Somalia: News from the Battle for Kismayo

Somalia: Somali and Kenyan Forces Battle Al Shabaab for the Coveted Kismayo

Afmadow, Somalia — Somali and African Union forces battled with Al Shabaab forces in the town of Birta Dheer 70 kms away from the Al Shabaab controlled port city of Kismayo, Garowe Online reports.
Somali government forces and Raskamboni militia alongside Kenyan forces battled Al Shabaab furiously leading to over 16 deaths and more than 30 injuries Wednesday morning.
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces stated that the operation on an Al Shabaab post in the district of Afmadow in the lower Jubba region was successful leading to the deaths of over 16 Al Shabaab militants although he did not speak about government casualties.
Sources indicate that the Somali forces that were battling Al Shabaab Wednesday morning were assisted by Kenyan planes.

More here:




HRW calls for an independent inquiry in Mombasa

Police Must Continue to Comply With Law Responding to Unrest

(Mombasa) – The Kenyan government should establish an independent inquiry into the killing of Aboud Rogo, a controversial cleric, on August 27, 2012, and subsequent riots in Mombasa.

Rogo, who was facing charges of illegal possession of weapons and recruiting for the Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab, was shot to death in his car while he was driving outside Mombasa. Following his burial later in the afternoon of August 27, riots erupted across the Mombasa town center and continued on August 28. Cars were set alight, several churches were vandalized, and at least two people were killed. One was a prison officer working with the police to contain the riots and the other a civilian killed by rioters. Police told reporters that they arrested 22 people in connection with the riots.

“The killing of Aboud Rogo is a serious crime that needs speedy independent and impartial investigation,” said
Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “In the meantime, police should continue to stick within the law in confronting the riots sparked by Rogo’s death.”

Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that an unmarked vehicle overtook the car Rogo was driving with six passengers, including his wife, on Malindi road on August 27 and that two gunmen opened fire at close range. Rogo was shot in the head and died at the scene. His wife was also shot and is in a hospital.

The riots were in the Majengo and Kisauni areas of Mombasa. At least 24 people were admitted to hospitals with injuries related to the unrest, with three people critically injured, media reported. Youths interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they were protesting the suspected involvement of the Kenyan authorities in Rogo’s death.

Rogo’s killing follows the abductions and deaths earlier this year of several other people charged with recruitment and other offenses related to al-Shabaab.

In March, Samir Khan, who was also charged with possession of illegal firearms and recruiting for al-Shabaab, and his friend Mohammed Kassim were pulled from a public bus in Mombasa by men who stopped the bus and identified themselves as police officers, Khan’s lawyer, Mbugua Mureithi, told Human Rights Watch. Khan’s body was found, badly mutilated, a few days later in Tsavo national park. Kassim’s whereabouts remain unknown. Kassim had previously been abducted in Nairobi in February, under unclear circumstances, but was released after his captors interrogated him. Police briefed journalists at the time, saying he had been arrested by the Anti Terror Police Unit, but they later denied arresting him.

Rogo had complained of police threats before his death and requested protection. On July 24, Rogo had reported to the police, the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights, and the court in which he was being tried for recruiting for al-Shabaab, that unknown assailants had attempted to abduct him and his co-accused Abubakar Shari Ahmed when they arrived in Nairobi for the court hearing. He swore an affidavit that men in civilian clothes who claimed to be police officers tried to force the two men into an unmarked car. He said that he and Ahmed had challenged the men to produce identification and that passers-by helped the two men resist being forced into the car.

Mureithi, who is also Rogo’s lawyer, sought an assurance from the prosecution that the attempted abduction would be investigated and that Rogo’s security would be assured. The court ordered the Officer Commanding Station of Kamkunji police station to investigate. Mureithi told Human Rights Watch that Rogo frequently expressed concern about being followed by police and spoke of threats from known police agents who he said told him that, “The state will find a way of dealing with you.” Rogo had requested that the case be transferred to Mombasa where he felt safer and where he was also facing other charges for illegal possession of weapons and explosives.

Rogo was on United States and United Nations sanctions lists for alleged support of al-Shabaab. In 2005 he was acquitted on murder charges related to the 2002 attack on a hotel in Mombasa, which killed 12 people.

According to the Mombasa-based human rights group Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI) four people have disappeared after being arrested by the police during 2012. MUHURI and the Muslim Human Rights Forum (MHRF) have accounts from witnesses who said that the abductors identified themselves as police officers before taking away Ngoy Moise Kayembe and Shani Marove Lydia in February and Musa Osodo and Jacob Musyoka Matheka in Molo in May.

Osodo was facing charges in a Mombasa court for membership of al-Shabaab and was one of six suspects charged with killing a police officer. Two of his co-defendants, Steven Mwandi Osaka and Jeremiah Onyango Okumu, disappeared in June, also after being pulled from a public bus in Mombasa by men in civilian clothes. They have not been seen since.

Police claim to be investigating Khan’s murder and the disappearance of the others.

“The abductions, disappearances, and in some cases murder of people who are thought to be linked to al-Shabaab is incredibly disturbing,” Lefkow said. “The Kenya police are facing a crisis of confidence in Mombasa. The government needs to act swiftly to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these crimes.”

The killing and the disappearances highlight the need for urgent completion of police reforms, including the setting up of the National Police Service Commission that is responsible for investigating the police, and that was supposed to be operational earlier this year.

The riots that began on August 27 continued throughout August 28. Two churches were attacked. One was set on fire and one was looted of electrical equipment. Shops and two cars were set on fire and burning tires placed in the road in several areas of town. Police engaged in running battles with rioters, firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Prison officers were brought in as reinforcements. Twenty-four people were admitted to hospitals by the afternoon of August 28. The prison officer was killed and 12 others injured when youths threw a grenade at a patrol in the Kisauni area of Mombasa.

The deputy provincial police officer, second in command in Coast province, told Human Rights Watch that police were trying to contain the violence with “minimum force” but would not rule out the use of live ammunition. The UN standards on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials state that, “In the dispersal of violent assemblies, law enforcement officials may use firearms only when less dangerous means are not practicable and only to the minimum extent necessary.”

“So far the police appear to have exercised admirable restraint in confronting the insecurity in Mombasa,” Lefkow said. “Now they need to use precision and intelligence to pursue the people who caused the violence, avoiding indiscriminate actions.”


HRW reports torture and rape in Ethiopia by the military

Ethiopia: Army Commits Torture, Rape
Gambella Atrocities Follow Attack on Commercial Farm; New ‘Villagization’ Abuses

(Nairobi, August 28, 2012) – The Ethiopian military responded to an April 2012 attack on a large commercial farm in Gambella region with arbitrary arrests, rape, and other abuses against scores of local villagers, Human Rights Watch said today. Forced displacement, inadequate resources, and other abuses against Gambella’s population persist in the second year of the government’s “villagization” program, Human Rights Watch said.

On April 28, 2012, unidentified armed men attacked the compound of Saudi Star Agricultural Development Plc., a company that has leased thousands of hectares of land for rice farming in Gambella region. The gunmen killed at least one Pakistani and four Ethiopian employees. Gambella residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch said that in the following days and weeks, Ethiopian soldiers went house to house looking for the gunmen in villages near the Saudi Star camp, arbitrarily arresting and beating young men and raping female relatives of suspects.

The attack on Saudi Star was a criminal act but it does not justify reprisals against Gambella’s population,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Ethiopian government should put an immediate end to abuses by the military in the region and investigate and prosecute soldiers found responsible for these heinous acts, regardless of rank.”

Human Rights Watch has previously reported on the Ethiopian government’s policy of “villagization” or resettlement of Gambella residents from their traditional lands to clear the way for the commercial farms. The government has used threats, intimidation, and violence against those who resist moving.

Hundreds of villagers from Abobo woreda (district) fled the military operation and crossed into neighboring South Sudan in the months since the attack on Saudi Star. In June Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 80 recent arrivals from Gambella in South Sudan.

Witnesses described to Human Rights Watch the military’s human rights abuses against people in the vicinity of Saudi Star. The day after the Saudi Star attack, Ethiopian soldiers shot and killed four of the company’s Anuak guards, accusing them of complicity in the attack. In April and May Ethiopian security forces entered the five villages closest to the Saudi Star compound in Abobo
woreda, rounded up scores of young men and detained them in military barracks in Gambella. Many alleged that they were tortured.

One former detainee told Human Rights Watch: “They said we were to go into the bush and show them where the rebels are – with whom they claimed we had a relationship. They beat me after I said I didn’t know where the rebels are. After they beat me they took me to the barracks. I was in custody for three days. At night they took me out and asked me to show them where the rebels are. I said I don’t know. So they beat me and took off their sock and put it in my mouth to stop the screams.”

Human Rights Watch heard six accounts from women and girls of rape by soldiers either in their homes or in detention, when the soldiers could not find the male relatives they were seeking.

Numerous credible sources in Gambella believe the April attack is linked to the government’s villagization program and the leases of land. The attack followed a March 12 attack by armed men on a bus in Gambella in which 19 people were killed. It is not clear whether the two incidents are linked.

The gunmen who carried out the attacks have not publicly identified themselves or their motives, but one man interviewed by Human Rights Watch claimed to have been among the group who attacked the Saudi Star compound. He said that the April attack was in retaliation for the land leasing by Saudi Star and other foreign investors in Gambella region.

Most of the attackers were reportedly captured in May by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Pochalla, South Sudan following a gun battle that left four of the attackers and two SPLA soldiers dead. Tensions have remained high in Gambella since.

“The military’s abusive response to the Saudi Star attack is only making an already turbulent situation in Gambella worse,” Lefkow said. “After what the people in the region have suffered at the government’s hands, the only thing that will begin to clear the air is a comprehensive and independent inquiry into the situation.”

Villagers who recently fled Gambella to South Sudan reported new abuses by the security forces under the villagization program. They reported a persistent lack of services in the sites to which they had been moved, despite government pledges to provide them. And existing villages from where people were moved are being destroyed to prevent people from returning to their original homes.

Human Rights Watch urged the Ethiopian government to stop the arbitrary arrests, beatings, and intimidation of Gambella residents and to release those who have been arbitrarily detained. The government should investigate and prosecute military personnel and officials implicated in human rights violations associated with the villagization process, Human Rights Watch said.

Many of those forcibly displaced by the villagization program are indigenous people. Under Ethiopian and international law the Ethiopian government needs to obtain the free, informed, and prior consent of indigenous people it wishes to move and compensate them for their loss of assets and land.

“The abuses we found in the government’s relocation program in Gambella a year ago are still happening today,” Lefkow said. “Whatever the government’s rationale for ‘villagization,’ it doesn’t justify beatings and torture.”

Details about arbitrary arrests, beatings, and torture; rape and sexual violence; and attacks and “villagization” in Gambella follow.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Ethiopia, please visit:

Arbitrary Arrests, Beatings, and Torture

Between June 23 and June 29, Human Rights Watch conducted a research mission to Gorom refugee settlement, South Sudan, and interviewed 80 people who had fled the crackdown and villagization in Gambella.

Several dozen Gambella residents described to Human Rights Watch the Ethiopian military’s mass detention of scores of villagers, primarily young men, in Abobo
woreda in late April and May, accusing the villagers of supporting what the soldiers referred to as “the rebels.” They said that men, women, and children were forced to march through the bush looking for so-called rebels and were beaten if they did not find any, or if they did not provide any names of suspects to the soldiers.

One man described being stopped by soldiers while carrying food, and then being forced to help them search for firearms in Perbong village near the Saudi Star farm. “The [soldiers] asked me ‘Where are you taking this food? To the rebels?’” he told Human Rights Watch. “They checked the food, told me to lie down, and beat me all over my back. [They said]: ‘We will take you to Perbong to check houses one by one. If we find a gun, we will kill you.’ So we went to the community leader’s house, my house, and others’ houses and they found nothing, so they released me.”

A dozen villagers said they were detained, then beaten and tortured in military barracks by soldiers until they revealed a name of an alleged rebel. Most victims described frequent beatings with sticks and rifle butts. Some also saw or experienced other forms of torture.

An 18-year-old named Omot told Human Rights Watch that in April he was arrested by soldiers in his home village and accused of being a rebel. He was taken with his arms tied behind his back to the military barracks in Pugnido where he was detained for two months. He said he was beaten daily on his back and legs with truncheons. After his release soldiers came to his home and threatened him again, causing him to flee to South Sudan.

A local police officer described being arrested by soldiers and accused of supporting the rebels. Soldiers detained him in Gambella’s military barracks where they tied him up and beat him repeatedly, often at the urging of a federal government security official who told them, “Beat him, he has something to say.” After his release the soldiers came to his home and beat him unconscious in front of his wife. His wife said the soldiers beat their four year old son in front of them. The family fled to South Sudan.

Ethiopian soldiers detained and tortured people in locations in addition to the military barracks. One witness said he was detained in a makeshift prison within a school in Chobo-Mender and witnessed soldiers torturing a young man by making him walk on hot coals. He told Human Rights Watch:
“I saw a young guy who was forced to stand barefoot on fire coals for 15 minutes. Soldiers would push him back on whenever he would try to get off. He was blistered half way up his calves. ‘I am going to die,’ he would say. ‘Then show us where the rebels are,’ said the soldiers.”

Another local police officer described being beaten and tortured inside Saudi Star’s compound by Ethiopian soldiers shortly after the attack: “They said to us, ‘As people are being killed, yet you have not died, you must know who was behind this.’ So they took me to the Saudi Star farm and beat me there, inside the compound. There were many of us there: two police and others who had been picked up in the sweep. When they saw that I was not ready to talk, to say what they wanted me to say, they started removing my toenails. They were asking a lot of questions about the others who died: ‘Don’t you know who did the killing?’”

All youth appear to be at risk from the soldiers. An 18-year-old student at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia’s capital said that soldiers beat him and his friends when he returned to Gambella for a vacation shortly after the Saudi Star attacks. After showing his student ID card he was told by soldiers: “You are educated, you know all the political issues and things about governments so you are the ones encouraging the rebels.” They beat him unconscious.

Rape and Sexual Violence
Ethiopian soldiers frequently arrested and abused the female family members of young men they were seeking. Three women and a girl told Human Rights Watch that soldiers arrested, detained, beat, and then raped them to pressure them to disclose their male relatives’ whereabouts. Two additional women said that they witnessed other women being raped in detention.

One woman said her husband had been arrested after the attacks because “the soldiers said he knew where the rebels were.” When she went to the prisons to try and find him, soldiers followed her back to her home and raped her, she said. Her husband’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Another woman described what happened after soldiers arrested her in Wancarmie and took her to the military barracks in Gambella: “One night they took me out of the cell and said, ‘Show us where your husband is or else we will rape you.’ I persisted saying that I didn’t know where he was. Then finally they raped me. After that they released me and I decided to leave the country.”

Attacks and “Villagization” in Gambella
After the attack on the Saudi Star compound the Ethiopian military targeted five villages, all within a 16-kilometer radius of the area leased by the company. These villages had been affected by Ethiopia’s controversial “villagization” program, a three-year plan to relocate 225,000 people in Gambella – and over 1.5 million people across four states nationally – from their existing villages into new settlements purportedly to better provide them with basic services.

Human Rights Watch documented serious human rights violations associated with the first year of the villagization program in Gambella in 2011. The January 2012 report Waiting Here for Death”: Displacement and “Villagization” in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region described how the Ethiopian government and military forced reluctant villagers to leave their homes and build new villages in arid, infertile areas, often intimidating, arresting, and beating people who refused to move. The most abuses were recorded in Abobo woreda, the location of the Saudi Star concession.

Many of the recently arrived villagers in South Sudan interviewed by Human Rights Watch in June said they had fled Gambella because of abuses experienced in connection with the villagization program, as well as the recent military operations following the Saudi Star attack.

They described new abuses in the second year of the government’s villagization program, including forced displacement, arbitrary arrests, and torture in detention. The new settlements are located far from water sources and the land is typically dry and arid. More than a year after people were forced to move to these villages virtually none of the promised basic services such as schools and clinics have been provided. To prevent resettled villagers from returning to their original homes soldiers have allegedly been destroying infrastructure in the old locations.

All of the Gambella residents interviewed by Human Rights Watch and who fled to South Sudan told Human Rights Watch that their resettlement was involuntary.

A 17-year-old girl from Abobo woreda who had recently arrived in South Sudan said that soldiers killed her father when he refused to move from their farm near Tegne to the new village: “We were sitting at our farm and soldiers came up to us: ‘Do you accept to be relocated or not?’ ‘No.’ So they grabbed some of us. ‘Do you want to go now?’ ‘No.’ Then they shot my father and killed him. We all fled into the bush. I still do not know where my sister or husband is.”

Human Rights Watch found that regional and state government officials appear to have a role in the forcible relocation of villagers. The former committee head responsible for villagization in Gog woreda told Human Rights Watch: “I was told [by regional officials] to make the community aware of the need to move. All the responses from the people were rejections, they did not like it. We went back and did our report [to the regional parliament] that they did not want to go. Parliament blamed me and said, ‘Why do you tell us this? Go do it by force.’ [A senior state official] said this to me directly. We then went with the military and did it by force.”

Villagers who have been unwilling to move or refuse to mobilize others to do so have been arrested and mistreated by the soldiers. An elder from Batpul village said he was ordered by
woreda officials to organize the villagers and persuade them to relocate. “There were many trees and food in the old place and nothing in the new place so I refused to get them to agree,” he said. “Government officials told me, ‘Since you do not accept what government says, we jail you.’” The elder was jailed in Abobo for 17 days. “They turned me upside down, tied my legs to a pole, and beat me every day for 17 days until I was released.”

Soldiers burned down tukuls (huts) and broke water pumps in the original villages as soon as villagers were moved to their new locations, the displaced villagers told Human Rights Watch.

One man from the Majangere ethnic group, who lived in Gooshini village in Godere
woreda, described the forced relocation in his village: “Those that resisted the second time were forced by soldiers to roll around in the mud in a stagnant water pool then beaten.” He said he returned to his old village after dark for seven nights before deciding to flee to South Sudan. Each night he saw that more and more of his village’s farmland had been cleared by the bulldozers of an Ethiopian investor who had been awarded the land by the government.
Laetitia Bader
Human Rights Watch

News From Kenya: Ongoing violence in Mombasa

 The BBC has been reporting violence in Mombasa, on the Kenya coast for two days. They are apparently linked to the assassination of a muslim cleric reported to be promoting Al Shabaab...

Kenya cleric killing: Grenade attack on Mombasa police

"A grenade has been thrown at police in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, reportedly killing two people and wounding 16.
Muslim youths have been involved in running battles with the police since Monday after the murder of radical preacher Aboud Rogo Mohammed.
Mr Rogo, who the US accuses of backing Islamist fighters in Somalia, was killed in a drive-by shooting".

Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga has appealed for calm, saying the country should avoid an "inter-religious war".

"Let's act with restraint as law enforcement agencies get to the root of the matter," he said.
"We urge Muslims and Christians not to fight."

Keep on reading on the BBC website:


Somalia's new speaker is Mohamed Osman Jawari

Latest news on Somalia's political transition:

 Somali MPs choose Mohamed Osman Jawari as speaker

 BBC News -

"Former minister Mohamed Osman Jawari has been elected as Somalia's speaker of parliament in the latest step in a UN process to end decades of war", wrote the BBC today.

"Mr Jawari was chosen by MPs, who were sworn in last week. His rivals all withdrew from the race. He is from the Rahanweyn clan, meaning outgoing speaker Shariff Hassan Sheik Adan is unlikely to be president when that post is filled in the coming days".

More here:




Cronicas Amexicanas: Even from Home...

I am organising my trip to Amexica... and there are already ways to extend it when I come back...

The literary festival America is organise late September near Paris and will be gathering many Mexican and Argentinean artists for the occasion.

One of the events is a meeting around Tango.

Rencontre autour du Tango Argentin


Here is the presentation:

"Le tango, c'est bien connu, a commencé par être l'objet de tous les scandales.
Avant de figurer dans les grands salons de danse du monde occidental, il s’est épanoui dans les quartiers populaires de Buenos Aires. Au début du XXe siècle, c’est dans les cafés mal famés et les lupanars de la capitale argentine qu’on le danse.
S’y retrouvent aussi bien les immigrés de toute l'Europe, qui ont connu l'exploitation et s'en échappent par le tango, que les hommes et les femmes de la bonne société venus là s’encanailler. Si bien que s’intéresser au tango, c’est s’immerger dans la réalité sociale et politique du « melting pot » argentin.
Danse corporelle, provocante, le tango fascine, et nous plonge au cœur de l’histoire métissée de l’Argentine.
L’écrivaine Elsa Osorio, l’ethnomusicologue Michel Plisson, les danseuses Sol et Mariana Bustelo partageront, le temps d’une rencontre, leur passion pour cette danse magnétique".


Other debates will include Mexican writers such as Eduardo Antonio PARRA - see here:


And a special events dedicated to Mexico and Mexican literature:

dimanche 23 septembre 2012 de 12h00 à 13h0
 "En 2010, le Mexique fêtait le 200e anniversaire de son indépendance. Or, l’histoire de ce vaste pays d’Amérique Latine contient bien des civilisations brillantes – Mayas, Olmèques, Toltèques, Aztèques – auxquelles la conquête espagnole mis un terme dans le sang. Plus proches de nous, les différents épisodes révolutionnaires qui émaillent l’histoire du Mexique au XIXème et au 20ème siècle ont marqué l’imaginaire de plusieurs générations de lecteurs et de cinéphiles. Que dire de sa capitale, Mexico, ville monstre de 25 millions d’habitants sapée par la violence des gangs et des narcotrafiquants, la corruption et la pauvreté d’une grande partie de la population. La littérature s’est emparée de cette violence originelle, l’interroge pour tenter d’en comprendre les mécanismes, l’illustre dans une production souvent sombre mais jamais dénuée d’humour et de compassion. Trois écrivains viendront partager avec nous leur Mexique intime, Sabina Berman, David Toscana et Eduardo Antonio Parra".

I'll be there...


Latest news on Somalia's political selection - Aug 26

UN representative to Somalia concerned by slow political transition, wants deadlines met

By Associated Press, Published: August 26

KAMPALA, Uganda — The U.N. representative to Somalia said he is “deeply concerned by the ongoing delays” in choosing all the 275 members of parliament who will select a new Somali president.
Somali elders must select the legislators ahead of the planned election on Aug. 28 of a speaker and a deputy, U.N. Special Representative Augustine Mahiga said on Saturday.

Mahiga said there was no “time for delay,” and urged the technical committee and elders compiling the list of parliamentarians to “continue working together in a spirit of mutual trust and flexibility to fulfill their responsibilities as defined in the protocols.”

In an exercise praised by the U.N. as a “watershed moment” in Somalia’s road to peace and stability, 215 Somali lawmakers were sworn in on Aug. 20, the day the mandate of Somalia’s eight-year-old caretaker government expired. It also was the day a new president was to be selected, but those hopes were dashed by political bickering, seat-buying schemes and threats of violence.

Somalia’s intricate clan politics and loyalties must be navigated in the selection of the country’s next leaders. A clan that wins the post of speaker, for example, is not eligible to get the presidency. Somali elders are tasked with naming a full parliament, since a general election is impossible because of the country’s chronic insecurity.

The current political process has been undemocratic, “with unprecedented levels of political interference, corruption and intimidation,” according to the International Crisis Group.

It remains unclear when a new president will be sworn in. Nick Birnback, a spokesman for the U.N. mission to Somalia, said last week that this would happen later in August or in early September. But the International Crisis Group predicted that it would not be until October that a full government is seated. After the president is elected, he must appoint a prime minister who then assembles a Cabinet.

Somalia, which has lacked a stable government since 1991, has seen improved stability recently as government forces and African Union troops pushed the al-Shabab militants out of the capital Mogadishu in August 2011. Although there is the occasional terrorist attack, the city is returning to life.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Cronicas Mexicanas: Mestizaje

"Une des choses qui définit le Mexique, vraiment, c'est le métissage",

Alberto RUY SANCHEZ, ecrivain mexicain, auteur de 'A mon corps désirant', sur France Culture:


Sur les liens entre le Mexique et les cultures espagnoles, marocaines, africaines.


Sur Alberto Sanchez:



Cronicas Mexicanas: Literature is travel...

"Habitué à la parfaite symétrie des tracés parisiens, Alex commença par se sentir désorienté par le chaos urbain du District Fédéral, puis il trouva cela déplaisant, mais il finit par en être fasciné. Mexico lui parut une ville sans limites, livrée à sa propre vitesse, ayant perdu ses freins, prête à rivaliser avec l'infini, remplissant le moindre espace vide, avec n'importe quoi, murets, bicoques, gratte-ciel, toits de tôle, murs de carton, monceaux d'ordures, ruelles sordides, panneau publicitaire sur panneau publicitaire..." 

Carlos Fuentes, 'La Buena Compania', Gallimard, traduction de Céline Zins

Call to photographers in France and Europe

Appel à candidatures 2013


L'association Fetart lance la 3eme édition du Festival Circulation(s), Festival de la jeune photographie européenne qui se déroulera en fev-mars 2013 à Paris. Le parrain de cette édition est François Cheval, Directeur du Musée Nicéphore Niépce.

Dédié à la jeune photographie européenne, Circulation(s) a pour vocation de fédérer et de créer un réseau d’acteurs européens du monde de l’image partageant la même ambition que celle de Fetart : aider les jeunes photographes à s’insérer dans le monde professionnel.

Cette nouvelle édition présentera un panorama représentatif de la nouvelle génération de photographes au travers d’expositions. Dans ce cadre, Fetart lance un appel à candidature européen pour sélectionner les photographes qui participeront à Circulation(s) #3. 

Date limite d’envoi des candidatures : 20 septembre 2012 

N'hésitez pas à faire suivre l'information !

Retrouvez toutes les informations sur le site du festival www.festival-circulations.com 


L'appel à candidature est ouvert à tous les photographes européens ou résidants en Europe. Il n'y a pas de limite d'âge.


Les frais d'inscription concernant la candidature sont de 5 euros. Vous pouvez :
– soit payer en espèce ou par chèque : joindre les 5 euros (chèque ou espèce) dans l’enveloppe de votre dossier ;
– soit payer par Paypal à l'adresse suivante : candidature@fetart.org.
Fetart prend en charge le tirage des photographies des artistes dans la limite de 20 tirages par artiste (le contrecollage selon le
Le tirage se fera EXCLUSIVEMENT sur Paris courant janvier 2012.
Les artistes retenus qui ne sont pas domiciliés sur Paris S'ENGAGENT à envoyer les images en haute définition pour effectuer les
tirages à une date qui leur sera indiquée par l'association Fetart, à la même adresse que leur candidature. 


Fetart étant une association à but non lucratif fonctionnant sur le principe du bénévolat, le transport des photographes (et celui des oeuvres le cas échéant) ainsi que leur logement pendant la durée de l'exposition sera à la charge financière des artistes.

Les membres de l'association peuvent cependant aider les photographes à trouver un lieu d'hébergement sur Paris.
Date limite d'envoi des candidatures : 20 septembre 2012.


Cronicas Amexicanas

It's time to be serious about this western call... 

If I travel to Mexico, I figured out it might be a good idea to stop in the US before hand. To get an introduction, a taste of the Mexican community in New York City. I am going to Amexica after all...

Of course, some might say this travel should go through California and New Mexico but my time is limited and let's remember one fact: I still do not drive.

So a shorter flight to Amexica might involve a stopover in NYC before I head to MEX.


I want to explore Mexican New York!

According to the New York Times, "in the past two decades, the Mexican population in New York City has grown more than fivefold, with immigrants settling across the five boroughs". But the younger generation struggles to get work or education... Read here:

In 2003, the Teachers College at Columbia University stated that "Mexicans (were) New York City's Fastest Growing Ethnic Group":

The growth is due to immigration and "most immigrants come from rural areas near Mexico City", the article added, underlining that "Mexican New Yorkers are mostly young and unskilled".

This research paper shows that more than 60 percent of all Mexican New Yorkers reside in Queens and Brooklyn, although there are significant populations in the Bronx and in Manhattan. Within Brooklyn, "the neighbourhoods of Sunset Park and Bushwick have major Mexican populations". In Queens, "Elmhurst, North Corona and Jackson Heights have the highest concentrations of Mexicans, and East Harlem hosts Manhattan's largest Mexican community".


From "Sunset Park", Faber and Faber, to Sunset Park, Brooklyn

 I have been willing to go around Sunset Park for more than a year, since I had been reading one of my favourite American writer Paul Auster's latest novel named like the famous Brooklyn neighbourhood.

The novel virtually took me back to Miami (where I lived in 2008) before heading to New York and Brooklyn specifically... 


The other unmissable place seems to be the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, in Midtown...

And the Mano Mano Cultural centre:

I guess I know where I am going to head once in New York!

Literature is travel and travel is literature...

 To Be Continued.


PS. I found that book...


Somalia: U.S. AFRICOM Commander Reports Progress Against al-Shabab

Latest press release from the US Commandement in Africa:

U.S. AFRICOM Commander Reports Progress Against al-Shabab in Africa
08:14 GMT, August 23, 2012

THEBEPHATSHWA AIR BASE | Calling the elimination of safe havens and support for terrorist groups in Africa his top priority, the commander of U.S. Africa Command reported that U.S. support for Somalia’s military has had a direct impact in degrading the al-Shabab terror organization there.

“The performance of African militaries in Somalia … has been extraordinary,” Army Gen. Carter F. Ham told Soldiers Radio and Television Service reporter Gail McCabe during closing ceremonies for exercise Southern Accord here.

Ham noted the U.S. government role in training and equipping these forces and the impact it has had in increasing the African partners’ counterterrorism capabilities.

“They really have degraded the capability of al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate operating in Somalia, where most of Somali territory is no longer receptive to al-Shabab,” he said. “They certainly still have some strong points, but are [al-Shabab is] greatly diminished over the last year, because of the role of Africans.”

While holding up Somalia as a positive trend on the continent, Ham acknowledged progress elsewhere remains mixed. He noted Mali, where about two-thirds of the country “is essentially outside the control of the interim government … and is largely controlled by transnational terrorist organizations.”

Ham called the terrorist threat his most pressing challenge. “In fact, I would say it is my highest priority, as the geographic combatant commander, … to protect America, Americans and American interests from threats that emerge from the continent of Africa,” he said. “And at present, the most dangerous of those threats are transnational terrorists.”

Countering this threat is the common denominator that drives Ham’s theater engagement strategy and its broad array of operations, exercises and security cooperation programs. This includes teaching partner nations how to improve their border security, intelligence and tactical capabilities and equipping African nations so they can operate more effectively.

It’s an effort Ham said involves the entire U.S. interagency – the departments of State, Commerce, Treasury and Justice, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other organizations – as they coordinate efforts to help address the underlying causes that create an environment where terrorists can operate.

The president’s recently released policy directive for sub-Saharan Africa recognizes the importance of security in advancing economic development that lays the foundation for democracy, Ham noted.

“The two are interrelated,” he said. “You can’t really have good, strong economic development if there is not security and stability.”

So Africom focuses on helping African partners promote security and stability. “We think it is important that we help African nations develop their own capabilities to provide their own security and also to begin the capability to contribute more expansively to regional security,” Ham said.

U.S. engagements in Africa, such as Southern Accord, are tailored to help partners build capacity and to respect the rule of law, the general said. "What we are really trying to do is help you build security forces that are not only tactically capable, but forces that are genuinely responsive to legitimate civilian control – that operate according to the rule of law and see themselves as servants of that nation,’” he explained. “And we are seeing that over and over again, and we certainly see that here in Botswana.”

Promoting that kind of engagement requires close relationships that are built over time. “It is all about relationships,” Ham said. “It is the ability to talk to a chief of defense or minister of defense and in some cases, heads of state to convey to them what it is that we are trying to do, and make sure they understand that we … don’t want to do anything that they don’t want us to do.”

A true partnership benefits all the participants, Ham said, recognizing the gains both U.S. service members and Botswana Defense Force members received as they worked together during Southern Accord.

Ham said he’s sometimes asked why what the United States needs a combatant command focused on Africa and why what happens in Africa matters to the United States. “I could easily say there are a billion reasons,” he said, recognizing the African continent’s population.

But also citing global economies and the global nature of security challenges, Ham emphasized that “what happens in Africa affects us in the United States.”

“So I think there is a whole host of reasons why America and Americans should care about advancing our interests in Africa,” he said. “And security is one component of an overall U.S. approach.”

Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service


Human Rights Watch on Ethiopia: Transition Should Support Human Rights Reform

Ethiopia: Transition Should Support Human Rights Reform
Release Political Prisoners, Repeal Restrictive Laws, Reform Legislation
(Nairobi, August 21, 2012) – Ethiopia’s new leadership should commit to fundamental human rights reforms in the wake of the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Human Rights Watch said today. Meles’s death was announced by the Ethiopian state media on August 21, 2012.

Ethiopia’s international partners should call on the government to support fundamental rights and freedoms in the country and a prompt rollback of repressive laws, Human Rights Watch said.

“Ethiopia’s government should commit to respect for human rights and core rights reforms in the coming days and weeks,” said
Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The country’s new leadership should reassure Ethiopians by building on Meles’s positive legacy while reversing his government’s most pernicious policies.”

Meles had been in power since 1991, when the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) lead a coalition of armed opposition groups in overturning the rule of Mengistu
Haile Mariam.

Meles leaves a mixed legacy on human rights, Human Rights Watch said. Under his leadership the country has experienced significant, albeit uneven, economic development and progress. At the same time – particularly since the controversial 2005 elections – Ethiopia has seen a sharp deterioration in civil and political rights, with mounting restrictions on freedom of expression, association, and assembly. The ruling party has increasingly consolidated its power, weakening the independence of core institutions such as the judiciary and the independent media that are crucial to the rule of law, Human Rights Watch said.

“Ethiopia’s leadership should demonstrate its commitment to human rights reform by taking urgent steps to amend or repeal some of the most damaging legislation, including its anti-terrorism laws and restrictions on civil society,” Lefkow said. “It should release the scores of political prisoners who are unlawfully detained and make clear that the transition will result in a meaningful opening of political space.”


Cronicas Mexicanas - Prelude: I want to be a capsicum

So I have a new travel project which is to travel the continent I still haven't visited and long dreamt about: Latina America.



Doing some research, I found on the Lonely Planet introduction guide to Mexico, my Amexica, those ferw sentences that are striking lots of points with me:

"Mexico is a great country for making plans as you go. You can just pick a spot on the map. hop on a plane or bus or get in the car, and enjoy choosing what to do when you get there"...

"Mexico offers so many wonderful things to see and do that you’re guaranteed to want to fit more in".

"These are times to put the guidebook down and do your own exploring".

"WHEN TO GO: No time is a bad time to visit Mexico"...


The term Amexica comes from the book's title by Ed Vulliamy, 'Amexica: War Along the Borderline',
a investigation on the US-Mexico 'war on drugs. I love the word, which reflectsthe link between the US and Mexico in North America.

If you want to know more about the book, you can watch this debate filmed at the Frontline Club, early July:

Or read the review from The Guardian:


The Taste of Mexico

I found this beautiful text in this wonderful review 'Long Cours' about a chef looking for the different tastes of chilis/capsicum among hundreds of species in Mexico:

The article ends with this beautiful statement: "Le piment a fait le tour du monde", the chili/capsicum has been all around the world... I want to be a capsicum!


TRAVEL LITERATURE - Recommendations from Lonely planet

God’s Middle Finger Richard Grant risks his life to find out what’s really going on in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Great stuff – but don’t let it spook you! (Published in the UK as Bandit Roads.)

In the Sierra Madre Jeff Biggers spends a year living with the Rarámuri of the Copper Canyon. An informative and touching book.

Tequila Oil Hugh Thomson takes a tequila-inspired drive through 1970s small-town Mexico to sell his car in Central America – and returns 30 years later to find out more about the places he passed through.

Sliced Iguana Isabella Tree takes peyote with the Huichol and meets the matriarchs of Juchitán in this warm account of Mexico and its indigenous cultures.

The Lawless Roads Graham Greene wandered through Mexico to Chiapas in the 1930s, a time of conflict between Catholics and an atheistic state.

Time Among the Maya Ronald Wright investigates the Maya concept of time and their tragic modern history.

A Visit to Don Otavio Sybille Bedford’s witty and lyrical tale of travels in the now-vanished Mexico of the 1950s is still surprisingly relevant.

Tarahumara – Where Night is the Day of the Moon Bernard

Somalia has a new Parliament

It is a historical step for Somalia. The country has managed to elect its new parliament yesterday, August 20th, 2012, after more than two decades of civial war, chaos, terrorism and lawlessness.

As the Associated Press reported: "Somalia's chief justice on Monday swore in 215 new members of parliament, an accomplishment but one that fell far short of U.N. hopes that the Horn of Africa nation would seat a full 275-member parliament that would vote in a new president".

You can read the entire article here:


As it is, the political process in the country is moving but obviously not fast enough nor without complication.

On the BBC, Mary Harper, Somalia's export for the World Service, explains well that the date of 20 August 2012 "is key for two main reasons": it "marks the end of the mandate of Somalia's transitional government. And, perhaps more significantly, the first parliament chosen in Somalia is to sit in Mogadishu for more than two decades".

Read more here:

But observers are already worried that the process might be delayed for too long and less than fair. The maning for the 215 MPs has already been conflicting and remains the top position in the next governement to name... 

On our website, BBC Afrique, Roland Marchal, CERI, on Somalia's political process (in French):

More soon.

 Read also if you will the declaration fromt he UK's Ambassy in Somalia here:

Cronicas Mexicanas: L'appel de Mexico


Si vous êtes ressortissant français vous n'avez pas besoin de visa pour vous rendre au Mexique en visite touristique. Sur présentation de votre passeport dont la validité doit être d’au moins six mois supérieure à la durée du séjour prévue et de votre billet d’avion aller-retour, il vous est délivré un formulaire migratoire touristique (FMT) qui vous permet de séjourner au Mexique jusqu’à 90 jours. Le FMT est disponible dans tous les Consulats du Mexique, les compagnies aériennes et les bureaux de Migration situés aux ports d’entrée du territoire mexicain.

Ethiopia: The End of an Era

After weeks of rumors and denied reports, it has finally been annouced Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has passed away...

The man was holding the country's politics strongly, it's the least we can say, so it is difficult to guess what can come next.


Here is a little press review of what can be read.

The BBC:

Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi dies after illness



The Guardian:

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has died aged 57 in a hospital "abroad", the government says.
It did not give details but an EU spokesman later told journalists he had died in Brussels, Belgium.

Meles Zenawi obituary

Ethiopian prime minister who fostered economic expansion and close ties with the US, but was accused of authoritarianism


En francais:

BBC Afrique:

Le Premier ministre éthiopien est mort

Jeune Afrique


ICG on Somalia - August 20th

Somalia: From Troubled Transition to a Tarnished Transition?

Nairobi/Brussels  |   20 Aug 2012

The term of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions has expired, and there is no new president to take office as envisaged. The current political process has been as undemocratic as the one it seeks to replace, with unprecedented levels of political interference, corruption and intimidation. The end of the transition roadmap process – that is supposed to usher in an inclusive political dispensation – may fail to bring stability. Convening an incomplete parliament and electing a contested, tainted leadership in Somalia’s polarised political environment could easily unravel the painstaking humanitarian, political and security progress made in the past three years. The extremist Islamist movement Al-Shabaab is down but not out, and it is evolving, and plots to take advantage of the resulting chaos to regain power.

To prevent this from happening, the international community should now focus on ensuring the final stages of the roadmap’s implementation are not rigged by its signatories and technical selection committee (charged with vetting individuals nominated for parliament), and that the new leaders and institutions in Mogadishu create a foundation for national unity rather than an acrimonious “winner-takes-all” outcome.

Read the International Crisis Group's statement here:



Good morning to you all.

Today is August 20th and it is a very important deadline in the history of Somalia.

 Mogadishu is now relatively peaceful since the AMISOM forces pushed out the Al Shabbab Militants in August 2011

Somalia's newly selected parliament is to hold a vote to name the president of the country.

The vote will then mark the end of a period of eight years of rule by the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government, the TFG, whose mandate expires today.

 La Villa Somalia is still the headquarter of the TGF


Here is a link to the latest article from the BBC's website that says it all:


"Les camps palestiniens dans la révolution syrienne" - Par Noria Research

Les camps palestiniens dans la révolution syrienne - Noria Research

"Arrivés par vagues successives du nord de la Palestine en 1948, du Golan en 1967 et du Liban dans les années 1980, les Palestiniens sont aujourd’hui 500 000 à vivre en Syrie"...



Noria is a network of researchers and analysts, promoting the work of a new generation of specialists in international politics.
Founded in 2011, a year littered with socio-political upheaval, Noria aims at providing a pertinent and in-depth perspective on the changing nature of the international landscape and a new approach to understanding and analysing international issues. The network chiefly focuses on issues pertaining to conflict, mobilizations, organized crime, and the foreign policies of ‘emerging’ powers.


Cronicas Mexicanas - Amexica

Ah, I'm dreaming of America Latina.

The heat, the light, the music I am immerging myself into make me want to see the continent I have never been to. Maybe it is because this year I travelled all over Europe, East Africa and beyond, like Liberia and South Africa and Tunisia, and India, that the main continent remaining to visit is so appealing. Maybe it is just because it seems wonderful.

I want to see Mexico and Argentina, and if I could I would do a long trip from New York City to Ushuaia via Mexico and Buenos Aires... But for now I travel through imagination...


One of my favourite singer was Mexican, Lhasa de Sela, and since yesterday, I have been living with her record "The Living Road". Here is one of her most beautiful song:

 Para el fin del mundo O el ano nuevo


Who can translate for me?

I want to learn Arabic but since it is a bit difficult and it's still summer so I'm in the mood for something a little less challenging, I am teaching myself Spanish.

Where is this book I used to have? 

I tried to learn Spanish with a friend whose mother was a Spanish teacher... years ago in Paris, though I know I kept the book and my notepad, I cannot think of where I stored them... But it's fine, as nowadays there are so many way to learn online.

I discovered the BBC Mundo website has this great programme:


I lived in Miami and was there exactly four years ago, and stupidly I did not make the effort to learn proprely, but it is never too late.

Miami felt like the capital of America Latina, with all its population from Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, etc. But how can I tell if I don't go and seethe rest of the continent?

Europa Latina

The good thing is that Latin America does not seems as far as it really is in Europe's big cities as it present everywhere, at least on my road.

Books, as the one a friend just told me about all summer and just lent to me: the famous Peruvian Writer Mario Vargas Llosa's 'El Sueno del Celta'.

The great French review XXI, for 21st Century dedicated its summer edition to Latin America:

And the literary review 'Le Matricule des Anges' has a special edition on Mexican literature for its September issue:

I don't even mention London MexFest and multiple Mexican restaurants and clubs... As I think I have already.

Well, in the meantime, we still have enough to dream.


Two more links: Latest news 

From the BBC:


France Info:

And in France, my friend Marjorie Hache is producing a lovely programme on places in France to enjoy a taste of other countries and this week is Columbia's turn. You can listen here:


France Culture:

My favourite French radio is all about Latin America this week!
Wonderful invitation to travel in 'Les Archives du Continent", rebroadcasting geography lessons from the 60s:


And much more here and there:

On more travels

On Mexico

On literature

Hasta luego!