Posts tagged americas
Posts tagged americas
Aboriginal rights a threat to Canada’s natural resource agenda, documents reveal
March 3, 2014
The Canadian government is increasingly worried that the growing clout of aboriginal peoples’ rights could obstruct its aggressive resource development plans, documents reveal.
Since 2008, the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has run a risk management program to evaluate and respond to “significant risks” to its agenda, including assertions of treaty rights, the rising expectations of aboriginal peoples, and new legal precedents at odds with the government’s policies.
Yearly government reports obtained by the Guardian predict that the failure to manage the risks could result in more “adversarial relations” with aboriginal peoples, “public outcry and negative international attention,” and “economic development projects [being] delayed.”
“There is a risk that the legal landscape can undermine the ability of the department to move forward in its policy agenda,” one Aboriginal Affairs’ report says. “There is a tension between the rights-based agenda of Aboriginal groups and the non-rights based policy approaches” of the federal government.
The Conservative government is planning in the next ten years to attract $650 billion of investment to mining, forestry, gas and oil projects, much of it on or near traditional aboriginal lands.
Critics say the government is determined to evade Supreme Court rulings that recognize aboriginal peoples’ rights to a decision-making role in, even in some cases jurisdiction over, resource development in large areas of the country.
“The Harper government is committed to a policy of extinguishing indigenous peoples’ land rights, instead of a policy of recognition and co-existence,” said Arthur Manuel, chair of the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which has lead an effort to have the economic implications of aboriginal rights identified as a financial risk.
“They are trying to contain the threat that our rights pose to business-as-usual and the expansion of dirty energy projects. But our legal challenges and direct actions are creating economic uncertainty and risk, raising the heat on the government to change its current policies.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs declined to answer the Guardian’s questions, but sent a response saying the risk reports are compiled from internal reviews and “targeted interviews with senior management in those areas experiencing significant change.”
“The [corporate risk profile] is designed as an analytical tool for planning and not a public document. A good deal of [its] content would only be understandable to those working for the department as it speaks to the details of the operations of specific programs.”
Last year Canada was swept by the aboriginal-led Idle No More protest movement, building on years of aboriginal struggles against resource projects, the most high-profile of which has targeted Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would carry Alberta tar sands to the western coast of British Columbia.
“Native land claims scare the hell out of investors,” an analyst with global risk consultancy firm Eurasia Group has noted, concluding that First Nations opposition and legal standing has dramatically decreased the chances the Enbridge pipeline will be built.
In British Columbia and across the country, aboriginal peoples’ new assertiveness has been backed by successive victories in the courts.
According to a report released in November by Virginia-based First Peoples Worldwide, the risk associated with not respecting aboriginal peoples’ rights over lands and resources is emerging as a new financial bubble for extractive industries.
The report anticipates that as aboriginal peoples become better connected through digital media, win broader public support, and mount campaigns that more effectively impact business profits, failures to uphold aboriginal rights will carry an even higher risk.
The Aboriginal Affairs’ documents describe how a special legal branch helps the Ministry monitor and “mitigate” the risks posed by aboriginal court cases.
The federal government has spent far more fighting aboriginal litigation than any other legal issue – including $106 million in 2013, a sum that has grown over the last several years.
A special envoy appointed in 2013 by the Harper government to address First Nations opposition to energy projects in western Canada recentlyrecommended that the federal government move rapidly to improve consultation and dialogue.
To boost support for its agenda, the government has considered offeringbonds to allow First Nations to take equity stakes in resource projects. This is part of a rising trend of provincial governments and companies signing “benefit-sharing” agreements with First Nations to gain access to their lands, while falling short of any kind of recognition of aboriginal rights or jurisdiction.
Since 2007, the government has also turned to increased spying, creating a surveillance program aimed at aboriginal communities deemed “hot spots” because of their involvement in protest and civil disobedience against unwanted extraction on their lands.
Over the last year, the Harper government has cut funding to national, regional and tribal aboriginal organizations that provide legal services and advocate politically on behalf of First Nations, raising cries that it is trying to silence growing dissent.
Honduras has become the ideal transit spot for international drug traffickers. Reporting about crime under this environment has become increasingly dangerous.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the unmanned aircraft’s march into U.S. skies.
The agency said Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia as states that will host research sites.
Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding drone programs.
“These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. (Photo: Handout/Amazon)
Michelle Bachelet won Chile’s presidential elections with about 62 percent of voter support on Sunday, the highest share for any presidential candidate since the country returned to democratic elections in 1989.
Tax reform, which includes raising corporate taxes to 25 percent from 20 percent, is likely to be the first goal for Bachelet. Education and health reforms are next. Good-quality schooling is generally only available to those who can afford to pay for it; massive student protests hurt the popularity of outgoing conservative President Sebastian Pinera. If Bachelet waters down her promises or if she faces challenges in Congress, she could face more protests herself.
As well as an ambitious social spending program, Bachelet pledged to reduce the deficit from 1 percent of gross domestic product to zero by 2018.
Photo: REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Protestors and police clash in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, following peaceful rallies in support of teachers on strike.
The Colombian government has announced it will not abide by the International Court of Justice’s ruling over a maritime border dispute with Nicaragua.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday that the court’s decision is “not applicable” unless a new treaty is negotiated between the two nations, and that Colombia will work to stop Nicaragua’s “expansionist spirits.”
Image by Manuel Rueda for Fusion
Getty Images photographer John Moore has spent years covering stories about immigration between Mexico and the United States — border enforcement, drug smuggling, undocumented workers, and more. Earlier this year, he traveled south to the Mexico-Guatemala border, where Central American immigrants cross the Suchiate River, beginning their long and perilous journey north through Mexico. He traveled with some of the thousands of immigrants who ride atop freight trains, known as “la bestia,” or the Beast, toward the U.S. border. Riders on the Beast risk a great deal — robbery and assault by gangs who control the train tops, or the loss of life or limb in a fall. Only a fraction of the immigrants who start the journey in Central America will traverse Mexico completely unscathed — and all this before illegally entering the United States and facing the considerable U.S. border security apparatus designed to track, detain, and deport them. Moore has captured images not only of their difficult journey, but of the faces of these travelers, telling their stories through compelling portraits taken in shelters and jails along the way.
When a society opts for a military police, what this society wants is a police force that fulfills orders without thinking. Of course, when you give training in which the police officer himself is violated, how am I going to require that this individual not violate the rights of a suspect?
The merits of having a militarized police force is under scrutiny in Brazil in response to accusations of blatant police violence against journalists and civilians during protests last month’s massive protests throughout the country.
The debate on the demilitarization of the military police in the country is not new. Part of the legacy of Brazil’s dictatorship from 1964 to 1985, the military police emerged as a solution through the extinction of the Public Force and Civil Guard. After the 1964 coup, the new government abandoned the idea of creating a single, civilian police and implemented a military model.
Today, almost all urban policing in Brazil is done by military police attached to the governments of each state, and the country remains the only one in the world to have a police force that operates out of the military barracks.
Aymara women smile during the Miss Cholita 2013 beauty pageant in La Paz, Bolivia on June 30, 2013. Cholita is the style of clothing worn by many of the country’s indigenous women.
[Credit : Juan Karita/AP]
In Case You Missed It: Infographic Maps 25 Mining Conflicts in Mexico
Photo credit: Cuartoscuro
A quarter-million Brazilians took to the streets in the latest a wave of sometimes-violent protests that are increasingly focusing on corruption and
reforminga government system in which people have lost faith. A new poll shows that 75 percent of citizens support the demonstrations.
The turnout in Saturday’s protests was lower than the 1 million participants seen on Thursday and there was less violence. But in the city of Belo Horizonte police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters who tried to pass through a barrier and hurled rocks at a car dealership. The city of Salvador also saw demonstrations turn violent.
The protests have become the largest public demonstrations Latin America’s biggest nation has seen in two decades. They began as opposition to transportation fare hikes, then became a laundry list of causes including anger at high taxes, poor services and World Cup spending, before coalescing around the issue of rampant government corruption.
Many protesters were not appeased by a prime-time television address Friday night by President Dilma Rousseff, who said that peaceful protests were welcome and emphasized that she would not condone corruption. She also said she would meet with movement leaders and create a plan to improve urban transportation and use oil royalties for investments in education.
“Dilma is underestimating the resolve of the people on the corruption issue,” said Mayara Fernandes, a medical student who took part in a march in Sao Paulo. “She talked and talked and said nothing. Nobody can take the corruption of this country anymore.”
A new poll published Saturday in the weekly magazine Epoca showed that three-quarters of Brazilians support the protests. The poll was carried out by the respected Ibope institute. It interviewed 1,008 people across Brazil June 16-20 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.
On Saturday, protesters denounced congressional legislation, known as PEC 37, that would limit the power of federal prosecutors to investigate crimes - which many fear would hinder attempts to jail corrupt politicians.
Federal prosecutors were behind the investigation into the biggest corruption case in Brazil’s history, the so-called “mensalao” cash-for-votes scheme that came to light in 2005 and involved top aides of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva buying off members of congress to vote for their legislation.
“MEOW IS THE TIME FOR CHANGE,” SAYS HOPEFUL MAYOR CAT
Morris the cat’s candidacy for mayor of Xalapa, Mexico was launched by locals who are critical of government limits on free speech. You can visit Morris on his Facebook page El Candigato Morris where he has gotten more likes than his human competitors.
Photo: REUTERS/Oscar Martinez
A student protester is detained during a demonstration against the government to demand changes in the public state education system in Santiago on June 13, 2013. Chilean students have been protesting against what they say is profiteering in the state education system.
[Credit : Ivan Alvarado/Reuters]