Posts from March 2012

Guatemaltecan Trade Union Leader Killed, Others in Danger: FW Luis Ovidio Ortíz Cajas

R.I.P. FW Luis Ovidio Ortíz Cajas, and three bystanders — Bildave Santos Barco, Fredy Leonel Estrada Mazariegos, Oscar Alexander Rodríguez — murdered last week in Guatemala City. From Amnesty International USA:

URGENT ACTION

TRADE UNION LEADER KILLED, OTHERS IN DANGER

A trade union leader was shot dead on 24 March in Guatemala City, together with three other men. He may have been targeted for his trade union activities. Other members of the trade union may be in grave danger.

Luis Ovidio Ortíz Cajas was shot on 24 March at around 8.30pm as he walked to a shop near his home in the capital, Guatemala City. He was a public relations secretary of the Executive Committee of the National Trade Union of Health Workers (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Salud de GuatemalaSNTSG). A group of men were playing cards outside the shop. As Ovidio Ortíz was about to go into the shop, a young man got out of a white sedan car and started shooting at him and the group playing cards, with what a local source said was a 9mm pistol. Another local source said that Ovidio Ortíz was shot about eight times, twice in the head and six times in his upper torso. The other men who died as a result of the attack were: a farmer, Bildave Santos Barco, who was shot twice in the head and died instantly; Fredy Leonel Estrada Mazariegos and Oscar Alexander Rodríguez Lima who died later in hospital. Two other men were wounded.

The trade union of which Ovidio Ortíz was a member has campaigned for many years on issues of corruption in the management of the country’s public health facilities, and in December 2010 filed an official complaint against the previous Minister of Health, accusing him of corruption. On 22 March the trade union’s Executive Committee reached an agreement with the Ministry of Labour regarding seniority-based annual pay rises (bono de antigüedad) for health sector employees.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

Call on the authorities to order an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Luis Ovidio Ortíz Cajas and the three other men (Bildave Santos Barco, Fredy Leonel Estrada Mazariegos, Oscar Alexander Rodríguez Lima) killed on 24 March, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;

Urge them to take immediate steps to provide all necessary protection to SNTSG members, in accordance with their wishes;

Remind them that human rights defenders, including trade union leaders, have the right to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 11 MAY 2012 TO:

Attorney General
Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey
Fiscal General de la República
Ministerio Público
15ª Avenida 15-16, Zona 1, Barrio Gerona
Ciudad de Guatemala,
GUATEMALA

Fax: +502 2411 9210

Twitter : @mpclaudiapaz

Salutation : Estimada Sra. Fiscal General

Minister of the Interior Lic. Mauricio López Bonilla
Ministro de Gobernación
6ª Avenida 13-71, Zona 1,
Ciudad de Guatemala,
GUATEMALA

Fax: +502 2413 8658

Twitter: @mingobguate

Salutation: Dear Minister / Estimado Sr. Ministro

And copies to:

Health workers’ trade union
Sindicato Nacional Trabajadores de la Salud de Guatemala – SNTSG
Email : sindicatodesalud@yahoo.com

. . .

Additional Information

Trade unionists in Guatemala face dangerous conditions due to their work on labour rights.

Byron Arreaga, a member of an administrative workers’ trade union, the Sindicato de Trabajadores Administrativos del Segundo Registro de la Propiedad (Trade Union of Administrative Workers for the Second Property Registrar, SITRASEREPRO) was shot dead in the north-western city of Quetzaltenango, on 13 September 2011. See UA 293/11, AMR 34/013/2011 – : http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR34/013/2011/en

Idar Joel Hernandez Godoy, a finance secretary in the Sindicato de Trabajadores de las Bananeras de Izabal (Trade Union of Banana Workers, SITRABI), was shot several times by individuals riding on a motorcycle on 26 May 2011. Amnesty International called for a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing. See the press release, http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/guatemala-urged-investigated-trade-unionist%E2%80%99s-killing-2011-05-27

Too many farewells

R.I.P. Adrienne Rich (1929-2012).. This is from a letter of hers written in July 1997:

… [T]he meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration. … There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art–in my own case the art of poetry–means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage.

–Adrienne Rich, Letter to Jane Alexander Refusing the National Medal for the Arts (July 3, 1997). In Voices of a People’s History of the United States (eds. Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove), p. 580.

And this is from one of her poems, On Edges (1968).

… Crossing the bridge I need all my nerve
to trust to the man-made cables.

The blades on that machine could cut you to ribbons
but its function is humane.
Is this all I can say of these delicate books, scythe-curved intentions
you and I handle? I’d rather
taste blood, yours or mine, flowing
from a sudden slash, than cut all day
with blunt scissors on dotted lines
like the teacher told.

–Adrienne Rich (1968), On Edges

R.I.P. Earl Scruggs (1924-2012). This is from Crispin Sartwell’s blog:

earl scruggs was among the handful of great instrumental innovators in twentieth-century american popular music. comparable figures are people like louis armstrong, little walter, jimi hendrix. the banjo in his hands yields an amazing combination of rhythm and melody: it’s the most percussive of the string instruments, and scruggs created the role of the banjo virtuoso in bluegrass: during his solo, he drives the band faster and faster, like an accelerating train….

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday: This Really is the Final Straw

There’s a number of interviews out recently that Gary and I have done for Markets Not Capitalism. I’m going to do a fuller post collecting them later this evening, but in the meantime we have to prepare our escape from Chicago. Before I do, however, I wanted to mention the most recent, and the upcoming broadcast.

Bursts O’Goodness from The Final Straw on AshevilleFM.org very generously invited m to an extended interview on Markets Not Capitalism in advance of my upcoming book talk at Firestorm Cafe & Books in Asheville. (From the show’s website: The Final Straw works to bring new music and new ideas to it’s audience. A mixed-format show, The Final Straw presents a dynamic mix of music from around the world alongside inteviews concerning radical political, social, economic and environmental issues. The host, Bursts O’Goodness, hopes to make radical content more accessible to a wider and wider audience.)

A selection of the conversation from yesterday will be airing today, Sunday, March 4 from 2:00pm-3:00pm EST (1:00pm-2:00pm Central) on http://www.ashevillefm.org/. I’m told that it will also be streaming about every 4 hours or so on Monday at http://www.kwtf.net/, and will be broadcast a few times on Tuesday at KXCF in Marin County, California. The show will be available for download at http://www.ashevillefm.org/the-final-straw from March 5 – March 12, and later at http://www.archive.org/. I’ll put up a link here when I have it — but if you can tune in today or later this week at ashevillefm.org, the hits for Bursts’s show will help support the show and let his network know how much we appreciate radical voices and in-depth conversations about freedom on community radio.

I’ve got to run. But more links soon. In the meantime, I note also that this is once again Shameless Self-promotion Sunday. So; I’ve been on holiday in Chicago the past week, done a few interviews, seen a few bookstores. And y’all? What have you been up to this week? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.