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

Chinese leader woos Latin America with deals

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

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

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

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

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

Paraguay police search S. American football HQ

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

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

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

Mossack Fonseca

Mossack Fonseca


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

… The Shift in Human Nature

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

German judges agree to hear Peruvian's climate case against RWE

Yahoo – AFP, Daphne Rousseau with Tom Barfield in Frankfurt, November 30, 2017

Peruvian farmer Saul Luciano Lliuya claims energy giant RWE must share
 the cost of protecting his hometown from a swollen glacier (AFP Photo/

Berlin (AFP) - A German court ruled Thursday that it would hear a Peruvian farmer's case against energy giant RWE over climate change damage in the Andes, a decision labelled by campaigners as a "historic breakthrough".

Farmer Saul Luciano Lliuya's case against RWE was "well founded," the court in the northwestern city of Hamm said in a statement.

Lliuya argues that RWE, as one of the world's top emitters of climate-altering carbon dioxide, must share in the cost of protecting his hometown Huaraz from a swollen glacier lake at risk of overflowing from melting snow and ice.

RWE's power plants emitted carbon dioxide that contributed to global warming, increasing local temperatures in the Andes and putting the father of two's property at risk from flooding or landslides, Lliuya argues.

"Even people who act according to the law must be held responsible for damage they cause to property," the judges said.

Now the court must decide whether "the accused's contribution to the chain of events depicted here is measurable and calculable," they added.

"This is a major success not just for me, but for the people of Huaraz and everywhere in the world threatened by climate risks," Lliuya said in a statement circulated by NGO Germanwatch.

He wants RWE to pay 17,000 euros ($20,000) towards flood defences for his community in Peru's northern Ancash region.

The 37-year-old also wants the German company to reimburse him for the 6,384 euros he himself has spent on protective measures.

Lliuya bases his claims on a 2013 climate study which found that RWE was responsible for around 0.5 percent of global emissions "since the beginning of industrialisation".

The court said in the statement that it would choose experts to evaluate the claim in cooperation with both plaintiff and defendant, with Lliuya paying some 20,000 euros in fees up front.

"It will be up to the experts to quantify (RWE's) role, which could be different" from the amount he claims, the judges said.

'Can't be accountable'

After an initial hearing in mid-November, the Hamm court gave both sides until Thursday to provide further arguments to help them decide whether the case should go ahead.

The decision to hear the case is a "historic breakthrough with global relevance," Germanwatch, which has backed Lliuya's claim, said in a statement.

"Major emitters of greenhouse gases can be held responsible for protective measures against climate damage."

For RWE's part, "we still believe that one single emitter can't be held accountable for something that was contributed to from millions of sources and factors worldwide," the energy giant's spokesman Guido Steffen told AFP after the ruling.

"We realise that (Lliuya) is afraid for the safety of his land, but we think it's up to the authorities where he lives to defend it from acute dangers."

He added that RWE would appeal any ruling against it to Germany's highest court.

A lower court in the German city of Essen, where RWE is based, initially found that the lawsuit against the energy giant was unfounded.

The company has in the past said it did not understand why it has been singled out for legal action, stressing the efforts it had made to become more environmentally friendly.

As well as modernising its coal-fired power plants to reduce CO2 emissions, RWE has invested billions in renewable energy as part of Germany's move away from fossil fuels, it says.

Shares in RWE plunged on Germany's DAX index of blue-chip shares following the news, closing down 1.94 percent.

The Peruvian's case comes at a time when German politics is sharply divided over how to balance climate action against economic growth.

A government-directed "energy transition" to renewables, rather than nuclear power and fossil fuels, is making only halting progress, while environmentalists are pushing the country's powerful auto industry to produce less polluting vehicles after a series of scandals.

Climate and energy policy was among the most bitterly disputed issues in three-way coalition talks between Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, the pro-business Free Democrats and the ecologist Greens before they broke down this month.

Monday, November 27, 2017

US, Russia lend skill to non-stop Argentina sub hunt

BusinessTimes – AFP, Nov 27, 2017

At the port of Comodoro Rivadavia, a ship carrying the submarine rescue
vehicle cast off and headed toward the search zone. PHOTO: AFP

[BAHÍA BLANCA, Argentina] Eleven days after Argentina's missing San Juan submarine went silent following an explosion, a 14-nation search has failed to find the vessel at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But not for want of trying.

For more than a week, aircraft from Argentina, Britain and the United States have crisscrossed the South Atlantic.

A Russian Antonov transport plane has arrived with an underwater robot that can scour the ocean at a depth of 1,000m, adding to the arsenal of sophisticated international recovery tools. 

Russia also sent an oceanographic research ship to the search zone, and the US Navy provided an underwater rescue capsule.

Even though Argentina's navy has yet to declare the 44 crewmembers of the ARA San Juan dead, many relatives of the crew have lost hope.

On Thursday, the navy revealed there had been an explosion aboard the submarine, which experts said was likely catastrophic and linked to a battery problem.

"There is no precedent in history for a deployment of this extent," naval engineer Horacio Tettamanti said of the recovery effort.

"The United States and Russia are the most developed in this field, a legacy of the Cold War," added Mr Tettamanti, one of Argentina's leading experts in the field.

Confirmation of the explosion has led to a more localised search area around a zone 400km off the Argentinian coast, after searchers initially scoured a 500,000 sq km area nearly the size of France.

But in this region north of the Falkland Islands - known in Argentina as the Malvinas - depths at the edge of the Argentine shelf can plummet.

From Argentina's military base at Bahia Blanca two US Navy P-8A Poseidon aircraft are using their radars and scanners in the sub hunt.

An AFP journalist aboard saw them drop buoys equipped with sensors to try to detect the vessel.

US personnel focus on their monitor screens, looking for any clues to the sub's location on a mission that continues 24 hours a day using rotating crews.

At the port of Comodoro Rivadavia, a ship carrying the submarine rescue vehicle cast off and headed toward the search zone.

The vehicle could descend to the sea floor to recover the crew members once the San Juan is located - and it will be, said Tettamanti.

"The search will continue until they find it. With the technical deployment that is there I am convinced that it will turn up rapidly, in coming days," he said.

But military expert Rosendo Fraga cautioned: "The search is going to take time."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cubans vote in municipal elections with eye to leadership change

Yahoo – AFP, Rigoberto DIAZ, 26 November 2017

Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel (R) arrives to cast his vote in
municipal elections seen as a first step in a process that could see him replace
Raul Castro as the country's president

Cubans choose municipal councilors Sunday in island-wide local elections that are the first step in a Communist Party-supervised process meant to culminate next year with the election of a successor to President Raul Castro.

Castro, 86, cast his ballot at a voting station in western Havana, where he stopped to talk to neighbors and students who were guarding ballot boxes, images aired on Cuban television showed.

No opposition candidates are competing in the elections for the more than 12,500 council seats.

Instead, voters will choose from among 30,000 candidates selected by acclamation in neighborhood assemblies.

More than eight million people are eligible to cast ballots, but voting is voluntary. Ballots are secret.

Cuba's only direct election, the municipal vote is the first step in a tightly controlled, multi-step process for choosing leaders at higher levels of government.

It is set to culminate in February with the election of Castro's successor as president, in what would be the first generational change of leadership since the 1959 revolution led by his brother Fidel.

For the first time in nearly six decades, it appears, Cuba's president will not be named Castro or be a member of the old guard that came to power during the revolution.

Sunday's balloting comes a day after Cuba marked the first anniversary of Fidel Castro's death.

All signs point to current First Vice President Migel Diaz-Canel being chosen to replace 86-year-old Raul, who succeeded the ailing Fidel as president in 2008.

Diaz-Canel, a 57-year-old engineer, slowly climbed to the top rungs of the Cuban hierarchy over a three-decade career under Raul's mentorship.

Castro is expected to remain head of the all-powerful Communist Party, however. He would be 90 when his current term ends in 2021.

Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel (R) casts his ballot at a polling 
station in Havana's Playa neighborhood as Cubans voted, November 26, 2017, 
in an election with no opposition candidates

For Fidel and against Trump

Cuba's electoral system, designed to perpetuate the country's communist system, provides for municipal council elections every two and a half years, and mayoral and parliamentary elections every five years.

The council members elected Sunday will propose half the candidates for election to the provincial assemblies and the parliament, which will then elect the council of state and the president. The other candidates are proposed by six social organizations close to the government.

The Communist Party does not put forward candidates, but it supervises the process and ensures there are no opposition candidates.

State-controlled media have launched an intense campaign to get out the vote, promoting it as a tribute to Fidel.

"Being present in these elections, heeding the call that he always made to us, is also a beautiful and heartfelt homage to Fidel," Diaz-Canel said Friday.

National Assembly President Esteban Lazo urged voters to turn out in massive numbers in "response to that president (Donald Trump) who goes around saying so many things about us."

Cuba and the United States restored diplomatic relations in 2015 after a half-century break, but ties have become strained since Trump took office.

No opposition

In theory, the electoral system allows any Cuban who has been put forward by the base to be elected to parliament and even to the council of state. In 2015, the opposition managed to field two candidates in the primaries, but they were later defeated.

This time, three opposition groups -- OTRO18, Candidates for Change and the Pinero Autonomous Party -- failed in their attempt to nominate 550 independent candidates in the municipal council elections.

Manuel Cuesta, a spokesman for OTRO18, said the government blocked the nomination of independents with "a barrage of actions in violation of the electoral law and the constitution," including temporary detentions and legal actions.

Another sector of the opposition, which Havana labels as "mercenaries," refused to participate at all, so as not to lend legitimacy to the process.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Noises detected in Argentine sub search disappoint

Yahoo – AFP, Eitan ABRAMOVICH, Carlos REYES, November 21, 2017

The vessel would have enough oxygen for its crew to survive underwater
for seven days, if there was no hull breach, officials say (AFP Photo/Handout)

Mar del Plata (Argentina) (AFP) - Experts ruled out Monday the possibility that noise detected at sea could have come from an Argentine submarine missing with 44 people aboard, in the latest bad news to hit their relatives.

"The sound footprint could not correspond to a sub's... it may have been a noise from a living thing," said navy spokesman Enrique Balbi.

"The search continues," he added, noting that there are 14 vessels and 10 aircraft scouring area 24 hours a day in the midst of a storm front in the South Atlantic that is expected to ease on Tuesday.

News that noises had been detected had raised hopes to find alive the 44 crew members aboard the ARA San Juan, missing for five days in the South Atlantic -- after earlier apparent distress calls were dismissed as not coming from the vessel.

Argentina will still dispatch vessels with multi-beam undersea probes to explore the site where the noises were detected, some 360 kilometers (225 miles) offshore in shallow waters at the edge of Argentina's continental shelf that were on the sub's course, Balbi said.

The noises sounded like tools being banged on the hull of a submarine to attract the attention of rescuers, CNN reported, citing an unnamed senior US navy official familiar with the international search effort.

A US Navy P-8A Poseidon plane was immediately dispatched to the site where the noises were detected by two Argentine ships. The plane dropped sonar buoys into the sea to record the noises.

A multinational air and sea search is under way with help from seven countries including Brazil, Britain, Chile, the United States and Uruguay.

Warship captain Gabriel Galeazzi revealed the vessel had reported a mechanical 
breakdown in its final communication (AFP Photo/EITAN ABRAMOVICH)


Earlier in the day, the navy said the German-built TR-1700class diesel-electric submarine launched in 1983 had reported a mechanical breakdown in its final communication Wednesday.

The nature of the breakdown was not immediately clear. It was the first time the navy indicated it had been aware of a problem.

"The vessel surfaced and it reported a breakdown. It was therefore asked to change course and go to Mar del Plata," said Gabriel Galeazzi, the head of the naval base in the city, located 400 kilometers south of Buenos Aires.

Balbi also told reporters that analysis has shown that seven signals received by naval bases over the weekend were not attempted distress calls from the submarine's satellite phone.

False hope?

Monday's revelations were a blow to relatives of sailors aboard the sub, around 100 of whom are being housed at the Mar del Plata naval base as they await news of the crew.

Juan Carlos Mendoza, father of missing submariner Ariel Fernando Mendoza, is one of 
the relatives waiting for news in Mar del Plata (AFP Photo/EITAN ABRAMOVICH)

"They have a lot of hope. The hours go by and the worry rate goes up. The best tranquilizer is accurate information," said Enrique Stein, a member of a psychological support unit set up for the families.

Andrea Ali, wife of Franco Ali, an electrician aboard the San Juan, added: "We don't know anything. We are waiting with a great deal of anxiety."

The submarine's fate has gripped the nation, and President Mauricio Macri visited the relatives and prayed with them.

Macri was briefed on the search during his visit to the base.

Multinational rescue efforts

Search efforts have been hampered by inclement weather, including a powerful storm that has whipped up waves reaching seven meters (23 feet) in height.

Rescuers are focusing on an ocean patch about 300 kilometers in diameter, radiating from the last point of contact.

US Southern Command has deployed the Poseidon patrol and reconnaissance plane with a crew of 21, as well as a NASA P-3 research aircraft, and other equipment and personnel.

Map of the search zone in the South Atlantic where an international 
team is hunting for a missing Argentine submarine (AFP Photo/Anella RETA)

The US Navy has deployed two unmanned underwater vehicles that use a sonar system to create an image of large sections of the sea floor.

Britain's Royal Navy said it had sent the HMS Protector, an Antarctic patrol ship.

The submarine had been returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia, near the southernmost tip of South America, to Mar del Plata.

It is one of three submarines in the Argentine fleet.

Sixty-five meters long and seven meters wide, it was built by Germany's Thyssen Nordseewerke and launched more than three decades ago.

It underwent a refit between 2007 and 2014 to extend its use by about 30 years.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dutch woman with a trumpet taking Colombian salsa by storm

Yahoo – AFP, Florence PANOUSSIAN, November 16, 2017

Dutch musician and trumpet player Maite Hontele (C) performs in a bar with
a salsa band in Bogota -- she says she's "Colombian at heartt" (AFP Photo/
Raul Arboleda)

Bogota (AFP) - A woman playing trumpet in a salsa band in traditionally macho South America is a rare thing. It's rarer still when that woman is Dutch.

Since arriving on Colombia's salsa scene, Maite Hontele has been blasting her horn to full houses from Bogota to Seoul and has gradually won the respect of salsa's greats.

"I was born on the wrong continent," says Hontele, a tall, blonde 37-year old from the central Netherlands.

She insists she's "Colombian at heart."

Her love affair with the country began when she played Bogota's Teatro Colon while visiting from the Netherlands in 2003 with the Rumbata Big Band. The audience loved her and the feeling was mutual.

"I fell in love with Colombia, with its people, its cities, its energy, its diversity," she says in an interview at her apartment in Bogota's bohemian La Macarena quarter.

Hontele followed her heart and her trumpet to Colombia, settling in Medellin for seven years and churning out record after record as well as touring with her own band.

Now she plays regularly with the greats of the genre -- people like Panama's Ruben Blades, Venezuela's Oscar D'Leon and the Buena Vista Social Club from Cuba.

In 2014, official recognition came when her album "Dejame asi" (Leave Me Like This) was nominated for Best Salsa Album at the Latin Grammys, and she shared the limelight with such stars as Marc Anthony and Tito Nieves.

She has just returned to Colombia from Havana, where she spent two months recording her fifth album, "Cuba linda" (Beautiful Cuba) with the Orquesta Aragon.

Her latest single, "Casi Muero" (I nearly died), from the album of the same name, came out on November 3.

That evening, Maite was back where it all started, at Bogota's "big, beautiful" 800-seat Teatro Colon.

Hontele plays to a full house at Bogota's Teatro Colon (AFP Photo/Luis Acosta)

On their feet

The sell-out crowd was on its feet from the opening notes of the third song in her set, "Maria Cristina me quiere gobernar" (Maria Cristina wants to control me).

From the stage right down to the cheap seats, fans danced between the red velvet seats while Hontele grooved on stage with her musicians.

The crowd took up the chorus of some of her best known tunes, "Que bonito" (How Nice) and "Nonchecita."

Like many in the crowd that night, Jaime Ospino, 49, knew all the material.

"This is a great concert," he told AFP.

In early October, Hontele was playing to another full house at the Cafe Libro, the Colombian capital's top spot for tropical music.

Long-time fan Angela Ramirez was there celebrating her 38th birthday.

"I've always loved salsa. But the idea of a Dutch woman who plays the trumpet in Colombia gives me chills!" Ramirez said.

Salsa from the cradle

Hontele laughs about a certain irony in her life story: "I never chose the trumpet," she says. The instrument chose her.

She first held a trumpet as a nine-year old when playing in a local brass band in her home village of Haaften.

She was immersed in Latin American music as a child, raised to the rhythms of her father's collection of Caribbean vinyl records.

Hontele often has her fans dancing throughout her sets (AFP Photo/Luis Acosta)

"I grew up with these sounds," she says. "He would go to Paris to look for records, just off the presses. Celia Cruz, the Gran Combo of Puerto Rico, etc."

No surprise then that as a 14-year-old, she preferred to play Latin American music. She convinced the Rotterdam Conservatory to bring in a specialized Latin music teacher rather than be forced to go the usual route of classical or jazz training.

She began playing in Dutch nightclubs as a teenager, "until six in the morning -- the only woman in a group of men, playing merengue, bachata, and Cuban salsa."

Looking back, getting out on the club scene was "the best education."

For her, the secret of rhythm lies "not only in the technique, but where the flavor is, and the flavor is in the street -- that's where you have to look for it."

These days, she finds that flavor in Bogota's streets, which she moves through in true Dutch style -- by bicycle.

She claims to be a vegan, listens to Cuban sounds as much as Bach or pop, and even as she prepares for a European tour, she says she just wants to be the "the neighbor who plays the trumpet."

"It doesn't interest me to be famous, to ride in a limousine," Hontele says.

She's already played with some of South America's greats, but apart from Sting, her biggest dream is to play with Carlos Vives.

"It would close the circle," she says.

As a kid, already steeped in the music but without a word of Spanish, she sang along to the Colombian singer's hit at the time, "Pa' Mayte" (For Mayte), reading into it a kind of musical destiny.

"I thought it was about me," she says.

Monday, November 13, 2017

EU removes Colombia's FARC from terror blacklist

Yahoo – AFP, November 13, 2017

Step in the right direction: A demobilized FARC member making shoes in a
Colombian training and reincorporation zone, where former guerrilla fighters
receive help in adapting to civilian life (AFP Photo/Raul Arboleda)

Brussels (AFP) - The EU on Monday removed Colombia's FARC from its list of terrorist organisations, an official told AFP, after the former guerilla movement disarmed as part of a peace deal and relaunched itself as a political party.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which battled the government for half a century in a conflict that left some 260,000 people dead, reached a historic peace deal last year and its former leader now plans to run for president.

The decision to remove FARC from the list permanently comes after the EU suspended its terror listing in September 2016 in a bid to help the peace process in Colombia.

"The Council adopted the legal acts providing for the de-listing of the FARC from the EU list of individuals and entities subject to restrictive measures to combat terrorism," an EU official told AFP, adding that the decision would be announced officially on Tuesday.

FARC guerilla leader Rodrigo Londono, also known as "Timochenko", will run
in 2018's presidential election (AFP Photo/Raul Arboleda)

After agreeing to the peace deal and disarming, the rebels transformed their movement into a political party, keeping the same initials but changing the official name to the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force.

Rodrigo Londono, 58, the group's guerilla leader better known by his nickname "Timochenko", will run in the presidential election for the party, with the first round of voting scheduled for May 2018.

The UN has heard of concerns about progress under the peace deal. There are warnings that the reintegration of former fighters is not progressing well, with many finding it difficult to return to civilian life.

FARC's demobilisation has also triggered battles over territory it used to control, the Organization of American States warned last week, particularly areas linked to the drug trade.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Dutch government puts €550m into fund for post-hurricane Sint Maarten

DutchNews, November 10, 2017

Still showing damage on Sint Maarten from Dutch defense ministry footage 

The Netherlands is pumping €550m into the special fund to rebuild its former colony of Sint Maarten following the devastation caused by hurricane Irma. 

The first payment will be made to the island authorities as soon as they agree to the establishment of a special chamber to ensure the cash is spent properly. In addition, the Netherlands want border controls to be stepped up to make sure the work goes to local firms and local workers. 

The establishment of the fund ran into trouble earlier when the then-prime minister William Marlin refused to accept that the Dutch authorities would have final say on the integrity chamber. 

Since then, the government has fallen and an interim administration is in charge.

‘It is a lot of Dutch tax money,’ junior home affairs minister Raymond Knops said. ‘People are still without a roof over their heads and the Netherlands wants to help, but it is a gesture with strings attached.’ 

Earlier estimates had put the size of the fund at €260m.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

US unveils fresh Venezuela sanctions, targets 10 officials

Yahoo – AFP, November 9, 2017

The US has unveiled new sanctions against the government of Venezuelan President
Nicolas Maduro over alleged corruption and interference in state elections last month
in which pro-Maduro candidates unexpectedly won a majority of governorships

Washington (AFP) - The United States on Thursday slapped more sanctions against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government, targeting 10 officials it said engaged in election irregularities to perpetuate what Washington called a dictatorial regime.

The new sanctions come as EU member states prepare to impose an arms embargo on Venezuela, whose leftist government has sought to tighten its grip on power amid a prolonged economic and political crisis that has led to deadly street clashes.

Things are so dire in oil-rich Venezuela that people line up to buy not just food and medicine but basics like soap and toilet paper. Maduro calls the crisis a plot contrived by rich conservative business people backed by the government of President Donald Trump.

The new sanctions came in response to October 15 state elections in which pro-Maduro candidates unexpectedly won 18 of 23 gubernatorial seats.

The US Treasury Department said irregularities "strongly suggest fraud" was used to elect Maduro candidates.

For instance, one of the people sanctioned, Sandra Oblitas Ruzza, vice president of the National Electoral Council, announced the relocation of polling stations just days before the voting, the US said.

So people showed up where they thought they could vote, but could not, it added.

"As the Venezuelan government continues to disregard the will of its people, our message remains clear: the United States will not stand aside while the Maduro regime continues to destroy democratic order and prosperity in Venezuela," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

He said the US will continue to go after Venezuelan officials who are complicit in efforts to undermine democracy, violate human rights, and act corruptly "unless they break from Maduro’s dictatorial regime."

Censorship and corruption

The sanctions named government ministers and members of Venezuela's National Electoral Council and the new, all powerful Constituent Assembly, which has replaced congress, even taking over its building, chamber and seats, can rewrite laws as it sees fit and is made up solely of Maduro loyalists.

The Treasury Department said the October elections were held amid censorship, abuse of state media and corruption extending to the distribution of food.

Others among those designated under the new US sanctions were Elvis Eduardo Hidrobo Amoroso, second vice president of the Constituent Assembly, which Washington deems illegitimate.

Also named were Culture Minister and former Information Minister Ernesto Emilio Villegas Poljak, the head of Venezuela’s state telephone utility Manuel Angel Fernandez Melendez, Urban Agriculture Minister Freddy Alirio Bernal Rosales and current ambassador to Italy Julian Isaias Rodriguez Diaz.

Rodriguez Diaz, for instance, who used to be second vice president of the Constituent Assembly, signed a decree forcing newly-elected governors to take the oath of office before that body, the US statement said.

The sanctions effectively freeze those named out of much of the global banking system, requiring most international banks not to process transactions on their behalf, and block their access to any assets under US jurisdiction.

Sanctions imposed by Trump's administration in August banned US trade in any new bonds issued by the Venezuelan government or state oil company PDVSA -- a needed step in any restructuring of the oil-rich country's debt.

The embattled government in Caracas announced last week it was calling a meeting of creditors for November 13 to try to restructure its foreign debt, estimated at $150 billion.

The move came the same day the International Monetary Fund said it was sanctioning the government for failing to provide economic data, as all IMF member states are required to do.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Haribo launches probe into 'inhumane working conditions' in Brazil

Yahoo – AFP, November 3, 2017

German sweets manufacturer Haribo is to investigate companies in its supply
 chain after accusations in a documentary that Brazilian workers including minors
work in appalling conditions at a suppliers' plantation (AFP Photo/JOEL SAGET)

Berlin (AFP) - German sweets maker Haribo said it had launched an internal investigation after a TV documentary alleged Brazilian workers supplying ingredients for their confectionary suffer inhumane conditions.

"We have tasked a group of independent, accredited and certified auditors with conducting a full investigation of our carnauba wax supply chain and are currently awaiting the findings of the investigation," the company said in a statement Thursday.

The company has faced criticism in the German and international press after public broadcaster ARD alleged in mid-October that workers on carnauba wax planations in Brazil, among them minors, suffered under high temperatures and were forced to sleep outside, often without access to clean drinking water.

Haribo uses carnauba wax as a coating agent in its candy.

"We have been in contact with our direct carnauba wax supplier in Brazil to demand that the entire supply chain, including its preliminary suppliers, all the way down to the carnauba wax producing farms, is laid bare and reviewed to ensure standards are upheld at all relevant facilities," beginning this week, the company said.

The company said it would hold discussions with Brazil's labour ministry and other government officials as part of the investigation.

Haribo also said it would launch an additional internal probe to respond to allegations in the same documentary about the mistreatment of pigs on German farms used for gelatine production.

The animals live in their own excrement and are covered in bruises, according to the documentary.

"As a company whose mission it is to bring joy to children and adults alike, reports of animal cruelty in our supply chain are unacceptable," the company said.

Argentina’s former VP arrested on corruption charges : court sources

Yahoo - AFP,  3 November 2017

Amado Boudou was Argentina's economy minister from 2009-2011, then served
 as vice president from 2011 until Kirchner left office in December 2015© AFP/

Amado Boudou, Argentina’s vice president under Cristina Kirchner, was arrested Friday on charges including money laundering and hiding undeclared assets, court sources said.

Judge Ariel Lijo ordered his arrest in a case initially brought in 2012. Boudou was economy minister from 2009-2011, then served as vice president from 2011 until Kirchner left office in December 2015.

Lijo said that Boudou, 54, “had been enriched unjustifiably during the exercise of public duties.”

The judge cited tax return anomalies, the 2010 purchase of a Buenos Aires apartment by his former girlfriend, and the unclear source of tens of thousands of dollars in income.

The arrest comes as Kirchner herself on Thursday lost a legal appeal against corruption charges, with a high court saying the prosecution’s case against her can go ahead.

The federal appeals court upheld a previous ruling that Kirchner, 64, must answer charges of criminal association and fraud that stem from her 2007-2015 term in office.

Kirchner, however, enjoys parliamentary immunity from jail if convicted, having become a senator-elect in polls held last month. She says the charges are politically motivated.

Kirchner’s former planning minister, Julio de Video, was arrested two weeks ago on corruption charges after Congress stripped him of his parliamentary immunity.

A former deputy public works minister, Jose Lopez, is also facing charges after being caught by police trying to hide $9 million in cash in a Buenos Aires convent earlier this year.