Narconews Update: US & The Paramilitaries & Oaxaca
Feder: U.S. Companies and Paramilitaries; Davies: New Strategy for OaxacaJanuary 22, 2007 Please Distribute Widely
The U.S. commercial media have been fixated on the telenovela of hostage negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the recent visit to Colombia of three U.S. congressmen has been reported only in terms of how it relates to that issue. Unreported in any U.S.-language media was the meeting between Rep. Delahunt (Democrat of Massachusetts) and a number of jailed former leaders of the recently-demobilized narco-paramilitary army, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Bellow, we publish a translation of the story from the January 16 edition of the Colombian paper El Tiempo.
Delahunt says he has received new information on the extent to which U.S. corporations supported the AUC, which existed with relative impunity throughout Colombia, inflicting a government-protected, drug-funded reign of terror from roughly 1997 to 2004. (Whether that period has truly ended if of course debatable). Last year, the coal company Drummond was found not liable for the paramilitary murders of three mine union officials after extraordinary maneuvers by the judge and the Uribe administration to prevent key witnesses from testifying. And while Chiquita Brands was fined a sum amounting to less than one percent of its annual income for making payments to the AUC (the company's leaders portraying themselves in the press as victims of extortion), no one in the justice department or the press seemed concerned that thousands of weapons for the AUC had entered Colombia through Chiquita's private ports.
Read this story, and the discussion it has already begun to generate due to Delahunt's record as a staunch Plan Colombia supporter, in the Narcosphere:
And Nancy Davies comments on the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca's first large, public action of 2008, calling it "the best organized and most comprehensive march the APPO could have desired at this time in its existence." The biggest issue that brought people out on the streets was a hike in bus fares that put a huge burden on Oaxaca's poorest residents.
"It was a day of 'something for everyone'; the marchers represented the spectrum of civil society in Oaxaca. So did the solutions: demands to withdraw government imposition of higher costs or fewer benefits, and to maintain intact the historic city center. The range of protests includes: removing price increases for basic foods such as tortillas, and for gasoline; freeing political prisoners; returning the disappeared alive; canceling changes to the national social security institute (the ISSSTE); protecting streets in the center of the city; rescinding the increase in bus fares; and handing the schools still held by the breakaway teachers union Section 59 (promoted by governor Ulises Ruiz, who the teachers and APPO tried to force out of office in their 2006 uprising) back to Section 22.
"The bus fares, now 4.5 pesos each way, might not seem like much. But they come just after a minimum wage increase of only two pesos, the same as the difference for a round-trip the bus fare. Those two pesos represent a 29 percent bus fare hike, but only a four percent rise in wages. So, those who make the minimum of 50.96 pesos per day (about $4.70 in US dollars) and have to pay nine pesos a day to travel feel the pinch. The general cost of living has gone up in Oaxaca, which is one of the poorest states and whose capital city stands among the most expensive."
Also new in The Narco News Bulletin are several translations of our Spanish-language reporting of the Zapatistas' new years and anniversary events in Chiapas by Raul Romero and Juan Trujillo, Brenda Norrel's latest reports on indigenous and popular resistance to repression on the U.S.-Mexico border, and more.
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