South and Central America

Bush’s recipe for Latin America: austerity, repression and more US militarism

By Bill Vann and Tomas Rodriguez, 28 March 2002

In his four-day, three-nation tour of Latin America, George W. Bush reprised all of the familiar homilies about hemispheric “partnership” and mutual progress that have been the stock-in-trade of every US president for 50 years. In the wake of September 11, Washington has refurbished the rhetoric slightly. It has replaced the old invocations of an alliance against “communist subversion” used to justify the military interventions, CIA-organized coups and US-backed dictatorships that characterized the region for most of the twentieth century with a new slogan—the “war on terrorism.”

Shock therapy for Argentina: 75,000 jobs disappear in one month

By Rafael Azul, 25 March 2002

Argentina faces a social crisis of unprecedented proportions. Seventy-five thousand jobs disappeared during the month of February alone. The nation moved toward the 25 percent unemployment mark, while government officials begged for assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

US troops join invasion of Colombian rebel zone

By Bill Vann, 28 February 2002

The appearance of US Army Special Forces in the Colombian town of San Vicente del Caguan is a clear indication of the escalating US intervention in South America’s oldest civil war. San Vicente del Caguan is the capital of the so-called “safe zone” that was invaded by Colombian troops after heavy aerial bombardment last week.

US militarism targets South American oil

By Bill Vann, 20 February 2002

Washington’s military intervention into Colombia’s four-decades-old civil war was initiated nearly two years ago by the Clinton administration with a $1.3 billion emergency military aid package dubbed Plan Colombia. The plan was justified in the name of waging a “war on drugs.”

291 dead in Lima: the social roots of Peru’s tragic fire

By Cesár Uco, 28 January 2002

A terrible fire late last month in Lima left a toll of 291 dead and hundreds of wounded. The victims were drawn almost entirely from the millions of marginalized poor who go daily into the streets of Peruvian cities to earn a few cents or buy cheap goods.

US pushes Colombia to brink of all-out war

By Bill Vann, 19 January 2002

Colombia, for the moment, has avoided the all-out eruption of its four-decade-old civil war following a last-ditch mediation effort launched by the United Nations, a group of governments including France, Mexico and Cuba and the Catholic Church. Bowing to the call for renewed negotiations, Colombian President Carlos Andres Pastrana announced the postponement of an ultimatum he had delivered to the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla movement to abandon a 25,000-square-mile “demilitarized zone” in the south of the country.

Argentine devaluation: unelected government begins assault on living standards

By Rafael Azul and Bill Vann, 8 January 2002

Assuming power after mass upheavals throughout Argentina forced the resignation of four presidents within the space of barely two weeks, an alliance of discredited Peronist politicians, backed by the Radicals, the country’s other bourgeois party, has spelled out a new economic program that will mean even sharper attacks on the living standards of millions of Argentine workers and middle class people.

Large anti-government swing in Chilean elections

By Mauricio Saavedra, 28 December 2001

For the first time since the return to civilian rule in 1990, the ruling “centre-left” coalition in Chile polled less than half the votes in the December 16 parliamentary elections, allowing former military dictator General Augusto Pinochet’s political heirs to claim that they will return to power after the next elections.

Political crisis deepens in Argentina after De la Rua’s fall

By Rafael Azul, 22 December 2001

A mass upsurge developed in Argentina on Wednesday and Thursday when the working class and a radicalized section of the middle class took to the streets and toppled the government of President Fernando De la Rua.

IMF austerity sparks upheavals

Social unrest topples Argentina’s president

By Rafael Azul, 21 December 2001

President Fernando de la Rua fled the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s presidential palace, aboard a helicopter December 20 after a day of violent clashes between riot police and thousands of workers and youth who defied a state of siege to protest the government’s economic austerity policies.

General strike paralyzes Argentina as bankruptcy threatens economy

By Rafael Azul, 18 December 2001

Argentina was paralyzed on Thursday, December 13 during the seventh general strike this year against the government of President Fernando De la Rua.

Anti-government hostility marks Chilean election campaign

By Perla Astudillo, 15 December 2001

Socialist Party leader Ricardo Lagos, who won the Chilean presidency as the candidate for the ruling Concertacion coalition in early 2000, is facing his first major electoral test in tomorrow’s congressional elections. After entering office with promises of dealing with the crimes of the military and former dictator General Augusto Pinochet, as well as providing better health care and working conditions, Lagos has delivered on none.

Argentina on the edge of default—Is Brazil next?

By G. Rojas, 23 November 2001

In recent meetings with Wall Street bankers and members of the Bush administration, Argentina’s President Fernando De la Rua and Economics Minister Domingo Cavallo outlined the latest scheme to prevent an outright default on the country’s $132 billion debt.

Ominous threats from US against Nicaraguan Sandinistas

By Gerardo Nebbia, 25 October 2001

In the wake of September 11, the Bush administration is threatening the Nicaraguan people over the possible election victory of Daniel Ortega, the presidential candidate for the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), in the Central American nation’s November 4 elections. Polls indicate that Ortega has a thin lead over the candidate of the ruling Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC), Enrique Bolanos.

Chilean regime signs electoral pact with Communist Party

By Perla Astudillo, 2 October 2001

The Chilean Socialist Party—President Ricardo Lagos’ faction of the ruling Concertacion coalition—has signed an electoral pact to support Communist Party (PC) candidates in two of its safest seats for the December congressional elections. Under the terms of the August 1 agreement, the withdrawal of the Socialist Party (PS) candidates is likely to see the first PC members elected to the Chamber of Deputies since civilian rule was restored in 1990. In effect, the PC would become part of the ruling coalition for the first time since the Popular Unity government headed by Salvador Allende that was ousted in the 1973 military coup by General Augusto Pinochet.

Central American famine worsens

By Gerardo Nebbia, 5 September 2001

The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) reports that as many as 1.6 million Central Americans are suffering from famine as a result of a drought in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. The agency has said up to now it has only been able to distribute food to about half of the nearly 700,000 people in urgent need of food supplies.

Colombian government steps up civil war preparations

By Jeremy Johnson, 31 August 2001

Newly inaugurated Colombian President Álvaro Uribe Vélez has followed up his August 12 assumption of emergency powers [See “Colombia’s new president declares state of emergency”] with further measures aimed at crushing militarily the country’s guerrilla insurgencies and stepping up repression against human rights and trade union activists.

Bolivia’s Banzer cedes power to a "technocrat"

By Tomas Rodriguez, 24 August 2001

Bolivia’s president and former military dictator relinquished power earlier this month, ending a four-year reign marked by mounting social protest and increasingly desperate economic and social conditions for the vast majority of the country’s 8.5 million inhabitants.

Wall Street loots Argentine workers’ pensions

By Cesar Uco, 20 August 2001

One of the most important but least known aspects of the current Argentine crisis is the looting of workers’ pension funds by the Buenos Aires government, local banks and Wall Street. Billions of dollars in savings by public employees and other workers are to be put up as collateral as part of the government’s “patriotic call” to rescue Argentina from defaulting on its $130 billion foreign debt.

Growing famine in Central America

By Gerardo Nebbia, 13 August 2001

A famine is afflicting 1.4 million Central Americans, including in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The immediate cause of the famine is a devastating drought that severely reduced the corn crop. In Nicaragua at least six children have died. In that country, the famine is being compounded by the layoff of thousands of coffee workers.

US moves towards deeper intervention in Colombia civil war

By Patrick Martin, 9 August 2001

There was little reporting and less commentary in the national media on the actions of the House of Representatives July 24, giving its approval to $676 million in military, social and economic aid to Colombia and six other countries in the Andean region of northwestern South America. The House approved the Bush administration’s $15.2 billion foreign aid bill by a vote of 381-46, after 12 hours of debate focused largely on US policy in Colombia.

As markets applaud cuts

Argentine workers strike against austerity measures

By Bill Vann, 25 July 2001

International financial investors appeared satisfied, at least for the moment, with a new round of economic austerity measures that provoked crippling strikes by the Argentine workers last week. The Buenos Aires stock market continued a moderate rebound amid indications that the Peronist opposition as well as the petty-bourgeois left FREPASO coalition are prepared to support the “zero deficit” program advanced by President Fernando De la Rua and his economy minister, Domingo Cavallo.

Chilean court ends Pinochet’s trial

By Mauricio Saavedra, 14 July 2001

With the Chilean government of President Ricardo Lagos pressing for a halt to the prosecution of former military dictator Augusto Pinochet, the Santiago Appeals Court all but ended his trial this week by suspending the case indefinitely on the pretext of Pinochet’s ill health.

Jail deaths spark protest in Chile

By Perla Astudillo, 5 July 2001

Over 12,000 prisoners throughout Chile went on strike last month in protest over the death of 26 inmates in a fire in a jail in the northern city of Iquique. The strikers were demanding an end to the chronic overcrowding and brutal regime in Chilean jails that led to the Iquique fire.

Peruvian court sentences Lori Berenson to 20 years

By Bill Vann, 22 June 2001

A Peruvian court on June 20 convicted Lori Berenson of collaborating with an outlawed organization—the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA)—and sentenced the 31-year-old North American to 20 years in prison. Following the verdict, Berenson’s lawyer said he would appeal the conviction to the Supreme Court of Peru.

Under international pressure, Haitian president Aristide embraces his right-wing opponents

By Jacques Richard, 22 May 2001

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, host of the Summit of the Americas which brought together 34 heads of state of the continent last month in Quebec City, used the occasion to increase international pressure on Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Missionary plane shot down in Peru: collateral damage in US "drug war"

By Bill Vann, 24 April 2001

Following the revelation that a reconnaissance aircraft carrying CIA contract employees participated in the April 20 shoot-down of a plane carrying an American missionary family over the Peruvian Amazon region, Washington has attempted to pin the blame on the Peruvian military. US officials have charged that the Peruvian pilot failed to follow accepted procedures for the interception of suspected drug runners. They have also leaked reports that the American spies objected to the attack that claimed the lives of one missionary, Veronica Bowers, and her seven-month-old daughter, Charity.

Argentina: Congress grants Cavallo emergency powers

Wall Street's man in charge

By Bill Vann, 28 March 2001

After nearly three years of recession and facing a desperate foreign debt crisis, Argentina's Congress has voted to grant emergency powers to Domingo Cavallo, the newly installed economy minister and author of previous economic plans that plunged the country into a downward spiral of poverty, unemployment and homelessness.

Chilean court dismisses murder charges against Pinochet

By Mauricio Saavedra, 12 March 2001

The Santiago Court of Appeals handed former Chilean military dictator General Augusto Pinochet a partial victory last week, dismissing charges of masterminding dozens of murders and kidnappings in the “Caravan of Death” case. He now faces trial only on minor charges of being an accessory, with a maximum penalty of three to five years' house arrest.

Pinochet appeals against arrest order in Chile

By Mauricio Saavedra, 5 February 2001

A Chilean judge placed former dictator General Augusto Pinochet under house arrest for the second time on January 29, ordering him to stand trial on homicide and kidnapping charges. Pinochet refused to acknowledge the arrest order, declining to sign the relevant document. Nevertheless, the court has confirmed the order and his lawyers filed an appeal the next day.

US-backed "Plan Colombia" to escalate bloody civil war

By Patrick Martin, 31 January 2001

Thousands of government troops are being assembled on the border of a rebel-held zone in southern Colombia on the eve of the scheduled launching of a US-backed military offensive. Some 600 soldiers were flown into the region January 23 on US-built C-130 transport planes, reinforcing the 2,500 soldiers already in place.

A letter from Ecuador

23 January 2001

The following letter was sent to the WSWS from a correspondent in Ecuador.

Chilean government seeks to protect military

Pinochet may be found fit for trial

By Mauricio Saavedra, 18 January 2001

According to leaked findings reported in the Chilean media, court-ordered medical tests carried out on former Chilean military dictator General Augusto Pinochet last week found that Pinochet is fit to stand trial on charges of murder and kidnap.

Hundreds die in El Salvador earthquake

By Gerardo Nebbia, 16 January 2001

It only lasted 30 seconds, but it will take many days to determine the scope of the damage resulting from the earthquake that shook Central America off the coast of El Salvador on Saturday, January 13 at 11:34 a.m. Monday morning's figures indicate that nearly 500 are dead, 1,077 wounded and some 2,000 disappeared.

As US isolates Aristide

Haiti's wealthy pin hopes on Bush

By Jacques Richard and Bill Vann, 9 January 2001

The US Supreme Court ruling that delivered the White House to George W. Bush and the Republican Party was greeted with wild elation in at least one corner of the globe. In Port-au-Prince, residents of the wealthy hillside neighborhoods overlooking the impoverished Haitian capital took to the streets shouting their enthusiasm when the decision was announced.

Chile's government appeases military

Pinochet's legal victories may see him escape trial

By Mauricio Saavedra, 27 December 2000

Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet has won a series of legal victories over the past week that may bring an end to the most prominent of the 190 criminal lawsuits filed against him since 1998.

As military pressure mounts

Chilean court overturns Pinochet arrest order

By Bill Vann, 13 December 2000

Ten days after a Chilean judge ordered the arrest of Augusto Pinochet in connection with death squad murders carried out in the aftermath of the CIA-backed military coup 27 years ago, an appeals court panel overturned the order. The judicial reverse came under conditions of mounting military pressure to halt the prosecution of the former dictator.

General strike in Argentina

By Gerardo Nebbia, 28 November 2000

A 36-hour general strike called by three union federations in Argentina virtually shut down the nation of 37 million inhabitants last week. The mass walkout was a protest against austerity measures by the De la Rua administration that would cut Social Security benefits and freeze federal and provincial budgets for five years. President De la Rua and Labor Minister Patricia Bullrich denounced the strike.

Peruvian dictator resigns: the fall of Fujimori

By Bill Vann, 22 November 2000

Caught in an ever-tightening noose of political crises and scandals, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori resigned suddenly and by long distance, sending a letter November 20 to the Peruvian Congress from a hotel in Tokyo.

Argentine debt crisis threatens global turbulence

By Nick Beams, 21 November 2000

In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, the government of Argentina won praise from the International Monetary Fund for its embrace of privatisation, government spending cuts and free market “reforms” of its financial system.

Colombia civil war intensifies as US escalates intervention

By Patrick Martin, 30 October 2000

The Colombian military suffered its worst setback of the year in the ongoing civil war against several peasant-based guerrilla groups, as 54 soldiers and national policemen were killed in a three-day battle earlier this month in the northwestern state of Antioquia, near the border with Panama. Almost half of the casualties came when guerrillas shot down a US-made Black Hawk helicopter with 22 soldiers on board.

Washington steps up pressure on Haitian government

By Jacques Richard, 4 October 2000

Washington is growing impatient over the Haitian government's reluctance to bow down to US and international criticism of alleged electoral fraud in recent parliamentary elections.

CIA documents confirm: Chile's secret police chief worked for Washington

By Bill Vann, 27 September 2000

Confirming what opponents of Chile's two-decade-long military dictatorship had long charged, the Central Intelligence Agency has issued a report to the US Congress acknowledging that the head of the DINA, Chile's hated secret police, was a paid agent and informer of the CIA.

Peru: the disintegration of the Fujimori regime

By Bill Vann, 21 September 2000

Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori made a surprise announcement September 15 that he intends to hold new elections in which he will not run. If carried out, the pledge would put an end to his reign of more than a decade. After Fidel Castro, Fujimori is Latin America's longest-ruling head of state. Massive human rights violations, rigged elections and wholesale corruption have characterized his tenure in office.

Vladimir Montesinos: the rise and fall of "our man in Lima"

By Bill Vann, 21 September 2000

Recent reports of Vladimir Montesinos's role in bribing a Peruvian legislator and smuggling guns to the Colombian guerrillas are only part of a long record of criminal activity carried out in collaboration with both Peruvian and US authorities.

Clinton visit inaugurates Colombian intervention

Wider Andean war feared

By Bill Vann, 30 August 2000

President Bill Clinton's eight-hour visit to the Caribbean port city of Cartagena August 30 marks the initiation of “Plan Colombia,” the blueprint for an open-ended US military intervention on the South American continent.

Discovery of Chilean boy's body highlights role of Lagos government's accord with military

By Mauricio Saavedra, 30 August 2000

The tragic story of the Farina family, who after three decades located the body of their 13-year-old brother Carlos Farina—killed by the Chilean military in 1973—is a sharp reminder of the brutal crimes that the government of President Ricardo Lagos is seeking to have excused under a recently-signed accord with the military.

Dominican death squad sentenced in '75 murder

Where were the "intellectual authors" of the crime?

By Tomas Rodriguez, 23 August 2000

A quarter of a century after gunning down their victim in the streets of Santo Domingo, four members of a government-backed death squad were sentenced earlier this month to 30 years each in prison for the political murder.

Clinton to visit Cartagena

US intervention heats up Colombian conflict

By Bill Vann, 16 August 2000

With a new $1.3 billion US military package beginning to flow to the Colombian armed forces, and preparations under way for President Clinton to visit the South American nation on August 30, there are growing indications that the escalating US intervention is already intensifying the country's four-decade-old civil war.

Pinochet loses immunity but Chile's government moves to protect him

By Mauricio Saavedra, 11 August 2000

After a tense week-long delay, Chile's Supreme Court judges announced on Tuesday that they had voted 14 to 6 to strip General Augusto Pinochet of his Senatorial immunity. The ruling fell short of requesting medical examinations to establish whether the former military dictator will stand trial.

Chilean Supreme Court removes Pinochet's immunity but keeps verdict secret

By Mauricio Saveedra, 4 August 2000

According to leaks from within the court, the Chilean Supreme Court voted narrowly on August 1 to strip former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, of his parliamentary immunity, clearing the way for his prosecution on 154 criminal charges arising from the 1973 military coup. One source said the Supreme Court was split 11 to 9. Another report put the vote at 14 to 6.

Chile floods expose lack of planning and infrastructure

By Perla Astudillo, 29 July 2000

Severe floods throughout Chile over the last month have caused at least 17 deaths and forced an estimated 129,000 people into homelessness. Torrential rains affected the capital, Santiago, swamping more than 75 percent of metropolitan streets, including the city's main highway. The worst affected regions also included the central and southern regions, Chile's principal agricultural areas.

US Congress approves $1.3 billion military package for Colombia

By Bill Vann, 30 June 2000

With Congressional approval of a $1.3 billion aid package to Colombia, the US government is preparing a major escalation of its military intervention into Latin America's longest-running civil war. While the massive aid package has been sold as part of the “war on drugs,” Washington's principal aims are geopolitical and economic.

Growing hostility to Argentine government's austerity program

By Margaret Rees, 29 June 2000

Backed personally by US President Clinton, Argentina's President Fernando De la Rua is seeking to impose IMF-ordered spending cuts despite a general strike on June 9. About 60 percent of the Argentine work force—that is 7.2 million workers—participated in the 24-hour stoppage to oppose De la Rua' s decree of cuts totalling $938 million, announced on May 29.

Washington bows to Fujimori's vote fraud

By Bill Vann, 20 June 2000

The Clinton administration's precipitous back pedaling on its initial rejection of the rigged election in Peru is an expression of an inherently contradictory policy toward both that Andean country and Latin America as a whole.

Chilean court revokes Pinochet's legal immunity

By Mauricio Saavedra, 9 June 2000

Chile's Court of Appeal formally announced on Tuesday that it had voted 13 to 9 to strip former dictator General Augusto Pinochet of the legal immunity he enjoys as a lifetime senator. The court decision opens the way for Pinochet to be prosecuted for some of the thousands of murders, torture and disappearances that occurred under his 17-year military dictatorship.

Elections in Haiti, Dominican Republic reflect rising opposition to IMF policies

By Patrick Martin, 2 June 2000

Nationwide elections held in the two countries which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola produced landslide victories for parties which claimed, however demagogically, to oppose policies of austerity and privatization dictated by the International Monetary Fund and other Western-controlled lending agencies. Balloting was held in the Dominican Republic May 16 and in Haiti on May 21.

Cuba and US exchange limited concessions

By Patrick Martin, 30 May 2000

In a series of actions over the past month, in the wake of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) raid in Miami which rescued Elian Gonzalez and restored him to the custody of his Cuban father, the Cuban government and the US government have exchanged modest economic and political concessions.

Washington's 40-year vendetta

Elian's case highlights US assault on Cuba

By Bill Vann, 10 May 2000

For the present, Elian Gonzalez is reunited with his father and waiting in the secluded environment of the Wye River Plantation for a federal appeals court in Atlanta to consider a specious legal bid from distant relatives in Miami to procure political asylum for the six-year-old child. The frenzied news coverage of Elian's fate has, for now, subsided.

Clinton begins final push for passage of Colombia aid bill

By Patrick Martin, 4 May 2000

In a speech May 2 to the Council of the Americas, a lobbying group for corporations with investments in Latin America, President Bill Clinton called on Congress to approve a huge $1.6 billion plan to boost military and economic aid to Colombia. The measure would set the stage for broader US military intervention throughout the Andean region of South America.

Mounting social contradictions in Chile

A personal view after 10 years of civilian rule

By Perla Astudillo, 29 April 2000

After the military takeover led by General Augusto Pinochet in 1973, free market economists labelled Chile as “the miracle economy”. The same thinktanks then praised Chile for continuing the so-called miracle following the establishment of civilian rule in 1990. To this day, the International Monetary Fund and global financiers often refer to Chile as a model for the rest of the world.

Political tensions mount as Pinochet hearing opens in Chile

By Mauricio Saavedra, 26 April 2000

Santiago Appeals Court is today due to begin deciding whether to strip Chile's former dictator, Augusto Pinochet of his parliamentary immunity. The hearing, expected to take some weeks, comes after months of twists and turns within the Chilean political, military and judicial establishment. These machinations centre on how to dampen down widespread opposition to the ongoing protection of the military.

Argentine police in violent attack on trade union demonstrators

By Will Marshall, 25 April 2000

Violent scenes erupted outside the Argentine Congress last week as police assaulted workers and trade unionists protesting against the De la Rua government's labour reform bill. Five police were caught on film clubbing a protester senseless as he lay on the sidewalk with blood pouring from his head. One police officer was filmed taking a knife from a protester and then slashing his back with the knife. Police also used tear gas and fired rubber bullets against the crowd of 500, which grew as news of the police brutality spread.

Spanish court investigates Guatemalan military dictators

By Peter Norden, 22 April 2000

Following the recent Pinochet affair, legal action is currently being taken in Spain against other former South American military dictators. Since the end of March, the national Court of Justice (Audiencia Nacional), under the presidency of Judge Guillermo Ruiz Polanco, has been investigating eight senior generals and politicians from Guatemala. The action goes back to a request by Rigoberta Menchu, the Guatemalan native Indian activist and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient.

Fujimori forced to cede on second round vote in Peru

By Bill Vann, 20 April 2000

The decision by the Peruvian government to hold a second round of presidential elections following revelations of massive fraud in the first phase of voting earlier this month represents a severe blow to the 10-year-old dictatorial regime of President Alberto Fujimori.

Report from Costa Rica on mass protests against privatization of state-owned utilities

By Kim Alphandary, 15 April 2000

The Central American country of Costa Rica has recently been shaken by a series of mass strikes and protests by workers, students and peasants. The movement is protesting President Miguel Angel Rodriguez's plan to privatize state-owned telecommunications and electricity utilities. Last week, in order to diffuse this opposition, Rodriguez declared he was withdrawing the draft privatization law and establishing a commission to study other options. The unions and other opposition groups have agreed to postpone further protests for five months and to come up with a plan of their own.

Protests against water rate rises sweep Bolivia

By Mike Ingram, 11 April 2000

Five people were killed and more than 30 injured in protests across Bolivia against the privatisation of the country's water supply and massive price hikes. According to local press reports, 17 protest leaders were arrested and flown to a remote jungle prison following the government's imposition of martial law last weekend.

Republicans, Clinton White House back funding for US military intervention in Colombia

By Patrick Martin, 5 April 2000

The US House of Representatives voted March 30 to approve $1.7 billion in funding for counterinsurgency warfare in Colombia which will include a Vietnam-style deployment of US advisers and military helicopters against peasant guerrillas. The 263 to 146 vote came after a two-day debate in which there were frequent comparisons between the early stages of the US intervention in Vietnam and the present conditions in the Andean region of South America (Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador as well as Colombia).

US government honors one Latin American torturer and frees another

By Patrick Martin, 21 March 2000

Two incidents this month demonstrate the sinister reality behind the official pretense that the US government stands for democracy and human rights in its foreign policy. In one case the government plans to bestow one of its highest honors on a CIA agent fired for covering up torture and murder in Guatemala. In the other case, the State Department has ordered the release of a notorious Peruvian torturer after he was initially detained by the FBI at the Houston international airport.

Pinochet's return fuels political conflicts in Chile

By Mauricio Saavedra, 18 March 2000

Augusto Pinochet's recent arrival in Chile after 16 months confinement in Britain has heightened suppressed antagonisms within the country. Victims of the former dictatorship, emboldened by Pinochet's detention, have demanded his prosecution, along with other military officers. On the other side, boosted by Pinochet's release, the former dictatorship's supporters have become more militant.

Chilean government to implement new anti-bail provisions

By Mauricio Saavedra, 10 March 2000

Tough new provisions in Chile's bail laws due to come into effect this month provide a revealing glimpse of the rightwing orientation of the country's ruling Concertacion coalition and its Socialist Party president-elect Ricardo Lagos. In the course of the presidential campaign Lagos increasingly sought to match and outdo his conservative opponent Joaquin Lavin in law-and-order rhetoric, particularly after he failed to win outright in the first round of the elections in December.

Pinochet returns to Chile after Britain halts extradition proceedings

By Richard Tyler, 3 March 2000

Within hours of the 8 a.m. announcement Thursday morning that Britain was halting extradition proceedings against Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator was onboard a plane heading back to Chile. The rapidity of the indicted torturer's exit stands in marked contrast to the ponderous pace at which the extradition process was conducted since his arrest in October 1998.

Clinton pushes $1.6 billion military plan for Colombia

By Bill Vann, 23 February 2000

The Clinton administration last week intensified its campaign to win a massive increase in funding for US-directed military operations in Colombia.

Leaked medical evidence aimed at thwarting Pinochet's extradition

By Richard Tyler, 18 February 2000

On Tuesday the London High Court ruled that medical evidence showing that former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet was unfit to stand trial should be given to the four countries seeking his extradition.

US occupation force evacuates Haiti, leaving a country in ruins

By Jacques Richard, 17 February 2000

In September 1994, a 20,000-strong US occupation force landed on the Caribbean Island of Haiti and returned to power Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the elected president who had been overthrown three years earlier in a bloody military coup. Two weeks ago, "Operation Restore Democracy" came to an inglorious end. The remaining 300 US troops stationed in Haiti have left for home even as criminal gangs, largely comprised of personnel from the disbanded Haitian army, terrorize the populace in broad daylight and politically-motivated violence escalates in advance of next month's parliamentary elections.

British Appeal Court grants judicial review, delaying release of Pinochet

By Richard Tyler, 10 February 2000

On Tuesday, three judges granted an application on appeal for a judicial review of the British Home Secretary's intention to release General Augusto Pinochet on health grounds.

London Appeal Court ruling could clear way for Pinochet's return to Chile

By Richard Tyler, 7 February 2000

The High Court is expected to rule today on an appeal calling for a judicial review of the Home Secretary's intention to release Chilean General Augusto Pinochet.

The coup in Ecuador: a grim warning

By Gerardo Nebbia and Bill Vann, 2 February 2000

The brief seizure of power by a group of army officers in Ecuador on January 21 marked the first time since 1976 that the South American continent has seen a civilian government overthrown by a military junta. Not since General Jorge Videla carried out a coup that led to the death and disappearance of tens of thousands of Argentine workers, students and intellectuals has the South American military entered so directly onto the political stage.

British High Court rejects challenge to stop Pinochet's release

By Richard Tyler, 1 February 2000

The High Court in London has rejected a legal challenge to the Home Secretary's intention to halt the extradition proceedings against the former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet.

Spanish daily reveals secret correspondence in Pinochet extradition case

By Richard Tyler, 31 January 2000

The High Court is expected to rule today (Monday) on a legal challenge contesting the British Home Secretary's intention to release General Augusto Pinochet.

London High Court considers moves to release Pinochet

By Richard Tyler, 27 January 2000

A hearing before the High Court in London opened Wednesday to consider moves by Home Secretary Jack Straw to release the former Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet.

Human rights groups to mount legal challenge to Pinochet's release by British Home Secretary

By Richard Tyler, 25 January 2000

Human rights groups are to mount a legal challenge against the British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to prevent him effectively releasing former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Human rights groups attack decision to keep medical evidence secret

Britain poised to release Chilean ex-dictator Pinochet

By Richard Tyler, 20 January 2000

A Chilean jet arrived in Bermuda Wednesday, ready to fly to Britain and bring former dictator Augusto Pinochet back to Santiago. This is the third occasion since Pinochet's detainment 15 months ago that a medically-equipped plane has set out from Chile to retrieve the ex-military strongman. This time, however, Pinochet and his supporters are more confident the British government will give the green light for him to return home. Last week, British Home Secretary Jack Straw said he was “minded” to halt extradition proceedings against Pinochet on medical grounds.

Socialist Party candidate narrowly defeats ex-Pinochet official in Chilean presidential poll

By Mauricio Saavedra, 19 January 2000

Socialist Party (PS) leader Richard Lagos, the candidate for the ruling coalition in Chile, narrowly defeated Joaquin Lavin in the second round run-off of the country's presidential elections on Sunday. Lagos will head a new administration of the Concertacion coalition, which has been in government since 1990 when the former military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, relinquished power.

Examining physician suggests British home secretary misled Parliament in bid to release Pinochet

By Richard Tyler, 18 January 2000

According to the Observer newspaper, British Home Secretary Jack Straw may have misled members of Parliament when he told them that doctors had “unanimously and unequivocally” found former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet unfit to stand trial for torture.

Anti-Castro rightists rally support in US Congress and the courts

Sordid maneuvers over six-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez

By Bill Vann, 14 January 2000

Six weeks after he was fished out of the waters off the Florida coast, the fate of six-year-old Elian Gonzalez remains largely in the hands of a group of political sharks and anticommunist fanatics whose influence over both major parties constitutes a powerful indictment of the US political system.

Economic crisis forces Ecuador to abandon its own currency

By Our Correspondent, 13 January 2000

The small South American nation of Ecuador will abandon its own currency, the sucre, and dollarize its economy, President Jamil Mahuad announced Sunday in a nationally televised address. Mahuad declared a state of emergency January 6, the fourth since he took office 18 months ago, and ordered his 15-member cabinet to resign.

Pinochet can go free, says Britain's Home Secretary

By Chris Marsden, 13 January 2000

Britain's Home Secretary Jack Straw has signalled his intention to halt extradition proceedings against ex-Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. The 84-year-old Pinochet will then be free to return to Chile.

The Elian Gonzalez affair—a case study in hypocrisy

By Robert S. Rodvik, 12 January 2000

The following article was submitted to the World Socialist Web Site by a reader. The WSWS encourages readers to submit articles and essays for publication on our site. Where appropriate, we reserve the right to put forward our own viewpoint.

New Argentine government shoots down protesting workers

By Margaret Rees, 30 December 1999

Within a week of taking office, the government of Argentina's newly-elected President Ferdinand De la Rua quickly revealed its true face when paramilitary police shot dead two demonstrators and wounded 50 on December 17 in the provincial capital of the bankrupt Corrientes province.

Chilean Socialist Party candidate backtracks on abortion policy

By Mauricio Saavedra, 23 December 1999

One feature of the presidential election campaign in Chile has been the Socialist Party candidate Ricardo Lagos' backtracking on abortion. "I am not planning to legislate on abortion of any sort," Lagos said after a private discussion with Catholic priests three weeks before the first round of voting on December 12.

Behind Clinton's boycott

Panama Canal handover no end to US sway

By Bill Vann, 22 December 1999

On December 31 US control of the Panama Canal formally comes to an end. Washington's seizure of the Canal Zone, a 51-mile swath across the Central American isthmus in 1903, and its construction of a series of locks connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans marked, as clearly as any event, America's rise as a major world power. It inaugurated a century of US political domination and economic exploitation of the lands to its south.

Venezuela: Pervasive poverty compounds human disaster from floods and mudslides

By Jerry White, 21 December 1999

Tens of thousands of people are feared dead from the torrential rains, flash floods and mudslides that have devastated Venezuela's Caribbean coast over the past week, government officials said Monday. In one of the worst disasters to hit South America this century, entire towns have been buried beneath tons of rubble and earth, and the total number of victims may never be known.

Rightwing could form government in Chile after presidential election

By Mauricio Saavedra, 18 December 1999

Presidential elections in Chile have, for the first time since General Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship, raised the possibility of rightwing parties forming the government. This state of affairs follows nine consecutive years of rule by the Socialist Party and Christian Democrats.

US spurns father's appeal for return of Elian Gonzalez

Cuban child sacrificed to right-wing political agenda

By Bill Vann, 14 December 1999

The case of Elian Gonzalez, a six-year-old Cuban child who miraculously survived two days at sea after his mother and nine others died trying to reach the Florida coast, has provided the world with a spectacle of imperialist arrogance and hypocrisy.

Chilean President revives labour reforms in bid to win votes

By Mauricio Saveedra, 11 December 1999

On December 1, just days before presidential elections in Chile, the Senate rejected a suddenly-revived labour reform bill. President Eduardo Frei ostensibly advanced the legislation to remove labour laws introduced by former dictator Augusto Pinochet following his military coup in 1973.

Disenchantment dominates Chilean election campaign

By Mauricio Saavedra, 8 December 1999

The campaign for the December 12 presidential elections in Chile has revealed deepening disenchantment among broad masses of people with the parliamentary framework erected a decade ago when General Augusto Pinochet relinquished office.

Indictment of Argentina's military alarms political establishment

By Will Marshall, 30 November 1999

Outgoing Argentine President Carlos Menem has bitterly opposed moves by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon to indict 98 former Argentine military officers for carrying out atrocities. Garzon's 282-page arrest warrant, issued in Madrid on November 3, documents some of the crimes committed under military rule from 1976 to 1983. During the military's “Dirty War” its officers killed about 30,000 people and illegally imprisoned and tortured many others.

Uruguayan election: Frente Amplio wins plurality in first round

By Bill Vann, 11 November 1999

Uruguay is headed for a second round of presidential elections November 28 following a vote at the end of last month that delivered the largest share of the ballots to a center-left coalition known as the Frente Amplio (Broad Front) and its presidential candidate, Tabare Vazquez.

Repudiation of Menem era

New Argentine president to deepen austerity policies

By Bill Vann, 2 November 1999

After a decade in power under the presidency of Carlos Menem, the Peronist party suffered a crushing defeat in Argentina's general elections held October 24.