Tag Archive | "police"

The Indy’s Weekly Review – 28th November 2014

Coming up on this episode of The Indy’s Weekly Review:

We analyse the mining lobby in Argentina after Wednesday’s release of a polemic photo, we speak to Juan Pablo Hudson of the Club de Investigaciones Urbanas about drugs, violence and police corruption in the city of Rosario, and we look at the media uproar over the Uruguayan president calling Mexico a “failed state”.

All that, plus the main news headlines from Argentina and Latin America and a preview of the new album by this week’s featured artist, Los Animales Superforros.

(Click on ‘Descargar’ to download)

Presented by: Kristie Robinson & Celina Andreassi
Editing: Pablo Fisher

We will be looking to continually improve and add to this podcast, and we’d love to hear your feedback on it, as well as suggestions for any additional stories or content you’d like to hear in it in the future. Send us an email at info@argentinaindependent.com, or comment on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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Police Acquitted over Parque Indoamericano Deaths

Police approach the blocked road (Escalada) and pass through the barrier to the park (Parque Indoamericano). (Photo: Kate-Sedgwick)

Police approach Parque Indoamericano in December 2010. (Photo: Kate-Sedgwick)

On Friday 41 police officers were acquitted over their role in the December 2010 deaths of Bernardo Salgueiro and Rossemary Chura Puña during the clearing of Parque Indoamericano.

The National Chamber of Appeals of the Criminal and Correctional Court confirmed that the deaths were caused by police action during the eviction of the park, but did not hold the federal and metropolitan police officers responsible. The Court concluded the perpetrators to be unidentified police officers who had acted on their own.

The pair were killed and five others were injured during a police operation to evict 5,000 people from Parque Indoamericano in the south of Buenos Aires, who had occupied the terrain to protest the lack of city government action in providing social housing solutions for the many residents of the city’s shantytowns. The occupation lasted for ten days, with occupiers facing hostility from local residents, whilst the city and national governments showed reluctance to find a solution, both claiming the problem to be out of their jurisdiction, before a joint operation eventually cleared the park.

Friday’s verdict did not analyse the police operation itself nor the context in which it developed. However, investigations prior to the trial did prove that the police acted in coordination, and in a violent and illegal way with the “uncontrolled use of lethal force”.

Lawyers from the humans rights group CELS, which is representing the parents of Chura Puña, have said that they will appeal the decision.

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Dozens Injured and Detained after Violent Repression in Chaco

Dozens of police were involved in the crackdown on the protest (photo: Germán Pomar/Télam/ddc)

Dozens of police were involved in the crackdown on the protest (photo: Germán Pomar/Télam/ddc)

Over 30 people have been injured and a dozen detained after a march was violently repressed yesterday in Resistencia, the capital of Chaco province.

Among the wounded was journalist Mónica Kreibohm, of newspaper Norte, who was hit by rubber bullets when she tried to prevent a woman who had fainted from being arrested. Police officials have also said that some ten officers were injured, and four of them are in a serious condition.

The protest involved members of unions, social movements, campesino organisations, and indigenous groups who had travelled from El Impenetrable. The protestors, numbering around 3,500, had marched peacefully to the provincial government house in Plaza 25 de Mayo to demand better wages and improved welfare programmes.

A little after 1pm, violence erupted after members of the demonstration threw “missiles” at the police, according to the provincial government. The organisers deny any objects were thrown to spark the violence, and say the government ordered the heavy-handed crackdown on their freedom of expression, which involved a truck with a water cannon, teargas, rubber bullets, and some 50 police on motorbikes and 40 on horseback.

The Partido Obrero has reported that the police were also firing lead bullets, an accusation that has been denied by the government, who say the bullets were shot by demonstrators who had brought home-made guns to the march.

The organisers are now considering a second march in the coming days to demand the resignation of Acting Governor Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff, noting that a peaceful march last month also ended in similar violence.


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Brazil: Police in 14 States Go On Strike

Federal Highway Police take part in an assembly in Rio (photo: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

Federal Highway Police take part in an assembly in Rio (photo: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil)

Police in 14 Brazilian states are striking today, demanding improvements in their working conditions. The 24-hour strike comes just 22 days before the beginning of the football World Cup.

Later on today, at 3pm local time, police unions will stage a protest in the capital city of Brasilia, where they will be joined by the federal police. The military police have announced they are not joining the strike or the protest.

It is estimated that, in some states, up to 70% of police agents could join the strike. The states affected are Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Pernambuco, Amazonas — all of which will hold World Cup games — Alagoas, Espírito Santo, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Paraíba, Rondônia, Santa Catarina, and Tocantins.

Upon announcing the strike, Janio Gandra, secretary general of the Brazilian Confederation of Civilian and Police Workers, said: “Do you know what will be the legacy of the World Cup for public safety? None. Crime rates will go down during the event and then everything will return to normal.” He accused the government of not having “a safety project aimed towards the interests of citizens, those who live here and pay their taxes, and they will remain unsafe” after the World Cup.Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo had said on 30th April that “the armed forces cannot legally strike. For that legal reason and because I don’t think that policemen who have sworn to respect their nation will want to expose their country to an unacceptable situation before the world, I don’t think they will strike during the World Cup.”

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Peru: Trial Opens over 2009 ‘Baguazo’

Presidents Alan García and George W. Bush. The clashes erupted as a result of laws passed as part of the free trade agreement between the US and Peru (photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Presidents Alan García and George W. Bush. The clashes erupted as a result of laws passed as part of the free trade agreement between the US and Peru (photo: Wikipedia Commons)

The trial started today over the so-called ‘Baguazo’, a 2009 political crisis that took place in the region of Bagua in the north-Peruvian Amazon, which led to dozens of deaths and one disappearance.

The crisis resulted from on-going opposition to oil development in the rainforest, which was opened up to private investment as part of the US-Peruvian Free Trade Agreement. Local indigenous groups, led the Peruvian Jungle Interethnic Development Association (AIDESEP), by a coalition of indigenous organisations, lead the resistance movement to exploitation of the rainforest.

Things culminated when, after a year of opposition and advocacy, and over two months of civil disobedience, in June 2009 the government of then-president Alan García suspended civil liberties, declared a state of emergency, and sent in the police and military to quash the protests. This intervention, referred to as the ‘Baguazo’, resulted in two days of bloody confrontations in which 23 soldiers and estimates of 30 indigenous people, including three children, were killed. Police were accused of burning bodies in an attempt to hide the actual death toll, and still the official death toll of the indigenous is put at ten.

The 53 defendants include 23 awajún-wampi people, who face charges of murder, disturbing the peace, and stealing weapons and ammunition from the armed forces, charges that carry from six years to life imprisonment.


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Argentina News Roundup: 8th May 2014

argentina-passport-photosArgentina ‘Best Passport in Latin America': According to a new Visa Restriction Index, Argentines have the best passport in Latin America, allowing them visa-free access to 147 countries. The index, developed by the International Aviation Transport Association and Henley & Partners, ranked the country 18th in the world, followed in the region by Brazil, ranked 19th with free travel to 146 countries, and Chile, ranked 21st with 141 countries allowing Chileans to enter without visas. The index also highlights that 20 more countries have dropped their visa restrictions for Argentine citizens in the past five years. The findings, which were based on 2013 figures, also showed Cuba, Dominican Republic, and Haiti to be the countries who had their travel most restricted, the latter able to travel to just 46 countries without a visa.


New Buenos Aires Taxi Fares Implemented: As agreed in February between unions and the city government, a 15% rise in taxi fares will come into effect in the coming days. The basic day fare will now cost $12.70 with each 200 metres – or each minute if the taxi is stationary – costing $1.27. The nighttime far (between 10pm and 6am) will start at $15.20, rising in increases of $1.52. It is expected that the government will meet with the unions again in September to discuss a further increase – expected to be around 15% – to be implemented in six months time. Last year the taxi fares rose 21%.


Police approach the blocked road (Escalada) and pass through the barrier to the park (Parque Indoamericano). (Photo: Kate-Sedgwick)

A night of the Indeoamericano occupation, with neighbours on the streets protesting(Photo: Kate-Sedgwick)

Police Charged over Parque Indoamericano Eviction: Judge Mónica Berdión today announced the move to prosecute 24 Metropolitan Police and eight Federal Police officers for “unlawful injury and manslaughter” during the December 2010 Parque Indoamericano eviction, which left three dead and five injured. Charges are being brought against both the leaders of the operation and various lower-ranking officers who were actually involved in the clearing of the terrain, located in Villa Soldati, in the south of Buenos Aires. The park had been occupied by some 5,000 people in protest of the lack of city government action in providing social housing solutions for the many residents of the city’s shantytowns. The occupation lasted for ten days, with occupiers facing hostility from local residents, whilst the city and national governments showed reluctance to find a solution, both claiming the problem to be out of their jurisdiction, before a joint operation eventually cleared the park. Judge Berdión has confirmed that the police will not be remanded in custody.



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Latin America News Roundup: 21st April 2014

The boardwalk in La Paz where the couple were arrested (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

The boardwalk in La Paz where the couple were arrested (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Mexico – Gay Couple Arrested for Kissing in Public: Municipal police in La Paz arrested a pair of men for kissing on the promenade last night. Jorge and Alan, who were visiting the Baja California resort town, were accused of disturbing the peace and were then “violently” detained after resisting arrest. They were later released after each paying a 300 peso fine. “We were terrified, the officers who detained us were very abrupt, and we weren’t disturbing the peace. The La Paz police are homophobic, corrupt liars,” said Jorge of his ordeal. Upon hearing the news of the arrest, the Baja California Sur LGBT community, which includes more than 50,000 people, has said it will organise a “kissathon” on the promenade on 17th May, which is the International Day Against Homophobia. LGBT rights have been expanded in Mexico in recent years, and in 2001 a federal law was passed banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Same-sex marriage has since been recognised in various states, including the capital of Mexico City.

Brazil – World Cup Police Trained by Blackwater: The US mercenary firm Academi, formerly known as Blackwater, trained Brazilian police in anti-terrorism actions in anticipation of the forthcoming football World Cup, due to take place in June and July this year. Last week, a group of 22 police military and federal police agents, including members of the force’s special operations, returned from three weeks’ training at Academi’s facility in Moyock Academy, North Carolina. The course was paid for the the US government as part of a series of exchanges between the two country’s police forces. Blackwater became known in the 2000s after hundreds of the company’s mercenaries were called in to aid the US armed forces in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The firm gained notoriety after its employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians in a massacre in Nisour Square, Baghdad, in 2007, outraging Iraqis and straining relations between the government and Washington. In 2011 the company rebranded, changing its name to Academi.

Acting Bogotá Mayor María Mercedes Maldonado (photo courtesy of Bogotá government)

Acting Bogotá Mayor María Mercedes Maldonado (photo courtesy of Bogotá government)

Colombia – New Bogotá Mayor Appointed: President Juan Manuel Santos appointed today the new mayor of Bogotá. María Mercedes Maldonado, who is replacing deposed mayor Gustavo Petro, will head the city’s administration temporarily, until elections are called. President Santos, who made the announcement on his way to Mexico this morning, indicated that no date has been set for the election yet, and that on his return to Colombia he will meet electoral authorities to define “at what time and under which conditions we will make the call [to elections].” With regards to his appointment of Maldonado, President Santos stated that she was chosen “because she’s in the cabinet, she’s familiar with city policies, is a well-prepared person, and also women have done very well as mayors.” Maldonado, a lawyer specialised in urban studies, is the city’s current Habitat Secretary. On her appointment, former mayor Gustavo Petro commented on Twitter that: “The progressive citizen’s movement that won the elections returns to the city government. María Mercedes, ‘Human Bogotá’ is in your hands.” Petro was removed from his post by the country’s Inspector General last December, and the decision was ratified by President Santos on 19th March.

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Argentina News Roundup: 7th April 2014

Governor Scioli and his cabinet declare a 'security emergency' (photo: Victoria Egurza/Télam/ef)

Governor Scioli and his cabinet declare a ‘security emergency’ (photo: Victoria Egurza/Télam/ef)

Scioli Declares Security Emergency in Buenos Aires: Governor Daniel Scioli declared on Saturday a ‘security state of emergency’ for 12 months in his province, with the aim of “applying the full weight of the state on criminals.” The measures to be applied to combat insecurity include the recall of up to 15,000 retired policemen who will be required to serve in the force for a year, and new requirements for motorcycle riders (such as the need to wear a helmet and reflective vest showing the vehicle’s licence number and the prohibition for two people to ride on a motorcycle at certain times and in certain areas). There will also be the construction of new prisons to hold up to 3,000 prisoners currently held in “relief police stations” awaiting trial, despite international regulations to the contrary. The Scioli administration has also pledged to introduce a bill in the provincial congress in order to limit the release of prisoners with a criminal record or those who used guns to commit a crime, and another one in the national congress to modify the current juvenile criminal regime.

The debate of a bill currently sitting in the provincial legislature which seeks to create local police forces in districts of over 70,000 residents will be accelerated and the government will create ten new specialised public prosecutors’ offices to handle drug trafficking offences. Finally, private security officers will be obliged to report any crime they witness whilst on duty (if they do not, their licences will be removed), and panic buttons will be included in mobile phones. The ‘state of emergency’ also gives the government the possibility to streamline certain processes and make purchases without having to call for public tenders. Scioli announced the purchase of 1,000 police cars, 30,000 bullet-proof vests, and 10,000 guns with ammunition for a total of $600m.

The governor received both support for the plan and criticism from the opposition. Frente Renovador’s Sergio Massa said that “we’re satisfied that the governor, being responsible for safety in the province, has recognised the severity of the situation (…) We’re ready to cooperate with our successful local experience, helping the provincial government find a solution.” PRO’s María Eugenia Vidal, the city of Buenos Aires’ deputy mayor, said that “it’s good that the provincial government is recognising the problem of insecurity. The measures are fine for the urgency, but we need a structural plan to solve the underlying issues.” Former deputy and president of GEN, Gerardo Milman, was critical of Scioli, saying that “the province doesn’t have an emergency, it has an unacceptable level of ineptitude and structural complicity. Governor Scioli’s state of emergency declaration is nothing more than a way to bypass controls and make purchases without public tenders.” The national government, in turn, kept its distance from Scioli and his announcements, with Chief of Cabinet Jorge Capitanich saying that “governor Scioli’s decision is part of his own agenda and taken within the use of his powers (…) He surely analysed the security issue and adopted the measures he considers appropriate.”

State of Emergency in Neuquén After Heavy Rains: A state of emergency has been declared in Neuquén after the province received 150mm of rain – the equivalent to a year’s rainfall – in just 12 hours. Schools across the province were closed today, and severe flooding in the provincial capital led to some 1,500 residents being evacuated from their homes. The worst-affected neighbourhoods in the north Patagonian city started the day under a metre of water, and although the flood waters are now starting to recede, much of the city remains without electricity. The storm is said to be the worst to have hit the city in 40 years, although residents were prepared after numerous warnings in local media and from the government to stay indoors. Heavy rainfall has wreaked havoc on various parts of the country. The first stage of the Desafío Ruta 40 rally, which was due to start today in the city of Bariloche, was cancelled due to the downpour, and Buenos Aires saw transit chaos after the Illia highway was closed due to the rains. The storms are set to continue throughout the rest of the day and into tomorrow.

Government Extends Price Agreements: Economy Minister Axel Kicillof and Domestic Trade Secretary Augusto Costa announced today that the ‘Precios Cuidados’ price agreement will be extended to include new items and new supermarkets. In large supermarkets, 108 products will be added to the existing agreement, bringing the number of items sold at an agreed price to 302. In smaller supermarkets the increase will be of 98 items. ‘Precios Cuidados’ will now include gluten-free products and will be extended to include wholesalers. Minister Kicillof, who called the programme “a success”, explained that “some prices within the agreement will increase ever so slightly and other products will enter the agreement at much lower prices.” The second phase of the programme will come into effect within the next seven to ten days.

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Argentina News Roundup: 20th February 2014

Human rights organisations joined civil society outside the Masacre de la Carcova trial in San Martín. (Photo: Gustavo Amarelle/Télam/lz)

Human rights organisations joined civil society outside the Masacre de la Carcova trial in San Martín. (Photo: Gustavo Amarelle/Télam/lz)

‘Masacre de La Carcova’ Trial Begins: The trial against Buenos Aires Province policemen Gustavo Rey and Gustavo Vega opened today in San Martín, Greater Buenos Aires. The pair are accused of having killed two teenagers who they believed were involved in the looting of a train than had derailed in La Carcova, José León Suárez in 2011. Franco Almirón and Mauricio Ramos, aged 16 and 17, were both killed in the incident on 3rd February 2011, and their friend Joaquín Romero, 19, was seriously injured. The police are also accused of covering up the killings. Investigations by the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) human rights organisation unveiled that on the day of the incident, the three friends were riding their bikes to look for cardboard in the nearby CEAMSE rubbish dump and had stopped to see what had happened as the train had derailed. When they tried to get close to the train, officers responded disproportionately by shooting at them. Romero was injured, and Almirón and Ramos took cover behind a pile of junk. But after a tear gas cannon was fired they were forced out of their cover, and were both shot fatally whilst attempting to flee the scene. CELS, whose investigation revealed the police cover-up, has called for a case to be opened into the officers’ disproportionate response to the lootings and also that more senior officials, likely to have given the orders to the policemen to use deadly force, also be charged. The trial is expected to last until 11th March.

Western Union Announces Changes to Ease Money Sending: The local subsidiary of Western Union has increased the amount of money it is possible to send to some countries from $1,150 per month to $4000 – or US$500 – per day. The countries included are the United States, Canada and the rest of Latin America. However, tighter restrictions remain for those wanting to send money to other continents, who are limited to $1,800 per day. Tourists and foreigners living temporarily in Argentina will not be able to use the new system, and are advised to go to the tax office AFIP to send or receive money. Argentines and permanent residents must take a photocopy of their CUIT or CUIL and a copy of their DNI. Those wishing to send money will have to pay 35% commission on the value of the money being sent, which would mean a cost of $10.90 per dollar, higher than the official exchange rate, which is hovering around $8, but lower than the ‘blue’, which is nearer $12.

Man Forced to Pay Damages for Leaving Pregnant Ex: The Supreme Court of Corrientes province has ruled that a man must pay damages to his former partner for the “moral damage” he inflicted after suddenly leaving her while she was pregnant. The ruling sets a new precedent in the province, although judges Guillermo Horacio Semhan, Fernando Augusto Niz and Juan Carlos Codello have yet to calculate the level of damages that will be awarded. In their decision, they highlighted that the woman “spent the entire pregnancy without the company or spiritual support of the progenitor”, and that the man had demonstrated “abandonment, denial of paternity, irresponsibility, and bad faith”. They highlighted that these were things suffered by the mother, and that their daughter was not the victim in this case.

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Argentina News Roundup: 10th February 2014

Seventeen people died in the crash, including the lorry driver (photo: Alfredo Ponce/Télam/ddc)

Seventeen people died in the crash, including the lorry driver (photo: Alfredo Ponce/Télam/ddc)

Mendoza Policemen Suspended Due to Negligence: Four police officers and five civilian employees were sanctioned after it was found they ignored calls to the emergency phone line, 911, which could have prevented a fatal road accident. On Friday 8th February, between 2.47 and 3.02pm, the emergency service received three calls alerting them to the erratic behaviour of a lorry driver, who was seen driving recklessly, allegedly drunk and against traffick on route 7, which runs between Mendoza and Córdoba. Later, between 5.34 and 5.44, five more calls were made to 911 indicating that the same person was driving against traffic. Only a minute later, at 5.45, the truck crashed against a bus, killing 17 people and injuring 14. “According to our register, he drove against traffic on the motorway for at least ten minutes,” said Juan Carlos Caleri, General Director of the Mendoza police. Caleri also informed that all the audio and video files which registered the lorry that day were sent to the prosecutor over the weekend, “to analyse the actions of the police officers in the hours before the tragedy.”

AFIP Denies Changes to Foreign Currency Purchases: In a statement released this morning, tax agency AFIP denied having made changes to the criteria used to allow purchases of foreign currencies, as reported by an article on La Nación. The purchase of foreign currency “works normally and without alterations,” says the statement, which also confirms that the conditions to allow for these purchases are set out by the Central Bank. The article published in today’s print edition of La Nación, under the headline ‘Without prior notice AFIP restricted the purchase of [US] dollars for savings‘, warned that “Without admitting it publicly, AFIP arbitrarily restricted in February the limits it applies to the purchase of [US] dollars, both for some self-employed workers and for employees, as La Nación confirmed through different savers.” Through their website www.dialogofiscal.gob.ar, AFIP informed that 330,575 operations of foreign currency purchases were registered between 27th January -when these transactions were authorised- and 7th February, for a total amount of US$176,977,706. Over 151,000 of these transactions were performed last week.

Irregularities in Iron Mountain Warehouse Revealed: Edgardo Castro, an inspector at the Buenos Aires Labour Sub-secretariat, revealed that, in 2008, he closed down the warehouse that burned down last week, killing nine firefighters. “I requested for that place to be closed down because basically it had deficiencies in its fire protection system. There was too much flammable material, the hoses didn’t work, there were no sprinklers, and there were obstacles in the hallways,” said Castro. Though his request was granted and the warehouse was closed down, he was later removed from the case. Speaking to news agency Télam, Castro also said that the neighbourhood of Barracas is “like a powder keg” due to the number of buildings that do not meet basic safety requirements: “If they don’t employ capable inspectors, these things will continue to happen, on a smaller or greater scale they will continue to happen, it’s a matter of time.”

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24th March marks the anniversary of the 1976 coup that brought Argentina's last dictatorship to power, a bloody seven year period in which thousands of citizens were disappeared and killed. Many of the victims passed through ESMA, a clandestine detention centre turned human rights museum

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