Police flown to Irish mine in Mozambique to quell protest
Riot police were Tuesday airlifted by private plane to quell a protest over severance payouts by hundreds of construction workers at an Irish titanium mine in northern Mozambique, police said Wednesday. A labour dispute involving some 500 local contract workers employed by an Irish engineering and construction firm Kentz, prompted the company to summon anti-riot police to the area, sending a private plane to pick up members of the poorly-equipped force.
“The company phoned and asked for help saying more than 500 workers were threatening to go on strike and destroy things,” regional police spokesman in the northern Nampula province Ernacio Dina told AFP. “The company sent an aeroplane to fly in the (police).” Recent flooding in the area has left access roads to the mine impassable. The mine is located in a remote coastal area some 160 kilometres (100 miles) from the provincial capital. Dina however refuted reports in local media that riot police beat up protesters.
“There was no necessity to intervene. The information we received is that the management agreed to negotiate,” he said. However one Kentz employee, speaking to AFP by telephone and asking not to be named for fear of reprisal from his employers, said some people had been beaten by police with rubber batons.
Workers had on Wednesday agreed to talks with management on Wednesday to try to resolve the dispute, he said. Kentz had hired the workers to build a separate mining facility for Irish and London stock exchange-listed Kenmare Resources that has been dredging dune sands for titanium since 2007.
Workers complained severance packages paid out at the end of their contracts were too low and demanded details of how their payments were calculated. Tensions between the community and the mine have been simmering for some time over the disparity between salaries of locals and expatriates, according to independent daily Mozambican paper, Canal Moz.
A Kentz engineer, Irishman William Deasy, was in February bludgeoned to death near his residential complex two days after he went missing. No arrests have been made so far in connection with the crime. Kentz did not immediately comment when contacted by AFP.
Mwingi villagers protest court’s eviction order
More than 100 residents of Kawala in Mumoni district on Monday staged a sit in at the Mwingi law court premises protesting an order issued by the court to evict some of them. The group, that included uniformed school children, brought with them a memorandum addressed to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. Carrying cardboard placards, the peaceful group arrived at the court at around 8 am and sat pensively as they sought audience with Mwingi acting senior principal magistrate Hezron Nyaberi. Some of the placards they carried read; “30 years of mateso (suffering). Help use retain our land” and “we want our land back.”
They were aggrieved by an order issued by Nyaberi last week where he directed that six families living in the contentious Mbeu Group Ranch land be evicted for illegal occupation. Their spokesman Mwinzi Muli said though the order targed six families, they had a come as a group to offer solidarity to those affected since this “is the first step to mass evictions from the land”. “It is unfair for the court to have ruled that the land belonged to Mbeu ranch members thus making its original occupants become squatters,” he said.
Protest over lack of drinking water turns violent, six people arrested
Six people were arrested during the evening hours of Monday and early Tuesday morning, after protests by residents of the San Francisco community in Tejar de El Guarco, Cartago turned violent. Residents were protesting the lack of drinking water in the community. According to authorities, at about 3:30pm on Monday, a group of residents began a rally near the Interamericana Sur bridge, where they erected a barricade of mattresses, tires, and other items, which they set on fire. In response, authorities and about 40 riot officers responded to the scene to keep the situation under control.
Meanwhile, traffic police and firefighters also responded to the scene to control the fire and to assist the flow of traffic. According to authorities, by about 9pm the situation turned violent, as a group of people returned to the scene with sticks and stones. Authorities say some of the protestors even broke windows of nearby houses, though believe some of those involved were not part of the original protest. Police responded by arresting six suspects on charges of disorderly conduct and property damage.
Two Dead in Dominican Republic Protests
SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic – Two people were fatally shot Tuesday in various parts of the Dominican Republic amid violent protests demanding investment in public infrastructure. Police Col. Julian Suarez Cordero died after being shot during a demonstration at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, or UASD, in support of a 48-hour general strike in several northern provinces, authorities said.
Grassroots groups organized the strike to demand a public works program and the nationalization of the Pueblo Viejo gold mine, whose current operator, Canada-based Barrick Gold, is at odds with the Dominican government. Another police officer, Col. Julio Justino Rodriguez, suffered a gunshot wound during the protest in Santo Domingo, a police spokesman said, while the media reported that a student was hit by a rock.
Meanwhile, Felix Hernandez died in the northeastern municipality of San Francisco de Macoris after being shot Monday night during clashes that police blamed on criminal organizations. Four other people were hurt in that episode. In the northwestern municipality of Esperanza, police Lt. Luis Manuel Lopez was also wounded by gunfire in the violent disturbances. At the same time in the northern town of Bonao, at least 10 people were arrested at demonstrations demanding that the government cancel Barrick Gold’s contract to exploit Pueblo Viejo. EFE
Zambia’s University Students in Revolt
Tension is mounting at the Copperbelt University (CBU) where students are mobilising themselves to stage a big protest against the school’s administrative decision to ban squatting in dormitories, where dire accommodation shortages have led students to occupy certain buildings. According the Copperbelt Students Union president Oscar Mbewe, the students would stage a demonstration against the university administration decision enforcing the ban against squatting.
In an interview from Kitwe, Mbewe said enforcing the ban against squatting at the CBU was not possible because of the acute shortage of accommodation. The CBU had over 10, 000 students but only 2, 000 are accommodated because of the shortage of dormitories. Some students were picked up by the police at the weekend for spending nights in corridors, laboratories and other spaces at CBU. But in the interview, Mbewe said scores of students have resorted to a hunger strike to press management against enforcing the ban.
He said students would take to the streets in order to get the attention of the CBU management as well as that of Education Minister John Phiri because this was the language they understood. Mbewe who confirmed the planed public protest said the students met on Monday and resolved to mobilize themselves for a major demonstration. “We are in a very tight situation as union leaders.
These students can even descend on us. We had to intervene as a union to convince and stop the students from implementing the planned protest but they listened to us in view of continued dialogue so that we can resolve the matter in peace,” he said. He said the students were on standby to stage the protest and they were being led by the ‘monks’, a popular term that refers to male students that do not have girlfriends. Mbewe said the monks had mobilized themselves to stop CBU security personnel from evicting squatters at the university.
“The situation was so bad on Saturday after the students fought running battles with the university security guards who were sent to search and evict squatters. The management must handle this matter carefully because it can get out of hand. We have many students who are ready to face the police when they come. “We who are in the union, together with many other students have gone on hunger strike because we want to get the attention of management so that they can reverse the decision to ban squatting on the university campus. We don’t want to be violent and this is why we have decided to go on hunger strike so that the vice-chancellor can develop a soft heart,” Mr Mbewe said.
In Lusaka, word has filtered through to the University of Zambia (UNZA), where the Great East Road campus students are also planning to protest a ban on squatting in the dormitories. The students said UNZA management should learn to dialogue instead of taking harsh decisions realising that the university had an acute shortage of bed space. The students at UNZA said protesting was the only language management and government understood, instead of dialogue. In separate interviews last week, UNZA students also said they were worried at President Michael Sata’s continued silence on the problems that had engulfed institutions of higher learning in Zambia.
Mexico authorities ready to retake occupied university rectory
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s top law enforcement agencies said Tuesday that they were poised to order the removal of a group of masked individuals who have occupied the main administrative building of the national university since Friday. The occupation of the university’s rectory tower is linked to a relatively minor political dispute at one of the campus’ public feeder high schools, yet the incident has struck a nerve at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM by its Spanish acronym, which has an enrollment of more than 330,000 students this year.
Students have gathered outside the rectory to vigorously debate the merits of the building’s occupation. Some argue in support of those inside; others say their right to an education is being infringed. UNAM, whose autonomy from the country’s political structure is fiercely defended and is seen as a symbol by many in Mexico, has experienced numerous student-led occupations over the years at its facilities in south Mexico City.
The longest started in April 1999, when a general student strike lasted 10 months and shut down the campus after the administration attempted to raise fees for students able to pay them. Hundreds were detained after federal officers raided strike encampments. Ultimately, changes in the university’s fee structure were kept, but they were made voluntary.
On Friday night, a group of about 15 people — most of whom have not been positively identified — broke into the rectory, demanding that the expulsion of five students at the Naucalpan campus of one of the university’s preparatory high schools be retracted. The five students were involved in violent protests in February at the Naucalpan campus of the College of Sciences and Humanities, or CCH in Spanish, officials said. Students there have been protesting proposed changes to the CCH general curriculum, which would include making English instruction a requirement.
Jose Narro Robles, UNAM’s rector, said Monday that he would not negotiate with the occupants of the rectory until they allowed campus employees to resume work there. Narro said he had asked the federal attorney general’s office to investigative the takeover and warned “there shall be no impunity” against those who “violently” took over the administrative headquarters.
He said various university functions, including payments to contractors and enrollment for new students, were being affected. “To those directing this embarrassing incident, I tell you, don’t you dare sack the patrimony of the nation once more,” Narro said, referring to the CCH clashes in February. In images shown on news broadcasts, the masked occupants were seen breaking glass windows and doors to set up camp in the rectory.
One of the occupiers has been identified in news reports as Jose Uriel Sandoval, a student demonstrator injured during violent confrontations between federal police and opposition and anarchist groups at the Dec. 1, 2012, inauguration of President Enrique Peña Nieto. Sandoval lost his right eye in those clashes.
On Tuesday, Manuel Mondragon y Kalb, national commissioner for public security, told reporters that he was awaiting word from the attorney general on whether to order the rectory cleared out. The UNAM’s internal tribunal announced Tuesday that it had upheld the expulsion of the five CCH Naucalpan students. The protesting students said they would be willing to “liberate” the rectory tower by 5 p.m. Wednesday if their demands were met.