Category Archives: Latin America

Mexican striking teachers union leaders freed

The ongoing battle over the neoliberal education reforms in Mexican mandated by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto excited a storm of protest among teachers in Mexico’s southern states.

The mandate demolishes local school and teacher autonomy, and has been greeted with a regional strike, complete with roadblocks and barricades, provoking massive and violent state repression, with ten or more teachers and their allies dead from police bullets, drawing sharp international condemnation.

The action was ignited by members of the Coordinadora Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación [CNTE, previously], a union formed 40 years ago in opposition to the government’s pet union.

One step the government took early on during the recent protests was to arrest and jail two of the union’s top leaders.

And now the leaders are going free, at least for the moment.

From teleSUR Engilish:

Two leaders from the National Coordinator of Education Workers, which has been leading efforts to oppose neoliberal education reforms in Mexico, left jail Friday after a judge ordered their release, though the two still face charges.

Francisco Manuel Villalobos Ricardez and Ruben Nuñez immediately went to greet fellow union members who were assembled at a nearby hotel in the City of Oaxaca for a meeting.

“To those who are mobilized, we owe them, more than anyone, this great struggle,” Nuñez told the assembled trade unionists. Nuñez added that there was still work to be done as many others remained behind bars.

The pair were detained two months ago under questionable circumstances, promoting an outcry from the National Coordinator of Education Workers, known as the CNTE.

Villalobos, who serves as head of the CNTE in Oaxaca, was detained on charges of aggravated robbery stemming from the seizure of textbooks by the teachers union in 2015. Meanwhile, Nuñez, secretary-general of the CNTE in Oaxaca, was detained on allegations of money laundering.

Both deny the charges.

After their arrests, leaders from the union said that the government of Enrique Peña Nieto was resorting to repression to silence critics of their education reform.

Mexico moves to save the endangered Vaquita

One of the world’s rarest animals and the rarest of all of its kind is the vaquita [previously], an endangered porpoise living only in a small are of the Gulf of Mexico.

The marvelous mammal is on the brink of extinction because those same waters are populated by a fish possessed of a swim bladder rich Chinese men covet because they believe it restores virility to their aging penises. . .and because possessing it is a sign of their riches.

The fish, the totuaba, is itself on the list of threatened species, but the greatest danger in the illegal fishing by hard-pressed Mexican fisherfolk is to the Vaquita, often caught in the nets used to catch totuaba.

But now the Mexican government has finally acted.

From Environment News Service:

Mexico is to permanently ban the use of gillnets in waters where the endangered vaquita is found, in an attempt to save from extinction this small porpoise found only in the Gulf of California, Mexico.

Today, vaquita numbers are thought to have dropped to just 60 surviving individuals, according to the most recent report of the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee.

Vaquitas inhabit the northern part of the Gulf of California where gillnets are used to catch a species of fish, the totoaba, also at risk of extinction.


The ban offers a chance to save both species but this can only be achieved with strict enforcement and monitoring to prevent illegal poaching.

“Without action the vaquita will be gone – the second entirely preventable cetacean extinction we will have witnessed in the last 10 years,” warns the 2016 report of the IWC’s Scientific Committee.

Headline of the day: Another Trump supporter

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

Arizona mayor refuses invitation written in ‘Mexican’

The mayor of an Arizona border town won’t attend a meeting of mayors from each side of the border because the invitation was written in both English and Spanish, which he referred to as “Mexican.”

Rousseff to face impeachment after Olympics

Brazil’s neoliberal-dominated senate has done the expected and ordered suspended President Dilma Rousseff to stand trial for impeachment based on allegations of the same sorts of corruption her accusers may be tried.

The legislative coup’s backers are already reaping financial rewards from the measure, detailed after the jump.

But Rousseff still has one well-known supporter in the U.S., Bernie Sanders.

We begin with a report from the Manila Times:

The trial is set to open around August 25 — four days after the Olympics end — with a judgment vote five days later. If two-thirds of the senators vote against her, she will be out.

“The truth is, Dilma would need a miracle for that not to happen,” said political analyst Everaldo Moraes from Brasilia University.

“The biggest surprise would be if she managed to turn the process around,” he told Agence France-Presse.

“Even her own allies can see that. They know the process has become irreversible.”

Rousseff, 68, has called the impeachment drive tantamount to a coup by her political enemies.

More from the Associated Press:

After some 15 hours of debate, senators voted 59-21 to put her on trial for breaking fiscal rules in her managing of the federal budget. It was the final step before a trial and vote on whether to definitively remove her from office, expected later this month. The political drama is playing out while Rio de Janeiro is hosting the Olympics, which run through Aug. 21.

The outcome was widely expected: The Senate already voted in May to impeach and remove Ms. Rousseff from office for up to 180 days while the trial was prepared.

Wednesday’s vote underscored that efforts to remove her may have actually gained steam despite her attempts to woo senators who have expressed doubt about the governing ability of interim President Michel Temer, who was vice president under Rousseff.

An emerging picture of corruption

Her accusers stand accused of a wide variety of financial high crimes and misdemeanors, and interim president and chief accuser faces serious allegations and has become the object of public ridicule.

Details from teleSUR English:

Rousseff is accused of spending money without congressional approval and taking out unauthorized loans from state banks to make the national budget look better than it really was as she campaigned for re-election in 2014.

She says such maneuvers were common practice under previous administrations and do not amount to an impeachable offense.

Her allies both nationally and internationally point out that many of the lawmakers accusing her are implicated in corruption cases arguably far more serious than accounting tricks.

Eduardo Cunha, who spearheaded the impeachment process as president of the Chamber of Deputies, for example, has been indicted in the scandal known as Operation Car Wash involving the state-owned oil company Petrobras and was suspended by Brazil’s Supreme Court on May 5 due to allegations that he attempted to intimidate members of Congress and obstructed investigations into his alleged receipt of bribes.

Temer has also been implicated in corruption allegations. Known as the most unpopular man in Brazil, Temer was loudly booed at the Olympic opening ceremonies. If Rousseff is impeached, he will remain president until the next general election in 2018.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Headline of the day III: An American terrorist

From the Guardian:

Kissinger hindered US effort to end mass killings in Argentina, according to files

Newly declassified files show the former secretary of state jeopardized efforts to crackdown on bloodshed by Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship

Headline of the day II: Save the sewer trout!

From the San Francisco Chronicle [and if you’re wondering about sewer trout, see here]:

Please don’t fish in our toilets, requests Rio Olympic staff

Hoping possibly to head off a problem before it starts, Olympic organizers have put up signs directing what you can and can’t do in their toilets. Chief among them: Fishing. No fishing.

Mexico, land of the disappeared and the dead

BLOG Vanished

The number of Mexicans who have vanished through abduction — and worse — has soared to new highs.

From teleSUR English:

At least 13,156 people have been disappeared in Mexico during the past three years of government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s government, a report by the National Registry of Missing or Disappeared people (RNPED) revealed Friday.

The report takes into account the disappearances that have been reported from January 2013 to April 2016 and the figure surpasses the disappearances recorded between 2007 to 2012 during the administration of Felipe Calderon, which is considered the peak of the “drug war” that brought an unprecedented wave of violence to the country.

Official data reports that 74 percent of the missing people are men and 26 percent women. Meanwhile, the age range with the highest number of reported cases is between 15 and 19 years. Among those disappeared are the 43 Ayotzinapa students.

Calderon declared war on drug cartels in 2006 with the backing and influenece of Washington and since then, more than 150,000 people have been killed, more than 30,000 have been disappeared and at least 8,000 cases of torture have been documented. This drug war policy has continued under Peña Nieto.

During his presidential campaign, Peña Nieto promised that “in a year” Mexicans will begin to see results of his strategy to battle organized crime.

Earlier this year Mexican officials and organized crime organizations were accused by civil society groups and the Open Society Initiative of committing crimes against humanity, due to the alarming number of extrajudicial killings, forced disappearances and torture cases.