International news from Workers Solidarity 54


Irish Mexico Group peace camp attacked in Chiapas

THE MEXICAN state of Chiapas has seen further violence, with large-scale military invasions into indigenous communities who sympathise with the Zapatista rebels. In particular, the army and police have focussed on removing foreign human rights observers from the region. 15 people were deported in April. Three of them were taken from the Irish-run peace camp of Diez de April.

The Irish Mexico Group's observer in Diez said: "Military activity in Chiapas has increased dramatically, with 800 police and soldiers invading the indigenous community of Diez de Abril". He also denounced the arrest of José Alfredo López Méndez, a 17-year-old from the community, who was beaten by police.

The Irish Mexico Group has run a peace camp in Diez de Abril since January 1997, after the community requested foreign accompaniment to document human rights abuses by the military and the police. Paramilitary manoeuvres in the surrounding hills have also recently been commenced by a local "death squad" similar to that responsible for the massacre of 46 people last Christmas, in the community of Acteal.


13 Year Old on Death Row in Alabama

THE USA, over the last decade, has embarked on a programme of jailing young people in adult prisons and bootcamps. In addition, various states have passed laws allowing courts to try children and teenagers on capital charges for which they can receive the death penalty.

Today a 13 year old boy who is mentally retarded is awaiting execution in Alabama's electric chair. His name is Michael Shan Barnes. He is locked up on death row, in harsh conditions and fed on a poor diet. He needs our help urgently.

Please write to

Alabama State Governor Fob James Jr.,
State Capitol N-104,
600 Dexter Avenue,
Montgomery,
Alabama 36130,
USA.

It is not enough to presume that the authorities will commute the sentence at the eleventh hour. No human being should ever be treated like this. To do it to a 13 year old is incredibly barbaric. Voice your outrage. Mention Michael's age, mental state, compassion, mercy. Let the state thugs of Alabama know that the eyes of the world are upon them.

Source: Black Flag


Brazilian peasants say
This Land is Our Land

BRAZIL IS a country with a feudal division of wealth and land. Today less than 3% of the population owns almost two thirds of Brazilian farmland. 60% of that lies unused. Despite president Carduso's electoral promises little has changed.

In 1985 a small group of desperate peasants squatted unused plantation land and fended off armed attacks by police and hired gunmen for two years. The government then granted the land for use as a farm co-op. This year the co-op is expected to make $12 million for its 1,432 workers.

Since then a massive movement of landless peasants and workers has swelled into existence. In 1997 60,000 marched over 1000km for two months arriving in Brasilia (the capital) to demand land reform and mark the anniversary of the massacre of El Dorado dos Carajas where 19 people occupying a hacienda were killed by the military police. In the last ten years over 960 peasants and supporters have been killed in land disputes.

200,000 landless families have successfully taken back 7 million hectares of land. More than 50,000 families are currently camped around empty land. MST (Movement of Landless Workers) has inspired the urban homeless to begin occupations of unused buildings. MST spokespeople speaking on their national pirate radio emphasise that "the poor can't hope for government action but have to organise themselves".

Source: Counter Information


... so how come you didn't see it coming?

Psychics file for bankruptcy

BALTIMORE, USA &emdash; Perhaps they should have seen it coming: the operators of the Psychic Friends Network have filed for bankruptcy.

"They apparently made some bad decisions, and a couple of things happened that they had no control over",said James Olson, a lawyer for the network's operator, Inphomation Communication Inc.

Inphomation listed liabilities of $26 million and assets of $1.2 million when it filed for Chapter 11, which allows a company to hold off its creditors and continue operating while it puts its finances in order.

The Psychic Friends Network, which has used singer Dionne Warwick as the host on its 30-minute infomercials, was once the second highest grossing infomercial, trailing Jane Fonda's pitch for her fitness video. For $3.99 a minute, people get advice on their careers or love lives.

Founded in 1990, the company pioneered the use of "900" phone lines and backed them with infomercials and a network of about 2,000 psychics.


It's a knock out!

Usedom, Germany: 15 Nazi skinheads attacked a group of black people in a local billiard hall.

Little did they know they ware a visiting group of boxers from Cuba.

Result: two knock outs for Cuba - without reply!


This article is from Workers Solidarity No 54 published in June 1998