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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 143,270

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Argentina Dirty War: Torture and baby theft trial under way

Published 1 day ago

Miguel Etchecolatz, who is 91, has been on trial a number of times before

Eighteen people have gone on trial in Argentina on charges ranging from abduction to crimes against humanity.

The prosecution says they were responsible for torture, baby thefts and killings carried out in three detention centres under military rule between 1976 and 1983.

Among those charged is Miguel Etchecolatz, 91, who headed police investigations in Buenos Aires.

He is already in jail serving four life sentences.

Who's in the dock?
The court in the city of La Plata will examine alleged crimes committed against hundreds of people held in the detention centres of Pozo de Banfield, Pozo de Quilmes and Brigada Lanús, which was widely known as El Infierno (Hell).

More than 400 witnesses are expected to give evidence during the trial, which is expected to take at least two years.

Confronting the Deep Roots of Violence in El Salvador

Laura Weiss/October 21, 2020

Roberto Lovato’s “Unforgetting” explores the traumatic history of a country torn apart by wars and gangs—and the dangers of not facing the past.

Government militia patrol a village in El Salvador during the civil war.

Government militias patrol a village in northern El Salvador during the country’s brutal civil war.

In 1982, Joan Didion famously wrote of El Salvador that “terror is the given of the place.” At the time, the country was in the midst of a civil war, which pitted the leftist guerrillas of the Faribundo Martí National Liberation Front, or FMLN, against the country’s military, supported and armed by the United States. During the war, which lasted from 1980 to 1992, some 50,000 civilians were killed, with the lion’s share of atrocities committed by the military. The conflict compelled more than a quarter of the country’s 4.5 million people to seek safety in nearby countries as well as the U.S., where most were denied asylum despite the bloody conditions they were fleeing.

Roberto Lovato has no illusions about the violence that has permeated the history of El Salvador. However, his debut book, Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution, is determined to unravel the many stereotypes that outsiders like Didion have perpetuated about the country, to make room for new insights about the trauma that generations of Salvadorans have endured.

Lovato, who is Salvadoran-American, claims early on that his book seeks to explore the roots of gang violence in El Salvador, but it is about much more than that. Unforgetting covers a lot of ground, jumping between time periods, characters, countries, and even genres. It is part memoir, part reported narrative, and even part crónica, or chronicle, a genre first made famous by Gabriel García Márquez that straddles the line between fiction and journalism.

Sections of the book narrate Lovato’s childhood in the Mission District of San Francisco in the 1970s, where he was raised by two immigrant parents. Another, set in the 1920s, reconstructs the childhood of his father, with whom Lovato has a tense and occasionally violent relationship. Significant portions take place during the Salvadoran civil war, when Lovato was deeply involved in solidarity efforts with the FMLN. Another part of the book takes place in 2015, when an interview with a Salvadoran child held in immigrant detention in Karnes, Texas, motivates Lovato to report on what has driven so many to seek refuge outside of El Salvador.

The book illuminates the depths of violence that have shaped El Salvador: from the wiping out of large swaths of Indigenous people during the colonial period to the 1932 matanza, or massacre, carried out by the army, which the historian Anders Sandberg, quoted by Lovato, calls one of the “most violent episodes of the modern era.” Then there are the atrocities of the civil war, like the 1981 El Mozote massacre, during which military officers, funded and abetted by the U.S., wiped out an entire town in the course of one day.


Berkeley Talks: The violent underworlds of El Salvador and their ties to the U.S.

By Public Affairs, UC Berkeley| OCTOBER 23, 2020

In this Berkeley Talks episode, Salvadoran American journalist and activist Roberto Lovato discusses his new book, Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas, with Jess Alvarenga, an investigative reporter and documentary filmmaker and a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

In Unforgetting, Lovato exposes how the U.S.-backed military dictatorship was responsible for killing 85% of the 75,000 to 80,000 people killed during the Salvadoran Civil War, which was fought from 1979 to 1992.

“The book is … a journey through different underworlds — the underworlds of the guerillas, the underworlds of the gangs, the underworlds of our family histories and secrets, the underworld of the secrets of nations, the things that countries don’t like for us to know, I mean, which is theoretically how you get a president like Donald Trump, for example,” said Lovato.

Listen to the conversation between Lovato and Alvarenga in Berkeley Talks episode #98, “The violent underworlds of El Salvador and their ties to the U.S.” Watch a video of the conversation below.

Watch a video of the conversation between journalist Roberto Lovato and Jess
Alvarenga about Lovato’s new book, Unforgetting. (Berkeley Journalism video)


State of Fear: The US Legacy in El Salvador

Examining the self-sustaining cycle of gang violence in El Salvador

El Salvador ranks among the world’s most dangerous places. Violent crime associated with gang activity has created war zone like conditions in a nation that has been at peace for nearly three decades. These conditions have caused thousands to flee the country for the nearby United States.

Once in the U.S., many of these migrants find themselves back at square one, with the same gangs they fled living within their communities. Finding themselves caught up in gang activity; many are then deported to the place they once fled. This perpetual cycle has made El Salvador ground zero for gang-related violence.

‘State of Fear: The U.S. Legacy in El Salvador’ takes viewers deep inside this ever-growing world of gangs and violence while examining the effects of migration and deportation on gang membership.


Watch it all at once if you have 57:18, or in increments, which can be very convenient, to pick up a lot of information you might not easily find otherwise. It looks really worthwhile. I'm just at the beginning , doing it in segments. Thank you.cc

Is Colombia's aviation agency trafficking for Sinaloa Cartel this time?

by Adriaan Alsema October 22, 2020

Evidence that Colombia’s former President Alvaro Uribe is hiring Sinaloa Cartel pilots is impossible to ignore 40 years after he granted the Medellin Cartel some 200 licenses.

The trial against “El Chapo” additionally revealed how Uribe’s in-laws, the Cifuentes family, worked with the Mexican cartel since the 1990’s to secure drug trafficking routes while creating countless money laundering rackets in Colombia.

. . .

The illegal contract with the Sinaloa cartel pilot

The former pilot of Uribe and President Ivan Duque contributed more than $5000 to the 2018 congressional campaign of Uribe, according to financial records, but has been missing since December.

The pilot, Samuel Niño, has been missing since his airplane crashed while allegedly trafficking cocaine to Mexico for the Sinaloa Cartel.

Guatemalan authorities are unable to verify if the body found in the narco plane belongs to the former pilot of Colombia’s president and his political patron, as the family refuses to surrendered DNA.


The CIA and Chile: Anatomy of an Assassination

Schneider official portrait
Published: Oct 22, 2020
Briefing Book #728
Edited by Peter Kornbluh and Savannah Bock

Chile Marks 50th Anniversary of Assassination of Chilean Commander-in-Chief, General René Schneider

'60 Minutes' Posts Dramatic Exposé on Henry Kissinger’s Role and Schneider Family Lawsuit

Schneider’s Murder: “a stain on the pages of contemporary history”

Washington D.C., October 22, 2020 - On October 23, 1970, one day after armed thugs intercepted and mortally wounded the Chilean army commander-in-chief, General Rene Schneider, as he drove to work in Santiago, CIA Director Richard Helms convened his top aides to review the covert coup operations that had led to the attack. “It was agreed that … a maximum effort has been achieved,” and that “the station has done excellent job of guiding Chileans to point today where a military solution is at least an option for them,” stated a Secret cable of commendation transmitted that day to the CIA station in Chile. “COS [Chief of Station] … and Station [deleted] are commended for accomplishing this under extremely difficult and delicate circumstances.”

At the State Department, officials had no idea that the CIA and the highest levels of the Nixon White House had backed the attack on Schneider—with pressure, weapons, and money—as a pretext for a military coup that would overturn the democratic election of Salvador Allende. They drafted a condolence letter for President Nixon to send. In a memo to National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, who was secretly supervising the CIA’s coup operations, the State Department recommended that Nixon convey the following message to the President of Chile: “Dear Mr. President: The shocking attempt on the life of General Schneider is a stain on the pages of contemporary history. I would like you to know of my sorrow that this repugnant event has occurred in your country….”

Marking the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-supported attack on General Schneider, the National Security Archive today is posting a collection of previously declassified records to commemorate this “repugnant event.” The Archive has also posted a CBS '60 Minutes' segment, “Schneider vs. Kissinger,” that drew on these documents to report on a “wrongful death” lawsuit filed in September 2001 by the Schneider family against Kissinger for his role in the assassination. The '60 Minutes' broadcast aired on September 9, 2001 and has not been publicly available since then. In preparation for the 50th anniversary, CBS News graciously posted the broadcast as a “60 Minutes Rewind” yesterday.

In Chile, the assassination of General Schneider remains the historical equivalent of the assassination of John F. Kennedy: a cruel and shocking political crime that shook the nation. In the United States, the murder of Schneider has become one of the most renowned case studies of CIA efforts to “neutralize” a foreign leader who stood in the way of U.S. objectives.

The CIA’s murderous covert operations to, as CIA officials suggested, “effect the removal of Schneider,” were first revealed in a 1975 Senate report on Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders. At the time, investigators for the special Senate committee led by Idaho Senator Frank Church were able to review the Top Secret CIA operational cables and memoranda relating to “Operation FUBELT”—the code name for CIA efforts, ordered by Nixon and supervised by Kissinger, to instigate a military coup that would begin with the kidnapping of Schneider. When the Church Committee published its dramatic report, however, almost none of the classified records were made public.


Chance for Chile to forge new path in vote to scrap Pinochet-era constitution

Sunday’s referendum could mean end for 1980 constitution that allowed privatization to flourish and led to widespread inequality

Charis McGowan
Thu 22 Oct 2020 04.00 EDT

Carlos Hinrichs clearly remembers the fear and repression of the Pinochet years.

His father was jailed for supporting Salvador Allende, the leftwing president deposed in Chile’s 1973 military coup. His mother and sister were dismissed from their university positions. He saw classmates shot dead at protests.

When the general finally left power in 1990, Hinrichs expected that the legal framework for his rule would soon be replaced.

But, the constitution introduced by Pinochet remained in force for decades, safeguarding a market-driven economy at a cost of subsidized healthcare, education and pensions.

This Sunday, Hinrichs will finally have a chance to help condemn the dictatorship-era constitution to history, when Chile holds a national referendum which could clear the way for a new magna carta.

“It would open the possibility to live a better life,” said Hinrichs, who plans to watch the results with his adult daughters and his 94-year-old father. All three generations are hopeful that the country will vote for change.

Chile’s 1980 constitution has been criticised since its inception as fatally compromised by its links to a dictatorship guilty of political murder, torture and mass incarceration.


The War on Cuba and Venezuela

OCTOBER 19, 2020


Why are Havana’s food markets so empty? For the Cuban people, the U.S. War on Venezuela stands out as a clear culprit contributing to these daily frustrations and hardships.

“Right now fewer trucks are coming in. Less merchandise too. And the quality isn’t the same because a lot of the products are rotting the fields because there’s no oil for the trucks. Because of the U.S. blockade on Cuba, no oil tankers can get here,” says Barbaro Medina, a produce vendor in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood.

This interview features among others in episode two of The War on Cuba, a documentary series released by Belly of the Beast, a media startup covering Cuba and U.S.-Cuba relations.

“The U.S. oil blockade is explained in Part Two of The War on Cuba, premiering today ”

While mainstream coverage and even some Cubans blame the Cuban government for energy shortages, the U.S.’s role in creating the island’s energy crisis is rarely brought to light.

The Trump White House has ratcheted up claims of outsized Cuban influence in Venezuela ever since January 2019, when – with U.S. assistance – Juan Guaidó declared himself president of the oil-rich nation.

President Trump has called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a “Cuban puppet”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the Cuba “is the true imperialist power” in Venezuela, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton has asserted that “if the 25,000 Cubans left Venezuela,” Maduro would “fall by midnight.”

Yet these claims are baseless, according to former White House officials and security analysts.

“The only way you get to those numbers is to count doctors as security officials,” said Ben Rhodes, former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor who played a key role in negotiating the normalisation of U.S.-Cuba relations during President Obama’s second term.


The OAS Helped Facilitate Last Year's Coup Against Evo Morales. Now It's Observing Today's Bolivian

The OAS Helped Facilitate Last Year’s Coup Against Evo Morales. Now It’s Observing Today’s Bolivian Elections.

The Organization of American States, a supposedly neutral election observer, helped legitimate last year’s coup in Bolivia by falsely claiming Evo Morales had committed election fraud. And now it’s observing today’s elections — a fundamental threat to the prospects for democracy in the country.

Today, nearly one year after Evo Morales was ousted in a coup facilitated by the Organization of American States (OAS), Bolivia will finally vote in new elections. With Luis Arce, the candidate of Morales’s Movement for Socialism–Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS) party leading in polls, the OAS and the right-wing opposition are laying the groundwork to yet again claim fraud and reject the results.

To understand the threat from the OAS and its accomplices, it’s first necessary to rewind to last year.

On October 20, 2019, Bolivia held presidential and parliamentary elections, with then president Evo Morales seeking a fourth term. The next day, the OAS, which oversaw an observation mission for the elections, issued a press release “express[ing] its deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results.” The OAS did not provide any evidence for its claims. Protests erupted in a country that was already polarized.

Later, Morales — who had won the contest in the first round based on the official tally — agreed to a binding audit of the election results, carried out by the OAS, to avoid an escalation in violence. On November 10, the OAS released those results, reiterating its statistical claims (which could not be replicated) and detailing technical and procedural problems with the election that are present in virtually every electoral system (while failing to demonstrate how these were exploited by any actor). Nonetheless, Morales immediately agreed to new elections. Then, on November 10, after the military “suggested” he step down, Morales resigned in an attempt to prevent further violence against his supporters and their families.


US mercenaries accused of plot to put 'boots on the ground' ahead of Bolivia's crucial elections

SECURITY operatives with links to the notorious Blackwater firm have been accused of recruiting about 1,500 mercenaries to provide “boots on the ground” in Bolivia ahead of today’s elections.

Details leaked to the Morning Star appeared to reveal a clandestine plot to recruit law enforcement, medics and private security contractors to take part in a “unique mission” surrounding the elections.

An email seen by the Star, which appears to have been sent by Texas-based security specialist Joe Milligan, indicated that he was in charge of recruitment for the Bolivian operation.

“This project is very sensitive right now and I don’t want to see anyone talking about it on Facebook,” it warns recipients.
“There is a lot of moving parts to this and we don’t want to jam up the other guys that are working on the ground to make this happen,” the email says.

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