Mexico: OAS joins alert concerning the influence of drug trafficking on democracy
The Organization of American States began a debate in Mexico on March 1 with representatives from 30 countries. The theme was how to strengthen the struggle against transnational organized crime on the American continent “where more homicides are committed with firearms” than in the entire rest of the world. The presence of drug trafficking in Latin America presupposes a threat to democracy, warned Adam Blackwell, the Secretary of Security of the OAS. Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina requested a debate on the decriminalization of certain drugs, to be considered as part of the war against drug trafficking. This would reduce the crime rate associated with smuggling. Perez is consulting with other Central American governments to establish a unified position, which will then be presented to the Summit of the Americas that will be held in Cartagena, Colombia next April.

Guatemala: Judge denies amnesty to ex-dictator Efrain Rios Montt
A Guatemalan judge of high standing denied an amnesty petition filed by ex-dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt, who stands accused of genocide perpetrated on the indigenous Ixil people during the Guatemalan civil war (1960-1996). The 17 months of his presidency between 1982 and 1983 are recognized as one of the most violent periods of this country›s civil war. During this time 1,771 people were assassinated in 11 massacres committed in the indigenous high plateaus of the country. The majority of these Guatemalans were elderly people, women and children. The decision by judge Miguel Angel Galvez argued that the National Reconciliation Law of 1996, which coincided with the end of the civil war and which emphasized impunity, did not guarantee amnesty to persons accused of “crimes of genocide, torture and forced disappearances.” Rios Montt remains under house arrest with a $65,000 bail.

Ecuador: Demonstrators occupy Chinese Embassy
Eight female environmentalists peacefully occupied the Chinese Embassy in Quito March 5 to protest a contract that will allow Ecuacorriente Company to mine copper in the Amazonian jungle. Ivonne Yanez, an activist and director of Ecological Action, said that the activities of Ecuacorriente will damage the Cordillera del Condor, a zone of high bio-diversity and culture, and territory that belongs to indigenous communities. The mining will (adversely) affect the land of the indigenous peoples and the environment. “We reject the signing of the contract … that has not been approved by a study of environmental impact nor does it have the consent of the indigenous communities”, they wrote in a letter directed to Chinese Ambassador Yuan Guisen.