teleSUR English ES Thu, 18 Jul 2019 15:02:13 -04:00 teleSUR English <![CDATA[Dutch Airline KLM Restricts Breastfeeding on Flight]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 15:02:12 -04:00 The Dutch airline KLM drew criticism by asking mothers to cover themselves while breastfeeding their babies on flights to "ensure that passengers from all backgrounds feel comfortable on board."


Black Jamaican Woman Asked to Get off German Airline Plane Cites 'Racism'

While responding to a question on Twitter about airline’s policy of breastfeeding, KLM said that it is “permitted” but they will ask mothers to cover themselves “in case other passengers are offended by it.”

They also said, “As an international airline company, we transport passengers with a variety of backgrounds. Not all passengers feel comfortable with breastfeeding in their vicinity and sometimes these passengers complain to the cabin staff.”

The airline’s answer angered many women some of whom compared it with other airlines where they did not have to cover themselves. 

The conflict started after Shelby Angel, a woman from the U.S. wrote on Facebook that she was asked to cover herself while feeding her son on board a flight between San Francisco and Amsterdam last month which made her “uncomfortable and disrespected.”

"Before taking off, a stewardess approached me with a blanket and told me that if I want to continue, I need to cover myself. I refused because my daughter does not like to be covered, and that would bother her almost as much as not breastfeeding at all,” Angel wrote. 

Niki Kandirikirira, from the Equality Now lobby group, said, “Negative attitudes about breastfeeding in public stem from the over-sexualization of women’s bodies. Breastfeeding is a totally natural process and women should have the freedom to do it wherever and whenever they want, rather than being forced to hide as if they are doing something inappropriate.”

KLM also faced backlash from doctors. One doctor wrote on Twitter, “I find it uncomfortable and offensive when people chew with their mouths open, infinitely more so than breastfeeding. Can you cover up the heads of passengers who do so with a blanket? Thanks!”

Ayala Ochert, from the campaign group Better Breastfeeding, said, “In their effort to avoid offense in the tiny minority of people disturbed by the sight of a child feeding, KLM has instead chosen to offend a mother trying to feed and nurture her child.”​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Cambodia To Send Back 1,600 Tons Plastic Waste to US, Canada]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:43:59 -04:00 Cambodia announced Wednesday that it will send 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste back to the United States and Canada. The country received the waste in 83 shipping containers from developed Western countries Tuesday at Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s main port. 


US Can't Force Countries to Accept Non-Recyclable Imports: UN

“Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and the government also opposes any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be recycled in this country,” said the country’s environment minister, Neth Pheaktra adding that 70 of the containers were shipped from the U.S. and 13 from Canada. 

China last year banned shipment of foreign plastic waste, leading developed nations to send their waste to other developing countries. 

Pheaktra said a government committee has been established to investigate why the containers reached the country and if any company found to be involved in bringing the waste would be fined and brought to court. 

Transparency International Cambodia’s executive director, Preap Kol said trash delivery was a “serious insult.”

Last week Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a cabinet meeting that Cambodia is not a dumping ground and would not allow any importation of plastic waste or any recyclables.

Cambodia itself struggles with domestic plastic waste made complex by the absence of public awareness or infrastructure. 

Indonesia this month announced that they were also sending back dozens of containers full of waste to France, Australia, and other developed countries. In May, Malaysia said it was sending back 450 tonnes of imported plastic waste to its sources.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), 300 million tonnes of plastics are produced every year. Most of it ends up in landfills or seas, making it an international crisis. 

In May this year, 187 countries signed a treaty which will allow nations to block the import of contaminated or hard to recycle plastic trash. 

“For far too long developed countries like the U.S. and Canada have been exporting their mixed toxic plastic wastes to developing Asian countries claiming it would be recycled in the receiving country. Instead, much of this contaminated mixed waste cannot be recycled and is instead dumped or burned, or finds its way into the ocean,” said Dr. Sara Brosche, a science advisor with the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) an international NGO dedicated to eliminating organic pollutants.

The U.S. is one of the few countries which did not sign the treaty. 

]]> <![CDATA[Greece: Refugees, Activists on Alert Amid New Migration Acts]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:39:49 -04:00 Greece's Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis administration announced the shut down of the migration ministry and the transfer of its powers to the Citizen Protection Ministry, an institutional change which has put on alert human rights defenders who fear a hardening in the treatment that the new right-wing government will give migrants.


Conservatives Beat Tsipras in Greece Elections: Exit Polls

According to Natasa Strachini, a lawyer working with Aegean, a NGO supporting refugees a the Chios Island, such change means giving "more than one step back" in a country which has been previously been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) due to its permanent breach of the Asylum Access Law.

Human rights defenders are also concerned about the acceleration of asylum examinations and the return of immigrants to Turkey.

Through these measures, PM Mitsotakis hopes to decongest five islands in which more than 16,000 asylum seekers are confined in camps with an overall capacity to house a maximum of 6,000 people.

"Returning them at any price and without legal guarantees is not what we should be doing in Greece and Europe," Strachini said and commented that the current Greek asylum system is saturated.

The concern for new immigration policies is felt in the streets of Athens and especially in the neighborhood of Exarjia, a place where anarchist militants support migrants in their daily subsistence at the "Squats."

Created in the 2015 European refugee crisis, the squads are occupied buildings used by solidarity networks that seek to create alternatives to mainstream migration policies.

These housing spaces, which are home to thousands of migrants who usually come to Greece from African countries, are "on alert" because Mitsotakis promised to "clean" the neighborhoods during his election campaign.

One of these solidarity shelters was the "City Plaza Hotel", a squat which closed a few days after the change of government, although it had sheltered more than 2,500 migrants for three years.

In the midst of this, the far-right politician and former Vice Minister of Defense Konstandinos Tasulas was elected president of the parliament on Thursday, with 283 votes in favor and 15 blank votes from the Communist lawmakers.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Progressives Back Ilhan Omar After Racist Chants at Trump Rally]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 14:13:11 -04:00 Politicians, activists worldwide rallied behind Ilhan Omar as the U.S. President Donald Trump stepped up his vilification of her and three other progressive lawmakers as "un-American" at a raucous rally Wednesday. 


10 Reasons Why Ilhan Omar Scares US Political Elite

Despite being criticized that his comments about the four minority congresswomen known as “the squad”, are racist, Trump went on an extended tirade about the lawmakers but especially focusing on Ilhan Omar the Somalian-American lawmaker. 

Encouraged by Trump, the crowd chanted “Send her back” giving rise to viral social media campaign #IStandWithIlhan where politicians and activists came together in solidarity with Ilhan Omar

At the rally in Greenville, North Carolina Trump also attacked the other three of the squad-Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib asking them to leave the country if they did not like his policies on issues such as immigration and defending Israel.

"So these Congresswomen, their comments are helping to fuel the rise of a dangerous, militant hard left," the Republican president said.

"Tonight I have a suggestion for the hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down. They never have anything good to say. That's why I say: 'Hey if they don't like it, let them leave. Let them leave,'" Trump said.

Trump spent about a fifth of his freewheeling 90-minute-long speech criticizing the four lawmakers, to enthusiastic crowd response. 

The rally brought forth a flood of support for Omar from various sections of her party and even public figures. Omar herself quoted a poem by the late civil rights activist Maya Angelou. 

Senator Kamala Harris and 2020 presidential hopeful wrote, “It’s vile. It’s cowardly. It’s xenophobic. It’s racist. It defiles the office of the President. And I won't share it here. It’s time to get Trump out of office and unite the country.” 

Senator Bernie Sanders, another Democratic presidential hopeful showed his support to Ilhan Omar by writing, “Trump is stoking the most despicable and disturbing currents in our society. And that very hatred and racism fuels him. We must fight together to defeat the most dangerous president in the history of our country."

Elizabeth Warren, a fellow Democratic senator wrote, “Calling out his racism, xenophobia, and misogyny is imperative. But he's trying to divide us and distract from his own crimes, and from his deeply unpopular agenda of letting the wealthy and well-connected rip off the country."

Many Jewish groups also came out in support of Omar who had been accused of being anti-Semite for her support for the pro-Palestine Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. She even introduced a legislation Wednesday to in support of BDS. Omar is also a known critic of pro-Israeli lobbies like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)  for their influence on U.S. politics. 

Public figures like actress Piper Perabo tweeted in support of Omar. She wrote, “#IStandWithIlhan She is a friend. We have talked about Minnesota voters, who she cares about. She cares about students. She supports women. She supports other civically engaged women (that’s how we met!) She is a good mother, citizen, friend and an important member of Congress.”

The famous rapper, singer Cardi B, who supports Sanders’ candidacy, also came out supporting Ilhan Omar. She posted a picture on Instagram writing, “You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation.”​​​​​​​


You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation ����‍♀️

Una publicación compartida de MOSTHATEDCARDI (@iamcardib) el

The conflict started over the weekend when Trump said in a tweet that the four first-term minority congresswomen should “go back” to the “the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

After widespread criticism, he defended his attack on them in an event at White House Monday, saying he was not concerned if people thought his tweets toward them were racist and accused the U.S. lawmakers of hating America.

World leaders like U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and London mayor Sadiq Khan also criticized Trump.

Jeremy Corbyn wrote on Twitter that his part “ stands in solidarity with the four Congresswomen of colour subjected to Donald Trump's racism” asking people to sign a solidarity letter. ​​​​​​​

Even U.K.’s right-wing politician Boris Johnson, whom Trump favors for the post of the prime minister, came out against him. 

"If you're the leader of a great multiracial, multicultural society you simply cannot use that kind of language about sending people back to where they came from," Johnson said of Trump's tweets adding, "I simply can't understand how a leader of that country could come to say it."

Trump drew criticism from other diplomats and even his own party members as well. “‘SEND HER BACK, SEND HER BACK,’ is ugly. It’s ignorant. It’s dangerous,” tweeted Joe Walsh, the conservative radio host and former Republican congressman. “And it’s un-American. It’s flat out bigotry. And every Republican should condemn this bigotry immediately. Stop this now.”​​​​​​​

“The bigoted mob chanting ‘send her back’ tonight is significant,” tweeted Walter Shaub, a former director of the U.S. office of government ethics under Barack Obama.


]]> <![CDATA[Why the Canadian Government Is Confronting Venezuela]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:59:38 -04:00 Since the attempted U.S. coup against Venezuela on January 23, backed by the Lima Group of which the Justin Trudeau government is an active member, Canada’s corporate media have joined in a chorus of hate and disinformation against the Bolivarian Revolution, with the criticism focusing on Nicolás Maduro, the country’s constitutionally elected president.

Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution and Warmongering 'Pacifists'

In response to the nationalization of certain companies by the previous Chávez government, a number of Canadian companies have undertaken legal battles.

At the same time, a debate has arisen among workers, trade unionists, and social and political activists. A few months ago, the Cuban daily Trabajadores reported the response of Canadian affiliates (over 5 million workers speaking through their unions) in support of Venezuela’s right to self-determination and to be free from interference by the United States and the Lima Group in its internal affairs. New actions and statements are still emerging from the grassroots.

Examples include a series of articles that have appeared in the alternative press and on Canadian social networks, especially those representing left-wing and progressive forces; indeed, anyone who opposes foreign interference. These pieces lead us to wonder: what is Canada up to and why?

These authors bravely question the traditional media, which only have space for writers who make sure to use key words like “contested elections” and to call Maduro an “authoritarian” in their pieces. Such phrases afford credibility to the narrative put forward by the United States and the Lima Group to the effect that interference in Venezuela’s affairs is a putative matter of “humanitarian” necessity.

The corporate media suppress any attempt to give a serious answer to the question: why Canada? In this way, despite Canada’s pretense of being a paragon of freedom of expression and the press, the truth is being hidden from the public.

What Progressive Canadian Journalists and Writers are Saying

Canadian academic Nino Pagliccia, in a piece recently published, writes:

The search for gold in the mythical place of El Dorado in Latin America drew armies of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and caused many deaths of indigenous people. The gold remained elusive, but Spain colonized most of the region and exploited other riches until the Latin American independence movements of the 19th century.

But the search for gold never really ended, be it black gold – crude oil – or real gold of which Venezuela has plenty. The United States has publicly declared that is interested in the black gold. In the meantime, Canada has remained more secretive about its aspirations in its ventures in Venezuela. The truth is that Canada has corporate interests in the mining sector, and gold in particular.

We ask, is Venezuela Canada’s modern day El Dorado?

Canadian political analyst Yves Engler’s recent blog post also deserves to be quoted at length:

In a bid for a greater share of oil revenue, Venezuela forced private oil companies to become minority partners with the state oil company in 2007. This prompted Calgary-based Petro-Canada to sell its portion of an oil project and Canadian officials to privately complain about feeling ‘burned’ by the Venezuelan government…

A number of Canadian companies clashed with Hugo Chavez’ government over its bid to gain greater control over gold extraction. Crystallex, Vanessa Ventures, Gold Reserve Inc. and Rusoro Mining all had prolonged legal battles with the Venezuelan government. In 2016 Rusoro Mining won a $1 billion claim under the Canada-Venezuela investment treaty. That same year Crystallex was awarded $1.2 billion under the Canada-Venezuela investment treaty. Both companies continue to pursue payments and have pursued [sic] the money from Citgo, the Venezuelan government owned gasoline retailer in the US.

In 2011, the Financial Post reported that ‘years after pushing foreign investment away from his gold mining sector, Venezuelan President Chavez is moving on to the next stage: outright nationalization.’ Highlighting its importance to Canadian capital, the Globe and Mail editorial board criticized the move in a piece titled “Chavez nationalizes all gold mines in Venezuela…

Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk wrote a 2007 letter to the Financial Times headlined ‘Stop Chavez’ Demagoguery Before it is Too Late.’” [Munk wrote] … “aren’t we ignoring the lessons of history and forgetting that the dictators Hitler, Mugabe, Pol Pot and so on became heads of state by a democratic process? … autocratic demagogues in the Chavez mode get away with [it] until their countries become totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia… Let us not give President Chavez a chance to do the same step- by-step transformation of Venezuela…

Canadian mining investment in Latin America has exploded since the 1990s… No Canadian mining firm operated in Peru or Mexico at the start of the 1990s yet by 2010 there were nearly 600 Canadian mining firms in those two countries. Canadian mining companies have tens of billions of dollars invested in the Americas. Any government in the region that reverses the neoliberal reforms that enabled this growth is a threat to Canadian mining profits. 

The banks too, says Engler, have worked to bring about this liberalization:

A few days after Chavez’s 2013 death the Globe and Mail’s ‘Report on Business’ published a front-page story about Scotiabank’s interests in Venezuela, which were acquired just before his rise to power. It noted: ‘Bank of Nova Scotia [Scotiabank] is often lauded for its bold expansion into Latin America, having completed major acquisitions in Colombia and Peru. But when it comes to Venezuela, the bank has done little for the past 15 years – primarily because the government of President Hugo Chavez has been hostile to large-scale foreign investment.’

These considerations no doubt explain why the Trudeau government has been involved in Donald Trump’s attempted coups against Venezuela. Canada is also spearheading the economic sanctions imposed on the country, which recent studies have termed genocidal. Indeed, US-Lima Group policy represents a declaration of war, even though there has yet to be any military intervention as such.

Is this the only way Canada can defend the interests of its companies in Venezuela? Surely not. There must be much more “Canadian” approaches that it can draw upon.

Arnold August is an author, journalist and lecturer living in Montreal. He is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections (editorial José Martí). He has also contributed a chapter entitled ‘Socialism and elections’ for the volume Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal (University Press of Florida).

]]> <![CDATA[US, Mexico Deported 54,000 Guatemalans from January to June]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 11:49:38 -04:00 United States President Donald Trump's fierce anti-migration policies have marked up the controls both in the United States and Mexico, leading to mass detention and deportation.

US Rights Groups File Complaint To Freeze Trump Asylum Ban

The Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM) reported Wednesday that 54,000 Guatemalans have been deported from January to June, without mentioning those who lost their lives during the crossing. The month of June saw the highest number of deportations, with more than 12,000 people deported, while the U.S. detained in May, a 13-year breaking record number of 144,000 migrants at the border with Mexico.

Mexico which had refused to become a third safe country drastically increased controls to detain people who pass over the country attempting to reach the U.S.

Guatemala also refused to sign an agreement with the U.S. to be declared a third safe country. Under such a deal, the Central American country would have been obliged to offer asylum to migrants who entered its territory en route to the U.S. Migrants from Honduras and El Salvador heading to the U.S.-Mexican border overland usually cross into Mexico via Guatemala.

The vast majority of people trying to reach the U.S. fleeing poverty, corruption and violence, come from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, although there are also people fleeing Haiti and African countries.

the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issued a joint rule that blocks all migrants from applying for asylum at the southern border, requiring them first to attempt international protection in a safe third country, amid an increasing anti-migrant rhetoric by Donald Trump’s administration. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office (UNHCR) warned Tuesday that the new asylum application policies go against international obligations because they highly violate basic rights and freedoms. 

"We are concerned because some areas to which asylum seekers are being returned are very violent in Mexico,"  a spokesperson from the U.N. Human Rights Office commented.

According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. is currently detaining more than 50,000 migrants a day, most of them are asylum seekers protected by international law, escaping political persecution, gang and drug-related violence from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

]]> <![CDATA[Arson Attack in Japan’s Animation Studio Kills 33]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 12:06:56 -04:00 A man shouted "die" as he doused an animation studio with fuel and set it ablaze in Japan Thursday, public broadcaster NHK said, killing at least 33 people in the nation's worst mass murder in nearly two decades.


#KuToo: Japanese Women Protest Compulsory High Heel Rule at Workplace

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the attack in the city of Kyoto - the latest grisly killing in a nation widely known for its low crime rates - "too appalling for words" and offered condolences.

Police detained a 41-year-old man who shouted "die" as he poured what appeared to be petrol around the three-story Kyoto Animation building shortly after 10 a.m. local time. It was Japan's worst mass killing since a suspected arson attack in Tokyo in 2001.

Shiro Misaki, a 47-year old owner of a neighborhood bar five minutes from the studio, said he was driving nearby when he saw the thick smoke.

"Policemen were stopping traffic and it was really hazy with smoke," he said. "Even after I got back to my restaurant I could smell the smoke."

"Today, many people were killed and wounded in an arson murder case in Kyoto," Abe said in a post on Twitter. "It is too appalling for words."

The motive was not yet known. The suspected arsonist was injured and was being treated in hospital, so police could not question him, NHK said.

The dead were found on all three floors of the building, including in the studio, and on a staircase leading up to the roof, the fire department said. It was not clear if the roughly 10 people found dead on the staircase had been trying to escape.

Thirty-six people had been taken to hospital by midday, the fire department said earlier, with 10 of them seriously injured.

There was an outpouring of support for the studio on Japanese-language social media, with some users posting pictures of animation. Many posted with the hashtag "#PrayForKyoani" - using an abbreviation for Kyoto Animation.

"It has a huge presence in animation here. To have this many people die at once will be a huge blow to the Japanese animation industry," he said.

]]> <![CDATA[Crackdown, Arrests as Puerto Ricans Protest Against Governor]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 13:14:20 -04:00 During the fifth consecutive day of demonstrations against Governor Ricardo Rosello Wednesday, the Puerto Rican police harshly repressed citizens whose protest continue into Wednesday night around La Fortaleza, the seat of government in the capital San Juan.


Ricky Martin, Bad Bunny Join Puerto Rico Protests Against Rossello

In the historical area of the capital, the Old San Juan, the police erected concrete barricades at the streets in an unsuccessful attempt to disperse thousands of protesters who braved the police repression in favor of their demands for the resignation of the governor. 

In response to police violence, including the excessive use of tear gas, Puerto Rican protesters improvised bonfires in the streets and began throwing objects at officers.

Police Chief Henry Escalera, who said the protest had turned into an illegal "mutiny​​​​​​," held that his men were forced to act after warning demonstrators that they would be confronted with tear gas if they did not disperse. 

Popular discontent intensified after the disclosure of Telegram chats in which Governor Rosello and his advisers exchanged sexist, discriminatory and homophobic messages against opposition journalists and politicians. The 889 leaked chats, however, were only the trigger for the outrage.

Puerto Rican social and political organizations called for protests in front of the Capitol on Monday to demand that the Congress remove the governor from office. For he had been accused of corruption by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ​​​​a week before.

"This is Puerto Rico! This is Revolution! This will happen until either we take you out or you leave! Ricky, get out now."

At 5:00 p.m. local time Wednesday afternoon, thousands gathered at the Capitol, the home to the Legislative Assembly, to carry out a march against Rossello, an event in which artists such as local Bad Bunny, Ricky Martin and Residente participated.

"Measureless corruption and theft of our children's education and people's health, as well as the plundering of our institutions and values, are unforgivable acts. Rosello, think of the country... resign immediately... avoid more suffering and international shame to our people," said the singer Fonsi, as reported by HoyLosAngeles.

"The governor has to go to hell to stop corruption and money laundering. He has insulted the people who work for him and Puerto Rico. This cannot be left like this," Residente said, adding that "we have a dictatorship right now."

The situation on the island "affects me, it is very sad for me," Benicio del Toro said and stressed that "we must protest peacefully and explain to the governor what the people feel".

"Every time we unite, things happen. With a united island, everything can be done," Ricky Martin stressed when joining the march.

Meanwhile, at a press conference, Interior Undersecretary Erik Rolon, who claimed that about 12,000 people were protesting, indicated that what had happened would not make Governor Rosello resign.

"The Puerto Rican people deserve stability and order. That is why a four-year term [mandate] is established unless particular circumstances occur," he said.​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Iran Seizes Vessel in Gulf for ‘Smuggling’ Oil]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 10:23:13 -04:00 The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a foreign tanker “smuggling fuel” in the Gulf Thursday as reported by state media.


UK to Send 3rd Warship to Persian Gulf As Tensions With Iran Grow

"A foreign vessel smuggling one million liters of fuel in the Larak Island of the Persian Gulf has been seized," the station said, adding that the ship was seized Sunday.

"The vessel that Iran towed to its waters after receiving a distress call, was later seized with the order from the court as we found out that it was smuggling fuel," the IRGC said in a statement. 

Britain is seeking further information urging the Iranian authorities to de-escalate tensions. “We’re seeking further information following reports of a tanker seized in the Gulf. We continue to urge the Iranian authorities to de-escalate the situation in the region,” a government spokeswoman said.

“We are continuously monitoring the security situation there and are committed to maintaining freedom of navigation, in accordance with international law.”

Oil prices initially rose more than 1 percent Thursday after Iran announced sizing the foreign tanker but prices gradually lost their gains as it emerged that the vessel had a small cargo 

Earlier this week a Panama flagged tanker Riah, stopped transmitting its location Saturday while sailing through the Strait of Hormuz. 

Riah’s last known location was in Iranian waters and a U.S. official told reporters that they had a suspicion that Iran seized the vessel. 

However, the seized vessel was 9 km southeast of the Panama vessel. On Tuesday Iran announced it had assisted a "foreign tanker that had encountered a technical problem" in the Gulf and Thursday they informed that the same tanker was smuggling fuel. 

Tensions in the Gulf region is escalating as tankers are being sabotaged and seized in the past few weeks, amid a standoff between Iran and the United States over the historic 2015 nuclear deal, which Trump has opted to withdraw from in favor of Israel and oil-rich Arab nations. 

]]> <![CDATA[Mercosur No Longer Seeks Chavez's 'Great Homeland': Bolsonaro]]> Thu, 18 Jul 2019 11:02:05 -04:00 At the end of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) Summit in Santa Fe, Argentina, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro affirmed Wednesday that this trade bloc does not aim anymore to build a "Great Homeland," which was common goal proposed by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as a way to unite all Latin American countries in order to overcome the historical problems faced by their peoples.


Argentina: 'Peoples Summit' Poses Alternatives to Neoliberalism

"We do not want a Great Homeland. We want each South American country to be autonomous... As said by Trump, who wants to make America Great, I want Brazil great, a great Paraguay, a great Bolivia, a great Uruguay... that is our vocation," said the Brazilian president at the plenary of Mercosur leaders.

Bolsonaro, who will be in charge of the temporary Mercosur presidency for the next six months, sought to differentiate himself from the center-left political and economic orientation which characterized the Mercosur until a few years ago.

In addition, the Brazilian former captain, who has stood out for his offensive comments on women, homosexuals and African descent people, warned that "we do not want another country in which what happens with Venezuela may happen."

Bolsonaro also openly meddled in Argentina's presidential election campaign in which the right-wing President Mauricio Macri is trying to get reelected in a polarized race with Cristina Fernandez, the woman whose presidency (2007-2015) saw leftist economic and social policies.

"Bolsonaro's hatred is not welcome. His sexist, neoliberal and discriminatory policies are not welcome. Latin America deserves the Great Homeland that we always dream of and we knew how to build at the time. Get out Bolsonaro." The meme reads, "Argentina rejects Bolsonaro. Your hate is not welcome."

"We ask every [Argentinean] voter to commit to freedom, democracy and prosperity so that our leaders can occupy these positions in their respective nations," the Brazilian president said.​​​​​​​

In this context, the right-wing South American leaders took the opportunity to demand the ​​​​​​​departure of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro.

However, in the Mercosur summit final declaration, they failed to impose an official recognition of Juan Guaido, the right-wing opposition politician who illegally proclaimed himself as Venezuela's "interim president."

At the summit held in Santa Fe, Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose country belongs to Mercosur as an associate state, asked to maintain ideological pluralism as a basis for integration.

"It would be nice if we had a plurinational Mercosur and a plurinational America," Morales said and recalled that the unity among ideologically diverse partners is the best way to "work for certain equality between human beings."​​​​​​​

"Eduardo Bolsonaro as ambassador means automatic submission of Brazil to U.S. interests. 'He is a friend of Trump's children': Bolsonaro admitted when nominating his son as ambassador to the U.S."

Nevertheless, for Presidents Bolsonaro and Macri, the Mercosur summit had a different meaning. For it was an opportunity to consolidate economic relations with the United States and the European Union (EU).

"I affirm my government's commitment to opening our bloc as a trade instrument with the world without the ideological bias that I criticized so much as a parliamentary leader," said Bolsonaro, referring to the Mercosur-EU Free Trade Agreement whose final text was perfected on June 28.

The Santa Fe summit ended with commitments from the South American presidents for this agreement to take effect as soon as possible.

]]> <![CDATA[UK to Send 3rd Warship to Persian Gulf, Tensions With Iran Grow]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 22:57:18 -04:00 The United Kingdom announced Tuesday that it will send a third warship to the Persian Gulf. The announcement comes at a time when tensions between the U.K. and Iran over the illegal seizure of an Iranian oil tanker earlier this month are increasing.


Iran Ready for Talks If US Lifts Sanctions: Rouhani

The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that HMS Kent, a type 23 frigate, would be sent out into the region in September in order to ensure the country’s maritime security presence in the zone.

The ministry also added that the deployment was planned for a long time and that it has nothing to do with an increase in military presence in the region.

"These long-planned movements do not reflect an escalation in the U.K.'s posture in the region and are routine," the MoD said.

Yet the announcement comes amid increasing tensions in the region after Britain illegally seized the Iranian oil tanker “Grace 1” near the coast of Gibraltar on July 4, arguing it was taking oil to Syria, which is under an international blockade.

Several reports have however said that the seizing had been requested by the United States, which is openly seeking to drive Iranian exports of oil to zero as part of its sanctions against the Persian nation.

Iran denied the U.K.’s claims that the vessel was destined for a Syrian port and denounced the illegal seizure as “maritime piracy,” calling Britain to immediately release the oil tanker.

“Wicked Britain commits an act of maritime piracy and steals our ship,” said the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei, “they [the British] perpetrate a crime and make it look legal.”

The Islamic Republic is one of Syria’s closest allies and its largest supplier of oil. However, since the U.S. and E.U. imposed sanctions against Syria, the nation has been unable to make their regular deliveries.

Furthermore, Iran’s oil tankers have been under close watch by the U.S. and Western European powers, which is why the Grace 1 was quickly seized once it attempted to sail past Gibraltar from its nearby Strait.

“The Islamic Republic and faithful elements of the establishment will not leave this wickedness unanswered and will respond to it at an appropriate time and place,” Khamenei added.


]]> <![CDATA[Lava Jato Witness Admits He ‘Built a Story’ to Incriminate Lula]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 22:32:59 -04:00 Former Odebrecht Superintendent, Carlos Armando Paschoal, and one of the plaintiffs in the trial against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva admitted that he was "almost coerced" by Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato) prosecutors to "build a story" that would incriminate Lula, according to a report published Tuesday by Brasil de Fato.

Key Witness in 'Operation Car Wash' Case Was Forced to Testify Against Lula: Leaks

"In the case of the Atibaia site (the property attributed to former President Lula that was remodeled by Odebrecht allegedly in payment of a bribe), which I had absolutely nothing to do, for example, I was almost coerced to create an account of what happened," Paschoal testified in another trial on July 6. 

According to his account, he was forced to say something like "look, this happened, this, this and that...I had to build a story,” in exchange of reduced sentence of two years in open prison regime. 

In February 2019, Brazilian justice ruled a second sentence against the leader of the Worker’s Party (PT) arguing he received about US$270,000 for the renovations of a house as “payment.” The verdict sentenced the former president to 13 years in prison for alleged corruption and money laundering.

The former president and his defense denied those accusations since the start, now upon hearing the testimony of Pashcoal, Lula's attorney, Cristiano Zanin Martins, reiterated that there is a political-judicial strategy to imprison his client. "It only reinforces what we said," he added.

Paschoal would be the second key witness who comes forward, in less than a month, to admit that there was coercion by prosecutors to implicate Lula. On July 1, businessman Leo Pinheiro, a witness of the case against Lula, admitted he was forced to testify and blackmailed by the prosecutors of in exchange of reduced sentence. 


Politics, Lack of Evidence Behind Lula Trial: Intercept Exposé

Lula’s main trial was built on the accusation that he received about US$1.15 million in bribes. According to the Attorney General's Office, the amount would have been passed on through a luxury apartment and a payment for the storage of the company's assets between 2011 and 2016, as gifts received when he was president.

Valeska Texeira Zanin Martin, a lead lawyer in Lula's defense team, said evidence "definitely proves that Lula could not have been given a bribe." The lawyer argued in 2017 that bank and real estate records proved Lula's innocence but that then-judge Sergio Moro “made his bias and political motivation clear from the beginning to the end of the process."

An accusation that was proven true on June 9 as a The Intercept Brazil published on Sunday an extensive and hard-hitting exposé on the alleged political motivations behind Operation Car Wash against Lula, and unethical involvement of current Supreme Minister of Justice, Moro. 

The documents were released in a three-part series where, based on leaked documents and Telegram messages between prosecutors and Moro, it shows the “apolitical” and “unbiased” team spent hours internally plotting how to prevent the return to power by Lula and his party. As well as the lack of hard and documented evidence to establish a case against the former head of state.

]]> <![CDATA[UN Exposes Massive Corruption Ring in Guatemala Health Ministry]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 22:43:11 -04:00 A United Nations report published Tuesday found that a corruption ring embezzled at least US$7 million between 2012 and 2014 at the heart of Guatemala's Ministry of Health.

Guatemalan Legislators Suspect President of Fraud for Purchasing Planes From Argentina

Using public funds initially aimed to build new hospitals after the 2012 earthquake, over 50 people created 450 jobs within the Ministry of Health, according to the 100,000-page report published by the U.N.’s International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

“What for the Guatemalans meant a tragedy and losses, such as the earthquake of November 2012, for the criminal structure meant an opportunity for illicit businesses,” the report stated.

The job vacancies would be consigned either to associates who would help the corruption scheme going, or to fake names, so they could collect the salaries instead.

Police have arrested 19 people, but 10 more are still at large, and prosecutors have requested 84 people to appear in court.

They include former presidential candidate, Luis Fernando Perez Martínez, and former Minister of Health Jorge Villavicencio Alvarez, who reportedly started the corruption ring with his daughter Candida Sarai Villavicencio Delgado.

Corruption in the Social Security Institute and a customs fraud ring in the tax authority headed by the highest levels of government were some of the large graft cases in the Central American nation.

These fueled months of massive protests that eventually resulted in the resignations of former Vice President Roxana Baldetti and former President Otto Perez Molina.

]]> <![CDATA[Social Movements in Brazil Demand Freedom for Lula]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 21:36:17 -04:00 Representatives of social movements took to the streets in several cities of  Brazil to demand the immediate release of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has been at the headquarters of the Federal Police of Curitiba since April 2018.

 First Audio of Brazilian Prosecutor Published in Lava Jato Case

In Brasilia, the member of the agrarian sector of the Workers' Party (PT), Samuel Carvalho, indicated that "Lula Libre" committees were created to protest in front of the headquarters of the Public Ministry in rejection of the irregularities in the investigation of the Lava Jato case.

"In addition to Brasilia there are nine other cities that confirmed acts to request the annulment of Lula's conviction based on the report (of the portal) The Intercept, which shows the political persecution" against the former ruler, he said.

Carvalho considers that one of the challenges is to transmit to the people the reality of the persecution that occurs in the country, as well as the consequences of the neoliberal policies implemented by the Government of Jair Bolsonaro. 

"Our challenge is to talk to people so that they understand that Lula was persecuted to end the policies of social inclusion and justice for the people," implemented during the administrations of Lula and Dilma Rousseff. 

On the other hand, in front of the headquarters of the Public Ministry in the state of Minas Gerais, members of social movements gathered with placards to reiterate their request for freedom for Lula.

They also rejected the former judge and current Minister of Justice, Sérgio Moro, describing him as a liar, after the dissemination of messages in which it was revealed that he was advising judges of the Lava Jato case to harm Lula and prevent him from participating in the presidential elections of 2018.


]]> <![CDATA[Louvre Discreetly Removes Sackler Name Amid Opioid Scandal]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 22:06:30 -04:00 The Louvre museum in Paris has removed the name of the Sackler family from one of its wings, amid a sanitory scandal that has seen the billionaire donors accused of pushing a highly-addictive opioid blamed for tens of thousands of deaths, reported local media on Wednesday.

Purdue Corrupted WHO to Boost Opioid Sales: Congress' Report

Louvre president Jean-Luc Martinez said on RTL television on Tuesday that the rooms no longer carried the name as such a tribute lasted a maximum of 20 years after the donation.

This would mean that the Sackler wing should not have been named after the family for several years. But the Louvre spokesperson declined to comment when asked why the name had not been removed three years ago.

Masking tape has been put in place to hide the Sackler name on plaques in the rooms of what had been the Sackler Wing of Oriental Antiquities, which houses artefacts from the ancient Near East.

A museum spokesperson could not say when the tape had been put in place. The wing had been given the name due to a US$3.6 million donation made by the Sackler family in 1996.

American group PAIN (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now), backed by American photographer Nancy Goldin, a former opioid addict, had urged the museum to rename the Sackler Wing.

The Louvre was the latest in a string of museums to face criticism over links to the Sackler family and their company Purdue Pharma, whose painkiller OxyContin is now subject to more than 1,000 lawsuits over its role in the U.S. opioid crisis.

In recent months, galleries including New York's Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum, and London's Tate and National Portrait Gallery, said they would stop accepting donations from the family.

In 2017, 47,000 people died in the United States as a result of overdosing on opioids including prescription drugs, heroin and fentanyl, the Centers for Disease Control says.

There are hundreds of lawsuits in various U.S. states against both Purdue and its owner the Sackler family, who are accused of pushing for the prescription of OxyContin despite knowing how addictive it is.

But worries about the medication are not confined to the United States.

Last month, around 100 French doctors warned about the risk of a health crisis claiming there were "12 million people in France taking opioids" who had not been told about the potential for addiction and risk of overdose.

]]> <![CDATA[African American Duo Give New Life to 'Go Back to Africa' Slur]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 21:03:13 -04:00 Black minorities in the U.S. have been harassed for centuries with their neighbors and even their president telling them to “go back to Africa.” Inspired to put an end to racism, an African American pair have launched a campaign to turn the negative connotations of the continent into positive ones.

Trump Says 'The Squad' Hates the US, Asks Them to Leave Again

"This comment is not new for black people. People use it as a way to get their racism across, you look for coded language to get your point across. It implies that black people are lesser than,” Eric Martin, 35, said in an interview with CNN.

The other member of the dynamic duo is Kent Johnson, 37,  both are travel consultants who made their name with their first and now award-winning program Black and Abroad, a travel company for black people by black people.

"We worked with a social listening company who checked various sites and found that the phrase had been used around 4,500 to 5,000 times a month, usually in a negative way," Johnson said, adding most were “baseless and ignorant” and used by “racist trolls and bigots.”

But Martin and Johnson say it’s time to “flip the phrase on its head and highlight the beauty of the continent.”


"We used Google Vision to track the hashtag in real-time. Whenever someone used that hashtag online, the images of black people on the continent are pulled on to our website," Martin explained.

The pair are also promoting the use of their new hashtag #GoBackToAfrica, encouraging followers visiting the region to do the same when sharing their photos and adventures.

By typing the phrase, social media users from around the world can witness Africa’s diverse landscapes and breathtaking views.

"We wanted to let them [those using the phrase] know, first of all, that Africa is a continent, not a country. There are 54 different countries, flavors, and cultures,” they said, emphasizing that "when you say go back to Africa, we say 'go back to heritage, go back to beauty,"

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Redirects Central American Aid to Venezuelan Opposition ]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 21:28:53 -04:00 The United States government has decided to redirect US$41.9 million, meant to financially assist Central American countries, to Venezuela's opposition, according to an internal document obtained Tuesday by Reuters.


We Must Be More Active in Defense of Migrants: Rigoberta Menchu

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) notified Congress that the aid will be used for salaries, travel, communications equipment, technical assistance and training for the management of a government budget and other needs for the Venezuelan opposition.

Guatemala and Honduras were expecting the funds, as the two countries are among the poorest in the continent and are the center of a migration crisis with thousands of people risking their lives to flee poverty, corruption and violence in an attempt to cross the southern U.S. border.

Trump had declared in March his intention to cut all financial aid to Central America countries, which he said did not “do enough” to curb the flow of migrants, denying the critics that such cuts would produce the opposite effect and exacerbate the migration crisis.

“What they are doing is essentially taking the money that would help poor Central American children and giving it to pay the salaries of Guaido and his officials and employees,” said a congressional aide familiar with the subject.

Trump’s administration is already spending thousands of dollars and logistic support to prop up Guaido and his factions. The U.S.-backed opposition and the North American government were behind both failed coup attempts against the democratically elected president, Nicolas Maduro. 

“It’s a terrible idea not to spend that money in Central America,” said Geoff Thale, program director for the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights research group. “Especially at a moment when the intention seems to be to bottle up people in that region, not spending the funding to improve conditions in the region makes no sense," he added.

Removing financial aid from Central American countries, as contradictory as it seems, is another of Trump’s radical migration policies which aim at drastically reducing undocumented flows to the U.S. especially for people from Latin America and Muslim-majority countries.

Meanwhile, administration officials and conservative commentators are playing on the fear of the demographic changes taking place in the U.S. to justify such measures.

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina Remembers '94 Bombing, Creates Terrorist Database]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 20:52:39 -04:00 In honor of the 25th anniversary of Argentina’s tragic and deadly terrorist attack, South American officials created an antiterrorist database Wednesday.

Argentina's Former Neoliberal President De la Rua Dies At 81

The new database has listed names and members of terrorist groups which, officials say, could suffer financial penalties per association.

A quarter of a century has passed since the devastating bombing in Buenos Aires’ Argentinian Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA.) On Wednesday, the anniversary eve, the Argentine government declared Thursday would be the first national day of mourning, to remember the 85 victims killed and 300 some injured in the attack against the Jewish community center.

A native Argentinian, Pope Francis, wrote an open letter to Jorge Knoblovits, the president of the Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations (DAIA), Friday condemning the “act of madness” which “turned wives into widows, sons and daughters into orphans.”

The bombing, the deadliest in Argentina’s history, shook the South American country. Investigations have never uncovered who was responsible, though local courts have blamed the attack on Iran and the guerrilla group, Hezbollah, for the bombing in 2006. However, both have strongly denied these allegations as baseless. 

Art and production director of AMIA, Elio Kapszuk, told Reuters, "The lack of justice means that, 25 years later, the attack is still with us."

Statistics show that Argentina continues to have the largest Jewish community in Latin America with over 180,000 community members.

]]> <![CDATA[‘Live From Nicaragua’: What Media Hushed About 2018 Failed Coup]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 19:12:39 -04:00 As images and reports came out of Nicaragua in 2018, the public was fed a narrative created by the United States, its international proxies, and the Central American nation’s elite. The fabrication envisioned a peaceful, progressive and young protest movement crushed by a leftist dictatorial regime. 

National Endowment for Destabilization? CIA Funds for Latin America in 2018

Yet as it is often the case, narratives about Latin America hide imperialistic interests and Nicaragua is no exception. In the new ebook, ‘Live from Nicaragua: An Uprising or a Coup,’ authors expose and refute these biased and false reports presented in corporate media and by international non-governmental organizations. 

“Live from Nicaragua is the kind of accessible, rigorously researched, politically relevant and timely reader that is needed in order to understand the kind of “fourth-generation” conflicts that have been imported from Eastern Europe and the Middle East regions to Latin America in the last few years,” Gabriela Luna, a Nicaraguan researcher with the Institute of Research and Training for Territorial Development in Matagalpa writes in the foreword. 

The free 270-page reader, as editors call it, was produced by the Alliance for Global Justice, an anti-imperialist solidarity organization in the U.S. It includes essays, investigative journalism articles, original interviews and first-hand accounts of the war. 

“It is a thoughtful and multifaceted collection covering a highly significant event in modern revolutionary and anti-imperialist history,” activist Roger Stoll wrote in Popular Resistance.

Nicaragua is one of the few left-wing progressive governments in the region. It is for this very reason that the U.S. government has systematically targeted President Daniel Ortega’s administration. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton even identified the country as part of the “Troika of Tyranny,” in order to justify interventions paralleled in Venezuela and Cuba.

The book centers on one of these interventions against the Sandinista government. On April 18, 2018, Nicaragua’s ten years of peace and growing prosperity were shattered as agents of the U.S. and national elites launched a war against the Nicaraguan state and the people's government.

It was all started as rumors spread across the country that national police fired live ammunition at student protesters and that two students were dead. The story was false and before the truth could get out, dozens of Nicaraguans were pouring into the streets to protest the following day. Three people died: a policeman, a Sandinista supporter, and a bystander. 

The conflict became violent and finally ended mid-July with the removal of the opposition roadblocks. Over 250 people were killed and many more injured. More than 250 buildings were burned down or ransacked, with public sector property losses of over US$230 million and GDP fell nearly four percent. 

In the new ebook, 25 contributors tell the real version of what happened, how U.S.-financed NGO’s warped the narrative and political parties confused the population with false stories. In more than one essay, authors explain how the violent model used by protestors is an export from other right-wing organizations, reminiscent of the “guarimbas” in Venezuela. 

Nicaraguan protests and Venezuelan guarimbas seem to have the same characteristics and guidelines. Photos: EFE

The book first places the Central American nation in its historical context, dating back to U.S. intervention mid-20th century and the triumph of the Sandinistas, taking the reader to an analysis that discredits false claims and reports made against Ortega's administration, to then recounting week by week events of the confrontations. 

Other chapters include interviews and essays about all those actors that played a key role in constructing the lies and those who fought it. 

A journalism piece follows the deaths and reccounts how most belong to Sandinistas or regular people that supported the government. As the regime-changing operation was portrayed internationally as a heroic struggle for “democracy,” media failed to tell of the private interests behind ousting President Ortega. 

In 2018, Nicaragua got US$1.3 million from the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy. However, for this country, Washington needed to engage the funding one by one as it built a network to overthrow the government. The imperialistic nature of this intervention is described in articles by internationally recognized authors such as Max Blumenthal and others. 

“No organization or individual involved with this project received any financial or other remuneration from the government of Nicaragua or any other government or government-controlled entity for our role in producing this book,” Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice explained. 

More than a year after the events portrayed in this book, Nicaragua now tries to heal its wounds with dialogue and a government-led amnesty law that aims to bring peace. 

]]> <![CDATA[US Removes Turkey from International F-35 Fighter Jet Program]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 18:36:40 -04:00 Turkey is being removed from the F-35 fighter jet program, the United States confirmed Wednesday.

Turkey Receives S-400 System Amid Sanctions Threat from US

The decision to cut Turkey from the program was expected, particularly after the middle eastern country signed for the delivery of the sophisticated Russian S-400 military defense system last week.

In a statement Stephanie Grisham, White House press secretary, said, “Unfortunately, Turkey's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible.

"The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” she said.

The Pentagon had already laid out a plan to remove Turkey from the program, including halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft. However, the U.S. said it hopes to salvage a relationship with Ankara despite the F-35 decision and the sanction threats.

At least two Russian Air Force AN-124 cargo planes flew to Turkey on Friday morning, data from plane tracking website Flightradar24 showed. Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said the deliveries would continue in accordance with an agreed schedule, the RIA news agency reported.

An unnamed military-diplomatic source was cited by Russia’s TASS news agency as saying a second delivery would be carried out by plane soon. A third delivery – of 120 guided missiles – will be carried out by ship at the end of the summer, the source was quoted as saying.

Investors in Turkey have been unsettled by the deal. The Turkish lira weakened as far as 5.728 against the dollar from 5.683 before the ministry announced the arrival of the S-400 consignment to the Murted Air Base, northwest of Ankara. The main Istanbul share index <.XU100> fell 1.4%.

]]> <![CDATA[Another Ex-Guerrilla Fighter Killed in Colombia]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 18:27:41 -04:00 Leandro Chavarria ex-guerrilla of The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People's Army (FARC–EP) was murdered on Tuesday, according to the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force, a leftist political party in Colombia, established in 2017 as the political successor of the FARC.


Colombia FARC: Committed to Peace, Santrich No-Show at Court

“On Tuesday, former combatant Leandro Chavarria, 23 years old, was murdered in the municipality of Ituango (north),” the party wrote Wednesday on its Twitter account before addressing the President of Colombia, Ivan Duque, urging him to guarantee the safety of “peace signers.”

The victim was in a nightclub when he was shot and died on the scene, according to local radio and based on the statements of the department’s police commander. His brother who was accompanying him was wounded.

Former combatant Leandro Chavarría, 23, was murdered on Tuesday in the municipality of Ituango. Mr. Ivan Duque, we demand guarantees for the lives of peace signatories. 

The murder occurred in the municipality of Ituango in the department of Antioquia which is part of the northwestern region of Cauca, one of the regions with the highest number of ex-guerrillas killings.

Carlos Antonio Lozada, a senator from the FARC party told local media that the government has failed in protecting the lives of the ex-guerrilla since the peace agreement was signed in 2016, this murder increasing the number of victims to 140. 

He added that the whole situation was indicating a clear will to eliminate all the ex-members of FARC including members of the leadership of the party.

Former FARC members have been facing persecution by right-wing elements and hitmen all over Colombia, being killed at alarming rates despite having lay down their arms in search of peace.

Last month, the FARC met in Bogota to devise a legal strategy to combat the mounting number of ex-FARC murder victims before the peace accord is destroyed.

They had said in a statement that “these systematic killings are a clear violation of the Final Agreement for the Termination of the Conflict and the Construction of a Stable and Lasting Peace.”

]]> <![CDATA[UN Urges Hungary To Move Children From 'Prison-like' Camps]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 20:32:54 -04:00 A senior U.N. human rights official urged Hungary on Wednesday to move asylum-seeking families held in “prison-like” transit zones on the Serbian border to other facilities in Hungary that he said are almost empty.

Hungarians Start New Anti-Gov't Protests

Migrants arriving at the European Union’s southern border from Serbia have been held at special holding camps called transit zones while their asylum requests are pending, a practice that has already drawn criticism from the United Nations.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Felipe Gonzalez Morales, said that last week there were 280 people in two such facilities on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia, 60 percent of them children.

Presenting the first findings of a report on the treatment of migrants, he told a news conference that children should not be detained based on their migratory status.

The report had found “very restrictive” conditions for people being held there, he said, adding he had visited a number of other facilities where children could be accommodated with their families, which he said were almost empty.

Gonzalez Morales said the fact that asylum-seekers were still held in the “prison-like environment” of transit zones, with barbed-wire defenses even on the roofs of sections holding children, might be seen as an attempt to intimidate people there.

“I am afraid that all people held there regardless of age acts as a sort of deterrent,” he said, adding that the fact that people could leave the zones toward Serbia “does not prevent me from saying these are places of detention.”

Gonzalez Morales said Orban’s government, which provided the monitor unimpeded access to facilities it wanted to visit, did not consider transit zones places of detention and did not provide a reason why children with families were held in there.

He also called on Hungary to repeal a declaration of a state of emergency due to mass immigration as the conditions of its application were no longer in place. In any case, no such regulation should override human rights, he said.

“If in reality there is no mass influx of immigration the security situation cannot be considered the same as four years ago,” he said, adding the position that a crisis could resurface was not a sufficient reason to keep renewing the measure.

]]> <![CDATA[US Rights Groups File Complaint To Freeze Trump Asylum Ban]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 17:33:49 -04:00 The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups that sued to block the Trump administration's latest initiative to bar almost all asylum-seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border have asked courts Wednesday to freeze the measure while their cases are heard.

UNHCR Warns of Rights Violations over US Asylum Policies

The ACLU filed documents asking for a temporary restraining order in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Two other immigrant advocacy groups which sued the Trump administration in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. on Tuesday have also asked the court to halt its implementation.

President Donald Trump's new policy announced on Monday requires asylum-seekers to first apply in one of the countries they traveled through before arriving at the southern U.S. border.

If they do so and are rejected, only then do they become eligible to apply in the United States. The change effectively shifted the responsibility for processing asylum claims to countries such as Mexico and Guatemala.

The ACLU's lawsuit argues that U.S. law establishes that an asylum-seeker can only be required to seek protection in another country under two conditions: when the United States has a "safe third country" agreement in place, or when the asylum-seeker has firmly resettled in another country.

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which is a binding document for all the United Nations members, a country like the U.S. can refuse to grant refuge to asylum seekers and send them to a country that is considered "safe" to their lives. Canada struck a pact of those characteristics back in 2002.

This means the North American nation can shift the burden onto other countries potentially sending Salvadorian and Honduran asylum seekers to Guatemala or Mexico.

The United States is seeking "safe third country" agreements with Mexico and Guatemala. However, those governments have already refused to become a ‘safe third country.’ 

Moreover, just traveling through a country is insufficient to establish someone has firmly resettled there, the lawsuit says.

As a result, the new rule would force people to return to their home countries, which often "are rife with danger and violence," the suit says.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently detaining more than 50,000 migrants a day, most of them are asylum seekers protected by international law, escaping political persecution, gang and drug-related violence. 

]]> <![CDATA[US: Kamala Harris Introduces Domestic Workers Bill of Rights]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 15:35:45 -04:00 Members of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) of the United States met with 40 members of Congress Tuesday to discuss the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights introduced by Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Pramila Jayapal Monday.


Just 10 Percent of Workers Get Nearly Half of Global Wages: ILO

The domestic workers have been protesting their second class status. The housekeepers, nannies, caregivers are excluded from federal labor laws. They don’t get overtime pay, minimum wage, compensations if injured on the job or unemployment benefits if they are fired. 

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights Act seeks to amend federal labor laws to include domestic workers under its purview. It will also extend new benefits such as paid time off, written employment contract, and privacy protection. 

The workers earn an average wage of US$11.43 an hour, one of the lowest in the U.S. A quarter of them live in poverty. 

The new law would guarantee minimum wage, protection against racial and gender discrimination. Employers will also be required to pay if they cancel shift at the last minute. 

“[Domestic workers] provide essential care and support to aging parents, people with disabilities, children, and homes,” Harris said in a statement announcing the bill. “However, our nation’s domestic workers have not been afforded the same rights and benefits as nearly every other worker, and it’s time we change that.”

Among the co-sponsors of the bill, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez met with the NDWA members and recounted how she was brought up her domestic worker mother. ​​​​​​​

June Barrett, a home health aide from South Florida said, “This will provide us with the respect, dignity, and recognition that we all deserve.”

According to an estimate by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, domestic work is expected to be the fastest-growing occupation in the next decade in the U.S. Around 1.2 million new positions would be added to the country’s economy between 2016 and 2026. 

Their high demand does not rectify their low wage. The median salary for a home health aide in 2017 war US$23,000 slightly above poverty level of US$20,420. Around 88 percent of the workers don’t have paid time off or any kinds of benefits. They cannot even unionize. ​​​​​​​

In 2007 the domestic workers began organizing at the national level and launched the NDWA which currently represents 2 million nannies, housekeepers, and home care workers. The group has pushed for some changes at state levels. 

Nine states, namely, Oregon, California, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and the city of Seattle have passed laws protecting the domestic workers. 

The organization is now campaigning at the national level and recently Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris and Jaypal introduced the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA['CNN is Building the Show to Extradite Assange', Correa Says]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 15:50:34 -04:00 In an interview with Russian media RT, Ecuador's former President Rafael Correa questioned the intentions of a recent CNN publication which accuses Julian Assange of having participated in the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the United States.


Assange Masterminded Hilary Clinton Leaks in 2016: CNN

"CNN is doing its job like when it invented that there were mass weapons of destruction for people to applaud a war, an invasion of Iraq, which cost more than 100,000 civilians lives," said Correa.

"Now, in order to justify the assassination of Assange or to extradite him to the U.S., it is fabricating the framework, the 'frame', the history, the 'show', to say that the [Ecuadorean] Embassy had a whole operations center [and that he] demanded fast Internet and we gave it to him."

On July 15, CNN published an investigation supposedly based on surveillance reports which were compiled by the Spanish security company UC Global for the Ecuadorean government. This information allegedly demonstrates that the Embassy of Ecuador in London was turned into an operations center to interfere in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Such investigation also holds that "an official of the Ecuadorean Intelligence" confirmed the authenticity of those reports. Nevertheless, CNN did not present any concrete evidence of the alleged Russian interference.

In that sense, Correa asserted that the CNN publication is based on inferences taken from the report of the Special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who also could not demonstrate that Russia had interfered in the U.S. elections.

"They are referring to a third source just like [they did in the case of] the weapons of mass destructions to justify the invasion of Iraq," the former Ecuadorean president warned.

Correa defined as "another CNN nonsense" the information according to which U.S. authorities warned Ecuadorean diplomats about Assange attempts to interfere in the 2016 elections.

"The publication affirms that U.S. officials [made] a diplomatic threat to Ecuadorean officials. They have never told me and I do not believe that it existed," he maintains.

"When we saw Julian was publishing data about Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections, we warned him two or three times. And on the third or fourth occasion, we acted and shut down the Internet from Oct. 17 until after the elections, which was Nov. 8," recalled Correa.


Under the Presidency of Rafael Correa (2007-2007), Assange was granted asylum in 2012 at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he stayed for almost 7 years.

“President Correa was well aware of the risks involved, but we also knew that Julian Assange might be prosecuted for his actions, that he might be tortured, that if the US laid hands on him, he might end up in some off-shore facility, such as Guantanamo Bay, set up precisely to have a free hand in cases like this,” former Ecuadorean Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño told Open Democracy regarding the country’s decision to offer asylum. 

In 2019, under the Presidency of Lenin Moreno, Ecuadorean authorities allowed the U.K. police to drag the WikiLeaks founder out of the diplomatic building.

Currently, Assange, who is in a London prison serving a 50-week sentence for jumping bail in the U.K. is fighting through his lawyers' requests for extradition to the U.S.

]]> <![CDATA[Ilhan Omar Introduces Bill Backing Pro-Palestine BDS Movement]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:15:25 -04:00 U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives Wednesday defending the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and  Sanctions (BDS) movement the lawmaker told the news outlet Al-Monitor.


Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, AOC Sign Bill To Stop US Aid to Israel Over Child Detentions

“We are introducing a resolution … to really speak about the American values that support and believe in our ability to exercise our first amendment rights in regard to boycotting,” Omar told Al-Monitor. “And it is an opportunity for us to explain why it is we support a nonviolent movement, which is the BDS movement.”

Her resolution might not sit well with the Democratic leadership as they plan to introduce a nonbinding resolution Wednesday condemning the BDS movement. 

The non-violent BDS movement, founded in 2005 by 170 Palestinian unions, political parties, refugee networks, and women organizations, among others, has gained such renown that it was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Inspired by South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, BDS calls for non-violent pressure on Israel through boycotting any organization linked to Israel, withdrawing investment from Israeli companies, and sanctioning the county until Israel 1) recognizes the right of Palestinian refugees to return, 2) ends the military occupation of Palestine, and 3) ends the apartheid regime by recognizing Palestinian's equal rights.

The movement was not well received by the U.S. political elite due to their close connection with pro-Israel lobbies but two new representatives, namely, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, are supporting the BDS openly and are often attacked over such stance by lawmakers of both Democratic and Republican parties. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel resisted Republican’s demands of removing Omar from the committee but he had accused the representative of “invoking a vile, anti-Semitic slur” after she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”

The anti-BDS bill, introduced by Reps. Bradley Schneider and Lee Zeldin will be voted by Engel’s committee Wednesday and has enough support to pass but Omar will vote no. 

Omar’s bill, however, does not have enough support but she is not willing to give up.  “I am very much driven by the moral clarity that I was sent to govern with, and I’m quite confident that it will withstand pressure,” said Omar.

]]> <![CDATA[UN Chief Guterres Meets Venezuelan Top Diplomat Arreaza]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 13:46:17 -04:00 Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza insisted Wednesday that his government is working to reach an agreement with the country's opposition in order to establish political and economic peace in the country, adding that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed to him during a meeting at the organization's headquarters his full support for the dialogue efforts taking place in Barbados.

Arreaza Slams US for Seeking to 'Colonize Venezuela'

Arreaza stressed that during the meeting, the two talked about the process of dialogue that the government maintains with the Venezuelan opposition in Barbados in order to "reach a political agreement for peace and tolerance."

Following the meeting, the Venezuelan top diplomat spoke to international media, saying that in the meeting with Guterres, he expressed to him Venezuela's concerns over the report presented by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet regarding the political and economic situation of the South American country.

"We thank the UN Secretary-General for welcoming us to New York. He expressed his full support for the political dialogue process in Venezuela, facilitated by Norway. We review joint projects with UN agencies to deepen our cooperation"

"We expressed our disagreement about how that report was constructed, as announced and disseminated," said Arreaza referring to how his government issued its own response to the report stating its objections and observations regarding the methodology of data collection, which Caracas claims it favored the side of the right-wing opposition. 

On the renewed peace efforts, which the government of President Nicolas Maduro is engaged in with the opposition in Barbados, the foreign minister expressed the importance of reaching a political agreement for the peace of Venezuela to be able to process, deepen and resolve the conflict.

]]> <![CDATA[Peru: Doctors, Health Workers Begin Nationwide Strike]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 14:34:57 -04:00 Both the Peruvian Medical Federation (FMP) and the National Federation of Health Workers (FENUTSSA) started Wednesday a 48-hour national strike to demand that President Martin Vizcarra's administration increase the budget assigned to the public Integral Health System (SIS).


Peru: Farmers Launch Indefinite Strike Against Major Open-Pit Mining Project

"Enough, hospitals and health centers should not be postponed... We call on the president to put more emphasis on the health sector because the budget must be increased," the FMP president Danilo Salazar said.

Besides demanding better working conditions and salaries, doctors, technicians and administrative workers request that the government solve the shortage of equipment, medicines and laboratory supplies in health centers.

Salazar also denounced that the SIS facilities are in poor condition, do not have the equipment and are short of supplies, all of which severely complicates timely patient care.

The FMP president indicated that there are not currently enough health professionals in public centers due to the low budget assigned.

In the case of doctors, for instance, the WHO recommends a minimum of 23 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants; in Lima, however, there are only 18 and in the rest of the country only 6 or 7.

This situation means that Peru requires an increase of about "16,000 medical specialists throughout the country." 

"Peru: right now there is strong repression against health workers who were demonstrating peacefully outside the Health Ministry."

In Lima, the Peruvian capital, "more than 80 percent of hospitals need repair because they are old. If there were a six-degree earthquake, hospitals would be the first buildings to fall," Salazar said and added the SIS pharmacies have only 30 percent of essential drugs.

FENUTSSA secretary Luis Alberto Suazo informed that his organization begins a national strike which could continue indefinitely until the Vizcarra administration also complies with an agreement signed in November 2018.

He explained that the stoppage starts because Health Minister Zulema Tomas recently promised to meet the Peruvian workers' request within 15 days but she has not done so.

FENUTSSA combines 195 unions and more than 95,000 nurses, technicians, and other health workers. These public servants announced that they will continue to attend medical emergencies during their strike.

]]> <![CDATA[Amazon Helps ICE Deport Migrants Using AI Technology: Report]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:29:21 -04:00 Amazon is enabling the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain and deport migrants from the United States according to a report by Al-Jazeera published Wednesday. 


Small Scale Immigration Raids in US as Migrants Hide in Fear

According to the activist group Mijente which demands the multinational company “stop powering ICE,” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has contracts with Amazon

The DHS uses the Palantir software that helps them track would-be-deportees. Amazon Web Services host the database and Palantir provides computer program to organize the data. 

Palantir, a data analytics firm can be described as a mix between Google and the CIA. It provides algorithms for government agencies for counterterrorism or immigration enforcement and receives taxpayers money. 

Activists have pointed out that the firm sells “mission-critical” tools used by ICE to plan raids. The contract between the two is worth US$51 million. 

"Amazon and Palantir have secured a role as the backbone for the federal government's immigration and law enforcement dragnet, allowing them to pursue multibillion-dollar government contracts in various agencies at every single level of law enforcement," says a petition on Mijente's website.

This week, while ICE agents were rounding up immigrants, Mijente delivered 270,000 petitions to the New York residence of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demanding he cut ties with the immigration authorities. 

The immigration authorities launched small-scale operations seeking to arrest undocumented immigrants over the weekend in an apparent start to President Donald Trump’s vow to launch mass deportation round-ups across the country.


Amazon Workers Left to Suffer After Workplace Injuries: Report

The operation, which Trump revealed on Twitter last month, was expected to target hundreds of recently-arrived families in about 10 cities whose deportation had been ordered by an immigration judge. 

The removal operations are meant to deter a surge in Central American families fleeing poverty and gang violence in their home countries, with many seeking asylum in the United States.

On Monday, Trump said the raids were “very successful” even though immigration activists and lawyers said that only a few arrests took place. Nonetheless, the crackdown is not over. ICE informed that more arrests will be made later this week. 

Jennifer Lee of the American Civil Liberties Union said during a rally in front the company’s headquarters in Seattle that Amazon is helping the authorities carry out the raids by pitching its Rekognition facial identification technology which could result in  "deportations without due process.”

Last week, activists interrupted the Amazon Web Services Summit in New York by playing recordings of migrant families being split up while the Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels was giving a keynote speech. Activists have also called for boycotting Amazon’s products like Prime Video, Whole Foods, Kindle, etc. 

"Companies and government organizations need to use existing and new technology responsibly and lawfully. There is clearly a need for more clarity from governments on what is acceptable use of AI and ramifications for its misuse, and we've provided a proposed legislative framework for this," said an Amazon spokesperson in a statement responding to the accusations. 

"We remain eager for the government to provide this additional clarity and legislation," continued the statement, "and will continue to offer our ideas and specific suggestions.”

]]> <![CDATA[Merkel's Conservative Ally Is New EU Commission President]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 12:04:17 -04:00 Angela Merkel’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has been named as president of the EU commission, the most powerful job within the organization. There were no other candidates and the outgoing commission proposed her, with the EU parliament being given the option to either accept or reject. 


EU Appoints Two Neoliberal Women to Lead Top Commissions

Von der Leyen is a member of Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democrat party and was approved by the EU parliament with 383 votes in favor, and 327 votes against. The former defense minister is in fact still under investigation in Germany for allegations of wrongdoing in regards to awarding of large defense contracts. The commission is the most powerful body within the EU, effectively the executive of the body. 

In a surprise move, she scored the post thanks to the nomination of the Socialists and Democrats Group, which includes center-left parties such as the German Social Democrats, French Socialist Party and Britain’s Labour Party.

The nomination of the social democratic grouping was agreed upon in a private meeting of its legislators. Many have criticized the lawmakers for electing a right-wing figure without consulting those they represent, raising questions about democratic accountability within the organization.

Laura Parker, a Labour candidate at the recent EU elections, said via twitter; “This was not what I campaigned for when I stood for Labour for the European Parliament. It’s not what Labour stood for either.” Within the Labour EU parliamentary group a majority of its MEP’s opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s nomination in previous leadership elections.

Speaking upon her appointment, Von der Leyen said she would support a further extension on Brexit negotiations if there were a "good reason," despite both candidates for Britain’s next prime minister pledging to exit on the agreed deadline in October, with or without an exit deal.

]]> <![CDATA[Puerto Rico's Artists Join Protests Against Governor Rossello]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 13:04:37 -04:00 Thousands of Puerto Ricans continued Wednesday their fourth consecutive day protesting in the main cities of the island and demanding the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello, who is immersed in a scandal involving leaked offensive messages on the chat app Telegram against journalists and political leaders. 


Police Injure 14 in Protests Demanding Resignation of Puerto Rico Governor

The Colectiva Femenina organization called for a demonstration in Old San Juan in which artists such as Residente, Daddy Yankee, Ricky Martin and Bad Bunny will be present.

"My heart suffers for the events and my voice joins that of all those who, more than an explanation, demand a change... Transparency has to be part of our culture to fight corruption. I join a peaceful protest to demand for transparency and, above all, to demand for respect," the singer Daddy Yankee said.

A day earlier in San Juan protests began in the vicinity of La Fortaleza, the seat of government, where a group of women sat in the street and covered their mouths with a tape saying "Resign."

Throughout the day, the protests multiplied in dozens of places through peaceful civil resistance actions. For example, in the neighborhood of Rio Piedras, a group of people expressed their anger at their government by removing the image of Rossello which was at the offices of the Driver Services Center.

"This cannot be allowed, it is disrespectful," said Bad Bunny, referring to what is happening in Puerto Rico and added that the Rossello government is stealing in our face."

"Frustrated and angry, I feel an awful chest pressure and how I can get rid of this anguish is simply traveling to Puerto Rico and saying present on the march," Ricky Martin said and recalled that Rosello and his friends made fun of women, the LGBTI community, people with disabilities, and the obese. "Enough, this cannot be."

The Puerto Rico governor said the artists demanding his dismissal are causing an unprecedented institutional crisis. However, Rossello insisted that he will remain in office, for he did not commit any crime.

Besides being ignited by a U.S. federal probe into his government's corruption, ongoing protests against the governor were also sparked by the publication of derogatory, misogynistic and homophobic Telegram messages between the Puerto Rican governor and his closest allies, "the Brothers."

In the midst of these events, the U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo will make a stop in San Juan on Thursday as part of his official trip to Argentina, Ecuador, Mexico and El Salvador.

]]> <![CDATA[Mexican Drug Lord 'El Chapo' Sentenced to Life in US prison]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:20:02 -04:00 Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the Mexican drug lord found guilty of running a murderous criminal enterprise that smuggled tons of drugs into the United States, was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday at his sentence hearing where he said his confinement amounted to "mental torture" before a U.S. judge sentenced him.


War on Drugs Failed Even with 'El Chapo' Facing Prison for Life

Guzman spoke during a sentencing hearing in a federal court in Brooklyn that is also expected to feature a statement from someone who survived a murder plot led by Guzman, prosecutors have said. The person's name has not been made public.

Speaking through a translator, Guzman called his confinement in the United States "psychological, emotional, mental torture 24 hours a day."

Guzman, 62, was found guilty by a jury in February of trafficking tons of cocaine, heroin, and marijuana and engaging in multiple murder conspiracies as a top leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, long known as one of Mexico's largest and most violent drug trafficking organizations.

Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to sentence him to life in prison, plus 30 years for use of firearms. Guzman's lawyers have not disputed that a life sentence is mandatory.

Guzman, whose nickname means "Shorty," developed a reputation as a Robin Hood-like figure that made him a folk hero to many in his home state of Sinaloa, where he was born in a poor mountain village.

He is being held in solitary confinement in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a fortress-like jail in lower Manhattan. Cogan last month rejected his request for more time to exercise on the jail's roof after prosecutors said that would risk an escape.

Before he was finally captured in 2016, Guzman twice escaped maximum-security prisons in Mexico. He was extradited to the United States to face trial in January 2017.

Guzman made a name for himself as a trafficker in the 1980s by digging tunnels under the U.S.-Mexico border that allowed him to smuggle drugs more quickly than any of his rivals. He amassed power during the 1990s and 2000s through often bloody wars with rivals, eventually becoming the best-known leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

His 11-week trial, which featured testimony from more than a dozen former associates of Guzman who had made deals to cooperate with prosecutors, offered the public an unprecedented look at the cartel's inner workings.


'El Chapo' Decided 'Who Lives and Who Dies', US Jury Told

The witnesses, who included some of Guzman's top lieutenants, a communications engineer and a onetime mistress, described how he built a sophisticated organization reminiscent of a multinational corporation.

He sent drugs northward with fleets of planes and boats, and had detailed accounting ledgers and an encrypted electronic communication system run through secret computer servers in Canada, witnesses said.

U.S. prosecutors have claimed that Guzman sold more than $12 billion worth of drugs, and Forbes magazine once listed him as among the world's richest men.

Though other top cartel figures had been extradited to the United States before, Guzman was the first to go to trial rather than pleading guilty.

Guzman often lived on the run. Imprisoned in Mexico in 1993, he escaped in 2001 hidden in a laundry cart and spent the following years moving from one hideout to another in the mountains of Sinaloa, guarded by a private army.

He was captured again in 2014 but pulled off his best-known escape the following year when he disappeared into a ventilated, mile-long tunnel dug into his cell in a maximum-security prison.

He was finally recaptured in January 2016. The Mexican government says he blew his cover through a series of slipups, including an attempt to make a movie about his life.

Guzman's lawyers have said they intend to appeal his guilty verdict. They have already asked Cogan to overturn it, citing a report that jurors disobeyed court rules by reading news reports about the case during the trial, but the judge rejected that request.

Despite Guzman's downfall, the Sinaloa Cartel had the biggest U.S. distribution presence of Mexican cartels as of last year, followed by the fast-growing Jalisco New Generation Cartel, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

]]> <![CDATA[Qatar Declines to Reveal Buyer of Italian Neo-Nazis' Missile ]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 10:12:59 -04:00 The Qatari government released a statement Tuesday in which they say the air to air missile, found in the possession of an Italian fascist group, was sold by them to “a friendly nation that wishes not to be named” in 1994, adding that they will cooperate with Italian authorities but will not reveal who they sent the weapon to. 


Michel Platini Detained Over Qatar World Cup Corruption Probe

"Qatar is working very closely now with the pertinent parties including Italy to unveil the facts and it is very concerned as to how a missile sold 25 years ago ended up in the hands of a third non-state party," said Qatar’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Lolwah Alkhater

The Italian neo-fascist group Forza Nuova were caught by police Monday in possession of an operational Matra Super530 military-grade missile. Along with Nazi symbols and a number of firearms. Italian police say the missile originally belonged to Qatar’s armed forces, and was discovered after Forza Nuova had attempted to sell it via the Whatsapp messaging app.

Qatar will face serious questions about whom they have had dealings with after such a lethal weapon was found in the hands of a far-right group with links to terrorism.

Another controversy has been whether or not the missile came from the conflict in Ukraine, and if so, from which side. Italian police stated Monday, that they had been investigating groups that had fought alongside Ukrainian militias against Pro-Russian separatists, and that they suspected that the missile may have come from there.

Forza Nuova itself has long had an alliance with the anti-Russian far-right Svoboda party but then split over which side to support during the conflict in Donbass.

However, a number of media outlets such as CNN and the BBC reported that the group was unequivocally allied to Russia, despite Italian police reports to the contrary.

Italian police have since amended their statement to say simply that they are investigating links to "the armed conflict in Donbass" without indicating which side. Nevertheless, numerous outlets have not edited reports that claim the group has concrete links to Russia.

]]> <![CDATA[Sudan: Military Council, Opposition Sign Political Agreement]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:46:15 -04:00 Sudan’s ruling military council and an opposition alliance signed a political accord Wednesday as part of a power-sharing deal aimed at leading the country to democracy following three decades of autocratic rule.


Sudan to Establish Joint Civilian-Military Governing Body

The agreement, which ended days of speculation about whether a deal announced earlier this month would hold, was initialed in Khartoum in the presence of African mediators following a night of talks to iron out some details of the agreement.

The deal is meant to pave the way to a political transition after military leaders ousted former President Omar al-Bashir in April following weeks of protests against his rule.

At least 128 people were killed during a crackdown that began when security forces dispersed a protest camp outside the Defence Ministry in central Khartoum in June, according to medics linked to the opposition. The Health Ministry had put the death toll at 61.

A political standoff between Sudan’s military rulers and protesters threatened to drag the country of 40 million toward further violence before African mediators managed to bridge the gap between the two sides.

General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council, hailed the agreement as the start of a new partnership between the armed forces, including the paramilitary forces he leads, and the opposition coalition of Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC).

Ibrahim al-Amin, an FFC leader, said the accord signaled a new era of self-reliance for Sudan’s people. “We want a stable homeland because we have suffered a great deal,” Amin said in a speech after the ceremony.

Ethiopian mediator Mahmud Dirir said Sudan, long under international isolation over the policies of Bashir’s religiously conservative administration, needed to overcome poverty and called for the country to be taken off a U.S. list of states that support terrorism.

The sides are still working on a constitutional declaration, which is expected to be signed Friday. Under the power-sharing deal reached earlier this month, the two sides agreed to share power in a sovereign council during a transitional period of just over three years.

They also agreed to form an independent government of technocrats to run the country and to launch a transparent, independent investigation into the violence.

The power-sharing agreement reached earlier this month called for a sovereign council comprised of 11 members — five officers selected by the military council, five civilians chosen by the FFC and another civilian to be agreed upon by both sides.

The constitutional declaration will now decide the duties and responsibilities of the sovereign council.

The military was to head the council during the first 21 months of the transitional period while a civilian would head the council during the remaining 18 months.

But the agreement was thrown into doubt when new disputes surfaced last week over the military council’s demand for immunity for council members against prosecution. The military council also demanded that the sovereign council would retain ultimate decision-making powers rather than the government.

]]> <![CDATA[Turkish Diplomat, One Other Shot Dead in Kurdish Capital Erbil]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 09:12:48 -04:00 At least two people including a Turkish diplomat were shot dead on Wednesday in a rare attack in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil, Kurdish security officials and Turkey's foreign ministry said.

A gunman opened fire at a restaurant where Turkish diplomats were dinning before fleeing in a car driven by an accomplice, two Kurdish security officials and a witness said.

Security forces began a search for the attackers, the Kurdish officials said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Turkey's foreign ministry said one of those killed was a diplomat working at its consulate to Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Erbil.

A statement from the Kurdistan region's internal security service said two people were killed - the diplomat and another civilian - and one other person wounded.

The Kurdish officials and Iraqi state television earlier said three people were killed and that they were all Turkish diplomats and included the deputy consul.

One witness told Reuters that an attacker entered the restaurant and started shooting before he fled in a car that was waiting for him outside.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan, the Kurdish security service and Iraq's Baghdad-based foreign ministry condemned the attack.

Turkey's main enemy in northern Iraq is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, which has waged a decades-long insurgency in southeastern Turkey and has bases across the border.

Ankara's forces regularly carry out air raids against PKK targets in northern Iraq with the tacit approval of the KDP.

Iraq's central government in Baghdad has occasionally condemned those air strikes, but has not moved to halt them.

]]> <![CDATA[Far-right Salvini Orders Plan to Evict Non-Italian Roma People]]> Wed, 17 Jul 2019 11:19:42 -04:00 Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini ordered Tuesday a report on the presence of Roma, Sinti and Camminanti settlements in order to "draw up an eviction plan" of non-Italian Roman.


Italy Shuts Down Europe's Once Biggest Migrant Center

"I have asked all prefects for detailed and real-time updates on the Rome, Sinti and Caminanti illegal or theoretically 'regular' camps, to proceed, as planned, with closures, evictions, removals ... " Salvini said.

The Roma, Sinti and Camminanti are ethnic groups that have lived nomadically in Europe for hundreds of years. In Italy, it is estimated that there are between 120,000 and 180,000 people who belong to those communities. 

While more than half of them are formally Italian citizens, the Roma, Sinti and Camminanti are often victims of hate crimes and discrimination, especially those who are living in poverty and staying at unofficial settlements.

Among these, there were at least 26,000 people residing in emergency shelters in 2017, according to data from the July 21 Defense Association, as reported by the Deutsche Welle.

"The photo of the child of Primavalle, Rome's 5-star neighborhood, who is evicted into the street by his implacable (with the weak) police, who obeys Salvini, is the symbol of this government: there is no mercy with the poor and homeless, just to receive the news."

The League party leader, who has publicly acknowledged being an ethno-nationalist, has built his political career on the basis of questioning the presence of non-European or non-white migrants in Italy.

“The Roma community has long been a target of Salvini, whose rise to prominence often involved press appearances at Roma camps, which he has frequently threatened to raze. Few minorities are treated with much contempt in Italy as the Roma, who face prejudice and stereotypes that are deeply ingrained in the social consciousness," The British Guardian newspaper said in its report on the news.

In the last month, besides carrying out actions against migrant rescue ships such as the Sea Watch commanded by Captain Rackete, Minister Salvini closed the largest refugee camp in his country.

As part of his efforts to curb the presence of immigrants, the Italian interior minister now wants the Roma, Sinti and Camminanti to be sent to their countries of origin, which could become a very difficult task considering that these ethnic groups are often stateless.

Unfortunately, this type of surveillance policies against certain ethnic groups, which was a typical practice of the twentieth-century fascism, is not new.

In fact, in 2009, the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) stated that Italy had adopted policies against the Roma that violated the principle of non-discrimination and the right to housing.

"An ethnicity-based census would violate articles of the Italian Constitution and international treaties... Furthermore, Italy is already under observation by the European monitoring bodies for the use of discriminatory and segregating policies towards Roma and Sinti populations present in the national territory as well as in the persistent forced eviction operations," local media, Fanpage, recalled.

]]> <![CDATA[Ebola Outbreak Reaches Eastern Congo's Main City]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 23:36:24 -04:00 The first Ebola patient to be detected in Goma, one of the largest cities in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, has died Tuesday according to the country’s authorities.


'More Urgency' Needed in AIDS Fight as Funding Fades: UN Report

The news of the death raised serious concerns over the potential wide and rapid spreading of the virus which was until now limited to the province of North Kivu, including the cities of Butembo and Beni. 

The patient was a Christian pastor who contracted the virus during a visit to the city of Butembo, known as one of the epicenters of the pandemic, before taking a bus back to Goma, according to Congo's health ministry.

“He was being driven on Monday to the city of Butembo to receive treatment in a clinic when he died,” said North Kivu province's Governor Carly Nzanzu.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that health officials had identified 60 people that had come into contact with the priest, and that half of them are vaccinated.

The one million people city of Goma is located more than 350 kilometers south of where Ebola was first detected a year ago and is very close to the border with Rwanda. For now, it is the largest city to be affected by the outbreak, which is the second deadliest ever, as it has infected more than 2,500 people and caused nearly 1,700 deaths many of them children.

Last week the United Kingdom's (U.K.) international development secretary, Rory Stewart, urged to declare the virus in the DRC an emergency, after a two-day visit to the emergency health centers for Ebola virus victims in the cities of Butembo and Beni.

Healthcare workers have so far struggled to vaccinate people and to treat those already infected as their work is being prevented by the raging fighting between armed groups, but also by a large part of the population that do not trust the medical teams.

]]> <![CDATA[South African Singer, Anti-Apartheid Activist Johnny Clegg Dies]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 22:41:48 -04:00 South African singer Johnny Clegg, one of the very few white artists who confronted the apartheid regime in the 1970s and 1980s has died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 66, his manager informedTuesday.


Anarchist Activist Killed for Fighting US 'Concentration Camps'

“Clegg has made an indelible mark on the music industry and the hearts of the people,” said the South African government in a tribute paid to the singer on Twitter, adding that his music had the power to unite people across race and to bring them together as a community.


Clegg's relation to music dates back to the time he began, as a teenager, to take lessons in the streets of Johannesburg with Zulu migrant workers playing street guitar. Since then he dedicated his life to his art and the fight against the apartheid government. 


Those learning years as a musician with street artists were an introduction to the Zulu language, culture, and music for the one who has sometimes been called the “White Zulu.”

“I felt like an immigrant,” he had told the New York Times in 1990, adding that “the migrant workers were themselves immigrants [they had left their homes and went to the city to find work], so we had a similar feeling of marginality in the city ... That was emotionally something I could relate to.”

In 1969 he formed a mixed-raced band with the black guitarist, Sipho Mchunu. The group mainly performed in Europe as they were subject to harassment from the authorities in their county and many times arrested.

Clegg was thus the first white singer to challenge the laws that prohibited mixed-race performances at that time. "We had to find our way around a myriad of laws that prevented us from mixing across racial lines," he told AFP news agency in 2017.

Much of his music was limited in South Africa until the end of the apartheid in 1994.

]]> <![CDATA[China-Latin America Cooperation Benefits All: Chinese Gov't]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 22:05:44 -04:00 China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry emphasized Tuesday that the cooperation between the Asian nation and Latin America, specifically with Venezuela, adhere to the principles of respect, equality and mutual benefits.

Bilateral Cooperation Between US-China Benefits World

"China-Latin America relations are equal, mutually beneficial, innovative, open, benefiting the people, and not exclusive," a spokesperson for the Ministry, Geng Shuang said.

This comes as a response to the head of the United States Southern Command Craig Faller, who declared on July 9 that because China was Venezuela’s largest creditor, the country is “repressing” the Venezuelan people with the debt and “surveillance technology.”

As the U.S. government repeatedly attacks China's cooperation with Venezuela and Latin America, the Chinese official explained that “their arguments were full of loopholes and could not stand up to scrutiny.”

Both Venezuela and China maintain close political and economic ties and have so for several years. China, along with Russia, has defended Venezuela at many U.N. Security Council meetings in which the U.S. and its allies attempt to pass resolutions against the Bolivarian Republic. 

Just two months ago in May, Beijing delivered 71 tons of medicine and surgical material to Caracas. It had previously shipped 65 tons of humanitarian aid to Venezuela in March, amid an ongoing illegal economic blockade perpetuated by Donald Trump’s administration.

This win-win cooperation model, as Geng mentioned, focuses on common betterment in order to promote local economic and social development and are widely welcomed by the people and governments of Venezuela and Latin America.

 "We hold a positive attitude towards cooperation with all sides including the United States in Latin America, and hope the U.S. side also has the same attitude," the foreign affairs official concluded. 

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan FM Rejects Statements by His Colombian Peer]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 21:18:02 -04:00 Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has rejected the statements made by his Colombian counterpart, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, who is fulfilling an agenda in the United States.


 Venezuela Rejects EU Sanctions Warnings

During his visit, Holmes Trujillo reiterated the accusations of an alleged connection between the Venezuelan government and Colombia's National Liberation Army (ELN).

In this regard, the Venezuelan diplomat denounced that these theories aim to distract attention from the growing internal problems of the Colombian government.

The strategy of trying to distract public opinion from the crisis of the peace process, the growing drug industry and the violence unleashed in Colombia, using Venezuela as a wild card, no longer works for them. They look like a broken record. But also a very bad and very scratched record' Arreaza wrote.

According to press reports, the visit by the Colombian Foreign Minister to the United States includes among its points the treatment of the Venezuelan issue with authorities of the northern nation.

The Colombian Foreign Ministry announced meetings in Washington with members of the U.S. Treasury Department, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, security advisor John Bolton and Elliot Abrams, special representative for Venezuela.

]]> <![CDATA[Yemen World's Worst Humanitarian Crisis: Human Rights Report]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 21:20:01 -04:00 Yemeni civilians are the main victims of the five-year conflict, paying with their lives the high cost of war, while crime perpetrators remain unaccountable, according to a new report released Tuesday by human rights organization, Mwatana.


Trump Admin to Exploit Loophole to Sell Weapons to Saudi Arabia

The situation in Yemen is the “worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” a spokesperson, Radhya al-Mutawakel, recalled in an interview with Al Jazeera, stating the gravity of the crisis requires that the countries interested in rebuilding Yemen support civil society before “it is totally destroyed.”

The organization insists that the humanitarian crisis and the human rights issues have to be addressed immediately and urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to create a commission of inquiry by September to determine individuals and parties responsible for violations.

As the humanitarian situation is constantly and dangerously deteriorating, Mwatana for Human Rights documented not less than 74 cases of obstructing humanitarian access and aid, blaming both Ansar Allah (Houthis) and the Saudi/UAE-led coalition forces that back the internationally recognized government, for blocking the aid at a time when “millions of civilians already living under the threat of famine.” 

In 2018 alone, Mwatana documented 52 landmines cases, killing at least 60 civilians, including 8 women and 26 children, and wounding at least 51 others, including 12 women and 21 children.

And Coalition airstrikes on civilians have not stopped, these shellings and the air attacks had targeted houses, schools, hospitals, and health facilities, killing and wounding civilians, with United States drone strikes also killing and wounding civilians. 

The organization documented about 150 coalition airstrikes in 11 governorates in 2018 that killed at least 375 civilians, including 165 children, and wounded 427 others, including 172 children. 

All the forces in the conflict are responsible for disappearing, torturing, arbitrarily detaining thousands of people, and recruiting children. It also said that many cases of sexual violence against children from the Saudi/UAE-led coalition had been reported.

The organization's spokesperson said that both parties were feeling free to act as they want to because they are never held accountable, “they just don’t care.”

French Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia Increased 50% in 2018: Report

"Saudis and Emiratis are stronger by being supported by their allies: the U.S., U.K., and France," she said, adding that the " Houthis hide behind the violations of the Saudis and Emirati coalition and other armed groups."

Moreover, civilians face an even greater threat as they can not move around the country or leave it.

“The possibility for people to move inside or outside the country has dramatically decreased,” it said, adding that security checkpoints “discriminate people on their identity or exploit them financially”, while the Saudi-led coalition refuses to re-open the airport in the capital of Sanaa after closing it in 2016.

Dubbed as the “Forgotten War,” the Yemeni civil war started on March 26, 2015, when Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates led a coalition of countries in a military campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen in support of the Saudi-backed government of Abd-Rabu Mansour Hadi. 

The conflict has since turned into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Iran. A narrative rejected by the Houthis who say that they took power from the Saudi-backed government in order to end Saudi interference into the country's affairs. 

The war in Yemen has already, according to a United Nation, claimed more than 230,000 lives.

The UAE began to scale back its military presence in June, and some experts hope that the move will be followed.

]]> <![CDATA[US House Condemns Trump Over 'Racist Comments' to Congresswomen]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 20:51:24 -04:00 The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to condemn President Donald Trump for "racist comments" against four Democratic congresswomen, a symbolic vote aimed at shaming Trump and his fellow Republicans who stood by him.

Progressive Women ‘Squad’ Decries Trump's ‘White Nationalism’ After 'Go Back Home' Comments

The four-page Democratic resolution said the House “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new citizens and people of color.”

Tempers flared in the hours leading up to the vote that mainly split along party lines, the culmination of three days of outrage sparked by a Trump tweetstorm that diverted attention from all other business in Washington.

The head of state had told the group of congresswomen to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came." All four lawmakers - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan - are U.S. citizens.

Three of these high-profile left-wing politicians were born in the U.S. with Omar being the only one who arrived in the country as a child after her family fled as refugees Somalia's civil war in 1997, to later become a U.S. citizen in 2000. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has struggled at times to work with the progressive newcomers in her caucus, staunchly defended them in the debate. "These comments from the White House are disgraceful, disgusting, and racist," the House Speaker said.

Pelosi's comments put the House into a two-hour limbo after Republicans argued she went too far in her comments and broke debate rules.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy criticized Democrats for remarks that upset the "order and decency" of the chamber, saying that  "today is the day that historians will write about." He had urged his colleagues to vote against the measure.  Four Republicans joined the Democrats to support the measure.

Yet this is not the first time for Trump, who has a history of what critics consider race-baiting.

He led a movement that falsely claimed former Democratic President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. and said after a deadly, white supremacist-led rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 that there were "very fine people on both sides" of the incident.

]]> <![CDATA[Benin Readies for Return of Treasures Taken by France]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 21:46:25 -04:00 Benin is expecting the return of 26 artefacts from former colonial power France and the construction of a new museum to hold them at the royal palaces in Benin's southern town of Abomey.

France: Art Director Refuses Return of African Art Collection

"These objects are a chance for the survival of the site," local tourism chief Gabin Djimasse told AFP as he toured the vast courtyards lined with bas-relief dating back to the 18th-century Dahomey Kingdom.

"They will allow us to build a new museum and make the royal palaces more economically sustainable."

While Benin has welcomed France's decision to return the objects, it has cautioned against doing so too quickly.

French President Emmanuel Macron wants the artworks returned "without delay" but the museum in Abomey is only set to be opened in 2021 and Benin's heritage agency says the country needs time to be "truly ready."

Djimasse said plans for the museum to showcase its history and heritage have already gone through several changes.

Building the physical infrastructure is one part of the challenge. Djimasse said the other major priority is finding people to work as guides and develop the expertise to properly care for and restore the artworks.

"Four years ago the Quai Branly in Paris wanted to train two young people from Benin in restoration," he said. "We looked everywhere for scientists but we couldn't find any - and in the end we sent a history student."

At the School for African Heritage in Benin's capital Porto-Novo a dozen students aged from 23 to 53 are diligently working to be part of the project.

This is the "first batch" of a new training programme aimed at cultivating the various skills required, said their teacher Richard Sagan.

"At a museum there is more than just the curator," said Sagan, a specialist at Benin's heritage agency. "There is a whole chain of trades, from skilled technicians and craftsmen."

Those in the class have already been working in the cultural field and insisted they felt the return of the artworks from France could be a big boost.

"It is a great opportunity for young people," said Messie Boko, a 28-year-old student and guide at a museum in the city. "It is our duty to know how to spread this heritage."

Alain Godonou is called "Mr Benin heritage" by his colleagues at the national agency.

He may have studied in France but he has never gained access to the roughly 5,000 artefacts from the Kingdom of Dahomey held by the country.

A former UNESCO official, Godonou told AFP preparing for the return of the objects has been a "goal" of his life.

But he insisted that Benin still needs to pass a comprehensive legal framework to protect heritage.

As for the 26 objects - they should just be a start of a broader process.

Godonou said Benin wanted to "reclaim its property rights" over all the artworks held abroad - even if that doesn't mean returning them home permanently. "We want the works to move around, that is our philosophy," he said. "In the end they are part of world heritage."

In November Macron took the decision to return the artworks - including a royal throne - taken by French troops over a century ago and housed at the Quai Branly museum in Paris.

The move has piled pressure on other former colonial powers to hand back looted artefacts to their countries of origin - and fired up dreams of a lifeline in Abomey.

The Kingdom of Dahomey reached its peak in the 18th and 19th centuries and became a major source of slaves for European traders before conquest by Paris in the 1890s ended its rule.

]]> <![CDATA[We Must Be More Active in Defense of Migrants: Rigoberta Menchu]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 19:24:52 -04:00 Guatemalan Indigenous leader and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu expressed Tuesday that one must be energetic to defend human rights and considered that the raids in the United States are an offense to the migrants of the world.

Trump Bars Asylum Seekers at US Southern Border

“What happens in the U.S. can be replicated in other parts of the world and this is not good news, because it is confining young people and mothers, it is humiliating people, so who we are to think that the world belongs to us and not to them as well," Menchu said during a conference to the Mexican Senate. 

The Guatemalan leader reminded Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government that human rights have to be protected in the Guatemalan-Mexican border, as the nation has intensified its anti-migration policies deploying over 20,000 soldiers to both its northern and southern borders to curb migration. 

“Mexico is at the forefront so what happens here has an impact on the whole continent and the whole world,” she added.

This comes a day after the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issued a joint rule that blocks all migrants from applying for asylum at the southern border, requiring them first to attempt international protection in a safe third country, amid an increasing anti-migrant rhetoric by Donald Trump’s administration. 

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office (UNHCR) warned Tuesday that the new asylum application policies go against international obligations because they highly violate basic rights and freedoms. 

"We are concerned because some areas to which asylum seekers are being returned are very violent in Mexico,"  a spokesperson from the U.N. Human Rights Office commented.

According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. is currently detaining more than 50,000 migrants a day, most of them are asylum seekers protected by international law, escaping political persecution, gang and drug-related violence from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. 

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuela Rejects EU Sanctions Warnings]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 18:59:11 -04:00 The Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreaza, published Tuesday a communiqué on his Twitter account denouncing and rejecting statements made by the High Representative of the European Union (EU), Federica Mogherini, as she threatened the South American country with new sanctions if there was no progress in talks between the Venezuelan opposition and the government of President Nicolas Maduro.


Blockade Forces Venezuelan Kids To Leave Argentinian Hospital

The communiqué made clear that it rejected theses warnings calling them “unacceptable menaces" against the country, and explained that Mogherinin’s attempts of intimidation are akin to interfering in Venezuela’s internal affairs. It added that this kind of methods is similar to the "aggressive positions of the U.S. government.”

Venezuela rejects the statements made by the High Representative of the EU, Federica Mogherini, for interfering once again in the country's internal affairs and making unacceptable threats, in a moment when adhering to the core principals of law is vital for dialogue between Venezuelans.

"The EU seems committed to maintaining the conflict as a formula for making policy, even contradicting the peaceful spirit of the renewed negotiations led by Special Advisor Enrique Iglesias".

Venezuela’s government urged the EU "to maintain a position of respect and constructive balance, as well as to stop its attempts to hinder the peaceful procedure in search of a solution" that is currently carried out through dialogue with members of the Venezuelan opposition.

Mogherini, who on one hand said she was satisfied with "the resumption of the talks facilitated by the Government of Norway in Barbados," has warned the Venezuelan Government once again, according to a release issued Tuesday by the EU Council.

"In case there are no concrete results from the ongoing negotiations, the EU will further expand its targeted measures," Mogherini said.

]]> <![CDATA['More Urgency' Needed in AIDS Fight as Funding Fades: UN Report]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 18:22:23 -04:00 The global fight against AIDS is stalling due to lower investment, marginalized communities missing vital health services, and new HIV infections rising in some areas, the United Nations warned Tuesday.

Nicaragua Steps Up Fight Against HIV, Finds Fewer Overall Cases

More than half of all new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in 2018 were among sex workers, drug users, men who have sex with men, transgender people, prisoners and the sexual partners of these groups, according to a report by UNAIDS, adding that many of those populations did not get access to infection prevention services.

Progress in some countries has been "impressive", the U.N. body's report stated, but others are seeing rising numbers of HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths, as there have been "worrying increases" in new infections in eastern Europe and central Asia, where HIV cases rose by 29 percent. The Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America are affected as well.

"Ending AIDS is possible if we focus on people, not diseases," said UNAIDS executive director Gunilla Carlsson. Globally in 2018, some 770,000 people died of AIDS and almost 38 million people were living with the virus that causes it.

The U.N. official said now was the time to "create road maps for the people and locations being left behind (and) take a human rights-based approach to reaching people most affected by HIV."

This would need greater political leadership, she said, starting with adequate and well-targeted investment. Even though there was a 16 percent decline since 2010, driven mostly by steady progress in parts of eastern and southern Africa, the figure is way behind the global aim of a 75 percent fall by next year, according to the institution.

South Africa, for example, has cut new HIV infections by more than 40 percent and AIDS-related deaths by around 40 percent since 2010. But the report warned there is still a long way to go in many parts of eastern and southern Africa - the regions most affected by HIV.

"Incident reductions are just too slow to reach the target that has been set out," Peter Ghys, UNAIDS strategic information director, informed.

Global funding for the AIDS fight dropped off significantly in 2018, by nearly US$1 billion, as international donors gave less and domestic investments did not grow fast enough to plug the gap.

Around US$19 billion was available for the AIDS response in 2018, UNAIDS said, falling US$7.2 billion short of the total US$26.2 billion it says is needed by 2020.

HIV cannot be cured but the infection can be kept in check by AIDS drugs known as an antiretrovial treatment. Around 23.3 million of the 37.9 million people with HIV worldwide currently get the AIDS drugs they need.

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Roads Blocked, Media Silence in National Strike Day 2]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 18:05:55 -04:00 As the national strike called for this week in Ecuador, by social and political organizations, enters its second day Tuesday, major roads were blocked and manifestations were reported all across the country including the country’s capital, Quito.

Ecuador: Workers, Farmers Launch National Strike Against Moreno’s Gov’t

“We voted for Moreno to maintain social expenditure not to sign a deal with the IMF to the detriment of workers, we reject the labor reform proposed by the banking and private sector,” Joaquin Chiluisa, a union leader from the health sector told teleSUR. 

Major roads were blocked during Tuesday’s demonstrations in large provinces such as Guayas, Manabi, Cotopaxi, Esmeraldas, Azuay and in both entry points to the capital city Quito. 

“The country is still protesting against (Lenin) Moreno's government and national media outlets do not publish anything .. why would that be?” the National Campesino Movement (Fecaol) tweeted Tuesday. 

Despite ongoing protests and the hashtag #ParoNacional (national strike) becoming Ecuador’s trending topic, large private and public media have given little or no coverage to the demonstrations

Since Fecaol launched the five-day national strike Monday, the National Citizens Assembly (ANC), the Confederation of Indigenous Organizations (FEI), various workers’ unions, left-wing Social Compromise party and other social organizations have joined the call. 

“We don't want a centralized government, we don't want privatizations in health or education. The people are everyone more than one ethnicity, not just one group,” an Amazonic Shuar leader told teleSUR’s correspondent during a rally.

The organizations that have joined the strike emphatically denounce the path Moreno’s administration has taken in order to fulfill the IMF’s conditionalities, as part of the “recipe” used by the neoliberal model. 

Some of these devices include nationwide austerity measures, massive layoffs, the proposal to raise four points to the national sale tax from 12 to 16 percent, a private sector-led proposal to eliminate workers’ rights and bring about labor flexibilization, privatization of public goods and services, and dismissing the Constitution to deal with transnational companies, mainly in mining. 

As transport and trucking unions set to join the strike, it was denounced on Monday that one of the transporters’ leaders, Omar Delgado, and his son were arrested. The National Federation of Taxi Operators of Ecuador has announced to go on strike on Wednesday.  

“Our Police is used to arrest national leaders that strike against the IMF. Today was Omar Delgado and his son, tomorrow it can be anyone. Who guarantees our right to protest?” left-wing legislator from former president Rafael Correa’s party, Marcela Holguin, tweeted. 

]]> <![CDATA[180 Venezuelans Return Home from Peru]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 18:04:44 -04:00 A total of 180 Venezuelans returned from Peru this Tuesday, thanks to the Plan Vuelta a la Patria (Return to the Homeland plan) that has been promoted by the Government of Venezuela.

 90 Venezuelans Return Home from Ecuador with "Return Home" Plan

Distributed in two flights from the morning of this Tuesday and tomorrow Wednesday, a new group of Venezuelans will return to the country due to the precarious conditions in which they were living in Peru.

According to the correspondent, Jaime Herrera, some people remained for the next flight schedule to return to Venezuela.

The Plan Vuelta a la Patria, now close to a year of its operation, began as a social project promoted by the government of the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, for the repatriation of Venezuelans abroad.

More than 3,000 Venezuelans have been repatriated to the country from Peru and in less than a year of operation, it is about to reach the figure of 15,000 Venezuelans benefited by the Plan Vuelta a la Patria.


]]> <![CDATA[Italy: Migrants Occupy Basilica Asking for Housing and Dignity]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 18:06:24 -04:00 About 60 rural workers occupied the Basilic San Nicola di Bari on Tuesday morning demanding labor rights, coming from cities of the Foggia province. such as , San Severo, Manfredonia, Cerignola, Lucera.

Migrants and 'Black Vests' Occupy Historical Monument in Paris

"Pope Francis says that work gives human beings  sense of dignity," said union leader Aboubakar Soumahoro, "but our work has no dignity and no rights." "For this reason, we decided to fight for the conquest of labor rights, housing and security at the work place."

They met with Archibishop Francesco Cacucci, reporting how they are under false contracts and paid about US$25-30 per day. Cacucci promised he will mediate the conflict with local authorities.

Most of the rural workers live in the shanty town of Borgo Mezzanone, in the suburb of Foggia. It still houses about 3,000 immigrants despite several attempts launched since February to bulldoze all the illegal constructions.

Last Friday in Paris, about a thousands of migrants and asylum seekers lauched a similar action, occupying the historical monument Pantheon to demand talks with the prime minister on legalizing their undocumented status, activists said.

]]> <![CDATA[Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo Arrested in US]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 15:15:01 -04:00 Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the United States under an extradition order on Tuesday, the South American country’s public prosecutor’s office said in a post on its official Twitter account.

 Odebrecht Admits Paying Peru ex-President Toledo $32M in Bribes

Toledo, who governed from 2001 to 2006, is a fugitive from Peruvian justice for allegedly receiving $20 million from the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in exchange for aid to win public works. Peru formally requested his extradition from the United States a year ago.

Toledo, 73, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

“This will be the ex-President’s first appearance before U.S. judicial authorities, as part of the process aiming to return him to the country,” the Public Ministry said in a post.

Peru has suffered a wave of political scandals linked to corruption and the Odebrecht case. Former President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested at his home over allegations of bribery linked to the investigation.

Another former president, Alan Garcia, shot himself in the head to avoid arrest in April, also in connection with alleged bribes from the Brazilian builder.

Toledo’s lawyer Heriberto Benítez told local radio station RPP that the former president had not received due process in the investigation by Peruvian prosecutors.

]]> <![CDATA[Malta: 3 on Trial for Murdering Anti-Corruption Journalist]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 16:03:53 -04:00 Three men will face trial in Malta for their alleged involvement in the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia after the island’s attorney general issued a bill of indictment against them, court officials said Tuesday.


Rule of Law Fails in Malta as Slain Journalist Sees No Justice: Report

The indictment comes days before a deadline that requires suspects who have not been formally committed for trial within 20 months of arrest to be granted bail.

Vincent Muscat and brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio are accused of having planted and set off a bomb that exploded in Caruana Galizia’s car near the Maltese capital Valletta on Oct. 16, 2017. All three suspects have pleaded not guilty during pre-trial proceedings known as the compilation of evidence, held before a magistrate. It is not known when the trial will start.

The murder of Caruana Galizia, who penned an anti-corruption blog, appalled Europe and raised questions about the rule of law on the Mediterranean island.

Muscat and the Degiorgios were arrested and charged in December 2017 and have been in detention ever since. The courts have turned down repeated requests for bail citing the continuing police investigation and public order.

Maltese police have said their investigations are continuing as the three are not thought to have been the masterminds behind the killing, the motive for which is unknown.

The three suspects have not said a word to the police, according to usually well-informed Maltese media.

Evidence presented in court by prosecutors over the last two years has suggested that Caruana Galizia, 53, was blown up by a bomb activated by a mobile phone.

Muscat was allegedly the spotter who watched the journalist drive out of her house in Bidnija, seven miles from Valletta, while one of the Degiorgio brothers is alleged to have set off the bomb by phone while on a yacht in Valletta harbor.

Officers from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations and Europol have helped Malta police investigate the case.

Caruana Galizia’s family has repeatedly called on Malta’s government to hold an independent public inquiry into the murder and into whether the government could have acted to prevent it.

The Council of Europe backed their call in a report last June and said an inquiry should be held within three months.

The government has said that a public inquiry could hinder the continuing police investigations, although the foreign minister has indicated that an inquiry might be held.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, a frequent target of Caruana Galizia’s writings, has offered a million euro ($1.2 million) reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprits.

]]> <![CDATA[African Revolutionary Sam Nujoma Condemns US Attacks on Cuba]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 15:10:20 -04:00 Namibia's former President Sam Nujoma condemned Tuesday the U.S. blockade against Cuba and thanked the international cooperation that the Caribbean country has offered to the African peoples since the 1960s.


Cuba: Presents Economic Plan 2020, Includes Cryptocurrency

The South West Africa Popular Organization (Swapo) leader, who highlighted the continued solidarity of the Cuban people towards his country "from the times of the struggle for independence to the present day," rejected emphatically the full application of the Helms-Burton Act.

Currently, the application of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act's Titles III & IV allows U.S. courts to sue international companies which have worked with properties nationalized in Cuba since 1959.

Title III allows U.S. citizens, including nationalized Cubans, to sue before U.S. courts for companies that supposedly benefit from properties in Cuba that were theirs or their family's before the Cuban Revolution. Title IV restricts the entry into the U.S. of those who have made deals with nationalized Cuban properties.​​​​​​​

"Reject the U.S. harassment against Cuba. The obstacles imposed on Cuba by the U.S. economic, financial and trade blockade were harshly criticized by Jorge Perugorria during the closing ceremony of the 15th Gibara International Film Festival. Attentive to the creativity of young filmmakers. We are Cuba."

His comments come just as the Student Federation of Peru (FEP) issued a statement rejecting the economic blockade that President Donald Trump has deepened against Cuba.

"We join the worldwide rejection of the violent Helms-Burton Act, which promotes discrimination, encourages interference in State affairs of other nations and renews the imperialist character of the U.S.," the FEP president Darwin Bustillos said.​​​​​​​

"We do not allow economic aggressions that violate human rights. We exhort student groups in Peru to share solidarity with the brother people of Cuba."

So far ​​​​​​​the Trump administration has sanctioned more than 100 Cuban companies, imposed stricter travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and put sanctions on any ship involved in carrying Venezuelan oil to Cuba.

]]> <![CDATA[Israel Wants to Stop Intersectional Solidarity With Palestine]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 14:38:36 -04:00 Pro-Israel lobbies are founding ways to break up intersectional solidarity with Palestine and identifying progressive Jews who are critical of Israel, a new report by Israeli research organization the Reut Group has revealed.


Israel’s Apartheid Wall Stands 15 Years After UN Deemed it Illegal

Israel and its advocates view solidarity between Palestine and other oppressed groups as threats and suggested ways to break up the intersectional coalition. 

Israel’s Reut Institute and the U.S.-based Jewish Council for Public Affairs warned that intersectionality “undermines Jewish communities’ agendas, including support for the State of Israel.”

Last year Al Jazeera’s leaked censored documentary on Israeli influence in the United States showed Israeli officers gloating about targeting Black Lives Matter and convincing Martin Luther King's friend to write pro-Israeli propaganda.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) supports the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS). According to the documentary, their adoption of the movement's platform exposed them to the Israeli government's anti-BDS efforts.

This intersectionality had been applauded by the Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib Saturday. 

She said that solidarity among different oppressed groups towards Palestine shows that young people are understanding the crimes against the occupied population. 

“When I see young Black Lives Matter activists with t-shirts that say “Free Palestine,” and I’m wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirt, I know it’s working,” she said. 

This solidarity is perceived as a threat to Israel which has been carrying out its racist policies towards Palestinians since 1948. 

The report talks about the increasing “challenge of intersectionality” due to “Corbynization” which  “is spreading through segments of the political left” and that “UK-based anti-Israel groups have been inspiring liberal and progressive elite circles worldwide.”

“Corbynization” refers to Britain’s Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn who is a vocal critic of Israel and for decades has been a Palestine solidarity campaigner. He and members of his Labour party have been called anti-Semites for protesting Israel’s brutality towards Palestinians. 

The report also equates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. The later means standing up against Israel’s racist state policies. 


Leaked Documentary: Israel Lobby Uses 'Psychological Warfare' to Sway US Policy, Opinion

The “Corbynization” also affects the U.S. Democratic Party according to the report and hence there is a “great decline” of support for Israel. 

This decline in support for Israel is on the rise as progressive Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib are campaigning for the rights of Palestinian. Their campaign also makes them targets of U.S. President Donald Trump who is an avid supporter of Israel. 

Trump said Monday that the “squad” of AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley “hate Israel with a true and unbridled passion” and “they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.”

However, Trump’s blind support for Israel was not taken well according to the Reut report. Israel’s alliance with white supremacists like Trump or the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban “have driven liberals and young millennials to question whether traditional ties to Israel are deserved or beneficial.” 

The report also analyzed political and social trends among the U.S. Jews and their eroding support for Israel and its Zionist project. Four types of Jews were identified in the report. They range from unquestioning support for Israel and “moderate critics” to “harsh critics” and “radicals.” 

It also outlines ways to win back the youth of the community who “feel deceived because Jewish organizations provided them only a simplistic view of the conflict.”

For example, for the “harsh critics,” the lobbyists should “not seek to transform them into Israel advocates, but to make them less susceptible to anti-Israel influence.”

However, the “radicals” who support the BDS movement should be outrightly delegitimized. 

“The goal of the Jewish community should be to delegitimize Jewish Radicals anti-Zionists [sic] in mainstream progressive circles,” the report said. 

It also urged Jewish communal groups to form own “intersectional allies” to co-opt progressive members of the community. 

They suggested trying to “drive a wedge between ideological adversaries and their solidarity supporters” and to “develop a counter-intellectual narrative, by partnering with key intersectional theorists.”

All these ideas to win back young members of the Jewish community or to delegitimize intersectional solidarity are not new. The Reut group had suggested the same strategies a decade ago. 

Nonetheless, in 2017, a leaked secret report by the same institute and the Anti-Defamation League revealed that the efforts of Israeli lobby to stop the “impressive growth” of the Palestinian solidarity movement had failed despite massive spending.

]]> <![CDATA[Israeli Sniper Shoots Palestinian Boy During Protest]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 13:33:11 -04:00 A 10-year-old Palestinian child is struggling to live after an Israeli sniper shot him Friday in Kafr Qaddem, a village in West Bank. 


Israeli Court Ends 'Racist' Park Entry Ban in Afula

Abdul Rahman Yasser Shteiwi was shot in the head during an anti-settlement protest in his village. He was shot by a live bullet according to doctors who operated on him. 

“He had a penetrating injury in the frontal lobe on the right side. The injury was severe and there are more than 100 fragments,” said the hospital’s head of neurosurgery, Othman Othman.

“This is not a rubber bullet; this is a metal bullet. A rubber bullet will not enter because it does not have a sharp head. This is something that had a sharp head.”

He also said that “over 100 fragments is not normal” as he had seen “many gunshot wounds and they only break into a few pieces.”

It was a routine weekly protest that has taken place every Friday for the past eight years against illegal Jewish settlements and closure of the southern road. As always, after the afternoon prayers, the residents gathered for their march from the town's center to the Israeli settlement of Kedumim. 

“Our protests are always non-violent. We are armed only with signs and flags. At most, sometimes the young men throw stones in response to the soldiers, but that’s it. Nevermore than that,” Murad Shteiwi a resistance leader of the village and the relative of the injured boy told Mondoweiss. 

“But this Friday, they were using live ammunition, and they weren’t just firing it in the air. They were firing it at the people.”

Amid this, the young boy suddenly fell to the ground. “He wasn’t even at the front of the clashes, there were tons of other young men in front of him. But they aimed at the child on purpose and shot him,” Shteiwi recounted saying that there were snipers present who were targetting people.

“The doctors told us that by the way he was shot, and the kind of bullet he was shot with, it is clear that the soldiers’ intention was to kill. Abdul Rahman was not supposed to live,” the resistance committee head said. 

The Israeli military said the soldiers only fired rubber-coated metal bullets but the activists from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) informed of a 5.56 bullet case found on the ground where protesters were standing.

The case was too hot to touch which suggests the use of live ammunition and dozens of more bullet cases were found in the village. 

Shteiwi said the entire village is mourning. Shops are closed and many canceled weddings.

]]> <![CDATA[UNHCR Warns of Rights Violations over US Asylum Policies]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 14:13:26 -04:00 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Office (UNHCR) warned Tuesday that the new asylum application policies by which the United States seeks to stop migrant flow go against international obligations because they highly violate basic rights and freedoms.


Over 39,000 Honduran Migrants Deported From Mexico

"We understand the U.S. asylum system is under significant pressure... However, we are deeply concerned about a measure which will put vulnerable families at risk," said the UNHCR head Filippo Grandi referring to the rejection of asylum requests made by migrants who have reached the U.S. territory without previously presenting an asylum application at a third safe country.

"This measure excessively curtails the right to seek asylum, threatens the right not to suffer a forced return and places the excessive burden of proof on the applicants," Liz Throssell, the OHCHR Spokesperson, explained.

The consequence of the U.S. policy will be "to put at risk the vulnerable people who need international protection and who flee their countries for reasons ranging from poverty to persecution," she added.

This measure will force migrants to seek asylum in Mexico or Guatemala, countries which can hardly be considered safe territories for Hondurans or Salvadorans. If they do not file their applications in such countries, those migrants will be returned by U.S. authorities to Mexico.

"We are concerned because some areas to which asylum seekers are being returned are very violent in Mexico," Throssell commented.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said the new rule goes into effect Tuesday and places "further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the U.S."

The American Civil Liberties Union, however, called the measure "patently unlawful" and vowed to file a lawsuit against it.

In January, President Donald Trump required many asylum-seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico, known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy or the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), with nearly 20,000 people sent back so far. It was not immediately clear how the new rule would affect MPP.

]]> <![CDATA[No Charges for New York Policeman Who Killed Eric Garner]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 12:54:32 -04:00 The New York police officer who put Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold during an attempted arrest in 2014, fueling the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, will not face federal criminal charges, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn said Tuesday.


Cop Who Killed Eric Garner Had 'Chronic History of Complaints'

Garner's death on a sidewalk during an arrest for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, and his gasped final words "I can't breathe" caught on bystander video, played a key role in the rise of the movement decrying excessive use of force by police officers against black men and teens in the United States.

Garner's family immediately blasted the decision clearing Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who put Garner in a prohibited chokehold, in a news conference as a betrayal.

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue confirmed the decision at a news conference in New York's Brooklyn borough on Tuesday.

"The death of Eric Garner was a tragedy," Donoghue said. "And I know that every one of my colleagues who reviewed the video shared the same sentiment. The job of the federal prosecutor, however, is not to let our emotions dictate our decisions."

A lengthy Department of Justice review of the incident did not reach a conclusive determination as to whether Pantaleo willfully committed misconduct, an "essential element" necessary to bring federal charges, a senior department official told reporters at a briefing in Washington.

U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr made the ultimate call not to bring charges, siding with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, who had not wanted to charge Pantaleo, over the department's civil rights division, which had wanted to bring charges, the official said.

The official confirmed that no New York police officer – not just Pantaleo – will face any charges.

Mother: 'Today We Can't Breathe'

After meeting with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, members of Garner's family held a news conference with civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, who decried the decision as "a moral disgrace and judicial malpractice."

"The DOJ has failed us," said Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, adding that she wanted to see Pantaleo fired. "Five years ago, my son said 'I can't breathe' 11 times, and today we can't breathe because they let us down."

Wednesday will mark five years since the incident. A New York grand jury in 2014 declined to charge Pantaleo, who has been assigned to desk duty since Garner's death and faced a disciplinary trial in May at New York City Police Department headquarters.

A departmental judge is due to make her recommendations to New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill, who will then ultimately decide whether to punish Pantaleo. He could lose vacation days or be fired.

The NYPD said its disciplinary process on Pantaleo will not be affected by federal prosecutors' decision not to bring criminal charges.

New York's Police Benevolent Association union welcomed the news.

"Although Mr. Garner's death was an undeniable tragedy, Police Officer Pantaleo did not cause it," PBA President Patrick Lynch said in a statement. "Scapegoating a good and honorable officer, who was doing his job in the manner he was taught, will not heal the wounds this case has caused for our entire city."

The New York City Chief Medical Examiner's office ruled that Garner's death was a homicide induced by "compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police."

Pantaleo's lawyers have argued he did not use a chokehold, but instead used an authorized "seatbelt" hold that slipped as Garner struggled, and that the officer did not cause Garner's death.

In 2015, New York City officials agreed to pay Garner's family an out-of-court settlement of US$5.9 million to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit.

The incident, and other high-profile police killings of Black men and teens in cities including Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, set off a wave of nationwide protests in 2014 and 2015.

Several Democratic contenders for the White House, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, condemned the decisions.

"Years ago, we put our faith in the federal government to act," de Blasio said in a statement. "We won't make that mistake again."

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, a former prosecutor, wrote on Twitter, "This is a miscarriage of justice. ... My heart breaks for the Garner family."

]]> <![CDATA[‘Squad’ Claps Back at Trump over his ‘White Nationalism’]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 11:32:30 -04:00 U.S. Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley held a joint press conference Monday against President Donald Trump’s racist attack on them. 


10 Reasons Why Ilhan Omar Scares US Political Elite

They slammed the president for promoting an “agenda of white nationalism” and urged U.S. citizens to “not take the bait” of the divisive rhetorics. 

Trump has intensified his attacks on the congresswomen of color asking them to leave the country. Over the weekend, he said in a tweet that the four first-term minority congresswomen, known informally in Congress as “the squad,” should “go back” to the “the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

After widespread criticism, he defended his attack on them in an event at White House Monday, saying he was not concerned if people thought his tweets toward them were racist and accused the U.S. lawmakers of hating America.

“As far as I’m concerned if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave,” Trump said.

Three of these high-profile left-wing politicians were born in the U.S., while Ilhan Omar is the only one who arrived in the country as a child after her family fled Somalia's civil war as refugees in 1997, to later become a U.S. citizen in 2000. 

“He’s launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color,” said Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. 

“This is the agenda of white nationalists, whether it is happening in chat rooms, or it is happening on national TV, and now it’s reached the White House garden.”

“This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people that we were sent here with a decisive mandate from our constituents to work on,” said Pressley the first Black woman to be elected to Congress from Massachusetts. 

Despite international outcry, Trump showed no sign of remorse. He was shouting on Twitter against the women while they were holding the press conference.


He also accused Ihan Omar of being an al-Qaeda sympathizer. When asked by a reporter whether she supports the extremist organization, Omar said she would not “dignify” the question with an answer. 

“Every time there is a white supremacist who attacks or there is a white man who kills in a school or in a movie theater, or in a mosque, or in a synagogue, I don’t expect my white community members to respond on whether they love that person or not,” she said saying that “it is time to impeach this president.”

“This president … does not know how to defend his policies and so what he does is attack us personally,” Ocasio-Cortez said adding that she was “not surprised” by his comments. 

“Sadly, this is not the first nor will it be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president,” Tlaib said. “We know this is who he is.”

"I want to tell the children across this country ... that no matter what the president says, this country belongs to you, and it belongs everyone," Ocasio-Cortez said.

The four congresswomen reiterated their promise to work for their constituents and shed light on issues like immigration, caged children at the border, something all of them have been vocal about. 

The latest confrontation between them and the far-right president started after last week the four had a conflict with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Trump tried to use the spat for his political advantage. However, since his attacks, Pelosi took a stand against the president. She announced Monday that the House would formally condemn the “xenophobic” tweets about the “squad.”

“Let me be clear, our caucus will continue to forcefully respond to these disgusting attacks,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. “The House cannot allow the president’s characterization of immigrants to our country to stand. Our Republican colleagues must join us in condemning the president’s xenophobic tweets.”

Pelosi was joined by other Democrats like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamla Harris. Biden slammed Trump for continuing to “spew hateful rhetoric, sow division, and stoke racial tensions for his own political gain.”

Social movements, progressive journalists, activists, all slammed Trump for his comments. 

World leaders like U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and London mayor Sadiq Khan also criticized Trump. 

“The prime minister’s view is that the language was used to refer to those women was completely unacceptable,” said May’s spokesperson. 

Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of London, said he had heard the “go back home” trope frequently in his life, but it had come “from racists and fascists, never form a mainstream politician.” 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “This is not how we do things in Canada.”

Nothing stopped Trump from spewing more hate as he continued his attacks on social media against the congresswomen. His Republican party members were also silent. 

Few Republicans like Susan Collins, a Senator from Maine said that the president's tweets were  “way over the line.” The only African-American Republican Senator Tim Scott referred Said Trump’s tweets used “racially offensive language.”

]]> <![CDATA[Argentina: 'Peoples Summit' Poses Alternatives to Neoliberalism]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 13:13:41 -04:00 The Southern Cone Trade Union Coordinator Center (CCSCS), the Argentine Workers' Central Union (CTA), the Santa Fe Federation of Municipal Workers Trade Unions (Festram) and dozens of South American social organizations began Tuesday the "Peoples Summit for Regional Integration", an event which takes place at the same time as the summit of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) in the city of Santa Fe, Argentina. 


European Union, Mercosur Agree on Draft Free Trade Agreement

"This Summit is a huge step forward for the workers' movement [because] it clearly points to another integration model different from Bolsonaro or Macri's model, which is absolutely functional to large economic groups, those same groups which want to break workers' unions to make them accept labor reform in Argentina," Claudio Leoni, the Festram Secretary-General, said.

In its 2019 edition, the Peoples Summit will focus its debates on the need to generate a regional integration model capable of being different from right-wing proposals promoted by the majority of Mercosur governments.

In order to value local workers and companies, this opposing event will discuss alternatives to free trade policies that benefit only transnational corporations, such as the forthcoming Mercosur-European Union (EU) free trade agreement.

Some Southern Cone congressmen will also be present at the discussions of the issues that mostly concern workers from the Mercosur member countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.​​​​​​

The Industries and Economy Commissions meet to discuss the Mercosur-EU Association Agreement from the perspective of workers.

This year's summit will be held in the Nestor Kirchner hall, a space dedicated to the memory of the late former Argentinean president which is at the Santa Fe municipal workers facilities.

Its participants will be organized in working groups on topics such as work, production and integration, geopolitics and regional sovereignty, rights and resistance against the neoliberal offensive, and realities and challenges of the Latin American integration processes.

At the end of the day, participants will conclude their work by presenting a public document which will be delivered to the Mercosur parliamentarians.

Since the nineties, the Peoples Summits have become a regional reference for the struggle and resistance of Latin American popular organizations against right-wing governments.

While the South American workers hold their event, the Mercosur foreign ministers are preparing the documents that will be revealed at the official summit of Presidents to be held Wednesday.

This event will be attended by Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, Chile's Sebastian Piñera and Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, which is seeking full membership in Mercosur.

]]> <![CDATA[Chile's Walmart Workers End Strike After Winning Pay Raise]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 10:07:35 -04:00 Chilean employees of Walmart-owned companies have ended a six-day strike after winning significant concessions from their respective companies.


Bernie Sanders Slams Walmart Over 'Starvation Wages' at Firm's Shareholder Event

Over 17,000 Workers at three companies owned by U.S. corporation Walmart (Lider, Express de Lider and SuperBodega aCuenta) had been on strike since July 10, and have now returned to work as of midnight Monday.

Walmart has around 400 outlets across the South American country and the strike had paralyzed one of Chile’s largest supermarket groups.

The dispute arose after Walmart announced layoffs as the shops moved to automate numerous functions. Workers demanded retrainings for those losing their jobs, and wage rises for those who would have to fill new functions working the machines.

On the first day of the strike, workers formed pickets outside stores. Jimena Gabiola, a cashier at one of the outlets spoke to teleSUR from the rally calling on customers to also boycott any Walmart products until the workers' demands had been met.

Initially, Walmart denounced the action and the "illegal blockades" carried out by workers protesting. However, as the strike dragged on, bosses were forced back to the negotiating table.

On Monday night, union leader Juan Moreno announced the end of the strike as workers had won a 5.1 percent wage hike, and an agreement from the company that they would support retraining programs for those being made redundant.

Walmart has been criticized in various countries for labor exploitation with U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently condemning the giant for paying "starvation wages".

Neither is this the first time Walmart workers have taken action. In 2017 employees across the U.S. went on strike on ‘Black Friday’. Many of Walmart’s employees are forced to rely on food stamps and other government support despite working full time.

]]> <![CDATA[Police Injure 14 in Protests Against Puerto Rico Governor Rossello]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 10:31:45 -04:00 In an unsuccessful attempt to discourage demonstrations in San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, the police Monday harshly cracked down on protesters who are demanding the resignation of the Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello, leaving at least 14 injured and 3 arrested.


Protests in Major US Cities Call For Puerto Rico's Governor to Resign

The area surrounding La Fortaleza, the seat of the Puerto Rican government located in Old San Juan, was the scene of strong clashes, involving the launching of incendiary objects, pavement stones, while the police responded with tear gas.

Given that riots have intensified over the last two days, Rossello could not enter the government headquarters, as confirmed by the Undersecretary of Interior Erik Rolon, who also announced that the Governor will not resign.

Police were urgently mobilized towards Rossello's lodge in Cayey, 54 kilometers from San Juan, where people also began protesting by burning trash at the access road to the governor's residence.

At a press conference with Rolon, Police Chief Henry Escalera warned that his institution, which has used the "level of force it should have used," will defend democracy "to the last drop of blood."

Over the last weekend, there have been protests every day in front of La Fortaleza, some of which ended with violent incidents and altercations.

Demonstrations have been convened by organizations such as the Teachers' Association, the Puerto Rican Workers' Central, the General Union of Workers, the Victory Citizen Movement and the Workers' Union of the Electrical and Irrigation Industry.

This is not Venezuela or Nicaragua. It is Puerto Rico where thousands protest at the capital against corruption. International media networks are silent about what happens on the island.

"We're not going to stop until we see him resign" or "If Ricky does not leave, we're going to take him out", were some of the slogans people shouted.

Puerto Rican artists widely known internationally such as Residente and Bad Bunny have already announced that they will demonstrate Wednesday as part of a new rally to request the resignation of Rossello.

The new wave of protests increased in intensity due to the full publication of 889 pages of Telegram messages in which the governor and his advisors ("the brothers") make homophobic, sexist and derogatory comments against opposition journalists and political leaders.

People living in the streets around La Fortaleza and historical places such as the Cathedral of San Juan awoke Thuesday to painted graffitis reflecting discontent towards the whole Puerto Rican political class.

Public outrage increased when the House of Representatives president Carlos Mendez announced Sunday that the parliament will not initiate a process for the removal of Governor Rossello, arguing that the Justice Department is the institution that should analyze the possible crimes that the leaked Telegram chats could imply.

]]> <![CDATA[Iran's Supreme Leader Threatens to Respond to UK's 'Piracy']]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 07:24:03 -04:00 Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic would respond to Great Britain’s ‘piracy’ over the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar.


Unlike US, UK Foreign Secretary Wants To Save Iran Nuclear Deal

The religious leader called on Great Britain to immediately release the Iranian oil tanker and end their hostilities towards the Islamic Republic.

 “Evil Britain commits piracy and steals our ship ... and gives it a legal appearance. Iran and those who believe in our system will not leave such evil deeds unanswered,” Khamenei said in remarks broadcast on television.

Khamenei, along with many Iranian politicians, have condemned Great Britain’s move to seize the Grace 1 oil tanker, which was allegedly sailing to Syria.

Iran has denied Great Britain’s claims that the Grace 1, a former flag ship of Panama, was destined for a Syrian port.

The Islamic Republic is one of Syria’s closest allies and their largest supplier of oil. However, since the U.S. and E.U. imposed sanctions against Syria, the Islamic Republic has been unable to make their regular deliveries.

Furthermore, Iran’s oil tankers have been under close watch by the U.S. and the Western European powers, which is why the Grace 1 was quickly seized once it attempted to sail past Gibraltar from its nearby Strait.

Making the situation even worse is the fact that tensions between the United States and Iran are at a decade-long high. The increased tensions have been from a number of factors, including the U.S. administration’s decision to walk away from the 2015 Nuclear Agreement and then reimpose sanctions against Iran.

]]> <![CDATA[US Jeopardizes Peace Talks With North Korea Over New Drills]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 05:45:11 -04:00 The U.S. may have hurt its chances at convincing North Korea to abandon their nuclear program following Washington’s decision to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea.


Australian Student Expelled From North Korea For 'Spying Acts'

According to North Korea’s official news agency, U.S. President Donald Trump revitalized efforts to persuade them to give up their nuclear weapons last month when he arranged a spur-of-the-moment meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on the border between the two Koreas.

The U.S. President said shortly after the meeting that he reached an agreement with North Korea to resume their working-level talks. The negotiations are expected in coming weeks.

But a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman cast doubt on that, saying the United States and South Korea were pressing ahead with exercises called Dong Maeng this summer, which he called a “rehearsal for war”.

“We will make a decision regarding working-level talks with the United States while watching U.S. moves going forward,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

The exercises are expected in August.

North Korea has for years denounced military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

“It is clear that the exercises are a real-time training, rehearsal for war to militarily crush our republic,” the North Korean spokesman said in a separate statement, adding that Trump has reaffirmed at last month’s meeting with Kim that the exercises would be halted.

Trump, in his first meeting with Kim in Singapore in June last year, said he would stop exercises, after the two leaders agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to improve ties.

While the main annual South Korean-U.S. exercises have been stopped, they still hold smaller drills.

Since the Singapore summit, North Korea has not tested any nuclear weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles, though it tested new short-range missiles in May.

“As the United States is failing to follow through on its own commitment, the reasoning for us to remain in the agreement is fading away,” the North Korean spokesman said, referring to a declaration the two leaders agreed to at their Singapore summit.

]]> <![CDATA[Assange Masterminded Hilary Clinton Leaks in 2016: CNN]]> Tue, 16 Jul 2019 04:11:10 -04:00 CNN released a new report on Monday that alleged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange masterminded the 2016 Hilary Clinton leaks.


Irish MEPs Wear ‘Free Assange’ T-Shirts in EU Parliament

The documents are said to have originated from security companies conducting surveillance on Assange on behalf of Ecuadorian officials. The cited documents were not published by CNN.

According to CNN, the WikiLeaks founder sought asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to escape rape charges in Sweden. The report said Assange enjoyed close coordination with Ecuadorean senior official, including the former foreign minister Ricardo Patino.

In the CNN report, Assange allegedly used his relationships with the Ecuadorean government to force embassy staff to install a better internet infrastructure and allow numerous non-diplomatic visits to grant his WikiLeaks colleagues immunity from searches.

The report alleges that Assange, despite his powers, occasionally conducted meetings in women’s bathrooms, in order to escape surveillance.

According to documents CNN claims to have in its possession, in June 2016, the Ecuadorian embassy in London turned into a beehive of operations against Clinton, the Democratic candidate, as the WikiLeaks founder had some 75 visits, including those with Russian nationals, who, of course, had “Kremlin ties,” according to the US news outlet.

One visitor is named “Yana Maximova”, and no other information on her is provided. Another is Nikolai Bogachikhin, RT’s London division head. In 2012, Julian Assange hosted a TV show on RT.

At the time, WikiLeaks allegedly established contact with “online personas” that US Special Counsel Robert Mueller believes are Russian hackers on the Military Intelligence Directorate payroll. Following the alleged contact, Assange demanded that the embassy beef up his Internet connection, CNN says.

The surveillance footage, which CNN says was provided by security companies, show a man wearing a balaclava, a large backpack and shades enter the embassy on July 18, handing - presumably - a flash drive to an embassy guard. On the same day, WikiLeaks allegedly informed the purported Russian hackers that they had received information and were preparing to release it soon. The visit caused security companies to raise red flags, but the guard kept his job, the report says. The actual footage is not included in the report.

“It's not clear if these incidents are related, and the contents of the package delivered to the embassy are unknown,” the CNN report says.

According to CNN, data released by WikiLeaks turned the Democratic Party into a “chaotic mess,” as thousands of Clinton emails revealed how the Democratic National Committee conspired to undermine Bernie Sanders in favor of Clinton. Later leaks of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta also revealed potentially embarrassing details on the Democratic nominee, including transcripts of her closed-door Wall Street speeches, which are believed by some to have buried her chances of winning.

The CNN report says that shortly after the publication of the Clinton emails, U.S. officials rolled out an ultimatum to Ecuador demanding that the nation cut Assange’s ability to influence the elections. In October 2016, Assange was subsequently cut off from the Web and from his phone. On October 18, Assange overrode a visit ban issued by then-Ambassador Carlos Abad Ortiz, resulting in two WikiLeaks staffers who had been granted with search immunity, to remove a box containing approximately 100 hard drives from the embassy in the middle of the night. This late-night visit also made security companies raise alarms to Ecuador, the CNN report says.

According to CNN, US intelligence agencies “have said from the very beginning” that WikiLeaks received the stolen emails from the Russian government.

“But the suspects are all living safely in Russia, so the U.S. will likely never publicly produce a smoking gun or prove in court that Russia worked with WikiLeaks,” the report added.

]]> <![CDATA[Anarchist Activist Killed for Fighting US 'Concentration Camps']]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 23:03:40 -04:00 United States Anarchist and anti-fascist activist, Will Van Spronsen, was killed Saturday by the police in the state of Washington while trying to take direct action against a migration concentration camp, by setting up migrants deportation buses on fire. 


Small Scale Immigration Raids in US as Migrants Hide in Fear

The killing occurred a few hours after a peaceful demonstration against the migrants’ detention camp when four police officers shot the 69-year-old campaigner in the head. Van Spronsen is likely the first person to be killed trying to directly fight against detention facilities and to help migrants.

Anarchists from the U.S. and friends of Van Spronsen paid him tribute on Monday saying that the long-time activist was a kind and loving person as well as a militant devoted to his ideas, always fighting to help those who have no way to defend themselves or who are completely vulnerable in the face of State brutality.

They also stated not knowing what had exactly happened as the unique information they got were from the police which, they said is “notoriously corrupt and unreliable sources for such a narrative.”

“The story that we do have is that Will attempted to set fire to several vehicles, outbuildings and a propane tank outside the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma which houses hundreds of immigrants awaiting hearings or deportations,” adding that “he successfully set one vehicle on fire and then exchanged gunfire with Tacoma police officers who fatally shot him. He was pronounced dead on the scene.”

Another statement made by La Resistencia, a group led by undocumented migrants and U.S. citizens based in Tacoma and dedicated at fighting the detention and deportation of migrants, noted that “Van Spronsen actions sadly reflect the level of desperation people across this country feel about the government’s outrageous violence against immigrants, which includes the use of detention centers to cage migrants both currently living in the US and those seeking asylum.”

The private immigration prison run by GEO Group, a company specializing in privatized corrections and detention, on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is known for frequently falling short on human rights and has seen various protests demanding for its closure ​​​​.

The center, along with deporting migrants, also detains parents who have been separated from their children under Donald Trump’s migration policies.

“We are grief-stricken, inspired and enraged by what occurred early this morning. ICE imprisons, tortures and deports hundreds of thousands of people and the brutality and scale of their harm are only escalating. We need every form of resistance, solidarity, and passion to fight against ICE and the borders that they defend,” a statement from the U.S. anarchists read. 

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Bars Asylum Seekers at US Southern Border]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 22:32:42 -04:00 The United States Departments of Justice and Homeland Security issued Monday a joint rule that blocks all migrants from applying for asylum at the southern border, requiring them first to attempt international protection in a safe third country.

Small Scale Immigration Raids in US as Migrants Hide in Fear

It “will affect all those who reach our southern land border but may have fled from anywhere in the world. It does nothing to fix our broken migration system,” a DHS official told BuzzFeed. Designated an “interim final rule,” the measure goes into effect on Tuesday.

According to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which is a binding document for all the United Nations members, a country like the U.S. can refuse to grant refuge to asylum seekers and send them to a country that is considered "safe" to their lives. Canada struck a pact of those characteristics back in 2002.

This means the North American nation can shift the burden onto other countries potentially sending Salvadorian and Honduran asylum seekers to Guatemala or Mexico. However, those governments have already refused to become a ‘safe third country’. 

On Sunday, Guatemala's Constitutional Court granted a provisional ruling preventing that the country would be turned into a safe third country for migrants, taking the power from right-wing President Jimmy Morales to sign such order. 

While, back in June, as trade talks related to migration were held between the U.S. and Mexico, Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard categorically rejected the possibility that Mexico would subscribe to a safe third country asylum pact with the U.S. 

Although it has intensified its anti-migration policies, deploying over 20,000 soldiers to both its northern and southern borders to curb migration. The Mexican government reported that from December 2018 to May 2019 about 80,000 people have been arrested and deported to their countries of origin.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the new rule “patently unlawful” and vowed to file a lawsuit against it, while a host of experts also questioned its legality. 

While the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it was “deeply concerned” as the rule would “put vulnerable families at risk” and undermine international efforts to find a coordinated solution.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently detaining more than 50,000 migrants a day, most of them are asylum seekers protected by international law, escaping political persecution, gang and drug-related violence. 

]]> <![CDATA[Ecuador: Workers, Farmers Launch National Strike Against Gov’t]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 21:18:16 -04:00 Ecuador’s National Campesino Movement (Fecaol) and workers’ unions have launched a five-day national strike Monday to protest President Lenin Moreno’s neoliberal government, as massive manifestations in the country’s capital and major cities are expected on Tuesday.

IMF Approves Second Million-Dollar Loan Installment to Ecuador

"The national strike is strengthened: Campesinos, Indigenous people, Afro-descendants, retail traders, health workers, electricians, will come out to this day of struggle against this neoliberal government and against the interference of the International Monetary Fund," the president of Fecaol, Richard Intriago, said Sunday. 

The nationwide strike began on July 15 as protestors blocked roads in Guayaquil, Cuenca, among other cities in the central region of the country. The organizers plan for the intensity and amount of demonstrations to increase and last until Friday, July 19. 

As part of the week-long national strike, Guayaquil-Daule highway was closed down. This is just the beginning of a week of actions against the neoliberal policies of this government.

The organizations that have joined the strike emphatically denounce the path Moreno’s administration has taken in order to fulfill the IMF’s conditionalities, as part of the “recipe” used by the neoliberal model. 

Some of these devices include nationwide austerity measures, massive layoffs, the proposal to raise four points to the national sale tax from 12 to 16 percent, a private sector-led proposal to eliminate workers’ rights and bring about labor flexibilization, privatization of public goods and services, and dismissing the Constitution to deal with transnational companies, mainly in mining

“The social struggle revives as the country rises in unity with a Campesino and worker call of despair and hope, for our fields, for our food, for our country, we march without fear as the triumph will be for our children,” Intriago added.

As transport and trucking unions set to join the strike, the Fecaol leadership denounced on Monday that one of the transporters’ leaders Omar Delgado was arrested without charges.

A large scale protest has been called for Tuesday in Quito and elsewhere in the country, various sectors of civil society are expected to join as the day progresses. 

]]> <![CDATA[The Forum of Puebla: A New Latin American Progressive Space]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 21:29:30 -04:00 30 political leaders representing 10 Latin American countries gathered on Saturday in Puebla, capital of the state of Puebla in Mexico, as a part of a project called ProgressiveMind (ProgresivaMente), aimed at uniting progressive forces from the continent. 


US Labels Anti-Pakistan Baloch Army a ‘Terrorist’ Organization

Ex-member of the Mexican Congress and current Governor of Puebla, Luis Miguel Barbosa Huerta hosted the meeting which was attended by prominent leaders including member of the Uruguayan Socialist Party, Daniel Martinez, former Colombian President Ernesto Samper, former Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, Miguel Insulza, leader of the Mexican Regeneration Movement, Yeidckol Polevnsky, and former Head of Government of Mexico City and a founder of the Party of the Democratic Revolution, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas.

The conference lasted two days and included issues related to the future of the continent.

Huerta stressed at the inauguration that a progressive movement as the one they ought to create, should be "honest, transparent, fiscally prudent and close to the people."

"We must be able to provide effective ideas to put an end to the dramatic hurdle of migration, and most importantly, we must create conditions of equality to achieve the well-being of our peoples," he said.

In Puebla, gathered in the forum "ProgresivaMente", a new political initiative, with political leaders from Latin America, to analyze a strategy of action and to give "a new progressive impulse" to the region. 
To reach their goals, the 30 signatories announced they will set up a number of initiatives to eradicate hunger, ensure education of quality, public health for all, and the protection of human rights among other priorities.

The group wrote in a communiqué published on its website, that the region is experiencing a new wave of neoliberal governments, only interested in promoting the interests and privileges of a certain elite, when people’s social and economic situations keep on worsening along with the democracy, the respect of the law, the human rights and the environment. 

“We invite progressives to build a new common project that will allow us to return to our peoples the hopes for a fairer, more supportive, more egalitarian society,” the group stated, proposing to involve all the sectors of society to question the status quo, and to denounce the policies of the current far-right and right-wing governments.

It recalled that a war has been unleashed in recent years against progressive leaders of Latin America, taking as example the case of the latest revelations about the connivance between judge and prosecutors, to incarcerate ex-President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Latin American leaders say Lula's arrest disrespects the leader who fought against poverty.

"Fascist right-wing governments have gained many Latin American countries, so I think it's time for us to work together in an organized way and to close our ranks," Polevnsky said at the closing of the forum.

Concerning the administration of the project, which will take up its duties from August 1, Huerta said it will have a "leftist, progressive profile” adding that it “does not mean entering into conflict with other sectors of the society.”

The event was also attended by Chilean filmmaker and politician Marco Enríquez Ominami, former presidential candidate of Brazil Fernando Haddad, as well as Gabriela Rivadeneira, President of the National Assembly of Ecuador under former President Rafael Correa’s mandate.

]]> <![CDATA[US: Prominent Civil Rights Activist Killed in Louisiana]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 21:31:34 -04:00 United States police in the state of Louisiana are investigating the murder of Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a prominent civil rights activist and founder of an African-American history museum, whose body was found in the trunk of her car in Baton Rouge, officials reported Sunday.

Trump Says 'The Squad' Hates the US, Asks Them to Leave Again

Sadie Roberts-Joseph, 75, was killed by "traumatic asphyxia, including suffocation" before her body was found in the trunk of her car in the state capital last week, according to a coroner's report released Monday.

The remains of her body were discovered on Friday afternoon about 4.8 kilometers from her home near the Southern University and A&M College campus.

Authorities were led to the victim by an anonymous caller who reported a body in the trunk of a vehicle, Baton Rouge Police Department Sergeant L'Jean McKneely stated. Police declined to give any further details of the investigation, although a message posted by the department on its Facebook page made clear they are treating Roberts-Joseph's death as a homicide.

They also paid tribute to the activist in a different Facebook post, recalling the opportunities they had to work with her. "From assisting with her bicycle give away at the African American Museum to working with the organization she started called CADAV (Community Against Drugs and Violence) Ms. Sadie is a treasure to our community, she will be missed by BRPD and her loss will be felt in the community she served."

In addition to founding the Baton Rouge African-American History Museum, which opened in 2001, Roberts-Joseph launched the non-profit group CADAV.

According to a local newspaper in Baton Rouge, she organized the city's annual Juneteenth festival commemorating the U.S. abolition of slavery by President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which was belatedly announced in the state of Texas on June 19, 1865, after the end of the Civil War.

Although she never held public office, Roberts-Joseph ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1996 and for lieutenant governor of Louisiana in 1999.

One of her 11 siblings, Beatrice Johnson, told The Advocate she last saw her sister on Friday when Roberts-Joseph stopped by with some cornbread batter she had mixed and wanted to bake at her sister's home because her own oven "went out."

"The bread is still there," Johnson was quoted as saying. "She never came back to get it."

]]> <![CDATA[Hunger on the Rise Worldwide As 821 Million Affected, Says UN]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 21:01:42 -04:00 More than 821 million people suffered from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition worldwide last year, the United Nations reported Monday - the third year in a row that the number has risen.

Rural Colombia and Central America Facing Hunger and Poverty: FAO

After decades of decline, food insecurity began to increase in 2015 and reversing the trend is one of the 2030 targets of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

But getting to a world where no one is suffering from hunger by then remains an "immense challenge," the report said.

"To safeguard food security and nutrition, it is critical to already have in place economic and social policies to counteract the effects of adverse economic cycles when they arrive, while avoiding cuts in essential services, such as health care and education, at all costs," it said.

The authors said a "structural transformation" was needed to include the poorest people in the world, a move they said would require "integrating food security and nutrition concerns into poverty reduction efforts" while tackling gender inequality and the exclusion of certain social groups.

Malnutrition remains widespread in Africa, where around 20 percent of the population is affected, and in Asia where more than 12 of people experience it. In Latin America and the Caribbean, seven percent of people are affected.

Adding the number of people suffering from famine to those hit by food insecurity gives a total of more than two billion.

But 8 percent of them also live in North America or Europe, the United Nations said, urging governments to “look beyond hunger.” For the first time people in such areas are affected by “moderate food insecurity” as well as outright hunger.

“We need to look beyond hunger,” said Cindy Holleman, senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the report’s editor.

“If we just focus on hunger, we’re going to be missing a lot of the growing problems we’re seeing.”

Moderate food insecurity affects people who have had to reduce the quality or quantity of what they eat due to lack of money or other resources.

It can lead to obesity as well as stunting - a condition that permanently affects children’s mental and physical development.

“Governments are very much oriented to the production side. They believe that if there is food available, people will eat. In a way, that’s not true,” Jose Graziano da Silva told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We are not looking at the distribution, the markets, the behaviour of the people, the culture of the people.”

The new data reflects the fact that there are now more obese people in the world than hungry ones - although it also shows that the number of hungry people increased in 2018 for the third year running.

Hunger is on the rise in most of Africa, in parts of the Middle East and in Latin America and the Caribbean, the report said.

The FAO said current efforts were insufficient to meet the goal of halving the number of children whose growth is stunted by malnutrition by 2030.

Around 149 million children currently suffer from hunger-related growth delays.

At the same time, the report notes that obesity and excess weight are both on the rise in all regions, with school-age children and adults particularly affected.

]]> <![CDATA[Italy Seizes Air-To-Air Missile, Guns in Raids on Neo-Nazis]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 20:45:34 -04:00 Italian police have seized Monday a large arsenal of weapons, including an air-to-air missile, in raids on neo-Nazi sympathizers.

Italy Shuts Down Europe's Once Biggest Migrant Center

"During the operation, an air-to-air missile in perfect working order and used by the Qatari army was seized," police said of the 245-kilogram (540-pound) Matra missile. They also found automatic assault rifles that they described as "latest generation" among the cache.

Three men were arrested, including Fabio Del Bergiolo, 50, a former candidate for the neo-fascist Forza Nuova party, whose home was found to contain a huge stash of arms as well as neo-Nazi propaganda and Hitler memorabilia. Elite police forces searched properties across northern Italy based on intel. 

The other arrests were of a Swiss, 42, and an Italian, 51, accused of holding and marketing the missile, which was found by the security forces at a warehouse near the small Rivanazzano Terme airport in the northern Pavia province.

The 3.54 meter-long missile was made in France and Del Bergiolo had been hoping to sell it for 470,000 euros (US$529,000), according to Italian media, who cited Police reports on the suspects' conservations with contacts on the WhatsApp messaging network.

The Mantra Super 530F is a modernized version of the R530 missile that went into service in 1980, and has a range of 25 kilometers, with an explosive charge of 30 kilos. And even though, the one found was "without explosive charge" it could still be armed by people specialized in the field.

"It is extremely dangerous and risky to turn it into a missile to fire from the ground, unless you have good engineers and equipment," a missile expert who asked not to be named told AFP.​​​​​​​ 

The arms were primarily from Austria, Germany, and the United States. Among them were 26 guns, 20 bayonets, 306 gun parts, including silencers and rifle scopes, and more than 800 bullets.

"This is a significant seizure, with few precedents in Italy," said Turin police commissioner Giuseppe De Matteis.

]]> <![CDATA[Protests in US Cities Call For Puerto Rico's Governor to Resign]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 19:17:18 -04:00 Puerto Rican organizations from the diaspora called for protests in the United States cities of New York, Washington D.C. and Orlando, demanding the immediate resignation of the island’s Governor, Ricardo Rossello, after a major report revealed on June 13 that he led a smear campaign against his opposition, using racist and misogynist remarks.


Puerto Rican Activist Unfolds Banner from Roof, Gets Arrested

The first protest was organized by the Boricua Independence Front (Frente Independista Boricua) and took place Monday afternoon in the neighborhood of Union Square in New York.

"We ask for the immediate resignation of Ricardo Rossello and his entire government for corruption and specifically, in the case of the governor, for being misogynist," said Rafael Agosto Miranda, spokesman for the left-wing Front, which aims at obtaining political independence for the nation.

Another demonstration will be held Tuesday in front of the offices of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) in Washington D.C. by the Boricuas United in the Diaspora (Boricuas Unidos en la Diaspora), a group fighting for social change in Puerto Rico, 

A third protest is also expected to gather demonstrators on Tuesday afternoon, in front of the PRFAA offices in Orlando (Florida).

On Saturday, an 889-page document, published by the non-profit journalism group Center for Investigative Journalism, was released and revealed how the governor, along with other high-ranking officials manipulated public opinion about Rossello's administration through mass media, creating a “troll network” to discredit negative press coverage and criticism from opposition leaders.

The report also shows how the team sent messages through Telegram between late 2018 until January 20 of this year which included sexual, misogynistic and homophobic comments from Rossello and other members of the chat group. Journalists were also targeted, and Benjamin Torres Gotay from a widely-read newspaper on the island and lawyer John Mudd were both referred to as “c**ksuckers”, according to El Nuevo Dia. 

The governor has been dismissing calls for his resignation that began earlier this week. Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin put in his resignation Saturday evening, saying it was a “moral obligation.” 

Not only is the governor is accused of a smear campaign against the opposition, but Wednesday, a pair of his ex-senior administration officials were arrested and charged with fraud for abusing federal work contracts from the Department of Education and the Health Insurance Administration (ASES). According to reports, the three corruption cases amount to US$15.5 million in stolen state funds. 

]]> <![CDATA[Peru: Farmers Launch Indefinite Strike Against Mining Project]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 17:56:04 -04:00 Peruvian farmers from the Tambo Valley in the central region of Arequipa began an indefinite strike Monday to protest the government's approval to initiate construction of a major open-pit mining project known as ‘Tia Maria’, granted to United States mining corporation, Southern Copper.

Peruvian Gov´t Approves Open-Pit Mining Project Amid Opposition

“Agro yes, mining no,” was chanted by hundreds of local farmers who took to the streets in order to defend about 1,300 hectares of cropland threatened by the project, which in turn employ about 25,000 workers from the surrounding area, according to reports from teleSUR’s correspondent. 

In the municipality of Cocachacra, the closest to the project and the epicenter of large protests that halted the construction in 2011 and 2015, transport service was suspended, as hundreds of local farmers blocked the Panamerican highway and gather in the town’s center. 

"We believe that we must support the request of farmers, mayors and the regional government itself in the sense that the nullity of the construction license must be decreed,"  left-wing Broad Front (Frente Amplio) congressman Humberto Morales said, as he joined other legislators from his party in the demonstrations.  

Protests against the mining company Tia Maria reached the Panamerican Highway at this moment.

The copper mining project has been categorically rejected by farmers of the central region of Tambo and by the mayors of the Islay province in the south of the country, amid fears for the consequences that open-pit mining will have on agriculture and more generally on the environment and freshwater sources. 

The release of chemical substances such as cyanide, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur dioxide, can cause great changes in the environment of the region destroying forests and polluting water key to agriculture in the region. Sound pollution resulting from mining operations can also affect the population and wildlife. 

Last week, the mayors of Islay and the farmers of the Tambo Valley refused to talk with Peru's Prime Minister, Salvador del Solar and demanded to meet with the President of the country, Martin Vizcarra, yet did not receive a positive response.

On Monday, they sent a letter to Vizcarra to express their apprehension and displease with his administration’s decision. 

According to energy sector experts, the construction license had to be approved this month before the company’s environmental permit expires. If it does the company would have to ask for another permit, restarting the complicated and long approval process, meaning another waiting period of several months until the government reviews a new environmental impact study.

The corporation has spent years waiting for the construction license that past governments refused to give after the deadly protests that first derailed the project eight years ago. The mine is expected to produce 120,000 tons of high-grade copper per year for 18 years, with an investment of US$ 1.4 billion. 

]]> <![CDATA[Over 39,000 Honduran Migrants Deported From Mexico]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 18:36:58 -04:00 Over 39 400 Hondurans were deported from Mexico, from October 2018 to the date, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 Two Honduran Vessels Wreck at Sea, 27 People Killed

Statistics released by the Consular and Migratory Observatory of Honduras reported that over 60 000 Hondurans have been sent back to the Central American nation, 43 percent higher than the same period of 2018.

In statements to the press, the head of the General Directorate of Migrant Protection, Liza Medrano, explained that most of the deportees reached Mexico through migrant caravans and the figure could increase as a result of Donald Trump´s administration raids.

Referring to this, Deputy Foreign Minister Nelly Jerez informed that the consular service of Honduras is available 24/7 for all those citizens requiring protection and advice.

While Honduras is preparing some conditions to the arrival of migrants who may eventually be returned to Honduras after being caught in the immigration raids, the US government holds a strong stance.

On Monday, in a new attempt to reduce migration flow at the Mexico-USA border, the United States announced that it will not grant asylum to migrants, mainly those from Central America, who did not request it before in a safe third country, according to the US Departments of Justice and of Homeland Security. 'A foreigner entering or attempting to enter the United States through the southern border after failing to apply for protection in a third country outside of their countries of citizenship, nationality or last habitual legal residence that has been en route to the United States is eligible for asylum', according to the new order published in the Federal Register.

At present, however, the United States only has a specific treaty in this respect, recognizing Canada as the 'third safe country'.

]]> <![CDATA[Bolivia Works to Make Femicides Crimes Against Humanity]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 19:19:47 -04:00 Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Monday new measures meant to address gender violence and femicides in the country, planning to label them as crimes against humanity.

Evo Gives Free Modern Farming Equipment to Bolivian Campesinos

After meeting with the women's defense cabinet, Morales told reporters that the new plan was adopted, expressing concern over the more than 70 femicides reported so far in 2019.

He said the issue was a "national priority" and urged Bolivians to help eradicate the murders of women based on their gender - often because their partners or ex-partners culturally consider them their "property" and believe they have a right to life and death on their partners.

One of the measures the president announced consists of declaring femicides as crimes against humanity. He suggested the implementation of an "international treaty" to address properly this "plague" across the world.

He also announced more budget allocated to guarantee protection to women, to promote a gender-equality culture in the country's schools, funded by a tax on fuel. 

The plan also opens new partnerships between police and prosecutors in order to address the high impunity rates related to these crimes.

"Together we can address this tragedy that causes a lot of harm to humanity," said Morales.

This year, Morales' government set up a special women’s defense cabinet to counter violence against women and children and empower women, composed of seven ministries; in addition to the Plurinational Service for Women and Despatriarcalization, called "Ana Maria Romero" named after famous late journalist, activist and human rights defender Ana Maria Romero de Campero.

Bolivia has implemented several laws to protect women, including the Comprehensive Law 348 to guarantee women a life free of violence, and Law 243 against Harassment and Political Violence against Women, but they have been proven difficult to put into practice.

Morales also announced a new package of measures in March, including a bill to modify criminal definitions of rape and homicide, promote reorganization of courts and allow feminist groups to accompany criminal proceedings.

]]> <![CDATA[Trump Says 'The Squad' Hates the US, Asks Them to Leave Again]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 16:28:01 -04:00 The United States President Donald Trump Monday defended his attacks against four Democratic congresswomen, saying he was not concerned if people thought his tweets toward them were racist and accused the U.S. lawmakers of hating America.


Nancy Pelosi 'Salty' as Progressive Congresswomen Vote Against Right-wing Border Bill

“As far as I’m concerned if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave,” Trump said about congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley at an event at the White House. 

The event was meant to highlight U.S. manufacturing, with Trump viewing boats, motorcycles and other products that were made in the United States, but his comments about the lawmakers overshadowed the event.

Trump was criticized widely for his comments. The outgoing Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May also slammed him. 

“The prime minister’s view is that the language was used to refer to those women was completely unacceptable,” said May’s spokesperson. However, all the criticism did not seem to deter the U.S. President as he doubled down on his attack.

“If you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, very simply: you can leave,” he said. “You can leave right now. I don’t know who’s going to miss ‘em.”

Asked if he was concerned that some people viewed his tweets as racist or that white supremacists had found common cause with him, Trump said it did not. “It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me,” Trump said.​​​​​​​

Over the weekend Trump said in a tweet that the four first-term minority congresswomen, known informally in Congress as “the squad,” should “go back” to the “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

He also wrote on Twitter asking them to apologize to the U.S., Israel for their “foul language.” ​​​​​​​

The four representatives are vocal supporters of Palestinian rights​​​​​​​. They are also vocal about issues like immigration, caged children in the border, and other progressive subjects and openly critical of Trump’s administration.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[Venezuelan Delegation Arrives in Barbados to Continue Dialouge]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 14:47:44 -04:00 The Venezuelan delegation arrived in Barbados Monday to continue the negotiations with the spokesperson of the country’s opposition. 


Venezuela: US Trying to Destroy Political Dialogue in Barbados

Jorge Rodríguez, the Vice President of Communication, Tourism, and Culture of Venezuela informed about their arrival on Twitter. 

“We have arrived at generous Barbados to continue the dialogue of peace. Together with Pope Francis, we hope that all of us will commit our efforts to the construction of a peaceful mechanism for the settlement of disputes and the aggression against our worthy people will be deactivated,” he wrote. 

He also said that the presence of Pope Francis at the negotiating table will help in solving the difficulties between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. 

The Venezuelan official also indicated that they trust in the facilitation of the Government of Norway and thanked the hospitality of the people and Government of Barbados.

The talks come after the self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaido has attempted several U.S.-backed coups since late January. 

On July 8, delegates from the government and the Venezuelan opposition arrived in Barbados to continue with the peace dialogue which began in Norway on May 14, a process whose main purpose is achieving a peaceful solution to the political impasse in the South American country.​​​​​​​

]]> <![CDATA[China Reports High Economic Growth of 6.3% ]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 14:41:17 -04:00 Despite the US trade war, China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday that the country has met its growth targets after recording a 6.3 percent rise in GDP and an 8.8 percent rise in average disposable incomes. 


Chinese VP Says World Cannot Shut China Out

Analysts awaited the publication of growth figures to see if U.S. sanctions and tariff war would hinder China’s ability to reach the government’s official growth targets, which were a 6 percent rise in GDP for the first half of 2019.

Some of the country’s strongest growth areas are high-tech manufacturing which has grown by 9 percent , production of low-energy cars and solar batteries which rose by 34.6 percent and 20.1 percent respectively during the same 6 month period.

The 6.3 percent figure is far higher than Western countries. Those within the Eurozone for example, reported an average growth of just 0.4% in the first quarter of 2019, in that same period China reached 6.4%.

Nevertheless, Chinese officials hope for much stronger growth, blaming tensions with the US and the slow growth globally for the ‘downward pressure’ on the global economy.

Speaking to state media on Monday, Cong Yi, an economics professor at Tianjin University said that “China's consumption power, driven by strong spending demand from Chinese people, will continue to be a stabilizer for the country's economic growth.”

China has had a number of trade conflicts with the U.S. which has resulted in the Trump administration placing punitive tariffs on Chinese goods, there have also been limited economic sanctions, such as Trump’s announcement that U.S. firms cannot work with China’s flagship telecom firm Huawei. Some analysts have said that these moves are attempts by the U.S. to stifle China’s economic rise.


]]> <![CDATA[Blockade Forces Venezuelan Kids To Leave Argentinian Hospital]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 14:02:02 -04:00 The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo organization issued a statement in which they expressed  their concern and rejection at the fact that Venezuelan children are being forced out of the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, as a consequence of the U.S. blockade of Venezuelan funds coming from the state oil company PDVSA and its subsidiary company Citgo. The blockade has seized Venezuelan funds and has made almost impossible for the government to cover the high cost of medical services outside the country. 


The Crimes of US Blockade Against Venezuela

For the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the economic and commercial blockade “has an impact on the cease of these medical treatments, the expel of the relatives of the patients from the houses they were living on and the decision of kicking the Venezuelan kids out of the Italian hospital of Buenos Aires. All which implies a very serious risk to the health of these patients”. 

For example, "Isabella, a 22 month old Venezuelan toddler, awaits  a liver transplant in the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her condition is really fragile and it could get worse if the government of Venezuela can’t transfer the funds for her surgery and treatment", the Venezuelan NGO Fundalatin posted in its twitter account.

The human rights organization Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo called on the Argentinian government and the hospital authorities to take actions so the patients can continue with their treatment, and they rejected the U.S. sanctions against Venezuela for considering they go against the human rights to health and life for the Venezuelan citizens.

The Venezuelan kids in the Italian Hospital of Buenos Aires were part of a program funded by PDVSA-Citgo, that has benefited Venezuelan and other patients of different nationalities with cancer and several other chronic illness, that couldn’t afford to pay for a bone marrow transplant among other surgeries and treatments. The program also benefiting Argentinian citizens. 

“This program needs to continue with the labor of integrated health coverage that also allows Argentinians to access international medical attention. The program was one of the best examples of cooperation between two brother countries”, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo stated in their letter.  

]]> <![CDATA[Cuba Passes Electoral Law, Reinstates Role of Prime Minister]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 15:30:11 -04:00 Cuba passed a new electoral law that restructures governance including creating the role of the prime minister and provincial governors while retaining the one-party system.


Operation Miracle Gives Sight to Nearly 50 Thousand Venezuelans

The law which was passed Saturday enacts changes already announced in the new constitution and was passed unanimously by the national assembly in the presence of former Cuban President Raul Castro, and current President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

The law aims to lighten the load on single figureheads such as the president and boost policy execution. Under it, the prime minister can be elected for five years to a maximum of two consecutive terms.

Previously, the 1976 constitution abolished the role of the prime minister and all executive powers were consolidate into the presidency. 

The assembly is set to elect the president under this new system in October, national assembly head Esteban Lazo said last month, with Diaz-Canel widely expected to remain in this position. The president will then name a prime minister in December, to be ratified by the assembly, he said.

"Real democracy is socialist, which is why I approve this law which synthesizes the thoughts of our Commander in Chief, (The late) Fidel Castro," said lawmaker Miguel Barnet.

The new law streamlines governance by reducing the number of National Assembly lawmakers to 474 from an unwieldy 605, to be implemented at the next elections in 2024.

All the changes are part of the new constitution approved by the country in February. The new constitution while reiterating the continuation of the revolution, brought forth economic and social reforms.

]]> <![CDATA[Unlike US, UK Foreign Secretary Wants To Save Iran Nuclear Deal]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 11:58:56 -04:00 Britain said Monday there was a "small window" of time to save the Iran nuclear deal, as Tehran signaled it would ramp up its nuclear program if Europe failed to do more to salvage the pact.


Leaks Reveal Trump Left Pact With Iran to Erase Obama's Legacy

"Iran is still a good year away from developing a nuclear bomb. There is still some closing, but small window to keep the deal alive," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters on arrival for a foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

Hunt said that the agreement “isn’t dead yet” but if the conflict escalates and Iran acquires nuclear weapons, other countries in the Middle East will follow suit leading  a “very toxic and dangerous situation.”

The conflict between Iran and the West escalated since U.S. President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy. Trump also reimposed sanctions on Iran while the latter sought to enrich uranium beyond the permitted amount as a challenge to the North American country. 

The Brussels gathering will seek to flesh out how to convince Iran and the United States to reduce tensions and start a dialogue amid fears that the 2015 deal is close to collapse.

Unlike the U.S., the European countries are wary of imposing sanctions on Iran even if it cuts some of its nuclear commitments under the deal. 

Speaking before leaving Brussels, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom suggested the Europeans would still leave the door open for diplomacy, but that Tehran should not take further measures that could breach the accord.

Going against the hostile approach of the United States towards Iran European powers especially Britain, France, and Germany said that they would not trigger a dispute resolution mechanism enshrined in the 2015 nuclear accord that could lead to the reimposition of United Nations sanctions after the Middle East country announced on July 1 that it had amassed more low-enriched uranium than permitted. 

When asked whether European powers would seek to penalize Iran for breaking parts of its nuclear commitments, Hunt said they would seek a meeting of the parties to deal with it.


Iran Ready for Talks If US Lifts Sanctions: Rouhani

"We will and there’s something called a joint commission, which is the mechanism set up in the deal which is what happens when one side thinks the other side has breached it, that will happen very soon,” he said.

He said that the EU would launch an “investigation” and that they want “to give Iran a way out of this so that they can get back into compliance with the nuclear deal.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech Sunday that they are ready to hold talks with Trump’s administration if it lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year. 

Trump, on the other hand, declared Wednesday that sanctions on Iran would soon be increased “substantially” showing no interest of de-escalating the conflict. 

Leaked cables from an unknown source about former U.K. ambassador, Kim Darroch, revealed this Sunday that Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement with Iran to erase former U.S. President Barack Obama's legacy. Darroch called it “diplomatic vandalism.”

France, Germany and the U.K. issued a joint statement before the meeting. 

“The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions,” the statement said.

“We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue.”

The statement holds the U.S. sanctions responsible for the unraveling of the deal. 

“We are concerned by the risk that the nuclear deal further unravels under the strain of sanctions imposed by the United States and following Iran’s decision to no longer implement several of the central provisions of the agreement,” the European powers said. 

]]> <![CDATA[Evo Gives Free Modern Farming Equipment to Bolivian Campesinos ]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 11:22:43 -04:00 On Sunday, Bolivia’s government donated over $6 million worth of tractors and other farming equipment to small holding campesinos in the department of La Paz. Evo Morales attended the ceremony at which this equipment was handed over to the rural workers. 


Bolivia's Campesino Union Slams Opposition Protests as 'Total Failure'

The equipment will benefit 14,380 families across 87 municipalities in the Andean region surrounding the town of Viacha. The donation includes tractors, water tankers and mechanised diggers. The government hopes that this equipment can be used to boost production of basic foodstuffs for domestic consumption, thereby decreasing dependence on foreign imports.

"We are delivering to the department of La Paz 98 fully equipped tractors. Our comrade [Minister of Rural Development, César] Cocarico, told us that due to droughts some areas lack enough water, so that’s why we have built 46 water tankers, and in some places where they do not need tractors, together with the mayors and their community, we have prioritized the delivery of 38 mechanised diggers” Bolivia’s leftist President Evo Morales said at the event Sunday.

Morales also pointed out that in the neoliberal period, such equipment was often bought with foreign aid and charity, but that now Bolivia’s economy is strong enough to pay for such goods without depending on others.

The tractors and other equipment are given free of charge to the municipalities and are for collective use by campesinos in the area. This endowment is among a large number of such donations to rural areas since Morales took power. 

During the last twenty years of the neoliberal period in Bolivia, just 224 tractors were given to campesinos, whereas during 13 years of Morales’ government 3,454 tractors have been handed over to the country’s campesinos. 

Boosting agricultural production through land reform and state investment has been a priority for the government, who have included a commitment to achieving full food sovereignty in the country’s new constitution that was approved by referendum in 2009.

]]> <![CDATA[US 'Veterans for Peace' visit Nicaragua, Establish Chapter]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 10:33:42 -04:00 The anti-war group, Veterans for Peace (VfP), have sent a delegation to Nicaragua from the U.S. On Sunday they held meetings with Sandinista leaders. The aim of the nine day visit is to establish a Nicaragua chapter for the veterans of the country’s civil war who wish to campaign for peace.


Nicaragua: 4,800 Local Peace Commissions in Place for Dialogue

Veterans for Peace is an organisation of former soliders who now campaign against war. Their delegation held meetings on Sunday with a senior member of the ruling FSLN, Doris Tijerino, where they discussed the social achievements of Nicaragua’s leftist government, and the events of the attempted coup last year.

Tijerino stressed the importance of the visit ahead of Nicaragua’s ‘Liberation Day’ on July 19th, the 40th anniversary of Sandinista victory against the US-backed Somoza dictatorship.

"I would like to underline the importance that your visit to Nicaragua has at this moment, not only for July 19, which is a very important date for us, and not only for the Sandinistas, but for the people in general and in particular for people like the peasants unionized in ATC [union], the workers who also have their own union organizations and the immense majority of the people who, as you know, did not possess neither material goods nor even the possibility of imagining a better life " said Tijerino to the U.S. based peace group.

Ahead of the visit, VFP set out what they hoped to achieve during the trip, revealing plans to establish a sister peace group in the Central American country, stating on their website; “Our delegation will participate in the founding meeting of the Nicaraguan chapter of Veterans For Peace, made up of former Sandinista soldiers and former CIA-backed counter-revolutionary soldiers ("Contras"). We will spend time with renowned Vietnam veteran and peace activist Brian Willson, who lives in Nicaragua and is helping to organize the VFP chapter there.”

On what they plan to see during the trip, they said, “We will meet with grassroots community groups and agricultural workers collectives. We will spend a few days in the capital Managua. We will visit several regions, including Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast, where we will meet with Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous communities. We will meet with government officials and learn about ongoing covert U.S. intervention in Nicaragua.”

Nicaragua has come under increasing attack from the Trump administration, who has placed economic sanctions on the country. The sanctions came after social conflict arose following attempts by armed US-backed protesters to violently overthrow the elected Sandinista government in 2018. The opposition has since accepted the government's invitation for peace talks, but have refused to call for an end to the U.S. economic sanctions.   

The delegation arrived in Nicaragua on the 12th of July and will stay till the 21st of July.

]]> <![CDATA[Small Scale Immigration Raids in US as Migrants Hide in Fear]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 09:52:51 -04:00 The United States authorities launched small-scale operations seeking to arrest undocumented immigrants over the weekend in an apparent start to President Donald Trump’s vow to launch mass deportation round-ups across the country.


1,600 Migrant Children Were Killed or Went Missing Since 2014

The operation, which Trump revealed on Twitter last month, was expected to target hundreds of recently arrived families in about 10 cities who had been ordered deported by an immigration judge.

“It starts on Sunday, and they're going to take people out, and they're going to bring them back to their countries, or they're going to take criminals out—put them in prison or put them in prison in the countries they came from,” Trump tweeted Friday. 

The removal operations are meant to deter a surge in Central American families fleeing poverty and gang violence in their home countries, with many seeking asylum in the United States.

Immigrants and their advocates were bracing for mass arrests, but by Sunday night there were only reports of low-profile operations in a few cities.

“We are doing targeted enforcement actions against specific individuals who have had their day in immigration court and have been ordered removed by an immigration judge,” Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Matt Albence told Fox News when asked for an update.

Mary Bauer at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said there were no confirmed operations in large Southern cities such as Atlanta.

There also were no reports of arrests from the American Immigration Council, which has lawyers on standby to give legal advice at the country’s largest family migrant detention center in Dilley, Texas.

“Immigrants and immigrant communities all over the country are hiding and people are living in these terrified, terrorized ways, because that is the point of this whole action, whether enforcement actions take place or not,” said Bauer, the SPLC’s deputy legal director.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said there were three ICE operations in his city Saturday, with no reported arrests. He said there was no ICE activity in New York Sunday.

“This is a political act by this president, he’s politicized a United States government agency to help him win re-election,” said de Blasio, a Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential race.

The Miami-based Florida Immigrant Coalition said immigrants were sheltering at home after ICE agents were seen near the city’s international airport. No arrests were reported.

“They’ve been stocking up on groceries and making plans to stay in their homes with the lights off and the blinds down,” the group posted on Facebook. “Some are staying home from work.”

“While we haven’t heard of widespread sweeps, none of our communities should have to live in fear that parents won’t come home from work, or kids won’t return from school,” said Lauren Weiner, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued this week to stop the arrests going ahead.

]]> <![CDATA[Puerto Rican Activist Unfolds Banner from Roof, Gets Arrested]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 09:47:03 -04:00 The Puerto Rican activist and founder of the environmental group Amig@s Del Mar (Friends of the Sea), Tito Kayak, was arrested Sunday after climbing onto the roof of a local police building to show a banner asking for the governor’s resignation.

The police building whose roof Kayak climbed onto, was next door to the governor’s mansion. After his protest, he was labeled a “hero” by social media users and fellow activists.

As way of preliminary information, the police Commissioner Henry Escalera said that Kayak was arrested for the felony of trespassing on a private building. Meanwhile, one of Kayak’s lawyers said the lawsuit against Kayak was made up.

“The head of the prosecutors waited until midnight to say that Tito Kayak has to stay under custody and won’t be processed until Monday. I feel ashamed of the manners of our justice system. The country continues its journey towards disrepute”.

Hundreds of protestors took to Puerto Rico's streets last weekend, demanding governor’s Ricardo Rosello's resignation after an 889-page document, published by the non-profit journalism group Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, revealed how the governor, along with other high-ranking officials manipulated public opinion, using a “troll network” to discredit negative press coverage and criticism from opposition leaders.

The team sent messages through Telegram between late 2018 until January 20 of this year that included sexual, misogynistic and homophobic comments from Rossello and other members of the that group. 

The scandal triggered the resignation of two Rossello’s top officials on Saturday.

]]> <![CDATA[Guatemala Refuses Trump's Request to be Safe Third Country]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 06:10:19 -04:00 Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales is postponing his visit to Washington as his office said the Central American leader had no interest in signing an agreement to make his country a safe third country.


Guatemala: Morales to Visit Washington to Discuss Migration

In a statement, Guatemala said the planned meeting between Morales and U.S. President Donald Trump this week had been postponed until the Guatemalan Constitutional Court had ruled on legal challenges. Last week, five former senior officials appealed to the court to block any agreement with the United States that would declare Guatemala a ‘safe third country.’

Guatemala's constitutional court late Sunday granted an injunction blocking President Jimmy Morales from signing a migration deal with the United States which would oblige it to offer asylum to migrants heading to the US border.

Under such a deal, Guatemala would be obliged to offer asylum to migrants who entered its territory en route to the United States. Migrants from Honduras and El Salvador heading to the U.S.-Mexican border overland usually cross into Mexico via Guatemala.

Over the past week, opposition has mounted to such a designation for Guatemala, which would reshape migration in the region.

“The government of the republic reiterates that at no point it considers signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country,” the Guatemalan government said:

A senior U.S. official said: “The meeting is being rescheduled.”

“The United States will continue to work with the Government of Guatemala on concrete and immediate steps that can be taken to address the ongoing migration crisis,” the U.S. official added.

As a "safe third country", Guatemala would be obliged to offer asylum to any migrants entering its territory on the way to the United States.

Many migrants from Honduras and El Salvador cross Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in Latin America, to reach Mexico on their route to the US border.


]]> <![CDATA[Trump Warns Iran's Sanctions Will Be Increased 'Substantially' ]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 04:13:40 -04:00 Iran is ready to hold talks with the United States if Washington lifts the sanctions against the Islamic Republic and ends their ‘bullying’ tactics, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated on Sunday.


Iran Ready for Talks If US Lifts Sanctions: Rouhani

“We are always ready for negotiation. I tell you this hour and this moment to abandon bullying and lift the sanctions and return to logic and wisdom. We are ready", Rouhani said, as quoted by the Mehr news agency.

Rouhani said that Iran shifted its approach from “strategic patience” to “reciprocal action”, adding that they would respond to any of the U.S.’ steps related to the nuclear deal.

However, not everyone seems to be on board with this, including the U.S. administration.

Despite calling for talks with Iranian leaders, Trump said on Wednesday that U.S. sanctions on Iran would soon be increased “substantially”.

In an interview with the Washington Post newspaper, Pompeo dismissed Rouhani’s idea as “the same offer that he offeredto John F. Kerry and Barack Obama,” referring to the former U.S. secretary of state and president.

“President Trump will obviously make the final decision. But this is a path that the previous administration had gone down and it led to the (Iran nuclear deal) which this administration, President Trump and I both believe was a disaster,” Pompeo said.

Confrontations between Washington and Tehran have escalated, culminating in an aborted plan for U.S. air strikes on Iran last month after Tehran downed a U.S. drone. Trump called off the retaliatory U.S. air strike at the last minute.

Calling for dialogue among all to resume, France, Britain and Germany - parties to the 2015 pact - said on Sunday they were preoccupied by the escalation of tensions in the Gulf region and the risk the nuclear deal might fall apart.

“We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue,” they said in a joint statement that was released by the French president’s office.

On May 8th, 2018, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the JCPOA and imposed several rounds of economic sanctions on Iran. A year later, Tehran announced its own decision to partially suspend some obligations under the deal and giving the other signatories - France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and the European Union - 60 days to save the accord by facilitating oil exports and trade with Iran.

]]> <![CDATA[German Amazon Workers To Strike Over Poor Wages]]> Mon, 15 Jul 2019 01:33:32 -04:00 Amazon employees will go on strike this week at seven locations across Germany, the labor union Verdi said in a new statement on Sunday. .


Europeans Witness Climate Change, It's Only the Beginning: WWF

The strikes, under the motto ‘No more discount on our incomes”, will coincide with Amazon’s Prime Day when the U.S. online retail giant offers its ‘Prime’ customers discount deals. Germany is its second-biggest market after the United States.

Amazon has faced a long-running battle with unions in Germany over better pay and conditions for logistics workers, who have staged frequent strikes since 2013.

“While Amazon fuels bargain hunting on Prime Day with hefty discounts, employees are being deprived of a living wage,” Verdi retail specialist Orhan Akman said in a statement.

Verdi said the strikes would hit Amazon’s sites in Werne, Rheinberg, Leipzig, Graben, Koblenz, as well as at Amazon’s two sites in Bad Hersfeld.

“The company must finally recognize the collective wage agreements for the retail and mail order sectors,” Akman said. “Wages and salaries at Amazon must no longer be determined in the style of a lord of the manor.”

Verdi also demanded that collective bargaining agreements be made binding across Germany’s retail sector.

“A universally binding collective agreement would then apply for Amazon too,” said Akman.

Amazon runs 12 warehouses in Germany. Earlier on Sunday, Amazon said it plans to open a new warehouse in Germany this year and create more than 2,800 jobs with permanent contracts.

]]> <![CDATA[Israeli Court Ends 'Racist' Park Entry Ban in Afula]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 23:59:03 -04:00 The Nazareth district court has ordered Sunday for the town of Afula in the Northern District of Israel to lift a rule impeding non-residents to enter its public parks.


Israeli Minister Gaffes Again: Advocates Gay Conversion Therapy

The judge cited a legal opinion by Israel’s attorney general who stated that parks were public properties open to everyone. 

“This was really to exclude Palestinian citizens from entering the park,” said Fady Khoury, a lawyer with Adalah, an Arab rights group that raised the protest against the ban into court. 

Human rights groups had denounced the town’s ban as racist, aimed at prohibiting the entrance to Arabs who live in the surrounding villages.

The town, with a population of 50,000 people, denied that the decision was based on racial motivations had imposed the prohibition a month ago, depriving non-resident visitors to enter its parks. As the city's attorneys argued the ban was aimed at limiting the overcrowding of the parks in the summer and keeping maintenance costs down.

In the nearby Arab village of Sulem, Shua’a Zoabi said he often brought his children to the park in Afula. “There is no space for our kids to play in our village. Public investment here is terribly low,” Zoabi explained.

The ban, he said, was a “racist restriction” against Arabs, many of whom say that their people face discrimination in various areas including health, education, and housing.

Israel’s Arab citizens are the descendants of the Palestinians who remained in their lands or were internally displaced during the 1948 Nakba resulting in the creation of Israel. They represent 21 percent of the population and for the most part, they consider themselves Palestinians.

On Jan.19, 2018, the 14th Basic Law was passed by the Israeli Knesset, which declared Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that the law would not deprive Israel’s Arab citizens of equal rights, yet Palestinians are witnesses of a rising anti-Arab sentiment, mostly pushed by Netanyahu's far-right.

]]> <![CDATA[Colombia: 15 Million People Feel They Live in Poverty]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 23:35:26 -04:00 Colombia's National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) presented Friday the country's report for poverty in 2018. According to the results 15 million Colombians "feel" they live in a condition of poverty. 


Rural Colombia and Central America Facing Hunger and Poverty: FAO

The statistics body reported that among the 32 departments that compose Colombia, 19.6 percent of the people suffer from high rates of multidimensional poverty, meaning they are poorer and lack access to public services. 

The multidimensional nature of poverty approach, beyond the most classic monetary definition, took not only the monetary criteria into account, but also included general perception, the satisfaction of vital needs, and being financially well off. 

Colombians increasingly feel that the quality of their lives has dramatically decreased and that they are impoverishing, according to DANE, which reported that 34.7 percent of households, made up of an average of three people, responded that “they feel poor”, which in turn represents around 15 million people.

Using a range of measures covering all the different aspects of poverty, the institution revealed that the quality of access to basic services and to public policies has decreased when compared to 2016 figures.

Colombia, Brazil Among Ten Worst Countries for Workers’ Rights in 2019

Poverty in Colombia’s countryside is considerably higher than in the cities. La Guajira, with 51.4 percent of its population living in poverty, was the highest in the Caribbean region; Choco with 45.1 percent was the department with the highest indicator in the Pacific; Norte de Santander with 31.5 percent was the department with the highest numbers in the Eastern region; and Caqueta with 28.7 percent in the Central region.

Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic head the list of countries in Latin American and the Caribbean facing urban-rural gaps and deep rural inequalities that generate extreme poverty and hunger, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

In terms of monetary poverty and extreme monetary poverty, DANE set up a minimum income line to determine if a person or household should be considered “poor.”

From this measurement, it defined the poorest departments are Nariño, Choco, and Cauca. As more than 40 percent of the population of Nariño, which borders Ecuador, and more than 60 percent of Chocho’s population, which borders the Pacific, live below the minimum income level. 

In contrast, the highest monetary poverty lines, meaning the "richest" departments, were Atlantico, Bogota, and Quindio. 

]]> <![CDATA[UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution Against US Sanctions]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 21:14:05 -04:00 The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted Saturday a resolution condemning the imposition of unilateral coercive measures (sanctions) by the United States and its allies against Venezuela and other member states.

Venezuela: U.N. Report Omits Social Programs, U.S. Sanctions

The draft resolution was approved with 28 votes in favor, 14 against and five abstentions, and was presented by Venezuela and Palestine on behalf of the Movement of Non-aligned Countries (NAM), except Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, and Peru, during the OHCHR’s 41st session. 

“I am grateful for the overwhelming support of the member states of the UN Human Rights Council for the resolution presented by the presidency of NAM in favor of Venezuela. A victory that expands international cooperation and rejects imperial sanctions,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro tweeted Sunday. 

The document also reaffirms the “inalienable right” of every State “to choose freely and develop, in accordance with the sovereign will of its people, its own political, social, economic and cultural systems, without interference from any other State or non-State actor,” in strict conformity with international law. 

Venezuela presented a resolution to deepen International Cooperation and reject Unilateral Coercive Measures In the UN Human Rights Council, which was approved with large support from its member states.

In May, the U.N’s Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, expressed that the use of economic sanctions against Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran for political purposes violates human rights and international law.

Yet this latest resolution comes at a key moment for Venezuela as its government has systematically rejected the report presented by the OHCHR’s Michelle Bachelet. In it, the High Commissioner omits major positive policies in Maduro’s administration and fails to mention the simultaneous economic war being thrust upon the country by the U.S. government.

Since 2017, Trump’s administration has imposed 150 sanctions on individuals and entities of Venezuela, which, as the U.N. resolution reads, “hinder the well-being of the population of the affected countries and create obstacles to the full realization of their human rights.”

Just in the Latin American country, sanctions have resulted in the direct deaths of over 40,000 citizens due to lack of food and medicine, as well as a loss of around US$116 billion for Venezuela, according to the country’s Vice President of Planning Ricardo Menendez.

]]> <![CDATA[Angolans Graduate From Cuban University in Global South Program]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 22:01:41 -04:00 30 Angolan students have concluded their studies at the University of Ciego de Avila "Maximo Gomez Baez" in Cuba, as part of an ongoing program that the island maintains to promote and train students from countries of the global South.


Cuba and Spain Sign Agreement for Scientific, Academic Exchange

A total of 400 students graduated from the university and will come to reinforce the social and economic programs of the Ciego de Avila province, which is located about 430 km east of the capital Havana.

The graduates just finished their programs within the faculties of Agricultural Sciences; Economics and Business; Social Sciences and Humanities; Pedagogy; Informatics; and Sport.

Among the graduates from the south-central African nation, Evaristo Candiyelo stood out as the best foreign graduate, gaining recognition for his scientific merit and being the most outstanding student within the research department of the Agricultural Sciences faculty.

Other 51 graduates received the Golden Title, a distinction that awards the best results in areas such as teaching, research, and sports.

Founded in 1978, the University is a certified college that has generated more than a hundred international agreements with countries from the global South. It has graduated more than 19,000 Cuban students and from other countries, especially from Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Since the 1990s Cuba has offered extensive scholarships to students from low-resource countries. Its programs consist of developing cooperation in higher education along with sharing its policies in education with developing countries as an example of South-South collaboration.

It has also maintained cooperation projects with universities in Europe, aimed at promoting scientific exchanges and incorporation into academic networks.


]]> <![CDATA[Iran Ready for Talks If US Lifts Sanctions: Rouhani]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 18:39:23 -04:00 Iran is ready to hold negotiation talks with the United States if Donald Trump’s administration lifts sanctions and returns to the 2015 nuclear deal it quit last year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised speech Sunday.

Leaks Reveal Trump Left Pact With Iran to Erase Obama's Legacy

“We have always believed in talks ... if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks, right now and anywhere,” the Iranian head of state stated, adding that the condition is for Iran to first be able to export as much oil as it did prior to May 2018.

Although Trump’s administration has also announced it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues, the U.S. president declared on Wednesday that sanctions on Iran would soon be increased “substantially.”

According to diplomatic leaks from the United Kingdom mission in Washington, former U.K. Ambassador Kim Darroch warned London that the U.S. administration had committed an act of “diplomatic vandalism” by withdrawing from the nuclear pact, considering that behind such decision there were ideological and personality motivations.

As tensions between both nations escalate, the dispute can be traced back to Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal last year, and subsequently reimposed tough sanctions on Iran’s oil industry to strangle the country’s economy. 

Measures got worse, on April 22, as Trump decided to eliminate all waivers issued to eight economies allowing them to buy Iranian oil, basically imposing third-party sanctions. 

As a response, Senior Iranian officials warned Tehran would boost its uranium enrichment, beyond the permitted 3.67 percent, every 60 days unless European powers protect them from U.S. sanctions.


Iran's Army Flatly Rejects US Claims on Threatening UK Ships

In a tit-for-tat, the U.S. increased their threat in the region by deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, a bomber task force of B-52s, an increased amount of soldiers, and a Patriot missile defense battery in a bid to intimidate Iran. While the U.K. navy has seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar and has upped their presence in the Gulf of Oman. 

On June, the Persian nation downed a U.S. reconnaissance RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned drone in the southern province of Hormozgan, as it violated the country's airspace.

With the risk of the nuclear deal falling apart and warmongering intensifying, European governments who were part of the 2015 deal, have stated this week their concern.

“We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue,” the French, German, and British governments said in a joint statement. 

]]> <![CDATA['Go Fix Your Countries': Trump to US Congresswomen]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 19:25:04 -04:00 “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how,” United States President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday addressing a group of Democratic congresswomen.


Tlaib Slams Israeli Racism, Applauds Intersectional Solidarity

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, viciously telling the people of the United States, how our government is to be run,” Trump said in a series of three statements on Twitter.

Even though Trump did not cite any names, it seemed he was referring to Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib, a group of progressive House Democrats known informally as “the squad”.

Three of these high-profile left-wing politicians were born in the U.S. with Ilhan Omar being the only one who arrived in the country as a child after her family fled as refugees Somalia's civil war in 1997, to later become a U.S. citizen in 2000. 

“Mr. President, the country I ‘come from,’ and the country we all swear to, is the United States,” Ocasio-Cortez, which was born in New York City, replied, adding that “you are angry because you can’t conceive of an America that includes us. You rely on a frightened America for your plunder.”

The group has been toughly critical of both Trump’s administration and the current leading of the House by the Democratic leadership. Since their election, they have faced several attacks from Conservatives, including the president, targeting their ethnicity and political agenda.

Meanwhile, Omar also responded to Trump’s comment telling him he is "stoking white nationalism" because he is angry that “people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.” 

“America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired,” she added, quoting Robert Kennedy. 

The Democratic party also condemned these statements as racist. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, who has had various quarrels with the group as part of intra-party discrepancies, came to their defense Sunday along with other Democratic colleagues. She called Trump’s comments “xenophobic.”

“When Donald Trump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again,” she stated on Twitter.

]]> <![CDATA[French Police Arrest 152 Yellow Vest Protestors on Bastille Day]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 17:51:24 -04:00 At least 152 ‘Yellow Vest’ protestors have been arrested by French police Sunday in Paris, as security forces cracked down on manifestations during the traditional Bastille Day celebrations.

Migrants and 'Black Vests' Occupy Historical Monument in Paris

According to French authorities, the detainees are accused of "organization of an undeclared demonstration," "violence against those responsible for public order," and "destruction of public property."

Paris authorities had banned ‘Yellow Vest’ demonstrations near the military parade on the Champs Elysees avenue, from where President Emmanuel Macron, alongside other European leaders, witnessed the ceremony.

But as soon as the parade finished, according to police, a few hundred protesters tried to occupy the famous avenue, which in turn led to a confrontation between both sides. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters, as they tried to block the road with metal barricades, dustbins, and other debris.

Among those arrested are Maxime Nicolle and Jerome Rodrigues, two key figures in the ‘Yellow Vest’ movement. 

Although, Nicolle’s attorney stated on Twitter that his client was arrested earlier during the day by 15 policemen while walking "outside the Champs Elysees and the forbidden area," adding that he is in jail for “expressing his beliefs.”

Sunday’s protest marks the 35th consecutive week the grassroots movement has taken to the streets to demand a change in France’s socioeconomic political agenda, as well as improvement for social conditions. 

On Saturday, when they also took to the capital’s streets, they denounced the increase in police repression, demanded the release of fellow detainees, and called for Sunday’s demonstrations during Bastille Day, which commemorates July 14, 1789, when the French Revolution started after the fortress-prison of the Bastille was taken.

]]> <![CDATA[Protesters Demand Resignation of Puerto Rico Governor]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 14:55:48 -04:00 The Victoria Citizen Movement published a statement Sunday demanding the resignation of Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello Nevares. They asked different organizations to gather in front of the Capitol Monday and demand the legislature to remove the governor from office after he was accused of corruption by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested his cabinet members last week. 


Politicians, Ricky Martin Want Puerto Rico Governor to Resign

“The arrests of the Secretary of Justice, the director of the Health Insurance Administration (ASES) and of the lobbyists hired by the Rossello Nevares administration, as well as the disclosure of the contents of the governor's talks with his team of associates through a chat, have revealed the corrupt character that surrounds the government of Puerto Rico,” the movement said. 

On Wednesday, a pair of ex-senior administration officials were arrested and charged with fraud, allegedly for abusing federal work contracts from the Department of Education. Another case was made against an official from the Health Insurance Administration (ASES). According to reports, the three corruption cases amount to US$15.5 million.

Rafael Bernabe, the spokesperson for the movement told teleSUR that they were in front of the governor’s residence Saturday night, demanding his resignation and that they have also called for a teachers’ march Sunday and Monday. 

“Polls say 85% ask for resignation. The party says almost all have left. Even the bourgeois press asks him to resign. I do not know if today but soon. First, he has to appoint a secretary of state who is the one who assumes when the governor is missing. The current secretary resigned yesterday,” Bernabe told teleSUR.  

Two of Rossello’s top officials resigned Saturday after an 889-page document, published by the non-profit journalism group Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, revealed how the governor, along with other high-ranking officials manipulated public opinion of the administration through mass media, creating a “troll network” to discredit negative press coverage and criticism from opposition leaders.

The team sent messages through Telegram between late 2018 until January 20 of this year that included sexual, misogynistic and homophobic comments from Rossello and other members of the chat group. 

Two of the 12-member group chat - Secretary of State Luis Rivera Marin and Christian Sobrino, the island’s chief financial officer and Rossello’s representative on Puerto Rico’s federally created fiscal oversight board - left the government following the revelation. 

“Our country does not deserve kidnapping at the hands of a government that has lost the little credibility it had. We can not forget that this government won with only 42 percent of the votes of the electorate,” said the Victoria movement declaration. 

]]> <![CDATA[Brazilians Against Easing Control on Gun Possession: Survey]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 14:43:24 -04:00 Most Brazilians are against the changes proposed by President Jair Bolsonaro to significantly relax gun possession regulations, according to a survey published on Friday by pollster Datafolha Institute.

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According to Datafolha, one of the country's major polling institutes, 70 percent Brazilians reject the attempt to make it much easier for citizens to purchase and keep firearms. Another 28 percent agree with the proposed changes and the remaining two percent are undecided or indifferent.

Since Bolsonaro took office in January, he has proposed several changes to gun control laws. He first tried to change the regulations Bolsonaro Wants Son Ambassador to US, Brazilian Diplomats Don't a decree and was met with some resistance, as parts of the decree were considered illegal. A decree cannot replace existing laws, and congressional approval is needed to change a law.

Then Bolsonaro revoked his own decree, issued three others and sent a bill to the Congress with the parts of the first decree which require congressional approval. The bill has yet to be voted on.

The Datafolha Institute interviewed 2,086 people from 130 cities all over Brazil on July 4 and 5. The margin of error is two percentage points.

]]> <![CDATA[Sudanese Protesters Mark 40 Days Since Military Crackdown]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 13:58:31 -04:00 Tens of thousands demonstrated in cities across Sudan Saturday, witnesses said, to mark 40 days since security forces killed dozens when they stormed a protest camp in the capital Khartoum.


New Coup Attempt in Sudan Fails

The demonstrations were the first since the ruling military council and civilian opposition agreed in principle to a power-sharing arrangement ahead of elections. The deal has yet to be finalized and signed.

A meeting between the two sides planned for Saturday was postponed to Sunday, a leader of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition said. But the military council denied the meeting was being delayed.

"Saturday's session will discuss the constitutional document as determined by the mediation," state news agency SUNA said, citing the council.

African Union mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt had said Thursday the council and the FFC would meet Saturday to study and ratify a constitutional declaration. They had agreed to a political declaration that determines the transition's different institutions, he said.

After the meeting, the Sudanese Professionals' Association, which leads the FFC, said, "The draft constitutional declaration is 'not final' and is not open to final signature in its current form."

The constitutional declaration's signing was pushed to Sunday for further consultations based on FFC's wishes, Lebatt said on Sky News Arabia earlier Saturday.

In Khartoum Saturday, thousands protested on Sitteen Street, a major thoroughfare in the capital, a Reuters witness said. Some lit candles to remember those killed at the protest camp on June 3, while others lit the torches on their mobile phones.


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"We came out to express our opinion and convey our voice and salute the memory of our eternal martyrs," said protester Mostafa Sayed Ahmed.

Six vehicles belonging to the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), each carrying about six men armed with assault rifles and sticks, drove through a portion of Sitteen Street as protesters chanted "Civilian!" at them, a Reuters witness said.

A witness also saw more than 20 RSF vehicles carrying men in riot gear at Abu Janzir Square in the heart of Khartoum.

"Look at these crushed people," said Hussein Ismail, a middle-aged demonstrator who was chanting "We either get their rights or die like them!"

"Their demands are clear, which are a civilian government, a democratic state, which is a people that call for justice and peace and love."

Several hundred also demonstrated in Khartoum's Burri neighborhood, a working-class district and the cradle of many of the protests. RSF troops stood on roads surrounding Burri, armed with sticks.

"Blood for blood, even if (we get) civilian rule!" protesters chanted.

Security forces used barbed wire to block the main road leading to the Defence Ministry compound, the site of the protest camp crushed by security forces in June. At least 128 people were killed during the raid and in the two weeks that followed, according to doctors linked to the opposition.

]]> <![CDATA[FBI Warned Saudi Dissidents in US After Khashoggi’s Murder]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 13:48:53 -04:00 The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the U.S. visited dissidents from Saudi Arabia after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to warn them of potential threat to their lives from the Gulf country according to an exclusive report by the Middle East Eye (MEE).


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Four Saudi dissidents, under the condition of anonymity, told MEE that the visits by FBI agents began a month after Khashoggi, a dissident journalist, was murdered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey in October 2018. The visits continued until six weeks ago. 

“They were like, ‘Yep, we are worried about your safety. Your name has been flagged here in certain circles and in Europe’,” one of the activists said. 

One of the Saudi activists was warned due to his connections with Khashoggi. Another one runs a YouTube channel critical of the Saudi government. The third person participated in an opposition conference. 

An FBI spokesperson wrote to MEE that  the agency “regularly interacts with members of the communities we serve to build mutual trust around protecting the American public.”

The U.S. intelligence agencies are supposed to inform any U.S. or non-U.S. citizens residing in the country about any threats to them according to a directive from 2015. 

None of the Saudi dissidents were made aware of specific threats by the FBI. In one instance, an agent tried to calm down one activist saying they were sorry about Khashoggi’s murder and were “doing everything we can to get to the bottom of it.”

When one Saudi activist said that he was afraid of the FBI due to the closeness between the U.S. President Donald Trump and the Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS), the agent distanced himself from the Trump administration. 

“I told them that I’m kind of afraid to deal with you guys because the current government has worked closely with [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi government. They said, ‘Don’t worry. We are here to protect people from everywhere. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House’,” said the dissident who was visited by the FBI last November. 

But he was also asked by the agent to help the FBI in return of assistance with his asylum case. 


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Another approached person said that he got a visitation when he attempted to buy a ticket for an international trip. He was told that his life is in danger in several locations abroad. 

Khashoggi’s killing created an international uproar shedding light on Saudi Arabia’s abysmal human rights condition. 

Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist from Saudi Arabia went into a self-imposed exile to the United States one year ago when the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman started his widespread crackdown on dissenters.

The Washington Post columnist went to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018, to get some papers for his marriage and never returned.

After three weeks of denial, the oil-rich country accepted that Khashoggi was indeed killed but said that the crown prince had no knowledge of the ‘rogue operation’ by 15 high profile Saudi officials who flew to Turkey the same day Khashoggi went to the consulate. His body was dismembered and removed from the building and his remains have not been found yet. 

The United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions revealed last month that evidence suggested MBS and other senior Saudi officials are liable for the murder. 

Even after an international outcry, Trump sought to maintain his relations with the kingdom. 

“In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region,” Trump said in November after the CIA released an assessment implicating MBS in the killing of Khashoggi.

]]> <![CDATA[Leaks Reveal Trump Left Pact With Iran to Erase Obama's Legacy ]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 12:03:31 -04:00 New leaks from an unknown source about former UK ambassador, Kim Darroch, revealed this Sunday US President Donald Trump withdrew from nuclear agreement with Iran to erase Barack Obama''s legacy.

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Sunday edition of the Journal Mail on Sunday issued such news. The report was a backstory of past week's diplomatic events in which UK representative to the US described Trump's government as inept and dysfunctional.

According to the aforementioned newspaper on Sunday, following a visit to Washington by then UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson last year, Darroch warned London that the US administration had committed an act of 'diplomatic vandalism' when he decided to withdraw from the nuclear pact signed by Western powers with Tehran in 2015.

In his message, the diplomat considers that behind such decision there were ideological and personality motivations, and also points out that nobody in the White House seems capable of articulating a strategy for the 'day after' the agreement's breakdown, and the US State Department also had no plans to explain reasons to allied nations.

The UK journal let the cat out of the bag on Sunday about Darroch's diplomatic secrets despite the warnings issued yesterday by the Metropolitan Police; particularly, by the Deputy Commissioner, Neil Basu, who threatened to demand media outlets if they disclose this kind of top-secret material.

After Basu's statements encouraging the leak's author to surrender to the authorities, several local politicians, among them the candidates to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, and the leader of the Labor opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, agreed to defend the press' right to publish the leaks.

On the other side, Trump reacted to Darroch's views on his government with a string of epithets against the diplomat, whom he accused of being 'stupid' and 'arrogant', and also attacked May, whom he said she had 'foolishly' negotiated the UK controversial exit from the European Union.

The crisis triggered past Wednesday by the resignation of the UK ambassador in spite of the fact that the UK government praised his honesty and expressed to fully support him.

So far, the investigation initiated by Scotland Yard to identify the leak's author has not yielded any results.

]]> <![CDATA[Tlaib Slams Israeli Racism, Applauds Intersectional Solidarity]]> Sun, 14 Jul 2019 10:23:04 -04:00 U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib slammed Israel in an interview with Jacobin published Saturday. She criticized Israel’s policy towards Palestinians and called for intersectional solidarity. 


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“I can tell you when I was in Palestine with my mother and she had to get in a separate line. There are different colored license plates if you are Palestinian or Israeli. There is continued dehumanization and racist policies by the state of Israel that violate international human rights, but also violate my core values of who I am as an American,” Tlaib said to the magazine. 

She pointed out Palestinians were “killed, died, uprooted from their land” due to Israel’s creation and people need to acknowledge that. 

“I want there to be a recognition that it happened and from there on, do some sort of healing process and understanding that it needs to then lead to equality and freedom for my grandmother who still lives there. She should be able to die with some sort of human dignity.”

Tlaib also said that solidarity among different oppressed groups towards Palestine shows that young people are understanding the crimes against the occupied population. 

“When I see young Black Lives Matter activists with t-shirts that say “Free Palestine,” and I’m wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirt, I know it’s working,” she said. 

“Just like we looked at the struggle for black Americans for true equality and access to opportunity to thrive. The same thing that has happened to the LGBTQ community. All of that is why I say free Palestine, that Palestinians deserve human rights.”

Tlaib applauded the younger generation of U.C. citizens for understanding the plight of Palestinians “in a way that doesn’t dehumanize or degrade Israelis either but does hold the leadership of the Israeli government accountable” which makes defenders of status quo very worried. 

Tlaib also told the magazine she got interested in class politics due to her father who was involved with the United Auto Workers while working at Ford Motor Company. 

“So my dad only went up to a fourth-grade education, my mom an eighth-grade education, and both were born in Palestine. My mom grew up in the West Bank in the occupied territories,” Tlaib recounted. 

“When my dad was nine years old, he moved to Nicaragua and found more poverty and decay and a lot of other struggles, so when he came to the United States at the age of nineteen he really didn’t feel economic stability until he finally got a job at Ford Motor Company, and got health insurance for the first time and involved in the United Auto Workers.”

When asked about her call for the impeachment of the U.S. President Donald Trump, she said the president is a “crooked CEO” who is attacking democracy.

“He’s setting the precedent that it’s okay to attack our democracy. Our democracy is not perfect, but we are allowing a crooked CEO to run this country.”

The Palestinian American representative also said that if he is not stopped then it will set a precedent which will allow more “crooked CEO” to “run for president.”