June 15, 2006
After staging a strike for three weeks, demanding higher salaries, teachers who were occupying the central plaza in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca were forcibly evicted by police, twice. Helicopters flew over the city, and several cars were burned. Governor Ulises Ruiz denied reports that some strikers had been killed. See BBC. It's sad to think that the pleasant colonial city we visited only three years ago has been afflicted by widespread violence. This is another example of the rising social tensions across Mexico as the presidential elections approach.
Last week the wife of Carlos Ahumada, who was accused of bribing officials in the government of Mexico City, survived an assassination attempt. He had threatened to release tape recordings of allies of leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the mayor of Mexico City. This casts a cloud over his campaign, but the incident may have been staged. See Washington Post.
Frustrated by the unavailability of replacement parts for Venezuela's U.S.-built F-16 jet fighters, Hugo Chavez announced that his government will purchase Russia Sukhoi Su-30 jets. He said the first ones would arrive by the end of the year, but didn't specify the total number. This is the latest in a series of large-scale arms acquisitions that seemed designed to annoy Washington as much as possible, and which will greatly increase tensions in South America and the Caribbean Basin. See CNN.com. Just remember, if you're a CITGO customer, that's where you're money's going!
UPDATE: The BBC reports that Chavez plans to buy 24 Sukhoi jets by the end of the year, with an option to buy additional units later on. He also bragged about the greater missile range of the Sukhois (200 km) compared to that of the F-16s (60 km).
A judge in Chile questioned Alberto Fujimori about alleged links between his government and drug lords. Roberto Escobar, brother of notorious Pablo Escobar (killed in 1993), charged that former intelligence adviser Vladimiro Montesinos accepted contributions from the Medellin cartel in Colombia. See CNN.com. Montesinos had previously been accused of selling weapons to guerrilla forces in Colombia, a bizarre plot that remains unresolved.
The government of Chile has approved a gold and silver mine in the central mountains, about 300 miles north of Santiago. Environmental activists warned that the "Pascua Lama" mining project would cause large-scale pollution and cause glaciers to melt, threatening water supplies to rural communities. See BBC. It seems odd that a Socialist government would be so eager to accommodate foreign investors in this kind of project, especially since the copper mining industry remained under state control, even as the rest of the Chilean economy was privatized during the Pinochet years.
The news chronology on the Chile background page has been updated.