“Today it is a crime to defend human rights”. Interview with indigenous leader Bertha Cáceres

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerica Press (Photo: O.B.)

Eighty percent of crimes go unpunished in Honduras, yet social movements there are criminalized and prosecuted. In the Lenca peoples’ fight against hydroelectric power firm Agua Zarca, on the grounds the company is privatizing rivers, water, land and energy, three members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) are accused of serious offenses: Tomás Gómez, Aureliano Molina and Bertha Cáceres, the organization’s general coordinator. Latinamerica Press correspondent Orsetta Bellani interviewed Cáceres on the eve of the country’s presidential elections Nov. 24, which were ultimately won by right-wing candidate Juan Orlando Hernández. Continue reading…

Chiapas: Paramilitary action continues

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerica Press (Photo: O.B.)
 

The front porches of the homes in Ejido Puebla, in the southern state of Chiapas’ Chenalhó municipality, are covered with coffee beans. Since October, the residents of this indigenous Tzotzil Maya community in a corner of the Chiapas highlands have been harvesting the seeds that are now drying under the sun. Continue reading…

Ecuador: Grant of TV license to indigenous causes both joy and división

Orsetta Bellani, El Reportero (Photo: O.B.)

After years of struggle, six indigenous Ecuadorian journalists managed to launch Micc TV, a television channel that now broadcasts four hours a day for a large audience. This way, the dream of the Indigenous and Campesino Movement of Cotopaxi (Micc), which integrates the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), became true. The success of Micc Tv is also symbolic: their antenna is next to the commercial channels and those of the state in the city of Latacunga.
Orsetta Bellani, contributor to El Reportero, met Jose Venegas, indigenous communicator Micc, who works at Micc TV.

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The coca leaf is not cocaine

Orsetta Bellani, El Reportero (Photo: O.B.)

The coca leaf is not cocaine, but a key plant in the culture of Andean peoples. Jorge Ronderos Valderrama, a professor at the University of Caldas (Colombia) and coordinator of the research team and the magazine “Culture and drugs” asserts this. Valderrama spoke with Orsetta Ronderos Bellani, contributor with El Reportero in San Francisco.

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The rights of Zapatista women

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerican Press (Photo: O.B.)

Fabiana wakes every morning at 4:30 a.m., like all the women in her community. She grinds the corn she boiled the night before until it becomes soft dough, from which she forms a few balls that once flattened and cooked on a griddle become tortillas. Fabiana, who is ethnically Tzotzil Maya, is 23 years old, with a husband and two children, and also a member of the support base for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN).
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Mexico: Communities oppose wind projects

Orsetta Bellani, Latinamerican Press (Photos: O.B.)

The wind hasn’t stopped blowing on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in the southern state of Oaxaca. Night and day it rustles leaves, sweeps across the sea and spins the blades of wind turbines.
To drive wind energy production in this Mexican region, in 2004 the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), published the “Wind Energy Resource Atlas of Oaxaca” assuring that communities would receive social and economic benefits from renewable energy.

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The Permanent People’s Tribunal and the Counterinsurgency War in Chiapas

Orsetta Bellani, Upside Down World (Photo: O.B.)

Minerva Guadalupe Pérez López was 19 when, on June 20, 1996, she was arrested in the Miguel Alemán community (Chiapas) while on her way to visit her sick father. According to the testimonies, she was locked in a house where she was repeatedly beaten and raped during three days, by more than thirty men, who then took her to the countryside to dismember her. Continue reading…