Some 5,000 US troops are in Jordan this week to participate in the multi-national exercise dubbed Eager Lion. The US forces include an Army unit with a Patriot missile battery, and the Navy's Expeditionary Strike Group 5. Other participating nations include the UK, France, Canada, Turkey, Bahrain, Iraq, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Although the Pentagon insists the maneuvers have nothing to do with the conflict in neighboring Syria, it comes as Iran is reportedly sending 4,000 Revolutionary Guards to support President Bashar Assad in the fight against opposition forces. (Al-Arabiya, PKKH, June 16; Stars & Stripes, June 12; US Army press release, June 11)
World War 4 Report editor Bill Weinberg, just back from Peru, will speak Friday June 28 at the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS), 155 Ave. C between 9th and 10th Streets, on New York's Lower East Side. The talk and slide show will focus on struggles for urban space in Lima (community centers, squats, gardens); the movement for legalization of coca leaf, and against US-led eradication efforts; and peasant struggles for land and water against US mineral companies in the Andes. There will also be a report on recent protests in Lima against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, with a representative from NY Metro Trade Justice. The presentation will begin promptly at 7:00 PM.
On June 4 Bolivia's Justice Minister Cecilia Ayllon presided at a meeting in Sucre that brought together the country's leading jurists, including members of the Constitutional Tribunal, with traditional indigenous authorities from the National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ), the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Oriente of Bolivia (CIDOB), the Unitary Confederation of Campesino Workers of Bolivia (CSUTCB), and the Sindical Confederation of Intercultural Communities of Bolivia (CSCIB). At the meeting, aimed at hashing out a common position on indigenous autonomy as guaranteed by Bolivia's new constitution, conflict emerged over Ayllon's assertion that the guarantees should be applied to 36 ethnic groups. CONAMAQ's David Crispín asserted that there are actually 50 indigenous peoples and nationalities within Bolivia under the standards outlined in the constitution. CONAMAQ's legal authority Simón Antonio Cuiza offered to provide documentation for the claim to jurists and lawmakers, and work with them to truly establish Bolivia as a "plurinational state." (CONAMAQ via Facebook, June 7)
Vladimiro Huaroc, head of Peru's National Office of Dialogue and Sustainability (ONDS), weighed in on the controversy over the country's new Prior Consultation Law June 14, in comments published in the official newspaper El Peruano. "There are many sectors that want the government to execute these actions as soon as possible, and we do not understand the trouble," he wrote. Seeming to address assertions by President Ollanta Humala that the law should not apply in the country's sierras, Huaroc invoked Peru's responsibilities under ILO Convention 169 and stated, "Probably, there are sectors that are not adequately informed" about the government's responsibilities to indigenous communities. "Prior consultation means informing the population; the Executive must do everything possible so that communities know in detail the economic processes that will be realized."
Jorge Merino, chief of Peru's Ministry of Energy and Mines, responded on June 10 to reports in the media that the controversial gold project at Conga, in northern Cajamarca region, has been cancelled. The site, an extension of Newmont Mining's giant Yanacocha complex, remains under occupation by local campesinos, and clashes with police troops there have become frequent. "The information I have from the company is that they are making re-adjustments in Yanacocha and Conga," Merino said. "In agreement with the workers, there has been a reduction in the order of 50 workers who will be relocated, but I strongly deny that there is a position that Conga has intentions to leave. Conga continues... I have spoken with functionaries of Newmont, and the project is going ahead."
Guatemala's President Otto Pérez Molina said he is considering imposing a state of emergency in Salcajá, Quetzaltenango department, after an armed attack on a substation of the National Civil Police (PNC) left eight officers dead and their commander abducted June 14. Authorities said the slain officers were disarmed, made to face down on the ground, and then shot them in the head, execution-style. Pérez Molina attributed the attack to drug gangs operating in the area, with possible links to Mexican criminal networks such as the Sinaloa Cartel or Los Zetas. Jorge Santos of the International Center for Human Rights Research (CIDH), set up to secure political rights after Guatemala's civil war, said he hoped "this terror will not lead to greater levels of social control by the executive."
Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and Chinese business magnate Wang Jing on June 14 formally sealed a pact granting Wang exclusive rights to build a multi-billion-dollar inter-oceanic canal through the Central American nation—the night after the country's National Assembly, dominated by Ortega's Sandinista Front, voted up Law 840, a bill approving the project, by 61-25. Wang's HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. will start with a study to determine whether the project is viable. Under the plan, the company would have a 50-year contract to develop and run the canal, with Nicaragua receiving a minority share of any profits. Ortega pledges the project will eradicate poverty in the country, one of the hemisphere's poorest. "This is a historic day for Nicaragua... a day of fulfilling prophecies and realizing dreams," said first lady Rosario Murillo, during the nationally televised ceremony. Murillo called it a "day of miracles" and said the canal project represents a "prophecy of prosperity for Nicaraguan families."