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Bogota, Colmbia

A top right-wing paramilitary warlord accused of murder, drug trafficking, extortion and terrorism was captured this week. Ever Veloza, alias “Hernan Hernandez” commanded two blocs of the terrorist group “United Self-Defense Forces”, also known as the AUC, who are responsible for the murders of hundreds of human rights and union activists, and the massacre of 26 peasants in 2001. Veloza went into hiding last August when right-wing paramilitary bosses were asked to turn themselves in during President Alvaro Uribe’s 2003 Amnesty Program that has already offered to more than 30 thousand paramilitary men jobs, education, homes, and money in exchange for confessing to all of their crimes. If convicted, Veloza could face a minimum of 40 year in prison.


Buenos Aires Argentina

Argentina’s main teachers’ union called for a 24-hr national strike on Monday to protest the violent attack of 20 teachers by police in the province of Neuquen. Many teachers and their supporters were injured when riot police used tear gas and rubber bullets against a demonstration for higher salaries. One teacher has been left in critical condition after having been shot in the head. Protesters accuse right-wing governor Jorge Sosbish, of being closed to dialogue, stating that he would rather “repress them savagely”. Teachers’ Union president Hugo Yasky, who announced the upcoming 24-hr national strike, said that the Union has sent a letter to the Interior Minister to guarantee the safety of the teachers.


El Paso, USA

International terrorist Luis Posada Carriles could be released on bail, according to a decision issued yesterday by US federal judge Kathleen Cardone. Cardone handed out her decision after an unusual error took place Wednesday when the federal courts’ electronic filing system published a presumed verbal order denying Posada Carriles’ bail request. However, yesterday’s decision does not mean that the former CIA agent and accused terrorist would be set free because US immigration authorities are still holding him under deportation charges. Posada Carriles faces 7 charges of immigration fraud and of giving false testimony during his citizenship process. If found guilty, he could face a sentence of up to 40 years in prison. The trial begins May 11 in El Paso, Texas.


Guatemala City, Guatemala

Guatemala’s social and community organizations have rejected a US proposal to use agricultural products and turning them into fuel. Members of the National Coalition of Farming Organizations (CNOC) said that if “the government of Guatemala approves the exportation of corn crops to be turned into fuel it would violate the country’s Law of Food Security.” CNOC added that Guatemala has a grave malnutrition problem which has caused the death of many children. Leaders from the Collective of Social Organizations (COS) said that the US-sought project involving a process that requires large quantities of grain and corn to be used to create one gallon of ethanol for cars, “is a big offense for people who are dying of hunger.” In Guatemala, the project would destroy the production of basic grains and would cause a devastating crisis, since 50% of the population lives from agriculture.


La Paz, Bolivia

President Evo Morales announced yesterday that in September his government will once again distribute a school subsidy to help encourage children to stay in school - especially children in rural areas. The grant of 200 Bolivianos, or just over 28$, is given to families to help pay for school supplies and food. Morales said that the aid, which is provided for children from grade 1 to 5, has been made possible by revenues that come from the nationalization of hydrocarbons, which was initiated by his government in May of last year. Morales hopes to expand the monetary contribution to secondary students and preschoolers, but added that this would only be possible if the economy continues to improve. “The government, in this way, has begun to pay back the children of Bolivia, who during the time of Neoliberalism, made their parents victims of unemployment,” said Morales.


Quito, Ecuador

Ecuador’s Constitutional Tribunal decided Wednesday to deny a petition brought forward by 57 legislators who were ousted from Congress last month. Santiago Velazquez, president of the Constitutional Court announced the decision, which opens the way for the reactivation of the Congress’ sessions that have been suspended for nearly a month. The Electoral Tribunal fired the 57 lawmakers from their posts at the beginning of March for boycotting the call for a national referendum that would allow the formation of a Constitutional Assembly. The referendum is scheduled for April 15th.


Saltillo, México

Relatives of the miners who died in an explosion last year have set up a blockade at the company’s headquarters to protest the suspension of the mission to recover the dead bodies. Minera Mexico notified the families by telephone this week that the search operations have been cancelled indefinitely as a result of several company reports that indicate that there are risks of bacteriological contamination in the area where the coal mine is located. The company also told the relatives of the men that the possibility of recovering the bodies of the 65 dead is very remote. Manuel Fuentes Muñiz, the lawyer representing the families, called the suspension “illegal” because the company must have the authorization of the proper authorities to call off the search. He added that independent experts must be assigned to review the findings of the company-paid specialist. “The company wants to close the mine to avoid that any evidence against it comes out. It prefers to close the mine to avoid any responsibilities it has with the families of the miners,” said Fuentes Muñiz.


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