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Venezuelan Opposition Mayor Accused of Manipulating Tragic Death

By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis | February 26, 2014

Merida – A 34 year old man, Jimmy Vargas, died on Monday while he was involved in a violent street blockade. Some opposition leaders and media blamed the government, however video footage shows it was an accident. Two other people have died this week as a result of the blockades.

Vargas died at the Camino Real residential area, in San Cristobal, Tachira state. Footage, sent to CNN shows that it was an accident. However, CNN and other news agencies also broadcast repeatedly footage of Vargas’ mother blaming the National Guard and president Nicolas Maduro for the death.

Carmen Gonzalez, the mother, stated, “Maduro and those around him killed [my son], they are the ones who killed him, they killed him, they are the ones who gave the orders for him to be killed, they are killing all of Venezuela… and I’m going to go out and fight for my son, my son died fighting for his country, fighting for the freedom of his country…”

On social networks the story was spread that Vargas had been hit by a rubber bullet in his left eye, and other stories claimed a tear gas canister shot by the National Guard had hit him.

The newspaper El Nacional also blamed the government, headlining “Two deaths this Monday because of attacks by GNB [National Guard] and motorbike riders [government supporters] on protests”. Madurados.com headlined “Another tragedy! In rubber bullet attack by the GNB Jimmy Vargas dies in San Cristobal”.

Similarly, The New York Times included a ¼ page full-color photo of Jimmy Vargas on a stretcher, with the caption, “Carmen Gonzalez, 58, cried over the body of her son, who was killed Monday in clashes with the police.”

However Vargas’ doctor, Luis Diaz, reported that he had suffered severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) after falling from the second floor of a building, the newspaper Ultimas Noticias reported.

Vargas’ sister, Jindry, told NTN24 that her brother fell from the second floor the building after the National Guard fired rubber bullets and tear gas bombs at him, causing him to lose his balance. In the video Jimmy Vargas tried to climb down on to a balcony ledge and he lost his balance on the ledge, out of line of shot of the National Guard.

Further, the opposition mayor of San Cristobal, Daniel Cebellos, told the public that Vargas had been murdered. He tweeted on Monday night, “Since late night…the brutal attack of the GNB continues, more than 10 injuries (3 by bullet) and 1 youth of 34 years murdered”. He continued, “I call on the MUD [opposition coalition] that while they continue to kill our people in the streets there’s no peace for the government. The dialogue they propose is one big lie”.

Despite the evidence, Cebellos further tweeted this morning, “We are accompanying Jimmy Vargas and his family in this moment of grief. We reject the violence and repression.” Cebellos included a photo of Vargas’ funeral procession.

Tachira governor, Vielma Mora accused Cebellos of using a public funeral procession to “inflame” people “against the national government”.

“A citizen who, may he rest in peace, fell from the second floor, he was in guarimba (violent disturbances), it seems he lost his balance… do you know what the mayor of San Cristobal did with a few people? They paraded him through the city… like a war trophy”.

Meanwhile, there has been another death as a result of violent opposition blockades. El Carabobeño reported that a motorbike rider died last night after crashing into a barricade. Eduardo Anzola, 29, in Valencia, died instantly, the paper reported, after he didn’t see the barricade because of the darkness. Two other people have died as a result of crashing into barricades, in Caracas and Merida, and one other motorbike rider was killed when wire at a barricade cut his throat.

On Monday, Alba Ciudad and Panorama report that Antonio Valbuena, 32, died of a shot to the head, in Maracaibo. Valbuena was participating in a demonstration of motorbike riders, who were removing barricades so that their procession could get through. At one point, a witness said that a “man in a balaclava came out and began to shoot… one of the bullets hit Antonio in the head”.

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

The Minimum Wage and Immigration

By Ron Unz | February 9, 2013

Earlier this week Washington Post Columnist Matt Miller published an excellent piece making the case for a large increase in the federal minimum wage, including arguments drawn from a wide range of prominent business and political figures, as well as mention of  my own recent New America article on that issue.

Given the importance of the topic, it is hardly unexpected that the column attracted some 600 comments.  But far more surprising was the overwhelmingly negative response of those readers.  Given that the Post is a centrist-liberal newspaper and Miller a centrist-liberal columnist, one suspects that the vast majority of the commenters were similarly of the centrist-liberal orientation.  But I suspect that most of their hostile remarks would have been indistinguishable from what would have greeted a similar suggestion posted on National Review or FoxNews or the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity; and therein lies a tale.

Although the ideological spectrum of American political discourse is casually rendered along a Left-to-Right spectrum, the range of views obviously has high dimensionality; and projecting an idea-space of ten or fifteen independent degrees of freedom onto a single axis is surely absurd, with even the two most prominent dimensions of “social issues” and “economic issues” failing to capture the underlying reality.

Thus in 2008 we saw many of America’s most influential Republican pundits urging Sen. John McCain to select Sen. Joe Lieberman as his vice presidential selection to assuage and reassure distrustful conservatives.  This came despite Lieberman having one of the most liberal Senate voting records on hot-button social and economic issues such as abortion, gay rights, gun control, affirmative action, immigration, taxes, regulations, and almost everything else, while even having served as candidate Al Gore’s loyal vice presidential Democratic pick just a few years earlier.  But in 2008, Lieberman’s enthusiastic support for the continued Iraq Occupation and Bush’s “Great War on Terror” had momentarily eclipsed all other issues among much of the conservative elite.

Similarly, over the last couple of decades, the economic well-being of America’s working- or middle-classes seems to have been relegated to an afterthought, not merely among Republicans and conservatives, but also among their Democratic and liberal opponents as well.  The shocking truth that the average American family is probably poorer today in real terms than they were fifty years ago has been almost entirely ignored by both parties, and therefore ignored by the media as well, presumably under the theory that what people don’t know won’t really hurt them.

Meanwhile, the loud battles over Gay Marriage and Gun Control, whose outcome would directly impact an utterly negligible fraction of our total population, generates front-page headline after front-page headline, perhaps because these issues excite the people who write those headlines or those who fund our campaigns.  As a leading Democratic political consultant in California once joked to me during the late 1990s, no wealthy liberals he knew had any interest in funding a minimum wage increase or any similar meat-and-potato economic issue of the traditional Left; instead, the ideal initiative for fundraising purposes would promise to “Save the Gay Whales from Second-Hand Smoke.”

The near-total intellectual hegemony established by neoliberal economics during the last generation is further demonstrated by the skeptical response to Miller’s minimum wage column by Slate financial columnist and progressive pundit Matt Yglesias (refuted here).  The latter seems to see Federal Reserve monetary policy as the solution to all our economic problems, worrying that the inflationary impact from increasing wages at the lower end of the spectrum would interfere with attempts to keep interest rates low, thereby derailing the desperately-awaited recovery.  Given that five years of exceptionally low interest rates seem to have benefited Wall Street a great deal but Main Street little or nothing, it’s far from clear whether another five years of the same policy would do much different.

In any event, a rise in the minimum wage to $10 or even $12 per hour would simply produce a one-time jump in prices, perhaps in the range of a couple of percent, rather than the sort of continuing inflationary spiral which might unnerve the Fed.  Lower wage-earners would gain vastly more than they lost, the affluent wouldn’t even notice the difference, while hundreds of billions of dollars in additional disposable income for those who spend every dollar might finally jumpstart the economy, being an enormous stimulus package funded entirely by the private sector.

In fact, the AFL-CIO has suggested that a Republican Party which strongly supported a higher minimum wage might warrant a strong second look from the vast number of ordinary American workers who had refused to even consider the plutocratic candidacy of a Mitt Romney.

As it happens, I was recently invited by The Aspen Institute to speak at their DC headquarters on a March 6th panel addressing a minimum wage increase, and perhaps some of these important points will come out during the discussion.

This same bipartisan elite consensus on the harmful effects of raising workers’ wages by law also manifests itself in a wide range of other issues. Leading Democrats and Republicans are now lining up in favor of a new amnesty program for America’s 11 million or so illegal immigrants, planning to combine this legislation with expanded quotas for skilled immigrants and also some sort of guestworker program for the lesser skilled.

It is surely an odd thing for a country’s political leaders to propose substantial increases in new immigration at a time of such high unemployment and so much economic misery among the middle- and working-classes.  Obviously part of the explanation is that our elites are doing very well financially, with the DC area having become America’s wealthiest region. But the political cross-currents are quite intriguing.

Throughout most times and places, business interests have always tended to favor high immigration levels, for the obvious reason that a greater supply of available workers drives down wages and increases profits.  So the responsiveness of Republican officials to their business donor class is hardly surprising, nor is the position of business-funded thinktanks and pundits.

But for exactly the same reason, worker advocates have traditionally been doubtful or hostile to immigration, even if they might often be friendly towards existing immigrants or had themselves originally come from such a background.  It is hardly surprising that America’s leading anti-immigrationist figure throughout most of the 1960s and 1970s was famed labor leader Cesar Chavez.

Given such realities, the eagerness with which the Democratic side of the aisle have embraced a softening of immigration policy without any commensurate protections against job loss or wage decline is surely a sign they too have been captured by the business elites, just as was their widespread support for financial bailouts at the top of the economy and their disinterest in minimum wage increases at the bottom.  As some Internet pundits have noted, President Obama actually traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to announce his immigration proposal, selecting the highest-unemployment state to roll out a proposal hardly likely to alleviate that problem, but certainly one which would benefit the mega-wealthy employers of the low-wage service workers who staff the local casino-and-hotel economy.  In our current political system, only the views—and dollars—of the latter much matter.

Given the obvious connection between more immigrants competing for jobs and a relentless downward pressure on wages, I would suggest that the easiest way for both Democrats and Republicans to demonstrate that they are not wholly owned subsidiaries of our business class would be to explicitly link the two issues by attaching a large rise in the federal minimum wage to any proposed immigration reform.  After all, the primary force which originally drew those 11 million illegals to America was the attractive availability of so many millions of low-wage jobs in our country, and unless this suction force at the bottom of the economy is eliminated, more border crossers will eventually come to take their places once the current ones are legalized.

As I have argued at length elsewhere, immigration and the minimum wage are deeply intertwined policy issues, and should naturally be addressed together.  Raising our minimum wage to $12 per hour as part of the proposed amnesty legislation would probably do more to solve future immigration problems than would any sort of electronic fence or national ID card.

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

The Case for Humanitarian War- Again

By Ajamu Baraka | Black Agenda Report | February 25, 2014

With the predictable failure of the Syrian peace conference, the call for the Obama administration to wage a humanitarian war to save civilians in Syria is once again being championed by some elements of the mainstream media in the U.S. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, since certain powerful voices in the U.S. corporate media have long been in lock-step with some of the most hawkish elements in the Obama administration regarding the use of force in Syria.

A sober, clear-eyed analysis of the logic of the decisions by the Obama administration suggest that the failure of the peace conference was a programmed outcome. The inescapable conclusion as to why the conference was even held, therefore, is that administration hawks saw the failure of the conference as a valuable public relations weapon to move public opinion in favor of more direct military involvement.

Before I am accused of being overly cynical or even conspiratorial, a review of the decisions made in the days and weeks leading up to the conference provides more than adequate evidence to support this contention.

If the Obama administration had been even remotely committed to brokering some kind of diplomatic solution, would it have insisted that all of the parties to the talks be bound by the terms of the Geneva communiqué that called for “regime change” in the form of a transitional government? Would the administration have excluded Iran or been committed to pretending that the “legitimate opposition” was represented by the Syrian National Coalition, a motley crew of slavish opportunist exiles who everyone knows have no real connection to the political and military situation on the ground?

The propaganda value of the talks seems to be the only plausible explanation for why the administration would engineer the elaborate charade in Geneva. The decision to hold the talks knowing that they were going to lead to failure is where the real cynicism lies.

As I have argued since the beginning of this manufactured conflict, peace and particularly the humanity of the Syrian people are the last things on the minds of U.S. policy-makers. The often-invoked concerns for the starving people of Homs and all of the other innocents in this brutal conflict continue to be no more than a crude subterfuge to allow the administration to pursue its broader regional geostrategic objective – the elimination of the Syrian state.

That is why the Islamic fundamentalist groups that U.S. intelligence services helped to arm, train and deploy with destructive efficiency (without much real concern if they were affiliated with al-Qaeda) have targeted all of the institutions of the Syrian state – schools, hospitals, government agencies, electrical stations, water and sanitation facilities, food distribution networks – as part of their strategy. Generalized mayhem, reducing the population to dependence on their networks and territorial dismemberment have all moved the administration toward realization of its strategic objective. But because of the successes of the Syrian armed forces and the uncertainties generated as a result of internal conflicts breaking out among Islamist forces in the country, Washington decision-makers want to make sure that the Syrian government is not able to retake or re-consolidate its influence in contested zones. This can only be assured as a result of more direct military intervention on the part of the U.S. and its allies.

So the next act in this macabre play is now centering on the very real sufferings of the Syrian people. The administration’s man at the U.N., Lakhor Brahimi, set this direction in motion by skillfully moving the peace talks toward the issue of humanitarian concerns. No longer needing the chemical weapons excuse, the administration along with its coterie of collaborationist human rights organizations and media apologists, are now demanding U.N. access to the areas where the Syrian governmental forces have hemmed in the armed groups.

Taking a page from its Libyan playbook on how to manipulate the public to support war, the Obama administration had a draft U.N. Security Council resolution circulated that placed the full blame on the Syrian government for the humanitarian situation in the country.

The language in the resolution was seen as so one-sided and belligerent by some U.N. members that it had no chance of being supported, which of course was the real objective. Orchestrated by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, the resolution appeared aimed at invoking a veto in the Security Council that would set the stage for another illegal NATO-led military assault on the Syrian armed forces. Instead, a resolution was passed over the weekend that some characterized as more balanced because it called on “all sides” to allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians and condemned acts of terror. But all of the delegations understand that this compromise resolution is primarily targeting the Syrian government.

This concern for the humanity of the Syrians is comical if it was not so deadly serious. Sen. John McCain – the same Vietnam-era war criminal who was silent on the uprising of the people in Bahrain, the slaughter of innocent civilians in the various military assaults by Israel in Gaza and who supported the illegal war against Iraq that resulted in the deaths of over a million Iraqi’s – loudly condemned the Obama administration for not doing more for people suffering in Syria.

McCain as well as the hawks in the Obama administration and in the media know that they have a powerful weapon with the imperial and racist notion of the U.S. government’s “responsibility to protect.” The New York Times, Washington Post and a number of other major newspapers are now on record suggesting that the “use of force” by the Obama administration to end the starvation of innocents trapped in besieged cities is morally justified.

No one can deny the reality of tens of thousands of innocents suffering from the savage brutality of war. And who can disagree with relieving the sufferings of innocent civilians trapped in the middle of warring factions? U.S. decision-makers are well aware that most polling data suggest that when issues of humanitarian concerns are introduced, public support for more direct involvement in Syria shifts from a majority that is opposed to a slight majority that would support it.

So the U.S. public has been saturated over the last two weeks with stories about the trapped civilians, the cruel al-Assad government opposing humanitarian access and the innocent American administration that only wants to help the suffering Syrian people. The sad part of all of this is that with the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement in shambles, suffering from a combination of institutional weakness, marginalization and the effects of the “liberal virus” that has confused and disarmed U.S. radicals, the administration may very well be successful in maneuvering the public into supporting more direct military involvement.

The consequence of all of this for the people of Syria will be more violent destruction, brutality and displacement. But I am sure that the pro-imperialist and pro-war Democrats in the Obama administration have concluded that for the Syrian people, freedom – as they define it – is “worth the price” in death and destruction. And they will not see any irony in this.

Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist and organizer. Baraka is an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C.

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Leave a comment

USA declares war on democracy

By Dr. Kevin Barrett | Press TV | February 26, 2014

Atlanta, February 26, 2014 – Since the days of President Woodrow Wilson – that is, for roughly 100 years – the USA has been on a self-styled crusade to “make the world safe for democracy.”

Colossal wars, hot and cold, were fought against German kaisers and fuhrers, Russian communists, and Third World nationalists. The American people were told they were “defending democracy.”

Americans slaughtered 3.5 million Vietnamese, and nearly another million Cambodians, to “defend democracy” in Southeast Asia.

They murdered millions of Iraqis through wars and sanctions to “defend democracy” in the Middle East.

According to André Vltchek and Noam Chomsky’s book On Western Terrorism, the US government has murdered between 55 and 60 million people since World War II in wars and interventions all over the world. If we believe the imperial propagandists, this American Holocaust has been one big defense of democracy.

But now, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of World War I, the US has embarked on a new crusade – to make the world UNSAFE for democracy.

In Ukraine, Venezuela, and Thailand, the US is spending billions of dollars to unconstitutionally eject democratically-elected governments. In Palestine, the US has been trying to overthrow the democratically-elected Hamas government ever since it came to power. In Egypt, the US – under Zionist pressure – recently overthrew the only genuinely democratic government in 5,000 years of recorded history. In Syria, the US insists that the people must not be given the opportunity to re-elect Assad, no matter how many international observers and safeguards ensure honest elections. And in Turkey, the US is undermining the democratically-elected Prime Minister Erdogan in favor of CIA puppet Fethullah Gulen.

Taking the long view, the US is working patiently to destroy democracy in Iran, Russia, and Latin America.

Why does the US government hate democracy?

Because the international bankers who own the US government and run the US empire cannot always buy enough votes to impose their will on every country. So democracy is fine – as long as voters elect the New World Order candidate. But if they vote for a candidate who doesn’t suit the oligarchs, get ready for a coup!

The banksters will overthrow any government that stands up to them – even in the USA. The “termination with extreme prejudice” of the presidency of John F. Kennedy sent a message to all future US presidents.

Mayer Rothschild famously said “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” But that was an exaggeration. The New World Order banksters seek to overthrow democratically-elected governments all over the world precisely because they DO care who makes and enforces the laws.

The NWO banksters are destroying Ukraine as a geostrategic move against Russia, where Putin has reined in the Russian-Zionist oligarchs and put a major roadblock in the path of the banksters’ world government project. Yes, Ukrainian President Yanukovich won a free and fair democratic election. But democracy means nothing to the psychopathic pharaohs of finance and their Neocon hired guns.

The banksters (and the Western governments they control) are also trying to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, who took office after the CIA assassinated Hugo Chavez. President Maduro overcame the banksters’ attempts to defeat him in last year’s elections; he is now the constitutional, democratically-elected President of Venezuela. But that hasn’t stopped the banksters from trying to overthrow him in a pseudo-populist coup.

In Thailand, the banksters and their local kleptocracy are trying to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Prime Minister Shinawatra. Apparently Shinawatra’s attempts to fund education, medical care, and infrastructure, and institute a minimum wage, offended the oligarchs.

In Ukraine, Venezuela, and Thailand, as in Syria and Egypt before them, the banksters are adding violence to their “color revolution” game plan for destroying democracy. This may seem incongruous, since the NWO intellectual hired gun Gene Sharp, the so-called “Machiavelli of non-violence,” designed the original color revolutions as purportedly peaceful and democratic uprisings.

But Sharp’s so-called color revolutions, beginning with Georgia’s Rose Revolution of 2003 and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution of 2004, were never genuine people’s revolutions. They were bankster takeover attempts from the beginning. George Soros would funnel Rothschild money to ambitious, power-hungry apparatchiks, who would inundate their target countries with propaganda and hire rent-a-mobs to dress in a particular color and make a spectacle of themselves in the public square, in hopes of duping naive young people into joining the “revolution” – whose real goal is always to install a NWO puppet leader.

But now the pretense of nonviolence and democracy has evaporated. The New World Order’s smiling Mickey Mouse mask has fallen away, revealing the bloodthirsty grin of satanic banksters bent on establishing an Orwellian one-world dictatorship.

In Syria, the “peaceful uprising” of March 2011 became a pretext for sending in heavily armed thugs and terrorists on a destabilization mission. In Egypt, the bankster-generated “uprising” last summer was a manufactured excuse for a violent coup d’état. In Thailand, Venezuela and Ukraine, the banksters are paying hooligans to stage violent protests, destroy public property, fight police, and incite mayhem – in hopes of violently overthrowing democratically-elected governments.

This is pure fascism.

Fascism is fake populism. Self-styled fascist “revolutionaries” are paid to dress up in colors or uniforms, goose-step around the public square, overthrow democratically-elected governments… and institute a veiled dictatorship of the rich, in which corporate and governmental power merge.

That is what Mussolini did in 1922. It is what Hitler did in 1933. And it is what the neoconservatives, and their bankster sponsors, are doing today… all over the world. The 9/11 Reichstag Fire, which turned the world’s sole superpower decisively toward total fascism, was the gunshot that set off the avalanche.

The end-game: A global fascist dictatorship that would make the Third Reich look like a walk in the park.

There is only one way to defeat these monsters. All great fortunes, beginning with the trillion-dollar treasure hordes of the Rothschilds and their friends, must be confiscated and returned to the public treasury. All of the big banks must be nationalized, and their operations must be made completely transparent. All major financial transactions must be taxed and closely regulated. And all of the biggest corporations, starting with those that own the mainstream media, must be broken into small pieces by anti-trust action.

This revolution – the overthrow of the global oligarchy – is the only revolution that matters.

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Second Bahrain detainee dies in custody: ministry

Al-Akhbar | February 26, 2014

A 23-year-old Bahraini man who was detained in December and accused of smuggling weapons died from an illness in custody on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said, the second death of a person held on security-related charges this year.

Jaffar Mohammed Jaffar was arrested in a raid that the government said broke up a plot to bring in detonators and explosives by boat and use them to launch attacks in the island kingdom.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet, has been rattled by bouts of unrest since February 2011 when Bahrainis took to the streets, demanding democratic reforms from the ruling family.

Jaffar was suffering from sickle cell anaemia and was admitted to hospital on Feb 19, the ministry said in a statement. He died from the condition on Wednesday, it added.

Rights campaigners did not challenge the government’s account that Jaffar had died as a result of an illness, but the main opposition group, al-Wefaq, said in a statement that medical treatment had been withheld and described Jaffar as “a martyr”.

Activist Mohammed al-Maskati also told Reuters he had spoken to Jaffar and four others by phone after their arrest and “they told me that they have all been tortured”.

Bahrain’s Interior Ministry, which regularly denies mistreating detainees, told Reuters on Wednesday Jaffar had not been tortured and said he had received full medical care.

Jaffar’s death came a month after authorities reported Fadhel Abbas, 20, had died in custody from gunshot wounds suffered during his arrest in a raid on another smuggling operation on Jan. 8.

Police said officers had shot them as he tried to run them over. Protesters clashed with members of the force after his funeral.

Demonstrations and clashes between protesters and the security forces have continued regularly, while negotiations between the government and opposition have stalled.

The authorities say they have rolled out some reforms and are willing to discuss further demands, but the opposition says there can be no progress until the government is chosen by elected representatives.

Earlier this month a policeman was killed by an explosion at a protest to mark the third anniversary of Bahrain’s uprising.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Honduras: Candidate’s Brother Killed in Electoral Dispute

Weekly News Update on the Americas | February 23, 2014

Indigenous Honduran campesino Justiniano Vásquez was found dead on Feb. 21 in San Francisco de Opalaca municipality in the western department of Intibucá, where the victim’s brother Entimo Vásquez is challenging the results of a Nov. 24 mayoral election. Justiniano Vásquez’s body had deep wounds, and there were signs that his hands had been bound. Community members charged that the killing was carried out by Juan Rodríguez, a supporter of former mayor Socorro Sánchez, who the electoral authorities said defeated Entimo Vásquez in the November vote. Rodríguez had reportedly threatened Entimo Vásaquez in the past. San Francisco de Opalaca residents captured Rodríguez and turned him over to the police. The Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which reported Vásquez’s death, demanded punishment for the perpetrators and called on the authorities “to carry out their work objectively [and] effectively.”

Entimo Vásquez ran for mayor as a candidate of the new center-left Freedom and Refoundation Party (LIBRE) in the November presidential, legislative and local elections; Socorro Sánchez was the candidate of the rightwing National Party (PN). Vásquez formally challenged the results, but the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) backed Sánchez. Community residents, who are mostly members of the Lenca indigenous group, charged that the vote was fraudulent and also accused Sánchez of irregularities during his previous term as mayor. Vásquez’s supporters have occupied the town hall since late January, preventing Sánchez from taking office. (La Tribuna (Tegucigalpa) 2/13/14; COPINH 2/21/14; La Prensa (Nicaragua) 2/22/14 from AFP)

In related news, on Feb. 10 a court in the western department of Santa Bárbara issued a definitive dismissal of weapons possession charges against COPINH general coordinator Berta Cáceres. A group of soldiers arrested Cáceres and another COPINH official on May 24 last year, claiming they had found an illegal firearm in the activists’ car [see Update #1178]. Cáceres was in Santa Bárbara at the time to support protests by indigenous Lenca communities against the construction of the Agua Zarca dam on and near their territory. In an interview with the Uruguay-based Radio Mundo Real on Feb. 13 Cáceres said national and international solidarity had been fundamental for winning dismissal of the charges. (Radio Mundo Real 2/13/14)

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment