Third-party candidates marginalized Venezuela

Venezuela's populist President Hugo Chávez of the United Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV) was re-elected by 54.42% of the vote, with 90% of the ballots counted as results of the hard-fought race came in the night of Oct. 7. Young opposition candidate Henrique Capriles of the Primero Justicia coalition had 44.97%. Over 80% of Venezuela's 19,119,809 registered voters participated in the election. As the results were announced, Chávez supporters poured into the streets, with a massive and spontaneous party breaking out in front of the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. (VenezuelAnalysisReuters, AVN, Aporrea, Oct. 8)

Mexico: center-right bloc pushes 'labor reform'

After a 14-hour session, the Chamber of Deputies of the Mexican Congress voted in the early morning of Sept. 29 to approve major changes to the 1970 Federal Labor Law (LFT). The 346-60 vote in the 500-member Chamber was pushed through by an alliance of the governing center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). There was one abstention, and many deputies from the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) walked out of the session in protest before the vote. The measure, which was passed under a special "fast-track" provision, now goes to the Senate, which must act on it within 30 days.

South Africa: Marikana massacre survivors charged with murder

Another one to file under "Orwell would shit." From BBC News, Aug. 30:

Workers arrested at South Africa's Marikana mine have been charged in court with the murder of 34 of their colleagues shot by police.

Colombia: paramilitaries issue death threats in Barrancabermeja

A reconstituted paramilitary group, "Los Rastrojos Urban Commandos," made a series of death threats the week of Aug. 13 against members of four human rights organizations and one union in Barrancabermeja in the northern Colombian department of Santander. The first threats came in a manila envelope found on Aug. 14 at the home of human rights activist Himad Choser. The envelope contained a 9 mm bullet and a pamphlet by "Los Rastrojos" declaring Choser an enemy because he had been "denouncing and attacking our economic structure, based on drug trafficking in the region." The pamphlet described Choser as "at the service of the FARC," the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The pamphlet also named four organizations and the National Union of Food Industry Workers (SINALTRAINAL) as collaborators with Choser.

Colombia: GM and hunger strikers agree to mediation

A group of former employees of GM Colmotores, the Colombian subsidiary of the Detroit-based General Motors Company (GM), announced on the morning of Aug. 24 that they had agreed to enter into mediation to resolve a dispute with the company. As part of the agreement, they were ending a liquids-only hunger strike that 12 workers started on Aug. 1 to pressure Colmotores to reinstate them and compensate them for injuries. They said that until the dispute was settled, they would continue an encampment in front of the US embassy in Bogotá which they have maintained for more than a year.

Colombia: fired GM workers go on hunger strike

As of Aug. 15 a total of 13 former employees of GM Colmotores, the Colombian subsidiary of the Detroit-based General Motors Company (GM), were continuing a liquids-only hunger strike they began on Aug. 1 to demand reinstatement and compensation for injuries they say they received on the job. According to the protesters, the company fired them after they received disabling injuries at the Colmotores factory, which employs about 1,800 workers just outside Bogotá. The company denies the workers' accusations.

South Africa: paranoid politics of platinum mine massacre

At least 30 people were killed when an elite Tactical Response Team of the South African Police Service opened fire on striking workers at South Africa's Marikana platinum mine near Rustenburg in North West province on Aug. 16. An estimated 3,000 strikers, many armed with clubs and machetes and chanting war songs, had gathered on a hill near the mine, and refused orders to disperse. Police used tear gas and water cannon before resorting to gunfire; there were some reports that strikers also used firearms. The mine, owned by British platinum giant Lonmin, had been shut two days earlier following the deaths of 10 workers in clashes between rival unions vying for control of the strike. Lonmin considers the strike illegal, and had threatened to sack 3,000 rock-drill operators if they failed to return to work.

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