Andean Theater

Chavez wins heart of Boston proles

Hugo Chavez must be grinning from ear to ear. As the White House assiduously tries to demonize him, a Boston popular tabloid hails him as a savior of the city's working class:

OUR VIEW: Heating aid just in the nick of time

The Patriot Ledger, Nov. 28

There was good news on the home heating oil front last week, just hours before the first blast of winter air struck the region.

Peru-Chile tensions escalate

Former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori, facing over 20 criminal charges in Peru, was arrested Nov. 7 by Chilean police following his surprise arrival in Santiago from Japan the previous day. The former leader said he was on the way to launch a campaign for the Peruvian presidential election next April. The arrest was ordered by Chilean Supreme Court Justice Orlando Alvarez upon the request of the Peruvian government. The two countries have not reached agreement on Fujimoli's fate. Peru is pressing for extradition, while Chile's government says its supreme court will have to rule in the matter. Fujimoli, born in Peru to Japanese immigrants and was president from 1990 to 2000, fled Peru in November 2000 after a corruption scandal toppled his government.

BOLIVIA: MORE PROTESTS OVER GAS TAX

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Sept. 29, at least 5,000 Bolivian teachers staged a national strike and marched in La Paz to protest what they call a "virtual privatization" of education in Bolivia: the handing over of public school administration--with all its costs--to the country's municipalities. The education system change was part of an accord negotiated with Bolivian municipalities on the use of proceeds from a new 32% gas tax, the Direct Tax on Hydrocarbons (IDH), which is expected to bring $417 million into government coffers in 2005. Under a hydrocarbons law passed last May by Congress, the municipal governments of Bolivia's 10 main cities will each receive about $26 million from the IDH. Following tense negotiations in early September, an agreement was reached to assign the funds, but only on the condition that the municipalities take over the cost and administration of public education in their areas. (Diario El Popular, Canada, Sept. 30)

BOLIVIA: MORE PROTESTS OVER GAS TAX

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Sept. 29, at least 5,000 Bolivian teachers staged a national strike and marched in La Paz to protest what they call a "virtual privatization" of education in Bolivia: the handing over of public school administration--with all its costs--to the country's municipalities. The education system change was part of an accord negotiated with Bolivian municipalities on the use of proceeds from a new 32% gas tax, the Direct Tax on Hydrocarbons (IDH), which is expected to bring $417 million into government coffers in 2005. Under a hydrocarbons law passed last May by Congress, the municipal governments of Bolivia's 10 main cities will each receive about $26 million from the IDH. Following tense negotiations in early September, an agreement was reached to assign the funds, but only on the condition that the municipalities take over the cost and administration of public education in their areas. (Diario El Popular, Canada, Sept. 30)

VENEZUELA: PARAMILITARIES ATTACK INDIGENOUS

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

ZULIA: INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY ATTACKED

On Sept. 15, a group of 15 heavily armed men in olive green military uniforms arrived in two pickup trucks at the Yukpa and Wayuu indigenous campesino community of Guaicaipuro in the El Tokuko sector of Machiques de Perija municipality in Venezuela's Zulia state. The men entered the residents' homes and beat a number of residents before setting everything on fire. Residents say they saw Noe Machado, former owner of the Ceilan estate on which the Guaicaipuro community settled, arrive in another pickup truck with the gasoline used to set the fires. Several community members were injured, and the attackers burned down 38 houses, leaving 376 people without homes. Furniture, livestock and other belongings were also burned and destroyed.

COLOMBIA: INDIGENOUS MOBILIZE—DESPITE STATE TERROR

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

INDIGENOUS HOLD NATIONWIDE "MINGA," TWO DIE

On Oct. 10, tens of thousands of Colombian indigenous people began marching to various regional capitals in a coordinated Minga (community mobilization) to demand indigenous rights, protest the government's economic and social policies--especially a planned "free trade treaty" (TLC) with the US, Peru and Ecuador--and protest President Alvaro Uribe Velez's attempts to lift a ban on presidential reelection. The Minga--initiated by the Embera people but with the active participation and support of indigenous groups throughout Colombia--was organized to culminate on Oct. 12 in coordination with a national general strike called by labor unions, campesinos, students, leftist activists and others. Oct. 12 was chosen because it marks the arrival in the Americas of a group of European "explorers" headed by Christopher Columbus; for indigenous people, the day commemorates their centuries of resistance against the European invasion.

PERU: INDIGENOUS BLOCK CAMISEA GAS PROJECT

from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Sept. 30, residents of the districts of Atalaya, Sepahua and Tahuania in the Peruvian Amazon held a 24-hour strike protesting the contamination of the region's rivers by the Camisea natural gas project. The same day, thousands of Ashaninka, Yine Yame and Shipibo indigenous people, armed with spears and arrows, set up a river blockade in the districts of Tahuania and Sepahua, preventing ships serving the Camisea project from passing through the zone. The indigenous people, backed by Atalaya mayor Dante Navarro and the regional government of Ucayali, are demanding that the government allot 12.5% of the Camisea royalties to Ucayali to compensate for the damages the gas project causes. "We have waited eight months and we have received no response, so the dialogue has run out," said Edwin Vasquez, president of Ucayali region.

Colombia: paras, guerillas battle for control of Chocó

Colombian guerrillas and paramilitary fighters engaged in a bloody gun battle over control of the cocaine trade in western Chocó department, leaving at least 75 fighters dead, the Bogota daily El Tiempo reported. Victor Mosquera, a regional human rights observer, said corpses littered the site of the fighting and that many people were missing. Government troops have been rushed to Chocó.

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