World War 4 Report editor and chief blogger Bill Weinberg will be in Peru on assignment for the next weeks. The Daily Report will be updated as time and logistics allow, including on-the-scene reports from indigenous and campesino struggles for land and water in the Andean sierras. So please be patient with our slower pace of activity, and continue to check in on us. Daily updates and our weekly e-mailing of headlines will resume the last week of May. To sign up for the e-mail list (just one mailing a week, and your address will be kept in the strictest confidence), please be in touch.
Following the victory of Hugo Chavez’s former vice president Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela’s presidential elections on April 13, right-wing destabilization efforts have resulted in at least seven deaths. While at least 47 countries have sent official delegations to Maduro's inauguration April 19, the US and Spanish governments are alone in their echoing the opposition's call for a complete recount of votes before they will recognize Maduro. The Venezuelan president-elect had been congratulated by Latin American governments across the political spectrum, including El Salvador, Bolivia, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile.
In a unanimous decision issued on April 17, the US Supreme Court sharply restricted the use of the 1789 Alien Tort Statute for foreign nationals to sue for human rights violations that took place outside the US. The case at issue, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, was brought by 12 Nigerians now living in the US; they charged that Royal Dutch Petroleum (better known as Royal Dutch Shell) and other oil companies with a presence in the US conspired with the Nigerian government to commit human rights violations against Nigerians protesting environmental damage by the companies.
Polemic billboards springing up around Colombia, sponsored by former vice president and potential 2014 presidential candidate, Francisco Santos, ask viewers to guess who killed more cops, deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar or FARC leader Ivan Marquez. One billboard in Medellín recently was bombarded with tomatoes by an angry group of citizens. Despite a pending order from the National Electoral Council to take the billboards down, Santos said he had no intention of doing so. "Don't come to me and say that we are using the pain of the victims," he said. "No, I know and I have worked with the victims," referring to his work for the Pais Libre foundation that defends the rights of kidnapping victims and their families.
The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) on April 16 ratified its 2012 decision to remove Colombia from its human rights "black list." This is the first time in over a decade that Colombia has not been included in Chapter IV of the annual report, which lists countries in need of special human rights attention. Commenting on the new report, Colombia’s ambassador for the Organization of American States (OAS), Andres González stated that the task is far from over. "We need to persevere in an immense effort to protect vulnerable populations such as the indigenous, Afro-Colombians and women and children stricken by conflict," said Gonzalez. The only Latin American countries blacklisted in the new report are Cuba, Honduras and Venezuela. (Colombia Reports, April 17)
Colombian National Police on April 17 announced the arrest in Cali of Cesar Demar Vernaza AKA "El Empresario"—accused boss of Ecuadoran narco-gang Los Templados and purported top South American operative of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel. In February, he had escaped from a maximum-security prison in Guayaquil, known as "La Roca" or "The Rock," where he was serving a 25-year sentence for homicide. He allegedly came to Cali to establish contact with regional narco bosses and rebuild his operations along Colombia's Pacific coast. Arrested with him was an associate named only as "La Bestia" (the Beast) who was also among the 16 convicts sprung from La Roca in the February jailbreak. La Bestia attempted to resist arrest, taking the residents in his building hostage and threatening to blow up a gas tank. Authorities negotiated him down and he ultimately surrendered. (Colombia Reports, April 17)
Some 400 campesino protesters at the site of the Conga mining project in Peru's Cajamarca region on April 11 stormed the 200-strong lines of the National Police Special Forces Division (DINOES), to occupy the area around El Perol lake, where they vandalized property, putting pipes and other equipment to the torch. The Yanacocha mining company evacuated its personnel and removed its machinery from the site. About 150 protesters continued to occupy the property, although Yanacocha said the next day that they had all been evicted. Comuneros from the provinces of Celendín and Bambamarca led the action, pressing demands that Yanacocha halt all operations at the site.
At an April 7 campaign stop in Puerto Ayacucho, Amazonas department, Venezuelan presidential candidate Nicolás Maduro—now interim president and heir apparent of the late Hugo Chávez—called down a centuries-old indigenous curse on his political opponents. Refering to himself in third person, the candidate said: "The people who vote against Maduro, vote against themselves... If the bourgeoisie win power, health and education will be privatized, and the Indians will be removed from their lands. The Curse of Macarapana will fall on them. But we are not going to allow that to be." In the Battle of Macarapana, at what is now Parque del Oeste in Caracas, indigenous chieftain Catia was defeated by conquistador Diego de Losada in 1567, and by popular legend laid a curse on the victors.