Andean Theater

Afro-Colombian activist "disappeared"

At midday on Oct. 16, Orlando Valencia, an Afro-Colombian representative of the Community Council of Curvaradó in the department of Chocó, was arbitrarily detained and "disappeared," despite being protected by official measures of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The abduction took place immediately after the vehicle in which he was travelling with human rights observers and other members of the community, en route to a regional peasant assembly, was stopped by the National Police in the municipality of Belén de Bajirá. The police demanded the occupants' documents at rifle-point and briefly detained them. On the way to the local police station, they passed a truck filled with men they recognized as paramilitaries. They were released after several hours of interrogation, in which Valencia was accused of being a "reinsertado"—a demobilized guerilla fighter

Osama bin Laden: football in US-Venezuela spat

In an Oct. 9 interview with CNN, televangelist Pat Robertson—who recently got in hot water by calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez—accused the Venezuelan president of giving Osama bin Laden $1.2 million after the 9-11 attacks and of trying to obtain nuclear material from Iran.

Chile: Mapuche youth seize cathedral

On Oct. 5, a group of seven Mapuche indigenous students from the Frontier University in Temuco, Chile—on hunger strike since Sept. 29—began an occupation of the Temuco cathedral. Another two hunger strikers did not participate because they were hospitalized on Oct. 4. The action was the latest in a series of protests started at least three weeks earlier by some 120 students demanding repairs to the Las Encinas Mapuche student residence, where they live, and autonomy in its administration.

Chavez does New York City, blasts US aggression

Venezuela's left-populist President Hugo Chavez made history this weekend with a visit to New York for an appearance at the UN summit. His brief sojourn in La Manzana Grande consciously evoked his mentor Fidel Castro's historic 1960 debut address at the General Assembly—complete with a blistering verbal attack on the global economic order, and visits to the city's poor communities.

Chavez offers US disaster aid, warns of global energy disaster

The US government has yet to respond to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's offer to send planeloads of aid, including 2,000 soldiers, firefighters, volunteers and other disaster specialists to Louisiana. Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil exporter, also pledged $1 million in Hurricane Katrina relief aid through its state-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp., plus fuel to help in hard-hit areas. (AP, Sept. 1) The company’s CEO Félix Rodríguez said this donation had the full support of the company’s parent organization, the Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), as well as President Chávez. (Venezuelanalysis, Sept. 1)


from Weekly News Update on the Americas


On Aug. 17, hooded assailants armed with assault rifles arrived at the home of an indigenous Embera Chami family in the community of Ubarba, in the Nuestra Senora Candelaria de la Montana indigenous reservation in the central Colombian department of Caldas. The assailants shot to death Rosalba Morales and Evelio de Jesus Morales at their home, and severely wounded Jose Abelino Morales, who died on the way to a hospital in Riosucio. An hour after the attack, unidentified assailants murdered William Andres Taborda at his home in the community of Limon, on the same indigenous reservation. (National Indigenous Organization of Colombia--ONIC statement posted Aug. 19 on Colombia Indymedia)


from Weekly News Update on the Americas


In the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 1, some 3,000 to 6,000 residents of campesino communities in northern Peru seized control of the Henry Hills mining camp, owned by the mining company Majaz in El Tambo, Huancabamba province. The campesinos came from Ayabaca and Huacabamba (Piura region) and Paicapampa and San Ignacio (in Jaen province, Cajamarca). Many of them are members of the rondas, campesino self-defense groups formed during the 1980s to combat Maoist rebels. Armed only with sticks and agricultural tools, and a few old back-loading rifles, they quickly surprised and overpowered the camp's guards.


from Weekly News Update on the Americas

On Aug. 4, residents of the southern Bolivian city of Camiri, in Santa Cruz department, lifted their general strike after Hydrocarbons Minister Jaime Dunn signed an agreement promising to speed up the re-establishment of the state oil company, Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales de Bolivia (YPFB). The agreement, reached after eight hours of negotiations, lays out a timetable under which the process will culminate in three weeks. The government also committed to install gas service in 3,800 homes in Camiri by 2006, and to locate the exploration and drilling management headquarters of the newly founded YPFB in Camiri. The re-establishment of the state firm was mandated by a hydrocarbons law enacted by Congress on May 17, but its implementation has been delayed.

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