Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hunger Strikes End in Several LatAm Countries

In recent days numerous hunger strikes held in some Latin American countries came to their respective ends.  But were the protesters’ demands met?  The answer varies:
  • Bolivia
Twelve wives of Bolivian policemen upset at the poor working conditions of their husbands ended their three-day hunger strike on Saturday.

The women claimed that police commanders did not go through with the promises made in June 2012 to the police officers’ union before the organization was dissolved. As a result, the group went on a hunger strike and called for an increase in the salaries of policemen, changes to the reform system and other demands.

In the end, the hunger strike was halted after the government agreed to the creation of two working groups aimed at seeking a fair resolution.  The hunger strike could be renewed, however, if a deal is not reached within the next ninety days.

Political tensions remain high in Bolivia where the government and the country’s largest labor union have knocked heads over a two-week-long nationwide strike.  The protest was suspended for 48 hours in order to allow for negotiations.
  • Colombia
A group of seven women who chained themselves to the from gates of the main cathedral in Villavicencio put a stop to their hunger strike after approximately one week.

The protesters alleged that they were “arbitrarily” targeted as part of official actions aimed at relocate street vendors.  One of the demonstrators claimed that they were not breaking the law and complained that the police unfairly confiscated their wares and carts.  Hence, they demanded the creation of a working group with the local government as well as meting with officials to voice their complaints.

Unfortunately, there is little in the Colombian press mentioning if the women’s demands were met even though the hunger strike ended.  The group was reportedly grateful to the local Red Cross chapter for their medical supervision during the manifestation.
  • Mexico
After approximately ten days, a group of thirteen people including several mothers ended their hunger strike.

The protesters urged the Mexican government to look into the cases of hundreds of children gone missing over the past few years.

“We will not leave until our cases have been resolved, the president meets with us and he gathers a working group to tell us when and how they will start to find our missing loved ones,” declared hunger striker Margarita López whose daughter was kidnapped and presumably tortured to death.

In the end, the demonstrators did not meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto but they were able to voice their concerns to Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam.  He promised the creation of a special will soon create a joint unit to investigate and solve the cases of the “disappeared.”

"We're going to work together so this information isn't lost, so investigations aren't halted," said Karam who also praised the investigations conducted by relatives of the missing as "much more thorough" than the official probes.
  • Cuba
Not all hunger strikes in the Americas have come to an end.  At least 102 of the 166 detainees at the U.S.-run Guantanamo military prison have been fasting for more than 100 days.  Thirty of them are being force fed, which is a practice condemned by the American Medical Association.

Video Source– YouTube via users Villavicencio Al Dia and Seatt007HD

Online Sources - La Razon; Bernama; GlobalPost; The Latin Americanist;; Al Jazeera English   

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