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7-09-2006: Latin American News Report

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  • Peter S. Lopez de Aztlan
    7-09-2006: Latin American News Report http://humane-rights-agenda.blogspot.com/2006/07/7-09-2006-latin-american-news-report.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2006
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      7-09-2006: Latin American News Report
      ~~~Links to News Articles~~~
      Contender Alleges Mexico Vote Was Rigged = Sunday, July 9, 2006
      Medi-Cal spending goes up for illegal immigrants: Sunday, July 9, 2006
      What Salvadoran bloggers are saying — UES shooting = Saturday, July 8th, 2006
      Asian Americans Strategize Over Immigration Bills: Jul 08, 2006
      Offering high relief: Group that aids migrants in third year:  7/08/2006
      Mexican victor facing anger from the left: Friday, July 7, 2006
      Illegal Immigrant Captures in Ariz. Down”: July 7, 2006
      Illegal immigrants: Workers or thugs? = 07/07/2006
      Brazil, Venezuela jockeying for leadership of South America: Fri, Jul. 07, 2006
      Carter calls for “no foreign influence” in Nicaragua: Friday, 07 July
      Bolivian Gov Party Wins Elections: Jul 7, 2006
      Fourth demonstration in Miami in favor of travel to Cuba: Havana. July 7, 2006
      Chavez's 'New Socialism' Changes Economy: July 6, 2006
      Chile's teenagers make their voices heard: July 4, 2006
      Barrios Unidos takes its message to Venezuela: Tuesday, Jul 04, 2006 
      GRAND THEFT MEXICO = Monday, July 3, 2006
      Published by Greg Palast July 3rd, 2006 in Articles
      Contender Alleges Mexico Vote Was Rigged = Sunday, July 9, 2006
      Populist's Plan for Legal Challenge Ignites Boisterous Crowd at Massive Rally in Capital
      By Manuel Roig-Franzia / Washington Post Foreign Service
      MEXICO CITY, July 8 -- Downtown Mexico City swelled Saturday with the accumulated frustration and rage of the poor, who were stoked into a sign-waving, fist-pumping frenzy by new fraud allegations that failed populist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador hopes will overturn the results of Mexico's presidential election.
      López Obrador ignited the smoldering emotions of his followers Saturday morning, alleging for the first time that Mexico's electoral commission had rigged its computers before the July 2 election to ensure the half-percentage-point victory of Felipe Calderón, a champion of free trade. In a news conference before the rally, López Obrador called Calderón "an employee" of Mexico's powerful upper classes and said a victory by his conservative opponent would be "morally impossible."
      López Obrador added a new layer of complexity to the crisis by saying he not only would challenge the results in the country's special elections court but also would attempt to have the election declared illegal by Mexico's Supreme Court. That strategy presages a constitutional confrontation because according to many legal experts the special elections court is the only body that can hear election challenges.
      Calderón was declared the winner Thursday and has begun publicly presenting his plans for Mexico, even though López Obrador has refused to concede. European Union election observers have said they found no significant irregularities in the vote, and many Mexicans appeared to accept Calderón as their next president.
      López Obrador's approach pairs legal maneuvers with mass public pressure. On Saturday, he gave a mega-display of street power, drawing an estimated 280,000 people into the city center on a humid, drizzly afternoon, according to a Mexico City government estimate.
      The crowd chanted, "Strong, strong!" when López Obrador stepped to the microphone. The former Mexico City mayor then declared that the electoral commission had "played with the hopes" of millions of Mexicans by allegedly rigging the vote total. Thousands chanted back: "You are not alone!"
      López Obrador also told the crowd that he was organizing a march to the capital Wednesday from all over Mexico, including states hundreds of miles distant.
      "This is, and will continue to be, a peaceful movement," he said. Seconds later, he announced another mass rally, this one for July 16, at which the crowd raucously yelled back: "What time?"
      During his 40-minute address, López Obrador stressed Mexico's class divide, accusing "powerful interests" of trying to deny democratic freedoms to "us, the poor." The crowd, which spilled into side streets off the square and may have been the largest of the presidential campaign, chanted, "Presidente, Presidente!"
      Blaring kazoos competed with the thump and boom of massive speakers blasting salsa rhythms and a Spanish-language homage to López Obrador set to the tune of the American pop song, "Love Is in the Air."
      López Obrador had called his followers into the large downtown square, the Zocalo, the backdrop for generations of Mexican revolutionary fervor, to lay out his long-shot case for overturning Calderón's apparent presidential victory. But he got more than that: He got a moment of mass catharsis, an outrageously loud, communal venting.
      "The Mexican people are awakening," said Martín García Trujillo, a farm laborer from the state of Michoacan who had left at midnight for the six-hour bus ride to the capital. "We know Andrés Manuel won. They just won't let it happen. We can't take this anymore."
      López Obrador wants a vote-by-vote count, which would require opening sealed vote packets from more than 130,000 polling stations. Electoral commission officials have sided with Calderón's strategists, who argue that the law does not allow for the packets to be opened unless tally sheets attached to the packets appear to have been altered. López Obrador said that only 2,600 vote packets were opened Tuesday and Wednesday during a marathon official count, which shrank Calderón's lead from 400,000 votes after a preliminary vote to 230,000.
      Thousands of López Obrador's supporters, many of whom had marched across the city for hours, chanted "Voto por voto, casilla por casilla" -- vote by vote, polling place by polling place -- as they streamed into the Zocalo on Saturday. Many entered the square waving the yellow flags of López Obrador's Democratic Revolutionary Party, or PRD.
      Street vendors hawked T-shirts bearing the now-ubiquitous cartoon depiction of López Obrador's face next to the word "Smile." Speakers screamed, "Vote by vote!" as their images flickered across a huge screen suspended above the stage.
      "They stole this from us," said Concepción Myen, 68, a lifelong Mexico City resident who is unemployed. "This is the worst thing that can happen to Mexico."
      Myen personifies the López Obrador target voter. She is a senior citizen and said she had looked forward to the monthly pensions López Obrador promised. She is also a single mother, who struggled to raise her child alone, and said her life would have been much better if the aid program López Obrador had vowed to give single mothers had existed when she needed it.
      The anger on display in the square grows from decades of perceived indignities and a sense of persecution by a succession of ruling parties. García Trujillo, the farm worker from Michoacan, recalled feeling the same anguish in 1988 when the PRD candidate, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, lost a presidential race that many international observers have said was stolen by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. He said he felt the same rage two years ago when outgoing President Vicente Fox's administration unsuccessfully attempted to impeach López Obrador, who was then the mayor of Mexico City.
      Now García Trujillo's anger is directed at another institutional power, Mexico's Federal Electoral Institute, which has a stellar international reputation but is accused by López Obrador of "manipulating" the results.
      The electoral institute will cede control of the election to Mexico's special elections court, which has until Sept. 6 to decide whether to certify the results. Calderón has not waited for the elections court, and neither have world leaders. He accepted congratulatory calls on Friday from President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But López Obrador cautioned against such formalities, saying, "Right now, there is no president-elect."
      After López Obrador left the stage Saturday, the crowd lingered. Someone started singing the national anthem, and countless voices joined in its rallying cry: "Mexicans, to the shout of war!"
      Medi-Cal spending goes up for illegal immigrants: Sunday, July 9, 2006
      By Clea Benson -- Bee Capitol Bureau
      The recent state budget debate over whether California should provide health insurance for children who are undocumented immigrants largely overlooked one key fact: The government already spends almost $1 billion a year for some health care services for the undocumented through Medi-Cal.
      Amid a renewed national focus on illegal immigration, health services for undocumented immigrants in California returned as a political flash point this year for the first time since debate over Proposition 187 roiled the state in the 1990s.
      Republican lawmakers persuaded Democrats and GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to drop $23 million for new insurance coverage for undocumented children.
      But almost no one was talking about the programs that Proposition 187 was intended to cut before it was blocked in court in the late 1990s: prenatal care, nursing home care and other services funded by Medi-Cal for undocumented immigrants. Over the past decade, those services have grown by 50 percent into a $1 billion annual program serving hundreds of thousands of people each year. Spending growth has been slower than in the Medi-Cal program overall, which went up more than 100 percent in the past decade, to about $35 billion annually.
      Both the number of people receiving services and the cost of those services have risen: The number of undocumented women giving birth covered by Medi-Cal rose almost 25 percent from 85,000 in 1995 to 105,000 in 2004. Meanwhile, the overall costs of those births rose by about 135 percent during that time. State officials say the increases are largely due to inflation in health care costs and to a change in the rules allowing more people to qualify for Medi-Cal.
      Republican lawmakers say the fight over Proposition 187 has limited their ability to try to cut existing programs. So they're focusing on trying to stop any efforts to expand services to the undocumented.
      "We've realized our hands are pretty much tied by the fact that the Proposition 187 appeal was dropped in court," said Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murietta, one of the lawmakers leading this year's budget fight.
      Meanwhile, advocates for immigrants and public health activists say there are not enough health care programs for undocumented immigrants. They say it's time to make sure that everyone, especially children, has access to quality preventive health care and won't rely on expensive emergency-room care that is often seen as a last resort. Many were dismayed when the Democrats and the governor removed the health care funds for children to avoid delaying the budget.
      "The Republican Party is starting to become a bit boring, and I don't think they represent the sentiment of today's Americans," said Dr. Maximiliano Cuevas, CEO of Clínica de Salud del Valle Salinas, a network of clinics that serves farmworkers in the Salinas Valley.
      "Politics aside, you have to plan for a healthy population," Cuevas said. "If there are components of the population who come in with illnesses that are undetected or unknown, the entire population runs that risk."
      The Medi-Cal rolls show that, on average, the system has about 780,000 undocumented people enrolled each month for emergency care or other limited benefits. The Insure the Uninsured Project, a Santa Monica-based nonprofit group, reports that the number actually served each month may be closer to 200,000 because some people stay in the state's computer system long after they receive care. Despite the growth in the program, the services available for undocumented immigrants are still limited and do not include the comprehensive primary-care benefits that citizens and some legal residents receive under Medi-Cal.
      What the undocumented do get, provided they qualify, is emergency care, which the federal government requires and subsidizes with Medicaid funds. The federal government also helps pay for prenatal care, partly on the theory that it's less expensive to pay for pregnancy care than it is to care for babies born prematurely.
      California covers several additional services for the undocumented on its own, including breast and cervical cancer treatment and nursing-home care. A 1981 California Supreme Court ruling also requires the state to cover the cost of abortions for all Medi-Cal recipients, including the undocumented. The abortion costs have held steady at about $3 million a year over the past decade.
      To be eligible for any Medi-Cal benefits, the undocumented must meet the same criteria as citizens: The program is usually open only to people who are very low income, and who are minors, parents, pregnant, or in need of long-term care.
      The state also spends about $100 million a year for other programs for children who are either very sick or who don't qualify for federal health care, largely because they are undocumented. And there are federal and state subsidies for clinics such as Cuevas' that provide services to the uninsured regardless of their citizenship status.
      To Hollingsworth, the health programs are tantamount to an inducement to cross the border illegally. "It's a mistake for state government to provide incentives and encouragement for illegal immigration," he said.
      Sonal Ambegaokar, a health policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, calls it a "myth" that people come to the United States illegally to obtain health care. Advocates right now have a hard time persuading people to take advantage of the limited services that are available to them, she said.
      "Right now, if you gave them preventive care, it's not like you would see this incredible influx," she said. "They all have their own reasons they don't use the health care system: cultural reasons and an unfamiliarity with the philosophy of Western medicine."
      Meanwhile, health care providers are bracing for a change that they fear will force some Medi-Cal recipients who are here legally to use the stripped-down services available to the undocumented: a new federal rule requiring people to prove their citizenship with a birth certificate or passport to be eligible for full benefits.
      State officials say they won't implement the plan until August and are working out ways to lessen the impact. But people like George de la Mora, executive director of the Mexican American Alcohol Project, which runs a community clinic in Sacramento, believe it will be impossible for some citizens to come up with the proper documents.
      "Most, if not all, medical people came into the business to help people," he said. "So it's a dilemma for them. What do we do? I'm hoping something can be resolved so it doesn't become an issue of citizenry but it becomes an issue of human beings' needs, and the political aspect is put aside for at least a little while."
      About the writer:
      The Bee's Clea Benson can be reached at (916) 326-5533 or cbenson@...
      Note: For ‘hot links’ goto websource!
      What Salvadoran bloggers are saying — UES shooting = Saturday, July 8th, 2006
      Americas, El Salvador, Weblog, Protest
      On Wednesday, July 5, protesters amassed outside of the University of El Salvador (UES) in San Salvador. The demonstrators were voicing opposition to an increase in the cost of bus fares and in electricity, just approved by the government in response to rising world oil prices. Street demonstrations against government policies and rising prices are common in El Salvador, especially around the UES, but this time the events turned deadly violent.
      Although the order of events is not clear, some elements of the protesters (referred to by the media as “supposed students”) went beyond marching to vandalism, and tire burning. Riot police approached, and chaos erupted. The extensive media coverage of the chaos caught clear images of a masked man with helpers firing an M-16 at police, and another using a home-made weapon. The police used rubber bullets and tear gas as helicopters flew overhead. A shot went through a university office and struck a university employee in the chest. Two policemen were shot and killed and others wounded. Chuck Stewart has links to some of the media coverage on his blog.
      The Salvadoran blogosphere was united in its grave concern over the violence. The events outside the UES left Ligia remembering(es) the events and fears and dangers of the years of the civil war. Soy Salvadoreño laments the deaths(es) of the police officers and laments the actions of president Tony Saca who immediately reacted to the events at the UES as a political partisan, blaming the FMLN for being a “party of assassins and dangerous people.” But Soy Salvadoreño’s strongest words are for the leadership of the FMLN. He lambasts the official press release of the FMLN(es), which denounced the government for repression of a peaceful protest march and never denounced the slaying of two police officers. He asserts that the FMLN’s rhetoric and inability to control its membership adds to the current crisis.
      In a post titled “Never a Return to the Past,”(es) JNelsonS at the Hunnapuh blog praises the Salvadoran police as defenders of democratic values, who with great courage protect the population against the forces of disorder. JNelsonS condemns “ideological terrorists” who would use violence against those who do not conform to the proper socialist ideology.
      Ixquic decided to go to the National Assembly to hear the arguments about the anti-terrorism law(es) which the Saca administration wanted to push through in the face of the week’s events. She found the arguments partisan and stupid, other than the words of an officer from the National Police who spoke against approving a law in the passion of the moment, and urged instead the creation of a commission to study what had happened.
      Jjmar, also writing at Hunnapuh, notes with concern subsequent events(es) in which the police obtained a judicial order allowing them to take control of the grounds of the UES in order to search for evidence relating to the shootings. This police takeover of the grounds has troubling echoes of the period of the Salvadoran civil war when the government shut the UES down as a breeding ground for subversives and guerrillas. Rafael Menjivar Ochoa is prompted to write a long post(es) about his long memories of the UES and the occupation during the war years — his father was the rector of the University when the army closed it down. Rocío wants everyone to know(es) that UES, her alma mater, is not responsible for the violence, instead it is the victim of those who would use “the struggle” as a pretext for violent acts.
      The violence at the UES is being viewed in El Salvador in connection with another killing which evokes memories of the civil war years. El Trompudo(es) and Hunnapuh(es) both speak out about the lack of coverage in the mass media of the double-slaying of Don Francisco Antonio Manzanares, age 77, and his wife, Doña Juana Monjarás de Manzanares, age 75. They are the parents of “Mariposa” Manzanares who was an announcer on Radio Venceremos, the covert radio station of the FMLN during the civil war in El Salvador. The double murder was particularly gruesome, and has the hallmarks of a death squad killing. Hunnapuh denounces the slayings and the appearance that “recalcitrant elements of the far right” are returning to the “roots of ARENA” and resuscitating death squads against those who criticize the policies of the government.
      Finally, Hunnapuh has a simple post(es) on his blog with pictures of the Manzanares funeral and the funerals of the police officers killed outside the UES. The images of grieving relatives are the same. Hunnapuh reminds us that the victims of this violence are never those in the halls of power, but the humble people who join the lower ranks of the police or who march in protest. The deceased were:
      humble souls from the authentic people, who died at the hands of those who say they struggle “in the name of the people”, or at the hands of those who, in the name of “a government with human feeling,” say they work for the people.
      Tim Muth
      Asian Americans Strategize Over Immigration Bills
      International Examiner, News Report, Nhien Nguyen, Jul 08, 2006
      Though the recently passed Senate’s bill on Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 may provide the basic architecture for comprehensive immigration reform, some national and local Asian Pacific Islander and immigrant rights groups call the bill “seriously flawed.” The bill contains provisions that are important to the API community, according to a press release by The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which promotes and secures equal rights for APIs and all Americans. CAPAC reports that the bill would eliminate the backlog for family-based immigrants in approximately six years.
      The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), a national organization dedicated to defending and advancing the civil and human rights of APIs, has pushed for this provision for the past decade. The center states that the backlog for some API families is currently more than 20 years.
      The bill, through the Akaka-Inouye amendment, would “finally reunite the sons and daughters of the Filipino World War II veterans with their aging parents after years of separation and waiting,” according to a statement by Karen Narasaki, AAJC president and executive director.
      Along with a guest worker program, the bill includes the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to legal permanent residence for undocumented immigrant students who currently are unable to obtain higher education. Narasaki says this act is strongly supported by the Korean American community.
      CAPAC remains concerned with the bill’s provisions that “violate human rights standards, fairness and due process” including those that would impose new obstacles to naturalization, and those that increase the potential for “indiscriminate detention and deportation of immigrants.”
      The bill establishes an earned path to legal status, impacting an estimated 1.5 million undocumented Asian immigrants.
      Local activist Tony Lee has “mixed feelings” about the bill. He says that the pathway to citizenship is “not as generous as it appears.” Provisions make some undocumented immigrants ineligible for citizenship, such as if they had previously submitted false documents or committed minor crimes.
      Narasaki says that the program may be unworkable because it arbitrarily divides up the undocumented population into three categories. She says, “It would leave almost two million of the 12 million undocumented immigrants out of the legalization program entirely and impose very tough, and in some cases, excessive requirements on another 2.6 million.”
      The guest worker program, Narasaki says, provides for a “better flow of workers in both the high- and low-skilled categories.” She says, “[It acknowledges] the contributions of these workers to our economy, as well as the economic realities that bring legal and undocumented immigrants to the United States. Asian immigrants are substantial users of the employment-based immigration system.”
      Lee is concerned about the provision that forces undocumented immigrants who have lived in the country less than five years to return to their home country and apply for the guest worker program, a potentially long process. If they are accepted into the program, they may then have a chance at U.S. citizenship. Lee says, “How workable is that?”
      The bill not only affects illegal immigrants but legal ones as well. Narasaki says it would impose new barriers to naturalization, including “giving unprecedented power” to low-level agency employees to deny U.S. citizenship to permanent residents for “arbitrary reasons and through the use of secret evidence.”

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