South and Central America

Nearly 90 killed by troops

Bush administration backs massacres in Bolivia

By Bill Vann, 17 October 2003

With at least 86 workers, peasants and students confirmed killed by army and police bullets and hundreds more wounded during the last three weeks of mass protests, the Bush administration has solidarized itself fully with the repressive regime of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

26 reported killed

Bolivian troops massacre strikers

By César Uco and Bill Vann, 14 October 2003

Bolivian army troops backed by tanks killed at least 26 workers and peasants and wounded some 90 more Sunday, as the US-backed government of President Gonzalo Sanchez Lozada unleashed murderous repressive force in an attempt to crush a month-long rebellion against his government’s International Monetary Fund-dictated austerity policies.

Is the US plotting to murder Venezuela’s president?

By Bill Vann, 8 October 2003

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez cancelled a planned trip last month to the United Nations General Assembly’s opening debate, explaining that he did so because of a potential threat on his life. His government’s intelligence agencies had reportedly warned of a plot backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to sabotage his plane in flight from Caracas to New York City. He and others had also raised concerns about Venezuelan anti-government terrorists conducting military training on US soil.

Argentine judge frees military officers facing extradition

By Paul Mitchell, 26 September 2003

An Argentine judge has freed 39 military officers and one civilian facing extradition to Spain. Federal judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral told reporters, “I have placed them at immediate liberty unless another court orders their detention. The case has been shelved.”

The lessons of Chile—30 years on

By Mauricio Saavedra and Margaret Rees, 17 September 2003

Thirty years ago on September 11 the Chilean military, with the full backing of Washington and the Pentagon, overthrew the democratically elected government of President Salvadore Allende and installed General Augusto Pinochet’s fascist-military dictatorship, which lasted 17 years.

September 11—30 years since the US-backed coup in Chile

12 September 2003

September 11 marked the 30th anniversary of the bloody US-backed coup that brought to power the fascist-military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. The struggle in Chile that culminated in bitter defeat three decades ago constituted one of the most important strategic experiences of the international working class. The coup itself was an event that played no small role in shaping the world as it exists today.

Rumsfeld: “Frontline in terror war”

Washington signals escalation of US intervention in Colombia

By Bill Vann, 26 August 2003

The Bush administration signaled strongly last week that it is preparing to escalate its military intervention in Colombia’s four-decade-old civil war.

Spanish judge demands extradition of Argentine officers

By Paul Mitchell, 16 July 2003

Judge Baltasar Garzon has renewed his call for 46 Argentine military officers to be extradited to Spain. He has demanded they pay nearly $3 billion in compensation to victims of the 1976-1983 Argentine military dictatorship in which they participated.

Amid propaganda campaign over Iraq:

Guatemala’s mass graves ignored by mass media

By Bill Vann, 2 July 2003

Last month, the people of Xiquin Sanahi, a small village in the Guatemalan highlands, reburied the remains of 75 of their family members and neighbors who were massacred two decades ago by the Guatemalan army. The skeletal remains had been exhumed a year earlier by a team of forensic anthropologists.

Argentina’s Kirchner: caught between the IMF and social unrest

By Rafael Azul, 16 June 2003

Nestor Kirchner assumed power in Buenos Aires on May 25. Backed by powerful oil and mineral interests and by his predecessor, President Eduardo Duhalde, Kirchner had campaigned on a platform that was critical of both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the social catastrophe created by capitalism in Argentina.

US suffers Latin American rebuke at OAS meeting

By Bill Vann, 14 June 2003

US Secretary of State Colin Powell came away empty handed from the annual meeting of the Organization of American States held earlier this week in Santiago, Chile.

Tens of thousands march in Lima

Peruvian workers defy state of emergency

By Cesár Uco, 5 June 2003

Tens of thousands of workers marched in downtown Lima Tuesday in defiance of the state of emergency declared by the government of President Alejandro Toledo.

The theory of “self-organization”

Interview with Luis Zamora of Argentina’s Autonomy and Freedom movement

By David Walsh, 2 June 2003

Luis Zamora, leader of the Autonomy and Freedom (Autonomia y Libertad) movement, is a prominent political figure in Argentina. A deputy in the National Congress, Zamora toyed with the idea of running for president in the recently held election—at one point he was leading in the polls—before abandoning the notion last autumn on the grounds that “taking power” was not what his “socialist-libertarian” organization was about.

Menem, Kirchner in Argentine presidential run-off

By Rafael Azul, 29 April 2003

The result of Sunday’s presidential elections in Argentina indicates no candidate gathered enough votes to win on the first round. Former president Carlos Menem and the governor of Santa Cruz province, Nestor Kirchner—both members of the Peronist party—were the front-runners and will compete in a second round that will take place May 18. Menem, who ruled Argentina between 1989 and 1999, received 24.36 percent of the votes to Kirchner’s 22 percent.

Austerity and repression overshadow Argentine elections

By Rafael Azul, 26 April 2003

Three candidates are virtually tied for first place in this Sunday’s elections in Argentina. Voters are going to the polls to elect a new president, the first since Fernando de la Rua resigned in December 2001. Whoever wins will be called upon by the International Monetary Fund and Wall Street to fully implement the budget cuts and austerity measures demanded by the IMF and confront the growing popular resistance to the deepening misery and mass unemployment.

US provocations and Castroite repression

Washington steps up attack on Cuba over dissident trials

By Bill Vann, 24 April 2003

In the wake of a repressive crackdown by the regime of Fidel Castro, the Bush administration is reportedly considering drastic new measures against Cuba. These would include the cutting off of remittances sent by Cuban-Americans to family members on the island and the halting of direct charter flights used principally by US-based Cuban émigrés to visit their homeland. Both sanctions are aimed at tightening the four-decade-old blockade against the Caribbean nation, while increasing economic and emotional hardships for Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits.

Violent clashes in Buenos Aires on eve of election

Argentine police attack workers protest

By Bill Vann, 23 April 2003

Just days before Argentina’s presidential election, Buenos Aires was rocked by violence Monday as heavily armed police attacked a demonstration led by women textile workers. The workers were attempting to reclaim their jobs at a factory they had occupied and run since December 2001. More than 125 people were arrested and scores more injured by police, who, in addition to tear gas and rubber bullets, fired live ammunition at the workers.

Brazil: Lula’s first 100 days—austerity for the poor, tax cuts for the rich

By Rafael Azul, 22 April 2003

Since he took office 107 days ago, Brazilian President Luis Inacio da Silva (Lula) has carried out austerity policies in the interest of the international banks, in many cases outdoing his predecessor, Fernando Enrique Cardoso. In addition to pushing through legislation that would place the country’s Central Bank out of the control of the elected government and the country’s voters, he has cut public spending and increased interest rates, curtailing the Brazilian government’s ability to create jobs and provide social benefits.

As hunt for captured “contractors” continues

US escalates Colombian military intervention

By Bill Vann, 1 March 2003

Over the past month, the Pentagon has nearly doubled the number of US military forces it acknowledges are deployed in Colombia, while special operations units are joining directly in a massive search-and-rescue operation that has been mounted to locate three US military contract personnel captured after their plane was downed over guerrilla-held territory February 13.

Child starvation stalks Argentina’s northern provinces

By Perla Astudillo, 22 February 2003

Since October, Argentina has reported the deaths of scores of children from malnutrition, with thousands more hospitalized and fighting for their lives. Nearly half a million children—more than one in five—are suffering from malnutrition across the country. Included among the deaths reported in recent weeks was a 14-year-old who died February 10, weighing only 25 kilos and a three-year-old weighing only 9.8 kilos—the normal weight for a one-year-old.

Bolivia: Military-provoked riots end in 33 deaths

By Mauricio Saavedra, 21 February 2003

Fifteen thousand people marched on La Paz, February 17, demanding the resignation of the Bolivian government of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. The demonstration came in the wake of more than a month of protests, strikes, roadblocks and violent clashes that have rocked Latin America’s poorest nation.

As coca leaders, government talk

US boosts military aid to Bolivia

By Mauricio Saavedra, 21 February 2003

As coca grower leaders resume discussions with the Bolivian government, the Bush administration is substantially increasing military funding for the US-enforced “drug war,” paving the way for direct intervention.

After capture of Pentagon contractors:

Wider US war threatened in Colombia

By Bill Vann, 21 February 2003

The threat of a wider US war in Colombia just as Washington is preparing to unleash an invasion of Iraq has escalated sharply following the killing of a Pentagon contractor and the abduction of three others by guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

As Green Berets deploy in war zone

Colombian president seeks massive US intervention

By Bill Vann, 1 February 2003

In a remarkable comment to the international press last month, Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe Velez called upon Washington to mount a military intervention in his country equal in scope to the one that is now being prepared against Iraq.

Brazil’s Lula: From Porto Alegre to Davos

By Bill Vann, 27 January 2003

Brazil’s recently inaugurated president Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva flew to Switzerland Friday night to participate in the World Economic Forum in Davos. Lula boarded the flight only hours after delivering a speech to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in Brazil’s southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The latter annual gathering of anti-globalization activists, including supporters of Lula’s own Workers Party, or PT, was initiated three years ago in direct opposition to the Davos meeting of world bankers and heads of state.

Washington escalates military buildup in Latin America

By Mauricio Saavedra, 23 January 2003

Under the pretext of combating terrorism, the Bush Administration is promoting the most intense US military buildup in Latin America since Washington backed a series of military coups that brought right-wing military dictatorships to power in much of the continent in the 1960s and 1970s.

Venezuela “strike”: the anatomy of a US-backed provocation

By Patrick Martin, 20 January 2003

Leaders of the right-wing umbrella group seeking to overthrow Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have dropped their demand that Chavez resign immediately as a condition for calling off the business shutdown that has dragged on for more than six weeks.

Argentine military commander eulogizes ex-dictator

By Bill Vann, 16 January 2003

A eulogy by Argentina’s top army general describing the country’s former dictator Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri as a “disciplined soldier” who “acted according to his convictions” has sparked widespread protests and demands for the officer’s dismissal.

Ex-US bank chief to set monetary policy

Brazil: Lula’s appointments point to deeper austerity

By Bill Vann, 20 December 2002

While millions of Brazilian workers and poor people provided Lula and his Workers Party (PT) with an overwhelming margin of victory in last October’s election, his government’s economic team has been selected to defend the interests of the international banks, foreign investors and the Brazilian financial elite.

Washington maneuvers toward Venezuelan coup

By Bill Vann, 19 December 2002

With an employer-organized lockout in its third week, the Bush administration is maneuvering with the Venezuelan right wing in an attempt to topple the country’s elected president, Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela: Is the CIA preparing another coup?

By Bill Vann, 11 December 2002

With a “strike” organized by Venezuela’s employers now entering its second week, there is every indication that the South American country is being subjected to a classic destabilization campaign organized in collaboration with US intelligence.

Argentine workers stage hunger march

By Bill Vann, 6 December 2002

Over 15,000 Argentine workers, unemployed and youth marched on the government palace in Buenos Aires’s Plaza de Mayo December 4 in a “national march against hunger.” The seven-hour march from the working class suburb of Liniers was organized by the piqueteros organizations (named for the picket lines they have used to block highways) that have sprung up in response to Argentina’s protracted economic and social disintegration.

Argentina defaults on loan to World Bank

By Bill Vann, 16 November 2002

Argentina defaulted Thursday on an $805 million debt to the World Bank. The decision by the government of President Eduardo Duhalde not to meet the payment came amid reports of child starvation and other signs of social disintegration within the country and increasing tensions in its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

Brazil’s Lula reassures Wall Street, warns workers of austerity

By Bill Vann, 31 October 2002

In the two days following his landslide victory in Brazil’s October 27 presidential election, Workers Party (PT) candidate Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva has taken pains to reassure the world’s financial markets that his government will enforce the austerity policies initiated by its predecessors.

Brazil’s "Lula" celebrates victory, IMF demands more austerity

By Bill Vann, 29 October 2002

The election of Workers Party (PT) candidate and former metalworkers union leader Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva triggered horn-honking, flag-waving celebrations in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and other major Brazilian cities Sunday night. Foreign and domestic capital markets held their fire in anticipation of PT’s announcement of an economic transition team.

As Washington eyes Latin "axis of evil"

Coup attempts continue in Venezuela

By Bill Vann, 28 October 2002

An attempt by a ring of 14 high-ranking Venezuelan officers to spark a military rebellion against the government of President Hugo Chavez appeared to have fizzled Thursday when army units failed to respond to their call for “disobedience.”

As US intervention grows:

Colombian army lays siege to Medellín neighborhood

By Bill Vann, 19 October 2002

Colombian assault troops and police backed by tanks and helicopter gunships laid siege Wednesday to an impoverished neighborhood in Medellín, the South American nation’s second largest city.

Brazil vote sets stage for deeper crisis

By Bill Vann, 8 October 2002

Workers Party candidate Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva failed to gain the outright majority needed to win Brazil’s presidency in the first round, but the turnout on Sunday for his candidacy points to his almost certain victory in the second round of voting set for October 27.

As workers launch general strike

Colombia’s President Uribe intensifies repression

By Bill Vann, 19 September 2002

Colombia’s armed forces were placed on a “maximum state of alert” September 16 as hundreds of thousands of workers joined in a general strike against the policies of the newly installed US-backed government of President Alvaro Uribe.

September 11 in Chile—clashes on coup’s anniversary

By Bill Vann, 14 September 2002

In Chile, September 11 was marked by violent clashes between demonstrators and Carabinero military police, resulting in over 500 arrests and scores of wounded.

After the debt default: Argentine economy in deepest-ever recession

By Nick Beams, 10 September 2002

A report on the state of the Argentine economy published earlier this month provides an insight into the devastating impact of its financial crisis, and the social catastrophe inflicted upon the population as a result of the measures dictated by the International Monetary Fund.

US documents implicate Kissinger in Argentine atrocities

By Rafael Azul and Bill Vann, 6 September 2002

Secret archives released by the US State Department directly implicate former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and other top American officials in backing the brutal military regime of mass murder, “disappearances” and torture that ruled Argentina for more than seven years, beginning in March 1976.

The social costs of Argentina’s crisis

By Rafael Azul, 22 August 2002

The effect is not immediate; it takes a visitor to Buenos Aires a few hours to discern the devastating impact that Argentina’s economic depression is having on that country’s social fabric. In the evening, as the hustle and bustle common to any large metropolis dies down, the signs of the crisis emerge: parents begging with their children; hungry people eating restaurant refuse; the homeless settling down for the night. In the very center of town three- and four-year-old children play little musical instruments as they beg. In the wealthier neighborhoods, nine- and ten-year-olds offer to watch one’s automobile parked on the street.

Colombia’s new president declares state of emergency

By Jeremy Johnson, 17 August 2002

Only five days into his term of office, Colombia’s right-wing President Alviro Uribe Vélez declared a state of emergency Monday, allowing him to rule by decree and restrict basic civil liberties. The declaration signals the launching of an all-out war against the 38-year-long guerilla insurgency, as well as stepped-up attacks on workers and peasants who resist the crushing poverty that government policies impose.

O’Neill's Latin tour sparks protests as IMF grants record loan

By Bill Vann, 10 August 2002

A tour by US Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill of three of Latin America’s most crisis-ridden countries was overshadowed August 7 by the International Monetary Fund’s announcement of a record $30 billion rescue package for the Brazilian economy.

As Latin American crisis spreads, US offers loan to Uruguay

By Bill Vann, 6 August 2002

In a stopgap measure aimed at preventing another Latin American government from defaulting on its foreign debts, the Bush administration provided a $1.5 billion bridge loan to Uruguay August 4.

Chilean Supreme Court ends legal proceedings against Pinochet

By Mauricio Saavedra, 20 July 2002

The Chilean Supreme Court excused General Augusto Pinochet from legal proceedings in a decision on July 1, which effectively means that the ageing former dictator will not face trial for any of the crimes carried out during his brutal 17-year rule.

Argentina’s ex-dictator Galtieri faces "Dirty War" trial

41 others charged with murder, torture

By Bill Vann, 19 July 2002

Former military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri and at least 40 other former military officers have been arrested in Argentina on charges of murder, kidnapping and torture in connection with brutal acts of repression carried out more than two decades ago.

Washington threatens Bolivia on presidential vote

By Tomas Rodriguez and Bill Vann, 18 July 2002

In the run-up to the selection of a new president in Bolivia, the Bush administration has issued unconcealed threats of US sanctions and potential military retaliation if the candidate opposed by Washington ends up winning.

Argentina’s police killings raise specter of dictatorship

By Rafael Azul, 2 July 2002

The execution-style murder of two unemployed youth during a jobless protest in Buenos Aires last Wednesday marks a new stage in Argentina’s class struggle—raising once again the specter of military dictatorship.

Police kill two protesters in Argentina

By Jerry Isaacs, 28 June 2002

Two protesters were killed and 90 others injured in Buenos Aires Wednesday when police and national guardsmen attacked a demonstration of hundreds of jobless workers and retirees on the outskirts of the Argentine capital. Witnesses said heavily armed riot police fired from rooftops and at point blank range into crowds of protesters demanding jobs, food and aid for those hardest hit by the country’s economic crisis.

An exchange on the Colombian FARC

24 June 2002

Bill Vann, for the WSWS

Brazil’s Workers Party chooses textile magnate as candidate

By Bill Vann, 22 June 2002

In an electoral maneuver aimed both at winning votes and placating foreign investors, Brazil’s Workers Party (PT) has chosen a multimillionaire textile magnate and leader of the right-wing Liberal Party (PL) as its vice presidential candidate in elections set for October.

Brazil: Workers Party officials accuse Wall Street of "electoral terrorism"

By Bill Vann, 19 June 2002

The Brazilian government announced a series of emergency economic measures June 13 aimed at stemming the precipitous fall of the country’s currency against the dollar and strengthening the country’s position on world financial markets.

IMF demands new austerity measures in Argentina

By Bill Vann, 12 June 2002

The International Monetary Fund has continued to stall on sending a mission to Argentina to negotiate new loans, insisting the government of President Eduardo Duhalde implement still further austerity measures.

Rightist death squads hail Colombia’s new president

By Bill Vann, 29 May 2002

Colombia’s main right-wing paramilitary organization hailed the election May 26 of Alvaro Uribe Vélez, a son of the rural aristocracy who has vowed to double the size of the country’s armed forces in order to prosecute an all-out counterinsurgency campaign backed by Washington.

Colombian vote sets stage for US military escalation

By Bill Vann, 25 May 2002

Presidential elections to be held in Colombia on Sunday will set the stage for a sharp escalation of the US military intervention in the war-torn South American country.

Bush vows tighter blockade, Castro pushes for rapprochement with US

By Bill Vann, 21 May 2002

Just three days after former president Jimmy Carter ended his trip to Cuba by urging an end to Washington’s 40-year-old embargo and closer economic ties with the island nation, President Bush vowed to tighten the blockade.

The unquiet death of Charles Horman

Chilean court reenacts stadium execution of American journalist

By Bill Vann, 17 May 2002

Gunshots rang out once again in Santiago’s National Stadium May 14, nearly 30 years after the Chilean sports facility was turned into a center of torture and execution by a US-backed military junta that overthrew the elected government of President Salvador Allende.

Carter comment exposes Bush administration’s "big lie" against Cuba

By Bill Vann, 15 May 2002

The visit by former US president Jimmy Carter to Cuba may not lead to a rapprochement between Washington and Havana or an end to the four-decades-old US economic blockade against the Caribbean nation, but it has already provided a valuable lesson on the nature of the US government’s global “war on terrorism.”

On eve of Carter’s trip to Cuba

Bush administration split over anti-Castro blockade

By Bill Vann, 11 May 2002

Jimmy Carter’s six-day trip to Cuba—the first by any US president, past or present, since the 1959 revolution toppled the Washington-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista—has cast a spotlight on a bitter internecine dispute within the Bush administration over the four-decades-old economic blockade against the island nation.

Bush administration issues new threats

Is the US planning a war against Cuba?

By Bill Vann, 10 May 2002

A series of accusations and threats leveled by officials of the Bush administration this week have raised serious questions about whether Washington is planning to expand its global “war on terrorism” to include military aggression against Cuba.

The AFL-CIO’s role in the Venezuelan coup

By Bill Vann, 3 May 2002

An agency directed by the AFL-CIO trade union federation played a key role in funding and advising those who organized the recent abortive military coup attempt in Venezuela. The AFL-CIO’s role in the US-backed plot underscores the fact that even as the union apparatus becomes increasingly irrelevant as a significant factor in American politics and the lives of US workers, it continues to conspire against the democratic rights and class interests of workers internationally.

Argentine president bows to IMF and banks

By Bill Vann, 27 April 2002

With his government in a shambles and Argentina’s economy at a virtual standstill, President Eduardo Duhalde has taken a series of measures aimed at winning the approval of the International Monetary Fund for a new loan of at least $9 billion to stave off a collapse of the country’s financial system.

What the New York Times "overlooked" in the Venezuelan events

By Bill Vann, 18 April 2002

The disarray within US ruling circles over the failed coup in Venezuela has found its most distilled expression on the editorial page of the New York Times.

US debacle in Venezuela: Bush administration backtracks on coup

By Bill Vann, 18 April 2002

The brief overthrow and subsequent restoration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has left that Latin American country in a state of deep political crisis. There are strong indications that, despite the humiliating debacle suffered by those who carried out an April 11 coup d’etat, new US-backed attempts to remove the elected government are in the offing.

Chavez back...for now

Abortive Venezuelan coup was made in the USA

By Bill Vann, 15 April 2002

The abortive attempt to overthrow Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has all the earmarks of a military coup made in the USA.

The New York Times salutes a "democratic" coup

By Bill Vann, 15 April 2002

The Bush administration distinguished itself internationally with its laudatory pronouncements on the abortive military coup in Venezuela. Nowhere, however, did the arrogance and hypocrisy of the US ruling elite find a more finished expression than on the editorial page of the New York Times.

Malvinas War veterans protest Argentina’s social crisis

By Rafael Azul, 11 April 2002

Attempting to bolster his crisis-ridden administration with crude appeals to national chauvinism, Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde led an April 2 ceremony commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the Argentine military’s invasion of the Malvinas Islands, which the British call the Falklands. The observance, however, awakened bitter memories and called attention to the high rates of homelessness, unemployment, poverty and depression that afflict Malvinas veterans.

Bush’s recipe for Latin America: austerity, repression and more US militarism

By Bill Vann and Tomas Rodriguez, 28 March 2002

In his four-day, three-nation tour of Latin America, George W. Bush reprised all of the familiar homilies about hemispheric “partnership” and mutual progress that have been the stock-in-trade of every US president for 50 years. In the wake of September 11, Washington has refurbished the rhetoric slightly. It has replaced the old invocations of an alliance against “communist subversion” used to justify the military interventions, CIA-organized coups and US-backed dictatorships that characterized the region for most of the twentieth century with a new slogan—the “war on terrorism.”

Shock therapy for Argentina: 75,000 jobs disappear in one month

By Rafael Azul, 25 March 2002

Argentina faces a social crisis of unprecedented proportions. Seventy-five thousand jobs disappeared during the month of February alone. The nation moved toward the 25 percent unemployment mark, while government officials begged for assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

US troops join invasion of Colombian rebel zone

By Bill Vann, 28 February 2002

The appearance of US Army Special Forces in the Colombian town of San Vicente del Caguan is a clear indication of the escalating US intervention in South America’s oldest civil war. San Vicente del Caguan is the capital of the so-called “safe zone” that was invaded by Colombian troops after heavy aerial bombardment last week.

US militarism targets South American oil

By Bill Vann, 20 February 2002

Washington’s military intervention into Colombia’s four-decades-old civil war was initiated nearly two years ago by the Clinton administration with a $1.3 billion emergency military aid package dubbed Plan Colombia. The plan was justified in the name of waging a “war on drugs.”

291 dead in Lima: the social roots of Peru’s tragic fire

By Cesár Uco, 28 January 2002

A terrible fire late last month in Lima left a toll of 291 dead and hundreds of wounded. The victims were drawn almost entirely from the millions of marginalized poor who go daily into the streets of Peruvian cities to earn a few cents or buy cheap goods.

US pushes Colombia to brink of all-out war

By Bill Vann, 19 January 2002

Colombia, for the moment, has avoided the all-out eruption of its four-decade-old civil war following a last-ditch mediation effort launched by the United Nations, a group of governments including France, Mexico and Cuba and the Catholic Church. Bowing to the call for renewed negotiations, Colombian President Carlos Andres Pastrana announced the postponement of an ultimatum he had delivered to the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla movement to abandon a 25,000-square-mile “demilitarized zone” in the south of the country.

Argentine devaluation: unelected government begins assault on living standards

By Rafael Azul and Bill Vann, 8 January 2002

Assuming power after mass upheavals throughout Argentina forced the resignation of four presidents within the space of barely two weeks, an alliance of discredited Peronist politicians, backed by the Radicals, the country’s other bourgeois party, has spelled out a new economic program that will mean even sharper attacks on the living standards of millions of Argentine workers and middle class people.

Large anti-government swing in Chilean elections

By Mauricio Saavedra, 28 December 2001

For the first time since the return to civilian rule in 1990, the ruling “centre-left” coalition in Chile polled less than half the votes in the December 16 parliamentary elections, allowing former military dictator General Augusto Pinochet’s political heirs to claim that they will return to power after the next elections.

Political crisis deepens in Argentina after De la Rua’s fall

By Rafael Azul, 22 December 2001

A mass upsurge developed in Argentina on Wednesday and Thursday when the working class and a radicalized section of the middle class took to the streets and toppled the government of President Fernando De la Rua.

IMF austerity sparks upheavals

Social unrest topples Argentina’s president

By Rafael Azul, 21 December 2001

President Fernando de la Rua fled the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential palace, aboard a helicopter December 20 after a day of violent clashes between riot police and thousands of workers and youth who defied a state of siege to protest the government’s economic austerity policies.

General strike paralyzes Argentina as bankruptcy threatens economy

By Rafael Azul, 18 December 2001

Argentina was paralyzed on Thursday, December 13 during the seventh general strike this year against the government of President Fernando De la Rua.

Anti-government hostility marks Chilean election campaign

By Perla Astudillo, 15 December 2001

Socialist Party leader Ricardo Lagos, who won the Chilean presidency as the candidate for the ruling Concertacion coalition in early 2000, is facing his first major electoral test in tomorrow’s congressional elections. After entering office with promises of dealing with the crimes of the military and former dictator General Augusto Pinochet, as well as providing better health care and working conditions, Lagos has delivered on none.

Argentina on the edge of default—Is Brazil next?

By G. Rojas, 23 November 2001

In recent meetings with Wall Street bankers and members of the Bush administration, Argentina’s President Fernando De la Rua and Economics Minister Domingo Cavallo outlined the latest scheme to prevent an outright default on the country’s $132 billion debt.

Ominous threats from US against Nicaraguan Sandinistas

By Gerardo Nebbia, 25 October 2001

In the wake of September 11, the Bush administration is threatening the Nicaraguan people over the possible election victory of Daniel Ortega, the presidential candidate for the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), in the Central American nation’s November 4 elections. Polls indicate that Ortega has a thin lead over the candidate of the ruling Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), Enrique Bolanos.

Chilean regime signs electoral pact with Communist Party

By Perla Astudillo, 2 October 2001

The Chilean Socialist Party—President Ricardo Lagos’ faction of the ruling Concertacion coalition—has signed an electoral pact to support Communist Party (PC) candidates in two of its safest seats for the December congressional elections. Under the terms of the August 1 agreement, the withdrawal of the Socialist Party (PS) candidates is likely to see the first PC members elected to the Chamber of Deputies since civilian rule was restored in 1990. In effect, the PC would become part of the ruling coalition for the first time since the Popular Unity government headed by Salvador Allende that was ousted in the 1973 military coup by General Augusto Pinochet.

Central American famine worsens

By Gerardo Nebbia, 5 September 2001

The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) reports that as many as 1.6 million Central Americans are suffering from famine as a result of a drought in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. The agency has said up to now it has only been able to distribute food to about half of the nearly 700,000 people in urgent need of food supplies.

Colombian government steps up civil war preparations

By Jeremy Johnson, 31 August 2001

Newly inaugurated Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Vélez has followed up his August 12 assumption of emergency powers [See “Colombia’s new president declares state of emergency”] with further measures aimed at crushing militarily the country’s guerrilla insurgencies and stepping up repression against human rights and trade union activists.

Bolivia’s Banzer cedes power to a "technocrat"

By Tomas Rodriguez, 24 August 2001

Bolivia’s president and former military dictator relinquished power earlier this month, ending a four-year reign marked by mounting social protest and increasingly desperate economic and social conditions for the vast majority of the country’s 8.5 million inhabitants.

Wall Street loots Argentine workers’ pensions

By Cesar Uco, 20 August 2001

One of the most important but least known aspects of the current Argentine crisis is the looting of workers’ pension funds by the Buenos Aires government, local banks and Wall Street. Billions of dollars in savings by public employees and other workers are to be put up as collateral as part of the government’s “patriotic call” to rescue Argentina from defaulting on its $130 billion foreign debt.

Growing famine in Central America

By Gerardo Nebbia, 13 August 2001

A famine is afflicting 1.4 million Central Americans, including in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The immediate cause of the famine is a devastating drought that severely reduced the corn crop. In Nicaragua at least six children have died. In that country, the famine is being compounded by the layoff of thousands of coffee workers.

US moves towards deeper intervention in Colombia civil war

By Patrick Martin, 9 August 2001

There was little reporting and less commentary in the national media on the actions of the House of Representatives July 24, giving its approval to $676 million in military, social and economic aid to Colombia and six other countries in the Andean region of northwestern South America. The House approved the Bush administration’s $15.2 billion foreign aid bill by a vote of 381-46, after 12 hours of debate focused largely on US policy in Colombia.

As markets applaud cuts

Argentine workers strike against austerity measures

By Bill Vann, 25 July 2001

International financial investors appeared satisfied, at least for the moment, with a new round of economic austerity measures that provoked crippling strikes by the Argentine workers last week. The Buenos Aires stock market continued a moderate rebound amid indications that the Peronist opposition as well as the petty-bourgeois left FREPASO coalition are prepared to support the “zero deficit” program advanced by President Fernando De la Rua and his economy minister, Domingo Cavallo.

Chilean court ends Pinochet’s trial

By Mauricio Saavedra, 14 July 2001

With the Chilean government of President Ricardo Lagos pressing for a halt to the prosecution of former military dictator Augusto Pinochet, the Santiago Appeals Court all but ended his trial this week by suspending the case indefinitely on the pretext of Pinochet’s ill health.

Jail deaths spark protest in Chile

By Perla Astudillo, 5 July 2001

Over 12,000 prisoners throughout Chile went on strike last month in protest over the death of 26 inmates in a fire in a jail in the northern city of Iquique. The strikers were demanding an end to the chronic overcrowding and brutal regime in Chilean jails that led to the Iquique fire.

Peruvian court sentences Lori Berenson to 20 years

By Bill Vann, 22 June 2001

A Peruvian court on June 20 convicted Lori Berenson of collaborating with an outlawed organization—the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)—and sentenced the 31-year-old North American to 20 years in prison. Following the verdict, Berenson’s lawyer said he would appeal the conviction to the Supreme Court of Peru.

Under international pressure, Haitian president Aristide embraces his right-wing opponents

By Jacques Richard, 22 May 2001

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, host of the Summit of the Americas which brought together 34 heads of state of the continent last month in Quebec City, used the occasion to increase international pressure on Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Missionary plane shot down in Peru: collateral damage in US "drug war"

By Bill Vann, 24 April 2001

Following the revelation that a reconnaissance aircraft carrying CIA contract employees participated in the April 20 shoot-down of a plane carrying an American missionary family over the Peruvian Amazon region, Washington has attempted to pin the blame on the Peruvian military. US officials have charged that the Peruvian pilot failed to follow accepted procedures for the interception of suspected drug runners. They have also leaked reports that the American spies objected to the attack that claimed the lives of one missionary, Veronica Bowers, and her seven-month-old daughter, Charity.

Argentina: Congress grants Cavallo emergency powers

Wall Street's man in charge

By Bill Vann, 28 March 2001

After nearly three years of recession and facing a desperate foreign debt crisis, Argentina's Congress has voted to grant emergency powers to Domingo Cavallo, the newly installed economy minister and author of previous economic plans that plunged the country into a downward spiral of poverty, unemployment and homelessness.

Chilean court dismisses murder charges against Pinochet

By Mauricio Saavedra, 12 March 2001

The Santiago Court of Appeals handed former Chilean military dictator General Augusto Pinochet a partial victory last week, dismissing charges of masterminding dozens of murders and kidnappings in the “Caravan of Death” case. He now faces trial only on minor charges of being an accessory, with a maximum penalty of three to five years' house arrest.

Pinochet appeals against arrest order in Chile

By Mauricio Saavedra, 5 February 2001

A Chilean judge placed former dictator General Augusto Pinochet under house arrest for the second time on January 29, ordering him to stand trial on homicide and kidnapping charges. Pinochet refused to acknowledge the arrest order, declining to sign the relevant document. Nevertheless, the court has confirmed the order and his lawyers filed an appeal the next day.

US-backed "Plan Colombia" to escalate bloody civil war

By Patrick Martin, 31 January 2001

Thousands of government troops are being assembled on the border of a rebel-held zone in southern Colombia on the eve of the scheduled launching of a US-backed military offensive. Some 600 soldiers were flown into the region January 23 on US-built C-130 transport planes, reinforcing the 2,500 soldiers already in place.