Honduran Crisis; Privatized National Security; Acteal Archives; Biodiversity Report; Mexican Environmentalist Remembered; U.S.-Cuba Relations; Lugo’s Dilemmas

This Week in the Americas

Keep Our Program Going—Join Us for a Fundraising Party in Portland, Oregon!

Dear Friends,

The past weeks have been hectic, scary, and exciting all at once—for us here at the Americas Program and for the region. When the Honduran coup took place three months ago today, we knew that the movement to defend democracy and reject the military-backed dictatorship had to be a top priority. Since then we have published scores of articles.

These are not news reports—we know you can get that from other sources. We’re putting out information and analysis tailored to fill the gaps in mainstream news coverage (or lack thereof) and encourage people to act. I was able to participate in a fact-finding mission in post-coup Honduras focused on women’s rights, and we’ve included in the blog firsthand experience, information from Honduran contacts, reports from Americas Program analysts in Honduras, key documents, exclusive interviews, and action alerts from our great partner organizations in Washington and Tegucigalpa. We promise our readers not to let go of this issue until the coup falls and justice and democracy are restored in the Central American country.

In other news, watch for the reports to come out of my recent trip to Colombia. I spoke in four cities (Bogota, Baranquilla, Cali, and Medellin) about the controversial plan to expand U.S. military presence on Colombian bases. We met with groups organizing in local communities to oppose the base agreement, students, unions, and grassroots organizations and heard from the successful NO BASES movement of Ecuador.

This weekend (Oct. 2-4) I’ll be at the EcoNvergence gathering in Portland, Oregon. The schedule is here. For readers in the Portland area, the Americas Program is hosting a fundraising party on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. where we can meet face-to-face. People from several of our partner organizations will be there too—I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone over good food, drink, and concerned but relaxed conversation. Contact me at lecarlsen@gmail.com for details.

Laura Carlsen



Americas Program Blog: http://americasmexico.blogspot.com/

Coup Declares State of Siege, Suspends Constitutional Rights

The Sound and Fury of the Honduran Coup: Acoustic and Chemical Attacks on Brazilian Embassy

Honduran Crisis Explodes: Persecution and Panic-Buying Under Coup Crackdown

Clinton, Speak Clearly Now to Avoid a Massacre in Honduras

Border Lines Blog: http://borderlinesblog.blogspot.com

Technical Wish Fulfillment on the Border—A History of Waste and Deception

Border Congressman’s Record on Intelligence


New from the Americas Program

New National Security Complex:
Bringing Together Homeland Security, Intelligence, and Defense

By Tom Barry

Who’s taking care of our national security—our nation’s defense, military operations, homeland security, and intelligence? There’s the Department of Defense, the U.S. Armed Forces, the Department of Homeland Security, and the "intelligence community" of agencies led by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. But since Sept. 11 national security has been increasingly outsourced.

Now we have what might be termed a national security complex where intelligence, defense, and homeland security are closely linked and integrated—and more and more in the hands of the private sector.

Read more…

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Breaking the Silence: The Mexican Army and the 1997 Acteal Massacre
By Kate Doyle

As Mexicans debate the Supreme Court ruling vacating the conviction of 20 men for the Acteal massacre, newly declassified documents from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency describe the army’s role in backing paramilitary groups in Chiapas at the time of the killings. The secret cables confirm reports of military support for indigenous armed groups carrying out attacks on pro-Zapatista communities in the region and add important new details. They revive a question that has lingered for almost 12 years: when will the army come clean about its role in Acteal?

This article re-launches the Open Files series on U.S.-Latin America relations produced by the CIP Americas Program in collaboration with the National Security Archive in Washington, DC. The original documentation, as well as previous articles, may be found at www.nsarchive.org/mexico. Your comments are welcome at Americas@ciponline.org.

Read more…

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Biodiversity Report from Americas Program of CIP—September 2009
By Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

This month in the Americas Program Biodiversity Report:

Argentina: Carbon Credits for Genetically Modified Soy
Chile: In Defense of Seeds
Paraguay: "Responsible" Soy Will Not Give Up
The Struggle Against Tree Plantations Heats Up

Read more…

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The Life and Death of a Mexican Environmental Prophet
By Kent Paterson

Years before climate change was a major international issue, Felipe Arreaga and other members of the OCESP warned of far-reaching changes to the environment. From their mountain homes, the farmers watched the rains become scarcer and water sources fewer as trees were cleared for cattle pasture, poppy fields, and commercial timber. Ecology became Arreaga’s passion; a man with little formal education, he nevertheless possessed a self-taught understanding of complex environmental relationships. Even when facing prosecution for a murder he swore he did not commit, Arreaga wanted to talk more about ecology than the worldwide support for his own personal predicament.

The death of Felipe Arreaga Sanchez on September 16 silenced an important voice demanding profound but peaceful change in a land scarred by violence, repression, and social decomposition.

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Obama Takes Step-by-Step Approach to Ending Obsolete Cuba Policies
By Michael Collins

On August 31, the announcement was made of talks to be held between the U.S. and Cuban governments aimed at resuming a direct postal service between the two nations. This encounter is seen as a test of how well both parties can engage. The news came on the back of a meeting between U.S. and Cuban representatives in July on migration issues, and was a further sign of the efforts undertaken to end the lengthy standoff between the two countries.

Re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba will be a slow process and with the multitude of problems facing the U.S. administration, resolving this outdated stand-off may be perceived as a low priority. Nevertheless, President Obama may find it easier to move forward if he jettisons the inherited anchors of the past for a more pragmatic and consistent approach that could open up dialogue and win points in the international arena. Raul Castro should similarly consider the benefits of a fresh start with the United States and the advantages that his people could gain through a peaceful relationship with their neighbors.

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Lugo’s Dilemmas
By Diego González

One year after taking office, Fernando Lugo is facing several crises simultaneously. On the one hand, there is the matter of his recent paternity scandal which sullied his public image inside and outside of Paraguay. But that scandal is not what keeps the Paraguayan president awake at night these days. As it happens, his strategy of navigating a boat he does not fully control over a multitude of near-antagonistic forces is headed for disaster. In this way, the traditional neoliberals are fighting bit by bit, platform by platform with the Left, which advances as a united force. In turn, the neoliberals are incessantly turning on themselves, pushing for a succession battle which would leave the internal party lines paralyzed in the face of presidential elections in 2013. The situation is so tense that even the vice president has pushed for the impeachment of the president in order to subsequently break the governmental coalition which united left and right. Now, from an ambiguous position, the neoliberals are neither the government nor the opposition. What they currently demand, in the words of Senator Blas Llano, is "co-governance."

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Latin America will be all feminist!

March 8, International Women’s Day (IWD), serves as a barometer of the strength of feminist and women’s movements, especially in