teleSUR English ES Sat, 6 Mar 2021 18:29:26 -04:00 teleSUR English <![CDATA[India: Farmers Mark 100 Days of Protests]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2021 18:29:24 -04:00 Indian farmers blocked a highway outside Delhi on Saturday to mark 100 days off protests against the agricultural reform promoted by president Narendra Modi.


India’s Farmers’ Protests Could Upend the Political Landscape

According to Sanyukat Kisan Morcha (SKM), a coalition of 40 farmer's unions, at least 248 farmers have died since demonstrations begun last year. However, farmer leaders have confirmed that they would not accept anything less than a repeal of the new agriculture laws, which open the sector to the exploitation of large corporations and leaves them unprotected.

"Our farmers are living in tractor trolleys in harsh conditions. The conditions are unhygienic too because one cannot find clean toilets on the roads because of which several farmers picked illnesses and died due to several types of ailments such as cold, heart attack, brain hemorrhage, diabetes, and pneumonia. Several lost their lives while traveling on the highways day and night to Singh and Tikri borders," General Secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union Jagmohan Singh told reporters on February 22.

On the other hand, Modi insists that the reforms are "much needed" in the agricultural sector and has said that his government won't repeal the laws. On Saturday, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said that "Congress demands that the three new farm laws should immediately be repealed."

"The farmers have called this day a black day. We think this is a black chapter in our democracy, where everything was done to disrupt this peaceful protest. They (farmers) were demonized, all kinds of conspiracies were hatched against them, but they stayed on," the official added.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala: Pacaya Volcano Continues With Strong Eruptions]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2021 19:04:59 -04:00 Guatemala's National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology, and Hydrology  (Insivumeh) on Saturday reported that the Pacaya volcano continues with strong explosions, a thick ash column, and two lava streams.


Guatemala Receives 100,000 COVID-19 Vaccines Donated by India

The report issued by Insivumeh reads that the volcano had several strong and moderate eruptions during Saturday early morning.

The ash column rises over 1,000 meters above the volcano's 2,752 meters high crater, so there has been ash presence up to 5 km above sea level. The Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil was informed and requested to take precautions regarding air traffic in the area.

Pacaya southern region has two lava streams with lengths between 300 and 500 meters so far.

Pacaya volcano is one of the 32 volcanoes located in the Central American country and is located about 50 kilometers southwest of Guatemala City.

Since the beginning of the year, the volcano has kept intermittent activity, which has caused ashfall and ballistic particles to fall in San Francisco and El Rodero towns, among others.

Besides Pacaya, two other volcanoes, Fuego (central region) and Santiaguito (Pacific coast) are erupting in Guatemala.

]]> <![CDATA[WHO: COVID-19 Situation in Brazil "Extremely Risky"]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2021 17:27:08 -04:00 World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom on Friday called for "aggressive" measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil due to the exponential increase in cases over the past few weeks.


'Stop Whining' Bolsonaro Says as Thousands of Brazilians Die

"If Brazil is not serious, it will continue to affect the whole world," said Adhanom, who also declared that the situation in the South American country is "extremely risky" and that it was necessary to increase the vaccination pace to slow down the infection rate.

Experts warn that the country could reach 3,000 deaths per day if more services and economic activities are not restricted, which seems unlikely since President Jair Bolsonaro is reluctant and keeps pushing the opposite direction.

Currently, the States of Manaus and Amazonas are undergoing serious infection outbreaks with the P.1 strain, also known as the Brazilian strain or the Amazon variant,  which remains almost unknown thus far. 

Intensive care units in these territories are on the edge of collapse because of high occupancy levels, at 80 percent. This, amidst a critical lack of medical personnel.

Brazil faces the worst COVID-19 scenario in Latin America due to the late and weak response of Jair Bolsonaro's government.

"The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines is a moment of encouragement, but it is also when the population loses focus," said WHO Director of Health Emergencies Michael Ryan.

As of Saturday morning, Brazil had reported 10,869,227 COVID-19 cases and 262,770 related deaths.

]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis Meets Shiite Leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Iraq]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2021 13:55:44 -04:00 Pope Francis on Saturday met Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the highest religious authority of Shiite Muslims. The meeting took place in Najaf city during the first day of his official visit to Iraq.


Papal Decree Enables Women to Occupy Higher Posts in the Church

The religious leaders met in the afternoon hours and behind closed doors. The exchange lasted almost an hour, so it was not a formal exchange, but it is expected to have addressed issues of importance.

To finish his first day of visit, the Holy Pontiff will visit the city of Ur and offer a mass in St. Jose Cathedral in Baghdad. High state officials will attend the mass, among them Iraq's President Barham Salih.

Besides, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has proclaimed March 6 as "Tolerance and coexistence Day" to commemorate the meeting between the two religious authorities.

It is Pope Francis' first international trip since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the first one made by a Pontiff to Iraq, which represents a rapprochement of the Catholic Church to the Shiite branch of Islam.

Previously, on Feb. 4, 2019, Francis I had a similar gesture with the Sunni branch of Islam after signing the "Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Common Coexistence" with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayyib during the Interreligious Meeting at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela: Nicolás Maduro Gets Vaccinated With Spuntnik V]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2021 12:56:16 -04:00 Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro received the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday after all Venezuelan health and frontline personnel was vaccinated in the country.


Dominica Receives COVID-19 Vaccines with ALBA-TCP Assistance

"We already carry 60 percent of the Russian vaccines and on Monday we started with the Chinese ones," the president said. "Worldwide, all the studies say that the Russian vaccine is a vaccine with great power to generate immunity," Maduro added.

This week Venezuela transported the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to Dominica as part of a solidarity agreement between country members of the ALBA-TCP. This, amid growing concern about inequity in vaccine distributions worldwide.

In this sense, the Venezuelan president explained that "there is a shortage of vaccines in the world ... already almost 40 countries are putting the Russian vaccine and the European Union is studying it, so well, let's see, I have a lot of faith in the combination of the Russian, Chinese and Cuban vaccine."

Venezuela's Vaccination Plan covers free supply to the nearly 31,000,000 inhabitants of the South American country, and foreigners, which include 6,000,000 Colombians living in the nation.


]]> <![CDATA[Paraguayans Demand Abdo's Resignation as Protests Continue]]> Sat, 6 Mar 2021 13:10:59 -04:00 Paraguayans returned to the streets on Saturday to demand the resignation of President Mario Abdo due to his mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis.


Paraguay: Health Minister Resigns To Avoid Further Scandal

teleSUR's correspondent in Paraguay Ovaldo Zayas reports that "a group of demonstrators prevented policed forces from entering the Zodiac building in Asunción. According to the citizens, the security forces were placing snipers on the buildings surrounding the Congress squares".

According to Zayas, "one of the main causes of the protests is the government inaction against COVID-19. Therefore, Paraguay's Government announced that a batch of 20,000 China-made vaccines will arrive from Chile in the next few days. However, a year ago, the Frente Guasu proposed to establish diplomatic relations with The People's Republic of China but Colorado's Government and its legislators opposed it."

"Let them all go", shout thousands of people in a march demanding the resignation of the President of the Republic, Mario Abdo Benítez and Vice President Hugo Velázquez."


Paraguay's Minister of Technologies of Information and Communication Juan Manuel Brunetti on Saturday declared that Paraguay-s President Mario Abdo Benitez asked for his entire cabinet resignation.

This Friday night, thousands of people peacefully took to the streets of Asuncion to demand President Abdo's resignation due to the mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic crisis.

The march was strongly repressed by police forces, which have caused one dead and several injured so far.

In addition to the Guasu Front statements, some other political organizations have spoken out about last night's events, among them the Authentic Radical Liberalist Party, which announced that it will request  President's impeachment.

]]> <![CDATA[NATO Calls for Europe and North America to Face 'China's Rise']]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 22:11:17 -04:00 NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg declared that Europe and North America must work together to effectively address old and emerging global challenges, including the rise of China, cyber-attacks, and cutting-edge technologies.

"Today, NATO has 30 strong allies and ensures security for nearly 1 billion people. But our Alliance continues to change as the world around us changes. And we must continue to adapt while addressing challenges, both old and new," Stoltenberg said in his speech to students at The College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.

The NATO chief adds that while China is not an "adversary" to the alliance, the EU and North America should be wary of its rising power.

"China is not our adversary. But it has the second-largest military budget in the world and does not share our values. China's rise and all these global challenges make it even more important for Europe and North America to work together," he explained.

On February 18, 2021, Stoltenberg called for updating NATO's Strategic Concept, last established in 2010, during the Munich Security Conference. The secretary-general noted that China containment was a crucial issue for the alliance.

China's Foreign Ministry criticized Stoltenberg's proposal, calling it a manifestation of cold war thinking and reaffirmed Beijing's commitment to peaceful development.

]]> <![CDATA[Food Waste Contributes To Climate Change: UN Report]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 22:08:08 -04:00 Over 931 million tonnes of food are wasted worldwide, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported on Tuesday.


UN Denounces Serious Lack of Progress on Climate Change Issues

The report points out that "on a global per capita-level, 121 kilograms of consumer-level food is wasted each year, with 74 kilograms of this happening in households." The study estimates that at least 8 to 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are linked to throwing away food, which turns it into a critical environmental issue.


"Food waste is environmentally, economically, and morally scandalous. We must rethink the way we produce and consume," the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said via Twitter.

Moreover, the study highlights that 690 million people suffered hunger in 2019, and three billion people are currently unable to afford a healthy diet. The statistic is expected to worsen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the report warns that food waste, previously considered a problem of developed countries, has become a global concern. "If we want to get serious about tackling climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, businesses, governments, and citizens around the world have to do their part to reduce food waste," UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombian Attorney General Attempts to End Case Against Uribe]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 22:04:18 -04:00 The Colombian Attorney General's Office announced this Friday that it will request to preclude (end) the investigation against former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez for alleged procedural fraud and witness tampering while he was a senator, amid criticism from various sectors about what they consider a new attempt to exonerate him from justice.


Colombian Senator Demands President Duque Admit to State Crimes

Through a press release, the Attorney General's Office announced that the coordinator for the Delegate Prosecutor's Office before the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ), Gabriel Jaimes Durán, will request that the criminal proceeding be terminated before a trial is held.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, after examining the evidence, Jaimes Durán established that several of the conducts to which Uribe Vélez was linked "do not have the characteristics of a crime, and others that do, cannot be attributed to him as author or participant."

Jaimes Durán's conclusions to request the preclusion must be presented before a judge of the Bogotá Circuit on a date yet to be determined.

Local media report that this step is important, since Jaimes Durán's thesis is opposed to that of the Court which, at the time, found that there was sufficient evidence and even ordered the arrest of Uribe Vélez.

In the last hours it was also known that Senator Iván Cepeda will sue Jaimes Durán for prevarication. In a virtual press conference, the representative of the Alternative Democratic Pole announced that the complaint will be filed in the next few days and will also be signed, as a victim, by former Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre.

Background of the case

The former Colombian president (2002-2012) was under investigation since 2018 by the CSJ in a case of alleged manipulation of ex-paramilitary witnesses (Carlos Enrique Vélez and Juan Guillermo Monsalve) while he was a senator.

According to the Court, Uribe Vélez would have bribed those witnesses, who are in prison and had already testified against him, so that they would not point him out as the founder of the Northern Block of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, in the department of Antioquia, an irregular armed group dedicated to multiple illegal activities.

These payments were an attempt to make the witnesses modify their testimony and declare that Senator Iván Cepeda, in exchange for benefits, had instigated them to lie in order to harm Uribe Vélez politically.

Uribe Vélez's lawyer, Diego Cadena, admitted that he had transferred the bribes, presented as "humanitarian aid".

In August 2020, while serving a house arrest order from the CSJ, Uribe Velez resigned his seat in Congress to ensure that the case was dropped by the Court and taken over by the Attorney General's Office.

Not only did the latter happen, but the Public Prosecutor's Office set aside the investigation being carried out by the Court and initiated its own.

At that time, various social sectors warned that there was a risk that Uribe Vélez would be exonerated, since the Attorney General, Francisco Barbosa, is a close friend of President Iván Duque, his political protégé.

]]> <![CDATA[Guinea, Kenya, and Nigeria Start COVID-19 Vaccination via COVAX]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 21:39:10 -04:00 Guinea, Kenia, and Nigeria, three of Africa's lowest-income countries, kicked off on Friday the COVID-19 vaccination campaign with the support of the COVAX facility led by the World Health Organization (WHO).


COVAX To Send 26 Million Vaccines To Latin America

On Tuesday night, Kenya received the first million COVID-19 vaccine doses, allocated to frontline workers. The vaccines will be stored in a brand new warehouse built with the support of the United Nations Children Fund(UNICEF) and then transported to the rest of the country.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) reports more than 3,913,997 million COVID-19 infections and at least 104,368 deaths in the continent, which also tries to contain an Ebola outbreak.

On March 2, the COVAX facility published the first round of COVID-19 vaccine allocations. According to the information, 8 out of the 54 African countries have not signed up to receive COVID-19 vaccines via COVAX. These are Burundi, Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Niger, Seychelles, and Tanzania.


]]> <![CDATA[Car Bomb Explosion Kills at Least 20 in Somalia's Capital]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 21:30:36 -04:00 A car bomb explosion caused at least 20 deaths and dozens of injured on Friday in  Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, the authorities reported.


UN Appeals for Calm Amid Political Violence in Somalia

The terrorist group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack via radio Andalus. The suicide car bomb exploded outside the Lul Yemeni restaurant, a popular place among government officials and civilians. The terrorist said on the radio that they had attacked the official's meeting point.

The explosion took place during dinner time, with the restaurant full of people. In the blast's aftermath, a building near the restaurant collapse as the authorities still search for residents among the rubble.

“The blast was very heavy and caused massive destruction and civilian casualties. The operation is still going on to establish the exact number of casualties," Security Officer Mohamed Osman told reporters.


]]> <![CDATA[Globalink | Highest Military Expenditure in World, U.S. Turned It into a Sword]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 19:49:42 -04:00

]]> <![CDATA[Congress Member Rejects US Interference in ICC Probe of Israel]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 21:28:16 -04:00 Michigan's U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib denounced through her Twitter account on Thursday the U.S. Government's attempts to interfere and derail a probe by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into Israeli war crimes committed against the Palestinian people.


ICC Opens Investigation Into Israeli War Crimes in Palestine

"No one is above the law. The ICC has the authority and duty to independently and impartially investigate and bring justice to the victims of human rights violations and war crimes in Palestine and Israel. The United States must not interfere with its ability to do so," the Democratic lawmaker wrote on Twitter.

The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, announced on Wednesday the opening of an investigation into Israeli war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories, after she ruled on February 5 that she has jurisdiction to investigate atrocities committed by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), lands that Israel has occupied for more than 50 years.

However, the White House censured the decision of this body. The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stated on Twitter the same day that the U.S. was firmly opposed to the investigation and that it will continue to maintain its "firm commitment to Israel and its security." 

This, while Bensouda made clear last June that the investigation into war crimes committed by the Tel Aviv regime against the Palestinians, faces no obstacles, thus rejecting claims and warnings by Israel and its U.S. ally to halt the process.

]]> <![CDATA[Globalink | US Expert on Surge of Anti-Asian Violence Amid Pandemic]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 19:18:04 -04:00

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia Gets Ready for Regional Elections]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 20:01:47 -04:00 The Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (Uniore) 's mission arrived in Bolivia on Friday to monitor the departmental elections next Sunday, March 7.


Bolivia Arrests Organizers of Fatal University Rally in El Alto

The Union's mission representative Pamela San Martín said that "on behalf of Uniore, 12 people from seven member countries are present and of course also the executive secretary of Uniore."

"We were in #Colquiri together with Franklin Flores, the future governor of La Paz and Juan Carlos Guzmán, our candidate for mayor. We thank our mining brothers and the people of this municipality for always supporting our process of change."


Over seven million people of the electoral roll will choose governors and assembly members in the nine departments; the deputy governors in Santa Cruz, Tarija, Pando, and the deputy governors and chief magistrates in Beni.

In January, the Supreme Electoral Court reported that 121 organizations and 11,173 candidates were registered in the elections that will appoint municipal, departmental and Indigenous peoples representatives for the next five years. The ruling party Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) will face a fragmented opposition that battles to keep La Paz and Santa Cruz's departments, each with two million inhabitants.



]]> <![CDATA[Biden Supports Limiting Presidential War Powers]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 18:20:56 -04:00 U.S. President Joe Biden agrees with limiting presidential war powers, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Friday.


80 Democrats Call on Biden to Reverse "Cruel" Sanctions on Cuba

Biden wants to "ensure that the authorizations for the use of military force currently on the books are replaced with a narrow and specific framework that will ensure we can protect Americans from terrorist threats while ending the forever wars," the official said in a statement to U.S. media outlet Politico.

The comments were made after bipartisan senators introduced last Wednesday a bill to repeal authorization to use military force. In the aftermath of the U.S. airstrikes on Syria,  which Biden ordered without the approval of Congress.

"Congress has a responsibility to not only vote to authorize new military action, but to repeal old authorizations that are no longer necessary," senator Tim Kaine said upon the presentation of the bill that would repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations that paved the way for armed conflicts in the  Middle East, especially in Iraq.

]]> <![CDATA[China Rejects US Sanctions Against Cuba and Other Countries]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 18:30:00 -04:00 China today reaffirmed its opposition to unilateral U.S. sanctions against Cuba, Russia, Iran, and Venezuela, after denouncing the socio-economic impact of these measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic.


China Declares "Complete Victory" Over Poverty

Wang Wenbin, Foreign Ministry spokesman, urged Washington to listen to the international community's call in this regard and immediately lift the coercive policies imposed under the pretext of human rights.

"Such moves are widely criticized (...) The facts show that unilateral sanctions impact the economic and political order and the global governance system", Wenbin said.

According to the Foreign Ministry spokesman, the White House thus undermines these nations' efforts to mobilize resources, expand the economy, and improve their population's welfare.

He described this position as a threat to the right to life, self-determination, and development and as a continuous, systematic, and large-scale violation of human rights.

"With the Covid-19 pandemic, unilateral sanctions led to shortages of medicine and food for tens of millions of people, put health and life at risk, especially for vulnerable groups, and exacerbated poverty, hunger, and inequality," he added.

]]> <![CDATA[General Strike Called for Friday in Chile.]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 18:15:12 -04:00 The days of mobilization against Chilean president, Sebastián Piñera, which include the demand to put an end to the state of emergency in the country's southern region, will reach a new milestone this Friday with many different calls for a general strike.


Chile: President Piñera Announces Pension Reform

The mobilization is being self-convened from the territories. Its origin is attributed to the violence exercised by State agents, among which they cite as an example the recent murder of a juggler at the hands of a Carabinero in Panguipulli, and blame President Sebastián Piñera for how the executive has dealt with the situation, whom they accuse of doing nothing about the state violence.

The president had his most challenging month in October 2019, when the Chilean people mobilized against the social and current political system. From the State, the response was very violent and resulted in more than 500 people with eye trauma, others tortured and killed.

In the new call from different territories at the national level, mostly centered in the Araucanía region, they demand the resignation of Sebastián Piñera for his mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic, the concrete demand being to schedule the presidential elections earlier to hasten Piñera's exit.

This Friday's event takes place a week after a new episode of violence by the Special Forces of Carabineros de Chile when they repressed thousands of people gathered at the Plaza de la Dignidad (Plaza Baquedano) in Santiago to demand the release of political prisoners.

The citizenry demands that political prisoners be released, mostly young people detained since the mass protests of late 2019 to date. Only three detainees have been released, in all cases for lack of evidence and after more than ten months in prison.

Since October 2019, there have been numerous days of mobilizations extending to date, which, thanks to widespread pressure, boosted the process of constitutional reform, which is ongoing and has elections for the Constituent Assembly scheduled for next month.

]]> <![CDATA[FBI Arrests Trump State Dept Aide Over Role in Capitol Riots]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 17:08:44 -04:00 The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested Thursday an official of former President Donald Trump for the assault on the Capitol on January 6, becoming the first person arrested linked to the previous government, reports EFE agency.

The person arrested was Federico Klein, a 42-year-old man who during the Trump administration worked at the State Department as a political appointee. Specifically, the detainee was first assigned to the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, in the department in charge of Brazil and the Southern Cone, and then transferred to the office that administers requests for access to federal information FOIA.


Over 135 Trump Supporters Arrested for Storming US Capitol

Klein, arrested in Virginia, had previously worked for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign as an analyst. Before getting involved in politics alongside the mogul, Klein served in the Marine Corps in Iraq.

More than 300 people have been charged in federal courts for the Capitol assault, but Klein is the first with clear ties to the Trump administration.

The FBI did not detail to Politico what crimes Klein is charged with.

The arrest is known when the warning of an alleged plan of a militia to storm this Thursday in the Capitol caused the reinforcement of the already extreme security measures in the U.S. capital, which have turned downtown Washington into a deserted fortress, where more than 5,000 National Guard troops protect the building.

This Thursday, the Capitol Police requested a 60-day extension of the National Guard members deployed in the U.S. capital and who were initially scheduled to leave on March 12. "The National Guard should stay as long as necessary," said Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives speaker, which canceled its activities until next week because of the recent threat at a press conference.

Since last January 6, when a mob of former President Donald Trump supporters violently seized Congress, in tumultuous events that left five dead and whose images went around the world, the Capitol looks more like a military base than the seat of the U.S. legislature. The assailants wielded complaints, encouraged by Trump himself without any evidence, of fraud in last November's presidential election.

The assault occurred precisely when a joint session of the two chambers of Congress was held to ratify Biden's victory in the November elections.

Because of that attack, Trump was subjected to his second impeachment trial in the Senate, from which he was acquitted last February 13, after having already left the White House.

]]> <![CDATA[European Commission Defends Right to Acquire Sputnik V Vaccine]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 17:01:09 -04:00 His words refer to the Russian vaccine Sputnik V in the process of acceptance by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and only used within the supranational bloc to date in Hungary and Slovakia.

European Union (EU) countries that decide to purchase these vaccines will assume full responsibility for their actions, Mammer said, adding that from a legal point of view, EU states have the right to acquire drugs from suppliers that are not part of the European advance purchase agreements.


Germany Will Not Reject Russian Vaccine if Authorized by the EU

In recent days, the EMA started the authorization process for the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, with immunity results above 90 percent, according to studies published by the Moscow-based Gamaleya Epidemiology and Microbiology Research Center.

The drug should receive a conditional use license through this procedure and would join those already approved from suppliers BioNtech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca.

The immunizers produced by CureVac, Johnson & Johnson, and Sanofi-GSK are under study by the EU health authorities.

As an alternative way for the use within the bloc of some vaccine, there is the approval of emergency use, a mechanism that allows the acquisition of drugs not validated for marketing by the European Commission, according to Mammer.

The European health authorities currently report 37,501,177 people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, of whom 855,704 have died.

]]> <![CDATA['Stop Whining' Bolsonaro Says as Thousands of Brazilians Die]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 15:02:32 -04:00 Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrated his political handling of the pandemic through contradictory actions related to epidemiological restrictions.


Brazil Is the New World Epicenter of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Besides arguing that physical distancing is a "cowardly" measure, the far-right Capitan asked Brazilians to stop complaining about COVID-19 and called those calling on him to buy more vaccines "idiots."

"You have to face the problems. Enough of whims and complaining all the time. How long are you going to keep crying?... The Bible itself says in 365 passages that there is no need to fear," Bolsonaro said.

"We will fight the virus, but not in this ignorant, stupid, and suicidal way," he added, referring to the subnational governors who decreed measures to restrict physical mobility and distancing.

Notwithstanding the above, a few hours after those statements, the Culture Secretary announced that it will not analyze projects that could involve grant funding for artists in cities that are trying to fight the pandemic.

To justify this decision, the ministerial regulation argues that artistic activities involving contact with people are subject to epidemiological restrictions decreed by subnational governments.

Culture Secretary Mario Frias allowed that measure despite the fact that he is aligned with Bolsonaro's anti-lockdown discourse and uses it "on social networks to attack governors," as Folha de Sao Paulo recalled.

"If you are going to stay home, then there is no budget for projects that create agglomeration," Culture Promotion Secretary Andre Pocuincula tweeted.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia Arrests Organizers of Fatal University Rally in El Alto ]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 14:55:35 -04:00 A Bolivian court on Friday ordered the preventive detention of seven university leaders for the death of a group of students who fell almost 17 meters after the collapse of a railing at the El Alto Public University (UPEA).


UN Calls for Peaceful Subnational Elections in Bolivia

The Prosecutor's Office stated that the detainees face culpable homicide and culpable injuries charges committed against 11 students, 7 of whom passed away on Tuesday. 

The student leaders called for an assembly at UPEA facilities, which violated current health protocols prohibiting mass gatherings. Despite being aware of disputes among several students, they decided to maintain the reunion.

The male detainees will remain in detention at San Pedro prison and the female one at Obrajes for four months. 

"Lower Chamber's 66th plenary ordinary session starts with a minute of silence in tribute and solidarity to the university students who lost their lives in the tragic accident at UPEA."

On Tuesday, an extraordinary assembly took place at UPEA's fourth floor where around 500 economics and financial sciences students gathered. 

Videos show how some of the university students began to push each other and, due to the people's agglomeration, the railing that supported them collapsed. 

"Violence does not resolve conflicts, but it always has fatal consequences. All our solidarity to the families and UPEA community for the irreparable loss of young students," Bolivia's Vice President David Choquehuanca tweeted. 

]]> <![CDATA[Chile Issued Tsunami Alert After Earthquake in New Zealand]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 14:39:36 -04:00 Chile's coastal residents on Thursday had to be evacuated from beaches due to a tsunami threat generated after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake struck New Zealand on March 4.


Chile to Mark the First Anniversary of its Social Outbreak

Authorities decided on the evacuation after the Naval Hydrographic and Oceanographic Service (SHOA) declared a "state of precaution" for the coastline.

The Interior Ministry explained given that the earthquake occurred far from the country, the tsunami was "minor" and had from 30 centimeters to one meter in height.

On Friday, the wave was perceptible on Easter Island as of 1h00 local time and on the mainland as of 4h00.

The earthquake occurred at 16h28 and its epicenter was registered 1,169 kilometers northeast of Auckland, New Zealand. No damage or deaths were reported.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center informed the phenomenon could cause dangerous waves within 300 kilometers of the earthquake's epicenter. 

The institution added that Peru, El Salvador, and Guatemala were affected. It also issued tsunami warnings for the U.S. Pacific islands of Guam, the Cook Islands, and Hawaii.

]]> <![CDATA[Paraguay: Health Minister Resigns To Avoid Further Scandal]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 13:48:14 -04:00 Paraguay's Health Minister Julio Mazzoleni on Friday handed over his resignation letter amid the country's pressing health emergency due to the increase in COVID-19 contagions and the lack of medicines.


Paraguay: Sanitary Crisis Could Trigger Social Unrest

Mazzoleni noted that the decision was taken in consensus with Paraguay's President Mario Abdo Benitez to ease political tensions over the handling of the pandemic.

The move comes just one day after the Senate approved a declaration demanding Mazzoleni, Health Vice-Minister Julio Borba, and Health Surveillance Director Guillermo Sequera to resign.

Criticisms against Mazzoleni's response to the epidemiological emergency grew high over the last months as health care workers took to the streets in Asuncion to demand medicines to assist COVID-19 patients.

Borba will interim in the position until the nomination of a new minister. The Physicians National Union Secretary Rosana Gonzalez advocated for nominating a medical professional who is not a politician.

"We have fears about who will be the new minister because we do not want to hear that because he is new in the post he will be given time to understand the current crisis," Gonzalez said.

The delay in the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines has also triggered demonstrations in the South American nation. President Benitez, however, informed that one million Sputnik V doses will arrive in "the coming months."

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina Repeals Macri's Anti-Migrant Decree]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 12:34:52 -04:00 President Alberto Fernandez on Friday repealed a decree that restricted entries and stays of foreigners in Argentina. Heavily criticized for its legal effects, the provision was enacted in 2017 by then-President Mauricio Macri (2015-2019).


Argentina's President to Sue Mauricio Macri Over IMF Loan

In the repealing text of that norm, Fernandez noted that the migratory measures adopted by the Macri administration "result irreconcilable with both the national Constitution and the international system for the protection of human rights."

The 2017 decree contains elements that violate legal principles related to due process, the right to legal assistance, duly justified detention, and family reunification rights. It also restricted the capacity of the Judiciary to control the acts of administrative authorities.

The Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) explained that the repeal of the decree eliminates contradictions in the Argentine legal framework.

This South American country will be able to reaffirm the principles of its Migration Law related to the right to migrate, migration regularization, non-discrimination, non-criminalization, and due process in all procedures.

CELS recalled that the Macri administration violated those norms given that its decree allowed the "express" detention and deportation of migrants who were subject to any type of criminal proceedings even if they had not been convicted.

"That rule even affected foreigners with permanent residency. It was applied without considering their years of residence and social ties," CELS pointed out.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico: Gangs Are Likely To Influence in Elections in 7 States]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 12:18:59 -04:00 Mexico's Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection Rosa Rodriguez on Thursday reported on seven states where there is a higher risk of organized crime interference in June's subnational elections.


64 Politicians Killed Amid Electoral Process

Morelos, Guerrero, Michoacan, Oaxaca, Veracruz, Sinaloa, and Jalisco are the states where there are risks of pressures and homicides by criminal gangs against candidates. These groups collude with local politicians and authorities to offer financing, donations, or personal protection for electoral campaigns. 

"They establish fear campaigns to intimidate the political class and citizens. They assassinate, threaten, co-opt, impose, and finance," Rodriguez said.

"Among their strategies of violence are homicide, kidnappings, deprivation of liberty, intimidation of families, burning of homes, and extortion," she added. 

Describing the criminal groups in these states as "the party of the crime," the Security Secretariat is set to deploy federal forces to detect threats, risks, and vulnerabilities ahead of Election day. 

Rodriguez highlighted that it is a priority to provide protection to candidates and reinforce security in municipalities. At least, 73 crimes related to political events have been registered so far, 64 of which have taken place in Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Veracruz, Guerrero, Morelos, Baja California, and Jalisco. 

On Jun. 6, over 21,000 local posts will be at stake, including 500 federal lawmakers positions, 1,63 local congresses, 17,000 city council offices, 15 governorships, and over 1,900 municipal presidencies.

]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis Begins Historic Visit to Iraq]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 13:25:41 -04:00 Pope Francis on Friday called for an end to extremism and violence upon his arrival in Iraq on the first-ever papal visit to the country.


Pope Francis Demands To Reduce Sanctions Against Countries

"May there be an end to factions and intolerance," urged Francis in his first address to the nation after arriving at Baghdad International Airport.

During the three-day trip, the Pontiff will approach Iraq's Christian minorities and seek to build bridges with Islam after meeting with one of its leaders, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

The visit is Pope Francis’ first travel abroad since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. "Nothing could stop this trip. I had the obligation to come to this land martyred for years,” he said.

"The long presence of Christians in this land, and their contributions to the life of the nation, constitute a rich heritage," Pope Francis added.

On Sunday, the Pope will offer a Mass for 10,000 people in a stadium in Erbil, capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Region. The rest of his appearances will be behind closed doors and with a reduced number of participants.

His visit takes place while the country is confined and under extreme health measures. "I'll try to follow directions and not shake hands with everyone, but I don't want to stay too far," Francis said.

Iraq, long scarred by war, is now facing the second wave of COVID-19 infections, with over 5,000 new cases and dozens of deaths per day.

]]> <![CDATA[Canada: Braided Warriors Calls for Release of Stacy Gallagher]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 10:57:30 -04:00 Canadian citizens on Thursday took to the street in Vancouver to demand the release of environmental activist Stacy Gallagher who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for protesting against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.


Canada Includes US Far-Right Group Proud Boys on Terrorist List

The rally was organized by Braided Warriors, an Indigenous organization that promotes the respect of Indigenous rights and sovereignty in the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, and Musqueam territories. 

Protesters blocked and forced the shutdown of Hastings St. and Clark Drive, an intersection connecting Vancouver's port. Although the protest was carried out peacefully, the Police held in detention four people who were released on a promise to appear in court. 

Gallagher, 58, along with Indigenous elder Jim Leyden, was charged with criminal contempt for violating an injunction that prohibits people from obstructing Trans Mountain pipeline’s routes. In 2019, she staged protests in Burnaby city where the pipeline system ends.

On June 18, 2019, Canada's Government approved the Trans Mountain Expansion Project that seeks to increase pipeline capacity to 890,000 barrels per day by adding another pipe in 1,150 kilometers between Strathcona County, Alberta, and Burnaby.

In February, the Braided Warriors also demonstrated near two insurance companies that backed the pipeline extension. The protest lasted for three days before being disbanded by police.

"The sacred fire is lit at Clark and Hastings port blockade. We demand that charges laid against Indigenous land defenders be dropped, and the colonial systems that criminalize Indigenous peoples be dismantled," Braided Warriors tweeted.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela's National Assembly Orders Guaido to Appear in Court]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 11:49:30 -04:00 A Special Parliamentary Commission Thursday asked Venezuela's National Assembly (AN) to order Juan Guaido and 61 of his collaborators to appear in court over corruption scandals.


Guaido Steals US$40 Million of Venezuelan Assets, Report Holds

The president of the Commission that investigates damages against Venezuela between 2016-2021, Jose Brito, informed that the list of opposition members called to appear before justice includes Guaido's 37 self-proclaimed "diplomatic representatives" abroad.

Brito also requested the NA for a 45-day extension to continue investigating the corruption scheme led by Guaido, who is accused of illegally appropriating the assets of CITGO Petroleum Corporation, a subsidiary of Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA) in the United States.

"We have never had in our history corruption events like those committed by Juan Guaido and his gang. They enriched themselves with the nation's resources," Venezuelan Comptroller Elvis Amoroso recalled.

"The sentences against corrupt politicians must be more severe to compensate the patrimonial damage they do to the country," he stressed and urged lawmakers to modify the laws that sanction acts of corruption and mafias.

In 2020, the Venezuelan judicial system received 216 requests for actions against Guaido to uncover the corruption network he leads.

This U.S.-backed opposition politician is also being investigated for appropriating the Colombia-based Monomeros company, the Venezuelan money blocked in international banks, and humanitarian aid sent to the country.

]]> <![CDATA[German Court Suspends Surveillance of Far-Right Party]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 10:40:57 -04:00 Cologne's Administrative Court on Friday temporarily banned German secret services from surveilling the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.


German Bishops' Conference Elects Woman as Secretary-General

The decision came two days after the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) classified the political organization as a "case under investigation", allowing authorities to conduct ongoing surveillance of the entire party structure.

The Cologne court's decision, which can be appealed to the Higher Court of Munster, came in response to a complaint by the AfD against the BfV.

The definition of the AfD as a "suspicious" case, which was unprecedented in the country, would have allowed the authorities to exert pressure on this nationalist and xenophobic group. Among other things, intelligence agencies could have intercepted telephone conversations and funded informants.

The German secret services based their decision on a 1,001-page report that includes evidence of alleged AfD violations against the democratic order compiled by jurists and experts since 2019.

That evidence includes, for example, hundreds of public statements by militant AfD, links to other far-right organizations, and indications of a growing disposition toward violent actions.

Germany will hold six regional elections in the coming months and a general election on September 26. The electoral consequences of these developments are difficult to foresee given that the AfD is currently the third-largest party in the German lower house (Bundestag).

However, this far-right grouping is experiencing serious difficulties in defining its political proposal due to a long-standing internal dispute between a pragmatic sector and a more radical branch.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan Soldiers Pay Tribute to Commander Hugo Chavez]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 10:19:59 -04:00 Venezuela's National Armed Forces (FANB) Friday started the 2021 "Bolivarian Shield" Exercise in honor of the eighth anniversary of the death of former President Hugo Chavez.


Legacy of Hugo Chavez a Force in Venezuela and Latin America

The soldiers' deployment throughout the country began at 6:00 am local time and it will last until Sunday, March 7.

"The military maneuvers will show to the world that the FANB is ready to confront any threats against our sovereignty and territorial integrity," President Nicolas Maduro said and informed that the national police will also take part in the operation.

Over the weekend, the FANB Strategic Operational Command (Ceofanb) "will be deployed in every territory to combat any attempt of violent activity," the Command leader Remigio Ceballos tweeted.

The Bolivarian Shield Exercise "will evidence the unity of the FANB and the Venezuelan people," he added.

On February 25, the president informed the military activities would begin on the day Venezuela remembers Commander Chavez's death, which occurred in Caracas on March 5, 2013.

"Amid the pain, I could hold his hand in his last seconds of life. I asked him to always enlighten us to complete his work of hope and equality. Today, he is guiding our steps," Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza tweeted.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: Commons Party Proposes Hearing on the Armed Conflict]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 09:27:08 -04:00 The Commons Party (Comunes) President Rodrigo Londoño on Thursday requested Colombia's Truth Commission (CEV) President Francisco de Roux a public hearing to reveal information regarding the armed conflict.


Colombian Senator Demands President Duque Admit to State Crimes

This request was also supported by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) ex-chief Salvatore Mancuso who faces extradition from the U.S.

The hearing will aim to "make known as many truths as possible" about the internal conflict and should be attended by human rights organizations and media. 

"We are obliged to put together the puzzle of the tragedy, to establish its causes, to unveil all that is hidden, to indicate who are the hidden accomplices, and to seek definitive solutions to the violence," Londoño said.

Previously, Mancuso sent a letter to De Roux in which he expressed fears of attempts on his life if he were to be extradited to his country. He also mentioned that the Colombian State does not want the truths to be known to evade its responsibility.

"We have never seen almost the entire state apparatus politically and legally persecute a person, all because of how uncomfortable my truths have been and continue to be because they are trying to shut me up at any cost," Mancuso wrote.

The CEV is a temporary and extrajudicial mechanism emanating from the 2016 Peace Agreements. It must contribute to the clarification of the violations and infractions committed during the armed conflict.

]]> <![CDATA[More US States Drop Mask Mandates Amid Increasing Infections]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 08:18:54 -04:00 More U.S. states have announced plans to drop mask mandates amid still high baseline levels of new COVID-19 cases nationwide and increasing variant infections, drawing criticism from health experts.


US: House Passes Police Reform Bill Named After George Floyd

Governors of Texas and Mississippi announced on Tuesday that they would halt mask mandates and reopen their states, allowing businesses to operate at full capacity. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced she would lift her state's mask mandate in about a month. She said that beginning on April 9, wearing masks will be "a matter of personal responsibility and not a government mandate."

Earlier this month, governors of Iowa and Montana announced they would lift social distancing measures and mask mandates.

North Dakota issued a mask mandate in November 2020 which expired in January. Officials did not renew it due to a drop in cases and hospitalizations while allowing for local safety protocols to be enacted.

These states joined more than a dozen other states that never required face coverings statewide. The states' decisions to drop mask mandates came as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned against complacency in the face of emerging coronavirus variants. It drew great concern and criticism from officials and experts.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday called it a "big mistake" for states to end mask mandates.

"Cases in the country are leveling off at rates just on the cusp of potential to resurge," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a Wednesday briefing on the reopenings. She added the COVID-19 variant that first emerged in Britain, known as B.1.1.7, "looms ready to hijack our successes to date."

The decision of states leaders to roll back restriction measures is "inexplicable," said Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease expert. The baseline level of coronavirus cases needs to fall further before the country can confidently resume normal activities, even as the vaccine rollout accelerates.

Fauci noted that in past periods of the pandemic, "when we started to pull back prematurely, we saw the rebound. We definitely don't want that to happen."

Currently, nearly 2,600 infection cases of coronavirus variants have been reported in the United States.

]]> <![CDATA[Salvadoreans Protest Against El Mozote Massacre Impunity]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 09:02:05 -04:00 El Salvador's human rights defenders, survivors, and relatives of victims of the El Mozote massacre on Thursday protested in front of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (ICHR) headquarters to demand justice for the crime.


El Salvador: Classes To Resume in February If COVID-19 Allows

"Thirty-nine years have passed and there is still no justice for the victims. The government continues to hinder the investigation," said Oscar Claros, whose sister was one of the 1,000 people killed by the Army in the El Mozote in 1981.

The protest coincided with a virtual hearing convened by the ICHR to analyze the judicial process failure and the systematic blocking of military archives that would shed light on the events.

In this hearing, the victim's relative lawyer Camila Ormar denounced that the Armed Forces and President Nayib Bukele's administration continue to prevent the judge in charge of the case, Jorge Guzman, to investigate those files.

"Bukele and the officials are committing crimes of breach of duty, disobedience, and cover-ups of crimes," Guzman said and added that he will keep moving forward with the investigation despite the obstacles.

From December 10 to 13, 1981, the Salvadorean Army executed thousands of civilians in El Mozote and nearby communities in the Morazan Department, believing that guerrillas of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) were hiding there. Over 500 victims were children and babies.

In 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held the Salvadorean State responsible for the massacre and called for investigations into this crime, the largest massacre in recent Latin American history.

]]> <![CDATA[Hugo Chavez: Now and Forever]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2021 07:31:08 -04:00 CHAVEZ: FOR NOW AND FOREVER | 1995-1998

During the last years of the XX century, the world witnessed the advance of ethnoreligious fundamentalism and the inclement imposition of savage neoliberalism. These phenomena, which began to manifest themselves with great force after the fall of the Socialist Bloc and the emergence of a unipolar world, are expressed in acts of terrorism concentrated in the USA's territory and interests and macroeconomic application adjustment plans in Latin America and Europe.

 Legacy of Hugo Chavez a Force in Venezuela and Latin America

Terrorism Made in the USA

In 1995, white supremacist Timothy McVeigh exploded a truck bomb that destroyed a large part of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. This episode, which left 168 people dead and more than 600 injured, became the largest attack of its kind perpetrated on U.S. soil since the first attack on the Twin Towers in New York two years earlier. Extremism does not stop. During the summer of 1996, a Christian fanatic named Eric Rudolph detonated a backpack of explosives in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. The XXVI Olympic Games were being held in that city. That year, a device exploded in a residential complex in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, where U.S. military personnel stayed. Three months later, on September 26, Taliban paramilitary forces seized the city of Kabul and established the government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

This escalation reached a peak in 1998 with the simultaneous attack on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. This operation was organized by members of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda, whose founder, Osama bin Laden, had been trained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as part of the program to support guerrilla groups opposing Soviet incursions in the Middle East between 1978 and 1989.

Transatlantic Neoliberalism


In the 1990s, the application of the neoliberal doctrine in Latin American and European economies also took off with violence. In 1995, Carlos Menem and Alberto Fujimori were reelected as presidents of Argentina and Peru, respectively. Both governments, faithful followers of the Washington Consensus's recommendations, continued the State's economic dismantling policies, which had already begun five years earlier. Strategic sectors such as electric power, hydrocarbons, communications, and agricultural production were handed over to transnational consortiums and conglomerates.

The anti-state onslaught also found partners in the Old Continent. At the end of the decade, the European Union reported an increase in revenues from public sector sales. These figures corresponded to the Portuguese government's announcements in 1996 when it presented a national privatization plan starting with Telecom and Cimpor (telecommunications and cement). That same year, José María Aznar, leader of the conservative right-wing Popular Party, won the Spanish presidential elections and headed an administration that, in only two years, negotiated away 43 public enterprises in a process marked by clientelism, undervaluation of assets, and fraudulent awarding of concessions.


Denationalization vs. Constituent

As for Venezuela, during the second government of Rafael Caldera (1994 - 1999), the final adjustments are made for the country's intensive denationalization. In his first message to Congress, on March 10, 1995, the last ruler of "Punto Fijoism" informed the Nation that "The opening of strategic associations in oil matters is already submitted, in accordance with the law, to the Legislative Chambers. " In other words, PDVSA had already been negotiated. On April 15, 1996, Caldera announced to the country the Venezuela Agenda, which repeated the neoliberal formula of the Great Turnaround presented by Carlos Andres Perez in 1989 and which paved the way for an agreement with the IMF.

In 1997, PDVSA's President, Luis Giusti, announced to the country the decision to eliminate Corpoven, Lagoven, and Maraven to "rationalize costs." At the same time, a shareholders' meeting decided to definitively liquidate Venezolana Internacional de Aviación, Sociedad Anónima (VIASA), which had been privatized since 1991. This induced bankruptcy left more than 100 people unemployed.

The situation worsened with the Organic Labor Law (LOT) approval published in the Extraordinary Official Gazette No. 5,152 of June 19, 1997. Its content stipulates the elimination of the retroactive calculation of workers' social benefits. This legal framework, which invalidates labor seniority and opens the way to the suppression of public social security, is the product of an unconsulted agreement reached by a leadership made up of the Central Office of Coordination and Planning of the Presidency of the Republic (Cordiplan), Fedecámaras and the Venezuelan Workers' Central (CTV).

By 1998, U.S., Canadian, and Japanese investors had already participated in the auction of oil fields. They carried out inspections in gas and gold deposits in the east and south of the country. Protests by students, teachers, and doctors became increasingly frequent among many other unions and organizations, reflecting the generalized social discontent and the ineffectiveness of a dying government system.

Between 1995 and 1998, the ruling class programs the Nation's main resources' surrender, social exclusion rises to alarming levels, and the "partyocracy" continuously fragments after four decades in power. During this period, Commander Hugo Chávez strengthens the national structure of the Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucionario 200 (MBR- 200), formulates an anti-liberal program synthesized in the Agenda Alternativa Bolivariana, and creates the Movimiento V República, as the political party that electorally drives the Bolivarian Revolution and manages to channel "...that avalanche that was unleashed by Venezuela, and which was nothing else but the awakening of the constituent power of the people."


For now... none. Constituent Assembly now!


Commander Chávez is released from Yare prison and immediately assumes the crucial mission of cohesion of the MBR-200 throughout the national territory and re-launching its political activity. His objectives were to foster the will for change in the majorities and to give optimism to a people that "...was once again claiming its right to dream and, even more, its obligation to fight for the dream. Thus, at that moment, the idea of political utopia returned to the national mind. In other words: the desire for a new country with more justice and less corruption began to exist in the collective imagination".

Under the slogan Hope is in the streets, Chávez travels through villages, towns, and cities, speaking in squares throughout the country, giving speeches in public events, and making statements in press conferences and radio programs. Between March and June 1994, he undertakes the Hundred Days Tour, the first of the tours through the people's living spaces. Later, invited by social organizations, political personalities, and academic institutions, he visits Colombia, Panama, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and Cuba between July and December of that year. In the land of José Martí, he meets Commander Fidel Castro for the first time. He establishes with him a relationship of friendship and revolutionary commitment, which would define the historical time to come.

At that time, Fidel leads a solitary struggle against neoliberal aggression. The Cuban people represent a worthy bastion of socialism in Our America and the world, at a time marked by the intensification of the economic blockade imposed by the U.S. in 1962. In his closing speech at the homage ceremony given to the leader of MBR-200, which was organized in the auditorium of the University of Havana, on December 14, 1994, Comandante Fidel defines, with these words, the political potential he sees in Comandante Chávez: "What is certain is that a great popular commotion is occurring in Venezuela, and the prestige and support for that group of officers and soldiers led by Hugo Chávez grew like foam."

Soon Chávez's face and message begin to be recognized, inside and outside Venezuela. In 1995, a political and media offensive was unleashed against him, which would never cease. His visits, contacts, and postures assumed during his trip through Latin America, turn him into an object of attacks that point him out, on the one hand, as a member of international communism and, on the other hand, as the leader of a Grandcolombian guerrilla movement.

In this context, on February 25, a contingent of the Colombian National Liberation Army (ELN) attacked a Marine Infantry river post located in Cararabo, a border town in Apure state, killing eight Venezuelan soldiers and wounding five others. Colombian authorities and press were quick to link Chavez to the events. Even the President of Colombia, Ernesto Samper, participates in this ambush and publicly affirms that the Commander is linked to the ELN's actions and held meetings with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Soon after, Chávez returns to Bogotá, faces the situation before the Colombian media, places himself at the order of the authorities of the Court Martial and the Ministry of Defense to be investigated, and informs public opinion that there is no reliable evidence to support such accusations.

During this year, Chávez positions himself as a future political leader. The MBR-200 begins to receive offers from leftist parties seeking to establish alliances and define joint candidacies before the 1995 regional elections. However, the Commander says that the "... Venezuelan people have awakened, it is no longer easy to deceive them; and forces are being organized that will to make another country possible...". Decided not to participate in the elections, which he considers "illegal and illegitimate." Although, Commander Francisco Arias Cardenas, one of the leading figures of the MBR-200, finally accepts the support of La Causa R (LCR) for the governorship of the State of Zulia, in its majority, the revolutionary Bolivarian forces remain united and call for "active abstention," under a slogan that will resonate and mark the path in the following years: "For now...for none. Constituent Assembly now!"


A proposal to get out of the labyrinth


Since January 1996, the harassment and imprisonment of MBR-200 militants had increased. The Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (Disip) was the Caldera government's force to sustain fierce persecution against university professors, professionals, students, cultural leaders, and popular leaders who sympathized with the Bolivarian cause.

In the following months, the National Congress discussed the Oil Opening contract. Alí Rodríguez Araque, deputy for LCR, denounced the unconstitutional nature of the negotiation, which compromised the royalties received by the State for production and raised the scenario of Venezuela's exit from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC); an entity that is seen as a stumbling block for the interests of the transnationals that would come to control PDVSA.

Despite the police siege, Comandante Chávez does not stop. He begins to write "La columna patriota" in the newspaper La Razón, where he outlines his political reflections, economic analysis, and opinions on national and international events. Also, he keeps moving and travels around the country, presenting in forums, workshops, seminars and discussions, the Bolivarian Alternative Agenda (AAB), which "...breaks with the neoliberal foundation, rebels against it; demolishes the narrow and black walls of the unilateral, fragmentary and reductionist vision, to look around and perceive reality in all its magnitude, through a humanistic, integral, holistic and ecological approach".

This action program identifies two national problem areas: poverty and denationalization. 1) "To raise in the short term the level and quality of life of the Venezuelan population above the basic threshold, constituted by the set of their physical needs (food, health, housing), social needs (security, integration, equality, freedom), cultural needs (education, sports, recreation, creativity), political needs (participation, protagonism)" "To contribute to the vindication of our national independence and the reaffirmation of our sovereignty."

Comandante Chávez takes his proposal to the VI Forum of São Paulo, which gathered the leading organizations of the Latin American left, in the city of San Salvador, between September 26 and 29, 1996. From his participation in this encounter, which positions him in the international left's political scenario, the tendentious press links Chávez with an alleged purchase of arms in Central America and the organization of another military rebellion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the MBR-200 emerges as a force to take power by armed means, fourteen years after its creation, it has become a political organization, which brings together the ideas and expectations of a whole collective. The plans are no longer aimed at a violent resolution of a situation of injustice but rather at the common construction of the possible Homeland, based on popular participation. This is what Chávez affirms, four years after February 4, 1992, when he confirms that "...we have a proposal to get out of the labyrinth, that is what we have called it, a Bolivarian Alternative Agenda that must begin with a call for a referendum. Today we must ask Venezuelans if they want Caldera to continue governing or not, a referendum, and if they want a Constituent Assembly or not, that is the peaceful solution that can prevent us from what you were saying, a situation of uncertainty, a social explosion again, that is our proposal".


The construction of a new Republic, the "V Republic."

During 1997, Caldera's ministerial cabinet, in agreement with the political leadership of the Venezuelan Workers' Central and the national economic interests grouped in Fedecámaras, fulfilled a good part of the financial commitments acquired with the IMF and the World Bank. The deepening of the Venezuela Agenda is still in progress. It is concretely expressed in acute labor insecurity, the government's refusal to consider a fair salary remuneration, and the imposition of strong increases in public services' tariffs.

In this pre-electoral year, the political parties seek to rearrange themselves through pacts that become empty and ephemeral. In the National Congress, A.D. and Convergencia joined forces to counteract the so-called Triple Alliance, formed by Copei, LCR, and the Movement towards Socialism (MAS), and internal tensions and quarrels also surfaced, resulting in a wave of division. From AD, Apertura arose, led by Carlos Andrés Pérez and Renovación, headed by Claudio Fermín. On the other hand, LCR split, giving rise to Patria Para Todos (PPT), led by Pablo Medina and Aristóbulo Istúriz.

As to the popular movement led by Chávez, it is worth mentioning that "When we arrived in 1997, there was not a state in Venezuela where there was no MBR-200 command". Given this panorama, a change of strategy is approaching. Although Bolivarian cadres remained active in the Armed Forces, vigilance had become more extreme, and many were performing duties in isolated border posts. After exchanging impressions, evaluating logistical availability, and weighing operational capacities, the Commander concludes "...that it was not possible, in the short term, to launch, with any possibility of success, a new military operation of the 4-F type, or civic-military as that of November 27. " In addition to this, the MBR-200 contracts an opinion survey, made from more than 100,000 consultations throughout Venezuela, whose results indicate that Chávez's presidential candidacy has an approximate acceptance of 55%.

Considering these factors, the Comandante decides to give the MBR-200 an electoral character without abandoning the objective of revolutionizing the hegemonic structures of power through the Constituent Power. This proposal encounters strong opposition among militants and leaders who follow Chávez; however, after intense days of debate and reflection, on April 19, 1997, in a National Assembly summoned in Valencia, the V Republic Movement (MVR) is born, which chooses Chávez as a candidate for the 1998 presidential elections.

Thus begins the "massive tactical offensive " of the Bolivarian Revolution. The MVR is erected to transfer decision-making to the people and channel the creation of a participative and protagonist democracy. With the registration of the new political party, which is formalized before the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) on July 30 of that year, "A leadership of the new century begins to take shape and will bring with it the realization of dreams and hopes..." From then on, Chávez sets in motion the set of strategies that will give the floor to the deep transformation of Venezuelan society, through the " of a new Republic, the "V Republic," that is to say, a new political system (...) through the 1999 Constituent Assembly, after taking power by means of the vote in 1998."


Venezuela, we might as well say, has entered the 21st century.

In 1998 the last elections of the IV Republic took place. The two-party adeco-copeyano system, which had dominated for more than three decades, was shaken for the first time with Caldera's victory in 1993. On that occasion, the founder of Copei separates from his party and creates Convergencia, an inorganic organization based on Christian democracy, which functions as his electoral platform to forge a popularly known coalition as the chiripero.

Stripped of the Presidency, A.D. and Copei took refuge in the Parliament and managed to participate in the negotiations of the Oil Opening in 1996 and approve the disastrous labor legislation of 1997. In 1998, the modification of the Organic Law of Suffrage and Political Participation, which stipulates the division of that year's elections, is endorsed. The regional and parliamentary elections would take place in November. The presidential elections would be held in December. With this maneuver, the two-party adeco-copeyano, the MAS and LCR, seek to assure spaces in governorships, mayorships, and seats because they have not yet defined who their candidates for the first mandate of the Republic will be.
As the campaign begins, three independent options emerge 1)
Irene Sáez, who served as Mayor of the municipality of Chacao since 1992 and represented the organization Integración, Renovación, Nueva Esperanza (Irene); 2) Henrique Salas Römer, former Governor of Carabobo from 1990 - 1996 and founder of Proyecto Venezuela and 3) Commander Hugo Chávez, leader of the MVR. As the months go by, Copei and LCR gave their support to Irene. Meanwhile, A.D. launches Luis Alfaro Ucero, Governor of Monagas between 1965 - 1968, Congress member on several occasions, and General Secretary of his party.

On his part, Chávez succeeds in organizing "...a vast popular movement;
With this support, the MVR agglutinates the left in the Polo Patriotico and, on November 8, becomes the second political force in Congress, with 35 deputies and 8 senators. It also managed to win the governorship of Barinas and contributed to the victory in Anzoátegui, Aragua, Guárico, Lara, Vargas, and Zulia.

When December arrives, the Commander is positioned as the first option in most of the polls. His inevitable take-off causes havoc in the partycracy, which seeks to rearrange its cards. The Copeyanos and Adecos, abandon Irene and Alfaro Ucero, respectively, to join forces with Salas Römer. This last-minute move, which is due to desperation and not to political calculation, intends to stop the overwhelming advance of the MVR. In this regard, two days before the presidential election, Chávez affirms the following: "I believe that the rotten leaderships of A.D. and Copei are doing a last service to Venezuela, they have torn off Mr. Salas' mask, if he had one, for some Venezuelan sectors. They have thrown it to the floor".

Finally, on December 6, the popular victory is consummated. Commander Hugo Chávez is elected as the new President of the Republic of Venezuela, with 3,673,685 votes, representing 56.20% of the national electorate. The end of the IV Republic arrives without a single act of violence, and the floodgates of the Concrete Utopia outlined by the Commander in the Blue Book are opened. The Constituent Assembly and the Simón Bolívar National Project find the ground cleared for the Homeland sowing, which has waited so many years to be reborn. Undoubtedly, another time is beginning for the people, and the path of History is widening, along which the majorities will now walk.

Thus announces Commander Chávez in the speech he delivers in front of the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas, a few moments after knowing the decision of the Venezuelan people: "Let us all unite, and we will be invincible. I call you. Let us now open the road to the new Venezuela. I repeat, compatriots, here from the depths of my soul, my gratitude. I am full of love. And from now on, count on me forever, with greater vigor, with greater dedication, you have begun to write the pages of the new century. Venezuela, we could well say it, has entered the 21st century.

]]> <![CDATA[US: House Passes Police Reform Bill Named After George Floyd ]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 22:50:42 -04:00 House lawmakers on Wednesday passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a sweeping police reform bill that would ban chokeholds and alter so-called qualified immunity for law enforcement, making it easier to pursue claims of police misconduct.


US Capitol on Alert Over ‘Possible Plot’ for March 4 Attack

The wide-ranging legislation would also ban no-knock warrants in certain cases, mandate data collection on police encounters, prohibit racial and religious profiling, and redirect funding to community-based policing programs.

"Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them," said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., in a statement. "Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota."

The 220-212 vote, mostly along party lines, came nine months after Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed by Minneapolis police officers almost a year ago.

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota said during the debate before the vote that Minneapolis is still traumatized by Floyd's death. "Time and time again, we have witnessed the people who are sworn to protect our communities abuse their power," she said.

A version of the bill passed in the House last year, but it was later killed in the Republican-controlled Senate. This new bill will require Senate Democrats to sway at least 10 Republican members to be approved in the Senate.

Republicans claim that the legislation goes too far and would prevent police from doing their jobs effectively. Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida said on the House floor Wednesday that the bill would "weaken and possibly destroy our community's police forces."

The Biden administration has been pushing for the approval of the bill in recent weeks and released a statement urging the House to vote in favor of the proposal: "To make our communities safe, we must begin by rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the people they are entrusted to serve and protect. We cannot rebuild that trust if we do not hold police officers accountable for abuses of power and tackle systemic misconduct – and systemic racism – in police departments."

]]> <![CDATA[New Zealand's NEMA Lifts Tsunami Threat After 8-Magnitude Quake]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 22:35:39 -04:00 New Zealand lifted tsunami evacuation orders covering large swathes of its coastline Friday, declaring “the largest waves have now passed” after a swarm of powerful offshore earthquakes.

“All people who evacuated can now return,“ said the National Emergency Management Agency, which ordered tens of thousands of residents to flee for higher ground after a series of tremors early Friday.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of New Zealand Friday had launched the third consecutive tsunami warning after an 8-magnitude quake, the third strong quake overnight, rattled at 8:25 a.m. local time at the Kermadec Islands, around 1,100 km north of the North Island of New Zealand.

The NEMA urged local people to move immediately to the nearest high ground, out of all tsunami evacuation zones, or as far inland as possible and not to stay at home until further message from the NEMA.

Previously, another 7.4-magnitude quake jolted Raoul Island, the largest island of the Kermadec Islands, at 6:41 a.m. local time.

Large coastal areas including the north and the east part of the North Island are affected.

The NEMA warned, "Do not return until an official all-clear message is given by Civil Defence. Walk, run or cycle if at all possible to reduce the chances of getting stuck in traffic congestion. The first wave may not be the largest. Tsunami activity will continue for several hours and the threat is real until this warning is cancelled."

Another massive 7.1-magnitude earthquake rattled at 2:27 a.m. local time about 95 km east of Te Araroa, the far northeast point of the North Island of New Zealand, causing "severe" shakings and sparking tsunami warnings, reported GeoNet NZ.

The quake is defined as "terrifying" and "biggest one I've ever felt" by locals, causing severe shaking felt throughout much of the country.

Trains were halted and lines across eastern parts of the North Island closed ahead of track inspection for possible quake damage. 

]]> <![CDATA[US to Continue Using Guaido to Rob Venezuelan Assets Abroad]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 22:30:47 -04:00 The conversation held by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken with opponent Juan Guaidó is evidence that Joe Biden's government will continue to use the former Venezuelan parliament member to appropriate all the resources Venezuela holds abroad, according to international analyst Laila Tajeldine, Sputnik reported.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Talks With Juan Guaido

Blinken held a telephone conversation with Guaidó on March 2 and reiterated that the U.S. government continues to support all kinds of pressure on President Nicolás Maduro, with allies such as the European Union, the Lima Group, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the International Contact Group.

"The United States is completely following Citgo (a subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela), which is still in a legal process, and the figure of Guaidó allows it to retain Venezuelan assets abroad; until that is not done, the United States is going to continue using the figure of Guaidó to steal all the resources, and once the objectives are fulfilled it will discard it," Tajeldine said.


According to the lawyer, Venezuela is not surprised by this stance of the new U.S. administration since Blinken had vowed publicly before assuming his current position a continuation of the Trump policies (2017-2021).

Early in the year, President Maduro had indicated hope in a change in relations with the United States "on the basis of mutual respect, dialogue, communication and understanding" after Biden's arrival to power.

However, the analyst emphasizes the existence of a right-wing sector in the U.S. opposed to any change in the current status of confrontation because it bets on the destabilization of Venezuela to get hold of its resources.

"The U.S. economic lobby opts rather for the destabilization or destruction of the institutions and the State in Venezuela, and that lobby is the one that is saying that it is more convenient a destroyed Venezuela, a failed State in which they can arrive through intervention and steal all the resources," he argued.

In his dialogue with Guaidó, Blinken also highlighted the "importance of a return to democracy in Venezuela through free and fair elections."

In that sense, the international analyst pointed out that the call for elections is the United States' strategy to justify its actions against Venezuela.

"Calling for free and fair elections is part of a repetitive discourse, worn out, and that evidently exposes that the only thing they want is to have more time to finish stealing Venezuela's assets," she commented.

The Venezuelan government has reiterated that the United States stole more than 30 billion dollars with the imposition of coercive measures, which prevents it from any type of financing.

The executive has requested the lifting of the economic sanctions to face the COVID-19 pandemic and to be able to purchase vaccines, supplies, and medicines freely.

]]> <![CDATA[Women's Day Rallies Banned in Madrid, Feminists Fight Back]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 22:22:36 -04:00 The Delegation of the Government of Spain in Madrid banned all demonstrations on March 7 or 8 during Women's Day, alleging health measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision has sparked widespread criticism since other rallies, even fascist groups, have been allowed in previous months.


Spain: 109 People Arrested Over Rapper Pablo Hasél Protests

"I have decided to prohibit for public health reasons all the demonstrations and concentrations called because we are at a time where the Community of Madrid continues to be one of the territories in Spain with the highest rate of infections, as well as hospitalized people, well above the national average," said Delegate José Manuel Franco.

"In Spain, the government delegation in Madrid (PSOE) will not allow demonstrations on 8M but did as if nothing with those of Nazis and fascists."


It is estimated that at least 104 demonstrations had been summoned in Madrid's Community next Sunday, and about 60,000 people would participate. This as Madrid remains at extreme risk level.

In recent months, several demonstrations in Madrid occurred which did not raise concerns over health measures, including a rally last January 23 when almost 1,500 COVID-19 deniers took to the streets, mostly without masks. Feminists activists and organizations have denounced the decision as an attempt to seize the feminist movement, one of the country's largest. The feminist movement has rejected the decision and keeps its call for the March 8 demonstrations.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil Is the New World Epicenter of the Coronavirus Pandemic]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 22:17:45 -04:00 Brazil became this Wednesday the new world epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, surpassing the United States in new daily infections while setting another record in the number of daily deaths from Covid-19.


Brazil Records Its Worst Economic Performance in 25 Years

The Johns Hopkins University count indicated that the U.S. counted 63,816 new Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours, while Brazil's National Council of Health Secretaries (Conass) reported 71,704 new cases the same period.

Brazil also registered another record number of daily deaths due to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, with 1,910 deaths in the last 24 hours, the highest number officially reported since the beginning of the country's respiratory disease in March last year. 

Thus, the South American giant accumulates a total of 10,718,630 Covid-19 infections, with 259,271 deaths, according to Conass.

The deputy for the opposition Workers' Party (PT), Alexandre Padilha, held Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro responsible for the health tragedy that the country is experiencing.

"Bolsonaro needs to answer for crimes against the health of the Brazilian people," said Padilha, who was health minister during the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

"Brazil, governed by genocide, is, as of today, the country with the highest number of new cases of covid in the world. We surpassed the United States, Bolsonaro, are you happy?" said the legislator.

The Brazilian president, for his part, maintained Wednesday his denialist idea and blamed the press for the situation.

"They created panic, didn't they? The problem is there, we are sorry, but you cannot live in panic. Like the 'stay at home' policy again. The staff will die of starvation, of depression," Bolsonaro said.

Regarding vaccination, the Ministry of Health announced an agreement to buy 100,000,000 doses of the Pfizer biologic, which will be delivered throughout this year. State and municipal authorities are also negotiating the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines on their own.

]]> <![CDATA[Dominica Receives COVID-19 Vaccines with ALBA-TCP Assistance]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 22:07:35 -04:00 The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples' Trade Agreement (ALBA- TCP) sent on Wednesday the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to Dominica as part of a regional initiative to secure the beginning of immunization campaigns.


Dominica Joins the European List of Tax Havens

The first batch with 20 000 doses acquire from China was received by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth of Dominica Edward Registe. "This is true friendship," the official said, referring to Venezuela's government's solidarity, which transported the shipment via its airline Conviasa from China to Dominica.

"This is true friendship," expressed the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Commonwealth of #Dominica Flag of Dominica, Edward Registe, upon receiving the humanitarian flight of #ALBATCP with 20 thousand vaccines for immunization against the COVID-19."


"This is true friendship. Being able to assist us with the transport from China to Dominica. We want to thank the government and people of Venezuela and the government and people of China," Registe added.

Last January, the regional block agreed to create a bank of COVID-19 vaccines to support country members and funding mechanisms to guarantee a fair, timely distribution.

]]> <![CDATA[Nine Arrested in Venezuela in Failed Attempt to Kidnap Cabello]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 19:35:41 -04:00 The first vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) declared on Wednesday in his weekly TV program, while referring to a failed kidnap attempt against him: "the truth is that there are nine people arrested that the state security agencies identified, after crossings of calls and (that) someone gave information, that these people were preparing (...) the possibility of arresting me, of making me a prisoner." 


Venezuela Rejects Unfounded Territorial Breach in Guyana

Cabello did not give details about those arrested; however, he challenged anyone who wants to to "detain" him. This came as a reaction to a tweet by journalist Carla Angola, who said that "they tried to kidnap Diosdado (Cabello) to deliver him to the United States, which some experts believe would not be so complicated."

Caracas has denounced that the opposition's most radical elements and hired U.S. hitmen hold a contract that extends 500 days to invade the country and murder Venezuelan leaders.


On March 26, 2020, the United States filed charges against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and 14 other high-ranking officials for alleged links to drug trafficking and money laundering, without presenting evidence to support the charges.

Following these unfounded charges, the U.S. Government went on to offer a reward of up to 15 million dollars for any information leading to the arrest of Maduro, 10 million dollars for that of Cabello, and another 10 million for those leading to the arrests of Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami, among other former high ranking military officials.

Washington and its allies have so far made multiple attempts to overthrow Maduro's government, including a terrorist incursion in Venezuela from the neighboring country of Colombia, to kidnap the president and take him to the U.S. This attempt failed and exposed the U.S.-backed mercenaries from private armies, thanks to the intervention of the people of Venezuela and the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB).

]]> <![CDATA[Paraguay: Sanitary Crisis Could Trigger Social Unrest]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 19:08:54 -04:00 Paraguay is on the brink of social unrest as social movements, and social media users have called for a strike on Friday, March 5, to denounce the country's sanitary crisis and the rise in infections.

On Thursday, the South American nation reported its highest COVID-19 figures in 24 hours with 1.341 new cases and 21 deaths. This as frontline workers and the citizens protests about the lack of supplies in hospitals while many health care units are collapsing.


Paraguay Starts Vaccinating Health Workers With Sputnik V

People turned to social media to call for a strike in front of Congress on March 5, using #EstoyParaElMarzo2021. This after workers of the National Institute of Respiratory and Environmental Diseases (Ineram) demonstrated on Wednesday in front of the headquarters, denouncing the lack of medicines and the delay in the vaccination campaign.

"I #IAmForMarch2021. What about you?"


Mario Abdo Benítez, from the conservative Colorado Party, has received widespread criticism and corruption allegations. Moreover, Efraín Alegre, the leader of the Liberal Party, the main opposition force, said that the people "could not remain silent in the face of so much indignation, in the face of so much suffering in the families."

"A collapsed health system was reached, without supplies, without medicines, without vaccines," not because of the people, as the Government wants to propose, but because of corruption, inefficiency, and futility of a government of rogues," the politician added.


]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: President Moreno Expelled From Alianza Pais]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 17:56:27 -04:00 The decision was made official in a Communiqué to the Country available in social networks. The Ethics Commission rejected a request for disaffiliation made by the president and established the aforementioned sanctions.


Ecuador's Leftist Candidate Ratified as First Round Winner

The request occurred a day after Alianza PAIS (Patria Altiva Soberana) announced a disciplinary process against Moreno for failing to comply with the Government plan. He won the elections in 2017.

"By means of resolution, the Ethics Commission made known for approval of the National Directorate the infractions committed by the president of AP by abandoning the political leadership of the movement," the text indicates.

In this regard, it specifies that Moreno only attended formal sessions a couple of times in four years, failed to comply with the government plan, and illegitimately distributed power to representatives of other political parties, whose work agenda was not consistent with the popular commitment acquired at the time of his inauguration as head of state.

"The resolution expelling Moreno will be immediately notified to the complainant and the denounced, as well as to the National Electoral Council, so that, in accordance with article 342 of the Code of Democracy, it will erase the sanctioned militant from the records of AP", concludes the document.

Several members from the organization supported Alianza PAIS's decision criteria, starting with former presidential candidate Ximena Peña and her binomial partner and vice-presidential candidate Patricio Barriga.

"Lenín Moreno's decision is a response to the disciplinary process initiated by the organization through its Ethics Commission," considered Peña in a radio interview.

In his opinion, the movement's ruling is a vindication for the membership, who permanently advocated for the political organization to have a much more robust and forceful position against the president's actions.

He also warned that it is a clear sign of the effort of the movement to purify itself.

Barriga stated on Twitter: "It is a wound that will take time to heal, but we are healing it."

]]> <![CDATA[Maradona's Fans Will Demand Justice for His Death]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 17:04:53 -04:00 In the middle of the investigations to find out if there was any malpractice that led to the death of the "Golden Foot" last November 25, his fans called from social networks to join the call, "He didn't die; they killed him."

Maradona died at the age of 60 in a neighborhood house in Tigre, Buenos Aires, where he was recovering from a skull operation due to a subdural hematoma. However, many questions remain after his death.


LATAM Footbal idol Diego Maradona Dies at 60

The attention is focused on several people accused of culpable homicide, among them his friend, the neurosurgeon Leopoldo Luque, the psychiatrist Agustina Cosachov, the psychologist Carlos Díaz, the coordinating physician Nancy Forlini and the nurses Dahiana Gisella Madrid, Ricardo Almirón, and Mariano Perroni.

In the last weeks, several audios and conversations have come to light revealing irregularities in the treatment of Maradona's clinical condition, and the autopsy determined that he died as a result of a secondary acute pulmonary edema, a sharpened chronic heart failure, and a discovered dilated cardiomyopathy in his heart.

"Dalma Maradona commented on the audios from Matias Morla and Diego Maradona's entourage: "They will serve to condemn them."

Last week two of his daughters, Gianinna and Jana, testified before in court on his behalf during the case.

"How long until Luque goes to jail? And the useless psychiatrist and psychologist? And the nurse? And what is justice waiting for?" another of his daughters, Dalma Maradona, said last Monday in a message on Twitter.

]]> <![CDATA[Panama Warns of Disguised US Attempts to Install Military Bases]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 16:35:41 -04:00 "The United States seems to insist on its pretensions to install military bases in Panama, under the pretext of the fight against drug trafficking," warn the University of Panama professors (UP) in an open letter published on Wednesday by the newspaper La Estrella de Panamá.

Above all, the professors express their great concern for the agreement signed on February 10 between their country and the U.S. for the creation of the Regional Center for Air Naval Operations (Croan) - a body composed of different Panamanian security agencies that count on the training of U.S. military personnel - warning that the pact endorses the return of the U.S. military presence in Panama.


Considering the Panama Invasion, 25 Years Later

"With this background, it seems that the Croan is a new attempt to militarize the country, disguised as the fight against drug trafficking and in contravention of US international commitments to Panama," they say.

In the text, they denounce that Panamanian authorities did not consult the Croan creation with the National Assembly and stress that the issue contradicts the nature of a demilitarized state.

The educators reiterate that "this is not the first disguised attempt for the reestablishment of military bases," since, previously, "an attempt was made with the failed Multilateral Anti-Drug Center (CMA)," which implied the presence of U.S. military forces in Panamanian territory.

Different sectors in Panama have denounced the decision to sign a memorandum with the U.S., which expresses the U.S. Army's collaboration and several agencies of that country in the supposed fight against drug trafficking. 

In addition to constituting a possible violation of the Treaty Concerning the Neutrality of the Panama Canal and the Constitution itself, this regional center is questioned for turning the Central American country into a potential military target.

The establishment of the aforementioned Croan is expected to begin during the first semester of this year.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela Rejects Unfounded Territorial Breach in Guyana]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 14:50:15 -04:00 Venezuela's Foreign Affairs Ministry (MPPRE) on Wednesday rejected new accusations voiced by Guyana's government in relation to the territorial dispute over the Essequibo region.


Venezuela Pays Tribute to African Independence Leaders

On Tuesday, Guyana's Foreign Affairs Ministry summoned the Venezuelan Ambassador Luis Diaz to hand over a protest note rejecting an alleged territorial violation by two Venezuelan fighter jets in the Eteringbang community.

"Once again, in an outlandish manner, Guyana's government intends to generate false versions about the regular patrolling operations carried out by the Bolivarian National Armed Forces strictly circumscribed to the non-controversial Venezuelan territory," MPPRE  pointed out.

The Venezuelan ministry also warned of a defamatory and disinformation campaign "to pretend an alleged act of aggression" to Guyana while describing the latest complaints as "unfounded" given the fact that no precise information was given on the incident. 

For over a century, Venezuela and Guyana, a former United Kingdom colony, have maintained a dispute over the Essequibo which extends some 159,000 square kilometers. In 1966, Venezuela and the U.K. signed the "Geneva Agreement" that established the basis for the peaceful solution of the dispute.

This international instrument stated that neither of the two parties can refer to the disputed territory as its own, while also calling for a mutually satisfactory resolution of the controversy. 

"Venezuela remains faithful to its position in favor of resuming the spirit and mechanisms to seek a practical, peaceful, and mutually satisfactory solution to the Guyana Esequiba dispute," the MPPRE added.

]]> <![CDATA[Spain To Analyze Bodies of 4,000 Disappeared by Franco Regime]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 14:05:04 -04:00 The Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) on Wednesday presented a plan to recover some 4,000 remains of people killed during the Civil War (1936-1939) and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco (1939-1975).


Plans for the Valley of the Fallen After Franco

Between 1936 and 1975, far-right forces disappeared thousands of people and buried them clandestinely. Using some US$1.8 million, investigations to date have located mass graves in 92 municipalities across the country.

During the presentation of the forensic plan, the first Vice President of the Spanish Government Carmen Calvo said neither the current pandemic nor the economic crisis should generate oblivion about Franco's victims.

She further noted that a budget of some US$13 million will be used over the next three years to recover the bodies of "compatriots who are still missing, according to international law."

The FEMP President Abel Caballero explained that clarifying what happened during the civil war and Franco's dictatorship is fundamental to strengthening democracy in Spain because without memory "there is no democracy."

In 2007, Spanish lawmakers enacted a "Historical Memory "law aimed at making reparations to the victims of the dictatorship.

Currently, a "Democratic Memory" law is being discussed. It envisions a four-year plan for the exhumation of some 25,000 corpses.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela Detects 10 People Infected With Brazilian Strain]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 14:51:27 -04:00 Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro Wednesday informed on the detection of 10 patients infected with the Brazilian COVID-19 strain in the states of La Guaira, Miranda, and Bolivar.


Venezuela Announces International Lawsuit Against US

The people diagnosed with the new strain were hospitalized. Relatives and friends who had contact with them in the past 15 days were also isolated. 

"We will take special measures due to the grave disease caused by this strain," Maduro said and informed that his government already alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) about the discovery.

To contain the spread of the strain, Maduro urged the Health Ministry to vaccinate in the coming hours the residents of the communities where the cases were found.

The spread of the new strain in Brazil caused the States of Amazonas' and Roraima's hospital networks to collapse in January.

"We do not want to alarm, but to inform and ask the people to take extreme hygiene and social distancing measures," the Bolivarian leader said, adding that medical brigades will continue to visit communities nationwide to detect new contagions.

On Wednesday, Venezuela reported 449 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the number of contagions to 140,383.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexico: 64 Politicians Killed Amid Electoral Process]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 13:29:53 -04:00 Mexico's Citizen Security and Protection Secretariat (SSPC) Wednesday reported that at least 64 Mexican politicians have been murdered since September 2020 ahead of parliamentary and regional elections.


Presidents AMLO and Fernandez Summon Latin American Unity

"Organized crime has affected Mexico for decades. There are regions where criminal gangs still seek to decide on candidates through campaigns of fear," SSPC Secretary Rosa Rodriguez said.

Over half of the murders occurred in the states of Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Veracruz, Guerrero, Morelos, Baja California, and Jalisco.

To contain the wave of violence, Rodriguez presented the "Strategy of protection in electoral context" ahead of the elections scheduled for next June 6.

"With less than four months to go before the elections, we are focusing efforts on curbing these crimes and preventing criminal groups from strengthening their political influence," Rodriguez said.

The Strategy will include working tables between judicial and electoral authorities, reinforcing security in high-risk municipalities, and protecting threatened candidates.

"Protection must be previously accepted by the candidate. We will not interfere by force in an electoral process," she added.

On June 6, millions of Mexicans will elect 500 lawmakers, 15 governors, and 1,900 city council leaders.

]]> <![CDATA[Panama's Economy Contracted by 18 Percent in 2020]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 13:29:51 -04:00 The National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) reported that the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Panama decreased from US$43 billion in 2019 to US$35 billion in 2020.


Panama Uncovers Sexual Abuse of Minors in Public Shelters

This 17.9 percent year-on-year contraction was accompanied by a decline in GDP per capita as each person lost US$1,805 last year in nominal values.

Among the sectors with negative performance were manufacturing industries, construction, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, transportation, storage, and communications. 

Government services, mining, and quarrying activities showed an output increase of 34.1 percent, followed by fishing at 12.2 percent, private health services with 4.7 percent, and agricultural activity with 3.0 percent.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to disruptions in normal economic activities that were reflected in the GDP indicators.

Hurricane Eta and Iota also negatively impacted the Central American economy last November, as the food chain and agricultural production areas were put at risk.

Economists agreed that the output contraction has a historical dimension as it exceeds the fall of 13.4 percent recorded in 1988.

]]> <![CDATA[Gunmen Kill Garifuna Indigenous Leader in Honduras]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 12:14:11 -04:00 The Garifuna Indigenous people on Wednesday denounced that gunmen murdered Martin Pandy, the leader of the Corozal community in Honduras


Honduras Recalls Murder of Environment Activist Berta Caceres

Pandy was rushed to a hospital in the Atlantida department where he shortly passed away. The armed attack also caused the death of two other people.

Garifuna rights activist Luther Castillo noted that Pandy integrated efforts with young people, entrepreneurs, and Garifuna leaders abroad to address his community's needs. 

Police considered the hypothesis that the attackers took this action to solve differences arising from works in the community.

"My Corozal village is once again a victim of organized crime, which has installed itself in the permissive sight of the security entities in the area. They cynically facilitate the criminality that murders our people, extorts our entrepreneurs, and plunders our resources," Castillo said.

The latest violent events in the Corozal community are no the first ones to be committed against the Garifuna people. On July 18, 2020, three vans arrived in the Triunfo de la Cruz municipality where they kidnapped four social leaders. Among them was Alberth Sneider who is reported missing to date. 

The Garifuna people are a mixed African and Indigenous people group that descended from people who lived on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent. They speak Garifuna, an Arawakan language.

]]> <![CDATA[UN Calls for Peaceful Subnational Elections in Bolivia]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 10:35:03 -04:00 In order to consolidate the democratic process in Bolivia, the United Nations (UN) on Wednesday called for a peaceful and safe subnational electoral process, which is set to take place on March 7


Bolivia: Political Campaigns Close Ahead of Regional Elections

The multilateral institution highlighted that "important lessons" and "concrete progress" were observed in the 2020 presidential elections. Nevertheless, it pointed out that the subnational elections will be more complex due to the number of political organizations, candidates, and logistical operations. 

"We note with satisfaction that, throughout Bolivia, from La Paz to Santa Cruz, from Tarija to Pando, the electoral calendar has been fully complied with, several electoral dialogues have been held, and electoral observers have been accredited," the United Nations said.  

"We urge political and social actors and citizens... to re-edit the exemplary, peaceful, transparent, and safe Election day of October 18, 2020," it adds.

On Sunday, around 7.3 million Bolivians will elect 4,962 new authorities, 583 of whom are departmental, 27 regional, and 4,352 municipal. 

Observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (Uniore) will monitor the elections. 

The subnational elections for the period 2021-2026 will complete the political cycle that began with the 2020 elections in which president, vice-president, and lawmakers were elected.

]]> <![CDATA[Chinese, US Experts Discuss Cooperation on Fighting COVID-19]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 10:52:25 -04:00 At a webinar held this week, leading public health experts called on China and the U.S. to cooperate in COVID-19 vaccination for a steady recovery.


Cuba Starts Soberana 02 Vaccine's Phase III of Clinical Trial

Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong and the Brookings Institution President John Allen delivered their opening remarks at the event themed "Fast Track to Recovery: U.S.-China Collaboration on COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment."

Qiu said his university is looking forward to working together with Brookings and the global community to facilitate a faster recovery from the pandemic through academic exchanges and research collaboration.

"As we enter the period of vaccine distribution, it is vital that we work together to develop and form concrete policy recommendations for the next stage," he said, adding that the rapid development of several vaccines offers the promise of an effective solution to the pandemic.

Allen noted that the change in the U.S. administration offers an opportunity for leaders from both sides to examine what can be done differently and set a new course for how the U.S. and China can address the shared threat of COVID-19.

In his eyes, when the two countries join hands to fight COVID-19, the world will have a better chance to emerge from the pandemic stronger, on the basis of a long history of the two countries working together to combat epidemics such as SARS and Ebola.

Several renowned public health experts also shared their views during the webinar, including Zhong Nanshan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a leading expert in China's respiratory disease research, W. Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, and Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC).

As multiple virus variants emerging around the world posed a huge challenge to the global fight against COVID-19, Zhong stressed the urgency of close collaboration between the two countries to improve vaccines and cocktail therapy and prepare for a potential new wave of outbreaks soon. He added that China-U.S. collaboration on COVID-19 prevention and treatment should be based on science and evidence rather than politicization.

Gao said the two countries should work together to promote COVAX, a multilateral vaccine initiative backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. It is unlikely for the world to return to complete normality as pre-pandemic, but possible to regain relative normality by next summer if the current trends persist.

He also said the two countries should hold on to a "four Cs" principle -- collaboration, competition, communication, and coordination -- to jointly curb the spread of COVID-19 and restore normal life.

China and the United States could collaborate to develop global real-time surveillance and response systems to detect outbreaks, according to Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Vaccine nationalism will backfire. Only global collaboration against the virus can lead to global recovery," he said.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist with China CDC, said the prospects for the anti-pandemic fight hinge on the preventive measures taken by countries, the progress of their vaccination campaigns, and vaccines' effectiveness and duration of protection.

Zhang Wenhong, head of Shanghai's COVID-19 clinical experts team, said he believes that China and the United States, as two major vaccine producers of the world, have a responsibility to help the least developed countries get access to COVID-19 vaccines.

]]> <![CDATA[Chile: President Piñera Announces Pension Reform]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 12:52:25 -04:00 Chile's President Sebastian Piñera on Tuesday announced a reform to the pension system that supposedly would benefit 2.1 million people.


Chile to Mark the First Anniversary of its Social Outbreak

"From now on, no one will receive pensions below the poverty line," Piñera said, without acknowledging that his administration has ignored several bills submitted to increase pensions.

His reform proposes to strengthen the state's role in the payment system, increase the current retirees' pensions, and boost savings for future pensions.

Boosting the state-fundedSolidarity Pillar'

The government program that provides economic benefits to retirees, known as the Solidarity Pillar, will cover 80 percent of the population, instead of the 60 percent currently established.

Basic pensions supposedly would be equalized to the poverty line so that no pensioner receives less than US$ 250 per month.

Promote the 'Individual Savings Pillar'

Piñera proposes to increase employer-paid contributions by up to 6 percent. This economic contribution will be administered by an Autonomous Public Institution, not by the Pension Fund Administration (AFP) private system, which was inherited from Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship (1973-1990)

"Retirees who have a minimum number of contributions will receive an increase in their pensions," Piñera said and added that those women who have contributed for at least 8 years will receive an increase of US$110 per month.

New Minimum Pension Guarantee

Piñera also vows that all new pensioners who have contributed for 30 years will have a pension equal to or higher than the current minimum wage (US$445).
Subsidy for dependent pensioners 

If the reform goes into effect, the government will also provide economic support to people over 65 years old who require a caretaker who assists them in their daily living activities. This insurance will guarantee an additional pension of at least US$120 per month.

Those severely dependent pensioners living in vulnerable conditions will also receive an additional benefit of between US$80 and US$100 per month.

Increased competition and new regulations for AFPs

The reform will allow the creation of not-for-profit AFPs. Those that cannot become financially sustainable within one year must return up to 20 percent of the commissions charged to their clients.

]]> <![CDATA[India’s Farmers’ Protests Could Upend the Political Landscape]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 08:49:40 -04:00 For the past three months, Indian farmers and agricultural workers have been in the middle of a difficult struggle against the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Tens of thousands of them have gathered around the capital city of New Delhi; they say that they will not disband unless the government repeals three laws that negatively impact their ability to remain economically viable.


India: Environmental Activist Arrested for Alleged Conspiracy

The government has shown no sign that it will withdraw these laws, which provide immense advantages to the large corporate houses that are close to Prime Minister Modi. The government’s attempt to crack down on the farmers and agricultural workers has altered the mood in the country: those who grow the food for the country are hard to depict as “terrorists” and as “anti-national.”

Modi’s party—the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—currently holds power in several of the states that border Delhi. It is from these states—Haryana and Uttar Pradesh—that many of the farmers have gathered, although they have also come from far afield, from Bihar and Maharashtra (they have also come from Punjab, which is governed by the Congress Party).

Even if there are some shifts in the political calculations in these states, particularly Uttar Pradesh (population 200 million), these will not be tested at the ballot box for some years to come: Punjab and Uttar Pradesh do not go to the polls until 2022, and Haryana will elect its legislative assembly in 2024 when the Indian parliament will face a general election. Modi is safe for the next three years, an eternity in contemporary political life.

Little wonder that he has not felt the need to make any concession to the farmers and that he has turned to the full arsenal of intimidation and violence to fragment the unity of the farmers. This intimidation includes a general attack on those branches of the media that have favorably reported the protest.

State Elections

Over the next few months, assembly elections will take place in one union territory (Puducherry) and four states in India: Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal. To put this into perspective, the populations in these four states total 225 million, by itself the fifth-largest country in the world behind Indonesia.

That the democratic fate of so many people will be decided by May 2 and that these elections get so little attention outside India tells one a great deal about the Eurocentrism of our global media (certainly the result of the national election in Germany—with a population of 83 million—will be far more consequential than these five regional elections in India, but nonetheless the lack of any interest should not be shrugged at).

The prime minister’s extreme right party, the BJP, is in power in only one of these states, Assam (population 31 million). It is likely that the BJP will retain hold of that state, although there is tension around the highly unpopular Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) pushed by the BJP in 2019.

In a triangular contest, the BJP and its allies will face on the one side a grand alliance of the center-right Congress Party and its Left and regional allies; and on the other side, newly formed anti-CAA parties (the Assam Jatiya Parishad and the Raijor Dal).

Fragmentation of the anti-BJP vote could very well be decisive for its re-election, a point made by the Congress Party, which has sought unsuccessfully to bring in the new parties.

West Bengal (population 91 million), like Assam, will face a triangular contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC), the BJP, and a bloc of the Communists and the Congress. On February 28, 2021, more than a million people gathered at Kolkata’s Brigade Ground for a massive show of strength led by the Left and its allies against both the BJP and the TMC.

The Left Front had been in power in West Bengal from 1977 to 2011 when it was ousted by the TMC. Since then, the TMC has gone in and out of alliance with the BJP in Delhi, and it has promoted corruption, cronyism, and social despair.

The power of BJP money and the projection of Prime Minister Modi as a charismatic figure have drawn key TMC leaders into the BJP. This is the first time that the Left and Congress are going to the polls together. A recent ABP/C-Voter poll found that the TMC looks to be on track to hold the state government.

Regional parties such as the TMC are a familiar feature in India’s larger states. Here linguistic sub-nationalism provides the foundation for the local elites to drive their own agenda through such entities. In Tamil Nadu (population 68 million), the history of anti-Brahmin agitation led to the creation of a non-Brahmin party, which then fissured into several parties, two of which (AIADMK and DMK) remain the dominant forces in the state’s politics.

The AIADMK, currently in power, is gripped most tightly by the regional elites and has an intimate relationship with the BJP even if there are some social divergences. The DMK, on the other hand, has been smart with its alliances, although it is dogged with accusations of nepotism.

As in earlier elections, the DMK has made an alliance with the Left, which has deep pockets of support among the working class and the peasantry; anti-privatization fights, led by the Left, will help the alliance gain the support of workers in densely populated urban areas. Opinion polls suggest that the DMK-Left alliance will prevail in Tamil Nadu.

Kerala Flies the Red Flag

Since 1980, the electorate of Kerala (population 35 million) has not re-elected its state government, with power oscillating between the Left Democratic Front and the United Democratic Front. This year, the Left Democratic Front (LDF), which has been in office since 2016, looks set to break the pattern and return to power.

There is widespread agreement that the LDF government—led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan—has fulfilled the promises of the communists’ 2016 manifesto; there is overwhelming clarity that the LDF administration has been efficient and rational.

The LDF government confronted a series of cascading crises with calm competence: the aftereffects of Cyclone Ockhi in 2017, the Nipah virus outbreak of 2018, the floods of 2018 and 2019, and then the COVID-19 pandemic (Health Minister K.K. Shailaja was called the “Coronavirus Slayer” by the Guardian).

Despite what seemed like a never-ending cycle of crises, the government pushed hard to strengthen public education and public health care, and to provide housing and food to the public.

No anti-incumbency was visible in the local body elections in 2020, when the young—largely female—candidates of the LDF triumphed. The LDF opened its 2021 campaign with a march to deepen development (Vikasana Munnetta Yatra) that began at the north and south ends of Kerala’s length.

Development is the key theme—the promises that the LDF government has met include a major push to build basic infrastructure through the pro-people budgets of Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac. The LDF record is strong, which is why it has entered the election campaign with the slogan “Urappaanu LDF” or “LDF for Sure.”

The return of the Left to the government in Kerala would be significant, but it is not a bellwether of the Left’s overall strength in India. Nonetheless, the cycle of farmer agitations and the linkage with the main trade union federations suggests the possibility of the future growth of the progressive forces.

]]> <![CDATA[Chile's Comptroller Requests the Suspension of Three Generals]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 09:10:06 -04:00 The Comptroller General's Office (CGO) on Wednesday concluded the process to determine administrative responsibilities committed by Chile's Military Police (Carabineros) regarding the repression of the 2019 social protests.


Chile: Court Releases Officer Who Pushed Teenager From Bridge

The CGO proposed the suspension for breach of protocol of Generals Enrique Bassaletti, Mauricio Rodriguez, and Jorge Avila. These officers did not take measures to correct the violent practices undertaken to repress protesters.

Besides the use of anti-riot gases near hospitals, which is prohibited according to Carabineros' protocol, CGO investigation focused on the use of anti-riot shotguns in Baquedano Square and its surroundings despite doubts about the composition of the ammunition.

This suspension sanction has no precedent, and if applied, it could imply between one and two months of separation from duty and the impossibility of teaching at the police school.

The meme reads, "These images remind me of the holocaust, the level of evil and aggressiveness of the Chilean police is enormous. They are really animals. Where are the protocols?"

Carabineros Director Ricardo Yañez must now decide whether or not to apply CGO recommendations that must be also endorsed by the Interior Minister Rodrigo Delgado. 

The National Human Rights Institute (INDH) reported that 3,765 Chileans, including 439 women and 282 children and teenagers were injured in the protests. It also detailed that 445 people suffered eye injuries and 271 people were wounded by tear gas weapons.

On Oct. 17, 2019, Chileans took to the streets to reject President Sebastian Piñera's neoliberal policies and demand the drafting of a new Constitution.

]]> <![CDATA[Peru Discusses Bill to Ban Minors From Using Social Media]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 09:48:44 -04:00 Peruvian lawmaker Luis Simeon on Tuesday submitted to Congress a bill that prohibits children under 14 years old from accessing social networks.


Peru: Authorities Ban Favorite Nominee From Running in Election

The initiative bans minors from publishing their data without the express consent of their parents. It also prohibits them to share information about other people of any age.

"Authorities also must create blockade mechanisms for users to protect their children from illicit, offensive, abusive, or undesirable content," the center-right-wing Popular Action Party member recalled.

The 7222/2020-CR bill also proposes to impose fines of up to US$117,000 and seven years in prison for anyone who defames and launches false information against other people.

"The government should take partial control over social networks without undermining the people's freedom of expression," Simeon urged. 

If the initiative is passed by Congress, social network users will be prevented from creating false profiles, attacking political or business opponents, and posting insulting or threatening comments.

To ensure the proper use of social networks, the government will have to sign agreements and behavior codes with the social networks operating within the country, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google.

]]> <![CDATA[US Capitol on Alert Over ‘Possible Plot’ for March 4 Attack]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 07:56:41 -04:00 U.S. Capitol Police said on Wednesday that it has learned of a "possible plot to breach the Capitol" by a militia group driven by a conspiracy theory suggesting former President Donald Trump would return to power on March 4.


80 Democrats Call on Biden to Reverse "Cruel" Sanctions on Cuba

The Capitol Police said in a statement that it has obtained intelligence about the plot planned by an "identified militia group" and already made "significant security upgrades" to the Capitol starting earlier this week.

The security upgrades include "establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers," said the statement, adding that the force is "working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol."

"We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information, we cannot provide additional details at this time."

Some QAnon conspiracy theorists have said that Trump will be inaugurated on March 4 because that was the original Inauguration Day for presidents until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20.

During a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Melissa Smislova, acting intelligence chief of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), confirmed to lawmakers that the DHS and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had internally issued a joint intelligence bulletin about "extremists discussing March 4, and March 6."

Security has been tight around the Capitol since the Jan. 6 riot which interrupted Congress' electoral vote count of U.S. President Joe Biden's victory. Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol police officer.

Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, said on Tuesday that the law enforcement agency classifies the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as domestic terrorism.

]]> <![CDATA[Cuba Starts Soberana 02 Vaccine's Phase III of Clinical Trial]]> Thu, 4 Mar 2021 08:24:14 -04:00 Cuba's Center for State Control of Medicines, Equipment, and Medical Devices (CECMED) on Tuesday allowed Soberana 02 vaccine to start Phase III clinical trials.


Cuba Announces Fifth COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

The immunizer developed by the Finlay Vaccine Institute "has shown an adequate safety profile, and it has passed all the review done by the regulatory entity during Phase I and II of studies," CECMED President Olga Jacobo said.

To allow the vaccine's mass use in a new phase of studies, CECMED reviewed the test results in animals and volunteers. It also evaluated the product's and the production processes' quality.

"People who have taken part in trials have developed neutralizing antibodies, which means the vaccine is effective against the virus," Jacobo added.


The Health Ministry reported that the third phase of clinical trials will be carried out in 50 vaccination centers distributed in eight municipalities in La Habana.

"The positive results of the vaccine give us hope. However, we must go step by step. We need to be patient and comply with the established regulations," she added and informed that 40,010 volunteers will take part in the new phase.

Soberana 02 is a safe antigen that does not contain the live virus but parts of it extracted from mammalian cells. On December 22, it started its phase 2 clinical trials, becoming the first Latin American COVID-19 vaccine to reach this stage of studies.

Cuban scientists are also developing Soberana 01, Soberana 01-A, Abdala, and Mambisa vaccines.


]]> <![CDATA[Cuba: International Film Festival Santiago Alvarez Kicks Off]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 23:43:15 -04:00 The International Documentary Film Festival  Santiago Álvarez in Memoriam, one of the most important within Latin America, kicked off on Wednesday in Cuba.


US Latins Are the Focus of the Biarritz LATAM Film Festival

This 19th edition is dedicated to Vietnam, the scenario of filmmaker Santiago Álvarez's masterpiece "Hanoi, Tuesday 13," which chronicles from the ground the U.S. war on the Asian country.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuban authorities announced on February 20 the cancelation of the most important cinema events of 2021, including the second edition of Havana's International Film Festival scheduled for March well as Gibara's International Film Festival and the Young Filmmakers Showcase.

"The XIX Santiago Álvarez in Memoriam International Documentary Film Festival will be held from March 3 to 8. This online edition will be dedicated to Vietnamese documentary cinema."


"We join the feeling of all the creators and the public that every year they faithfully await the successful development of these events," Cuban Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (Icaic) said in a statement.

However, the Santiago Alvarez Documentary Film Festival will take place online, and the festival will broadcast its programming on Cuba's public television through the Multivision channel. The initiative aims to strengthen the public's access to culture, a significant asset in Cuba and one of the hardest-hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The programming includes films such as They Say I'm Your Teacher(2019), directed by  Catherine Murphy and Lucy Massie-Phenix, dedicated to the African-American beautician Bernice Robinson; the award-winner film Born in the Gambia by Spaniard filmmaker Natxo Leuza Fernández which features the life of children under the threat of religious practices and Santiago Alvarez's work among others.

The Festival and its programming will be available from March 3 to March 8 on the Youtube platforms of the ICAIC and the Cuban Ministry of Culture.


]]> <![CDATA[Europe for Cuba: World Caravan Against Economic Blockade]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 22:31:58 -04:00 The "Europe for Cuba" channel on the YouTube platform has called for a worldwide caravan on March 27 against the economic, commercial, and financial blockade and aggression imposed by the United States on the island, which has been in force for six decades.


Cubans in 8 US and Canadian Cities Caravan Against the Blockade

In its 20th video, the platform that broadcasts through the audiovisual network YouTube called on people of solidarity around the planet to be part of the initiative.

"We urge all those in solidarity from the five continents to participate in the caravan for the lifting of the blockade on Cuba on Saturday, March 27, in all corners of the world," it stressed.

The channel also acknowledged the holding of caravans in U.S. and Canadian cities to demand the end of the blockade and build bridges of love between Washington and Havana.

The #EuropaPorCuba  also acknowledged caravans in #US and #Canada cities to demand an end to the economic siege and build bridges of love between #Washington and #LaHabana. @cubavsbloqueo@NoBloqueoVan@nobloqueocuba@CarlosFdeCossio@y_gala_lopez


The arrival on January 20 of President Joe Biden to the White House increased demands in the United States and globally to resume rapprochement with Cuba and reverse his predecessor Donald Trump's aggressions, whose administration issued more than 230 measures to tighten the blockade.

The Trump administration ignored calls from the UN, the European Union, and other forums not to apply unilateral sanctions that would further complicate the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

]]> <![CDATA[Cuba Announces Fifth COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 22:22:58 -04:00 Cuba's President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced on Wednesday, a fifth vaccine candidate against COVID-19 called Soberana 01A. This vaccine candidate is explicitly meant for people convalescent from the disease.


Cuba Offers Soberana 02 and Abdala to Lebanon to Fight COVID-19

"Another hit for our Science: Soberana01A, new vaccine candidate (the 5th from Cuba) for convalescents of COVID-19. Its creators reported it in a weekly meeting of experts. Cuban Science continues to provide good news," the Cuban president said via Twitter. 

The Cuban Public Registry of Clinical Trials indicates that in phase one, "the study includes 60 people between 19 and 59 years old, healthy and without contact with positive cases of COVID-19."

"This news has come to us at a time when it has cost us more work to control new outbreaks," Díaz-Canel said, this as the authorities get ready for a mass vaccination from March.

]]> <![CDATA[International Participation in Tokyo Olympics in Jeopardy]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 22:15:51 -04:00 Foreign participation in the July 23-August 8 Tokyo Olympics is in jeopardy amid fears of further spread of Covid-19 in Japan, the Organizing Committee announced today.


President of Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee Resigns

The decision on the possible entry of non-Japanese visitors to the country for the event under the five rings will be taken at the end of this month due to the priority given by the Japanese government to the safety of its population, said the president of the entity in charge of developing the great event, Seiko Hashimoto, at a press conference.

The hosts will also define by the end of April how many people will enter the venues of the Olympic competitions before the torch relay begins on March 25 due to the need for fans, hotels, and tour operators to be able to plan.

Some Japanese media outlets have reported that the government has already opted for an event without foreign spectators.

"We really need to think about the mutant strains of the virus," said the former elite athlete and former minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympics.

Whether or not to allow foreign travelers to enter Japan for the Games will be made based on health experts' opinions and the situation of Covid-19 infections in Japan and other countries, the Tokyo 2020 chief said.

Japan has kept its borders closed to foreign travelers for months as a preventive measure against the pathogen's spread. The final decision will consider the International Olympic Committee's opinions, Tokyo and central Japan's governments, and the organizers.

The capital remains under a state of emergency, with a capacity limited to five thousand people for sporting events. This measure expires on March 7 but should be extended for two weeks.

According to a new survey of some 2,300 Japanese published Wednesday by the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri, 58 percent of respondents said they did not want the Olympics, fearing an increase in contagions.

In addition to the Olympic Games, the Asian nation plans to host the Paralympic Games from August 24 to September 15.


]]> <![CDATA[Interpol Seizes Thousands of Fake COVID-19 Vaccines]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 22:01:35 -04:00 The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) reported on Wednesday the dismantling of a network of fake COVID-19 vaccines trafficked in China and South Africa.


COVAX To Send 26 Million Vaccines To Latin America

In South Africa, "some 400 ampoules - equivalent to around 2,400 doses - containing the fake vaccine were found at a warehouse in Germiston, Gauteng, where officers also recovered a large quantity of fake 3 million masks and arrested three Chinese nationals and a Zambian national," the organization explained in a statement.

The announcement comes after Interpol issued a global alert explaining that the vaccines could be an easy target for criminal organizations. Moreover, Interpol explained that the findings are "the tip of the iceberg."

Likewise, authorities seized more than 3,000 fake vaccines and arrested 80 people in China. This as authorities recalled that thus far, no legitimate COVID-19 vaccine is available for sale online.

"Investigations are continuing, and in addition to the arrests in South Africa and China, INTERPOL is also receiving additional reports of fake vaccine distribution and scam attempts targeting health bodies, such as nursing homes," the  Interpol said.


]]> <![CDATA[Pope Francis Iraq Tour to Remain as Scheduled]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 21:47:19 -04:00 Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church worldwide, issued a statement indicating that he maintains his intention to visit Iraq as scheduled to "meet a people who suffered so much" and promote interreligious dialogue.


Pope Francis Marks International Day of Disabled Persons

"The day after tomorrow, God willing, I will go to Iraq for a three-day pilgrimage," the pontiff said during Wednesday's General Audience at the Vatican, ahead of the three-day visit he will make this weekend, the first in the history of a pope to the Asian country.

"For a long time, I have wanted to meet that people who suffered so much, to meet that martyred Church," Francis added, referring to the persecution suffered by Iraqi Christians since the beginning of the 21st century, which according to some estimates, reduced their number from about 1.2 million to 300,000.

The Pontiff's visit comes when Iraq is going through a severe economic and financial crisis. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted last October that the country would end 2020 with a 9.5% contraction of its GDP, the worst fall since 2003.

According to the Ministry of Finance, seven of the nearly 40,000,000 inhabitants currently live on a salary or a state pension.

Pope Francis will arrive in Iraq on an unprecedented trip to build bridges between Catholicism and Islam in a nation where the Catholic Christian community has traditionally been punished and persecuted.

The Vatican has defined this visit as "an act of love" and as "something extreme" since it takes place in the midst of a pandemic and new episodes of violence in the region.

Meanwhile, 29 faith-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in Iraq "welcomed Pope Francis to the cradle of Abraham, Father of many in the faith." 

"Today, Iraq continues to face daunting challenges. Among the 1.2 million Iraqis who remain internally displaced and the approximately 4.8 million returnees, many are in urgent need of assistance," sources from these organizations said. 

The religious leader's tour will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the end of the first Gulf War led by the United States and its allies against Saddam Hussein for Kuwait's invasion, a conflict that caused devastating consequences for Iraq.


]]> <![CDATA[Myanmar: At Least 38 Killed, Deadliest Day Since Feb.1 Coup]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 19:36:42 -04:00 Myanmar marked on Wednesday its deadliest day of protests since the February 1 coup. At least 38  people were killed during demonstrations as the police fired live bullets at protestors.


Myanmar Police Shoot Dead 10 Citizens

The United Nations special envoy on Myanmar Christine Schraner Burgener said that  the death toll was "shocking," and  there were "now more than 50 people dead since the coup started and many are wounded."

During a virtual briefing, the official explained that the video footage she had seen showed the police attacking unarmed civilians. "I saw today very disturbing video clips. One was showing the police beating a volunteer medical crew; they were not armed," Burgener pointed out.

According to the organization Save the Children, four minors died as witnesses said that the police opened fire on the protestors in the largest cities such as Yangon without noticing.

Moreover, Pope Francis condemned the killings via Twitter. "Sad news of bloody clashes and loss of life reaches us from Myanmar. I appeal to the authorities involved that dialogue may prevail over repression and ask the international community to ensure that the aspirations of the people of Myanmar are not stifled," the Pope said.


]]> <![CDATA[80 Democrats Call on Biden to Reverse "Cruel" Sanctions on Cuba]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 19:32:58 -04:00 A total of 80 U.S. Democrat lawmakers, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday calling for a repeal of the "cruel" sanctions adopted by former President Donald Trump against Cuba: "Cuban families in distress can be helped and thus promote a more constructive approach," the letter indicated.


Biden Extends Emergency Declaration Against Cuba One More Year

The legislators urged the U.S. president to renew the diplomatic commitment with the Caribbean island, asking him to sign an immediate decree to end restrictions on travel and remittances.

Likewise, they asked the newly elected President to reverse Trump's recent politicized decision to "reinstate Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terrorism" since such inclusion contributes to harming the economy.

The aforementioned letter, promoted by Representatives Bobby Rush, Gwen Moore, and Barbara Lee, long-time supporters of dialogue with Havana, has been supported by leaders of the influential House Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, and Appropriations committees.

Likewise, a group of 25 Members of the European Parliament supported and defended the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Cuba, Spaniard Alberto Navarro, for the open letter he addressed to U.S. President Joe Biden. In his missive, which bears the signature of some 790 figures, Navarro asks Biden, among other issues, for "the lifting of the US embargo on the island [...] as well as non-interference in Cuban affairs."

During Trump's term, Washington resumed the systematic sanctions and pressures against Havana, ending the rapprochement brought about by his predecessor Barack Obama (2009-2017). However, the anti-Cuban policy of the former tycoon was condemned by several countries and international organizations.

]]> <![CDATA[ICC Opens Investigation Into Israeli War Crimes in Palestine]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 21:51:50 -04:00 The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, announced Wednesday the opening of an investigation into war crimes that Israel may have committed against the Palestinian population in the occupied territories: "I confirm today the opening of an investigation into the situation in Palestine by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The investigation will cover crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that were allegedly committed since June 13, 2014."


International Criminal Court Rules Jurisdiction Over Palestine

However, as Bensouda stated, such investigation will be carried out "independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favoritism."

Meanwhile, Tuesday, the Israeli government estimated that hundreds of its forces would be subject to war crimes investigations by the Hague court; therefore, Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated that his government intends to "try to influence the ICC" to protect them.

 Israel fears that the Hague Court's ruling to investigate its war crimes will result in massive arrest warrants against regime officials.

After repeated requests from Palestinian authorities, Bensouda said in December 2019 that there was a "reasonable basis" to open a war crimes investigation into Israeli military actions in the Gaza Strip and Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.

The judicial body ruled on February 5 that it has jurisdiction to investigate atrocities committed by the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem (Al-Quds), where Israel has occupied more than 50 years.

In fact, the Israeli regime is not a member of the International Criminal Court, created in 1998. Still, Palestine is a State Party to the Rome Statute, the Court's founding charter, since January 2015, so the Office of the Prosecutor would have the power to investigate the alleged crimes, regardless of the possible perpetrators' nationality.

]]> <![CDATA[US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Talks With Juan Guaido]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 18:12:47 -04:00 U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a telephone conversation with Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaidó on Tuesday in line with Joe Biden's administration continuing its policy of pressure against Venezuela's constitutional order.


Venezuela: Guaido Barred From Holding Public Posts for 15 Years

"Secretary Blinken outlined our efforts to work with like-minded allies, including the European Union, the Lima Group, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the International Contact Group, to increase multilateral pressure and promote a transition, democratic and peaceful" the State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

After installing Venezuela's National Assembly on January 5, 2021, Guaidó further lost all constitutional rights within political leadership in the country. As president of the National Assembly declared in contempt by the Venezuelan court, he self-proclaimed Venezuela's president in 2019 and received the support of the U.S. and its allies, who have used him to impose political changes that best suit their interests in Venezuela.

However, even U.S. lawmakers have highlighted the failed policy towards Venezuela. In August last year, the democrat senator Chris Murphy said during a hearing of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "Trump recognized Guaidó as the leader, thinking that he would drive Venezuelans (and military leaders friends of Maduro) to the side of Guaidó. The opposite happened."

"It's a total disaster. After a year and a half, Maduro is stronger, American influence is weaker, and there is no viable path to restore democracy in Venezuela. A case study in international relations malpractice," the lawmaker recalled via Twitter.

Moreover, in January 2021, the European Union stopped recognizing Guaidó as interim president, instead is addressing him as the leader of the opposition.

However, after Tuesday's statement, Joe Biden clarified that his approach to Venezuela wouldn't be much different from his predecessor, Donald Trump. The statement explains that Blinken "stressed the importance of a return to democracy in Venezuela through free and fair elections." Hence, to them, Guaido seems to be the only alternative available within a fragmented opposition that could not even organize itself to challenge the progressive forces in the December 6 parliamentary elections.

According to a White House unnamed official quoted by Reuters, "Biden administration was in "no rush" to lift U.S. sanctions on Venezuela imposed by former President Donald Trump but would consider easing them if Maduro takes confidence-building steps showing he is ready to negotiate seriously with the opposition."


]]> <![CDATA[Cuba Offers Soberana 02 and Abdala to Lebanon to Fight COVID-19]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 17:46:45 -04:00 On Wednesday, Cuba expressed its willingness to assist Lebanon to combat COVID-19, offering its most advanced vaccines, Soberana 02 and Abdala, which will start their final-phase clinical trials sometime this month.


Economic Crisis, COVID-19 Take Toll on Lebanese Couples

Cuban Ambassador to Lebanon Alexander Pellicer made the offer during a meeting with Major General Mahmoud Al Asmar. The latter heads the working group to tackle the pandemic in this Mediterranean country.

Pellicer briefed Al Asmar on Cuba's achievements in scientific research and scaled-up production of four COVID-19 vaccines, currently all in clinical trials.

The officials also discussed the possibility of establishing a mechanism of cooperation to fight the pandemic, including the use of Cuban vaccines to immunize the Lebanese people.

Pellicer recalled that Cuba has the capacity to produce up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and reaffirmed the principle of saving lives above anything else.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil Records Its Worst Economic Performance in 25 Years]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 16:42:53 -04:00 Brazil's economy, measured in Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contracted by 4.1 percent in 2020, less than in the other largest regional economies, partially thanks to subsidies paid until December to millions of Brazilians to face the COVID-19 pandemic, according to official data released Wednesday.

The result is somewhat better than the 4.2 percent average contraction forecast shortly before the end of 2020. The only sector that registered growth last year was agriculture (2 percent), while industry lost 3.5 percent and services fell 4.5 percent, according to the official statistics institute IBGE.


Brazil's Economy Collpases 9.7 Percent in the Second Quarter

On the demand side, investment fell by 0.8 percent, and household consumption fell by 5.5 percent.

In current values, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Latin America's largest economy totaled the equivalent of some 1.43 trillion dollars, with per capita GDP registering a 4.8 percent decline, to the equivalent of 6,820 dollars, according to IBGE.

The fall of the 2020 economy was much less than the IMF forecast in June (-9.1 percent) and that of other regional economies, such as Mexico (-8.5 percent) or Argentina (-10 percent), thanks to pandemic aid granted by the government from April to December to a third of the 212 million Brazilians.

Nevertheless, it was still the largest drop since the beginning of the current historical series in 1996 and the third since the beginning of the 20th century, after those of 1981 (-4.25 percent) and 1990 (-4.35 percent), in the so-called "lost decade" of Latin America, according to IBGE data.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala's Pacaya Volcano Is Likely To Erupt in the Next Hours]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 14:33:41 -04:00 The Pacaya volcano on Wednesday increased its seismic activity with the release of ash at high altitudes. Its material is dispersing up to 25 kilometers away from its crater.


Food Insecurity Climbs in Central America in the Last Two Years

The National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology, and Hydrology (INSIVUMEH) warned that this Central American volcano is continuously expelling "ballistics" 500 meters above its crater.

In the last hours, three lava flows have formed, which reach up to 1,000 meters in length and disperse with south-west, south, and north directions.

The neighboring communities El Patrocinio and El Rodeo received ash from a column of gases that reached a height of 3,500 meters above sea level.

The meme reads, "Pacaya. Listen to the birds."

Authorities do not rule out the possibility of an eruption in the next few hours. Meanwhile, ashfall is also expected in communities such as Los Rios, Los Jazmines El Rodeo, San Jose, Buenos Aires, Rio Frio, and Pacaya.

For this reason, the authorities recommended to the Directorate of Civil Aeronautics to take the necessary precautions with air traffic. They also requested that the National Park located on the slopes of the volcano be closed.

The National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) Spokesperson David de Leon recalled that the Pacaya volcano began its eruptive activity on February 19. Its last major eruption occurred on May 27, 2010, and killed two people.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela Pays Tribute to African Independence Leaders]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 14:50:52 -04:00 Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday awarded the Francisco de Miranda Order to the leaders of the African independence processes.


Venezuela's New Assembly: the People's Hope for Economic Upturn

"We share with Mother Africa the struggle for independence to achieve our peoples' happiness. With the Order, we honor their leaders for breaking the chains of colonialism," Maduro said.

During the 'Dreams of Freedom' videoconference, the president thanked the solidarity of African peoples and governments towards Venezuela amid the imperial powers' systematic attacks against his country.

"Today, we raise together the flags of freedom and justice. Africa is an example of resistance, courage, constancy, and loyalty," he added.

The president also highlighted the fight of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe against the Apartheid regime in the 1990s.

Venezuela's government paid tribute to historical African figures such as Namibia's Founding Father Samuel Daniel Shafiishuna Nujoma; Mozambique's former President Joaquim Chissano; and Zimbabwe's Defense Minister Oppah Chamu Zvipange Muchinguri Kashiri.

The Francisco de Miranda Order was created in 1939 to reward outstanding merit and to honor services made to science and progress.

]]> <![CDATA[Russia Rejects New US-EU Sanctions Package]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 13:24:07 -04:00 The Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov rejected the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States and the European Union (EU) over the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny.


EU and US Pass Sweeping Unilateral Measures Against Russia

"They are nothing but meddling in Russia's internal affairs," Peskov said, stressing that the sanctions are "unacceptable."

On Tuesday, the White House announced sanctions against seven Russian officials, including the Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov. This decision was justified on the grounds that the Russian government is allegedly persecuting Navalny and his supporters. 

Peskov also called it "outrageous" that the U.S. claims that the FSB was "with a high degree of probability" involved in the alleged poisoning Navalni suffered in 2020.

The Senate’s International Affairs Committee President Konstantin Kosachov explained that the new sanctions will have no practical effect on his country's economy or sovereign debt risk.

He also added that the arbitrary measures will not influence his country's defense industry even though they imply a ban on the sale of arms and military equipment to Russia.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the sanctions are part of a campaign by which the United States and the European Union divert the attention of their population from their own internal problems.

"We will not accept this. Based on the principle of reciprocity, we will respond but not necessarily with symmetrical measures," she warned

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Lenin Moreno Leaves the Party That Took Him to Power]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 13:50:24 -04:00 Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno Wednesday resigned from the 'Alianza Pais' Party shortly after this organization decided to expel him over its failure in the Feb. 7 elections.


Andres Arauz Wins the First Electoral Round in Ecuador

Moreno, who reached power with Alianza Pais in 2017, presented the resignation request before the National Electoral Council (CNE) while this institution was processing his expulsion from the Party.

"He is leaving the movement to avoid expulsion. The next step will be to flee the country," Alianza Pais President Diego Fuentes assured and added that his party will be "restructured to rescue its political identity."

Ecuador's President broke with Alianza Pais after the defeat it suffered in the past elections, in which the party's candidate Ximena Peña only reached 1.54 percent of the votes.

In 2006, when Moreno still presented himself as a "leftist politician",  he founded Alianza Pais with former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017).

After years of political confrontation between them both, Correa left the movement to support the Union for Hope Alliance (UNES), whose Presidential candidate Andres Arauz won the first round of elections on February 7.

Moreno's departure from Alianza Pais also comes amid criticism for his mishandling of the pandemic and the irregular and slow vaccination process.

]]> <![CDATA[Myanmar Police Shoot Dead 10 Citizens]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 11:03:30 -04:00 Myanmar's security forces again left a trail of bloodshed Wednesday after shooting to death ten citizens who were peacefully protesting against the military junta that carried out a coup d'état on Feb. 1.


Myanmar Military Junta Denies Harshness of Repression

The killings occurred in the cities of Monywa, Mandalay, Myingyan, Salin, and Rangoon. Two of the citizens who perished at the hands of state terrorists were minors.

Although the Burmese are being suppressed with live ammunition, they have been defying the military for weeks and demanding the return of democracy and the release of their elected leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

"We hate the junta from the bottom of our hearts. Today alone, 10 young people have died... Police forces are trying to get us off the streets any way they can," said Thame, a medical student who participates almost daily in the protests.

"Our future is dying... That thought scares me more than dying. That's why we take to the streets," he added.

Since the Feb. 1 coup, at least 30 people have been killed by security forces responding to the orders of the Army, which is trying to hold on to power despite having ruled the country uninterruptedly between 1962 and 2011.

On Tuesday, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) called on the Burmese military to initiate a concerted solution to the political crisis. This and other requests from the international community, however, have gone unheeded by the military junta headed by General Min Aung Hlaing.

So far, in an attempt to contain the mass protests, the military has detained over 1,200 citizens and blocked the Internet, Twitter, and Facebook.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia: Political Campaigns Close Ahead of Regional Elections]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 12:22:12 -04:00 Bolivia's political movements on Wednesday will close their campaigns ahead of the March 7 regional elections for governors, mayors, and councils.


Bolivia To Restore Ties With Cuba And Venezuela

From now until Sunday, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) will prohibit the transmission of proselytizing messages by parties or social movements. If the norm is violated, infractors will be fined

Likewise, the media seeking to influence the people in favor of any political party will be disqualified from broadcasting propaganda in the next electoral process.

The substitution of candidacies due to death, permanent physical impediment, or mental incapacity will also be prohibited.

On Sunday, Bolivians will go to the polls amid the second wave of contagions. "Electoral authorities will guarantee strict health measures and they will be agile to avoid agglomerations outside polling stations," the TSE stated. 

According to national polls, the ruling Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) is expected to sweep the elections. 

"MAS has made an impressive comeback... it is the one and only political party with a physical presence in every municipality, region, and culture," journalist Oliver Vargas said.

]]> <![CDATA[Ireland To Re-Establish Diplomatic Presence in Iran]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 09:31:19 -04:00 Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Ministry Simon Coveney on Tuesday announced that his country will re-establish its diplomatic presence in Iran following the closure of its embassy in Tehran in 2012.


Iran Urges To Halt US Sanctions To Advance Nuclear Dialogue

"A Diplomatic Mission will be established this year, to be headed at Charge d'Affaires level, with a commitment to re-open an Irish Embassy in 2023," Coveney said, adding that the decision is part of the government's efforts to double Ireland's global impact by 2025 under a Global Ireland strategy.

"As an elected member of the Security Council, it is particularly important that we have the ability to engage in more depth on the range of Middle East issues on the Security Council's agenda," he pointed out, adding that Ireland seeks to play a constructive role on the nuclear non-proliferation agenda as a facilitator of Resolution 2231 for the next two years on the Security Council.

Resolution 2231 is a resolution passed by the United Nations (UN) Security Council on July 20, 2015, which endorses the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the nuclear program of Iran.

"Ireland is fully committed to the success of that agreement, and the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The re-establishment of an Irish presence in Tehran is a concrete sign of our commitment to deepen dialogue with all relevant partners, including Iran, on this issue," said Coveney.

Ireland took up its seat as an elected member of the UN Security Council for a two-year term starting from Jan. 1, 2021. The UN Security Council has five permanent members, namely China, the United States, Russia, Britain and France. The council also has ten non-permanent members which are elected by the UN General Assembly for two-year terms starting on Jan. 1, with five replaced each year.

The main difference between a permanent member and a non-permanent member is that the former has a veto power while the latter does not.

Ireland joined the UN in 1955 and will serve as Presidency of the UN Security Council in September 2021, according to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazil: Senate Pass Bill to Allow Companies to Buy Vaccines]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 10:31:40 -04:00 Brazil’s Senate Tuesday passed a bill that allows the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines by private companies and subnational governments before the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) registers the immunizers.


Amazon Strain Can Reinfect and Has Spread Across Brazil: Study

Buying drugs without Anvisa's approval will allow the country to purchase India's Covaxin vaccine and the Russian Sputnik V. The rule, however, establishes that the immunizers can be administered to the people only if the Agency allows their emergency use. 

The proposal, which now requires far-right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro's approval, urges all doses acquired by private companies to be donated to the Unified Health System (SUS) for their use in the national vaccination campaign.

Once the campaign's priority groups are immunized, companies will be able to acquire, distribute, and administer the vaccines to the people as long as they donate half of the doses to the SUS.

Meanwhile, State and municipal governments will have to assume risks related to any adverse effects after vaccination for as long as the health emergency lasts.

"To immediately acquire vaccines is imperative to halt health emergency the country is facing," lawmaker Randolfe Rodrigues said and added that the vaccination campaign has advanced slowly and amid corruption scandals.

Less than 4 percent of the population has received doses of COVID-19 vaccines since the vaccination campaign started two months ago. During the process, Brazil has experienced a vaccine shortage that experts attribute to Bolsonaro’s planning errors.

]]> <![CDATA[US Halts Trials of COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma in Patients]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 08:03:29 -04:00 The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has halted a clinical trial evaluating the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in treating emergency department patients who developed mild to moderate symptoms.


Amazon Strain Can Reinfect and Has Spread Across Brazil: Study

An independent data and safety monitoring board met for the second planned interim analysis of the trial data, and determined that while the convalescent plasma intervention caused no harm, it was unlikely to benefit this group of patients.

Launched in August last year, the trial was being conducted at 47 hospital emergency departments across the United States and had enrolled over 500 participants.

COVID-19 convalescent plasma is blood plasma derived from patients who have recovered from COVID-19. It contains antibodies, or special proteins, generated by the body's immune system to fight the novel coronavirus.

Over 100,000 people in the United States and many more worldwide have already been treated with it since the pandemic began, according to the NIH.

The trial reviewed the effectiveness of COVID-19 convalescent plasma in adults who came to an emergency department with mild to moderate symptoms they had for a week or less.

These patients also had at least one risk factor associated with severe COVID-19, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or chronic lung disease, but none were ill enough at the time to be hospitalized.

After the study participants received either the COVID-19 convalescent plasma or a placebo, researchers tracked whether the participants needed to seek further emergency or urgent care had to be hospitalized or died within 15 days of entering the trial.

The recent data analysis from the study indicated no significant difference in the proportion of participants who experienced any one of these outcomes.

"Even if enrollment continued, this trial was highly unlikely to demonstrate that COVID-19 convalescent plasma prevents progression from mild to severe illness in at-risk emergency department non-hospitalized participants," said the NIH.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala Receives 100,000 COVID-19 Vaccines Donated by India]]> Wed, 3 Mar 2021 08:36:22 -04:00 Guatemala on Tuesday received 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines donated by India that will allow authorities to continue the vaccination campaign in the country.


Guatemalans Calls for New Protests Against President Giammattei

The donation of Covishield vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca laboratory arrived at 23h00 local time on a plane from Mumbai, India.

The immunizer, which requires the injection of two doses between eight and twelve weeks apart, joins the 2,500 Moderna vaccines given by Israel to the Latin American country last week.

"India's solidarity will allow us to continue immunizing health workers," Guatemala's Foreign Affairs Minister Pedro Brolo said and admitted that the vaccines purchased by President Alejandro Gianmattei are delayed.

On February 25, Guatemala kicked off its campaign by vaccinating health workers with the doses donated by Israel. With the new shipment, the country will also begin immunizing the elderly and people with underlying diseases.

Until then, Guatemala was one of the few nations on the continent that had not received any dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

In January, Giammattei promised the arrival of 400,000 AstraZeneca vaccines by February through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX). One month later, Health Minister Amelia Flores stated it is unknown when these doses will arrive in the country.

]]> <![CDATA[Amazon Strain Can Reinfect and Has Spread Across Brazil: Study]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 22:41:24 -04:00 A SARS-CoV-2 mutation identified in the Brazilian Amazon can reinfect former COVID-19 patients and is likely spread already across the country since travelers involuntarily transported it via airliners used by some 92,000 people until February, the latest study by the University of São Paulo (USP) and the University of Oxford revealed on Tuesday.


Brazil: Hospitals in Seven State Capitals About To Collapse

The study indicates that the Amazon variant originated last November in the city of Manaus, one of the hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Americas. The scientist concluded that this mutation called P.1 is between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

"Brazil | Due to sanitary collapse Santa Catarina transfers 16 patients to Espírito Santo; a state 1900kms away. The waiting line for transfer in Santa Catarina is 228 patients; yesterday 16 died waiting for covid19 stretchers."

Moreover, the study reveals that between 25 percent and 61 percent of people who survived the virus could get reinfected as the variant can trick the immune system.

"The message that the data sends is: even those who have had Covid-19 must remain cautious. The new strain is more transmissible and can infect even those who already have antibodies to the new coronavirus. This is what happened in Manaus. Most of the population already had immunity, and even then, there was a great epidemic," the coordinator of the research group Esther Sabino explained.


]]> <![CDATA[Chile: Court Releases Officer Who Pushed Teenager From Bridge]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 22:08:27 -04:00 Chile's justice revoked the preventive prison order of former carabinero (Chilean policeman) Sebastián Zamora, accused of the attempted homicide of a teenager pushed from the Pio Nono bridge in the capital Santiago last year.


Chile: Students Go Back To Classrooms Despite Teachers Opposed

The court canceled the preventive measure, which had Zamora serving for five months. It authorized the former policemen to remain under full house arrest for the rest of the investigation length.

"Former Carabinero Sebastián Zamora's pretrial detention is modified in the Pío Nono case."


teleSUR's correspondent in Chile, Paola Dragnic, explained that "the  court's decision dramatically contrasts with several  protestors that currently are being kept in preventive prison for more than a year without evidence of the charges they are accused of."

On October 3, 2020, Zamora pushed a teenager over a bridge to the Mapocho river during a protest related to Chile's current social unrest crisis. The 8-meter fall did not kill the young man, but it left him with several fractures in his body, which required surgery. The case exposed rampant brutality within security forces.

]]> <![CDATA[Jamaican Reggae Legend Bunny Wailer Dies at 73]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 21:25:43 -04:00 Jamaican reggae legend and co-founder of the Wailers Bunny Wailer died on Tuesday at 73, Jamaica's Culture Minister, Olivia Grange, confirmed.


Jamaica Celebrates Its 58th Independence Day With Resilience

Born in Kingston, Bunny Wailer founded the group alongside his childhood friend Bob Marley, and together they reached stardom with worldwide hits such as Simmer Down and Stir It Up. However, Wailer and Marley separated in 1974, although Wailer won three Grammys for best reggae album on each occasion.

In July 2020, he was admitted to hospital after having a stroke, although the cause of his death is still unknown. He was the last surviving member of The Wailers after Bob Marley's death from cancer in 1981 and later Peter Tosh's murder in 1987.

Musicians, politicians, and artists from around the world have mourned his death. Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that Wailer's death was "a great loss for Jamaica and reggae." The artists received Jamaica's Order Of Merit in 2017.

]]> <![CDATA[Spanish Parliament Refuses To Investigate Juan Carlos I]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 19:38:04 -04:00 The Spanish parliament rejected a petition by several political parties again on Tuesday to open up an investigation on emeritus king, Juan Carlos I, as criticism of the monarchy grows nationwide amid the COVID-19 pandemic and accusations about a lack of freedom of expression.


Survey Shows Spaniards Support Elimination of Monarchy

The Board of the Congress of Deputies denied the requests with support from the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the conservative Popular Party (PP), and the far-right Vox party.  These formations gathered a majority of six votes against the petition.

"How shameless. The last to pay the Treasury but the first to get vaccinated. A culture of hereditary and indecent privilege."

On the other hand, the leftist party Unidas Podemos (United We Can) only reached three votes in favor. In this sense, the United We Can deputy Gerardo Pisarello banded as "incredible" the parliament's decision.

"How is it possible that the Treasury does not act? Where did the king get that money when he does not have an allowance to match?" Pisarello said. However, the PSOE parliamentary spokesman Rafael Simancas said that "the investigations into alleged irregularities regarding the emeritus king's economic activities are being developed in the field of Justice, that is its place."

Currently, Spain's Supreme Court investigates Juan Carlos de Borbon's role in a case of alleged tax fraud and money laundering.


]]> <![CDATA[EU and US Pass Sweeping Unilateral Measures Against Russia]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 19:03:00 -04:00 The European Union (EU) reported adopting new unilateral coercive measures against high-ranking Russian citizens due to the situation surrounding opposition figure Alexei Navalny. The EU imposed the measures on Tuesday against senior officials related to the imprisonment of the right-wing activist.

Among those affected are Russian Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov, head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Federal Penitentiary Service Alexander Kalashnikov, and head of the National Guard Viktor Zolotov.


Russia Will Respond to EU Sanctions Over Navalny Case

Shortly after that, the United States announced similar measures and trade and visa restrictions against Russia and connected with the Navalny case. The U.S. sanctions include seven senior Russian officials and several entities allegedly involved in biological agents' production.

The authorities of both powers acknowledged having acted in coordination in adopting these measures, which pursue the stated objective of putting pressure on the Eurasian giant.

In this context, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, expressed that his country will respond without fail, recalling that one of the rules of diplomacy "is reciprocity."

Alexey Navalny was arrested last January and sentenced to three and a half years in prison on charges of large-scale fraud in his business activity sphere.

Navalny's imprisonment generated condemnations and threats of new sanctions against Moscow by the United States and the European Union (EU), decisions that the Kremlin has considered interference in its internal affairs.

]]> <![CDATA[AMLO/Biden: "Very Good Conversation," Mexican President Says]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 18:14:35 -04:00 Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held his first virtual meeting with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, as both parties had a "very good conversation," according to Obrador.


Biden To Allow Migrant Families Separated at Border To Reunite 

During a press conference, López Obrador said that he had invited Biden to Mexico. "I spoke to him about the development curtains so that people are not forced to emigrate from the country. I spoke to him about the Mayan Train, the Isthmus's development, and the roads that the indigenous communities are making in Oaxaca. We are going to see when I can go," the Mexican president detailed.

In migration, the Mexican president said it was necessary to consider how much workforce the U.S. needs and that work visas be extended. "We have to guarantee the right of the people to work, in a more universal vision. We are starting, and we have to hurry. Everyone is included because migration is not only for Central Americans; it has to be dealt with in a comprehensive, regional way," AMLO remarked.

"We talked with President Joe Biden and his team. It was a friendly meeting for the good of our peoples. I share with you the beginning of the bilateral meeting."


Before the meeting, several media outlets, politicians, and business people touted the possibility that Biden would discuss AMLO's landmark power reform, criticized mainly by conservative sectors since it reinforces the state's role over the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and the power system nationwide.

In this sense, AMLO explained that "the issue of the electricity industry was not addressed, I spoke about the priorities of our government, to moralize the country, to end corruption; justice, that there would be no more shameful inequality; and in the economic field the countryside, to support the countryside."

Both parties agreed to create a high-level commission headed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard to address the United States-Mexico and Canada Agreement (T-MEC).


]]> <![CDATA[Globalink | What Top China, US Epidemiologists Hope for Amid Pandemic]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 15:43:37 -04:00

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Legislature Calls for Sacking Top Officials Over Riots]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 17:43:37 -04:00 Ecuador's National Assembly on Monday demanded the country's president, Lenin Moreno, to dismiss the Minister of Government, the head of prisons and the rehabilitation system, as responsible for the prison crisis that broke out last February 23 and left at least 79 inmates dead.

The assembly approved the agreement with 84 votes in favor, one against and 34 abstentions, with which the plenary of the assembly demanded the "immediate dismissal" of the Minister of Government (Interior), Patricio Pazmiño; the director of the National Service of Integral Attention to Persons Deprived of Liberty (SNAI), Edmundo Moncayo; and Johana Pesántez, president of the Technical Agency of Social Rehabilitation.


New Prison Riot in Ecuador

According to the legislators, these officials would be responsible for the events that occurred in four prisons in the country, resulting in 79 inmates killed and 19 wounded in events attributed to quarrels between rival gangs, according to the authorities.

Likewise, the parliament demanded Moreno the "immediate adoption of measures that guarantee the prevention, maintenance, control, and reestablishment of order and security in prisons," according to a press release from the National Assembly.

"With 84 votes, the Virtual Plenary approves the draft resolution with five articles, including the request to the Executive for the dismissal of the heads of the @MinGobiernoEc, @PoliciaEcuador and @SNAI_Ec. #EcuadorPrisonCrisis"

In this sense, the parliament demanded: "an efficient management and administration of the centers of deprivation of liberty; the design and execution of processes of rehabilitation and social reinsertion of the persons deprived of liberty, which guarantee their rights" and that, in this sense, a "state of exception" be decreed in the prisons of the country.

The resolution was promoted by legislator Rodrigo Collahuazo, who also anticipates the initiation of a political trial to dismiss the officials for "non-compliance of their functions within the framework of citizen security."

In short, the document requests the Government to order the Ministry of Economy the "immediate delivery of economic resources to solve the serious crisis of the social rehabilitation system, as well as to analyze and speed up the requests for humanitarian pardon."

]]> <![CDATA[French Church Could Admit up To 10,000 Child Sex Abuse Cases]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 15:13:33 -04:00 The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the French Church (CIASE) on Tuesday acknowledged that the number of minors sexually abused by priests or church workers could be as high as 10,000 if all possible cases since the 1950s are considered.


Church of England Failed To Protect Minors From Sexual Abuse

Although only about 3,000 cases have been confirmed so far, the commission said the final number of victims will be known when it completes its investigation in September.

To confirm those 3,000 cases, investigators received and analyzed some 6,500 testimonies. To determine the number of cases, the investigation also used a 50-question survey asking people if they were sexually abused as minors.

"Sexual violence often engenders a deep trauma resulting in a prolonged silence that can last for decades. Victims experience great difficulty in freeing themselves from the belief they are guilty," the CIASE President Jean-Marc Sauve explained.

Formed at the request of the episcopate in Nov. 2018, the commission is composed of about twenty jurists, psychiatrists, sociologists, and other specialists. Its investigation seeks both to bring to light sexual abuses perpetrated against minors and to understand how these matters have been handled in order to prevent similar occurrences from happening again.

Outside the ecclesiastical sphere, sexual abuse of minors in France has gained new prominence from recent cases such as the accusations against National Cinematographic Center (CNC) President Dominique Boutonnat, who was arrested after his godson accused him of sexual assault and attempted rape.

Events such as these join a long list of denunciations on social networks under the hashtag #MeTooInceste, which went viral earlier this year with cases of other victims who suffered abuse in the family setting.

]]> <![CDATA[COVAX To Send 26 Million Vaccines To Latin America]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 14:33:17 -04:00 The COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX) on Tuesday confirmed that Latin American countries will receive up to 26 million vaccines between March and May.  


Eastern Caribbean States Receive Vaccine Donation From India

The countries that will receive the highest number of vaccines will be Brazil (9.1 million) and Mexico (5.5 million). 

In Central America, the multilateral facility will benefit Costa Rica (218,000), El Salvador (225,000), Guatemala (724,000), Honduras (424,000), Nicaragua (432,000), and Panama (184,000). 

Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay will also get vaccines which are mainly from the British AstraZeneca laboratory.

Over the next months, COVAX has a goal of distributing at least 2 billion doses, 1.3 billion of which will be destined to developing countries.

So far, 190 countries are part of the mechanism that will allocate vaccines free of charge to the world's poorest economies.

Ghana became the first country in the world to receive vaccines negotiated under COVAX. On Tuesday, vaccines will be sent to Cambodia, Angola, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina's IMF Loans Were Unnecessary, Minister Kulfas Says]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 14:11:45 -04:00 Regarding the US$45 billion granted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to Mauricio Macri's administration (2015-2019), Argentina's Productive Development Minister Matias Kulfas on Tuesday denounced that those resources were actually used by the former right-wing President to pay debts incurred during his administration and to hide private capital flight.


Argentina's President to Sue Mauricio Macri Over IMF Loan

Given that such a debt operation was an irresponsible and unnecessary act, Kulfas explained that President Alberto Fernandez had first to restructure the debt with private creditors and then negotiate a new deal with the IMF. 

Defense Minister Agustin Rossi also recalled that Macri administration officials systematically refused to submit the IMF agreement for analysis by Congress.

"After the agreement, the debt-obtained income went to capital flight. This appears as a fraudulent act," Rossi stressed.

On Monday, President Fernandez announced before Congress his intention to open a criminal investigation targeting acts of "defrauding and misappropriation of public funds."

The Central Bank submitted to the Anticorruption Office all the documentation related to the last agreement signed with the IMF to determine if any damage was caused to the State.

"The acceptance of such credit was done without previous legal and technical interventions, with total irresponsibility and behind the back of Congress," Fernandez said.

"It cannot be seen in any other way than a fraudulent administration and embezzlement of public funds as we have never seen before," he added.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador's Leftist Candidate Ratified as First Round Winner]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 12:48:26 -04:00 After reviewing over 1.4 million votes, Ecuador's National Electoral Council (CNE) ratified that the Union For Hope (UNES) Candidate Andres Arauz came in first place in the first round of the presidential election held on February 8.


Parliament Rejects Moreno's Privatization of Central Bank

The recount of the tallies presenting some inconsistency awarded an additional 403,484 votes to this leftist economist, who was Knowledge Minister during President Rafael Correa's administration (2007-2017).

In second place was right-wing banker Guillermo Lasso, who obtained 229,252 additional votes. The U.S.-backed "eco-socialist" candidate Yaku Perez got 144,921 additional votes but failed to surpass the vote achieved by Lasso.

Consequently, Arauz and Lasso will compete for the presidency of the Republic in the second round of elections to be held on April 11.

"Once the recount was carried out for all lists, the trend of the initially proclaimed results is maintained," the CNE said and clarified that 5,282 ballot boxes, which contained 13.3 percent of the votes, were reviewed.

The electoral authorities also indicated that the presidential campaign may take place between March 16 and April 8. As part of this process, a mandatory debate between presidential candidates will be held on March 21.

The official calendar foresees that the members of the new National Assembly may take office on May 14. Whoever is elected President of Ecuador will be sworn in on May 24.

]]> <![CDATA[Honduras Recalls Murder of Environment Activist Berta Caceres]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 11:56:10 -04:00 The Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) on Tuesday remembers the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Lenca Indigenous leader Berta Caceres.


Food Insecurity Climbs in Central America in the Last Two Years

International organizations such as Ecologist in Action, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Global Witness signed a letter calling for justice in this case.

Caceres fiercely opposed a hydroelectric project granted to the company "Desarrollos Energeticos" S.A. (DESA) on the Gualcarque River, for it endangered the livelihoods of Lenca Indigenous communities.

In 2019, seven people were convicted and sentenced for her murder. DESA ex-President David Castillo was accused of being the "intellectual author" even though reports connected other high-ranking officials in the events.

COPINH warned that Castillo's lawyers had taken measures on repeated occasions to cause delays in the judicial process to date.

On March 3, 2016, four hired killers entered Caceres' home in La Esperanza village and murdered her. Later Investigations revealed that DESA officials planned the crime executed by the Military. 

Between 2017 and 2020, Indigenous peoples filed nearly 35 complaints with the Prosecutor's Office about murders and menaces against human rights defenders. No legal actions have been taken against the alleged aggressors. 

"This tragic event was a hard blow not only for human rights defenders in the Americas but for the whole world...Caceres has become a symbol of hope and courage for all people fighting for justice and dignity," COPINH stressed.

]]> <![CDATA[Myanmar Military Junta Denies Harshness of Repression]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 11:34:41 -04:00 Despite the police brutality deployed by the military regime over the weekend, Burmese on Tuesday took to the streets of Rangoon, Myanmar's largest city, to protest and call for the release of politicians including the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.


US To Sanction Myanmar's Military Junta After Deadly Protests

Security forces fired rubber bullets and live ammunition at citizens, some of whom tried to cover themselves with plastic helmets and rudimentary shields. Local media reported at least 15 people injured.

The Military Junta Head General Min Aung Hlaing defended the performance of his security forces arguing that the Burma Police Force (MPF) is controlling the situation using "minimal force."

"The MPF is doing its job following democratic practices and the measures it is taking are even softer than those in other countries," he said on Monday after some 20 protesters were shot dead in the previous day.

Min Aung Hlaing also announced that measures are being taken against civil servants who have joined the civil disobedience movement, which was initiated by health workers after the February 2 coup.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold a special meeting to discuss the situation in Burma.

In this country, the Army justified its coup d'état on the grounds of alleged electoral fraud in the November elections, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party led by Suu Kyi, swept to a landslide victory.

]]> <![CDATA[Brazilian COVID-19 Strain Can Circumvent Coronavac Antibodies]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 10:09:04 -04:00 Scientists from the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and the University of Campinas (Unicamp) reported that the Brazilian strain called P.1 could escape the antibodies generated by the Coronavac vaccine.


Brazil: Hospitals in Seven State Capitals About To Collapse

The researchers collected plasma from eight volunteers who participated in clinical trials and used the samples to test the effectiveness of the vaccine with the strain detected in Manaus city, Amazonas state, earlier this year.

The results of the research were published by the journal The Lancet in its section of articles not yet peer-reviewed.

In addition to pointing out that research with larger samples is needed to confirm their findings, the researchers explained that other factors could influence the results obtained. Among them is the role those other elements of the immune system such as "memory lymphocytes" play in severe COVID-19 cases.

In this regard, they believe that a third booster dose of the modified vaccine for the Brazilian variant may be necessary to stop the spread of the new strain throughout the country.

The USP-Unicamp study also shows that antibodies produced by a person previously infected with the coronavirus do not appear to be able to block the Brazilian variant.

"Thus, reinfection may be plausible with variants with mutations in the 'spike' protein," the researchers said and explained that this protein is the element used by the coronavirus to penetrate human cells.

In the past week, two scientific studies have also indicated that P.1 may have a viral load up to ten times higher. This would make it a more transmissible variant and capable of evading the immune system of those who already had antibodies.

So far, authorities have reported the presence of the Brazilian strain in 17 out of 27 states.

]]> <![CDATA[Peru Ratifies Forced Sterilizations Case Against Fujimori]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 10:31:11 -04:00 The Public Prosecutor's Office on Monday supported the charges against Peru's former President Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000) for the forced sterilizations of at least 1,300 Indigenous women.


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Besides Fujimori, the imputations include former Health Ministers Marino Costa, Eduardo Yong, Alejandro Aguinaga, and the ex-officials Ulises Aguilar and Segundo Aliaga.

The accusations are for the crime of "serious injuries followed by death" against five women and serious injuries against the victims.

The Public Prosecutor's Office claims that the first cases of forced sterilizations took place 22 years ago when the procedure was performed on 1,307 Quechua-speaking women in Ayacucho, Cusco, Piura, and other regions. 

The forced sterilizations were carried out as part of the National Program of Reproductive Health and Family Planning (1996-2000) whose purpose was to apply the surgical intervention as a contraceptive method.

One of the first cases to be publicly denounced was that of Victoria Vigo, an Indigenous woman who underwent contraceptive surgery without her consent when she went to the Piura Hospital to give birth to her third child. 

After several proceedings, the Prosecutor's Office decided to include Fujimori and his ex-ministers in the investigations in 2013. A formal accusation was filed against them in November 2018.

]]> <![CDATA[Biden To Allow Migrant Families Separated at Border To Reunite]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 09:10:38 -04:00 U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday announced that President Joe Biden's administration will allow migrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border under former President Donald Trump to reunite inside the United States.


Mexico's President to Speak With Biden on Migration Policies

"We are hoping to reunite the families either here or in their country of origin. We hope to be in a position to give them the election and if in fact, they seek to reunite here in the United States, we will explore lawful pathways for them to remain in the United States and to address the family needs," Mayorkas said.

"The prior administration dismantled our nation's immigration system in its entirety," Mayorkas recalled, adding that the separation of thousands of migrant families under the Trump administration "the most powerful and heartbreaking example of the cruelty that preceded this administration."

However, Mayorkas said that migrants need to wait and should not come to the United States now, citing travel restrictions due to the pandemic and his department's unfinished work to rebuild its asylum and humanitarian programs.

During the President Trump administration, actions to control illegal immigration prompted many cases of violations of children's rights. Although the so-called "family-separation policy" did not last long and was revoked in 2018, it generated sequels that continue to make it difficult to locate the parents of the minors who were assigned to special detention centers.

“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represents the separated children in a continuing class-action lawsuit against the U.S. government, has identified about 5,500 families separated by the Trump administration,” CryOut News recalled.

Human rights defenders and lawyers are still trying to locate the parents of over 500 children who had been split from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela Receives 500,000 COVID-19 Vaccines From China]]> Tue, 2 Mar 2021 08:17:56 -04:00 Venezuela's Vice President Delcy Rodriguez on Monday received the first batch of 500,000 COVID-19 vaccines donated by China's government. 


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The batch was transported by a Conviasa aircraft which landed in the La Guaira state at around 11:00 p.m. 

The flight also transported 17 tons of health-related material such as masks, biosecurity suits, rapid tests, and medical equipment.

"We want to thank this cooperation that has allowed Venezuela, in the worst blockade and imperial attack, to protect the health and life of its people," Rodriguez said.

The donation will be incorporated into the vaccination campaign of health care workers, military personnel, and teachers who will return to classrooms in April.

Since the opening of a humanitarian bridge with China in March last year, the Bolivarian nation had received over 313 tons of equipment and supplies to fight the pandemic.

As of Tuesday morning, Venezuela had confirmed 139,545 COVID-19 cases and 1,348 related deaths.