Central America Theater

Nicaragua: yes to Iran; no to IMF

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on a tour of Latin America, stopped in Nicaragua April 23, where President Daniel Ortega expressed his support for Tehran's nuclear program. "All countries should be allowed to access peaceful nuclear technology and this right is not just for some countries," Ortega said. "What my country is against is using nuclear energy for military purposes, like the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II." Without explicitly saying that the phrase came from Ortega, Iran's Press TV said the Nicaraguan leader called for lifting the state of "nuclear apartheid." (Press TV, April 23)

Honduras: campesino ecologists under threat

Tierramérica reports [April 21] that grassroots organizations in the department of Olancho, Honduras, are fighting both for the enforcement of a partial ban decreed to stop illegal logging, as well as justice punishment of the assassins of two Honduran environmentalists on December 20, 2006. Six environmentalists have been killed in the Olancho region since 1998, and more than half of the original 2.5 million hectares of forested land has been cut.

Nicaragua tilts to Venezuela —and away from PPP

Petroleos de Nicaragua (Petronic) has announced construction of an oil refinery in the Central American nation, with aid from Venezuela as part of Hugo Chavez's proposed Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA). Work is to begin on the "Sandino-Bolivar" refinery by June, when Chavez is slated to visit Nicaragua. Petronic director Francisco Lopez said that besides satisfying Nicaragua's annual demand of 10 million barrels, the refinery will supply fuel to other countries of the isthmus from Guatemala to Panama. Lopez said the project is unprecedented in Central America, comparable only to the Panama Canal in magnitude. (Prensa Latina, Cuba; El Universal, Caracas, April 16)

CENTRAL AMERICA: DEATH SQUADS FREELANCE FOR NARCOS

from Weekly News Update on the Americas:

Guatemala: Three Salvadoran Reps Murdered; Accused Killers Follow Them to Grave

Three Salvadoran legislative deputies to the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) were murdered along with their driver on the afternoon of Feb. 19 as they were visiting Guatemala to attend a session of the parliament. Assailants followed them in vehicles to a place about 36 km from Guatemala City, killed them and set their van on fire—although there was evidence that some of the victims may have been alive when the fire was set.

Guatemala: Maya priests to purify sacred site after Bush visit

From AP, March 9:

GUATEMALA CITY -- Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate "bad spirits" after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday.

Guatemala: Rigoberta Menchu announces presidential bid

1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, a defender of Guatemala's Maya people during the genocide of the late 1970s and '80s, will run in the nation's September presidential election with the Juntos por Guatemala (Together for Guatemala) party and Winaq, a new coalition of indigenous leaders. If elected, she will be Latin America's first indigenous woman head-of-state.

GUATEMALA: MINERAL CARTEL EVICTS KEKCHI MAYA

Security Forces Burn Peasant Settlements for Canadian Nickel Firm

by Bill Weinberg, Indian Country Today

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