Andean Theater

Bolivia: bombing kills two

We sure hope this is just a couple of lone wackos and not the beginning of a destabilization campaign against Evo Morales. An AP report indicates suspect Triston Jay Amero of California "has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals since he was seven-years-old"—which is comforting for us, even if it doesn't seem to have done him much good. Still, that doesn't mean he wasn't being paid or manipulated by the CIA (or somebody). From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 26:

BRAZIL: MASSIVE LAND OCCUPATIONS

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

RIO GRANDE DO SUL: MST SEIZES ESTATE

On Feb. 28, more than 2,000 members of Brazil's Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) from 14 encampments in the state of Rio Grande do Sul began occupying the Fazenda Guerra, a large estate in Coqueiros do Sul municipality. It was the largest single land occupation since the late 1990s. According to Ana Hanauer, of the MST's coordinating body in Rio Grande do Sul, the occupying families are using wooden construction materials to build permanent housing and an educational facility on the site, turning the property into an MST settlement, instead of the more typical encampment of temporary plastic-covered tent-like structures. The MST is demanding the immediate settlement of the 2,500 families still living in such temporary encampments in Brazil's southernmost state. Some of these families have spent seven years living in the encampments; only 220 families have been able to move into settlements over the past three years in Rio Grande do Sul. Most of the families who participated in the Feb. 28 occupation were forcibly displaced by Military Police on Feb. 23 from an encampment on the side of Highway RS-406, in Nanoi.

ECUADOR: PROTESTS PARALYZE COUNTRY

from Weekly News Update on the Americas


OIL STRIKE IN AMAZON

The Ecuadoran government decreed a state of emergency in the Amazon provinces of Napo, Orellana and Sucumbios on March 8, two days into a strike that shut down oil production in the region. The 4,000 striking workers were employed by subcontractors to provide maintenance, security, transport, clean-up and construction for the state oil company Petroecuador. The workers are owed three months worth of salaries by the subcontractors, who have themselves not been paid by Petroecuador since last September. On March 7, the workers shut down six major oil facilities in the region; the same day, army soldiers used tear gas bombs to eject the strikers from several oil company sites. The workers released three of the sites on March 11 and ended the strike on March 12 after the government promised to arrange payment of the debts and to release three arrested strike leaders. The state of emergency was to be lifted gradually beginning on March 13. (Agencia Pulsar, March 8; AP, March 8, 12; El Comercio, Quito, March 11)

Colombia: Uribe rift with military?

From Knight-Ridder, March 21:

BOGOTA, Colombia - It's pretty easy to tell when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is angry. The bespectacled president usually airs his grievances in public, particularly against errant generals in his army.

Bolivia: three ex-presidents charged in foreign oil deals

From EFE, March 16:

Bolivia’s attorney general filed charges Thursday against three ex-presidents and eight former energy ministers for signing contracts with foreign petroleum firms that violated the laws of the Andean nation. The accusations are directed against Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, Jorge Quiroga and Carlos Mesa.

Action alert: Venezuelan indigenous oppose coal project

Paula Palmer writes for Global Response Action Alerts:

In late January at the World Social Forum in Caracas, Venezuelan indigenous leaders asked Global Response to support them in their struggle to stop construction of open-pit coal mines in their territories. I joined them in an all-day march through the streets of Caracas, carrying banners saying "No al Carbon!" (No to Coal).

Bolivia: Evo to free the land?

From Prensa Latina, March 8:

A call to return illegally owned lands was launched by Bolivia´s President Evo Morales, while warning his administration will put an end to unproductive large landed estates.

"OPERATION GREEN COLOMBIA"

Coca Eradication Brings War to Endangered National Parks

by Memo Montevino

Last June, following months of political contest between the administration of President Alvaro Uribe and environmentalists, Colombia's government announced that the aerial spraying of glyphosate to wipe out coca crops would be extended to the country's national parks. Claiming 11 of Colombia's 49 national parks had been invaded by cocaleros, Uribe named three parks slated for imminent fumigation: Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria, a northern snow-capped peak which is a UN-recognized biosphere reserve; and two in the lush cloud-forests where the eastern Andean slopes fall towards the Amazon basin. This cloud forest belt is the most biodiverse zone of Colombia, and among the most conflicted. These two parks—Cataumbo, in Norte de Santander department, and La Macarena in Meta—are both in areas hotly contested by Colombia's military and guerillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

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