By Linda Cooper and James Hodge for National Catholic Reporter – Nearly 43 years after the assassination of a famed Chilean folksinger, a Florida jury has found a former Chilean lieutenant liable for his grisly murder in the days after a U.S.-backed coup brought dictatorAugusto Pinochet to power. A six-member Orlando jury found Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuñez liable Monday (June 27) for the torture and murder of Victor Jara, rejecting the main defense argument that Barrientos never stepped foot in Chile Stadium where the folksinger was held with 5,000 others immediately after the coup.
By Vijay Prashad for the Hindu and Counterpunch. The financial crisis of 2007-08 dented China’s economy and saw the slow deterioration of commodity prices. It took a few years for the economic impact to strike Latin America with ferocity. A sharp tumble in oil prices in the summer of 2008 put the brakes on many of the social programmes that had become essential to the Bolivarian dynamic. It signalled the weakness in the experiment against Western domination. President Barack Obama’s administration focussed intently on Latin America. Opportunity struck with the 2009 coup in Honduras against the Left-wing government of Manuel Zelaya. Mr. Obama recognised the new military-backed government. It opened the door to a more aggressive stance vis-à-vis Latin American states. The presidency of Peru’s Ollanta Humala (2011) and the second presidency of Chile’s Michelle Bachelet (2014) — both ostensibly of the Left — hastily drew in cabinet members vetted by the bankers and made their peace with the hegemony of the U.S. Chávez’s death in 2012 meant that the Bolivarians lost their most charismatic champion. The impact of the Honduran coup and Chávez’s death had made itself felt along the spine of Latin America. The U.S., it was being said, is back.
By Inés San Martín for Crux Now – ROME — Laypeople in Chile opposed to Pope Francis’ appointment of a bishop with ties to the country’s most notorious abuser priest have occupied the local cathedral, demanding the bishop’s resignation. The demonstration came on Saturday, the anniversary of the day Pope Francis announced the appointment one year ago. “We’re Catholics who oppose the pastoral exercise of Bishop [Juan de la Cruz] Barros,” the group, which calls itself the “Lay Men and Women of Osorno,” write in a statement issued Saturday night.
By Jonathan Franklin for The Guardian, General Augusto Pinochet directly ordered the 1976 assassination of a Chilean diplomat who was killed in a car bomb in Washington DC, according top secret US intelligence documents declassified by the Obama administration. The documents, which were handed to the Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, on Tuesday in Santiago by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, also show that the former dictator was so concerned with covering up his role in the murder that he planned to assassinate his own head of intelligence, General Manuel Contreras.
By AFP in Telegraph – Some of the 60,000 carried pictures of their kin who were abducted or killed by the state and held signs with slogans such as “40 years after the coup, nobody and no one has been forgotten.” After a two-hour march, one group of hooded demonstrators set up barricades and squared off with police, some of whom were hit with stones and sticks. Police subdued the protesters with tear gas and water cannons. The march ended at a cemetery with a memorial to the victims of Pinochet’s Cold War regime. “Forty years on, we are still demanding truth and justice. We won’t rest until we find out what happened to our loved ones who were arrested and went missing” never to return, said Lorena Pizarro, leader of a relatives’ rights group.
By Javier Gárate in Waging Nonviolence – The next few months are of critical importance to Chile’s long-running education movement. President Michelle Bachelet has said she plans to implement comprehensive education reform this year, which will guarantee quality education for everyone. To ensure this happens, the movement has increased pressure on the government with huge protests by teachers and students last month, including an indefinite strike by the National Teachers Union that began June 1. Over the years, the movement has learned to temper its expectations. In 2011 — when protests were last at a peak — many thought change was imminent, only to suffer frustration and loss of momentum in the years that followed.
By Jennifer Baker in Revolution News – About 350 thousand people marched throughout the cities of Chile on Wednesday against proposed changes to the education system. Some 200 thousand people marched in the capital of Santiago. Wednesday’s march and Thursday’s events (below) were planned to coincide with Chile’s national men’s soccer(football) team participates in the opening game of the Copa Americas. High School students joined teachers and professors who are now on their second week of an indefinite strike. Wednesday’s events were organized by the Confederation of Chilean students (CONFECH), The college of teachers, the National Coordinator of Secondary Students (Cones) And The House Coordinator of Secondary Students (ACES). CONFECH estimated their group alone at 200 Thousand participants.
The first of these cases is probably the most unsavoury, and we have more than enough examples worldwide, especially in Latin America (Chile, Argentina, Perú, El Salvador, etc.). Here, the perpetrators employ relevant institutional powers to forge a renewed ‘democratic’ structure, in which they receive a guarantee of legal impunity for previous criminal activities justified by a misguided concept of national security and stability. Such is the case of the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Despite the gradual democratisation signalled by the 1988 national referendum to remove him from power, he clung to his position as head of state for a further two years, and his subsequent appointment as a senator for life took place and was previously sanctioned under the terms of decree no. 2191 in 1978.
More than 100 women small farmers from Chile’s southern Patagonia region have joined together in a new association aimed at achieving economic autonomy and empowerment, in an area where machismo and gender inequality are the norm. Patricia Mancilla, Nancy Millar and Blanca Molina spoke with IPS about the group’s history, and how the land, craft making and working together with other women helped them to overcome depression and situations of abuse, and to learn to trust again. “We have at last obtained recognition of rural women,” said Mancilla, president of the Association of Peasant Women of Patagonia. “Peasant women have learned to appreciate themselves. Each one of our members has a history of pain that she has managed to ease through working and talking together.”
Washington, DC –– On Thursday, January 29, CODEPINK protesters spoke out during Senate Armed Services Committee hearing attempting to perform a citizens’ arrest on Henry Kissinger. Holding handcuffs and large signs that read: KISSINGER: WAR CRIMINAL and ARREST KISSINGER FOR WAR CRIMES, activists read aloud a citizens’ arrest [pasted below]. In response, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Committee, called the human rights activists “lowlife scum” and said it was “the most disgraceful and despicable demonstration he had ever seen.” “CODEPINK is really proud of our action in the Senate today, speaking out on behalf of the people of Indochina, China, East Timor and peace-loving people everywhere,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, “Henry Kissinger is responsible for the deaths of millions. He’s a murderer, a liar, a crook, and a thug, and should be tried at the Hague.”
Yesterday, Chile celebrated a historical moment: for the first time, the LGBT movement marched united to demand equal rights. Historically, there has been much reluctance to work together, but in 2013 seven organizations within the movement came together and yesterday’s march was a result of their collaboration. This signals a shift in the movement in Chile as it strives for ever greater steps toward equality. The LGBT movement in Chile has often been criticized for being so divided. In response to this critique, seven organizations — Acciongay, Daniel Zamudio Foundation, Equals Foundation, Mums, Transexual Organization for the Dignity of Diversity, Breaking the Silence, and It Gets Better Chile — came together on May 17, 2013, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, to form the Front for Sexual Diversity.
SANTIAGO, Oct 13 — Chilean police fired tear gas and water cannon yesterday to break up thousands of indigenous protesters demanding land rights and condemning Columbus Day, after masked demonstrators began throwing stones. The march in Santiago began festively, with demonstrators decked out in colorful clothing and playing traditional indigenous music from around the country. But some protesters turned violent, throwing stones at police, who responded by firing water cannon and tear gas. That broke up the demonstrators, who police said numbered about 6,000.
The former national security adviser seems to be everywhere lately. He made an appearance at an event with other former secretaries of state, leading Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank (9/3/14) to call him “the most celebrated foreign-policy strategist of our time,” and to note that of those gathered, “the wisest, as usual, was Kissinger.” Of course, a clear vision of Kissinger would help too. The record is well-documented, from backing a coup in Chile (“We will not let Chile go down the drain”) to supporting the dirty war in Argentina to Indonesia’s bloody campaign in East Timor. Kissinger is most closely associated with the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia. Of the latter, he famously delivered this order: “A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves.” Credible estimates of the number of people killed as a result of this order range as high as 800,000.
President Michelle Bachelet’s government has rejected a huge $8bn hydroelectric project in Chile’s Patagonia region, citing its adverse impact on the environment. The decision by the Chilean cabinet to shelve the controversial seven-year-old scheme was a victory for environmentalist groups which fought the proposal to build five dams in a pristine river basin. “The Hidroaysen hydroelectric project is hereby rejected,” said Pablo Badenier, the environment minister. Hundreds of people on Tuesday cheered the decision in the streets of Santiago and in the region of Aysen, about 1,300km south of the Chilean capital. Patricio Rodrigo, executive secretary of the Patagonia Defence Council, called the decision “the greatest triumph of the environmental movement in Chile”. It “marks a turning point, where an empowered public demands to be heard and to participate in the decisions that affect their environment and their lives,” Rodrigo said. The joint Spanish-Chilean venture formed for the project now has 30 days to challenge the decision in the Environmental Court of Valdivia in southern Chile.