Posts tagged Guatemala

The Age of Bronze

As we approach the New Year, we naturally think of ends, and of beginnings; what has changed, and what we have lost. So hey, libertarians, let’s all get together and feel sorry about the golden age of Limited Government and Individual Liberty we have lost. Remember the ancient liberties that we all enjoyed only 60 years ago, back in the 1950s? Back when all military-age men were subject to the draft, people were being interrogated before a permanent committee of Congress over their political beliefs, the FBI was conducting massive illegal wiretapping, surveillance and disruption against nonviolent civil rights activists, the National Security Agency was established as a completely secret surveillance arm of the federal government, it was illegal for married or unmarried women to buy basic birth control, it was made illegal for anyone to buy any scheduled drug without a doctor’s prescription, government was conducting medical experiments on unwilling human subjects[1], Urban Renewal was demolishing the core of every major U.S. city to build government highways and housing projects, and massive community-wide immigration raids were terrorizing undocumented migrants throughout the Southwest.

Or like back in the 1940s when government spending was over 50% of GDP, nearly the entire consumer economy was subject to government rationing, Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps, and a secret government conspiracy was building an entire network of secret cities in order to build atomic bombs to drop on civilian centers.

Or like back in the 1930s when the entire institutional groundwork of the New Deal was being implemented, Roosevelt was making himself president-for-life, government attempted to seize all gold or silver bullion in private hands, the federal government first instituted the Drug War, Jim Crow was the law of the land, Congress created the INS, Jews fleeing the incipient Holocaust in Europe were being turned away by immigration authorities, and psychiatrists were using massive electric shocks or literally mutilating the brains of women and men confined to asylums.

Or like the 1920s when it was illegal to buy alcoholic drinks anywhere in the United States, tariff rates were nearly 40% on dutiable imports, Sacco and Vanzetti were murdered by the state of Massachusetts, the Invisible Empire Second Era Klan effectively took over the state governments of Colorado, Indiana, and Alabama, hundreds of black victims were massacred in race riots in Tulsa and Rosewood, when Congress created the Federal Radio Commission[2], the US Border Patrol, passed the Emergency [sic] Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924, and the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the authority of the state to forcibly sterilize women deemed “feeble-minded” or “promiscuous” for eugenic purposes.

Or the 1910s, when the federal government seized control of foreign-owned companies to facilitate production of chemical weapons, imposed the first-ever use of federal conscription to fight an overseas war, invaded Haiti, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico[3], Russia, and Europe, passed criminal anarchy and criminal syndicalism statutes, tried and convicted hundreds of people for belonging to radical unions, imprisoned hundreds of people for protesting the draft during World War I (ordered by the President of the United States and upheld by the Supreme Court in one of its most radical anti-free-speech decisions), deported hundreds of people solely for holding anti-state political beliefs, the Mann Act made it illegal to “transport women across statelines for immoral purposes” [sic], the Colorado National Guard machine-gunned and burned alive striking miners and their families in order to break a UMWA organizing campaign, and Congress created the Federal Reserve, the Income Tax, the Espionage Act, and the Sedition Act.

Or maybe like the 1900s. … .

  1. [1] See also the biological and radiological experiments documented here, and the Guatemala syphilis experiment conducted from 1946-1948.
  2. [2] Created in 1926; later converted into the Federal Communications Commission in 1934.
  3. [3] In 1914, and then again in 1916-1917

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

Patents kill

So, it turns out that today is—by edict of WIPOWorld Intellectual Property Day 2005. Among the objectives set out for the day are:

  • To increase understanding of how protecting IP rights helps to foster creativity and innovation;
  • To raise awareness of the importance in daily life of patents, copyright, trademarks and designs.

Well, who could disagree with such educational goals? The Ministries of Culture and Science in this secessionist republic of one applaud the educational purposes of World Intellectual Property day, and offer the following in the effort to raise awareness of the importance in daily life of patents and copyrights, and to make sure that you understand exactly how protecting IP restrictions is fostering creativity and innovation.

Intellectual property restrictions are government-granted monopolies. They have nothing, actually, to do with property rights; what they do is seize ordinary people’s property and hold it hostage to the license-holders’ demands for ransom. They kill innovation because they kill new products; they kill new products because they invade other people’s real property — meaning pens, paper, scanners, computers, DVD players, and so on — in the attempt to lock down ideas — which are, by nature, non-rivalrous resources; this amounts to nothing less than a systematic and ruthless intellectual enclosure movement against what is and ought to be the common property of all humanity.

Now, as a techno-geek, I don’t like how this strangles the amazing innovation that we could be seeing in the intelligent use of audio, video, and text content, in this age of cheap computers and plentiful storage. But the plain fact is that this isn’t, really, about what your latest gizmo can or can’t do with your music library, and it’s not a topic for polite debate and economic wonkery. This is life and death. For example, in India recently:

India, a major source of inexpensive AIDS drugs, passed a new patent law yesterday that groups providing drugs to the world’s poorest patients fear will choke off their supply of new treatments.

The new law, amending India’s 1970 Patent Act, affects everything from electronics to software to medicines, and has been expected for years as a condition for India to join the World Trade Organization.

But because millions of poor people in India and elsewhere — including by some estimates half the AIDS patients in the Third World — rely on India’s generic drug industry, lobbyists for multinational drug companies as well as activists fighting for cheap drugs had descended on New Delhi to try to influence the outcome.

It’s very disappointing, but it could have been worse, said Daniel Berman, a coordinator of the global access campaign for the medical charity Doctors Without Borders. All generics could have been removed from the market.

Instead, all the generic drugs already approved in India can still be sold, though sellers must now pay licensing fees. There are also provisions allowing companies that make generics to copy drugs in the future.

But there are relatively tough criteria for such copying, and activists predicted that prices for newly invented drugs will be much higher, because drug makers will have the same 20-year patent monopolies as they have in the West. As AIDS patients develop resistance to old drugs, new treatments will become less affordable, they said.

In addition, it is unclear whether makers of generic drugs in other countries, like Brazil, China and Thailand, will fill any increasing demand for cheaper medicines.

All Western countries grant product patents on new inventions. Since 1970, India has granted process patents, which allow another inventor to patent the same product as long as it was created by a novel process. In pharmaceuticals, that has meant that a tiny tweak in the synthesis of a molecule yields a new patent. Several companies can produce the same drug, creating competition that drives down prices.

Before 1970, India’s patent laws came from its colonial days, and it had some of the world’s highest drug prices. Process patents on drugs, fertilizers and pesticides have extended life expectancy and ended regular famines.

In Africa, exports by Indian companies, especially Cipla and Ranbaxy Laboratories, helped drive the annual price of antiretroviral treatment down from $15,000 per patient a decade ago to about $200 now. They also simplified therapy by putting three AIDS drugs in one pill. Dr. Yusuf Hamied, Cipla’s chairman, called the new law a very sad day for India.

— New York Times 2005-03-24: India Alters Law on Drug Patents

And the same folks want to do the same thing to Latin America, through the adoption of CAFTA:

Found to be HIV-positive shortly before her husband died of AIDS-related complications last fall, an ailing Garcia was convinced of her own death sentence. But generic drugs have kept the virus in check and restored 60 lost pounds to her frame.

I now have hope, said the 52-year-old grandmother and flower vendor, who gets her medicine free from a nonprofit clinic.

Public health experts fear that hope might fade for Garcia and thousands of the region’s chronically ill if the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, known as CAFTA, is approved this year.

Under the pact American pharmaceutical giants would gain a five-year edge on the development of new drugs by low-cost competitors. Generic versions of name-brand drugs are the main weapon for battling the AIDS pandemic in the developing world.

Healthcare activists say those intellectual property protections would drive up the cost of treating chronic conditions, particularly HIV/AIDS, sufferers of which routinely develop resistance to old medications. About 40 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and more than 275,000 of them live in the six Latin American CAFTA nations, according to United Nations statistics.

— LA Times 2005-04-22: AIDS Patients See Life, Death Issues in Trade Pact

Patents kill people. They mean that the pharmaceutical cartel can call up the armed bully-boys of almost every government in the world in order to enforce artificially high prices for their top money-makers; and that means that State violence is being used to prevent affordable, life-saving drugs from reaching the desparately poor of the world. The multilateral so-called free trade agreements of the past couple decades — NAFTA, the WTO, and upcoming plans such as CAFTA and the FTAA — are slowly cutting back on traditional industrial protectionism while dramatically expanding the scale, scope, and deadly reach of intellectual protectionism.

To hell with that. Intellectual property is not about incentivizing or encouraging or opportunities. It’s about force: invading other people’s property to force them to render long-term rents to you long after you have stopped putting any particular work into what you’re claiming to be yours. A necessary corollary is that it also means invading those who offer innovations based on the work that you have done unless those innovations comply with a very narrow set of guidelines for authorized use. You have no right to do that, and you sure don’t have the right to do it at the expense of innocent people’s lives. A free society needs a free culture. Patents kill and freedom save people’s lives. This is as simple as it gets. Écrassez l’infâme: écrassez l’etat.

Further reading