Daily Archives: May 24, 2010

Pinheiro passed over for Croatian candidate

Late last March I posted on how Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, the author of the famous restitution principles, was a finalist candidate for the new Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights post at UN Headquarters in New York. Turtle Bay more recently reported that the honors went to Ivan Simonovic, a Croatian politician who has been associated with the nationalist former President Franjo Tudjman, and whose current stint as Justice Minister has drawn criticism from Amnesty International for failure to aggressively pursue war crimes prosecutions. Mr. Simonovic has undoubtedly been thoroughly vetted and defended his human rights record in an interview last Friday with Turtle Bay. However, given the policy of some of Mr. Simonovic’s political mentors of ridding the country of much of its Serb minority, one can only hope he himself would have a few good things to say about the Pinheiro Principles in a candid moment after a round or two of rakija…

Mapuche land claims shake post-quake Chile

by Rhodri C. Williams

TN readers of longer vintage will recall that I posted a few times on the humanitarian situation in Chile after the quake that hit at the end of February, only weeks after the devastation in Haiti. However, given the higher level of preparedness in Chile and the fact that government institutions remained intact and capable of responding in a robust manner, the types of acute humanitarian and land issues seen in Haiti did not seem to be at issue.

As a result, it came as a bit of a shock to discover that land may actually be more contested in Chile than in Haiti, and that the potential for land-related violence existed prior to the disaster and may have been exacerbated since, both due to the immediate diversion of attention to the reconstruction effort and the longer term effects of the new law-and-order government of President Sebastian Piñera, who took office just weeks after the quake.

Freelance journalist David Dudenhoefer writes in OpenDemocracy this week on the Mapuche, Chile’s largest indigenous group, which inhabits precisely the area the quake hit hardest. While I would highly recommend that readers go directly to Mr. Dudenhoefer’s article,  a few points are worth summarizing here. The Mapuche were militarily conquered in the 19th century, granted ‘mercy title’ to a fraction of their former territory, and then progressively lost even that in the course of decades of repression, deforestation and commercial pressure on their lands. Continue reading