Directors of the Americas sections of Amnesty International on Oct. 30 sent an open letter to Paraguay's senators demanding immediate restitution of usurped lands to the Enxet indigenous community of Sawhoyamaxa in the Gran Chaco region, charging that a 2006 ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH) in favor of the community is going unenforced. In August, the government issued a decree calling for purchase of 14,000 hectares of usurped Sawhoyamaxa lands from a local rancher and their return to the community, but the rancher has refused to negotiate. Enxet communities began legal action for return of their lands in 1991, after which they were evicted from the usurped lands, where many had been employed as ranch hands. The Sawhoyamaxa community was forced to relocate to unused lands on the side of a highway, where they have since been living in poverty, with no access to basic services. The CIDH decision alo called for the restitution of Enxet communities Yakye Axa and Xámok Kásek—cases which likewise remain outstanding. (ABC Color, Nov. 8; Ultima Hora, Oct. 30; AI, Sept. 29, 2011)
Colombia's government and the FARC rebels signed a landmark agreement on Nov. 6 that is supposed to guarantee the guerrilla group's political participation. The accord is the second of six foreseen pacts to end nearly 50 years of civil war in Colombia. "We have come to a fundamental agreement about the second point of the agenda," FARC and government negotiators said in a joint statement read by the Norwegian delegate, one of the mediators at the peace talks in Havana. The pact, which comes just two weeks before the one-year anniversary of the opening of the talks, outlines "guarantees for the exercise of the political opposition in general and in particular for the new movements that arise after the signing of the Final Agreement." Details are not be made public until a final deal has been signed.
Cesar García, a campesino leader who opposed the mining operations of AngloGold Ashanti at La Colosa in the central Colombian department of Tolima, was assassinated Nov. 2 by an unknown gunman as he worked his small farm at the vereda (hamlet) of Cajón la Leona. Supporters said he had been targeted for his work with the Environmental Campesino Committee of Cajamarca, the local municipality. In a statement, the Network of Tolima Environmental and Campesino Committees said the Cajamarca group had been "stigmatized as enemies of progress in the region," and falsely linked to the guerilla movement. The statement noted a growing climate of fear in the area.
Peru's government has issued an "ultimatum" to small-scale artisanal miners in southern Puno region, saying that if they do not remove their dredges and other equipment from the watersheds of the Ramis and Suches rivers (which both flow into Lake Titicaca), they will be dynamited. The warning was made by Daniel Urresti, high commissioner for Formalization and Interdiction of Mining. "We would be grateful if these people abandon the area and take their machinery with them, because when we arrive we are going to conficate it, and those which weigh 20 or 30 tons and are impossible to confiscate, we will detonate," he told RPP radio. He said the operation is set to begin in December. (Terra, Nov. 6)
Campesinos from some 40 pueblos across Celendín province, in Peru's northern region of Cajamarca, held a meeting at Huasmín village Oct. 23 to announce a cross-country march that would arrive in mid-November at the planned site of the Conga gold mine, where marchers would join the encampment that has been established there. Campesinos have occupied the site for months to protect alpine lakes slated be destroyed to make way for open-pit operations. By Nov. 24, which will mark the two-year anniversary of the start of the protest action, the Celendín campesinos hope to have a "Casa Rondera" built on private land adjacent to the Conga site which has been volunteered for the cause by local residents. The casa will be a communal residence for the protesters, who are organized in rondas, peasant self-defense patrols. (Servindi, Oct. 25; Celendin Libre, Oct. 23)
In a popular assembly Nov. 6, residents of Espinar village in Peru's Cuzco region declared themselves on a "war footing," pledigng to resist imminent construction of the Majes Siguas II irrigation mega-project, which would divert water from indigenous communities in the highlands to agribusiness interests on the coast. Profesor René Huamani Quirita, president of the Unified Defense Front for the Interests of Espinar Province, protested that hundreds of National Police troops have been stationed in the nearby community of Yauri, apparently in anticipation of protests. (Radio Universal, Cuzco, Nov. 6) Later that day, Espinar's mayor Oscar Mollohuanca announced that some 100 police troops had attacked local villagers at Urinsaya in Coporaque district, beating five. The whereabouts of one villager has been unknown since the attack, and Mollohuanca joined the missing campesino's family in demanding an urgent investigation. (Radio Universal, RPP, Nov. 6)
Bolivia's President Evo Morales said Oct. 28 that his country has achieved the conditions to obtain nuclear power for "pacific ends," and that Argentina and France would help "with their knowledge." He made his comments at the opening of a "Hydrocarbon Sovereignty" conference in Tarija. In May, Bolivia and Argentina signed an accord on nuclear cooperation. In an obvious reference to the United States, Morales anticipated political obstacles, saying that "some countries have [nuclear energy] but don't want to let others."
A series of explosions outside the provincial Communist Party headquarters in Taiyuan, capital of China's Shanxi province, left one dead and at least eight wounded Nov. 6. National broadcaster CCTV said more than 20 vehicles were damaged. Coverage inevitably invokes last week's Tiananmen Square attack, which has been blamed on Uighur militants. But South China Morning Post notes that the blasts come a week after "a team of graft investigators from Beijing arrived in Taiyuan to conduct an in-depth review of the province's finances." Authorities have appealed to citizens with personal grievances not to overwhelm the team. There have been several bomb blasts in China over the past years apparently motivated by frustration with official corruption rather than any ideological or ethnic agenda. Shanxi has seen violence in recent years over labor unrest and land disputes.