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. …

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Obama and Rousseff take climate focus, turn page on spy row

The leaders of Brazil and the US have pledged to work towards visa-free travel and increased use of renewable energy. Brazil's Dilma Rousseff labeled the talks a "relaunch" of relations following the NSA spying scandal.

Deutsche Welle, 30 June 2015

US President Barack Obama and his Brazilian counterpart, Dilma Rousseff, announced "ambitious" plans to increase use of renewable energy and reduce deforestation, at joint press conference in Washington on Tuesday.

Both countries aim for one-fifth of their energy consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030.

"These are very ambitious goals, a near tripling for the United States and more than double Brazil's current output," said Obama.

The leaders hope to present a collective front at UN-sponsored climate talks in Paris in late November and December.

The heads of state also discussed trade and defense cooperation, and agreed to take steps so that Americans and Brazilians can travel between the two countries without visas.

Turning the page on the spy row

The diplomatic trip, which started Monday, was originally planned for 2013. However, it was delayed when documents released by Edward Snowden showed that the US National Security Agency had tapped Rousseff's telephone calls and those of millions of other Brazilians.

On Tuesday, Rousseff called the visit a "relaunch" of relations between Washington and Brasilia, following a bitter row.

"Since then, some things have changed," she said, citing assurances that the US would no longer spy on leaders in allied countries. "I believe President Obama," Rousseff added.

"He has told me that, should he ever need non-public information about Brazil, he would just pick up the phone and call me."

Rousseff also praised the American president over the thaw in relations with Cuba, saying the rapprochement improved US standing across Latin America.

In turn, Obama hailed Brazil as a "global player" and pointed to good relations with Rousseff.

"I trust her completely," Obama said. "She's always been very candid and frank with me about the interests of the Brazilian people and how we can work together. She's delivered on what she's promised."

After Washington, Rousseff will be heading to Silicon Valley to meet with executives at Google, Apple and Facebook.

dj/jr (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Cuba first to ​eliminate mother-to-baby HIV transmission

World Health Organisation hails ‘one of the greatest public health achievements possible’, five years into regional initiative

The Guardian, Lisa O'Carroll, Tuesday 30 June 2015

Margaret Chan, the WHO director general. Photograph: Xinhua /Landov/
Barcroft Media

Cuba has become the first country to eliminate the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to baby, the World Health Organisation has announced.

The WHO’s director general, Margaret Chan, said it was “one of the greatest public health achievements possible” and an important step towards an Aids-free generation.

Over the past five years, Caribbean countries have had increased access to antiretroviral drugs as part of a regional initiative to eliminate mother-to-child transmission.

HIV and syphilis testing for pregnant women and their partners, caesarean deliveries and substitution of breastfeeding have also contributed to the breaking of the infection chain, said the WHO.

Carissa Etienne, the director of the Pan American Health Organisation, which partnered with the WHO on the initiative, said: “Cuba’s achievement today provides inspiration for other countries to advance towards elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.”

It is estimated that each year 1.4 million women living with HIV become pregnant. Untreated they have a 15-45% chance of transmitting the virus during pregnancy, labour or breastfeeding. The risk drops to just over 1% if the mother and baby are treated with antiretrovirals.

Globally, more than 35 million adults and children are living with HIV but the infection rate has slowed significantly, with 2.1 million becoming HIV positive in 2013, down from 2.9 million in 2005, according to UNAids data.

Scientists have said eradicating Aids is feasible if HIV prevention continues to grow, even if there is no cure. The reduction in infection rates in Cuba is seen as a major breakthrough in the campaign to rid the world of the virus.

Incidence of syphilis transmission is close behind with 1 million pregnant woman worldwide infected. This can be eliminated with simple treatments such as penicillin during pregnancy.

In 2013, only two babies were born with HIV in Cuba, and only five born with congenital syphilis.

According to the WHO, the number of children born every year with HIV has almost halved since 2009, to 240,000 in 2013.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Thousands join anti-corruption march in Honduras

Tens of thousands of Hondurans have marched in Tegucigalpa to demand the president's resignation over a corruption scandal. They also want an independent probe into one of the country's worst corruption scandals.

Deutsche Welle, 27 Juni 2015

On Friday, tens of thousands of Hondurans marched in Tegucigalpa, many with torches in hand, calling for the resignation of President Juan Hernandez.

The protesters crowded onto the city's Suyapa Boulevard for more than a kilometer (0.62 miles), marching to the presidential palace from an impoverished neighborhood in the capital.

'This is no president, he's a criminal'

The crowd, which organizers estimated at around 50,000 people, sounded horns and carried candle-lit torches, demanding the creation of an anti-corruption commission and rejecting any dialogue initiative by the president.

According to AFP news agency, many of the protesters carried banners and held anti-government signs with slogans such as "Honduras is ours" and "This is no president, he's a criminal."

With torches in hand some 50,000
Hondurans have protested against
The opposition has accused the president of skimming $90 million (80.6 million euros) out of Honduras' public health system budget of more than $300 million for his 2013 election campaign.

Hernandez has denied wrongdoing and played down the amount. However, he admitted that his 2013 presidential campaign took some $150,000 from companies linked to the scandal, adding that he and his party were unaware of where the money had come from.

Asking for UN support

Following the allegations, Honduras has asked the UN for support to combat widespread corruption in the country.

According to the German news agency DPA, the Honduran Foreign Minister Arturo Corrales told the local news paper "La Tribuna" that a petition had been sent to UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon for this purpose.

With this petition they are asking UN officials to play the role of mediator in this process and to support a "national dialogue," German news agency EPD reported.

ra/ng (Reuters, EPD, AFP)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Panama's Manuel Noriega asks for forgiveness in TV interview

Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega has broken his silence in a jailhouse interview with a local TV channel. The 81-year-old asked to be forgiven, but did not specify any abuses.

Deutsche Welle, 25 June 2015

Noriega began the interview, which was conducted in prison, by reading a statement he had prepared after talking to his family and members of the church

"Before the altar of my conscience I've come to express myself in the spirit of forgiveness," the former military dictator said, his hand shaking but otherwise appearing in good health for his 81 years.

He said he had had plenty of time to reflect in jail and came to the conclusion that it was appropriate to ask for forgiveness. But he refused to answer questions on any specific abuses and did not offer any clarification on the still unresolved disappearance of two opponents.

Referring to himself as the "last general of the military era," Noriega apologized to those "offended, affected, injured or humiliated" by his own actions or those of his superiors and subordinates during Panama's military regime.

Panama was under military rule from the late 1960s until the US invasion in 1989, which many Panamaians supported.

Noriega ruled Panama from 1983 to 1989
A one-time US ally and CIA informant, Noriega was the de-facto military ruler of Panama from 1983 to 1989. The US operation "Just Cause" ousted him in 1989, and in 1992, he was tried and convicted of drug and racketeering charges in a US court. Noriega had been heavily involved in Colombia's Medellin drug cartel.

In 2010, he was extradited to France, where he served time for money laundering. 

He returned to Panama in 2011 to complete a 60-year sentence for murder, corruption and embezzlement during the military's three-decade rule. Among the atrocities he was involved in or was responsible for is the violent suppression of public protests and the 1989 Albrook massacre that saw 12 people executed for their part in a coup attempt.

Noriega had not spoken to a journalist since his 1996 interview with CNN's Larry King, which took place in a Miami prison.

ng/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Coveted and criticized, Latin America's rich multiply

Yahoo – AFP, Katell Abiven, 22 June 2015

Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim, whose $77 billion fortune is the
second-largest in the world according to Forbes (AFP Photo/Yuri Cortez)

Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim, whose $77 billion fortune is the second-largest in the world according to Forbes (AFP Photo/Yuri Cortez)

Montevideo (AFP) - They buy 10 Porsches a day and travel the world by private jet, toting their Louis Vuitton bags and leaving behind a faint scent of Chanel.

They are Latin America's super-rich, and they are multiplying faster than anywhere in the world, coveted by luxury brands keen to tap their buying power, but criticized for paying low taxes in a region plagued by inequality.

Latin America, a region of some 600 million people, is home to nearly 15,000 "ultra high net worth" individuals, or people with fortunes of at least $30 million, according to luxury industry consultancy Wealth-X.

The number rose five percent last year, while the number of billionaires rose to 151, a 38 percent increase.

That was the fastest growth rate for billionaires of any region on Earth.

Natixis Global Asset Management, a firm that specializes in managing large fortunes, recently launched its first Latin American offices, in Mexico City and Montevideo.

"We've clearly identified it as one of the regions where individual wealth is in an exceptional growth phase," said Sophie del Campo, head of the firm's Iberian division in Madrid.

Ensconced behind the high walls of their luxury villas, the mining magnates, telecoms tycoons, large landholders and others who make up Latin America's uppermost crust can be less visible than the region's poor.

But they are the flipside of its intractable inequality problem.

Their lavish lifestyles and growing numbers are attracting keen interest from the global luxury industry, eager to expand to new markets and court new customers in existing ones.

Porsche is one example. Since arriving in Latin America 15 years ago, the German sports car maker has increased annual sales to the region from less than 300 vehicles to nearly 3,900 vehicles, said George Wills, president of Porsche Latin America, which is based in Miami.

The region's largest economies, Mexico and Brazil, remain the "volume drivers," he said.

"But if you look in terms of the markets themselves, the markets that are enjoying good growth are markets like Peru, Colombia, Panama... with 60 percent growth in some of them."

According to market research firm Euromonitor, the Latin American luxury market will total $26.5 billion in 2019, up 88.8 percent from 2014 -- the strongest growth in the world.

The boom applies to big-ticket luxuries, too.

Mexico is the world's second-largest market for private jets, behind the United States, with Brazil poised to surpass it within the next decade, according to a recent market study by Brazilian jetmaker Embraer.

'Fiscal justice'

The ultra-wealthy have varied profiles, from Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim, whose $77 billion fortune is the second-largest in the world according to Forbes, to Brazilian beer magnate Jorge Paulo Lemann (net worth: $25 billion), Chilean mining scion Iris Fontbona ($13.5 billion), to Colombian banker Luis Carlos Sarmiento ($13.4 billion).

What is clear is that their numbers are growing, in some cases because family fortunes have been divided up among heirs, said Mykolas Rambus, the chief executive of Singapore-based Wealth-X.

"The amount of wealthy people globally is booming and that is true in Latin America: it's growing at a very good pace," he said.

But the super-rich also face growing scrutiny in countries like Nicaragua, where 42.5 percent of the country lives below the poverty line but 210 ultra-wealthy individuals control a combined fortune of $30 billion, equal to 2.5 times the country's annual economic output.

"The main characteristic of inequality in Latin America is not that there are a lot of poor people, but that there are a few people who have a lot," said Juan Pablo Jimenez, an economist at the UN's Economic Commission for Latin America.

Moreover, the latter "pay very low taxes, both in international terms and compared to what they are supposed to pay," he said.

"Taxes on wealth are very low in Latin America, and inheritance taxes are almost nonexistent."

Last year, humanitarian group Oxfam called for more "fiscal justice" in the region to fight inequality.

But it is easier said than done.

Ecuador's socialist President Rafael Correa had to back down last week from plans to start taxing inheritances of more than $35,400 after an outcry from the business world.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Moroccan villagers harvest fog for water supply

Yahoo – AFP, Zakaria Choukrallah, 19 June 2015

A Moroccan inspects fog fences in a hamlet on the outskirts of the southern
coastal city of Sidi Ifni, on June 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/Fadel Senna)

Sidi Ifni (Morocco) (AFP) - Green technology to turn fog into fresh water straight from the tap has put an end to exhausting daily treks to distant wells by village women in southwest Morocco.

Families in five highland Berber communities have begun to benefit from "fog harvesting", a technique devised in Chile two decades ago and since taken up in countries from Peru to Namibia and South Africa.

On the summit of a mountain named Boutmezguida, which looms over the villages at 1,225 metres (4,019 feet), thick fog shrouds about 40 finely meshed panels designed to trap water and relay it to a network of pipes.

A Moroccan woman uses water collected 
on fog fences to wash her hands in a 
hamlet on the outskirts of the southern
 coastal city of Sidi Ifni, on June 7, 2015
(AFP Photo/Fadel Senna)
To have water running from a faucet at home is a "revolution" for inhabitants of the semi-arid mountains known as the Anti-Atlas, says Aissa Derhem, the chairman of an active regional association called Dar Si Hmad for Development, Education and Culture (DSH).

DSH prides itself on building "the world's largest fog-collection and distribution system" and helping locals in the Sidi Ifni region -- Derhem's birthplace -- to learn to operate it, after repeated droughts and scarce rain.

"Our rain here is the fog," Derhem adds.

Tiny droplets are caught on the mesh while fog wafts through panels. The harvesters mix all they catch with more water derived from drilling, then supply the villages on the lower slopes.

Derhem first heard about fog harvesting 20 years ago. A few years later on returning to Sidi Ifni, he realised that the local climate was similar to that of the Andes in South America.

DSH joined forces with Fog Quest, a Canadian charity whose volunteers work in a range of developing countries. North Africa's first pilot project became operational after almost a decade's work refining techniques.

'An imitation of nature'

The valves were opened at Sidi Ifni for the first time to mark World Water Day, March 22. Ever since, "92 households, or nearly 400 people," have enjoyed running water at home, says Mounir Abbar, the project's technical manager.

Aissa Derhem, the president of the "Dar Si Hamed for development, education
 and culture" association touches a fog fence in a hamlet on the outskirts of the
southern coastal city of Sidi Ifni, on June 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/Fadel Senna)

"Morocco has a lot of fog because of three phenomena: the presence of an anticyclone from the Azores (north Atlantic islands), a cold air current and a mountainous obstacle," Derhem says.

The mesh that traps water is "merely an imitation of nature," he adds, pointing out how spiders have always caught minute droplets of water in their webs.

"This is ecological and enables us to look after the regional water table, which we have been emptying away," Derhem says.

The scheme will be extended to other villages and, in time, advocates hope, to other parts of the country.

In the village of Douar Id Achour, residents are proud of their new taps, for good reason. Women and children used to spend an average of four hours a day on a round trip to a well, even longer in dry summer.

"I filled two 20-litre (5.3-gallon) containers four times a day," says Massouda Boukhalfa, 47. "But even those 160 litres wasn't enough for us, because we have cattle as well."

'Ready for export'

During droughts, water was carried in by tanker trunk. "That took a fortnight and cost 150 dirhams (13.7 euros), $15.6) for 5,000 litres on average," young resident Houcine Soussane recalls.

According to Dar Si Hmad, 7,000 litres of fog water cost three times less than before, even with a fee of 20 dirhams to each household for the right to a counter.

Thick fog is trapped by finely meshed panels and relayed it to a network of pipes
(AFP Photo/Fadel Senna)

Villagers today have more time to collect the nutty fruit of argan trees and extract its prized and potentially lucrative oil, used in cooking, skin care and easing arthritis. Reputed as an anti-ageing product, argan oil has been taken up abroad as an ingredient in high-end cosmetics.

"Our women and daughters no longer wear themselves out. They go to school and are safe," 54 year-old villager Lahcen Hammou Ali sums up. "With the time saved, we can pay for water all year by producing a bottle of argan oil."

DSH next wants to supply fog water to as many villages as possible in the area. It also plans to replace mesh in the panels with a new variety that can resist wind speeds of 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph).

The panels were perfected on Moroccan soil with help from the German charity Wasserstiftung, and successfully passed the testing phase.

"The nets are now ready for export to other towns in Morocco, in all the mountainous regions and along the seafront," Derham says, hopeful they can be deployed in all highland areas where fogbanks are frequent.

Related Article:

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

US authorities reveal Chuck Blazer's cooperation deal in FIFA probe

United States prosecutors have released a plea agreement made with former FIFA executive Chuck Blazer. It shows Blazer secretly fed authorities information in a corruption probe for almost two years.

Deutsche Welle, 16 June 2015

The cooperation agreement between Blazer and the US Attorney's Office in Brooklyn, New York - which was signed in November 2013 - was made public Monday following a ruling by a federal judge.

It outlined deals between Blazer and US authorities which went back as far as December 2011 - including agreements for the soccer functionary to turn over documents to investigators, participate in undercover activities and testify at trial - in exchange for more leniencies at sentencing.

Media outlets had requested to reveal the document following the May indictment of nine current and former FIFA officials as well as five corporate executives in a US probe into corruption in world soccer's governing body.

Federal prosecutors had opposed making Blazer's agreement public, arguing it would prejudice the investigation and jeopardize the witness' safety. However, that argument was rejected by the judge, Raymond Dearie, who said prosecutors had failed to meet their "high burden" to keep the document sealed.

"The nature of Blazer's cooperation – at least to the extent expressed in his cooperation agreement – should be removed from the shadows," Dearie wrote in a ruling released Monday.

Cooperation and guilty pleas

The agreement included that Blazer would "participate in undercover activities pursuant to the specific instructions of law enforcement agents or this office."

In exchange, authorities said they would not recommend a specific sentence for his crimes and accepted what would amount to a significant reduction in jail time. Blazer secretly pleaded guilty to 10 charges including wire fraud and money laundering in November 2013. The maximum jail sentences for the counts could have added up to 100 years.

Blazer, now aged 70 and reported to be in poor health, had been a member of FIFA's executive committee from 1997 to 2013 and was general secretary of CONCACAF, soccer's governing body in North and Central America and the Caribbean, from 1990 to 2011.

According to US officials, his cooperation helped build a complex corruption case that has led to charges against top FIFA figures and prompted FIFA President Sepp Blatter to announce he would step down – just days after his re-election.

Handshake initiative canned

In another blow to FIFA's prestige, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo has said it's ending its cooperation with the organization in the "Handshake for Peace" initiative. Blatter had been an enthusiastic supporter of the campaign.

se/jil (AP, Reuters, AFP)

Take this plane to Cuba, say Chinese and German airlines

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-06-16

Boeing delivers an 747-8 aircraft to Air China in Seattle, Sept. 30,
2014. (File photo/Xinhua)

Chinese and German airlines are strengthening their air connections with Cuba, Cuban state daily Granma reported Monday.

Air China is poised to launch a Beijing-Havana route starting in September, while Condor of Germany will increase the frequency of its flights in October and add a new route, the daily said, citing the island's Ministry of Tourism.

Air China will operate three weekly flights with a stopover in Montreal, marking the first flights between the Asian giant and the Caribbean island, according to the daily. The new flight has the potential to turn Havana into a hub for Chinese visitors traveling to other parts of Latin America, Granma added.

More than 28,000 Chinese travelers visited Cuba last year, a more than 27% increase over 2013, according to Cuba's official statistics institute (ONEI).

In time for the winter high tourism season, Condor will launch a new weekly route between Munich and Holguin, increase the ferquency of its Frankfurt-to-Havana to four a week and add a second weekly flight between Munich and the Cuban beach resort of Varadero.

Condor's goal is to maintain its dominance as the leading German carrier to Cuba.

In 2014, Germany maintained its ranking as Cuba's second-largest market of foreign tourists, after Canada, with more than 136,000 visitors, an increase of 20% over the previous year, the ministry said. Some 150,000 German tourists are expected in 2015.

Tourism is Cuba's second largest source of foreign revenue, generating US$2.6 billion a year, and drawing some 3 million visitors for the first time in 2014. That figure is expected to double in a few years as improving US-Cuba ties allow more Americans to freely travel to the country.

Monday, June 15, 2015

US Catholic bishops quit, envoy faces trial in sex abuse cases

Yahoo – AFP, Angus MacKinnon, 15 June 2015

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of two US bishops (AFP Photo/
Filippo Monteforte)

Vatican City (AFP) - The Vatican on Monday announced the resignation of two senior US clerics accused of failing to protect minors from a paedophile priest and set a date for an unprecedented trial of a former archbishop for paying boys for sex.

The twin announcements follow last week's unveiling of plans to create an internal Church tribunal empowered to punish bishops who cover up abuse by priests.

The two US bishops' resignations follow the 2012 jailing of Minnesota priest Curtis Wehmeyer for the sexual abuse of two minors and possession of child pornography.

Prosecutors in the case of Curtis
Wehmeyer unveiled evidence that Church
officials failed to act on warnings that
the priest was a danger to children 
(AFP Photo/Don Emmert)
Wehmeyer's conviction led to the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis being charged on June 5 with six counts of failing to protect minors after prosecutors unveiled evidence that Church officials failed to act on repeated warnings that the priest was a danger to children.

No individuals have been charged but the two senior clerics who have stepped down, Archbishop John Clayton Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche, were both named in the complaint as having failed to heed the warnings.

Frank Meuers, the Southern Minnesota leader of SNAP, a network of victims of clerical abuse, said Nienstedt's resignation was "a tiny but belated step forward."

"After centuries of abuse and cover up done in secrecy, and decades of abuse and cover up done somewhat in public, evidently one pope has finally seen fit to oust one archbishop for complicity in clergy sex crimes. That's encouraging. But it's only a very tiny drop of reform in an enormous bucket of horror," Meuers said.

PR campaign?

The Vatican also announced Monday a start date of July 11 for the trial of Jozef Wesolowski, a former papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic, in the first case of its kind to be brought before a Vatican court.

Wesolowski, a Polish former archbishop, was secretly recalled from his Caribbean posting in 2012 after the Church hierarchy was informed that he was regularly paying boys for sexual services.

He was defrocked by a church court in June 2014 but remained at liberty until September 2014, when he was placed under house arrest under an order which the Vatican described as coming directly from Francis.

Possession of child pornography has been a crime under the Vatican city state's penal code since 2013 following a change also initiated by the Argentinian Pope.

In a statement, the Vatican said its prosecutor had worked in collaboration with authorities in the Dominican Republic, who failed in their attempts to have Wesolowski extradited to face trial there.

Dominican authorities have said they have identified at least four alleged victims of the papal envoy.

Archbishop John Clayton Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Anthony Piche have 
resigned after accusations they failed to protect minors (AFP Photo/Eric Cabanis)

Pope Francis's supporters say the flurry of announcements related to sex abuse cases reflect his determination to address an issue that has severely tarnished the image of the Church in recent decades by creating new transparent procedures to hold abusers to account.

Critics say the initiatives undertaken since Francis was elected in 2013 do not go far enough in ensuring priests who commit sex crimes against children are dealt with under criminal law.

SNAP's Barbara Dorris said she suspected the latest initiatives were part of a PR campaign ahead of Francis's September visit to the United States.

"One or two or three small steps doesn't erase decades of complicity," she said.

Under the reform announced last week, bishops who fail to respond appropriately to allegations against priests in their dioceses will face judgement by a Church tribunal.

The move was welcomed by some survivors' groups as a significant step forward but others said it would not lead to change as clerics would remain in charge of dealing with other clerics.

Related Article:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

S. American confederation loses immunity in FIFA fallout

Yahoo – AFP, 11 June 2015

Paraguay's Congress voted to lift the immunity of South American football
confederation CONMEBOL's headquarters after several top executives were
indicted in the US probe into alleged massive corruption at FIFA
(AFP Photo/Norberto Duarte)

Asuncion (AFP) - Paraguay's Congress voted Thursday to lift the immunity of South American football confederation CONMEBOL's headquarters after several top executives were indicted in the US probe into alleged massive corruption at FIFA.

Under a special law, the confederation's building on the outskirts of Asuncion had enjoyed the same immunity as foreign diplomatic missions since it opened in 1997.

But the Senate voted against continuing to treat the scandal-stained football organization like a foreign government, adopting a measure already passed by the Chamber of Deputies to repeal the immunity law, just the latest fallout from the wide-ranging FIFA scandal.

"It's impossible to continue shielding corruption, protecting large-scale economic crimes and criminal corporations," said lawmaker Hugo Rubin.

The president of CONMEBOL, Paraguayan national Juan Angel Napout, had said the federation would not fight moves to lift its immunity and would cooperate with investigators.

Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga said the vote brought Paraguay in line with international law, which affords immunity only to inter-governmental missions.

"CONMEBOL is not an inter-governmental entity. I understand the president of CONMEBOL has already announced that they are in agreement with this," he said.

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, who backed the legislation, is expected to sign it into law in the coming days.

Two former CONMEBOL presidents are among 14 football officials and marketing executives indicted by the United States on charges of taking and receiving more than $150 million in bribes across 24 years of corrupt activities that reached into the heart of world football's governing body.

Former CONMEBOL president Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay was among the seven people arrested last month in a raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich, as were executive committee members Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Jose Maria Marin of Brazil.

Another former CONMEBOL president, Nicolas Leoz, was arrested in his native Paraguay and is currently under house arrest awaiting a decision on extraditing him to the United States.

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Ceremonial EU-CELAC summit could still bring big gains

An EU summit with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is intended to revitalize trade. Though few real results are expected, the political gesture is important. Barbara Wesel reports from Brussels.

Deutsche Welle, 11 June 2015

After Tuesday's meeting in Brussels between the European Union and the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, appeared together before the press. The Cuban foreign minister stressed that a cooperation agreement between the European Union and his country would hold many opportunities for both sides. He said he was very pleased with the negotiations, which would hopefully lead to a signed agreement in the future. Beyond that, Parrilla invited Steinmeier to Havana so that he could experience Cuban hospitality firsthand.

Bruno Rodrgiuez Parrilla (left) invites
Steinmeier to Havana to experience
Cuban hospitality
Steinmeier accepted and found the friendliest of words: In light of the numerous crises around the world, cooperation with Cuba is a sign of hope. The European Union wants to be - and must be - present in Latin America. However, the projected signing date of the agreement, which is to contain a section on human rights dialogue, is still unclear. Cooperation with Cuba was put on hold in 2003, following a wave of repression against dissidents.

The high-level summit in Brussels is a political gesture to signal the EU's interest in Latin America, says Susanne Gratius of FRIDE, a Madrid-based think tank that studies European foreign policy. And those contacts have become more important since China initiated a similar forum in order to undertake its own negotiations with Latin America. After all, the cultural and historical connections between Europe and the Americas, especially with Spain, remain deep. But in the face of billions in investments from China, European Union has to consider what it can really offer Latin America. Gratius suggests "Soft Power": EU countries should strengthen political and cultural dialogue, she says, and "they should spread their norms and values." Admittedly, they don't have much leverage to increase the acceptance of such offerings. Since Latin America has moved on from being a developmental partner, Europe's "political influence" in the region has waned.

The European Union is already heeding the call for more "cultural diplomacy." A concurrent academic summit in Brussels has brought together university presidents and educational ministers from Europe and the Americas to discuss research exchanges, for example. There, the EU unveiled an expansion of the Erasmus exchange program for young academics, thus offering new destinations for adventurous students. A meeting between labor organizers from both continents and an event with civil services representatives under the aegis of Federica Mogherini, the European Union's top diplomat, have already taken place. Incidentally, she has often said that Europe needs to reach out to Latin America in the way that it does the United States.

From left to right: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chilean President
Michele Bachelet and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Improve trade relations

EU leaders want to get economic relations up and running again. The EU already has preferential trade agreements with 26 of CELAC's 33 member states. Nevertheless, further progress could prove tedious. Negotiations for a trade deal with the Mercosur group - consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay - have been dragging on for 20 years.

In an interview with DW, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff promised that her country would "do everything possible, and everything impossible" to make sure that negotiations finally lead to a deal. The president added that an agreement is of existential importance to Brazil. However, optimism that a deal might soon be struck is decidedly muted in Brussels.

"One should organize more thematically specific meetings, and discuss concrete problems like migration or drugs, rather than putting on big summits," FRIDE's Gratius said. There is no denying that the interests of individual CELAC states vary greatly. What does Honduras have to do with Brazil? What do Caribbean states have to do with South American ones? That is why there is no chance to export the European integration model to Latin America: CELAC will never be more than an institutional umbrella, a loose geographic confederation of states with very different concerns and problems. Above all, the Brussels summit is about the "political visibility" of Latin America.

One of the small events taking place on the periphery of the summit is the elevation to international organization status of the Hamburg-based European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Foundation, which supports relationships between civil societies. EU-LAC President Benita Ferrero-Waldner, a former European commissioner for external relations, said the bloc should make relations with Latin America a priority: "We are 61 nations. How much could we get done if we worked in unison?" The Austrian politician knows full well how difficult it is to achieve such consensus from experience. And dialogue partners are woefully absent in some crisis situations. Recently, Ferrero-Waldner told the newspaper Die Presse that "the situation in Venezuela is very unsettling." That situation could worsen yet - first in the form of awful skirmishes, and then civil war. In light of that threat, the only thing that Europe can do is attempt to start a dialogue with Venezuela's government, if that is still possible.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Argentinian FIFA suspect hands himself in

Yahoo – AFP, 9 June 2015

A member of Interpol is seen speaking with staff at the headquarters of Torneos y 
Competencias during a raid in Buenos Aires on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Rome (AFP) - Argentinian sports marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco, who has been indicted by US authorities in the FIFA corruption scandal, turned himself into police in Italy on Tuesday.

Burzaco, 50, was held in Bolzano, near Italy's northern border with Switzerland after "turning up spontaneously" at a police station with his two lawyers, police said in a statement.

Burzaco was briefly detained in a cell and was then allowed to leave the police station but placed under house arrest, Italian news agency AGI reported.

The Argentinian, who also has Italian citizenship, had already rented a house near Bolzano in expectation of being placed under house arrest, reports said.

Burzaco's whereabouts had been a mystery since seven FIFA executives were arrested in the Swiss city of Zurich on May 27, the eve of a FIFA Congress.

According to reports, Burzaco was in the hotel where the executives were cuffed and promptly disappeared in the knowledge he was likely to be on the indicted list.

It is believed he was not in his hotel room at the time because he was having breakfast.

He is one of 14 current or former FIFA officials and sports marketing executives indicted over the scandal. He had been placed under an Interpol "red notice".

The 14 are accused by US prosecutors of taking part in a sweeping kickbacks scheme going back 20 years involving a total of $150 million (133 million euros) in bribes.

Members of Interpol are seen at the headquarters of Argentine sports
 broadcaster Torneos y Competencias during a raid in Buenos Aires on
May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo)

'Bribes for TV rights'

Burzaco is wanted by the US Department of Justice authorities in connection with his role as president of sports marketing company Torneos y Competencias.

The US authorities suspect him of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to win and retain the media rights contracts for football tournaments in Latin America.

The Torneos y Competencias company held the television rights for the Argentinian league between 1992-2009 and in association with Aaron Davidson, president of Traffic Sports USA who was arrested in Zurich, and another company, Full Play, hold the rights for the Copa America tournament which kicks off in Chile next month.

The whereabouts of Full Play owners, Argentinian father and son Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, are unknown.

The revelations have thrown the world of football into turmoil and led to the resignation of long-serving FIFA president Sepp Blatter last week, just four days after his re-election for a fifth successive term.

USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a World Cup-winning striker for West Germany in 1990, said Tuesday he expects there to be more revelations in the scandal.

"If there is one thing I know for sure, when the American authorities have evidence, then they see things through and more things will come out," Klinsmann said in Cologne ahead of a friendly match against Germany.

"The whole world is wishing that FIFA will be cleaned up and those who comply will do things differently in the long term."

Businessman Burzaco, wanted over FIFA scandal, surrenders

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