[A-List] [gnib] Xalala dam, CAFTA memo, and local democracy
Nicaragua Solidarity and Fair Trade Resource
nscchicago at igc.org
Thu Sep 20 22:35:20 MDT 2007
Tom Baker here and news from Guatemala, Costa Rica
Bad government update.
----- Original Message -----
From: "NISGUA Guatemala" <ali at nisgua.org>
Subject: [gnib] Xalala dam, CAFTA memo, and local democracy
> 1. Bidding to open for Xalala Dam
> 2. Secret pro-CAFTA memo urges the use of fear
> 3. Here in Sipakapa, the people won
> In solidarity,
> 1. BIDDING TO OPEN FOR XALALA DAM
> On September 19, the National Electric Institute of Guatemala (INDE)
> announced that it will begin accepting bids from national and
> international investors interested in financing the construction of the
> Xalalá Dam.
> INDE manager Marinus Boer stated that after an investor is chosen, there
> will be two years' worth of social, economic, and environmental studies
> before the actual construction of the dam begins. He also contended that
> this time period will be used for reaching agreements with affected
> communities and that the government plans to use profits from the dam to
> create projects for the local population.
> While the news article published in the Prensa Libre mentioned the popular
> referendum rejecting the Xalalá Dam, it failed to explain the overwhelming
> negative consequences of the project or why the dam is being met with such
> widespread and organized resistance. Another major news source, el
> Periodico, did not even make mention of the referendum or the ongoing
> popular opposition to the project.
> 2. SECRET PRO-CAFTA MEMO URGES THE USE OF FEAR
> A secret memorandum urging the Costa Rican government to use fear and
> manipulation to push through the approval of CAFTA-DR in the upcoming
> popular referendum was leaked to the media last week.
> The internal message, sent by Vice President Kevin Casas and a legislative
> deputy from the ruling party to President Arias, explicitly outlines a
> campaign to stimulate "four types of fear." The memo explains how to
> associate a "No" vote with the loss of jobs, an assault on democratic
> institutions, and the international stigma of being aligned with Hugo
> Chavez and Fidel Castro.
> The leaked note also advocates spreading fear throughout the local
> governments by threatening local officials with a cut in government funds
> if they do not obtain a pro-CAFTA majority in their districts. It states
> that the mayors of each district could also be bribed with professional
> advancement if they succeed in manipulating their constituents to vote in
> favour of the referendum.
> Currently Vice President Casas is on a leave of absence pending an
> investigation that he improperly used public resources to advocate the
> passage of the popular referendum. Casas admitted in the memo, "It's
> possible that this campaign may bother some people, but it's almost
> certain that it can have a considerable impact among unsophisticated
> people, which is where we have the most serious problems."
> Source: Weekly News Update on the Americas
> Issue #915, September 16, 2007
> To: The President of the Republic, Minister of the Presidency
> From: Kevin Casas, Fernando Sánchez
> Date: July 29, 2007
> Subject: Urgent actions to activate CAFTA's YES campaign
> Translation: Partido Acción Ciudadana
> 3. HERE IN SIPAKAPA, THE PEOPLE WON
> Source: Rights Action (info at rightsaction.org)
> Visit www.mimundo.org for a photo-essay by James Rodriguez concerning the
> municipal electoral victory in Sipakapa of a Civic Committee that ran on a
> pro-community development platform, in a region that has been negatively
> affected by the Goldcorp (formerly Glamis Gold) open pit mining in the
> The people of Sipakapa have voted for a different development vision. They
> do not want the global business model of "development" as manifested in
> the North American mining industry and promoted by Canadian and USA
> governments and investors and some NGOs. They are advocating for a
> development model designed and implemented by the people and communities,
> whereby they are the owners and beneficiaries of their own economic and
> productive activities.
> Here in Guatemala, local power structures play an overpowering role,
> especially in rural communities. Hence, the competition to gain municipal
> authority is fiercely contested. Such local democratic processes allow for
> the possibility of enhanced political representation, elevated
> manipulation, or even potential violence. In Sipakapa, those who have led
> the lengthy struggle against the unjust and destructive mining activities
> in their municipality united to seek political power by forming the
> so-called Sipakapense Civic Committee.
> James Rodriguez's photo-essay (English/Spanish) at www.mimundo.org
> documents key moments during the final 48 hours of the electoral process
> as lived by members of such committee and the people of Sipakapa.
> For the past few years, Rights Action has been supporting community
> controlled education and integral development projects in Sipakapa.
> For more information regarding the Sipakapense Civic Committee, please
> contact Mario Tema Bautista (Spanish only): mariotema at itelgua.com
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