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As HABITAT Meets in Brazil Before Sports Evictions, No Angola Follow-up

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 3 -- While the UN talks a good game, often neither neither the past or future's solved. Taking UN HABITAT, which bragged on April 1 about its World Urban Forum in Brazil. Inner City Press asked, what about the threatened evictions for the upcoming World Cup and Olympics? We talked about that, was the answer. But what if any commitments were obtained?

  Previously, when HABITAT held an event in Angola, Inner City Press asked about evictions there. HABITAT responded that it chose to stay quiet, in exchange for a commitment that some percentage of Angola's oil would be devoted to poor housing.

  But the evictions have continued, have gotten worse in fact. Click here. When Inner City Press raised this on April 1, HABITAT's presented implied that the purpose of the evictions was to create better housing for the poor. Video here. But in fact in these evictions, no replacement housing was promised, no recompense for that destroyed.

  Twice, the HABITAT representatives highlighted that their conference was held in a previously derelict port area, and therefore did not itself displace people but rather "revitalized." One wonders of HABITAT's views on gentrification and other forms of displacement.

UN's Ban with Habitat in Kenya, evictions not shown

Just focusing on sports events, what did the UN or HABITAT do in the face of, according to the UN itself,

1.5 million people displaced for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. "Residents were relocated on a large scale. Mass evictions were reported, sometimes conduced by unidentified men."

2010 - World Cup in South Africa

More than 20,000 residents have been removed and transferred to impoverished areas of the city. The minister for Housing noted that plans to build thousands of low-cost housing units could be affected by changes in the demands of the World Cup budget.

2010 - Commonwealth Games in New Delhi

In New Delhi, India, 35,000 families were evicted from public land in preparation for the games.

Where is HABITAT on this? Watch this site.

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As Guatemalan President Admits Mining Abuse, Goldcorp Challenged, on Laws, of Wiretapping

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 17 -- Abuse by mining firms of rural Guatemala, particularly indigenous communities, has become systemic. Even President Alvaro Colom, when asked Wednesday by Inner City Press at the UN about the abuses had to admit that the current law "is not suitable." Video here, from Minute 18:32.

Inner City Press asked President Colom whether his government will respect the decision of several communities to be "mine free." Colom replied that "with respect to mines and the mining law, promoted in 1997, honestly, it's a bad law... Not only when it comes to royalties [but also] environment and natural resources [and] the rights of indigenous people to give their opinion."

Guatemala is a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of Indigenous People, and Colom says his government will abide by it. He said he has not issued a single new mining license. The former government, he said, did authorize many, some of which have been frozen.

  But not enough. In late 2009, for example, Maudilia Lopez Cardona and Carmen Mejia Aguilar on behalf of the residents of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, a municipality in southwestern Guatemala traveled to Canada to file a complaint with the government against Goldcorp.

They documented that Goldcorp's "Marlin mine contaminated water supplies and damaged homes while the company harassed protesters." The complaint was submitted under Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines for multinational firms. We'll see.

President Colom, pointing finger (elsewhere) at UN

 President Colom also spoke, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and then the Press, about the UN affiliated International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala. Inner City Press previously interviewed the head of CICIG Carlos Castresana on such topics as his prosecution of the murders of bus drivers and his advocacy for a wiretapping law.

President Colom on Wednesday, when Inner City Press asked about the rejection of the Commission's recommendation that three "corrupt" judges not be put on the Supreme Court, cited the Commission's work on the wiretapping law, as well as on an updated arms and munitions law. He said he did not intervene in the placing of the three judges on the court due to separation of powers. "If we don't want impunity, we have to respect the division of powers," he said. Again, we'll see.

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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