This Week in Conflict in the Americas… December 2nd- December 8th, 2011.

  • On Friday, heads of state from across Latin America and the Caribbean flew into Venezuela for the inaugural meeting of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States or CELAC. The group is designed to counter US influence and improve regional ties.
  • On Friday, the ruling party in Guyana proclaimed its fifth straight presidential election win; in a vote the opposition parties’ claim was rigged. The PPP/C took some 49% of votes cast, narrowly losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in 19 years. On Friday, the opposition marched in protest and held a 10 minute silent sit-in near the headquarters of the Elections Commission demanding explanations of discrepancies in the results.
  • On Thursday, the United States passed a bill that declares the entire country as a battleground and allows the military to operate with impunity. On Friday, police in Tampa arrested 29 Occupy Tampa protesters when they refused to leave a downtown park. Protesters in DC began constructing a wooden building on Saturday in the local park during the Occupy DC protests. Police demanded they disassemble it on Sunday, arresting several people who refused. Several Occupy Portland protesters were also arrested over the weekend for refusing to leave a park area. An interesting report declared that contrary to popular belief, military spending in the US doesn’t create jobs, it actually costs them. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called upon world governments to stop persecuting homosexuals, even though only 21 states outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and same sex marriage is illegal in the majority of the country; while a new report found that more than half of bribes reported in the US since 2007 were made by individuals associated with the government and that over 25% of all reported bribe demands were valued at more than $50,000 USD.  On Wednesday, thousands of Occupy demonstrators shut down part of K Street in Washington DC, home of lobbying in the nation’s capital; police in San Francisco arrested some 70 people during an overnight raid on that city’s Occupy movement; Occupy protesters began rallying around homeowners as they tried to resist evictions from foreclosed homes across the country; protesters sat in congressional offices at Capitol Hill; and the US called for closer international cooperation to prevent terrorist groups from developing or using biological weapons, a threat the government claims is growing.  On Thursday, two people, including a police officer were shot dead on Virginia Tech’s campus, site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history in 2007; while a secret CIA prison that housed some of its most valuable detainees was unearthed in Bucharest, Romania.
  • FARC, the largest armed rebel group in Colombia has pledged to free six of its eleven captive members of the country’s security forces in response to nationwide protests calling for their freedom and the end of guerrilla warfare. On Thursday, Jorge Humberto Victoria, an ex-paramilitary leader believed to be a key witness in the 1997 Mapiripan massacre, handed himself into authorities.
  • On Saturday, protesters at the Newmont Mining site in Peru reportedly abandoned roadblocks as government officials called weekend talks with regional leaders to try and resolve the conflict. On Monday, the Congress suspended VP Omar Chehade from the legislature over corruption allegations. On Tuesday, police detained two leaders in the Newmont Mining protest following the recent state of emergency crackdown that suspended freedom of assembly in the region. One of the few active remaining leaders of the Shining Path rebel movement admitted that the movement had been defeated on Wednesday and said that they were ready to talk with the government about ending the rebellion.
  • Freedom of press in jeopardy in Honduras as the country’s human rights commissioner warned that journalists are facing growing danger; a day after a radio host was killed. Luz Marina Paz was the 17th media worker to be killed over the past couple years in the country.
  • Dozens of indigenous Cree families in the First Nations community of Attawapiskatt, in Canada have been forced to live in tents or shacks without heating, despite millions of federal dollars being injected into their community and are now calling upon the UN to intervene after the declaration of emergency failed to achieve results. Temperatures in the area can reach 50 degrees below zero. The Canadian Youth Delegation were ejected from COP17 Durban Climate Change talks on Wednesday after turning their backs on Canada’s Environment Minister during his speech in protest at the country’s lack-lustre environmental performance and recent decision to pull out of the Kyoto Accords.
  • On Sunday, Panama’s jailed former ruler Manuel Noriega is to be extradited from France to his homeland to serve sentences he received in absentia in his native land. Noriega has already spent more than 20 years in French and US prisons.
  • On Friday, the head of the main opposition  Institutional Revolutionary Party in Mexico resigned amid a scandal surrounding state finances.

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