police state

Peru: coup d'etat against Humala planned?

The Peruvian blogosphere is abuzz with rumors of an imminent coup d'etat against President Ollanta Humala, fomented by elements of the opposition APRA party. Humala has reportedly put off all travel abroad and is limiting his trips into the interior of the country, staying close to Lima for fear of a move against his government if he leaves the capital. The National Intelligence Directorate (DINI) has reportedly warned that elements of the National Police are discussing a strike over various greivances, actually aimed at causing an explosion of chaos and debilitating the government—following the model of the right-wing coup of Feb. 5, 1975, that brought Francisco Morales Bermúdez to power. Humala is said to have lost the confidence of the Armed Forces Joint Command, which is unhappy with his execution of the counter-insurgency program in Apurímac-Ene River Valley (VRAE), where a remnant faction of the Sendero Luminoso guerillas remains active. (Raúl Weiner in La Mula, Dec. 23)

Urban Shield police confab protested in Oakland

Hundreds of police officers, sheriffs' deputies and military servicemen from across the country—many donning battle fatigues—converged on downtown Oakland's Marriott Hotel Oct. 25 for the opening of the Urban Shield security confab and weapons show. National and international law enforcement agencies joined with defense industry contractors to attend seminars and display wares for three days. Outside the Marriott, scores of community activists protested the event. United under the name Facing Urban Shield, the coalition said the militarist tone of the event highlighted the worsening human rights records of police forces around the US, and the waste of billions of tax-dollars on prisons. They also charged that the showcasing of arms dealers undercut crime-plagued Oakland's efforts to stem gun violence.

Haiti: government tries to arrest opposition lawyer

A failed attempt by Haitian police to search the car of a prominent lawyer, André Michel, the evening of Oct. 22 quickly turned into an embarrassment for the government of President Michel Martelly ("Sweet Micky"). Riot police stopped Michel in the capital's Martissant neighborhood after 6 pm, in violation of a constitutional ban on nighttime arrests except in cases of active crimes. Joined by Port-au-Prince Government Commissioner Francisco René, the city's chief prosecutor, the agents tried to search Michel's car. A crowd of local residents gathered to protect the attorney. The agents dispersed the crowd with tear gas and took Michel to the police headquarters, where he spent the night.

Mexico: massacre commemoration turns violent

As has become traditional, on Oct. 2 present-day students joined veterans of a 1968 student strike in a march in Mexico City to commemorate the anniversary of a massacre of strikers and their supporters there by police and the military. The attack, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas near the Tlatelcolco housing project, left at least 44 dead, although many witnesses claim that hundreds were killed. At this year's march, which marked 45 years since the attack, protesters demanded a full accounting for the massacre and punishment for the perpetrators.

Chile: thousands mark 40th anniversary of coup

Tens of thousands of Chileans marched down the Alameda avenue in central Santiago on Sept. 8 in one of a series of events marking the 40th anniversary of the US-backed Sept. 11, 1973 coup that installed the military dictatorship headed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet Urgarte (1973-1990). The marchers, some carrying signs reading "40 years since the coup, nothing and no one is forgotten," demanded justice for the victims. The organizers said 60,000 people participated in the action, which is sponsored each year by the National Assembly for Human Rights, while the police put the number at 30,000. A confrontation broke out at the march’s end between agents of the carabineros militarized police and masked protesters; 31 people were arrested and seven agents were injured, according to the police. (La Jornada, Mexico, Sept. 9, from AP, AFP)

Mexico: police attack teachers' strike encampment

Carrying plastic shields and armed with nightsticks and tear-gas canisters, some 3,600 helmeted Mexican federal police moved in on Mexico City’s main plaza, the Zócalo, at 4 PM on Sept. 13 to clear out an encampment teachers had set up as a base for actions that they had been carrying out since Aug. 21 to protest changes in the educational system. The National Education Workers Coordinating Committee (CNTE), the dissident union group leading the protests, had negotiated an agreement with the government to vacate the plaza in time for the Sept. 15-16 ceremonies that traditionally celebrate Mexico's independence from Spain, but a smaller group of teachers from the militant locals in the southern state of Oaxaca tried briefly to hold out against the police. Confrontations followed for several hours involving police agents, teachers and local anarchists. National Security Commission (CNS) head Manuel Mondragón gave a preliminary count of 29 people arrested. (Los Angeles Times, Sept. 13, from correspondent; La Jornada, Mexico, Sept. 14)

Mexico: delays in Shabazz murder inquiry protested

In an Aug. 10 press release the Citizens Committee for the Defense of the Naturalized and of Afro-Mexicans (CCDNAM) charged that the Federal District (DF, Mexico City) had failed to carry out an adequate investigation into the beating death of US rights activist Malcolm Latif Sabazz the night of May 8-9. "It’s shameful that after three months there is no punishment of those responsible for this crime," the CCDNAM’s president, Haitian-born Mexican activist Wilner Metelus, said. "Those who assassinated our brother Malcolm Latif remain free from justice, with the complicity of the authorities."

Honduras: Congress resurrects military police force

Honduras' National Congress voted on Aug. 21 to approve a law creating the Military Police of Public Order (PMOP), a new 5,000-member police unit composed of army reservists under the control of the military. This will be in addition to a 4,500-member "community police" force that the government is forming, according to an Aug. 12 announcement by Security Minister Arturo Corrales. Although he called the move a "change of course," Corrales failed to explain the difference between the community police, which to be operative by September, and the existing national police force.

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