Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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LATIN AMERICA
In brief
5/1/2017
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Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Latin America, Mexico, Paraguay

The Minister of the Environment of Argentina, Sergio Bergman, ratified on Apr. 19 the precautionary measure presented, to temporarily stop the operations in the Veladero mine, located in the northwestern province of San Juan, “in order to prevent that the water reserves of the western part of the country are put at risk” as a consequence of the spill of toxic  solutions that took place on Mar. 28; the third such occurrence in less than two years. Between Sep. 12 and 13 of 2015, 4 million liters of cyanide and other heavy metals were discharged into the Potrerillos River, contaminating another four waterways. This spill is considered the worst mining accident in the country’s history. Veladero, the property of the Canadian company Barrick Gold, is an open pit gold and silver mine that started production in 2005, and has a lifespan of approximately 14 years.

Rural violence in Brazil in 2016 reached its worst level in 13 years, according to a report issued on Apr. 17, by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), linked to the Catholic Church. With 61 deaths in 1,536 land conflicts, “last year was characterized for having been the period in which the criminalization of the rural movements reached its most frightening levels” with dozens of arrests and charges of terrorism, as the CPT pointed out. Rural violence has not stopped. The most recent case occurred on Apr. 23, in the southwestern state of Minas Gerais, where unidentified persons gunned down the leader of the Landless Rural Worker’s Movement (MST), Silvino Nunes Gouveira. Three days before, nine people were killed in a land conflict in the eastern state of Mato Grosso. The CPT considers that the rise in violence is due to the impunity of these crimes.

Twenty-one military members in Colombia were sentenced on April 3, to prison terms of  between 37 and 52 years, after being found responsible for crimes against humanity in the murder in 2008 of five youths in the municipality of Soacha, south of Bogotá, in what is known as the case of “false positives”. According to Human Rights Watch, “under pressure from superiors to show ‘positive’ results and boost body counts in their war against guerrillas, soldiers and officers abducted victims or lured them to remote locations under false pretenses — such as with promises of work — killed them, placed weapons on their lifeless bodies, and then reported them as enemy combatants killed in action.” This was common practice between 2002 and 2008, during the administration of former President Álvaro Uribe (2002-2010).

The News Agency of Indigenous and African Descent Women (NOTIMIA) was officially launched on Apr. 5 in Mexico to provide information with a perspective on gender on issues regarding the indigenous and African-descendant peoples. This space was created with the goal of making visible the agendas of the indigenous and Afro descendant populations in Latin America, focusing mainly on women. Guadalupe Martínez, a Náhuatl indigenous woman of the Alliance of Indigenous Women of Mexico and Central America, explained that NOTIMIA looks to promote intercultural communication by “forming and disseminating the organizational processes from the indigenous peoples and communities in indigenous languages”. She stated that the information will be provided in different languages, thus allowing it to be transmitted by community, local or national media.

On Apr. 24, some 50 assailants armed with assault rifles, explosives, and using armored vehicles, launched an attack that lasted for three hours on the headquarters of the Prosegur security service company in Ciudad del Este, the main commerce center in Paraguay, located in the border triangle with Argentina and Brazil. The assailants succeeded in bringing down the vault where US$40 million were being kept. According to preliminary investigations, the authors of the crime would be members of the First Capital Command (PCC), the main criminal gang in Brazil. Other three robberies to security companies occurred on Feb. 20, in the Brazilian city of Pernambuco, against Brink’s company, hauling some $20 million; on Mar. 30, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, a Brink’s truck, transporting $1.3 million, was intercepted by robbers; and on Apr. 11, a vehicle belonging to Guardián SA was robbed near Ciudad del Este.


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