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.)


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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.

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. …

Friday, December 28, 2018

Galapagos bans fireworks to protect unique wildlife

Yahoo – AFP, December 28, 2018

A Galapagos marine iguana, pictured in January 2018, sunbathes next to tourists
at Tortuga Bay beach on Santa Cruz Island (AFP Photo/Pablo COZZAGLIO)

Quito (AFP) - Fireworks have been banned on the Galapagos Islands to protect the archipelago's unique fauna, the local government said on Friday.

The local council said in a statement that it had agreed "unanimously a resolution that prohibits the importation, sale, distribution and use of fireworks or pyrotechnics in the Galapagos province."

Those fireworks that produce light but no noise have been excluded from the ban.

The islands are home to thousands of residents as well as being a tourist destination, and the measure comes just days before New Year celebrations in which many people traditionally set off fireworks.

"Ecosystems as sensitive as the Galapagos Islands are affected (by fireworks), principally its fauna that is unique," said the council.

It also wants to avoid any potential deterioration in air quality or pollution of water sources.

Animals have suffered from elevated heart rates, nervous stress and anxiety, which have "notably" changed their behavior and affected the survival of species inhabiting this World Heritage Site that belongs to Ecuador.

"This is a gift to conservation for Ecuador and the world," Lorena Tapia, president of the local council, said on her Twitter account.

A campaign to limit the use of fireworks on the Galapagos Islands was launched in 2017.

Single-use plastics have also been banned on the archipelago, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off the coast of Ecuador.

Known for its endemic species, the volcanic Galapagos Islands played a crucial role in British naturalist Charles Darwin's studies before he came up with his theory of evolution.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Painful memories for family of Guatemalan girl who died in US custody

Yahoo – AFP, Henry MORALES ARANA, December 16, 2018

Claudia Maquin, the mother of Jakelin Caal -- the seven year-old Guatemalan girl
who died in US Border Patrol custody -- speaks to reporters with the late girl's three
siblings (AFP Photo/JOHAN ORDONEZ)

Raxruha (Guatemala) (AFP) - Outside a humble thatched-roof home deep in the lush Guatemalan countryside, the mother of a seven-year-old girl who died after being detained by US border agents tries to remember happier days with her daughter.

The 27-year-old woman mournfully points to a nearby tree that young Jakelin Caal enjoyed climbing.

"I feel pain and sadness over the death of my daughter," said Claudia Maquin, speaking in her native Maya Q'eqchi' language through an interpreter.

Jakelin's death in American custody on December 8 -- which followed her detention after illegally crossing from Mexico with her father -- has reignited a debate in the United States on immigration policy and mistreatment of migrants.

It has also shocked residents of this indigenous farming village of unpaved roads that has neither electricity nor running water, and where crushing poverty is the norm.

The child's death came as President Donald Trump struggles to deter a tide of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America.

Nearly 60 percent of Guatemala's 17 million people live under the poverty line, according to government and World Bank figures.

That rate is higher in indigenous communities like the remote village where young Jakelin lived in the municipality of Raxruha, some 145 kilometers (90 miles) north of the capital Guatemala City.

Claudia Maquin stands outside the home where her late seven-year-old daughter 
Jakelin Caal grew up deep in rural Guatemala (AFP Photo/JOHAN ORDONEZ)

Left 'out of necessity'

Jakelin's father Nery Caal, 29, left the village to travel to the United States with her on November 30.

"He left out of necessity," Maquin told AFP, with her father-in-law Domingo Caal acting as an interpreter.

"When he left he said that he'd be looking for work there," she said.

Jakelin traveled north with her father because "the girl was very close" to him, said Domingo Caal, 61.

He said the girl was "jumping with joy" as she began the trip.

Before leaving "she told her mother and grandmother that when she grew up she would work and bring money to them," he said.

The US Department of Homeland Security confirmed the death of the girl, saying she died of dehydration and exhaustion in an El Paso, Texas hospital less than 24 hours after being detained as part of a group of 163 illegal border crossers in a remote New Mexico border area.

The DHS confirmation came only after it was reported by The Washington Post.

A relative shows a picture of the late Jakelin Caal on a phone (AFP Photo/
JOHAN ORDONEZ)

Guatemala's foreign ministry said the child came down with fever and was shaking and vomiting after she was in US Border Patrol custody, where she received aid from paramedics before being hospitalized.

Father wants answers

The girl's father, who is seeking asylum in the United States, issued a statement Saturday in his family's name "seeking an objective and thorough investigation" into his daughter's death.

The statement was read to reporters by Ruben Garcia, the head of Annunciation House, the refugee shelter where he is staying in El Paso, Texas.

Jakelin, who was just five days past her seventh birthday, had not been crossing the desert for days and "had not suffered from a lack of food or water prior to approaching the border," the statement read.

The statement also said that it was "unacceptable" that US agents had the father, who mainly speaks Q'eqchi', sign documents in English.

Immigrant rights activists, several waving signs and clutching pictures of the young girl, rallied to protest Jakelin's death in downtown El Paso as Border Patrol agents warily looked on from a distance.

A woman draws water from a well in the indigenous village of San Antonio Seacortez,
home of the Guatemalan girl who died in the custody of US border agents (AFP Photo/
JOHAN ORDONEZ)

"We want to know what happened during those hours in which she was detained and then taken to hospital," said one of the protesters, Fernando Garcia, head of the Human Rights Border Network advocacy group.

The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general announced an internal investigation into the girl's death.

'What can we do?'

The Guatemalan government has offered to bring back the girl's remains, and said that her father would be released by special permission from US immigration authorities.

The late girl's uncle Jose Caal told AFP that it could take some three weeks to complete the process to repatriate the girl's body for a funeral.

"It's very painful, very painful, but what can we do?" asked Domingo Caal.

"What happened, happened, but it's painful," he said.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Argentina jails ex-Ford directors for 'dirty war' collaboration

Yahoo – AFP, 11 December 2018

Former Ford executive Pedro Muller, pictured in court in Buenos Aires, was jailed
for 10 years for collaborating in the military dictatorship's "dirty war"

An Argentine court on Tuesday handed jail sentences to two former directors of automaker Ford for participating in the military dictatorship's "dirty war" against leftist opponents.

After a year-long trial, the court sentenced Hector Sibilla, the former security chief at Ford's Buenos Aires plant, to 12 years in prison, and manufacturing manager Pedro Muller to 10 years.

They had been on trial since last December, accused of complicity in the persecution of union leaders at the plant during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

The court said both men "were necessary participants in the illegal deprivation of liberty, aggravated by the use of violence and threats" with the aim of political persecution.

It found that Sibilla was also present during a torture session.

Prosecutors had requested the maximum penalty of 25 years in jail for both men.

"It's a vindication of the Argentine labor movement, which was a principal target of the dictatorship, with the complicity of the companies," said Tomas Ojea, a lawyer for the victims, after the sentence was read.

"The next step will be against the company itself," he added. "We are going to evaluate the steps to be taken to hold the company to account. It has to explain its actions."

The court heard testimony from dozens of people including Pedro Troiani and Carlos Propato, who were trade union leaders at Ford in Argentina when they were detained in the factory and tortured by the military junta.

The court found Ford's former executive Hector Sibilla was also present during 
a torture session

They were held prisoner for two years and letters were sent to their families claiming they had been fired for failing to show up for work.

Sibilla and Muller are currently out under a former of conditional release that bars them from leaving the country, but the judge said they would have to serve out their sentences in prison once all appeals have been exhausted.

Survivors and relatives burst into applause and cheers when the verdict was given.

The court also sentenced a former general, Santiago Riveros -- head of the secret Campo de Mayo detention center where the men were held -- to 15 years in prison.

He has previously been convicted of crimes against humanity.

Before the sentence was read, only Muller, the manufacturing manager, availed himself of the opportunity to address the court.

"I have a clear conscience because nobody can accuse me over my conduct," he said.

Legal first in Argentina

The case marked the first time executives of a multinational company had been put on trial for crimes committed during the dictatorship.

The company itself was not implicated, but prosecutors sought to demonstrate there was complicity with the dictatorship responsible for the deaths and disappearances of some 30,000 people, according to human rights organizations.

Cases have also been taken against other international automakers, including Mercedes Benz, Renault and Fiat, but only the Ford case has so far gone to trial.

When the military took over in a 1976 coup, some 5,000 workers were employed at Ford's Buenos Aires plant, as well as 2,500 administrative staff.

Twenty four of the 100 trade union delegates at the plant were taken captive in retaliation for union activism.

Several were tortured at the plant, on the northern periphery of Buenos Aires, before they were transferred to secret detention centers.

Former Ford executive Pedro Muller, pictured in court in Buenos Aires, was jailed for 10 years for collaborating in the military dictatorship's "dirty war"

The court found Ford's former executive Hector Sibilla was also present during a torture session

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

China's Xi in Panama on mission to bolster clout in Latin America

Yahoo – AFP, December 4, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and his Panamanian counterpart Juan Carlos
Varela (R) signed a score of infrastructure, tourism and development cooperation
agreements (AFP Photo/Luis ACOSTA)

China's President Xi Jinping and his Panamanian counterpart Juan Carlos Varela signed a string of cooperation agreements Monday as Beijing aims to extend its political and economic influence in Latin America.

Xi arrived in the Central American country late Sunday, fresh from striking a 90-day truce deal in the trade war with US President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Argentina.

Xi and Varela signed a score of infrastructure, tourism and development cooperation agreements as Panama became the first Latin American country to partner with Beijing's giant multi-billion dollar global investment initiative known as "Belt and Road."

Xi's visit comes after Panama broke ties with Taiwan last year and switched its allegiance to Beijing. Since Panama's move, two other Central American countries -- the Dominican Republic and El Salvador -- have made the switch.

"Our bilateral relations have had a strong start after only a year and a half," Xi said.

Varela said Xi's visit -- and the investment it brought -- meant Panama would become "the gateway of China to Latin America."

The two countries are also negotiating a free trade agreement.

Xi also met with business leaders and visited the Panama Canal's new Cocoli Locks. China is the canal's second biggest user after the United States.

In a column written for local newspaper Estrella de Panama, Xi said he had "high expectations" for the visit, the first ever by a Chinese leader to the country.

"We must be cooperative partners of mutual benefit and shared profits," wrote Xi.

Beijing hopes Panama can be a logistics hub for the expansion of trade in
Latin America and the Caribbean (AFP Photo/Luis Acosta)

Logistics hub

Beijing hopes Panama can be a logistics hub for the expansion of trade in Latin America and the Caribbean -- an idea the local business community has fully embraced.

"Panama usually generates a lot of interest because of its strategic location in the region and because of the canal," Severo Sousa, president of the National Business Council (Conep), told AFP.

These factors -- along with Panama's political stability, growing economy and deep financial network -- are "very attractive" to China, Sousa added.

"What the Chinese want is very clear, they want to take advantage of the geographical position for their expansion and development in the region," said economist Francisco Bustamante.

"A strong Chinese presence in Panama reaffirms to the world China's rise in the global hierarchy at the expense of the United States," said Carlos Guevara Mann, professor of international relations at Florida State University in Panama.

"Being caught in the rivalry between China and the United States would be extremely problematic for Panama," because "it could lead to reprisals by Washington," warned Mann.

During a visit to the Central American country last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Varela about China's growing influence in the region.

Tug of war over Taiwan

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of a civil war on the mainland in 1949, but Beijing sees the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification.

Beijing and Taipei have been engaged for years in a diplomatic tug-of-war in developing countries, with aid and economic support often used as bargaining chips to gain diplomatic recognition.

Washington, which has accused the Chinese of trying to use aid to drive a wedge between Taipei and its Western Hemisphere partners, recalled its envoy to Panama City in September this year.

Varela, who visited China last year, promptly asked the US to respect his country's sovereignty.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

UNESCO adds reggae music to global cultural heritage list

The Jakarta Post - AFP, Port Louis, Mauritius, 29 November 2018

Reggae music, whose calm, lilting grooves found international fame thanks to
artists like Bob Marley, won a spot on the United Nations' list of global cultural
treasures. (HO/AFP)

Reggae music, whose calm, lilting grooves found international fame thanks to artists like Bob Marley, on Thursday won a spot on the United Nations' list of global cultural treasures.

UNESCO, the world body's cultural and scientific agency, added the genre that originated in Jamaica to its collection of "intangible cultural heritage" deemed worthy of protection and promotion.

Reggae music's "contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual," UNESCO said.

The musical style joined a list of cultural traditions that includes the horsemanship of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, a Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual and Czech puppetry, and more than 300 other traditional practices that range from boat-building, pilgrimages and cooking.

Reggae emerged in the late 1960s out of Jamaica's ska and rocksteady genres, also drawing influence from American jazz and blues.

The style quickly became popular in the United States as well as in Britain, where many Jamaican immigrants had moved in the post-WWII years.


It was often championed as a music of the oppressed, with lyrics addressing sociopolitical issues, imprisonment and inequality.

Reggae also became associated with Rastafarianism, which deified the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie and promoted the sacramental use of ganja, or marijuana.

The 1968 single "Do the Reggay" by Toots and the Maytals was the first popular song to use the name, and Marley and his group the Wailers produced classic hits such as "No Woman, No Cry" and "Stir It Up". 

Jamaica applied for reggae's inclusion on the list this year at a meeting of the UN agency on the island of Mauritius, where 40 proposals were under consideration.

"Reggae is uniquely Jamaican," said Olivia Grange, the Caribbean island nation's culture minister, before the vote.

"It is a music that we have created that has penetrated all corners of the world."

Sunday, November 25, 2018

First human remains found in El Salvador's 'Mayan Pompeii'

Yahoo – AFP, 23 November 2018

Like Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, the remains of Joya de Ceren were discovered
 in exceptional condition, providing a rare insight into the Mayan way of life including
rituals, agriculture, trade, governance and eating habits

Human remains have been discovered for the first time in El Salvador's Joya de Ceren, a city buried by a volcanic eruption more than 1,400 years ago and sometimes dubbed the "Mayan Pompeii," the ministry of culture said Thursday.

A skeleton, which was in poor condition, was discovered at the beginning of November, buried with an obsidian knife at the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site located about 20 miles (35 kilometers) north of the capital San Salvador.

The person "probably lived in the city but was not killed by the eruption" of the Loma Caldera volcano, archaeologist Michelle Toledo said.

Toledo added that researchers believed the remains date to the Late Classic period of Mesoamerica because of the presence of fine white tephra, known as "Tierra Blanca Joven" (young white earth) resulting from the volcanic eruption around 535 AD.

The cataclysmic eruption of the Loma Caldera volcano destroyed numerous Mayan sites and was responsible for the formation of Lake Ilopango, with an area of ​​27.8 square miles (72 square kilometers).

The remains are the first to be discovered in more than 40 years of excavations.

Like Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy, the remains of Joya de Ceren were discovered in exceptional condition, providing a rare insight into the Mayan way of life including rituals, agriculture, trade, governance and eating habits.


Saturday, November 10, 2018

Central American caravan continues toward US after rest

Yahoo – AFP, Yemeli ORTEGA, November 10, 2018

The metro in Mexico City opened an hour early to transport migrants toward
neighboring Mexico State (AFP Photo/Alfredo ESTRELLA)

Mexico City (AFP) - Around 5,000 Central Americans left Mexico City at dawn Saturday, brushing exhaustion and illness aside to get back on the road towards the United States as part of a migrant caravan that has drawn fury from President Donald Trump.

Between coughs and sneezes, the migrants packed up their makeshift camp in a sports park, where they had rested for six nights, and headed to the city's metro -- which opened an hour early to transport them toward neighboring Mexico State.

"We got cold sleeping out in the open, so that's why we're sick now. The kids have got lice, there's not always enough water to bathe them," Adamari Correa, a Guatemalan traveling with her sister and her sister's children, told AFP.

From there, the plan was to set off once again on foot toward Queretaro in central Mexico, still hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the US border.

"I don't want to walk, Mommy!" cried one little girl wrapped in a blanket, as her mother -- a sleeping mat on her back and two large bundles in each hand -- stood in an endless line waiting to board the five designated train, each carrying around 1,000 people, metro authorities estimated.

Some 1,000 police officers kept watch over the operation.

The caravan left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on October 13 and has covered more than 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) so far.

A group of Central American migrants is seen on the metro in Mexico City, on 
their way to Queretaro state (AFP Photo/Alfredo ESTRELLA)

At least two other caravans have since been established, defying threats from Trump -- who has decried what he describes as an "invasion" and ordered thousands of soldiers to the US-Mexico border.

On Friday, his administration unveiled a controversial new crackdown, announcing it would no longer allow people who enter the US illegally to claim asylum. Instead, those seeking political or other kinds of asylum will be heard exclusively at the border crossings.

Also on Friday, a group of 1,300 Central American migrants fragmented from the caravan to embark on the same path from Mexico City.

They quickly amassed on the sides of the wide high-speed road that snakes around the capital, leading to the exit toward Queretaro.

Taking the risk

"We're sick from the temperature changes," said Wilson Alexander Mejia, a 27-year-old laborer traveling alone.

"But we're determined to reach the border and beyond."

On the highway, truck drivers stopped to offer rides. Some migrants clung to vehicles; others found a seat perched on the hood, above the engine.

"Thank you Mexico! We go forward!" they yelled to passers-by, waving.

Other caravan members following behind trekked on foot or took public buses to reach the Queretaro exit, where trucks slowed to pick them up.

Under already intense sun, transport police were also seen helping migrants into one cargo vehicle's two trailers -- but they lacked any ventilation system.

"When you want something, you have to take risks and not care what happens," said Lucas Rocha, a 31-year-old on his second journey to the border. He said if he doesn't make it this time, he'll try again.

Years ago, he rode the notoriously dangerous cargo train route through Mexico known as "La Bestia" -- "the beast."

Along that route, migrants are routinely robbed and assaulted by organized criminals -- while scrambling onto moving trains sees many get dragged underneath and lose limbs.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

UN rejects US bid to criticize Cuba and calls for end to embargo

Yahoo – AFP, Laura BONILLA CAL, Carole LANDRY, November 1, 2018

United States ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, pictured at a Security Council
meeting in New York on August 28, 2018, dismissed the vote calling for an end
 to the US embargo on Cuba as a "waste of everyone's time" (AFP Photo/
DOMINICK REUTER)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN General Assembly on Thursday called for an end to the decades-old US embargo on Cuba, adopting a resolution by an overwhelming majority and rejecting US moves to criticize Havana's human rights record.

It was the 27th time that the 193-nation assembly has issued the call to lift the embargo imposed in 1962.

The resolution presented by Cuba was adopted by a vote of 189 to 2 with no abstentions. The US and its ally Israel voted against while Ukraine and Moldova did not vote.

The United States failed to win support for eight amendments criticizing Cuba's human rights record. Only the US, Israel and Ukraine voted in favor of those amendments. The Marshall Islands joined them in one vote.

At least 65 countries including many European nations abstained and at least 113 voted against the proposed US call to Cuba to fully uphold its citizens' rights.

President Donald Trump's administration points to Cuba's repression of political opponents and curbs on freedom of expression as a reason for maintaining the economic embargo.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley dismissed the vote on the US embargo, which has been an annual exercise since 1992, as a "waste of everyone's time" because it did not address Cuba's human rights situation.

"It's one more time that countries feel they can poke the United States in the eye," Haley told the assembly.

Cruel policies

Applause broke out in the chamber after the adoption that highlighted Washington's isolation on its Cuba policy. The resolution is non-binding but carries political weight.

Haley declared that the United Nations had "rejected the opportunity to speak on behalf of human rights" and described the outcome of the vote as a reminder of "why so many people believe that faith in the United Nations is often misplaced."

In a 35-minute address ahead of the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez slammed the Trump administration as a "government of millionaires that imposes cruel policies," citing US treatment of migrant children separated at the border with Mexico and "locked in cages."

"The US government does not have the least moral authority for criticizing Cuba or anyone else with regards to human rights," said the foreign minister, urging countries to back his measure.

Rodriguez argued that the embargo was a "flagrant, massive and systematic violation" of human rights in Cuba, notably by denying access to US-produced medicines and medical technology.

Last year, the resolution was adopted by a vote of 191 to 2. The United States and Israel were the only two countries that voted "no."

That vote took place after Washington for the first time abstained in the vote in 2016 as former president Barack Obama pursued a thaw in relations with Havana.

Ties between Cuba and the US have been in decline under Trump, who has rejected the previous administration's moves to improve ties with Havana.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Latin America braces for 'Bolsonaro effect'

Yahoo - AFPDenis BARNETT, October 29, 2018

Police officers patrol the streets after the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won
Brazil's presidential election, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 28, 2018 (AFP
Photo/DANIEL RAMALHO)

Montevideo (AFP) - Brazil's Latin American neighbors are bracing for a regional "Bolsonaro effect" after the far-right leader's crushing victory in presidential elections.

The knock-on effect will be felt across the region in foreign policy, trade, policing and even in how political campaigns are waged, analysts said.

Bolsonaro's win perpetuates electoral routs for right-wing presidents against leftist governments hostile to the United States, said Argentine commentator Pablo Seman -- citing recent victories for Mauricio Macri in Argentina, Sebastian Pinera in Chile and Mario Abdo Benitez in Paraguay.

"The US is taking possession of what has been lost in Latin America, in a context of global struggle with China for natural resources, markets, political support. There is no place in Latin America where Washington has not regained the position it lost" in the 2000s, Seman added.

With President Donald Trump in the White House, "strongmen have the edge" in US foreign policy, said US analyst Michael Shifter.

Bolsonaro's triumph however raises fears of a return to authoritarian rule in a region which has suffered under a string of military dictatorships.

The shift will be stark, according to Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.

"This is a guy who said the Brazilian dictatorship didn't kill enough people, that they need to kill another 30,000 people, that the police should be able to kill suspects, that the left will have a choice of going to jail or leaving the country.

"Will he do these things? I think he will implement as many of these threats as he can get away with," said Weisbrot.

'Not so extreme'

However, "the shift towards authoritarian rule may not be as extreme as many fear," according to Shifter, head of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank -- because traditional parties in Congress could yet provide checks and balances.

There could be a "modest Bolsonaro effect" in neighboring countries, especially those that experienced military rule, "but each country has its own particular dynamics that shape its political direction. Any contagion would be limited."

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America director of the International Crisis Group, said the ex-soldier's rise is part of a gradual "winnowing of democracy" in the region, the most notable examples being Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Police officers patrol the streets after the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won 
Brazil's presidential election, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on October 28, 2018 (AFP
Photo/DANIEL RAMALHO)

Bolsonaro wielding power in the volatile social context of Brazil is alarming.

"When you have a populist authoritarian, militaristic ruler in that context, he isn't just a laughing stock -- as Trump often is -- he is actually a very serious challenger to civil rights, and human rights and basic freedoms."

Bolsonaro has much in common with Mexico's president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said Briscoe.

"It's the appeal of the strong leader, it's the slightly vague political program, it's the promise of 'trust me, I will do the job' - it's the style. So we might see similar campaigning in Latin America."

Bolsonaro's trade choices

Bolsonaro has vowed to implement free-market reforms in the region's biggest economy and recently accused China -- its largest trading partner -- of "buying Brazil."

Beijing is set to build on its aggressive strategy in the region in recent years, analysts agree, with a style that appeals to Latin American leaders.

"It provides much more direct investment, loans, and aid to developing countries than the US does, and has a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of the recipients," Weisbrot pointed out.

Regardless of his China trade policy, it's an anxious moment for the struggling regional MERCOSUR bloc -- Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay.

"If Bolsonaro follows through on his idea of allowing members to pursue bilateral trade agreements, and not as a bloc, that would be a big blow," noted Shifter.

According to Weisbrot, Bolsonaro will "follow Macri and the other right-wing governments in pursuing commercial policies that the Trump administration favors." ​

Briscoe agrees that a leader with a "Brazil First" approach "is possibly not going to do wonders for MERCOSUR."

Worst case scenario

Regardless of Bolsonaro's appeal to the markets, Shifter says that based on his campaign rhetoric and background, we can expect "considerable erosion of democratic norms and institutions".

That means Bolsonaro supporting "right-wing and fascist movements everywhere, and also (being) a strong supporter of the Trump administration's foreign policy, which seeks to get rid of the remaining left governments," said Weisbrot.

The worst case scenario is that he could become South America's answer to the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose war on drugs has been credited with killing some 20,000 people since July 2016.

In a country where police killings number around 5,000 a year, "if Bolsonaro and all his deputies are saying 'the gloves are off, you can do what you want, we'll protect you, the courts won't prosecute you,' the signal which will be given in that context could lead to appalling violence," said Briscoe.

"In Brazil it really is a risk."

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Mexico may be next to legalize cannabis: incoming FM

Yahoo – AFP, October 23, 2018

Mexico's Secretary-designate of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard listens to Canada's
 Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland during a press conference in Ottawa October 22,
2018 (AFP Photo/Lars Hagberg)

Montreal (AFP) - Mexico "absolutely" could follow Canada's lead in legalizing marijuana as a way to reduce violence generated by a war on drugs that "doesn't work," its incoming foreign minister said Tuesday.

Marcelo Ebrard, who will become foreign minister when Mexico's president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office December 1, said he discussed Ottawa's experience Monday with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Asked whether Mexico might follow Canada's example, Ebrard told reporters, "Sure, absolutely."

"We think it is a very interesting option in the short term for Mexico," he said. "We think there are two options: the Canadian model or the Uruguay model."

"It doesn't make sense to have a law forbidding the possession or production of cannabis and we have 9,000 people in jail for that, we have a huge amount of violence in the country," Ebrard said.

"You spend a huge amount of money (on policing), you cause suffering for a lot of people and it doesn't make sense."

Prohibition, he added, "doesn't work, you have the cannabis anyway."

Canada legalized cannabis on October 17, becoming the first major economy to do so. Uruguay legalized recreational use of the drug in 2013.

Mexico has long been a major supplier of marijuana and other illegal drugs to the US market, spawning powerful drug cartels and violent struggles for control of drug routes.

Since 2006, when the government deployed the army to fight the cartels, more than 200,000 people have been murdered, including a record 28,702 last year.

Another 37,000 people are reported missing.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Honduran migrant 'caravan' resumes from Mexico to US: AFP reporter

Yahoo – AFP, 21 October 2018

The authorities opened the border to women and children who were then taken to a
shelter in the city of Tapachula, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico

Thousands of Honduran migrants resumed their march toward the United States on Sunday from the southern Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo.

Mexican authorities on Thursday had managed to block the "caravan" of migrants on a border bridge between Mexico and Guatemala, but many later entered via a river separating the two countries.

"No one is going to stop us, after all we've gone through, like crossing the river" said 21-year-old Aaron Juarez, who was accompanied by his wife and baby and was walking with difficulty because of an injury.

"We are tired, but very happy, we are united and strong," added Edwin Geovanni Enamorado, a Honduran farmer who was part of the caravan, who said he was forced to leave his country because of intimidation by racketeering gangs.

The caravan left San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras last week, following a call on social networks relayed by a former Honduran deputy.

On Sunday morning, about a thousand migrants, including women and children, were still stranded on a border bridge hoping to enter Mexico legally via Guatemala.

The day before, the Mexican authorities opened the border to women and children who were then taken to a shelter in the city of Tapachula, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.

US President Donald Trump has been tweeting about the caravan's progress and thanked Mexican authorities on Saturday for their efforts to block it.

"Mexico will not allow irregular entry into its territory, much less violent," Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Friday evening in a video message.