses in the communities. Mining and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation are carried out through fracking, and 8 watersheds are endangered by new projects that are contaminating the rivers.
9. The Nahua and Popoluca peoples from the south of Veracruz are under siege by organized crime and also risk territorial destruction and their disappearance as a people because of the threats brought by mining, wind farms, and above all, hydrocarbon exploitation through fracking.
10. The Nahua people, who live in the states of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Morelos, Mexico State, Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, and Mexico City, are in a constant struggle to stop the advance of the so-called Proyecto Integral Morelos, consisting of pipelines, aqueducts, and thermoelectric projects. The bad governments, seeking to stop the resistance and communication among the communities are trying to destroy the community radio of Amiltzingo, Morelos. Similarly, the construction of the new airport in Mexico City and the surrounding building projects threaten the territories around Texcoco lake and the Valle de México basin, namely Atenco, Texcoco, and Chimalhuacán. In Michocan, the Nahua people face the plunder of their natural resources and minerals by sicarios [hitmen] who are accompanied by police or the army, and also the militarization and paramilitarizaiton of their territories. The cost of trying to halt this war has been murder, persecution, imprisonment, and harassment of community leaders.
11. The Zoque People of Oaxaca and Chiapas face invasion by mining concessions and alleged private property claims on communal lands in the Chimalapas region, as well as three hydroelectric dams and hydrocarbon extraction through fracking. The implementation of cattle corridors is leading to excessive logging in the forests in order to create pastureland, and genetically modified seeds are also being cultivated there. At the same time, Zoque migrants to different states across the country are re-constituting their collective organization.
12. The Amuzgo people of Guerrero are facing the theft of water from the San Pedro River to supply residential areas in the city of Ometepec. Their community radio has also been subject to constant persecution and harassment.
13. The Rarámuri people of Chihuahua are losing their farmland to highway construction, to the Creel airport, and to the gas pipeline that runs from the United States to Chihuahua. They are also threatened by Japanese mining companies, dam projects, and tourism.
14. The Wixárika people of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Durango are facing the destruction and privatization of the sacred places they depend on to maintain their familial, social, and political fabric, and also the dispossession of their communal land in favor of large landowners who take advantage of the blurry boundaries between states of the Republic and campaigns orchestrated by the bad government to divide people.
15. The Kumiai People of Baja California continue struggling for the reconstitution of their ancestral territories, against invasion by private interests, the privatization of their sacred sites, and the invasion of their territories by gas pipelines and highways.
16. The Purépecha people of Michoacán are experiencing deforestation, which occurs through complicity between the bad government and the narcoparamilitary groups who plunder the forests and woods. Community organization from below poses an obstacle to that theft.
17. For the Triqui people of Oaxaca, the presence of the political parties, the mining industry, paramilitaries, and the bad government foment the disintegration of the community fabric in the interest of plundering natural resources.
18. The Chinanteco people of Oaxaca are suffering the destruction of their forms of community organization through land reforms, the imposition of environmental services costs, carbon capture plans, and ecotourism. There are plans for a four-lane highway to cross and divide their territory. In the Cajono and Usila Rivers the bad governments are planning to build three dams that will affect the Chinanteco and Zapoteca people, and there are also mining concessions and oil well explorations.
19. The Náyeri People of Nayarit face the invasion and destruction of their sacred territories by the Las Cruces hydroelectric project in the site called Muxa Tena on the San Pedro River.
20. The Yaqui people of Sonora continue their sacred struggle against the gas pipeline that would cross their territory, and in defense of the water of the Yaqui River, which the bad governments want to use to supply the city of Hermosillo, Sonora. This goes against judicial orders and international appeals which have made clear the Yaqui peoples’ legal and legitimate rights. The bad government has criminalized and harassed the authorities and spokespeople of the Yaqui tribe.
21. The Binizzá and Ikoot people organize to stop the advance of the mining, wind, hydroelectric, dam, and gas pipeline projects. This includes in particular the Special Economic Zone on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the infrastructure that threatens the territory and the autonomy of the people on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec who are classified as the “environmental Taliban” and the “indigenous rights Taliban,” the precise words used by the Mexican Association of Energy to refer to the Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People.
22. The Mixteco people of Oaxaca suffer the plunder of their agrarian territory, which also affects their traditional practices given the threats, deaths, and imprisonment that seek to quiet the dissident voices, with the bad government supporting armed paramilitary groups as in the case of San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca.
23. The Mixteco, Tlapaneco, and Nahua peoples from the mountains and coast of Guerrero face the imposition of mining megaprojects supported by narcotraffickers, their paramilitaries, and the bad governments, who fight over the territories of the originary peoples.
24. The Mexican bad government continues to lie, trying hide its decomposition and total responsibility for the forced disappearance of the 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.
25. The state continues to hold hostage: compañeros Pedro Sánchez Berriozábal, Rómulo Arias Míreles, Teófilo Pérez González, Dominga González Martínez, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal, and Marco Antonio Pérez González from the Nahua community of San Pedro Tlanixco in Mexico State; Zapotec compañero Álvaro Sebastián from the Loxicha region; compañeros Emilio Jiménez Gómez and Esteban Gómez Jiménez, prisoners from the community of Bachajón, Chiapas; compañeros Pablo López Álvarez and the exiled Raul Gatica García and Juan Nicolás López from the Indigenous and Popular Council of Oaxaca Ricardo Flores Magón. Recently a judge handed down a 33-year prison sentence to compañero Luis Fernando Sotelo for demanding that the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa be returned alive, and to the compañeros Samuel Ramírez Gálvez, Gonzalo Molina González and Arturo Campos Herrera from the Regional Coordination of Community Authorities – PC. They also hold hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous people across the country prisoner for defending their territories and demanding justice.
26. The Mayo people’s ancestral territory is threatened by highway projects meant to connect Topolobampo with the state of Texas in the United States. Ambitious tourism projects are also being created in Barranca del Cobre.
27. The Dakota Nation’s sacred territory is being invaded and destroyed by gas and oil pipelines, which is why they are maintaining a permanent occupation to protect what is theirs.

For all of these reasons, we reiterate that it our obligation to protect life and dignity, that is, resistance and rebellion, from below and to the left, a task that can only be carried out collectively. We build rebellion from our small local assemblies that combine to form large communal assemblies, ejidal assemblies, Juntas de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Councils], and coalesce as agreements as peoples that unite us under one identity. In the process of sharing, learning, and constructing ourselves as the National Indigenous Congress, we see and feel our collective pain, discontent, and ancestral roots. In order to defend what we are, our path and learning process have been consolidated by strengthening our collective decision-making spaces, employing national and international juridical law as well as peaceful and civil resistance, and casting aside the political parties that have only brought death, corruption, and the buying off of dignity. We have made alliances with various sectors of civil society, creating our own resources in communication, community police and self-defense forces, assemblies and popular councils, and cooperatives; in the exercise and defense of traditional medicine; in the exercise and defense of traditional and ecological agriculture; in our own rituals and ceremonies to pay respect to mother earth and continue walking with and upon her, in the cultivation and defense of native seeds, and in political-cultural activities, forums, and information campaigns.

This is the power from below that has kept us alive. This is why commemorating resistance and rebellion also means ratifying our decision to continue to live, constructing hope for a future that is only possible upon the ruins of capitalism.

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Given that the offensive against the people will not cease, but rather grow until it finishes off every last one of us who make up the peoples of the countryside and the city, who carry profound discontent that emerges in new, diverse, and creative forms of resistance and rebellion, this Fifth National Indigenous Congress has decided to launch a consultation in each of our communities to dismantle from below the power that is imposed on us from above and offers us nothing but death, violence, dispossession, and destruction. Given all of the above, we declare ourselves in permanent assembly as we carry out this consultation, in each of our geographies, territories, and paths, on the accord of the Fifth CNI to name an Indigenous Governing Council whose will would be manifest by an indigenous woman, a CNI delegate, as an independent candidate to the presidency of the country under the name of the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in the electoral process of 2018. We confirm that our struggle is not for power, which we do not seek. Rather, we call on all of the originary peoples and civil society to organize to put a stop to this destruction and strengthen our resistances and rebellions, that is, the defense of the life of every person, family, collective, community, or barrio. We make a call to construct peace and justice by reweaving ourselves from below, from where we are what we are.

This is the time of dignified rebellion, the time to construct a new nation by and for everyone, to strengthen power below and to the anticapitalist left, to make those who are responsible for all of the pain of the peoples of this multi-colored Mexico pay.

Finally, we announce the creation of the official webpage of the CNI: www.congresonacionalindigena.org

From CIDECI-UNITIERRA,

Chiapas, October 2016

For the Full Reconstitution of Our Peoples

Never Again a Mexico Without Us

National Indigenous Congress

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

8/31/2016

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances; 3 Campesino Activists Executed

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As Colombia Cease-Fire Begins, 3 Campesino Activists Executed

While the beginning of the cease-fire marked a historical step toward peace in Colombia, rural leaders are still assassinated for defending their lands.

While the beginning of the cease-fire marked a historic step toward peace in Colombia, rural leaders are still being assassinated for defending their land and natural resources, an important reminder of the difficulties the country faces in ending the violence and impunity that have been such a permanent fixture of the five decades-long civil war.

728 Human Rights Activists Killed in Colombia Since 1994

A few hours after the cease-fire between Colombia’s army and the rebels formally started Monday night, three campesino leaders were murdered in the southwestern province of Cauca.

At about 8 a.m. local time, men “dressed as military officers, with balaclavas and large weapons” stopped vehicles traveling to the weekly market in the town of Almaguer, local campesino organization Cima said in a statement.

The assailants then asked the passengers to turn off their phones and forced the three campesinos to come with them, including one of Cima’s historical founders, Joel Meneses, before driving the campesinos a few miles to a spot called Dark Mount, where they were found shot dead.

Meneses, as well as campesinos Ariel Sotelo and another Meneses, whose first name was Mereo, were leading the defense of the territory including the protection of water resources against illegal mining. The group took part in the national agrarian strike in June while Joel Meneses had received a series of death threats over the past year, emphasized the communique.

After a series of murders of campesinos in Cauca last fall, sometimes involving military personnel, Cima denounced “the continuing attacks that campesinos and Indigenous social movements in Almaguer are victims of, affecting its organizational and electoral processes”—as some of their members won in local elections last year.

The country’s ombudsman Fabian Laverde said back then that the issue of violence against campesions was the roots of a number of causes.

“First, the national government refuses to recognize the existence of paramilitarism. Second, the complaints from the social movements made about situations of threats or concrete actions against residents of these territories have been completely ignored,” he said.

At least 300 campesinos leaders have been killed in Colombia in 2015.

Land distribution in Colombia is extremely unequal. Less than 1 percent of the population owns roughly half of the land, and 70 percent of the population owns only 5 percent of the land. Campesinos who fight for their land are often at risk of losing their lives

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

August 30 is a day for commemorating those disappeared by repressive regimes, a day originally brought forward by families and human rights bodies struggling to find out the truth about their loved ones.

The Killing of Innocents: False Positives in Colombia

Six years ago on Wednesday, scores of young men from the poor neighborhood of Soacha near Bogota, Colombia, were offered work but ended up dead, and labeled left-wing guerillas. A recruiter later testified that he had received US$500 from the Colombian military for each man he recruited and delivered to them.

The Legacy of Disappearances in El Salvador

As El Salvador, Latin America, and the world celebrates the Vatican’s beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero, one of the causes most dear to the slain priest remains an open wound for the country: los desaparecidos, or the disappeared. During the Salvadoran Civil War (1979-1992), an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 civilians were disappeared, the vast majority victims of the military regime’s “dirty war” against Salvadoran civil society.

Canada’s Disappeared Indigenous Women

According to the most recent report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s national police force, there were at least 1,181 cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women in Canada over a 30-year period from 1980 to 2012. This report doubled the original estimate from the Native Women’s Association of Canada, who under the Sisters in Spirit campaign in 2010 met with Indigenous families and found no less than 600 murdered and missing. Even these two reports must be taken in the context of previous reports which have long highlighted Canada’s disappeared as a growing crisis.

Mexico’s Crisis of Enforced Disappearances Hits Women Hard

A gender crisis that sees four women forcibly disappeared every month in the western Mexican state of Jalisco has prompted authorities to launch a new initiative to immediately begin searching for missing women and girls in the state, local media reported Monday.

The families of victims and activists marched in Mexico City once again on Monday to urgently demand legislation to hold those responsible accountable. Our correspondent Clayton Conn has more.

Hundreds of mothers protested and demanded justice for their disappeared sons and daughters.

A London-based journalism advocacy group presented a report saying that 23 journalists have disappeared in Mexico since 2003, making it 2 every year, the highest number in the world. Most of the disappeared were covering corruption and organized crime.

Honduras After the Coup

“To defend life is the most beautiful thing that a human being can do.” Meet Bertha Oliva, whose husband was forcibly disappeared in Honduras and is now a leading human rights defender speaking up for those who can’t speak anymore.

From Reagan to Obama: Forced Disappearances in Honduras

Forced disappearance refers to the practice of secretly abducting and murdering victims, making them disappear from society without a trace. Bodies of the disappeared are often carefully hidden, or rendered unrecognizable, to instill fear without the identity of the victim or the perpetrator becoming known.

Operation Condor Remembered

For five decades, each week, these mothers and grandmothers have been meeting at Plaza De Mayo in Argentina seeking justice for their loved ones, the children who were disappeared during the era of state terrorism between 1976-1983.

The U.S. gave the green light for the tortures, murders, and disappearances that took place during the Argentine dictatorship.

Operation Condor: Cross-Border Disappearance and Death

Operation Condor was a covert, multinational “black operations” program organized by six Latin American states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru), with logistical, financial, and intelligence support from Washington.

Operation Condor was the culmination of a U.S.-orchestrated campaign that entailed the ruthless silencing, murder, torture, and disappearance of tens of thousands of left-wing opponents of U.S. imperialism and the fascistic military dictatorships backed by the CIA and supported by infamous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

3/5/2016

Market for natural chewing gum has been growing 25% per year

Filed under: agriculture,markets,mexico — admin @ 8:30 am

The world market for chewing gum is dominated by manufacturers of a product that is actually synthetic rubber, but there remains a demand for the real thing, luckily for some 2,000 Maya families in Quintana Roo. In fact, the production of gum made from natural chicle is seeing strong growth.

Chicle is a natural gum that has traditionally been used in making chewing gum and other products. It is collected from several species of Mesoamerican trees, including the Chicozapote (Manilkara zapota), which is the most common source in

The word chicle comes from the Nahuatl word for the gum, tziktli, meaning “sticky stuff,” although it could also have come from the Mayan word tsicte. Chicle was well known to the Aztecs and to the Maya, and early European settlers prized it for its subtle flavor and high sugar content.

Chicozapote plantations and the commercialization of chicle in the Yucatan peninsula state of Quintana Roo date back generations, although early in the 20th century Japanese interests controlled much of the market.

There was strong demand for natural chewing gum during World War II when the United States government supplied its military personnel with generous amounts of it, sourcing the product from Quintana Roo growers.

It was around that time that the Chiclero Consortium began operations, albeit inefficiently. It stumbled along aimlessly for some 50 years before state governor Mario Villanueva ordered an inspection of nearly 1.3 million hectares of Chicozapote rainforest which by then — in 1997 — had been virtually abandoned.

Villanueva was following the advice of Manuel Alderete, who also suggested he rehabilitate the consortium.

Today, Alderete is the executive director of the Chiclero Consortium, an enterprise that in the intervening 20 years has become a success story and a source of income for many of the state’s indigenous people: 70% of the company is owned by the local Maya community.

The Consortium provides a living for around 2,000 local families, many of whom have been working on the same Chicozapote farms for generations. During the last four years, sales of the consortium’s main product, natural chewing gum, have been increasing at an average annual rate of 25%, with buyers in 45 European, Asian and American countries. Paradoxically, the domestic market is their weakest.

The growth is at odds with international consumption of synthetic chewing gum, which has been declining due to a perception that it is unfashionable and concerns over its sugar content, according to the consultancy Euromonitor International.

Meanwhile, Mayan chicle producers continue to work their 1.3-million-hectare Chicozapote plantation, which has the capacity to be expanded to more than 5 million hectares; another 1,000 are expected to be incorporated into the production process this year. Its gum has also been certified as organic.

The consortium also intends to diversify by including crops naturally related to the Chicozapote tree, such as rainforest pepper (Capsicum baccatum) and RamÛn-nut, or breadnut (Brosimum alicastrum).

There is no shortage of reports offering evidence that many of Mexico’s indigenous people suffer from being sidelined and marginalized, but the story of the Mayan chicle producers is not one of them.

Prior to the overhaul of the gum-producing consortium at the end of the 1990s, farmers were left with just 45% of the value of their product. Today, they receive 85% and are beneficiaries as well of social security programs and savings funds and have access to college scholarships for their children. According to one account, failed general and former Mexican president Antonio LÛpez de Santa Anna, (he who first defeated Davy Crockett and Co. at the Alamo, only to be captured, dozing in his sleeping bag, by Texan Sam Houston a short time later) brought the idea of chewing gum to American consumers. In the 1860¥s Santa Anna was in exile in New York, when, mouth full of “chicle,” he met American scientist Thomas Adams Jr. Adams turned the idea of “chewing gum” into profit with Adams Brand “Chicklets”, established in 1876, and loathed by high-school janitors ever since.

Cavendish Bananas

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A nasty and incurable fungus has spread through the banana-producing countries around the world, and it could be making its way straight toward banana heartland: Latin America, which produces 80 percent of the world’s exports, threatening to drive the most popular variety of banana to extinction. So scientists are focusing on building a better banana to withstand the fungal assault.

Bananas have reached such all-star status in the American diet that we now consume more of them than apples every year. Yet you’re probably used to seeing just one type of banana at your supermarket: the relatively bland yellow Cavendish. It has high yields, ships pretty well, and ripens slowly, making it appetizing to global food distributors.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the Cavendish might also be its downfall. A nasty and incurable fungus known as Tropical Race 4 (TR4) has spread in Cavendish-producing countries around the world, and it could be making its way straight toward banana heartland: Latin America, which produces 80 percent of the world’s exports. For a paper published in November in the journal PLOS Pathogens, researchers confirmed that the version of TR4 afflicting bananas in different countries around the globe‚ including China, the Philippines, Jordan, Oman, and Australia, appears to come from a single clone. Ever since the fungus migrated from Asia and Australia into Africa and the Middle East starting in 2013, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has urged countries to step up their quarantining of sick plants. Yet the Pathogens paper confirms that these quarantines, seemingly the only prevention against the spread of the fungus, which can live in soil for up to 50 years, have mostly failed. “It indicates pretty strongly that we’ve been moving this thing around,” says professor James Dale, one of the world’s experts on bananas and the director of the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities. “It hasn’t just popped up out of the blue.”

The finding seems to confirm every banana grower’s worst fear: that the Cavendish will go down the same way our old favorite banana did. A century ago, Americans ate only Gros Michel bananas, said to have more complex flavor and a heartier composition than today’s Cavendish variety. Then, the monoculture fell prey to the fungal disease Tropical Race 1, or “Panama disease,” which wiped out the crop around the globe. There was nothing anything could do to stop it.

So this time around, rather than attack the fungus, scientists have shifted their efforts into building a better banana to withstand it. Dale’s research team, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has spent 12 years working on TR4. Three years ago, it started a trial on two very promising ideas: (1) inserting a TR4-resistant gene from a different wild banana species from Malaysia and Indonesia, musa acuminata malaccensis, into the Cavendish to create a fungus-resistant version of the popular variety and (2) turning off a gene in the Cavendish that follows directions from the fungus to kill its own cells. Dale says it’s too early to discuss the details of the trials, but the team is “very encouraged by the results” of the experiment with the wild malaccensis banana‚ which means the genetically engineered fruit seems to have successfully resisted TR4.

GMO haters would not be too happy about a rejiggered banana plant. Dale’s introduction of a different GM experiment in 2014, a vitamin-A-fortified banana meant to help deliver nutrients to impoverished Africans, was met with harsh criticism from the likes of Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva, Friends of the Earth Africa, and Food and Water Watch. “There is no consensus that GM crops are safe for human consumption,” they wrote in a letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Regardless of where you land on GMOs, there is another option to consider: We could stop relying on Cavendish bananas. If you’ve ever tasted one of the dozens of small, sweet bananas that grow in regions like Central America and Southeast Asia, you probably aren’t terribly impressed with the United States’ doughy supermarket varieties. Belgium’s Bioversity International estimates that there are at least 500, but possibly twice as many, banana cultivars in the world, and about 75 wild species. The Ruhuvia Chichi of the Solomon Islands is sunset red and cucumber shaped; Inabaniko bananas from the Philippines grow fused together, giving them the name “Praying Hands”; Micronesia’s orange-fleshed Fe’i bananas are rich in beta-carotene. Elsewhere, you can find the Lady Finger banana, the Senorita, the Pink French, and the Blue Java.

But Dale doubts the global food industry will suddenly switch to one of these tempting fruits. “To change over to another variety would be quite challenging, because the growers and shippers have really been set up to use [the Cavendish] around the world.” And he points out, “Even if you did find a replacement, that’s not to say that in 20 years another disease wouldn’t come along and knock it over.”

10/30/2015

Comunalidad as the Axis of Oaxacan Thought in Mexico

Filed under: capitalism,colonialism,corruption,culture,ideology,mexico — admin @ 6:37 am

Comunalidad as the Axis of Oaxacan Thought in Mexico (p4 of 17)

The following article by Jaime Martinez Luna originally appeared in
the anthology “New World of Indigenous Resistance: Noam Chomsky and
Voices from North, South, and Central America,” edited by Lois Meyer
and BenjamÌn Maldonado and published by City Lights. The book is a
collection of interviews with Noam Chomsky and articles written in
response to those interviews by indigenous activists and scholars. For
more information on the Academia de Comunalidad or on the First
International Congress on Comunalidad- Communal Struggles and
Strategies: Horizons Beyond Capitalism visit
http://www.congresocomunalidad2015.org

The Fourth Principle

The history of Oaxaca has been interwoven with principles and values
that display its deeply rooted comunalidad. For the Oaxacan people
across many centuries, this has meant integrating a process of
cultural, economic, and political resistance of great importance.
Since the Spanish conquest individualist and mercantilist as it was
Oaxaca has responded with a form and reason for being communal that
has permitted it to survive even in the face of an asphyxiating
globalizing process.

This historic and latent resistance is the basis for the achievement
today of having the concept of comunalidad written into the State
Education Act of 1995, as the fourth guiding principle of education.
For its transcendence, this principle requires that it be integrally
implemented so that in future generations, it becomes the foundational
knowledge and the basis for constructing all other knowledge. This
will guarantee its security and immediate identity within the current
intercultural education process.

We have not the slightest doubt that comunalidad is the
epistemological notion that sustains an ancestral, yet still new and
unique, civilizing process, one which holds back the decrepit
individualization of knowledge, power, and culture.

Based in the above, many of us as professionals who serve the
interests of the form of education that Oaxacan communities demand
consider it appropriate to lay out the set of criteria that undergird
an integrated treatment of the concept of comunalidad, seen as the
central concept in Oaxacan life.

A BRIEF HISTORY

The existence of a polytheism which sacralizes the natural world, the
absence of private property, an economy oriented toward immediate
satisfaction, and a political system supported by knowledge and work,
led the original peoples to create a cosmovision originating from the
us, from the self-determining and action-oriented collective, and,
along with this, to construct a communalist attitude which has been
continually consolidating itself despite cultural and economic
pressures from outside.

Meanwhile, the colonizers, who were educated in autocratic regimens
with a monotheistic and individualizing religion, a market-oriented
economy, and a concentrated, privatizing concept of nature, have
forced original peoples to develop strategies of resistance based in
the collective, in shared labor, and in respect for their community
elders or wise men (or seÒores naturales, natural gentlemen, as they
were called in colonial law).

With independence and the creation of the nation-state, the encounter
of these two visions did not erase their differences. The heirs of the
colonial system, criollos1 and mestizos,[2] set themselves up as the
central power of the nascent republic, undergirded by Western values,
such as liberty, equality, and fraternity, that were constructed in
the glow of the French Revolution. The Constitution of 1857 reflects
European and North American influences; it supports private property
and declares that ecclesiastical property, and perhaps communal
property, as well, though this is unclear, are no longer held in
perpetuity. Resistance to these actions varied across the Republic.
States with lands of interest to the market felt the effects of these
laws the most; not so much Oaxaca, where flat lands appropriate for
mercantilist agriculture are scarce, and the greatest capitalist use
of plains and plateaus included livestock in the areas where private
property today is prevalent, such as the coastal region and Tuxtepec.
The same occurred in the political sphere. The majority of Oaxacan
communities and municipalities retained their self-determination,
inherited from their cacicazcos, or prehispanic forms of governance.
These managed to maintain their authority with the strategic support
of both the colonizers and the independents.

With the Mexican Revolution, there was not much change. The
contradictions played out with greater intensity in the indigenous
regions. Oaxaca stands out in its resistance, thanks to its
topography. At present, it is the state with the greatest communal
land ownership, the greatest number of municipalities, the most
peoples with distinct languages and cultures, but at the same time,
the least important state in the nation, according to government
statistics, despite its illustrious native sons Benito Ju·rez, Flores
MagÛn,[3] and Porfirio DÌaz, in order of importance.

Presently, thanks to the ways of thinking and being of its people,
Oaxaca boasts the best preserved natural regions. It stands out in
terms of energy potential, which has made it an expansive region
coveted by private interests as lucrative terrain for development.
Globalization and privatization find in Oaxaca unlimited potential for
profit-making. It follows, then, that Oaxaca has also provided many
opportunities for resistance and a depth of knowledge to more clearly
define this process. This is demonstrated in the comunalidad which
displays itself in every dimension of life.

COMUNALIDAD AXIS OF
OAXACAN THOUGHT

The world is awakening from the illusion of a universal culture shaped
by one hegemonic form of reasoning. Today it confronts the reality of
diversity, multiculturalism, and the recognition of a daily
intercultural process strengthened by increasing migration across the
planet. The individualism which was imposed on the colonies, today
nation-states, is reaching its limits in regard to the development of
equality and democracy, as it confronts the truly vibrant
epistemological proposal of comunalidad.

Comunalidad does not originate from a discourse devised in a cubicle,
a classroom, or a laboratory. It emerges as a tacit display of social
movements, which in the 1980s achieved their goal of controlling their
own development by conceptualizing their actions.

The organizing mechanisms that sustain comunalidad are not visible
outside of the social process; it is in this same social process that
they become visible. In other words, comunalidad carries on
independently of whether we conceive of it as such, or not. The
actions are a demonstration of principles and values emanating from a
historical reality, one that transcends the centuries and is being
consolidated in a concrete struggle for the liberation of peoples, as
well as their cultural reaffirmation.

Comunalidad is confronted by the individualism imposed as part of the
logic of colonialism, privatization, and mercantilism, which are
developed according to a philosophy centered in the individual as the
axis of the universe. Neither Marxism nor nineteenth-century
liberalism strays from this base. Comunalidad integrates diversity and
reproduces it within collaborative forms of work and joint
construction. In other words, we could say that predatory and now
globalized individualism is confronted by an ancient communalism
(which in the opinion of Marx, was surpassed by later modes of
production). But in reality, comunalidad is an historical experience
and a vibrant, present day set of behaviors, which is constantly
renovated in the face of the social and economic contradictions
generated by capitalist individualism.

In Oaxaca, the vitality of comunalidad as it presents itself witnesses
to the integration of four basic elements: territory, governance,
labor, and enjoyment (fiesta). The principles and values that
articulate these elements are respect and reciprocity. Comunalidad and
individualism overlap in Oaxacan thought. We are the unique result of
our own culture, but we are also colonized. Everyone displays
knowledge according to the context surrounding them; hence,
contradictions are a daily occurrence, not only of individuals, but
also of communities. This is why, due to the social processes that
Oaxaca experiences, the study and reproduction of comunalidad in all
dimensions of life is vitally necessary if we wish to transcend our
prevalent socioeconomic contradictions.

COMUNALIDAD IN EDUCATION

In the 1980s, thanks to indigenous, peasant, and social movements in
general, comunalidad was proposed as the explanatory concept of the
organizational modalities of Oaxacan society. The teachers insurgence,
as well as the commitments of various Oaxacan and Mexican
intellectuals, found in this concept a logical articulation of their
mobilizations and their teaching. The outcome was that Oaxacan
teachers managed to insert the concept of comunalidad as the fourth
guiding principle together with democracy, nationalism and humanism in
the State Education Act of 1995. That law was, of course, also a
response to fears generated in government officials by the Zapatista
uprising of 1994.

The communal vision of life transcends the labyrinth that presently
entraps indigenous education. Community-controlled education starkly
marks the boundaries that separate school-based, cloistered education
from that which the community in its entirety provides. Understanding
the presence of comunalidad in education means understanding very
specifically how to plant the seed of a civilizing process, one that
investigates and proposes a concrete pedagogy that guarantees not only
that the concept (and now guiding principle) of Oaxacan education is
understood, but also that continuous mobilizations are undertaken for
the liberation of knowledge. Now that comunalidad is established as a
principle in the State Education Act, spaces and opportunities must be
opened up which are dedicated to developing the necessary knowledge
and designing needed tools to make it a reality. This means
incorporating this knowledge and these tools into the centrally
planned state education which contradicts our realities and serves as
an obstacle to our being able to express our own experiences. By
expressing our experiences, we will be able to reproduce the
principles and values that support the reaffirmation of our cultural
diversity.

This line of reasoning can and must result in the achievement of our
expectations. This leads us to the following conclusions: -It is
necessary to integrate specific, local, and regional content in the
education that is imparted throughout the territory of Oaxaca. -It is
important to strengthen our ancestral knowledge using pedagogical
agencies and tools appropriate to the task, in order to resist the
ruinous individualization of knowledge. -It is imperative that we
ground an epistemology in the everyday labor of society in order to
shape a new conception of the universe. Thinking must not be the
preserve or property of the academy. It must be the practice of all
the worlds inhabitants.

A NEW PEDAGOGY

What needs to be taught is nothing more than sharing the sharing of
anger, enchantment, routine, misfortune, pain, tenderness, joy. For
teachers, all of these words are a familiar lingo. Paulo Freire called
this the pedagogy of the oppressed, Makarenko referred to the identity
of others, Summerhill saw it as constant hilarity; thus, everyone sees
what they want to see. Everyone depends on his or her concept, context
and text. In this sense, one cannot speak of one pedagogy, but rather
an intellectual diversity that captures the world, that is not
time-bound, but if given space, that defines character and emotion.

All pedagogical technologies depend on interests of all kinds: social
interests, because they respond to the stimuli of relationships;
acquired, and in many cases, imposed values; political interests,
because they respond to governments set up by those who want to manage
the lives of the inhabitants; and economic interests, because they
respond to needs inserted from the outside, not only to those that are
internal.

All of which leads us to understand that no one can teach anyone else,
or all of us must teach each other, and with that we reproduce
intentions and resolve needs. This is what we learn from comunalidad.

Noam Chomsky affirms that our peoples face challenges, in most cases
historical challenges. Neoliberalism is neither liberal nor new, but
it is a concentration of enormous power, and it also is collapsing.
Edgar Morin shares the same view, believing that the communal is a
very significant proposal, but it must be understood, valued and
supported. The Mexican philosopher Luis Villoro is very enamored of
this perspective and agrees with the communitarian view, though he
will not be separated from his republican passion. The European
philosopher Panikkar also agrees with communitarianism; however, his
Western orientation keeps him from developing more detailed responses
to this matter. Gonz·lez Casanova continues to be obsessed with
democracy, a topic in need of debate in light of current realities.[4]

In education, that which is communitarian is a paradigmatic vision. A
fundamental principle is to liberate the exercise of knowledge. It
must be acknowledged to be the result of everyones labor: the
so-called university-educated, bricklayers, teachers, peasants, in the
end, all of us who inhabit the natural world. I am not bothered by the
idea of knocking down schools and suppressing teachers because,
essentially, we are all teachers. Teachers are not the ones, despite
their intelligence, who should determine what we must know. They must
understand that it is each and every one of us who has to open the
door to knowledge. The collective task does not come from the outside;
it has always been within us, and also the need. Nature has obligated
us to work together, and not for the politicized notion of mass labor
embodied in the Industrial Revolution, if that is what you want to
call it, but rather for the need to survive.

AN EXAMPLE TO HELP CLARIFY

As an 8-year-old boy, my mother enrolled me in a boarding school
founded due to the initiative of L·zaro C·rdenas.[5] The students came
from many communities, basically indigenous, a concept imposed on us
thanks to Manuel Gamio[6] and his collection of anthropologist and
bureaucrat followers. The tale is long but its importance centers on
the the educational organization of the experience.

There was an assembly made up of all the students. Through a committee
the students organized homework and chores; even the meting out of
justice was decided in this representative way. The teachers were
simply consultants; the students determined what was to be done.

There were workshops for agriculture, textile and shoe production,
bread and food production, carpentry, ceramics, and music. The
educational process was not centered on the teaching staff but rather
in liberation and work. This is a long story, but we can understand
and summarize it in the following manner: a. An education founded in
work. b. An education based not in organization from above, but in the
participation of all. c. An educational method founded in respect for
everyone¥s knowledge, and fundamentally, respect for that which is our
own.

CONCEPTUAL CONTEXT OF THE IDEA

In 1856, Karl Marx wrote in his Outlines of the Critique of Political
Economy or Grundisse, about the existence of communalism, basing
himself on the experiences of the Aztecs, the Iroquois, and the
Asians, both Hindu and Chinese. He discovered in these sources
distinct values and modes of organization. Yet his reflections were in
a certain respect pessimistic. He thought that these were cultures
destined to disappear. For him, industrial development made the worker
into the subject responsible for social and economic transformation.
However, in his reflections he provides elements that are consistent
with an understanding of the communal within the relationship of human
beings with territory.

This is the first reflection that I want to share with you. Communal
beings, as BenjamÌn Maldonado affirms, make sense of themselves in
terms of their relationship with the land. An indigenous person
understands himself in relationship with the land. I want to clarify
that I am not referring to the Zapatista or Magonista maxim of Land
and Liberty, but rather to a relationship with the land that is not
mercantile, a relationship of sharing and caring. That is, humans are
linked to the land not only for organic sustenance, but also for
spiritual and symbolic sustenance. In other words, the land does not
belong to those who work it, in my way of reasoning; rather, those who
care for it, share it, and when necessary work it belong to the land,
and not the other way around.

Obviously in a world ruled by the logic of the market, it is easier to
appropriate everything from nature for ourselves rather than to grasp
an entirely reverse conception of ourselves. The need to survive
causes us to view everything from a materialistic perspective; on this
subject Marx made an abundance of reflections of great importance. But
here is where the difference from indigenous thinking springs forth.
Comunalidad is a way of understanding life as being permeated with
spirituality, symbolism, and a greater integration with nature. It is
one way of understanding that human beings are not the center, but
simply a part of this great natural world. It is here that we can
distinguish the enormous difference between Western and indigenous
thought. Who is at the center only one, or all? The individual, or
everyone? The market makes everything into a product, a thing, and
with that nature is also commodified.

My second reflection is on organization. Marx respects the community
as the nucleus that integrates families, that which makes of territory
a space for social relationships appropriate for the exercise of a
necessary social organization. This necessary organization is
obligatory, not only for peaceful coexistence, but also for the
defense of territorial, spiritual, symbolic, artistic, and
intellectual values. The community is like a virtual gigantic family.
Its organization stems initially and always from respect.

Everything is done together, a practice obviously reinforced by the
policy of the Spanish colonizers of concentrating populations. Still,
it is a natural reaction, naturally linked up with the use of a common
language.

The creation and functioning of the communal assembly perhaps was not
necessary before the arrival of the Spaniards, but for the sake of
defense it had to be developed. Once the population was concentrated,
religious societies to attend the saints (cofradÌas), and community
organizations to plan fiestas (mayordomÌas) developed, which were
cells of social organization that strengthened the ethics of the
assembly. Out of this, the communally appointed leadership roles
(cargos) originated. Someone had to represent the group, but all this
implied the need for greater consolidation for decision-making. The
Spanish governors designed the details of the colonial organizational
structure, but in one way or another over time all the new colonial
roles simply were absorbed into already-established traditional roles
and responsibilities. Centuries had to pass before the colonial cargos
that were used to control the native population were diluted and
leveled enough so that the macehuales (community members, now
comuneros) could ascend the social pyramid, and the community could
become a space of truly horizontal participation.

Today, as before, one does not receive a community cargo by empty
talk, but rather because of ones labor, attitude, and respect for the
responsibilities entrusted. Everyone knows this, having learned it
even before the age of eighteen, perhaps at ten or fourteen years of
age, when assigned the first cargo, that of community policeman
(topilillo). This gives the cargo a profound moral value that has
nothing to do with categories such as economic value, efficiency,
profitability, or punctuality, but rather with respect for the
responsibilities involved. This has created a truly complicated
political spectrum in Oaxaca. We have 570 municipalities and more than
10,000 communities. Eighty percent of these continue to govern
themselves by communal assemblies. Their representatives are named in
the assembly. For this reason, the widespread civic uprising that
occurred in 2006 in Oaxaca must be analyzed under more meticulous
parameters, a topic that will not be addressed here.

The third reflection refers to communal work. Weber, as well as Keynes
and Marx, analyzed productivity in terms of the individual. They found
in individual labor a process of value production that they explained
according to their theoretical frameworks. However, communal labor is
a different matter. To begin with, communal labor does not respond to
the drive for personal satisfaction, that is to say, it does not obey
the logic of individual survival, but rather that of satisfying common
needs, such as preparing a plot of land, repairing or building a road,
constructing a community service hall, hospital, school, etc. This
labor is voluntary, which implies that individual wages are not
received. In the urban world, everything is money-driven; you pay your
taxes and away you go. Curiously, it is said of Oaxaca that it is the
subsidized state par excellence, while what is not taken into account
is the value of communal work, which if calculated, would surpass all
the fiscal supports that we are aware of. The value of this work can
also be translated to the context of political representation. Ask
yourself how many political representatives in the city would
contribute their time if they were not paid for it!

Fifty percent of the cost involved in constructing any community
service is the cost of labor, apart from the purchase of necessary
materials. This wealth of local participation goes unnoticed by the
state and federal governments. We could say that Oaxaca lives by its
own resources without outside support, and this provides a wide degree
of self-determination. It is not a coincidence that 418 municipalities
are politically self-governed. I am referring here to what is called
usos y costumbres,[7] a concept that for me is pejorative, yet there
is no other state in the Republic of Mexico that enjoys this self
determination. If we add to this all the communal labor, then the
situation becomes even clearer.

It is important to point out a few details. Oaxaca is the state with
the greatest number of municipalities (almost a quarter of the
country’s total). Almost 70 percent of its territory is in the
category of collective ownership, and there are seventeen indigenous
languages with thirty-seven variants of these.[8] It is the state with
the two most biologically diverse areas in all of Mexico: the
Chimalapas and the Sierra Norte. And something almost imperceptible
but which marks the nature of Oaxaca it is the geographical
convergence of the two mountain ranges of Mexico: the Sierra Madre
Oriental and the Sierra Madre Occidental. This makes Oaxaca a wrinkled
landscape, or, as Father Gay[9] used to say, like a crumpled sheet of
paper. It does not have plains to guarantee an elevated level of
productivity, which also explains its motley pattern of communal
organization. It was easier to produce the dye-generating cochineal
insect than corn, first, because of the geography, and also partly
because of the ease with which all of the inhabitants could
participate, both adults and children. Another reflection concerns the
fiesta. In a neoliberal context, it is the market that establishes the
rules, and it demands greater production of merchandise. In the
community there is production, but it is for the fiesta. All year long
every nuclear community cultivates its products: corn, beans, squash,
fruit, chickens, pigs, turkeys, even cattle. For what? For the fiesta.
Any urban dweller would say, what fools! They could sell them instead.
But that is not how it works. Here is the root of the difference. The
community member (comunero, or comunario as a Bolivian friend says),
does not work to sell, but for the joy derived. The little money that
she or he manages to gather is used to buy some skirts, trousers,
fireworks. Many interpret this as ignorance; I call it a connection to
the land, or spirituality. I would like to share some brief
conclusions with you.

1. The year 1994 the year of the Zapatista uprising awakened new
dreams, but in reality what it achieved was to pull away the blanket
under which we were hidden. Now here we are, reclaiming our
comunalidad.

2. The isms are aberrations that convert themselves into authorities
that impose themselves and are not naturally born. I fear communalism
because it sounds doctrinaire. And I believe that is what we least
want for our own free self-determination.

3. Marx included in his writings a fountain of knowledge by which to
understand our social longevity, but this was covered up by his focus
on industry and the protagonist role of the worker. And we all know
how that turned out.

4. We must find in the experience of our peoples the lessons necessary
to create new conceptual frameworks. And we must not be afraid to
construct new epistemological notions that will lead us to transcend
even ourselves.

Jaime MartÌnez Luna is a Zapotec anthropologist, early theorist of
Oaxacan comunalidad, community member of San Pablo Guelatao, Oaxaca,
and veteran community activist whose work has focused on the defense
of communal forests and other natural resources, and more recently on
traditional and activist music and the development and promotion of
community radio.

NOTES 1. Persons born in Latin America of Spanish descent. 2. Persons
of mixed European and Indian descent; half-breeds. 3. Ricardo Flores
MagÛn (1873-1922) was a Oaxacan anarchist who began a revolution
against the Mexican state under the banner of Land and Liberty. Exiled
to the United States in 1904, he organized three armed uprisings
(1906, 1908, 1911). He was the only revolutionary who was inspired by
indigenous peoples, believing that their historic experience of
communal life would be the foundation for reconstructing Mexican
society after the revolutions triuph. 4. Edgar Morin is a French
essayist who has influenced education through his proposals of
transdisciplinarity and complex thought. See Los siete saberes
necesarios para la educaciÛn del futuro, available on internet at .
Luis Villoro is one of Mexicos major contemporary social philosophers
with significant contributions in the areas of epistemology and
ethical reflections on the relationship of the nation-state with
indigenous peoples. See Saber, creer, conocer (MÈxico: Siglo XXI Eds.,
2008) and Estado plural, pluralidad de culturas (MÈxico: Ed, PaidÛs,
2002). RaimÛn Panikkar is a Hindu-Catalan philosopher who reflects on
the vast distance between Western and other cultures. See: øEs
occidental el concepto de los derechos humanos? (Mexico, DiÛgenes 120,
Winter 1982) and ReligiÛn, filosofÌa y cultura (2000) on the Internet
at:
http://www.raimonpanikkar.com/articles/religion_filosofia_y_cultura.
htm. Pablo Gonzalez Casanova is a Mexican sociologist, affiliated
closely with Zapatismo, who in the 1970s proposed the idea of internal
colonization to explain the relationship of the Mexican state with
indigenous peoples. See La democracia en MÈxico (MÈxico: Ed. Era,
Serie Popular, 1978); also El colonialismo interno, (2006) on the
internet at:
http://bibliotecavirtual.clacso.org.ar/ar/libros/secret/gonzalez/
colonia.pdf. 5. L·zaro C·rdenas, the Marxist-oriented president of
Mexico from 1934-1940, promoted socialist education policies and layed
the foundation for indigenous assimilation (indigenismo) as public
policy. 6. Manuel Gamio is considered to be the father of Mexican
anthropology. He carried out important interdisciplinary studies and
was a functionary in postrevolutionary governments. 7. A term used to
refer to the traditional form of governance through a communal
assembly that selects its community leaders in the form of cargos. 8.
The number of languages and their variants spoken in Oaxaca is
disputed. It is commonly reported that there are between fourteen and
seventeen languages with between thirty to fifty variants, though some
say the number of variants may be as many as ninety. A language such
as Zapotec may more accurately be considered a language family, for
its variants, such as Zapotec of the Tehuantepec Isthmus and Zapotec
of the Sierra, are as different one from another as Spanish and
Italian and Portuguese. 9. Fray Antonio Gay was an early Oaxacan
historian whose work has served as the foundation of Oaxacan history.
In reality, he pirated information from other sources and made
unsubstantiated claims, such as that the Chatino people descended from
Vikings.

“If the world is upside down the way it is now, wouldn’t we have to
turn it over to get it to stand up straight?” -Eduardo Galeano Support
UDW

4/18/2015

Mexico

Filed under: consumer,culture,mexico,tourism — admin @ 4:58 am

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7/31/2014

Across Latin America: Struggle for Communal Land & Indigenous Autonomy

Filed under: agriculture,corporate-greed,culture,ideology,markets,mexico — admin @ 5:52 am

Communal Land and Autonomy

Entering into the heart of indigenous communities in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, land of the Mixtecs and the Zapotecs, is like opening a door to a world of shapes, textures, colors and flavors that contrasts with the Western culture that governs daily life in big cities and westernized families. These indigenous communities are strongly tied to the mountains, to the smell of coffee that mixes with the smell of pines and the fragrance of flowers, to the legends that are woven by looms into clothing. All this takes place in lands that cannot be bought or owned.

If poetry, legends, clothing and food are the ways in which the ancestral culture of the indigenous Oaxacans is materialized and maintained, then “uses and customs” is the living expression of the political system of these communities, which has maintained its legitimacy historically, like any other state system. Of the 570 municipalities in the state of Oaxaca, 418 are governed through the traditional form of political organization of “uses and customs.” Only 152 have adopted a conventional system using political parties, a striking reality that is not just relevant in Mexico but in all of Latin America.

As an example, Bolivia is the country with the largest indigenous population in Latin America; according to the UN, 62 percent of Bolivians are part of an indigenous group. Only 11 local governments, however, are recognized as autonomous, with the right to elect their authorities through their own “uses and customs” system.

Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s 31 states, has the country’s highest level of diversity as well as the largest indigenous population. Of the 3.5 million inhabitants in the state, according to official statistics, more than one-third of the population is of indigenous origin (1,165,186 individuals). However, it wasn’t until 1995 that all the municipalities’ normative systems of “uses and customs” were legally recognized in Oaxaca’s state congress.

Each town has its owns rules about the best forms of organization; they are not homogenous. Despite the diversity of systems, two things are broadly characteristic of all of them: the cargo system and the assembly.

The assemblies, which are the highest decision-making bodies, are attended by all the heads of families, women and men, where they deliberate in person the town’s issues in order to arrive at consensus. Designated authorities preside over the assemblies. There are different levels of assembly: the domestic, neighborhood, the town council, the civil, the religious and the agrarian assemblies. The general assembly is the product and culmination of these previous assemblies. It is the maximum indigenous authority and it is the body that decides the rules that the govern community life.

Authorities are not elected through a traditional electoral system, but through a hierarchical system of cargos, which are unpaid positions that each member of the community must fulfill. In order to get to the position of mayor, a citizen would have to have served in a series of positions (cargos) throughout his or her life in the community. In general, individuals begin performing cargos at an early age. A 10-year-old child can start participating in community activities by doing some type of service in the church, ringing the daily bells that are used by the community as important daily markers of time, for example.

From there the process of transition from one cargo to the next begins, each one deliberated in the assembly. The communities in Guelatao de Juarez, inhabited by no more than 800 inhabitants, and Capulalpam de Mendez, with 1,500 inhabitants, located 60 kilometers from the capital city of Oaxaca in the Northern Sierra mountain range, are examples where these traditions are maintained. In these communities one begins in a position of topil (general assistant) or police assistant, then becomes a third-level council member or project manager, then second-level council member on education, ecology or health, followed by a first-level council member on taxes, community mediator and finally president.

There are two presidents. One is municipal, dedicated to the administration of the urban area, overseeing services like education, sewage and potable water. The other is the president or commissioner of communal resources, who administrates agrarian issues, such as communal land, since private property does not exist. There are also other cargos: mayor, treasurer and secretary. In Guelatao, there is a consulting board that is made up of elderly members of the community and people with experience who are well respected in the community.

In Guelatao, Jesus Hernandez Cruz just began his cargo as mayor. His hands, still rough from years as a small-scale farmer, grip a pencil and notebook where he takes his notes. He sits at a desk made of wood from the region. He was a professor and farmer for 34 years and retired in 2005, which is when he began his community service. He has a pension and continues to cultivate his tejocote fruit trees, from which he makes jellies.

Jesus Hernandez Cruz, mayor of Juarez Guelatao. The mayor explained the logic of participating in cargos starting at the bottom, doing things like cleaning public spaces, before reaching a position like mayor. “The objective is that the person comes to understand the problems and needs of the community in order to be able to resolve them once they assume more importantcargos. In this collective manner, each person is accommodated in certain activities according to their abilities. No one earns money here. In this way, one gains knowledge about the realities of the community. The only thing one earns as one completes a good service is the respect and recognition of the town,” he said.

In Guelatao, the inhabitants are compensated with services like water and public electricity that they don’t have to pay for. “Cargos are a service to the community, and in exchange, the community offers benefits to these citizens, such as gifts that are provided by the municipal authority in return for service. Because of this, it’s looked down upon if an individual does not fulfill his or her cargo and then comes back to the authority to ask for favors. If one does not want to fulfill the service – thecargo – without being compensated, it is preferable for this person to leave the town or that person will no longer enjoy these benefits,” writes Gabriela Canedo Vasquez, author of An Indigenous Conquest: Municipal Recognition of “Uses and Customs” in Oaxaca.

Community celebrations are also important times for the towns. Communities put on at least one celebration annually, where everyone participates and the assembly names a commission to be responsible for it, work which is also part of the cargosystem.

Collective work, cleaning the community in Nochixtlan, Oaxaca. Foundations

Two means of community communication are the loud speakers that are usually located in the center of town and the community radio station. From there authorities announce festivals, assemblies and tequios, or collective work that is done for community benefit. “We recently invited everyone to clean the highway that marks the boundary with the community of Ixtlan. This type of service also serves to integrate people into a sense of community,” said Sa?l Aquino Centeno, the commissioner of communal resources in Capulalpam de Mendez.

The elements that sustain the organizational community structure are the knowledge and values that have prevailed throughout their history. “We must understand what we are, not the `I’ or the `you,’ but the `we,’ and we should hold onto these principles in order to stop the interference of the vulgar and shameless principles of individualism. We shouldn’t enter into competition except to reproduce that which will be shared,” said Jaime MartÌnez Luna, an indigenous Zapotec anthropologist. “We are against development because it is linear and requires growth; we consider ourselves to be circular, in a spiral, and it’s because of this that men and women are not the center of the natural world. We are not owners of nature; we are owned by nature.”

Additionally, “Earth is considered to be our mother and we cannot do violence to her because she gives us life. We respect seeds because our grandparents taught us that they cry if they are not cared for; the grandparents say that the Mother Earth gives us food and when we die she receives and hugs us,” said Silvestre OcaÒa LÛpez, of the indigenous group Tlahuitoltepec Mixes in Oaxaca, who does not hesitate to mark the difference between the way of thinking in her town and Western thinking. “Within the Western worldview, the earth is a product,” OcaÒa LÛpez said. “For us in indigenous towns, we see it as our mother. She does not belong to us; we belong to her.”

Precedents

The indigenous rights lawyer Francisco LÛpez B·rcenas has immersed himself in the historical context of the indigenous communities of Oaxaca, and affirms that the debate about indigenous rights has existed since before the creation of the Mexican state. “It resumed on January 10, 1825, when the first Federal Constitution was being promulgated, which established in its fifth article that administratively it would be divided into counties, parties and towns; these last would be administrated by a city council made up of mayors, council members and mediators, as long as the town’s population reaches 3,000 `souls.’ In this way, the state of Oaxaca recognized the form of organization that indigenous communities had used since colonial times to resist Spanish oppression.”

In that sense LÛpez B·rcenas assumes that Oaxaca was the first state to pass legislation in the arena of indigenous rights, long before the Mexican government signed the UN’s ILO-Convention 169 regarding Indigenous and Tribal Communities in Independent Countries in 1989. Communal Lands

The land in these towns is communal; it belongs to everyone. There is no private property, not even small plots are sold. The transference of land is done through a transfer of land rights. A father can transfer his land to his children, for example. Everything must go through the assembly. No one can sell the land and no one can buy it.

“If someone here works in the fields that individual is given a parcel of land. But that person must continually work the piece of land. If after three years nothing has been produced on the land, it is transferred to someone else who is interested in farming it. The commissioner is in charge of this,” explained the president of communal resources of Capulalpam.

People’s discussion on mining in Capulalpam Mendez, northern highlands of Oaxaca.

The assemblies can even decree protected communal areas. “We are updating the statute about communalism that governs communal resources. We are going to decree that an area where there are freshwater springs will be protected. We know that there are currently projects to take our land,” the commissioner said.

People that come from other communities cannot acquire land; they can only rent. Nor can they participate in the assembly system automatically. In Guelatao, “the person that moves here has the obligation to report himself or herself to the municipal government in order to be considered for community projects and cargos, but only once the decision has been made by the assembly that they can be accepted,” according to Guelatao’s mayor.

Justice

Guelatao also has a security protocol. “Here the punishments range from jail time – for eight hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, up to three days – fines or forced labor, and are for the benefit of the community. The mediator is the person directly responsible for justice in cases of physical violence, theft and crimes. The mayor is responsible for domestic lawsuits. He is the family mediator. He is also the person in charge of following up with problems that are outside the scope of the mediator. If a situation is very grave, it would require transferring the case to the Public Ministry. But the majority of cases are resolved here,” Cruz explained.

Community Projects

Guelatao’s mayor explained that the community also depends on federal and state resources. “There is an imposition of rules that must be followed with regard to funds destined for municipalities for social development. These resources come from the federal government, to be used for infrastructure and operations,” the mayor said.

In Capulalpam, they also receive outside resources, but fewer. “Communities have grown and improved with their own resources. [The town] is self-sufficient economically,” said the president of communal resources.

The self-sufficiency of the town is based in resources that are generated by five community businesses: a water bottling plant, a mill (there are forests that are managed sustainably within the community), a crushed-gravel pit, a toy factory and an ecotourism project. “Each project has its own administration. The assembly chooses a commission that accompanies each of them. Each project must report to the commissioner regarding economic developments and requests, which are brought up for approval in the assembly, usually every four months,” the president said. The profits are used for social benefit. “No comunero (individuals who administrate and have historically had the right to use or cede communal lands) or citizen receives direct economic support or benefit. Resources are divided according to the needs of the community. The municipal government has some employees, such as a gardener, librarian [and] a person in charge of the cultural center. The project gives a certain amount of money to pay these people,” he added.

But Is It Autonomy?

Little is spoken about autonomy as a concept among people of these communities, although a definition is sought after in academic spaces. It’s possible that a complete concept has not been constructed that includes all the nuances and lived experiences of these towns. It simply manifests in the inter-subjective relationship between human and nature, and how social relationships are mitigated by this relationship to territory, or the Mother Earth, as they call it.

Theatrical representation of gratitude to Mother Earth; the meeting of people in defense of native corn. In the central valleys of Oaxaca.

Autonomy seems to be a daily reality that is breathed and felt in the harmony of the people when they go to participate in the tequio – collective work – or when they attend an assembly, organize to defend their land and territory, and celebrate and dance. The cargos of self-governance are still seen as a symbol of respect for the person who is chosen to give the service without being paid.

The mayor of Guelatao recognizes the existence of a political and social organizational autonomy, but is critical of the role of state and federal government resources in communities. “The government is involved in everything, since they began collecting taxes and issuing public forms of credit. Before the farmer had the field entirely; in that moment we were autonomous. We produced and we provided for ourselves. We didn’t need any resources from the government. Town administration questions were handled through community cooperation. Now we aren’t 100 percent autonomous because we depend on resources from the government,” the mayor said.

For MartÌnez Luna, the anthropologist, autonomy is determined by the degree to which communities guarantee their own food sovereignty. “Autonomy shouldn’t be something that is injected from the outside; it should come from our own capacities – exercised, not developed.”

According to MartÌnez Luna, two other things are necessary to guarantee autonomy. “We have to value what we are because it is in this way that we value what we have, because this allows us to flourish fully. We have to think in a decolonized manner.” Community education is another route. “The value of individualism has been introduced into our way of being; it exists, but we have to fight to eliminate it through community education. Because I am not `I’ or `you,’ we are `us.'”

Threats

Some indigenous communities have been infiltrated by political parties, both from the left and the right, who offer food vouchers and place conditions on governmental economic support that would have had to be provided to small-scale farmers and indigenous individuals anyway. Another influencing factor is that deals are made between construction companies and local governments where the company gives a percentage of their budget designated for a public works project to the authorities or community representatives so that they will accept the project. In some cases, when budgets are larger, such as in the case of wind farm companies, hitmen are contracted or paramilitary groups are created to confront the community and thus give a justification for the interference of the state to re-establish “law and order,” to such a degree that there are indigenous leaders that have been assassinated for refusing to accept these projects.

“We recognize that we must confront the plundering by transnational companies and the harassment of bad governments through their political parties that offer programs and money that corrupt many leaders and divide our communities,” states the declaration of the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) of the Isthmus region, which took place in March 2014.

While a furious battle has been unleashed for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture in other communities in Mexico and Latin America, in Oaxaca, new legislation is being debated on this very theme while large-scale projects continue to advance.

6/27/2014

Empire Of Prisons: How The US Is Spreading Mass Incarceration Around The World

This article explains how the United States is exporting its model of mass incarceration and social and political control to at least 25 countries. This “prison imperialism” is rooted in the Program for the Improvement of the Colombian Prison System signed in March, 2000 by the US Embassy and Colombia’s Ministry of Justice. That program coincided with a rapid increase in Colombia’s prison population including a rise in political arrests and the militarization of the prison system. Other aspects of this experience are worsened overcrowding, human rights abuses and unhealthy conditions. Nevertheless, the US-Colombia collaboration has become the standard for prison imperialism around the world with Colombian training programs forming a major component. US involvement in international prison systems is carried out by several government agencies including the Bureau of Prisons, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Pentagon, and the US State Department’s Bureaus of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), Democracy, Human Rights and Law Enforcement (DRL) and Consular Affairs, as well as state penal systems. This article provides close-ups of prison imperialism in Colombia, Mexico and Honduras and ends with a discussion of international resistance to the US model by Prisoners of Empire and their allies. The author especially wishes to thank the Colombian human rights group, Lazos de Dignidad (Links of Dignity) for their invaluable help in researching and developing the ideas presented herein, and for their tireless advocacy for Colombia’s political prisoners. This article is a result of an ongoing joint effort between Lazos and the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) in exposing and resisting the Empire of Prisons, and in standing up for its antidote: peace with justice and real, participatory democracy.)

Prison Imperialism: an Overview

The United States, which leads the world in imprisonment rates, is exporting its model of mass incarceration to developing countries around the world. This “prison imperialism” is one of the foundational components to the infrastructure of Empire. Along with the militarization of police forces and borders, mass incarceration enables neoliberal economies to manage by force and intimidation the inevitable consequences of global capitalism: widespread social disruption and rising political dissent. (Neoliberalism is a system including free trade agreements, austerity programs and other measures that assure profitability is treasured above any other social value, and in the developing countries of the US Empire, it is backed up by the US military and its allies.)

Since 2000, there has been an explosion in US efforts to augment and restructure international penitentiary systems, providing training for prison personnel and/or building new jails in at least 25 different countries. The first of these efforts was the Program for the Improvement of the Colombian Prison System, signed by the US Embassy and the Colombian Department of Justice on March 31, 2000. The program was funded as part of the $9 billion the US has invested since 1999 in Plan Colombia mostly to benefit the military and law enforcement.

By 2002 in Afghanistan, and 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, the US was building and managing prisons as part of the invasion and occupation of those countries. These programs were connected from the start with the so-called “Global War on Terrorism” as well as the “Drug War”, through which many prison efforts have been funded. Closely related was the establishment of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp in January 2002. Many have heard the horror stories of abuses in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the Bagram military detention camps. What most are unaware of is that US involvement in foreign jails has become a worldwide affair and is not just associated with direct military occupations.

The Foundation is Laid in Colombia

Virtually unreported in the US media were the appalling conditions that resulted from the initial US-Colombia collaboration that laid the foundation for future international programs. Funding began with an initial grant from the US of $4.5 million. The first prison built was the penitentiary in Valledupar, commonly known as Tramac?a, completed in November, 2000. Conditions at Tramac?a are so bad that prisoners have access to clean water for only an average 10 minutes a day, sanitary facilities rarely work, torture is common, neglect of health care is systemic and UN and Colombian authorities and international observers have on three different occasions documented the presence of fecal matter in prison food. Alleviation of overcrowding and improvement of prison conditions were cited as reasons for the Colombian restructuring program. However, the accord itself more explicitly links the project to the War on Drugs. The document states that, “Within the objective of the program of narcotics control, the project…seeks to consolidate strategies aimed at controlling illicit actions committed from the interior of the prisons by persons that belong to groups on the margin of the law and that are related to the [narcotics] traffic and crimes against humanity.”

The document goes on to declare that, “The financial support of the United States government to the Ministry of Justice and Law – INPEC [Colombian Bureau of Prisons], will be supplied under this Appendix of the Supplement to Plan Colombia and with annual allocations from the Department of State/ Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL)….”

The reality is that this program has little to do with narcotrafficking or “crimes against humanity”. This is shown by the double standard applied in Colombian prisons. Right-wing paramilitaries and narcotrafficking gangs are often one and the same, and paramilitary organizations and the military have been responsible for 70 to 80% of political violence and atrocities during the more than 50 years of the Colombian Civil War. Yet paramilitaries, big narcotraffickers and their associates regularly enjoy privileges and favors far beyond what is available to common prisoners. Of course, most rarely if ever see the inside of a jail. Murderers of unionists and human rights defenders enjoy a 98% impunity rate for their crimes and many who are convicted are awarded with house arrest-rarely an option for Colombia’s political prisoners.

A 2008 article by the Colombian weekly La Semana exposed how at the ItaguÌ maximum security prison, paramilitary prisoners were using cell phones to arrange murders and other violent operations. In a common area near paramilitary leaders’ cells, security cameras were not functioning, and a search found a pistol, grenade and money hidden inside books. La Semana questioned prison Director Yolanda Rodriguez about this, to which she responded that whenever she tried to do anything about paramilitary privileges, she found her “hands tied”. She said that on a daily basis she received communications from high government officials, including the Regional and General Directors of INPEC and the Minister of Justice, ordering rule changes in favor of paramilitary prisoners.

The experience is very different for the general populace and especially for the political prisoners. Indeed, Colombian prisons have been converted into theaters of war. While common prisoners already must deal with overcrowding, neglect and abuse, these are multiplied greatly for political prisoners and prisoners of war for whom direct attacks and torture are common occurrences. Prison professionals are being replaced with current and ex-members of the Colombian Armed Forces, including several instances of School of the Americas graduates put in charge of penitentiaries. Part of the legacy of US involvement has been the formation of GRI (Immediate Reaction Groups) and CORES (Operative Commandos with Special Reference to Security) in the prisons. These SWAT-style special operations units have on multiple occasions launched assaults on political prisoners and prisoners of war, especially those participating in hunger strikes and other forms of nonviolent protest. Raquel MogollÛn visited Tramac?a prison representing the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) shortly after an attack by the GRI and CORES against striking prisoners in June, 2011. Many of the inmates had suspended themselves in protest from makeshift hammocks and harnesses attached to railings up to 5 floors high. In an AfGJ article about Mogollon’s visit, she reports that:

“‘The GRI took these little nasty mats they had, about two inches thick, and put them on the floors. When they would start to cut down prisoners from their harnesses and hammocks, they would hope they hit the mats. Some did, some didn’t. One prisoner after another reported they counted as many as 50 to 60 times that projectiles were fired.

Prisoner Wilson Rodriguez said that he had been thrown from the fourth floor. He was one of five prisoners carried unconscious from the prison and hospitalized. He was later locked away and given access to water only five minutes each day. Osvaldo Guzman Toro, had fallen three floors. Rodriguez added, “They put out these little mattresses, pretending to use them for safety, but some of the people were being cut down from the fifth floor.”‘

MogollÛn described the GRI, the guards who undertook the attacks, saying that they `…look like SWAT teams, with shields, helmets and all. Several of the prisoners said they pleaded with the GRI not to attack, saying that the GRI shouldn’t be there, that the strike was peaceful. But the GRI responded that they were following orders, that they couldn’t back down. Specifically, the inmates said the GRI told them that they had been “ordered by the Minister and the General….”

MogollÛn reported that, `At least three inmates told me that guards stripped them naked and shot tear gas cans at their genitals. They said that during the attacks the guards were using “pimienta, pata y palos”, or, “peppers, kicks and batons”. Prisoners reported that some of the canisters they were shooting were the size of their forearms-about a foot long.'”

What have been the general results of the US-Colombia prison improvement program? With regards to overcrowding, the problem has not been alleviated but has gotten worse. According to the Office of the People’s Defender, the rate of overcrowding is 58%, the worst rate ever reported and some jails are overcrowded by as much as 400%. In 1998, two years before the program began, the Colombian prison population, according to INPEC figures, was 51,633. By 2007, the population had risen to 63,603. By December 2013, the number of prisoners had reached 120,032. Torture has become widespread. INPEC’s office for internal disciplinary control documented 79 cases of physical or verbal abuse against prisoners during the first six months of 2008. These included beatings, broken bones, denial of medical care, death threats, sexual harassment and hog-tying prisoners with both hands and feet handcuffed. In a 2008 survey of 230 prisoners, 54% of respondents answered they had been tortured in jail–46% did not answer the question at all, possibly for fear of reprisals. Psychological torture was reported by 86% of those who did answer, including isolation, threats to relatives and simulated executions.

Another feature of the Colombian model has been massive relocation of prisoners far from family and friends. For poor families, these transfers make it virtually impossible to maintain contact with loved ones. When family members are able to visit, they are frequently subjected to humiliating treatment and sudden policy changes that often result in denial of the visitor’s entry into penal institutions.

The rate of increase of political prisoners has gone up considerably as well. In a meeting with Colombia’s MOVICE (the Movement of Victims of State Crimes) in 2009, the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) was told that between 1992 and 2002, there were some 2,000 provably arbitrary political arrests later thrown out of courts. Between 2002 and 2006, there were 8,000 such arrests. Detainees were usually charged with “rebellion” based on falsified evidence and the testimony of paid informers. Charges were usually dropped after “suspects” had served an average two to three years in jail. Thousands of prisoners of conscience and those jailed as a result of frame-ups for nonviolent political activities do not have their cases dismissed and are condemned to spend long years in prison. Prisoners of war, who make up a minority of the political prisoners, are treated the worst of all. The social and political context to their imprisonment has been largely unrecognized or denied, although the current peace process will likely address their situation as part of the negotiations, provided it is not derailed by Colombia’s extreme right wing.

Exact statistics are not currently available regarding rates of political arrests today. However, based on the experience of the AfGJ and what we are hearing from our partners and contacts in Colombia, all indications are that the rate has not diminished but risen, especially since the installation of the Marcha PatriÛtica (Patriotic March) popular movement for a just peace. Marcha PatriÛtica leaders and members have been specifically targeted for repression. The state is especially targeting leaders of farmers strikes and union officers for arrest.

Honduras

Colombia has provided the pattern for US involvement in international prison systems, including the institutionalization of abuses that are now being exported globally. Especially, the Colombian model has been applied to Mexico and Central America where the US (and Colombia) have been involved in prison programs since 2009. Once again, these have been funded and overseen as part of the Drug War via the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI). Of great concern has been the support the US has given to Honduras following the 2009 coup. Since that time, reports of human rights abuses have skyrocketed. In 2012, Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William Brownfield visited Central American countries offering funds from a $200 million package earmarked to fight drug trafficking by reinforcing police departments, borders, courts and prisons.

In his March, 2012 visit to Honduras, Brownfield designated an additional $1.75 million for Honduras to spend on prison, police and border and port security. In his announcement, Brownfield heaped praise on the Honduran coup government and Armed Forces. A State Department spokesman said of the visit that “”By partnering with Honduran law enforcement agencies, the United States aims to boost anti-drug trafficking efforts, promote citizen safety, and help young people find alternatives to joining gangs.” By May, 2012 the US government had authorized another $50 million for security aid to Honduras.

The 2014 Human Rights Watch report on Honduras, maintains,

“Honduras suffers from rampant crime and impunity for human rights abuses. The murder rate, which has risen consistently over the last decade, was the highest in the world in 2013. Perpetrators of killings and other violent crimes are rarely brought to justice. The institutions responsible for providing public security continue to prove largely ineffective and remain marred by corruption and abuse, while efforts to reform them have made little progress.

Journalists, peasant activists, and LGBTI individuals are particularly vulnerable to attacks, yet the government routinely fails to prosecute those responsible and provide protection for those at risk….

Impunity for serious police abuses is a chronic problem. Police killed 149 civilians from January 2011 to November 2012, including 18 individuals under age 19, according to a report by Honduras’s National Autonomous University. Then-Commissioner of the Preventive Police Alex Villanueva affirmed the report’s findings and said there were likely many more killings by police that were never reported….”

Specifically in regards to prisons, a February 13, 2014 report by Marcos Rodriguez of the HRN radio network informs us that,

“The investigations of HRN reveal that overcrowding in the country’s jails has soared by 300%….Presently apprehensions by the police increased 35% according to official statistics….It is calculated that by the end of 2014, the penitentiary population in Honduras could exceed 19,000 inmates….In these instances the 24 jails of the country are occupied by almost 13,000 inmates, however the system only has capacity for 8,500 prisoners, signifying a [rate of] overcrowding of approximately 49%.”

Mexico

In Mexico, the US is funding the construction of up to 16 new federal prisons and is advising an overall prison “reform” based on the US and Colombian models. The Federal Center for Social Readaptation (CEFERESO) #11 in Hermosillo, Sonora is the first Mexican prison built with private investment and will be managed by a for-profit company for the next 20 years. True to form, the opening of Ceferso #11 was occasioned with the massive transfer of 1,849 prisoners from all over Mexico. Five months after the transfer, prisoners were still being denied access to family and legal defense teams.

Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) visited CEFERESO #11 in October, 2013 a year after its installation to investigate conditions in Mexico’s for-profit prison and reported that the institution had “…even graver deficiencies than those found in other jails of the Republic of Mexico without private capital.” The abuses noted by the CNDH included arbitrary and sudden transfers, being held for long periods incommunicado, being kept in cells for excessively long periods, no classification system for prisoners, insufficient food, poor quality of health services, lack of sports, recreation and cultural activities, lack of work and job training, and insufficient personnel. In only 4 months, the CNDH received 47 complaints regarding sudden transfers to CEFERSO #11 without warning or notice either to families or legal reps.

And while exact figures are not readily available, reports from a number of sectors in Mexico indicate a significant increase in politically motivated arrests since US involvement, including notable political detentions of labor and indigenous leaders.

Once more, the Drug War is the main reason cited for US involvement in the Mexican prison system. But in a country that has been itself described as a “Narco-state” with a 98% impunity rate for violent crime, one must question the veracity of this justification just as we must in Colombia, Honduras and elsewhere. According to a report by the Universal Periodic Review (EPU by its Spanish initials) of the United Nations Human Rights Council in coalition with three Mexican human rights organizations, 60% of those incarcerated in Mexico are there for minor crimes and only 12% for grave crimes such as murder, rape and violent robbery. Again, we must state the obvious: US funded and restructured prisons are about social and political control, not about drug trafficking. Federal prison construction in Mexico is the southern twin to immigrant detention centers on the US side of the border. Privately run immigrant detention centers make profits off of the misery of those uprooted by the neoliberal policies imposed by the US government and the US and Mexican oligarchy, and off of the displacement of rural communities, the vacuum of which has been filled by the proliferation of extremely violent narco-gangs.

Colombia as Partner in Prison Imperialism In Mexico, Central America and elsewhere, the US has drafted Colombia as a major partner in prison imperialism. Both in collaboration with the US and independently, Colombia operates its own international training programs. Between 2009 and 2013, Colombia had given training to 21,949 international students, including military, police, court and prison officials. Half of those trained are from Mexico. Honduras, Guatemala and Panama are the other leading recipients of this training.

An earlier April 14, 2012 US Department of State Fact Sheet on the Colombia Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI) reported that Colombia had trained over 11,000 police officers in 20 Latin American and African countries, as well as in Afghanistan. It reported that “Colombia has trained more than 6,000 Mexican federal and state law enforcement personnel, over 500 prospectors and judicial personnel and 24 helicopter pilots. Prison guards and officials are included among the “law enforcement personnel”.

General John Kelly who oversees the US Southern Command, told a House hearing on April 29, 2014 that

“The beauty of having a Colombia – they’re such good partners, particularly in the military realm, they’re such good partners with us. When we ask them to go somewhere else and train the Mexicans, the Hondurans, the Guatemalans, the Panamanians, they will do it almost without asking. And they’ll do it on their own. They’re so appreciative of what we did for them. And what we did for them was, really, to encourage them for 20 years and they’ve done such a magnificent job.

But that’s why it’s important for them to go, because I’m-at least on the military side-restricted from working with some of these countries because of limitations that are, that are really based on past sins. And I’ll let it go at that.”

Prison Imperialism Around the World

According to a Report on International Prison Conditions released by the Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Law Enforcement (DRL), the US has been involved in prison programs in at least 25 countries since 2000. State Department agencies participating in international prison programs besides the DRL include the Bureaus of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and Consular Affairs. The report also refers to participation of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Bureau of Prisons and state prison systems.

In 2003, the INL along with the Department of Justice and International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) led efforts by the US government to reestablish Iraq’s national security system. The INL is now funding 23 programs overseas in partnership with federal and state agencies. The report also tells us that “In South Sudan, for example, INL has obligated $6.5 million since 2010 in support of the country’s first prison training center for corrections officers, the Lologo training academy.” Similarly, since 2010, the DRL has spent $5 million in programs around the globe, including in Iraq, Morocco and South Korea.

What this document downplays is perhaps more telling than anything. In the whole report, Colombia only bears the following mention: “In Haiti, Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala, USAID Missions have worked to address prison overcrowding through the reform of penal codes and by improving processes such as alternative dispute resolution to reduce the amount of time individuals spend in pre-trial detention.” An appendix states that “…prison and detention facility conditions in the following 25 countries whose governments receive United States assistance raise serious human rights or humanitarian concerns….” Nowhere on that list is Colombia.

Likewise, the report downplays the role of the US Bureau of Prisons, letting us know that “The Federal Bureau of Prisons…has also provided prison reform assistance to 17 countries. This assistance is primarily comprised of visits by foreign delegations to BOP institutions and briefings by BOP staff on issues ranging from inmate and staff management to prisoners’ rights and correctional services.” What they don’t let us hear is anything about the major construction projects carried out with BOP supervision in Colombia and Mexico, nor the extent of BOP advice, direction and accreditation in restructuring those countries’ prison systems.

Also unmentioned are US military detention centers. It is with military oversight that the transitions of these centers to civilian institutions is undertaken. We have already seen the example of the INL and other agencies that in the midst of the invasion and occupation of Iraq were tasked with setting up a new prison system. US prison imperialism is one of many threads that weave together the US government’s civilian and military branches.

In Conclusion – and in Resistance

For us in the United States it is important that we remember that US international prison programs are reflections and extensions of our own internal situation. The US has the highest overall rate of incarceration in the world. This rate has almost quadrupled since 1980 despite falling crime rates. In 1980 the rate was 221 per 100,000 US residents. Today the rate is 716 prisoners per 100,000. The number of US federal prisoners has risen by 790% since 1980. Thus we can see that this expansion overseas parallels what is happening at home. To further put this matter in perspective, the US has 700,000 more prisoners than China, even though China has four times our population.

The US prison system has over 80,000 persons in solitary confinement. In 2012 the Justice Department estimated that that year alone there had been 216,000 victims of prison rape. We have more political prisoners than many know of or care to admit, and our basic rights to protest and dissent are being undermined and even criminalized on an almost daily basis. Overcrowding, denial of health services, physical abuse and torture, lack of safety, lack of job training and rehabilitation services, forced relocation far from home communities and family and denial of access to visitors and legal counsel for long periods of time are all features of prison imperialism that are rooted in the policies and practices of the US penal system. It almost goes without saying that the beginning of resistance to prison imperialism must therefore begin at home.

But it must not stop there. We must link our struggles with international struggles. We have seen how the experiment that began in 2000 in Colombia has spread to Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Honduras, South Sudan and across the planet. By looking specifically at the examples of Colombia, Mexico and Honduras, we start to see the kinds of results and concerns we must look for as we examine prison imperialism in other countries.

The US government is clearly spreading an Empire of Prisons around the world. And just as clearly, around the world Prisoners of Empire are resisting abuses. On July 25, 2013, the AfGJ reported on a prison hunger strike in Colombia that, without planning, was happening at the same time similar hunger strikes were happening in California and elsewhere, noting that,

“Prisoners in the DoÒa Juana Penitentiary in Colombia are halfway through the third week of a hunger strike to demand better conditions. Located in La Dorada, Caldas, the prison is one of the jails built with US funding and advice as part of the `New Penitentiary Culture`. Typical of such prisons are overcrowding, lack of medical treatment, a concentration of political prisoners, and beatings and other forms of torture by prison guards…It is no coincidence that prisoners at DoÒa Juana and prisoners in the California prison system began hunger strikes on the same day. Strikes are or have been also underway in Guantanamo and Afghanistan. From California to Colombia, all are protesting US `Prison Imperialism` that jails the population at high rates and uses inhumane practices such as solitary confinement, torture and denial of services to dehumanize the incarcerated.”

Shortly after the above statement was released, AfGJ also learned of hunger strikes happening in immigration detention centers in Arizona.

The international awareness and linking together of each others’ struggles is something that is just starting to happen and grow. We are seeing these struggles come together spontaneously and by accident. These movements resist not only the US model of mass incarceration: they resist the Empire itself. If these movements can become more cognizant of each other and interconnected through shared international solidarity, it may be more than just the prisons that are liberated.

James Jordan is an organizer with Alliance for Global Justice.

How Mexico’s Cartels Are Behind the Border Kid Crisis

Filed under: human rights,intra-national,mexico,usa — admin @ 2:38 pm

Mexico’s drug gangs have taken over the human-trafficking business along the border, and agents suspect they may have a hand in the unprecedented number of underage migrants stagnating in Arizona’s detention centers.

NOGALES, Mexico — Father Ricardo Machuca strides back and forth between six long, metal picnic tables packed with men and women as volunteers pass out plates piled high with corn, beans, rice and pork rinds. Clutching a microphone and wearing jeans, a white tunic, sandals and a messenger bag, Machuca looks more like a bohemian motivational speaker than a Jesuit priest.

Don’t accept offers from strangers who want to help you cross, he warns his audience in Spanish as they quietly dig into their meals. Crossing with coyotes is human trafficking and it’s “un delito federal,” he says. A federal offense. In recent years, warnings about who to avoid on the streets of Nogales have become a key part of Machuca’s advice to those who pass through the binational Kino Border Initiative’s migrant outreach center. Better known as the Comedor, meaning “soup kitchen” in Spanish, the center has been offering hot meals, first aid, clean clothing, and spiritual guidance to migrants since 2009. Someone offering to help wire money could rob you, Machuca tells the migrants. Or a stranger willing to let you use their cellphone to call your family might save their number and use it to extort them later.

“The vulnerability is very high here on the border,” Father Sean Carroll, Machuca’s American counterpart, tells me as an assembly line of volunteers rushes hot plates from the kitchen to the tables. “They want to contract the migrants to try to cross again.”

Carroll is referring to Mexican drugs cartels, along with the smugglers hired by the cartels to recruit desperate migrants looking for a way back into the United States. Over the past decade, after long existing side by side with coyotes, the cartels decided to get in on the action. Now, they’ve turning what was once a relatively informal and somewhat familial underground operation into a highly sophisticated human trafficking network.

While the journey north was always treacherous and costly, in the hands of the cartels it has become deadlier than ever. The entire border, and the routes leading up to it, are controlled by some combination of the Los Zetas, Sinaloa and Knights of Templar cartels, along with a few smaller groups–making it impossible to cross without their permission. And their permission will cost you. Where migrants may have once paid a single person from their hometown $300 to $500 to guide them across, the initial going rate to cross the cartel-occupied border can range between $3,000 and $6,000 per person, the price varying depending on the age, gender, and origin of the migrant. Most people can’t afford that much up front, so family members in the States will often wire money to the smugglers, or pay in installments along the way.

Under the cartel-run migration model, migrants typically make arrangements to cross from their hometowns and are told to find their own way to a certain point where they will meet the coyote. The city of Altar, for example, about 112 miles from Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, is a popular launching point for border crossers, and as such, it has become a center of immigration commerce. Here, smugglers often tell migrants to wait for days before they cross, during which time they are nickel-and-dimed into buying stealth desert-crossing gear–camouflage backpacks, black water bottles, and carpet booties–from vendors who set up shop around town.

For those coming from Central America, just getting to a meeting place like Altar often means riding buses or atop freight trains from southern Mexico where they may be subjected to robbery, beatings, and getting thrown off the train by cartel lackeys. Those who make it will continue to encounter crippling fees at practically every leg of their journey to the border. Refusal or inability to pay may result in migrants being forced to carry backpacks filled with marijuana, getting kidnapped in order to extort money from their families, or being murdered on the spot. Last year, Zetas leader Miguel Angel Trevino Morales was captured by Mexican Marines and charged with ordering the kidnapping and murder of 265 migrants. For female migrants, there is always a good chance they could be raped along the way, either by their guide or one of the stray predators who stalk the desert.

It’s almost impossible to separate the cartels’ migration takeover from the security crackdown on the U.S.-Mexico border. In the 13 years since U.S. Border Patrol became a part of the post-9/11 Department of Homeland Security and adopted the mission of keeping terrorists out of the country, the Southwest border has been transformed into a militarized zone, with nearly 700 miles of varying degrees of steel fencing, 21,000 Border Patrol agents, security cameras and ground sensors, with more high-tech surveillance on the way. Some combination of this beefed-up security, a George W. Bush-era policy of jailing and formally deporting all illegal border crossers, plus the U.S.’ weakened housing and job markets, brought the net flow of migration from Mexico to a standstill in 2011. While traffic over the border has slowed, those still crossing have been funnelled into the roughest corners of the desert, where human predators are only part of the danger.

To avoid areas where Border Patrol agents are most highly concentrated, migrants must take longer routes through Mexico, often walking for days through the blistering heat and unpaved and often mountainous desert terrain, dodging rattlesnakes, yellow jackets and cacti, before they even reach the international line. It’s physically impossible to carry the amount of water needed for more than a few days in the desert.

To coyotes getting paid for each person who successfully makes it over, it’s not worth the risk of stalling the whole group to stop and care for someone who is hurt or sick. More often than not, those who can’t keep up will be left to die in the desert. Even as the number of illegal crossers apprehended at the border has reached all-time lows, more people are dying than ever. According to a report by the human-rights group the Washington Office on Latin America, 463 migrants died in fiscal year 2012. The last time that there were more deaths was in 2005, when 492 migrants died. But the pool of people crossing over was much larger–that year, Border Patrol apprehended three times as many people as in 2012.

Juanita Molina is the executive director of Border Action Network and Humane Borders, two Tucson, Arizona-based humanitarian groups that set up water tanks in the desert based on their maps of where the most deaths occur and advocate for humane treatment of migrants and border communities by Border Patrol. She argues that the criminalization of economic migration has backed an already vulnerable group of people into a corner, with the cartels capitalizing on the situation.

“As a society, we feed the danger by forcing all of these people into the shadows,” Molina told me at her office in Tucson. She speculates that limiting the ability to cross the border to the most dangerous areas was part of the Border Patrol strategy to deter people from crossing.

“Or maybe they didn’t care that people were dying, that there is a certain amount of collateral damage that comes with enforcement,” she says. “It’s hard to know.”

What Molina does know, from mapping desert deaths for the past 12 years, is that people are dying closer to the international line and farther from the roads in town. “The dynamic of pushing people further into these wilderness areas is almost like putting out meat for the wolves,” she says.

Central American migrants are naturally more vulnerable to cartel manipulation and violence on the journey north than native Mexicans. But the cartels may actually be responsible for the recent influx of Central Americans attempting to cross the Southwest border and, specifically, the surge in unaccompanied minors coming from the region.

In 2011, the World Bank declared narcotics trafficking to be one of the greatest threats to development in Central America. After Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on drug traffickers within his country in 2006, Mexico’s most powerful cartels–Los Zetas, Sinaloa and others–started to spread south, recruiting local gangs to join their operation and terrorizing Guatemalan, Honduran, and Salvadoran cities with the same indiscriminate violence that once made Ciudad Juarez the world’s murder capital. Whereas three political parties plus institutions like the Catholic Church and the business community have prevented Mexico from completely crumbling under the cartel chaos, Central America’s historically fragile economy and easily corruptible political, judicial and military systems are much less poised to withstand the weight of the wealthy and heavily-armed drug cartels. Peace accords to end Guatemala’s civil war in 1996, for example, cut the country’s army by two-thirds, leaving a major opening for organized crime. As of 2011, Guatemala’s murder rate was double that of Mexico. And while that rate technically dropped during the past three years, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security noted in its 2013 Crime and Safety Report that the commonly cited statistics provided by Guatemala’s Policia Nacional Civil undersell the homicide situation, as they do not include murders in which the victim didn’t die right at the scene of the crime.

“Guatemala’s worrisome murder rate appears driven by four key factors: an increase in narco-trafficking activity, growing gang-related violence, a heavily armed population (upwards of 60 percent possess a firearm), and a police/judicial system that remains either unable or unwilling (or both) to hold most criminals accountable,” read the report. “Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished.”

Meanwhile, Honduras and El Salvador have maintained the world’s highest and second-highest homicide rates since the mid-1990s.

By making these countries so dangerous and virtually unlivable for their poorest citizens, the cartels have effectively created an incentive for people to flee, providing themselves with more clientele for their human smuggling business to supplant the hole left by the drop in Mexican migrants.

The cartels are also driving the current border-children crisis in the U.S. Since last October, 52,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended by Border Patrol. House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans have blamed local news coverage in Central American countries of Obama’s pathway to citizenship for the massive influx of kids. But as The Huffington Post discovered by scouring Central American news reports, regional media has accurately covered DACA and the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and regularly depicts President Obama as tough on immigration.

In reality, it’s more likely a loophole in the George W. Bush-era policy of expeditiously charging, imprisoning, and deporting adult illegal border crossers that is drawing children in droves. According to this policy, while Mexican minors can be sent back over the border immediately, minors from other countries must be held in Customs and Border Protection’s custody for a maximum of 72 hours before they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR houses the minors in shelters while searching for U.S.-based relatives with whom they can stay during their deportation proceedings. As of March 2014, there were 366,758 pending deportation cases in U.S. immigration courts. That backlog means even just receiving a court date could take years, by which time the minor could make the case that they are better off with their extended family in the States. Or they could just not show up to court and choose to live under the radar like the 11 million other undocumented immigrants in the United States. No doubt the criminals interested in recruiting border crosses have emphasized to families that kids face better odds in the U.S.–and so the children keep on coming.

Some suspect the recent inundation of unaccompanied minors at the border is part of a strategic move by the cartels to distract Border Patrol while they move drugs.

Last week the Obama administration publicized plans to open more facilities to detain children and families, and to reassign immigration officers and judges to population (upwards of 60 percent possess a firearm), and a police/judicial system that remains either unable or unwilling (or both) to hold most criminals accountable,” read the report. “Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished.”

Meanwhile, Honduras and El Salvador have maintained the world’s highest and second-highest homicide rates since the mid-1990s.

By making these countries so dangerous and virtually unlivable for their poorest citizens, the cartels have effectively created an incentive for people to flee, providing themselves with more clientele for their human smuggling business to supplant the hole left by the drop in Mexican migrants.

The cartels are also driving the current border-children crisis in the U.S. Since last October, 52,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended by Border Patrol. House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans have blamed local news coverage in Central American countries of Obama’s pathway to citizenship for the massive influx of kids. But as The Huffington Post discovered by scouring Central American news reports, regional media has accurately covered DACA and the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and regularly depicts President Obama as tough on immigration.

In reality, it’s more likely a loophole in the George W. Bush-era policy of expeditiously charging, imprisoning, and deporting adult illegal border crossers that is drawing children in droves. According to this policy, while Mexican minors can be sent back over the border immediately, minors from other countries must be held in Customs and Border Protection’s custody for a maximum of 72 hours before they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR houses the minors in shelters while searching for U.S.-based relatives with whom they can stay during their deportation proceedings. As of March 2014, there were 366,758 pending deportation cases in U.S. immigration courts. That backlog means even just receiving a court date could take years, by which time the minor could make the case that they are better off with their extended family in the States. Or they could just not show up to court and choose to live under the radar like the 11 million other undocumented immigrants in the United States. No doubt the criminals interested in recruiting border crosses have emphasized to families that kids face better odds in the U.S.–and so the children keep on coming.

Some suspect the recent inundation of unaccompanied minors at the border is part of a strategic move by the cartels to distract Border Patrol while they move drugs.

Last week the Obama administration publicized plans to open more facilities to detain children and families, and to reassign immigration officers and judges to population (upwards of 60 percent possess a firearm), and a police/judicial system that remains either unable or unwilling (or both) to hold most criminals accountable,” read the report. “Well-armed criminals know there is little chance they will be caught or punished.”

Meanwhile, Honduras and El Salvador have maintained the world’s highest and second-highest homicide rates since the mid-1990s.

By making these countries so dangerous and virtually unlivable for their poorest citizens, the cartels have effectively created an incentive for people to flee, providing themselves with more clientele for their human smuggling business to supplant the hole left by the drop in Mexican migrants.

The cartels are also driving the current border-children crisis in the U.S. Since last October, 52,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended by Border Patrol. House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans have blamed local news coverage in Central American countries of Obama’s pathway to citizenship for the massive influx of kids. But as The Huffington Post discovered by scouring Central American news reports, regional media has accurately covered DACA and the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and regularly depicts President Obama as tough on immigration.

In reality, it’s more likely a loophole in the George W. Bush-era policy of expeditiously charging, imprisoning, and deporting adult illegal border crossers that is drawing children in droves. According to this policy, while Mexican minors can be sent back over the border immediately, minors from other countries must be held in Customs and Border Protection’s custody for a maximum of 72 hours before they are turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. ORR houses the minors in shelters while searching for U.S.-based relatives with whom they can stay during their deportation proceedings. As of March 2014, there were 366,758 pending deportation cases in U.S. immigration courts. That backlog means even just receiving a court date could take years, by which time the minor could make the case that they are better off with their extended family in the States. Or they could just not show up to court and choose to live under the radar like the 11 million other undocumented immigrants in the United States. No doubt the criminals interested in recruiting border crosses have emphasized to families that kids face better odds in the U.S.–and so the children keep on coming.

Some suspect the recent inundation of unaccompanied minors at the border is part of a strategic move by the cartels to distract Border Patrol while they move drugs.

Last week the Obama administration publicized plans to open more facilities to detain children and families, and to reassign immigration officers and judges to speed up deportation proceedings. During a visit with senior leaders from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in Guatemala on Friday, Vice President Joe Biden announced the U.S. would be dedicating $225 million to the Central American countries to better prosecute gang members, cut down on gang recruitment with youth outreach programs, and help reintegrate deportees.

On the opposite side of the border in Nogales, Arizona Border Patrol spokesman Peter Bidegain is pointing at a two-story yellow brick house just across the border fence. “This yellow building here, it’s operated by the one of the cartels as a scouting facility,” he says. Nearby, a yellow Caterpillar excavator sits idle next to an opening that once led into a cross-border tunnel. “You can see guys on the porch sometimes with binoculars. They work in shifts just like we do.”

Bidegain describes a common cat-and-mouse game played by smugglers and the Border Patrol agents in which migrants are led over the fence on a ladder, prompting the agents to go after the migrants and allowing drug smugglers to sneak by. Vast scouting networks using cellphone or radio transmissions, powered by solar panel battery chargers in the mountains, allow lookouts on both sides of the border to study Border Patrol agents’ every move, waiting for the perfect time to pounce. With Border Patrol and Mexican police stacked on either side of the 15-foot-high steel wall, drugs stuffed in the sides of cars or fake fruit in the back of trucks or even on the back of a single person have a better chance of making it through Nogales than a group of migrants.

“A lot of times the people who are being smuggled here are just being used as bait,” he says.

Some suspect the recent inundation of unaccompanied minors at the border is part of a strategic move by the cartels to distract Border Patrol while they move drugs.

“We have grave concerns that dangerous cartel activity, including narcotics smuggling and human trafficking, will go unchecked because Border Patrol resources are stretched too thin,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson this month, requesting $30 million for additional law enforcement. Recent U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration statistics back this theory. Total marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine seizures between January 1 and June 14 of this year have dropped across all states that line the U.S.-Mexico border, but the decrease in Texas–the center of the surge in unaccompanied minors–has been bigger than the average, at 34 percent. The DEA and Border Patrol have said it’s too soon to tell whether the decrease in drug seizures is at all connected to the increase in underage crossers.

As policymakers debate how best to handle the current immigration crisis, the day-to-day game of Whack-A-Mole continues along the border. Border Patrol zeroes in on the highest trafficked areas and, in turn, smugglers change position.

“They will use what’s successful, so they’ll try anything,” Bidegain told me. “It just depends on the smuggling du jour.”

2/5/2014

Castaway

Marshall-Islands

He has spent over a year adrift in the Pacific Ocean, exposed to the elements in his tiny boat, alone after his friend died, and surviving on turtle blood and dead birds. And now all Jose Ivan wants to do is go home.

“I want to get back to Mexico,” he told his interpreter, in his first contact with the outside world since December 2012. Jose Ivan spoke to Magui Vaca, a Spanish translator based in the capital of the Marshall Islands, as he set off by ship on the 18-hour journey from the tiny atoll to the capital, Majuro.

Due to land in Majuro on Monday morning, he was to be met by representatives from the Mexican embassy in Indonesia – the closest diplomatic post to the remote islands – and a team of doctors.

“I feel bad,” the castaway told his translator. “I am so far away. I don’t know where I am or what happened.”

The details of Jose Ivan’s remarkable journey have been exceptionally difficult to piece together.

The single phone line to Ebon went out of service on Saturday and the island does not have any internet – leaving radio the only option for communication. And the brief interview on Sunday, in which he said he wanted to return home, proved difficult as the radio transmission was marred by static.

No one in Mexico has yet come forwards to say that they know the missing man.

And it was hoped that with his arrival in the capital, Jose Ivan’s story – with is obvious parallels to the Tom Hanks film Cast Away – would be told in full, to an audience gripped by the story of his survival.

All that is known so far is that on Thursday the emaciated man in ragged underpants was found on the Ebon Atoll, where he had washed up in his 24-ft fibreglass boat. He spoke no English, and no one among the 700 islanders spoke Spanish.

With drawings and gestures he managed to explain to the mayor, Ione deBrum, that he had set off from Mexico to El Salvador on a shark fishing trip, but was carried away by currents. His colleague died during the ordeal, and Jose Ivan use images to show that he survived by eating turtles, birds and fish that he caught with his hands, and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.

“We’ve been feeding him nutritious island food and he’s getting better,” said Mr deBrum. “He has pain in both knees so he cannot stand up by himself. Otherwise, he’s OK.”

It is understood his small boat encountered engine trouble and the currents carried them out into the ocean.

Despite their attempts to attract other vessels, they continued to drift further out to sea – and it was then, as the weeks and the months dragged by, that their desperate struggle to survive took up every minute.

Jose Ivan would not be the first Mexican to wash up on the Marshall Islands.

In 2006, three Mexicans made international headlines when they were discovered drifting, also in a small fibreglass boat near the Marshall Islands, nine months after setting out on a shark-fishing expedition.

They survived on a diet of rainwater, raw fish and seabirds, with their hope kept alive by reading the bible.

Castaways from Kiribati, to the south, frequently find land in the Marshall Islands after ordeals of weeks or months at sea in small boats.

The Marshall Islands, in the northern Pacific, are home to about 60,000 people spread over 24 low-lying atolls.

Ms Vaca said that Jose Ivan was disorientated and did not know what had happened during his many months at sea.

“He feels a little desperate and he wants to get back to Mexico, but he doesn’t know how,” she said.

Shipwrecked man survives 16 months adrift at sea: An emaciated man was discovered on Thursday when his boat washed up on a remote Pacific atoll, having floated over 12,500 kilometers (8,000 miles) from Mexico since September of 2012, according to reports.

He was found when his 24-foot fibreglass boat with propellerless engines floated onto the reef at Ebon Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and he was seen by two locals.

Ola Fjeldstad, a Norwegian anthropology student doing research on Ebon, told AFP by telephone ”His condition isn’t good, but he’s getting better”.

Ms Fjeldstad said the man speaks only Spanish, so details of his survival are sketchy, but he said his name is Jose Ivan, according to reports.

Mr Ivan has a long beard and hair, and was found dressed only in ragged underpants.

Mr Ivan indicated to Ms Fjeldstad that he survived 16 months at sea by eating turtles, birds and fish, and drinking turtle blood when there was no rain.

He says he set off from Mexico to El Salvador in September 2012 with a companion, who died at sea several months ago.

“The boat is really scratched up and looks like it has been in the water for a long time,” said Ms Fjeldstad.

There was no fishing gear on the boat, and Mr Ivan indicated he caught turtles and birds with his bare hands. There was a turtle on the boat when it was found at Ebon.

The Marshall Islanders who discovered Ivan took him to the atoll’s main island to meet Mayor Ione de Brum, who called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Majuro, according to Ms Fjeldstad.

Foreign Ministry officials on Friday said they were waiting to get more details and for Mr Ivan to be brought to Majuro.

However, the government airline’s only plane that can land at Ebon is down for maintenance and is not expected to return to service until Tuesday at the earliest, so officials are considering sending a boat to pick up Mr Ivan.

“He’s staying at the local council house and a family is feeding him,” Ms Fjeldstad said, adding that Mr Ivan had a basic health check which showed he had low blood pressure.

But he did not appear to have any illness that was life-threatening, and was able to walk with the help of men on the island.

“We’ve been giving him a lot of water, and he’s gaining strength,” said Ms Fjeldstad.

7/7/2013

Filed under: mexico,weather — admin @ 4:20 am

6/20/2013

Filed under: brazil,capitalism,japan,mexico,philippines,police,turkey,usa,weather — admin @ 4:06 am

5/29/2013

Filed under: costa rica,guatemala,mexico,nicaragua,panama,usa,weather — Tags: — admin @ 3:08 am

The 2013 Eastern Pacific tropical cyclone season was extremely active, destructive, and deadly. Three notable storms occurred this year, Hurricanes Erick, Juliette, and Kiko. Erick killed 800 people and caused $500 million damage due to major landslides across Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and many other Central American nations. Juliette caused an unprecedented rainfall catastrophe across many of Hawaii’s islands, as well as producing tornadoes of EF-3 intensity on Hawaii’s Big Island. Combined with storm surges of 10 feet, the hurricane caused $1.4 billion in damage and 1,300 fatalities across Hawaii. Kiko also produced deadly landslides across Guatemala, southeastern Mexico, and Hawaii, killing 1,100 people and causing total damages of $1.1 billion. Elsewhere, Hurricanes Cosme, Priscilla, and Tico, as well as Tropical Storms Dalila and Flossie, had minor land impacts, but they were not as severe as Erick, Juliette, or Kiko’s.

3/7/2011

RWANDA PIKININI GENOCIDE EXTRADITED ARMED SEX CHANGE CHILD-CANNIBAL BRIDES FROM JAPAN, UNLUCKY THAI TYPO DESERTIFICATION REBELS, SUPERBUG SMUGGLED STORM GENES, TOBAGO DEMON VACCINE STATUES, BHAGVAD GITA GREENHOUSE RECRUITED GAS EMISSIONS, LOST COCAINE-CLIMATE RAMPAGE MONEY, AND IVORY COAST EX-MANGA-COP KILL THREE BLOODY RIDGE GUINEA PIGS, WOUND 34 ROLL YOUR OWN INDIAN BILLIONAIRES, AS ARMOURED, ALLAHU AKBAR, PUBLIC DISSENT VEHICLE ROBBED AFTER TWO-MONTH PACIFIC EARTHQUAKE DOUBLE DRIFT PUPPET SATIRE TORMENTS FOOD CRISIS CORAL-DRUG GIANTS FROM SMOKED SOMALIA GOLD MINES OVER VENEZUELAN INDIGENOUS GANG RAPED MANAHUNE BORDER BRIDGES

The Late Pleistocene (approximately 141,000 years ago) glacial period came to an end because of changes to the obliquity, or tilt, of the earth. This is a possible climate change hypothesis “because of the relatively large and persistent increases in summer energy reaching the high latitudes of both hemispheres during times of maximum Earth tilt”. The warming of oceans, exacerbated by melting glaciers that flow into them, is causing “horizontal mass redistribution” of the world’s seas. Essentially, the weight and position of the world’s oceans have shifted, and this has literally caused the earth to shift its position on its axis! Indeed, Inuit observations seem tied to the technical science of long-term climate change, specifically the theory of the Milankovitch Cycles, which seem to predict natural planetary warming and cooling periods based on the position of the earth and its axis in relationship to the sun.

An estimated two-thirds of Papua New Guinea’s six million people cannot read or write – but the “Buk Bilong Pikinini” movement hopes to make a positive difference. In pidgin, it means children’s book. Some branches of Papua New Guinea’s public library system do not even have books. Many education institutions and schools have no libraries, and children find it hard to learn to read and write.

In recent decades, coral reef ecosystems around the world have declined dramatically. One-fifth have died, and human activity directly threatens another 24 percent. As atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide increase, higher temperatures and ocean acidification could kill 70 percent of the world’s coral reefs by 2050. By century’s end, they could be gone entirely.

A traditional indigenous practice is being taken up by different communities to fight a food crisis in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region. Bengalis and other ethnic groups have adopted the practice of the Mro tribe, of creating a Rice Bank, in their own communities. They say the Rice Bank can give them the chance to prepare as rodents threaten another spell of destruction of crops including paddy in the coming season.

Violence has broken out all over the country of Nicaragua. Armed again, but this time organized by Sandinista thugs. Beatings and brutal physical attacks against intellectuals, journalists and civil rights group members are frequent here now. There is currently no legal opposition allowed in the country against the policies of the Nicaragua government (FSLN), controlled by the Sandinistas. It was illegal for any opposition to the Sandinistas to paint anything on poles or walls, which is what students have been doing for weeks to declare the elections stolen. During the early hours of the morning vehicles carrying armed gangs erase any opposition on walls in the country’s capital, Managua.

A look at some other pests that are benefiting or could benefit from global warming: Ticks that transmit Lyme disease are spreading northward into Sweden and Canada, once too cold for them.

The Trinidad and Tobago police have found pages of the Hindu holy book Bhagvad Gita soaked in millions of dollars worth of liquid cocaine in a laboratory in Couva, Central Trinidad. A Venezuelan national and four citizens of Trinidad and Tobago – two men and two women – were arrested and investigations are now on into this innovative way to traffic cocaine.

Thailand has issued rules making sex change surgery more difficult — including a requirement that potential candidates cross-dress for a year — over fears that some patients are rushing into the operation. Transsexuals and transgender men are a common sight in Thailand, appearing
on soap operas and working at all levels of Bangkok society, from
department store cosmetics counters and popular restaurants to corporate
offices and red-light districts. A national transgender beauty pageant
draws thousands to the beachside town of Pattaya every year. But over the past two years, a rash of castrations, especially among young
men, has alarmed the medical establishment and prompted the new rules.

Giant Humboldt squid have reached waters as far north as British Columbia,
threatening fisheries along much of the western North American coast.

Battling with one of the world’s highest murder rates, Venezuela crushed more than 30,000 guns seized from the streets during police raids this year. Policemen used blow-torches to chop up some of shotguns and pistols. They compacted weapons including home-made pistols into a 5 ton block.

A typo tragically sent Queens firefighters barreling to the wrong address – as three men died in a fire a mere three blocks away. As trapped residents desperately tried to escape an illegally converted boardinghouse on 65th Street in Woodside, the nearest fire companies found themselves on “a wild goose chase” on 62nd Street – because a 911 operator had mistakenly entered a 2 instead of a 5. Two crucial minutes were lost during the rerouting of Engine Co. 292 and Rescue Co. 4. They got to the scene four minutes and 55 seconds after the 911 call.

The African version of “Spitting Image” has delighted big audiences by ridiculing corrupt politicians. A rapping president describes himself as “a real bad dude”; a prime minister and vice-president fight over lavatories; and a set of parliamentarians suffer from a brain disease called “corruptophaelia”. Welcome to Kenya, as seen and portrayed by Africa’s version of Spitting Image, a daring puppet satire that is steadily pushing the boundaries of free expression and outraging the Nairobi elite. The XYZ Show, now preparing for its second series, proved a huge hit. Its well-aimed barbs delighted a devoted and growing audience, while scandalising the politicians who are the show’s main target.

Nicaragua’s navy seized 2,400 kilos (5,286 lbs.) of cocaine in Caribbean waters and arrested five people linked to the consignment.This has been a heavy blow against drug trafficking, The five Hondurans were carrying in their boat more than 2,400 kilos (5,286 lbs.) of drugs, as well as fuel; the five in custody are of Honduran nationality. They were arrested 45 miles east of Puerto Cabezas.

Numerous accounts of rapes show a similar pattern at the Porgera Joint
Venture (PJV) mine in Papua New Guinea, partly owned by Toronto-based
Barrick Gold Corp. The guards, usually in a group of five or more, find a woman while they are patrolling on or near mine property. They take turns threatening, beating and raping her. In a number of cases, women reported to me being forced to chew and swallow condoms used by guards during the rape.

Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are now found in South Korea, the Papua New
Guinea highlands, and other places previously not warm enough for them.

A British tourist in Thailand had been raped after being dragged off the
street by two men. She was taken to a hotel where she was raped and then robbed of her belongings. The woman, aged 25, said the attack happened early morning in the Thai resort of Pattaya, twenty metres from a police sentry box. The attack happened after she had been separated from friends.

Seven Papua New Guineans adrift in the Pacific Ocean for more than two months have been rescued but two have since died. A helicopter from the US-based fishing vessel “Ocean Encounter” spotted a 22-foot boat drifting near Nauru in the central Pacific. Seven men were onboard, they left Tabar Island in the New Ireland area of Papua New Guinea to return home to Lihir Island, a distance of about 50 kilometres (30 miles). But they ran out of fuel during what was expected to be a daytime trip and drifted to the northeast.

Unusually heavy rain fell during the period needed to dry the land before burning, says a Bidayuh from Sarawak, Malaysia. New weeds grew quickly over the farms, making it impossible to burn and threatened to ruin the year’s harvest. In response, a Bidayuh-Krokong village held Gawae Pinganga, an almost-forgotten ritual to ask the ‘Pinyanga’, the village’s spirit guardians, for a dry season. The last time such assistance had been asked of ‘Pinyanga’ was during World War II and the elders were uncertain as to the exact composition of the offering.

Organized citizen gangs, called the CPC or Consejo del Pueblo Ciudadana work closely with some of the most dangerous criminal delinquent gangs in the city and region, mostly young disenfranchised and uneducated men, to prevent any opposition to Daniel Ortega and his government policies, while rumors fly that Ortega flies to Cuba for blood transfusions.

The number of Indian billionaires has almost doubled, from 27 to 52 in the
last year, despite one of the worst global recessions in history, In the last year the Indian stock market has gained more than 75 per cent and the economy has grown by almost seven per cent. Yet 42 per cent of the population still live below the poverty line.

The meaning of the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar”, shouted by the Fort Hood killer Major Nidal Malik Hasan before he opened fire, is known as the takbir and is used by Muslims to express a wide range of emotions.

The number of tobacco smokers currently in Thailand has reached 14.3
million. Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry is considering a proposal to the Finance Ministry to increase the tax level on hand-rolled cigarette
products after finding over 7.4 million people smoke this style of
cigarette. The remainder smoke manufactured cigarettes.

Police in Uganda have arrested and extradited a man who is among the most wanted suspects from the Rwandan genocide. The 100-day killing rampage led to the loss of an estimated 10 percent of Rwanda’s population.

A corrupt former Philadelphia cop who used his badge to rob drug dealers
was sentenced yesterday to 30 years in a federal lockup. Malik Snell’s criminal acts had so tarnished the badge that he wore for 12 years that it would be removed from service and destroyed.

The Japan Meteorological Agency is planning to start monitoring levels of ‘’super’’ greenhouse gases, which have an enormous effect on global warming compared with carbon dioxide, at two observatories as part of efforts to combat global warming under the Kyoto Protocol.

Bark beetles reproducing more quickly in warming climates and expanding
their ranges have devastated forests across western North America. In
British Columbia they have laid waste to an area twice the size of Ireland.

Thailand’s main airport is to relocate 12 giant “demon statues” to boost the morale of staff who thought the figures brought bad luck. The statues at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport will move from the arrivals
area to the check-in zone at a cost of around 1.7 million baht (51,000
dollars.)

A gunman went on the rampage in the Northern Mariana Islands in the western Pacific, killing at least four people and wounding six,
including five Korean tourists. An Asian gunman killed four local people, including two children aged four and three, and critically injured a four-year-old girl in an apparent random shooting spree at a local shooting range. The man then drove in a van to Last Command Post Park, a popular tourist destination and opened fire on a group of South Korean tourists.

Before any pill reaches the pharmacy shelf, it must first pass through a
gauntlet of human guinea pigs: the ‘clinical subjects’ paid to take trial
drugs so specialists can observe their symptoms. But like call centers and high-end hospitals, drug trials too are rapidly shifting to India and Asia with Thailand as the region’s favored frontrunner.

Tokyo has banned the sale and lease of anime films and manga comics
depicting rape, incest and other sex crimes to under-18s. A bill,
introduced by the metropolitan assembly, calls on the industry to self
regulate by toning down graphic comics and films on general release.
Publishers and retailers breaking rules face fines up to JPY 300,000. A
group of publishers, complaining of censorship, have threatened to boycott
Tokyo International Anime Fair.

Students are now putting together El Libro Negro, the black book that proves the elections of 2008 were stolen. With this in mind coupled with the increasing pressure on the Ortega government, after one week of peaceful opposition protest met by brutal Sandinista violence, Daniel Ortega finally admitted there had been fraud in the elections.

The recruits assembled by moonlight at a watering hole. Hundreds of boys and young Kenyan men were herded onto trucks, which were covered with heavy canvas and driven through the night. It was so hot inside they could hardly breathe. One recruit, said they banged the sides of the truck for water but got none. Some had to urinate where they stood. Their destination: a secluded training camp deep in the Kenyan bush.

Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast faced a battering by high winds and heavy rains Friday, as remnants of hurricane Ida wrecked homes and officials warned as many as 40,000 could be affected by the storm. Despite being downgraded to a tropical depression, heavy rains from Ida swelled rivers, destroying an estimated 530 houses and decimating remote communities in one of Central America’s poorest nations.

When it comes to American policy in Pakistan or, for that matter, Afghanistan. It’s just the norm on a planet on which it’s assumed that American civilian and military leaders can issue pronunciamentos about what other countries must do; publicly demand various actions of ruling groups; opt for specific leaders, and then, when they disappoint, attempt to replace them; and use what was once called “foreign aid,” now taxpayer dollars largely funneled through the Pentagon, to bribe those who are hard to convince.

An armoured vehicle travelling between Wewak and Maprik has been held up by robbers armed with two AR15 rifles, a pistol, a Winchester and an axe. The thieves escaped with an undisclosed amount of money.

The thousands of refugees arriving in Liberia had fled violence perpetrated by rebels who support Ouattara. At least 14,000 people have fled the violence and political chaos in Ivory Coast, some walking for up to four days with little food to reach neighboring Liberia. At least one child drowned while trying to cross a river.

“I had parked next to the Japanese Memorial and two of us went down the hill to the Pigs Tails with the Barbwire to record a video promoting the Solomon Islands, and left a female at my vehicle. Whilst we were down there recording, a person of Local Features walked past the vehicle and eyed the vehicle to see if anybody else was around, and just as he disappeared over the hill, 4 Youths, WITH BUSH KNIVES, approximate age of 20-25, approached the vehicle and DEMANDED MONEY, when they were told that she had no money, they went into the vehicle and STOLE THE TWO BACKPACKS from out of the vehicle and then ran down the hill towards the accommodation areas near the Lunga River…”

In the latest sign of deteriorating relations between the Andean
neighbours. Soldiers destroyed the walkways because they were being used by illegal militia and drug traffickers. They are two foot bridges that paramilitary fighters used, where gasoline and drug precursors were smuggled, subversive groups entered. They are not considered in any international treaty.

“The Head Shaman called for the spirits to come and show us if and how they wanted us to conduct the ceremony to ‘bring them home’. Sure enough they came and showed us. Of course I could not see because I am not the ‘sighted one’, but Aturn saw everything in a flash and told us exactly what the altar and offerings should look like. The ceremony was then held. After the Chief Priest finished, we sat and waited for the response. Within a minute, there was a sound from the east like an old man crying. It was a bird circling the small altar and then above the main altar three times. It is supposed to be a night bird but now it was in broad daylight. It was simply amazing!!! The omen is interpreted as saying ‘We thought that you have forgotten us … but now you come … we are happy. How nice for you to come.’ The rains stopped for seven days within the week after the ceremony.”

A microscopic parasite is spreading a deadly disease among salmon in
Alaska and British Columbia. Researchers say rising water temperatures are
partly to blame.

Thousands of people, including children, are being secretly recruited and
trained inside Kenya to battle Islamic insurgents in neighboring Somalia,
according to deserters, local officials, families of recruits and
diplomats. Most recruits are Somalis living in crowded refugee camps and
Kenyan nationals who are ethnic Somalis living nearby.

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of Japan. A Pacific-wide tsunami is not expected. However, the Japanese Meteorological Agency has issued tsunami warnings for the Ogasawara Islands and a tsunami advisory for southern Japan. The quake, which occurred 3:19 a.m., is about 95 miles (155 km) from Chichi-shima, Ogasawara Islands. It is also 210 miles from Iwo Jima in the Volcano Islands, and 650 miles from Tokyo.

A Sri Lankan was arrested by the Solomon Islands police after he had
escaped from the airport where he was to be deported. The man, who had been illegally residing in the country, was allegedly at the departure lounge when a group of armed men had helped him escape the police. He had been arrested again while four others have been linked to the incident.

Gases such as sulfur hexafluoride and dinitrogen monoxide, which
respectively have 20,000 and 300 times more global warming effects than
CO2, will be monitored at the meteorological observatory in Minamitori
Island, Japan’s easternmost island, and the atmospheric environment
observatory in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture.

A little loop of genes that give bacteria the power to resist virtually all known antibiotics is spreading quickly and likely to cause doctors headaches for years to come. They come on the equivalent of a genetic memory stick – a string of genes called a transmissible genetic element. Bacteria, unlike higher forms of life, can swap these gene strings with other species and often do so with wild abandon.

IIdephonse Nizeyimana was picked up at a hotel in Rubaga, a suburb of the
capital, Kampala, by the National Central Bureau of Interpol. He was transferred to a U.N. detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, where the tribunal is based. Top officials who allegedly took part in the genocide, such as army generals and politicians, are tried by the tribunal.

Kenya has long feared that the conflict in Somalia, which has been bloodied by civil war since warlords overthrew dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, will spill across the border into its own neglected northeastern region.The area is home to hundreds of thousands of ethnically Somali Kenyans.

Sixteen countries, home to more than half the world’s smokers and bearing
the highest tobacco use, were involved in the study: Bangladesh, Brazil,
China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland,
Russian Federation, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Vietnam.

Five armed men robbed the Big Rooster outlet in 4-Mile but three were captured by police as they tried to get away with an undisclosed amount of money. They were all armed with pistols as they entered the fast food outlet and held up the company employees, customers and security guards at about 9am. As they exited the building and made for their getaway vehicle, police closed in and captured three – two in front of Freeway Motors and one in front of Big Rooster while the other two managed to escape on foot.

Nizeyimana is one of the four top accused who are earmarked by the
prosecutor to be tried by the tribunal in Arusha after their arrest as part of the ICTR completion strategy. Of a list of 13 fugitives, he is the second to be arrested in less than two months.

Thousands of would-be fighters, some as young as 11, have been lured into the militia by promises of up to $600 a month, but many fled after they were not paid, were beaten or went hungry. Many recruits remain in the ranks and see the secret militia as their only way out of overcrowded refugee camps and the dusty, poor towns around them.

The U.S. government warns that such invasive plants as the common reed,
hyacinth and purple loosestrife are likely to spread to northern states.

Translated as “God is great”, it can be used to express delight and
euphoria or as a war cry during battles. It is also said during each stage of both obligatory prayers, which are supposed to be performed five times a day, and supererogatory prayers, which are said at will. The Muslim call to prayer, or adhan, and commence to the prayer, or iqama, also contains the phrase, which is heard in cities all over the Muslim world.

Directives have been given to homicide detectives to charge a man with the
murder of German national Peter Taut. The suspect is expected to appear before a Tobago magistrate tomorrow. Taut’s body was discovered on in a shallow grave at his Bacolet Crescent home where he lived. Taut, 56, an engineer, died as a result of asphyxia, an autopsy performed revealed.

For Western pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, Asia
offers a glut of people willing to accept less money for testing out trial
medicines. Softer regulation is another big draw, as are improvements in
Asian hospitals’ facilities and an increase in Western-educated doctors. Just eight years ago, only 6 percent of the world’s drug trial patients were tested in Asia and India. The figure is now 11 percent.

The gunman, believed to be aged in his late 30s to early 40s, apparently
killed himself following the shooting spree but his motive was unclear.
The injured South Korean tourists included a 39-year-old man critically
wounded when he was shot in the back, and two other men aged 38 who were
reported to be in a stable condition. Two Korean children aged eight and five were treated and released after receiving minor cuts during the rampage. After shooting the tourists, the gunman drove to the nearby Bonzai Cliffs area on the northern tip of Saipan island. Police found the gunman’s van with smoke pouring from it and three rifles inside. The body of the shooter was found nearby with a gunshot wound to the head and another rifle.

Since returning to the presidency in 2007, 17 years after being voted out
of office at the end of the Sandinista revolution in 1990, Ortega has
created a network of private businesses that operate under the auspices of
the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), an opaque cooperation
agreement of leftist countries bankrolled primarily by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Ortega’s “ALBA businesses” — known by an alphabet soup of acronyms, including ALBANISA, ALBALINISA, and ALBACARUNA — have cornered Nicaragua’s petroleum import and distribution markets, become the country’s leading energy supplier and cattle exporter, turned profits on the sale of donated Russian buses, and purchased a hotel in downtown Managua, among other lucrative investment moves.

It was unclear whether police had recovered the money and the firearms used in the robbery. They said that any information on this would have to come from their superiors. Cooperate Executive Guards’ Tom Vele was manning the door when the robbers burst in, beat him up and pointed their pistols at him. A shaken Vele, with blood on his head and face, said that he thought they were customers wanting to buy food but they were actually robbers trying to rob the company. They arrived in a blue Toyota RAV4 sports utility, believed to have been stolen. The robbery came two days after police superintendent of operations warned the public to be wary of criminals during the festive season as they were targeting owners of Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 sports utility vehicles.

In the past the Nyando River basin experienced long rains from March to
June with very short rain spells in November. This trend has been rather irregular in recent years with floods occurring in August instead of April. Dry periods have increased in length and farm harvests are dwindling. The Wakesi community traditionally offers sacrifices to the gods for rain. These offerings are made under trees such as the Baobab, as they are associated with rain. The community revealed that they are increasingly offering sacrifices to the gods for rain. It appears climate change is catalyzing these practices.

Refugees are supposed to find safety in the camps, not a government that is trying to trick their sons into going back to fight in Somalia. The recruitment of children violates the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Kenya is a signatory. Kenya is eager to counter the influence of insurgents in Somalia who preach the spread of a pan-Islamic state into Kenya and Ethiopia, where many Somalis live due to borders drawn by former colonial powers. Somalia’s al-Shabab insurgents — some of whom have ties to al-Qaida –already cross into northern Kenya.

In the attacks that started in April 1994, Hutu militias and members of the general population sought out Tutsis and moderate Hutus, and went on a
100-day killing rampage. Civilians and children got incentives to take part in the atrocities, including promises of land belonging to their Tutsi neighbors.

Only six out of every 10 smokers said they planned or are thinking about
quitting, while five in 10 smokers had tried to quit in the last 12 months. The survey found that 3.3 million workers are exposed to tobacco smoke at the workplace and 20.5 million adults to tobacco smoke in their homes.

Fishermen are ruining Semporna’s rich heritage with fish bombing. During their 1,000 hours of diving, the scientists heard 15 fish bombs going off and came across four unexploded bombs. They have warned that conservation action is urgent because of high threats from overfishing, destructive fishing and pollution.

Two women who were walking along the road, after leaving their respective
vegetable gardens, were approached to enquire as to whether they had seen four youths running, and, they said that they had seen some youths running down the hill towards the river, but didn’t take any notice of what they were wearing. In the TV Crew Backpack was a 4 THOUSAND ENGLISH POUND (SBD$40,000), VIDEO CAMERA, and their HERITAGE PARK HOTEL ROOM KEY. And the immediate concern was for the Tens of Thousands of Dollars worth of Equipment in their room. So the chase had to be suspended to go to the Hotel and move rooms and to make sure nothing else was stolen.

40,000 people will be directly or indirectly affected by the hurricane in preliminary damage projections. Nineteen communities are expected to be affected by the storm, which was gusting at up to 35 miles (55 kilometers) per hour.

The shopkeepers are blaming the ‘demon statues’ for the problems they have faced at the airport, which was seized late last year by demonstrators and supporters of the People’s Alliance of Democracy” (PAD).The guardian spirit statues will be shifted from the inner zone of the passenger terminal to the check-in area to ‘improve morale’ of people working at the airport. The anti-government PAD seized two of the Thai capital’s airports in a crippling eight-day blockade late in 2008, which badly dented the kingdom’s tourist-friendly image.

Recruiters started openly operating in Kenyan towns and in nearby huts and tents of the refugee camps. Some recruiters even worked from a hotel fronting a heavily fortified U.N. Compound in the northern town of Dadaab, home to three overcrowded camps of about 275,000 refugees, most from Somalia. More than a dozen deserters said they were promised positions in the Kenyan or Somali armies or jobs with U.N. Security by men acting as recruiters. Some said they were told they would patrol the Kenya-Somalia border, but upon arrival at the training camp, they were told they were going to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, or Kismayo, a key southern city under Islamist control.

President Obama said of Pakistan: “We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.” When it comes to U.S. Respect for Pakistan’s sovereignty, this country has more important fish to fry. A look at the historical record indicates that Washington has, in fact, been frying those “fish” for at least the last four decades without particular regard for Pakistani sensibilities.

Residents of the Ogasawara Islands are urged to evacuate coastlines
immediately. Evacuate from the seashore immediately to the safe places
near the above coasts. Scores of villagers on a remote Japanese island chain in the Pacific scrambled for higher ground after a major 7.4-magnitude offshore quake sparked a tsunami alert.

It was one of the most brutal genocides in modern history. Some figures put the number of dead at 1 million — 10 percent of the population of the
central African nation. Millions more were raped and disfigured. A whole
generation of children lost their parents.

In the Islamic world, instead of applause, often someone will shout
“takbir” and the crowd will respond “Allahu Akbar” in chorus.
It can also be used as a protest. In the aftermath of the 2009 Iranian
presidential election many people shouted it for an hour between 10pm and
11pm every day for nine days to show their anger at the result.

Desertification and land degradation is the greatest environmental
challenge of our time and a threat to global wellbeing. People must be paid via global carbon markets for preserving the soil. The top 20cm of soil is all that stands between us and extinction. Conflicts and food price crises all stem from the degradation of land.

The Cook Islands Health Ministry has announced the first HIV infection in
the country. Nothing is known about the person who has been diagnosed for privacy reasons, but follow-ups will be made with their previous sexual partners, to ensure the virus has not spread. With the large number of
tourists who arrive in the country each year, it’s no surprise that this
has finally happened.

The survey found that 74.4 per cent of adults noticed anti-cigarette
smoking information on television. Only one in 10 adults were aware of
cigarette marketing in stores where cigarettes are sold; seven in 10
smokers considered quitting because of warning labels; and 98.6 per cent of adults believed smoking causes serious illness. Most people mistakenly believe smoking hand-rolled cigarettes is less dangerous than manufactured cigarettes.

Nizeyimana was a captain the Rwanda Armed Forces, he is
accused of exercising authority over soldiers and personnel through a chain of command, and allegedly sent a section of soldiers to execute of Rosalie Gicanda, a former queen of Rwanda who was a “symbolic figure for all Tutsis.

She said she was unable to resist the two men who, after raping her, took
her Natwest bank and credit cards and 60 pounds in cash and a bracelet
worth 100 pounds. Last night police in Pattaya charged two men with rape and theft. They were named as Krajon Senkam, 29, and Surasak Kovekasan, 20, who were described as local ‘maeng da’ a Thai expression, literally translating as cockroaches, describing men who live off the earnings of local prostitutes. The men were arrested quickly as they were known in the area.

We naturally grasp the extremity of the Taliban – those floggings, beheadings, school burnings, bans on music, the medieval attitude toward women’s role in the world – but our own extremity is in no way evident to us. So Obama’s statement on Pakistani sovereignty is reported as the height of sobriety, even when what lies behind it is an expanding “covert” air war and assassination campaign by unmanned aerial drones over the Pakistani tribal lands, which has reportedly killed hundreds of bystanders and helped unsettle the region.

One typical test, which measures the speed of blood stream absorption, can require volunteers to consume a pill and submit to more than 35 blood draws throughout a weekend. Two weekends of testing, in the United States, would pay approximately $1,000. Volunteers in Thailand would more likely receive less than $50. Other disease-specific trials test experimental drugs on patients over a series of weeks or months. The ‘payment’ in these studies typically isn’t cash but rather the promise of cutting-edge treatment.

More than a third of the world’s child brides are
from India, leaving children at an increased risk of exploitation despite
the Asian giant’s growing modernity and economic wealth.

The police was informed so if you see any of the following items up for
SALE, please ring me on +677 747 6372, after you have detained, or delayed
the person offering it to you. I will come as soon as you have rang and
then they will be handed over to the police to face the consequences.
The list of items that were stolen and what they were contained in was:
One (1) Dark Blue Backpack belonged to the Film Crew, Jamie & Kim,
contained the following: 1 x Very Expensive Digital Video Camera containing a Digital Tape for Recording, 1 x Room Key to Room
112 of the Heritage Park Hotel, and 1 x some other items that I can’t
remember at the time of writing this statement.

The average amount of sulfur hexafluoride, frequently used as an insulator
in electronic devices, found in the atmosphere is relatively small at 6 to
7 parts per million compared with 380 ppm of CO2, but the level has doubled from the 1990s, mostly due to man-made emissions.the National Institute for Environmental Studies has been taking
samples and analyzing them four times a year on Hateruma Island in Okinawa
Prefecture. The agency plans to start monitoring levels once a week at the
observatories in Minamitori Island and Iwate.

The deserters all said they were taken to Manyani, a training center for
the Kenya Wildlife Service outside the port of Mombasa. They said their
cell phones were confiscated upon arrival and Kenyan citizens had to
surrender their identity cards. Kenyans of Somali descent can easily pass for Somalis. They share with Somali nationals the Islamic religion, a common language, and a tall, slender appearance, looking distinct from members of other ethnic groups from farther south.

Uniformed men, apparently from the Venezuelan army, arrived in trucks on
the Venezuelan side at two pedestrian bridges that link communities on both sides and then proceeded to dynamite them. The row renewed tensions that have bubbled for weeks, with Venezuela’s
president, Hugo Chavez, recently telling his armed forces “to prepare for
war” with their neighbour in order to ensure peace. Colombia’s decades-long civil war has for years spilled across its 1,375-mile border with Venezuela in the form of leftist guerrillas, right-wing militias and drug traffickers, a nexus made even murkier by contraband and corrupt local authorities.

Seventy thousand H1N1 vaccines valued at US$675,000 will be here in time
for this country’s hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. And while the safety and the efficacy of the vaccine is still being questioned,these vaccines have
been used in over 20 countries over the past several weeks and have proven
to be very safe. While the vaccines are a welcomed move in light of the
215 confirmed swine flu cases and five related deaths, they hope the
ministry has a plan to deal with the chaos that can ensue.

A jury convicted Snell of conspiracy, attempted robbery and a
weapons offense in connection with a botched home-invasion robbery in
Pottstown. Snell, 37, was also convicted of taking $40,000 in cash from a South Philadelphia drug kingpin during a bogus police car stop

The seabed tremor struck at 2:19 am local time jolting people out of bed as loudspeakers blared across the Ogasawara islands and authorities warned of the risk of a two-metre (six-foot) high local tsunami. The tsunami alert was later downgraded and all warnings were lifted five hours after the quake hit near the islands, some 1,000 kilometres (600
miles) south of Tokyo. No injuries or damage were reported.

Nearly 25 million women in India were married in the year 2007 by the age
of 18; children in India, Nepal and Pakistan may be engaged or even married before they turned 10. Millions of children are also being forced to work in harmful conditions, or face violence and abuse at home and outside, suffering physical and psychological harm with wide-reaching, and sometimes irreparable effects.

The takbir is also included on the flags of many Arabic nations. It is
written on the centre of the flag of Iraq, 22 times along the borders of
the central white stripe on the flag of Iran, and beneath the Shahadah in
the 2004 draft constitution of Afghanistan in white script on the central
red background.

The Chinese government has abducted and unlawfully detained large number of Chinese citizens in illegal prisons. State-run hotels, nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals in Beijing are being used as so-called “black jails”. Many people
detained in these illegal prisons are citizens from rural areas who travel to Beijing and other provincial capitals to file complaints for abuses such as illegal land grabs, government corruption and police torture. In these “black jails” they are subjected to physical violence, theft, extortion, threats, intimidation, and deprivation of food, sleep and medical care,

The other Backpack, belonged to myself, was a Columbia Brand Backpack,
being a unique Backpack within the Solomon Islands as it was given to me by Patricks Defence Logistics whilst I was employed with them and told that it was a Prototype Backpack, which had a main pouch, a zipped opening at the top near the handle and a smaller front semi-attached pouch at the front with a zip for the main pouch and a smaller zip for an internal pouch at the front, and, was of sentimental value as it was the only thing that I got out of Patricks that I have left.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, many governments around
the world are forced to support their private economy in the face of weak
global demand. The combination of higher spending and lower revenues
results in the deterioration the government’s fiscal health. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has such concerns for several Pacific
Island countries.

Hand-rolled cigarettes also cause serious illness for smokers such
as oral cancer and cancer of the aesophagus. In India, about
100,000 died from smoking hand-rolled cigarettes each year.
Most cigarette manufacturers are now producing more smokeless
cigarettes after noting an increasing trend in smokeless tobacco use among
teenagers worldwide.

New Delhi metallobeta-lactamase 1 or NDM-1 for short, will cause more trouble in the coming years. What makes this enzyme so frightening is not only its intrinsic ability to destroy most known beta-lactam antibiotics but also the company it keeps. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are nothing new — virtually all strains of the common Staphylococcus bacteria are now resistant to penicillin. Almost as soon as penicillin was introduced in the 1940s, bacteria began to develop resistance to its effects, prompting researchers to develop many new generations of antibiotics.

Tiny rations of dirty food, beatings and failure to pay promised salaries
caused widespread desertion, recruits said. Some who tried to flee were
caught and beaten, but many managed to return home through Tsavo, a vast
national park filled with dangerous animals that surrounds the training
camp. At least one boy who fled at night with a group of nine others was attacked and killed by lions, another group of deserters was chased by elephants. Some recruits called their families on phones smuggled into the camp and whispered tearful pleas for help.

A society cannot thrive if its youngest members are forced into early
marriage, abused as sex workers or denied their basic rights. Despite rising literacy levels and a ban on child marriage, tradition and
religious practices are keeping the custom alive in India, as well as in
Nepal and Pakistan.

A spike in violence on the Venezuelan side, including the abduction and
murder of an amateur football team, and the drive-by shooting of two border guards, prompted authorities to reinforce the border. Destroying the bridges was a “necessary and sovereign act to curb border
infiltration and drug smuggling,” the economy minister said. Colombian media reported that villagers on their side of the border
remonstrated and threw stones at the Venezuelan troops in a vain
effort to save the walkways. They were sighted at two rural spots, Las Naves and Chicoral, near the Colombian municipality of Ragonvalia.

One cabinet minister denounced the programme as “weird”, while another
complained that villagers were mistaking the puppets for the real-life
equivalents. But to the relief of viewers, the government decided not to
order it off the air, even after a clip entitled “What if Kenya was
perfect?”, which depicted President Mwai Kibaki and the prime minister,
Raila Odinga, in jail in The Hague for crimes committed during last year’s
election violence.

The cholera outbreak in Papua New Guinea’s Madang is still worsening with more than 300 people now being treated for the illness. Cholera is a diarrheal infection caused by ingesting bacteria in water or
food, and can kill healthy people within hours.

More than half the world’s child brides are in south Asia, which also
accounts for more than half the unregistered births, leaving children
beyond the reach and protection of state services and unable to attend
school or access basic healthcare.

Thailand’s people are largely healthy and eligible for testing thanks to a
90-cents-per-visit public healthcare scheme. Its hospitals are staffed by
English-speaking physicians and specialists educated abroad. There’s also no single Thai regulatory body responsible for approving
trials — both a convenience and source of frustration for pharmaceutical
firms. In a departure from Western standards, trial supervisors don’t have to report what the industry calls “Unexpected Suspected Adverse Drug
Reactions” — meaning worrisome side-effects of prototype drugs don’t have
to be documented.

Rains could produce flash floods and mudslides, as Nicaraguans waited for Ida to head north out to sea. One of the first areas affected were the Corn Islands, a tropical paradise popular with backpackers. Around 300 tourists were evacuated from the islands by civil defense forces.

But about 120 people temporarily evacuated to higher ground on Chichi-shima island and some 50 people on Haha-shima island overnight. “It was the biggest earthquake I have ever felt,” said Masae Nagai, a hotel
owner on Chichi-shima, part of the remote archipelago also called the Bonin islands, which has a population of about 2,300.

Only 6 percent of all births in Afghanistan and 10 percent in Bangladesh
were registered from 2000-08, compared to 41 percent in India and 73 percent in the tiny Maldives.

The contents of my backpack at the time were a follows: 1. In the Main Backpack Pouch: a) 1 x Yellow Coffee Table Insert Book with Coastwatchers Posters, Pricelist and other advertising material, including a Coastwatchers Memorial Information Sheet from the Coastwatcher Memorial Trust, and, other Coastwatchers Paperwork related to SCUBA Diving, approximate Value of SBD$1,500, and 2: In the Top Main Backpack Pouch near the Handle: a) A packet of Sinus Tablets, approximate Value of SBD$80. 3: In the Front Smaller Pouch: a) 1 x DC500 Sealife Underwater Camera with Land & Sea Underwater Program (unique and the only one (1) in the Solomon Islands) containing a 1 Gigabyte SD Memory Card in a Camera Case designed for the Camera approximate Value of AUD$1,500; b) 2 x DC500 Sealife Underwater Camera Batteries (unique to the camera) approximate Value of AUD$200; c) 1 x Solomon Islands Tourism Industry Association (SITIA) ANZ Cheque Book with either 20 or 40 Unsigned Blank Cheques in it, approximate value of SBD$10 or SBD$20; d) 1 x SITIA Receipt Book with approximately 70 blank receipts, approximate Value of SBD$12; e) 1 x Coastwatchers ANZ Cheque Book with 22 Unsigned Blank Cheques in it, approximate Value of SBD$11; f) 1 x Reading Glasses Case containing: i) Reading Glasses, approximate Value of AUD$250; ii) Writing Pen, approximate Value of SBD$5; iii) A laminated Honiara Recompression Chamber Contact Numbers Checklist, approximate Value of SBD$100. iv) 5 Coastwatchers Business Cards, approximate Value of SBD$100. v) 1 x Packet of Pall Mall Blue Cigarettes, approximate Value of SBD$22.

Land conflicts in Somalia, dust storms in Asia and the food price crises of recent years all stem from the degradation of land, due to overuse by humans and the impacts of global warming. Since the early 1980s, a quarter of the planet’s land has been despoiled and 1% a year continues to be lost.

“Ocean Encounter” was expected to arrive in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, to get medical treatment for the survivors, who are suffering from “overexposure and aggressive signs of
malnutrition.” After being picked up, crew spoon-fed small amounts of water and a rice-and-water mix to the survivors because “their systems could only accept small amounts under their condition.” It was not immediately known what the men had to eat or drink during their
two-month ordeal. The survivors said they saw several fishing
vessels during their two months at sea, but these “ignored their gestures
(calling for) assistance.”

Research on a “brain-eating tribe” may hold the key to understanding and
even treating mad cow disease: A genetic study of the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea has shown that certain members carry genetic mutations that protect them from a disease called kuru, which can be contracted by eating prion proteins in brain matter. The disease, which kills tribe members lacking the mutation, is similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), sometimes erroneously referred to as “mad cow disease.”

The better known issues of climate change and loss of biodiversity are both rooted in the global loss of fertile soil, as the soil
harbours a huge stock of carbon and the health of creatures living in the
soil underpins global food production and forest growth. The reason
desertification has not been a priority is because 90% of the 2.1 billion
people who live in drylands live in developing countries,

Also, about 44 million, or 13 percent of all children in south Asia, are
engaged in labour, with more than half in India.

Local authorities on the Ogasawara islands, near Iwo Jima, said they had
set up five shelters for residents but had closed them before sunrise in
the absence of damage reports. The jolts were relatively stronger than those we have felt in the past. But there was no panic as people acted in an orderly manner.

Children in the region have also been seriously affected by insurgency and
instability, as well as natural disasters. We were worried about our students as the jolt was quite strong and lasted very long. But we were relieved to confirm that none of our students were injured and no facilities were damaged. We were quite lucky, considering the size of the quake. The quake hit at a shallow depth of 14 kilometres, 153 kilometres (95 miles) east of Chichi-shima, and was followed by a series of aftershocks measuring between 5.3 and 5.6 which continued into the morning.

Kenyan politicians are not the only people to have suffered ridicule. A
jug-eared, foul-mouthed Barack Obama was shown debating with Osama bin
Laden, who wore a Nike turban and drank Pepsi while pledging to end western civilisation. After the death of Michael Jackson, his puppet equivalent was questioned by God about why he changed his skin colour and about “those little boys”. “Because I’m bad,” Jackson replied.

The Japanese government plans to tighten management of its mineral resources by demanding exploration permits and overhauling the granting of
mining rights.

Especially in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, past or ongoing conflicts
have broken down most child protection systems, leaving children especially vulnerable.

As it turns out, reefs are quite valuable. Inferring from more than 80
studies, the economists found that, on average, 2.5 acres of coral reef
provide $130,000 worth of goods and services, and sometimes as much as $1.2 million. Here’s the monetary breakdown: Food, raw materials, ornamental resources: average, $1,100 (up to $6,000). Climate regulation, moderation of extreme events, waste treatment/water purification, biological control: average, $26,000 (up to $35,000). Cultural services (e.g., recreation/tourism): average, $88,700 (up to $1.1 million). Maintenance of genetic diversity: average, $13,500 (up to $57,000).

The vast bamboo growing areas, spreading over parts of India, Bangladesh
(taking in the hill tracts) and Myanmar, have been facing acute food
shortages since 2007 due to a rat plague, which occurs on regular basis
every 47 to 50 years. According to government, around 1.1 million people live in the hill districts of Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban, with an area of over 13,000 square kilometres. Half belong to different indigenous groups and half are Bengalis who settled in the 1970s and 80s. Chakma, Bengali, Marma, Mro, Tenchunga, Pankho are the major communities. Mro farmers have traditionally deposited rice in a ‘bank’ during the
harvest period. Community members can take grain from it when necessary.
Non-farmers can also take food from the bank so the whole community
overcomes hunger together.

That’s why we see tanks full of bearded dragons at every shop (and not blue tongues) because bearded dragons have clutches and clutches of eggs many times during the year while the BTS only has 5-15 babies (on average) every 1-2 years. If you’re trying to make money in a reptile business or pet store, blue tongues are not the way to go! It’s much easier to snatch BTS out of the wild and sell them than wait on babies for months and years on end.

Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, and Tuvalu are maintaining their
government expenditures even as tax revenues have declined because of their weakened economies. The Cook Islands and Fiji Islands have expansionary fiscal policies because they are still subsidizing key industries, building their infrastructure, and trying to soften the impact of the global recession. The Samoan government has to cope with tsunami damages on top of the typical challenges that face Pacific Island countries.

About three hours after the quake, a 60 centimetre (two feet) wave was
monitored 700 kilometres away at Hachijo-jima, part of the Izu island chain that runs south of Tokyo. Waves of up to 20 centimetres also reached the southwestern Japanese main islands.

Full-scale war between Colombia and Venezuela was “unlikely” but there
remained the potential for a bloody border clash. Things are so tense it’s definitely possible. Alarm bells should
be ringing. Chavez, who says he is leading a socialist revolution against US hegemony, has protested against a deal that will extend US access to Colombian military bases. He accused Colombia’s conservative president, Alvaro Uribe, of being a Washington pawn. Venezuela has cut the $7bn annual bilateral trade between the two countries, sparking protests from businesses on both sides of the border.

Trafficking of children for labour, prostitution or domestic services is
widespread, especially within Bangladesh and India, and within the region,
as well as to Europe and the Middle East.

The world is driven by city dwellers: political leaders are setting agendas to satisfy people who live in the
cities, we therefore tend to perceive soil as just dust, or mud, or a
dumping place. But if we don’t preserve that first 20cm of soil, where will we get our food and water from? Half the world’s livestock are raised on drylands and a third of crops, especially wheat.

The impacts of climate change — rising temperatures and more erratic
rainfall — are here already from Latin America to the Sahel.
Adding to the pressure on land is rising global population, which is
expected to pass the 7 billion mark next year and reach 9 billion by 2050.
As well as the consequences for food and water, violent conflicts and
migration will also increase, affecting those living outside
drylands.

Last Command Post Park was the site where the Japanese military commanders
were based during the final advance of American troops during World War II. The nearby Bonzai Cliffs site is also popular with tourists and was where thousands of Japanese civilians living on the island threw themselves into the sea as the Japanese defeat loomed. The Northern Mariana Islands has a population of about 89,000 people, and
is a self governing commonwealth in union with the United States, lying
about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines.

Inequality is increasing and nothing has been done to curb “grotesque”
amounts of wealth building up in India. Mukesh Ambani, the head of Reliance Industries, remains the richest person in India with a net worth of 32 billion US dollars. India’s 100 richest people have a combined wealth of 270 billion US dollars.

Soldiers who witnessed the shooting rampage that killed 13 people at Fort
Hood military base in Texas have reported that gunman Major Nidal Malik
Hasan shouted “Allahu Akbar” before opening fire. Islamic groups have prepared for a public backlash after it emerged that
Hasan was a Muslim and have expressed fears about inter-faith relations,
already strained by the September 11, 2001 attacks, and wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan.

Most infections that people get while in the hospital resist at least one
antibiotic. For example, half of all Staphylococcus aureus infections in the United States are resistant to penicillin, methicillin, tetracycline and erythromycin. Methicillin-resistant staph aureus or MRSA killed an
estimated 19,000 people in the United States alone in 2005.

The Ogasawara chain, made up of more than 30 subtropical and tropical
islets some 240 kilometres north of Iwo Jima, were put under the control of the United States after World War II, and returned to Japan in 1968.
The remote islands have preserved their unique biological habitats and have been dubbed the Galapagos of the Orient. After sounding the
initial alert there was no threat of a destructive widespread tsunami and
no nearby islands were thought to be in the tsunami danger zone.

All villagers, irrespective of their livelihoods, would
get rice from the buffer stock during crisis periods. Rangamati inhabitants can cultivate rice during periods when the lake
waters recede from December to April. Their land goes under water during
the rainy season starting in May every year. They also depend on fishing, but for only eight to nine months a year as
the government bans fishing in Kaptai lake during the rainy season. Fishermen will be able to take rice from the bank provided that they give
more to the community stock when they earn more. About 300 villages throughout the hill tracts had accepted the Rice Bank concept.

Insufficient emphasis has been placed on protecting child victims of
trafficking and ensuring that any judicial proceedings brought against them are child sensitive.

According to 2009 data, Cook Islands and Fiji Islands had
their highest budget deficit as a percentage of GDP at 11.7 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. The Cook Islands and Kiribati had the highest trade deficits at 92.7 percent.

Japan has abundant supplies of methane hydrate in deep-sea regions off its
coast. And sea floor hydrothermal deposits that contain copper, zinc, gold
and other metals are distributed off the coast of the Ogasawara Islands.

The situation is critical. Coral reefs are showing signs of stress from local pressures at the same time that climate change is starting to have a bigger and bigger impact on reefs. Overfishing has reduced the quality of many reefs. The people of Sabah should be very proud that they own such a top marine eco-system in the world. Semporna is not only a world-class diving spot. The expedition, encountered 844 species of fish,
including 756 species of reef fish, more than 90 coral shrimp species and
more than 100 algae species. The scientists also discovered some coral shrimp and gall crab species that were new to science and a rare mushroom coral species, the lithophyllon ranjithi.

Suspected insurgents killed three people, including a toddler,
and wounded at least 34 Tuesday in a grenade, gun and car bomb attack on
two restaurants and a hotel in Thailand’s south.

The two-family home had been converted to at least seven single-room units, according to the Department of Buildings, which yesterday issued three violations. The house had 10 residents, including the
owners and their two children. There were no smoke detectors in the
basement, and two elsewhere in the house had no batteries, fire inspectors
found. “I heard a huge bang; I heard screams, so I looked through the window and saw flames coming out of the basement. Blue, red – it was raging.”

4) In the Front Smaller Pouch Front Zippered Area: a) 1 x Bendigo Bank (Australia) Internet Banking Key Code Machine with “The
light is on but nobody is home” Neck Holder, approximate Value of AUD$50.
b) A plastic bag containing the following keys from my Laptop Keyboard
approximate Value of AUD$200: i) Shift Key, ii) Letter ‘A’ Key, iii) Letter ‘Z’ Key, and iv) Caps Lock key. c) Toe Nail Cutters attached by an Elastic (Rubber) Band to Finger Nail Cutters, approximate Value of AUD$25,
d) 1 x one (1) Gigabyte Memory Stick with World War II Photos on it (a
Folder name of “Extras for Jaime” on it, approximate Value of AUD$200, e)
2 x Parker Pen without ink sticks, approximate Value of AUD$12, f) 1 x
Nokia Phone Headphone Attachment, approximate Value of AUD$25, g) 1 x
Infra-red Mouse Pouch (with possible instruction sheet inside), approximate Value of AUD$15, h) Another battery for the Sealife Underwater Camera, approximate Value of AUD$100, 5) In one of the Mesh Side Pockets was the SITIA & Coastwatchers Post Office Box Keys on a series of Key Rings and Tags approximate Value of SBD$200.

The brutal violence brings the death toll over the past two days to four
and the number of casualties to more than 50 as a result of militant
attacks in the troubled Thai south, which is gripped by a bitter five-year
uprising.

Increased aridity is making the drylands the most conflict prone region of the world. If you really want to look at the root causes of the conflicts in Somalia and Darfur, and drylands of Asia, you will understand that people in their quest to have access to productive land and water for life, they end up in conflict. In nothern Nigeria, where increased aridity means lack of fodder is driving herders south into the areas farmed for corn. Conflict is almost inevitable.

With 13,000 murders in 2007, the last time figures were published, violent crime consistently registers as Venezuelans’ main concern in opinion polls.
Gun laws are lax in the South American oil exporter. The government estimates there are 6 million firearms circulating among the population of about 28 million. Venezuela’s murder rate is about 8 times that of the United States. Crime has risen under President Hugo Chavez, who has focused on poverty reduction to tackle violence in poor city neighborhoods.

But it warned in a bulletin shortly after the quake: Earthquakes of this
size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts located within 100 kilometres of the earthquake epicentre. When a massive 8.8-magnitude quake, one of the most powerful on record,
struck off Chile’s coast in February, Japan issued its top tsunami alert
and ordered more than half a million people to evacuate seaside areas. Authorities later apologised after a wave of 120 centimetres hit and caused no injuries.

After missing work for several days, Jose Emilio Galindo Robles, the
regional director for Radio Universidad de Guadalajara in Ciudad Guzmon,
was found dead inside his home. Authorities have given little information about the case but have confirmed that the journalist
was killed. A motive had not been confirmed. Galindo, 43, known as “Pepe Galindo,” had experience as a reporter and
researcher of environmental topics, especially environmental legislation.
He won the Second Biennial of Latin American Radio for a report about
political crimes in Mexico, El Informador adds. In 2004 he won first prize
in the Biennial of National Radio for a report about pollution of the
Santiago River caused by private companies.

The rebels, travelling by car and on three motorcycles, hurled a hand
grenade into a restaurant at lunchtime in Sungai Kolok, a border
town in Narathiwat province, wounding four people.

NDM-1 resists many different types of antibiotic. In at least one case, the only drug that affected it was colistin, a toxic older antibiotic.
Thus far, the majority of isolates in countries throughout the world can
be traced to subjects who have traveled to India to visit family or have

received medical care there. However, the ability of this genetic element to spread rapidly among Enterobacteriaceae means that there will almost certainly be numerous secondary cases throughout the world that are unrelated to travel to the Indian subcontinent.

They then opened fire on customers, shooting dead a Buddhist police officer and injuring another four people. A three-year-old boy who
suffered gunshot wounds later died at hospital. The gunmen then began shooting at another nearby restaurant, killing the owner, a 45-year-old Buddhist woman, and wounding four people. A car bomb exploded in front of one of the town’s hotels soon afterwards, wounding 23 people.

Around 20 percent of the world’s most powerful earthquakes strike Japan,
which sits on the “Ring of Fire” surrounding the Pacific Ocean. In 1995 a magnitude-7.2 quake in the port city of Kobe killed 6,400 people. But high building standards, regular drills and a sophisticated tsunami
warning system mean that casualties are often minimal.

“The most obscene thing I came across was a copy of the Bhagvad Gita,
the pages torn and soaked in liquid cocaine.” This oil-rich nation continues to be the transhipment point for cocaine coming from South America to the US and Canada. Special anti-drug officers have been trained both at home and abroad in the government’s fight against drugs. The accused are to appear in courts shortly. Trinidad and Tobago is home to a large Indian diaspora sourced from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar between 1845 and 1917. The immigrants were brought here during the British rule to work on the sugar and cocoa plantation.

The explosive weighed 30 to 50 kilograms and was hidden in a Honda Civic
with a fake licence plate, which had passed a screening by a bomb detection machine. The bomb was hidden in the passenger car and detonated by radio signal; two of the wounded were in a serious condition.

An explosive hidden in a motorcycle went off in Pattani
province close to where Buddhists were attending a festival, wounding 17 — five of them seriously.

Desertification and rising aridity were the ultimate cause of the food
price crisis of 2007-8, as it began with a drought in
Australia. This year’s price spike started with a drought in Russia.
Another example of desertification’s impact was the loss of land bordering
the Gobi desert leading to record dust storms that damage the health of
people in Seoul in South Korea, thousands of kilometres away. Combating
desertification and soil degradation requires better land management,
better equipment and new technology to manage water, drought resistant
seeds and payment to communities for preserving the soil.

Four gunmen on two motorcycles opened fire on a 34-year-old Muslim rubber worker as he travelled to work in Narathiwat province; he died at the scene. The bloody rebellion has claimed more than 3,900 lives since it erupted in Thailand’s Muslim-majority southern provinces, bordering Malaysia, in January 2004.

In the early morning the little broadcasting center of the community radio
station “Radyo Cagayano” was being burned
down completely. At about two in the morning, eight mummed soldiers
infiltrated the premises in the small town of Baggao in the Northern
Philippines, captivated and gagged the employees and ignited the entire
radio station with petrol. Radyo Cagayano had just started broadcasting a
few weeks ago and had especially stood up for the interests of local
farmers.

Experts have been warning for years that poor hospital practices and the
overuse of antibiotics spread dangerous bacteria, but practices are
changing only slowly. The fact that there is widespread nonprescription use of antibiotics in India, a country in which some areas have less than ideal sanitation and a high prevalence of diarrheal disease and crowding, sets the ideal stage for the development of such resistance.

The Tongan people were acquainted with the Manahune under the name Haa-Meneuli. but The Haa-Meneuli appear to be Tongans. The Mana’une people of Mangaia Island, Cook Group,are stated by Taniera, their chief, to have come originally to Mangaia from Rapa-nui or Easter Island, and that in appearance they resemble the people of the Tokerau Islands.

The shadowy rebels, who have never publicly stated their goals, target
Muslims and Buddhists alike and both civilians and members of the security
forces, usually with shootings and bombings. The attacks echoed a serious blast in August, which ripped through a restaurant in Narathiwat packed with government officials, wounding at least 42 people. Tensions have simmered since the region, formerly an autonomous Malay Muslim sultanate, was annexed by predominantly Buddhist Thailand in 1902.

While biodiversity is extremely high, the downside is that the population is glaringly low due to over-exploitation. Coral reefs provide a haven for fish and other creatures, and larger fish tend to congregate around reefs because they are good places to feed. Bleaching — a whitening of corals that occurs when symbiotic algae living within coral tissues are expelled — is an indication of stress caused by environmental triggers such as fluctuations in ocean temperature. Depending on many factors, bleached coral may recover over time or die. Semporna is within the 5 million sq km of sea straddling the waters of Sabah, the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

Irian Jaya Blue Tongue Skinks are from Indonesia, and are often what you see in the pet stores for $199.99. They are snatched from the wild and sold to pet stores for about $25. Irian Jaya’s are truly terrific BTS that are capable of shades of orange, brown, and red. These babies 100% captive bred. Irian Jaya (and Indonesians) are the easiest type of BTS to find, but keep in mind, finding a truly captive bred bluey can prove to be very difficult. Nearly ALL pet store blue tongues are wild caught. Very, very rarely do you see Northerns in pet stores because it’s simply not cost-efficient for reptile businesses to breed them.

A cheque, for over K1 million belonging to the Telefomin people in West
Sepik, lost in a taxi by a politician, has been found. The cheque was
returned to Telefomin MP Peter Iwei’s parliament office following
widespread publicity and public appeal. Telefomin has a population of about 40,000 people who share a common border with Indonesia.

The idea is one of the ways of sharing poverty in the villages. Their spirit is: they will eat together and starve together. A cyclical plague of rats was likely to continue destroying crops in the region in the coming season. The hill tracts are experiencing a severe infestation of rats, which occurs every 50 years or so, as bamboo flowers produce seeds high in protein, and rats breed four times faster than normal during this time. The rats destroy the paddy and vegetable fields resulting in severe food crisis among the communities. The rat infestation grew over the last two years and may continue for another two to three years. The rodent plague is also affecting at least 25,000 people in six villages along the Indian state of Mizoram.

The Inuit believe our world has tilted on its axis and this contributes to climate change. The elders in Pangnirtung, Iqaluit, Resolute Bay and Igloolik – all believe this phenomenon to be true. It’s been very interesting to see elders and hunters across Nunavut make the same observation about the world having shifted on its axis. Elders across Nunavut have noticed that the sun and stars have changed their position in the sky. The sun is now rising higher and staying longer than it used to. Importantly, in the far north, you must remember that the sun goes below the horizon for a large part of the year, and therefore Inuit are very familiar with its celestial pattern. Indeed, Inuit are telling stories about how in the old days, during the dark months, they would travel the land by dog team using stars as their navigational tools. So, when Inuit talk about the sun and stars, they do so with an intimate knowledge of these systems.

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