South America Articles.

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Sep 25, 2015

Costa Rica: Violence Reach 'Pandemic' Rates

A state official recently warned citizens on Tuesday against entering into the drug trade, saying it could lead to either to prison or to death.

Costa Rica is estimated to be reaching “pandemic” levels of violence by the end of the year, as up to 533 murders are expected by December, said the country’s Public Ministry and Judicial Police on Wednesday.   

To this date, authorities estimated almost 400 homicides since January, out of which 45 percent would be related to drug-trafficking or organized crime.   

Although compared to its Central American neighbours (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras) – among the most violent countries of the world, Costa Rica's rate still shows a significant peak of violence from the past – representing about 30 percent more than 2012 and 2013.   

According to experts, the factors causing an increment of violence would be two-folded: on one hand, the international criminal dynamic making Mexican cartels using more the Costa Rican routes – as a better alternative than the militarized maritime roads to ship cocaine to the United States; on the other hand, local gangs have also increased in power, both in terms of weapons (state officials warned Mexican cartels were handing them AK-47s) and maybe even work force.   

Possibly due to the record levels of unemployment in the country – about 10 percent since 2013, more and more people seem to be tempted to join local gangs, as suggested recently Luis Avila, sub-director of the judicial investigation bureau (OIJ), who warned citizens on Tuesday that drug business was the worst path to be taken in this life, leading either to prison or to death.   

For the moment, the government would refuse a militarized approach to the issue – Costa Rica is among the few countries of the world without armed forces, preferring to focus on prevention and drug education, while improving the judicial system.

Source : Telesur

Sep 22, 2015

Venezuela, Colombia Agree to Address Border Closure Dispute

The presidents of Venezuela and Colombia met in host country Ecuador and have agreed to normalize border relations.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa read a statement including a 7-point agreement following a mediated closed-door meeting between ​Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos in the capital of Ecuador on Monday.   

Correa affirmed the importance of bilateral dialogue and international respect in resolving tensions and disputes.   

“There can be differences (between the two countries), but the love, affection ... allow any difficulty to be overcome,” President Correa said.

Reading from the 7-point statement, the Ecuadorean leader said that Venezuela and Colombia would reinstate their ambassadors, carefully investigate the border situation, while working to progressively normalize the border. The two countries will also continue talks supported by Uruguay and Ecuador, with a follow up meeting of ministers scheduled for Sept. 23.   

“I’ve told our peoples, there is no room for hatred, for intolerance or for revenge,” said President Maduro, adding that peace always triumphs in the end in an effort to promote brotherhood between the two countries.   

Correa also added that the two countries will examine how to cooperate despite their different economic models.   

“We have two very different models of country development models,” President Santos said. “But we can work toward common goals agreed to by our two peoples.”   

The meeting between the two leaders was facilitated by Correa and Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez and held under the auspices of Unasur and Celac Latin American regional blocs.   

The joint press conference comes after weeks of tensions between the two countries following Venezuela’s decision to close its border with its neighbor and announce a state of exception in some of its border regions.   

In August, Maduro announced the closure of the border in Tachira state after three Venezuelan soldiers were shot by suspected Colombian paramilitaries operating in the border region. The subsequent operations in the area have led to the capture of dozens of alleged paramilitaries, while also uncovering explosives making operations, brothels using minors and clandestine prisons that authorities say were likely used for kidnappings and tortures. The crackdown also led to the deportation of hundreds of undocumented Colombians living in Venezuelan territory.   

Despite Venezuela’s security concerns, Colombia has accused its northeastern neighbor of human rights abuses against migrants of Colombian origin, a charge that Venezuela has claimed is politically-motivated since the country offers refuge to at least 176,000 Colombians escaping political violence in their homeland.   

But on Monday, the tone between the two countries had significantly calmed.   

“We respect Venezuela, but if I wanted to close the border, if I wanted to deport the Colombians who do not have their papers in order ... the only thing we ask is due process,” said Santos, while acknowledging Venezuela’s border concerns about organized crime.   

“I fully understand the concern of the Venezuelan government about the mafia criminal gangs that have embedded themselves on on the border,” he added.   

“We unite these struggles against criminal gangs, drug trafficking, against illegality,” Santo said, emphasizing that by “By working together, respecting our differences, I think we can achieve (solutions).”   

“And as for Colombians, we only have affection, admiration, and respect (for the people of Venezuela).”

Source: Telesur

Sep 3, 2015

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina Resigns

President Otto Perez Molina finally bowed to pressure and announced his resignation, according to his press office.

Just a few hours after an arrest warrant was issued against him, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, who had vowed he would not resign, announced he would step down from office, his press team announced this Thursday morning.

Jorge Ortega, the president's spokesman said that Molina submitted his resignation at midnight local time just hours after a judge issued an arrest warrant in his name late Wednesday.

Prosecutors accuse the president of masterminding a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars from customs service as part of a fraud ring, which the country's vice president has already been jailed and faces charges over.

The allegations against Molina were made by influential sectors in Guatemala, including the office of human rights, the agricultural, rural, industrial, and financial committees, the Peasant Unity Committee, the Catholic and Evangelical churches and members of civil organizations.

The Central American country is still struggling to recover from the U.S.-funded civil war (1960-1996), which saw more than 200,000 Guatemalans killed, most of them Indigenous Mayans. It currently faces high rates of poverty and ranks among one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International.


The letter of resignation submitted by Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina early Thursday. Photo: El Periodico

Source : Telesur

Sep 2, 2015

Peru: Indigenous Seize 11 Oil Wells Demanding Spill Clean UP

The Achuar communities say foreign oil companies pollute their lands and their clean water. They demand compensation and clean up of oil spills.

Peruvian indigenous protesters seized oil wells in an Amazonian oil block Tuesday to press the government to respond to demands for compensation due to the pollution caused by the petroleum operations.

The protesters from the Achuar indigenous communities said they also plan to halt output in a nearby concession.

The indigenous demonstrators shut down 11 wells and tood control of an airdrome in oil block 8 to demand clean water, reparations for oil pollution and more pay for the use of native land, said Carlos Sandi, chief of the indigenous federation Feconaco.

Achuar leader Carlos Sandi observes the damage left behind by extractionist oil companies.| Photo: Reuters   

Argentine energy company Pluspetrol operates block 8 and said daily output of about 8,500 barrels per day had stopped. The firm called on protesters in block 8 to seek dialogue.

"So far, however, they insist on holding control of installations," Pluspetrol said in a statement.

Sandi said the Achuar in oil block 192 would also soon seize wells there following a dispute with the government over proceeds for communities in a new contract awarded to the Canadian company Pacific Exploration and Production Corporation.

Both oil blocks are in Peru's northern region of Loreto.


"The decision (to seize wells) has been made, we just need to wrap up some coordination," Sandi said.

Peru signed a last-minute deal with Pacific for the rights to tap oil block 192 for the next two years after an open auction for a 30-year contract failed to draw any bids last month.

The government included benefits for some indigenous communities in the new contract but a stalemate with others over their share of oil profits left many out.

Representatives of Pacific could not be reached outside of regular business hours.

Block 192's operations have been halted on various occasions in recent years. The protesters have demanded the government clean up spills and give them more compensation. Peru has declared several environmental emergencies there because of oil pollution.

The Latin American country is rife with conflicts over mining and energy projects.

Earlier on Tuesday, an assembly of social organizations in the Amazonian region of Loreto voted to carry out another 48-hour strike starting Friday to protest the government's privatization move to allocate an oil lot to the Canadian company for two years instead of the country's state-owned company.

Lot 192 is the source of 17 percent of the national crude production.

The region's president of Patriotic Front Americo Menendez said the Canadian oil firm is a “mafia company,” saying that for example in Colombia they hire gunmen to deal with social leaders who oppose exploitation.

Nevertheless, he added, the assembly also voted in favor of maintaining the talks with the government, in order to negotiate various demands, including the creation of a compensation fund of about US$112 million, in addition to an inversion of about US$625 million in the area.

In Colombia, Pacific Stratus Energy allegedly hires killers against social leaders who oppose the exploitation, claimed President of Federation of Native Communities from the River Tigre Fernando Chuje.   

Minister of Mines and Energy Rosa Maria Ortiz has indicated that the state company PetroPeru will start a process of restructuring and modernization in the next 270 days to prepare it to compete against the Canadian company in two years, when the concession ends.

Lot 192 is comprised of areas inhabited by the communities of the river basins of Pastaza, Tigre, and Corrientes.

The leaders of the Apus Indigenous people in the area have been protesting for years, demanding respect for their people and reparations for environmental destruction caused by oil companies.

Source : Telesur

Aug 21, 2015

Brazil: Hundreds of Thousands Protest Against Coup Attempts

From landless peasants to worker unions, Brazilians took to the streets to stop impeachment efforts by the right wing.

Around 1 million people from all states of Brazil protested Thursday against attempts to impeach President Dilma Rousseff.

The marches were joined by Brazil's leading social movements, including the Movement of Landless Campesinos (MST) and the United Workers' Central (CUT), the largest union in the country and in Latin America.

Organizers made it clear that the marches were in support of democracy and against growing impeachment calls from the country’s right wing. Political parties, including the left-wing opposition Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), joined the march.

According to O Globo newspaper, at least 876,000 people participated in the demonstrations across the country.

A common theme in the marches was the rejection of Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, a former IMF economist, who has pushed forward austerity policies cutting social programs.

Speakers and marchers also targeted Eduardo Cunha, the head of Congress and former government ally who has been leading calls for impeachment.

Cunha was officially charged by the Attorney General's Office on Thursday for money laundering and corruption. The lawmaker allegedly received US$ 5 million from the Petrobras fraud scheme. Cunha, who was under investigation, had claimed that the accusations against him were politically motivated and thus broke off from his party's alliance with the government.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro expressed his support for Rousseff on his Twitter account, posting pictures of late President Hugo Chavez joined by former Brazilian President Lula da Silva.

In Sao Paulo, social movements, worker unions and political parties gathered outside the Lula Institute to express their solidarity with former President Lula da Silva, who some are trying to link to the Petrobras scandal. 

Amid the marches in favor of democracy, President Rousseff received German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Planalto Palace, Brasilia, and signed a series of cooperation agreements between both nations.

Source : Telesur

Aug 20, 2015

Venezuela Closes Colombia Border Amid Paramilitary Violence

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to take a hard line against paramilitaries and cross-border violence.
Venezuela has closed its western border with Colombia in response to paramilitary violence, President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday.

The border will remain closed for at least 72 hours.

Maduro said the order to close the border was issued after three soldiers were injured by a paramilitary ambush in the western state of Tachira.

“It's outrageous … everyone should show solidarity with the armed forces; the military personnel who are at the border to defend the homeland,” he told state broadcaster VTV.

He continued, “Enough of paramilitary terrorism! It's time for justice for Tachira.”

Tachira's state government has already expressed support for the border closure, and Maduro has called on Bogota to cooperate in cracking down on cross-border crime.

The three soldiers came under fire while carrying out an anti-smuggling operation in a border area. At least one was in a critical condition after suffering a gunshot wound to the torso, while two other soldiers were hit by rifle fire.

The identity of the assailants remains murky, though in recent days Maduro has warned as many as 30 paramilitary groups are operating in Venezuela.

In a televised address on Tuesday, the president vowed to take a hard line on armed groups.

“We will capture all paramilitary groups who want to hurt Venezuela,” he said.

Source : Telesur

Aug 14, 2015

Ecuador : Opposition Violence Left 45 Police Officers Wounded

Opponents of the Correa government marched upon the streets as part of what government supporters have called a concerted destabilization attempt.

At least 45 police officers were wounded on Thursday in Ecuador, following the violent opposition marches that took place in several major cities of the Andean country, President Rafael Correa said in his Twitter account.

“Unfortunately 45 policemen were injured in the riots today, those responsible do not have support, legality or legitimacy, thereby they are seeking to generate violence.” Correa said.

Officials also announced that several demonstrators were arrested, as factions opposed to the government attempted to stage stoppages as part of what government supporters have called a concerted effort to destabilize the government.

Thursday's events followed weeks of right-wing oppostion protests initially provoked in oppostion to Correa’s plans to raise taxes on the wealthy, but later explicitly demanding the ousting of Correa.     

Indigenous and union groups opposed to the government, and who called Thursday’s actions, have faced criticism for appearing to aid the right in its demands.       

In the county’s largest city Guayaquil, the opposition marched in four groups, blocking major roads, burning tires and hurling sticks and other objects at officers.   

The marches were attended by prominent opposition figures, including banker Guillermo Lasso, businessman and five-times presidential candidate Alvaro Noboa and the mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot. However, local press reported that the opposition was never together in the protest and each group took a different route.   

Meanwhile, supporters of the leftist government of Rafael Correa also held rallies to demonstrate support for the democratically-elected government and maintained a permanent presence in front of the presidential palace, in Quito, in an effort to ward off any potential disruptions.

Source : Telesur

Opposition Protests Turn Violent in Ecuador

Members of the opposition have engaged in violent clashes with the police.

Opposition protests against Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa’s government are becoming increasingly violent Thursday evening.   

In Quito, where the opposition march started at 4 p.m., protesters started to throw projectiles at police forces on Santo Domingo Square.   

“Both masked and unmasked demonstrators violently attacked the police,” reported teleSUR correspondent Lucho Granados. “The violence was completely unprovoked by police, who were guarding a street, keeping the opposition march from reaching the government rally (located in Independence Square).”   



The pro-government counterprotest in Independence Square, where the presidential palace is located, is taking place “in a festive atmosphere,” according to teleSUR correspondent Estefania Bravo.


"We have to learn from the mistakes from the past," said Labor Mininster Carlos Marx Carrasco, who rejects the violence against Ecuador’s democratically elected president.   

About two blocks away from the peaceful pro-Correa gathering, opposition protestors attempted to break through the police cordon, with demonstrators affiliated with the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, threw rocks at police officers, reported El Telegrafo.   

The CONAIE has aligned itself with the right-wing opposition and called for an indigenous “uprising” against the Correa government, calling him to repeal land and water laws.   



Photos: Ministry of Interior


Earlier in the afternoon, in the region of Cotopaxi nearby the capital, the opposition protests resulted in more violence, leaving 20 police officers and one civilian injured, according to authorities.

“We went to Chasqui in Cotopaxi because they brutally attacked our police officers, don’t ask us not to feel outraged,” tweeted Minister of the Interior Jose Serrano.


Indigenous protesters block a part of the Panamericana Highway in El Chasqui, Andean center of the country. Photo: AFP

Source : Telesur

Jul 27, 2015

Ecuadorean Labor Groups Oppose National Strike

August's national strike has been called by small trade union groups long opposed to the nation's left-wing government.

Leaders from various Ecuadorean labor and indigenous groups are voicing
opposition to a national strike, planned for Aug. 13, and also supported
 efforts to engage in dialogue with the government. This comes soon
after one indigenous group, Conaie, announced it was not prepared to
discuss hot-button topics with the government, instead supporting a
national strike to paralyze the country.

Franklin Columba, leader of Fenocin, the country’s second largest
indigenous organization, said, “We all have the right to protest, but
not in the way that it is being proposed. Also, personally, I feel that
the current government has contributed to fundamental changes in favor
of the Ecuadorean people,” according to the Ecuadorean media outlet El
Telegrafo.   

Jose Giler Vera, leader of the Association of Banana Workers of Guayas,
also rejected the planned strike. He accused government opposition
groups of attempting to undermine President Rafael Correa’s
administration.

Workers belonging to the CUT union, which comprises small-business
owners as well as agricultural labor organizations, also voiced
opposition to the planned strike.

The South American country has recently witnessed often-violent
protests, led by opposition forces, to demand the government’s proposed
tax reforms to make the very wealthiest pay more, be scrapped.   

August's national strike has been called by in part by small trade union
 groups long opposed to the government and whose opposition to several
government-led initiatives includes the higher tax rates.

Source: Telesur

Jul 20, 2015

Ecuador : Indigenous Group Rejects Dialogue with Government

Inside sources say that protesters are calling for blockading of roads into Ecuador's largest cities in order to prevent the arrival of food.

One of Ecuador’s Indigenous organizations is calling on its membership
to flatly refuse debate and to participate in a “grand uprising” against
 the democratically-elected government of Rafael Correa.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, known as Conaie, approved
 a number of polemic resolutions during its national assembly held
Friday and Saturday in the province of Tungurahua, south of the capital
Quito.   

One resolution explicitly rejects the government's call for dialogue
with social sectors, aimed at addressing the issue of inequality in the
country.

Conaie’s President Jorge Herrera said the uprising would escalate and
use increasingly confrontational tactics.   

"We will not deviate from our position until we achieve our desired
results and we remain in the streets as long as necessary,” said
Herrera.   

teleSUR received a report from sources inside the meeting, who wish to
remain anonymous, saying Conaie plans to blockade roads into Ecuador's
largest cities in order to prevent the arrival of food.   

Asked directly if Conaie was contemplating these types of actions,
Herrea refused to rule them out, saying that individual organizations
would determine what type of tactics would be employed.   

The organization said it was attempting to build up momentum for an
indigenous uprising Aug. 10 and an “indefinite national strike,” set to
begin Aug. 13.   

Despite positioning itself as a progressive organization, Conaie has
been a vocal and active critic of the leftist government of Rafael
Correa.   

The group’s political arm, Pachakutik, backed a candidate against Correa
 in 2013 elections who gained just 3 percent of the vote.

Pachakutik has since been holding meetings with right-wing politicians,
including Guillermo Lasso, a banker who was soundly defeated by Correa
in the same elections by close to 35 percent.   

The press release by Conaie says its leadership feels it has the
necessary consensus to issue a call for an uprising. Nonetheless, there
are significant splits inside the indigenous movement in Ecuador, with
many leaders also openly supporting and backing the government of Rafael
 Correa.

In an effort to undermine the legitimacy of other groups that support
the government, Herrera told teleSUR that indigenous organizations that
support a dialogue with the government were “at the service” of the
government.   

Herrera also refused to comment specifically on the economic reform
bills proposed by Ecuador’s  government to make the wealthiest pay more
taxes to redistribute wealth.   

Conaie’s proposed actions are meant to coincide with protests called by
right-wing leaders and a “national strike” by opposition-aligned trade
unions.   

President Correa recently warned the recent spat of protests is part of a
 broader strategy in the region to sow instability in countries run by
leftist governments. He has repeatedly warned that opposition groups are
 seeking to be permanently mobilized in order to “try to wear down the
government” ahead of elections and possibly provoke an undemocratic
rupture.

A recent protest in the capital of Quito saw masked protesters attack
police in an effort to break police lines and storm the presidential
palace.    

Herrera denied that the aim of the uprising was to “destabilize” the
government and instead said his organization was demanding “concrete
responses” to their demands.

“The (protests against the) inheritance and capital gains laws were just
 an excuse, the reality is that it is the permanent mobilization to try
to wear down the government, to destabilize,” said President Correa last
 week.

Source : Telesur

Jul 16, 2015

United Nations Condemns Killing of Journalists in Honduras

The UN has called on Honduran authorities to end impunity for crimes against journalists and ensure that their perpetrators are brought to justice.

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, condemned on Thursday the
killing of three journalist in Honduras and said such crimes cannot can
not go unpunished.

“Using violence to silence journalists cannot be tolerated because it is
 also an attack on society as a whole,” she said, calling on authorities
 to end impunity for crimes against journalists and ensure that their
perpetrators are brought to justice.

The journalist killed are Jacobo Montoya, Juan Cruz and Joel Aquile,s
the UN agency reported.

The UN News Center explained what happened, “Cruz Andara, a reporter
with the TV broadcaster Teleport, was found stabbed to death in his home
 in the northern city of Puerto Cortes on 23 June, approximately five
months after reporting to the police that he had received a death
threat. Broadcast journalist Jacobo Montoya Ramírez was gunned down in
his home in the western town of Copan Ruinas on 25 June. Joel Aquiles
Torres, owner of local TV station Canal 67, was shot dead while driving
his car in Taulabe in the state of Comayagua, on 3 of July.”

According to authorities at least six reporters have been killed so far
in 2015. Honduras is seen as one of the most dangerous countries for
journalists and activists.

Most of the aggressions against journalists come from local gangs that
have proliferated as violence and inequality have increased in the
Central American country in recent years. Political impunity and
corruption have also affected crime levels. Honduras now has the world's
 highest homicide rate at 90.4 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to
official figures.

However the killing of journalists is not a problem that only affects
Honduras, according to the most recent report by Press Emblem Campaign
(PEC). The number of journalists killed from January to June this year
increased by 7 percent in 24 countries, with 71 people murdered.

Source : Terlesur

Jul 11, 2015

Venezuela : Nicolas Maduro Asks UN to Mediate in the Guyana Border Dispute

Maduro asked the U.N. chief to appoint a new Good Officer allowing to diplomatically address the Venezuela-Guyana territorial dispute.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sent a letter Friday to U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asking the U.N. chief to appoint a new
Good Officer to diplomatically address the Venezuela-Guyana territorial
dispute.    

“As it is public knowledge, the new Government of Guyana has ignored,
the entry into force of the 1966 Geneva agreement, showing a stubborn
and ambivalent attitude and has inflicted serious and grave offenses to
my country and my people. That's why I asked you to begin a process to
appoint a new Good Officer,” the document delivered by Foreign Minister
Delcy Rodriguez, reads.  

The position of Good Officer in the territorial dispute between
Venezuela and Guyana was born out of the 1966 Geneva agreement. Two
others have served as Good Officers but the post has been vacant since
April, 2014.

In his letter, the South American leader added that he expects the
person selected for the post to hold the same attributes as the the
previous ones, including: great ethical attributes, deep academic
specialization, and the ability to understand both the culture and the
historical moment in the region is undergoing in order to positively
contribute to the negotiation process between the two countries.

In an interview with teleSUR, President Maduro called on Guyana’s
president to resume talks over a piece of land west of the Essequibo
river, which was looted from Venezuela by the British empire for its
rich natural resources. 

Earlier this week, Maduro announced he was calling back his country's
ambassador in neighboring Guyana for consultations amid the escalating
row between both countries.

He ended his letter saying that the building a world of peace and
justice is based on the consolidation of the global system of respect
for sovereignty and equality between states.

Source : Telesur

Jul 3, 2015

Chilean Teachers Continue Month Long Protests

The Bachelet administration has come into criticism for refusing to incorporate the teachers demands into a new bill.

Chilean teachers continued to protest around the country on Friday,
after a month of ongoing protests due to a new teachers bill being
promoted by the government.

Thousands of teachers marched through Santiago, demanding the government
 withdraws the proposal.   

However, the teachers are divided, with some of their leaders proposing
to end the strike while continuing negotiations.   

Representatives from the teachers union, lawmakers and the Ministry of
Education have established talks but, after two weeks of negotiations,
have not been able to reach a deal.   

The new day of protests comes after the national teacher's union failed
to reach an agreement with the Ministry of Education to change key
aspects of the proposed bill.   

On Thursday several teachers occupied schools and learning centers
around the country.   

The teachers have been on strike for 33 days. The new bill would
implement performance tests on teachers, would reduce incentives to
enter the teaching profession and increase working hours.   

Chilean teachers already have to go through three different evaluation
processes per year, and several international studies have shown that
performance examinations do not translate necessarily in an improvement
in the quality of education.   

The Chilean government insists that it will not remove the project from
Parliament, despite claiming its willing negotiate some changes with the
 teachers.

Source : Telesur

Jun 30, 2015

WHO : Cuba Has Officially Eradicated HIV Transmission to Babies

The World Health Organizaiton says Cuba has just scored a huge victory in the global battle against HIV and syphilis.

Cuba became the first country in the world Tuesday to be recognized by
the World Health Organization (WHO) for eliminating mother-to-child
transmission of HIV and syphilis.

“This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually
transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an
AIDS-free generation” said Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.

According to the WHO, Cuba's mother-to-child transmission rate of HIV is
 now below 2 percent of births, while syphilis transmission is less than
 0.5 percent. Just two babies were born with HIV in Cuba in 2013, while 5
 were born with syphilis, according to figures verified by the WHO and
the Pan American Health Organization.

Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of the United Nations program UNAIDS,
described Cuba's achievement as “a celebration for children and families
 everywhere.”

“It shows that ending the AIDS epidemic is possible and we expect Cuba
to be the first of many countries coming forward to seek validation that
 they have ended their epidemics among children,” Sidibe said.

The WHO first announced they believed Cuba would be eligible for
recognition in March, but until now has withheld confirmation while it
conducted an in-depth review of the country's health data.

Worldwide, close to 1.4 million women with HIV become pregnant every
year. Without specialized treatment, there is a 15-45 percent chance a
HIV positive mother will pass the disease to their baby, either before
birth or during breast feeding. Comparably, around 1 million women with
syphilis become pregnant, according to the WHO.

In a statement, the WHO said Cuba's milestone in combating these two
diseases was achieved through guaranteed comprehensive prenatal care for
 mothers, including testing for HIV and syphilis.

“These services are provided as part of an equitable, accessible and
universal health system in which maternal and child health programs are
integrated with programs for HIV and sexually transmitted infections,”
the statement read.

The milestone shows that the fight against some of the world's worst
diseases is winnable, according to Pan American Health Organization
director Carissa Etienne.

“Cuba’s success demonstrates that universal access and universal health
coverage are feasible and indeed are the key to success, even against
challenges as daunting as HIV,” Etienne said.

Source : Telesur

Jun 27, 2015

Ecuador : Disturbing Video Incites Police Rebellion Against Ecuador's President Rafael Correa

The call for rebellion among the ranks of the Ecuadorean police department is particularly alarming due to the police role in a 2010 coup attempt.

A disturbing new video has surfaced encouraging the Ecuadorean police
force to join destabilization efforts against the left-wing president,
Rafael Correa.   

The video, which appears to incite rebellion among the ranks of the
Ecuadorean police department, is particularly alarming due to the role
of the police in a 2010 coup attempt against President Rafael Correa.   

In recent weeks, a wave of protests, initially against tax hikes on the
wealthiest, have demanded the ousting of the elected progressive
president.   

The protests have been led by right-wing politicians linked to the old
governing powers, swept from office by Rafael Correa’s election victory
in 2007.   

The 2010 coup attempt saw the military and the police conspire in events
 that saw the president injured and later detained against his will.
Five people died and, in released recordings, police officers can be
heard screaming “Kill the President”, “Kill Correa.”   

The president was ultimately rescued by loyal sections of the military
and returned to the presidential palace, where thousands had gathered to
 show their support for the government.

After the failure of the previous coup attempt, numerous police officers
 were convicted and sentenced for their involvement in the mutiny.
According to a 2014 report from the Police Inspector's Office, a total
of 600 police members were removed from their posts between 2013 and
2014 due to corruption and organised-crime related activities.

Following the failed coup in 2010, both President Correa and Foreign
Minister Ricardo Patiño accused the CIA of lending support to the
country's security institutions including the Ecuadorean police.

Correa, who has served as President since 2007, has consistently had
approval ratings of over 60 percent, making him one of the region's most
 popular leaders.

The events of Sept. 30, 2010, echoed many others in Latin America’s
past, when force was used to remove elected heads of state.   





Source : Telesur

Jun 19, 2015

Bolivia's New Oil Discovery Triples Reserves

Bolivia makes first oil discovery in two decades, increasing reserves from 16 million to 44 million barrels.

Bolivia has tripled its oil reserves, President Evo Morales announced
Thursday, after state-owned energy company YPFB made a significant oil
discovery in the eastern department of Santa Cruz.

"This oil reserve marks the first new discovery in 23 years. This is an
example of the positive outcomes from nationalization. With this reserve
 we now have 44 million barrels of oil reserves,” announced Morales.

Morales estimated that over the next decade, the new oil field would
generate US$383 million in government revenue and would translate into
US$917 million worth of savings due to the ending of various subsidies.

During his speech, the Bolivian leader went on to criticize foreign
nongovernmental organizations that aim to obstruct natural resource
exploration projects.

“It is unacceptable to me that there are NGOs and foundations operating
under the pretext of defending the indigenous movement. I want to make
it clear that NGOs and foundations that obstruct natural resource
exploration must leave Bolivia,” Morales stated.

According to company officials, YPFB is planning to invest a total of
US$3 billion in Bolivia from 2015-2019 towards oil exploration projects.

Due to increased revenues from gas and oil exports, the Bolivian
government has since 2006 dramatically increased social spending in the
area of health, education, pensions, and poverty alleviation programs by
 45 percent.

Source : Telesur

Jun 16, 2015

Ecuador : Tax laws halted to promote social dialogue and debates

Minister Guillaume Long spoke to teleSUR about ongoing protests and the president's decision to halt two tax bills.

On Monday night, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa announced he was
halting two new bills intended to raise taxes on inheritance and capital
 gains, after a week of demonstrations.

With tensions running high in the Andean country, some within the
government – even the president himself – warned on the possibility of a
 coup attempt.

TeleSUR English spoke to Culture Minister Guillaume Long, who said
President Correa's decision to temporarily halt both bills was necessary
 “to diminish the climate of polarization” and promote “rational
political interaction.”

Source : Telesur

Jun 15, 2015

Thousands Gather to Welcome Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa

The right-wing opposition has been holding regular protests in the country calling for the ouster of Correa's democratically-elected government.

Supporters of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa have gathered in the
Plaza Grande, in the capital of Quito to welcome the President and give a
 show of support to the Citizen's Revolution, which has been under a
steady attack by wealthy right-wing opposition supporters.

The ruling PAIS Alliance party called on Ecuadoreans to rally in front
of the presidential palace Monday during the changing of the guard
ceremony, held every every week, where President Correa will address the
 crowd.   

The Ecuadorean head of state returned to the country late Sunday night
after a trip to Brussels to participate in the EU-CELAC Summit and brief
 visit to Milan, where he toured the Ecuador pavilion at the 2015 Expo.   

In his absence the right-wing opposition has been holding regular
protests in the country calling for his ousting, with some posts on
social media calling on the armed forces to take action.

The protests were initially triggered by a bill presented by the
executive to the National Assembly that seeks to redistribute wealth in
the country by taxing the inheritances of the highest earners.   

Correa has warned that the real aim of the opposition is the
destabilization of his democratically-elected government.

“It is not about revoking the inheritance law, they are trying to
overthrow the national government,” said Correa during his weekly
address Saturday.

Source : Telesur

Jun 14, 2015

Ongoing Protests in Guatemala to Oust President Perez Molina

For two months, thousands of Guatemalans have taken to the streets every Saturday to demand the resignation of Otto Perez Molina.

​A wave of protests born out of the revelations of corruption scandals
led in May to the resignation of Vice-president Roxana Baldetti.

However, Guatemalans are continuing to protest, and are putting
increasing pressure on the government, which culminated Friday with the
congress appointing five lawmakers to decide whether Perez Molina should
 be stripped off his presidential immunity.

Facing corruption allegations, Perez Molina is yet to be implicated in
any wrongdoings but protesters are blaming him for previous scandals and
 it is now up to the opposition-led congress to decide whether there is
enough evidence for him to be prosecuted.

National elections are scheduled for September 2015 and Perez Molina,
who has refused to step down, will not be able to seek reelection.
Corruption scandals, including the revelation of customs fraud network
La Linea, have shaken the government over the past few months, with
Perez Molina accepting the resignation of many of his cabinet members
and firing others.

Perez Molina will be investigated for his alleged participation in
corruption since he came to power in 2012. He is suspected to be an
accomplice in La Linea, comprised of border agents, mid-ranking
officials and trade authority executives who lowered taxes on imported
goods in exchange for financial kickbacks. In April, two high-level
current and former government officials as well as 18 other suspects
were arrested in the customs fraud investigation. Nonetheless,
widespread corruption and a culture of impunity means the accused may
get off lightly - and many other accomplices could escape prosecution
altogether.

Deputies in Congress are now tasked with deciding on Perez Molina’s
immunity: 105 out of the total 158 need to vote in consensus for the
Guatemalan president to be stricken of his immunity and stand trial.

Source : Telesur

Venezuela Calls for Urgent CELAC Meeting Amid Ecuador Coup Plan

President Nicolas Maduro called upon the other member countries to show solidarity with Ecuador’s elected government.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called for an urgent meeting of the
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to discuss
tensions and possible coup plots against the government of Ecuadorean
President Rafael Correa.

“It's time for us to activate all our solidarity with the people of
Ecuador and with President Rafael Correa,” Maduro said Saturday during
an event in the Venezuelan state of Miranda.

The call comes after Correa denounced that a coup plot was being hatched
 against him as he returns Sunday from the European Union-CELAC meeting
in Brussels.

Throughout this week, parallel demonstrations have been held both
against and in support of President Correa, who left to the Belgian
capital on June 8.

The Ecuadorean head of state used his Twitter account to call upon his
supporters to gather early at the Presidential Palace Monday in support
of his government.




“Thank you Quito! Thank you Guayaquil! Thank you Ecuador for your peace
and your presence! I want to thank my partners for their great job, I
would have loved to be with you during this day of happiness and
revolution. On Monday at 11:00, everyone to the Plaza Grande (Main
Square) for the change of guards. We are more! Many more!” read the
series of tweets.

Speaking from Milan, the president explained during his weekly
television program Citizen Link (Enlace Ciudadano) that the opposition
is sowing confusion about a government proposal to increase the
inheritance and capital gains tax of the top 2 percent of Ecuadorean as
an excuse to try and to oust him.

“The real motive is to overthrow the government. Its not about
abolishing the inheritance tax, its about toppling the national
government … they had everything ready...they have foreign advisers” he
said.

Maduro, who could not be in Brussels due to illness, warned that the
Ecuadorean right-wing will resort to violence in its attempts to
destabilize Correa's left-wing administration.

Source : Telesur

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