The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.7           February 19, 1996 
In Brief  

Oil wells blocked in Mexico
Some 1,000 people occupied enclosures surrounding 18 oil wells and blockaded 21 others of the Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) company in the state of Tabasco during the last week of January. The protesters are demanding compensation for pollution caused by the large state-owned oil monopoly. "Pemex has polluted the soils and the waters of our rivers and lakes," said Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Tabasco head of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, and a leader of the protests.

Several thousand women marched in the neighboring state of Veracruz January 30 to protest the planned sales of several petrochemical plants to private investors. Thousands of workers are opposed to the sales. The protests have provoked heated discussions all across Mexico's Gulf Coast.

Nicaraguan students storm office
About 300 students in Nicaragua seized the Foreign Ministry in Managua January 30. The next day hundreds of cops assaulted the occupiers with tear gas and arrested 107 of them. This was part of a series of occupations of government buildings to press demands for increased financing for higher education. A mass of students seized a bus carrying 15 cops January 31. On February 1, students marched on a police station in Managua and held a sit-in in front of the jail where other students, arrested in earlier demonstrations, are being held.

"We want the government to resolve the university budget before the Pope gets here," said a student who participated in the January 30 takeover of the Foreign Ministry, which is serving as the headquarters for preparations for the visit of Pope John Paul II in early February.

Cops evict peasants in Honduras
Cops and soldiers evicted more than 400 peasants and their families in Tacamiche, Honduras, February 1 from a plantation owned by the U.S.-based banana giant Chiquita Brands. The eviction was the third in Tacamiche in the last seven months.

The rural workers had lived on the farm since October 1994, three months after the company closed several farms and laid off 2,000 people. Some 7,000 banana workers went on strike for four days during that time to reverse the shutdowns. In August 1995, peasants there battled soldiers with rocks, sticks, and machetes. Chiquita threatened to call on the U.S. government to protect its property.

Students protest in Venezuela
Students in Caracas organized several protests January 25 against a 70 percent fare hike in public transportation. Caracas radio reported unrest in Barquisimeto, Mérida, Cumaná, Maracaibo, Los Teques, and in parts of the Venezuelan capital, which lasted into the night.

"If they increase the fares, we could not afford it," said one high school student. The bus companies are demanding a fare increase of more than 100 percent.

Dominican doctors strike
The government of the Dominican Republic is withholding the wages of some 8,000 striking doctors, as the work stoppage's impact on health services grows. The strike, started in early November, was called by the Dominican Medical Association (AMD) demanding wage increases and housing provided by the state.

In mid-January, Dominican president Joaquín Balaguer ordered the militarization of the health services and warned that wages would be retained from civilian doctors who continued to strike. The militarization of the hospitals prompted the AMD to immediately order its members to stop offering emergency services that were still available in some hospitals.

Ankara, Athens nearly go to war
A military showdown between the governments of Greece and Turkey was stopped January 31, when both sides withdrew their forces from a small island in the Aegean Sea. The confrontation started in December when a Turkish ship crashed near the islet and declared to the Greek coast guard that it was Turkish territory. The disputed area was occupied by Greek commandos.

The two nations almost went to war in 1987 over mineral rights in the Aegean. A war in 1974 between the two countries over the Mediterranean island of Cyprus resulted in a partition, where a third of Cyprus has since been occupied by Turkey.

Rebellion simmers in Tajikistan
Rebel forces captured two towns in Tajikistan in late January, demanding the ouster of corrupt government officials. One of the leaders, Col. Makhmud Khudoberdyev, led a group that seized control of the road leading to the capital February 1. Tajik government solders also clashed with guerrilla fighters near the Afghan border the same day.

The Moscow-backed government of Tajikistan president Emomali Rakhmonov said February 1 that the republic is on the verge of an upheaval similar to the 1992 civil war there. The Russian government, which sent 25,000 troops to prop up the regime, claimed its troops will not get involved in the conflict. Moscow, said however, that its troops will guard the Afghan border and military facilities.

Japanese troops sent to Syria
Sixteen Japanese soldiers landed in the Damascus airport February 1 to join a 1,000-strong United Nations military force in the Golan Heights, Syria. The Japanese troops will be joined by another group of 29 Japanese soldiers later in February. The Japanese government has sent troops overseas four times since passing a law in 1992 permitting participation in imperialist military operations under the flag of United Nations "peacekeeping."

Tokyo approved a two-year plan in December for its troops to go to the Golan. Tel Aviv and the Syrian government have been in negotiations over control of the Golan which the Israeli military seized in 1967.

Nigerian opposition seeks aid
The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) and its international associate, the National Liberation Council of Nigeria (NALICON), are soliciting aid from other African countries in their quest to overthrow the military regime in Nigeria. South African president Nelson Mandela made a donation of $570,000 in a meeting in Johannesburg with a delegation of both groups led by Wole Soyinka. Mandela promised more aid to the groups and the African National Congress donated one of its buildings in Johannesburg to NADECO and NALICON.

The government of Burkina Faso offered one of its military camps to the NADECO delegation and accused the Nigerian dictatorship of using oil to blackmail other African countries for support.

Meanwhile in Nigeria, Gani Fawehinmi, a leader of the National Conscience opposition group, was arrested January 30 in the capital, Lagos. Fawehinmi was scheduled that day to deliver his program on removing the military from power to a meeting at the University of Lagos.

Judge voids law against gays
Judge Myron Thompson of the Federal District Court in Montgomery, Alabama, ruled January 29 that a law barring gay and lesbian groups from receiving public funds was unconstitutional. The reactionary law was enacted in 1992 after officials at Auburn University granted recognition to the Gay and Lesbian Association.

The Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance at the University of South Alabama in Mobile filed a suit after being denied financing from the university administration. Alan Clampett, the group's president, said January 30 that the verdict was a victory for the exercise of First Amendment rights by any student in Alabama. The ruling came as Attorney General Jeff Sessions is attempting to cancel a conference of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students scheduled in February at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.


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