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, September 29, 2015

Switzerland approves extradition to US of FIFA's Eduardo Li

Yahoo – AFP, 29 Sep 2015

The Swiss justice ministry approves the extradition to the United States of the
former head of the Costa Rican Football Federation Eduardo Li, pictured on
May 17, 2011 (AFP Photo/Rodrigo Arangua)

Geneva (AFP) - The Swiss justice ministry on Tuesday approved the extradition to the United States of Costa Rican national Eduardo Li, one the FIFA officials whose arrest in May ignited an unprecedented crisis in world football.

"The Federal Office of Justice (FoJ) has approved the extradition of Eduardo Li to the USA. The Costa-Rican citizen has 30 days in which to appeal to the Swiss Federal Criminal Court against the FOJ's ruling," a statement said.

Li, the former head of the Costa Rican Football Federation, was one of seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on May 27 following a US indictment on charges that he took bribes while selling football television rights.

"Li massively influenced the competitive situation and distorted the market for media rights in connection with the World Cup qualifying matches," said the FoJ statement.

"Other sports marketing companies were placed at a disadvantage. Furthermore, among other things the Costa Rican Football Federation was prevented from negotiating marketing agreements which might have been more favourable."

The FoJ said that "all of the conditions for extradition" had been fulfilled.

Swiss authorities had already approved the extradition to the US to face the same charges of others arrested in the corruption sting -- former Venezuelan Football Federation president Rafael Esquivel and Uruguayan former FIFA vice-president Eugenio Figueredo, while the former president of the Nicaraguan Football Federation Julio Rocha agreed last month to be extradited back to his home country.

Although not among the seven arrested, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is being investigated by Swiss prosecutors over the sale of World Cup television rights and a $2 million (1.8 million euros) payment to UEFA president Michel Platini.

Two other former FIFA officials, Jack Warner and American Chuck Blazer, have been banned from all football-related activities for life for their roles in the sale of television rights at grossly deflated values.

Warner is fighting extradition to the US from his home on Trinidad and Tobago while Blazer has turned whistleblower and is assisting US authorities.

US authorities have charged 14 people in relation to more than $150 million (134.5 million euros) in bribes given for television and marketing deals.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Brazil court freezes Neymar assets worth $47 mn

Yahoo – AFP, 25 Sep 2015

Barcelona's Brazilian forward Neymar controls the ball during a training session
at the Olympic stadium in Rome on September 15, 2015, on the eve of the UEFA
Champions League football match between AS Roma and Barcelona (AFP
Photo/Alberto Pizzoli)

Sao Paulo (AFP) - A Brazilian court on Friday froze $47 million in assets belonging to football superstar Neymar over tax evasion allegations surrounding the Barcelona striker.

Judge Carlos Muta wrote in a ruling that Neymar -- who is facing fraud claims in a separate case in Spain -- had been subjected to a "special fine" concerning alleged unpaid taxes between 2011 and 2013.

"I confirm that a special fine of 150 percent was applied... requiring payment of 188,820,129,25 reals ($47.3 million), of which 63,591,796 relate to income tax and the rest to fines and interest, with regard to events that took place in the calendar years from 2011 to 2013," Muta wrote.

The court ruling is another bodyblow to the reputation of Neymar, the figurehead of Brazil's national team.

The 23-year-old is already battling fraud allegations in Spain stemming from the financial arrangements surrounding his move from Santos to Barcelona in 2013.

In June, Spain's National Court admitted a lawsuit alleging "corruption and swindling" by Neymar, his father and Santos.

The case has been brought by a Brazilian investment fund, DIS, which owned part of the transfer rights for the player when he was at Santos.

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini

Yahoo – AFP, Benjamin Simon, 25 Sep 2015

FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA president Michel 
Platini after being re-elected following a vote in Zurich on May 29, 2015 (AFP 
Photo/Michael Buholzer)

Zurich (AFP) - The FIFA scandal on Friday engulfed Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, the two most powerful figures in world football, with Swiss prosecutors investigating whether a two million dollar payment from Blatter to the French legend was illegal.

Swiss investigators opened criminal proceedings against FIFA president Blatter and searched his office as they also quizzed UEFA counterpart Platini.

"Swiss criminal proceedings against the President of FIFA, Mr. Joseph Blatter, have been opened on September 24, 2015 on suspicion of criminal mismanagement...and -– alternatively -– misappropriation," said a statement from Switzerland's attorney general's office (OAG).

Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner
 arrives at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates 
court for the extradition hearing against
 him, on September 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Alva Viarruel)
Blatter, 79, is standing down because of corruption scandals involving other top officials and Platini had been favourite to win an election to be held in February to succeed him.

The Swiss prosecutor said that "the defendant Joseph Blatter" had been questioned and "the office of the FIFA President has been searched and data seized".

Blatter was questioned as "a suspect". The statement added that Platini had been questioned "as a person called upon to give information".

Platini, 60, has been head of UEFA since January 2007 which made him an automatic FIFA vice-president.

Blatter's lawyer Richard Cullen said in a statement that the FIFA boss was cooperating with Swiss authorities and that a review of the evidence would show "no mismanagement occurred".

Blatter "is suspected of making a disloyal payment of 2.0 million Swiss francs ($2.04 million/1.8 million euros) to Michel Platini, president of Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), at the expense of FIFA," the OAG said.

The alleged payment was made in February 2011 "for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002."

Later Friday, Platini insisted the payment had been for "contractual" work he had carried out.

"Concerning the payment that was made to me, I wish to state that this amount relates to work which I carried out under a contract with FIFA," said the UEFA boss.

"I was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters relating to this with the authorities."

FIFA this month suspended Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke after he 
was accused of involvement in an accord to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup 
at inflated prices (AFP Photo/Sebastien Bozon)

He added: "I also made clear to the Swiss authorities that since I live in Switzerland I am available to speak with them any time to clarify any matters relating to the investigations."

Friday's dramatic turn of events came after a press conference, that Blatter was scheduled to give, was cancelled.

Platini is a former Blatter ally who turned against the veteran Swiss sports baron over the past 18 months as FIFA's troubles mounted.

The investigation is also into Blatter's links with Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice-president now at the centre of a US investigation.

The attorney general said Blatter was suspected of making a deal "unfavourable to FIFA" with the Caribbean Football Union, which Warner used as his power base.

'Properly prepared'

According to Blatter's lawyer Cullen, who is based in Virginia, that contract was "properly prepared and negotiated" by FIFA staff with responsibility for such matters.

A Trinidad court on Friday announced that it would rule on December 2 on whether Warner should be extradited to the United States.

Warner is one of 14 soccer officials and business executives charged by US prosecutors of involvement in more than $150 million in bribes for football broadcasting and marketing deals.

Nearly all of the suspects are from central and South America. Until recent days, FIFA's top leadership had escaped accusations flying around the world body, which earns $5 billion from the World Cup.

Swiss officials arrested seven FIFA officials, who are among the US suspects, on May 27 in Zurich just ahead of the world body's congress.

Blatter was re-elected to a fifth term at the congress despite the storm but then announced on June 4 that he would stand down.

Since then FIFA has announced steps to make reforms but have been shaken by new corruption claims.

A TV crew prepares to film in front of 
the FIFA logo at the FIFA headquarters
 on September 25, 2015 in Zurich (AFP
Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)
FIFA this month suspended Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke after he was accused of involvement in an accord to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup at inflated prices.

Valcke strongly denied the allegations but FIFA handed over emails from the suspended secretary general that had been demanded by the Swiss attorney general.

He is also under suspicion over what he knew about a $10 million payment from the South African FA to an account controlled by Warner through FIFA in 2008.

US prosecutors believe it was a bribe intended to get Caribbean support for South Africa's bid for 2010 World Cup.

Swiss prosecutors are also looking into FIFA's award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. Both have strongly denied any wrongdoing in their campaigns to secure the tournaments.

US attorney general Loretta Lynch made it clear this month that her department's inquiry was growing and more major charges could be expected.

Guantanamo's last British resident to be freed

Shaker Aamer - the last British resident at the controversial US military prison in Cuba - will be released, according to the UK government. The move follows US President Obama's attempts to close the detention center.

Deutsche Welle, 25 Sep 2015

The UK 's Foreign Office announced on Friday that Shaker Aamer would be released to British authorities after spending more than 13 years at the US' notorious military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"We have been notified by the US government that is has decided to return Shaker Aamer to the UK," a spokesperson for the British Foreign Office said.

"The government has regularly raised Mr. Aamer's case with US authorities and we support President Obama's commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay," the spokesperson said.

In 2001, the Afghan Northern Alliance captured Aamer in Tora Bora, and subsequently turned him over to US forces in the country on suspicion of being an al-Qaeda recruiter and financier.

The Saudi-born British resident was transferred to the US detention camp in Cuba after it was opened in 2002, although he was never formally charged.

Although Aamer was reportedly cleared for release in 2007, US authorities continued to hold the terror-suspect.

A Twitter account campaigning for his release welcomed the decision, calling the announcement a "reminder that justice prevails, sooner or later."

Aamer's daughter Johina also celebrated the expected release via her Twitter account, saying that she was excited to see her father after 14 years.

The announcement follows recent moves by US President Barack Obama's administration - deep into its latter days in office - seeking to hasten the closure of the controversial prison .

Prior to becoming president in 2008, Obama campaigned on the promise of closing the Guantanamo detention center, a pledge that has proven difficult due to resistance from conservative elements of the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, details regarding the date of his release were not provided.

"In terms of next steps, we understand that the US government has notified Congress of this decision and once that notice period has been concluded, Mr. Aamer will be returned to the UK," a spokesperson for the UK's Foreign Office said.

At least 114 detainees continue to be held at Guantanamo.

ls/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Colombian President Santos signs justice deal with FARC leader Timochenko

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has announced a breakthrough deal with the FARC guerilla leader Rodrigo Londono. Santos said both had agreed to find a definitive peace deal within six months.

Deutsche Welle, 24 Sep 2015

The announcement was made on Wednesday with Santos in the same room as Londono, who is better known by his nom de guerre Timochenko.

Under the deal, special tribunals would be set up to try any former combatants who are deemed to be guilty of war crimes in the country's long civil war.

Both sides also confirmed the formation of a truth commission , a deal on reparations for war victims and an amnesty for combatants who had not committed war crimes.

Crucially, Santos said the pair had agreed to arrive at a definitive peace deal within six months.

"I want to recognize and value the step that the FARC has taken today," said Santos, minutes before a handshake with Timochenko. "We are on different sides but today we advance in the same direction, in the most noble direction a society can take, which is toward peace."

All held to account

The FARC said it would only consent to some of its members serving prison sentences if leaders of Colombia's military were held to the same level of account.

"It's satisfying to us that this special jurisdiction for the peace has been designed for everyone involved in the conflict, combatants and non-combatants, and not just one of the parties," said Timochenko.

The broad amnesty would not cover those who committed crimes against humanity, serious war crimes, kidnappings, extrajudicial executions, or sexual abuse, said officials from Cuba and Norway who are guarantors in the talks.

US Secretary of State John Kerry praised the Colombian government for its efforts.

"Peace is now ever closer," he said in a statement. "I have called President Santos to congratulate him and his negotiating team for their courage and commitment to the peace talks under extraordinarily difficult conditions."

The meeting between Santos and Timochenko is the first to take place after nearly three years of stop-start peace talks.

Peace: near, or here?

The Colombian president announced the "key meeting with negotiators aimed at speeding up the end of the conflict" at short notice on Wednesday, with a message on the banner of its Twitter account claiming "Peace is Near."

The FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) went one better, saying in a tweet on its negotiating team's Twitter account that peace had already arrived.

If it can be implemented, the agreement would be a major breakthrough in efforts to end a conflict that has killed more than 220,000 people and uprooted six million. The rebels have fought the Colombian government for 51 years.

The FARC has observed a unilateral ceasefire since July 20. Santos repeatedly refused their demands for a bilateral ceasefire, but suspended air strikes on rebel positions in July.

rc/bw (Reuters, dpa, EFE)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pope delivers mass on packed Revolution Square in Havana

Yahoo – AFP, Jean-Louis De La Vaissiere, 20 Sep 2015

Pope Francis climbs the steps to the altar on his arrival to give mass in
Havana's Revolution Square on September 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Tony Gentile)

Havana (AFP) - Pope Francis delivered mass Sunday before hundreds of thousands of fans and faithful on Havana's iconic Revolution Square, calling Cubans to serve the most downtrodden and warning them that "service is never ideological."

The pope's homily did not directly address Cuba's political situation or the nascent rapprochement he helped broker between the communist island and the United States, the next international stop on his most high-profile trip to date.

Pope Francis conducts mass at Revolution
 Square in Havana, on September 20, 2015
(AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)
But he warned against both ideology and an every-man-for-himself mentality, at a time when Cuba faces a delicate period of economic and political transition.

"Christians are constantly called to set aside their own wishes and desires, their pursuit of power, and to look instead to those who are most vulnerable," he told the crowd, speaking beneath a towering sculpture of his fellow Argentine Che Guevara's iconic silhouette.

"We need to be careful not to be tempted by another kind of service, a 'service' which is 'self-serving,'" he said.

"Service is never ideological, for we do not serve ideas, we serve people."

He paid tribute to Cubans as "a people with a taste for parties, for friendship, for beauty."

"It is a people which has its wounds, like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope," he said.

Hundreds of excited Cubans and foreign visitors camped out overnight on the sprawling square to see the first Latin American pope.

As he arrived, the Argentine pontiff leaned out from his white open-air vehicle to grasp the hands of festive onlookers and wave to the crowds gathered under the cloudy sky.

Cuban President Raul Castro and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner were among those in attendance.

'Extraordinary sign' from US

The pope, who arrived on the communist island Saturday, is following in the footsteps of his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI -- a remarkable amount of papal attention in 17 years for a country where only 10 percent of the population describe themselves as Catholic.

Pope Francis arrives at Revolution Square in Havana on September 20, 2015 (AFP
Photo/Rodrigo Arangua)

"It's very exciting to see Pope Francis. He'll be the third pope I've managed to see, but I've never been so close. We're all hoping to receive his mercy," said Maria Eugenia Paulina Prieto, 56, who sings in a choir that will perform during the ceremony.

The pope's eight-day tour, which will take him on his first-ever visit to the United States, follows the announcement of the US-Cuban rapprochement, which paved the way for the estranged neighbors to renew diplomatic relations in July.

Francis, who arrived in Havana Saturday and heads to Washington Tuesday, helped facilitate that moment in secret negotiations.

Just ahead of the pope's trip, the United States announced a further loosening of restrictions on business and travel with Cuba -- a move that Havana's archbishop, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, said he believed was inspired by Francis's visit.

"It's an extraordinary sign, and I think it's related to this visit," he told Vatican Radio.

After mass, the pope will meet with Castro, then preside over vespers at Havana Cathedral before holding an unscripted exchange with young Cubans -- a demographic feeling the pain of the communist island's difficult economic transition.

Fidel photo op?

Francis may also meet Castro's older brother and predecessor Fidel, the 89-year-old father of Cuba's 1959 revolution.

Benedict XVI met Fidel when he visited the island in 2012, six years after the longtime leader handed power to Raul amid a health crisis.

A man holds a poster welcoming Pope Francis at Revolution Square in Havana
on September 20, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rodrigo Arangua)

On arriving Saturday, Francis urged Castro and US President Barack Obama to build on their nascent reconciliation, saying their effort to normalize relations "fills us with hope."

He also pledged the Church's support for the Cuban people, who face tight restrictions on their civil liberties under the communist regime and bear the weight of the economic woes that decades of isolation have wrought on the island.

While the pope shares the Castro brothers' radical critique of global capitalism, he has not been shy about prodding the regime toward change, including more space for the Church on an island that was an atheist state for more than three decades.

Francis, however, is not scheduled to meet with any anti-Castro dissidents on his trip.

The pope will travel Monday and Tuesday to the Cuban cities of Holguin and Santiago, before heading off to give landmark addresses to the US Congress and UN General Assembly.

Related Articles:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Taste of the Caribbean in Jakarta, Courtesy of the Dutch

Jakarta Globe, Sylviana Hamdani, September 17, 2015

The 'Antilles Festival – A Taste of the Caribbean' event will take place at the Erasmus
Huis Jakarta from Sept. 19 to Oct. 31 and will feature a photo exhibition, culinary show,
and music and dance performances. (Photo courtesy of Erasmus Huis)

The Dutch cultural center in Jakarta plans to introduce Indonesians to a little-known corner of its kingdom through a festival that celebrates the sun-kissed isles of the Netherlands Antilles.

The “Antilles Festival – A Taste of the Caribbean” event will take place at the Erasmus Huis Jakarta from Sept. 19 to Oct. 31 and will feature a photo exhibition, culinary show, and music and dance performances.

The festival is part of celebrations this year marking the 200th anniversary of the kingdom of the Netherlands, with a focus on the realm’s Caribbean lands deemed an “interesting idea” for residents of Indonesia, once the jewel in the crown of the Dutch empire.

“For the Dutch, it’s not very easy and also not very common to travel [to the Antilles],” said Ferdinand Lahnstein, the deputy head of mission of the Dutch Embassy in Jakarta.

“I expect also that people in Indonesia are not very familiar with this area. So that’s also a reason why we think that it’s probably a good idea to bring forward that there’s something like the Dutch Caribbean. And then hopefully people in Indonesia who would like to try something different will be interested to travel to this area.”

The festival’s photo exhibition, themed “Dushi Tera,” will showcase images unique to the six islands that make up the Netherlands Antilles – Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius – including the architecture, nature, and panoramas. (In the Papiamento language of the inhabitants of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, “dushi tera” translates into “sweet country.”)

These photos come courtesy of the islands’ various tourism authorities as well as the Leiden University Library.

“The photo exhibition is meant to give an impression of the cultural, social and economic differences between the six islands,” Lahstein said.

Peter Sanchez, a historian from one-time Dutch colony of Suriname on the South American mainland, has been appointed curator of the photo exhibition.

“He knows a lot about the region,” said Ineke de Hoog, the embassy’s deputy head of public diplomacy and cultural affairs. “And he will be there for the opening [on Sept. 19].”

The opening will also feature culinary treats from Dutch Caribbean chefs Sherwin Alexander and Jethro Wirht, brought over by the DoubleTree hotel in Jakarta.

Alexander won a bronze medal in the seafood competition during the prestigious “Taste of the Caribbean” competition in Miami in July 2014, while Wirht was named “Chef of the Year” at the same event.

Both men will cook live at the festival’s opening at Erasmus Huis, assisted by local hospitality school students.

The menu will feature seven iconic dishes served tapas style from the Dutch Caribbean.

“The chefs have chosen the menu that gives a broad spectrum of all the different islands’ cuisines,” de Hoog said.

Among them are sopi di marisco, a traditional soup from Curaçao that contains seafood, callaloo (a vegetable native to the island), okra and fresh lemon.

Also not to be missed is the arepa di pampuna, a sweet pumpkin pancake with pickled prawns and fishcake and served with pineapple salsa.

“The cuisine is, of course, influenced by the Creoles, a fusion of the Spanish and Portuguese Antilleans,” de Hoog said. “I invite you to come and try for yourself.”

Entry to the festival is free, and the embassy expects between 500 and 700 people to turn up for the opening day.

“My impression of the Antilles Festival is something fresh and juicy, like salsa,” said Olivia Evelinda, a secretary at an accounting firm in Jakarta who said she was interested in going. “I think the festival will be very, very interesting, because we can get to know about the food and different cultures of the islands.”

Olivia also hopes to take part in the Antillean dances, such as Salsa, Merengue, Bachata and Kimboza, to be performed by Dutch Caribbean dancers on the opening day.

Orquesta Pegasaya, a popular Salsa band from the region, will also be n hand to perform live. And to fuel the guests, a round of delectable Dutch Caribbean cocktails will be served throughout the night

For more information, go to

Monday, September 14, 2015

Chile honors victims of Pinochet regime

Activists have demanded justice for victims of Pinochet's regime and closure of a special "luxury" prison for ex-officials. The South American country is still struggling to bring ex-officials to justice.

Deutsche Welle, 14 Sep 2015

Chileans took to the streets Sunday to honor the victims of the Pinochet regime and demand the repeal of laws set during the period of the 1973-1990 dictatorship.

"The wound remains open because the truth has not been told, and justice has not been served," 52-year-old Tania Nunez, who marched with a poster of some of the more than 3,200 people -- mostly leftist activists -- slain during the dictatorship, told the AFP news agency.

It was on September 11, 1973 that Chile's military toppled the elected socialist government of president Salvador Allende.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the 42nd anniversary of Chile's military coup, President Michelle Bachelet said on Friday that the truth must still be told and justice still needs to be served for the thousands of victims.

"We need to tear down the walls of silence that block us from advancing ... I will make sure justice is the same for all. It's a personal commitment," said Bachelet, who was held herself and forced into exile under the military regime.

Her father, Air Force Gen. Alberto Bachelet, died in 1974 following torture in prison for opposing the coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who died in 2006 without ever answering for his brutal legacy.

'A brutal legacy'

Gen. Augusto Pinochet died in 2006 without
ever facing trial, despite a string of international
attempts to bring him to justice.
Sunday's procession made its way by La Moneda, the presidential palace that was bombed by air force jets during the coup, and ended at a cemetery where regime victims are buried.

Recordings of ousted leader Salvador Allende's speeches blared Sunday from loudspeakers carried by the marchers.

Demonstrator Jose Dalquin, who at 24 was born after Pinochet left office, said he was outraged by the "pact of silence" between Chilean influential conservatives and the military that "prevents us from obtaining justice."

While the military denies any such "pact," outrage is mounting over Punta Peuco, a special prison built 20 years ago for those convicted of crimes during the dictatorship.

Nestled in a bucolic setting with sweeping views over the snowcapped Andes, the prison currently holds 104 ex-members of Pinochet's security forces serving time for kidnap, torture and murder. The facility offers the inmates individual rooms, tennis courts, terraces and barbecues.

Visits are allowed all day long inside the cells -- a level of privacy the rest of Chile's 54,000 inmates can only dream of, in a country whose prisons are 70 percent above capacity.

"Punta Peuco should vanish, there should not be special jails for assassins," 54-year-old Patricia Abarca, who shed tears of anger, told AFP.

The government of President Bachelet denies that it is a "luxury" prison, as critics charge, and said that plans are underway to close the site.

The coup anniversary is often marred by violence. This year, vandals set up fiery barricades overnight, and police responded with water cannon and tear gas. At least one police officer was injured by a bullet that grazed his ankle. But officials say this year's incidents have been less violent than past anniversaries.

jar/bw (AP, AFP)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cuba pardons thousands of prisoners ahead of papal visit

Yahoo – AFP, Francisco Jara, September 11, 2015

Pope Francis prays during his weekly general audience in St Peter's square
at the Vatican on September 9, 2015 (AFP Photo/Filippo Monteforte)

Havana (AFP) - Cuba's government announced pardons Friday for more than 3,500 prisoners, setting the stage for an eagerly awaited visit by Pope Francis with the largest release of its kind since the 1959 revolution.

The official Communist Party daily Granma published the decision by the Council of State to free 3,522 prisoners "on the occasion of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis."

Cuba's Conference of Bishops expressed "profound satisfaction" with the news, calling it an "act of mercy" that bodes well for the pope's visit.

"It's a reason for joy and spiritual relief for the inmates and their families," it said in a statement.

The Argentine-born pope is visiting Cuba September 19-22, the first stop on a trip that also will take him to the United States.

In Cuba, he will visit Havana, the northeastern city of Holguin and Santiago de Cuba on the southeastern end of the island. He is expected to meet privately with President Raul Castro.

A picture taken from Cuban official website shows President Raul 
Castro during the first annual session of Cuban Parliament on July 15, 2015, at 
Convention Palace in Havana (AFP Photo/Ismael Francisco)

The pontiff's arrival -- always a major political event in the communist-ruled island -- comes amid a historic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States that Francis helped to bring about.

The Catholic Church is the sole independent institution allowed to function in the country, and it has emerged as a key intermediary in the island's transition to a post-Castro era.

With the church's encouragement, Raul Castro has pressed a gradual opening of Cuba's economy while maintaining strict Communist Party control over its political system.

In return for its support, the church has been given greater access to the state media, and is allowed to distribute its publications within the island. In 2010, it opened its first seminary in Cuba in half a century.

Mass pardons a feature of papal visits

Mass pardons have been a feature of previous papal visits, but this one is the largest since Raul's brother Fidel Castro came to power more than 56 years ago.

Pope John Paul II listens to Cuba's then-
president Fidel Castro January 21, 1998 as he 
delivers his welcoming speech at Jose
 Marti International airport in Havana 
(AFP Photo/Michel Gangne)
The prisoners -- a wide range that includes the ill, the aged, the very young, women and foreigners -- will be released within 72 hours, Granma said.

They were selected "by the nature of the acts for which they were jailed, their behavior in prison, the time of punishment and health concerns," Granma said.

Except in a few "humanitarian" cases, prisoners convicted of murder, rape, pedophilia, drug trafficking, violent crimes or crimes against the state will remain behind bars.

Beneficiaries include inmates over age 60, those under 20 with no previous record, the chronically ill, women, and foreigners whose countries have agreed to take them back.

In 2012, the last year for which government statistics have been made public, there were an estimated 57,000 inmates in 200 prisons around the island.

A visit by Pope Benedict in March 2012 prompted the government to release nearly 3,000 in December 2011.

That was about 10 times more than Fidel Castro freed a month after the visit of John Paul II, in January 1998.

The numbers reflect warming relations between church and state since John Paul's visit. They have gathered momentum under Raul Castro, who became president in 2006 after ill health forced his brother to step down.

In 2010, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the head of the Cuban church, played a key mediating role in the release of about 130 jailed dissidents, opening a dialogue that has continued ever since.

As part of the normalization of relations with Washington, Cuba officially released its last 53 political prisoners, although a dissident human rights group says about 60 others are still behind bars.

Cuban president Raul Castro (R) pictured with Pope Francis after their
private audience at the Vatican on May 10, 2015 (AFP Photo/Vincenzo Pinto)

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".. Everything that has transpired during these years has been realized potential. That is to say that we see the potentials of what you might do, and report on that and only that. Much of what we see now is realized quickly. When we told you in 2012 there would be a new pope, 13 months later it happened. This was not prophecy, but rather a potential. We saw it coming because we have the overview and we knew of the anxiety of the existing pope, the health of the man, and we also knew of the potentials of a South American pope to come forward. All of these things should be a "connect the dots" for you. I come yet again, not with prophecy, but with information given with a congratulatory attitude of potential. ..."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

European Parliament backs Juncker's refugee plans

European lawmakers have backed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's proposals for coping with a massive influx of migrants. The vast majority of the people on the move have been heading for Germany.

Deutsche Welle, 10 Sep 2015

Members of the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to support Juncker's proposals, with 432 voting in favor of the non-binding resolution and just 142 against, with 57 abstentions.

A statement posted on the European Parliament's website said the lawmakers backed the Commission's proposal to relocate 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy, Greece and Hungary. This came a day after it backed an emergency proposal for relocating 40,000 asylum seekers.

It also said that a majority of lawmakers believed that the bloc's "Dublin rules," which determine in which member state any given migrant is required to register, should be amended through a "fair, compulsory allocation key" taking into account "the integration prospects and the specific cases and needs of asylum seekers themselves."

The MEPs also expressed support for the idea of drawing up a common EU list of safe countries of origin and a compulsory resettlement plan under which members states would be required to take in refugees from third countries.

More important than the consensus in Strasbourg though, is how the bloc's 28 national governments react to Juncker's proposals.

EU interior ministers are to meet on Monday to discuss the proposals and several eastern members of the bloc have already expressed their opposition to a compulsory resettlement plan.

The MEPs also called on the EU's foreign policy coordinator, Federica Mogherini to convene an international conference on refugees "with the aim of establishing a common global humanitarian aid strategy." They said that in addition to EU officials, it should include representatives from all of its member states, United Nations agencies, non-governmental agencies, the United States and Arab countries.

The European Union is experiencing an influx of migrants from the south that is unprecedented in the history of the bloc. While Germany alone is expecting to receive around 800,000 migrants by the end of 2015, some European countries have said they are determined to take in as few as possible. While many of the migrants have come from war zones such as Syria, many have also come from the western Balkans, where no major conflict currently exists.