Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (C) addresses the
audience during a meeting of the annual Mercosur trade bloc presidential
summit in Mendoza June 29, 2012. (Credit: Reuters/Enrique Marcarian)

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals
Chinese President Xi Jinping (4-L, first row) poses with leaders of the CELAC group of Latin American and Caribbean states, in Brasilia, on July 17, 2014 (AFP Photo/Nelson Almeida)
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Map of Latin America showing countries where major protests have occurred in recent months (AFP Photo)
.
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ
The Conmebol headquarters in Luque, Paraguay, is seen on January 7, 2016, during a raid within the framework of the FIFA corruption scandal (AFP Photo/Norberto Duarte)

'Panama Papers' law firm under the media's lenses

'Panama Papers' law firm under the media's lenses
The Panama Papers: key facts on the huge journalists' investigation into tax evasion (AFP Photo/Thomas Saint-Cricq, Philippe Mouche)

Mossack Fonseca

Mossack Fonseca

.

.
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Thursday, December 5, 2019

'The rapist is you': Chile hymn against sexual violence goes viral

Yahoo – AFP, December 5, 2019

Women of all ages from around Santiago dressed in black, sporting red scarves and
blindfolds, converged on the sporting venue in the early evening after a call-out on
social media networks (AFP Photo/Martin BERNETTI)

Santiago (AFP) - Thousands of women have mobbed the National Stadium in Chile's capital for a flash denunciation of sexual violence -- the latest performance of a battle-cry that has seized public attention during weeks of national unrest.

Women of all ages from around Santiago, dressed in black and wearing red scarves and blindfolds, converged on the sporting venue in the early evening after a call-out on social media networks.

"The fault is not with me, nor where I was, nor how I was dressed... The rapist is you!" the group sang, stomping their feet and waving their arms in a choreographed routine that has in recent weeks been staged around the country and around the world.

Similar performances have been staged by women as far away as Paris, Barcelona and Mexico City.

"It was a great experience to share this with thousands and thousands of women," 66-year-old Jacqueline Saintard told AFP after Wednesday's demonstration.

First created by the feminist collective LasTesis, based in the Chilean seaside town of Valparaiso, the performance began to be emulated after reports of police violence against women and as countrywide demonstrations against the government gained steam.

Those protests initially erupted in mid-October over metro fare hikes but quickly escalated into the most severe outbreak of social unrest since the end of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet nearly 30 years ago.

Furious Chileans have taken to the streets in the weeks since to protest social and economic inequality.

More than 3,500 women were killed across Latin America and the Caribbean in acts of gender-based violence last year, according to UN data.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Suriname court convicts president of murder

DW, 30 November 2019

Suriname's President Desi Bouterse has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 1982 murder of 15 political opponents. The South American country is now on edge over what happens next.

Suriname President Desi Bouterse (Reuters/R. Abhelakh)

A military court in Suriname on Friday convicted President Desi Bouterse of murder for the execution of 15 opponents in 1982, plunging the South American country into political uncertainty.

Opposition parties called on Bouterse, who is on a state visit to China, to step down. He was expected to return home on Saturday or Sunday.

The 74-year-old leader was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but the military court did not issue an arrest warrant. Under Surinamese law, he cannot be arrested until all appeals have been exhausted.

After the court decision, the government asked Suriname's 560,000 people to remain calm.

Who is Bouterse?

As a junior military officer, Bouterse seized power in a coup in 1980, five years after Suriname gained independence from the Netherlands. He stepped down in 1987 under international pressure in a move that led to a democratic election, only to briefly seize power again in 1990.

He later left the army and took office again in 2010, following democratic elections won by his National Democratic Party (NDP). He secured a second term in 2015.

What did the court find? 

The court ruled that Bouterse had overseen what is known as the "December killings," in which soldiers abducted 16 opponents, among them prominent journalists, academics and military officers.

All but one of the detainees was killed at a colonial fortress in the capital Paramaribo. The sole survivor — a union later — testified against Bouterse.

What led up to decision?

The court decision marks a turning point in a trail that began in 2007, when Bouterse accepted "political responsibility'' for the killings but insisted he was not present.

Bouterse and the NDP have repeatedly sought to obstruct the trial. Shortly after taking office in 2010, the NDP-controlled National Assembly granted him amnesty that was overturned by the constitutional court.

Then in 2016, the president asked the attorney general to halt the legal proceedings against him, but the court ruled against the move because the trial had already started.

Calls to implement law

Angelic del Castillo, head of the opposition Democratic Alternative '91 party, said Bouterse had "disqualified himself" and demanded he immediately resign.

In a joint statement, the diplomatic missions of France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States called on the final verdict in the killings to be "implemented and upheld in accordance with the rule of law."

"The integrity and independence of the Judiciary is a pillar in Suriname society," they said.

Drug trafficking

In 2009, a Dutch court sentenced Bouterse to 11 years in prison in absentia for drug trafficking. However, his 2010 election victory protected him from being extradited under an Interpol warrant.

In 2015, his son, Dino Bouterse, was sentenced to more than 16 years in prison in the United States after being convicted of drug smuggling and trying to help the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah establish a base in Suriname. He had previously been picked to run Suriname's counter-terrorism unit.

A Suriname judge in 2005 convicted Dino of trafficking arms, drugs and running a gang.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Priests who abused deaf children get 40-year jail terms in Argentina

Yahoo – AFP, November 25, 2019

Victims and relatives celebrate outside the court after hearing their abusers
get lengthy jail sentences for years of sexual abuse at the Provolo institute
for deaf children in Mendoza, Argentina (AFP Photo/Andres Larrovere)

Mendoza (Argentina) (AFP) - Two Roman Catholic priests were each sentenced to more than 40 years in prison in Argentina for the sexual abuse, including rape, of deaf children, a court in the western city of Mendoza ruled Monday.

Argentine priest Horacio Corbacho was sentenced to 45 years in jail, while a 42-year sentence was imposed on Italian Nicola Corradi for the abuse of some 20 children at the Provolo Institute for deaf and hearing-impaired children between 2004 and 2016.

The trial, one of several involving the school that have yet to begin, has sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church in the homeland of Pope Francis.

The court said the sentences took into account the aggravating circumstances that the priests were responsible for the children's wellbeing, as well as the fact that the victims were minors living at the boarding school.

Italian Catholic priest Nicola Corradi being wheeled into court before being 
sentenced to 42 years for sexually abusing minors at a school for the
deaf in Mendoza, Argentina (AFP Photo/Andres Larrovere)

The victims were children and adolescents aged between four and 17.

The school's gardener, Armando Gomez, was also jailed for 18 years for sexual abuse.

Neither of the three defendants made any response when their sentences were read out. Corradi, the eldest, had been brought into court on a wheelchair.

Outside the court a group of young people waited for the ruling, holding up banners which said "Support for the Survivors of Provolo."

Ezequiel Villalonga (L), 18, who accused Italian priest Nicola Corradi and two 
others of sexual abuse at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza, celebrates with 
other victims and relatives after they received lengthy jail sentences (AFP
 Photo/Andres Larrovere)

Some burst into wild celebrations when the sentence was read out in court. Some of the victims' mothers simply embraced and wept.

School shut down

Corbacho, 59, and 83-year-old Corradi had been held in preventive detention since their arrest three years ago on charges of child sex abuse at the school.

Apart from the gardener, several other staff at the school were taken into custody after the allegations of abuse first came to light in 2016, and the institute, 1,000 kilometers west of Buenos Aires, was shut down.

Italian Catholic priest Nicola Corradi being wheeled into court
ahead of his sentencing Monday (AFP Photo/Andres Larrovere)

They included a 42-year-old Japanese nun, Kosaka Kumiko, who was arrested later after surrendering to authorities. She was charged with complicity with the two priests.

The trial began on August 5 and heard evidence from 13 victims from the institute during in camera hearings.

In a fast-tracked trial last year, a former altar boy, Jorge Bordon, 50, received a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to the sexual abuse of five children.

Another of the defendants was deemed mentally incompetent by the court for being disabled and having suffered sexual abuse himself as a child.

A woman holds posters of people accused of sexual abuse, corruption of children 
and mistreatment during a demonstration outside the Mendoza court (AFP Photo/
Andres Larrovere)

Fourteen more defendants are facing trial in two other separate cases involving the school.

Corradi arrived in Argentina in 1970 from the Provolo Institute in Verona, Italy, and took over the institution in the South American country, initially in La Plata near Buenos Aires, and then, from 1998, in Mendoza.

Other cases

Prosecutors have investigated other cases of abuse at the La Plata branch of the Provolo Institute which will also go to trial.

Argentine Catholic priest Horacio Corbacho at court before being 
sentenced to 45 years in prison for the sexual abuse of deaf 
children in his care in Mendoza (AFP Photo/Andres Larrovere)

"Life was very bad in there," one of the victims, 18-year-old Ezequiel Villalonga, told AFP at the beginning of the trial, highlighting the vulnerability of the children at the Mendoza school.

"We didn't learn anything. We didn't have any communication," Villalonga said of the school, set up to educate children with impaired hearing or speech disorders.

"We didn't know sign language, we didn't know what we were writing, we asked other classmates and, also, nobody understood anything."

Monday, November 18, 2019

Chile's president condemns police violence after four weeks of unrest

Yahoo – AFP, November 18, 2019

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera addresses the nation in Santiago (AFP
Photo/CLAUDIO REYES)

Santiago (AFP) - President Sebastian Pinera condemned on Sunday for the first time what he called abuses committed by police in dealing with four weeks of violent unrest that have rocked Chile.

"There was excessive use of force. Abuses and crimes were committed, and the rights of all were not respected," the president said in a speech to the nation as it marked a month of turmoil that has left 22 people dead and more than 2,000 injured.

Furious Chileans have been protesting social and economic inequality, and against an entrenched political elite that comes from a small number of the wealthiest families in the country, among other issues.

Accusations of police brutality and human rights violations have been levelled since the protests broke out, prompting the United Nations to send a team to investigate. Amnesty International has also sent a mission.

"There will be no impunity, not for those who committed acts of unusual violence, nor for those who committed excesses and abuses. We will do what is best for the victims," he said, referring to protesters first and then the security forces.

Pinera also praised an agreement reached last week under which Chile will draft a new constitution to replace the current one that dates back to the rightwing dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990.

Many in Chile see this step -- getting rid of a charter that smacks of a dark, repressive chapter in the country's past -- as a way to help end the crisis. It is a key demand of the thousands of protesters that have been taking to the streets in Santiago and elsewhere almost daily for a month.

The spasm of anger began with a rise in metro fares but quickly swelled into a broader outcry against the status quo in what is traditionally considered one of South America's most stable countries.

"If the people want it, we will move toward a new constitution, the first under democracy," Pinera said in a speech from the presidential palace.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Chile to amend constitution, a key demand of protesters

Yahoo – AFP, November 11, 2019

The Chilean government is in the process of preparing "a draft amendment of the
constitution," President Sebastian Pinera has said (AFP Photo/MARTIN BERNETTI)

Santiago (AFP) - Chile has announced it will move to draft a new constitution and replace one dating back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship -- a key demand of protesters who have rocked the country for three weeks.

The new constitution will be drafted by a body called a constituent assembly and then put to a referendum for ratification, Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel said Sunday.

Blumel made the announcement after meeting with a coalition of center-right and right-wing parties, which had been reluctant to change the constitution inherited from the era of the US-backed general Pinochet (1973-1990).

The government was in the process of preparing "a draft amendment of the constitution," President Sebastian Pinera said in an interview published Saturday by the daily El Mercurio.

Chile's President Sebastian Pinera says "a better definition of human rights" is 
among proposed changes to the constitution (AFP Photo/JAVIER TORRES)

Among the proposed changes are "a better definition of human rights" and their means of enforcement, plus clarification on "the obligations of the state" and "better mechanisms of participation" for citizens, added the president.

The current constitution, in force since 1980, has already undergone more than 200 changes in more than 40 articles, Pinera said.

But it does not establish the state's responsibility to provide education and healthcare -- two demands made by millions of Chileans who have taken to the streets.

Some opposition leaders reacted optimistically.

"The government is beginning to have a sense of reality," said Felipe Harboe of the opposition Party for Democracy.

Protests in Chile have left 20 dead - five at the hands of state forces -
and more than 1,000 injured (AFP Photo/Dante ROSSI)

A general public- sector strike began on Monday. Dozens of people protested before the presidential palace in Santiago and protests snarled traffic elsewhere in the capital.

The crisis is Chile's biggest since its return to democracy in 1990, leaving 20 dead -- five at the hands of state forces -- and more than 1,000 injured.

The unrest that began on October 18 with protests against a rise in rush-hour metro fares has mushroomed into a broader outcry against the status quo, with burning, looting and daily confrontations between demonstrators and police.

Protesters cite low wages, high costs for education and healthcare and a yawning gap between rich and poor in a country dominated politically and economically by a few elite families.

The unrest in Chile began on October 18 with protests against a rise in rush 
hour metro fares (AFP Photo/RODRIGO ARANGUA)

After weeks of sometimes violent demonstrations, most polls show the protest movement is supported by 75 percent of Chileans.

A slightly larger number -- 87 percent, according to a survey by pollster Cadem published this month -- say they favor the protesters' demand for constitutional reforms.

A few days after Pinera became president in March 2018, his government announced it would not allow the consideration of a bill to amend the constitution that the previous president, the socialist Michelle Bachelet (2014-2018), had submitted to congress.


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bolivia's Morales seeks new election but army calls on him to resign

Yahoo – AFP, Francisco JARA, Raul BURGOA and Francisco JARA, 10 November 2019

Bolivian President Evo Morales, seen here at a news conference
November 10, 2019, calls new elections

President Evo Morales called new elections Sunday but the commander of the armed forces asked him to resign "for the good of our Bolivia" after an OAS audit found serious irregularities in elections last month that gave the leftist leader a fourth term.

Morales, Bolivia's first president of indigenous descent, promised new elections under the direction of a revamped Supreme Electoral Tribunal in a televised address but did not say whether he would run again.

With no sign of violent protests abating, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Williams Kaliman, told reporters he was asking Morales "to resign his presidential mandate to allow for pacification and the maintaining of stability, for the good of our Bolivia."

Kaliman said the armed forces had ordered "military operations in the air and on land to neutralize armed groups that are acting outside the law" by attacking opposition demonstrators.

The commander of the police, General Vladimir Yuri Calderon, also called on Morales to step down.

There were signs of disarray among Morales supporters, with the head of the lower house of parliament and the ministers of mines and of hydrocarbons announcing their resignations.

Two of those resigning cited risks to their families after mobs attacked their respective houses in the city of Potosi.

The opposition runner-up in Bolivia's recent polls, Carlos 
Mesa, has called for President Evo Morales to resign

Protests have flared across Bolivia since Morales was declared the winner of the October 20 election, beating his nearest rival, centrist Carlos Mesa, by just enough to avoid a second round.

An audit of the election by the Organization of American States, however, found "irregularities that range from serious to indicative," in virtually every area reviewed -- in the technology used, the chain of custody of ballots, the integrity of the count, and statistical projections.

"This leads the technical auditing team to question the integrity of the election results," the report on their preliminary findings said.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro said the results giving the leftist leader a fourth term in office "must be annulled and the electoral process must begin again."

Calls for resignation

Opposition leaders were not appeased, however.

Mesa said Morales should resign "if he has a speck of patriotism left."

The leader of a protest movement, Luis Fernando Camacho, said Morales "has fractured the constitutional order and must resign."

In Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the OAS to send a full mission to Bolivia to ensure free and fair new elections.

"In order to restore credibility to the electoral process, all government officials and officials of any political organizations implicated in the flawed October 20 elections should step aside from the electoral process," Pompeo added.

Police officers march with protesters against Bolivian President 
Evo Morales in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on November 9, 2019

The October 20 results showed Morales, in office since 2006, defeating Mesa by slightly over 10 points, just enough to ensure an outright first-round victory.

It is possible that Morales came in first place in the first round but "statistically improbable" that he obtained the 10 percent margin of victory needed to avoid a second round, the OAS report said.

It said "the manipulations of the informatic system are of such magnitude that they should be thoroughly investigated by the Bolivian state to get to the bottom of them and determine responsibilities in this serious case."

Police rebellion

The dramatic turnabout came two days after police in three cities joined anti-government protests and a day after the opposition rejected Morales' appeal for urgent, open-ended dialogue.

Three people have died and more than 350 were injured in three weeks of often violent protests calling for new elections and Morales' resignation.

On Sunday, three people were injured, one with a gunshot wound, after a bus carrying miners to La Paz to join opposition protesters outside the presidential palace came under attack.

On Saturday, demonstrators overran two state-run media outlets and forced them off the air, while some police stopped guarding the square where Morales' presidential palace is located.

Profile of Evo Morales, who called Sunday for 
new elections after violent protests and claims 
of electoral fraud in the first-round presidential 
vote, which he claimed to have won

In announcing the new elections, Morales said, "I want to lower the tension. Everyone has an obligation to bring peace to Bolivia."

Morales said that in the new elections "the Bolivian people will be able to democratically elect new authorities, incorporating new political actors."

That begged the question whether Morales would stand again for re-election, a source of controversy because Bolivia's constitution, which he promulgated himself a decade ago, limits presidents to two terms.

Morales said Bolivia's bicameral legislature, which his party controls, would meet in the coming hours for the parties to work out procedures for changing out the electoral tribunal.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis on Sunday exhorted Bolivians to await the full results of the OAS audit with "peace and serenity."

Cuba called on the international community to condemn the protests against its close ally Morales as an attempted coup by "imperialism and the oligarchy."

Related Article:


Brazil's leftist icon Lula walks free from jail

Yahoo – AFP, Paula Ramon, with Allison Jackson in Rio de Janeiro, November 9, 2019

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva gestures as he leaves the
Federal Police Headquarters, where he was serving a sentence for corruption and
money laundering, in Curitiba, Parana State, Brazil, on November 8, 2019 (AFP
Photo/HENRY MILLEO)

Curitiba (Brazil) (AFP) - Brazil's leftist icon Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva walked free from jail Friday after a year and a half behind bars for corruption following a court ruling that could release thousands of convicts.

The former president, wearing a black T-shirt and suit jacket, pumped his fist as he exited the federal police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba and was quickly mobbed by hundreds of supporters and journalists.

In an impassioned address in a sometimes hoarse voice, Lula vowed to keep fighting for poor people and denounced the economic policies of the current right-wing president, Jair Bolsonaro.

"People are hungrier, they have no jobs, people work for Uber or delivering pizzas on a bike," Lula said in remarks sometimes drowned out by cheers from the crowd and fireworks overhead.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva leaves the Federal Police 
Headquarters, where he was serving a sentence for corruption and money 
laundering, in Curitiba, Parana State, Brazil, on November 8, 2019 (AFP Photo/
CARL DE SOUZA)

Lula's highly anticipated exit from the facility where he had been held since April 2018 came hours after his lawyers requested the immediate release of the 74-year-old, who has been serving a nearly nine-year sentence for corruption and money laundering.

Late Thursday, the Supreme Court overturned a rule requiring convicted criminals to go to jail after losing their first appeal. Lula is one of several thousand convicts who could benefit from the decision.

Those convicts would remain free until they had exhausted their rights to appeal -- a process critics say could take years in cases involving people able to afford expensive lawyers.

Many of those affected by the 6-5 ruling are political and business leaders caught up in a massive corruption probe dubbed Car Wash that began in 2014.

The Supreme Court ruling had given Lula "hope that there could be justice," his lawyer Cristiano Zanin said.

"Our judicial battle continues, our focus is to get the legal case nullified."

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been serving eight years and 10 months for
corruption (AFP Photo/NELSON ALMEIDA)

A hero to millions

Lula, who led Brazil through a historic boom from 2003 to 2010, earning him the gratitude of millions of Brazilians for redistributing wealth to haul them out of poverty, was serving eight years and 10 months for corruption.

He was sentenced to almost 13 years in jail in February in a separate corruption case and still faces another half dozen corruption trials.

Lula has denied all the charges, arguing they were politically motivated to keep him out of the 2018 presidential election that was won by Bolsonaro.

"I'm coming for you, wait for me!" Rosangela da Silva, Lula's girlfriend, tweeted after the Supreme Court announced its decision.

"If all the others did worse and are free, why not him too?" Eleonora Cintra, a 74-year-old resident of Sao Paulo, told AFP.

Bolsonaro has been unusually quiet about the court's ruling that freed his nemesis. But his sons have taken to Twitter to attack the decision.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva embraces a woman 
as he leaves prison (AFP Photo/CARL DE SOUZA)

"Thousands of prisoners will be released and rattle everyone, regardless of their political beliefs, generating serious internal and external social and economic reactions," Carlos Bolsonaro tweeted.

Justice Minister Sergio Moro, who convicted Lula when he was a judge in 2017, said the Supreme Court's decision must be respected, but he noted "Congress can modify the Constitution or the law" to allow the jailing of convicted criminals after their first appeal.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro led many leftist leaders in Latin American in cheering Lula's release, saying "the Venezuelan people are happy and welcome Lula's freedom."

And in the US, liberal presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders said that in Brazil no one had done more than Lula to reduce poverty and defend workers.

"I am delighted that he has been released from jail, something that never should have happened in the first place," Sanders tweeted.

Lula in prison (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

Even though he has been freed, Lula's criminal record will prevent him from resuming his political career. He was the founder of the Workers Party (PT).

That could change, however, if the Supreme Court were to decide in a separate case that Moro had been biased.

Lula's release could invigorate the left and, paradoxically, also help Bolsonaro, who was swept to power in 2018 on a wave of anti-PT sentiment, said Thomaz Favaro of Control Risks consultancy.

"You will have Lula more present on the political scene and that allows Bolsonaro to reinforce his role as leader of the anti-PT field," Favaro said.

Lula will spend his first day of freedom visiting the metalworkers' union he once led near Sao Paulo, Brazil's biggest city.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Electric motorcycles ride to rescue in fuel-short Cuba

Yahoo – AFP, Carlos BATISTA, November 8, 2019

Electric motorcycle riders have come to the rescue of Cuban passengers
delayed by fuel shortages (AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

Havana (AFP) - It is rush hour in Havana and the queue at the bus stop is longer than ever. Then a fleet of electric motorcycles appears, beeping their horns.

Surprised and relieved, passengers jump on the backs of the 50 or so electric mopeds.

It is a new solution for Cubans struggling with fuel shortages driven by US sanctions that have curbed oil imports.

Cuba has long been known for the classic American cars that people here lovingly maintain decades after they stopped being built.

But urban transport on the communist island is evolving.

The bikes' horns beep and some of the riders play reggaeton music -- but, being electric, their motors make hardly any noise.

A Chinese-made electric motorcycle costs between $1,800 and $2,300 in Cuba. A basic petrol-powered bike on the island can cost up to six times that.

Authorities estimate there are 210,000 electric motorcyles in use in Cuba 
(AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

Volunteer riders

The electric bikes -- with a maximum speed of about 50 kilometers (30 miles) per hour -- were first licensed for import in 2013.

They have multiplied in the streets since then -- and have come into their own with the recent fuel shortages.

"I really like this initiative, it helps a lot with the economy," says passenger Yanet Figueroa, 42, sitting on the back of one of the bikes.

"It really helps people who have great need of it."

Cuba plunged into a fuel crisis in September after Washington imposed restrictions on fuel shipments from Cuba's top ally Venezuela.

Cuba had to make do in September with just 30 percent of its usual fuel supply and the level has still not recovered -- it is forecast to reach no more than 80 percent this month.

With the public transport network badly hit, President Miguel Diaz-Canel has called on drivers to pick up passengers voluntarily.

The owners of electric bikes known as "motorinas" answered the call.

"We have volunteered to do this as a service to society," says one of the drivers, Javier Capote, 33.

"It is going very well. We are very happy about it."

The president himself during a televised address mentioned "those famous... what do you call them, the bikes? The 'motorinas', that have come out to help."

Mechanics have work to do servicing Cuba's fleet of electric motorcycles
(AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

Electric bike era

Cuban authorities estimate there are 210,000 electric motorcycles currently in use on the island.

That figure is expected to rise as the government in late October began to sell them with the price capped at $1,700.

Those who make a living servicing the bikes are pleased by that move as it will bring down costs.

"It seems like a very good idea to us mechanics," says one, Enrique Alfonso, 47, in his workshop.

He recalls the economic crisis of the 1990s that followed the end of cheap imports from the Soviet Union.

"That was the era of (affordable) Chinese bicycles. Now we are in the era of electric motorcycles," he says.

"With everything that is going on the country, they have become obtainable for a lot of people."

Members of the Electric Motorcycles of Cuba club ride passengers home
(AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

Accidents

The electric bikes had a mixed reception at first. Silent and often inexpertly ridden, they are often involved in accidents in a country that already suffers from thousands of crashes a year.

Officials say that of the 7,000 road accidents recorded so far this year, a third have involved electric motorcycles.

Authorities have responded by insisting riders have a license and register their vehicles.

The flourishing of electric bikes follows several years of gradual opening-up of Cuba's state-run economy. It has also coincided with a digital mini-revolution.

Thanks to the availability of 3G-standard internet connections since last year, riders can network more easily.

The 3G connections helped spawn the Electric Motorbikes of Cuba online group, a club with more than 80 members.

It started out as a club for enthusiasts seeking to have "healthy fun and share the passion we all have for electric motorcycles and road safety," says its president Osdany Fleites, a 37-year-old taxi driver.

"The motorcycles do not pollute the environment, they do not make a noise," he says.

Now the club has evolved to have an environmental and "social purpose."

Along with another club, Eracing, its members take part in rescuing bus passengers stuck due to the fuel shortages.

They have also taken part in environmental clean-up jobs, helping eradicate an infestation of troublesome giant snails in Havana, donated blood and visited children in a cancer ward.