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ISSUE: #. 89. June 9, 2003







By Bill Weinberg
with Wynde Priddy, Special Correspondent

1. Unrest and Repression
2. Will Bush Be Impeached Over Iraq?
3. Wolfowitz: It's the Oil, Stupid!
4. UK to Saddam's Daughters: Get Lost!

1. Palestinian Police to be Revamped for "Road Map"
2. Russia Demands Inquiry on Israeli WMD

1. U.S. Fights Taliban Resurgence in Border Area
2. Kabul Blast Targets "Peacekeepers"

1. Globophobes Rock G8 Summit

1. France Intervenes in Congo; Kinshasa Impotent?
2. Cellular Telephones Fuel Congo Genocide
3. Congo and Angola at Odds Over Offshore Oil Rights
4. Privatization of Africa "Peacekeeping" Missions
5. Coup Attempt in Mauritania; Fighting in Capital

1. Venezuela: Referendum Accord Signed Despite Violence
2. Violence in Venezuelan Countryside
3. Colombia: Peace Advocates Killed
4. U.S. to Resume Anti-Drug Air Patrols
5. Uribe Accelerates Fumigation
6. Soldiers Stole Millions from "Terrorist" Hideout
7. Officials Blast Petro-Zone Militarization
8. Top Court Lifts "State of Commotion"
9. U.N. Envoy Sparks Debate on FARC Motives
10. Nations Urge U.N. Pressure on FARC
11. Questions Raised in FARC Extradition
12. Indigenous Leaders Under Attack
13. Internecine Para Violence
14. Mysterious Blast at Cali Water Plant
15. U.S. to Pursue Free Trade Talks With Colombia
16. Ecuador: Indians Break With Government
17. Massacre in Ecuadorian Amazon
18. Peru: Strikes Defy State of Emergency
19. Bolivia: Indian Legislators Hold Hunger Strike
20. Argentina: Left-Peronist Takes Office

1. Oil Pipeline Threatens Nicaraguan Indian Community

1. Internal Justice Department Report Blasts Detentions
2. Buffalo: Nine Face Felony Charges in Bike Ride

1. Corporate Interests Pay NYPD to Kill Immigrants
2. NY Post Confirms: Dan Libeskind is Pretentious Geek!

1. Unions Support Alternative Energy


Thousands of Iraqi Muslims marched through Baghdad June 3, expressing rage over body searches of women in the capital and threatening violent resistance unless US troops withdraw from the country. "We advise you to leave our country or you will make enemies out of us," said Shi'ite cleric Muaaed al-Khazraji in a speech through a bullhorn. "Please go home and we will be very grateful because you got rid of Saddam." The protesters marched from a large mosque to the headquarters of the US-led administration chanting: "Down, down America! Down, down Saddam! Yes, yes for an Islamic state." Some threatened to chop off the hands of any soldier who tried to search an Iraqi woman. Searches are common at checkpoints in the city. "It is unacceptable in Islam that a man searches the body of a woman," cleric Ali Baghdadi said. "The American troops are doing that to our women." One banner read "Saddam and America are two faces of the same coin."

Demonstrators also protested the detention of Jasim al-Saadi, a Shi'ite cleric who was arrested two days earlier by US troops, and released the day of the protest. They also decried US moves to disarm Iraqis. "We need these weapons to defend our country against the Americans and any other occupier," said one protester. (Reuters, June 3)

In response to the growing wave of protests, the occupation authority warned it would enforce a ban on incitement--even in mosques. One spokesman for the US-led administration told AFP on condition of anonymity: "This applies to the territory of Iraq. We respect religious sites...but if we hear that there are groups who are using and abusing religious establishments such as mosques to incite religious or ethnic violence we would consider taking action."

On Thursday, a US soldier was killed and five wounded in the city of Fallujah, a focus of anti-US resistance. It was the second deadly assault on US troops in Fallujah in nine days and came just hours after over 1,000 soldiers poured into the area to clamp down on violence against the US occupation forces. (AFP, June 5) The new troops in Fallujah are from the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade, which spearheaded the US advance into Baghdad in April. (NY Daily News, June 4)

Also that day, an influential tribal leader with ties to Saddam's regime was shot dead in the British-occupied southern city of Basra. Sheikh Ali Najm al-Saadun was killed near the Basra office of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the main Iraqi Shiite movement. Members of his tribe said they suspected the group's armed wing, the Badr Brigade, of being behind the murder. (AFP, June 5)

US occupation authorities announced June 1 that they will hand-pick up to 30 Iraqis to serve on an interim political council for the country, permanently suspending plans to convene an assembly of Iraqi opposition leaders originally planned to choose representatives and debate the shape of Iraq's new government. (Newsday, June 2)

The web site Iraq Body Count continues to monitor world press reports to arrive at a daily update of the total Iraqi civilian dead. Each incident is listed separately, noting the location, number dead, weaponry used and media source. At press time, the minimum estimate stands at 5,531 and the maximum at 7,203.

See also WW3 REPORT #88 [top]

President George W. Bush flew over Baghdad June 5 on his way home from Doha, Qatar, where he repeated his vow to find Saddam's banned weapons. "He's got a big country in which to hide them. Well, we'll look. We'll reveal the truth," he told cheering US troops.

Meanwhile, at the UN, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix argued for allowing his agency back into Iraq. "I do not want to question the integrity or the professionalism of the inspectors of the coalition, but anybody who functions under an army of occupation cannot have the same credibility as an independent inspector," Blix said after meeting with the UN Security Council.

And the man who headed South Africa's chemical and biological warfare program under the apartheid regime said he believes Saddam was hoodwinked by criminals who delivered containers full of sand instead of chemicals and failed to deliver purchased equipment. "We picked up orders and requests he was sending out all over the world for raw materials, but the sanctions were so tight on him that he was really hoodwinked by a lot of criminals," Wouter Basson told the Pretoria Press Club. "Ingredients, chemicals, constituents and electronics that he ordered and paid for never cropped up. There were containers full of sand offloaded, and I think ultimately they just gave up and realized under their circumstances it is not going to work for them." (AFP, June 5)

Even in the US mainstream media, there is a sense that Bush's case that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is quickly unraveling. Sen. John Warner (R-VA), a supporter of the war, is publicly urging the Pentagon to declassify a September 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report which apparently found that Saddam "probably" had WMD, but failed to determine what or where they were. DIA chief Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby admitted to reporters: "We could not reliably pin down...specific facilities, location or production that was underway." (Newsday, June 8) At the behest of Congress, the CIA has launched a special inquiry into claims that a little-known but influential Pentagon agency, the Office of Special Plans (OSP), distorted findings on Iraq to support the war drive. "This is scandal," said former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vince Cannistrano. "A lot of policy judgements [that led to the invasion] were based on fraudulent information" that flowed from the OSP. (Newsday, June 4) At a Pentagon briefing, undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith rebutted what he called "goulash of inaccuracies" in accounts of pressure on Pentagon and CIA officials to slant their findings on Iraq. (Reuters, June 5)

See WW3 REPORT #87

Meanwhile, lest they go down the Orwellian Memory Hole, CounterPunch cyber-newsletter has assembled a slew of pre-war statements from administration officials assuring us that Saddam did, indeed, posses WMD--and then increasingly equivocal post-war statements as the search came up cold:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

Vice President Dick Cheney, August 26, 2002

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons."

George W. Bush, September 12, 2002

"If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, December 2, 2002

"We know for a fact that there are weapons there."

Ari Fleischer, January 9, 2003

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent."

George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more."

Secretary of State Colin Powell, February 5, 2003

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons--the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have."

George Bush, February 8, 2003

"So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? I think our judgment has to be clearly not."

Colin Powell, March 8, 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

George Bush, March 17, 2003

"Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly... [A]ll this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes."

Ari Fleisher, March 21, 2003

"There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them."

Gen. Tommy Franks, March 22, 2003

"I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction."

Kenneth Adelman, Defense Policy Board, March 23, 2003

"One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites."

Pentagon Spokesperson Victoria Clark, March 22, 2003

"We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003

"Obviously the administration intends to publicize all the weapons of mass destruction U.S. forces find--and there will be plenty."

Neocon scholar Robert Kagan, April 9, 2003

"I think you have always heard, and you continue to hear from officials, a measure of high confidence that, indeed, the weapons of mass destruction will be found."

Ari Fleischer, April 10, 2003

"We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them."

George Bush, April 24, 2003

"There are people who in large measure have information that we that we can track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country."

Donald Rumsfeld, April 25, 2003

"We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so."

George Bush, May 3, 2003

"I am confident that we will find evidence that makes it clear he had weapons of mass destruction."

Colin Powell, May 4, 2003

"I never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country."

Donald Rumsfeld, May 4, 2003

"I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein--because he had a weapons program."

George W. Bush, May 6, 2003

"US officials never expected that "we were going to open garages and find" weapons of mass destruction."

Condoleeza Rice, May 12, 2003

"I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago--I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago--whether they were destroyed right before the war, [or] whether they're still hidden."

Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne, May 13, 2003

"Before the war, there's no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found."

Gen. Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, May 21, 2003

"Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction."

Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, May 26, 2003

"They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer."

Donald Rumsfeld, May 27, 2003

"For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction [as justification for invading Iraq] because it was the one reason everyone could agree on."

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, May 28, 2003


More examples are provided by John W. Dean, the Watergate figure and former counsel to President Richard Nixon, writing in the June 6 on-line edition of FindLaw's Legal Commentary in a piece entitled "Missing Weapons Of Mass Destruction : Is Lying About The Reason For War An Impeachable Offense?" In addition to those cited by Counterpunch, Dean dredges up this gem:

"The Iraqi regime...possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.... We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas... We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We're concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States... The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. Saddam Hussein has held numerous meetings with Iraqi nuclear scientists, a group he calls his 'nuclear mujahedeen'--his nuclear holy warriors. Satellite photographs reveal that Iraq is rebuilding facilities at sites that have been part of its nuclear program in the past. Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

George W. Bush, Cincinnati speech, October 7, 2002

Writes Dean:

"Presidential statements, particularly on matters of national security, are held to an expectation of the highest standard of truthfulness. A president cannot stretch, twist or distort facts and get away with it. President Lyndon Johnson's distortions of the truth about Vietnam forced him to stand down from reelection. President Richard Nixon's false statements about Watergate forced his resignation... Clearly, the story of the missing WMDs is far from over. And it is too early, of course, to draw conclusions. But it is not too early to explore the relevant issues...

"To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be 'a high crime' under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony 'to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.' It's important to recall that when Richard Nixon resigned, he was about to be impeached by the House of Representatives for misusing the CIA and FBI. After Watergate, all presidents are on notice that manipulating or misusing any agency of the executive branch improperly is a serious abuse of presidential power. Nixon claimed that his misuses of the federal agencies for his political purposes were in the interest of national security. The same kind of thinking might lead a President to manipulate and misuse national security agencies or their intelligence to create a phony reason to lead the nation into a politically desirable war. Let us hope that is not the case." [top]

US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore over the weekend, was asked why nuclear-capable North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq. His reply: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

(UK Guardian, June 4) [top]

The British government has dashed the hopes of Saddam's two widowed daughters, who sought asylum in the industrial north of England through a cousin who settled there over two years ago. "We will not be considering a claim for asylum of Saddam's daughters or wives, or any members of his family, who may have been involved in human rights abuses," said a spokesman for Prime Minister Tony Blair said. (AFP, June 5)

See also WW3 REPORT #86 [top]


The Palestinian Authority plans to rebuild its police force with the assistance of the US and Europe, according Palestinian Ministry of Interior sources. A new uniformed police force, the Central Security Forces, trained to deal with riots and other violence, is said to be in the works. Ministry sources told UPI that new police programs and equipment will be used "to implement the security part in the 'road map' peace plan."

The news came one day after a peace summit in Aqaba, Jordan, where Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reached agreements brokered by US President George W. Bush. As the first tentative steps on the "road map" set out by Bush, Abbas promised to crack down on attacks on Israelis and Sharon said some Israeli outposts in the Occupied Territories would be dismantled. The two also agreed to hold two more meetings--one security and the other political concerns. PA security minister Mohamed Dahlan and Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz plan to meet for the former next week. Abbas and other PA political leaders will meet again with Sharon for the latter.

Despite the talks, the Palestinian National Resistance Brigades, armed wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), vowed to continue "armed resistance." The DFLP, a left-wing faction in the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a leaflet that "as long as there is Israeli military occupation, our legal resistance will continue." The group warned against any attempt to confiscate guns and disarm Palestinian militant groups, insisting that "the gun we have is legal, and it is used to fight military occupation." The statement further warned: "Sharon's conditions and pressures on the Palestinian side during the Aqaba summit means that he is insisting on continuing the occupation and settlements and turning the 'road map' into a Sharonic map."

Leaders of the militant Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also denounced Abbas for saying the intifada should be demilitarized. On June 5, in the midst of the Aqaba summit, Israeli soldiers killed two Hamas militants in an exchange of gunfire north of the West Bank town of Tulkarm . (UPI, June 5) [top]

At a meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an international forum on non-proliferation, held late last month in Pusan, South Korea, the Russian representative presented a report on Israel's nuclear arsenal, and demanded that the matter be addressed. This demand came as the US was demanding an end to nuclear cooperation between Russia and Iran. The Russian representative declared that Israel represents a greater threat to the Middle East than Iran. Meanwhile, US undersecretary of state for arms control John Bolton will be traveling to Israel next week to discuss US efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program. (Ha'aretz, June 5) [top]


In renewed fighting, Afghan government troops killed 40 supposed Taliban fighters in three southern border villages near Spinbaldak. The violence comes days after a new US offensive, including air-strikes in Paktia province, also near the Pakistan border. Numerous arrests of local residents by US troops were reported, but little resistance. (NYT, June 6)

Ironically, as the US is attempting to purge Taliban remnants from Afghanistan, a pro-Taliban provincial government has come to power just across the border in US ally Pakistan's autonomous tribal region, the North West Frontier Province. The provincial government approved legislation instating harsh Islamic shariah law for the region. A hardline provincial government gained power in October elections on an anti-US platform. (AP, June 3)

See also WW3 REPORT #85 [top]

Peacekeepers in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, say they will step up security precautions following a bus bombing that killed four German soldiers and wounded 29 others--including a 17-yeard-old Afghan boy. The blast occurred when a man driving a yellow taxi pulled up beside a bus carrying 33 troops and detonated up to 1,110 pounds of explosives. Said German Lt. Col. Thomas Lobbering, spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF): "Let's make it absolutely clear that ISAF is here in Kabul because the situation is not yet stable and not yet 100 percent safe." Lobbering admitted the ISAF leadership had known for months that suicide car bombers might strike in the capital. "There is no single day without warnings and we take each and every warning very seriously." Nobody took responsibility for the blast, but ISAF blamed Taliban remnant forces. (AP, June 8) [top]


With Evian, France, cite of last weekend's G8 summit, strictly off limits to protesters, anti-war and anti-globalization activists gathered in numerous surrounding cities in France and Switzerland. In Geneva and Lausanne, protesters mixed it up with riot police, and presumed anarchist factions looted gas stations. Police arrested 440 in Lausanne. (NYT, June 2)

One British activist who fell 65 feet from a motorway bridge during the protests intends to bring criminal charges against the Swiss police officer he blames for his fall. Martin Shaw, 39, from west London, was hanging from a rope during a blockade of the bridge over the river Aubonne, near Lausanne, when the officer cut the rope. He fell into the shallow rock-strewn river, fracturing two vertebrae and his pelvis, and shattering his left ankle and foot. Speaking from a hospital in Lausanne, Shaw said: "The plan was to create a non-violent road blockade, but that goes on the assumption that the police and their governments care more about human life than traffic. There seems to be a desire from the Swiss government to forget about this whole event. No charges have been brought against the police who cut the rope or those who set up the operation, but we are working to mount a legal case against the police and the Swiss government." (UK Guardian, June 9)

See also WW3 REPORT #88 [top]


French troops, deployed with UN approval, met with a cheering reception in the eastern Congo town of Bunia. Hundreds have been killed in the violent attacks of the past few weeks, and this first EU peacekeeping force to be deployed outside Europe is charged with protecting civilians and providing security. A BBC correspondent reports that the presence of foreign troops may diminish the violence in city of Bunia, which is contested by Hema and Lendu tribal militias, but worries that the massacres will continue in the surrounding countryside. (BBC, June 6)

Troops from special units of the French army, navy and air force took up defensive positions around the perimeter of Bunia airport, which will serve as their base. France is providing 1,000 troops and force commander, Gen. Jean-Paul Thonier. The composition of the remainder of the force--which will not operate under UN command--has not yet been confirmed but it is expected to include troops from Canada, South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria and Pakistan . (AP, June 6)

Meanwhile, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) central government in Kinshasa is blaming the massacres in the east on Uganda. DRC Information Minister Kikaya bin Karubi told Uganda's The Monitor daily that it was Uganda's army that created the violent divisions in Congo's eastern Ituri region. "All these warlords in Ituri were created by Uganda. The blame for the massacres squarely lies on Uganda and Rwanda," Karubi said.

Karubi was reacting to charges that Congolese government troops were involved in the recent massacre in Tchiomia near the Ugandan border, in which some 300 ethnic Hema were apparently killed. Chief Kawa Mandro, leader of the Hema ethnic group, made the allegation, Karubi angrily rejected. "That's totally false. The [Kinshasa] government does not have any troops in that part of the country," Karubi said.

Uganda maintains that it has pulled all its forces out of Congo. Said Uganda's Minister of State for Defense Ruth Nankabirwa: "The Congolese themselves are responsible for their own deaths." Over 1,000 Hema are believed to have been killed since April by Lendu tribal militias. (The Monitor, Kampala, June 5)

See also WW3 REPORT #86

(Wynde Priddy and Bill Weinberg) [top]

A six-member Judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed by Uganda's government to investigate illegal resource exploitation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also highlights Uganda's pivotal role in promoting international arms traffickers. The Commission, led by Justice David Porter, a British expatriate judge, showed how the arms trafficking operations of one Victor Bout, described in the report as "transnational criminal," are supported by Ugandan government institutions. The report said Bout has registered seven airlines with Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to facilitate his Congo smuggling operations.

The report also noted the findings of a recent UN probe that established a link between foreign-owned coltan mining companies in eastern Congo and illegal arms imports in the region. The report found that arrangements between mining operations and militia leaders allowed arms to be bartered for mining concessions, or, in some cases, direct payments to militia leaders funded arms purchases. A web of firms and joint ventures, many based in Eastern Europe, facilitate both arms imports and coltan exports. (African Church Information Service, June 2)

Mined by semi-outlaw operations, the coltan is sold to Western corporations for use in cellular telephones. Rights groups in Europe have launched a "No blood on my cell phone" campaign to lobby for an embargo on so-called "blood coltan." A BBC report last year found that allegations that coltan production is fuelling war in eastern Congo infuriated both the rebels who control the region and their Rwandan [and Ugandan] backers. They also baffled the men on the ground in the coltan business, who are too preoccupied with survival. "It's our only way of making a living," said an intermediary who buys coltan from small-scale miners and brings it back to the Rwandan border town of Goma to sell. "There's nothing else to do here." Locals also dismissed concerns about child labor in the mines, pointing out that if children were not mining coltan they would be working in the fields . (BBC, Aug 1, 2001)

In a new paper on the Congo conflict, award-winning investigative journalist Keith Harmon Snow connects the dots between the Congo coltan mines and the corridors of power. After the 1996 revolution that overthrew the long dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire (now DRC), US-supported Rwanda and Uganda started grooming proxy guerilla forces in eastern Congo to fight the new revolutionary regime of Laurent Kabila (since assassinated, and whose son now rules). Meanwhile, figures close to the White House and global aid programs for Central Africa indirectly profited from the blood coltan:

"Some 80% of world supplies of cobalt and columbo-tantalite (coltan) are found in DRC. Coltan is essential for cell phones, Sony Playstations and computers. During the US proxy wars in Central Africa in the 1990's, Sony America's now Executive Vice-President and General Counsel Nicole Seligman was legal counselor to President William Jefferson Clinton (through the Washington DC firm Williams and Connally, LLP). During his media banking stint with First Boston, one of the major backers of profit-based 'humanitarian relief' efforts in Zaire in 1995, Sony Corporation Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer Robert Wiesenthal counted Cox Communications, Time Warner and the New York Times as major clients."

( [top]

In a brewing international dispute, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are at odds over access to offshore oil. DRC, which produces relatively little oil--largely due to years of internal warfare--told Reuters that a border dispute between the two countries is depriving it of as much as 200,000 barrels a day. DRC accuses Angola of blocking its access to deepwater offshore deposits. Angola, in turn, insists it has sent technical experts to DRC to reach a solution. DRC's oil industry is still small, with just some 25,000 barrels a day are retrieved offshore, in collaboration with Total SA and ChevronTexaco. Angola, meanwhile, is rapidly becoming one of Africa's oil powerhouses. Its current 900,000 barrel a day production is expected to double in the next five years, and oil majors are eagerly prospecting off the Angolan coast. The income from the trade is sufficient to have triggered rows with the International Monetary Fund, which has accused senior officials of skimming as much as a billion dollars a year from oil revenues. But while Angola has a long coastline, nearly-landlocked DRC only touches the Atlantic for 22 kilometers. The potential inland reserves are in the war-torn eastern province of Ituri. (BBC, May 26) [top]

Doug Brooks, president of International Peace Operations Association, "a non-profit that promotes the use of private firms in international peacekeeping," wrote in the Washington Post June 3: "A number of for-profit companies with years of experience in peace operations have been formed into a consortium and are prepared to fill the vacuum in Congo. In recent years international peace operations have increasingly relied on the private sector to provide essential services. .. This private consortium is offering the most comprehensive package yet assembled to assist UN peacekeeping. The consortium would operate under the UN commander and would bring the means and motivation to carry out the full mandate by providing key services to fill the gaps in the Congo unit's capabilities: high-tech aerial surveillance and armed rapid deployment police (including nearly 500 former British Gurkhas from Nepal) who could bring years of peacekeeping experience and NATO-level professionalism... Another firm would give Congolese gendarmes police and human rights training... The private consortium would be a 'force multiplier,' making the UN operation much more effective for a fraction of the cost of its current budget. This private sector option could even be a model for improved peace operations in the future."

While failing to name any members of the intervention consortium, Brooks did assure the reader that they are doing God's work and that continued reliance on outmoded public-sector operations is nothing short of criminal: "Plans for reforming UN peacekeeping are at least a decade from fruition. Until then, the status quo is a death sentence for millions." [top]

Rebel troops entered the presidency in Mauritania's capital June 8, after officers loyal to President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya fled during a coup attempt. Al-Jazeera TV reported clashes with tank cannon-fire around the presidential palace, in Nouakchott, capital of Mauritania, an Arab-dominated country in North Africa. The fighting follows a crackdown on Islamic extremists by the President Ould Taya, whose whereabouts were not immediately known. The state-run news agency in neighboring Morocco said relative calm returned after about two hours of fighting. A government official who spoke to al-Jazeera by phone acknowledged that rebels held some places in the city, but insisted they were not strategic points. A one-time friend of Saddam Hussein, Ould Taya had a bitter falling out with the Iraqi dictator, and sought improved relations with Israel. Mauritania is one of only three Arab nations to hold diplomatic relations with Israel. Ould Taya himself came to power in a 1984 military coup. He was confirmed president in 1997 elections that were widely viewed as fraudulent. (The Mercury, South Africa, June 9) [top]


On May 29, Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, Organization of American States secretary-general Cesar Gaviria and leaders of Venezuela's opposition parties signed an accord agreeing to a referendum on the presidency of Hugo Chavez, a left-populist who the opposition has been trying to force from power through strikes and protests for months. Although the accord is the result of over six months of negotiations, it essentially just confirms provisions in Article 72 of the 1999 constitution providing for a recall referendum halfway through a president's six-year term if 20% of the voters demand it. In Chavez's case, this would come after Aug. 19.

There was some concern that the agreement might be delayed by a May 24 clash that left one Chavez supporter dead. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan government approved safe conduct for two dissident military officers who have been granted asylum in the Dominican Republic. Army captains Alfredo and Arturo Salazar reportedly took Chavez into custody during the April 2002 coup attempt. (Miami Herald, May 28, 30)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #74 [top]

Two Venezuelan campesino leaders were killed May 15 in Sucre de Barinas municipality in western Barinas state in a struggle with landowners and their hired armed thugs, according to Jose Tapia, state coordinator for the Ezequiel Zamora Campesino Front. The murders were tied to efforts by large landowners to resist government plans for a handover of land to campesinos in Barinas in July under the 2001 Lands Law, a controversial agrarian reform measure promulgated by President Hugo Chavez. The Ezequiel Zamora National Agrarian Coordinating Committee reports that over 600,000 hectares have been redistributed nationally by Chavez, and the number may reach 1.5 million by the end of the year. Jorge Fernandez, general secretary of the Campesino Federation of Zulia State, reports that 120 campesinos have been murdered in Venezuela since 1999 for defending their right to land. Fifteen of the deaths were in Zulia, a western state bordering Colombia. (Indymedia Colombia, May 22)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 1) [top]

Tirso Velez, a Colombian former federal lawmaker known nationally for his human rights advocacy, was assassinated June 4 in Cucuta, capital of Norte de Santander department. Presumed paramilitary troops Velez with bullets from a motorcycle and small truck as he was walking to his car with his wife, who sustained critical injuries. Vélez, 48, was a former columnist of the Cúcuta daily La Opinión, a former mayor of nearby Tibú and the leader of a 1993 campaign that gathered 100,000 signatures on a petition demanding peace. He was also a Norte de Santander gubernatorial candidate at the time of the assassination. Authorities had refused to provide him with bodyguards despite repeated threats on his life. (El Colombiano, June 5; El Espectador, June, 6; El Tiempo, June 5,6)

(From Colombia Week, June 8)

Velez was the second prominent peace activists to die a violent death in recent weeks. On May 5, troops from Colombia's new Rapid Deployment Force descended by rope from eight Blackhawk helicopters into a guerilla camp at Murindo, Antioquia department, where the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) were holding hostages and captured soldiers. Rebels killed 10 of the 13 captives, and escaped. Among the killed was Antioquia governor Guillermos Gaviria, a nonviolence proponent who was kidnapped by the FARC while leading a peace march in April 2002. Also killed was Gaviria's peace advisor, former defense minister Gilberto Echeverri, who was kidnapped with him at the march. The operation was led by US-trained counterinsurgency specialists Col. Sergio Mantilla Sanmiguel and Maj. Juan Manuel Padilla. Armed Forces chief Gen. Jorge Enrique Mora insisted "there were no errors in the operation." Waving white handkerchiefs to represent peace, thousands took part in a funeral march for Gaviria in Medellin May 8. (Combined wire reports and Semana, Colombia, May 11)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 11)

See also WW3 REPORT #42 [top]

Two years after the accidental downing of a US missionary plane in Peru, the White House says it's ready to renew the suspended program of assisting Colombia in targeting suspected drug-trafficking aircraft. Within "the next couple of weeks," officials will be briefing Congress on renewing the program, State Department official Paul Simons said June 3 at a Senate hearing. But some watchdog groups and lawmakers, including Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH), are unhappy that a private company--Arinc, of Annapolis, MD--will play a key role in the program. (Miami Herald, June 5)

(From Colombia Week, June 8) [top]

Despite an outcry from campesinos, environmentalists and human rights advocates, President Alvaro Uribe's government has accelerated aerial fumigation efforts against coca and opium crops and is proposing a fourth anti-narcotics base for the National Police. During the first five months of the year, according to newly-released official figuresy, the National Police fumigated 158,999 acres of illegal drug crops, equivalent to roughly half of the country's total acreage devoted to coca. The fumigation flights are launched from National Police bases equipped with helicopters and Air Tractor crop dusters in the departments of Narino, Guaviare and Putumayo. The US has spent over $2 billion on aid to Colombian security forces since 1996, with much of the funds going toward fumigating drug crops. The herbicide's main ingredient, glyphosate, is produced by St. Louis-based Monsanto and known in the US by the trade name Roundup.

Colombia still produces over 80% of the world's cocaine supply, according to the US government. And while a relatively small heroin producer on a global scale, Colombia is believed to the largest supplier of heroin to the US market. But the fumigation protest has come under harsh criticism. In a central valley known as the Middle Magdalena, fumigation raids since May 24 have killed livestock, ruined food crops and contaminated the water supply of 100 families, according to the Cimitarra River Valley Campesino Association. On May 13, some 300 Amazonian indigenous communities lost a Constitutional Court case that sought to halt fumigation in their region. In southern Putumayo department, the 128 indigenous governing councils issued a plea last July to the government and the international community to halt the fumigation. Ecuador, additionally, is demanding that the Bogota government fulfill a promise to compensate Ecuadoran campesinos who have lost crops due to the spraying in neighboring Putumayo. (El Espectador, May 19; El Tiempo, March 25; Presidencia de Colombia, May 28; Reuters, May 29)

(From Colombia Week, June 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 54 & 46 [top]

Colombian military authorities admit that elite army troops who discovered millions of dollars in guerrilla cash went on a spending binge and never reported the find. The members of the army's Sixth Mobile Brigade found the money April 18 in a Caqueta department jungle hideout believed to have been used by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). After the soldiers disvocered the cash, buried in a minefield, they apparently divided it according to rank. Many emptied their field packs to make room for it. The find came to light only after they bought luxury cars, TVs and refrigerators and partied for days. Merchants, bars and brothels in the southern city of Popayan, where the unit was deployed after finding the money, reported a surge in business. Large numbers of the troops also asked to retire or simply deserted. Some 40 officers and soldiers in the unit have been arrested, but over 100 others remain missing. (El Tiempo, May 17; AP, May 19; BBC, May 20)

(From Colombia Week, May 25) [top]

President Alvaro Uribe's militarization of oil-rich northeastern Arauca department has failed, the government's top legal and human rights officials have declared. Instead of reducing violence in the region, where Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum pumps 100,000 barrels a day, the increased military presence has only heightened conflict, the officials protested. Colombian Inspector General Edgardo Maya and government Human Rights Ombudsperson Eduardo Cifuentes on May 19 delivered a report that called Uribe's plan for the region a "failed experiment." Deaths and political attacks have soared in the zone, which spans three northern municipalities of Arauca. Guerrillas and paramilitary groups continue to threaten public officials, and human rights groups are swamped with complaints of police and military abuse. US Special Forces troops training Colombian soldiers to protect Occidental's operations never leave their base for fear of attack. Only one journalist continues to work in the area; the rest fled following death threats. There have been 13 bombing attacks this year alone in Saravena, a town in the militarization zone. Another town, Arauquita, has suffered eight attacks this year. And police have arrested only 69 suspected rebels and seized 17 arms since the zone was declared. (El Espectador, LAT, May 20; AP, Reuters, May 19)

(From Colombia Week, May 25)

See also WW3 REPORT #70 [top]

On April 29, Colombia's Constitutional Court announced it had overturned a state of emergency declared by President Alvaro Uribe last Augst. The "state of internal commotion" allowed Uribe to create special war zones where the military could conduct searches and arrests without warrants. Uribe's government said it accepted the ruling for now but would seek legislation to make the emergency provisions permanent. (Reuters, April 30)

( Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 4)

See also WW3 REPORT #46 [top]

The U.N. special envoy for Colombia sparked controversy when he told a newspaper he believes some members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) are motivated by ideology, not greed. Veteran New York Times Latin America correspondent James LeMoyne, interviewed by the Bogota daily El Tiempo, said he thinks that some FARC followers are sincere about improving life for Colombia's poor. He said it is "a mistake to think that the FARC members are only drug traffickers and terrorists."

LeMoyne also reproached Colombia's elite for not giving up enough in the 39-year-old war. "I have two questions for the upper class of this country," said LeMoyne said in the interview. "First, are your sons, nephews or grandsons in the army? ...Who makes the sacrifices in this country when there is combat?" LeMoyne's second question was whether the rich pay enough taxes in a country where 64% of the 44 million inhabitants live in poverty. The remarks infuriated many officials and business leaders. Defense Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez accused LeMoyne of "defending the interests of terrorists." U.S. Army Gen. James Hill, chief of the Southern Command, wrote the Miami Herald earlier this year that the guerrillas are fighting for drug profits, not ideology.

President Alvaro Uribe has asked the UN to mediate talks with the FARC if the rebels agree to a ceasefire, and LeMoyne said May 10 he would help renew negotiations with the FARC. But LeMoyne has ruled out brokering talks between the government and the country's largest right-wing paramilitary group, the United Colombian Self-Defense (AUC). "Our help is extended to parties that have communication problems," LeMoyne said in a May 18 interview in the Bogota weekly El Espectador. "The government doesn't seem to have a big problem talking with the paramilitaries." (AP, May 19, 20; El Espectador, May 22; El Tiempo, May 18)

(From Colombia Week, May 25) [top]

Representatives of 19 Latin American and Caribbean nations petitioned U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to press the FARC and Colombia's other guerrilla movements to "sign a ceasefire and enter an open and transparent dialogue for peace" with the Bogota government. The declaration was among agreements at a May 23-4 summit in Cusco, Peru, attended by 11 presidents, who met as the Rio Group. Colombia's Alvaro Uribe predicted dire consequences if the FARC, the hemisphere's largest guerrilla army, didn't cooperate. "All countries could help Colombia defeat terrorism militarily," he said May 23. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez backed the declaration with reservations, warning of a potential threat to sovereignty: "It opens the door to something much more serious than a war: [foreign] intervention."

The foreign military role in Colombia is already significant, due to billions of dollars of U.S. aid in recent years. Congress has capped the number of U.S. troops and U.S.-contracted civilians in Colombia at 800. But many observers estimate the number of U.S. personnel in the country exceeds 1,000. The US also stations troops in nearby Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru and the Dutch Antilles.

The summit's top agenda was the "Cusco Consensus," a document committing the nations to fight poverty and political corruption and to cooperate for regional peace. Meanwhile, G8 foreign ministers meeting in Evian, France, adopted a statement backing Uribe's "policy of firmness towards illegal armed groups." (AP, AFP, Reuters, May 24)

(From Colombia Week, June 1) [top]

A FARC guerilla accused of participating in the 1999 killing of three U.S. citizens was extradited to the US, marking the first time Colombia has turned over a guerrilla to the Washington. Nelson Vargas Rueda, 33, could face the death penalty. But some Colombian and U.S. legal authorities call the evidence against him weak. Vargas Rueda was shown on TV surrounded by dozens of Colombian police officers as he was led away handcuffed from a maximum security prison. Police helicopters transported him to Bogota's international airport and from there the FBI flew him to the US in a chartered plane. He allegedly was part of a FARC unit that kidnapped and executed Ingrid Washinawatok, Laheenae Gay and Terence Freitas while the three were working with the Uwa Indians, who were then waging a campaign against Occidental Petroleum's plans to drill for oil on their traditional lands. The killings led the US to withdraw support from peace talks between the FARC and the government. The talks collapsed in February 2002.

Vargas Rueda is the only guerrilla fighter in custody linked to the crime. According to an April 2002 brief obtained by Reuters, the Colombian inspector general's office attempted to convince the nation's public prosecutor to drop murder charges against him. "Testimonies accusing him are contradictory, confusing, incomplete or full of lies, and there is no further proof sustaining any accusation against him," wrote the inspector general.

Vargas Rueda's girlfriend, Yolanda Cortes, told Reuters he had been set up by a rival for her affections. Court documents show the rival identified him to police as "El Marrano" (The Pig), a FARC commander believed to have ordered the killings. But Vargas Rueda's fingerprints reportedly do not match those of the fugitive commander. Three rebel defectors did link Vargas Rueda to the FARC, and he has been convicted of rebellion. According to the inspector general, only one of the deserters clearly linked Vargas Rueda to the killings, while another contradicted the accusation. In prison, Vargas Rueda had part of his leg amputated after being shot. And after speaking out on his behalf on television, his brother-in-law was found dead along a highway, riddled with bullets.

On April 30, 2002, a US grand jury in Washington DC indicted Vargas Rueda and five other FARC members for the killings. All six were charged with three counts of murder and other crimes. That same day, Freitas' family issued a statement opposing the indictments and criticizing the administration for its "cynical and exploitative use of Terence's murder to justify further U.S. military aid to the Colombian armed forces."

Jacques Semmelman, former assistant US attorney in New York's Eastern District, told Reuters that witnesses alone would not convince a US jury to convict Vargas Rueda on the murder counts. The prosecution would need independent corroborative evidence, said Semmelman, a specialist in extradition cases.

The extradition underscores Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's status as one of Washington's closest South American allies. During former President Andres Pastrana's term, 51 Colombians were extradited to the US, mostly on drug trafficking charges. In Uribe's first 10 months in office, 43 Colombians have been sent to the US to face charges.

The FARC has killed at least 13 US citizens since 1980 and kidnapped over 100 others, according to US officials have said. In addition, three US missionaries abducted by the group in 1993 are believed to have been executed. But most of the war's roughly 3,500 annual deaths are the work of right-wing paramilitary groups supported by elements of Colombia's official security forces. (AFP, May 8; AP, May 7, 28, April 17; BBC, May 29; Reuters, May 28; El Espectador, May 29; El Tiempo, May 28; Indian Country Today, Feb. 19)

( Colombia Week, June 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #42 [top]

April 18 two FARC gunmen arrived at home of Augusto Lana Domico, governor of the indigenous Embera Katio community of Porremia, who was at home with his wife and seven children. He was forced to march out of his home at gunpoint, and murdered a few meters away. FARC gunmen also arrived at a community party in nearby Doza and asked for several Embera leaders by name. Unable to find them, the gunmen contented themselves with searching the leaders' homes, menacing their families and stealing their property. In a communique reporting the murder of Lana, the Embera Katio leaders of the Sinu and Verde rivers "demand that the different armed groups respect the livea and integrity of our leaders and other members of our people." They said their leaders are being threatened "because they defend our position of non-involvement in the conflict [and] work for our autonomy, culture and territory." (Indymedia Colombia, April 22)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 4)

On May 13, a group of 327 Guahibo Indians peacefully occupied a church in the town of Saravena, Arauca department, to demand that the government guarantee their safety and allow them to return home. The group was forced to flee their reservation in Betoyes, Tame municipality, on May 5, when gunmen wearing armbands of the AUC massacred four Indians and raped four adolescent girls--including a pregnant girl who was also among the killed. Witnesses say the gunmen--identified by survivors as National Army troops--cut up the unborn baby and threw both mutilated corpses into the river. (Consejo Regional Indigena de Arauca, May 14)

Another group of 250 displaced campesinos seized the road linking Saravena to Tame, also demanding government guarantees of their safe return to their villages. (Comite Regional de Derechos Humanos "Joel Sierra", May 17)

The Association of Indigenous Leader and Authorities of Arauca accuses members of the army's Navas Pardo Battalion, led by Lt. Col. Alberto Padilla Torres, of repeatedly attacking communities in Betoyes. The battalion belongs to the National Army's 18th Brigade, headed by Gen. Carlos Omairo Lemus Pedraza. (Colombia Indymeia, May 15; Comite "Joel Sierra", May 16)

Lemus Pedraza graduated from the US Army School of the Americas "Small Unit Tactics" course in 1978, while a lieutenant. (SOA Watch List of Graduates)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 18) [top]

Colombia's main paramilitary federation attacked a splinter faction that refused to participate in peace talks with the government, the faction's leader said. The leader, a former army officer known as "Rodrigo," told AP that at least two fighters from his Metro Bloc faction were killed in combat with troops from Colombian United Self-Defense (AUC) in Montebello, a mountainous municipality east of Medellin.

The AUC began negotiations with the government in January after declaring a ceasefire. But the Metro Bloc refused to participate, saying they would disarm only after the leftist guerrilla groups did so. Rodrigo said AUC commander Carlos Castano had threatened to "annihilate" the 1,500-strong Metro Bloc, and that Castano had deployed 1,200 fighters to attack the faction.

The nation's paramilitary groups began forming in the 1980s with support from landowners, drug gangs and elements of the official military. By 1997, most paramilitary groups had joined the AUC. Since then, their ranks have tripled to about 13,000 nationwide. Killings of civilians by paramilitaries account for most of the 3,500 deaths each year in Colombia's war, according to human rights monitors. The pace has not slowed under the ceasefire, and members of Colombia's US-backed armed forces still support the paramilitaries, the monitors say. Most of the victims are campesinos in guerrilla strongholds. (AP, BBC, May 29)

(From Colombia Week, June 8) [top]

May 8 explosion at the Puerto Mallarino drinking water treatment plant in Cali killed two guards--both members of the local municipal water works union which has been engaged in a long struggle to halt privatization of the utility. Guards at another plant were shot at later that evening while several union leaders were at the plant investigating a power outage. In a May 9 statement, the union, SINTRAMECALI, flatly rejected charges that the murdered guards were involved in the explosion. (SINTRAMECALI statement, May 9)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 18) [top]

US officials say Washington is willing to discuss the possibility of a bilateral free trade deal with Colombia. Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as part of the process to confirm his nomination as the next US ambassador to Colombia, William Wood said that US trade representative Robert Zoellick will travel to the country this summer to discuss a trade pact. Chile, meanwhile, is set to sign a bilateral free trade pact with the US, marking the first permanent US trade deal with a Latin American country since NAFTA was sealed nearly a decade ago. (AP, May 5; Dow Jones, May 4)

(From Colombia Week, June 8) [top]

After months of speculation, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) has formally broken its ties with the government of President Lucio Gutierrez, who took office in January on a left-populist platform. CONAIE's assembly, meeting May 27 in Pujili, decided to ratify its independence and autonomy from the Gutierrez administration. CONAIE supported Gutierrez in the last phase of his presidential campaign, and its affiliated political organization Pachacutik has four members in his cabinet: Foreign Minister Nina Pacari, Agriculture Minister Luis Macas, deputy social welfare secretary Lourdes Tiban and deputy government secretary Virgilio Hernandez. But Gutierrez angered indigenous and grassroots supporters by instating price hikes of up to 39% in fuel, electricity and public transportation. CONAIE president Leonidas Iza said the break with Gutierrez makes it uncertain whether Pachacutik will remain CONAIE's political arm if the cabinet members to do step down. (La Hora, Quito; Pagina 12, Buenos Aires, May 28)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #69 [top]

On May 26, members of the Huaorani Indian community of Tiguino used shotguns provided by local logging operations to massacre 30 members of the Tagaeri (or Taegueri) tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon, according to Camilo Huamoni, vice president of the Organization of the Huaorani Nationality of the Ecuadorian Amazon (ONHAE). Huamoni said the loggers provided the Huaorani community with weapons and gifts, including gasoline, after attempting unsuccessfully to win Tagaeri cooperation in logging operations. The Huaorani also used wooden lances in the massacre. (Miami Herald; La Hora, Quito, May 30)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #86 [top]

On May 26, agricultural producers in Peru began a national open-ended strike, shutting down transport in most of the country by blocking highways and bridges. The strike, called by the 1.5 million-member Peru National Irrigation District Users Board (JNUDRP), whose president Jose Enrique Malaga warned that protests would intensify if the government does not reduce taxes on rice, corn and sugar.

The same day, 300,000 teachers entered the third week of a national strike which began May 12 to demand a wage increase. Hundreds of teachers marched to the Congress building in Lima, joined by striking court workers, who are also demanding wage increases. The following day, some 30,000 employees of the national healthcare and social security agency, EsSalud, also went on strike--and the Education Ministry announced that the teachers' strike had been declared illegal, and that any teacher who did not return to work would be fired. The Unitary Syndicate of Peruvian Education Workers (SUTEP) responded that the strike would continue. Late on May 27, President Alejandro Toledo declared a month-long state of emergency, under which the armed forces are authorized to help police clear roads and break protests. The measure suspends freedom of assembly and other rights, giving police authority to enter private homes and arrest strike leaders without warrants. "The country cannot be shut down," said Toledo. "Democracy without order and without authority is not democracy." The army has now mobilized 70% of its troops to suppress the strike. Reuters reported that the government cannot grant the wage increases without violating International Monetary Fund agreements on "fiscal discipline."

In the southeastern city of Puno May 28, students protesting the state of emergency seized the National University of the Altiplano. When police and army troops attempted to clear the university the next morning with tear gas and gunfire, student Edy Jhony Quilaca Cruz, 22, was shot in the stomach and killed. That same day, May 29, striking teachers clashed with navy troops in Chimbote, where a teacher suffered a head injury from a gas grenade. Teachers also clashed with army troops in Huancayo, where 17 were injured and 40 teachers arrested. Protesters were also injured by tear gas in Trujillo and Arequipa. In Lima, troops in full riot gear, backed up by three tanks, surrounded the Palace of Justice to prevent court workers from seizing it. In Pativilca, eight protesters were wounded when police opened fire on farmers blocking a bridge. Two--including a 12-year-old boy--were in critical condition. On May 30, thousands of Puno residents too part in a funeral march for Quilaca Cruz and to protest the repression. In a bid for calm, soldiers and police were ordered to stay off the streets. (Combined sources, including La Republica, Lima, May 27-30, Reuters, May 28)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 1)

Peru may also face new protests from coca-growers, who marched on Lima from their lands in the Alto Huallaga region in April. On April 23, following talks with President Toldeo, the cocaleros signed an agreement in which they agreed to suspend protests in exchange for changes to the existing coca leaf law. But when the changes were published two days later, the did not include all measures the government had agreed to. Marisela Guillen, a leader of the National Confederation of Agricultural Producers of the Cocalero Regions of Peru (CONPACCP), held a press conference in Lima April 29 blasting the changes as "benefitting only the non-governmental organizations" which administer alternative development programs. Cocaleros are also demanding the release of CONPACCP leader Nelson Palomino La Serna, arrested during protests in February. (La Republica, April 25; DRCNet, May 2)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 4)

See also WW3 REPORT #76 [top]

On May 31, under pressure from a hunger strike by opposition leaders, the Bolivian government called an emergency session of Congress to address land rights, agricultural subsidies and other issues. Ten congressional deputies began the hunger strike in three Bolivian cities on May 29, joined the following day by 35 more in six cities. The hunger strikers were from the Movement to Socialism headed by Aymara Indian and coca-grower leader Evo Morales, the New Republican Force (NFR) led by Manfred Reyes Villa, and Indigenous Pachacuti Movement (MIP) and even the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR), which is allied with the government of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. After the government's May 31 announcement, 29 indigenous deputies said they would continue the strike until the government approves construction of a university at El Alto. (Combined wire sources)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #74 [top]

With 12 Latin American heads of state in attendance, Nestor Kirchner, former governor of Santa Cruz state who ran on a populist platform, was sworn in as Argentina's president May 25. Kirchner took over from the last of four interim presidents appointed by Congress after the last elected president, Fernando de la Rua, was forced out of office by massive demonstrations following economic chaos in December 2001. Kirchner came in second in the April 27 elections, and won the presidency by default when former president Carlos Menem (1989-99) withdrew from a scheduled May 18 run-off. Although both Kirchner and Menem are from the same Justicialist Party ("Peronist"), Kirchner has worked hard to distance himself from Menem, who was a leading proponent of neoliberal economic policies. Kirchner moved quickly after the inauguration to make good his populist program--travelling to Entre Rios province to preside over the signing of an accord that ended a two-month teachers' strike, and reshuffling nearly 75% of the country's military leadership. Some 50 top commanders and generals were forced to retire--including army chief of staff Gen. Ricardo Brinzoni, accused of responsibility for the execution of 22 prisoners in 1976 during the military dictatorship. Of the heads of state attending the inauguration, the loudest ovations were for Brazil's left-populist President Luiz Ignacio ("Lula") de Silva, Venezuela's left-populist President Hugo Chavez and Cuba's long-ruling Fidel Castro. However, the White House signaled its disapproval of Kirchner's populism by sending a comparatively low-ranking official to the inauguration: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez, a Cuban-American. (Clarin, Buenos Aires, May 27, 29; Miami Herald, May 30)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 1) [top]


While corporate plans for a high-speed railway to dissect Nicaragua and form a "Dry Canal" are progressing slowly, another cross-country mega-project is steaming ahead. The Florida-based Phenix Group ( plans to begin building a 470-kilometer oil pipeline across Nicaragua by the end of this year despite opposition from the Caribbean coastal community of Monkey Point, which the pipeline would cut through. Monkey Point is made up of Black Creoles, mestizos and Rama Indians.

The proposed pipeline would share the same route as SIT-Global's proposed Dry Canal project, running from Monkey Point in the east to Corinto in the west. Under the Phenix project, oil tankers from South America would anchor two miles off Monkey Point and connect to oil-collecting buoys. The oil would then be transported via an underwater pipeline to a "marine terminal" that would be built in Monkey Point for storage. From this terminal, up to 480,000 barrels of oil would be pumped daily across Nicaragua through three underground pipelines, with the aid of six pumping stations, to the Pacific port of Corinto, where tankers would then transport it to markets on the US West Coast and in Asia. Funding for Phenixs $600 million project would come from Export Development Canada, two confidential organizations, and the World Bank. Phenix CEO Rick Wojcik says: "We're looking at long-term funding with the World Bank,we're in discussions with the World Bank,[and] we've been assigned a case officer from the World Bank."

If the SIT-Global railway project proceeds, Phenix's pipelines would be built within the fenced 600-meter-wide swath that SIT-Global plans to clear-cut across the country. Forested areas in the path of the projected pipeline include the Cerro Silva Natural Reserve. The pipeline would also sever the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, a World Bank project purportedly established to protect the rich biodiversity of Central America's rainforest. But Wojcik asserts, "We're not a clear-cutting timber company. [The project requires] only a couple hundred meters through the jungle."

Commencement of the pipeline project is contingent on a $2 million environmental study currently being conducted in conjunction with SIT-Global. Says Wojcik: "The World Bank will not support any project that will environmentally damage another country."

Wojcik claims that after promising that pipeline construction would adhere to environmental guidelines, Phenix received a letter from Monkey Point residents indicating their "full support" for construction of the pipeline and marine terminal in their community, signed by Pearl Watson, a Monkey Point nurse. But when asked by members of the Nicaragua Network, a US-based solidarity group, if she signed the letter, "Watson laughed, said she had never signed or seen such a letter, and declared the community's opposition to the proposed pipeline project."

Watson told the Nicaragua Network: "People [in Monkey Point] live on the fishing and producing of the land. What benefit will we get from losing our sea goods, losing our wildlife?" She also expressed concerns about oil spills in the area. "I don't care how much you take care; the oil will spill in the water." Finally, she fears that local residents will be stuck with the mess after the corporations move on. "In 25 or 30 years you won't have much forest around [and] after there is no more oil to pass through the pipeline, they [Phenix] are going to leave and the community will have no fish in their streams. We inherited this land from our ancestors, and if we destroy this land we will leave nothing for our children and grandchildren but barren land, from which they can produce nothing."

Under Nicaraguan law, the Monkey Point community is entitled to two legal measures that would strengthen their struggle against the pipeline, according to Maria Luisa Acosta, Nicaraguan indigenous rights lawyer. With the passage of the "Demarcation Law Regarding the Properties of the Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Communities of the Atlantic Coast, Bocay, Coco and Indio Maiz Rivers" last December, the Nicaraguan government officially recognized that Monkey Point and the surrounding lands belong to their indigenous and ethnic inhabitants. Under this law, Phenix is legally obligated to conduct formal consultations with Monkey Point community members and provide "full disclosure" before implementing development plans, according to Acosta. The recent law also grants Monkey Point community members the right to officially demarcate their ancestral land by applying to the Nicaraguan government for a legal title to their property. However, in order for Monkey Point members to apply for a legal title, the Nicaraguan government must promptly establish the planned National Commission for Demarcation of Indigenous Lands (CONADETI) to oversee and facilitate demarcation applications. Cesar Paiz, a representative of the planned demarcation commission, says: "We know that behind many of the worst [land rights] conflicts there are powerful business interests, seeking to exploit the lands inappropriately. It is important now to get organized and seek support to enable the law to be properly implemented."

(Ben Beachy for Nicaragua Monitor, May 2003)

For more on the Nicaragua Dry Canal plan

See also WW3 REPORT #s 86 & 60 [top]


On June 2 the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the internal oversight unit of the Department of Justice (DOJ), released its long-anticipated report on the detention of immigrants following the 9-11 attacks. The 239-page report by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine addresses the government's detention of 762 immigrants--most of Arab or South Asian descent--during the terrorism probe. None of the 762 were charged with terrorism-related crimes--yet many suffered physical abuse, were kept from contacting lawyers and family members, and languished in federal detention for months under an official "no bond policy." About 515 of them were eventually deported.

The OIG report implicates high-ranking political appointees and raises serious legal liability questions, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Its release was reportedly delayed for almost a year because of ongoing negotiations with the Attorney General's office over who would shoulder blame for the abuses, the ACLU says. (Washington Post, June 3; ACLU press release, June 2)

The inquiry focused on two facilities where most of the detainees were concentrated: the federal Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn and Passaic County jail in Paterson, NJ. At MDC, some detainees were held for months in cells illuminated 24 hours a day and were escorted in handcuffs, leg irons and waist chains. The OIG report found detainees had credible claims of having been slammed into walls and taunted by guards. Prosecutors declined to press criminal charges against any guards, citing lack of evidence, but the OIG is continuing to investigate and some individuals could face administrative sanctions. The report said investigations were hampered by the destruction of potential evidence--including hundreds of hours of videotape from MDC's Special Housing Unit. Fine asserted they were destroyed as part of a "general policy" to clear up space. "There's no indication they were trying to cover anything up," he said. (WP, June 2,3)

The report is expected to provide further fuel for a wave of lawsuits by former detainees. Time magazine reports that some DOJ staffers have been advised to hire lawyers. Those most likely to seek legal counsel are named as DOJ Criminal Division head Michael Chertoff, former assistant attorney general Viet Dinh and former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) chief James Ziglar. (Time, May 30)

The OIG report said Ziglar expressed concerns in October and November 2001 to senior FBI officials and a top aide to Attorney General John Ashcroft that the detainee process was not being managed properly. The report also cites a late-September 2001 memo from a DOJ attorney expressing concerns that the "overwhelming majority" of people being detained were "simple immigration violators...and had no connection to the terrorism investigation." (Los Angeles Times, June 3)

"We make no apologies for finding every legal way possible to protect the American public from further terrorist attacks," said DOJ spokesperson Barbara Comstock on June 2, responding to the report's release. (WP, June 3) "Those detained were illegal aliens," she said in a prepared statement. "They were all charged with criminal violations or civil violations of federal immigration law. Detention of illegal aliens is lawful. We detained illegal aliens until it was determined they were not involved in terrorist activity, did not have relevant knowledge of terrorist activity, or it was determined that their removal was appropriate." (LAT, June 3)

On June 5, in five hours of testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Ashcroft reiterated that his department's policy--"for which we do not apologize"--is to hold "illegal aliens" without access to bail or bond until they can be cleared of terrorist activities, and then deported. Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA) asked whether Ashcroft planned to further investigate any of the allegations included in the report about abuses by DOJ employees. Ashcroft responded that he had "no plan at this time" to do so. Ashcroft said investigations by the DOJ's civil rights division are pending in four of the 18 detainee abuse cases identified by the inspector general. He said there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges in the other 14 cases. (New York Times, June 5, 6; WP, June 6)

(From Immigration News Briefs, June 7) [top]

Nine people face felony charges in what police in Buffalo, NY, call a riot incited by bicyclists--but the cyclists say police were the instigators. The defendants--five men and four women--range in age from 19 to 49. Eight were part of a group of some 120 bicyclists who gathered outside City Hall May 30 for a monthly ride called Critical Mass. The group includes two professors--Michael Niman, who teaches journalism at Buffalo State College, and Heron Simmonds, an ethics teacher at Canisius College. One is Lesley Lannan, a woman with two children who stopped her car because she said police were beating a cyclist. All nine are also accused of a slew of charges, including resisting arrest, using obscenities, disorderly conduct and failing to obey the commands of police officers. Two are also charged with assaulting a police officer.

The bicyclists deny the accusations, claiming some of their group were beaten by police with nightsticks or heavy flashlights. "This was a police riot, not a bicycle riot," said their attorney, Mark J. Mahoney, after he examined dozens of photographs of the arrests taken by a half-dozen cyclists. "The police are the ones with the energy. They were the ones going into the crowd."

But Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Blankenberg, who also examined the photos, said they show his officers acted appropriately. "To me, it's bull----. If there was any aggressive action by the police, that would have been the grabber on the Web site. They have everything but." The photos are on line at:

The incident began when police started ticketing cyclists for blocking traffic on Elmwood Ave. Pictures taken by the bicyclists show newly arriving police officers wearing black gloves, holding batons and flashlights. After Simmonds was arrested, Niman said he followed at a distance, taking photographs. Niman said he told police he was a credentialed journalist, working for Buffalo's weekly Artvoice. "The last picture I took was of Heron Simmonds being led away by a police officer," Niman said. "Within a second or so, I was struck from behind."

Niman said he was clubbed, thrown to the ground, and said he felt someone stick something in his mouth to gag him. Police Officer Robert Johnson accused Niman of biting him on the right index finger and charged him with felony assault. Officer Daniel Horan, accused Jonathan Piret, 21, of kicking him in the chest and stomach and charged him with felony assault. The only non-cyclist charged with inciting a riot was Lannan, 49, who stopped her car as she was driving past and saw Niman being hit. "Officer, this is wrong," she said as she was being arrested. "I wasn't involved in this. I was just getting a damn pizza."

Niman explained misconceptions about Critical Mass in a June 2002 column in Artvoice: "Police often claim the cyclists are "blockading traffic.' This is...false. Critical Mass is not about bicyclists "blockading' anything. It's about cyclists becoming traffic and hence, lawfully filling the streets where they have a legal right to ride--a right that is often denied them by reckless aggressive ignorant automobile drivers." But Blankenberg said Niman and Critical Mass need to brush up on New York's Vehicle & Traffic Law. "The law is that no one rides more than two abreast, you stay to the right, and when overtaken by traffic, you must form a single file," Blankenberg said. Critical Mass riders have also been arrested in other cities, but this is the first time cyclists have been charged with inciting a riot.

( Buffalo News, June 5) [top]


Over 600 came out for the Harlem funeral of Ousmane Zongo, the unarmed West African immigrant who was gunned down by the NYPD in a botched raid on a CD pirating operation. It turned out that Zongo wasn't even involved in the pirating operation at the raised Chelsea warehouse, and was apparently shot in the back as he ran. Souleimane Konate, imam of Harlem's Aqsa mosque and a member of the city police-clergy liaison program, said: "Now when I see a policeman, I will be like this: 'Don't shoot me, my brother.' I am living in fear today." (Newsday, June 8)

The case has raised questions about corporate financing of the NYPD. The ten Staten Island Task Force officers conducting the raid in which Zongo was killed were backed up by as many private investigators from the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America who had been working with police in the case. Recording and film industry groups donate over $200,000 a year to fund NYPD initiatives aimed at stopping their merchandise from being pirated.

Vincent Henry, professor of criminal justice at Pace University, defended the practice, especially given the tight fiscal climate: "In this kind of environment, is it wrong for a company to donate money through the Police Foundation in order for a worthy law enforcement goal to be accomplished?" (Newsday, June 2)

See also WW3 REPORT #88 [top]

The New York Post has found irrefutable proof of what most New Yorkers already knew: designated Ground Zero redevelopment architect Daniel Libeskind is a pretentious geek. The tabloid's June 4 "Page Six" gossip page (which inexplicably appears on page 10) unearthed a book of Libeskind's so-called "poetry," full (The Post writes) of "10-dollar words and deliberately obscure references to radishes, bodily functions and genitalia." Here are a few choice samples from Libeskind's "Fishing from the Pavement" (Netherlands Architecture Institue, 1997):

"The island's hysteria, language, is tied to the wanton burning of wealth. America turns its mass-produced urine antennae toward Cesar's arrogant ganglion, while history is advocated by utopians as a substitute for defecating."

"Rambunctious pinnacle--dreadful monument on which furious youth glows like a chromospheric flare, incinerated god in his swollen hand."

"This poseur--lesbian whose medallion of wishes is effaced by training in history--holds a rare quarto from Utah, strives for new lies. But imagination is so thin that the past often breaks right through her sex Torah."

"Jesus invented seduction by exposing the mother to a contemptible kangaroo court."

Concludes the Post: "Don't quit your day job, Danny."

See also WW3 REPORT #88 [top]


Ten labor unions--including the United Steelworkers of America, United Mine Workers, the International Association of Machinists and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers--have formally signed on to a 10-year, $300 billion research plan to promote energy efficiency, reduce dependence on foreign oil by developing hybrid and hydrogen cars, and preserve manufacturing jobs. Labor leaders are urging presidential candidates to support the plan, which is dubbed the Apollo Project and was developed by Institute for America's Future. "We are very, very excited," said Sierra Club director Carl Pope, hailing "the new commitment on the part of a huge segment of American organized labor to organize the rebuilding of blue-collar America around modern environmentalism and sound energy technology." (NYT , June 6) [top]



1. Would you be willing to give up your cellular telephone to halt the genocide in Central Africa? How about to stop annoying people at restaurants and theaters?

2. FARC: Heroic revolutionaries or trigger-happy thugs? Or should we just break down and call them terrorists already, even if it means agreeing with the State Department? Or does the mere fact that we are even asking make us Hitchensesque traitors to the left?

3. Are you coming to our benefit on Saturday, or are you going to be left out of all the multi-culti music and poetry presentations, erudite political conversation, high-powered activist networking and shameless self-promotion of WW3 REPORT?


Last week, we put two questions before the readers: 1. Should WW3 REPORT a) remain a weekly news digest, b) become a more analytical monthly, or b) go bi-weekly as a compromise; and 2. Are you a) coming to our benefit on Saturday, b) not coming, but sending a check, or c) unwilling to spare us a thin dime.

We received 46 responses. For starters, we are bitterly disappointed that the figure was not more like 460 or 4,600. We hope we have more 46 readers. On Question 1., eight thought we should stay weekly, 15 voted for monthly and 15 voted for bi-weekly. Another eight said "none of the above" or otherwise weaseled out of giving an answer. On Question 2., six said they would be at the benefit, 19 said they were sending a check, and nine told us to get lost, with 12 opting for the weasel position.

Therefore, we are currently deciding whether to go monthly or bi-weekly, as respondents were split down the middle on these options. In any case, there will be no issue next Monday. We will publish again in our new format June 30. Please continue to send in your feedback.

CORRECTION: In last week's Exit Poll essay taking the left media to task for lack of accuracy, cranky WW3 REPORT Editor Bill Weinberg both mis-spelled Robert Fisk's name and got the newspaper he writes for wrong. It's the UK Independent, not the Guardian. D'oh! Better lay off the 4.20 for a while, Weinberg!

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