U.N. in Haiti; African Palms & Terror in Colombia
U.N. in Haiti; African Palms and Terror in Colombia; U.S. State in Peru, Republicans vs. PRI in Mexico
April 17, 2005
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Narco News School of Authentic Journalism 2004 Graduate and contributor Natalia Viana filed an interview earlier this week with James Cavallaro, president of the Global Justice Center, on the roll of the Brazilian-led U.N. "peacekeeping" force in Haiti.
As we have reported many times over the last year, the current situation in Haiti ranks among the worst crimes of our times in the hemisphere – in February 2004, the democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, long seen as an enemy by the U.S. foreign policy establishment for his attempts to lift his nation out of poverty and subservience to the U.S., was forced out of the countries and his entire government overthrown by a violent uprising of U.S. and French backed right-wing armed groups. The new government has harshly persecuted opponents and massacred demonstrations in the poor neighborhoods that formed the base of Aristide's support.
Cavallaro, a veteran human rights activist in Brazil, has traveled twice to Haiti to investigate charges against the MINUSTAH troops in that country.
"Narco News: Which changes [did you discuss with the Justice Ministry]?
"James Cavallaro: There is a question of security in hospitals, with a huge number of denunciations regarding the forced removal of persons from the hospitals – presumably by members of the Haitian national police – and their subsequent disappearance or execution. We had requested while we were in Haiti, to both the military contingent of the MINUSTAH mission and to the civil police contingent called CivPol, that either or both of these provide security so that hospitals could be entirely safe, and so people could feel that they could freely seek medical treatment if they had been inured by guns. We documented a number of cases in which victims of gunfire by the Haitian national police failed to seek medical treatment because they feared the police would removed them from hospitals when they found out how they had been injured, and that they would be forcibly disappeared. It's something so grotesque that we thought that our raising that issue would provoke an immediate change, but it didn't while we were in Haiti. But the Brazilian human rights minister, Nilmário Miranda, promised that he would consider reexamining this issue with the UN forces, so we are pressing him and we hope that it does happen.
"The second issue involves the human rights monitoring of the MINUSTAH mission, which has been extremely week. The minister promised to organize a mission with civil society to go to Haiti , to research and produce a report on the human rights situation. That is something that is badly needed."
Read the full report, at:
Also, in the Narcosphere, Sean Donahue reports on a new industry in northern Colombia that is increasingly bringing together multinational business interests and that country's armed right-wing groups, responsible for so much terror and violence (and intimately linked to both the Colombian military and drug trafficking): African palm cultivation.
"According to a prominent Colombian human rights activist who asked not to be named, mining and timber companies have been making informal deals with palm oil companies concerning their shared interests in suppressing unions and clearing land in Uraba. In recent years, international groups have focused increased attention on the human rights situation in Colombia, and especially on the role of paramilitaries in the mining sector. Because of this, multinational mining companies have been working to clean up their image and distance themselves further from the paramilitaries. Palm oil companies have been picking up the slack, playing an increasing role in financing paramilitaries and laundering their money. They have less exposure to external pressure than mining companies, because they are generally Colombian owned companies that serve as a middle man selling their product to agribusiness giants like Unilever and General Foods that can easily deny knowledge of or responsibility for what's happening in the palm growing areas.
"The companies are buying up land abandoned when people flee massacres and planting it with palm trees. The trees quickly deplete the soil of its vital nutrients, further devaluing the land, making it cheaper for mining and energy companies to buy."
Also new in the Narcosphere:
- Journalist Stephen Peacock, an expert in the analysis of government documents, reports that the U.S. state department is searching for a new aviation specialist for a post in Peru, to get aerial anti-drug operations in that country. Readers may remember that operations were scaled back in Peru after antidrug forces accidentally shot down a plane carrying American missionaries, including an infant girl.
- Longtime contributor Jules Siegel looks at the impending Republican takeover of the U.S. judiciary and the "disafuero" in Mexico -- the pre-election coup d'etat against popular candidate Andres Manuel López Obrador – and reflects on the similarities between the Republican strategy and that of the dictatorial Mexican PRI party.
From somewhere in a country called América,
Managing Editor, Narco News