The Andes
Playa Cavero

Peru demands Repsol pay in coastal oil spill

Peru’s authorities declared an environmental emergency after announcing that 21 beaches around the Lima area were contaminated by an oil spill at a refinery run by Spanish multinational Repsol, calling it the “worst ecological disaster” in the city’s history. The Environmental Evaluation & Control Organism (OEFA) estimated some 6,000 barrels of crude had spilled—dramatically above the mere seven gallons that Repsol had initially reported to authorities when the disaster occurred days earlier. Some 1,740,000 square meters of coastline and 1,1187,000 square meters of sea have been covered in sludge that has blackened beaches and killed marine life. Peru is demanding compensation from Repsol, accusing the company of trying to cover up the scale of the disaster and not having a contingency plan in place. (Photo: Andina)

Central Asia
Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan president asks Russia to help quash uprising

Kazakhstan’s President Kasym-Jomart Tokayev called participants in the protests that have swept the Central Asian nation “terrorists,” accusing them of attempting to undermine his government at the behest of foreign powers. After concessions such as a cabinet purge and instating fuel-price controls failed to quell the uprising, Tokayev quickly unleashed harsh repression. Declaring a state of emergency, he flooded the streets with riot police and pledged to “conduct counter-terrorist operations.” He also called on Russia and the other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to come to the defense of his regime. The CSTO has agreed to send “peacekeepers” to Kazakhstan. (Photo via Wikipedia)

North Africa
sfax

Tunisia: uprising over waste disposal crisis

Anger over a regional garbage crisis in Tunisia exploded into street clashes after a man died following exposure to tear-gas during protests against the reopening of a landfill site. Abderrazek Lacheheb, 35, died in the town of Aguereb in the coastal region of Sfax, punctuating weeks of demonstrations over a growing waste and public health crisis. The powerful UGTT trade union confederation announced a general strike the day after his passing, condemning the “savage intervention by security forces.” (Photo: Leaders.com.tn)

Africa
Sudan

Counter-revolutionary coup in Sudan

Sudan’s interim prime minister Abdalla Hamdok and his senior officials were arrested as the military seized full power in a coup d’etat and imposed a state of emergency. The two principal pro-democracy formations, the Forces for Freedom & Change and Sudanese Professionals Association, have called for a popular mobilization to overturn the coup, and thousands have answered the call, filling the streets of Khartoum, Omdurman and other cities. Troops fired on protesters outside the army headquarters in Khartoum, killing at least three and injuring more than 80. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have also been mobilized. The military head of the now officially dissolved joint civilian-military Transitional Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is apparently behind the coup and in control. The putsch follows days of rival demonstrations in Khartoum, with pro-democracy protesters demanding full civilian rule and pro-army counter-demonstrators demanding that the military take complete control. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

Central Asia
Uyghur

Uyghur Tribunal in UK hears testimony on abuses

The Uyghur Tribunal, an “independent people’s court” convened by exile and human rights groups, concluded after months of hearings in London. Following a request from the World Uyghur Congress, the Tribunal was organized last year by Sir Geoffrey Nice­, the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The Tribunal heard testimony from some 500 witnesses, including survivors of the detention camps in Xinjiang, on torture, sexual abuse, coerced labor, and forced sterilization. (Photo via Coda)

East Asia
Hong Kong

Hong Kong: ‘patriots’ in, democrats out

The first “patriots only” vote under Hong Kong’s new political system was held to choose members for a 1,500-member Election Committee—although only some 360 of the seats were actually contested. Voting was restricted to some 5,000 individuals representing different professions and industries, chosen under a principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong.” The Election Committee is tasked with electing 40 members of the enlarged 90-seat Legislative Council in December as well as choosing the city’s new chief executive next March. The new and more controlled electoral system was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote of the National People’s Congress in Beijing this March. (Photo: HKFP)

East Asia
hongkong leaflet

Hong Kong police thwart Handover anniversary demos

Hong Kong police arrested 11 for distributing “seditious publications,” as the force erected tight cordons across the city on the 24th anniversary of its handover to China. Citing pandemic restrictions, the Security Bureau warned that those taking part in unauthorized demonstrations may face jail. Police pre-emptively sealed off Victoria Park—the traditional starting point for pro-democracy marches on the date. But there were scattered small gatherings at other points around the city. The 11 arrests took place in Mong Kok commercial district, where activists from the group Student Politicism distributed leaflets. They were detained under the Crimes Ordinance, which dates to the British colonial era. (Photo: HKFP)

North America
Fort Bliss

Migrant kids languish at Fort Bliss

Advocacy groups for migrants on the US southern border are protesting conditions at Texas’ Fort Bliss, an Army base that the Biden administration has opened as an emergency holding facility. Nearly 5,000 minors who crossed the border without a parent or guardian are currently being held in large tents at the base. This is about a quarter of the total number of minors in the care of the US Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. As of late May, nearly 600 of these had spent 40 days or longer at the “megasite.” Nearly 1,700 minors had been there for at least a month, according to government data. Unlike traditional HHS shelters for migrant children, Fort Bliss and other emergency “influx” sites are not licensed by state authorities to care for minors, and have lower standards of care. (Photo via Border Report)

The Andes
paro

Colombia: Duque unleashes army on protesters

Colombian President Iván Duque announced the deployment of military forces to put down the protests that have been rocking the country since a national strike was called a month ago. Speaking from violence-torn Cali as some 1,400 soldiers arrived in the city, he said army troops would focus on “nerve centers where we have seen acts of vandalism, violence and low-intensity urban terrorism.” An additional 7,000 troops were sent to break up roadblocks in the local department of Valle del Cauca. “Islands of anarchy cannot exist,” Duque declared. (Photo: Colombia Informa)

Mexico
SNITIS

AFL-CIO files labor suit against Mexico factory

The AFL-CIO and other trade unions announced that they have filed a complaint against Tridonex, a Mexican auto parts factory and subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Cardone Industries, located in the city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas state. This case will be one of the first to test the United States-Mexico-Canada Act (USMCA), which supersedes the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The complaint is brought under the new “rapid response” mechanism of the USMCA, allowing complaints of labor violations to be brought against individual factories. The complaint comes after Tridonex workers attempted to organize with an independent union, replacing the co-opted “protection union” at the plant. Over 600 workers were fired for their association with the new union. Susana Prieto Terrazas, the lawyer representing the Tridonex workers, was also arrested and jailed by the Tamaulipas governor on “trumped-up charges,” and only released after agreeing to leave the state of Tamaulipas. (Photo: Prensa Obrera)

The Andes
castillo

Peru: electoral upset portends polarization

Peru seems poised for polarization following surprise results in first-round presidential elections that saw a previously unknown leftist candidate, Pedro Castillo, taking 19% of the vote in a very crowded field—more than any of his rivals. In a June run-off, he will face his runner-up—hard-right candidate Keiko Fujimori, who took 13%. The two candidates represent the extremes of Peru’s electoral spectrum. Fujimori is the daughter of imprisoned ex-dictator Alberto Fujimori—and had herself been imprisoned as corruption charges were pending against her last year. Her Fuerza Popular party is the paradoxical populist vehicle of the most reactionary sectors of the country’s elites, and has actually been assailed as a “mafia organization.” Castillo, in vivid contrast, is a former school-teacher and trade unionist of campesino background from the poor and rural Andean region of Cajamarca. His successful grassroots campaign is seen an upsurge from such forgotten parts of the country, in rejection of the Lima-based political class. (Photo of Pedro Castillo in Lima via Twitter)

Mexico
CFE

Mexico: court suspends new electricity law

A Mexican court issued a suspension of the new electricity law that aims to strengthen the state-run company, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE). The law is supported by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who wants to increase state control of the energy market. López Obrador claimed that under the previous administration, the electricity market was skewed in favor of private operators. Grupo Bimbo, Walmart Inc and two unnamed companies filed challenges against the law. The US Chamber of Commerce expressed concern that the new law violates the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and may create a monopoly in the electricity sector. The injunction will be in place until the case is decided on its merits. The judge asserted that the injunction was necessary “to prevent economic damage to the electricity sector, to ensure competition, and to protect the environment.” (Photo of power lines in Ixtapaluca via Wikimedia Commons)