Tag Archives: assassinations

Anti-mining organizers attacked, murdered in Peru

Deadly attack on family of miner leader

September 25, 2013. Source: World War 4 Report 

The wife and infant son of a local mining leader were assassinated last week in the community of Pamputa, Coyllurqui district, Cotabambas province, Apurímac region, Peru. The bodies were found Sept. 18 by ​Carmelo Hanco, president of the local Artisenal Miners Association of Los Apus de Chunta, when he returned home from a trip to Abancay, the regional capital, where he had been petitioning authorities for the “formalization” of mining claims. Authorities said the killings took place during a robbery, but Hanco said he suspected the involvement of the Xstrata mining company—which he charged has been pressing for the arrest of independent artisenal miners in the region with an eye towards establishing its own operations. The company has for 10 years operated a giant gold, silver and copper mine at nearby Las Bambas (Chahuahuacho district), above the opposition of both local artisenal miners and campesinos. (Con Nuestro Peru, Sept. 21)

Xstrata is currently taking bids for sale of the mine at Las Bambas, as a condition imposed by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) for its approval of Swiss-based Xstrata’s merger with another Anglo-Swiss mineral giant, Glencore. Jiangxi Copper, China’s top producer, andChinalco Mining, another Chinese giant, are leading bidders. (Mining.com, Aug. 23)

More unrest is meanwhile reported from Puno region, bordering Lake Titicaca, the scene of numerous conflicts related to mineral exploitation. A local uprising broke out in the town of Huancané on Sept. 20, with roads blocked and a 72-hour paro, or civil strike, declared. One of the town councilors and another provincial official who were accused of corruption were detained by a mob and publicly whipped with a belt. (La Republica, Sept. 20)
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Political Repression

Guatemala: Mineral interests behind massacre?

September 16, 2013. Source: World War 4 Report

Kaqchikel indigenous authorities in the central Guatemalan pueblo of San José Nacahuil, just outside the capital, are protesting the government’s response to a Sept. 8 massacre in which 11 residents were killed and 15 injured in as gunmen shot up a cantina. Some of the bodies were found in the bathroom where patrons attempted to hide from the attack; others were chased out into the street and gunned down. Governance Minister Mauricio López told reporters the killings could be the work of youth gangs or maras linked to the drug trade. But traditional Kaqchikel leaders issued a statement reading: “We are strongly opposed to the statement of the Minister of the Governance that blamed gangs, which is completely false. It is premature to make statements without having initiated an investigation.” (Global Voices, Sept. 10; AFP, Sept. 9; BBC NewsAP, Sept. 8)

The statement speculated the attack could be linked to a protest encampment being maintained by village residents at the community of La Puya, outside the gates of the Tambor gold mine, owned by US-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA). The protest camp has been ongoing since March 2012, and in June of that year a protest leader was shot and gravely wounded by unknown gunmen near the camp. KCA subsequently bought out their former Canadian partner Radius Gold, which cited a corporate strategy “to divest problematic assets.” (San José Nacahuil lies within San Pedro Ayampuc municipality; the mine straddles the border with San José del Golfo municipality to the east.)
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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Political Repression

Killings of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples highlight tensions of land disputes

By Jonathan Watts, August 8, 2013. Source: The Guardian 

Guarani and Kaiowa Indians are in conflict with ranch owners over the allocation of land in Brazil. Photo: Celso Junior/AP

Guarani and Kaiowa Indians are in conflict with ranch owners over the allocation of land in Brazil. Photo: Celso Junior/AP

Celso Rodrigues was walking by a river near his home in Mato Grosso do Sul, when he was ambushed by a gunman in a balaclava, shot with a pistol and then finished off with a rifle.

It might have been just another killing in Brazil, which has one of the world’s highest murder rates. But Rodrigues’s case has attracted international attention because he was a member of the Guarani ethnic group, which is at the heart of a fierce national dispute over indigenous rights.

In recent months, the national guard has been dispatched, a senior official has resigned and protests from both sides – tribes and landowners – have moved closer to the office of President Dilma Rousseff.

Police have arrested a farm manager, Ivonel Gabriel Vieira, in connection with the case. Survival International, which campaigns for indigenous people’s rights, claims that the murder was carried out on the orders of landowners.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, War

San Sebastián Bachajón: Following the assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán, the struggle for the defense of the land continues

By Jessica Davies, July 25, 2013. Source: Upside Down World


“The government does not like the people to organize and defend what is theirs; they repress us with state forces and order assassination to silence our movement”, declared theejidatarios (communal landholders) of San Sebastián Bachajón recently. Despite the assassination of their much-loved community leader Juan Vázquez Guzmán, they insist: “we are here, we are staying here and we are not going to leave our land which is the birthplace of our mothers and fathers, our grandfathers and grandmothers, who also fought and gave their lives for the mother earth.”

Their struggle against luxury tourism in their territory

The indigenous Tzeltal ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón is situated in the jungle region of   the state of Chiapas in South-East Mexico. It is located in an area of great natural beauty, rich in flora and fauna. The common lands of the ejido straddle the access road to the spectacular series of turquoise waterfalls of Agua Azul, and are not far from the great Maya archaeological site of Palenque. For over 20 years, the Mexican government has planned, as part of the “Maya World” concept, a high class tourist mega-project in Chiapas to rival Cancun; Agua Azul is to be the “jewel in the crown” of this development, with a luxury “eco-lodge retreat” complete with arrival at the waterfalls by helicopter or seaplane. Unfortunately for the people who have lived on and cared for this land for centuries, for whom territory is the basis of a dignified life, they are now the only obstacle to what could become, for rich tourists, “one of the most special experiences in the Western hemisphere”, and, for the resort owners, a lucrative source of income. The realization of this project would inevitably involve dispossessing or co-opting the indigenous population, and taking over their ancestral lands and territory.

As a result, the ejidatarios of Bachajón have become the recipients of daily threats, aggressions, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, imprisonment, extensive use of torture, and attacks from paramilitary groups. The strategy of the three levels of government has been to develop alliances with, and give support to, local political party members so they will back the government plans, and to criminalise those who resist these plans, with the aim of generating conflict among the communities in the area.

Since 2006, Juan Vázquez Guzmán had been at the center of the struggle in defense of the common lands of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón. On 24 April, 2013, he was shot dead with six bullets in the doorway of his home. He was aged only 32, and the father of two small children aged four and seven. His community members were left devastated, and his assassins escaped into the impunity which reigns in Mexico. There has been no evidence of an investigation into the murder, and the material and intellectual authors of the crime have not been identified.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Chiapas, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression

The oxygen trade: Leaving Hondurans gasping for air

By Rosie Wong, July 25, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry


The carbon trade doesn’t just fail to address climate change. In countries like Honduras, it funnels cash to notorious human rights abusers and threatens vital resources.

“We’re not selling this oxygen to anybody,” said Vitalino Álvarez, a participant in the Unified Aguán Farmers´ Movement (MUCA) in the boiling hot northern region of Honduras. Like many places around Honduras and the world, Álvarez’s community is a direct victim of international carbon trading programs—or what residents call “selling oxygen.”

Carbon trading was developed as a mechanism for addressing global climate change under the Kyoto Protocol. It allows companies rooted in the global North, which collectively produce most of the world’s greenhouse gases, to buy and sell “Certificates of Emissions Reduction” from developing-world companies rather than cut their own emissions. The practice enables them to continue polluting based on the assertion that emissions elsewhere are being cut.

Through this mechanism, they pay companies in the global South that have implemented “green” initiatives (making new technological investments or reducing deforestation, for example) and either use the certificate to avoid cutting their own emissions or else sell it to another company. This scheme is not only accepted, but also actively promoted, by both the United Nations and the World Bank.

But carbon trading does not actually fulfill its stated goal of cutting global emissions, since the price of carbon remains too cheap to curb polluter behavior. The study “Carbon Trading—How It Works and Why It Fails” shows that carbon trading allows overall air pollution and climate change to continue to escalate.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, UNFCCC, World Bank

Venezuelan authorities arrest suspect of murder of indigenous Yukpa leader

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim, July 5, 2013. Source: Venezuelanalysis.com

Romero was an iconic advocate for indigenous land rights in Venezuela. Photo: Panorama

Romero was an iconic advocate for indigenous land rights in Venezuela. Photo: Panorama

A suspect in the murder of Yukpa chief Sabino Romero was arrested in Caracas on Wednesday, but according to interior minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres, more arrests could be made.

Speaking to state broadcaster VTV, Rodriguez stated that the suspect, identified as Angel Romero Bracho, may have been hired by ranchers to assassinate the indigenous land rights activist.

“According to the information we are handling, 400,000 bolivars were offered for the murder of the Chief Sabino Romero,” the minister told VTV on Thursday. Rodriguez also stated that six suspected collaborators in the murder are currently under investigation by the criminal investigation body CICPC and the national intelligence agency SEBIN.

An outspoken advocate for land rights for the indigenous Yukpa people, Romero had, prior to his death, been involved in an unresolved land dispute with cattle ranchers in the Sierra de Perijá, a mountainous region in the west of Venezuela.
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Political arrests in Oaxaca: The case of David Venegas, el Alebrije

By medianoche, April 1, 2013. Source: El Enemigo Común

david-venegas-detenido-226x300Not long ago, Oaxaca was ruled by a despot named Ulises Ruiz. He was accused of crimes against humanity committed against the teachers’ movement and the people who came out in solidarity with them.

That tyrant arrested countless political activists — members of collectives, organizations and communities who rose up against his crimes against humanity. Yet the arrests continue even though he’s no longer in office. Why so, if the new governor is of a different political party and still refers to his administration with the slogan “government of change”?

The name of the current ruler is Gabino Cué. As was formerly the case, he tolerates groups of gunmen who ruthlessly attack townspeople resisting the enormous wind energy projects on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. During his term of office, murders have gone unpunished against people opposing mining taking place without community consent.

The arrest of David Venegas last March 28, along with Feliciano Efrén Hernández Pablo, is just one example of how political repression is still taking place in Oaxaca.
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Green activists face grave threat as death toll doubles in a decade

By Fred Pearce, February 21, 2013

The activist Sombath Somphone disappeared in Vientiane in December 2011. Photo: Somphone Family/AFP/Getty Images

The activist Sombath Somphone disappeared in Vientiane in December 2011. Photo: Somphone Family/AFP/Getty Images

Where is Sombath Somphone? With every day that passes, the fate of one of south-east Asia’s most high-profile environmental activists, who was snatched from the streets of Laos in December, becomes more worrisome.

His case has been raised by the State Department and countless NGOs around the world. But the authorities in Laos have offered no clue as to what happened after Sombath was stopped at a police checkpoint on a Saturday afternoon in the Lao capital of Vientiane as he returned home from his office. It looks increasingly like state kidnap — or worse, if recent evidence of the state-sponsored killings of environmental campaigners in other countries is anything to go by.

Personal danger is not what most environmentalists have in mind when they take up the cause of protecting nature and the people who rely on it in their daily lives. But from Laos to the Philippines to Brazil, the list of environmentalists who have paid for their activism with their lives is growing. It is a grim toll, especially in the last year.

One of the most grisly cases occurred last year in Rio de Janeiro on the final day of the Rio+20 Earth Summit. On the afternoon of June 22, delegates from throughout the world — me included — were preparing to leave for the airport as Almir Nogueira de Amorim and his friend João Luiz Telles Penetra were setting sail for a fishing trip in the city’s Guanabara Bay.
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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Illegal logging, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Rio+20