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LATIN AMERICA
In brief
Latinamerica Press
11/3/2016
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Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico

Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo) announced on Oct. 3 the recovery of grandson 121 in Argentina. Estela de Carlotto, president of the organization, informed that the person is Maximiliano Ruiz, 40, son of Domingo Menna and Ana María Lanzilotto who were kidnapped, tortured and disappeared in 1976 by the military dictatorship (1976-1983). Ruiz, who voluntarily went to have his DNA test done, was born in captivity and was given up for adoption to a couple unable to bear children. This case is part of an ongoing investigation by the Public Ministry of approximately one-hundred birth certificates signed between 1975 and 1978 by Obstetrician Juana Elena Arias de Franicevich, deceased, including those of three recovered grandchildren.

Only 35 percent of the 14.1 million voters in Chile came out to vote on Oct. 24 to elect mayors and councilpersons in 346 municipalities in the country. Less than 5 million people participated in the voting that took place amidst widespread public discontent due to the corruption scandals that have seen President Michelle Bachelet involved and the sudden change in electoral districts affecting half-a-million of the population.  Nueva Mayoría (New Majority), the governing coalition, obtained 141 municipalities, while the right leaning Chile Vamos (Chile Go) came victorious in 144 municipalities, including Santiago. The big surprise took place in Valparaíso, the second largest city in the country, where the two-party system was broken with the victory obtained by young lawyer Jorge Sharp, of the Izquierda Autónoma (Autonomous Left) party.

The Second Specialized Criminal Court of Bucaramanga, in northeast Colombia, sentenced ex military members Orlando Moreno Suárez, José Antonio Monsalve, Daniel Guerrero Quiroga and Daniel Blanco on Oct. 5 to 14 years in prison for the murder of peasant Venicio Muñoz Cáceres on Mar. 28, 2006. Muñoz Cáceres was shot to death by members of the Army who presented him to the press dressed in military apparel, placed weapons near where his body laid, altered the scene of the crime and identified him as a combatant for the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). The victims of extrajudicial killings committed by military members, passing the victims as guerrilla fighters killed in combat, are known as “false positive.”

José Ángel Flores, president of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA-United Peasant Movement of Aguán), and peasant leader Silmer Dionisio George were killed on Oct. 18 in the town of La Confianza, department of Colón, in the north of Honduras. According to witnesses, four hooded persons fired their weapons against Flores and George while they were leaving a meeting held with other farmers. Due to the constant threats, both had precautionary measures granted to them in 2014 by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR). These killings are added to those of environment and human rights defenders Berta Cáceres — the winner of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 — in March, and of Lesbia Urquía, in July.

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the Congreso Nacional Indígena (CNI-National Indigenous Congress) announced their participation in the electoral process for the presidency of Mexico in 2018. At the end of the Fifth Indigenous Congress, which took place in Chiapas from 9 to 14 Oct., the statement “Que tiemble en sus centros la tierra (“The Earth to its center shall tremble”) was released, informing of the decision to name an Indigenous Governing Board headed by an indigenous woman who will run as independent candidate representing the CNI and the EZLN. The statement called to “build a new nation by and for all, to strengthen the power from the bottom up and the anti-capitalist left, that all those guilty of the pain of this multicolor Mexico to be held accountable.”


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