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Bulletin 3 February 2010



Mexico: Students murdered “by mistake”

altTen students, killed by a gang of gunmen last weekend in Ciudad Juárez, may have been murdered because they were believed to belong to a rival gang, according to a man arrested after the massacre.

José Dolores Arroyo Chavarría, who is in police custody, said that a man called El Diez ordered the murders because he believed that the young people belonged to a criminal gang called the Killing Artists, a group working for the powerful drug Sinaloa Cartel.

Relatives of the murdered students have blamed President Felipe Calderón. “Until we find out who did it, you are the killer, Mr. President” read a placard during a gathering outside the house where the murders occurred.

The relatives wonder how it is possible that such a massacre could occur in a city full of soldiers and policemen. Calderón blamed the drug cartel for the killings but relatives of the victims suspect that this is a smokescreen to cover the truth.

El Universal (Mexico, Spanish)

El Pais (Spanish)

Haiti: Judge to decide on fate of US missionaries

altA Haitian judge interrogated ten missionaries who were arrested as they tried to take out of Haiti a group of children who, they said, had been orphaned by the earthquake.

Judge Ezaie Pierre-Louis said that he will decide at the end of the hearing if the missionaries should be formally prosecuted.

According to SOS Children’s Village, an international charity under whose protection the children now live, none of the children believes that their parents have died.

The detained charity workers, who belong to an Idaho-based organisation, had set up the so-called “Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission” to take up to 100 orphans to the Dominican Republic.

Laura Silsby, a spokeswoman for the group, said from her cell in the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince that a Haitian pastor had helped them collect the children who, they believed, has lost either both parents or at least one of them, with the surviving one abandoning them.

There are fears that the earthquake will encourage the trafficking of children in the region.

BBC News

Colombia: bodies from the 1985 Justice Palace attack found

altIt was one of the most traumatic and violent events of the internal conflict that has ravaged Colombia for almost half-a-century: the attack of M19 guerrillas on the Justice Palace in Bogotá in November 1985 (pictured).

A group of rebels took a group of judges hostage and the government responded by sending in tanks to rescue the magistrates. At least 55 people, among them 11 judges, died in the action. At least 11 people were considered “disappeared”. In 2000 the body of one of them was identified.

Now, the bodies of nine of the remaining “disappeared” have been found in the Anthropology Faculty of the National University in Bogotá. Authorities say that two of the remains belong to employees of the Palace who survived the massacre but who later disappeared.

According to investigators, the bodies of the “disappeared” were taken to the Faculty for medical research only hours after the government take-over of the Palace.

Four high-ranking officers are being prosecuted for the disappearance. One of them tipped off the authorities to the location of the bodies.

El Tiempo (Colombia, Spanish)

Two Latin American films nominated for Oscars

altaltLatin America will be represented by two films in the Oscars. ‘El Secreto de sus Ojos’, from Argentina, and the award-winning ‘La Teta Asustada’ (The Milk of Sorrow) from Peru have been nominated for the Oscar for the best film in a foreign language.

‘El Secreto de sus Ojos’ tells the story of a man who decides to retire and spend his time writing a novel about a real event that he himself witnessed. While he is researching for his book, the past catches up with him. The film recalls the time of the military dictatorship.

‘La Teta Asustada’, which won the best film at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009, also deals with political violence. The film tells the story of a woman who was raped by security forces during the Peruvian state’s fight against the Shining Path guerrillas.

Clarin (Argentina, Spanish)

RPP (Peru, Spanish)


altArgentina: congress confirms sacking of head of Central Bank

A committee of the Argentinean parliament, dominated by the government party, has confirmed the decision of President Cristina Fernández (pictured) to dismiss the governor of the Central Bank, Martín Redrado.

Redrado was sacked by the President after he refused to use the Bank’s monetary reserves to pay part of the Argentina’s public debt. Redrado refused to accept the sacking and later decided to resign, but his resignation was not accepted and now congress has confirmed his dismissal.

Redrado’s resignation helped to increase the value of Argentine bonds, as his departure averted a stand-off. However, congress still needs to debate the government’s decision to use US$20 billion of the Central Bank’s reserves to pay part of the public defaulted debt. This will not happen until March, when MPs return from their summer break.



Amazon will not last forever

altIn the midst of a debate about the real damage the Amazon faces as a result of climate change, after an IPCC report was criticised for exaggerating the crisis, a new report confirms that one ignores the situation at one’s peril.

Professor Thomas Lovejoy, from the Heinz Centre for Science, Economics and the Environment based in Washington, says that a combination of deforestation, fires and climate change could destroy a third of the Amazon over the next 65 years.

Lovejoy, who is a scientific adviser to the President of the World Bank, says that Amazon has already lost 18% of its forests. An “Assessment of the Risk of Amazon Dieback,” published by the World Bank, had as its advisers a group of scientists who confirmed it conclusions: the Amazon is close to a tipping point, believed to be reached when 20% of the forest is destroyed .

The Amazon has its own hydrological system, which enables it to generate its own rainfall. But deforestation is upsetting this system and, as a result, it is likely that the south of the region will received less rainfall.

Inter Press Service

Photo credits

Haiti: US Depatrtment of Defense

Cristina Fernandez: Portal of Argentina Presidency

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