This Week in Conflict in the Americas… December 15th-22nd, 2011.

  • The trial of Breanna (nee Bradley) Manning, the soldier allegedly responsible for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret state documents to WikiLeaks began this week in the United States. Manning is charged with 23 counts, including knowingly passing on intelligence to the enemy, through indirect means, though evidence linking Manning to WikiLeaks is disputed. Manning’s trial wrapped up on Thursday, with a final decision due in January. Transcripts of military interviews from the investigation of the 2005 Haditha massacre by US Marines of Iraqi citizens were found in a trailer in a junkyard in Baghdad this week, shedding some light on the dehumanizing nature of the war for the US Marines, who saw the massacre as routine. On Friday, President Obama announced that his administration has done more than any other to support Israel’s security and described his commitment to Israel as “unshakable”.  On Monday, Secretary of State Clinton announced the country’s hopes to prevent and diffuse conflicts by getting more women seated at negotiating tables around the world; while Human Rights Watch called upon the country to transfer the CIA command of aerial drone strikes to the armed forces clarify the legal rationale for targeted killings, and reduce the use of CIA drone strikes. On Wednesday, Amnesty International called upon President Obama to live up to his pledge to end detentions at the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, which they call a systemic attack on human rights.
  • On Friday, it was reported that the government of Honduras had deployed the military across the country in an effort to tackle violence by organized crime and drug traffickers. The country has the highest murder rate in the world. A group of women journalists calling for justice for slain reporters were reportedly violently suppressed by police with batons and tear gas in the capital last week.
  • The major port city of Veracruz in Mexico disbanded its entire police force in an effort to stem corruption on Wednesday. Some 800 officers and 300 administrative employees were laid off and replaced by the military. They will have a chance to reapply if they can meet stricter standards.
  • Talks at the Conga Gold mine project in Peru broke down on Monday, after the PM excluded environmental activists from the mediation efforts. Residents are concerned that their water supply will be affected by the mining activities, and have been protesting since early November.
  • Banks in Cuba began offering loans to individual citizens this week, in the latest free-market reform to hit the island. The loans are aimed at growing small businesses and self-employed, as well as farmers and those building their own homes.
  • Police in Argentina raided the offices of a cable television company on Tuesday, in what the company claims is a political battle following a falling out with the President in 2008. The President says their goal is to break up monopolies as a way to ensure freedom of expression, though they denied ordering the current intervention. Also on Tuesday, an Argentine minister was found hanged in his hotel room in Uruguay during a summit meeting of Mercosur, with police trying to determine if it was a crime, a suicide or an accident. The South American trading bloc banned ships from their ports that fly the Falkland Islands flag, with the Argentine President accusing Britain of taking the country’s resources and ignoring UN resolutions and asking for fresh talks on the status of the islands.
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