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.)

A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

Brazil's Rousseff claims nation 'ready for greatest World Cup'

Brazil's Rousseff claims nation 'ready for greatest World Cup'
Google: Ready, set, goooaaallll! The WorldCup is finally here.


"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. …

Monday, November 23, 2015

Macri calls for unity and vows to take on Argentine economy

Mauricio Macri, Argentina's president-elect, has promised to introduce lasting changes to Latin America's third-biggest economy. While warming up to Western governments Macri has also vowed to further isolate Venezuela.

Deutsche Welle, 23 Nov 2015

Mauricio Macri beat his rival Daniel Scioli by less than three percentage points in elections held on November 22, ending 12 years of rule by the leftist Peronist movement, the broad populist movement that has dominated Argentine politics for much of the past 70 years.

With 99 percent of ballots counted, Macri had won with a marginal majority of 51.4 percent of the votes. Outgoing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has reportedly congratulated Macri.

Abolishing capital controls

The favored candidate of big businesses and foreign investors, Macri vowed to focus on an economic action plan to tackle slowing growth and soaring inflation in Argentina.

Argentina is taking a new direction after
 eight years of rule by Cristina Fernandez
de Kirchner
In his first news conference as president-elect, the 56-year-old stressed that the new government's economic policy would start with correcting errors he said had been committed by outgoing Fernandez during her eight-year-tenure. Above all, the pro-market president-elect criticized capital controls on the over-inflated peso currency as introduced by the previous government.

"Capital controls are a mistake. We will fix the fact that the government gives no information, there is no access to statistics and the central bank is not independent," Macri said.

Central bank reshuffle

Macri also urged Argentines to patiently wait for his government to define a new overall economic strategy, while calling on central bank officials, especially the bank's president, Alejandro Vanoli, to step down and allow the new administration to nominate a new team.

"We hope they have the dignity and generosity to allow the new government to choose its path by letting us chose people in which I and all my team hold trust," Macri added.

Extending the olive branch beyond Argentina

Mauricio Macri meanwhile acknowledged the need to reach out to rivals, calling for unity after his narrow election win, as Argentine voters laid bare the country's divisions.

Following his narrow win Mauricio Macri
has called for unity in a divided Argentina
Macri, a former executive at the popular Buenos Aires football club Boca Juniors, might struggle to get his liberal economic reforms past hostile parliamentarians. Having fought a tense battle for votes against his rival Daniel Scioli, Macri will lead the next government but will not have a majority in either house of Congress.

"We Argentines know that we need to build the country we want and dream of together," he said.

Breaking with 12 years of leftist rule, Macri vowed to ease foreign trade and lift dollar restrictions. He is also expected to have a warmer relationship with Britain, after Kirchner had repeatedly attacked the United Kingdom in the territorial dispute over the Falkland Islands - referred to in Spanish as Las Malvinas.

Macri pledged to negotiate with foreign creditors who had sued Argentina in US courts for unpaid debts.

Tackling Venezuela

Among South American nations, Venezuela stood out in its reaction to Macri's victory. Venezuela's opposition took his win as a blow for leftists across Latin America and a good sign for change in upcoming parliamentary elections to be held in Venezuela in December.

Venezuela's ruling socialists, who had kept a political alliance with the Fernandez government, failed to comment on the change in government in Argentina.

Macri has repeatedly pressed in the past for Venezuela's suspension from Mercosur, the South American trade alliance, accusing President Nicolas Maduro's government of abusing the rights of opposition politicians.

ss/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Asean Establishes Landmark Economic and Security Bloc

Jakarta Globe, Trinna Leong, November 22, 2015

Asean leaders joined China's Premier Li Keqiang at the summit in Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. (AFP Photo/Fred Dufour)

Kuala Lumpur. Southeast Asian nations on Sunday established a formal community that attempts to create freer movement of trade and capital in an area of 625 million people with a combined economic output of $2.6 trillion.

The community declaration was signed by leaders of the 10- member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Kuala Lumpur, this year's host of the group's annual summit.

Twelve years in the making, the Asean community is a landmark in the 48-year history of a group founded at the height of the Cold War as an anti-communist bulwark.

The Asean Community includes a political, security and socio-cultural dimension in a region with governments ranging from communist in Vietnam and quasi-military in Myanmar to the kingdom of Brunei and the boisterous democracy of the Philippines.

But it is the economic community that offers the most concrete opportunities for integration in a region whose combined gross domestic product (GDP) would make it the world's seventh-largest economy.

In practice, Asean has already virtually eliminated tariff barriers among the 10 countries, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the summit host, at the signing ceremony. "We now have to ensure that we create a truly single market and production base, with freer movement of goods and services."

At the closing news conference, however, he said Asean had no specific deadline for achieving zero tariffs, but would aim for "meaningful deliverables that can be done every year when we meet at the Asean summit."

The combined GDP of the Asean economies is expected to grow from $2.6 trillion to $4.7 trillion by 2020, Najib said, and could become the world's fourth-largest economy as a bloc as early as 2030.

The countries aim to harmonize economic strategies, recognize each other's professional qualifications and consult more closely on macroeconomic and financial policies.

They have also agreed to enhance the connectivity of their transportation infrastructure and communications, better facilitate electronic transactions, integrate industries to promote regional sourcing, and enhance private-sector involvement in the economy.

Eight groups of professionals will be able to work more easily throughout the region: engineers, architects, nurses, doctors, dentists, accountants, surveyors and tourism professionals.

Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Related Articles:

ASEAN nations establish regional economic community to compete with India, China

"Message for South America" - Nov 16, 2015 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - New

"The End of History" -  Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

" ... South America and the New Energy

South America is starting to consider the same thing. My partner was just there and I allowed him to see the energy of the potential future in that land.

I would like to paint history for you regarding South America. There was a time when every single country had a dictator. Less than 15 years ago, they had failing economies and currencies that were worthless. Trouble and strife and killings were the norm. Marauding drug lords openly killed in the streets and corruption was everywhere. Even the politicians created fear and many disappeared overnight, never to be seen again. Today it isn't that way. Today, there is an ongoing stability as one country after another brings a new, positive, stable energy to their cultures. So, without a concentrated effort by any kind of multi-national leadership or direction, how could this have changed in only 15 years?

Within the entire continent, there's only one dictator left. What's happening? If you think that's amazing, there is a move afoot that you're not going to hear about yet. But they're discussing it right now, so let me tell you what they're thinking. "What would happen if we took these countries and eliminated the borders?" Sound familiar? They're talking about it. In back rooms where nobody is reporting it, they're saying, "What about a plan of eventually having one currency from the top of Columbia to the bottom of Chile? And we would be strong and we would be unified." And dear ones, I'm here to tell you, that it's going to work, and it might not take 50 years. Soon the one dictator will be gone, and the unification can begin.

There's a shift happening on this planet ...."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Pearl Jam donates concert proceeds to Brazil mine victims

Yahoo – AFP, 21 Nov 2015

Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam performs during the fourth annual Global Citizen
 Festival in Central Park Manhattan on September 26, 2015 in New York
 (AFP Photo/Kena Betancur)

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - US rock group Pearl Jam donated proceeds from a concert in Brazil to victims of a toxic mining spill that killed 12 people and was the country's worst environmental disaster.

The group's singer Eddie Vedder interrupted a show Friday night in Belo Horizonte, capital of the southeast state of Minas Gerais -- where the disaster occurred November 5 -- and called for the mining company involved to be severely punished.

As seen on a video on the news website G1, the group got a standing ovation when Vedder said the take from that concert would go to victims of the disaster.

It struck when a dam collapsed at the waste reservoirs of an iron ore mine, unleashing a torrent of yellowish muck that all but buried a village, left 280,000 people without water and smothered thousands of fish, turtles and other animals.

Besides the 12 dead, another 12 people remain missing.

The mining facility is owned by Samarco, a joint venture between the mining giants BHP Billiton of Australia and Vale of Brazil.

Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said Friday it was the worst environmental disaster in Brazilian history and that it will take 30 years to clean the basin of the Doce River, into which the sludge flowed.

Samarco has already been hit with damages, fines and frozen funds totalling more than $400 million.

Related Article:

Costa Rica boasts clean energy -- and bad car pollution

Yahoo – AFP, Marco SIBAJA, November 19, 2015

The Churchill Mamiche ice-cream parlour in Caldera, Puntarenas, 80 km 
southwest of San Jose is entirely powered --day and night-- by solar panels
(AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)

Caldera (Costa Rica) (AFP) - At dusk one weekend on Costa Rica's tropical Pacific coast, Mamiche is catering to a line of customers in front of the beachside ice-cream stand he tends.

All looks balmy and typical -- except for one little detail: the stand's refrigerator, fan and lighting are not connected to the electricity network and there's no noisy generator.

Instead, solar panels on the roof are providing the power, another sign of an eco-friendly push in Costa Rica that has made the country a model of development and clean energy.

Costa Rica expects 97% of its energy 
generation to come from renewable
 sources this year (AFP Photo/
Ezequiel Becerra)
The ice-cream outlet's owner, Luis Diego Vasquez, recalls how he used to spend up to $40 a day on fueling a smelly generator to keep the shop running.

"Fed up with the noise and the pollution, we started thinking about putting up solar panels to use the sun -- something we have a lot of here," he told AFP.

Land of renewable energy

With an electricity grid supplied by hydroelectric dams across rivers, from the heat of its numerous volcanoes, and from wind and the sun, the small Central American nation expects 97 percent of its energy generation to come from renewable sources this year.

"Costa Rica has renewable resources -- a sun that shines. The wind. It has hydro resources. And all of that, along with geothermal and biomass energy, allows us to have such a renewable energy network," Javier Orozco, planning chief at the national energy company ICE, told AFP.

Next to him, ICE's CEO, Carlos Obregon, said the ultimate aim was to eventually have 100 percent renewable energy, "but that requires us to find a balance between different energy production, and that's not a question of a year, but of many years."

Still, the country caught the attention of the world ahead of December's COP21 UN Convention on Climate Change in Paris by being totally reliant on renewable energy for the first 75 days of this year, with no recourse to its thermal plants using fossil fuels.

A report by the environmental protection group WWF last year highlighted the country as a Latin American leader in clean energy and predicted that in 2021 it would have an entirely renewable energy supply.

Owner Luis Diego Vasquez installs more solar panels for the Churchill 
Mamiche ice-cream parlour (AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)

Polluting cars

But there is another side to Costa Rica, one that tarnishes its image as an environmentally conscientious nation: that of its congested roads, saturated with old cars and buses, many spewing smoke.

According to the Environment and Energy Ministry, the transport sector is responsible for 66 percent of hydrocarbon consumption and 54 percent of carbon-dioxide emissions, one of the principal gases responsible for climate change.

Despite its clean-energy network, Costa Rica produced 1.7 metric tons of CO2 per head of population between 2011 and 2015, on a level with other countries at a similar stage of development, such as Colombia or Uruguay, World Bank figures show.

Costa Rica has nearly 1.4 million cars for a population of five million. RITEVE, its roadworthiness inspection agency, says the average age of the vehicles is 16 years, which aggravates the emission problem.

In an effort to address the issue, one lawmaker, Marcela Guerrero, of the governing Citizen Action Party, last month presented a bill to lift import duties on electric vehicles for five years and to encourage ownership of CO2 emission-free cars.

She told AFP that she hoped to see 100,000 electric cars replace ones with conventional engines.

"We want users, with clear signals, to get behind a new pattern of consumption that will lower emissions," she said.

Wind turbines of the National Power and Light Company in Santa Ana, 
Costa Rica (AFP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra)

Electric train?

Another initiative is to start up an urban electric train system in the most populated center of the country, where the congested capital San Jose lies.

Although considered crucial from transport and environmental perspectives, lawmakers have made little headway in having the train project approved because of funding discrepancies.

Guerrero said she was confident a consensus allowing a vote would be reached by April 2016, and that the trains would be operational in the following five years.

The question is whether Costa Rica can maintain its clean energy goal while providing the sparks needed for electric transport.

Obregon is convinced that ICE will be able to handle the increased demand by deepening investment in non-conventional sources such as wind and solar power, which currently play a marginal role in its mix.

"We are preparing for a future where consumers are also (energy) generators," making contributions to the grid through private solar panels and the like, he said.

If it goes that way, Mamiche's little stand may end up selling not only ice, but fire.

Related Article:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Despite film buzz, life grim for some of Chile's hero miners

Yahoo – AFP, Giovanna Fleitas, 13 Nov 2015

Chilean miner Victor Zamora gives the thumbs up upon surfacing, on October 13, 
2010, following a 10-week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine (AFP Photo/
Rodrigo Arangua)

Santiago (AFP) - The Chilean miners who became celebrities after months trapped underground are now immortalized in a Hollywood film starring Antonio Banderas -- but for some, real life has had no happy ending.

Five years on, with movie "The 33" hitting screens across the United States on Friday, men who lived through the ordeal and their families are struggling on with lives of little glamour.

"We have felt abandoned from the start," said Jessica Cortes, wife of one of the miners, Victor Zamora.

"I have lived through these anxious years with him day after day, seeing how he gets depressed at not finding a job and at feeling cheated," she told AFP.

The miners' tale of survival warmed hearts worldwide. For the media, it was a tale of friendship and triumph in adversity.

Chilean miner Mario Gomez arrives for
 the premiere of 'The 33' during AFI FEST 
2015 at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, 
California (AFP Photo/Mark Ralston)
But squabbles and contrasting fortunes have since divided the heroic 33.

Some went on to build successful lives, including Luis Urzua, the foreman of the group working in the San Jose copper mine when it collapsed.

Urzua says he and some of his companions have managed to get work with big mining groups and are better off now than before the accident.

But others struggle to find work and say they have been cheated out of the Hollywood dollars being made from their story.

"They have been seriously affected as workers," said Alberto Iturra, a psychologist who treated the miners.

"They think that at any moment they are going to be laid off and stop working, or worse, that they will be unable to cope with the stress."

Mixed fortunes

With two children aged four and nine, Zamora is as poor now as he was before the mining accident. He lives in social housing off odd jobs and a state allowance of $450 a month, awarded to the eldest of the 33 miners.

In March a fresh disaster hit his family: a storm destroyed their home and left them in the street.

In "The 33," Banderas stars as the charismatic Mario Sepulveda, who acted as one of the leaders of the group, helping to keep their spirits up until they were rescued in October 2010.

Sepulveda is among those who have prospered since climbing out of the mine: he has launched a construction business and a charitable foundation.

But others in the group have not benefited from the fame their ordeal brought them, and are bitter at the way they have been treated.

"Each of them has his own story. Each had his own experience," said Sepulveda.

Legal squabble

Disputes have broken out, in particular, about contracts for managing the rights to their story.

Chilean miner William Ordenes attends a 2013 ceremony to inaugurate a
monument to the incident with his daughter (AFP Photo/Ariel Marinkovic)

Urzua was among several miners who attended a premiere of "The 33" in Hollywood this week, ahead of its general US release on November 13. The movie has been rolled out across Latin America since August, and heads to Asia and Europe over the coming months.

The ex-foreman has also led a group of nine miners who sued their lawyers this month, accusing them of cheating them out of money from the rights to their story, including earnings from the film.

Sepulveda took issue with his comrades' lawsuit, saying they were being "led astray by people who haven't read the contracts properly."

But Victor Zamora insisted: "The division we have within the group is because of what the lawyers have done to us."

After emerging from the mine before the cameras of the world's media, the miners traveled around the world telling their story.

Each of them received a gift of $7,000 from Leonardo Farkas, an eccentric Chilean mining entrepreneur.

One of them even found love waiting for him in the light at the top of the mineshaft.

A German woman watching the drama on television fell in love with miner Daniel Herrera and contacted him online. They are now married and living together in Chile.

Miners from "the 33", (L-R) Victor Zamora, Jorge Galleguillos, Luis Urzua and
Mario Gomez arrive at the courthouse in Santiago, on November 2, 2015 (AFP
Photo/Martin Bernetti)

Related Articles

The BBC’s James Read says the number 33 has taken on a special significance for the miners, who are known to be superstitious: there are 33 miners, it took 33 days for the drill to complete the rescue shaft and Roman Catholic Chileans believe Jesus Christ was 33 when he died. Even President Sebastian Pinera mentioned the “magic number” in his triumphant speech after the first miner emerged from the shaft. The date of the rescue 13/10/10, adds up to - you guessed it - 33.

"Atacama Desert, Chile 33-Miners" – Nov 5, 2013 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll)

"The 33 Miners" – Oct 24, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll)

"The Human Design" – Oct 18, 2010 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) - (Text version)

"... So finally, I give you an answer to a question that has not been asked, but is still on the minds of many. What happened last week in Chile was not an accident [the saving of 33 miners]. Everyone was amazed at how smooth it could be. So, look at the numerology around it! Even the mainstream media noticed - 33, 33, 33. But the media did not tell you the meaning of it, because they didn't know. To them, it was just coincidental, so many 33s!

Let me tell you what it means. Let us take a look at the numerology attributes of 33 from the ancients to modern day. The number 33 is called a master number. It is not to be broken apart numerologically, but you could still look at the attributes of the three alone if you wish. The three in numerological terms is a catalyst energy. A catalytic energy changes things around it. When you put two threes together, they represent one of the highest energies on the planet. It's so high that it's the last master number that is definable by humanity.

In numerology, 44 has no definition. Even those in Tibet who helped originate the numerological system said that 44 was multidimensional and had no paradigm of definition. Neither did 55 or 66 or 77. Thus, 33 was the highest of all defined master numbers and remains so to this day.

Now, don't misunderstand what I'm going to tell you, for this definition is not about the Human Being; it's about an attribute. Thirty-three is defined as the passion of the Christ. Not the man, but the attribute [the noun, compassionate redeemer], the passion of the Christ. Is there anything higher than this? The number 33 is the highest compassion number of them all, and here it was right in Chile, where the heart center moves to. This compassion for the miners was a metaphor filled with energy and things to look at, but nothing will ever be the same here. And how does it make you feel? ...."

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Venezuela leader snubs 'reckless accusations' at UN

Yahoo – AFP, Ben Simon, 12 Nov 2015

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro gestures as he addresses the UN human
 rights council in Geneva on November 12, 2015 (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

Geneva (AFP) - Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday lashed out at those making "reckless accusations" against his country in an address at the UN Human Rights Council, a speech the US called "an affront" to the body.

Maduro's comments came a day after a group of Venezuelan opposition figures asked the International Criminal Court to probe him and others over crimes against humanity, but the president made no mention of any specific allegations in his remarks.

His appearance at the council -- an irregular event requested by Caracas despite the chamber being out of session -- was fiercely criticised by rights groups who claimed he was trying to clean up his battered image less than a month before legislative elections.

With falling oil prices, Venezuela's crude-rich economy is in tatters and Maduro's plummeting popularity could lead to an opposition win in the December 6 polls.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro 
addresses the UN human rights council in
 Geneva on November 12, 2015 (AFP 
Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)
But the president fiercely defended his record, saying that "in the midst of a difficult 2015, a complicated 2015, Venezuela is victorious."

He railed against those making "reckless accusations taken from the global imperial media agenda" and claimed that Venezuela faced "constant harassment".

'Blatantly political' 

The United States branded Maduro's address a "transparent attempt to use the UN Human Rights Council to shift attention away from his government's own actions to restrict fundamental freedoms."

"We thus regret that a head of state would use this council for blatant domestic political purposes," Paul Patin, spokesman for the UN mission in Geneva, said in a statement delivered after Maduro's speech.

A coalition of 50 civil society groups had earlier urged member states to boycott the speech, lamenting that no other parties were allowed to address the council after Maduro spoke.

A council spokesman told AFP that there was no indication any nation had decided to boycott.

Before Maduro took the podium in front of a full chamber, UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein raised particular concern over the country's judiciary, highlighting the case of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Lopez, leader of the Popular Will Party, was sentenced in September to 14 years in jail following what many observers have called a show trial.

Zeid recalled "concerns about the independence of the judiciary in Venezuela, the impartiality of judges and prosecutors and the pressures they face in handling politically sensitive cases."

The Lopez case, he added, was a "stark illustration of these problems."

The exiled coordinator of Popular Will, Carlos Vecchio, petitioned The Hague-based ICC, saying the move was necessary because Venezuela's judicial system had become a "government tool."

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, with his wife Cilia Flores, leaves the 
United Nations offices in Geneva after addressing the UN human rights council
on November 12, 2015 (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

Vecchio's petition lists eight officials including Maduro as potential defendants involved with more than 30 alleged murders, 3,700 detentions that the opposition considers illegal and nearly 400 suspected cases of torture.

Elections looming

Not surprisingly, Maduro also made no reference to the arrest of two of his wife's nephews who are due to appear in US court on Thursday on charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine.

The case is likely to further strain already tense US-Venezuelan relations at a time of heightened scrutiny with the polls three weeks away.

Patin, of the US mission, expressed hope that Caracas would allow credible polls but said events in the run-up to the vote did not inspire confidence.

He noted court decisions barring opposition candidates from running as well as crackdowns on free speech and assembly.

More than 150 US and Latin American lawmakers sent a letter to Maduro on Wednesday, urging him to let international observers monitor the December polls.

Related Article:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mexico leader wants expert debate on pot legalization

Yahoo – AFP, 10 Nov 2015

A man smokes marijuana during a rally in front of the Supreme Court of Justice
in Mexico City on November 4, 2015 (AFP Photo/Alfredo Estrella)

Mexico City (AFP) - Mexico's president indicated that his administration could drop its opposition to legalizing marijuana depending on results of an upcoming debate of experts on the matter.

Five days after the Supreme Court authorized four people to grow their own pot for consumption, President Enrique Pena Nieto said he would convene medical experts, sociologists, academics and civil society to debate the issue.

"I have always said that I, personally, am not in favor of an eventual legalization of marijuana," Pena Nieto said during a security forum, warning that cannabis could lead to the consumption of harder drugs.

"However, I can't be the sole owner of the truth.

"I am open, and I will remain open as president, to collecting documented, scientifically proven positions that could eventually lead to a different position," he added.

If that were to be the case, the president said, the government and the Congress would have to come up with "convenient and prudent legislation" to regulate marijuana.

The leftist opposition Democratic Revolution Party has called on Congress to begin debating such legislation.

The Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal
 Use says legalizing pot would dry up a major source of revenue
 for drug cartels, leading to a reduction in the gang turf wars 
(AFP Photo/Alfredo Estrella)

The top court's landmark November 4 ruling, though limited to just four people, raised hope against supporters of marijuana legalization that Mexico would drop its ban.

Four more similar rulings by the Supreme Court would set a legal precedent to change the law.

The four members of the Mexican Society for Responsible and Tolerant Personal Use, or SMART, who won the court ruling said their goal is to force Congress to legislate.

The group says legalizing pot would dry up a major source of revenue for drug cartels, leading to a reduction in the gang turf wars that have killed tens of thousands of people.

While Mexico's government has opposed the legalization of drugs, health authorities granted an exception last month for an eight-year-old girl suffering from severe epilepsy.

The girl, Grace, took her first treatment of a cannabis-based oil last month, which her parents hope will reduce the 400 epileptic fits she endures each day.

Related Article:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Peru creates huge national park in Amazon basin

Yahoo – AFP, 7 Nov 2015

Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, pictured on July 28, 2015, will create the Sierra
 del Divisor National Park in a region inhabited by a variety of indigenous communities
living in self-imposed isolation (AFP Photo/Ernesto Benavides)

Lima (AFP) - Peru is creating a national park to protect a vast territory in the Amazon basin that is vulnerable to drug trafficking and illegal logging and mining, the country's environment minister said Saturday.

Called the Sierra del Divisor National Park, it covers an area of about 14,170 square kilometers (5,470 square miles) in a region inhabited by a variety of indigenous communities living in self-imposed isolation.

Peru's President Ollanta Humala will travel to the region Sunday to sign a decree creating the park, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal said on his Twitter account.

The park has an estimated 3,000 species of plants and animals, many of them found nowhere else in the world, according to the government.

The announcement comes just three weeks ahead of a UN summit aimed at sealing a global pact on climate change.

Advocates of the new park have said it will enable the capture of 150,000 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of nearly 40 percent of Peru's daily carbon output.

Sierra del Divisor has been a protected zone since April 2006. Since then, the communities living there have lobbied for its designation as a national park to stiffen legal protections against encroachment by loggers, miners and drug traffickers.

Sierra del Divisor is the second national park created since Humala took office in 2011, after the Gueppi National Park, a 6,260 square kilometer expanse centered on the Gueppi River in southeastern Peru.

Related Article:

Castro, Pena Nieto seal warmer Cuba-Mexico ties

Yahoo – AFP, Leticia Pineda, November 6, 2015

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) and Cuban President Raul Castro shake
 hands during a joint press conference at the government palace in Merida, Yucatan
State, Mexico, on November 6, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

Mérida (Mexico) (AFP) - Cuban leader Raul Castro received a warm welcome in Mexico as President Enrique Pena Nieto sought to end a diplomatic chill and boost business opportunities on the island.

With the colonial Caribbean city of Merida serving as the backdrop, Castro was given red carpet treatment at the Yucatan state government palace for his first official visit to Mexico since taking power in 2006.

"Long live the indestructible brotherhood between the people of Cuba and Mexico," Castro said as he delivered a speech alongside Pena Nieto following a private meeting.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (L)
 speaks with Cuban President Raul Castro
at the government palace in Merida, in 
Yucatan state, Mexico on November 6,
2015 (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)
For his part, Pena Nieto greeted Castro with an embrace and told him that "Mexico welcomes you with open arms."

The two governments signed five cooperation agreements in migration, education, diplomacy, fishing and tourism.

Both leaders made clear that the improved relations could lead to more investment opportunities for Mexican companies as the communist nation implements economic reforms.

"We committed both our governments to creating the conditions for Mexican businessmen and investors to invest in Cuba," Pena Nieto said.

Cuban migration surge

The diplomatic reconciliation between the United States and Cuba has raised the prospect of new business opportunities on the island, though the US embargo remains in place.

In May 2014, Mexico sent a business delegation to Havana representing 48 companies. It also opened a trade promotion office in Havana.

Mexico has several investment projects in Cuba's Mariel megaport.

"We are pleased by the interest that Mexican companies have in doing business and investing in Cuba, especially at the special development zone of Mariel and in sectors like agriculture and tourism," said Castro, who returns to Havana on Saturday.

In his bid to improve ties since taking office in 2012, Pena Nieto forgave 70 percent of Cuba's $487 million debt in 2013 and held a state visit in Havana a year later.

The US-Cuba rapprochement has had another effect for Mexico, as thousands of Cubans have been entering the country on their way to the United States.

A group of Cuban migrants arrive to the National Institute of Migrations in
Tapachula, Chiapas state, Mexico on November 3, 2015 (AFP Photo/Pep Companys)

The surge is driven by fears among Cubans that the US-Cuba detente will prompt Washington to stop giving them automatic visas when they step on US soil.

Mexican government figures show that nearly 6,500 Cubans were taken to migration centers in the first nine months of this year, three times more than in all of 2014.

Pena Nieto said the two governments signed an agreement to broaden legal tools to ensure a "legal, safe and orderly" flow of migrants between both countries, and combat human trafficking.

'Eat and leave'

Castro's visit sealed a warming of relations between two nations that have had close ties in past decades.

Pena Nieto feted him with a toast at lunch at a famous villa in Merida, where Castro, an 84-year-old great-grandfather, invoked his plans to retire on February 24, 2018.

"I won't be a great-great-grandfather... because Cubans will get bored of me," quipped Castro, adding that he would like to return to Merida after retirement because it was the first place he visited in Mexico 60 years ago.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) speaks with Cuban President Raul 
Castro at the government palace in Merida, in Yucatan state, Mexico on
November 6, 2015 (AFP Photo/Ronaldo Schemidt)

His brother Fidel had less brotherly relations with conservative Mexican governments that were in power from 2000 to 2012.

Ties were better when Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was in power for much of the 20th century.

The Castro brothers lived in exile in Mexico in the 1950s and sailed off from this country to launch their guerrilla revolution.

Mexico was the only Latin American nation to resist US pressure to break relations with Havana during the Cold War.

But relations turned sour under Vicente Fox's 2000-2006 presidency, which condemned Cuba at the UN Human Rights Council.

At a UN poverty summit in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey in 2002, Fox urged Fidel Castro to "eat and leave" early to avoid an awkward encounter with then-US president George W. Bush.