South America

Argentina Continues to Assert Ownership Over Falkland Islands

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Earlier this week Argentina officials passed a bill that required every piece of Argentinian transportation to have a sign that says “Las Malvinas son Argentinas” or “the Falkand Islands are Argentine”.

President Cristina Hernandez de Kirchner holding up a sign about Islas Malvinas or The Falkland Islands/ Image courtesy of

A diplomatic source said Argentina’s choice to display the signs laying claim to the islands are “regrettable”.

The Argentine MP behind the initiative said it would “reflect our undeniable sovereignty” over the territory.  The idea was introduced along with a number of other public transportation reforms which were passed unanimously on Thursday.

Senator Teresina Luna, the member of Congress who proposed the new regulation, wrote to the president of the parliament to say: “It is directed not only at the foreigner who comes here as a tourist or visits our country, but also at the citizens in general, and will serve to reinforce our history, our culture and our identity.”

President Cristina Fernandez’s government has often raised the issue of sovereignty over the islands known in Spanish as Las Malvinas.

Argentina lays claim on the islands, which it calls Las Malvinas, but Britain maintains that it ha sovereignty and has accused Argentina of ignoring the wishes of its residents who desire to remain British.  Argentina lost a brief, bloody 1982 war with Britain over the South Atlantic archipelago and still claims the islands.  Argentina claims Britain has illegally occupied the islands since 1833.

Recently, an angry mob erupted when Jeremy Clarkson was spotted driving through Argentina with a number plate H982 FKL which some claimed a reference to the Falklands War.

The Top Gear cast and crew had to flee the South American country after they were attacked by an angry mob, which Clarkson described as ‘the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been involved in.’

Last year, Falkland islanders took part in a referendum, voting by 1,513 to three to remain a British overseas territory.  The island consists of about 3,000 residents.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said at the time that the result “could not have sent a clearer message” but Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has maintained that the islanders’ wishes are not relevant.

The source added: “No sign can change the rights of the Falkland islanders to their own identity and we are determined to uphold that right.”

The measure was approved by the lower house of congress after getting approval from the Senate.  It applies to all forms of public transportation whether rail, air, land or sea.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Falkland Islands are Argentine signs ‘regrettable’ – 21 Nov. 2014 – Falkland orders for Argentine transport – 21 Nov. 2014

Daily mail – Argentina passes law stating that all public transport and stations must display the words ‘The Falklands are Argentina’ – 20 Nov. 2014 – Public transport to say ‘The Falklands are Argentine’ – 20 Nov. 2014

Colombia Peace Talks in Cuba to Resume Following Release of FARC Kidnapped General

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BOGOTA, Colombia — President Juan Manuel Santos suspended peace talks in Cuba this week, which are quickly approaching their second year, amid the kidnapping of General Ruben Dario Alzate.

FARC lead negotiator Ivan Marquez in Cuba / Photo courtesy of Reuters

Today, Colombian Marxist rebels agreed to release General Alzate.  Colombians hope that this will diffuse the situation and resume the peace talks to end conflict that has spanned over five decades.  The rebel forces, also known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) also agreed to release four other captives, that have been captured in the past two weeks.

President Juan Manuel Santos’s office responded immediately to the announcement, pledging to resume talks as soon as the hostages are free.

Alzate and two others were seized on Sunday by a FARC patrol as they left a boat in the poor and crime-ridden coastal region of Choco, prompting Santos to halt talks and throwing into doubt the two-year peace process under way in Cuba.

Just days earlier, the rebels had kidnapped two soldiers in eastern Arauca department.

“The government will give its total collaboration to guarantee the safe return of these people to their homes, which we hope will be in the shortest time possible,” Santos’s office said in a brief statement.

“Once they are all free, the government’s delegation will return to Havana.”

The FARC’s decision to release the captives may counter critics of the peace process who say the rebels are not serious about ending Latin America’s longest-running war, which has killed more than 200,000 people since it began in 1964.

The suspension of talks is the most serious setback to peace efforts after months of complicated discussions resulted in partial accords on three out of five agenda items.

Wednesday, the FARC defended the negotiations aimed at ending the half-century conflict. A FARC commander best known by his alias Ivan Marquez said the biggest achievement so far is a growing sense of reconciliation among Colombians.

The two sides have already reached agreements on agrarian reform, political participation for the FARC and how to jointly combat illicit drugs in what was long the world’s largest cocaine producer.

But the remaining issues, including how the FARC will lay down their arms and whether commanders will face prosecution for atrocities and drug-trafficking, are some of the thorniest.

The most recent peace process with the FARC collapsed in 2002 after the group used the breathing room of a demilitarized zone to build its fighting force, intensify its cocaine trafficking, and take hostages.

The final straw came when the FARC boarded a commercial plane and seized a senator, who was held captive for six years.

For more information, please see:

ABC News – Colombia Rebel-Held General a Bookish Strategist – 20 Nov. 2014

BBC News – Colombia kidnap: Farc agrees conditions for release – 19 Nov. 2014

ABC News – Colombia, Rebels Agree on Steps to Free General – 19 Nov. 2014

Reuters – Colombia rebels to free general, opening door to resume peace talks – 20 Nov. 2014

Peru Activists Killings at the Forefront of Climate Talk

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

LIMA, Peru — In less than two weeks Peru will host a key global climate conference.  However, the country has again come under fire for failing to protect activists who were murdered in an attempt to save the country’s quickly diminishing rainforest and other ecosystems.

Illegal loggers in the Amazon / Image courtesy of Aberu

According to the NGO Global Witness, the South American country has become the fourth most dangerous state in the world for environmental and land defenders.  The NGO also accused Peru’s government of placing too much emphasis on exploitation of the land opposed to conservation.

In a recent report at least 57 activists have been killed in Peru since 2002, where more than 60% of the deaths have been within the last four years.  The other three most dangerous countries are Brazil, Honduras and the Philippines.

The report, with the updated death toll comes just in time as Lima prepares to host ministers from around the world for the United Nations climate conference, even though the host nation hasn’t been spot on addressing green issues.

Deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon – which accounts for about half of the country’s carbon emissions – nearly doubled in 2012, as farmers, miners and illegal loggers sawed deeper into the forest.  The World Bank estimates that almost 80% of the country’s timber exports were felled illegally.

Sources detail that most of the activist murders were related to conflicts over land or resistance to mining projects or illegal logging operations.  A large number of the victims were from indigenous tribes who had been granted reserves or applied for land titles, but receive little to no protection or enforcement from the government.

In a recent case, anti-logging campaigner Edwin Chota and three other Ashéninka leaders were killed in Ucayali in September over land they had spent a decade trying to secure for their community.  The community planned to use the forest sustainably.

Chata asked for protection before he and his colleagues were murdered.  He told the police he was receiving death threats from illegal loggers, and sent them photographs of the suspects.  Currently many of the suspects have been arrested, but the authorities are being accused of negligence.

“The murders of Edwin Chota and his colleagues are tragic reminders of a paradox at work in the climate negotiations,” said Patrick Alley, co-founder of Global Witness. “While Peru’s government chairs negotiations on how to solve our climate crisis, it is failing to protect the people on the frontline of environmental protection … The message is clear, if you want to save the environment, then stop people killing environmental defenders.”

For more information, please see:

ABC News – Widows: Probe Into Peru Activist Killings Stalled – 17 Nov. 2014

the guardian – Spotlight on murders of activists as Peru prepares for Lima climate talks – 17 Nov. 2014

Yahoo news – Peru activist killings condemned ahead of climate talks – 17 Nov. 2014

herald online – Widows: Probe into Peru activist killings stalled – 17 Nov. 2014

Workers Commemorate Massacre in Guyaquil with Hope for Labor Code Reforms Package

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

On Saturday, President Rafeal Correa of Ecuador presented the labor code reforms package, which coincided wight eh 92nd anniversary of the workers massacre in Guayaquil.  President Correa spoke to an audience of about 100,000 people.

Workers rally in Guayaquil / image courtesy of telesur

In the coastal city of Guayaquil, before more than 100,000 workers, President Rafael Correa presented the final package of reforms to the labor code to the President of the National Assembly Gabriela Rivadeneira.

Carlos Marx Carrasco, minister of labor relations spoke about Ecuador’s labor reforms, following the massive show of support.

“Of course, these reforms represent a milestone int eh region and surely, unions, the governments, entrepreneurs from other countries will be watching us.  And hopefully these dreams of our workers are made into reality throughout Latin America also,” said Marx.

The document seeks to expand workers rights, the reforms are universalizing the social security system, extending benefits to some 1.5 million homemakers.  Furthermore, the reforms seek to give rester proaction to workers from historically marginalized groups as well as eliminate fixed-term contracts, among other gains for employees.

“Some have all their right guaranteed, and others, like the campesinos, informal workers, and homemakers did not have anything.  This is why we are presenting these reforms to the labor code and to social security.” said President Correa on Saturday.

Several of the workers attending Saturday’s rally are members of a recently formed union, the United Workers Trade Union Federation (CUT).

The event purposely coincided with the 92nd anniversary of a massacre of about 1,500 workers in the city of Guayaquil who were involved in a general strike.  The fall of cacao prices under the presidency of Dr. Jose Luis Tamayo following World War I obliterated the country’s export potential, greatly affecting the national economy as well as working conditions and salaries.

The strike led to a freeze of all economic and political activities in Guayaquil.  On November 14, several trade union leaders were arrested.  Several people demanded they be released as well as greater protection rights, reasonable work hours and adequate living salaries.  These demands attracted other workers, an their demonstrations were violently repressed.  Around 3,000 members of the military attacked crowds, killing both workers and civilians.

The massacre is commemorated each year with a ceremony, where workers and civilians leave crosses and flower crowns to drift in the river.  The reforms package will not be debated within the National Assembly.

For more information, please see:

Cuenca High Life – Ecuador marks 90th anniversary of ‘Guayaquil Massacre’, as many as 1,500 labor demonstrators died in hail of bullets – 15 Nov. 2014

telesur – Massive Ecuador Rally Commemorates Workers, Advances Revolution – 15 Nov. 2014

el ciudadano – Workers’ massacre of 1922 was hidden by the media in Guayaquil – 11 Nov. 2014

telesur – Ecuador: As Reforms to Labor Code Pushed Forward, Past Remembered – 15 Nov. 2014

Cannibal Trio in Brazil Tried & Sentenced

By Delisa Morris

Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

BRASILIA, Brazil — A judge in north-eastern Brazil has sentenced three people after they were convicted of killing a woman, and then eating her.

‘Brazil Trio’ / Image courtesy of

Jorge Beltrao Negromonte da Silveira was sentenced to 23 years in prison.  His wife, Isabel Cristina Pires and his mistress, Bruna Cristina Oliveira da Silva were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The trio made parties from a woman’s flesh and then sold the pastries to their neighbors.  Additionally, they confessed to killing two more women and will be sentenced later.  Their lawyer’s are planning an appeal against the Friday’s sentences.

The three were arrested in April 2012, in the city of Guaranhuns.  Together they were convicted of murder, desecration and concealment of a body.

At the trial’s opening, Silveira said that he had “committed a horrible monstrous mistake,” according to local news channels. 

Their victim was a homeless woman named as Jessica Camila da Silva.  The victim was of no relation to Bruna Cristina Oliveira da Silva.

The trio allegedly lured the victims to their house by telling them that they were looking to hire a nanny.

They admitted to the court that they murdered and ate their victims as a part of a purification ritual.  However, they denied that they sold the victims remains baked inside of ’empada’ pastries.

It is alleged that the trio passed off the human pastries as non-human meat to sell to their neighbors.  It is also alleged that the trio fed the human remains to a child that was living with them.

Authorities found human remains in the garden behind the house that the three shared.

Police also found a book written by Jorge Beltrao Negromonte da Silveira titled “Revelations of a Schizophrenic”.  In the 50-page book he detailed how he constantly heard voices and was fixated on killing women.

At the time of their arrest the trio claimed to be a part of a group that supported “the purification of the world, and the reduction of its population”.

For more information, please see:

BBC News – Brazil ‘cannibal trio’ sentenced – 15 Nov. 2014

9news – Brazilian cannibal trio who baked woman into pastries sentenced – 17 Nov. 2014

International Business Times – Trio Who Ran Brazilian ‘Cannibal Bakery’ Sentenced – 16 Nov. 2014

ITV News – Brazilian cannibalism trio jailed after making pies out of human flesh – 15 Nov. 2014