Brazil’s huge corruption scandal is spreading to the rest of Latin America

Brazil’s huge corruption scandal is spreading to the rest of Latin America
Union workers protest corruption outside the Public Ministry in Panama City on Feb. 10, 2017. Panama's attorney general's office ordered a search of offices belonging to law firm Mossack Fonseca in connection with a growing corruption scandal involving a Brazilian construction giant, Odebrecht. The Panamanian law firm denies any wrongdoing. (Arnulfo Franco/AP)   LIMA, Peru — For more than two years the “Car Wash” corruption mega-scandal engulfing Odebrecht, Latin America’s largest construction company, has roiled Brazil. It contributed to the drive to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, landed numerous powerful people behind bars, helped…Read more …

Peru welcomes Obama, but worries its U.S. trade deal could unravel under Trump

Peru welcomes Obama, but worries its U.S. trade deal could unravel under Trump
President Obama arrives Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, at the military airport in Lima, Peru, where he will attend the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)   LIMA, Peru — As President Obama hobnobs with other heads of state at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit here on Saturday, there will be no disguising how the fierce protectionist rhetoric of his successor has rattled his Peruvian hosts. The Andean nation has long prided itself on its embrace of free trade. It was an enthusiastic advocate of the now-stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)…Read more …

They’ve been linked to drug traffickers. They’ve run a ‘death squad.’ Can Peru’s police be reformed?

They’ve been linked to drug traffickers. They’ve run a ‘death squad.’ Can Peru’s police be reformed?
LIMA, Peru — When news broke that a “death squad” within the Peruvian police had been murdering suspected criminals, there was outrage over the violation of human rights. But arguably even more damaging for a force widely viewed by the public as inept and corrupt — including collusion in cocaine trafficking — was the realization that some of its most spectacularly successful recent operations had been staged. In total, 27 alleged suspects died in “shootouts” between 2012 and 2015 as national police SWAT teams staged dramatic interceptions — in which no officers were…Read more …

Bolivia ended its drug war by kicking out the DEA and legalizing coca

Bolivia ended its drug war by kicking out the DEA and legalizing coca
Sitting barefoot on a log, a farmer surveys more than 200 pounds of coca leaves drying out in front of his ramshackle lean-to here in the rainforest of the Chapare region, the muggy heart of Bolivia's coca country. The leaves, he says, represent one of his three harvests per year, grown under Bolivia's policy of legal but regulated production of the crop. Each harvest will fetch about $200 at market, but half of that goes toward expenses, including pesticides and wages for locals who help pluck the ripe leaves quickly before they spoil.…Read more …

Peru’s 77-year-old new president isn’t acting his age. And Peruvians love it.

Peru’s 77-year-old new president isn’t acting his age. And Peruvians love it.
LIMA, Peru — In Peru, the red-and-white sash draped over an incoming president's shoulder during the inaugural ceremonies in congress is a clear symbol of the solemnity of the office. On July 28, observers were much less sure what to make of the white handkerchief that a grinning Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the Andean nation’s new, centrist leader, placed on his balding head during the military parade that followed his swearing-in. Kuczynski's impromptu response to the sunshine unexpectedly bursting through Lima’s winter skies provoked mirth in some corners — and criticism from supporters of…Read more …

Bolivia’s president isn’t lowering his sights despite a scandal worthy of a telenovela

Bolivia’s president isn’t lowering his sights despite a scandal worthy of a telenovela
LA PAZ, Bolivia — Most democratic leaders would find their political ambitions curtailed by a referendum result spurning their plans for reelection. But Bolivia’s President Evo Morales is different. Despite a narrow loss in a February vote for a constitutional amendment to allow him to run for a fourth consecutive term, the left-wing populist appears intent on hanging on to power when his current mandate ends in 2020. Morales is also targeting the Bolivian media for covering an outlandishly personal corruption scandal — involving $560 million worth of government contracts and a paternity…Read more …

A surprising move on LGBT rights from a ‘macho’ South American president

A surprising move on LGBT rights from a ‘macho’ South American president
LA PAZ, Bolivia — Bolivia has a new gender identity law that might put it in Latin America’s vanguard on LGBT rights — but the story behind the measure reveals how far the Andean nation still has to go before ending homophobia. That’s according to Carlos Parra, aka Paris Galán, the country’s best known drag queen and a prominent gay rights campaigner. Signed into law in May, the measure allows people to change their gender on official identity documents. It means that Bolivia joins Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia as the only four nations…Read more …

We visited the front lines of Paraguay’s slash-and-burn war on weed

We visited the front lines of Paraguay’s slash-and-burn war on weed
 Photo by Simeon Tegel/VICE News   From the air, the neat rows of cannabis plants in a clearing carved into the tropical dry forest along Paraguay's lawless border with Brazil look like pine saplings. But once our Vietnam-era Huey helicopter carrying members of the country's anti-narcotics special forces lands, it becomes clear why this small, conservative nation is one of the world's biggest producers of marijuana. The heavily-armed troops jump out of the chopper and start hacking down the waste-high sativa bushes with swift swipes of their machetes. They clear the entire area…Read more …

Rich Paraguayans Can ‘Adopt’ Children as Domestic Help. But That Might Change.

Rich Paraguayans Can ‘Adopt’ Children as Domestic Help. But That Might Change.
ASUNCION, Paraguay — Tina Alvarenga never asked her mother why, at the age of 10, she was handed over to an upper-middle-class couple here in Paraguay’s capital to begin a harsh new life of domestic work and routine humiliation. She had seven brothers and sisters, but as her indigenous Guarani parents struggled to make ends meet in the dusty town of Puerto Casado, on the border with Brazil, she was the only one who was given away. Of the many psychological wounds she suffered in her new home, that bewilderment still hurts the…Read more …

Peru elections: Keiko Fujimori trails Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Peru elections: Keiko Fujimori trails Pedro Pablo Kuczynski
LIMA, Peru — Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of jailed 1990s strongman Alberto Fujimori, was narrowly trailing Monday as votes were tallied in a presidential election that pitted her against a center-right former prime minister and investment banker. If the trend held, the result would represent a major upset in a contest that raised questions about the future of Peruvian democracy and rule of law. Just a week ago, Fujimori, 41, a former congresswoman, led Pedro Pablo Kuczynski by about five percentage points in some polls. But with 94 percent of the votes counted…Read more …

Kuczynski Still Has a Razor-Thin Lead Over Fujimori in Peru’s Presidential Election

Kuczynski Still Has a Razor-Thin Lead Over Fujimori in Peru’s Presidential Election
In a nail-biting finish to Peru's presidential election, center-right technocrat Pedro Pablo Kuczynski is apparently inching towards the narrowest of victories over Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of disgraced 1990s autocrat Alberto Fujimori. The latest official results released on Tuesday morning, with nearly 97 percent of the votes from Sunday's runoff now counted, gave Kuczynski 50.15 percent of the vote. That's just 0.3 points, and about 50,000 votes, more than the former congresswoman. The electoral authorities said the very last results may not trickle in until the end of the week. Though these primarily…Read more …

5 things you need to know about Peru’s presidential election

5 things you need to know about Peru’s presidential election
LIMA, Peru — Peru’s presidential runoff election takes place Sunday with front-runner Keiko Fujimori, the 41-year-old daughter of former autocratic leader Alberto Fujimori, facing off against a prominent economist and former prime minister, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Here are five things you need to know about the election in this Andean nation: 1. There’s a dad issue looming over the vote. The appeal of Keiko — usually referred to by just her first name — is based on the hard-right legacy of her father, who was president from 1990 to 2000. He is revered by…Read more …

Corruption and Legacy in Lima As voters in Peru head to the polls, the country might elect a controversial candidate — Keiko Fujimori. But has she convinced the electorate that she’s shed the shady past of her father’s presidency?

Corruption and Legacy in Lima As voters in Peru head to the polls, the country might elect a controversial candidate — Keiko Fujimori. But has she convinced the electorate that she’s shed the shady past of her father’s presidency?
LIMA — For a candidate with a compelling need to prove her personal integrity, Keiko Fujimori has been running an odd campaign ahead of Peru’s June 5 presidential runoff election. The key challenge weighing her down — a “very large rucksack,” as she has described it — is the profoundly corrupt legacy of her father, former right-wing strongman Alberto Fujimori who was imprisoned for 25 years in 2009 for serious human rights violations and bribing crooked journalists to attack his opponents. It was during his time as president of Peru, from 1990 to…Read more …

Why Some Peruvians Worry Keiko Fujimori Will Turn the Country into a Narco Paradise

Why Some Peruvians Worry Keiko Fujimori Will Turn the Country into a Narco Paradise
Peruvians choose their new president on Sunday amid dire warnings that frontrunner Keiko Fujimori, if she wins, would oversee surging corruption and cocaine money penetrating the highest levels of government. Polls currently put the daughter of jailed 1990s strongman Alberto Fujimori narrowly in front of her only rival in the runoff election, Pedro Pablo Kuczysnki, a 77-year-old Wall Street investor and former prime minister. Keiko has been careful to distance her Popular Force party from some of her father's most controversial actions, including his 1992 shuttering of congress, running death squads, and massive…Read more …

Peruvian Man Details Sexual Abuse He Faced at ‘Boot Camp’ for Troubled Catholic Kids

Peruvian Man Details Sexual Abuse He Faced at ‘Boot Camp’ for Troubled Catholic Kids
The sexual abuse began one evening in a park, says Alvaro Urbina. He was 14. A misfit at his expensive English-style school in Lima, Peru, Urbina's recently separated mother was desperate to provide him with some direction. She enrolled him in Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana. Sodalicio was a kind of Catholic boot camp, run by non-clerical volunteers, dedicated to transforming teenagers from the Peruvian elite into prominent priests or devout and influential lay members of society. "We clicked a little," says Urbina of the mentor twice his age who had been tasked with…Read more …

Disgraced leader’s daughter leads in the run-up to Peru’s presidential elections

Disgraced leader’s daughter leads in the run-up to Peru’s presidential elections
LIMA, Peru — As Peru’s former president Alberto Fujimori serves a 25-year jail term for kidnapping, directing death squads and other crimes, his family is poised for an improbable political comeback. His 40-year-old daughter, Keiko, is the clear front-runner going into tomorrow’s first-round presidential vote. Treading a delicate line between distancing herself from her father's offenses and taking credit for his accomplishments — including taming hyperinflation and crushing the Shining Path rebels — she has around 35 percent support and a double-digit lead over her nearest challengers. Weary of entrenched corruption and distrusting…Read more …

A Softer, Gentler Fujimorismo Can Keiko Fujimori restore her family’s tarnished name?

A Softer, Gentler Fujimorismo Can Keiko Fujimori restore her family’s tarnished name?
    LIMA — In November 2000, amid a snowballing vote-rigging and corruption scandal, Alberto Fujimori brought down the curtain on his turbulent, autocratic decade as president of Peru. During that time, he had overseen a “self-coup,” shuttering the Congress and courts — a flagrant violation of the constitution — and allowed his Machiavellian intelligence chief Vladimiro Montesinos to weave a rotten spider’s web of bribes and blackmail to control politicians, journalists, and senior military officers. But the dam finally cracked when a video of Montesinos buying a lawmaker’s support with an envelope…Read more …

An Alleged Killer, a Plagiarist, and a Jailed Ex-Leader’s Kid: Meet Peru’s Presidential Field

An Alleged Killer, a Plagiarist, and a Jailed Ex-Leader’s Kid: Meet Peru’s Presidential Field
An Alleged Killer, a Plagiarist, and a Jailed Ex-Leader's Kid: Meet Peru's Presidential Field By Simeon Tegel Peruvians might be forgiven for thinking that the race to be their next president resembles a police lineup more than a contest to see which distinguished public servant wins the first round vote on April 10. Frontrunner Keiko Fujimori is campaigning on the controversial hard-right populist legacy of her disgraced father Alberto Fujimori. Now in jail, he was president from 1990 to 2000 and was once ranked sixth on anti-graft group Transparency International's all-time list of…Read more …

Peru’s Booming Cocaine Business Is Turning It Into Latin America’s Newest Narco State

Peru’s Booming Cocaine Business Is Turning It Into Latin America’s Newest Narco State
Peru's Booming Cocaine Business Is Turning It Into Latin America's Newest Narco State By Simeon Tegel Peru has long vied with Colombia as the world's top producer of cocaine, but has only periodically produced high profile drug lords. Gerson Gálvez Calle — alias "Caracol" or Snail — is one of these. Caracol sprung to the nation's attention late last year after news emerged that he was heading Peru's largest and most violent drug ring, known as the Barrio King. It came just a year after he walked free from jail in highly controversial circumstances.…Read more …

Venezuela’s capital is world’s most murderous city

Venezuela’s capital is world’s most murderous city
LIMA, Peru — Just when Venezuelans thought things couldn’t get worse, that’s exactly what they did.The capital Caracas has now been ranked as the most murderous city on Earth, according to a new study by Mexican think-tank the Citizens Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice. The report calculates that Caracas’s 3,946 homicides in 2015 gave it a truly terrifying annual homicide rate of 120 per 100,000 residents. To put that in context, the United States — easily the most murderous of Western developed nations — has a rate of 4.7, according to the United Nations’ most recent…Read more …

Why Peru’s gastronomy is a bigger draw for tourists than the Incas

Why Peru’s gastronomy is a bigger draw for tourists than the Incas
Cooks prepare a potato dish at a Lima food fair AFP/Getty  The sun beats down as local builders and American tourists down cold beers and ceviche at an outdoor market in the scenic Lima district of Barranco, overlooking the Pacific. Business is booming, says Vicente Furgiuele, owner of the Canta Ranita (The Little Singing Frog), a small but popular restaurant specialising in £5 servings of the marinated seafood salad that is a Peruvian summer classic. “We cook with love,” adds Mr Furgiuele, 30, who studied at the Peruvian capital’s Cordon Bleu institute, the…Read more …

Jaqaru: Campaign launched to protect dying Peruvian language from extinction

Jaqaru: Campaign launched to protect dying Peruvian language from extinction
A traditional dance in Tupe. Credit: Simeon Tegel  The children sit rapt as Rosalbina Valerio, 77, recounts a traditional fable in her native Jaqaru, a language now so rare that it is spoken by only 580 people in three villages scattered along a precipitous valley in the Andean foothills above Lima. The story, about a pale-skinned demon who turns up for dinner but then attempts to eat his hosts, offers a revealing glimpse into the Jaqaru psyche, and how this indigenous culture has been under siege ever since marauding Spaniards first showed up here…Read more …

Justice Might Just Be Possible in the Case of Mass Forced Sterilizations in Peru

Justice Might Just Be Possible in the Case of Mass Forced Sterilizations in Peru
 Credit: Simeon Tegel It wasn't until Esperanza Huayama awoke in a ward full of moaning women who were lying two in each bed and saw the stitches in her abdomen that she realized what had happened — she had been sterilized. "We were just innocent country women. They tricked us," she says of a mass sterilization program imposed on hundreds of thousands of poor, often indigenous, women in Peru during the hard-right presidency of Alberto Fujimori. "They treated us like animals." Fujimori is now serving a 25-year jail term for pocketing government funds, directing death squads and…Read more …

President for Life? It Will Be Possible in Ecuador in 2021

President for Life? It Will Be Possible in Ecuador in 2021
Ecuador's national legislature has approved a constitutional amendment that will force President Rafael Correa to sit out the 2017 election but could allow the charismatic leftist to resume his grip on power indefinitely from 2021. The vote on Thursday sparked protests outside the legislature in the capital, Quito, by opponents who regard the abrasive leader as a threat to democracy because of his track record of harassing critics and concentrating power in his own hands. Some of the demonstrators used sticks and stones to attack the police, who dispersed them with tear gas and mounted riot…Read more …

Peruvian Cop Arrested in Drug Bust Posted Photograph of Himself With Wads of Cash

Peruvian Cop Arrested in Drug Bust Posted Photograph of Himself With Wads of Cash
It will be up to Peru's courts to decide whether police captain Juan Martín Chávez Briones is corrupt, but his recent social media activity won't be doing his defense any favors. Three days before being arrested with four other cops for allegedly attempting to resell 25 kilos of seized cocaine to Bolivian drug traffickers, Chávez posted a photograph of himself on his Facebook page sitting in an armchair surrounded by wads of what appear to be $100 bills. The post is captioned "Small change for the weekend." Photo via Facebook The captain was…Read more …

The Prosecutor Investigating Peru’s Powerful First Lady Has Been Fired

The Prosecutor Investigating Peru’s Powerful First Lady Has Been Fired
It started with four mysterious notebooks heavily blotted from the rain and meticulously detailing the flow of thousands of dollars. In total, the cash adds up to more than $3 million. Last August, Peru's money-laundering prosecutor Julia Príncipe recommended that first lady Nadine Heredia, who is also president of the ruling Nationalist Party, undergo handwriting tests to see if she penned the sums. This week the prosecutor was sacked after six years in the job during which she had earned widespread praise for her investigations into organized crime. "This government has lost legitimacy," Príncipe…Read more …

Peru gets funding from Britain’s ‘FBI’ for fight against cocaine traffickers

Peru gets funding from Britain’s ‘FBI’ for fight against cocaine traffickers
Police officers stand guard over a 7-tonne haul of cocaine seized at the Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima in 2014 Getty  Amid concerns Peru, the principal source of European cocaine, is becoming a narco-state, a new surveillance centre to tap the phones of up to 100 drug-traffickers is being funded by Britain’s “FBI”. The development comes as allegations mount of drug money penetrating politics while rampant corruption in the armed forces allows light aircraft to ferry as much as a ton of cocaine a day to Bolivia, from where it is distributed…Read more …

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani: Peru’s hardline archbishop of Lima plagiarised Popes Benedict XVI and Paul VI in his newspaper column El Comercio has refused to publish any more articles by the arch-conservative cleric who has launched attacks on everything from gay rights to state pensions

Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani: Peru’s hardline archbishop of Lima plagiarised Popes Benedict XVI and Paul VI in his newspaper column El Comercio has refused to publish any more articles by the arch-conservative cleric who has launched attacks on everything from gay rights to state pensions
As an outspoken critic of modern “decadence”, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, the hardline archbishop of Lima, might be expected to set a spotless moral example. He has launched excoriating attacks on everything from single mothers and gay rights to human rights activists, while even questioning a state pension of just £25 a month for some of Peru’s poorest citizens on the grounds that it discourages thrift. He has also called for mercy for paedophile priests. So it came as a surprise this month when it was claimed that Cardinal Cipriani, one of just…Read more …

Now it’s serious! Venezuela almost out of beer

Now it’s serious! Venezuela almost out of beer
LIMA, Peru — Throughout their country’s descent into political and economic crisis, Venezuelans of all stripes have at least been able to rely on one thing: drowning their sorrows in beer. Locals of the sweltering South American nation love to down the kinds of heavily chilled light lagers popular from Mexico to Argentina. But pretty soon Venezuela could run dry. And that could be even more devastating than it sounds. How did it come to this? For one, brewery workers are on strike demanding higher wages. Members of the Sintraterricentro union downed tools…Read more …

Dying Amazon healers are taking potential cures for cancer, AIDS and other diseases with them

Dying Amazon healers are taking potential cures for cancer, AIDS and other diseases with them
SANTA CLARA, Peru — “Every time a shaman dies, it is as though a book is burned,” says Jose Roque mournfully as he hacks through a vine with a machete. The 63-year-old indigenous Shipibo healer is showing me around an overgrown jungle garden behind the traditional thatched-roof hut he calls home here in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon. Roque has long been cultivating plants on this dense patch of rain forest to treat a host of ills, including headaches, nausea, inflammation, skin rashes and menstrual pains. Once dismissed as primitive charlatans, medicine men…Read more …

Why Nepal’s needless earthquake deaths won’t be the last

Why Nepal’s needless earthquake deaths won’t be the last
LIMA, Peru — “It was a good thing no one was watching TV,” says Janet Palomino, staring anxiously at the hole in the ceiling of her ramshackle living room. Directly below the jagged opening, sprawled on a sofa watching cartoons, is her 7-year-old daughter Elanie. “I can’t sleep at night for the worry of it,” adds Palomino, 38. “If bits of brick are falling from the ceiling on their own, then what’s it going to be like if there’s an earthquake?” Simeon Tegel/GlobalPost Here in Villa El Salvador, a vast slum of 1…Read more …

Medicine shortages so bad Venezuela is using fingerprinting

Medicine shortages so bad Venezuela is using fingerprinting
LIMA, Peru — Venezuela's imploding economy has hit a new low: medicine rationing. Or so critics are saying. This week, the health minister unveiled a new national system that requires all patients to register their fingerprints at pharmacies. They will then be allowed to buy just a limited amount of medicines. Called SIAMED, the Spanish acronym for the Integral System for Access to Medicines, it aims to solve widespread shortages that have left many Venezuelans unable to treat all kinds of ailments, from hemorrhoids to cancer.  The result of the scarcities has been…Read more …

Colombia just legalized euthanasia. Here’s why that’s a big deal

Colombia just legalized euthanasia. Here’s why that’s a big deal
LIMA, Peru — Should a doctor be allowed to take a patient’s life? Colombia just said yes. Terminally ill adults there can now ask a physician to end their lives for them, after the South American country’s Health Ministry last week made that right legally binding. This is momentous — and highly controversial. It makes Colombia only the fourth nation in the world to allow euthanasia. Euthanasia is different from medically assisted suicide, which is legal in many places. In assisted death, a doctor prescribes life-ending medication, typically pills, but the patient is the one who…Read more …

Behold: Latin America’s first legal medical marijuana crop

Behold: Latin America’s first legal medical marijuana crop
LIMA, Peru — Medical marijuana is winning so much global support that even the United States’ surgeon general approves. Yet it seems somebody had forgotten to tell Latin America, until now. Chile has begun harvesting what’s thought to be Latin America’s first ever crop of legal medical marijuana. Plucking and trimming buds from all 425 plants, grown on municipal land in the upmarket Santiago suburb of La Florida, is expected to take about another week. When that’s done, the growers hope to have enough cannabis to treat 200 cancer patients. “This is a landmark not just…Read more …

Venezuela races to collect 10M signatures against Obama

Venezuela races to collect 10M signatures against Obama
LIMA, Peru — When President Obama declaredVenezuela a "national security threat" and smacked the country with sanctions last month, an overheated response from the South American nation's highly combustible government was inevitable. And so, President Nicolas Maduro is drumming up a petition, to be signed by Venezuelans opposed to the measure, to hand Obama in person at the Summit of the Americas in Panama April 10-11. That all sounds fair enough, until you realize Maduro has set himself the improbable target of getting 10 million signatures — equivalent to one in three Venezuelans,…Read more …

Pope appoints Chilean bishop accused of child sex cover-up

Pope appoints Chilean bishop accused of child sex cover-up
LIMA, Peru — Perhaps none of Pope Francis’ vaunted reforms of the Catholic establishment has been as urgent or necessary as his unveiling of a “zero tolerance” policy towards pedophile priests. For decades, child sex abuse scandals, from Poland to the pontiff’s homeland of Argentina, have dogged the church. Victims have gone public and priests have been defrocked and jailed, yet still new allegations of this vile crime continue to surface. Since being named pope in March 2013, Francis has made all the right noises, describing pedophilia as satanic and unveiling a new…Read more …

The mayor of Lima is getting compared to the Islamic State for painting over murals

The mayor of Lima is getting compared to the Islamic State for painting over murals
LIMA, Peru — The Islamic State’s destruction of Iraqi antiquities has appalled the rest of the world almost as much as its horrific human rights abuses. Everywhere, that is, except for Lima, Peru. Or to be more precise, except for inside the office of the city's mayor, Luis Castañeda. That’s according to Peru’s top political cartoonist, Carlin, who reckons there are parallels between the jihadis’ wanton rampage and Castañeda’s decision to paint over some two dozen downtown murals. Carlin's caricature. Courtesy of La Republica The street art was commissioned by the mayor's predecessor…Read more …

Why Latin American governments don’t want to fight with Caracas

Why Latin American governments don’t want to fight with Caracas
LIMA, Peru — The Obama administration has ratcheted up pressure on President Nicolas Maduro’s beleaguered government, declaring this week that Venezuela poses a “national security threat” to the United States. That move paves the way for a formal sanctions program against the oil-rich but dangerously divided South American nation, in the same process previously used to put the heat on Iran and Syria. The White House also announced new measures targeting individual Venezuelan officials accused of human rights abuses as Maduro’s “Bolivarian” socialist government represses widespread unrest over Venezuela’s economic chaos. The crackdown…Read more …

5 signs Cuba is very much open to Americans Talks between Havana and Washington are slow going, but the island nation is emerging from its '50s time capsule

5 signs Cuba is very much open to Americans Talks between Havana and Washington are slow going, but the island nation is emerging from its '50s time capsule
LIMA, Peru — Last month’s landmark deal to resume diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana was supposed to end more than a half-century of hostility that at one point threatened to blow the whole world to kingdom come. These days that just looks like wishful thinking. The United States and Cuba have yet to agree on the fine print needed to reopen embassies in each other’s capitals. And many US Congress members, particularly Republicans, are gearing up to block any bill that would fully dismantle the American trade embargo on the still sort…Read more …

Scientists hitch hope for AIDS vaccine on llamas

Scientists hitch hope for AIDS vaccine on llamas
LIMA, Peru — Fluffy, photogenic and super hardy at high altitude, llamas have it all. They're ideal for schlepping backpackers' luggage over the high Andes or as a picturesque companion for that once-in-a-lifetime Machu Picchu selfie. But now they may have an addition to their list of good qualities: Llamas appear to be immune to AIDS and HIV. The discovery, experts say, just might lead to a vaccine against the deadly virus or a treatment for those already infected. That's according to new research by a team of experts from around the world,…Read more …

The Nisman files: A who’s who in Argentina’s deadly whodunit

The Nisman files: A who’s who in Argentina’s deadly whodunit
LIMA, Peru — Some have described it as stranger than fiction. The night before he was due to testify before lawmakers about what he claimed was a coverup of Iran's alleged role in a devastating Buenos Aires bombing, prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead with a single bullet wound to the temple. He had been making waves by accusing President Cristina Fernández of blocking his investigation into the unresolved 1994 blast at the AMIA Jewish center that killed 85 people — often called Latin America's deadliest terrorist attack. Her motive, Nisman claimed, was…Read more …

In Peru, surfing the world’s longest wave

In Peru, surfing the world’s longest wave
  CHICAMA, Peru — The cold Pacific waters massage my dusty feet as I survey the perfectly peeling break just 60 feet in front of me. After walking nearly a mile barefoot over a baking, rocky desert, the sensory release — and relief — coming from my suffering soles is extreme. Surfers are a hardy bunch and will put up with all kinds of suffering to catch a wave or two. But it’s not usually like this. For most, wipeouts, sunburn, sharp coral, and even the risk of a hungry shark mistaking them…Read more …

How Death Of Top Prosecutor Is Rocking Argentina

How Death Of Top Prosecutor Is Rocking Argentina
LIMA, Peru — It's widely regarded as Latin America's deadliest terror attack. In 1994, a van loaded with fertilizer blew up in front of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. After 20 years of dead ends in the investigation, prosecutor Alberto Nisman finally seemed to be making headway. But he also became increasingly frustrated at what he saw as government roadblocks to his quest for the truth. Last week, he publicly accused President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of conspiring with Iran to shield Iranian suspects in…Read more …

Is Ecuador’s president using U.S. law to censor critics?

Is Ecuador’s president using U.S. law to censor critics?
LIMA, Peru — You might think that using United States laws to shut up social media opponents would be the last thing Rafael Correa would do. A vocal adversary of Washington, Ecuador's leftist president has also made a name for sheltering WikiLeaks' Julian Assange in his country's London Embassy, and briefly offering asylum to U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. So, it might come as a surprise to learn that Ecuadoreans who dare to post content critical of Correa and his government on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook say they are finding their images and…Read more …

Lima climate talks aren’t focusing on keeping temps down

Lima climate talks aren’t focusing on keeping temps down
LIMA, Peru — This week another monster typhoon devastated the Philippines, killing at least 27 people. On the other side of the Pacific, in Lima, delegates from nearly 200 governments were knuckling down to the second and final week of the latest round of United Nations talks to hammer out a global climate treaty. Scientists are careful to avoid linking individual storms — or droughts, floods and forest fires — to climate change. Yet the growing pattern of extreme weather events around the planet, most scientists agree, is a direct result of humankind's…Read more …

Poor Obama. Venezuela just joined the UN Security Council And Hugo Chavez’s inexperienced daughter will be representing Caracas there.

Poor Obama. Venezuela just joined the UN Security Council And Hugo Chavez’s inexperienced daughter will be representing Caracas there.
Spare a thought for Barack Obama. Just when it already seemed a near-impossible challenge, managing United States foreign policy is poised to become a tad more horrendously complicated. Venezuela won a seat Thursday as the representative of Latin America and the Caribbean at the United Nations Security Council, the powerful forum intended to deal with urgent global crises. And as if that weren’t enough, one of the people representing the fervently anti-American administration of President Nicolas Maduro in the 15-member body will be Maria Gabriela Chavez, the daughter of the late Hugo Chavez,…Read more …

Ecuador is freeing thousands of convicted drug mules President Rafael Correa has said his country’s harsh old drug laws were ’imposed by the gringos.’ Now officials see small time smugglers as victims of cartels rather than as hardened criminals.

Ecuador is freeing thousands of convicted drug mules President Rafael Correa has said his country’s harsh old drug laws were ’imposed by the gringos.’ Now officials see small time smugglers as victims of cartels rather than as hardened criminals.
In Latin America’s latest challenge to Washington’s “war on drugs,” Ecuador has quietly begun releasing thousands of convicted cocaine smugglers. The move is a result of the country’s new criminal law, which took effect Aug. 10. It treats “drug mules” who commit the low-profit, high-risk offense more as vulnerable people exploited by cartels than as hardened criminals. The reform retroactively applies heavily reduced jail sentences to those already convicted of attempting to transport relatively small amounts of drugs — often hidden dangerously inside their own bodies — out of the Latin American country.…Read more …

Venezuela’s president is bullying a Harvard professor Nicolas Maduro is fuming over a Kennedy School economist’s criticism of his policies

Venezuela’s president is bullying a Harvard professor Nicolas Maduro is fuming over a Kennedy School economist’s criticism of his policies
LIMA, Peru — Expressing intense differences of opinion at Ivy League universities is not exactly new. It is actually the schools’ lifeblood. But it’s not every day that you hear an eminent Harvard professor accused of being a “bandit” and “financial hit man.” That’s how Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s beleaguered and increasingly thin-skinned president, reacted last week to an opinion piece co-authored by economist Ricardo Hausmann about whether the nation should default on its debts. The article reportedly even contributed to a drop in Venezuela’s bond prices. Maduro, political heir to Hugo Chavez, instructed…Read more …

With its green cred under fire, Peru prepares to host UN climate talks The South American country has warmed up for the next mega-conference in Lima to negotiate a new Earth-saving climate treaty by rolling back its own environmental safeguards.

With its green cred under fire, Peru prepares to host UN climate talks The South American country has warmed up for the next mega-conference in Lima to negotiate a new Earth-saving climate treaty by rolling back its own environmental safeguards.
Extremely vulnerable to global warming, Peru might seem like the ideal location to hold the next round of the United Nations’ climate talks. The country’s mountain glaciers are melting at an alarming rate while parts of the vast Peruvian Amazon are already wilting, literally, as the mercury gently rises, potentially releasing billions of tons of carbon stored in the trees into the atmosphere. No wonder the government here has been getting ready to roll out the red carpet for the estimated 12,000 participants in the Dec. 1-12 mega-conference known as the “COP,” shorthand…Read more …

Here’s how Brazil’s new presidential candidate could help save the planet Marina Silva has a chance at becoming the first environmentalist to lead a major world economy. Here is what that might look like.

Here’s how Brazil’s new presidential candidate could help save the planet Marina Silva has a chance at becoming the first environmentalist to lead a major world economy. Here is what that might look like.
When Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos’ plane went down near Sao Paulo this month, one of the most improbable consequences may have been to thrust the Amazon center stage in the race. Yet that’s what is happening now that Campos’ running mate, environmentalist Marina Silva, has taken his place on the ballot for the October vote. Silva, who learned to read and write only at age 16 after growing up in poverty on a remote jungle plantation, has a certain appeal with disgruntled voters. She even won praise from Greenpeace during her five…Read more …

This housewife may be Latin America’s first legally prescribed marijuana patient Chile’s health authorities are giving Cecilia Heyder special permission to use cannabis-derived drug Sativex to treat her cancer and lupus.

This housewife may be Latin America’s first legally prescribed marijuana patient Chile’s health authorities are giving Cecilia Heyder special permission to use cannabis-derived drug Sativex to treat her cancer and lupus.
“Out of 10, when I smoke the pain is four. When I don’t, it is 14,” says Cecilia Heyder, a Chilean housewife with breast cancer and lupus who is likely the first person to be legally prescribed medical marijuana in Latin America. “I feel like I am burning up inside. Everything hurts. I don’t have the strength to take a step, and I often have to use a wheelchair. My body rejects opiates so cannabis is the only thing that works for me.” On June 26, Chile’s Institute for Public Health granted Heyder…Read more …

Latin America’s military is making a comeback Bloody coups may now be practically unthinkable, but experts say the risks to democracy are real.

Latin America’s military is making a comeback Bloody coups may now be practically unthinkable, but experts say the risks to democracy are real.
It was a momentous day for Latin America: On March 11, 1990, Augusto Pinochet, the region’s last military dictator, finally handed power to an elected civilian president. Since then, democracy has put down roots in the Americas to such an extent that few expect a repeat of the bloody coups that frequently punctuated the region’s history. But now, across Latin America, the military is flexing its muscles once again and taking on more central roles in society, including in ways that experts warn are posing subtler risks to constitutional rule. The most obvious…Read more …

Why Uruguay’s David and Goliath fight with big tobacco really matters Smoking is on course to kill up to 1 billion worldwide this century, most in poor nations. Could this little South American country, in a legal fight with Philip Morris, help turn that around?

Why Uruguay’s David and Goliath fight with big tobacco really matters Smoking is on course to kill up to 1 billion worldwide this century, most in poor nations. Could this little South American country, in a legal fight with Philip Morris, help turn that around?
LIMA, Peru — A protracted legal battle in an obscure World Bank tribunal over the principles of market competition in a South American backwater. Even by trade dispute standards, this one sounds arcane — the perfect cure for insomnia perhaps. But before you nod off, here’s a triple shot of espresso: Uruguay’s fight with Philip Morris, the world’s largest cigarette manufacturer, just might mark a turning point in the global smoking pandemic that the World Health Organization (WHO) expects to cost up to 1 billion lives this century. Four out of five of…Read more …

How not to become a World Cup star Peru’s Reimond Manco was once rated better than Colombian superstar James Rodriguez. So where is he now?

How not to become a World Cup star Peru’s Reimond Manco was once rated better than Colombian superstar James Rodriguez. So where is he now?
Colombian soccer star James Rodriguez appears to have it all. At just 22, he is the World Cup’s current top scorer, with six goals, and viewed by many as the standout player of the tournament in Brazil. He also appears to be a good kid: hardworking, focused and grounded. But there was a time when James (pronounced HA-mes), as he is known, labored in the shadow of an even more outrageously talented South American player, Peru’s Reimond Manco. In the 2007 South American under-17 championship, Manco was named best player and Rodriguez runner-up.…Read more …

The World Cup’s ’ecological’ mascot symbolizes exactly what’s wrong with the soccer fest Environmentalists are enraged that FIFA will earn millions from its endangered armadillo icon but won’t donate a cent to save the real creature.

The World Cup’s ’ecological’ mascot symbolizes exactly what’s wrong with the soccer fest Environmentalists are enraged that FIFA will earn millions from its endangered armadillo icon but won’t donate a cent to save the real creature.
When they unveiled Fuleco nearly two years ago, organizers of the 2014 World Cup vowed the official mascot would help green the planet’s most popular sporting event. The garish blue and yellow talisman, which is already omnipresent at the month-long soccer fest that kicked off in Sao Paulo on Thursday, is supposed to be a three-banded armadillo, known as the “tatu-bola” in Brazil, the only country where it exists. Officially classed as “vulnerable” to extinction — but due to be reclassified to the more urgent “endangered” next year — the species has seen…Read more …

Just 2 percent of Latin Americans are rated as having free media Independent journalism in the Americas is backsliding again, Freedom House says.

Just 2 percent of Latin Americans are rated as having free media Independent journalism in the Americas is backsliding again, Freedom House says.
Democracy may have swept almost all of Latin America, but one of its pillars is looking shaky. Press freedom in the region has sunk to a five-year low. Now just 2 percent of the region's population lives in a completely free media environment — on par with the Middle East and North Africa. That’s according to the latest annual survey by Freedom House, a Washington, DC advocacy group. South of the Rio Grande, it says, journalists are finding it harder and harder to operate without being censored, harassed and, in some cases, murdered.…Read more …

Red wine or white, sir, with your guinea pig? Peruvians are eating more of the furry rodents than ever. Even the posh restaurants are getting in on the act.

Red wine or white, sir, with your guinea pig? Peruvians are eating more of the furry rodents than ever. Even the posh restaurants are getting in on the act.
Gutted and splayed out on its back, its claws and teeth bared in a death grimace, the roast guinea pig stares up from the plate. Its eyes appear to bore into me as I toy with the ultra-Peruvian garnish of boiled potatoes and sliced onions soaked in lime juice, and then poke gingerly with a fork at the little fella’s ribs. But this is no time for squeamishness. Or utensils, for that matter. My two companions barely hesitate before each ripping off a leg and tucking in. Just like fried chicken, guinea pig…Read more …

Is Chile about to end Pinochet’s total ban on abortion? This country is 1 of just 6 that prohibit terminating pregnancy under any circumstance. That may be about to change.

Is Chile about to end Pinochet’s total ban on abortion? This country is 1 of just 6 that prohibit terminating pregnancy under any circumstance. That may be about to change.
When doctors told Karen Espindola three months into her pregnancy that her son had a brain defect, her initial reaction was searing grief. But even as she sobbed in the hospital waiting room — surrounded by other expecting moms anxiously looking forward to giving birth — she decided to press ahead with the pregnancy. A 23-year-old call center worker, whose partner had abandoned her upon hearing she was pregnant, Espindola resolved to love her son regardless of whether he had Down’s syndrome or some other genetic condition. Two weeks later, after further tests,…Read more …

Why USAID’s ‘Cuban Twitter’ plan missed the point Instead of clandestine backing for a messaging platform, the US could just stop blocking computer and smartphone sales to Cuba.

Why USAID’s ‘Cuban Twitter’ plan missed the point Instead of clandestine backing for a messaging platform, the US could just stop blocking computer and smartphone sales to Cuba.
As United States senators grilled the head of the government's international aid agency this week about ZunZuneo, the “Cuban Twitter,” perhaps the biggest question went unasked. If Washington wants to help Cubans break through the “information blockade” on their island — and thus potentially subvert the Castro regime — why not finally allow companies to freely export internet technology to Cuba instead of engaging in controversial cloak-and-dagger tactics? It emerged last week that the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had been behind ZunZuneo, a cellphone-based microblogging platform that suddenly appeared in Cuba…Read more …

Maduro to Obama: Give peace a chance, don’t kill me The Venezuelan president has made startling claims, even as he calls for talks with Washington.

Maduro to Obama: Give peace a chance, don’t kill me The Venezuelan president has made startling claims, even as he calls for talks with Washington.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro may need to make up his mind about the United States. The embattled leader has once again accused President Barack Obama’s administration of wanting to bump him off — and in the same breath demanded talks with Washington about “peace and sovereignty.” Speaking before a pro-government crowd in Caracas over the weekend, Maduro alleged the United States is orchestrating the anti-government demonstrations rocking Venezuela that have claimed a reported 29 lives since early February. “President Obama, give peace and respect a chance and let's set the foundation for a…Read more …

5 myths about the Venezuela crisis Latin America isn't as wild about Chavismo as we've been led to believe

5 myths about the Venezuela crisis Latin America isn't as wild about Chavismo as we've been led to believe
Nothing quite arouses political passions like Venezuela’s self-proclaimed “Bolivarian” socialist revolution. Hollywood progressives such as Oliver Stone and Sean Penn champion the government for its anti-poverty programs, while conservative pundits thunder that a "dictator" left Venezuela in shambles. As Venezuela on Wednesday marks the first anniversary of Hugo Chavez’s death, and the protests against his political disciple, President Nicolas Maduro, enter their fourth week, GlobalPost sorts the facts from the myths regarding Venezuela. 1. Latin America is wild about Chavismo Many on the left believe that Chavismo, the leftist movement launched by the…Read more …

Who’s who: These are the key figures in Venezuela’s political crisis As protesters and security forces continue to clash in Venezuela, here’s a breakdown of all the major players.

Who’s who: These are the key figures in Venezuela’s political crisis As protesters and security forces continue to clash in Venezuela, here’s a breakdown of all the major players.
Venezuela is close to breaking point. Shortages of basic goods and some of the world’s highest crime and inflation rates triggered protests earlier this month that appear only to intensify with each attempt to repress them. As the government and opposition struggle for the upper hand in bitterly polarized Venezuela, GlobalPost runs down the key players in the fight. Nicolas Maduro Before his death in March, El Comandante Hugo Chavez personally anointed Nicolas Maduro as his political heir, a decision the nation then ratified in April when the 51-year-old former bus driver and…Read more …

Ecuador, cocaine’s stopover on the way to market This Andean nation produces no coca leaves, but more than 100 tons of cocaine cross its borders every year.

Ecuador, cocaine’s stopover on the way to market This Andean nation produces no coca leaves, but more than 100 tons of cocaine cross its borders every year.
If smuggling cocaine onto an airplane sounds dicey, then imagine navigating 2,000 miles on the open sea in a homemade submarine with half a ton of the white stuff and no oxygen tanks. This 30-foot fiberglass sub can dive just 15 feet and stay under for a maximum of 15 minutes — barely long enough for passing coastguard patrols to disappear. It has no toilet, kitchen or, for that matter, legroom. Even four months after Ecuadorean police captured it at a clandestine dock deep in a mangrove forest, the smell of diesel fumes…Read more …

Venezuela: Why they protest Anti- and pro-government protesters have clashed in Venezuela this week. Here’s what’s making them angry.

Venezuela: Why they protest Anti- and pro-government protesters have clashed in Venezuela this week. Here’s what’s making them angry.
Nearly a year after the cancer death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, his self-styled “Bolivarian” socialist revolution appears under siege. Anti-government protests this week have convulsed the country and descended into violent clashes with government sympathizers. On Wednesday, at least three people were killed by gunfire, two of them opposition students and one a pro-government demonstrator. Chavez’s folksy style — think him calling George W. Bush “the devil” for invading Iraq — and populist anti-poverty policies made him wildly popular both at home and internationally. But his political heir, President Nicolas Maduro, lacks…Read more …

Uruguay’s neighbors now considering legalization of pot The taboo is broken: Argentina’s new anti-drug czar says the country ‘deserves’ the debate, while Chile’s new president could ease marijuana laws.

Uruguay’s neighbors now considering legalization of pot The taboo is broken: Argentina’s new anti-drug czar says the country ‘deserves’ the debate, while Chile’s new president could ease marijuana laws.
Argentina has given the first sign that Uruguay’s groundbreaking cannabis reform just may have started a domino effect across Latin America. Following the momentous vote by its smaller neighbor’s senate this month — making it the first nation in the world to completely legalize the soft drug — Argentina’s anti-drug czar Juan Carlos Molina has called for a public discussion in his country about emulating the measure. “Argentina deserves a good debate about this,” Molina told local radio. “We have the capacity to do it. We should not underestimate ourselves.” Crucially, Molina, a…Read more …

Peru’s blackface ’Negro Mama’ continues to offend A TV character meant to make Peruvians laugh reveals the casual racism still common in this South American country, campaigners say.

Peru’s blackface ’Negro Mama’ continues to offend A TV character meant to make Peruvians laugh reveals the casual racism still common in this South American country, campaigners say.
When one of Peru’s leading TV stations was fined for racism earlier this year, you might have thought it would drop the offending comedy character, Negro Mama. But despite the 74,000 soles ($26,000) sanction, Negro Mama continues to star in Frecuencia Latina’s raucous flagship entertainment show, “The Humor Special,” which airs at primetime on Saturday night. Critics say the character, played by comedian Jorge Benavides, in blackface, and made up with grotesquely flaring nostrils and thick lips, relies on crude stereotypes. Not the least of those is that the character — which despite…Read more …

Female politicians taking over Latin America’s land of machismo

Female politicians taking over Latin America’s land of machismo
Chilean presidential candidate for the New Majority coalition, Michelle Bachelet, left, and presidential candidate right-wing Evelin Matthei, right, greet each other before the presidential debate organized by ARCHI (Association of Radio of Chile) in Santiago, on Dec. 6, 2013. Martin Bernetti / AFP - Getty Images  LIMA, Peru — For a region famous for “machismo,” Latin America is about to take an unlikely step: elect a record number of women presidents. In Chile, moderate socialist former President Michelle Bachelet — whose admirers include Hillary Clinton — is widely expected to crush her conservative…Read more …

Warming seas and superstorms are destroying aquatic life And when it dies, the people onshore suffer as well

Warming seas and superstorms are destroying aquatic life And when it dies, the people onshore suffer as well
CAYE CAULKER, Belize — Stripped of its color and smashed into pieces, the dead coral all but carpets the seafloor. Here, just off Caye Caulker, a tiny, bucolic Caribbean isle that is a magnet for snorkelers and scuba divers, the ravages of climate change are clear to see. Hurricanes have long been normal in this part of the world, and the spectacular reefs have adapted naturally to withstand the battering of storm waves. But not like this. Warming seas in recent decades have fuelled more frequent, stronger cyclones devastating the corals on an…Read more …

Latin America’s oil rush means more climate change Brazil, Argentina and other countries across the Americas are seeking to ramp up fossil-fuel production. So much for curbing carbon emissions.

Latin America’s oil rush means more climate change Brazil, Argentina and other countries across the Americas are seeking to ramp up fossil-fuel production. So much for curbing carbon emissions.
Latin America’s new oil rush may delight the region’s treasury ministers, but the extra greenhouse gases it will unleash will only deepen the world’s climate crisis. With the region’s existing oil and gas wells gradually running dry, and global demand growing, Latin American governments are now seeking to exploit unconventional deposits that were previously too difficult, expensive or just plain polluting to extract. Among the biggest is Brazil’s Libra deep-sea oil field, in the southern Atlantic, which was awarded to a consortium including Shell and two Chinese firms in October. President Dilma Rousseff’s…Read more …

That coffee you are drinking might not be so fair trade after all Latin American coffee growers struggle with rock-bottom prices and a crushing outbreak of coffee leaf rust.

That coffee you are drinking might not be so fair trade after all Latin American coffee growers struggle with rock-bottom prices and a crushing outbreak of coffee leaf rust.
Are you paying a fair price for your latte every morning? More than fair, you might think, given the occasional criticisms that Starbucks, the world’s most popular specialty coffee retailer, is too expensive. But try telling that to the farmers in Latin America who grow most of the world’s premium java and, in many cases, are not even making ends meet. Current rock-bottom prices for coffee beans — below cost for many of the region’s growers — and a crushing outbreak of coffee leaf rust, a fungus that slashes harvests, are making their…Read more …

Destruction of Peru’s rainforest by illegal gold mining is twice as bad as experts thought 3D model shows that illegal gold mining is wiping out a global biodiversity hotspot.

Destruction of Peru’s rainforest by illegal gold mining is twice as bad as experts thought 3D model shows that illegal gold mining is wiping out a global biodiversity hotspot.
The destruction of a global biodiversity hotspot deep in the Peruvian Amazon by illegal gold mining is twice as bad as previously thought, an authoritative new study using ground-breaking technology has revealed. According to the report by the US-based Carnegie Institution for Science, 15,810 acres of rainforest in Peru’s Madre de Dios region, home to various nature and indigenous reserves as well as a booming eco-tourism industry, have vanished per year since the start of the 2008 global economic crisis. The crisis saw international gold prices rocket as investors rushed to put their…Read more …

Church wavers on child sex scandals in pope’s homeland Despite the Argentine pope’s pledge to punish pedophilia, several Latin American countries are grappling with molestation cases and the church’s hushed responses.

Church wavers on child sex scandals in pope’s homeland Despite the Argentine pope’s pledge to punish pedophilia, several Latin American countries are grappling with molestation cases and the church’s hushed responses.
Pope Francis’ promise of a more humble, tolerant Catholic Church may have earned rave reviews around the world, but in Latin America, a string of child sex scandals has left some wondering what's really changed in the Vatican. Along with landmark gestures such as dressing simply, publicly kissing followers’ feet and refusing to condemn gays, Francis has also vowed to punish pedophile priests. Yet seven months into his papacy, the church’s questionable handling of child molestation cases in Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic and Peru is calling that commitment into doubt. Campaigners say…Read more …

Peru: Cocaine king’s riches don’t reach growers GlobalPost’s Simeon Tegel visits a valley that’s the world’s coca leaf capital, and finds its poor farmers are far from reaping dividends from their green crop’s white derivative.

Peru: Cocaine king’s riches don’t reach growers GlobalPost’s Simeon Tegel visits a valley that’s the world’s coca leaf capital, and finds its poor farmers are far from reaping dividends from their green crop’s white derivative.
VRAE, Peru — A sea of coca leaves — the key ingredient in cocaine and crack — lies drying in the blazing sun as farmer Teodoro Alzamora complains bitterly about the grinding poverty trapping his village. “Coca’s what gives us clothes to wear and medicine when we are sick. It feeds our children,” he says, explaining that his only source of income is the few hundred dollars, after costs, he earns per coca harvest. “We are not ‘narcos.’ What else are we supposed to do? When we grow cassava or bananas no one…Read more …

In Peru, a tale of two presidents Even in Latin America, where graft is endemic, two more allegedly corrupt ex-presidents would mark a new low. No wonder nearly half of Peruvians consider corruption one of the country’s top problems.

In Peru, a tale of two presidents Even in Latin America, where graft is endemic, two more allegedly corrupt ex-presidents would mark a new low. No wonder nearly half of Peruvians consider corruption one of the country’s top problems.
From traffic cops demanding bribes to flagrantly crooked politicians, Peruvians long ago wearied of the graft that appears to have infected almost all aspects of public life here. Yet the latest corruption allegations, against Peru’s last two presidents, may have even the most cynical feeling their hearts sink. Alejandro Toledo, president from 2001 to 2006, and Alan Garcia, re-elected from 2006 to 2011, are both now accused of getting rich illegally. Should the charges be proven, all three of Peru’s most recent elected ex-presidents would have been convicted of corruption. Alberto Fujimori, president…Read more …

Mexico lines up tax reform with leftist lean: President Enrique Peña Nieto raises income tax but not VAT in latest shake-up Plan aims to broaden the abysmally low tax base and root out corruption in public spending

Mexico lines up tax reform with leftist lean: President Enrique Peña Nieto raises income tax but not VAT in latest shake-up Plan aims to broaden the abysmally low tax base and root out corruption in public spending
Mexico president Enrique Peña Nieto has unveiled a major shake-up of the country’s creaking tax system aimed at broadening the abysmally low tax base and rooting out widespread corruption in public spending. The plan would raise the top tax band from 30 per cent to 32 per cent for those earning more than 500,000 pesos (£24,000) a year, and see a new levy on stock market profits as well as the scrapping of more than half the exemptions and breaks in Mexico’s fiscal code. It has also defied widespread predictions by avoiding slapping…Read more …

Latin America most dangerous place for environmentalists Green campaigners are being killed in Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru, the UN says.

Latin America most dangerous place for environmentalists Green campaigners are being killed in Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru, the UN says.
As anti-mining activist Cleofe Neyra talks about the repeated death threats from anonymous callers to her cellphone, it is hard to imagine she may actually be one of the lucky ones. “They said they would be waiting for me, that they would rape and kill me,” Neyra, a 53-year-old smallholder farmer from Huancabamba, in Peru’s northern region of Piura, told GlobalPost. “It was traumatic, of course. You think the worst. You think about your family, your husband and your kids. You have to stay strong but it is very difficult to avoid letting…Read more …

Cockscomb Basin: Where the big cats are Jaguars roam Belize’s tropical Cockscomb forest, the heart of a pioneering plan to carve a green corridor linking the big cat species across the region.

Cockscomb Basin: Where the big cats are Jaguars roam Belize’s tropical Cockscomb forest, the heart of a pioneering plan to carve a green corridor linking the big cat species across the region.
COCKSCOMB BASIN, Belize — As humans increasingly destroy big cat habitats around the world, this breathtaking Central American wilderness offers conservationists a rare piece of good news. Compared to the dire fate of lions and tigers, jaguar numbers remain relatively healthy. And nowhere has a denser population of the Western Hemisphere’s largest feline than the sprawling, primeval landscape of Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This 128,000-acre expanse of tropical forest — reminiscent of a scene from Jurassic Park — offers the solitary cats their perfect environment of virgin jungles and rivers in which to…Read more …

The Bad Boys (and a few girls) from Brazil: How Rio came to rule ultimate fighting GlobalPost’s Simeon Tegel visits the Brazilian gym that’s a training ground for some of the world’s toughest cage fighters.

The Bad Boys (and a few girls) from Brazil: How Rio came to rule ultimate fighting GlobalPost’s Simeon Tegel visits the Brazilian gym that’s a training ground for some of the world’s toughest cage fighters.
The roundhouse kicks reverberate around the gym like artillery shells exploding down the block. For 30 minutes, the fighter glides across the ring, flicking out rat-a-tat-tat combinations of seamless jabs, straight rights and those brutal kicks, crashing his lower shins into the pads held head-high by his trainer. Just a couple miles away, locals and tourists are sunning themselves at Copacabana beach. But here in Rio’s Flamengo district, at the Nova Uniao team’s training center, the name of the game is unarmed, full-contact, hand-to-hand violence. Brazil might be the nation of samba, string…Read more …

The world’s biggest drug dealer: Uruguay’s move towards legalising marijuana hailed as ground-breaking – but will other South American nations follow suit?

The world’s biggest drug dealer: Uruguay’s move towards legalising marijuana hailed as ground-breaking – but will other South American nations follow suit?
Uruguay has taken a momentous step towards becoming the first country in the world to create a legal, national market for cannabis after the lower chamber of its Congress voted in favour of the groundbreaking plan. The Bill would allow consumers to either grow up to six plants at home or buy up to 40g per month of the soft drug – produced by the government – from licensed chemists for recreational or medical use. Previously, although possession of small amounts for personal consumption was not criminalised in the small South American nation,…Read more …

Gay in Belize? You’re breaking the law. Still. A vestige of British colonial times, Belize’s anti-sodomy law punishes gay sex with up to 10 years in prison. Its Supreme Court is due to rule whether to scrap the law, but Belize’s religious right — backed by a Texas missionary — is pushing to uphold it.

Gay in Belize? You’re breaking the law. Still. A vestige of British colonial times, Belize’s anti-sodomy law punishes gay sex with up to 10 years in prison. Its Supreme Court is due to rule whether to scrap the law, but Belize’s religious right — backed by a Texas missionary — is pushing to uphold it.
BELIZE CITY, Belize — As a growing number of US gay couples exercise their new right to legally wed, here homosexuals wait for the day when they're no longer criminalized for being gay. This tiny Central American nation is one of numerous member states of the Commonwealth — former British colonies from Tonga to East Africa — where colonial-era laws banning “buggery” (sodomy) and “gross indecency” remain in effect. Section 53 of Belize’s Criminal Code mandates up to 10 years in jail for anyone convicted of “carnal intercourse against the order of nature…Read more …

Brazil’s hydro dams could make its greenhouse gas emissions soar Already a top emitter, Brazil could spew hundreds of millions more tons of gases blamed for climate change, such as CO2 and methane, as it floods Amazon forest for hydro power, researchers say.

Brazil’s hydro dams could make its greenhouse gas emissions soar Already a top emitter, Brazil could spew hundreds of millions more tons of gases blamed for climate change, such as CO2 and methane, as it floods Amazon forest for hydro power, researchers say.
Officials here frequently claim that the huge hydroelectric dams that increasingly dot the Brazilian Amazon are a source of “clean energy.” The dams often flood vast areas of rain forest, leading to a major loss of biodiversity and the devastating displacement of indigenous communities from their ancestral lands. That is justified, President Dilma Rousseff claims, because they help fight climate change. “[Hydroelectric power] does not emit greenhouse gases, and that means we have a renewable energy project,” she said when recently inaugurating one Amazonian dam. Yet, according to independent scientists, that claim does…Read more …

Ecuador has a sinister anniversary gift for Julian Assange A year ago, Ecuador allowed fugitive WikiLeaker Julian Assange to seek refuge in its London embassy. Now its new media law tightens the vice on journalists critical of the South American country’s government.

Ecuador has a sinister anniversary gift for Julian Assange A year ago, Ecuador allowed fugitive WikiLeaker Julian Assange to seek refuge in its London embassy. Now its new media law tightens the vice on journalists critical of the South American country’s government.
Editor's note: Since this published, WikiLeaks has said it's helping US national security leaker Edward Snowden request asylum from Ecuador. As Julian Assange today completes a full year living in Ecuador’s London embassy, back in Quito, President Rafael Correa has found an original way to celebrate — hammering yet another nail into the coffin of his country’s free press. Last Friday, Ecuador’s congress, dominated by Correa’s leftist Proud and Sovereign Fatherland grouping, passed a new media law that's been universally condemned by human rights and journalism groups. Vaguely written and granting the government…Read more …

Peru: Where have all the anchovies gone? The Peruvian anchovy is the world’s most heavily exploited fish. Now Peru’s government is trying to reduce overfishing of the popular little forager.

Peru: Where have all the anchovies gone? The Peruvian anchovy is the world’s most heavily exploited fish. Now Peru’s government is trying to reduce overfishing of the popular little forager.
Growing to about 5 inches on average, the Peruvian anchovy might seem an unlikely candidate for the title of the world’s mightiest fish. Yet thriving in the Humboldt Current, the plankton-rich upwelling of Antarctic waters off South America’s Pacific coast, this diminutive, bright-silver forager gathers in vast shoals that have become the fishing industry's easiest pickings. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the Peruvian anchovy is “the most heavily exploited fish in world history,” with annual catches in Chile and Peru sometimes totaling more than 9 million tons, two or…Read more …

Peru’s military draft fires up critics for letting the rich off the hook Peruvians are outraged by the low-wage military’s new draft, and that the rich can afford to dodge it.

Peru’s military draft fires up critics for letting the rich off the hook Peruvians are outraged by the low-wage military’s new draft, and that the rich can afford to dodge it.
The Peruvian government has sparked an uproar by reinstating the draft — but allowing those who can afford a $715 fine to skip military service. The measure has been almost universally attacked as discriminating against the poor, particularly from the Amazon and Andes, where entire families earn less than that sum in a year, while allowing rich kids to legally dodge the draft. It is especially polarizing in Peru where many of those with the cash to pay the fine are white, and most of those who can’t are either Afro-Peruvians or of…Read more …

No oxygen, no fear Few sports are as grueling as mountaineering, where just catching your next breath is a constant challenge. How do elite mountaineers prepare for the highest peaks?

No oxygen, no fear Few sports are as grueling as mountaineering, where just catching your next breath is a constant challenge. How do elite mountaineers prepare for the highest peaks?
The distance between us grows slowly but surely in the gray light of dawn as we head up the steep snowfield 18,000 feet above sea level. It is not that Richard Hidalgo, Peru’s most accomplished mountaineer, is setting a blistering pace. In fact, he’s taking short, deliberate strides. But his metronomic rhythm toward the 19,872 foot summit of Mount Chachani is relentless. Unlike me, he doesn’t need to stop to catch his breath every few seconds, readjust his backpack, or just take in the stunning view of arid, rocky valleys through the clouds…Read more …

Cerro Rico: The mountain that eats men Bolivia’s fabulously rich silver mine has claimed thousands of victims, yet the men keep coming.

Cerro Rico: The mountain that eats men Bolivia’s fabulously rich silver mine has claimed thousands of victims, yet the men keep coming.
CERRO RICO DE POTOSI, Bolivia — “There isn’t a man on this mountain who wants his children to work here,” Pablo Choque says as he prepares for his shift as a driller. Above us towers 15,800-foot Cerro Rico — literally the “Rich Mountain” — the greatest silver deposit ever known. Locals have another name for it: The Mountain that Eats Men. In its 17th century heyday, armies of indigenous and African slaves died here as the ore they mined helped keep the ailing Spanish empire afloat. Four centuries later, thousands of men like…Read more …

Peru: Amazonian conservation in action A stay at the Tambopata Research Center requires effort, but the rewards include stunning wildlife encounters, says Simeon Tegel.

Peru: Amazonian conservation in action A stay at the Tambopata Research Center requires effort, but the rewards include stunning wildlife encounters, says Simeon Tegel.
The low roar thundering through the undergrowth grew closer. Much closer. It was first light, just after 5am, on our first hike of the day out from the Tambopata Research Center (TRC), a lodge deep in the Peruvian Amazon, near the Bolivian border. Suddenly, Yuri, my guide, stopped and pointed into the dense canopy at the source of the intimidating rumble. "Don't move," he whispered urgently. But instead of some magnificent specimen of the Amazon's apex predator, the jaguar, Yuri was waving at a small, brownish lump of fur. Gazing nonchalantly down at…Read more …

Argentina’s bedeviled pact with Iran Argentina and Iran agree to investigate the deadly 1994 blast at a Buenos Aires Jewish center. Trouble is, Argentine prosecutors reckon Iran was behind it, and Tehran won’t let Iranian suspects be interrogated.

Argentina’s bedeviled pact with Iran Argentina and Iran agree to investigate the deadly 1994 blast at a Buenos Aires Jewish center. Trouble is, Argentine prosecutors reckon Iran was behind it, and Tehran won’t let Iranian suspects be interrogated.
Nearly two decades after the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Latin America’s deadliest terrorist atrocity is roiling Argentina once again. Eighty-five people were killed and hundreds injured in the 1994 attack, when a van loaded with 600 pounds of fertilizer detonated in front of the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Society (AMIA by its Spanish initials). Prosecutors long ago blamed Iran. At 200,000, Argentina’s Jewish community is the largest in Latin America and the region’s most obvious target for anti-Jewish terrorism. Yet Tehran denies any involvement and refuses to allow investigators to…Read more …

Is the Brazilian Amazon shrinking faster? A new study of Brazil’s rain forest says deforestation last year occurred more than twice as fast as in 2011.

Is the Brazilian Amazon shrinking faster? A new study of Brazil’s rain forest says deforestation last year occurred more than twice as fast as in 2011.
Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has jumped alarmingly, according to a new satellite study. If confirmed, the survey, by independent Brazilian think tank Imazon, would be a sign that several years of record lows in jungle loss in the South American giant have come to a juddering halt. It found that 82 square kilometers (31.6 square miles) of tropical rain forest were lost in December 2012, a 107 percent increase over the same month the previous year. The study also revealed that December was the fifth consecutive month that deforestation had risen. From…Read more …

Peru exporting outlawed timber from Amazon to the US US consumers unwittingly support illegal logging. Is Washington’s new effort to crack down on the practice "just another action plan"?

Peru exporting outlawed timber from Amazon to the US US consumers unwittingly support illegal logging. Is Washington’s new effort to crack down on the practice "just another action plan"?
Some of the fine wooden furniture that makes for chic centerpieces in American homes is being sourced in far less elegant ways in this South American country. Environmentalists have long sounded alarms about illegal logging, claiming that export companies profit from ransacking the jungle of rare hardwood species in poor countries with lax law enforcement. Now, the US government is taking a tougher stance. Washington has given Peru one more chance to clean up its forestry sector and stop exporting illegally logged timber to the United States. The move is a response to…Read more …

Peru: Lima’s progressive mayor vs. gangster order Mayor Susana Villaran has battled rats, tax cheats and chaotic streets of Peru’s capital. Now gangsters are attempting to bring her down.

Peru: Lima’s progressive mayor vs. gangster order Mayor Susana Villaran has battled rats, tax cheats and chaotic streets of Peru’s capital. Now gangsters are attempting to bring her down.
When Susana Villaran was unexpectedly elected mayor of Lima, few believed she would make headway in the urgent task of modernizing what may be Latin America’s most chaotic capital. The moderate leftist former human rights campaigner had no experience of running a major organization. Even supporters worried she was unprepared to take charge of this troubled city of 9 million. Yet now, halfway through her four-year term, just as she appears to be making progress in overhauling Lima’s catastrophic public transport system, she faces a recall election linked to a previous mayor accused…Read more …

Would Latin America accept Assad? Analysis: Latin America has a history of being a popular paradise for disgraced foreign despots. Will Syria’s Bashar al-Assad be next?

Would Latin America accept Assad? Analysis: Latin America has a history of being a popular paradise for disgraced foreign despots. Will Syria’s Bashar al-Assad be next?
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad might want to think twice before fleeing to Latin America with his family. He is reported to have sent his deputy foreign minister, Faisal al-Miqdad, on a trip to Cuba, Ecuador and Venezuela to sound out their respective leaders about the possibility of asylum. All three countries have left-wing governments that are, to varying degrees and in different ways, antagonistic toward the US. The most likely destination for the Syrian despot would appear to be Venezuela. Its President Hugo Chavez recently described Assad as his country’s “legitimate” leader. That…Read more …

Stakes are high as Mexico’s new President bids to end the bloodshed caused by drug conflict Enrique Peña Nieto takes office with calls to pursue the drug barons and protect the public

Stakes are high as Mexico’s new President bids to end the bloodshed caused by drug conflict Enrique Peña Nieto takes office with calls to pursue the drug barons and protect the public
As he is sworn into office as Mexico's new president today, Enrique Peña Nieto may privately wonder if his campaign promises to slash the death toll from his country's ferocious drug conflict can ever be fulfilled. Despair at the bloodbath is what drove millions of Mexicans to vote for Mr Peña Nieto and his reviled Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, whose previous corruption-riddled, 71-year rule ended in 2000 after it was finally forced to stop rigging elections. The telegenic 46-year-old former state governor has vowed not to enter unwritten deals with the cartels…Read more …

Bolivia tells fat kids: “Eat like a native” Eat your heart out Jamie Oliver. To trim down, Bolivian school kids chow quinoa and other indigenous staples.

Bolivia tells fat kids: “Eat like a native” Eat your heart out Jamie Oliver. To trim down, Bolivian school kids chow quinoa and other indigenous staples.
“The hardest nut to crack is weight,” says Gabriela Aro, who heads a groundbreaking school meals program based on traditional indigenous ingredients in the Bolivian capital, La Paz. The program targets nutritional problems among 153,000 needy youngsters in 411 public kindergartens and schools in one of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest countries. But along with long-established conditions such as malnutrition and anemia, a new threat is rapidly emerging: obesity. Although there is a dearth of reliable data, most experts agree that Latin Americans are, on average, rapidly packing on the pounds. At an annual…Read more …

For Peru’s rebels, terror didn’t work, now for politics Blamed for Peru’s savage 1980-1992 civil war, Shining Path guerrillas have birthed a movement seeking to play politics and free their jailed leader.

For Peru’s rebels, terror didn’t work, now for politics Blamed for Peru’s savage 1980-1992 civil war, Shining Path guerrillas have birthed a movement seeking to play politics and free their jailed leader.
Two decades ago, security forces captured the Shining Path's messianic leader, precipitating the group's rapid military decline. Now, supporters of the Maoist insurgent group that once bathed Peru in blood are attempting a comeback. Pushing the group’s fundamentalist agenda and calling for the release of those convicted of terrorism, the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights (MOVADEF, as it is known here) is winning adherents among a new generation with no memories of the horrors of the 1980s and early 1990s. The movement started in 2009, claiming to be against “globalization” and “imperialism”…Read more …

Farc demands land in return for peace Colombian guerrillas begin ceasefire talks – but where are the missing victims? Simeon Tegel reports

Farc demands land in return for peace Colombian guerrillas begin ceasefire talks – but where are the missing victims? Simeon Tegel reports
Peace talks between the Colombian government and Marxist rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc, are due to resume in the Cuban capital, Havana. But it is the thorny issue of land ownership that could make or break the negotiations aimed at ending Latin America's longest-running insurgency. Colombia's hopelessly unequal tenure of farmland was the reason the Farc first took up arms in the 1960s, as millions of desperate peasants, guided by Marxist ideologues, finally decided they had had enough of a powerful post-colonial élite whose ranches covered vast stretches…Read more …

Uruguay approves abortion law The country is set to become one of the few Latin American countries to legalize abortion. So why aren’t women’s rights advocates celebrating?

Uruguay approves abortion law The country is set to become one of the few Latin American countries to legalize abortion. So why aren’t women’s rights advocates celebrating?
Uruguay is set to become the third nation in Latin America to allow abortion on demand. The country’s senate approved a bill Wednesday, by 17 votes to 14, which would permit pregnancy terminations for Uruguayan residents in the first trimester. The lower chamber voted by the narrowest margin, 50-49, in favor of the bill following a heated debate last month. President Jose Mujica, a former left-wing rebel, has already said he will sign it into law once congress sends it to him. The move marks a watershed in deeply Catholic Latin America. In…Read more …

Hugo Chavez finally meets his match He has survived cancer and a coup attempt in 14 years as Venezuela’s President, but ’el Comandante’ may be about to lose power in Sunday’s vote

Hugo Chavez finally meets his match He has survived cancer and a coup attempt in 14 years as Venezuela’s President, but ’el Comandante’ may be about to lose power in Sunday’s vote
Judging by the heated rhetoric, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez could not be taking the challenge from opposition candidate Henrique Capriles more seriously. Even by his own strident standards, the president's recent warning to Venezuela's moneyed classes to vote for him or face "civil war" was inflammatory. Denying he was intimidating opposition voters, "el Comandante" claimed Mr Capriles (a telegenic, youthful, centrist former state governor) secretly plans to dismantle welfare programmes for the poor, a move Mr Chávez said would trigger a dangerous backlash. "Who could think that the people would remain with their…Read more …

Bullet to ballot: Today’s Latin American strongmen cling to power at the polls Analysis: Democracy is under attack — from Venezuela to Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia — this time by populist elected leaders who’ve proved unbeatable at the ballot box.

Bullet to ballot: Today’s Latin American strongmen cling to power at the polls Analysis: Democracy is under attack — from Venezuela to Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia — this time by populist elected leaders who’ve proved unbeatable at the ballot box.
The goose-stepping soldiers have long returned to their barracks and many of the generals who commanded them have died or been sentenced for crimes against humanity. Yet, some three decades after the fall of the military dictatorships that once terrorized Latin America, democracy in the region is once again under attack. This time, the strongmen are populist elected leaders, who — under a veneer of constitutionality — concentrate power in their own hands, marginalize opponents and use public resources to stack electoral races in their favor. The main proponents today, rights groups and…Read more …

Is Obama harboring a Bolivian rights abuser? President Evo Morales has accused the US of harboring a Bolivian former leader he claims has blood on his hands.

Is Obama harboring a Bolivian rights abuser? President Evo Morales has accused the US of harboring a Bolivian former leader he claims has blood on his hands.
Bolivia’s fraught relationship with the United States has nosedived again after Washington’s apparent refusal to extradite former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada back to the South American country. Sanchez de Lozada is wanted in his homeland over the slaying in October 2003 — 15 months into his second presidential term — of dozens of protesters against his plans to export Bolivia’s oil and gas reserves. The Bolivian police and army’s handling of the unrest was widely criticized at the time by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, which issued a statement warning of…Read more …

Peru’s fantastic food revolution With its exotic ingredients, and chefs producing new twists on classics, Lima is becoming the gastronomic capital of South America

Peru’s fantastic food revolution With its exotic ingredients, and chefs producing new twists on classics, Lima is becoming the gastronomic capital of South America
Against expectations, the sweet chunks of banana perfectly complemented the raw fish marinated in lime juice, onions, coriander and Peruvian yellow chillies. I was tasting a new sort of ceviche, the seafood salad served across Latin America, in Amaz, a new Amazonian restaurant opened by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, one of Lima's leading chefs. To a European palate, fruit with uncooked fish might seem outrageous but in Peru, it is logical. The banana replaces the steamed sweet potato commonly served with ceviche to soak up the tangy juices. The creative take on Peruvian and…Read more …

El mar contra el manglar El aumento del nivel del océano, debido aparentemente al cambio climático, se está comiendo parte del litoral de El Salvador, incluso un bosque de manglares

El mar contra el manglar El aumento del nivel del océano, debido aparentemente al cambio climático, se está comiendo parte del litoral de El Salvador, incluso un bosque de manglares
Los árboles muertos sobresalen de la arena como esqueletos gigantes. Son la prueba concluyente que aquí hace poco, en lugar de esta playa azotada por el viento y las fuertes olas del Pacifico, hubo un bosque de manglares. En la región costera del Bajo Lempa en El Salvador, el cambio climático – en forma de mares crecientes – ha llegado temprano. Según los lugareños del pueblecito de La Tirana, el Océano Pacifico ha avanzado unos 300 metros desde 2005, empujando la playa delante de él y consumiendo así el frágil ecosistema del cual…Read more …

El Salvador in battle against tide of climate change Rising sea levels and deforestation have destroyed the mangrove crops that villagers depend on to survive

El Salvador in battle against tide of climate change Rising sea levels and deforestation have destroyed the mangrove crops that villagers depend on to survive
The forest of towering, dead mangrove trees stretches along the beach as far as the eye can see. As the crashing waves rise and fall, short stumps emerge and vanish beneath the Pacific Ocean. Climate change has come early to the Bajo Lempa region of western El Salvador. A tiny rise in the sea level has, according to local people, seen about 1,000ft of the mangroves on which they depend vanish beneath the ocean since 2005. Another 1,500ft remains between the Pacific and their village, La Tirana. No one, it seems, knows how…Read more …

Crisis in the cloudforest for woolly wonders The yellow-tailed woolly monkey has long been hunted for its meat and fur, but now local attitudes are changing, as Simeon Tegel reports from Corosha, Peru

Crisis in the cloudforest for woolly wonders The yellow-tailed woolly monkey has long been hunted for its meat and fur, but now local attitudes are changing, as Simeon Tegel reports from Corosha, Peru
Homero Francisco Lopéz grimaces as he recalls how his wife prepared the carcass of the monkey he had shot, serving him a bowl of thick stew, complete with chunks of cassava and a tiny hand for him to gnaw on. "It was normal here," he says. "Everyone did it. We didn't realise how few there were." Now Mr Lopéz, a 58-year-old subsistence farmer, has become one of the strongest voices in his village of Corosha, in the heart of the precipitous cloudforests of northern Peru, in defence of the yellow-tailed woolly monkey, Oreonax…Read more …

Can private cities save a nation with world’s worst murder rate? Fears of new ’banana republic’ as US firm signs Honduras deal

Can private cities save a nation with world’s worst murder rate? Fears of new ’banana republic’ as US firm signs Honduras deal
Honduras has unveiled a radical free-market plan to establish three "charter cities" in the violence-racked Central American nation. The government this week signed an agreement with US developers MKG group to begin building the cities – complete with their own governments, laws, courts, police forces and tax systems – from scratch early next year. The plan's backers say it is the only way to kick start development in Honduras, which has the world's worst murder rate – 68 times higher than the UK's – and where 65 per cent of the 8 million-strong…Read more …

In Ecuador, a quiet war on whistleblowers The administration of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has fought to muzzle the free press, rights groups say. So why would it offer asylum to transparency crusader Julian Assange?

In Ecuador, a quiet war on whistleblowers The administration of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has fought to muzzle the free press, rights groups say. So why would it offer asylum to transparency crusader Julian Assange?
QUITO, Ecuador — As Julian Assange spoke from a balcony in Ecuador’s London embassy Sunday, journalists here wondered whether to laugh or cry. The WikiLeaks founder claimed that “freedom of expression and the health of all our societies” was under threat and warned of a “dangerous and oppressive world in which journalists fall silent under the fear of prosecution.” Yet, according to numerous international and Ecuadorean human rights and press freedom groups, that is exactly the scenario now unfolding in the tiny South American nation whose support the 41-year-old Australian was eulogizing. They…Read more …

In Peru, Machu Picchu holds monopoly on travelers The mountaintop citadel is a powerful tourist magnet — so much so that Peru desperately needs to draw travelers off it.

In Peru, Machu Picchu holds monopoly on travelers The mountaintop citadel is a powerful tourist magnet — so much so that Peru desperately needs to draw travelers off it.
Overrun by cloud forest, Kuelap’s imposing stone walls tower high above the mountaintop, a timeless reminder of the grandeur of a mysterious pre-Columbian civilization. Built between 900 AD and 1100 AD by the Chachapoyas people, the fortress remains an impressive feat of engineering, given its inaccessible location and that imposing outer perimeter, 60 feet high and some 2,000 feet long. Like its better-known cousin Machu Picchu, Kuelap is one of Peru’s largest and most breathtaking archaeological sites. Yet while the world-famous Inca citadel is overrun with tourists, receiving an average of more than…Read more …

Death in Peru: braving the Cordillera Blanca Easy access to the range poses serious risks to novice mountaineers.

Death in Peru: braving the Cordillera Blanca Easy access to the range poses serious risks to novice mountaineers.
By all accounts, Ben Horne and Gil Weiss were experienced mountaineers. They understood perfectly the risks inherent in the sport they loved. The bodies of the two Americans, still roped together, were discovered over the weekend below Palcaraju West, a remote 20,000-foot summit in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca range. They are thought to have been descending after pioneering a new ascent. Ted Alexander, of guiding company Skyline Adventures, who coordinated the retrieval of their remains, believes a block of ice collapsed beneath one of the pair. “They were just unlucky,” he told GlobalPost. The…Read more …

Mexico City: A union dismantled, with gruesome results President Calderon’s seizure of a state-owned electric company has led to a surge of on-the-job deaths and injuries.

Mexico City: A union dismantled, with gruesome results President Calderon’s seizure of a state-owned electric company has led to a surge of on-the-job deaths and injuries.
Daniel Vazquez will never forget his last night at Luz y Fuerza del Centro, the state-owned electricity company where he had worked for 22 years. “You and your people are screwed,” the police officer told him as he thrust an AK-47 assault rifle into his chest. “You’re not coming in.” Vazquez, 59, was attempting to report for work as head of a night shift of 80 workers at one of the customer call centers run by Luz y Fuerza del Centro (known as LyFC), which ran the electricity grid for Mexico City and…Read more …

Climate Pain: Latin America’s Climate Conundrum From the Rio Grande to Patagonia, climate change has begun to grip Latin America. Some of the damage, such as melting glaciers and rising sea level, can already be seen — but scientists warn there’s worse to come. The toll could be devastating for countries struggling to lift their populations out of poverty. In this series, GlobalPost’s Simeon Tegel reports from the climate frontlines.

Climate Pain: Latin America’s Climate Conundrum From the Rio Grande to Patagonia, climate change has begun to grip Latin America. Some of the damage, such as melting glaciers and rising sea level, can already be seen — but scientists warn there’s worse to come. The toll could be devastating for countries struggling to lift their populations out of poverty. In this series, GlobalPost’s Simeon Tegel reports from the climate frontlines.
This is the first dispatch of Climate Pains, an in-depth series on apparent impacts of Latin America's changing climate. From Tierra del Fuego to Tijuana, Latin America is highly vulnerable to climate change, which is expected to trigger a series of natural disasters that could even reverse local victories in the fight against poverty. Droughts will grip regions from the southern cone to northern Mexico. Extreme storms are increasingly battering Central America. Rising seas will swallow up vast coastal areas. And many Andean glaciers will disappear forever. Meanwhile, the greatest threat to the…Read more …

Assange and Ecuador: mutually toxic Analysis: Why WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Ecuador are so bad for each other.

Assange and Ecuador: mutually toxic Analysis: Why WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Ecuador are so bad for each other.
Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, appears to be leaning toward granting asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Due to be extradited from the UK to Sweden for questioning over alleged sexual offenses, last month Assange breached his bail conditions to seek refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy. Since then he has refused to leave and has requested asylum and even Ecuadorean citizenship from Correa’s left-wing administration, which, like Assange, has an antagonistic relationship with Washington. This week, Ecuadorean newspaper Hoy quoted Correa as saying: “If Assange’s life is at risk, these things would be a…Read more …

Chihuahua: Where the rain doesn’t fall any more A record drought in northern Mexico has prompted warnings that the region’s climate may have changed for good

Chihuahua: Where the rain doesn’t fall any more A record drought in northern Mexico has prompted warnings that the region’s climate may have changed for good
Gorged to bursting point, the vulture watches impassively as the twister whips a column of dust past the sun-parched remains of cattle dotting the barren field. If there were such a thing as a textbook image of drought, then this could well be it. Wracked by a savage drug conflict that has claimed thousands of lives, the last thing northern Mexico needed was a "natural" disaster to compound its woes. But now the region's beef herds are being ravaged by the worst drought on record – one which scientists are linking to climate…Read more …

TV australiana desenmascara a estafador de comunidades nativas en la Selva peruana Una vez más los indígenas de la selva peruana son víctimas de cazafortunas inescrupulosos emprendidos en una carrera descabellada por los recursos de la Amazonia.

TV australiana desenmascara a estafador de comunidades nativas en la Selva peruana Una vez más los indígenas de la selva peruana son víctimas de cazafortunas inescrupulosos emprendidos en una carrera descabellada por los recursos de la Amazonia.
Una vez más los indígenas de la selva peruana son víctimas de cazafortunas inescrupulosos emprendidos en una carrera descabellada por los recursos de la Amazonia. Ahora no es ni oro, ni caucho, ni madera sino el propio carbono guardado en los arboles de sus bosques ancestrales, según 60 Minutes de Australia, el programa de actualidad de mayor tiraje de su país. A pesar de empezar asegurando que el Perú es “la tierra que el tiempo se olvidó”, y luego repitiendo varios otros clichés sobre el país – incluso llamando a Iquitos el “Wild…Read more …

Nationalisation: Uruguay’s solution to its drug problem Law allowing state to sell cannabis could be adopted across Latin America in defiance of US

Nationalisation: Uruguay’s solution to its drug problem Law allowing state to sell cannabis could be adopted across Latin America in defiance of US
Uruguay – in a bid to curb a narcotics-fuelled violent crimewave across the country – has unveiled plans to nationalise its cannabis market and become the first government in the world to sell the soft drug to consumers. The measure is aimed at both reducing the rising power of drug gangs and the growing number of users of crack and freebase cocaine in what has traditionally been one of Latin America's most peaceful nations. "We want to fight two different things: one is the consumption of drugs and the other is the trafficking…Read more …

Is Peru going authoritarian? Critics accuse President Ollanta Humala of having dictator tics after brutal crackdowns on anti-mine protesters.

Is Peru going authoritarian? Critics accuse President Ollanta Humala of having dictator tics after brutal crackdowns on anti-mine protesters.
On the campaign trail, Ollanta Humala vowed that as president he would not sacrifice rural communities to mining and oil companies that wanted to dig and drill on their lands. The leftist candidate even pushed for a recall of then President Alan Garcia, blaming his refusal to listen to Andean and Amazonian villagers for triggering deadly clashes between police and protesters. But as president, some of Humala's onetime allies are accusing him of authoritarianism and betrayal as his government struggles to keep a lid on a wave of angry anti-mining protests. Police using…Read more …

The ghosts of Mexico’s past Exhausted by the war on drugs, the country is on the verge of electing the PRI, a party notorious for its autocratic, corruption-plagued rule. Simeon Tegel reports from Mexico City.

The ghosts of Mexico’s past Exhausted by the war on drugs, the country is on the verge of electing the PRI, a party notorious for its autocratic, corruption-plagued rule. Simeon Tegel reports from Mexico City.
For seven decades, the Institutional Revolutionary Party ruled Mexico by hook or by crook, stuffing ballot boxes, massacring democracy protesters and bribing journalists into providing sycophantic coverage. When it finally lost a presidential election for the first time, in 2000, the atmosphere was reminiscent of the fall of the Berlin wall. But now the party, universally known in Mexico as PRI, its Spanish initials, is on the brink of a triumphant comeback, with its youthful candidate for July's presidential polls, Enrique Peña Nieto, enjoying a consistent lead of around 20 points over his…Read more …

Can El Salvador’s gang truce hold? El Salvador’s vicious gangs have called a cease-fire, enticed in part by conjugal visits for incarcerated leaders. Salvadorans are skeptical it will last.

Can El Salvador’s gang truce hold? El Salvador’s vicious gangs have called a cease-fire, enticed in part by conjugal visits for incarcerated leaders. Salvadorans are skeptical it will last.
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Carlos shows no emotion as he talks about the victims he shot and stabbed as he worked his way up the ladder of one of the world’s most vicious street gangs. “It’s how you gain status,” he says matter-of-factly. When asked how many people he hurt, he thinks for a split second before responding: “Enough.” One of six siblings whose single mother struggled to make ends meet, he was recruited to the Mara Salvatrucha — one of two Central American gangs, or “maras,” whose violent tentacles reach from…Read more …

Peru’s Amazon highway: integrator or decimator? A local missionary is a key backer of the route, which would traverse the remote, unspoiled Peruvian Amazon. Greens and rights groups disagree.

Peru’s Amazon highway: integrator or decimator? A local missionary is a key backer of the route, which would traverse the remote, unspoiled Peruvian Amazon. Greens and rights groups disagree.
The Peruvian congress is set to debate putting a road through a remote, protected part of the Amazon that is home to some of the last fully isolated indigenous tribes anywhere in the world. The highly controversial freeway would cut through an indigenous reserve and a national park in the jungle departments of Ucayali and Madre de Dios, on Peru’s southern border with Brazil. It would link the towns of Puerto Esperanza and Inapari. Environmental and indigenous groups fiercely oppose the road, fearing it will pave the way for illegal loggers, poachers and…Read more …

Peru: Warmer seas are blamed for bird carnage After widespread dolphin deaths, thousands of boobies and pelicans wash up on Peruvian beaches.

Peru: Warmer seas are blamed for bird carnage After widespread dolphin deaths, thousands of boobies and pelicans wash up on Peruvian beaches.
A lack of anchovies and other small fish triggered by unseasonably warm waters has left thousands of seabirds starving to death along Peru’s Pacific coast, experts say. This month, the corpses of 5,000 birds, principally pelicans and boobies, have been discovered on beaches up and down the country, according to official government reports. It is the second mass die-off this year in Peruvian waters, after hundreds of dolphin carcasses also mysteriously washed up on beaches in the northern regions of Piura, Lambayeque and Tumbes. Initially, it was thought the bird and dolphin deaths…Read more …

Peru prison: from pot smoke to pottery class There's nothing quite like Lurigancho, Peru’s largest prison, reputedly one of the toughest in South America. GlobalPost gets inside, and finds some surprises.

Peru prison: from pot smoke to pottery class There's nothing quite like Lurigancho, Peru’s largest prison, reputedly one of the toughest in South America. GlobalPost gets inside, and finds some surprises.
Salsa blares from the cells and the pungent smell of cannabis smoke hangs in the air. In the crowded, dingy corridors, prisoners cook lunch on tiny electric stoves, play cards and shoot the breeze. Tattooed, shirtless men hurry by, barely stopping as they exchange greetings. One inmate pours me a shake from his blender. Made from a uniquely Peruvian mix of quinoa, oatmeal, banana, honey and cacao — it is delicious. I am inside Lurigancho, Peru’s largest prison, reputedly one of the toughest in South America. Built to house 2,500, its grimy, crumbling…Read more …

Damming Chile: Patagonia could see 5 hydro plants Environmentalists are outraged by HidroAysen's plans for dams in Chile’s stunning wilderness. Chile's billionaire president says, ‘People deserve more protection than trees.’

Damming Chile: Patagonia could see 5 hydro plants Environmentalists are outraged by HidroAysen's plans for dams in Chile’s stunning wilderness. Chile's billionaire president says, ‘People deserve more protection than trees.’
Chilean Patagonia is home to spectacular fjords, raging rivers, vast pine forests and imposing granite peaks, not to mention mountain lions, condors and endangered huemul deer. Renowned as one of the last great wildernesses, it is now also the scene of a bitter fight over plans to build five hydroelectric dams that would satisfy a quarter of Chile’s rapidly growing hunger for electricity. The $3.2 billion HidroAysen project would build three power stations on the Pascua River and another two on the Baker River, in the southern region of Aysen. That would generate…Read more …

Peru’s massive dolphin die-off sparks concern over oil search Conservationists blame seismic testing for scaring dolphins to death, but Houston-based oil firm BPZ denies the claim.

Peru’s massive dolphin die-off sparks concern over oil search Conservationists blame seismic testing for scaring dolphins to death, but Houston-based oil firm BPZ denies the claim.
Dolphins have been dying along this South American country’s northern coast in unprecedented numbers. Conservationists say the die-off could be the result of seismic testing by a private oil company. The bodies of about 3,000 animals, principally short-beaked common dolphins, have washed up on beaches since early February, according to research conducted by veterinarian Carlos Yaipen-Llanos, founder and scientific director of Peruvian marine conservation group Orca. The animals have no outward signs of trauma and researchers are continuing to investigate possible causes. Nevertheless, some experts are pointing the finger at seismic testing used…Read more …

Shining Path sniper kills Peruvian policewoman Shining Path terrorists have killed a police captain as she took part in an attempt to rescue dozens of hostages seized by the rebels earlier this week.

Shining Path sniper kills Peruvian policewoman Shining Path terrorists have killed a police captain as she took part in an attempt to rescue dozens of hostages seized by the rebels earlier this week.
Shining Path terrorists have killed a police captain as she took part in an attempt to rescue dozens of hostages seized by the rebels earlier this week. Nancy Flores Paucar, 32, was hit by a sniper as a helicopter she was co-piloting attempted to land in the Peruvian Amazon to drop off a group of armed officers. Three other officers and their indigenous guide were also wounded in the ambush. In a statement, Peru's Ministry of the Interior described the killing as "a premeditated attack by terrorist criminals with long-range weapons". The incident…Read more …

Peru backs the US in the war on drugs As some Latin American leaders call for legalization of narcotics, Peru — a leading coca grower — remains opposed. A former anti-drug czar turned dissident explains why.

Peru backs the US in the war on drugs As some Latin American leaders call for legalization of narcotics, Peru — a leading coca grower — remains opposed. A former anti-drug czar turned dissident explains why.
This weekend, heads of state at the Summit of the Americas are expected to discuss the emerging Latin American consensus for an alternative to the “war on drugs.” Many leaders are fed up with the violence, and highlight how it has even failed to stop rising demand in the US and their own countries for cocaine and other illegal highs. Yet one key country continues to back Washington’s prohibitionist approach to narcotics: Peru. According to the most recent United Nations statistics, this Andean nation is on the point of overtaking Colombia as the…Read more …

Return of the Shining Path Terrorist group kidnaps 40 workers less than a week after Peru's President said it had been 'totally defeated'

Return of the Shining Path Terrorist group kidnaps 40 workers less than a week after Peru's President said it had been 'totally defeated'
Less than a week after President Ollanta Humala declared Peru's Shining Path rebel group "totally defeated", the terrorist group has reportedly demanded a $10m (£6.3m) ransom for the return of around 40 gas workers kidnapped in the Amazon. A heavily-armed group burst into a hotel housing the workers in the remote town of Kepashiato in the early hours of Monday morning. They used two stolen pickup trucks to flee with theirvictims.The government has sent around 1,500 soldiers to the area and declared a state of emergency in the vast rainforest district of Echarate.…Read more …

Climate Change in Latin America: A Four-Part Series From Tijuana to Tierra del Fuego, climate change is gripping Latin America. Simeon Tegel reports on the human consequences of drought, hurricanes, and melting glaciers.

Climate Change in Latin America: A Four-Part Series From Tijuana to Tierra del Fuego, climate change is gripping Latin America. Simeon Tegel reports on the human consequences of drought, hurricanes, and melting glaciers.
As climate change tightens its grip on Latin America, it is the poorest, often in remote rural communities, who are hardest hit. Simeon Tegel's on-the-ground reporting from four of the region’s climate frontlines documents the human consequences of anthropogenic global warming’s early impacts. In Ecuador, he takes a close-up look at the rapidly-melting Antisana glacier, 17,000 feet above sea level. Like the Arctic, the high Andes is one of the regions where the early effects of the climate crisis are already most noticeable. Antisana, among the best studied in the Andes, helps provide…Read more …

Peru’s president wins awkward sibling contest Ollanta Humala’s unruly, jailed brother appears destined to ruin him.

Peru’s president wins awkward sibling contest Ollanta Humala’s unruly, jailed brother appears destined to ruin him.
As politicians’ awkward siblings go, few top Antauro Humala, brother of Peru President Ollanta Humala. The former major is serving a 19-year jail term for leading a failed 2005 army revolt to overthrow democratically elected President Alejandro Toledo. Four police officers died in the uprising, which was also supposedly intended to stop Chilean economic interests from taking over Peru. Ever since, Antauro’s hard-left views, and his ability to turn an outrageous quote at the click of a journalist’s microphone, have simultaneously enthralled and appalled the entire country. Yet, this month Antauro appears to…Read more …

Ecuador’s green president pushes massive Chinese mine Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa says: “We cannot be beggars sitting on a bag of gold.”

Ecuador’s green president pushes massive Chinese mine Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa says: “We cannot be beggars sitting on a bag of gold.”
President Rafael Correa was once the toast of environmentalists around the world after his government adopted a groundbreaking new constitution that recognized “the rights of nature.” The 2008 constitution even used the words “Pacha Mama” — the indigenous Quechua language’s term for the “Earth Mother.” It stipulated that the state “will incentivize” citizens to respect and protect her ecological cycles. But now, Correa finds himself accused of hypocrisy as his bid to push through a huge $1.77 billion open-pit copper mine in the Amazon has aroused the wrath of the country’s powerful indigenous…Read more …

Sex and drugs and private cells: Behind bars in South America A deadly riot in Mexico and an inferno in Honduras have turned the searchlight on conditions in Latin America's overcrowded and anarchic prisons. Simeon Tegel spends a day behind bars in Peru

Sex and drugs and private cells: Behind bars in South America A deadly riot in Mexico and an inferno in Honduras have turned the searchlight on conditions in Latin America's overcrowded and anarchic prisons. Simeon Tegel spends a day behind bars in Peru
The cluster of shirtless, tattooed inmates in the prison courtyard make no effort to hide the joint as a policeman wanders by. Instead, one turns up the volume on the salsa booming out of a portable stereo. Unconcerned by the clouds of cannabis smoke billowing from the group, the officer does not miss a beat as he carries on patrolling the grimy maze of corridors and patios that make up Lurigancho, Peru's largest jail. Built for 2,500 inmates, Lurigancho's crumbling walls are currently home to some 7,000 prisoners. Of Peru's 66 desperately overcrowded…Read more …

Argentina’s ‘Disappeared’, the mothers and the money Parents leading a campaign for Argentina's 'Disappeared' have been hit by a huge corruption scandal. Simeon Tegel reports

Argentina’s ‘Disappeared’, the mothers and the money Parents leading a campaign for Argentina's 'Disappeared' have been hit by a huge corruption scandal. Simeon Tegel reports
Few opposed Argentina's military dictatorship as effectively as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, with their lonely, dignified vigils in Buenos Aires' main square for their children "disappeared" by the junta. But now the group, whose moral authority in the country was previously akin to that of Nelson Mandela or the Dalai Lama, has become embroiled in a huge corruption scandal that threatens to tarnish its reputation and put an end to the Mothers' political activism for good. More than 60 people are facing charges, including the daughter of the Mothers' main…Read more …

Ayahuasca, an Amazonian trip Ayahuasca's a hallucinogen in a cup. Bring good karma, and drink at your own risk.

Ayahuasca, an Amazonian trip Ayahuasca's a hallucinogen in a cup. Bring good karma, and drink at your own risk.
MADRE DE DIOS, Peru — Without a word, the shaman hands me a plastic cup of ayahuasca, one of the Amazon rainforest’s most powerful hallucinogens. I down the pungent black liquid in one gulp, barely managing to repress the gagging reflex that its bitter, foul taste instantly triggers. And the wait begins. Around us, in a moonless blanket of darkness, the rainforest throbs with life. A chorus of insects, frogs and other unidentified creatures crescendos into a wall of pulsating whirrs, clicks, and screeches. By the light of a single candle, I can barely…Read more …

Amazon rainforest imperiled in gold rush Record prices for gold this year have pushed new speculators into the mining business

Amazon rainforest imperiled in gold rush Record prices for gold this year have pushed new speculators into the mining business
Record gold prices are claiming an unlikely victim: the lush, spectacularly biodiverse rainforests of the Peruvian Amazon. Since the global economy fell off the edge of a cliff in 2008, sending investors scrambling to put their money into the ultimate safe haven, gold, thousands of illegal miners have flooded into the Madre de Dios region of central Peru. Now they are ravaging its pristine tropical rainforests and river systems, including some of Peru’s most important nature reserves, using primitive mining techniques to churn through vast quantities of the region’s rich, sandy soils, sparkling…Read more …

Sterilisation: Peru’s darkest secret An investigation into whether Alberto Fujimori's government carried out mass forced sterilisations in the 1990s has been reopened

Sterilisation: Peru’s darkest secret An investigation into whether Alberto Fujimori's government carried out mass forced sterilisations in the 1990s has been reopened
Victoria Vigo shows no flicker of emotion as she recounts how she discovered – by chance – that she had been surgically sterilised against her will. Heavily pregnant, she was admitted to a public hospital in the city of Piura, on Peru's northern coast, in April 1996 to undergo a Caesarian section. Within hours of the procedure, her ailing new-born child had died and Ms Vigo, 32 at the time, was being consoled by two doctors. "I was exhausted and just wanted to go home," Ms Vigo says. "The doctors were trying to…Read more …

Peru: Proposed gold mine riles locals The government must choose between locals' water source or major gold profits.

Peru: Proposed gold mine riles locals The government must choose between locals' water source or major gold profits.
Editor's note: This article is part of "Scramble for El Dorado," an ongoing series about the scramble for Latin American gold, which has only intensified amid the global turmoil. President Ollanta Humala’s tightrope act was never going to be easy: keeping Peru’s economy booming while cracking down on the mining industry’s environmental excesses. Now, just four months after taking office, the president is struggling to regain his balance after violent protests in the Andes forced the suspension of the proposed Conga gold and copper mine, a $4.8 billion project heralded as Peru’s largest-ever…Read more …

After death, Peru targets soccer hooligans Critics say the sporting establishment pays thugs to get rough for ratings.

After death, Peru targets soccer hooligans Critics say the sporting establishment pays thugs to get rough for ratings.
The death of a young man in Lima’s Monumental soccer stadium has sparked a crackdown on the thugs who mar the game in this country — and the sporting establishment that has allegedly allowed them to flourish. Walter Oyarce, 23, had been attempting to protect two youngsters from rampaging fans of home team Universitario, widely known as the U, as they clambered from box to box ripping away signs of support for visiting club Alianza Lima, including a large banner hanging from Oyarce’s box. During the confrontation last month, Oyarce fell 15 feet,…Read more …

Left vs. indigenous of Latin America Once allies, the two have clashed over environmental concerns.

Left vs. indigenous of Latin America Once allies, the two have clashed over environmental concerns.
Editor's note: The idea for this article was suggested by a GlobalPost member. What do you think we should cover? Become a member today to suggest and vote on story ideas. Aymara Indian, former coca grower, avowed socialist and Bolivian president, Evo Morales was a living embodiment of the alliance between the Latin American left and the region's indigenous peoples. Now, with Morales battling to save his legacy after his administration brutally attempted to suppress a peaceful protest by native Amazonian communities, that alliance appears on the brink of cracking up. The pressure…Read more …

La desglaciación de la cordillera andina Como el Ártico, los Andes son uno de los ambientes naturales donde más se sienten los primeros impactos del cambio climático. La nieve y el hielo están desapareciendo, con graves consecuencias para la región. Visitamos las alturas de la sierra peruana para constatar los cambios

La desglaciación de la cordillera andina Como el Ártico, los Andes son uno de los ambientes naturales donde más se sienten los primeros impactos del cambio climático. La nieve y el hielo están desapareciendo, con graves consecuencias para la región. Visitamos las alturas de la sierra peruana para constatar los cambios
Desde el glaciar Yanapaccha, de 5.460 metros y situado en el corazón de la Cordillera Blanca, en los Andes peruanos, la vista no podría ser más imponente. Empinadas cumbres nevadas llegan hasta el horizonte mientras que abajo, a través de las nubes, quebradas escarpadas desembocan en lagunas de una turquesa perfecta. Pero, mientras los crampones crujen en el hielo duro de la mañana, queda claro que no todo va bien en este espectacular paisaje. "El glaciar parece un paciente muriendo de un virus," dice Richard Hidalgo, uno de los más destacados montañistas peruanos.…Read more …

Cocaine’s becoming king in Peru Peru's new government changes its drug-fighting tactics

Cocaine’s becoming king in Peru Peru's new government changes its drug-fighting tactics
For years, Peru had a simple policy to fight cocaine: destroy the coca plants that were the key ingredient in the drug. It did not go so well. As the government burned coca harvests, it offered no support for impoverished farmers to grow alternative cash crops such as coffee or cacao. Predictably perhaps, many kept planting coca, simply moving their plots further from the reaches of law enforcement to more remote corners of the eastern Andes. That has nearly propelled Peru to the top of the cocaine-production ladder. According to U.N. figures, Colombia…Read more …

The changing face of Andean glaciers Independent Blogs: Notebook

The changing face of Andean glaciers Independent Blogs: Notebook
To the untrained eye, the view from the Yanapaqcha glacier, some 17,000ft above sea level in the heart of the Peruvian Andes, represents nature at her most sublime. Sheer, snowcapped peaks stretch to the horizon while, through the clouds below, fertile ravines drain into perfect turquoise lakes. But as our crampons crunch into the hard ice, it quickly becomes apparent that not all is well in this spectacular wilderness. “The glacier looks like a patient dying of a virus,” says Richard Hidalgo, arguably Peru’s foremost mountaineer. “The disease is eating it away from…Read more …

Peru may be turning a corner on its treatment of indigenous people Peru's divisions only deepened under the previous administration. A new law gives grounds for cautious optimism

Peru may be turning a corner on its treatment of indigenous people Peru's divisions only deepened under the previous administration. A new law gives grounds for cautious optimism
The symbolism could hardly have been more striking as indigenous Awajún member Eduardo Nayap – in suit, tie and colourful Amazonian feather crown – addressed Peru's new congress last week. Nayap, a member of President Ollanta Humala's Nationalist party, was welcoming the chamber's unanimous approval of a bill requiring prior consultation with indigenous peoples about legislation or infrastructure projects that would affect them or their territories. Humala is expected to sign it into law this week. The measure, repeatedly blocked by Peru's previous president, Alan García, is being hailed as a major advance…Read more …

Lucha de gigantes Yawar Fiesta, emblemática tradición de los Andes peruanos que enfrenta a un toro bravo con un cóndor, está en auge. Pero el ave majestuosa del que depende está cada vez más amenazada.

Lucha de gigantes Yawar Fiesta, emblemática tradición de los Andes peruanos que enfrenta a un toro bravo con un cóndor, está en auge. Pero el ave majestuosa del que depende está cada vez más amenazada.
Mientras que el toro se retuerce y corcovea, el atemorizado cóndor amarrado a su lomo bate sus gigantescas alas, casi eclipsando al enfurecido animal. Con un coro de cuernos aballados, un comunero con una capa arrugada entra a la plaza. Son las dos de la tarde, en Cotabambas, un pueblo a cuatro horas de Cuzco, la antigua capital del imperio inca, en Perú. Han estado fluyendo la cerveza y chicha -el jugo de maíz fermentado que tanto gusta a los andinos- desde hace horas, y la fiesta Yawar está llegando a su irresistible…Read more …

Morales, his moral maze and a road into Amazon wilderness Bolivia's President hopes a highway through virgin land will lead to prosperity – but indigenous groups are furious

Morales, his moral maze and a road into Amazon wilderness Bolivia's President hopes a highway through virgin land will lead to prosperity – but indigenous groups are furious
The Isiboro Sécure Indigenous Reserve and National Park might strike many as paradise on earth. Located in the verdant head waters of the Amazon basin, the protected area is home to a stunning array of species, from howler monkeys and spectacled bears to myriad birds and insects, not to mention 64 native communities and billions of tons of forest carbon. It is the last place where the credentials of Evo Morales as a globally renowned defender of indigenous rights and the Pachamama, or Earth Mother, seem likely to be called into question. But…Read more …

Why the day of the condor could be drawing to a close A decline in the numbers of the giant Andean bird casts doubt on the survival of a spectacular Peruvian tradition

Why the day of the condor could be drawing to a close A decline in the numbers of the giant Andean bird casts doubt on the survival of a spectacular Peruvian tradition
As the bull twists and bucks, the frightened condor strapped to its back helplessly flaps its huge wings, almost dwarfing the enraged animal. To a chorus of battered horns, a villager with a tattered cape steps into the dusty square. Chicha, the fermented maize juice that is the preferred tipple of many Andeans, has been flowing for hours and the man appears unsteady on his feet. The bull snags the cape on its horns as the man barely manages to sidestep the charging beast before leaping over the barrier, back into the safety of…Read more …

Mr García’s acts of corruption Independent Blogs: The Foreign Desk

Mr García’s acts of corruption Independent Blogs: The Foreign Desk
On Thursday, in front of Peru’s parliament, Alan García is due to hand the presidential sash to Ollanta Humala. But in a major breach of protocol – not to mention a serious fit of pique – Peru’s outgoing president has said he will not attend the event. Mr García’s lack of appetite for mixing with his leftwing successor is understandable. Mr Humala, a former army lieutenant colonel, owes his rise to power at least in part to his tough-talking on corruption, with some of his supporters now calling for criminal investigations of Mr…Read more …

Fujimori campaign raises fears for democracy in Peru Jailed autocrat's daughter is on course to take the presidency

Fujimori campaign raises fears for democracy in Peru Jailed autocrat's daughter is on course to take the presidency
For someone who has not been seen or heard in public for more than a year, incarcerated former president Alberto Fujimori is casting a long shadow over the campaign to choose Peru's next leader. The disgraced autocrat is believed by many Peruvians to be orchestrating the campaign of his daughter, Keiko, from the jail where he is serving a 25-year sentence for embezzlement and directing paramilitary death squads. Running on a hard-right law and order agenda, Ms Fujimori is the favourite to win a run-off election on 5 June. The 35-year-old congresswoman has…Read more …

From lost city of the Incas to tourist trap in 100 years The huge number of people who visit Machu Picchu every year are threatening the site's very survival. Simeon Tegel reports

From lost city of the Incas to tourist trap in 100 years The huge number of people who visit Machu Picchu every year are threatening the site's very survival. Simeon Tegel reports
As Hiram Bingham hacked his way through remote Andean cloudforests in search of a lost Inca citadel in 1911, little could the American adventurer have known of the tourism juggernaut that his archaeological expedition would unleash – or how it might threaten his breathtaking find. Now, Peru is gearing up to mark the centenary of Bingham's rediscovery of Machu Picchu with a series of glitzy events on 6 and 7 July. Sponsored by Coca Cola, the festivities will include international broadcasts of a son-et-lumière show and a concert expected to feature the Spanish…Read more …

After the fall: ex-leader’s daughter bids for power Keiko Fujimori is among the frontrunners in Peru's presidential campaign, overcoming allegations of corruption and her father's tainted legacy. Simeon Tegel reports from Lima

After the fall: ex-leader’s daughter bids for power Keiko Fujimori is among the frontrunners in Peru's presidential campaign, overcoming allegations of corruption and her father's tainted legacy. Simeon Tegel reports from Lima
A decade after the disgraced president Alberto Fujimori fled Peru amid an election-rigging and corruption storm, his 35-year-old daughter, Keiko, may be on the brink of a remarkable family comeback. With an engaging smile and an ability to stay on message that defies her relative political inexperience, Ms Fujimori is now among the frontrunners in Peru's closely fought presidential elections, with the first round of voting to take place on Sunday. The young congresswoman's slick campaign – orchestrated, some claim, by her aging father from the prison cell where he is serving a…Read more …

The desert city in serious danger of running dry Peru's arid capital faces a crisis as glaciers and rainfall dwindle. Simeon Tegel reports

The desert city in serious danger of running dry Peru's arid capital faces a crisis as glaciers and rainfall dwindle. Simeon Tegel reports
"Running water would change everything," says Luz Caballero wearily as she stirs a huge pot of beans in the Santa Maria People's Restaurant in Villa El Salvador, a sprawling, dusty shantytown on Lima's southern outskirts. "Living without it is just too hard." Ms Caballero and the other locals take it in turns to staff the co-operative restaurant, serving up 100 cheap but filling lunches every day. If cooking on this scale seems complicated, then doing so without tapwater takes on an epic quality, with a continuous time-consuming, energy-sapping shuttling of buckets from the plastic barrels…Read more …

A new life for Peru’s American enemy After 15 years in jail on terrorism charges, Lori Berenson tells Simeon Tegel how she and her baby son will pick up the pieces

A new life for Peru’s American enemy After 15 years in jail on terrorism charges, Lori Berenson tells Simeon Tegel how she and her baby son will pick up the pieces
Lori Berenson's 20-month-old son, Salvador, lies sprawled out for his afternoon nap in the bedroom. Despite being born in a women's jail, Salvador's start in life was anything but blighted, Ms Berenson is keen to make clear. The youngster was a hit with the inmates and "got lots of love", she says. A long stretch in one of South America's toughest prison systems would have broken many. But Ms Berenson, who served 15 years for collaborating with an armed Marxist group during Peru's brutal guerrilla war, comes across as phlegmatic and even chatty…Read more …