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Sunday readings 13 July 2008

13 July 2008

Nothing specifically Mexican today, but a few stray pieces from around Latin America.

Doing the job Americans won’t do: Mercenaries in Iraq:

Latin America, says Adam Isacson, director of programs at the Center for International Policy, is a predictable site for U.S. mercenary companies to recruit personnel. In “what other region of the world are you going to find reasonably westernized people with military experience, in some cases with combat experience, who will work for low wages, who speak a language that a lot of our own military personnel speak,” he asks, noting that the U.S. Army is about a quarter Latino and that Latin America accounts for about 40% of U.S. military training programs worldwide. “It’s their natural ground to find people with military experience for whom $1,000 a month is a lot of money.”

A more plausible scenario from Colombia than the “made for TV rescue tale”:

The Colombian government has vehemently denied that it paid any money to obtain the release of the hostages. The Uribe administration claimed that the unidentified “reliable source” quoted in the Swiss radio report was none other than Swiss envoy Jean Pierre Cotard and immediately set out to discredit him. However, in their attempt to discredit Cotard, they also validated his credibility as someone who would know such information.

On July 6, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos accused Cotard of providing the FARC with almost $500,000 in funding. Santos claimed that emails in the laptop of the late FARC commander Raúl Reyes suggested that Cotard was responsible for delivering the money to FARC envoys in Costa Rica where it was later seized. Santos did not make the alleged email public and did not explain why the Colombian government had approved Cotard’s role as a negotiator the week before the hostages were liberated if it believed he was affiliated with the rebel group. Ultimately, whether or not the alleged email exists—and if so, whether it does link Cotard to the FARC—it is evident that Cotard has been in a position to obtain sensitive information related to the hostage saga and his comments cannot be summarily dismissed—if he is indeed the “reliable source” quoted by the Swiss radio station RSR.

No way out? Alex Fernández Muerza for Consumer Eroski, translated by “Machetera” gives us The Straight Dope About Oil (and Renewables)

ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil) is a network of organizations in more than 20 countries dedicated to the study of peak oil – the moment at which maximum oil production is reached and afterwards begins its decline. Its Vice President, Pedro Prieto (Madrid, 1950), doesn’t mince words: he stresses that no more than three decades worth of oil remain, insists that the energy situation in Spain is dire, that the days of gas and nuclear power are numbered as well, and insists that the defenders of renewable energy are well removed from reality. In his opinion, without a reduction in the consumption of energy and a radical change in the present development model, it’s impossible to tackle the approaching energy and social crisis.

A Spanish-language interpreter in Postville, Iowa battled with his own ethical decisions about how to stay neutral during the largest single-site raid in U.S. history. He says nothing could have prepared him for the prospect of helping our government put hundreds of innocent people in jail. Federal court interpreter Erik Camayd-Freixa spoke with Sandip Roy about the experience in New American Media:

Echoing what I think was the general feeling, one of my fellow interpreters would later exclaim, “When I saw what it was really about, my heart sank.”

Then began the saddest procession I have ever witnessed, which the public would never see, because cameras were not allowed past the perimeter of the compound (only a few journalists came to court the following days, notepads in hand). Driven single-file in groups of 10, shackled at the wrists, waist and ankles, chains dragging as they shuffled through, the slaughterhouse workers were brought in for arraignment. They sat and listened through headsets to the interpreted initial appearance, before marching out again to be bused to different county jails, only to make room for the next row of 10.

They appeared to be uniformly no more than five feet tall, mostly illiterate Guatemalan peasants with Mayan last names (Tajtaj, Xicay, Sajché, Sologüí). Some were in tears; others had faces of worry, fear, and embarrassment. They all spoke Spanish, a few rather laboriously. It dawned on me that, aside from their nationality, which was imposed on their people in the 19th century, they too were Native Americans, in shackles.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Alejandro Ruiz permalink
    17 July 2008 12:01 pm

    The US army is not 40% latino, in fact latinos are under-represented in the military compared to their overall percentage of the population.

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