teleSUR English ES Mon, 23 Nov 2020 11:26:21 -04:00 teleSUR English <![CDATA[Venezuela: Regional Electoral Boards Start Election Training]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 11:25:18 -04:00 Venezuela's electoral authorities announced that the training of Regional Electoral Boards (REB) will be carried out from November 23rd until November 27th, as set out in the electoral calendar ahead of the parliamentary elections to take place on December 6.


Venezuela: President Maduro Claims Theft of Funds for Migrant Support

The training will be conducted by the National Electoral Board (NEB) and the National Office of Subaltern Electoral Organizations (ONOES).

Meanwhile, a total of 293,977 identity cards have been processed by the Administrative Service of Identification, Migration, and Foreigners (SAIME) in 62 offices throughout the country in the lead up to the parliamentary elections.

SAIME President Gustavo Vizcaino noted that his institution is working to approve electronic ID cards with QR codes to be used for the long term. 

14,400 candidates from 107 political and Indigenous organizations have been registered to contest the parliamentary elections that will determine the 277 members of the National Assembly.

President Nicolas Maduro announced that the last week of the radical quarantine of the year 2020 will begin on Monday and a controlled flexibilization is set to rule throughout December, as part of the 7+7 Plus scheme to curb the COVID-19 spread.

"We are in the middle of Christmas, we want to share, work, gain, gifts, love, forgiveness, encounter, and reunion with families and friends. Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year, it is a time of spirituality, and more in this year 2020, where there has been a great family reunion product of the coronavirus," President Maduro said.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Landslide Leaves Seven People Dead and Nine Injured]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 12:05:54 -04:00 Colombia's authorities Monday informed that at least seven people died and nine others were injured after a landslide in the town of Puerto Valdivia, Antioquia Department.


Seven Killed in Colombia’s 60th Massacre of 2020

The nine people injured that have been found so far were transferred to care centers, according to local outlets.

"It is still impossible to confirm the number of deaths and missing people there is. Local authorities don't know exactly how many people were there at the time of the event," Antioquia Fire Department's Commander Jader Gomez said.

The emergency occurred in the early hours of Monday morning. Rescue officials reported they are working to recover the people trapped and to allow vehicles to pass through the roadblock.

Antioquia's Administrative Department of Risk Management (Dagran) said that the collapse covered a shopping mall where there were about 20 people.

Valdivia's Mayor Olga Arroyave explained that the event "occurred in a cafeteria where several people were standing when the displacement arrived. The personnel of Firemen is helping to rescue more people."

"Army troops have guaranteed security as it has supported the relief workers in the emergency caused by Hurricane Iota's heavy rains," Major General Juan Ramirez tweeted.

]]> <![CDATA[Western Union Halts US-Cuba Transfers]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 10:16:08 -04:00 The U.S. company Western Union Monday halted the transfer of remittances to Cuba, following new sanctions by the U.S. Department of the Treasury (USDOT).


New British-Cuban Biotechnology Joint Venture Debuts in the UK

Representing the closure of  407 offices on the island, the Cuban financial company Fincimex agreed with Western Union to suspend the operation. 

The decision comes after, the USDOT released in October the draft of a final rule to eliminate the scope of certain general authorizations related to bank transfers from abroad.

Among the new provision, money transfers to Cuba through Fincimex and the related firm American International Services were prohibited on allegations that  Fincimex is a 'company controlled by the Cuban military'.

In June of this year, Fincimex was added to the U.S. State Department (USDOS) list of restricted entities. The list includes the Interior and Armed Forces ministries, the National Revolutionary Police, the Mariel Special Development Zone, and the Mariel and Havana container terminals, among other companies and corporations. 

An investigation by the Center for U.S. and Hemispheric Studies at the University of Havana confirms that between 2001 and 2020, U.S. sanctions on Cuba suggest as a possible pattern that it is in an election or pre-election periods when hostile actions are most intensified. The 2019 pre-election year recorded the highest number of new legal norms in the period analyzed with sanctions approved every month, except in January, and on several occasions, more than one sanction imposed per month.

Meanwhile, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Ecuador, Haiti, and Brazil are the first 10 countries that have the highest flow of remittances in the Latin American and Caribbean region, according to data by the World Bank (WB).


]]> <![CDATA[Chile: International Borders to Reopen Gradually ]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 09:10:10 -04:00 Chile's President Sebastian Piñera announced the reopening of international borders with the resumption of international flights at the Arturo Merino airport in the capital Santiago starting on Monday.


Chile: Two Minors Shot by Police, Protests Sparked

The reopening process was called Step by Step Plan it and includes five stages in order to allow the entry of foreigners who do not reside in the country.

President Piñera noted that special attention will be paid to security and protection to prevent the entry of foreigners and non-resident Chileans who are infected with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, travelers coming from countries declared high risk by the World Health Organization (WHO) will have to comply with a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Taking into account the COVID-19 cases evolution in the country, the reopening plan will be extended gradually to other air and maritime border terminals which are set to remain closed for another 15 days. 

COVID-19 positive cases will not be able to board the plane to Chile and all the nationals and non-resident foreigners who enter the country will have to undergo surveillance, informing their location to the Ministry of Health.

"Today, after five months of continuous improvement in the average sanitary situation of our country, and thanks to the effort and contribution of all Chileans and to the sanitary protection measures adopted by our Government, we want to announce the first stage of the process of reopening our borders for foreigners who are not residents in our country," President Piñera said.

]]> <![CDATA[China Rejects US Admiral's Unannounced Visit to Taiwan]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 09:45:27 -04:00 China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday rejected a visit by a U.S. Navy admiral to Taiwan as it strongly opposed any military relationship between the Chinese Island and Washington.


China Rejects Illegal, Violent Actions Against Venezuela, Cuba

"China is opposed to any form of exchange between U.S. and Taiwanese officials or any military relations," Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said shortly after the visit was announced. 

According to a Reuters report, a two-star Navy admiral who oversees U.S. military intelligence in the Asia-Pacific region made an unannounced visit to Taiwan. Neither the Chinese island nor the U.S. has confirmed the trip.

"We will give a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops," Zhao said, without giving further details.

The Trump administration increased support for Taiwan with repeated arms sales. For China, this violates its sovereignty and interferes in its internal affairs.

In August and September, China strongly repudiated visits by U.S. Secretary of Health Alex Azar and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Keith Krach, who sent warplanes near the island.

"We urge Washington to recognize the sensitivity of the Taiwan issue," Zhao said as he also rejected the signing of a memorandum of understanding on economic exchanges following a meeting between the U.S. and Taiwanese officials in Washington.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala's Congress to Revoke Budget That Sparked Protests]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2020 08:02:18 -04:00 Guatemala's Congress President Allan Rodriguez Monday announced the reversal of the 2021 state budget, which approval last week gave rise to a massive demonstration and the burning of part of Parliament on Saturday.


Guatemala's Congress Burns Amid Mass Protest

Rodriguez and 16 other lawmakers announced the decision in a message broadcast through the Congress' communication channels in the early hours of Monday morning.

"We have agreed to suspend the processing of the income and expenditure budget of the state for 2021," Rodriguez said.

However, the opposition lawmaker Lucrecia Hernandez urged the population not to be fooled by the parliamentary authorities because "the Congress' Board of Directors don't have the power to file a law approved by the plenary."

The approval of the budget last Wednesday, at 5h30, provoked unrest in the population that resulted in the demonstrations on Saturday.

The budget, approved by 115 of 160 legislators under strict security measures with several streets closed, has been described as "opaque" by opposition legislators who assured that they never had access to the document. 

Besides, according to experts, the budget presents extensive cuts in health and human rights issues.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Lawyer Dumped After Claiming Hugo Chavez Rigged U.S. Election]]> Sun, 22 Nov 2020 22:25:38 -04:00 The legal team of U.S. President Donald Trump has formally distanced itself from attorney Sidney Powell, who this week took to a nationally televised press conference to make claims that the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had a hand in the 2020 U.S. elections.


Trump Campaign Blames Venezuela and Chavez for Electoral Defeat

The Thursday afternoon press conference, which went viral, held by the Trump campaign legal team in Washington, featured Powell who stood alongside other Trump campaign lawyers including lead attorney Rudy Giuliani and Senior Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis.

Powell made claims of "massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba and likely China, in the interference with our elections here in the United States" specifically making reference to voting machines which she falsely claimed of being rigged by the late revolutionary Venezuelan Head of State, making the Trump campaign the laughing stock of social media for the rest of the day.

“We have one very strong witness who explained how it all works,” said Powell. 

As the clip went viral with added commentary from liberal media pundits, there was little in the way of support for her claims from the Trump camp.

The statement released by the Trump campaign legal team which was shared on the twitter account of adviser Jenna Ellis, says “Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.” The notice was signed by both Giuliani and Ellis.

Though the campaign is now publicly distancing themselves from Powell, she has made several apperances on behalf of Trump's campaign on Fox News.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have committed to waging legal battles in Pennsylvania, operating on the insistence that the November election was stolen by former Vice President Joe Biden, who infact won the popular vote as well as the electoral college.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala's VP Calls for Investigation on Excessive Force by Police]]> Sun, 22 Nov 2020 17:24:47 -04:00 The Vice President of Guatemala, Guillermo Castillo, has asked the Public Ministry for a "serious investigation" following the protests in the Plaza de la Constitución on Saturday. More than half a million people gathered this Saturday to protest against the Government and Congress, but the police repressed the demonstrators and were even arrested, while a group burned down the headquarters of Congress.


Guatemala’s Congress Burns Amid Mass Protest

"It is urgent that the Public Ministry open a serious investigation into what happened yesterday. Vandalism and excessive use of police force are clear. The burning of Congress and what happened around it raises doubts. I recognize the peaceful demonstration that took place in the park. Place," Castillo said via Twitter.

A group, dressed in black and with bats with rubber handles and metal tips, were able to climb up to the windowsill, break the glass, enter and set fire to the anteroom of the Legislative Directorate office, the Hall del Pueblo and the corridor where the portraits of the presidents of Congress are located.

Outrage in Guatemala worsened after Congress approved the budget for 2021 last week, which authorized an exaggerated indebtedness, which compromises the future of the Central American country, according to analysts.

They also highlighted the opacity in which the approval session was conducted, as well as the speed with which President Alejandro Giammattei signed the minutes of the approved budget.

The demonstrations this Saturday called for the resignation of Giammetti, days after Vice President Castillo proposed that he and the executive resign together, and initiate a process of political change in the country.

Security forces detained more than 30 people for various reasons during the demonstrations on Saturday, as confirmed by both the Judicial Branch and the Ministry of the Interior.

In addition, first responders have indicated that at least 40 people have been treated for injuries, and dozens affected by tear gas.

Giammattei indicated that he will not veto the budget, but that he will analyze with legislators possible changes to it, which was approved this Wednesday.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil Protests Demand Justice for Afro-Brazilian João Alberto]]> Sun, 22 Nov 2020 15:04:06 -04:00 Protesters set sights on a unit of French supermarket chain Carrefour, at about 5pm on Friday, November 20, in the vicinity of Avenida Paulista, in São Paulo. The store was destroyed after a protest called by the city’s Black movement in response to the murder of João Alberto Silveira Freitas, a 40-year-old black man, in a Carrefour store in Porto Alegre.


Bolivia: Former Ministers Murillo, Lopez Flee to Panama, Brazil

In response to the death of João Alberto on the eve of  Black Consciousness Day, more than a thousand protesters joined the 17th March of Black Conscience in Sao Paulo, which assembled at the MASP (São Paulo Art Museum) then went to a large Carrefour store, on nearby Pamplona Street.

The hypermarket, which is on the ground floor of a mall, was closing its doors and security guards tried to keep out the protesters, who broke through the blockade and destroyed the interior of the store. A fire was started.

João Alberto Silveira Freitas  was beaten  to death by a military policeman and a security guard at the Carrefour supermarket in Porto Alegre, on Thursday night.

According to the Rio Grande do Sul Military Police, the assaults started after a disagreement between the victim and a local employee. Disconcerted, Freitas was rescued by a team from the Ambulance Service (SAMU), who tried to revive him without success. The two attackers were arrested in the act and are being investigated for homicide.

Brian Mier reported that the agent involved in the assault is only “temporary” and that it occurred outside working hours. In a statement , Carrefour promised to end a contract with the local outsourced security company, said it would take reasonable measures to hold those involved responsible, and defined the act as criminal.

“The employee who was in charge of the store at the time of the incident will be fired. Out of respect for the victim, the store will be closed. We will contact Mr. João Alberto’s family to provide the necessary support ”, says an excerpt from the French company’s statement.

Carrefour says that it will make a rigorous internal investigation of the case and that “no violence and intolerance is allowed”. However, the supermarket carries a history of violence and neglect involving customers and employees.

The most recent reported by the press had occurred in August of this year. A Carrefour sales promoter died while working at a unit in Recife. Moisés Santos, 53, was covered with umbrellas and surrounded by boxes so that the store could continue to function and his body remained in place between 8 am and 12 pm, until he was removed by the Legal Medical Institute (IML).

Other cases of racism, labor violations and aggression against animals have been  linked to the supermarket.

This article was originally published in Brasil Wire.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala’s Congress Burns Amid Mass Protest]]> Sat, 21 Nov 2020 21:48:21 -04:00 Guatemalans have taken to the streets for a national protest in rejection of President Alejandro Giammattei, and to demand that he veto the controversial general budget for 2021, approved by lawmakers on November 18.


Guatemala: Thousands of Women Take to the Streets Against Femicides

A fire broke out at the Congress in the capital city, though the main protest groups maintain that the people have continued to demonstrate peacefully in the central square which is surrounded by riot police. They warn that infiltrated groups have burned down the Congress, serving as a distraction from the popular calls in rejection of corruption.

Police and riot forces began detaining people in the evening, including Guatemalan lawyer, ngrid Medina, shown being detained on live video.

On social media, various social organizations and citizens have been calling for people to go to all the squares of the country this Saturday and express their rejection of the Giammattei Government.

The ‘Ya Basta Oficial’ initiative published a series of COVID-19 prevention measures to take during Saturday's protest.

The Association for Research and Social Studies (ASIES), in a tweet, made clear its "indignation and energetic protest" with the way in which the budget for 2021 was approved, "as well as the levels of indebtedness that are assumed with this and that compromise the future of the country.”

The Human Rights Ombudsman, for its part, called on the police forces to avoid repression and respect free expression of thought.

On Friday, the Vice President of Guatemala, Guillermo Castillo, asked President Giammattei to both present their resignation letter, because "things are not good." In particular, he did not agree with the way in which the expenditure plan for the coming year was endorsed.

According to what was approved by the deputies, 65 percent of the budget for expenditures for next year will be used for the operation of the Government, 20 percent for investment and 15 percent for the payment of debts.

]]> <![CDATA[Return to the Homeland: 21,000 Venezuelans Have Been Repatriated]]> Sat, 21 Nov 2020 16:25:25 -04:00 A total of 176 nationals returned to Venezuela this Friday on the “Return to the Homeland” plan, on two flights from Ecuador, one from Quito with 82 passengers and another from Guayaquil with 94, through Venezuela’s state airline Conviasa.


Venezuela: President Maduro Claims Theft of Funds for Migrant Support

Among the beneficiaries of the initiative were a number of Venezuelan migrants in a state of vulnerability and others who have found themselves in urgent situations, amid difficulties encountered when attempting to return due to restrictions on flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon arrival at the Maiquetía International Airport, they received medical and health care in order to detect possible cases of COVID-19. Passengers are subject to the application of diagnostic tests and supervised temporary isolation.

Nelly Gómez, 72, a native of Valencia, returned excitedly on the flight from Guayaquil: “I return after two years in Ecuador, where I traveled to take care of my daughter because she had given birth. I had not been able to return due to the ban on flights between countries as a result of the pandemic, but thank God this opportunity for humanitarian flights opened and today I am again treading my country, where I have my people, my roots, my wishes. Venezuela is a land of grace.”

According to the President of Conviasa, Ramón Celestino Velásquez Araguayán, these citizens reached out to Venezuelan authorities to voluntarily return on the program initiated by President Nicolas Maduro in 2018. 

Since its creation, the program has returned 21,194 Venezuelan migrants from countries such as Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Italy and Spain, among others; making it the most far-reaching humanitarian bridge in history.

]]> <![CDATA[Evo Morales & Luis Arce Attend First Joint Event Since Evo’s Return]]> Sat, 21 Nov 2020 15:38:46 -04:00 The President of Bolivia, Luis Arce, has joined former President Evo Morales for a Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) event in Cochabamba, marking their first get together since Morales’ return. 


Bolivia Resumes Participation in ALBA, CELAC, and UNASUR

Arce and Vice President, David Choquehuanca, attended the national meeting, convened by Morales, which was held on Saturday at a convention center on the outskirts of the central city and attended by union leaders, peasants and Indigenous people of the MAS movements.

The meeting was organized to begin to analyze the proposals of the social organizations as the party looks ahead to the subnational elections which will be held in early 2021.

President Arce and Morales greeted each other with a handshake and a hug, amid applause and cheers from the militants present in the room.

In his speech, Arce said he was "happy" to be able to participate in the national meeting of the MAS that "has generated great expectations," all from a party which he deemed "the first force in the country."

"We listen and analyze the proposals of social organizations. With their contribution, we will continue to deepen the Process of Change for the good of the Bolivian people," Arce tweeted after the meeting with Morales and MAS leaders.

Upon his arrival to the auditorium, Arce was greeted by chants of “We are the majority!”  

"One of the tasks we have is how to take care of President Lucho. That requires a lot of effort and sacrifice. Ideological and programmatic commitment," Morales said, later lamenting the state of public finances after 11 months of the de facto coup government.

"Unfortunately, they left us a shattered economy. I heard some words from Brother Lucho. We are not scared, but we do need time. It is a matter of time before the national economy is restarted again," said the former president.

Morales, who this week was announced as the National President of the MAS-IPSP, recalled that in 2006, when he began his first term, the country was in a poor economic situation. "But we got up," he remarked.

Luis Arce was sworn in to the presidency on November 8 and a day later Morales set foot on Bolivian soil again after a year of political persecution by the coup administration which is now being sought after for numerous crimes. 

Additionally, Arce made his first visit as President to Cochabamba which included a breakfast in a market of the city center where he received displays of affection and support.

]]> <![CDATA[Ethiopia and Sudan Talk Over Tigray's Displaced Population]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 22:52:16 -04:00 Ethiopia and Sudan are working to support people displaced by the Tigray region's armed conflict and help to return to their homeland, Ethiopia's Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on Friday.


Ethiopia: Gov't Issues Arrest Warrants Over Tigray Conflict

The Ethiopian Ambassador to Sudan, Yibeltal Aemro, reported that a national committee was established to repatriate Ethiopians who fled to Sudan. The official also pointed out that the government is working with the United Nations Refugee Agency and other international organizations to provide humanitarian assistance.

The ambassador explained that citizens could return through Tigray's western part, which has been recovered from the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). Likewise, the government is cautious of TPLF members from entering Sudan covered up as migrants.

Last week the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that at least over 11.000 people, half of them children, had fled to neighboring Sudan. However, according to UNHCR's latest report from November 18, the number has increased to over 27.000 people.


]]> <![CDATA[Spain To Increase Services for Migrants, Arrivals Continue]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 22:49:59 -04:00 On Friday, Spain's government announced that it would create 7.000 placements for shelters in the Canary Islands to face the massive arrivals of migrants in the last weeks.


Spain Reinforces Security Measures in the Canary Islands

The Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security, and Migration will create facilities in seven locations between three islands. This as current shelters are overcrowded and authorities report that until last November 16, over 16.800 people had arrived.

"The Ministry of Inclusion will reach the 7,000 own places of reception in seven new spaces in #Canarias works to install emergency devices in the seven spaces and, in parallel, more stable solutions in several of them." 

"In parallel to the construction of these emergency places, work is being done on the deployment of more stable places in a similar amount in the sites that require adaptation work," Minister José Luis Escrivá explained.

Illegal migrations to the islands have increased more than 900 percent in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain's Ministry of Territorial Policy announced last week that it would increase security in the Atlantic route, the most common for migrants from North Africa.

The authorities also said that hundreds of tents would be installed. However, the authorities' intention is "to have the capacity to face possible increases in arrivals with greater security and flexibility than now."


]]> <![CDATA[Yemen in "Imminent Danger" of Worst Famine in Decades]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 22:44:22 -04:00 United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that war-torn Yemen is in imminent danger of the worst famine the world has seen in decades. "In the absence of immediate action, millions of lives may be lost," Guterres said on Friday of the country that has endured a five-year war between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and government forces.


Saudi-Led Forces Launch New Offensive Against Yemen's Houthis

Guterres' warning comes as the United States threatens to blacklist the Houthi group as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign against Tehran. Aid workers have raised fears such a move would prevent life-saving aid from reaching the country and make things even worse in Yemen.

In his statement, Guterres made only an indirect reference to this possibility. "I urge all those with influence to act urgently on these issues to stave off catastrophe, and I also request that everyone avoids taking any action that could make the already dire situation even worse," he said. Guterres said the reasons for the heightened threat of famine include a sharp drop in funding for the UN-coordinated relief program, the instability of the Yemeni currency, and the warring parties imposing "impediments" for relief organizations.


A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing government forces fighting the Houthi group. Western powers, including the U.S, assist the coalition.

The Houthi rebels control the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, and much of the north after a grinding war that has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The U.S. labeling the rebels a "terrorist" group would mean many countries would have trouble interacting with the Houthis. The effect on the Houthis, who are already under U.S. sanctions, may be limited. Still, ordinary Yemenis could pay the price, with further damage to aid programs already cut back due to record-low funding during the coronavirus pandemic.

Everything from dealing with Houthi officials, handling taxes, using the banking system, paying health workers, buying food and fuel, and arranging internet services could be affected, humanitarian groups say.

U.N. officials are trying to revive peace talks to end the war as their suffering is worsened by an economic and currency collapse and the COVID-19 pandemic. U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock has said the U.N. has received less than half of what it needed this year – about $1.5bn – for Yemen's humanitarian operations. Last year it received $3bn.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico Decriminalizes the Consumption of Cannabis]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 22:29:21 -04:00 The Mexican Senate passed on Thursday a law that legalizes the consumption of cannabis for adults. This controversial and largely debated decision aims at regulating the practice in the country.


Key Military Official Arrested in Mexico Over Ayotzinapa Case

The Federal Law for the Regularization of Cannabis decriminalizes consumption for people 18 years of age and up to 28 grams. If that amount is surpassed by up to 200 grams, there would be an administrative sanction and a fine of 11.000 Mexican pesos.

The Senate voted 82 in favor of the law, 18 against and seven abstentions. Lawmakers against the law raised fears that marihuana consumption could become a widespread practice, and the smell could reach children.

"#Today in the Senate, it was approved to create the Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis and reform the General Law of Health and the Federal Penal Code, for the regulation of #CannabisLegal." 


Further,  lawmakers in favor noticed that from a social perspective, the law supports peasants, indigenous peoples, and communities which were prohibited from harvesting cannabis and were forced to look for it in the illegal market instead.

Nonetheless, health authorities pointed out that the reform does not encourage consumption of cannabis since it is banned in public spaces where there are minors and 500 meters from schools, shopping centers, sports, parks, and government buildings.

The lawmakers in favor branded the reform as "historic" and "progress" since it ends a century of criminalization of cannabis in the country.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump, Family, and Businesses Under Investigation for Tax Fraud]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 22:22:42 -04:00 The New York Times reported Thursday that two judicial investigations, one criminal and one civil, have been opened in the state of New York against outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump, his family, and his companies for tax fraud.


What To Expect From Trump in the Final Months of His Presidency

The newspaper detailed that these investigations' main reason is the consulting expenses of more than $740,000 that Trump would have had deducted through his business. That would have been then sent to a company under his eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump.

In the same vein, NYT added, Manhattan state district judge Cyrus R. Vance is pursuing a possible criminal case against the United States' still-president, and state attorney general Letitia James is investigating a civil suit. Both parties have requested documentation from the Trump family business conglomerate to supplement their investigations.

These investigations have been opened after, in September, the same American newspaper published a report in which it revealed that, between 2016 and 2017, the New York tycoon only paid $750 in federal taxes and did not pay a single cent of federal income taxes in 10 of the 15 years since 2000.

However, such scandals against Trump are not new. Since 2017, when he became President of the United States, he has faced civil lawsuits and criminal investigations against him, including tax evasion by the U.S. Department of Justice, civil fraud in New York, and sexual abuse cases against E. Jean Carroll, a former contributor to Elle magazine, and Summer Zervos, a contestant on "The Apprentice" show.

Trump, who lost the presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden, rejects the allegations against him. He proclaimed himself the winner and denounced electoral "fraud" without providing any evidence, in addition to threatening to go to the Supreme Court to stop the vote count.

In this sense, experts and media warn that Trump could go to jail after leaving the White House for crimes committed for many years.

]]> <![CDATA[Peruvians Disapprove of Congress' Handling of Crisis - Poll]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 18:12:55 -04:00 More than half in a thousand Peruvians consider that there was unjustified police brutality during the country's recent protests. A popular candidate ahead of the 2021 elections remains uncertain, according to the latest survey by the pollster Ipsos.


Peru: President Sagasti Apologizes for People Killed by Police

The results indicate that 88 percent of the surveyed disapproves of Congress. Hence the approval rate is at its lowest since 2006, Ipsos notices. Two vacancy motions over corruption charges were debated against former president Martin Vizcarra, who could not survive the second.

Nonetheless, there is still no clear candidate ahead of the 2021 elections. According to the poll, none of the three leading candidates can reach a 20 percent popularity.

"Half of Peruvians believe that the reasons people went out to march until November 16 were to demand Merino's resignation and to protest the behavior of the congressmen."


After a face to face interviews with 1207 people more than 18 years older in all the national territory, the results point out that 55 percent thinks that the Congress' 105 lawmakers are responsible for the deaths during the protests for approving the vacancy motion that unleashed a political crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On November 18, Peru's interim president Francisco Sagasti apologized to the relatives of the two people killed by the police during the protests. "On behalf of the State, I apologize to the families of the victims and to all the young people who marched to defend democracy," Sagasti said.


]]> <![CDATA[New British-Cuban Biotechnology Joint Venture Debuts in the UK]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 18:00:18 -04:00 At the event, which was sponsored by the Caribbean Council, the advantages derived from this economic and commercial association were analyzed in the presence of the executive director of that organization, Chris Bennet, the co-president of the Cuba Initiative, Lord David Triesman, and the development director of the Cuban company Hebert Biotec S.A., Merardo Pujol.


Cuba and the U.K. Start a Joint Venture to Develop Medicines

BioFarma Innovations, the result of an agreement between the Cuban company BioCubaFarma and the British company SG Innovations Ltd., was launched last August to expedite access of the British Commonwealth and Europe more generally to the broad portfolio of medicines patented by the Cuban biotechnology industry, as well as to its experience in the sector.

Under the title "Bringing Cuban biopharmaceuticals to patients worldwide: a new British-Cuban joint venture," the seminar also focused on issues such as the commercialization of pharmaceutical products in the world, the protection of intellectual property, as well as the opportunities that exist to expand this relationship and bring Cuban medicines to many more patients on the planet.


"BioFarma Innovations, a company of Cuba and the United Kingdom, will take Cuban biopharmaceuticals, one of the most advanced in the world, to patients all over the world. It will accelerate the development of advanced medicines such as those supporting the global response to COVID19."



According to the Cuban embassy in the British capital, the panelists emphasized the participation of Cuban science in facing the pandemic, the successful use of Cuban biotechnological products in the fight against COVID-19, and the development -by the Antillean nation- of three vaccination candidates against the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

It was also announced in the webinar that all of these results had been achieved despite the intensification of the unilateral economic, commercial and financial blockade that the United States has maintained against the Caribbean country for 60 years.

According to what was announced, the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and the British Embassy in Havana will organize a similar seminar next December 11 in Cuba.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia Resumes Participation in ALBA, CELAC, and UNASUR]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 17:57:37 -04:00 Below we reproduce an English version of the official communiqué:

Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Bolivia resumes participation in ALBA, CELAC, and UNASUR

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs communicates that the Government of Bolivia, in its firm conviction for integration, resumes its full participation as a member country of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America - People's Trade Treaty (ALBA - TCP), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).


Bolivian De Facto Gov't has No Authority to Leave CELAC: Evo

The decision taken by the transitional government to suspend Bolivia's participation in the aforementioned integration spaces responded to purely political interests, which have little to do with the vocation for the integration of the Bolivian people. The constitutive instruments of these regional and sub-regional integration processes were approved with the rank of law, as established by the Political Constitution of the State, therefore, the rights and obligations of Bolivia derived from these instruments remained unaltered during the last years.

Bolivia's participation in the integration processes is based on the provisions of Article 265 of the Political Constitution of the State, which states that "The State shall promote, on the principles of a fair and equitable relationship and with recognition of the asymmetries, the relations of social, political, cultural and economic integration with the other states, nations, and peoples of the world and, in particular, shall promote Latin American integration".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirms its commitment to Latin American integration as the only way to address the health, economic, and environmental crisis currently facing our region.

La Paz, November 20, 2020.

]]> <![CDATA[teleSUR Celebrates Its Return to Digital Television in Argentina]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 17:52:09 -04:00 The president of teleSUR, Patricia Villegas, celebrated the multi-state channel's reinsertion in Argentina's Open Digital Television (TDA) as of this Friday through the local television channel 25.4.


Argentina Continues Censorship Policy, Keeps teleSUR Off Air

Villegas referred on her Twitter account to a communiqué from the international television outlet in which we greet "with satisfaction and joy the decision of the administration of President Alberto Fernandez" to reincorporate the teleSUR signal into the Argentine TDA system, which we consider "an act of justice."

The text refers to the "untimely exclusion" that, under the government of former President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019), left the transmissions of teleSUR in the Southern Cone nation off the air in 2016, which represented "a discriminatory, arbitrary and illegal act," violating "the acquired rights of the multi-state company."


"Macri announced that he would remove us from the #TDA on the Day of the Journalist (July 6, 2016), yet today we return on the #DayOfNationalSovereignty by the decision of the Government of Alberto Fernandez."




The act of exclusion of Macri, described as a "serious curtailment of freedom of expression," in our opinion, failed and did not fulfill its purpose of "silencing a voice committed to the struggle of the peoples [...] in our America and the world."

In short, teleSUR "thanks the government of Alberto Fernández" for the reparation of "an illegal act, [which] expresses its confidence in freedom of democratic expression, assures it, and responds [...] to the aspirations of the Argentine people."

The text of the communiqué ends with a clear message: "They told you they were kicking us out, but friends never leave."

]]> <![CDATA[Russia Proposes Cooperation Against COVID-19 at APEC Summit]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 16:56:44 -04:00 President Vladimir Putin highlighted the safety and effectiveness of two vaccines registered by Russia, against the Covid-19 pandemic, during his intervention by videoconference at a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). The APEC summit 2020 under Malaysia's chairmanship is held on in a virtual format due to the Covid-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.


Russia: Clinical Trials of COVID-19 Vaccine Candidates Advance

"Sputnik V and EpiVacCorona showed two very important qualities of this type of medicine: its effectiveness and safety, and we are ready to supply it to friends of APEC and share experiences in the fight against Covid-19", declared the head of state.

Russia is already coordinating with its partners in the region to organize the supply of the vaccine and guarantee a complete production cycle in other nations, said the president, referring to negotiations with China, India, and outside the forum with Brazil.

Local media indicate that a partial report on the behavior of the post-registration or third clinical phase tests of Sputnik V demonstrated its effectiveness by 92 percent.


On the other hand, speaking before a forum that includes 19 "economies," the term APEC has used for its members since its founding in 1989, Putin endorsed the Declaration on developing that body until 2040. Moscow is committed to supporting the forum's work regarding states' sovereignty, territorial integrity, respect for peoples' rights, and non-interference in internal affairs, the statesman stressed. 

APEC, which Russia joined in 1998, includes economies from countries such as the United States, China, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand, which will assume the rotating presidency of that forum in 2021.

Putin promised cooperation with that nation to organize the next top-level meeting.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Court sends to trial ex-officials Azuero and Jalil]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 15:07:32 -04:00 Ecuador's judge Marco Rodriguez called to trial former lawmaker Eliseo Azuero, and former National Public Procurement Service (Secob) Deputy Director Jorge Jalil, for the alleged crime of organized crime due to the diversion of funds destined to the construction of a public hospital in the city of Pedernales in the coastal province of Manabí.


Truth Commission Reports Human Rights Violations in Ecuador

The list of defendants connected to the case, among officials, contractors, and collaborators, reached 19 people. Despite the judge's decision, the trial against Azuero and Jalil has no start date as they are both fugitives from justice. The crime of organized crime cannot be tried in absentia in Ecuador.

According to the Attorney General's Office, Azuero was at the top of the organized crime structure, along with his former co-worker, Daniel Mendoza, who accepted the crime and will be in jail for four years.

Judge Rodriguez called also three other people to trial and ratified the arrest warrant against all the defendants. Additionally, he ordered the retention of accounts, shares, and participation, as well as the prohibition to dispose of assets.

Eight other defendants were sentenced on the same case to 54 months in prison, including the former president of the Economic and Taxation Regime Commission of the Parliament Daniel Mendoza.

During the trial, Mendoza pointed out to the Minister of Government Maria Paula Romo as the alleged articulator between the Executive and the Legislative powers in the management of public hospitals granted to several lawmakers in exchange for political favors.

According to Mendoza lawmakers from Democratic Action (BADI) would have received public posts that allowed them to agree on contracts endorsed by the Ministry of Government. He assured that 19 congressmen would be in charge of hospitals in the provinces of Pichincha, Santo Domingo, Guayas, Manabi, Santa Elena, Sucumbios, El Oro, Cotopaxi, Bolivar, and Napo.

Minister Romo has denied the accusations, pointing out that it is a matter of revenge on the part of former lawmaker Mendoza.

]]> <![CDATA[Unicef: Central America to Face Health Crisis Due to Hurricanes]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 14:07:48 -04:00 The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Thursday called on the international community to join forces to prevent a health crisis in Central America caused by the passage of the Iota and Eta hurricanes.


Recovery in Central America Continues After Iota, Deaths Rise

"The region is not only facing the crisis caused by the pandemic, but it is also suffering from the lack of access to potable water for thousands of people after the scourge of Eta and Iota," UNICEF warned.

The organization requested that US$46.2 million be urgently allocated to assist over 640,000 affected people.

"That is the money needed to cover the most critical humanitarian needs of over 646,000 people, including 327,000 children, repeatedly affected by floods and landslides in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Belize," UNICEF Regional Chief Laurent Duvillier said.

"If there is stagnant water but no drinking water, there is a very high risk we will have a new outbreak that will add to the VOC-19 pandemic. That would be a triple storm: the hurricane, COVID-19, and new disease outbreaks. That's what we have to avoid, a triple storm," he said.

The first cases of malaria and hepatitis have been reported in several shelters, evidencing the health risk.

"Children and adolescents who survived both hurricanes are now at risk of dying from waterborne and other infectious diseases," UNICEF said.

]]> <![CDATA[FM Bruno Rodriguez Denies Alleged Cuban Intrusion in US Election]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 13:14:27 -04:00 Cuba's Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez described as "slander" and "false information" the accusations of alleged Cuban interference in the U.S. electoral process, made by the U.S President Donald Trump's campaign legal team.


Trump Campaign Blames Venezuela and Chavez for Electoral Defeat

"President Trump's representatives are mercilessly lying by spreading false information about alleged Cuban interference in U.S. elections. Pure slander. In contrast to current U.S State Department policy, Cuba does not interfere in the electoral process of other countries," Rodriguez twitted.

On November 19, the Trump administration's legal-team represented by Sidney Powell urged the U.S Justice Department (DOJ) to launch an investigation based on allegations that trained voting machines were used to manipulate the 2020 election results in favor of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Powell reiterated that the development of voting systems with hidden capabilities to change or discard votes, as well as overlook ballot deficiencies, were originally ordered by Venezuelan authorities with the support of China and Cuba.

According to Powell, "communist money" was used to influence the elections and the electoral software was created by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (1999-2013).

Meanwhile, the manufacturers of the election machines, Dominion Voting Systems, denied any problems with their software and hardware, while the U.S. Infrastructure Security and Cybersecurity Agency stated that there is no evidence that "any voting system eliminated, lost, or changed votes or was compromised in any way."

As a result of the November 3 U.S. presidential election, Democratic candidate Jose Biden accumulated 306 electoral votes out of the 270 needed to win the election, but President Trump has not recognized the results and has filed lawsuits on the alleged vote count fraud.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela: President Maduro Claims Theft of Funds for Migrant Support]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 12:54:22 -04:00 Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro Thursday blamed the opposition and the Colombian government for the theft of millions of dollars in funds destined to pay for the return of Venezuelans who were stranded in other nations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


 The US Appoints First Venezuela Ambassador in a Decade

The International Organization of Migration (IOM ) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) approved resources to support migrants, but "opposition leader Juan Guaido, and President Ivan Duque have stolen them in Colombia," President Maduro said.

The "Group of the 4 Hairy Rats" (G4RP), which includes Guaido, Henry Ramos, Julio Borges, and fugitive Leopoldo Lopez, "robbed all the money destined to support the Venezuelan migrants stranded in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile," the President said.

Venezuela has destined financial resources to pay for the care, passage, and support of thousands of Venezuelans who have returned through the National Consortium of Aeronautical Industries and Air Services (Conviasa) on humanitarian flights. 

Conviasa will open new international destinations in addition to the existing ones to Iran, Turkey, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, and direct flights Caracas-Moscow.

Since August this year, Venezuelan authorities launched the Return to the Homeland Plan aimed to support the voluntary return of migrants and their families to the country. 

According to the Deputy Minister of Air Transport Ramon Celestino Velasquez, only in March, 195 international flight operations were carried out to repatriate 18,305 Venezuelans stranded in other countries.

According to official records by Venezuelan consulates, over 77 thousand nationals returned from 24 countries, most of them were in vulnerable situations and came back from countries of the Lima Group. A total of 1,240 flights at a cost of 2,850,000 euros were assumed by the Venezuelan State.

"We have spent millions of euros, but nothing nor anyone is going to stop us from bringing our citizens back," President Maduro said.

]]> <![CDATA[Uruguayan President Lacalle Meets His Argentine Counterpart]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 10:56:00 -04:00 Argentina's President Alberto Fernandez held a meeting on Thursday  with his Uruguayan counterpart Luis Lacalle Pou at the Parque Anchorena residence in the uruguayan city of Colonia to address bilateral relations.


Uruguay: Leftist Party Proposes Bill to Stop Land Foreignization

"It was a very good meeting. We were able to talk about the problems of the region in general, and of Argentina and Uruguay in particular,"  President Fernandez said.

The meeting was also attended by Argentina's Secretary of Communication and Press Juan Pablo Biondi, the Ambassador to Uruguay Alberto Iribarne, and Uruguay's Foreign Minister Francisco Bustillo.

The Presidents discussed regional affairs, among them The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) relations, the Paraná-Paraguay-Uruguay River waterways, and the free trade agreement with the European Union (EU).

"The second COVID-19 test was also negative, so my doctors ended my preventive isolation and I am now able to return to my normal schedule. Thank you all for caring. Please let us continue to take care of ourselves."

Fernandez's visit to Uruguay is the first since Luis Lacalle Pou took over the presidency in march this year and it is the first official activity after he completed the quarantine for being in contact with the Secretary of Strategic Affairs Gustavo Beliz, who tested positive for the Novel Coronavirus.

In December 2019, in his capacity as president-elect, Lacalle Pou accompanied outgoing President Tabare Vazquez on his trip to Buenos Aires to attend the inauguration of Fernandez and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in the National Congress.

"We also believe that we have to work together to unite the region once again, respecting ideological diversity and making us strong in a world that is globalizing. We are convinced that together we can contribute a lot to this objective," Fernandez noted.

]]> <![CDATA[Chinese Coronavac Vaccine's First Lot Arrives in Brazil]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 10:13:33 -04:00 Authorities in Brazil Thursday received the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate CoronaVac developed by the Chinese laboratory Sinovac Biotech.


Brazil: Superior Justice Court Rules Out Lula's Motion on Guaruja Case

The first 120,000 CoronaVac doses arrived in Sao Paulo after the regional government closed an agreement with Sinovac for the import and transfer of the technology in order to produce the vaccine in the country by the Butantan Institute.

"In the next 40 days, we will have 46 million doses -equivalent to the entire population of the region- of this vaccine," Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria said.

Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine candidate is in phase 3 of clinical trials which involves thousands of volunteers in Brazil, Indonesia, and Turkey.

"Exciting to watch the arrival of the first doses of Coronavac, the Butantan vaccine, in Brazil. The vaccine that represents our greatest hope in combating COVID-19. Historical moment in defense of life and in facing the pandemic."


In Sao Paulo, 13,000 volunteers are taking part in the clinical trials of CoronaVac. According to the first results, the vaccine has the capacity to produce an immune response 28 days after its application in 97 percent of the cases.

The Ministry of Health has also signed an agreement with the British company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to allow the clinical trials of the vaccine they are developing, of which it already acquired 100 million doses in advance but which have not yet arrived in the country.

CoronaVac became the subject of a dispute between the ultra-right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro and governor Doria. The confrontation escalated last week when the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) suspended the trial on volunteers for 48 hours, arguing "a serious incident" that occurred during the tests. 

Anvisa recognized that the incident was not related to the vaccine's effectiveness, and the organization decided to resume its clinical trials in Brazil.

Brazil has a population of  210 million inhabitants and ranks third in the world in terms of confirmed COVID-19 cases with almost 6 million.

]]> <![CDATA[Thousands of People Marched in Colombia Despite Heavy Rains]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 09:57:15 -04:00 The torrential rains that fell on Bogota this Thursday did not prevent a new day of protests by unions and social organizations against violence and the economic and social policies of Colombia's President Ivan Duque.


Hunger Protests Grow in Colombia Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

Thousands of people took to the streets of the different cities of the country to also reject the Duke's labor policies, which affect labor stability by permitting hourly hiring.

The demonstration took place two days before the first anniversary of the beginning of the protests that lasted for several weeks between November and December of last year in rejection of the Duque's government.

In Bogota, members of the United Workers Central (CUT came out with drums as they led a bandwagon that marched to the Bolivar Square, which is the center of the Colombian establishment. Andean music groups walked along with them.

Former combatants of the ex-guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) also joined the protest to reject the violence that has taken the lives of 241 former guerrillas since the signing of the Peace Agreement in November 2016.

In other cities such as Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Bucaramanga, small groups also took to the streets despite heavy rains.

New mobilizations are expected on Saturday, November 21, and on Monday, November 23, the day that commemorates the first anniversary of young Dilan Cruz's murder by the Colombian police.




]]> <![CDATA[Hurricane Iota Death Toll Climbs to 16 in Honduras]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2020 08:15:29 -04:00 Honduras' Permanent Commission of Contingencies (Copeco) and attention and rescue organizations Thursday informed that the number of deaths because of Hurricane Iota increased to 16 deaths, and the people affected reached over 100,000.


Dangerous Hurricane Iota To Hit Central America

Most of the deaths from Iota occurred in the Department of Lempira because of landslides and collapses.

Civil defense officials continue to search for other deaths and victims of the landslides in the western region of the country.

The Sula Valley, Honduras' most productive area, was flooded after the Iota passage. This Thursday, the water level that covered houses and the San Pedro Sula Airport dropped.

The downpours caused the flooding of the mighty Ulua and Chamelecon rivers, which turned the Sula Valley into an immense lagoon.

On Monday, Iota reached Nicaragua as a category five hurricane, the maximum power, two weeks after Cyclone Eta hit the same area, leaving at least 200 people dead and 2.5 million affected.

During this hurricane season, about 4.6 million people were affected in Central America, including 1.8 million children, according to estimates by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

After leaving 200 deaths, disappearances, and grave damage to infrastructure and agriculture, Eta and Iota aggravated the crisis in Central America caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

]]> <![CDATA[Biden's Win in Georgia Confirmed After a Full Hand Recount]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 21:49:09 -04:00 "Every single vote was touched by a human audit team and counted," said Gabriel Sterling, Georgia's voting system implementation manager. "Obviously, the audit confirms the original result of the election, namely that Joe Biden won the presidential contest in the state of Georgia."

Most counties saw only minor changes in their tallies, with the recount vote totals differing by single digits, said a New York Times report.

No individual county showed a variation in margin larger than 0.73 percent, and the variation in margin in 103 of the state's 159 counties was less than 0.05 percent, said Sterling.

However, the recount revealed a few significant hiccups in the process, with four counties discovering votes during the audit that were not part of the original count. Trump carried three of these four counties.

The state has until Friday to certify the election results.

Biden declared victory for the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 7. Trump hasn't conceded and is mounting challenges in court over allegations of voter fraud and counting misconduct.

A federal law sets what is called the "Safe Harbor" deadline, falling on Dec. 8, the day by which states must submit the winner of the presidential election if they are to be insulated from legal disputes.

Electoral College representatives will meet six days later, on Dec. 14, to formally select the next U.S. president.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina Creates Plan To Help Small and Medium-Sized Companies]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 22:55:15 -04:00 Argentine President Alberto Fernández announced a plan to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with $700 million to help it recover from the economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Argentina: Thousands of Women March for Legal Abortion

"Small and medium-sized companies are the ones that create work in Argentina, and we have to promote products to grow so that Argentines bring their families their daily sustenance," Fernández explained.

The plan includes direct credits through the Productive Development Fund (FONDEP) and financing of public and private banks. Also, a maximum of $186.871 will be given as funding for seven years. The credits can be used to acquire new capital goods, construction of facilities, and more.

"President Alberto Fernández heads the launch event of the Financial Reactivation and Inclusion Plan for SMEs."


"In this, the State must be very present because we saw what happened when everything was in the hands of the markets, what was in It was detrimental to the development of small and medium-sized companies and only favored the accumulation of more profits by the large monopolies and oligopolies,” the Argentine president emphasized.

The plan is addressed to projects from the industrial, agro-industrial, and service sectors, as SMEs' representatives also announced a new package of millionary investments that aims to create 300 jobs.

]]> <![CDATA[Pompeo Visits Israel-Occupied West Bank and Golan Heights]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 22:51:38 -04:00 Pompeo's unprecedented trip to the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, came as the last leg of quite possibly his last Middle East tour in the final months of President Donald Trump's administration.

During Trump's administration, not only has the U.S. recognized Israeli's claims sovereignty over the Golan Heights, but it has also announced that it no longer viewed Israel's settlements in the West Bank as "inconsistent with international law." These and other decisions have been greeted with dismay by Palestinians, who have announced they would resume normal relations with the future Biden administration. However, it may be unclear whether his administration will reverse Trump's decisions. 



Annexation of the West Bank Is up To Israel: US State Secretary

Pompeo, alongside Netanyahu on Thursday, said that both he and Trump are close friends of Israel. The two discussed the perceived "threat" of Iran and Israel's unification with other Arab Gulf states over their "fear" of Iran.

Pompeo also announced that goods produced in the occupied territories and exported to the United States would be labeled "Made in Israel" or "Product of Israel," removing the distinction of goods produced in Israel from those originating in the occupied West Bank.

The Secretary of States' visit departed from a past policy that had kept top U.S. officials away from settlements, which Palestinians see as obstacles to a viable future state. Meanwhile, the European Union clearly labels any products from these areas as coming from the settlements, which the bloc considers illegal under international law.

On the other hand, Palestinians in the area say the land is Palestinian-owned and has been passed down from generation to generation. Musa Jwayyed, a Palestinian-American who sits on the city council of Al-Bireh, said, "I am a U.S. citizen, a taxpayer, educated, loyal, ok? Why do these settlers have more rights than I do?"


Afterward, Pompeo flew to the Golan Heights, which overlooks Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. During his visit, he said, "I very much wanted to come here on this trip to tell the world that we have it right. That we, the United States has it right. That Israel has it right," from a hilltop looking into an area of the Syrian Golan that was until recently controlled by militias fighting the Syrian civil war.

Although Pompeo maintained that "each nation has the right to defend itself in its own sovereignty," which left many Israeli's backing Trump's bid for re-election, Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi accused Pompeo of using Trump's final weeks in office "to set yet another illegal precedent, violate international law and perhaps to advance his own future political ambitions."

]]> <![CDATA[Evo Morales Demands Justice for 2019 Senkata Massacre]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 22:44:50 -04:00 Evo Morales called for the punishment of the authors of the massacre in El Alto, where ten people died in a military operation ordered by the Anez coup government.

"The Bolivian justice system, by its initiative, by its commitment to life, must move forward with the investigation and find those responsible," the former president of the Andean country, Evo Morales, said this Thursday on Twitter, at the same time that he expressed his solidarity with the wounded and the families of the victims of the Senkata massacre, that occurred in 2019.


Victims of 2019 Massacres in Bolivia Declared Heroes

Morales, forced to resign from the presidency on November 10, 2019, left the country to pacify the social unrest that ensued after a coup d'état orchestrated by the opposition and supported by the US. He asserted that "there cannot be impunity" without directly mentioning the self-proclaimed interim president Jeanine Áñez, singled out by Parliament as the main responsible for these deaths.

The leader of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) made these statements during a ceremony held in Senkata, a neighborhood of El Alto, to honor the ten victims and human rights activists on the first anniversary of the massacre.

"On behalf of the National Government, we will seek all necessary mechanisms to ensure that victims have justice.

On Monday, we will sign a protocol as a Bolivian State with the IACHR so that everything

that happened in Senkata, Sacaba, and all of Bolivia is investigated impartially."


The repression in Senkata took place four days after a similar police operation left ten people dead among demonstrators protesting the coup d'état. The Southern Zone of Pedregal (La Paz) and Sacaba (Cochabamba) were also the scenarios of violent acts that ended in bloodshed after Morales' resignation,  prompted by his desire to prevent the violence from continuing after weeks of confrontations and attacks against his supporters. 

Experts and analysts have also stressed the importance of creating some truth commission to "judge those responsible for the coup and those responsible for the massacres," so that "the coup leaders and all those responsible for crimes, massacres and corruption pay for all their crimes."

In turn, Bolivia's President-elect Luis Arce pledged earlier this month to order an investigation and find those responsible for the Senkata massacre.

]]> <![CDATA[Havana Film Festival To Screen 98 Films in Its 42nd Edition]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 22:36:13 -04:00 The event will have to be adapted in 2020 to the context imposed by COVID-19; for that reason and in order not to cancel the competition, its organizers decided to divide it in two parts, keeping the traditional December dates and moving the event, conferences and debates to March 11 through 21, 2021.


Havana Film Festival to Show Film on Star Cuban Ballet Dancer

Of course, it will be in the second part when the Corals, the event's distinctive awards, will be granted, and there will be a dialogue around the theme proposed since the closing of the previous festival: young cinema in Latin America.

Meanwhile, during the first part of the 42nd Festival, the sections "Latin America in Perspective" and "Contemporary International Panorama" are expected to be enjoyed, and the following movie theater will be used, always with strict sanitary measures and reduced capacity: 23rd and 12th , Riviera, Yara, La Rampa and Acapulco.

Under the slogan "What the doctor prescribed," the promotional image of the 42nd edition alludes to medical and health personnel, in appreciation of their work up against COVID-19; this is why the distinct moments of the upcoming festival are spoken of as two doses of medicine, each with exclusive and contemporary proposals.

The works to be presented in December will hail from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, United States, Great Britain, Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Honduras, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Colombia, among others.

According to Giroud, the only two contests that will take place in the first stage will be those for Posters and Unedited Scripts.

Also, on this occasion, there will be days of homage to the distinguished Cuban directors, Juan Padrón and Francisco (Paco) Prats, who died this year. The ceremony for the National Film Award 2020, granted to Prats and Senel Paz, is expected to take place as well.

Giroud confirmed that the productions to be shown in the second moment, within the International Contemporary Panorama section, will depend on the recognitions granted in the most important festivals of the world in the first quarter of 2021.

]]> <![CDATA[Recovery in Central America Continues After Iota, Deaths Rise]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 22:34:15 -04:00 Hit by two intense hurricanes within the same month, Central America is slowly beginning the recovery process, while the numbers of deaths gradually increase. Along with Colombia, the region has reported nearly 40 deaths, and this figure is likely to rise as rescue teams reach isolated communities. Most of the deaths have occurred in Nicaragua and Honduras.


Hurricane Iota Wreaks Havoc in Central America

The strongest storm on record to hit Nicaragua, Iota, struck the coast late on Monday as a Category 4 hurricane. It flooded low-lying areas still reeling from Eta's impact two weeks ago, another major storm that killed dozens of people in the region.

In Honduras, authorities raised the death toll to 14 on Thursday, after confirming that eight members of two families, including four children, were killed when a landslide buried their homes in a village in a mountainous region populated by indigenous Lencas near the border with El Salvador.

In Nicaragua, where 18 people have been confirmed dead, rescue efforts continue after a landslide in the north of the country killed eight people, with more missing.

While Iota largely dissipated over El Salvador on Wednesday, authorities struggled to cope with the fallout from days of heavy rain.


Numerous villages from northern Colombia to southern Mexico saw record rainfall swell rivers and trigger mudslides. Cities like the Honduran industrial hub of San Pedro Sula were also hit hard. The city’s airport was completely flooded, and jetways were looking more like docks, a video posted on social media showed.

Some 160,000 Nicaraguans and 70,000 Hondurans have been forced to flee to shelters, where aid workers worry the chaotic conditions could lead to fresh outbreaks of COVID-19.

Experts say the destruction caused by the unprecedented 2020 hurricane season in Central America could spur more migration out of a region already coping with insecurity and an economic crisis triggered by coronavirus pandemic-related lockdowns imposed earlier this year.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico: Outsourcing Contracts Increased Within Federal Gov't]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 20:19:50 -04:00 Outsourcing within Mexico's federal government reached 3.000 contracts in the last two years; local media outlets reported on Wednesday as President Andres Manuel López Obrador confirmed that it would regulate the practice despite the opposition of the private sector.


AMLO To Regulate Outsourcing Despite Private Sector Refusal

"The most important thing is that it will allow us to understand a modus operandi: for example, there is a business group that has 250,000 workers who are not engaged in any productive activity but instead transfer staff to other companies to avoid responsibilities," the President, known as AMLO explained on November 12.

Mexican media outlet La Jornada published today that only 66 out of the 3.000 contracts between the federal government and private firms in the last 24 months were registered as outsourced personnel.

"We present the monthly National Public Security report, which highlights the decrease in 10 high-impact federal crimes and 15 high-impact common crimes."


Furthermore, data from Compranet, which is the government's electronic public information system for public procurement, shows that professionals from cleaning, finances, and health sectors are often hired within the public service via outsourcing.

This practice consists of having certain job functions done outside a company instead of having an in-house department or employee handle them; functions can be outsourced to either a company or an individual. In Mexico, outsourcing has been linked to significant violations of workers' rights, including maternity leave and social security, in case of an accident.

Furthermore, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, outsourcing has quadrupled in the last 14 years and is the country's most common employment practice.


]]> <![CDATA[The US Appoints First Venezuela Ambassador in a Decade]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 20:16:42 -04:00 The United States has appointed its first ambassador for Venezuela in 10 years despite Washington having no diplomats at its Caracas embassy and mutual relations being at their lowest level. James Story's nomination as ambassador was confirmed on Wednesday by a U.S. Senate voice vote. The South Carolina native will carry out his job from neighboring Colombia's capital. Venezuela endures a historic economic crisis, caused mainly by continuing sanctions from the U.S. and the EU.


Like Old-Time Piracy: The US Seizes Venezuelan Oil and Sells It

The U.S. and Venezuela had not exchanged ambassadors since 2010 when relations first started to fray under late President Hugo Chávez. The two nations broke diplomatic ties last year, each withdrawing its diplomats shortly after Washington recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s self-appointed president. 

Story, 50, will likely play a key role in guiding U.S. policy on Venezuela during the transition of President-elect Joe Biden. Biden’s win has sparked debate among those who back President Donald Trump’s hardline approach of isolating his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro and others who say it is time for a new course.

Many anti-Maduro critics say heavy sanctions have failed to remove Maduro from power, opening Venezuela to U.S. competitors such as China, Russia, and Iran, while making life harder on millions of Venezuelans.

The U.S. has waged an economic, political, and diplomatic war against Venezuela, following his election in 2018 to a second term in a vote Washington called fraudulent. Since then, the Trump administration has imposed heavy sanctions on his government, his inner circle, and have frozen international assets from the state-run oil firm, attempting to choke the country´s economy to bring about political change.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Campaign Blames Venezuela and Chavez for Electoral Defeat]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 20:03:02 -04:00 The Trump administration's legal team—represented by Sidney Powell, the attorney for Trump's first National Security Advisor who was caught lying to the FBI, Mike Flynn—held a press conference Thursday in which she accused late Commander of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez, along with Cuba and China, of "communist interference" in the 2020 U.S. presidential elections. 

Based on the testimony of "one very strong witness"—an unnamed Venezuelan source, purportedly an opposition military defector once close to Chavez—Powell falsely claims that Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic, two electronic voting system companies involved in the U.S. elections, used technology created in Venezuela under the direction of Chavez in the U.S. presidential elections.


Trump's Fraud Theory Fails to Convince Media Around the World

Powell claims that Chavez supposedly had the technology created to ensure he would never lose an election after the recall referendum in 2004 led to an allegedly unwanted result. The witness whose affidavit was submitted in Lin Wood's plea in Georgia on behalf of the Trump campaign was, according to Powell, with Chavez when the late leader saw how the voting technology operated to "make sure the election came out his way, which was the expressed purpose of creating this software."

Powell then makes the jump to allege that this witness, upon learning of Biden's widening advantage after mail-in and early ballots were processed in the week after November 3rd, knew that the same thing had happened in the U.S. elections as had occurred in the Venezuelan referendum more than 15 years earlier, purportedly due to Smartmatic technology. 

While Smartmatic founder and CEO are indeed Venezuelan businessmen Antonio Mugica, and Smartmatic's election technology has been used in Venezuelan (as well as Brazilian, Belgian, Chilean, Estonian, British, U.S. numerous other) elections, there is no active partnership or ownership deal between the firm and Dominion Voting Systems, according to AP and statements released by both firms. 


Dominion, whose technology is used for voting and vote tabulation in over 30 U.S. states, including the contested races in Michigan and Georgia, has been the target of a barrage of false claims from the Trump campaign in an attempt to discredit the election results, including now that Dominion somehow has deep ties to Venezuela.

Smartmatic, an international company, founded by Venezuelans and incorporated in Florida, has clearly stated that it does not use Dominion software or technology. Dominion has said the same about Smartmatic. 

According to Eddie Perez, a voting technology expert at the OSET Institute, a nonpartisan election technology research, and development nonprofit, there's no reason to believe Dominion has ties to Venezuela, nor a partnership with Smartmatic.




In the U.S. presidential elections, Smartmatic only provided technology and software to Los Angeles County, and not to any of the battleground states whose vote the Trump campaign has questioned or challenged to date. 

Furthermore, in an open letter signed by 59 election security specialists released November 16, it was confirmed that that is "no credible evidence” that the 2020 election outcome was altered by exploiting technical vulnerabilities. 



]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan COVID-19 Drug Awaits WHO Certification]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 19:56:35 -04:00 A new drug proposed recently by Venezuela, the DR-10 molecule, for the treatment of COVID-19, has concluded its study phase and is now ready for certification by the World Health Organization (WHO), the state's governor of Carabobo, Rafael Lacava, announced today.


WHO: Health Systems Collapsing in Latam Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

In a message on the social network Twitter, the governor, who is the official promoter of this initiative, highlighted that only the international entity's protocols are missing to start the production and distribution of this medicine, presented earlier this month by the health authorities to the WHO.

On October 26, Lacava delivered the treatment produced in laboratories in that region to President Nicolás Maduro.

"Venezuela reports 387 new cases of Covid-19 and four deaths in the last 24 hours." 

"Venezuela continues to advance for the people and humanity, for health against the coronavirus at a firm, rigorous, disciplined, scientific pace. I congratulate the scientists and the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), who have certified this creation", the president said in a video that accompanies the governor's publication on microblogging.

A group of Venezuelan scientists began a chemical study of a medicinal plant that contains the DR-10 molecule, which was monitored through biological activity in virus-infected cells isolated from positive patients with the sequenced virus in the country.

According to the WHO, the molecule was used successfully in the treatment of hepatitis C, human papillomavirus (HPV), Ebola, and other diseases.

]]> <![CDATA[Top US Congressmen Condemn Restrictions on Cuba Remittances]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 18:10:23 -04:00 The U.S. House of Representatives Chair of the House Rules Committee, James (Jim) P. McGovern, and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Elliot Engel, issued a joint statement Thursday denouncing the Trump Administration's recently announced measures severely restricting the ability of Cubans in the United States from sending remittances to their families in Cuba through Western Union.


US Lawmakers Support Cuba in the Purhcase of Medical Supplies

In their statement, the lawmakers said: “We condemn the recently announced steps by the Treasury Department that will result in an effective halt to remittances to Cuba. The Treasury Department’s decision to prohibit U.S. remittance senders from using the most widely used financial intermediary in Cuba will disrupt remittance flows to families and further restrict support for the emerging private sector on the island."

McGovern, a longtime supporter, and advocate for Cuba, continued by deconstructing the Treasury Department's myths to justify the destructive measures.

“Rather than supporting the Cuban people and ensuring Cuban-Americans have the right to support loved ones on the island, this inhumane policy will deprive ordinary Cubans of basic resources. While purportedly intended to deny Cuba’s military access to funds, this decision will hurt the Cuban people most," he stated.

Referring to the socio-economic difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Congressman wrote, "By further closing channels through which the Cuban people can receive remittances, this will limit the ways Cuban-Americans may support their families during these difficult times."



The statement continues by highlighting the significance of remittances to Cuban families and the economy at large, by some estimates the third-largest source of foreign currency in Cuba: “This measure is causing Western Union, a major remittance sender, to end operations in Cuba later this month. Some 700,000 Cubans in the U.S. send remittances to Cuba each year, totaling $1.5 billion a year."

"Shutting off Cubans’ access to this crucial lifeline in the middle of a global pandemic and economic crisis is cruel, heartless, and frankly ineffective. While the Trump administration argues that it supports the Cuban people, its policies are having the opposite effect," the House leaders assured.

In closing, McGovern and Engels made a call to action to the current administration, signaling their hopes for policy change during the next administration as well: “We call on the Administration to reverse course, and to expand, rather than further contract, the channels of contact and support between the Cuban people and their families and loved ones in the United States,” they concluded.




]]> <![CDATA[Germany: Police Disperse a Protest Against COVID-19 Restrictions]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:40:51 -04:00 Germany's police forces used water cannons and pepper gas to disperse demonstrators who gathered in the capital Berlin to reject COVID-19 restrictions measures.


Covid Updates Europe: France, Italy, Germany, UK News

At least 365 people have been arrested and a dozen officers injured during the demonstrations that marched around the Reichstag building and the Brandenburg Gate.

The protests were called after the Parliament approved a reform of the Law on Protection against Infection (IfSG), which gives the executive branch greater powers to issue restrictions. 

"We have never experienced such tenacity (...) people probably don't even know that they are committing a crime for violating the ban on meetings," police spokeswoman Anja Dierschke said.

Since November 2, Germany has been in partial confinement to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which has included the closing of restaurants and gathering restrictions.

Health officials have reported 17,561 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 833,307 since the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, 13,119 people have succumbed to the virus. 

Health Minister Jens Spahn has defended the government's actions and called on the population to have confidence in the authorities, warning that the upsurge in infections threatens to push the capacity of hospitals to the limit, especially in intensive care units.

]]> <![CDATA[US Land Borders With Mexico and Canada Will Remain Closed ]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:22:54 -04:00 U.S. authorities Thursday announced that land borders with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to non-essential travel at least until December 21 due to a sharp increase in novel coronavirus cases.


PAHO: Initial Vaccination in Latam Estimated at $2 Billion

Border closure measures were first imposed in March in a move to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been extended monthly since then.

Meanwhile, Canada's government has noted that travel restrictions on the Canada-U.S. land border would remain in place for at least another month.

"After reviewing the development of the spread of COVID-19 in both countries (...) Mexico proposed to the U.S. the extension for one more month of the restrictions to non-essential land transit on their common border," Mexico's Foreign Ministry twitted.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on Wednesday noted that the region has reported almost 1.5 million cases and 19,000 related deaths in the last week, adding that coronavirus cases continue to grow at a "dizzying" rate in the continent, especially in Mexico's capital and the U.S which is the hardest-hit COVID-19 country in the world. 

Mexico reached 99,528 deaths due to the Novel coronavirus, while confirmed cases amount to over 1 million.

Meanwhile, Canada recorded 4,640 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to over 314,000 since the outbreak of the epidemic in the country.

COVID-19 total figures in the U.S record 11,903,133 confirmed cases and over 29,270 related fatalities as of Thursday.

]]> <![CDATA[Uruguay: Leftist Party Proposes Bill to Stop Land Foreignization]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 12:59:28 -04:00 Uruguay's Broad Front (BF) presented to debate Thursday a bill that seeks to limit the sale of land to foreigners.


Uruguay: Leftist Party Presents Proposal To Reject Budget Bill

Broad Front, of the center-left, proposed to prevent foreign states or their companies from buying agricultural or forest lands to limiting the access of private companies to foreign capital. 

The proposal aims to avoid real estate speculation, which has made prices so high and has expelled farmers to the cities.

The bill establishes that "individuals of foreign nationality, whether or not they have a domicile or residence in the territory, may only acquire full ownership, bare ownership or possession when they meet one of the following requirements: They have acquired legal citizenship, and they have 10 years of continuous, permanent, and proven residence in the country".

Supporting the Bill, BF representatives have noted the land ownership "it is a question of sovereignty, by which we mean that this is, in many cases, the 'Achilles' heel of the possibilities of development of our country'.

"The budget represents a clear setback in terms of investment in EDUCATION. As acknowledged by Minister Pablo da Silveira, investment in education goes from a historical record of 5.3% of GDP in 2019 to 4.9% in 2021."

Meanwhile, legal entities or companies constituted in a country other than Uruguay or whose capital is mostly "owned by individuals of foreign nationality or legal entities constituted abroad" will not be allowed to acquire land.

Official media estimates that the BF has 13 senators and Open Cabildo Party (CA) 3, to reach the 16 votes needed to obtain a majority in the Upper House.

During BF presidential administrations, 2 laws were approved on land ownership. The first one was the law no. 18,092, in force since 2007, which requires companies owning rural property to have registered shares belonging to natural persons.

The second ones is Law no. 19,283, approved in 2014, which prohibits the acquisition of rural property and/or the realization of agricultural exploitations by foreign States or their sovereign funds.

The new Bill was presented in July this year by BF Senators Carolina Cosse, Amanda Della Ventura, Sandra Lazo, Lucia Topolansky, Oscar Andrade, Eduardo Bonomi, Charles Carrera, Jose Mujica, and Daniel Olesker.

]]> <![CDATA[Truth Commission Reports Human Rights Violations in Ecuador]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:49:35 -04:00 Ecuadorean Ombudsman's Office Commission for Truth and Justice is set to deliver a report on human rights violations committed against demonstrators that took to the streets in October last year to reject President Lenin Moreno's decision to cut fuel subsidies.


Ecuador: Debates Start to Set the Minimum Wage for 2021

According to a draft that the Ecuadorian press had access to, the report finds that Ecuadorian authorities "gravely violated the rights to life, physical, and psychological integrity, personal liberty, and the right to free expression, among other rights."

The report argues that "what happened in October 2019 cannot be seen as isolated abuses or excesses by the public forces, since the human rights to life and personal integrity have been violated."

It adds that the Truth Commission was able to observe that police forces "acted by reiterating violent conducts between October 3rd and 16th and caused serious and in some cases irreversible damage to the civilian population."

The Truth Commission received 519 testimonies, of which 249 revealed human rights violations. Of these, 188 were from members of the National Police and 34 from the Armed Forces. It was informed that 26 public officials, including those from the Attorney General's Office, "did not act within the framework of their competencies".

The report also registered 123 cases related to violations of the right to personal integrity, 38 to the right to personal liberty, 6 extrajudicial executions, 22 attacks on the right to life, 3 sexual assaults, and 20 eye injuries.

Popular unrest broke out in Ecuador on October 4 last year in response to President Moreno's agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that involved a 123 percent increase in the price of fuel.

Demonstrations led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) blocked several avenues in the capital Quito and stormed Government buildings in the province of Bolivar while calling for a general strike.

Meanwhile, It has not yet been announced when the final report by the Truth Commission will be released.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina: Thousands of Women March for Legal Abortion]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:07:20 -04:00 Thousands of women waved green handkerchiefs in front of Congress to demand a law guaranteeing Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion after President Alberto Fernandez sent on Tuesday a bill to decriminalize abortion.


Argentina's President Submits Bill To Decriminalize Abortion

Militants from the Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion Rights Campaign displayed a giant flag with the caption "Legal Abortion 2020. It's urgent," and the sky was also tinted green with the smoke from the flares.

"We welcome Fernandez's initiative to present the bill, that serves to address the pro-abortion projects previously presented, including the one presented by the National Campaign for Abortion, which has the support of 70 legislators," activist Maria Constant said.

The protesters marched down the city's main avenues shouting the slogans "Legal abortion in the hospital" and "Church and state, separated issues."

This Thursday, militant anti-abortionists also took to the streets to demand the dismissal of Fernandez's bill. 

The two demonstrations were separated by a police cordon and there were no clashes between them, aside from an incident in which anti-abortion protesters burned a green handkerchief.

"Today we will take to the streets of over 50 of the country's major cities," Yanina Waldhorn, a member of the Campaign for Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion said.

"We are convinced that all these years of struggle have not been in vain. We were millions in the streets in 2018, and today we don't summon millions because of the pandemic, but we know that in 2020 Argentina will have a legal, safe, and free abortion," Waldhorn said.

]]> <![CDATA[Chile: President Piñera Removes Carabineros' General Director]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 09:30:18 -04:00 The General Director of Chile's Police Force (Carabineros) Mario Rozas Thursday handed over his resignation, following the crackdown by police forces at the Carlos Macera Residence run by the National Service for Minors (Sename ) in Talcahuano where 2 minors were injured.


Chile Urges the Removal of Carabineros' Chief After Violent Incident

"This morning, the general director of the Carabineros, Mario Rozas, handed me his resignation. I share General Rozas' reasons and arguments and consequently, I have accepted his dismissal," the President said.

Piñera  made the announcement at La Moneda Palace where Rozas was summoned in the presence of the Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado and Justice Minister Hernan Larrain.

"I want to express with all the strength and clarity in the world that I have the greatest appreciation, admiration, and gratitude for the work of General Rozas," Piñera said.

The President announced that Rozas' successor in the position will be General Ricardo Yañez, who was the deputy director of the National Police.

On Wednesday, Police forces opened fire on a group of minors at the Carlos Macera Residence, leaving two of them - aged 14 and 17 - wounded in their legs.

According to the representative of the Children's Ombudsman Patricia Muñoz the police's reaction was an "unjustified and undue attack", adding that the minors are in the hospital receiving medical care and their clinical condition is reserved"

Meanwhile, Minister of the Interior spokesman Rodrigo Delgado noted that an investigation was launched into the incident and that information to make it to Justice.

]]> <![CDATA[Victims of 2019 Massacres in Bolivia Declared Heroes]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 11:26:24 -04:00 Bolivia's Lower Chamber Wednesday approved an hommage that confers the national heroes status to the victims of the post-electoral violence that broke out in the country in October last year.


Bolivia: IACHR to Investigate Crimes in Senkata and Sacaba

"The plenary of the Lower Chamber approves a Chamber's Homage to the victims of Potosi, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba, La Paz and the city of El Alto and declare them heroes of the Plurinational State of Bolivia for offering their lives in defense of democracy and the citizen's vote," Lower House representatives Twitted. 

To support the decision, the deputy for the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) and chairman of the Chamber Victor Borda confirmed that the final report delivered to the Legislative Assembly registered 37 deaths in the conflicts of Ovejuyo and Senkata (La Paz), Huayllani (Sacaba), Montero (Santa Cruz) and Betanzos (Potosi). Of those who died, 27 were killed by bullets.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ivan Lima announced that on November 23, five experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will arrive in the country to undergo an investigation into the murders of Sacaba, in Cochabamba Department, and Senkata, El Alto Department in order to identify the intellectual and material authors of the violent events.

A series of protests were seen in different regions in the country following the report by the Organization of American States (OAS) of electoral fraud in the elections of last year. The most violent events were recorded in Sacaba (Cochabamba) and Senkata (El Alto) where police forces supported by the De facto authorities cracked down on demonstrators. 

The Observation Mission sent by the IACHR between 22 and 25 November 2019 confirmed that in Sacaba and Senkata a massacre was committed. 

Meanwhile, The Citizen Community (CC) and We Believe coalition rejected the Lower Chamber's declaration, claiming that it tries to impose "an ideological view" of the facts.

"The Movement Towards Socialism did not have the least respect for the legislative debate of all the speakers who wanted to make these motions of objection to this distorted and denaturalized homage," CC Carlos Alarcon said.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia Goes on Strike to Demand an End to Violence]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2020 08:23:04 -04:00 A new day of national mobilization Thursday will take place, "for life, democracy and the negotiation of the emergency plan," led by unions, workers' centers, students, farmers, and other social sectors.


Hunger Protests Grow in Colombia Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

The new day of the National Strike comes one year after the mobilizations of November 21, 2019, in which hundreds of Colombians took to the streets, demanding the right to life, the defense of social leaders and territory, among other issues.

Protection for social leaders is again demanded, as well as the negotiation that seeks to increase the minimum wage and the withdrawal of bill 010.

In Bogota, one of the gathering points will be the National Park, where members of the Colombian Federation of Education Workers (Fecode) will meet as of 9h00 am local time.

As of 9h00, university students will meet at the Universidad EAN. Then, they will leave to the Pedagogical University, where more students will join them.

The Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Common (FARC) also confirmed that it will join the National Strike with a march that will start in South Portal, in Bogota, to the Machin monument, in Bolivar city.

The final point of the different mobilizations in the capital will be the Bolivar Square, where spokesmen and women of the National Strike Committee will intervene to expose the list of petitions to the government.

]]> <![CDATA[IDB: Exports From Latam Fall, Intraregional Trade Hardest-Hit]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 22:45:51 -04:00 Exports from Latin America and the Caribbean decreased by 16 percent in the first half of the year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) reported on Wednesday.


Carbon Neutrality Could Change Latin American Employment: Study

The IDB latest report highlights that Latin America's contraction was more significant than the world average, which fell by 13.3 percent. In particular, the export of services decreased for the first time since 2015 as the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced more severely trade-in benefits than the trade in goods.

"The commercial shock has been less than initially expected, and there are some signs of recovery. However, new outbreaks and containment measures could affect the recovery of global business activity, which had already been weakening before the health crisis," Principal Economist of the Integration and Trade Sector of the IDB Paolo Giordano explained.

The IDB revealed that although exports to the United States, the European Union, and China considerably impacted the estimations "because of the size of those markets," the reduction in intraregional trade "was even more intense."

According to the report, "exchanges fell 30.3 percent in the Andean Community; 24.6 percent in MERCOSUR; 24.0 percent in the Pacific Alliance and 8.8 percent in Central America and the Dominican Republic.

Moreover, Mexico and "energy-exporting countries" were the hardest-hit by the trade decrease as the price of oil plummeted 29.2 percent between January and August 2020, the IDB points out.


]]> <![CDATA[Hamas Urges Regional Mobilization After New Israeli Offensive]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 22:41:26 -04:00 This Wednesday, Israel launched a missile attack from the occupied Golan Heights on Syria's capital, Damascus, claiming it was in response to discovering some landmines found on its territory. Syrian air defense units succeeded in shooting down several missiles, while others hit military targets, leaving at least three dead and one injured among the Syrian soldiers.


Syria: Six Million Displaced People Have Returned Home

"The new aggression by the Zionist regime against Syria highlights its intimidatory approach throughout the region. The Zionists are resorting to such acts with the support of the US," Hazem Qasem, a spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), said Wednesday. Likewise, the spokesman for HAMAS has emphasized to the regional countries the need to confront the Israeli regime, urging them to mobilize to materialize such an end.

Damascus assures that the conflict that has been burdening Syria since 2011 is part of Israel's agenda that wants to dismember countries in the region.

The Palestinian Resistance has repeatedly raised the alarm about the Israeli incursions against Syria and called on the Islamic countries to stop "the savagery" of the Zionists.

The positions of the forces of resistance, from Syria and Lebanon to the occupied territories, continue to be the object of frequent attacks by the Israeli regime, which violate the countries' sovereignty, with Washington's open support.

Different regional countries, including Syria and Palestine, have denounced the plots hatched by Washington and the Tel Aviv regime to support the terrorists and search for harming the Palestinian cause.

Both Syria and Palestine have threatened to respond to the hostile behavior of the Israeli regime and to thwart any conspiracy that this regime has orchestrated together with the US, whether it be the destabilization of the area or the so-called US "century agreement," in which Washington proclaims that it seeks peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Syria promises to respond to Israeli aggression in due time.

]]> <![CDATA[Chile: Two Minors Shot by Police, Protests Sparked]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 21:04:32 -04:00 Two minors were shot by carabineros (Chilean police) during an operation on Wednesday at the Sename residence in Tahualcano, south of the country. The police brutality has caused turmoil in social media.


Chile: Second Fund Withdrawal Bill Goes Into a Debate

The lawyer and children's advocate in Chile, Patricia Muñoz, denounced that "this situation is one more manifestation of the horror represented by the state violence exercised by those who have to protect children and adolescents but instead they carry out unjustified attacks."

"Ombudsman for Children representative Patricia Muñoz refers to the recent events at the Carlos Macera residence in Talcahuano, where two children were shot by Carabineros personnel (Chilean police). She announces legal actions and asks the government to intervene urgently."


The Ombudsman for Children also said that today it would start legal actions to defend the children. However, "the damage is done, and the role of the government is to prevent this kind of events," Muñoz said as she emphasized that "once more the government has failed to protect them and the situation can no longer continue."

According to information from the Las Higueras de Talcahuano hospital, after 5:00 pm, the two minors, 17 and 14 years old respectively, arrived in the facility with gunshot wounds to their limbs. Demonstrators gathered outside of the children's residence in Tahualcano to protest against police brutality.

On the other hand, the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) pointed out that "they also monitor the status of injured children and adolescents, referred to a health center." The health state of the minors is still unknown.

]]> <![CDATA[US: Justice Dept Will Extradite General Cienfuegos to Mexico]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 22:38:04 -04:00 The request by U.S. prosecutors to withdraw criminal charges for drug trafficking against former Mexican Defense Secretary General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was approved Wednesday by a federal judge in New York in what was the official's last appointment with the U.S. justice system before his return to Mexico.

Federal Judge Carol B. Amon considered that "although these are very serious charges," based on the Justice Department's argument that the charge should be dropped "as a matter of foreign policy," she determined to approve the request and the "expedited" transfer of the defendant to Mexico under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.



Former Mexican Defense Secretary Arrested in US on Drug Charges

U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme testified before Judge Carol B. Amon that it was established that "proceeding with the case is contrary to the interests of the United States in its foreign policy" and in particular in its relationship with Mexico.

In response to Judge Amon's question, he stated that this decision was made "at the highest level" of the U.S. government, confirming that Attorney General William Barr himself made it.

In the hearing before the federal court in Brooklyn, the judge asked General Cienfuegos, Secretary of Defense during the past administration of Enrique Peña Nieto, if he understood the conditions of this request, and that he was giving up his rights to apply for asylum among others, to which the defendant responded that he agreed and was "satisfied" with those conditions.


In their written request on Monday before the court in New York in charge of the case, the prosecutors argued that "the United States has determined that sensitive and important foreign policy considerations outweigh the Government's interest in proceeding with the prosecution of the defendant, under the totality of the circumstances, and therefore require the dismissal of the case."

Meanwhile, the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, expressed this Wednesday that "there is no agreement of impunity" in the case of Cienfuegos, nor will it be "shelved" because the Attorney General's Office (FGR) opened an investigation against the military official, based on the evidence sent to it six days ago by the U.S. Department of Justice.

López Obrador assured that his government requested Cienfuegos' extradition because the agreement in force with the United States on this matter had not been fulfilled. He asserted that any pressure from the Armed Forces did not influence the decision. "We do not accept pressure from anyone," he said.

The president added that there would be no impunity in the case, nor will an arbitrary process be allowed in which a conviction is conferred with insufficient evidence. He affirmed that they would not tolerate injustice and that it is of utmost importance for Mexico because the Defense Department is involved.
General Cienfuegos was arrested in Los Angeles by U.S. federal authorities last October 15 on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, for which he faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

]]> <![CDATA[Ethiopia: Gov't Issues Arrest Warrants Over Tigray Conflict]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 22:29:42 -04:00 On Wednesday, Ethiopian authorities issued an arrest warrant for 76 High Ranking Military Officers and Sub-ordinate military personnel over treason related to the Tigray conflict north of the country.


Tigray Conflict Escalates, Gov't Rejects External Mediation

The Ethiopian Federal Police Commission said that the officers involved participated in an attack two weeks ago on the Ethiopian army. The authorities have refused to accept international mediation as the conflict escalates.

The list includes active and retired military members that are accused of “forcefully dismantle the constitution and constitutional order” in the country, as well as working alongside the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

“By advancing rule of law and holding accountable those that have been looting, destabilizing Ethiopia, we will lay the foundation for lasting peace and harmony,” Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said.

The government claimed that its forces are successfully advancing towards the capital of Tigray, Mekelle city. In recent days thousands of people have run away to neighboring Sudan, trying to survive the conflict. However, with roads blocked and Internet shut down in the 5 million people region, it isn't easy to verify most of both parties' claims.


]]> <![CDATA[Cuba Urges a Culture of Innovation in the State-Run Sector]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 20:59:42 -04:00 President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez called on the Cuban business system run by the State to immediately promote a culture of innovation to solve the country's most pressing problems, during a speech he delivered at a meeting at the Convention Palace with the Boards of Government,  the bodies representing the State's interests in the control of state business management. 


UNESCO Recognizes Cuba's Leadership in Scientific Cooperation

The president stated that we have the conditions to achieve a robust system of science, technology, and innovation. We can weave the necessary interconnections between the sciences sector, the productive and service sectors, and the government's activity.

This meeting, a regular part of the Cuban President's agenda, was led by Marino Murillo Jorge, head of the Permanent Commission for Implementation and Development. The second secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, José Ramón Machado Ventura; the vice president of the Republic, Salvador Valdés Mesa; the prime minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz; vice prime ministers and holders of several portfolios also participated in the meeting.

The Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment, Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya, presented a paper on the financing of science, technology and innovation activities - Díaz-Canel considered that, despite the 43 measures approved for the strengthening of the state-owned enterprises, there is still inertia in terms of proposals, in the midst of the situation the country is going through, with the COVID-19 epidemic and the intensification of the blockade.

"The eyes of those who lead the companies and the Boards of Government must be on this, to see what obstacles remain to be eliminated, what elements can motivate the state-run sector to push our economy," he said. As a country, the President stated, "this is key to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, with the Vision of the Nation and the National Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030".

"There is nothing more challenging for science and innovation than that Vision of the Nation: to have a socialist, sovereign, prosperous and sustainable nation, which demands innovation and scientific research in the solution of the country's problems," said the Head of State.

When analyzing these issues, which are being directly addressed by the government, the president referred to the contradiction that arises in Cuba: on the one hand, he said, we are an underdeveloped country with a high human development index, recognized in the latest UNDP report, which allows us to occupy the 72nd place at the international level, mainly because of the social work and public policies that the Revolution has developed.

However, he added, "When we look at the world innovation ranking, where several international organizations participate, among them the World Intellectual Property Organization, about 143 countries appear, and Cuba does not enter the Global Innovation Index."

"I expose those elements," he said, "because we lack awareness on those issues, mainly in the State-run sector. Two years ago, he recalled, we proposed that government management should be based on three pillars: science-innovation, social communication, and computerization."

There, the President of the Republic explained to the members of the Government Boards that at this moment in Cuba, innovation is led by the sciences sector and the universities; in second place, the research centers; meanwhile, the companies have a sparse representation, except for individual companies such as BioCubaFarma, which has introduced innovation as part of its production process and has closed the production and commercialization cycle with the contribution of science.

As a country, he pointed out, we have that model that works, which was conceived and developed by the Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro Ruz, and later by the General of the Army, Raúl Castro Ruz, who added the particularity of moving from a budgetary system to an entrepreneurial one. This has proved a good experience, but we have not generalized it, he said.

But in the face of these problems, "the country is not stopped," added Díaz-Canel, who also pointed out in his speech that in the last two years, several public policies, regulations, resolutions, which favor the applications of science, technology, and innovation, have been approved.

When asked what we need for innovation to become an essential lever for the country's development, especially in the State-run sector, Diaz-Canel set out the path: we need government management that stimulates innovation, and we are building it; an innovative business system, and we still have a long way to go; a regulatory framework, which we have, and a financial one, which we are developing; and the human potential that the country has created.

But innovation, the Cuban president warned the entrepreneurs, "is not only to seek and apply new knowledge, but it is also to combine the existing knowledge and apply it to new and old problems."

The head of state considered that, in these matters, COVID-19 was a litmus test. "What was the Government's working method for dealing with the epidemic? To summon the Ministry of Public Health experts, its Advisory Council, which is one of the ones that know how to manage innovation, the scientific community, all disciplines, and knowledge".

And what happened, he asked himself. We have the most robust protocols for the care of the disease and the best indicators in its management; our intensive care rooms have not collapsed; no health personnel in the country have died attending the COVID-19; no pregnant women or children have died; our protocols guarantee that the patient overcomes the disease faster; that fewer cases reach critical and serious states; and that fewer people die.

All of this has been managed with science and innovation, he said. More than 700 investigations, many with international publications in prestigious medical science journals; more than 13 biopharmaceuticals are being produced; and four vaccine candidates. "They are vaccination candidates in an underdeveloped country; look for how many countries have been able to do it in the middle of COVID-19," he commented.

Then, he summarized, "we responded to a complex and intense problem in a short time by applying innovation management. Now this system, the President reiterated, is being transferred to the Food Sovereignty and Nutrition Education Program. We have a large number of issues on which there are contributions from scientific institutions. Almost no research is new; they were all there and are starting to be applied. They are not as yet yielding the results we want, but I am convinced, said Díaz-Canel, that they would come.

On this essential path, he said, "we have to see innovation as a social, interactive, systemic process that is capable of promoting the production, dissemination, and use of knowledge."

We need the business sector's thinking to act, propose, and implement improvement actions to achieve progress in its economic and social development. In a more sustainable, more intense, and faster way, he concluded.

]]> <![CDATA[PAHO: Initial Vaccination in Latam Estimated at $2 Billion]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:56:06 -04:00 The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported on Wednesday that vaccinating 20 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean will cost at least $2 billion. This, as the organization works with international partners to guarantee access to low-income countries.


WHO: 184 Countries Join COVAX for a COVID-19 Vaccine

PAHO Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa acknowledges that “this is a remarkable figure," but the organization is aware that "it won’t be sufficient to vaccinate everyone, at least not at first.”

The World Health Organization already explained that once the vaccine is approved, health workers and personnel working in the frontline will be prioritized alongside the elders.

"Self-financed countries in the Americas participating in the COVAX Fund will have the option to purchase the vaccines through PAHO's Revolving Fund."


The official updated that 28 self-financing countries have joined the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX). Nonetheless, PAHO will work with the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Union, and other financial institutions and donors "to secure the funding needed to bring together the low-income countries" in the region.

However, Barbosa remarked that "only a vaccine that has been proven safe and effective will be approved by the regulators, endorsed by the WHO, and ultimately available through COVAX. So there is still a lot to do."

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been more than 23 million infections in the continent and at least 680.000 deaths.

]]> <![CDATA[Turkish Parliament Approves Sending Troops to Nagorno-Karabakh]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:43:45 -04:00 Turkey’s parliament approved troops' deployment to join Russian forces at an observation post in Nagorno-Karabakh after Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a Russian-brokered ceasefire to end fighting over the enclave. Some 2,000 Russian peacekeeping troops are now deployed in the region.


Azerbaijan & Armenia Sign Armistice Over Nagorno Karabakh

The mandate will allow Turkish troops to be stationed at the center for one year as part of an accord between Ankara and Moscow to monitor the ceasefire implementation, which locked in territorial gains by Azerbaijan.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent a letter to Parliament on Tuesday and said that the presence of Turkish troops and, “if needed, civilian personnel from our country, [will] be to the benefit of the peace and prosperity of the regional people and necessary for our national interests.”

Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a war there ended in 1994.

The ceasefire signed on November 10 halted military action in and around Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but populated by ethnic Armenians, after the worst fighting in the region since the 1990s.

Turkey has accused Armenia of occupying Azeri lands and pledged solidarity with its ethnic Turkic kin in Azerbaijan. Ankara has blamed the Minsk group – formed to mediate the conflict and led by Russia, France, and the United States – for freezing the issue for nearly 30 years. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday Ankara, and Moscow’s cooperation would continue.

Russian officials have said Ankara’s involvement would be limited to the monitoring center's work on Azerbaijani soil, and Turkish peacekeepers would not go to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said the center would operate remotely, using drones and other technical means to monitor possible violations.


]]> <![CDATA[US Death Toll From COVID-19 Nears 250 Thousand]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:58:55 -04:00 On Tuesday, the United States recorded 1,596 lives lost to the COVID pandemic, a single-day record since July 27, bringing the total number of deaths to 248,898 since the pandemic began, according to a Reuters tally. For weeks, health officials and healthcare workers have warned that hospitals across the country could soon become overwhelmed, with widespread community transmission of the virus evident in many places.


US Biotech Moderna Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine is Highly Effective

“I’m the most concerned I’ve been since this pandemic started,” Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told CNN on Wednesday.

Nationwide, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 topped 75,000 on Tuesday, setting a new record. The Midwest has become the epicenter, reporting almost a half-million cases in the week ending on Monday. In Wisconsin, 90.6% of Intensive Care Unit beds were occupied as of Wednesday, state data showed.

Forty-one U.S. states have reported daily record increases in COVID-19 cases on November, 20 have registered new all-time highs in coronavirus-related deaths from day to day, and 26 have reported new peaks in hospitalizations, according to a Reuters tally of public health data.

Government officials in at least 18 states, representing both sides of the U.S. political divide, have issued sweeping new public health mandates this month. These range from stricter limits on social gatherings and non-essential businesses to new requirements for wearing masks in public places.

Even officials who initially bristled at the government's idea of imposing social restrictions have changed tune as the virus has spread. 

Meanwhile, the same old rhetoric from the Trump administration's failed policies applies at the federal level. White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday called the wave of new restrictions an overreach by state and local officials.

“The American people know how to protect their health,” she told Fox News in an interview. “We don’t lose our freedom in this country. We make responsible health decisions as individuals.”

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Fires Top Cybersecurity Chief After He Denied Voter Fraud]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 19:06:02 -04:00 Krebs, who served as the director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, was terminated from his position Tuesday after vouching for the recent U.S. presidential elections' reliability, pushing back on the president's baseless claims of voter fraud. 

In a tweet, Trump said that Krebs "has been terminated" and that his recent statements defending the security of the elections were "highly inaccurate."


Trump's Fraud Theory Fails to Convince Media Around the World

Krebs' firing is the most recent in a string of dismissals by Trump in the intelligence, military, and national security sectors. Trump recently fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, on November 9, as well as the heads of Defense policy and intelligence, because these officials were not seen as sufficiently loyal to Trump's post-electoral intentions. 

A former Microsoft executive who ran the agency known as Cisa, Krebs has been in his role since 2016 when he won bipartisan praise for coordinating federal, state and local and local efforts to defend electoral systems from domestic and foreign interference. 

Last week, Krebs' agency released a statement assuring that "The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Several top Democrats quickly condemned the President's decision to fire Krebs. For example, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said: "Chris Krebs’ federal service is just the latest casualty in President Trump’s four-year-long war on the truth.”

Adam Schiff, a Democratic California congressman, and the House intelligence committee chair called Trump’s move a “pathetic and predictable from a president who views truth as his enemy."

Two other officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Bryan Ware, Cisa’s assistant director of international affairs, and Valerie Boyd, DHS assistant secretary of international affairs, were also forced out of their positions last week.

]]> <![CDATA[Chile: Second Fund Withdrawal Bill Goes Into a Debate ]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 14:30:27 -04:00 Chile's Senate Constitution Commission (TC) voted to open the debate on the constitutional reform bill that seeks to allow the second withdrawal of funds by affiliates to the Pension Fund Administrators (AFP).


Chile: Senate to Vote for Seats Reserved for Indigenous Peoples

The debate was approved by three votes in favor and two against. The votes against were those of senators Luz Ebensperger and Rodrigo Galilea; while the votes in favor were given by senators Pedro Araya, Francisco Huenchumilla; and the president of the Commission Alfonso de Urresti.

Several actors from the union movement, among them the School Food Programme Workers Confederation (Confetrap), the Central Workers Union (CUT), and the Walmart Union expressed their support for the second withdrawal while criticizing the lack of direct transfers from the State.

The TC is due to consider now the indications submitted by lawmakers before sending the Bill to an open debate in the Senate, where 26 senators have to vote in favor in order to achieve the final approval and avoid a possible requirement before the TC by the government.

The opposition, as a bloc, has 24 senators and, so far, four parliamentarians from Chile Vamos have confirmed their approval of the initiative. 

The Bill promoted by lawmaker Pamela Jiles from the Humanist Party (PH) seeks to allow a new withdrawal of funds with maximum quotas equivalent to US$4.3 million and minimum amounts of US$1 million. In the event that the funds are less than US$1 million, the affiliate may withdraw the entirety of the funds accumulated in that account.

Meanwhile, opponents of the  Bill have called for modification on the text, noting a lack of resources to reach everybody.

"A group of parliamentarians, making an abusive use of a loophole, of a constitutional circumvention, are trying to write a parallel Constitution without modifying the current Constitution, through transitory articles. That is not only deeply unconstitutional, but it is a path that leads to the destruction of the constitutionality," President Sebastian Piñera said.

]]> <![CDATA[Over 200 Venezuelan Citizens Return to the Country From Panama]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 13:55:06 -04:00  

A group of 211 Venezuelans, stranded in Panama, early Wednesday morning returned to their country on three Conviasa flights to Caracas, Valencia, and Maracaibo thanks to Venezuela's 'Return to the Homeland' Plan.


Venezuela Announces International Lawsuit Against US

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry announced the citizens' arrival on Twitter as It emphasized that the humanitarian action was possible thanks to President Nicolas Maduro's Government.

"This humanitarian action allowed the over 200 Venezuelan people to meet with their families during the most beautiful time of the year," the President of the Venezuelan Consortium of Aeronautical Industries and Air Service S.A. (Conviasa) Ramon Velasquez said.

"This morning, in another deployment of the Return to the Homeland Plan, 211 Venezuelans arrived from Panama on three Conviasa flights to Caracas, Valencia, and Maracaibo, thanks to the efforts of the Bolivarian Government."

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, for transferring this new group, all biosecurity norms were taken to avoid the COVID-19 contagion.

Venezuela has received over 200,000 citizens in the last months under the Return to Homeland Plan, which enables the entry of Venezuelans who don't have resources to return by themselves. 

In 2018, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro created the Plan to establish an air and land bridge for the voluntary return of migrants.

]]> <![CDATA[Paraguay Prepares for the 27th Ibero-American Summit]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 13:16:48 -04:00 Authorities from Paraguay and Andorra Tuesday held a working meeting as part of the preparations for the 27th Ibero-American Summit to take place on April 21 and 22 next year.


The Guarani Language Has Its First Dictionary in Paraguay

Paraguay's Foreign Minister Federico Gonzalez and his Andorran counterpart Maria Ubach Font debated virtually on the economic and social measures to be adopted in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the topic to be discussed in the Summit. 

Gonzalez highlighted that governments must continue to "develop effective, comprehensive, human rights-based economic and social assistance policies that are supportive and sustainable, in order to mitigate the impact" of the coronavirus pandemic.

Innovation for sustainable development-Objective 2030 is the leading theme. 

"After 11 years, Ministers of the Environment of Iberoamerica will gather to set a common Agenda. Plastic Pollution is one of the themes. We await an adequate ministerial declaration."

The First Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government took place in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 1991 and laid the foundations for a forum that seeks to advance in a common political, economic and cultural process. 

The meeting is coordinated by the Pro Tempore Secretariat constituted by the host country of the Summit together with the Ibero-American General Secretariat.

Andorra assumed the Pro Tempore Secretary at the end of the last Summit held in La Antigua, Guatemala, in 2018. 

]]> <![CDATA[Uruguay: Health Services Unions Call for a National Strike]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 12:29:31 -04:00 Uruguay's National Medical Union (SMU) and the Medical Federation of the Interior (FEMI) Wednesday called for a 24-hour strike in the private sector and mobile emergencies to demand better working conditions.


Uruguay: Leftist Party Presents Proposal To Reject Budget Bill

On November 5, the General Assembly of the SMU agreed to carry out the national strike due to "the lack of progress in the negotiation with the Wage Council of the private sector."

SMU representatives noted that the wage guidelines proposed by the private sector and the government 'are tremendously insufficient and represent a setback in the working conditions achieved in previous agreements', including "the loss of wages, labor rights, and quality in Health Care services."

"In the pandemic scenario, it is not acceptable to try to cut rights, lose wages. This weakens the health system, causing the loss of quality of care for the population." SMU chairman Federico Preve noted.

"The SMU holds collective negotiations to defend doctors' wages and working conditions."

On November 6, the SMU Executive Committee rejected "the position of the private health care providers, who within the scope of the National Health Board (JUNASA), refuse to integrate the medical sector in advisory commissions linked to strengthening and improving the quality of care."

Negotiations between the government, the private sector, and health workers unions are part of the eighth round of annual wage councils in which almost all the sectoral tables have already closed. 

Meanwhile, Minister of Labor and Social Security Pablo Mieres has pointed out that the Government prioritizes the dialogue, but few agreements have been reached.

On Tuesday, Uruguay reported 104 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the total number of confirmed cases to 4,208 since the outbreak of the epidemic in the country. The Death toll stands at 68, while 792 cases remain active.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina: Congress Approves Extraordinary Tax on Large Fortunes]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 10:49:46 -04:00 Argentina's Chamber of Deputies in the early morning of this Wednesday approved an extraordinary tax on wealth, which has as its main aim to face the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the South American country.


Argentina's President Submits Bill To Decriminalize Abortion

The initiative, promoted by  President Alberto Fernandez's government, will now be sent to the Senate -where the ruling party has a majority- for discussion and eventual approval.

With 133 affirmative votes, 115 negative, and 2 abstentions, was approved the bill on Solidarity and Extraordinary Contribution, which seeks to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

"Congress is discussing how those who have more money can help the rest of the Argentines amid the COVID-19 emergency. This is the real debate."

With the tax, the Government intends to reach fortunes of over US$2.5 million. It proposes to apply to them a progressive rate of two to 3.5 percent according to the patrimonial capacity.

It is estimated that US$3.7 billion will be collected from larger fortunes, 34 percent of all that the State invested to ease the coronavirus pandemic.

]]> <![CDATA[Chile: Senate to Vote for Seats Reserved for Indigenous Peoples]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 11:35:30 -04:00 Chile's Senate Wednesday will vote on the quorum required for the approval of a bill that seeks to reserve seats for representatives of Indigenous peoples to the Constitutional Convention.


Chile: New Docs Show US Plan to Depose Allende's Socialist Govt

Right wing parties and the government proposed 15 seats for representatives of Indigenous people, which represents 10 percent of the 155 Constitutional Convention seats set to draft a new Constitution.

The proposal requires a quorum of 3/5 to be approved (26 votes). Meanwhile, opposition parties led by 'Chile Vamos' call for the incorporation of 24 new seats in order to include the Indigenous representatives. This will require a quorum of 29 votes. 

"If we do not reach an agreement, a new constitution will be written without the Indigenous peoples," the Government threatened.

"In the last Census of 2017, 12.8 percent identified themselves as Indigenous people. If we are 18 million inhabitants, then we have 2 million 200 thousand Indigenous people. We have to apply the mathematical rules, and depending on that, the number of seats reserved," Christian Democratic Lawmaker Francisco Huenchumilla noted.



Center-left parties have acknowledged that the Bill lacks the required number to be approved, pointing out that the text should be debated by a joint commission.

Constitution Commission's president Alfonso de Urresti  called on the right to "make the maximum effort" to reach an agreement taking into account that the Constitutional Convention will include reserved seats for the Indigenous communities.

"We call on all senators to support the bill. A New Constitution cannot be made without Indigenous peoples," National Indigenous Councilor Emilia Nuyado tweeted.

The Constitutional Convention is the institution elected by the citizens during the plebiscite of last October 25 to proceed with the replacement of the Chilean constitution.

]]> <![CDATA[Iota Leaves at Least 12 People Dead in Central America]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 10:08:50 -04:00 Hurricane Iota, which reached category 5, the maximum on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, left at least 12 people dead and incalculable material damage during its passage through Central America and the Caribbean.


Hurricane Iota Wreaks Havoc in Central America

At 21h00 local time this Tuesday, the weather phenomenon, already a tropical storm, was weakening rapidly in southeastern Honduras, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (CNH).

Iota had maximum sustained winds of 40 miles per hour. However, there is still a danger of catastrophic flash flooding and landslides in parts of Central America.

In Nicaragua, Iota entered Monday night as an "extremely dangerous" category 5 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 250 kilometers per hour. In that country, it affected roads, schools, and health units.

In El Salvador, the National Civilian Police reported a death attributed to the now tropical storm. On Tuesday, a motorcyclist was crushed to death by a tree that was blown down by the wind.

El Salvador, and the rest of Central American nations, are still on high alert because of the risk of flooding and landslides.

In Colombia, President Ivan Duque reported Iota left a dead person, a missing person, and 6,000 victims in the island of Providencia, in the Caribbean, which was practically devastated by the force of the hurricane.

In Panama, the cyclone's path caused one death in the Ngäbe Bugle Indigenous community. In Honduras, three people died because of the phenomenon.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: Superior Justice Court Rules Out Lula's Motion on Guaruja Case ]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 09:47:47 -04:00 Brazil's Superior Justice Court (STJ) Tuesday rejected unanimously former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's (2003-2011) motion regarding the sentence on the Guaruja Triplex case which led to his arrest between April 2018 and November 2019.


Brazil: Bolsonaro Questions Vote Count System After Defeat

The decisions was voted down by ministers Felix Fischer, Joao Otavio de Noronha, Reynaldo Soares da Fonseca, and Ribeiro Dantas. 

Lula's defense team called for a change in the initial penalty regime and a reduction in the indemnity, alleging incompetence of the original judge in the case, suspicions over former judge Sergio Moro, curtailment of defense, and use of legal means against the defendant for political ends, known as lawfare.

According to a complaint by the Lava Jato task force at the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office, Lula was accused of the possession of a triplex apartment in the coastal area of Guaruja, in the state of Sao Paulo.

Tje apartment was supposedly received in exchange for benefiting the Brazilian company OAS in contracts with state oil company Petrobras.

"Lula votes in São Bernardo. Voting is an achievement, so vote to transform our country"

Lula was first sentenced by the then federal judge of Curitiba's 13th Circuit Court, Sergio Moro, to nine and a half years in prison in July 2017. 

In January 2018, the 8th Panel of the Federal Regional Court for the 4th Region (TRF-4) unanimously confirmed the conviction and increased the total sentence to 12 years and one month in prison, thus preventing Lula from being a candidate in Brazil's 2018 elections.

In April 2019, the STJ reduced Lula's sentence to 8 years, 10 months, and 20 days. The former president was imprisoned for one year and seven months until his release in November 2019, after the Federal Supreme Court (STF) declared the prison in a second instance unconstitutional.



]]> <![CDATA[Peru: President Sagasti Apologizes for People Killed by Police]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2020 08:54:46 -04:00 Peru's interim president Francisco Sagasti apologized to the parents of Bryan Pintado and Inti Sotelo, the two young people who were killed by police repression on the November 14 protests against the Congressional coup.


Francisco Sagasti Elected New Interim President of Peru

"We cannot bring these young people back to life, but we can prevent violent incidents from happening again. Also, we can decisively support the injured, some of them are grave," said Sagasti.

In his speech, he also thanked Pintado's and Sotelo's parents, who were invited to the swearing-in ceremony of the new president at the Congress this Tuesday.

"On behalf of the State, I apologize to the families of the victims and to all the young people who marched to defend democracy," the president added.

At another time, he showed his gratitude to Parliament and the audience for appointing him as interim president until the 2021 general elections.

On November 9, Congress vacated former president Martin Vizcarra and carried out a coup d'état. Since then, peaceful marches began in the country.

During the protests, the police attacked the demonstrators with tear gas bombs, pellets, and even beatings. The result was two people killed, a hundred injured, and several disappeared.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico: Unemployment Increases To 2.8 Million People]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 23:00:41 -04:00 Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) reported on Tuesday that unemployment in the country increased to 2.8 million people in the third quarter of 2020.


Mexico Reaches One Million COVID-19 Cases, Nears 100,000 Deaths

The institution explains that there was an increment of 622.000 citizens compared to the same period in 2019. Although there are early signs of recovery, the unemployment figures are still below the pre-pandemic levels.

According to Inegi, 4.2 million were unemployed in the third quarter of 2020, out of which 1.1 million came from commerce, 1.1 million from restaurants and accommodation, 747.000 from other services, 559.000 from manufacturing, and 218.000 from construction.

"#ENOE_N of the decrease of (-)4.2 million in the number of people employed in the year to 2020-T3, (-)1.1 million comes from commerce, (-)1.1 million from restaurants and lodging, (-)747 thousand from diverse services, (-)559 thousand from manufacturing and (-)218 from construction."

Moreover, the data shows that women have been the hardest-hit by the unemployment crisis as in the third quarter of this year, over 19 million women were working, compared to more than 31 million men.

In particular, small businesses and the informal sector, which represent more than half of the country's overall workforce, are heavily impacted. At least 3 million casual workers lost their job in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same period last year.  

The Inegi calculates that due to the economic crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate increased from 3.7 percent to 5.1 percent from 2019 to 2020.

]]> <![CDATA[Cuba: New Migration Measures Meant to Support Cubans Abroad]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 22:58:14 -04:00 To continue favoring the return of Cubans outside of the national territory, based on the situation imposed by COVID-19, is the purpose of the most recent measure announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, declared Ernesto Soberón Guzmán, director-general of Consular Affairs and Cubans Residing Abroad of Minrex.

The provision, which allows for nationals residing in the country to return to Cuba in an exceptional manner with their expired passports and without having requested an extension, adds to other measures adopted previously that "support our nationals abroad, taking into account the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 at the international level, and in our country in particular," he said.


Cubans Abroad Start Voting in Constitutional Reform

According to Soberón Guzmán, with the reopening of the José Martí International Airport, the main port of entry for international travelers to Cuba, new opportunities are opened for the return of Cubans abroad, "which will happen gradually depending on the reestablishment of the different flight frequencies."

"As a rule, under normal conditions, these people travel abroad with a planned trip, meaning a limited period of time, a return ticket, which allows them to carry out the procedures related to their passport in Cuba."

However, he explained, given their prolonged stay abroad, beyond what was planned, "these persons and their relatives were forced to make expenses that initially were not planned, linked to their stay in the countries where they are, all of which is taken into account at the time of making the decisions that have been systematically announced."

"#NOW | It has been decided that Cuban citizens residing in the national territory who are abroad at the time of this announcement may return to #Cuba���� with their expired passport and without extending it."

During the press conference, the diplomat reiterated that the measure would be in force until further notice, with the understanding that it is obviously required to evaluate how the international and Cuban epidemiological situations evolve.

"The corresponding authorities in our country are updating the information that appears in the Traveler's Information Manual (TIM) with the aim of informing all the airlines that fly to Cuba about the new transitory provisions."

He added that once in Cuba, as it normally happens, these persons will have the possibility of updating their passport and, if they wish, to travel abroad again.

"In the case of Cubans who reside permanently abroad, who live their lives regularly in other countries, to travel to Cuba, they need to do so with a valid passport, for which our consulates abroad will provide all the necessary facilities," he concluded.


]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia: Former Ministers Murillo, Lopez Flee to Panama, Brazil]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 22:54:04 -04:00 Bolivia's General Commander of the Police, Jhonny Aguilera, said this Tuesday that the former Ministers of Government and Defense, Arturo Murillo and Fernando López, are currently out of the country. Both former coup government leaders have arrest warrants in the framework of the ongoing investigations into the "Tear Gas" case.


Bolivia: Prosecutor's Office Orders Arrest of Former Ministers

In an interview with the newscast, Antes de Mediodía on local radio station Radio Fides, the new police chief said that both ex-authorities left the national territory on November 9, one day after President Luis Arce's inauguration and the same day as former president Evo Morales' return to Bolivia after one year in exile. Fernando López is in the neighboring country of Brazil, and Arturo Murillo is in Panama.

Aguilera explained that a timeline was established that allowed for the accreditation of the departure of an official flight on the aircraft FAB-046, which left with four occupants from the Trompillo airport in Santa Cruz to the town of Puerto Suarez and later moved to Corumbá, a Brazilian town.

"And from that moment the administrative steps have been taken that have allowed the authorities to leave our soil; today we are convinced that Brazilian migration authorities have been able to certify to intelligence officials the entry of former Minister of Government Arturo Murillo and former Minister of Defense Luis Fernando López Julio," Aguilera said.

The former Minister Murillo moved to Panama through Copa Airlines, which "happened on November 9," Aguilera stated.

"We still have to establish from these information channels, what are the activities that the former authorities are performing there (abroad), and once we have the information, we will approach the Public Ministry to activate the relevant next steps," he concluded.

]]> <![CDATA[Thailand's Violent Protests Leave Over 40 Wounded]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 22:47:26 -04:00 During a recent demonstration, at least 41 protesters were wounded, some with bullet wounds, while they were marching on the Thai parliament and clashed with police and royalist counter-protesters, in the worst violence since the movement emerged last July.


Thailand Election: Military-Backed Party Takes the Lead

Police fired water cannon and teargas at protesters who cut through razor-wire barricades and removed concrete barriers outside parliament. The police denied that they had opened fire with live ammunition or rubber bullets and said they were investigating who might have used firearms.

Thousands of demonstrators converged on parliament to put pressure on lawmakers discussing changes to the constitution. The protesters also want to remove Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a former army ruler, and curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Prime Minister Prayuth took power as the head of a military junta in 2014 and remained in office after an election last year. He rejects opposition accusations that the election was unfair.

Bangkok’s Erawan Medical Centre said at least 41 people were hurt. It did not immediately give a full breakdown but said at least 12 were suffering from teargas, and five people had gunshot wounds. It did not say who might have used firearms.

“We tried to avoid clashes,” the Bangkok police deputy head, Piya Tavichai, told a news conference. He said police had tried to push back protesters from parliament and separate them and the yellow-shirted royalist counter-protesters.

Protesters advanced on police with makeshift shields, including inflatable pool ducks. After about six hours, police pulled back and abandoned their water trucks, which the protesters mounted and sprayed with graffiti.

“I hereby announce the escalation of the protests. We will not give in. There will be no compromise,” Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak told the crowd at the gates of parliament before protesters dispersed.

Another protest was set for central Bangkok on Wednesday.


]]> <![CDATA[Argentina's President Submits Bill To Decriminalize Abortion]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 22:44:07 -04:00 Argentinian President Alberto Fernández announced on Tuesday that he had sent the bill to decriminalize and legalize abortion to the Chamber of Deputies. This in response to the claims of thousands of women, as he pledges during his campaign.


Argentina: Congress Debates to Tax Large Fortunes to Face Crisis

"The dilemma we have to overcome is whether abortions are performed clandestinely or in the Argentinean health system," Fernández explained during an address to the nation. "The State must not ignore any of these realities," the president added.

According to the current law, from 1921, in Argentina, abortions are allowed only if there is a death risk for the mother or in case of rape. Authorities estimate that about 500.000 women go through an illegal abortion each year.

"It has always been my commitment that the State should accompany all pregnant women in their maternity projects and take care of the life and health of those who decide to terminate their pregnancies. The State must not ignore any of these realities."


Argentinian women have claimed the right to a safe, legal, and free abortion over the decades. In 2005 feminist activists created the  National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion, which has become one of the leading advocates for women's right to decide over their bodies.

In 2018 the bill advanced to Congress, but it did not reach enough votes to become law. Fernández's proposal also includes criteria from the 2018 debate as the feminist movement seeks to achieve a continental milestone if the bill is passed.

The president also announced the so-called 1000-day Plan to monitor maternity in vulnerable situations and up to the first three years of boys' and girls' lives.



]]> <![CDATA[Evo Morales Assumes MAS Presidency in Bolivia]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 22:21:46 -04:00 The former president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, assumed this Tuesday the presidency of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), after a national meeting in which the country's leaders participated with the aim of facing the local elections of March 7, 2021.


Evo Morales: 'I Had to Resign to Save the Process of Change'

During the press conference, the former Bolivian president said that "it is not easy to choose candidates, but the experience of the Movement Towards Socialism as a single political movement with a vision of the country, which has an agenda not only until 2025 but until 2030. We are going to choose".

Morales announced that starting on Saturday, "everyone will be mobilized to elect and agree on candidates for governor, mayor, the Departmental Assembly, and regional authorities".

"National and departmental leaders of MAS-IPSP and social movements decide, by consensus,
that I will actively assume the presidency of the most important political instrument of #Bolivia."


In the meeting, they announced that a national meeting is planned for November 21, in which the Bolivian Confederation of Peasant Workers (Csutcb), Conamaq, and Las Bartolinas will be present, as well as representatives of the Federation of Municipal Associations.

Evo Morales returned last November 9, and Bolivians welcomed him in an event full of symbolism after 11 very difficult months, when he had to leave the country to preserve his life after the coup d'état perpetrated in November 2019.

]]> <![CDATA[Saudi Arabia: Nuclear Weapons to Confront Iran Is an Option]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 19:11:20 -04:00 Saudi Arabia announces that it is considering as an "option" equipping itself with nuclear weapons to deal with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"It is definitely an option. If Iran becomes a nuclear power, more countries will follow its example," said Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Yubeir, in a recent interview with the German agency DPA.


Five World Powers Start Meeting to Save 2015 Nuclear Pact

Although Iran has repeatedly clarified that it has never sought and will never seek to build nuclear weapons, the Saudi incumbent insisted that his country reserves the right to possess these weapons under the pretext of protecting the security of the Arab kingdom. "Saudi Arabia has made it very clear that it will do everything possible to protect its people and protect its territories," he added.

In another part of his statements, Al-Yubeir defended the current sanctions imposed by the current US administration, headed by Donald Trump, against Iran, for its nuclear program, claiming that "the Iranians have only responded under pressure."

However, the Saudi minister did not clarify the Saudi rulers' position given the possible changes that U.S. president-elect, Joe Biden, could carry out concerning the Iranian nuclear case and limited himself to respond: "We will have to consider it."

Iran asked the international community during the 1st Commission of the UN General Assembly to hold Riyadh accountable for its nuclear activities.
The Trump government, a close ally of the Saudi regime, has maintained a harsh policy of sanctions against Iran in recent years, mostly since the U.S. abandoned the nuclear deal - officially named the Comprehensive Joint Action Plan (CJAP) - in May 2018, while secretly providing "highly sensitive nuclear technology" to Riyadh.

Washington has also repeatedly accused Iran of violating the convention and developing nuclear weapons even though all of Tehran's nuclear activities and facilities are under the strict supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the framework of the commitments made in the nuclear agreement.

Al-Yubeir's statements on the Iranian nuclear program take place despite a report published in early August in the New York Times (NYT) that Riyadh is building a nuclear site on Saudi territory to process uranium and develop nuclear weapons.

]]> <![CDATA[Creation of Latin American & Caribbean Space Agency In Progress]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 20:00:49 -04:00 The Mexican Foreign Minister held a virtual meeting on the creation of a Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency with his counterparts from Bolivia, Rogelio Mayta; from Ecuador, Luis Benigno Gallegos; the executive director of the National Commission for Space Activities of Argentina; Raúl Kulichevsky, and representatives from Paraguay, Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru, along with other regional organizations.


Brazil's Space Agency Head Fired Over Deforestation Data

Ebrard discussed the invitation brought forward from Mexico and Argentina to lay the foundations for a regional space agency's constitution among interested nations. A declaration on the cooperation mechanism's constitution was already signed on October 9, within the framework of the UN World Space Week.

Ebrard insisted on the significance of that declaration, stating that if Latin America and the Caribbean do not participate in the space race, it will be very likely the region's countries will have more disadvantages in the fields of science and technology, translating into competitive weaknesses and other inabilities to solve social welfare problems.


"The Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency advances: Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, and Paraguay join. Colombia and Peru also participated as observers. We are already - with Argentina and Mexico - 8 nations building ALCE by 2021. We grew four times in one month."


He said that this integration of Latin American and Caribbean nations would make it possible to jointly build small, medium, and large satellites, share the space segment infrastructure, and develop earth stations and terminal equipment, with significant economies of scale.

The declaration is the product of the agreements reached at the Latin American and Caribbean Space Encounter, held on July 2, 2020, a part of Mexico's Work Plan in its capacity as president pro tempore of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).


]]> <![CDATA[Lula Calls To Vote for Socialist Candidate in Sao Paulo]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 17:48:50 -04:00 The former president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, on Tuesday called on the leftist electorate to vote, independently of the party for which they voted on Sunday, for the socialist candidate Guillermo Boulos, who advanced to the second round scheduled for November 29.


Brazil Elections: The Left Challenges Bolsonaro At Home

Lula's call comes after it was confirmed that a Homeless Workers Movement's militant would contest the second round of the municipal elections for the Mayor of Sao Paulo. Boulos runs for the Socialism and Liberty Party against the current alderman, Bruno Covas, of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB).

At the end of the electoral day last Sunday and after reaching 20.24 percent (against 32.86 percent for Covas), Boulos was consolidated as the alternative from the left to the current mayor.

Before this declaration by Lula in the name of the Workers Party (PT), other leaders of the PT itself had already advanced their support, such as the former presidential candidate, Fernando Haddad (who was also the mayor of Sao Paulo), and his opponent in the electoral race for mayor, Jilmar Tatto. The Communist Party of Brazil (PCdB) also expressed its support.


Orlando Silva, the candidate of the PCdB, declared in this respect: "It was important to defeat Bolsonaro in the first round. Now is the time to build a popular project that prioritizes employment and income and makes Sao Paulo a city free of racism. Let's go together."

Besides being a militant for the right to housing, Boulos was a candidate for the Republic's Presidency in the 2018 elections. The second round of municipal elections will take place on November 29. The difference between the two candidates is approximately 12 percentage points, although, with the support received, it can be cut significantly.

In his call, Lula said that "all those who want to re-establish democracy in Brazil, now have a historic commitment to vote for our comrade Guillermo Boulos."

]]> <![CDATA[Biden Says US and Its Allies Need To Counter Chinese Influence]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 18:36:18 -04:00 Only days away after China signed a major trade deal in the Asia Pacific area that encompasses roughly one-third of the world's gross domestic product and population, making it the largest free-trade agreement ever signed, the U.S. President-elect reacted during a news conference in Wilmington, Delaware.  


China Close to Striking World’s Largest Free Trade Agreement

On Monday, Biden said the United States needed to negotiate with allies to set global trading rules to counter China’s growing influence but declined to say whether he would join the new China-backed Asian trade pact signed on Sunday.

When asked during the conference whether the United States would join the Asian-focused 15-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, Biden said he could not yet discuss U.S. trade policy because he had not taken office “and there’s only one president at a time.”

“We make up 25 percent … of the economy in the world,” Biden said of the U.S.

“We need to be aligned with the other democracies, another 25 percent or more, so that we can set the rules of the road instead of having China and others dictate outcomes because they are the only game in town.”


The signing of the RCEP at a regional summit in Hanoi covers 30 percent of the global economy. It brings together Asian powers China, Japan, and South Korea, for the first time. It also marks another setback for US influence in the region after President Donald Trump in 2017 quit the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, negotiated while Biden was vice president.

Myron Brilliant, executive vice president of the US Chamber of Commerce,  said on Monday that he was concerned Washington was being left behind following the signing of the RCEP. Still, while he welcomed the trade-liberalizing benefits of the RECP, he said Washington should not join the bloc.

“The United States should, however, adopt a more forward-looking, strategic effort to maintain a solid US economic presence in the region,” he said. “Otherwise, we risk being on the outside looking in as one of the world’s primary engines of growth hums along without us.”

On Monday, Biden told reporters that he had a detailed trade plan he would discuss on January 21, 2021, the day after he is due to be sworn into office.

Asked why he would not comment on plans for trade agreements when he has said he would rejoin the World Health Organization and the Paris Climate Accords, Biden said: “You’re asking me about whether I’d join a specific proposal, the details of which are now only being negotiated among those nations. It would require negotiation.”


]]> <![CDATA[Hurricane Iota Wreaks Havoc in Central America]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:48:14 -04:00 According to U.S. National Hurricane Center, hurricane Iota was downgraded to category 1 on Tuesday, while maintaining its potential to produce flash flooding and mudslides over central America.

Hurricane Iota made landfall on the coast of Nicaragua near the city of Haulover located about 30 miles south of Puerto Cabezas. It is the first Category 5 hurricane recorded in this season in the Atlantic.

At least one person died and serious damage was reported as a result of Iota's impact on the Colombia island of Providencia, which suffered the deterioration of about 98 percent of its infrastructure.

Meanwhile, thousands of people have been evacuated in Central America. Presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica called on Monday for help from the international community in order to rebuild their countries which suffered also the impact of hurricane ETA.

Nicaragua's National System for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Attention (Sinapred) Guillermo Gonzalez noted that over 40,000 people remain in 250 shelters and in solidarity houses, including churches.

Meanwhile, the president of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE) Dante Mossi proposed to allocate US$2.5 billion "to restore infrastructure, dams, and construction of social housing."

A man takes out his belongings during the evacuation of his home, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Nov. 16, 2020.
A cyclist crosses a flooded avenue after Hurricane Iota passes through Cartagena, Colombia, Nov. 16, 2020.
A mother feeds her daughter at a shelter in Cartagena, Colombia, Nov. 16, 2020.
A group of men help evacuate families from the Sarawas Community to a shelter, Mulukuku, Nicaragua. Nov. 17, 2020.
Hurricane Iota leaves 35 Nicaraguan municipalities without communication.
Iota leaves severe flooding in the Tola community, Rivas municipality, Nicaragua, Nov. 17, 2020
A resident of Colonia Las Brisas community  monitors the flow of the Choluteca River to begin evacuating his home, Nov. 16, 2020.
Authorities report an increase in the flow of the San Juan River, in the municipality of La Masica, Atlántida, due to the intense rains registered by the influence of Iota. Honduras, Nov. 17, 2020.
A man rides a motorcycle through the floods in Cartagena, Colombia, Nov. 16, 2020.
]]> <![CDATA[LATAM Electoral Experts Certifies Venezuela's Voting System]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 15:03:31 -04:00 The president of the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA) Nicanor Moscoso described as successful the accompaniment undertaken to guarantee the transparency of Venezuela's voting system in the lead up to the parliamentary elections to be held on December 6.


Venezuelan Delegation Presents Anti-Blockade Law in Russia

Taking into account the reports by CEELA electoral Observation Mission on the two moke-vote held in Venezuela, CEELA President Moscoso highlighted the observance of health measures in all voting centers, while noting that the elderly are the people who have been most interested in exercising the right to vote.

He detailed also that the voting process normally takes 3 minutes but automatic voting machines allowed the process not to exceed over 40 seconds.

"We ask all Venezuelans to attend the next 6D to vote since all political organizations have told us that the voting system is of extreme confidence. What remains is for the people to elect their new Parliament so that they continue on a streak of progress and well-being for the country," Moscoso said.

"Our presence is to accompany the Venezuelan people in the elections, elections that only Venezuelans are responsible for holding," President of the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America (CEELA) Nicanor Moscoso to Venezuelans.

On Sunday, Moscoso held meetings with several political organizations contesting the elections, as well as with national observers and electoral authorities.

Meanwhile, the head of CEELA electoral Observation Mission Guillermo Reyes offered a report on the electoral accompaniment, noting that the voting machines did not show any problems.

"An action that was done in person and finally, as an essential part of this process of monitoring, to make recommendations throughout the development of the mission and at the end so that they can be implemented by the electoral body for the daily improvement and perfection of the voting system," CEELA report noted.



]]> <![CDATA[Argentina: Congress Debates to Tax Large Fortunes to Face Crisis]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 12:58:15 -04:00 Argentina's Tuesday Congress debates whether the country could count for the first time in its history with a measure that forces the holders of great fortunes to contribute -for one time only- to ease the crisis produced by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Argentina Strengthens Economic and Financial Ties With China

The project seeks to raise more than US$37 billion for productive and sanitary plans.

The initiative contemplates that individuals with assets over 200 million pesos will pay, for one time only, a contribution that will have a progressive rate of 2 to 3.5 percent.

This rate will rise to 2.25 percent in cases of fortunes between US$3 million and US$4 million, 2.50 percent between US$4 million and US$7 million, and 2.75 percent between US$7 million and US$10 million.

The rate will rise to 3 percent when assets are between US$9 million and US$18 million, to 3.25 percent for fortunes between US$18 million, and US$37 million, and from that figure it will be 3.5 percent.

Twenty percent of the proceeds will be used for the purchase and/or development of critical equipment and supplies for the health emergency, 15 percent for programs for the development of popular neighborhoods, and another 25 percent for natural gas exploration, and development programs.

Political, social, and union organizations called for caravans to support the project's approval. Te caravans will meet in the epicenter at the Congress and the Obelisk after passing through the main avenues of Buenos Aires.

It is estimated that the session will last over 15 hours, since only the project of the Contribution will last over 12 hours because of the great number of speakers who will be registered in the debate, parliamentary sources informed.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: Bolsonaro Questions Vote Count System After Defeat]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 13:20:48 -04:00 Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday cast doubt on the country's vote-counting system after several right-wing candidates were not elected in the local elections held on November 15.


Bolsonaro-Backed Candidates Defeated in Brazil's Local Elections

Far-right-wing Bolsonaro noted that he has always been suspicious of the automatic voting system which has been in force in the country since 1996, pointing out that it is necessary to have "a reliable and quick scrutiny", which "does not leave room for assumptions."

"We need a counting system that leaves no room for doubt," President Bolsonaro said.

He reiterated also his proposal to re-adopt the vote through paper cells, noting that that was the desire "of the people".

Only 9 out of 59 right-wing candidates supported by President Bolsonaro managed to run for a second round to be held on November 29.

"The Cacique Marquinhos Xukuru was elected mayor of the small municipality of Pesqueira in Pernambuco. He received support from the left and he is a candidate in a party with a right-wing base." 

According to the results published by the Superior Electoral Court (SEC), Sao Paolo's current mayor Bruno Covas from the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB) gained 32.8 percent of the votes. However, Covas will have to face the leftist and former presidential candidate Guilherme Boulos who obtained 20.2 percent of the votes.

In Rio de Janeiro, the center-right candidate Eduardo Paes finished first with almost 40 percent of the ballots and he will be facing the city's current mayor and ultra-conservative evangelical leader Marcelo Crivella.

Meanwhile, Belo Horizonte's mayor Alexandre Kalil obtained more than 50 percent of the votes, leaving out of the race Bolsonaro's backed candidate Bruno Engler who gained around 10 percent of the ballots. In Recife, the battle will be decided between the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) candidate Joao Campos and Workers' Party's (PT) candidate Marilia Arraes.

In spite of criticism over vote count delays, the SEC counted the votes of almost 148 million voters in 5,569 cities in the country, without a single complaint of fraud having been made so far.


]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia: Prosecutor's Office Orders Arrest of Former Ministers]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 11:57:38 -04:00 The Bolivian Prosecutor's Office Monday issued arrest warrants against Interior Minister Arturo Murillo and Defense Minister Fernando Lopez for the "Tear Gas" case, related to the purchase of chemical agents at a surcharge.


Bolivia and Venezuela Formally Resume Diplomatic Relations

"There is sufficient evidence that the former coup ministers are the perpetrators or accomplices of the crime," the Attorney General's Office stated.

Murillo and Lopez will be arrested because "there are signs that the accused may hide, escape, or leave the country and hinder the investigation of the truth of the facts," the arrest warrant explained.

Both ministers, who left their offices in the first days of November, are accused of misuse of influence.

On November 6, the anti-corruption prosecutor Luis Atanacio issued a migratory alert to prevent Murillo and Lopez from leaving the country.

As part of the investigative process of the 'Tear Gas' case, Bolivia's Attorney General Juan Lanchipa asked the Brazilian Attorney General's Office to take statements from the owners of the Condor company, which sold the non-lethal weaponry to the Bolivian Police.

The complaint to the Attorney General's Office states that the government paid about US$39 for each unit of long-range projectiles and US$36 for each unit of triple-action projectiles. In each case, the sale of 50,000 units was requested. 

According to a Gigavision network's complaint, the cost increased because the government of Añez opted for an intermediary, even though a direct purchase was initially being made.

The 'Tear Gas' case investigation generated a conflict between Murillo and the ex-procurator Jose Maria Cabrera, who requested information about the acquisition. Cabrera was removed from office.

]]> <![CDATA[Uruguay: Leftist Party Presents Proposal To Reject Budget Bill]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 11:07:28 -04:00 Uruguay's left-wing Broad Front (BF) presented a document at the Senate on Monday in order to reform the 2020-2024 Budget Bill which they claim establishes several cuts in basic policies, such as education, health care, and the administration of justice.


Uruguay: Secondary School Teachers Announce a National Strike

"The 2020-2024 Budget presented by the Executive Branch and approved by the Coalition in the Lower Chamber turns its back on the needs of the great majorities, does not address the economic and social urgencies generated by the pandemic and, finally, is not up to the challenges that put a strain on society, both in our country and in the rest of the world, at all levels and as rarely seen in other historical periods," BF representatives said.

The BF document established also a set of transparency measures "so that Parliament and citizens have basic information to strengthen the quality of the budget discussion and the monitoring of public policies."

"This government, which has talked so much about transparency, loses the opportunity to act according to its discourse and denies the Parliament and the citizens the possibility of having basic information, which in every democratic society should be an unquestionable right," BF noted.

In October, the Lower Chamber opened a debate on the Budget Bill that had 723 articles, more than half of which were subjected to discrepancies.

One of the objectives of the Bill is to reduce the fiscal deficit from 5.7 percent in 2020 to 4.4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2024.  Representatives of the left sectors expressed that the Bill was a program of conservative restoration by the neoliberal right who was promoting cuts in social areas, education, health, and housing sectors.

The government coalition made up of the National Party (NP), the Colorado Party (CP), the Cabildo Abierto (CA), the Independent Party (IP) and the People's Party (PP) is promoting the Bill.

]]> <![CDATA[Evo Morales: 'I Had to Resign to Save the Process of Change']]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 10:29:53 -04:00 Bolivia's Former President Evo Morales Monday reaffirmed that saving his life "was to save the process of change" following the coup in 2019. He made the statements during an interview granted to the multimedia platform teleSUR, in which he recalled the events that led him to leave the country just a year ago.


Bolivia: IACHR to Investigate Crimes in Senkata and Sacaba

"A comrade told me that I should resign because saving Evo's life was to save the process of change," said the former leader from the Chapara municipality in Cochabamba, at the headquarters of the Coordinating Committee of the Six Federations of the Tropic of Cochabamba.

"But the reason for my resignation was fundamentally to stop the burning of houses, of ministries, of Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) headquarters, of city halls," he said, and he offered details regarding the coup, which began with contradictions between the government and the military command.

"When we summoned the military command, General Calima made it clear to me that he does not have enough bullets...The bullets are not for the people, I replied. They were the first differences I had with the Armed Forces. I instructed the acts of persuasion. On Sunday, November 10, only by television, they informed that Chinese light aircraft were flying over Chayapata," he explained.

After these events, the Indigenous leader acknowledged that the Commander in chief of the Army asked for his resignation. "The Police mutinies, the Armed Forces ask for my resignation, also the Bolivian Workers Confederation", recalled the ex-head of state who returned after the electoral victory of the MAS and after staying in Mexico, first, and then in Argentina under the status of political refugee.

The ex-president also detailed how the moments before his departure from the airport in the city of La Paz were. There he was informed that the police wanted to take the airport to prevent him from traveling to Mexico. "A security guard shows me a little message: give us Evo, you have 50 big bucks," he said.

The former president said that his eight security guards received on two occasions the proposal of US$50,000 in exchange for handing him over or transferring him to the U.S. "An officer in the Armed Forces heard the orders: 'Evo has to go to the U.S. The order was to kill me or take me to the U.S.," Evo explained.

Evo returned as millions

Commenting on his impressions of the multitudinous and warm reception of the Bolivian people since his entry into the nation from Argentina, Evo noted that it has been "impressive" in over 13 mobilizations in which he has participated since his arrival in Bolivia.

 "The mobilization in Oruro was impressive. That's how impressive the love of the people is," he said, referring to the fact that the people not only defend their leader but also their president while recalling the origins of their union struggle. "That's historic. It has impressed me too," he added.

"My experience comes from the union struggle. How many times have I been arrested? twice confined, imprisoned. I was prosecuted for terrorism, for sedition, and I beat them all. Thanks to the people, I continued as a union leader. In 2002, I was expelled from the National Congress on the instructions of the U.S. Embassy," he recalled.

"The plan was to expel me, prosecute me, sentence me, and disqualify me as a candidate for president in 2002. The people mobilized. It was not long before I returned to Congress. But then there was a lawsuit of unconstitutionality and I defeated the expulsion that was totally unconstitutional," he continued.

"And now history is repeating itself. For reasons of life, for reasons of avoiding confrontations, I had to resign just to take care of life, and the people organize, mobilize, win, and I returned," he said, adding that the rallies will continue in response to requests for meetings to unite and strengthen the MAS.

"Our movement is unique in the world. The Indigenous sector is the one most threatened with extermination, discriminated, marginalized, and we promoted and created a political movement for the liberation of our country," he said, referring to MAS.

"And this movement is growing up, growing up, and has a lot of history. And that's why I have received so much love from the humble people.  Our government, our public management, and our social and communal union struggle have always been for the humble people," he added.

"I want to campaign for new comrades who are going to run as new candidates for mayors, governors, and other positions. That will do my corresponding task," he admitted while showing his willingness to support President Luis Arce in his new term.  "We are going to take care of the ideological aspect and the social programs from MAS, above all," he concluded.

]]> <![CDATA[Hurricane Iota Hit Nicaragua With Extreme Winds and Tidal Surge]]> Tue, 17 Nov 2020 08:15:44 -04:00 Hurricane Iota, which reached the highest category (5) on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale, downgraded to category 2 as it passed through Nicaragua early Tuesday morning, although it still represents a grave danger to the Central American country.


2020 Sets Record as Busiest Atlantic Hurricane Season on Record

Nicaragua's Institute of Territorial Studies (Ineter) reported that at 3h00 local time the hurricane, already a category 2, had maximum sustained winds of 165 kilometers per hour. 

Iota, which has already left one person dead in its path through the San Andres Island, in the Caribbean Sea, reached Nicaragua in the first hours of this Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of almost 250 kilometers per hour and qualified by the meteorologists as "extremely dangerous".

At 3h00, it was 23 kilometers south-east of Rosita and 52 kilometers east of Siuna, moving 15 kilometers west.

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega highlighted in a message on radio and television, that the entire country is in a national emergency because it is facing two hurricanes in a row.

The National System for the Prevention, Mitigation, and Attention to Disasters (Sinapred) of Nicaragua said that Iota is expected to advance on land through Prinzapolka municipality towards the Mining Triangle with the category of hurricane.

It is expected to reach Honduras on Tuesday afternoon as a tropical storm and advance to the Pacific Ocean through El Salvador.

Over 40,000 people were moved to safe shelters. For the evacuation efforts, the Army activated over 9,000 members, while the Police mobilized over 8,600 officers.

]]> <![CDATA[Oil Prices Rise Before OPEC+ Meeting and New Vaccine Reports]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 23:04:59 -04:00 Oil prices edged higher on Tuesday on expectations OPEC and its allies will extend oil production cuts for at least three months, while sentiment was bolstered by news of another promising coronavirus vaccine. Prices found support after news that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia, known as OPEC+, were moving closer to a compromise on extending oil output cuts and were discussing rolling over the curbs one to two months.


OPEC: Global Oil Demand To Shrink Further in 2020

Equity markets rose on hopes of quicker economic recovery after Moderna Inc MRNA.O said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing infection based on interim late-state data. This comes after Pfizer Inc. PFE.N reported last week that its vaccine was more than 90% effective.

“If we judge economic recovery, particularly through the lens of oil markets... with multiple high efficacy vaccines in the pipeline, there is good chance mobility will return close to pre-pandemic levels later in 2021,” said Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at the axis in a note.


OPEC+, which groups the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, including Russia, is set to hold a ministerial committee meeting on Tuesday that could recommend changes to production quotas ministers meet on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. According to sources who spoke to Reuters on Monday, the group is leaning towards postponement of a planned January increase in oil output for at least three months to support prices as the COVID-19 pandemic continues its second wave.

In October, China’s crude oil processing rose to its highest-ever level, underpinning a fast demand recovery in the world’s second-largest oil consumer.

“Oil demand in China is exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels, which suggests oil demand is not permanently impaired,” analysts from Bernstein Energy said.

“This is in line with mobility data and supports the view that oil demand has not been structurally damaged by changes in behavior post-COVID-19 for countries which emerged successfully from COVID-19.”


]]> <![CDATA[2021 Declared International Year of Health and Care Workers]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 22:59:43 -04:00 The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Monday that 2021 was designated as the International Year of Health and Care Workers, "recognizing the dedication and sacrifice of the millions of health and care workers at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic."


WHO: Health Systems Collapsing in Latam Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The WHO Secretary-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said via Twitter that he was "very pleased to see the decision to designate next year as the International Year of Healthcare and Care Workers. We need to collectively strengthen our investment in training healthcare personnel to end the Covid-19 pandemic and achieve health for all."

Health Workers are at the forefront in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and are also the most vulnerable to get infected. Hence, the WHO has said that vaccinating the entire sector worldwide is a priority.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in the region alone, the COVID-19 pandemic had killed at least 2.500 health workers and infected over 570.000 as of September.

On the other hand, the latest data from the International Labor Organization (ILO) shows that globally, "women make up 70% of those employed in the health sector and, based on data available for close to 100 countries, 72% of skilled health occupations."

However, although the sector is a cornerstone to bit the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries face a critical shortage of these professionals due to a lack of policies to foster employment, alongside with ow pay and occupational safety and health risks.

The International Council of Nurses, after collecting data from 44 of the world’s 195 countries, estimated in October that at least 1,097 nurses have died since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and COVID-19 health workers fatalities worldwide could surpass 20.000.



]]> <![CDATA[Biden on Trump's Transition Blocks: ‘More People May Die’ ]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 22:53:37 -04:00 President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday “more people may die” if outgoing President Donald Trump continues to block efforts to plan for a U.S. transition of power as the coronavirus pandemic worsens added that he would not hesitate to get vaccinated. 


US: Republicans Oppose Trump's Obstruction of Biden Transition

Biden also said business and labor leaders had shown willingness to cooperate to fix the pandemic-battered U.S. economy but stressed COVID-19 first must be brought under control and urged Congress to pass relief legislation. 

Meanwhile, Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease expert, is warning that a lack of coordination between outgoing and incoming administrations puts American lives at greater risk from the rapidly spreading coronavirus.  The number of US coronavirus cases passed 11 million on Sunday, one million more than a week ago, while hospitalizations are at an all-time high.

“Of course it would be better if we could start working with them,” said Dr. Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been through multiple presidential transitions during 36 years of government service.




The Democratic president-elect delivered a speech and took questions from journalists in Wilmington, Delaware, after consulting with the CEOs of top U.S. companies and labor leaders on Monday. He also welcomed further progress in COVID-19 vaccine development.

 Biden’s outreach to vaccine manufacturers comes as the coronavirus pandemic in the US has entered perhaps its most dangerous phase. The US is adding about one million new cases a week, and deaths averaged 820 a day as of Saturday, a 33-percent increase in just two weeks.

Trump’s refusal to accept that he lost the election means the Biden team lacks a clear picture of the government's groundwork for a mass vaccination campaign that will last the better part of next year, says Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain. 

]]> <![CDATA[Havana Arrives at 501 Years, Expanding Eusebio Leal's Legacy]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 22:48:00 -04:00 Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro celebrated on Monday the 501 anniversary of the founding of Havana. This World Heritage city is also a model of an avant-garde restoration process in Latin America and the world.


Cuban Historian Eusebio Leal Spengler Dies at 78

"From Venezuela, we celebrate 501 years of history and resistance of Havana. A city that houses the rebellion, the joy, the music, and the verses of the heroic Cuban people in its streets. We hope to enjoy its warmth very soon. Viva Cuba, Viva Havana!" said Maduro via Twitter on the occasion.

On the other hand, Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel, also in Twitter, recalled the vision of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro by quoting that "saving Old Havana, admired today for being World Heritage, all that architecture that has immeasurable value, protected."

The anniversary, traditionally a massive celebration, is marked by the physical absence of Havana's iconic Historian Eusebio Leal Spengler, who passed away on July 31, 2020.

"From Venezuela, we celebrate 501 years of history and resistance of Havana. A city that houses the rebellion, the joy, the music, and the verses of the heroic Cuban people in its streets. We hope to enjoy its warmth very soon. Viva Cuba, Viva Havana!"

The authorities have evoked Leal's lifetime work by carrying out a series of initiatives to allow the public to get closer to Havana's restoration,, most loyal advocate. Starting today, visitors will be able to access Leal's office, turned into a museum in the historical center.

Moreover, the public will have first-hand access to Havana's history through the project Memory of the Stones. A QR code was placed in the facade of some of the most famous buildings such as the Palace of the Captains-General and The Template. Visitors can scan the QR code and get a video of Eusebio Leal with explanations and stories on the buildings.

As Havana opened to commercial flights on Sunday, following seven months of lockdown, Cuba's capital and its historic center, are one of the leading destinations.

Besides his colonial architecture, Havana's restoration won international admiration because of Eusebio Leal's vision of recovering the city while keeping inside the resident population, an avant-garde idea in Latin America and the world it started to be implemented last century.

According to his vision, Havana's historical center had to be more than just a tourist attraction but an "alive city" based on a self-sustainable model that would allow its resident population to thrive while creating art and and culture opportunities opportunities, education, and entrepreneurship.



]]> <![CDATA[President Luis Arce Appoints New Military Leadership in Bolivia]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 19:53:25 -04:00 On Monday, the President of Bolivia, Luis Arce, swore in the new High Command of the Armed Forces and appointed Jaime Alberto Zabala Saldía as its new commander at the Government House in La Paz known as La Casa del Pueblo. Zabala Saldía will occupy the position held until now by Carlos Orellana, imposed by the de facto government of Jeanine Áñez in November 2019, after the coup d'état against Evo Morales.

President Arce asked the new military leadership to guarantee the stability of the country in the current circumstances.


Bolivia's Government Will Tax Large Fortunes in 2021

During the oath ceremony, Arce expressed: "I want to ask you that the Armed Forces, along with our people work to achieve the unity of all Bolivians, to defend democracy, social peace, as well as to guarantee the stability of our government elected by the sovereign will."

"We have the great challenge of returning to the Armed Forces their institutionality," of giving them "the place in society that was unfortunately used in a wrong way," and that the Bolivian people "will once again trust that the Armed Forces will respect democratic processes," the president stressed.

For his part, Zabala emphasized several times the article of the Bolivian Constitution that refers to military powers and their function of "guaranteeing the stability of the legally constituted government."

The new commander spoke of "rectifying what was wrong and deepening what was right," a phrase from Arce's first speech that he asked to be applied to the Armed Forces to "maintain hierarchy and discipline" in the institution.

Among the new military management priorities, Arce mentioned the need for more efficient work in defense and civil assistance in the face of natural disasters and the fight against smuggling and organized crime on the country's borders.

The replacements included the new Chief of Staff and the Army's commanders, the Air Force, and the Navy. Jaime Zabala, who comes from the Air Force, will be the new commander in chief of the Armed Forces.  Arce also swore in Miguel Ángel Contreras as Chief of Staff, Faut Ramos as commander of the Army, Javier Torrico from the Navy, and Cesar Vallejos Air Force.

]]> <![CDATA[WHO: Health Systems Collapsing in Latam Amid COVID-19 Pandemic]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 19:14:53 -04:00 The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic is collapsing the health systems in the Americas and Europe, as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warns of more outbreaks across the region.


Russia Will Take Its COVID-19 Vaccine to Another LATAM Country

"Particularly in Europe and the Americas, health workers and health systems are being pushed to the breaking point," said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom. The official emphasized that "this is not the time for complacency," amid optimistic news of potential vaccine candidates' effectiveness.

According to PAHO, the Americas already surpassed 22 million infections and 660.000 deaths. Also, 150.000 COVID-19 cases are registered daily. The hardest-hit countries in the region are the U.S. and Brazil, followed by Argentina and Colombia. Nonetheless, surges have been reported in Canada, Mexico, and Central America.

PAHO’s Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa warned on November 11 that transitioning from total lockdowns to lifting all restrictive measures is “unsustainable and ineffective at controlling this virus,” as many nations fully reactivate most sectors, including tourism, pushed by an unprecedented economic crisis.

Data from John Hopkins University shows that more than 54 million cases were reported since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, while the death toll rose to 1.3 million people.



]]> <![CDATA[Tigray Conflict Escalates, Gov't Rejects External Mediation]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:50:47 -04:00 Ethiopian authorities confirmed on Monday the occupation of a town in the northern Tigray region following two weeks of armed conflict that has forced thousands of civilians to escape to neighboring Sudan.


Ethiopia: Thousands Flee From Tigray Conflict

The Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) reported via Twitter that is carrying out "precision targets attacks on the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) weapon depots with no targeting of civilians populations and locations."

On the other hand, the TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael assured that his forces had fired three missiles upon Asmara's airport in the Eritrean capital on Saturday night, which marks an international escalation of the conflict in the so-called horn of Africa.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has rejected the ceasefire petition from the United Nations and the Pope. In a statement on November 15, the government said that the country "reaffirms his capability to resolve and manage its own rule of law operation without any external intervention."

On Sunday, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that more than 20.000 out of the 5 million Tigray's inhabitants have escaped to Sudan, fearing for their lives.

There have been reports of mass killings as well as the major deployment of TPLF forces. Nonetheless, the Internet and road access remain cut off in the Tigray region, making it challenging to verify both parties' claims. Tigray has been under a national state of emergency since November 4, when the confrontations began.




]]> <![CDATA[Mexico Reaches One Million COVID-19 Cases, Nears 100,000 Deaths]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 18:20:34 -04:00 According to top health officials, Mexico has surpassed one million coronavirus cases and recorded nearly 100,000 confirmed deaths. Mexican Director-General of Health Promotion Ricardo Cortes Alcalá announced last Saturday that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico now stood at 1,003,253, with at least 98,259 deaths from COVID-19. According to an AFP news agency tally based on official figures, the country has the world’s fourth-highest death toll from the virus after the United States, Brazil, and India. It also has the 11th-highest number of infections.


Mexico Pays Covax ~160 Million to Ensure a COVID Vaccine

Critics blame the increasing COVID-19 toll on the government’s refusal to follow internationally accepted practices in pandemic management, from face mask-wearing to lockdowns, testing, and contact tracing.

Assistant Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell has previously said any more comprehensive testing would be “a waste of time, effort and money” and described face masks as “an auxiliary measure to prevent spreading the virus.”

Since the pandemic began, Mexico has managed to administer only about 2.5 million tests to its citizens; only seriously ill people get tested in Mexico. Testing only 1.9 percent of the population since the pandemic began has made it hard, if not impossible, to effectively trace contacts, catch outbreaks early or identify asymptomatic cases.

Mexico City, the epicenter of the country’s outbreak, has tried an alternative approach, which is to identify neighborhoods where clusters of cases have occurred and given them special attention. Lurid yellow warning posters reading “Caution! You are entering an area of high infection” now dot the city. Special kiosks are set up in such neighborhoods to provide some tests, and a few health workers have gone door-to-door looking for cases. But that is rare.

The Mayor of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, announced on Friday the closure of bars for 15 days and earlier closing times for restaurants, cinemas, and gyms due to the spike in coronavirus infections and hospital admissions last week.

Sheinbaum also said that daily tests would be increased to 10,000.

For doctors on the front lines, the official response has been, at times, frustrating.

"Authorities in Mexico City increase measures to stop the spread of COVID 19."
]]> <![CDATA[Syria Mourns Death of Foreign Minister, Deputy PM Walid Muallem]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 22:50:56 -04:00 According to the Syrian news agency SANA, Muallem died at dawn on Monday and was laid to rest later on Monday in Damascus.

Although no details were provided for the cause of death, Muallem has been suffering from a heart condition for years.

According to sources close to Damascus's government, Faisal Mekdad is expected to be named Syria's new Foreign Minister.



Iran to Reinforce Economic Ties With Syria Despite US Sanctions

The veteran diplomat has held several top diplomatic posts, including ambassador to the United States, and became the nation's foreign minister in 2006 and deputy prime minister in 2012.

In his last public statements, the diplomat denounced the unilateral economic sanctions against Syria imposed by the United States, saying on October 25 that these deadly measures have worsened the country's financial situation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Muallem had also recently denounced the West's conditions and flimsy pretexts to halt Syrian refugees' return to their homeland, criticizing Western nations for politicizing the humanitarian issue and their use of the crisis to advance their political interests. Aside from the more 5.6 million Syrians who have been forced to flee into neighboring Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Iraq, more than 1 million Syrian children have been born as refugees since the foreign-backed militancy began in their country in 2011. 



Muallem consistently denounced the United States' role in the Syrian conflict, claiming that Washington was "the major player in the war against Syria," supporting terrorism despite claims to be fighting against it. In his annual address to the United Nations in 2019, Muallem stated that "tens of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters have been brought to Syria from more than a hundred countries, with the support and cover of States that are known to all," clearly referencing the United States and Turkey, both of whom maintain an illegal military presence in the north of the country.


Muallem warned early on that Western claims of alleged chemical weapons deployed by the Syrian government served as the pretext to launch military campaigns against the country. The Israeli government and its western and regional allies have been aiding the Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

Despite these significant setbacks, Syrian government forces have managed to undo militant gains nationwide and successfully brought back almost all of the Syrian soil under control. 




]]> <![CDATA[Francisco Sagasti Elected New Interim President of Peru]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 16:45:52 -04:00 The Peruvian Congress on Monday elected Francisco Sagasti as the new leader of its Board of Directors, which at the same time makes him the new successor to the former president, Manuel Merino, at the head of the country's presidency.


Peruvian People Celebrate President Manuel Merino's Resignation

Along with Sagasti are Congresswoman for the Frente Amplio, Mirtha Vásquez, for Acción Popular, Luis Roel, and for Somos Perú, Matilde Fernández, in the first, second and third vice-presidencies, respectively.

This is the second vote to determine Merino's succession, once the proposal headed by Congresswoman Rocio Silva Santisteban did not achieve the necessary votes.

As such, Peru accumulates seven days of political crisis marked by widespread protests demanding Merino's removal. Two people were killed by police repression during the National March last November 14.

The Board of Congressional Spokespersons urged Merino to resign from the Presidency. Simultaneously, the Peruvian prosecutor's office opened an investigation into the alleged crimes of abuse of authority and aggravated homicide.

Francisco Sagasti was born in Lima (capital) and is an industrial engineer, researcher, and author of several texts. He is a congressman for the Morado Party, a former World Bank representative, and was not included in the list of Congress members who voted for the vacancy of former president Martín Vizcarra.

]]> <![CDATA[US Biotech Moderna Says Its COVID-19 Vaccine is Highly Effective]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 14:43:33 -04:00 U.S. biotechnology company Moderna Monday announced that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which is currently in phase three of clinical trials, showed a vaccine efficacy of 94.5 percent.

RELATED: Chinese CoronaVac Vaccine's Clinical Trials Resume in Brazil

The pharmaceutical company based in Massachusetts detailed that 30,000 people participated in the clinical trials of the vaccine candidate, whose designated name is mRNA-1273.

According to the press release, there are no significant safety concerns. The vaccine was well tolerated by most volunteers with mild or moderate symptoms, while side effects included fatigue, muscle pain, and headache.

"Since early January, we have chased this virus with the intent to protect as many people around the world as possible. This positive interim analysis from our Phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent COVID-19 disease, including severe disease," Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said.

Moderna's scientific research is supported by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

Moderna expects to manufacture about 20 million doses by the end of this year to cover about 10 million people and to produce at least 500 million doses by 2021.

Meanwhile, both Pfizer and Moderna are reaching the two months' safety data required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in oder to request an emergency approval of its COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

"It's just as good as it gets — 94.5 percent is truly outstanding." Head of NIAID Dr. Anthony Fauci said.


]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Army Soldiers Killed Two Minors in Huila]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 14:22:26 -04:00 Social organizations from the municipality of San Agustin, in Huila Department, Colombia, Monday denounced the murder of two minors at a military checkpoint near the town of El Palmar.


Hunger Protests Grow in Colombia Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

The teenagers were identified as Joselino Irua, 14, and Emerson Dussan, 16. Preliminary investigations show that they were riding a motorcycle when they were approached by military personnel from the Magdalena Infantry Battalion No. 27.

The soldiers allegedly shot in the abdominal area of the minors, who were taken one to the Arsenio Repiso hospital in San Agustin and the other to the hospital of Pitalito municipality. There they died from the impact of a rifle bullet.

"We are investigating the events of this Sunday night when, apparently, members of the Battalion wounded two minors," Colombia's Army stated.

The president of the 'Mais' Movement, Martha Peralta, shared a sensitive video Twitter showing community members helping the victims.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Organizations denounced the systematic killings of Indigenous peoples in Colombia, after learning about the crime against Professor Embera, Genaro Isabare, who was found tortured and killed in Alto Baudo, Choco.

An armed group attacked the Embera Dobida Indigenous community in Ecevede, an Ankozo Catru and Dubasa Indigenous reservation, and detained the professor. The next day the leader's body was found.

]]> <![CDATA[Chile: Senate To Vote on Claim Against Ex-Interior Minister ]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 14:33:52 -04:00 Chile's Senate on Monday is set to debate a constitutional claim over police brutality against former Interior Minister Victor Perez who could be suspended from public office for up to five years.


Chile: New Docs Show US Plan to Depose Allende's Socialist Govt

The president of the Senate Adriana Muñoz noted that the debate will allow Perez's defense from the accusations and the interventions by each one of the senators in order to carry out the final vote.

Perez, who was in the post for about 3 months, is pointed out by opposition parties for his political responsibility in the police violence against demonstrators, which gained more strength after a young man was seriously injured when he was pushed from a bridge into the Mapocho River by a policeman in October.

If the Senate rejects the accusations, Perez could run in any of the upcoming elections, including a nomination to the Constituent Convention that will draft the new Constitution.

Perez stepped down on November 3, after the Lower House approved a constitutional claim by 80 votes to 74.  He was automatically suspended temporarily from his functions, pending the Senate's final decision.

He is being also criticized for his passivity in controlling public order during a national truckers' strike in August this year, which caused serious road blockades in several cities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and for his soft response to criminal groups promoting violence in La Araucania region.

Meanwhile, President Sebastian Piñerea appointed Rodrigo Delgado from the ultra-right-wing Independent Democratic Union (UDI) party as new Interior Minister.

"If I have to apologize, I'll do it, because there are things that cannot happen and conflicts must be resolved peacefully,"  Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado said.

President Piñera began his second mandate with Andres Chadwick in charge of the Interior Ministry. Chadwick was replaced by Gonzalo Blumel in the midst of the social upheaval caused by the denunciations of repression promoted by police forces. 

Blumel, who remained in office until July, left the Cabinet after not being able to line up the entire pro-government bloc to vote against the law that allowed the early withdrawal of pension funds.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Debates Start to Set the Minimum Wage for 2021]]> Mon, 16 Nov 2020 12:28:05 -04:00 Ecuador's National Council of Labor and Wages (CNTS) Monday began consultative meetings to determine the unified basic wage (UBW) that will rule in 2021 amid the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Ecuador: Voting Stations Start Preparing for General Elections

Several economists and workers union representatives have cast doubts on a minimum wage increase, taking into account that the country is experiencing an economic contraction and high rates of unemployment.

Workers' representatives are calling for an increase in wages by 20 percent or by sector, while employers plan to keep it at US$400.  The Agreement approved by the Ministry of Labour orders that under no circumstances the minimum wage can be less than the current one.

CNTS is made up of representatives of employers, workers, and the Ministry of Labour (ML), and the debates are set to last five days.

In previous years, the consultative meetings were held in December, but Ministerial Agreement MDT-2020-185 provides for wage-fixing until November 20 of each year. Workers and employers have eight days to reach a consensus and if not, the formula for calculating the UBW established by the ML applies.

The formula analyses nine factors, including the consumer price index, labor productivity factor, employment elasticity, overall participation rate, employment in the informal sector.

In 2019, there was no consensus among workers and employers and it was the ML that defined the increase of US$6, pushing the minimum wage to US$400.