Europe: Call for withdrawing U.S. nukes

Up to 480 U.S. short-range nuclear weapons — about double previous estimates — are stationed under U.S. control at air bases in Germany, Britain, Italy, Belgium, Turkey and the Netherlands, the Natural Resources Defense Council says in a new report.

The report said nearly a third are earmarked for use by air forces of non-nuclear NATO countries. NRDC pointed out that this violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty and “expresses a double standard that conflicts with U.S. and European nuclear nonproliferation objectives to persuade countries such as Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.”

The NRDC is calling for withdrawal of all remaining nukes from Europe, an end to NATO’s assignment of nuclear strike missions to non-nuclear member states, and new efforts for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

Haiti: Emergency forum warns on press freedom

At an emergency forum Feb. 4 in Port-au-Prince, leaders of the Inter American Press Society Rafael Molina and Sergio Muñoz warned that freedom of the press is in great danger in Haiti, and sharply criticized the attitude of the U.S.-backed interim government.

The Haitian news agency AHP said the forum was organized in the midst of widespread protest over the Jan. 14 murder of journalist Abdias Jean while he was covering a police action in a working-class neighborhood of Port-au-Prince. Among other incidents: Guyler Delva, Reuters correspondent and head of the Association of Haitian Journalists, has received repeated death threats, and has been sharply criticized by Prime Minister La Tortue’s press office. On Jan. 14 two journalists from the newspaper Le Nouvelliste were severely beaten and police threatened and seized film from a team of reporters for a private TV station. The Aristide Foundation for Democracy’s radio and television facilities have been closed for eight months without official government explanation.

Canada: Wal-Mart to close union store

Wal-Mart said last week it plans to close its first unionized store in Jonquiere, Quebec, since it could not reach a first contract with its 190 workers that would allow it to be profitable.

United Food and Commercial Workers National Director Michael Fraser called the closing “clearly a violation of the workers’ right to join a union,” and said the union will file unfair labor practices charges.

The UFCW won certification at the Jonquiere store last August. Early this month the union requested binding arbitration after talks had broken down.

A second Wal-Mart has been certified in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, and applications for certification are pending or under appeal at 12 more stores in three provinces.

Guatemala: Trial halted in massacre case

Guatemala’s constitutional court has halted the trial of 16 soldiers charged in one of the worst massacres during the country’s civil war, BBC News reported. The court broke legal precedent to declare that a 1996 amnesty law covers massacre cases. Human rights groups called the decision disastrous. Appeals are expected, and other courts are considering similar issues.

Over 200 people died in 1982 when a Guatemalan army commando unit burst into the village of Dos Erres, searching for guerrilla supporters. A UN report said the commandos raped local women and used hammers for some killings.

Over 200,000 people are estimated to have died during the 36-year civil war, in which the U.S. backed the Guatemalan army.

Nigeria: Union warns vs. attacks on workers

PENGASSAN, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, has threatened to close any oil company whose management and/or expatriate staff induces armed police to harass or attack workers, the Lagos-based Vanguard said Feb. 9.

The union’s president, Dr. Brown Ogbeifun, said in an interview with Vanguard that expatriate staff would also be forced to leave the country.

His statements followed an incident in which it was alleged two expatriate management staff at WASCO Oil Tools made racial slurs against regional oil union leaders and induced armed police to attack them. The incident led to the threat of a national oil workers’ strike, later withdrawn.

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (mbechtel@pww.org).
Julia Lutsky and Tim Pelzer contributed to this week’s notes.

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