Hearing against former military intelligence officer for murder of Berta Caceres

Today, October 10, 2019, there will be a hearing in the case against former Honduran military intelligence officer Roberto David Castillo Mejía for the murder of Indigenous and social movement leader Berta Cáceres.  The outcome of this hearing will decide if Castillo – the only intellectual author charged to date for Berta’s murder – will face trial or not.  Castillo is the President of the Board and CEO of the Honduran company DESA that was trying to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project on the Gualcarque River, which Cáceres opposed.

Last month, School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), Guatemala Human Rights Commission, International Platform Against Impunity, Due Process of Law Foundation, and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights published an extensive report profiling Castillo, entitled ‘Violence, Corruption, and Impunity in the Honduran Energy Industry’.

The report describes evidence admitted in the 2018 trial against the first seven people convicted of the murder of Berta Cáceres, which provides significant information about how the murder of Cáceres was planned and executed.  Telephone data and other evidence makes clear that SOA graduate Douglas Bustillo, a former employee of Castillo’s as head of security for DESA, coordinated with former soldier Henrry Hernández to carry out the murder and that their motive was financial; they were going to be paid. Hernández was convicted for his role as ringleader of the group of hitmen that executed Cáceres’ murder and Bustillo was also convicted, having served in the role of intermediary. Fellow SOA graduate Army Major Mariano Díaz also participated in the coordinations and was also convicted; one of his phone lines had been wiretapped by authorities during the murder planning because he was under investigation for drug trafficking and kidnapping.

The evidence suggests that during the murder planning, Bustillo was an intermediary who communicated with his former boss, Roberto David Castillo, and with Díaz and Hernández.  For instance, on February 5, 2016, the first attempt to murder Cáceres took place. That day, Castillo sent a Whatsapp message to Bustillo reminding him to ‘remember the accidents and the scene’ (english translation of original Spanish message; citations and all footnotes are available in the report).  Bustillo met with Hernández in the Honduran city of Siguatepeque to prepare for the murder attempt, providing him with a gun and accessing pictures of Cáceres on his cell phone.  Hernández then traveled to La Esperanza, apparently accompanied by an unidentified second person.  However, later that night he reported to Díaz that they could not carry out the murder, indicating that there were a lot of people at Cáceres’ home.

The next morning Hernández confirmed to Díaz they had been at the scene and concluded they would need a car and a different plan for the next attempt to carry out the murder. Hernández then spoke to Bustillo four times, after which Bustillo wrote a Whatsapp message to Castillo informing him the mission had been aborted and that he would wait for what Castillo had said because he had no more money for logistics. Bustillo repeated that he needed what Castillo was going to budget for logistics. Castillo replied, ‘Copied, mission aborted’ (english translation of original Spanish message; citations and details are footnoted in the report).

Whatsapp messages between Castillo and Bustillo indicate that on February 29, 2016, they coordinated a meeting for the next morning, March 1, 2016, so Castillo could provide Bustillo with money.  On March 2, 2016, men who entered Berta Cáceres’ home fatally shot her and shot at and injured Gustavo Castro between 11:30-11:40 pm.  Shortly after the murder was executed, Hernández sent a text message to Bustillo.  Hours later, according to phone company reports, Bustillo left Tegucigalpa and traveled north to the department of Cortes, communicating with Hernández en route, presumably to deliver the money promised to the hitmen.  While in Cortes, Bustillo communicated with Castillo via phone call and text message.

The report Violence, Corruption, and Impunty in the Honduran Energy Industry also details phone and other evidence admitted in the 2018 trial that suggests a pattern of human rights abuses and corruption by Castillo and others at DESA, especially as they sought to neutralize Berta Cáceres and COPINH’s opposition to the Agua Zarca Project.  Information extracted from the phones of Bustillo and Sergio Rodríguez, DESA’s Social, Environmental, and Communications Manager, as well as wiretapped phone conversations, suggest that DESA executives and employees sought to monitor and neutralize Berta Cáceres and COPINH using paid informants. These informants claimed to be members of COPINH but secretly provided DESA with information about the plans and activities of Berta Cáceres and COPINH.

Evidence admitted in the trial also suggests that DESA executives, directors, and employees, including Castillo and those under his supervision, enlisted the support of Honduran security forces and justice operators.  The evidence suggests they used their contacts with government officials to ensure police and military were deployed to the Agua Zarca Project area, and security forces were often at the disposition of DESA in its efforts to neutralize the opposition to the project. This includes the U.S. trained special police forces unit known as TIGRES.

Castillo is not only accused of the murder of Berta Cáceres but has also been indicted on charges of fraud and use of false documents related to the permits for the Agua Zarca Project.  Castillo worked for the Honduran state energy company ENEE when it signed the contract with DESA to sell energy to the ENEE from the Agua Zarca Project.  Additionally, Honduras’ High Tribunal of Auditors found that Castillo had illegally received a double salary from the Armed Forces and the ENEE and that another company of his sold equipment to the Armed Forces at inflated prices. For more details, read the full report here.

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Milwaukee, October 18, 2019: THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN WISCONSIN PRISONS

Peace Center, 1001 E Keefe Ave. Milwaukee

Friday, October 18, 7 PM

Joyce Ellwanger, from Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing, WISDOM and MICAH will be speaking.

 Wisconsin spends $1.5 billion on prisons, spending more on corrections than on higher education. It has a higher than average incarceration rate, private prisons, a racist criminal justice system, a broken parole department that has a lack of compassionate release for older prisoners and revocation of parole with no new crime, and many more problems.

Sponsored by Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, co-sponsored by Peace Action of WI, End the Wars Coalition and more.

Cynthia-Fox-Inside-Outside-Alliance-promotes-Sept.-9-prison-work-strike-Durham-County-Jail-080916-by-Mark-Schultz

Right-Wing Young Americans For Freedom Invites War Criminal Dick Cheney & Bradley Foundation Stooge Scott Walker to Beloit College for October 10, 2019 “Speaking Engagement”

By WI BOPM

The Young Americans For Freedom (YAF) has announced that former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Haliburton CEO and Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney will be speaking at Beloit College. The talk is planned for Thursday, October 10, 2019 from 7:00-8:15 p.m. at the campus’ Eaton Chapel, 700 College Street, Beloit.

Scott Walker, the President-Elect of the Young America’s Foundation, is widely known for leading some of the worst racist austerity measures while Governor in Wisconsin which include the union-busting Act 10, the Jim Crow (Nixon “southern strategy”) based Right-To-Work (For Less) and other attacks on women, LBGTQ people, public education, the Indigenous, people of color, the environment, migrants, prisoners, students and much more (essentially anything that’s a positive for humanity). Walker was used by Wall Street interests (in particular the bankers) such as the Bradley Foundation, to reduce or eviscerate working class organization in all sectors and to gut administrative agencies beneficial to workers among other austerity measures. Like charter schools and “welfare reform,” the “Wisconsin Model” in regard to workers is now being rolled out federally by the Trump administration. Wall Street is hoping that Walker, as President of the YAF, will assist in grooming and consolidating right-wing students to deepen “The Wisconsin Model” across the U.S. and beyond.

Dick Cheney, a decades long right-wing strategist, politician, ruling class member and 46th Vice President under George W Bush Jr., from 2001-2009, is widely known internationally for war crimes and crimes against peace. Cheney was Secretary of Defense from March 1989 to January 1993 and during that time Cheney “oversaw” Operation Desert Storm where the U.S. massacred and destroyed the lives of millions of Iraqis and littered the country with poison dust and other environmental destruction. Cheney, after Sept. 2001, was a principal planner of the so-called “global war on terrorism” which has resulted in the U.S. laying waste to numerous nation-states. (Cheney liked planning wars where working class G.I.’s die and are wounded but during the Vietnam war he submitted five draft deferments and received them all).  Between 1987 and 1989, during his last term in Congress, Cheney was a director of the Council on Foreign Relations a U.S. imperialist organization (Cheney also was on this Council from 1993-95). Cheney is a member of the right-wing Wall Street organization the American Enterprise Institute and a host of other right-wing organizations. Cheney, also the former CEO of Halliburton, profited from the U.S. wars he helped to create and run. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Cheney

The Young Americans For Freedom is the largest right-wing youth and student organization in the United States and like Cheney and Walker hold up Ronald Reagan as their hero. The organization is funded by the $900 million right-wing Bradley Foundation which has been a bedrock supporter of Walker and Cheney for decades. The Bradley Foundation has funded all three – YAF, Walker and Cheney – to the tune of millions of dollars over the past 40 years. With right-wing funding, the YAF, a majority white organization, has grown on campuses especially as austerity measures have reduced working class student organization. The YAF is known for sponsoring some of the most virulent right-wing speakers to campuses such as Eric Prince and David Horowitz. ###

____________________

Beloit College President Scott Bierman: presidentsoffice@beloit.edu / 608-363-2240 / 2nd Floor Middle College

Beloit College Administration: https://www.beloit.edu/president-office/administration/

Beloit College Board of Trustees: https://www.beloit.edu/our-story/campus-leadership/board-of-trustees/index.php

Young American’s For Freedom Beloit College Chapter: Ziggy Rachlin, rachline@beloit.edu

_____________________

Bradley Files: https://www.exposedbycmd.org/bradley-files/

Sourcewatch: https://bit.ly/31ZlCBA

Young America’s Foundation: https://www.yaf.org/

Young Americans For Freedom: https://students.yaf.org/young-americans-for-freedom/

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It’s Illegal for Agencies to Implement Trump’s Executive Orders Without Bargaining with Unions

https://www.afge.org/

On Sept. 25, 2019, the Court of Appeals ruled that the court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the lawsuit filed by AFGE and other federal unions against Trump’s three executive orders that seek to purge unions and federal workers’ constitutional rights.

While the ruling allows the administration to move forward with the EOs, it doesn’t mean federal agencies can implement them without bargaining with the union.

According to the executive orders themselves, agencies must bargain with unions if they conflict with a contract currently in place.

  1. Section 9(c) of Executive Order 13836 provides “nothing in this order shall abrogate any CBA in effect on the date of this order.”
  2. Section 9(a) of Executive Order 13837 provides “nothing in this order shall abrogate any collective bargaining agreement in effect on the date of this order.”
  3. Section 8(b) of Executive Order 13839 provides “Agencies shall consult with employee labor representatives about the implementation of this order. Nothing in this order shall abrogate any collective bargaining agreement in effect on the date of this order.”

Expired Contracts must remain until the changes are negotiated, according to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), which adjudicates unfair labor practices and resolves negotiability disputes in the federal workplace.

But even though it would be illegal for the administration to implement the executive orders without first negotiating in cases where they conflict with an existing contract, as we have seen with this administration before, no matter the legalities, agencies may try to implement anyway and force us to challenge them after the fact.

No matter what the administration does, AFGE will continue fighting these executive orders with every tool at our disposal. Just like we have a say in who should represent us in Congress, we deserve to have a say in matters that affect us in the workplace. That’s democracy.

Milwaukee October 10, 2019: Leider Valencia On “Eradicating Peace: The Other Side of the Colombian War on Drugs”

Leider Valencia Milwaukee October 10 2019 Flyer

7 P.M., Thursday, October 10, 2019 @ Peace Center, 1001 E Keefe Ave., Milwaukee

Free and open to the public 

Leider Valencia is Colombian National Coordinator of the Growers of Coca, Poppy, and Marijuana (COCCAM), which is trying to find alternative crops to grow that will give them a living wage to support their families. Through his perspective as a campesino organizer, Leider will discuss forces threatening the Colombian peace process in rural areas and how movements in the U.S may contribute to solidarity in action. COCCAM emerged with the objective of promoting the implementation of point 4 (Solution to the problem of illicit drugs) of the peace accords in Havana. Paramilitaries have assassinated at lease 38 leaders participating in this movement.

Valencia is speaking in Milwaukee as a part of the Witness for Peace speaker tour which touches on the grassroots efforts by Afro-Colombians, Campesinos and Indigenous peoples working towards alternative sustainable development in areas hard-hit by the internal armed conflict as well as fumigations and forced eradication/militarization. The speaker will discuss the various forces threatening the Colombian peace process and how movements in the U.S may contribute in defending it.

Sponsored by the: Latin American Solidarity Committee, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Wisconsin Bail Out People Movement, Peace Action–WI

https://www.facebook.com/groups/LASCMilwaukee/

Leider Valencia Milwaukee October 10 2019 Flyer

 

Ford Auto Workers in Turkey sent a solidarity message to the striking GM workers in the USA

Ford Auto Workers in Turkey who are in the process of contract negotiations have sent a message of solidarity to the striking General Motors workers in the USA: “The rights won in one country are a source of hope for workers in other countries”.

A Ford Otosan Worker
Kocaeli

We would first like to offer our greetings to the striking workers at General Motors in America. We thank them for the message of support that they sent to us metal workers within the MESS (Metal Sanayicileri Sendikası, or Metal Industrialists Union) group contract. We believe that they will win all the rights they are entitled to, including fair wages and job security.

The problems faced by the workers of the world are the same everywhere, no matter where they are, regardless of language, religion, and color. They face many different problems, like struggling for fairer wages, worker health and security, mitigating the turn to subcontractors, and unemployment. The process of collective bargaining is an important issue for us as workers. For this reason, positive results can only be achieved with solidarity, unity, and cooperation. We believe that the workers at General Motors in America will attain significant victories over the course of their strike through unity and cooperation. Because in our country, we have the right to strike, but in name only; in practice, this right is always forbidden and deferred, and workers’ rights are always stolen away by the High Council of Arbitrators.

Wherever we may be, we workers and laborers must join forces. The rights won by workers in every part of the world have been and will remain a source of hope for workers in other countries. We as metal workers have already spent a month on the collective bargaining process. There has still been no progress. We as metal workers know that when workers mobilize their union, they must constantly maintain a steady stream of information, and they must be disruptive. It is only by expending labor that victories can be achieved.

To our worker friends on strike in America;

We achieved this process of unity and cooperation during the ‘metal storm’ resistance in 2015. We achieved significant victories then by joining forces. A strike is a tough process, it is a difficult time, but when unity, cooperation, and class solidarity are achieved, a conscious working class with a strong will to fight in public space, no matter rain or shine, will always prevail. Our families, workers in other sectors, the media, and tradespeople have provided the necessary support over this rightful process, and as a result, even though sacrifices were made, great victories were achieved.

We have full faith in you. Through unity and cooperation, you will achieve the victories you deserve for a humane quality of life. We too will show the same resolve in our collective bargaining process, and we will find a path to a successful contract. At the same time, we will continue to follow your rightful strike process and we hope to celebrate your good news. As workers at Ford Otosan, we extend our greetings to all our striking friends and comrades.

“WE HOPE YOU GET EXACTLY WHAT YOU DESERVE”

Forty nine thousand workers at 31 factories and 21 other facilities across nine states have participated in a strike organized by the United Auto Workers (UAW) Union in the United States against automotive giant General Motors (GM). The workers want higher wages, comprehensive health insurance, and an end to the temporary worker program. Workers waiting in front of the GM Parts Distribution Center in Philadelphia sent a message through our reporter to the MESS workers in Turkey who are in the process of contract negotiations. The metal workers in the United States wrote “Good luck Turkish steelworkers!” on the bottom of the union’s strike banners, and their spokesperson offered this message for the article we published on 30 September: “We are standing up for fair wages. We’re standing up for job security. We’re standing up for affordable, quality healthcare. We’re standing up for our temporary employees who are being taken advantage of. I heard that the steel workers of Turkey are also going through a collective bargaining process, and I want to let you know that we stand together with you. We hope that the collective bargaining process comes through for you guys. And we hope you guys get exactly what you deserve.”

(Translated by Nick Glastonbury)

Milwaukee Educators Join Chicago Teachers Union-SEIU Local 73 Members At Art Build To Prepare For Potential Strike

Several Milwaukee Public School educators have joined the Chicago Teachers Union-SEIU Local 73 Community Art Build this weekend, including Golda Meir Art Teacher Blythe Elizabeth and Hayes Bilingual Art Teacher Jeanette Arellano. If you’re in the area come and join as we make paint and construct posters, banners, and signs for the coming strike.

#REDforED #FairContractNow

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Photo: MTEA