Former Chilean military official found liable for killing of Victor Jara

Florida jury awards $28m in verdict that could lead to Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuezs extradition to face criminal charges over 1973 killing of folk singer

A Florida jury on Monday found a former Chilean army officer liable for the 1973 torture and murder of the folk singer and political activist Victor Jara, awarding $28m in damages to his widow and daughters in one of the biggest and most significant legal human rights victories against a foreign war criminal in a US courtroom.

The verdict against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuez after a two-week civil trial in Orlandos federal court could now also pave the way for his extradition to face criminal murder charges in Chile related to his conduct during a CIA-backed coup that led to Augusto Pinochets 17-year military dictatorship and the deaths of almost 3,100 people.

Accusers said Barrientos, 67, who now lives in Deltona, Florida, shot dead Jara, 40, in September 1973 after three days of beatings while the socialist-leaning theatre director and university lecturer was among thousands of suspected communists and subversives detained in Santiagos soccer stadium.

Barrientos, who fled Chile in 1989 and became a US citizen through marriage, was one of nine retired army officers indicted for murder in his homeland four years ago but the US Department of Justice has not responded to a request by the Chilean government for his return.

Kathy Roberts, legal director of the Center for Justice and Accountability, the California-based human rights group that brought the civil action on behalf of Jaras British-born widow, Joan Turner Jara, and daughters Amanda Turner Jara and Manuela Bunster, believes the Florida jurys ruling could now increase the pressure on the DoJ.

Its a step on the path towards justice for our clients and for Victor but also for the many other families who lost someone at Chile Stadium so many years ago, she said after the verdict.

We presented evidence that started to shed light on what happened there, and we hope that process will continue in Chile and we hope that the United States will extradite Mr Barrientos to face justice in the country where he committed these crimes.

Joan Jara Turner, 88, testified during the trial that her husbands death in a stadium locker room had cut my life in two, and has previously spoken of the horror of having to identify his tortured and mutilated body in a morgue after he was dumped outside the stadium with 44 bullet wounds.

[Im] happy in a sense that what we were trying to do for more than 40 years, for Victor, has today come true, she said through tears on the steps if the Orlando courthouse.

Its the beginning of justice for all those people, those relatives in Chile who are waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones, who have been for years and years, just like us, seeking justice [and] knowledge.

Its been a long journey. For Victor, art and social justice were one and the same. His songs continue to be sung today and inspire both artists and those who seek social justice.

Daughter Amanda Turner Jara, who thanked lawyers from the CJA and pro bono counsel from New York legal firm Chadbourne & Parke, said it was crucial that Barrientos was extradited.

He ran away. Hes been hiding here for so long, and its time he faces that now in Chile, she said.

The jury of five women and one man deliberated for nine hours before determining that Barrientos, a Pinochet loyalist who commanded the Chilean armys notorious Tejas Verde brigade, should pay $6m in compensatory damages and a further $22m in punitive damages. The jury found him liable on both counts of the civil indictment, for torture and extrajudicial killing.

The Jara family, however, are unlikely to see any payment. Barrientos lawyer Luis Calderon painted a picture during the trial of a poor retiree who lives in a modest two-bedroom house and drives around in a decade-old car, and who was forced to work as a cook at a fast-food restaurant for years just to make ends meet.

Barrientos, who remained impassive as the verdicts were read, did not comment afterwards but Calderon said he was disappointed. We will explore all our options regarding an appeal, he said.

Dixon Osburn, executive director of the CJA, told the Guardian that one of the biggest challenges was proving that Barrientos, who also worked for a time as a landscaper during almost three decades in the US, was the same violent army officer who beat, tortured and shot Jara.

These cases are always difficult because a lot of time has passed and because of the silence that has encased this matter for so long, he said. Trying to break through that silence and lift the veil on what happened in those days was enormously difficult.

One of the things the Jara family has been pursuing for 43 years is just the truth. Barrientos said in deposition he knew nothing of Chile Stadium, he knew nothing of Victor Jara, but we had conscript after conscript saying he was there and he was responsible for what took place.

One of the conscripts, Jose Navarette Barra, said during the trial in video testimony from Chile that Barrientos boasted of what he had done. He said many times that he killed Victor Jara, Barra said. He talked about killing a communist, and he didnt want a communist in Chile.

The ruling marks the latest victory in the CJAs pursuit of overseas war criminals and human rights abusers living in Florida. In August 2015, El Salvadors former defence minister Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova was extradited to El Salvador after a lengthy legal battle. Vides, an army general in the country during the bloody civil war in the 1980s, was accused of covering up a number of atrocities, including the rape and murder of four American churchwomen.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/27/victor-jara-pedro-pablo-barrientos-nunez-killing-chile

Battle for Florida: Trump and Clinton home in on crucial state as voting begins

The two candidates have differing strategies in a state where turnout among Hispanic voters could sway the entire election and its a must-win for Trump

In Little Havana, a vibrant Latino neighborhood just west of downtown Miami, a queue of a couple of dozen prospective voters had formed outside one of Hillary Clintons field offices.

Sandwiched between an insurance company and immigration counsel office, the group had arrived for tickets to a free Jennifer Lopez concert. But there was one caveat: to attend the Saturday evening show, at Bayfront Park on Miamis Biscayne Bay, fans were first required to visit a Clinton campaign field office.

theIt was one of the many creative ways in which the Democratic nominees campaign was seeking to engage likely voters in the critical battleground of Florida, a state with a key role in determining whether Clinton or her Republican opponent Donald Trump is elected on 8 November as the next president of the United States.

Florida

Inside this modest campaign space, one of 82 Clinton field offices in the Sunshine State, yellow-painted walls bore signs that read phrases such as Juntos Se Puede (Together We Can) and Why build a wall against Hispanics when they built this country?

English or Spanish? a volunteer asked as two sisters stepped into the office hoping to secure a pair of concert tickets. Spanish, they responded.

Azalia and Lucia Rodriguez, both US citizens originally from Nicaragua, had already made up their mind. Trump had hit a nerve, they said, within Floridas sprawling Hispanic community.

If you dont vote, thats an extra vote for Trump, said Lucia, a 19-year-old college student. I have family members that might be deported, and just to be safe I wouldnt vote for him.

Azalia, a 27-year-old in real estate, put it even more bluntly when asked why she was voting for Clinton: Well, Im Hispanic and I dont like what Trump says.

Turnout among Hispanic voters might sway the outcome of the election in a state where one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country holds substantial influence. A half-dozen volunteers worked the phones in both English and Spanish, targeting a list of likely Clinton supporters while making a strong push for the early voting process that began on 24 October.

The Obama campaign worked out of the same office in 2012, recognizing a shift in demographics. While the Cubans who dominated the area typically voted Republican, a younger generation has in recent years leaned Democratic; and non-Cuban Hispanics, a reliably Democratic voting bloc, also increasingly live in the area.

In 2000, a controversial recount in Florida determined whether Al Gore or George W Bush would become president. Sixteen years later, the state is still vital terrain in the presidential race Trump, trailing Clinton in other must-win swing states, needs to secure the states 29 electoral votes to have a path to victory.

How will the US election be decided?

But roughly 15 miles away, a Trump field office in West Miami one of 29 paid for by Republican Party of Florida, was bustling not with likely voters but with volunteers making do with limited resources.

A handful unloaded boxes containing just under 110,000 door hangers, while others were constructing Trump-Pence yard signs. But of over a dozen phones, only two were occupied.

Many of the volunteers, comprising mainly older Cubans, complained of an election that was rigged.

The media was in Clintons pocket, the volunteers argued, and even the Republican establishment was colluding to defeat the real estate mogul who earlier this year defied all odds to become the GOPs nominee for president.

Im here for Donald Trump, not for the Republican party, said Abraham Alvarez, a 47-year-old ramp supervisor at Miami international airport who for the last month has been volunteering for the campaign unpaid.

Have you heard of the New World Order? he added, invoking the conspiracy about a globalist elite that plans to take control of the world through authoritarian rule. The whole establishment, theyve been working on this for a long time.

To Floridians like Alvarez, the election had already been rigged in Clintons favor.

It is highly unlikely that the outcome on 8 November will be anything like that of 2000, when the result of the month-long recount over Floridas electoral votes was ultimately decided by the US supreme court after vicious partisan squabbling over hanging chads and butterfly ballots. Trumps campaign trails Clinton in the majority of public polling.

But the campaign is nonetheless likely to be just as hard-fought in a state such as Florida, which in many ways resembles a confederation of fiefdoms.

Florida
Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Floridas northern panhandle is the heart of the old south. Live oak trees are draped with Spanish moss and residents speak in slow southern drawls. South Florida is as much a part of the Caribbean as the United States, and Spanish is as widely spoken as English.

In between is an ethnic hodgepodge: north of Miami, in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, there are heavily Jewish enclaves descended from transplanted New Yorkers; in Orlando, there is a rapidly growing Puerto Rican community fleeing the islands economic crisis, while in the Villages, there is an entire city of over 150,000 residents who are all transplanted retirees.

Recognizing the state is beholden to neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, both Clinton and Trump graced Florida this week as the clock ticked closer to election day.

Trump held a rally on Tuesday in Tallahassee, an island of Democratic blue in deep-red north Florida where the presence of the state capitol and Florida State University makes the sleepy city comparatively liberal.

Tallahassee
Supporters cheer Donald Trump during a rally at the Antique Car Museum property on Tuesday in Tallahassee. Photograph: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

There, speaking in front of a farm wagon laden with pumpkins to mark the fall season, Trump made a non-specific pitch for early voting: Early voting in Florida is under way so make sure you get out and vote. We have a thing going on that theyve never seen before.

A more effective pitch was made by volunteers standing at the entrance to the rally who stood holding clipboards with forms for attendees to sign up for absentee ballots.

Clinton made a two-day swing through the state, with stops that included Broward County, a formerly Republican stronghold now solidly Democratic, and Palm Beach, home to Trumps opulent Mar-a-Lago resort.

Her venues were also strategically chosen: across the street from Clintons event in Broward on Tuesday was a polling center which hundreds who attended her rally immediately visited to vote early.

Nate Williams, 37, was accompanied by his six-year-old daughter.

She dont like Donald Trump, what he said about women, he said of his daughter, who clutched a Barbie doll while standing by his side. He was referring to the controversial tape of the Republican nominee bragging about groping women without their consent.

She dont really know the comments, Williams said. She just knows he said some real negative things about women.

Betty Joseph, a native of Haiti residing in nearby Tamarac, said she was concerned about the implications of a Trump presidency.

I believe that would be civil war, she said, emerging from the polling site after voting for Clinton. With his mouth, it could cause a lot of trouble for the country.

Early voting has long been a key indicator in Florida. In 2012, 4.8 million Floridians cast their ballots before election day, a total higher than the turnout in 44 other states.

But while Republicans have typically held the advantage in early voting, data available thus far finds Democrats encroaching on their lead. Republicans were ahead in early voting by just over 18,000 votes on Tuesday, whereas in 2008 their edge exceeded 113,000 at the same time. Hispanic participation in early voting was also up from previous cycles, likely favoring Clinton based on most public polling of the group.

Democrats also held a seven-point lead over Republicans in new registered voters, according to a memo distributed this week by Clintons Florida operation. The campaign also touted closing the longtime Republican advantage in vote-by-mail ballot requests and returns, with roughly 406,000 Democrats having returned their ballots versus 421,000 Republicans.

Clinton
Supporters of Hillary Clinton try to shake hands with the candidate at a rally at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida, on Wednesday. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Even so, polling points to a competitive race with Clinton ahead of Trump by 3.5 points according to an average of public surveys compiled by various trackers.

Speaking in Coconut Creek on Tuesday, Clinton warned her supporters not to take matters for granted.

Its going to be a close election, she said at Broward Colleges North Campus, across from the early voting site. Pay no attention to the polls. Dont get complacent.

Underscoring her commitment to Florida, Clintons campaign confirmed she would return to the state as early as Saturday.

Trump, for his part, followed his Florida tour with a jaunt to Washington DC in order to cut the ribbon at his new hotel.

But the Republican nominee has not entirely ignored the need to organize voters at his rallies in the Sunshine State.

Before an event in September, inside an aircraft hangar in Melbourne, Florida, over two dozen Trump volunteers were making phone calls in an adjacent office while a crowd of thousands gathered outside listened to the Rolling Stones on loop as they awaited the former Apprentice host.

Trump supporters have long viewed crowd sizes as an indicator of their candidates prospects, despite little correlation between the number of attendees who show up at a rally and those who turn out to vote.

But as Stella Bueller of Sopchoppy, Florida, told the Guardian at Trumps rally this week: If you go back to high school, youre at a pep rally and whos the most popular guy? Everyone knows and he ends up being homecoming king. Its the same.

Brian Ballard, Trumps Florida finance chairman, said he felt confident about Trumps chances.

Theres certainly momentum, he said, citing not just internal polling but also enthusiasm for the Republican nominee as evidenced by the fact that roads were shut down around Trumps Tallahassee rally on Tuesday.

The veteran Republican lobbyist seemed less concerned about the campaigns rudimentary footprint on the ground, noting that the Republican National Committee, state party and local parties have always been the backbone of our get-out-the-vote effort.

Ballard cited conversations with Cuban American legislators to express confidence about Trumps ability to court at least a faction of Hispanic voters, noting the bloc is not monolithic. In fact, he thought, Trump would do as well as [Mitt] Romney, if not a little bit better.

But the volunteers who packed Trumps West Miami field office were somewhat less bullish.

Trump
Donald Trump rallies with supporters at the Million Air Orlando airplane hangar in Sanford, Florida, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Jorge Garces, who emigrated from Cuba in 1962, acknowledged that the Republican nominees ground game lacks a little bit.

I dont know why, said the 64-year-old retiree. Sometimes we get as many as 12 volunteers a day, sometimes as little as three.

Garces was, however, energized by what he claimed was a bias within the media about Trumps roadmap to the White House as well as a desire among grassroots conservative voters to send a signal to the establishment in their own party.

I think the Republican party has lost its message, he said, and I think Donald Trump is throwing a molotov cocktail at Washington.

As for whether Trump would emerge victorious in Florida, Garces confessed he was concerned.

Kellyanne Conway, Trumps campaign manager, acknowledged in an interview with CBS this week that the path will be much harder without Florida. But that is an understatement, given if Clinton wins the state then Trump would have to virtually sweep the remaining battleground states, including seemingly safe Democratic areas like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Colorado.

Complicating matters is polling showing Clinton giving Trump a run for his money in deeply red states such as Arizona, Utah and even Texas, diverting the Republican nominees attention with precious little time remaining before election day.

A Republican activist at the Broward College polling site, who declined to be named due to his involvement in local races, said he reluctantly cast his ballot for Trump this week. But after watching hundreds of Democrats queue up to vote early after Clintons rally across the street from where he stood, the activist feared the writing was already on the wall.

Florida will be his death knell, he said of Trump. When youre competing in Texas and Utah two weeks before the election, its over.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/27/florida-voting-clinton-trump-election

Former Chilean military official found liable for killing of Victor Jara

Florida jury awards $28m in verdict that could lead to Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuezs extradition to face criminal charges over 1973 killing of folk singer

A Florida jury on Monday found a former Chilean army officer liable for the 1973 torture and murder of the folk singer and political activist Victor Jara, awarding $28m in damages to his widow and daughters in one of the biggest and most significant legal human rights victories against a foreign war criminal in a US courtroom.

The verdict against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuez after a two-week civil trial in Orlandos federal court could now also pave the way for his extradition to face criminal murder charges in Chile related to his conduct during a CIA-backed coup that led to Augusto Pinochets 17-year military dictatorship and the deaths of almost 3,100 people.

Accusers said Barrientos, 67, who now lives in Deltona, Florida, shot dead Jara, 40, in September 1973 after three days of beatings while the socialist-leaning theatre director and university lecturer was among thousands of suspected communists and subversives detained in Santiagos soccer stadium.

Barrientos, who fled Chile in 1989 and became a US citizen through marriage, was one of nine retired army officers indicted for murder in his homeland four years ago but the US Department of Justice has not responded to a request by the Chilean government for his return.

Kathy Roberts, legal director of the Center for Justice and Accountability, the California-based human rights group that brought the civil action on behalf of Jaras British-born widow, Joan Turner Jara, and daughters Amanda Turner Jara and Manuela Bunster, believes the Florida jurys ruling could now increase the pressure on the DoJ.

Its a step on the path towards justice for our clients and for Victor but also for the many other families who lost someone at Chile Stadium so many years ago, she said after the verdict.

We presented evidence that started to shed light on what happened there, and we hope that process will continue in Chile and we hope that the United States will extradite Mr Barrientos to face justice in the country where he committed these crimes.

Joan Jara Turner, 88, testified during the trial that her husbands death in a stadium locker room had cut my life in two, and has previously spoken of the horror of having to identify his tortured and mutilated body in a morgue after he was dumped outside the stadium with 44 bullet wounds.

[Im] happy in a sense that what we were trying to do for more than 40 years, for Victor, has today come true, she said through tears on the steps if the Orlando courthouse.

Its the beginning of justice for all those people, those relatives in Chile who are waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones, who have been for years and years, just like us, seeking justice [and] knowledge.

Its been a long journey. For Victor, art and social justice were one and the same. His songs continue to be sung today and inspire both artists and those who seek social justice.

Daughter Amanda Turner Jara, who thanked lawyers from the CJA and pro bono counsel from New York legal firm Chadbourne & Parke, said it was crucial that Barrientos was extradited.

He ran away. Hes been hiding here for so long, and its time he faces that now in Chile, she said.

The jury of five women and one man deliberated for nine hours before determining that Barrientos, a Pinochet loyalist who commanded the Chilean armys notorious Tejas Verde brigade, should pay $6m in compensatory damages and a further $22m in punitive damages. The jury found him liable on both counts of the civil indictment, for torture and extrajudicial killing.

The Jara family, however, are unlikely to see any payment. Barrientos lawyer Luis Calderon painted a picture during the trial of a poor retiree who lives in a modest two-bedroom house and drives around in a decade-old car, and who was forced to work as a cook at a fast-food restaurant for years just to make ends meet.

Barrientos, who remained impassive as the verdicts were read, did not comment afterwards but Calderon said he was disappointed. We will explore all our options regarding an appeal, he said.

Dixon Osburn, executive director of the CJA, told the Guardian that one of the biggest challenges was proving that Barrientos, who also worked for a time as a landscaper during almost three decades in the US, was the same violent army officer who beat, tortured and shot Jara.

These cases are always difficult because a lot of time has passed and because of the silence that has encased this matter for so long, he said. Trying to break through that silence and lift the veil on what happened in those days was enormously difficult.

One of the things the Jara family has been pursuing for 43 years is just the truth. Barrientos said in deposition he knew nothing of Chile Stadium, he knew nothing of Victor Jara, but we had conscript after conscript saying he was there and he was responsible for what took place.

One of the conscripts, Jose Navarette Barra, said during the trial in video testimony from Chile that Barrientos boasted of what he had done. He said many times that he killed Victor Jara, Barra said. He talked about killing a communist, and he didnt want a communist in Chile.

The ruling marks the latest victory in the CJAs pursuit of overseas war criminals and human rights abusers living in Florida. In August 2015, El Salvadors former defence minister Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova was extradited to El Salvador after a lengthy legal battle. Vides, an army general in the country during the bloody civil war in the 1980s, was accused of covering up a number of atrocities, including the rape and murder of four American churchwomen.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/27/victor-jara-pedro-pablo-barrientos-nunez-killing-chile

Battle for Florida: Trump and Clinton home in on crucial state as voting begins

The two candidates have differing strategies in a state where turnout among Hispanic voters could sway the entire election and its a must-win for Trump

In Little Havana, a vibrant Latino neighborhood just west of downtown Miami, a queue of a couple of dozen prospective voters had formed outside one of Hillary Clintons field offices.

Sandwiched between an insurance company and immigration counsel office, the group had arrived for tickets to a free Jennifer Lopez concert. But there was one caveat: to attend the Saturday evening show, at Bayfront Park on Miamis Biscayne Bay, fans were first required to visit a Clinton campaign field office.

theIt was one of the many creative ways in which the Democratic nominees campaign was seeking to engage likely voters in the critical battleground of Florida, a state with a key role in determining whether Clinton or her Republican opponent Donald Trump is elected on 8 November as the next president of the United States.

Florida

Inside this modest campaign space, one of 82 Clinton field offices in the Sunshine State, yellow-painted walls bore signs that read phrases such as Juntos Se Puede (Together We Can) and Why build a wall against Hispanics when they built this country?

English or Spanish? a volunteer asked as two sisters stepped into the office hoping to secure a pair of concert tickets. Spanish, they responded.

Azalia and Lucia Rodriguez, both US citizens originally from Nicaragua, had already made up their mind. Trump had hit a nerve, they said, within Floridas sprawling Hispanic community.

If you dont vote, thats an extra vote for Trump, said Lucia, a 19-year-old college student. I have family members that might be deported, and just to be safe I wouldnt vote for him.

Azalia, a 27-year-old in real estate, put it even more bluntly when asked why she was voting for Clinton: Well, Im Hispanic and I dont like what Trump says.

Turnout among Hispanic voters might sway the outcome of the election in a state where one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country holds substantial influence. A half-dozen volunteers worked the phones in both English and Spanish, targeting a list of likely Clinton supporters while making a strong push for the early voting process that began on 24 October.

The Obama campaign worked out of the same office in 2012, recognizing a shift in demographics. While the Cubans who dominated the area typically voted Republican, a younger generation has in recent years leaned Democratic; and non-Cuban Hispanics, a reliably Democratic voting bloc, also increasingly live in the area.

In 2000, a controversial recount in Florida determined whether Al Gore or George W Bush would become president. Sixteen years later, the state is still vital terrain in the presidential race Trump, trailing Clinton in other must-win swing states, needs to secure the states 29 electoral votes to have a path to victory.

How will the US election be decided?

But roughly 15 miles away, a Trump field office in West Miami one of 29 paid for by Republican Party of Florida, was bustling not with likely voters but with volunteers making do with limited resources.

A handful unloaded boxes containing just under 110,000 door hangers, while others were constructing Trump-Pence yard signs. But of over a dozen phones, only two were occupied.

Many of the volunteers, comprising mainly older Cubans, complained of an election that was rigged.

The media was in Clintons pocket, the volunteers argued, and even the Republican establishment was colluding to defeat the real estate mogul who earlier this year defied all odds to become the GOPs nominee for president.

Im here for Donald Trump, not for the Republican party, said Abraham Alvarez, a 47-year-old ramp supervisor at Miami international airport who for the last month has been volunteering for the campaign unpaid.

Have you heard of the New World Order? he added, invoking the conspiracy about a globalist elite that plans to take control of the world through authoritarian rule. The whole establishment, theyve been working on this for a long time.

To Floridians like Alvarez, the election had already been rigged in Clintons favor.

It is highly unlikely that the outcome on 8 November will be anything like that of 2000, when the result of the month-long recount over Floridas electoral votes was ultimately decided by the US supreme court after vicious partisan squabbling over hanging chads and butterfly ballots. Trumps campaign trails Clinton in the majority of public polling.

But the campaign is nonetheless likely to be just as hard-fought in a state such as Florida, which in many ways resembles a confederation of fiefdoms.

Florida
Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Floridas northern panhandle is the heart of the old south. Live oak trees are draped with Spanish moss and residents speak in slow southern drawls. South Florida is as much a part of the Caribbean as the United States, and Spanish is as widely spoken as English.

In between is an ethnic hodgepodge: north of Miami, in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, there are heavily Jewish enclaves descended from transplanted New Yorkers; in Orlando, there is a rapidly growing Puerto Rican community fleeing the islands economic crisis, while in the Villages, there is an entire city of over 150,000 residents who are all transplanted retirees.

Recognizing the state is beholden to neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, both Clinton and Trump graced Florida this week as the clock ticked closer to election day.

Trump held a rally on Tuesday in Tallahassee, an island of Democratic blue in deep-red north Florida where the presence of the state capitol and Florida State University makes the sleepy city comparatively liberal.

Tallahassee
Supporters cheer Donald Trump during a rally at the Antique Car Museum property on Tuesday in Tallahassee. Photograph: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

There, speaking in front of a farm wagon laden with pumpkins to mark the fall season, Trump made a non-specific pitch for early voting: Early voting in Florida is under way so make sure you get out and vote. We have a thing going on that theyve never seen before.

A more effective pitch was made by volunteers standing at the entrance to the rally who stood holding clipboards with forms for attendees to sign up for absentee ballots.

Clinton made a two-day swing through the state, with stops that included Broward County, a formerly Republican stronghold now solidly Democratic, and Palm Beach, home to Trumps opulent Mar-a-Lago resort.

Her venues were also strategically chosen: across the street from Clintons event in Broward on Tuesday was a polling center which hundreds who attended her rally immediately visited to vote early.

Nate Williams, 37, was accompanied by his six-year-old daughter.

She dont like Donald Trump, what he said about women, he said of his daughter, who clutched a Barbie doll while standing by his side. He was referring to the controversial tape of the Republican nominee bragging about groping women without their consent.

She dont really know the comments, Williams said. She just knows he said some real negative things about women.

Betty Joseph, a native of Haiti residing in nearby Tamarac, said she was concerned about the implications of a Trump presidency.

I believe that would be civil war, she said, emerging from the polling site after voting for Clinton. With his mouth, it could cause a lot of trouble for the country.

Early voting has long been a key indicator in Florida. In 2012, 4.8 million Floridians cast their ballots before election day, a total higher than the turnout in 44 other states.

But while Republicans have typically held the advantage in early voting, data available thus far finds Democrats encroaching on their lead. Republicans were ahead in early voting by just over 18,000 votes on Tuesday, whereas in 2008 their edge exceeded 113,000 at the same time. Hispanic participation in early voting was also up from previous cycles, likely favoring Clinton based on most public polling of the group.

Democrats also held a seven-point lead over Republicans in new registered voters, according to a memo distributed this week by Clintons Florida operation. The campaign also touted closing the longtime Republican advantage in vote-by-mail ballot requests and returns, with roughly 406,000 Democrats having returned their ballots versus 421,000 Republicans.

Clinton
Supporters of Hillary Clinton try to shake hands with the candidate at a rally at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida, on Wednesday. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Even so, polling points to a competitive race with Clinton ahead of Trump by 3.5 points according to an average of public surveys compiled by various trackers.

Speaking in Coconut Creek on Tuesday, Clinton warned her supporters not to take matters for granted.

Its going to be a close election, she said at Broward Colleges North Campus, across from the early voting site. Pay no attention to the polls. Dont get complacent.

Underscoring her commitment to Florida, Clintons campaign confirmed she would return to the state as early as Saturday.

Trump, for his part, followed his Florida tour with a jaunt to Washington DC in order to cut the ribbon at his new hotel.

But the Republican nominee has not entirely ignored the need to organize voters at his rallies in the Sunshine State.

Before an event in September, inside an aircraft hangar in Melbourne, Florida, over two dozen Trump volunteers were making phone calls in an adjacent office while a crowd of thousands gathered outside listened to the Rolling Stones on loop as they awaited the former Apprentice host.

Trump supporters have long viewed crowd sizes as an indicator of their candidates prospects, despite little correlation between the number of attendees who show up at a rally and those who turn out to vote.

But as Stella Bueller of Sopchoppy, Florida, told the Guardian at Trumps rally this week: If you go back to high school, youre at a pep rally and whos the most popular guy? Everyone knows and he ends up being homecoming king. Its the same.

Brian Ballard, Trumps Florida finance chairman, said he felt confident about Trumps chances.

Theres certainly momentum, he said, citing not just internal polling but also enthusiasm for the Republican nominee as evidenced by the fact that roads were shut down around Trumps Tallahassee rally on Tuesday.

The veteran Republican lobbyist seemed less concerned about the campaigns rudimentary footprint on the ground, noting that the Republican National Committee, state party and local parties have always been the backbone of our get-out-the-vote effort.

Ballard cited conversations with Cuban American legislators to express confidence about Trumps ability to court at least a faction of Hispanic voters, noting the bloc is not monolithic. In fact, he thought, Trump would do as well as [Mitt] Romney, if not a little bit better.

But the volunteers who packed Trumps West Miami field office were somewhat less bullish.

Trump
Donald Trump rallies with supporters at the Million Air Orlando airplane hangar in Sanford, Florida, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Jorge Garces, who emigrated from Cuba in 1962, acknowledged that the Republican nominees ground game lacks a little bit.

I dont know why, said the 64-year-old retiree. Sometimes we get as many as 12 volunteers a day, sometimes as little as three.

Garces was, however, energized by what he claimed was a bias within the media about Trumps roadmap to the White House as well as a desire among grassroots conservative voters to send a signal to the establishment in their own party.

I think the Republican party has lost its message, he said, and I think Donald Trump is throwing a molotov cocktail at Washington.

As for whether Trump would emerge victorious in Florida, Garces confessed he was concerned.

Kellyanne Conway, Trumps campaign manager, acknowledged in an interview with CBS this week that the path will be much harder without Florida. But that is an understatement, given if Clinton wins the state then Trump would have to virtually sweep the remaining battleground states, including seemingly safe Democratic areas like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Colorado.

Complicating matters is polling showing Clinton giving Trump a run for his money in deeply red states such as Arizona, Utah and even Texas, diverting the Republican nominees attention with precious little time remaining before election day.

A Republican activist at the Broward College polling site, who declined to be named due to his involvement in local races, said he reluctantly cast his ballot for Trump this week. But after watching hundreds of Democrats queue up to vote early after Clintons rally across the street from where he stood, the activist feared the writing was already on the wall.

Florida will be his death knell, he said of Trump. When youre competing in Texas and Utah two weeks before the election, its over.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/27/florida-voting-clinton-trump-election

Former Chilean military official found liable for killing of Victor Jara

Florida jury awards $28m in verdict that could lead to Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuezs extradition to face criminal charges over 1973 killing of folk singer

A Florida jury on Monday found a former Chilean army officer liable for the 1973 torture and murder of the folk singer and political activist Victor Jara, awarding $28m in damages to his widow and daughters in one of the biggest and most significant legal human rights victories against a foreign war criminal in a US courtroom.

The verdict against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuez after a two-week civil trial in Orlandos federal court could now also pave the way for his extradition to face criminal murder charges in Chile related to his conduct during a CIA-backed coup that led to Augusto Pinochets 17-year military dictatorship and the deaths of almost 3,100 people.

Accusers said Barrientos, 67, who now lives in Deltona, Florida, shot dead Jara, 40, in September 1973 after three days of beatings while the socialist-leaning theatre director and university lecturer was among thousands of suspected communists and subversives detained in Santiagos soccer stadium.

Barrientos, who fled Chile in 1989 and became a US citizen through marriage, was one of nine retired army officers indicted for murder in his homeland four years ago but the US Department of Justice has not responded to a request by the Chilean government for his return.

Kathy Roberts, legal director of the Center for Justice and Accountability, the California-based human rights group that brought the civil action on behalf of Jaras British-born widow, Joan Turner Jara, and daughters Amanda Turner Jara and Manuela Bunster, believes the Florida jurys ruling could now increase the pressure on the DoJ.

Its a step on the path towards justice for our clients and for Victor but also for the many other families who lost someone at Chile Stadium so many years ago, she said after the verdict.

We presented evidence that started to shed light on what happened there, and we hope that process will continue in Chile and we hope that the United States will extradite Mr Barrientos to face justice in the country where he committed these crimes.

Joan Jara Turner, 88, testified during the trial that her husbands death in a stadium locker room had cut my life in two, and has previously spoken of the horror of having to identify his tortured and mutilated body in a morgue after he was dumped outside the stadium with 44 bullet wounds.

[Im] happy in a sense that what we were trying to do for more than 40 years, for Victor, has today come true, she said through tears on the steps if the Orlando courthouse.

Its the beginning of justice for all those people, those relatives in Chile who are waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones, who have been for years and years, just like us, seeking justice [and] knowledge.

Its been a long journey. For Victor, art and social justice were one and the same. His songs continue to be sung today and inspire both artists and those who seek social justice.

Daughter Amanda Turner Jara, who thanked lawyers from the CJA and pro bono counsel from New York legal firm Chadbourne & Parke, said it was crucial that Barrientos was extradited.

He ran away. Hes been hiding here for so long, and its time he faces that now in Chile, she said.

The jury of five women and one man deliberated for nine hours before determining that Barrientos, a Pinochet loyalist who commanded the Chilean armys notorious Tejas Verde brigade, should pay $6m in compensatory damages and a further $22m in punitive damages. The jury found him liable on both counts of the civil indictment, for torture and extrajudicial killing.

The Jara family, however, are unlikely to see any payment. Barrientos lawyer Luis Calderon painted a picture during the trial of a poor retiree who lives in a modest two-bedroom house and drives around in a decade-old car, and who was forced to work as a cook at a fast-food restaurant for years just to make ends meet.

Barrientos, who remained impassive as the verdicts were read, did not comment afterwards but Calderon said he was disappointed. We will explore all our options regarding an appeal, he said.

Dixon Osburn, executive director of the CJA, told the Guardian that one of the biggest challenges was proving that Barrientos, who also worked for a time as a landscaper during almost three decades in the US, was the same violent army officer who beat, tortured and shot Jara.

These cases are always difficult because a lot of time has passed and because of the silence that has encased this matter for so long, he said. Trying to break through that silence and lift the veil on what happened in those days was enormously difficult.

One of the things the Jara family has been pursuing for 43 years is just the truth. Barrientos said in deposition he knew nothing of Chile Stadium, he knew nothing of Victor Jara, but we had conscript after conscript saying he was there and he was responsible for what took place.

One of the conscripts, Jose Navarette Barra, said during the trial in video testimony from Chile that Barrientos boasted of what he had done. He said many times that he killed Victor Jara, Barra said. He talked about killing a communist, and he didnt want a communist in Chile.

The ruling marks the latest victory in the CJAs pursuit of overseas war criminals and human rights abusers living in Florida. In August 2015, El Salvadors former defence minister Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova was extradited to El Salvador after a lengthy legal battle. Vides, an army general in the country during the bloody civil war in the 1980s, was accused of covering up a number of atrocities, including the rape and murder of four American churchwomen.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/27/victor-jara-pedro-pablo-barrientos-nunez-killing-chile

Battle for Florida: Trump and Clinton home in on crucial state as voting begins

The two candidates have differing strategies in a state where turnout among Hispanic voters could sway the entire election and its a must-win for Trump

In Little Havana, a vibrant Latino neighborhood just west of downtown Miami, a queue of a couple of dozen prospective voters had formed outside one of Hillary Clintons field offices.

Sandwiched between an insurance company and immigration counsel office, the group had arrived for tickets to a free Jennifer Lopez concert. But there was one caveat: to attend the Saturday evening show, at Bayfront Park on Miamis Biscayne Bay, fans were first required to visit a Clinton campaign field office.

theIt was one of the many creative ways in which the Democratic nominees campaign was seeking to engage likely voters in the critical battleground of Florida, a state with a key role in determining whether Clinton or her Republican opponent Donald Trump is elected on 8 November as the next president of the United States.

Florida

Inside this modest campaign space, one of 82 Clinton field offices in the Sunshine State, yellow-painted walls bore signs that read phrases such as Juntos Se Puede (Together We Can) and Why build a wall against Hispanics when they built this country?

English or Spanish? a volunteer asked as two sisters stepped into the office hoping to secure a pair of concert tickets. Spanish, they responded.

Azalia and Lucia Rodriguez, both US citizens originally from Nicaragua, had already made up their mind. Trump had hit a nerve, they said, within Floridas sprawling Hispanic community.

If you dont vote, thats an extra vote for Trump, said Lucia, a 19-year-old college student. I have family members that might be deported, and just to be safe I wouldnt vote for him.

Azalia, a 27-year-old in real estate, put it even more bluntly when asked why she was voting for Clinton: Well, Im Hispanic and I dont like what Trump says.

Turnout among Hispanic voters might sway the outcome of the election in a state where one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country holds substantial influence. A half-dozen volunteers worked the phones in both English and Spanish, targeting a list of likely Clinton supporters while making a strong push for the early voting process that began on 24 October.

The Obama campaign worked out of the same office in 2012, recognizing a shift in demographics. While the Cubans who dominated the area typically voted Republican, a younger generation has in recent years leaned Democratic; and non-Cuban Hispanics, a reliably Democratic voting bloc, also increasingly live in the area.

In 2000, a controversial recount in Florida determined whether Al Gore or George W Bush would become president. Sixteen years later, the state is still vital terrain in the presidential race Trump, trailing Clinton in other must-win swing states, needs to secure the states 29 electoral votes to have a path to victory.

How will the US election be decided?

But roughly 15 miles away, a Trump field office in West Miami one of 29 paid for by Republican Party of Florida, was bustling not with likely voters but with volunteers making do with limited resources.

A handful unloaded boxes containing just under 110,000 door hangers, while others were constructing Trump-Pence yard signs. But of over a dozen phones, only two were occupied.

Many of the volunteers, comprising mainly older Cubans, complained of an election that was rigged.

The media was in Clintons pocket, the volunteers argued, and even the Republican establishment was colluding to defeat the real estate mogul who earlier this year defied all odds to become the GOPs nominee for president.

Im here for Donald Trump, not for the Republican party, said Abraham Alvarez, a 47-year-old ramp supervisor at Miami international airport who for the last month has been volunteering for the campaign unpaid.

Have you heard of the New World Order? he added, invoking the conspiracy about a globalist elite that plans to take control of the world through authoritarian rule. The whole establishment, theyve been working on this for a long time.

To Floridians like Alvarez, the election had already been rigged in Clintons favor.

It is highly unlikely that the outcome on 8 November will be anything like that of 2000, when the result of the month-long recount over Floridas electoral votes was ultimately decided by the US supreme court after vicious partisan squabbling over hanging chads and butterfly ballots. Trumps campaign trails Clinton in the majority of public polling.

But the campaign is nonetheless likely to be just as hard-fought in a state such as Florida, which in many ways resembles a confederation of fiefdoms.

Florida
Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Floridas northern panhandle is the heart of the old south. Live oak trees are draped with Spanish moss and residents speak in slow southern drawls. South Florida is as much a part of the Caribbean as the United States, and Spanish is as widely spoken as English.

In between is an ethnic hodgepodge: north of Miami, in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, there are heavily Jewish enclaves descended from transplanted New Yorkers; in Orlando, there is a rapidly growing Puerto Rican community fleeing the islands economic crisis, while in the Villages, there is an entire city of over 150,000 residents who are all transplanted retirees.

Recognizing the state is beholden to neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, both Clinton and Trump graced Florida this week as the clock ticked closer to election day.

Trump held a rally on Tuesday in Tallahassee, an island of Democratic blue in deep-red north Florida where the presence of the state capitol and Florida State University makes the sleepy city comparatively liberal.

Tallahassee
Supporters cheer Donald Trump during a rally at the Antique Car Museum property on Tuesday in Tallahassee. Photograph: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

There, speaking in front of a farm wagon laden with pumpkins to mark the fall season, Trump made a non-specific pitch for early voting: Early voting in Florida is under way so make sure you get out and vote. We have a thing going on that theyve never seen before.

A more effective pitch was made by volunteers standing at the entrance to the rally who stood holding clipboards with forms for attendees to sign up for absentee ballots.

Clinton made a two-day swing through the state, with stops that included Broward County, a formerly Republican stronghold now solidly Democratic, and Palm Beach, home to Trumps opulent Mar-a-Lago resort.

Her venues were also strategically chosen: across the street from Clintons event in Broward on Tuesday was a polling center which hundreds who attended her rally immediately visited to vote early.

Nate Williams, 37, was accompanied by his six-year-old daughter.

She dont like Donald Trump, what he said about women, he said of his daughter, who clutched a Barbie doll while standing by his side. He was referring to the controversial tape of the Republican nominee bragging about groping women without their consent.

She dont really know the comments, Williams said. She just knows he said some real negative things about women.

Betty Joseph, a native of Haiti residing in nearby Tamarac, said she was concerned about the implications of a Trump presidency.

I believe that would be civil war, she said, emerging from the polling site after voting for Clinton. With his mouth, it could cause a lot of trouble for the country.

Early voting has long been a key indicator in Florida. In 2012, 4.8 million Floridians cast their ballots before election day, a total higher than the turnout in 44 other states.

But while Republicans have typically held the advantage in early voting, data available thus far finds Democrats encroaching on their lead. Republicans were ahead in early voting by just over 18,000 votes on Tuesday, whereas in 2008 their edge exceeded 113,000 at the same time. Hispanic participation in early voting was also up from previous cycles, likely favoring Clinton based on most public polling of the group.

Democrats also held a seven-point lead over Republicans in new registered voters, according to a memo distributed this week by Clintons Florida operation. The campaign also touted closing the longtime Republican advantage in vote-by-mail ballot requests and returns, with roughly 406,000 Democrats having returned their ballots versus 421,000 Republicans.

Clinton
Supporters of Hillary Clinton try to shake hands with the candidate at a rally at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida, on Wednesday. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Even so, polling points to a competitive race with Clinton ahead of Trump by 3.5 points according to an average of public surveys compiled by various trackers.

Speaking in Coconut Creek on Tuesday, Clinton warned her supporters not to take matters for granted.

Its going to be a close election, she said at Broward Colleges North Campus, across from the early voting site. Pay no attention to the polls. Dont get complacent.

Underscoring her commitment to Florida, Clintons campaign confirmed she would return to the state as early as Saturday.

Trump, for his part, followed his Florida tour with a jaunt to Washington DC in order to cut the ribbon at his new hotel.

But the Republican nominee has not entirely ignored the need to organize voters at his rallies in the Sunshine State.

Before an event in September, inside an aircraft hangar in Melbourne, Florida, over two dozen Trump volunteers were making phone calls in an adjacent office while a crowd of thousands gathered outside listened to the Rolling Stones on loop as they awaited the former Apprentice host.

Trump supporters have long viewed crowd sizes as an indicator of their candidates prospects, despite little correlation between the number of attendees who show up at a rally and those who turn out to vote.

But as Stella Bueller of Sopchoppy, Florida, told the Guardian at Trumps rally this week: If you go back to high school, youre at a pep rally and whos the most popular guy? Everyone knows and he ends up being homecoming king. Its the same.

Brian Ballard, Trumps Florida finance chairman, said he felt confident about Trumps chances.

Theres certainly momentum, he said, citing not just internal polling but also enthusiasm for the Republican nominee as evidenced by the fact that roads were shut down around Trumps Tallahassee rally on Tuesday.

The veteran Republican lobbyist seemed less concerned about the campaigns rudimentary footprint on the ground, noting that the Republican National Committee, state party and local parties have always been the backbone of our get-out-the-vote effort.

Ballard cited conversations with Cuban American legislators to express confidence about Trumps ability to court at least a faction of Hispanic voters, noting the bloc is not monolithic. In fact, he thought, Trump would do as well as [Mitt] Romney, if not a little bit better.

But the volunteers who packed Trumps West Miami field office were somewhat less bullish.

Trump
Donald Trump rallies with supporters at the Million Air Orlando airplane hangar in Sanford, Florida, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Jorge Garces, who emigrated from Cuba in 1962, acknowledged that the Republican nominees ground game lacks a little bit.

I dont know why, said the 64-year-old retiree. Sometimes we get as many as 12 volunteers a day, sometimes as little as three.

Garces was, however, energized by what he claimed was a bias within the media about Trumps roadmap to the White House as well as a desire among grassroots conservative voters to send a signal to the establishment in their own party.

I think the Republican party has lost its message, he said, and I think Donald Trump is throwing a molotov cocktail at Washington.

As for whether Trump would emerge victorious in Florida, Garces confessed he was concerned.

Kellyanne Conway, Trumps campaign manager, acknowledged in an interview with CBS this week that the path will be much harder without Florida. But that is an understatement, given if Clinton wins the state then Trump would have to virtually sweep the remaining battleground states, including seemingly safe Democratic areas like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Colorado.

Complicating matters is polling showing Clinton giving Trump a run for his money in deeply red states such as Arizona, Utah and even Texas, diverting the Republican nominees attention with precious little time remaining before election day.

A Republican activist at the Broward College polling site, who declined to be named due to his involvement in local races, said he reluctantly cast his ballot for Trump this week. But after watching hundreds of Democrats queue up to vote early after Clintons rally across the street from where he stood, the activist feared the writing was already on the wall.

Florida will be his death knell, he said of Trump. When youre competing in Texas and Utah two weeks before the election, its over.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/27/florida-voting-clinton-trump-election

Battle for Florida: Trump and Clinton home in on crucial state as voting begins

The two candidates have differing strategies in a state where turnout among Hispanic voters could sway the entire election and its a must-win for Trump

In Little Havana, a vibrant Latino neighborhood just west of downtown Miami, a queue of a couple of dozen prospective voters had formed outside one of Hillary Clintons field offices.

Sandwiched between an insurance company and immigration counsel office, the group had arrived for tickets to a free Jennifer Lopez concert. But there was one caveat: to attend the Saturday evening show, at Bayfront Park on Miamis Biscayne Bay, fans were first required to visit a Clinton campaign field office.

theIt was one of the many creative ways in which the Democratic nominees campaign was seeking to engage likely voters in the critical battleground of Florida, a state with a key role in determining whether Clinton or her Republican opponent Donald Trump is elected on 8 November as the next president of the United States.

Florida

Inside this modest campaign space, one of 82 Clinton field offices in the Sunshine State, yellow-painted walls bore signs that read phrases such as Juntos Se Puede (Together We Can) and Why build a wall against Hispanics when they built this country?

English or Spanish? a volunteer asked as two sisters stepped into the office hoping to secure a pair of concert tickets. Spanish, they responded.

Azalia and Lucia Rodriguez, both US citizens originally from Nicaragua, had already made up their mind. Trump had hit a nerve, they said, within Floridas sprawling Hispanic community.

If you dont vote, thats an extra vote for Trump, said Lucia, a 19-year-old college student. I have family members that might be deported, and just to be safe I wouldnt vote for him.

Azalia, a 27-year-old in real estate, put it even more bluntly when asked why she was voting for Clinton: Well, Im Hispanic and I dont like what Trump says.

Turnout among Hispanic voters might sway the outcome of the election in a state where one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country holds substantial influence. A half-dozen volunteers worked the phones in both English and Spanish, targeting a list of likely Clinton supporters while making a strong push for the early voting process that began on 24 October.

The Obama campaign worked out of the same office in 2012, recognizing a shift in demographics. While the Cubans who dominated the area typically voted Republican, a younger generation has in recent years leaned Democratic; and non-Cuban Hispanics, a reliably Democratic voting bloc, also increasingly live in the area.

In 2000, a controversial recount in Florida determined whether Al Gore or George W Bush would become president. Sixteen years later, the state is still vital terrain in the presidential race Trump, trailing Clinton in other must-win swing states, needs to secure the states 29 electoral votes to have a path to victory.

How will the US election be decided?

But roughly 15 miles away, a Trump field office in West Miami one of 29 paid for by Republican Party of Florida, was bustling not with likely voters but with volunteers making do with limited resources.

A handful unloaded boxes containing just under 110,000 door hangers, while others were constructing Trump-Pence yard signs. But of over a dozen phones, only two were occupied.

Many of the volunteers, comprising mainly older Cubans, complained of an election that was rigged.

The media was in Clintons pocket, the volunteers argued, and even the Republican establishment was colluding to defeat the real estate mogul who earlier this year defied all odds to become the GOPs nominee for president.

Im here for Donald Trump, not for the Republican party, said Abraham Alvarez, a 47-year-old ramp supervisor at Miami international airport who for the last month has been volunteering for the campaign unpaid.

Have you heard of the New World Order? he added, invoking the conspiracy about a globalist elite that plans to take control of the world through authoritarian rule. The whole establishment, theyve been working on this for a long time.

To Floridians like Alvarez, the election had already been rigged in Clintons favor.

It is highly unlikely that the outcome on 8 November will be anything like that of 2000, when the result of the month-long recount over Floridas electoral votes was ultimately decided by the US supreme court after vicious partisan squabbling over hanging chads and butterfly ballots. Trumps campaign trails Clinton in the majority of public polling.

But the campaign is nonetheless likely to be just as hard-fought in a state such as Florida, which in many ways resembles a confederation of fiefdoms.

Florida
Photograph: Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

Floridas northern panhandle is the heart of the old south. Live oak trees are draped with Spanish moss and residents speak in slow southern drawls. South Florida is as much a part of the Caribbean as the United States, and Spanish is as widely spoken as English.

In between is an ethnic hodgepodge: north of Miami, in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, there are heavily Jewish enclaves descended from transplanted New Yorkers; in Orlando, there is a rapidly growing Puerto Rican community fleeing the islands economic crisis, while in the Villages, there is an entire city of over 150,000 residents who are all transplanted retirees.

Recognizing the state is beholden to neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, both Clinton and Trump graced Florida this week as the clock ticked closer to election day.

Trump held a rally on Tuesday in Tallahassee, an island of Democratic blue in deep-red north Florida where the presence of the state capitol and Florida State University makes the sleepy city comparatively liberal.

Tallahassee
Supporters cheer Donald Trump during a rally at the Antique Car Museum property on Tuesday in Tallahassee. Photograph: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

There, speaking in front of a farm wagon laden with pumpkins to mark the fall season, Trump made a non-specific pitch for early voting: Early voting in Florida is under way so make sure you get out and vote. We have a thing going on that theyve never seen before.

A more effective pitch was made by volunteers standing at the entrance to the rally who stood holding clipboards with forms for attendees to sign up for absentee ballots.

Clinton made a two-day swing through the state, with stops that included Broward County, a formerly Republican stronghold now solidly Democratic, and Palm Beach, home to Trumps opulent Mar-a-Lago resort.

Her venues were also strategically chosen: across the street from Clintons event in Broward on Tuesday was a polling center which hundreds who attended her rally immediately visited to vote early.

Nate Williams, 37, was accompanied by his six-year-old daughter.

She dont like Donald Trump, what he said about women, he said of his daughter, who clutched a Barbie doll while standing by his side. He was referring to the controversial tape of the Republican nominee bragging about groping women without their consent.

She dont really know the comments, Williams said. She just knows he said some real negative things about women.

Betty Joseph, a native of Haiti residing in nearby Tamarac, said she was concerned about the implications of a Trump presidency.

I believe that would be civil war, she said, emerging from the polling site after voting for Clinton. With his mouth, it could cause a lot of trouble for the country.

Early voting has long been a key indicator in Florida. In 2012, 4.8 million Floridians cast their ballots before election day, a total higher than the turnout in 44 other states.

But while Republicans have typically held the advantage in early voting, data available thus far finds Democrats encroaching on their lead. Republicans were ahead in early voting by just over 18,000 votes on Tuesday, whereas in 2008 their edge exceeded 113,000 at the same time. Hispanic participation in early voting was also up from previous cycles, likely favoring Clinton based on most public polling of the group.

Democrats also held a seven-point lead over Republicans in new registered voters, according to a memo distributed this week by Clintons Florida operation. The campaign also touted closing the longtime Republican advantage in vote-by-mail ballot requests and returns, with roughly 406,000 Democrats having returned their ballots versus 421,000 Republicans.

Clinton
Supporters of Hillary Clinton try to shake hands with the candidate at a rally at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Florida, on Wednesday. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Even so, polling points to a competitive race with Clinton ahead of Trump by 3.5 points according to an average of public surveys compiled by various trackers.

Speaking in Coconut Creek on Tuesday, Clinton warned her supporters not to take matters for granted.

Its going to be a close election, she said at Broward Colleges North Campus, across from the early voting site. Pay no attention to the polls. Dont get complacent.

Underscoring her commitment to Florida, Clintons campaign confirmed she would return to the state as early as Saturday.

Trump, for his part, followed his Florida tour with a jaunt to Washington DC in order to cut the ribbon at his new hotel.

But the Republican nominee has not entirely ignored the need to organize voters at his rallies in the Sunshine State.

Before an event in September, inside an aircraft hangar in Melbourne, Florida, over two dozen Trump volunteers were making phone calls in an adjacent office while a crowd of thousands gathered outside listened to the Rolling Stones on loop as they awaited the former Apprentice host.

Trump supporters have long viewed crowd sizes as an indicator of their candidates prospects, despite little correlation between the number of attendees who show up at a rally and those who turn out to vote.

But as Stella Bueller of Sopchoppy, Florida, told the Guardian at Trumps rally this week: If you go back to high school, youre at a pep rally and whos the most popular guy? Everyone knows and he ends up being homecoming king. Its the same.

Brian Ballard, Trumps Florida finance chairman, said he felt confident about Trumps chances.

Theres certainly momentum, he said, citing not just internal polling but also enthusiasm for the Republican nominee as evidenced by the fact that roads were shut down around Trumps Tallahassee rally on Tuesday.

The veteran Republican lobbyist seemed less concerned about the campaigns rudimentary footprint on the ground, noting that the Republican National Committee, state party and local parties have always been the backbone of our get-out-the-vote effort.

Ballard cited conversations with Cuban American legislators to express confidence about Trumps ability to court at least a faction of Hispanic voters, noting the bloc is not monolithic. In fact, he thought, Trump would do as well as [Mitt] Romney, if not a little bit better.

But the volunteers who packed Trumps West Miami field office were somewhat less bullish.

Trump
Donald Trump rallies with supporters at the Million Air Orlando airplane hangar in Sanford, Florida, on Tuesday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Jorge Garces, who emigrated from Cuba in 1962, acknowledged that the Republican nominees ground game lacks a little bit.

I dont know why, said the 64-year-old retiree. Sometimes we get as many as 12 volunteers a day, sometimes as little as three.

Garces was, however, energized by what he claimed was a bias within the media about Trumps roadmap to the White House as well as a desire among grassroots conservative voters to send a signal to the establishment in their own party.

I think the Republican party has lost its message, he said, and I think Donald Trump is throwing a molotov cocktail at Washington.

As for whether Trump would emerge victorious in Florida, Garces confessed he was concerned.

Kellyanne Conway, Trumps campaign manager, acknowledged in an interview with CBS this week that the path will be much harder without Florida. But that is an understatement, given if Clinton wins the state then Trump would have to virtually sweep the remaining battleground states, including seemingly safe Democratic areas like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Colorado.

Complicating matters is polling showing Clinton giving Trump a run for his money in deeply red states such as Arizona, Utah and even Texas, diverting the Republican nominees attention with precious little time remaining before election day.

A Republican activist at the Broward College polling site, who declined to be named due to his involvement in local races, said he reluctantly cast his ballot for Trump this week. But after watching hundreds of Democrats queue up to vote early after Clintons rally across the street from where he stood, the activist feared the writing was already on the wall.

Florida will be his death knell, he said of Trump. When youre competing in Texas and Utah two weeks before the election, its over.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/27/florida-voting-clinton-trump-election

Former Chilean military official found liable for killing of Victor Jara

Florida jury awards $28m in verdict that could lead to Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuezs extradition to face criminal charges over 1973 killing of folk singer

A Florida jury on Monday found a former Chilean army officer liable for the 1973 torture and murder of the folk singer and political activist Victor Jara, awarding $28m in damages to his widow and daughters in one of the biggest and most significant legal human rights victories against a foreign war criminal in a US courtroom.

The verdict against Pedro Pablo Barrientos Nuez after a two-week civil trial in Orlandos federal court could now also pave the way for his extradition to face criminal murder charges in Chile related to his conduct during a CIA-backed coup that led to Augusto Pinochets 17-year military dictatorship and the deaths of almost 3,100 people.

Accusers said Barrientos, 67, who now lives in Deltona, Florida, shot dead Jara, 40, in September 1973 after three days of beatings while the socialist-leaning theatre director and university lecturer was among thousands of suspected communists and subversives detained in Santiagos soccer stadium.

Barrientos, who fled Chile in 1989 and became a US citizen through marriage, was one of nine retired army officers indicted for murder in his homeland four years ago but the US Department of Justice has not responded to a request by the Chilean government for his return.

Kathy Roberts, legal director of the Center for Justice and Accountability, the California-based human rights group that brought the civil action on behalf of Jaras British-born widow, Joan Turner Jara, and daughters Amanda Turner Jara and Manuela Bunster, believes the Florida jurys ruling could now increase the pressure on the DoJ.

Its a step on the path towards justice for our clients and for Victor but also for the many other families who lost someone at Chile Stadium so many years ago, she said after the verdict.

We presented evidence that started to shed light on what happened there, and we hope that process will continue in Chile and we hope that the United States will extradite Mr Barrientos to face justice in the country where he committed these crimes.

Joan Jara Turner, 88, testified during the trial that her husbands death in a stadium locker room had cut my life in two, and has previously spoken of the horror of having to identify his tortured and mutilated body in a morgue after he was dumped outside the stadium with 44 bullet wounds.

[Im] happy in a sense that what we were trying to do for more than 40 years, for Victor, has today come true, she said through tears on the steps if the Orlando courthouse.

Its the beginning of justice for all those people, those relatives in Chile who are waiting to learn the fate of their loved ones, who have been for years and years, just like us, seeking justice [and] knowledge.

Its been a long journey. For Victor, art and social justice were one and the same. His songs continue to be sung today and inspire both artists and those who seek social justice.

Daughter Amanda Turner Jara, who thanked lawyers from the CJA and pro bono counsel from New York legal firm Chadbourne & Parke, said it was crucial that Barrientos was extradited.

He ran away. Hes been hiding here for so long, and its time he faces that now in Chile, she said.

The jury of five women and one man deliberated for nine hours before determining that Barrientos, a Pinochet loyalist who commanded the Chilean armys notorious Tejas Verde brigade, should pay $6m in compensatory damages and a further $22m in punitive damages. The jury found him liable on both counts of the civil indictment, for torture and extrajudicial killing.

The Jara family, however, are unlikely to see any payment. Barrientos lawyer Luis Calderon painted a picture during the trial of a poor retiree who lives in a modest two-bedroom house and drives around in a decade-old car, and who was forced to work as a cook at a fast-food restaurant for years just to make ends meet.

Barrientos, who remained impassive as the verdicts were read, did not comment afterwards but Calderon said he was disappointed. We will explore all our options regarding an appeal, he said.

Dixon Osburn, executive director of the CJA, told the Guardian that one of the biggest challenges was proving that Barrientos, who also worked for a time as a landscaper during almost three decades in the US, was the same violent army officer who beat, tortured and shot Jara.

These cases are always difficult because a lot of time has passed and because of the silence that has encased this matter for so long, he said. Trying to break through that silence and lift the veil on what happened in those days was enormously difficult.

One of the things the Jara family has been pursuing for 43 years is just the truth. Barrientos said in deposition he knew nothing of Chile Stadium, he knew nothing of Victor Jara, but we had conscript after conscript saying he was there and he was responsible for what took place.

One of the conscripts, Jose Navarette Barra, said during the trial in video testimony from Chile that Barrientos boasted of what he had done. He said many times that he killed Victor Jara, Barra said. He talked about killing a communist, and he didnt want a communist in Chile.

The ruling marks the latest victory in the CJAs pursuit of overseas war criminals and human rights abusers living in Florida. In August 2015, El Salvadors former defence minister Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova was extradited to El Salvador after a lengthy legal battle. Vides, an army general in the country during the bloody civil war in the 1980s, was accused of covering up a number of atrocities, including the rape and murder of four American churchwomen.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/27/victor-jara-pedro-pablo-barrientos-nunez-killing-chile