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View a Compelling Photo Essay from Achuar Lands in Peru

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  • ghwelker3@comcast.net
    September 2010 Dear Friends, On the heels of the BP disaster, there is a growing public outcry for alternatives to our oil-dependent economy. Recently, the
    Message 1 of 24 , Sep 9, 2010
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      September 2010

      Dear Friends,

      On the heels of the BP disaster, there is a growing public outcry for alternatives to our oil-dependent economy. Recently, the Ecuadorian government took an enormous step forward for the planet by signing a historic agreement with the United Nations for a trust fund in exchange for refraining from drilling 20 percent of the country's oil reserves in the Yasuni National Park. Meanwhile, Avatar director James Cameron has become a powerful ally in helping Amazon Watch and indigenous peoples defend a real Pandora on Earth in the Brazilian Amazon.

      This month we welcome all you new supporters, many Avatar fans, who joined us in TAKING ACTION and signing the petition to stop the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil. We are grateful that you have added your voice to the global movement to protect the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous peoples there. Please continue to share this petition with your friends.

      For Future Generations,

      Atossa Soltani
      Atossa Soltani

      Atossa Soltani
      Executive Director

      James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver Campaign to Stop the Belo Monte Dam!

      James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver Campaign to Stop the Belo Monte Dam!

      The campaign to Stop the Belo Monte Dam is reaching a new level of visibility as James Cameron teamed up with Amazon Watch to produce "A Message from Pandora," a feature due out this Fall as part of the Special Edition DVD of Avatar (view trailer). Meanwhile, Amazon Watch and International Rivers created a Google Earth 3-D tour and video narrated by actress Sigourney Weaver showing the devastating impacts of the dam and available alternatives. Thousands of you have already watched and shared the videos. Please continue to spread the word.

      LEARN MORE »

      Ecuador Signs Historic Deal to Keep Oil in the Soil

      Ecuador's Historic Deal to Keep Oil in the Soil and CO2 out of the Atmosphere

      In August, Ecuador signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) to open a trust fund to compensate the government for agreeing to indefinitely refrain from drilling the 900 million barrel heavy crude reserve found beneath the fragile Yasuni National Park. Amazon Watch welcomes this pioneering initiative to create an alternative to oil drilling and protect an important part of Yasuni National Park as it contains some of the highest levels of biodiversity found anywhere on the planet and is home to isolated indigenous tribes.

      LEARN MORE »

      Communities Still Devastated by Chevron's Toxic Dumping

      Communities Still Devastated by Chevron's Toxic Dumping

      Amazon Watch campaigners Mitch Anderson, Han Shan and Kevin Koenig visited Lago Agrio, Ecuador to inspect and document the oil contamination left behind by Chevron and to gather testimonies of those still suffering a health crisis. They visited numerous waste pits, including sites allegedly remediated by Chevron. In meetings with people affected by Chevron's toxic legacy, our team assured them that we will continue to share their powerful story until Chevron finally accepts its responsibility and funds a full-scale cleanup.

      LEARN MORE »

      Photo Essay from Achuar Lands in Peru

      View a Compelling Photo Essay from Achuar Lands in Peru

      Last month, Amazon Watch's Mitch Anderson traveled deep into the Peruvian Amazon to meet with Achuar communities and investigate the oil industry's activities in their homeland. For centuries, the Achuar people have lived in harmony with the rainforest. But now, the unrelenting drive for oil is reaching the deepest regions of their territory. Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc. has already cleared hundreds of kilometers of seismic lines in the area, and is now beginning to drill exploratory wells. View the photo essay of his trip, and then please take the pledge to support the Achuar people.

      LEARN MORE »

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    • ghwelker3@comcast.net
      Friday Question of the Day – Is it Time for DC Residents to stop Rooting for the Cowboys? 09 September 2010 9:10 PM | By Prince Of Petworth in Friday
      Message 2 of 24 , Sep 15, 2010
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        Friday Question of the Day – Is it Time for DC Residents to stop Rooting for the Cowboys?

        09 September 2010 9:10 PM | By Prince Of Petworth in Friday Question of the Day, sports

        Photo by PoPville flickr user Mylar Bono




        About three years ago I wondered why there were so many Dallas Cowboy fans in DC. At the time a commenter provided a rational explanation:

        “Back in the late 60′s and early 70′s when the Cowboys were coming into their own the Redskins were owned by a guy named Marshall, who was a pretty bad racist. IIRC, the Skins were one of the last, if not the last team to have a black starter. The organization was also known to rife with racism while the Cowboys where just starting off had a ton of black stars like Calvin Hill, Pierson, etc.”




        As I’m sure you’ve heard – DC plays Dallas this weekend and it got me thinking about this issue again. Given all the changes DC has seen and given the fact that we are coming into our own as a world class city – isn’t it time we united together to root for our hometown team? I don’t mean to dismiss the racism of the past nor am I suggesting we forget it but I also don’t think it is healthy to remain stuck in the past.


        And of course there are some exceptions – if you are from Texas, if your parents are from Texas etc. But I’m talking about DC residents that have no affiliation with Texas or another NFL team. While obviously we still need to improve in certain areas, today we are basically an awesome city and we should be proud of it. We will always have plenty to fight and disagree about but when it comes to football: Isn’t it time we unite as a city to support our football team just like we support our hockey team?

      • ghwelker3@comcast.net
        http://www.ngopulse.org/article/creating-wealth-through-indigenous-languages In languages literacy teaching underdevelopment Attempts to break the cycle of
        Message 3 of 24 , Sep 16, 2010
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          In languages literacy teaching underdevelopment 

          Attempts to break the cycle of intergenerational transmitted poverty will never be successful as long as we disregard or underestimate the role and impact of indigenous languages in the educational, economic, social and cultural sectors of any society. These sectors often remain inaccessible to communities if they have to access it through a foreign language only or when products and services are only available in a foreign language. This is not only disempowering, but it entrenches the myth that indigenous languages are of lesser value. This paper therefore investigates the educational and economic value of indigenous languages and proposes practical steps to unlock it in order to benefit the speakers of indigenous languages and to probably break the cycle of intergenerational transmitted poverty.


          We live in an information society in which the creation and distribution of information is the most significant economic, cultural, educational and social activity. The knowledge economy is the economic component of the information society in which the production and utilisation of knowledge play a principal role in the creation of wealth. Our diverse and dynamic indigenous language heritage is an important enabling resource for developing communities to actively participate in the knowledge economy and spearhead development within their own communities themselves. 

          This point of view is however not appreciated or clearly understood by various stakeholders, whether it be the speakers of indigenous languages themselves, scholars or politicians. It is therefore important to investigate the educational and economic potential of indigenous languages in order to dispel the myth that our South African indigenous languages cannot function at the same level as English or Afrikaans. This is done through a sector analysis in which our indigenous languages already function as core educational and economic drivers. In addition, it also investigates how to create a digital presence with indigenous languages and propose particular steps which communities can follow to use their indigenous languages to their advantage in order to break the cycle of intergenerational transmitted poverty.

          The Dilemma 

          Why is it that in all developed countries, the majority of schools and universities provide mother tongue education, but in developing countries most learners do not have the benefit of being taught in their mother tongue? And why is it that in all developed countries the media industry, such as the electronic, print, radio, television, film, post and telecommunication, music, language practitioners and related sectors provide most of their products in the mother tongue, but in developing countries the same industries provide very few if any products in the local languages?

          Is it because developing countries regard their own languages as inferior as opposed to developed countries who purposefully seek to preserve, protect, promote and commodify their own languages for educational and economic purposes? And in addition, is it because developing countries lack the political will to preserve, protect, promote and commodify their own languages and as result fail to optimise the educational usage and economic value thereof?

          The answers to the aforementioned questions can be relayed back to our colonial past. Because not only did colonialism play a major role in terms of entrenching the belief that our indigenous languages and culture equate backwardness, illiteracy and ethno-traditionalism, but it simultaneously positioned the languages of the colonial powers as symbols of civilisation by embedding them in all public and private spheres as the official means of communication for educational and economic activities (Alexander 2008; Webb 2006 & Mutasa 2003). 

          The Challenge

          Reversing this proclivity towards colonial languages poses a major challenge for most African countries and especially the political elite. Because, in most instances after the political power was handed to newly elected African governments, very little was done to improve the status of indigenous languages and optimise the economic potential thereof. According to Alexander the “African elites who inherited the colonial kingdom from the ostensibly departing colonial overlords, for reasons of convenience and in order to maintain their grip on power, have made nominal gestures towards equipping the indigenous languages of the continent with the wherewithal for use in powerful and high-status contexts” (Alexander 2007: 18). 

          Hence, in a paper titled ‘Language Policy Development in South Africa’, Webb appeals to the newly democratically elected South African government to steer clear from such ‘nominal gestures’, and instead to focus on proper language planning which is aimed at elevating the status and advancing the use of our indigenous languages within the education, economic, social, cultural and political spheres (SA Constitution 1996: Section 6.2)1 . 

          “In order to realise its basic objective of transformation, reconstruction and development, the SA government must obviously keep the basic language planning goal in mind, that is, to bring about a (radical) change in the language political realities of the country, creating a situation in which the languages of the country co-exist in a balanced way and function as developmental facilitators in education, the economy, political life, state administration, and the social and cultural spheres. Its language plan must therefore contribute to resolving the language-related problems discussed above. The SA government must thus not endorse a language policy proposal which will simply lead to a reproduction of the previous (and existing) language politics, where non-Bantu languages are dominant in public life and are perceived as the symbols of the ruling elite, prestige and success, and the Bantu languages are perceived as symbols of a socio-economic underclass and as instruments only of the low functions of public life. To achieve the general over-all goal of language political transformation where each of the official languages perform meaningful functions, language planning in SA needs to be directed at... specific goals” (Webb 2006: 11).


          This meaningful function which Webb refers to includes using our indigenous language for educational, social, cultural, economic and political empowerment. He emphasises however the importance of language planning in South Africa in order to optimise the usages of our indigenous language and cultural resources to enable communities to actively participate in the knowledge economy, to advance education and to create wealth. Such educational and economical optimisation of our indigenous languages is therefore crucial to break the cycle of intergenerational transmitted poverty. 

          A study in this regard however indicates that the official indigenous languages with the exception of English and Afrikaans (indications are however that the status of the latter is steadily eroded) remain marginalised. It states the following:

          “Although the national language stands as a symbol for the uniqueness of the nation, the official language remains the key to power. It is, in effect, the language of formal public transactions such as education and the workplace. However, in countries such as South Africa, with the exception of English and Afrikaans, the indigenous official languages remain marginalised, and on the fringes of economic society, thereby excluding the vast majority of the population from mainstream economic activity” (Kaschula, Mostert, Schafer & Wienand 2007: 10). 

          Hence the challenge for South Africa is to democratise the linguistic landscape and end the interrelated educational and economic marginalization of the bulk of our citizens. 

          On the one hand, this requires political will to honour the language stipulations as set out in our National Constitution, political conviction to enact the South African Language Bill and political vivacity to implement the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Policy adopted by Cabinet in 2004 . Scholars such as Alexander, Webb and Mutasa agree that this is certainly the most crucial point of departure for achieving a more equal language dispensation and to broaden the participation of previously marginalised people in mainstream economic activities. Mutasa (2003: 325) highlights,

          “The government and other stakeholders should draw all segments of the population on facts such as that unity and progress cannot be achieved through the use of one language, that people can only be empowered through their languages, that it is a myth that African languages cannot be developed to function like English and as was the case with Swahili and Afrikaans”

          On the other hand, it requires vision, self belief and entrepreneurial thinking by the language community itself to:

          Employ our indigenous languages as knowledge extractors, generators and distributors

          Promote and mobilise support for mother tongue education

          Expand the existing industries or economic sectors where indigenous languages function as core economic drivers

          Create a digital presence with indigenous languages

          sustain the presence and mobilise support

          Grow the digital linguistic space occupied by indigenous languages and concomitantly increase its share within the knowledge economy

          Create wealth and to optimise its educational and economic usage in order to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty

          Keith Nurse in a paper titled ‘Culture as the Fourth Pillar of Sustainable Development’ reminds us however to be always mindful of whose development agenda is served through such entrepreneurial thinking and advises that communities must own such development agendas and drive the process themselves to avoid creating new dependencies. He puts the following argument forward:

          “What needs to be underscored is that sustainable development as practised in the developing world is largely informed by Western notions and is often funded in accord with the agenda of multilateral, bilateral, non-governmental and philanthropic donor agencies from the developed countries. This is viewed as problematic because it creates new dependencies for the developing world and raises concerns about whose agenda is being served” (Nurse 2006: 36).

          Economic and Educational Optimisation of Indigenous Languages 

          As set out in the previous paragraph, in order to achieve these ideals this paper will:

          Analyse some key sectors in which the various official indigenous languages of South Africa are deployed as the core drivers of educational and economic activity, such as Education, Radio, Television, Film, Advertising, Print media and Electronic media,

          Identify ways of creating a digital indigenous linguistic space,

          Explore ways to grow such a digital indigenous linguistic space educationally, socially as well as commercially, and

          Provide practical steps for communities to drive the economic and educational optimisation process of indigenous languages themselves.

          Sector Analysis 

          General and Further Education

          A great deal has been written about the year-on-year decline in matric results in South African schools, the low levels of literacy and numeracy, the high drop-out rate of learners and the low levels of skills of school leavers which is required for the industrial sector or place of work. This is because, in part, the majority of learners in South African schools are not taught in their mother tongue which could be any of the indigenous languages, but are taught in a language other than their mother tongue.

          “All primary school-based systemic evaluation and testing as well as the analysis of performance by learners who are not being tested in their mother-tongue (MT) at Grade 12 level, plus the high drop-out rate give a clear message that the system is not working as it should and, in some cases, not at all. We need to take a sharp look at the languages of learning and teaching (LoLTs) which are being used in schools and accept that it is the responsibility of the WCED to point out very clearly the disadvantages of dropping the mother-tongue too early” (WCED Language-In-Education Transformation Plan 2007).


          In most cases the language of learning and teaching would be English and in some instances Afrikaans. According to Horne (2007:6), this problem is further compounded by educators “who are not sufficiently skilled to cope with the demands of language–of–learning English in the classroom”. In many instances subtractive bilingualism is practiced, due to inapt code switching between English and the mother tongue, instead of following a systematic process of additive bilingualism, meaning laying the foundation solidly in the mother tongue first and to progressively introduce English as a second language (Horne, 2007:4). 

          In the event of schools practicing transitional bilingual education, the transition from the mother tongue as language of instruction to English should be thoroughly planned to avoid subtractive bilingualism. If schools however practice maintenance bilingual education English is added, but it does not replace the mother tongue as language of instruction. Additive bilingualism is further strengthened by the extensive use of the mother tongue (UNESCO 2008:8). 

          “The evidence is clear: mother-tongue-based-bilingual education significantly enhances the learning outcomes of students from minority language communities. Moreover, when mother-tongue bilingual education programmes are developed in a manner that involves community members in some significant way and explicitly addresses community concerns, these programmes also promote the identification of the minority community with the formal education process. The parameters that shape a bilingual education programme include the availability of resources, its pedagogical and social goals, and the political environment in which it is to be implemented. The examples described above demonstrate a variety of such parameters, all of which have given rise to innovative and effective bilingual education models” (UNESCO 2008:41).

          In addition, teaching and learning is a two-way communication affair and a mismatch between the language of teaching and the mother tongue of the learner seriously affects the learner’s academic progress. In many instances this problem is further complicated when the teacher is not competent in the language of teaching (Nomlomo 2005:269) . The matter of mother-tongue bilingual education is therefore a factor which must be taken into account if we wish to break the cycle of intergenerational transmitted poverty. In terms of educational value it greatly enhances the quality of teaching and learning and in terms of economic value it contributes to a higher through-put rate and the development of knowledgeable and skilled citizens. 

          Higher Education

          In terms of the latter, some scholars are also advocating that mother-tongue bilingual education be extended to higher education as well. The Report of the Ministerial Committee on Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions released in 2008 also emphasises the instructional value of indigenous languages. It however, states that most universities in South Africa, with the exception of some of the historically Afrikaans universities and one or two others have failed to introduce any of the indigenous language as a medium of instruction. 

          “The role of language is therefore critical to higher education transformation, as it impacts on access and success, affirms diversity, while the right of a student to “instruction in the language of his or her choice, where this is reasonably practicable”, is afforded by the Constitution. It is no wonder then that language policy is the subject of contestation in higher education institutions. In this regard, all institutions are committed to multilingualism in one form or another, including the development of African languages as academic languages, and the introduction of African languages as languages of communication. However, more often than not, this commitment remains symbolic, as a range of factors, such as the availability of qualified staff, finances and student interest militate against the full implementation of multilingualism. It should be noted though that there is also opposition at different levels and of varying intensity to the acknowledgement of the significance of mother tongue mastery in academic success” (Report of the Ministerial Committee 2008:94).

          However, Ramani and Joseph have found that “much of the aggressiveness towards African languages disappears once an African language is presented as medium as part of a dual-medium programme” (Ramani & Joseph 2006:17). The work of Ramani and Joseph centres around the development of a dual-medium BA degree in English and Sesotho sa Leboa at the University of Limpopo which is based on a model of additive bilingualism. This model enables students to develop their English as well as their mother tongue competencies for “higher-order cognitive work” (Ramani & Joseph 2006:4). 

          The aforementioned approach of introducing our indigenous languages as mediums of instruction together with English in higher education can improve our understanding of the complex indigenous framework of past experiences, metaphors, faith, values, perceptions, relationships, power struggles, economic activities, language, cultural and agricultural practices and develop innovative strategies aimed at breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Such insights can never be gained if we continue to undervalue our indigenous languages.

          “One result of the disuse of African languages in education, and the devaluation of the knowledge embodied in these languages, is the positioning of Africa as a receiver rather than a contributor. African countries receive knowledge, know-how, technology, books, etc. from other countries, particularly in the West, but are not seen to contribute anything of ‘recognised value’ to the global knowledge pool” (Roy-Campbell 2005:3).


          In addition, communities will not take ownership of projects that they cannot relate to or that do not fit into their meaning-giving context. For their context is, after all, the only one within which they can confidently associate with projects designed to improve their living conditions. That these communities are also exposed to other contexts through the radio, television, computer, cellular phone, urbanisation, migration and globalisation cannot be dispelled. However, this exposure is often limited to the supply of cheap labour in exchange for a living wage which is any way too little to escape the spiral of disempowerment, poverty, ignorance and despair. 

          Kotze concurs and makes the following valuable observation: “The people’s meaning-giving context is the only framework within which they can relate to developers. It is the framework within which development initiatives obtain meaning. It will either permit or block development, depending whether there is a ‘fit’ between development initiatives and context. People will not be steered, influenced or ‘taken with’ unless the development initiative has positive meaning within their context” (Kotze & Kotze 1996:7). 

          Given this background, it is necessary to investigate some of the key sectors in which the various official languages of South Africa are deployed as the core drivers of educational and economic activity, specifically radio, the publishing sector and electronic media and what in addition could be done to optimise the use of our indigenous languages in these sectors in order to break the cycle of intergenerational transmitted poverty. 

          Click HERE to read the full article:


          1 Read Section 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa as adopted by the Constitutional Assembly on 8 May 1996 and as amended on 11 October 1996.

          2 The National Language Policy Bill approved by Cabinet in 2003 seeks to develop and promote the Bantu languages in order to facilitate economic development via the promotion of multilingualism and develop the capacity of the country’s languages, especially in the context of technologisation (South African Languages Bill 2003).

          3 The Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Policy was adopted by Cabinet in 2004. The purpose of this policy is to recognise, affirm, develop, promote and protect IKS systems in South Africa. It is also provides a basis upon which indigenous knowledge can be used to improve the lives of many and to eradicate poverty (Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Policy 2004). 

          4 The study undertaken by Vuyokazi Nomlomo focused on the impact of language on effective teaching and learning in Science. Two grade four isiXhosa mother tongue groups, one taught in English and the other in isiXhosa, were observed and the data showed that learners taught through the medium of isiXhosa (56%) outperformed those taught in English (30%). 

          5 A BA degree in Contemporary English Language (CELS) and Multilingual Studies (MUST) was implemented since 2003 at the School of Languages and Communication Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Limpopo.

        • ghwelker3@comcast.net
          Houston & Texas News Chron.com - Houston Chronicle http://ghwelker.posterous.com/mexican-tv-cameraman-wants-us-asylum-from-thu A Mexican television cameraman
          Message 4 of 24 , Sep 16, 2010
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            Houston & Texas News Chron.com - Houston Chronicle


            A Mexican television cameraman whose kidnappers tortured him and demanded customized national TV coverage plans to seek asylum in the United States arguing his government can no longer protect him and other journalists against gangsters who kidnap, kill and increasingly seek to control the country's news.

            After covering a demonstration at a Coahuila prison in July, Alejandro Hernandez Pacheco was kidnapped by unidentified thugs who held a pistol to his head and forced him to demand that his employer, media giant Televisa, broadcast four videos they wanted Mexicans to see.

            Hernandez, now hiding in the U.S., will announce his plans Tuesday in El Paso, his lawyer Carlos Spector told the Houston Chronicle on Monday.

            Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, particularly along its battle-scarred northern border where kidnapping and threats have become increasingly common. At least three other Mexican reporters previously sought asylum in the United States and in Canada since 2008.

            Many more have been silenced.

            More than 30 journalists and media workers have been murdered or have vanished in Mexico since December 2006, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported this month. "In certain parts of the country, investigative journalism is becoming extinct and even daily reporting on crime is becoming impossible," said CPJ's Carlos Lauria.

            Yet many believe the audacious and well-publicized demands of Hernandez' kidnappers signaled an appalling new era in an ongoing campaign of violence against the Mexican media.

            "It really represents a historical escalation when the cartels are now attacking the national media — reporters have been kidnapped and held hostage from a national chain," Spector said. "They had controlled (reporters) locally and they felt empowered that if they could control local media, the next logical step was to control the national media."

            In all, four broadcast journalists who worked for the huge multinational media company Televisa and another company called Multimedios were hijacked after they reported on a protest at a prison in Torreon, Coahuila. The prison director had just been arrested and accused of releasing prisoners at night to carry out organized crime hits.

            Hernandez filmed the demonstration for a nationally televised program called Punto de Partida. Afterward, he and the others were car-jacked and held captive by unidentified men. The captives were then forced to demand videos be aired in exchange for their lives.

            Multimedios aired them; Televisa refused - instead showing nothing during several minutes of Punto de Partida's regular air time. Eventually, all four captives got released or escaped. Hernandez ran for his life when kidnappers thought rescuers were closing in.

            The kidnappers remain at large.

            Hours after the rescue, Mexican government officials presented the freed journalists at a Mexico City press conference and linked their attackers to Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin "Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman Loera — an action that Hernandez' lawyer said endangered Hernandez' life and prompted him to flee to the states.

            Each year, about 3,000 Mexican citizens file for asylum with U.S. immigration courts, though many later withdraw or abandon those efforts, statistics show. 

            Still, in the last four years, the number of Mexicans granted asylum after pro-actively seeking U.S. government protection and proving they faced real threats has more than doubled from 84 as of September 2006 to 192 through September 2009, annual statistics by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security show.

            Many Mexican asylum-seekers had family members who were killed in recent drug-related violence or faced threats as members of the Mexican government or police forces, according to information released Monday by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

            Previous U.S. asylum applications filed by two journalists who fled from Chihuahua in 2008, however, remain pending, according to Spector, the El Paso-based lawyer who also has been helping them. One hearing isn't scheduled until 2011.

            Meanwhile, another former border reporter for the national Mexican daily Reforma sought and was granted asylum in Canada. The former specialist in organized crime coverage and human rights award winner is now working as a janitor.

            At least, he said, his wife and children are safe.

            "They had suffered too much," said Luis Horacio Nájera. "They didn't have social life, we couldn't go to parks or restaurants... I didn't feel comfortable in public places because I knew that things were dangerous."


          • ghwelker3@comcast.net
            Watch video here: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/09/15/mexico.bicentennial/index.html (CNN) -- Mexico celebrates its bicentennial Wednesday, an event
            Message 5 of 24 , Sep 16, 2010
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              Watch video here:


              (CNN) -- Mexico celebrates its bicentennial Wednesday, an event known as "El Grito," the shout for independence first credited to a Catholic priest who demanded freedom from Spain. For many Mexicans today, though, it's a quiet shout of despair.

              The country is mired in a bloody drug war that has seen more than 28,000 people killed in less than four years. The economy has barely begun to rebound from the global downturn, which hit Mexico harder than most Latin American countries. Tourism, a major lifeblood for the nation, is drastically down because of the violence and a flu pandemic last year that began in Mexico. And oil revenues, long a rich sustenance for the nation's economy, also have suffered a major collapse. 

              Despite government efforts to hold a vast celebration that one leading newspaper called part Disney and part infomercial, many Mexicans are just not feeling it.

              "The climate in which we're living in this country does not lend itself to a real celebration," said Adrian Jesus Garrido Gomez, who owns a car rental company and chauffeur service in Villahermosa, the capital of southeastern Mexico's Tabasco state.

              Garrido sounds leery of the nearly $232 million (about 2.97 billion pesos) the government says it has spent on celebrations in Mexico City. The lavish events Wednesday night will feature a parade, fireworks and a show that has merited visits by five Latin American presidents and dignitaries from 50 nations.

              "They are grabbing it as an effort to make us forget everything that is happening in the country," Garrido said. "It's more of a distraction."

              That distraction does not seem to be working.

              "Mexico is downbeat," said Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue, a non-partisan policy institute in Washington. "People are nervous about the future."

              Andrew Selee, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Mexico Institute, sees Mexico at a crossroads.

              "It's a time of soul-searching," he said Wednesday.

              It's also a time of anxiety for authorities, who want to make sure the festivities go off without any major incidents or violence from the nation's organized crime groups.

              A bombing at a Grito celebration two years ago in Michoacan state left eight dead and more than 100 wounded.

              More recently, narcotrafficking cartels have taken to setting off car bombs, an unprecedented event in the nation's drug wars.

              Authorities have dispatched more than 14,000 police and troops to the streets of Mexico City to guard the peace. More than 2 million people are expected to throng the streets of the central city to watch the parade.

              Mexico formally recognizes its independence day each September 16 -- Thursday -- but the major celebration traditionally begins the night before. 

              Close to midnight, President Felipe Calderon will make the symbolic shout "Viva Mexico" in the city's Plaza de la Constitucion, better known as the Zocalo. It is one of the largest plazas in the world. The shout pays tribute to a priest who called for sparked Mexico's struggle for independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810.

              Other cities have canceled celebrations. Juarez, the most violent city in the country, is one of them. Celebrations also were canceled in Tabasco state.

              That's probably a good thing, Garrido said.

              "You can't openly go out and celebrate," he said.

              Besides the security concerns, there's another reason Garrido does not feel like celebrating -- the economy. Rain and recent storms have washed over much of Villahermosa, damaging the tourist trade upon which the father of two young boys relies for his chauffeur and car rental business.

              "The little that I make goes to pay bills," he said.

              Gone this year, he said, is the usual trip over the holiday to visit his wife's parents in nearby Veracruz.

              "We're going to have to do it in a more simple way," he said.

              Despite the problems and the worries, Selee says Mexicans will rally around the flag this week.

              "By tonight, people will celebrate," he said Wednesday morning. "When people around the country shout, 'Viva Mexico,' they will come together with pride about Mexico."

              But how long will that last?

              "People will put aside their differences for 24 to 48 hours," Selee said.

              Some might say it's not much of a reprieve for a country celebrating 200 years since it first tried to gain independence.

            • ghwelker3@comcast.net
              EMILIANO ZAPATA, NAHUA (AZTECA), AFRICAN, AND SPANISH Emiliano Zapata (August 8, 1879-April 10, 1919) was born in Anenecuilco, Morelos, Mexico, to peasant
              Message 6 of 24 , Sep 16, 2010
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                Emiliano Zapata (August 8, 1879-April 10, 1919) was born in Anenecuilco, Morelos, Mexico, to peasant parents, Gabriel Zapata and Cleofas Salazar, and he was the ninth of ten (10) children. As for Zapata's origins: Birth records for Zapata were burned in a town fire, and race was not noted in Mexican government records of his time.

                Spanish census data did show race, and from it some extrapolations can be made. "Zapata was said to be from a family that went back generations in the valley, and it was said that by Emiliano's time, all of the old families were interbred in one manner or another.

                The Spanish data for "Cuautla" shows 4 households of Zapatas. Three of the four are Afro-Mexican, "pardo". One of the Afro-Mexican Zapata homes was next door to two Afro-Mexican families with the name of one of Emiliano's other grandparent lines, the Cerezos. All told, two thirds of the families of Emiliano grandparent lines were Afro-Mexican. The reason that Emiliano's African roots are not in the history books, is because "they" do not want the people to be aware of his African roots. (There is a lot of our culture and history that is put away from the people.) We all need to be aware that some African people came to the present-day Americas (Mexico) thousands of years ago. 

                (Some of us are also part Chinese, because the Chinese people came to the present-day Americas (Mexico) in 2640 B.C., and some of us writer's of our culture and history can prove all this information in federal court.)


                Emiliano Zapata, was a great leader for the Native people of Mexico, he and his people were fighting for their land. Zapata also spoke Nahuatl fluently, and most of his men were full-blooded Native people.

                In the 1910 Mexican Revolution, Zapata and Pancho Villa were the Native Mexican leaders. And with the support of Pancho Villa, (Pascual Orozco) Emiliano Zapata overthrew Porfirio Diaz, the president-dictator of Mexico, and the governor of Morelos, Pablo Escandon.

                During the first weeks of 1911, Zapata continued to build his native organization in Morelos, training and equipping his people and consolidating his authority as their leader.

                For the next 8 years Zapata and his men began to overthrow city after city with gaining momentum. The battle for their land continued and the Mexican government forces could never completely defeat Zapata and his native people.

                On April 10, 1919, Col. Jesus Guajardo invited Zapata to a meeting, intimating that he intended to defect to the revolutionaries. However, when Zapata arrived at the Hacienda de San Juan, in Chinameca, Ayala municipality, Guajardo's men riddled Zapata with bullets. They then took his body to Cuautla to claim the bounty, where they are reputed to have been given only half of what was promised.

                Zapata's influence lasts to this day, particularly in revolutionary tendencies in south Mexico. But in modern times, Zapata is one of the most revered national heroes of Mexico.

                Emiliano Zapata, was only fighting for the land of the Native people of Mexico.


                By: Henry Guzman Villalobos (Aztec-Yaqui Native American Indian) 

                Founder/President of Native Americans of the Americas Committee

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