Central America Theater

U.S. threatens to tighten noose on Nicaragua

On his October 4 visit to Nicaragua, US deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick met with President Enrique Bolaños and other senior officials to discuss the country's ongoing political crisis. Speaking with reporters in Managua, Zoellick warned of stark consequences if an opposition alliance succeeds in ousting Bolaños.

CENTRAL AMERICA: BUSH SIGNS CAFTA; NAVAL MANEUVERS HELD

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

Shortly before flying to his Texas ranch for a month-long vacation, on Aug. 2 US President George W. Bush signed the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) into law, following a 19-month effort to get the controversial measure approved by Congress. So far, the legislatures of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the US have approved it; Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua have not yet ratified. "CAFTA is more than a trade bill," Bush said at the White House signing ceremony. "It is a commitment among freedom-loving nations to advance peace and prosperity throughout the region." (Bloomberg News, Washington Times, Aug. 2)

Echoes of war haunt Nicaragua

1980s nostalgia fans should enjoy the political battle which is heating up in Nicaragua, even if the sides are more confused this time around. Hopefully, the situation will not come to armed conflict this time, but echoes of the war that rocked the country 20 years ago are being raised.

ECUADOR: COLOMBIA BORDER VIOLATIONS; INTERNAL REPRESSION

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

BORDER ZONE: COLOMBIA ACTIONS PROTESTED

According to a report issued July 20 by the Emerging Inter-Institutional Mission, a collaboration of 11 human rights organizations and local governments in northern Ecuador, the Colombian Armed Forces violated Ecuadoran air space and territory in Sucumbios province on June 24 and 25. The incidents took place as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) attacked an army post in Teteye, in the southern Colombian department of Putumayo, killing 22 soldiers. According to Alexis Ponce, president of the Latin American Human Rights Association (ALDHU), a member of the military revealed that nearly 20 Colombian soldiers in civilian clothes entered Ecuador "with weapons to see what the situation was like."

Nicaraguan president plugs CAFTA, faces impeachment

"Twenty years ago this summer," the vile Otto Reich writes for the July 18 National Review, "Washington’s hottest debate centered on the Contras’ war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua — and how to keep the nations of Central America from falling into the hands of Marxist terrorists or right-wing death squads. It was the equivalent of today’s Iraq debate. The eventual victory of freedom in Nicaragua came at a cost of tens of thousands of lives — and it is now in jeopardy. The hard Left in Latin America has learned its lessons: It is no longer trying to gain power by force, because it fears (with just cause) the unmatched power of the United States and the willingness of recent Republican presidents to use it in the defense of freedom; it is therefore resorting to political warfare to regain power, and one of its battlefields is again Nicaragua."

CENTRAL AMERICA: CAFTA ENDGAME LOOMS

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

DR-CAFTA SHOWDOWN NEARS

On June 30 the US Senate voted 54-45 to approve the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), a pact largely eliminating tariffs on about $32 billion in annual trade between Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the US. Also on June 30, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee voted 30-11 to send the measure to the full House for a vote. The House debate will probably start on July 11, when Congress returns from its Independence Day recess.

CENTRAL AMERICA: TERROR TARGETS ANTI-CAFTA RESISTANCE

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

GUATEMALA: CAMPESINO LEADER KIDNAPPED

An unidentified group of armed men intercepted and abducted Maria Antonieta Carrillo, a local leader of Guatemala's Campesino Unity Committee (CUC), on May 28 in the village of La Arenera, Puerto de San Jose municipality, in the southern department of Escuintla, according to a communique the CUC released on May 29. "We hold the government and the business sector responsible," the CUC said. "This act is part of the repressive policy [Guatemalan president Oscar] Berger has mounted against the indigenous and campesino movement." According to the CUC, La Arenera is a leading community in the "struggle for land and for campesinos' labor rights" in an area which has the highest concentration of large sugar plantations in the country.