A confrontation between indigenous Guatemalans in the early morning of Sept. 20 over the construction of a cement factory and a highway left eight dead in Loma Blanca community, San Juan Sacatepéquez municipality, about 30 km northwest of Guatemala City in Guatemala department. Several others were injured, and three houses and five vehicles were set on fire. According to Daniel Pascual, the leader of the Campesino Unity Committee (CUC), several armed men, some of them employees of the Cementos Progreso cement company, fired on residents who oppose the two construction projects. A Cementos Progreso representative, José González Merlos, blamed factory opponents. "These acts of violence aren't new," he said, charging that construction workers "have frequently been harassed and attacked in their homes." Factory opponents "respect absolutely nothing," according to González Merlos.
Public prosecutors in Brazil have called on the government to pay 1.4 million reais ($ 630,000) in compensation to a Guarani indigenous community and to install road signs, after eight Guarani were run over and killed. For decades the Guarani of Apy Ka'y community in Mato Grosso do Sul were forced to camp on the side of a perilous main road after they were evicted from their land, which is now occupied by a vast sugar cane plantation. Last year they reoccupied a part of their territory, but the road remains a serious threat. Five of the hit-and-run victims were relatives of the community's leader, Damiana Cavanha, who has been campaigning for the’ ancestral land to be returned. The youngest victim was four years old. Damiana believes they are being deliberately targeted by vehicles belonging to the ranchers occupying their land.
Spain's El Mundo and El Periodico on Jan. 17 reported the heartening news that after weeks of angry protests, Burgos Mayor Javier Lacalle announced a definitive end to his planned redevelopment of one of the city's main traffic arteries, citing the "impossibility" of moving ahead with the plan. Protesters had opposed the 8 million euro project both as a waste of money better spent on social programs and as a scheme to accelerate the city's gentrification. BBC News reports that the project to trasnform Calle Vitoria into a new boulevard called for a bike lane and green spaces to replace two of the thoroughfare's four traffic lanes. Free parking spaces were also to be replaced with a paid underground car lot.
On Christmas Day, some 500 riot police in Mexico's Federal District destroyed a protest encampment that had been maintained for months at San Pedro Márti barrio in Tlalpan delegation, on the southern outskirts of Mexico City. The camp, dubbed "Ixtliyolotl" for the indigenous place-name for the locale, was launched by supporters of the Movement of Neighborhods and Pueblos of the South, to oppose construction of a gas station along the highway linking Mexico City to Cuernavaca. Activists say the petrol station—being built by CorpoGas, which was spun off from state oil monopoly Pemex in 1982—has not received proper environmental review, and will accelerate the transformation of their neighborhod into a traffic-clogged commuter artery. Residents vow to continue the fight. (SeraPaz, Jan. 6; Desinformémonos, Jan. 5, translated by Angry White Kid; La Jornada, Dec. 25)
The Dakar Rally Raid motor-race across the Andes has already claimed three lives since leaving Rosario, Argentina, on Jan. 4—a motorcylist and two "spectators" who were following the race in a vehicle. Progress was finally halted five days later when residents and municipal workers in the Argentine town of Juan Alberdi, Tucumán province, blocked the road to prevent passage. (Al Jazeera, Jan. 11; EFE, El Gráfico, Buenos Aires, Jan. 9) Meanwhile, the Chilean Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to the motor-race brought by the College of Archaeologists of Chile, who site damage to ancient petroglyphs in a previous Dakar Rally through the country. The group's vice president Paola González, told France24: "In Chile, a national monuments law considers this a punishable crime. Nevertheless, the destruction with impunity of our national heritage continues."
Bolivia is mobilizing police to the route across the Altiplano and Uyuni salt flats to be taken by the upcoming Dakar Rally Raid cross-country motor-race following a pledge by Aymara protesters to blockade it with their bodies. Adherents of dissident Aymara organization CONAMAQ say they will block the international road rally to press their demands that National Police troops that have been surrounding their La Paz office stand down. CONAMAQ followers along the route through Potosí and Oruro departments are organizing their communities for action. "We say that Dakar will only benefit the city, and not the indigenous peoples," said CONAMAQ leader Rafael Quispe. "The leaders of the 16 suyus [indigenous regions] have resolved to block the passage of Dakar."
From the San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 8:
Man who sought safe streets killed in S.F. crash
A wheelchair-using San Francisco man who fought for safe streets for the disabled is being mourned this week by friends and family after he was fatally struck by a car in one of the city's most dangerous intersections.
The Oct. 28 deadly incident in Tiananmen Square—in which an SUV ploughed into the crowd, leaving five dead and nearly 40 injured—appears to have been an act of terrorism. Police are reportedly checking hotels and vehicles for two men said to be ethnic Uighurs. It is unclear if the two suspects survived the crash or are thought to be accomplices. Accounts also do not make clear if the car's occupants were all killed in the crash; Reuters called the incident a "suicide attack," but also implied the attackers set the SUV on fire after driving it into the tourist-packed square. The Uighur ethnicity of the suspects has not been officially confirmed, but is based on surnames provided in police notes left with hotel management in the city to assist in the dragnet. Radio Free Asia cites reports from locals that police are checking ID cards of Uighurs on Beijing's streets and instructed hotels not to accept patrons from Xinjiang.