by the El Reportero’s wire services
GUATEMALA – Politicians from all parties appealed on 5 July for an end to the violenc. The country’s murder rate has increased sharply in recent weeks prompting some politicians to claim that General Otto Pérez Molina, the rightwing candidate for the Partido Patriota, wants to create a climate of fear to improve his chances in the forthcoming general elections. Pérez Molina advocates tougher anti-crime policies (mano dura).
Since campaigning started officially in mid May, 44 politicians have been murdered: in the whole of the previous election campaign only 23 politicians were killed. The country goes for the polls in the first round of elections on 9 September.
On 4 and 5 July, 12 people were murdered including two (centre left) candidates for office. So far this year 30 candidates for public office, mostly from the left and centre left, have been gunned down. In the past month alone eight candidates have been killed. In addition, the killing of political organizers and even violent attacks on party activists fly-posting on behalf of their candidates has increased.
Bolivia’s constituent assembly awards itself four more months
BOLIVIA – Delegates to Bolivia’s constituent assembly celebrated the anniversary of their election on 2 July by extending their mandate to draft a new constitution by four months until 14 December.
Debating in the assembly in Sucre provided a marked contrast with the carnival atmosphere in the affluent east of the country, where the Media Luna departments of Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pando staged big events to mark a year since they voted “yes” in referenda on autonomy.
Departmental prefects and civic committees presented individual statutes of autonomy that provide a direct challenge to the assembly which is supposed to decide the nature of the autonomy to be established in Bolivia.
Cuba, facing drop in food production
HAVANA – Cuba is repaying debts to farmers and promising higher prices for milk and meat in an attempt to increase flagging food production in a communist society that depends on the state for most of what it eats.
It’s trying to head off a crisis in its food system: Production dropped 7 percent last year, imports are becoming more expensive and consumers complain their tiny government salaries don’t allow them to buy more than a few items a month at supply-and-demand farmers markets.
Hundreds march in Ecuadorian Amazon to protest Chevron’s delay tactics
LAGO AGRIO, Ecuador – Hundreds of local indigenous people and campesinos marched today to protest Chevron´s delay tactics as a judgment approaches in a landmark multi-billion dollar environmental lawsuit against the company.
After the march, the community members, including leaders of several indigenous tribes and dozens of cancer victims, gathered at Texaco’s (now Chevron’s) first Ecuadorian oil well — opened 40 years ago in 1967 — in formation to spell the international “SOS” distress signal, and the words “Justicia Ya” (Justice Now) in 40-foot letters across the rainforest clearing.
The stunning images, captured by photographers from a helicopter circling overhead, send a message from the people of the Amazon to the Live Earth concert broadcast this Saturday, organized by former US Vice President Al Gore to draw international attention to the effects of global warming and the world’s unsustainable dependence on fossil fuels.