Monday, April 22, 2013

Genocide Trial of Former Dictator Ríos Montt Suspended After Intervention by Guatemalan President

A historic trial against former U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity came to an abrupt end Thursday when an appeals court suspended the trial before a criminal court was scheduled to reach a verdict. Ríos Montt on was charged in connection with the slaughter of more than 1,700 people in Guatemala’s Ixil region after he seized power in 1982. 

His 17-month rule is seen as one of the bloodiest chapters in Guatemala’s decades-long campaign against Maya indigenous people, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Thursday’s decision is seen as a major blow to indigenous victims. 

Investigative journalist Allan Nairn reported last night Guatemalan army associates had threatened the lives of case judges and prosecutors and that the case had been annulled after intervention by Guatemala’s president, General Otto Pérez Molina. Ríos Montt was the first head of state in the Americas to stand trial for genocide. 

Nairn flew to Guatemala last week after he was called to testify in Ríos Montt’s trial. He was listed by the court as a "qualified witness" and was tentatively scheduled to testify on Monday. But at the last minute, Nairn was kept off the stand "in order," he was told, "to avoid a confrontation" with the president, General Pérez Molina, and for fear that if he took the stand, military elements might respond with violence. 

In the 1980s, Nairn extensively documented broad army responsibility for the massacres and was prepared to present evidence that personally implicated Pérez Molina, who was field commander during the very Mayan Ixil region massacres for which the ex-dictator, Ríos Montt, had been charged with genocide.

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Claims of Fraud in Venezuela: The Fake Evidence of Henrique Capriles

Henrique Capriles holds up a vote tally at a press conference last Monday
  (Getty Images)

Immediately after Nicolas Maduro was elected to the presidency of Venezuela last Sunday, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles refused to acknowledge the results of the election, and claimed that the government had committed fraud. In what follows, I will list all of the alleged evidence of fraud cited by Capriles, and explain why every single example is either demonstrably false, or extremely implausible.

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By Chris Carlson -

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Venezuelan Elections Were Well-Organized, Fair and Transparent

The National Lawyers Guild (NLG), a U.S. organization with 120 chapters, sent a delegation to act as international accompaniers during Venezuela’s presidential elections on April 14, and released a press release Wednesday stating that: “[the] process was fair, transparent, participatory, and well-organized.”

The NLG sent five members to polling stations in five different states around Venezuela, joining a larger team of 170 accompaniers from abroad.

According to the press release, “the NLG monitors found a reliable system in which 54% of all votes are randomly audited on Election Day. NLG monitors witnessed one such audit in Caracas in which the paper ballots matched perfectly with the electronic votes.”

The NLG observed the following positive aspects of the system: “advanced voting procedures that prevent fraud through multiple fingerprint and voter ID certifications; accurate and efficient digital and manual vote calculation; active participation by party witnesses and national and international observers.”

NLG attorney Robin Alexander is quoted as saying: “The U.S. would do well to incorporate some of the security checks and practices that are routine in Venezuela to improve both the level of participation and the credibility of our elections. The six polls I visited in the state of Carabobo were calm and well-organized and lines were short.”

Finally, the press release also urges the U.S. government to give Venezuela the same treatment that the country has given to the U.S. by recognizing the election.

The press release reads: “As a U.S. organization, the NLG emphasizes that the margin of victory for Nicolas Maduro, while small, is comparable to close elections in the U.S., such as the margins of victory for John F. Kennedy in 1960 and for George W. Bush in 2004. The NLG calls upon the U.S. to honor the Venezuelan election as the nations of the world honor U.S. elections without question.”

A member of the delegation, Daniel Kovalik, states: “In the end, it is the Venezuelans who must decide their own future and leaders and the U.S., in the interest of democracy, must honor that decision.”

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Land concentration, land grabbing and people’s struggles in Europe

Land grabbing is widely assumed to be happening only in the global South, but an in-depth analysis by a team of researchers shows that land grabbing is also expanding into Europe.

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Executive summary
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Land concentration, land grabbing and people’s struggles in Europe (PDF, 2.95MB)