by the El Reportero’s wire services
If the late former president Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) were still in power the results of Venezuela’s municipal elections on 8 December would have been considered a setback for the Bolivarian Revolution.
The opposition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) won more municipalities than in the last elections in 2008; it won the main state capitals; it retained four of the five Caracas municipalities; and, in its most symbolic triumph, it took the capital of Barinas, the native state of Chávez.
But, for President Nicolás Maduro, who has faced a battle for legitimacy since winning last April’s presidential elections, as well as acute economic difficulties, taking upwards of 200 municipalities constituted a noteworthy victory, albeit many of these were fairly small and rural. It consolidates his position going into 2014, a year which, for once, is free of elections.
Government supporters harass Cuba’s Ladies in White
Members of the Ladies in White dissident group on Tuesday were severely harassed by Cuban government supporters as they were trying to gather at a crowded spot in Havana to begin a march to commemorate U.N. International Human Rights Day. Efe saw at least 20 of the Ladies, who arrived at the spot in small groups, cleared from the location and placed by security agents and police into cars and buses while being harassed by a large pro-regime mob.
“Death to the Ladies in White” and “Down with the worms” were some of the insults shouted by government partisans at the women, the latter term being a common one used by island authorities and residents for Cubans who do not support the Revolution.
The Ladies offered no resistance to their eviction and some of them shouted phrases like “Freedom for Cuba” making an “L” with their fingers. Other opposition members were also the targets on Tuesday of state-sponsored harassment, including a discussion group headed by Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles in his home to celebrate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Near Gonzalez Rodiles’ home the Communist government organized festive activities and games with the assistance of several dozen school children while loudly singing songs by popular singer Silvio Rodriguez. In remarks to Efe, Gonzalez Rodiles said he regretted that the Cuban government considers Human Rights Day to be a day of confrontation and called it “really low” to use children “for these things.”
REPORT: Systematic mistreatment of deported migrants at hands of U.S. officials
A recent report exposes a systematic, widespread abuse of immigrants waiting to be deported from the U.S. The ‘Bordering on Criminal: the Routine Abuse of Migrants in the Removal System’ report was authored by the Immigration Policy Center along with the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona. The report highlights the verbal and physical abuse the migrants endure while in U.S. custody. The report also notes the chronic theft of the possessions taken from the migrants during processing; possessions that are often not returned to them when they leave U.S. custody.
Data shows that 11 percent of deportees report some form of physical abuse and 23 percent report verbal mistreatment while in U.S. custody. Racist remarks appear to be the preferred form of verbal abuse the study found. Undocumented immigrants held in detention for over a week were most likely to have their possessions taken and not returned.
The report is based on information gleaned from a bi-national, multi-institution study of 1,110 randomly selected, recently repatriated migrants surveyed in six Mexican cities between 2009 and 2012.