Latin America’s New ‘Pink Tide’ Is a Mirage Lula’s reelection in Brazil does not prove that Latin America is turning left again.

Latin America’s New ‘Pink Tide’ Is a Mirage Lula’s reelection in Brazil does not prove that Latin America is turning left again.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s narrow victory over incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil’s runoff presidential election last month has been widely hailed as historic. Not only did the 77-year-old former union leader and two-term president achieve a comeback for the ages, fighting back from prison on a now-overturned corruption conviction to defeat arguably the most significant global imitator of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s brand of brash nativism and post-truth rhetoric, but Lula’s triumph is also being seen as sealing the second coming of the “pink tide,” the surge of left-wing leaders who first came…Read more …

Peru has had five presidents in seven years. Is Castillo next to go?

Peru has had five presidents in seven years. Is Castillo next to go?
LIMA, Peru — For Peruvians, the news was as familiar as it was disheartening — the country’s chief prosecutor filing a 376-page complaint, based on an extensive documentary trail and the testimony of multiple witnesses, accusing the president of taking kickbacks for infrastructure contracts and selling jobs in the public bureaucracy. Chief prosecutor Patricia Benavides is asking Peru’s Congress to lift Pedro Castillo’s presidential immunity just 14 months after he took office, clearing the way for his criminal prosecution and potential ouster. The release of the complaint Tuesday came just hours after the arrests…Read more …

Indigenous leaders get a choice: Join the narcos or run for your lives

Indigenous leaders get a choice: Join the narcos or run for your lives
YAMINO, Peru — For Herlin Odicio, the stranger’s offer was life-changing. The man, who had shown up unannounced in this remote Indigenous village speaking Spanish with a Colombian accent and calling himself “Fernando,” was proposing to pay Odicio $127,000 for each planeload of cocaine paste that took off from his community’s land. In return, Odicio, the elected leader of the Cacataibo people, would stop complaining to authorities about the drug traffickers destroying the rainforest to make way for coca fields, processing labs and airstrips. The money would be transformative. Many of the estimated…Read more …

Peru’s Democracy Is Dying Pedro Castillo promised leftist reform. His incompetency has left his country’s democracy on its last legs.

Peru’s Democracy Is Dying Pedro Castillo promised leftist reform. His incompetency has left his country’s democracy on its last legs.
Castillo sits in a dark room beside other people, with a slight frown on his face. Peruvian President Pedro Castillo attends a plenary session of the 9th Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles on June 9. CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES JUNE 27, 2022, 3:27 PM When Pedro Castillo, the dark horse candidate representing the self-described Marxist-Leninist Free Peru party, was elected president last June, many Peruvians warned that he would turn the country into another Venezuela. His party manifesto was replete with attacks on the media and calls for nationalizing the mining and energy…Read more …

How British journalist Dom Phillips vanished deep in the Amazon Veteran journalist went missing nearly a week ago in Brazil's remote and lawless Javari Valley after receiving threats on a research trip

How British journalist Dom Phillips vanished deep in the Amazon Veteran journalist went missing nearly a week ago in Brazil's remote and lawless Javari Valley after receiving threats on a research trip
Police are investigating possible human remains in their search for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira Authorities combing a remote corner of the Amazon for a missing British journalist and Brazilian indigenous expert are investigating possible human remains and a spot where something appears to have been buried, officials said on Friday. Fears have been mounting over the fate of Dom Phillips, 57, and Bruno Pereira, 41, a respected specialist in indigenous peoples, since they disappeared on Sunday after receiving threats during a research trip to Brazil's Javari Valley, a far-flung jungle region that has…Read more …

The madness of El Salvador’s Bitcoin city

The madness of El Salvador’s Bitcoin city
A golden city on the coast of the tropical Pacific. A metal walkway suspended above a verdant volcano. And a glossy marina that looks like it belongs in Monte Carlo rather than a near failed-state besieged by some of the world’s most violent criminals. The detailed gilded model released this week of ‘Bitcoin city’ – the first ever dedicated cryptocurrency trading hub, to be built on El Salvador’s western shore and powered by geothermal energy from a volcano – is nothing if not spectacular. " alt="" /> A plan of Bitcoin city (photo: Bukele) The…Read more …

Peru’s Castillo tries authoritarian turn against protests; it fails

Peru’s Castillo tries authoritarian turn against protests; it fails
LIMA, Peru — When demonstrators picketed roads in Peru’s rural hinterland over the rising cost of fuel and fertilizer, President Pedro Castillo might have responded with empathy or dialogue. Instead, after nearly a week of ignoring the gathering storm, Castillo, a campesino and former wildcat strike leader, poured gasoline on the fire by accusing the protest leaders of being “malicious and paid.” Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for the latest updates on Russia's war in Ukraine. As the blockades exploded into violence this week, with stone throwing and burning tires, the president…Read more …

‘Luhansk and Donetsk remind us of the Malvinas’: What Argentinians think of the Falklands now Forty years on from the war, a majority of people in Argentina haven't given up hope of reclaiming the islands – through diplomatic means

‘Luhansk and Donetsk remind us of the Malvinas’: What Argentinians think of the Falklands now Forty years on from the war, a majority of people in Argentina haven't given up hope of reclaiming the islands – through diplomatic means
There were protests near the British Embassy in Buenos Aires to mark the 40th anniversary of the conflict CREDIT: REUTERS/Mariana Nedelcu For a month, José Luis González endured bombardment from British jets and ships as he manned a machine-gun post, perched in a freezing, waterlogged trench, overlooking Port Stanley. When the teenage conscript eventually returned to Argentina, after a brief stint as a prisoner of war, he had frostbitten toes, shrapnel in his knee and was so traumatised, he needed psychological support. Now, 40 years later, González remains convinced of two things – that attempting…Read more …

Argentina compares British sovereignty over Falklands with Russian invasion of Ukraine Deputy foreign minister accuses UK of ‘double standards’ for backing Kyiv but refusing to negotiate over the South Atlantic islands

Argentina compares British sovereignty over Falklands with Russian invasion of Ukraine Deputy foreign minister accuses UK of ‘double standards’ for backing Kyiv but refusing to negotiate over the South Atlantic islands
The Argentine government has triggered a row with the United Kingdom by accusing it of “double standards” for its backing of Ukraine against Russian aggression while refusing to come to the negotiating table over the Falkland Islands. Guillermo Carmona, Argentina’s deputy foreign minister for the Antarctic, Malvinas (the name Argentina uses for the Falklands) and South Atlantic, compared Vladimir Putin's invasion to the UK’s occupation of the remote South Atlantic archipelago in 1833. In an interview with The Telegraph ahead of the 40th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War on Saturday, he said in both…Read more …

China ramps up illegal fishing in lawless high seas off South America Sustainability of fisheries in the area compromised after a 'major' recent increase in Chinese-flagged factory ships in the South Pacific

China ramps up illegal fishing in lawless high seas off South America Sustainability of fisheries in the area compromised after a 'major' recent increase in Chinese-flagged factory ships in the South Pacific
Out on the lawless high seas off South America’s Pacific coast, a quiet war over the overfishing of endangered squid stocks is being waged – and China is winning. Environmentalists have long warned that the naturally bountiful Humboldt squid – named for a nutrient-rich current of Antarctic waters – could be vulnerable to unsustainable plunder. Similar stocks have already vanished from Argentine, Mexican and Japanese waters. But a “major” recent increase in Chinese-flagged vessels in the South Pacific has raised the stakes. There were 707 such fishing boats detected in 2020, according to the latest public data from…Read more …

How Peru Laid the Groundwork for an Oil Spill Disaster The nation’s unsustainable development model has ignored serious environmental risks.

How Peru Laid the Groundwork for an Oil Spill Disaster The nation’s unsustainable development model has ignored serious environmental risks.
LIMA, Peru—As the thick black slick of crude oil first swept up Peru’s coast, decimating wildlife, poisoning marine reserves, and destroying livelihoods, it seemed Repsol’s reputation in the country had hit rock bottom. Yet the Spanish energy company’s response to the spill—Peru’s worst environmental disaster in recent memory—has been more egregious than the original accident itself. In the early hours of Jan. 15, thousands of barrels of oil gushed unnoticed from a leak at a loading buoy moored off Repsol’s La Pampilla refinery in Lima, Peru’s capital. As a tanker carrying crude from Brazil unloaded at the…Read more …

Will a Billion-Dollar Indigenous Climate Pledge Pay Off? The money is unprecedented, but Indigenous communities are bracing for disappointment.

Will a Billion-Dollar Indigenous Climate Pledge Pay Off? The money is unprecedented, but Indigenous communities are bracing for disappointment.
LIMA, Peru—As the world debates if the Glasgow climate talks were the last missed opportunity to avert global catastrophe or an incremental step towards solving the climate crisis, one of the summit’s few breakthroughs—a move to put Indigenous peoples at the heart of efforts to halt deforestation—has largely flown under the radar. Until now, the United Nations climate negotiations process, known as the UNFCCC, has marginalized Indigenous peoples in the efforts to halt and reverse global warming, despite the growing evidence that they’re essential to those efforts. At the 2021 U.N. Climate Change…Read more …

Beyond Machu Picchu: my wild adventures in Peru As the British Museum’s blockbuster Peru exhibition opens, it’s time to explore Inca civilisation and more — including the country’s thrilling surf and exquisite cuisine

Beyond Machu Picchu: my wild adventures in Peru As the British Museum’s blockbuster Peru exhibition opens, it’s time to explore Inca civilisation and more — including the country’s thrilling surf and exquisite cuisine
Beneath the intense Andean sun the dusty avenue lined by the jagged remains of once imposing stone and adobe walls stretches over the undulating valley floor into the distance. The purpose of this prehistoric thoroughfare remains a mystery. Andean cultures never developed writing and the dozens of surrounding crumbling houses were not just abandoned a millennium ago but even had their doors and windows filled in by their fleeing owners. Yet the scale of this heavily eroded fortified outpost of the once-great Wari empire — a culture as ancient for the Incas as…Read more …

As Peru opens from pandemic, nearly all schools remain closed Amid high rates of poverty, lack of in-person learning is having a devastating effect on families.

As Peru opens from pandemic, nearly all schools remain closed Amid high rates of poverty, lack of in-person learning is having a devastating effect on families.
Lima, Peru – For Maria Molina, a single mother struggling to take care of two granddaughters, the idea that Peru’s state schools have been providing online learning during the pandemic feels like a bad joke. She can barely afford her 10-gigabyte monthly mobile phone plan, which costs 75 sols ($19). It is the only phone the family has and must be shared by her 17-year-old daughter, who is studying nursing, and two granddaughters, Azumi, eight, and Chenely, 11. “My daughter is the priority. She has to be,” Molina, 56, who works as a freelance…Read more …

Can Pedro Castillo Save His Presidency? The Peruvian president’s first months in office have been characterized by chaos, extremism, and—critics say—sheer incompetence.

Can Pedro Castillo Save His Presidency? The Peruvian president’s first months in office have been characterized by chaos, extremism, and—critics say—sheer incompetence.
LIMA, Peru—After two months as Peru’s president, the responsibilities of leading a country ravaged by corruption and political turmoil were starting to sink in for Pedro Castillo. The country’s currency, the sol, was plummeting, and foreign investment had slowed to a trickle. Peru’s per capita COVID-19 death toll, meanwhile, remained the worst in the world. Castillo—an avowed leftist—was suddenly keen to ditch many of his populist, and potentially costly, campaign promises. When Castillo addressed the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States in Washington last month, the former union leader and rural school teacher…Read more …

The Shining Path controversies that spurred Peru’s gov’t shake-up Peru’s President Pedro Castillo changed his cabinet amid accusations some ministers sympathised with the Maoist rebel group.

The Shining Path controversies that spurred Peru’s gov’t shake-up Peru’s President Pedro Castillo changed his cabinet amid accusations some ministers sympathised with the Maoist rebel group.
Lima, Peru – Ignacio Tacas was 13 when he learned how his family was massacred. The details reached him, piece by piece, over an entire month of fragmentary television and newspaper reports. Members of the Shining Path killed his father, three sisters and brother – aged four to nine – maternal grandparents and two uncles in their remote Andean village, Lucanamarca, on April 3, 1983, while he studied at a state school on Peru’s coast. They were among 69 people, including 18 children, slaughtered in what remains the most infamous of the atrocities committed…Read more …

‘It’s like a casino’: Crashes and crypto crime in first week of El Salvador’s great Bitcoin experiment On Tuesday, the Latin American nation abruptly became the first in the world to accept cryptocurrency as legal tender

‘It’s like a casino’: Crashes and crypto crime in first week of El Salvador’s great Bitcoin experiment On Tuesday, the Latin American nation abruptly became the first in the world to accept cryptocurrency as legal tender
Politician Eugenio Chicas gives away stickers as part of a campaign CREDIT: JOSE CABEZAS  Ravaged by endemic corruption, cocaine cartels and some of the world’s most violent street gangs, El Salvador is often viewed as a near-failed state. But this week the troubled Central American nation gave its citizens a very different kind of problem to worry about — how to use Bitcoin. On Tuesday, after just five hours of debate in congress, El Salvador abruptly became the first country in the world to accept cryptocurrency as legal tender, obliging all businesses from taxis to corner…Read more …

El caótico arranque de Pedro Castillo en Perú: entre las dudas sobre su liderazgo y una inminente batalla política Varios nombramientos en el gabinete, muy cuestionados, anticipan un choque del Poder Ejecutivo con el Congreso, que debe aprobarlos

El caótico arranque de Pedro Castillo en Perú: entre las dudas sobre su liderazgo y una inminente batalla política Varios nombramientos en el gabinete, muy cuestionados, anticipan un choque del Poder Ejecutivo con el Congreso, que debe aprobarlos
LIMA.– En su ceremonia de asunción del mes pasado, que coincidió con el,bicentenario de la independencia de su país, el primer presidente campesino de Perú condenó el “régimen racial” impuesto por los conquistadores que sigue dividiendo a las sociedades latinoamericanas hasta el día de hoy. Y para que no quedaran dudas de lo que estaba diciendo, Pero Castillo prometió que no usaría la residencia presidencial, conocida como “Casa de Pizarro” por su fundador, Francisco Pizarro, líder de la conquista. El presidente izquierdista de 51 años, exmaestro de escuela rural, recalcó que ya era tiempo…Read more …

Chaotic start to Castillo’s presidency leaves Peruvians wondering who’s in charge

Chaotic start to Castillo’s presidency leaves Peruvians wondering who’s in charge
LIMA, Peru — At his swearing-in ceremony on the 200th anniversary of Peruvian independence last month, Peru’s first campesino president condemned the “racial regime” imposed by the conquistadors that continues to divide Latin American societies today. To hammer the point home, Pedro Castillo promised not to use the presidential residence, known as the “House of Pizarro” after its founder, Francisco Pizarro, who led the subjugation of the Incas. The leftist president, a 51-year-old former schoolteacher from rural Peru, insisted it was time to “break with colonial symbols.” But now, just two weeks into his historic presidency, Castillo’s inexperience, and his appointment…Read more …

Postcard from Lima: ‘Few nations have been hit worse by the Covid pandemic than Peru’ The country is in turmoil but vaccination continues apace and tourism is slowly returning

Postcard from Lima: ‘Few nations have been hit worse by the Covid pandemic than Peru’ The country is in turmoil but vaccination continues apace and tourism is slowly returning
For once I got lucky. Thanks to President Biden’s administration suddenly donating two million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Peru, I received my second shot last month — on the 27th. The timing was auspicious. It was not just the eve of the much-hyped 200th anniversary of Peruvian independence, but also of the swearing-in of Pedro Castillo, the first campesino (peasant farmer) to become president of this complex, dazzling and exasperating South American nation. The rise to power of the 51-year-old rural school teacher — and aficionado of the Cuban and Venezuelan dictatorships — has rattled…Read more …

A tumultuous first week in office for Peru’s new president Pedro Castillo is facing political and economic turmoil – including calls for his impeachment – as he forms his administration.

A tumultuous first week in office for Peru’s new president Pedro Castillo is facing political and economic turmoil – including calls for his impeachment – as he forms his administration.
Lima, Peru – Since winning Peru’s presidential runoff with an explicitly Marxist policy platform, Pedro Castillo has been at pains to assure citizens and investors alike that his government will be moderate and unifying. “We are not Chavistas, we are not communists, we are not extremists,” he said shortly before being sworn in on July 28, as he sought to play down fears that his government would ravage Peru’s democracy and economy. But since offering those assurances, the former rural school teacher and union leader, who refuses to criticise the Cuban and Venezuelan dictatorships,…Read more …

How long can Peru’s new socialist leader last?

How long can Peru’s new socialist leader last?
The symbolism could hardly have been clearer when Pedro Castillo was sworn in yesterday as Peru’s new President on the country's 200th anniversary of independence. For arguably the first time in its history, Peru has a head-of-state who personifies the national majority — a campesino hailing from a particularly impoverished region of the northern Andes — rather than a member, real or honorary, of the largely white Lima elite. Given Peru’s persistent, stark inequality, drastically exacerbated by the pandemic, perhaps the biggest surprise is that the electorate has waited until now to vote in such a radical left-populist. Although the…Read more …

Pedro Castillo finally declared winner of Peru’s presidential election

Pedro Castillo finally declared winner of Peru’s presidential election
LIMA, Peru — Pedro Castillo, the provincial schoolteacher who promised to restructure Peru’s economy to favor the poor, was confirmed Monday evening as the Andean country’s president-elect more than six weeks after the election. Peru’s electoral agency certified the results of the June 6 runoff, giving the left-wing Castillo 50.13 percent of the vote over 49.87 percent for his hard-right opponent Keiko Fujimori. The two candidates were separated by just 44,000 votes out of nearly 19 million cast. The result followed a deeply divisive election and a series of last-ditch legal challenges by Fujimori. Her lawyers…Read more …

Unproved fraud claims delay election result, challenge Peru’s fragile democracy

Unproved fraud claims delay election result, challenge Peru’s fragile democracy
LIMA, Peru — If ever a presidential administration needed a smooth transition, it’s that of Pedro Castillo, the leftist schoolteacher who will apparently be Peru’s next leader. With no experience in public office, he eschewed policy advisers during both rounds of the Andean nation’s presidential elections — even as he made improbable, apparently spontaneous campaign promises ranging from banning imports to expelling thousands of Venezuelan refugees. Peru is grasping for political stability after going through three presidents in a single month last year. And with the world’s worst reported covid-19 mortality rate per capita, the country is…Read more …

Who is Pedro Castillo, Peru’s presumed president-elect? The official vote count gives Castillo a slim margin over rival Keiko Fujimori, who is contesting the results.

Who is Pedro Castillo, Peru’s presumed president-elect? The official vote count gives Castillo a slim margin over rival Keiko Fujimori, who is contesting the results.
Lima, Peru — More than most presidents-elect, Pedro Castillo, Peru’s apparent new leader, will need to put his transition team to work as soon as possible. On the one hand, a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic looks increasingly likely in the Andean nation, which already has by far the world’s worst per capita COVID-19 mortality. The highly contagious Delta variant has just been detected in Arequipa, with the authorities scrambling to cut off Peru’s second city from the rest of the country. On the other, Castillo, 51, a radical left outsider who no…Read more …

A Right-Wing Election Loser Is Using the Donald Trump Playbook in Peru The tactics of Keiko Fujimori are fanning racism across the South American nation.

A Right-Wing Election Loser Is Using the Donald Trump Playbook in Peru The tactics of Keiko Fujimori are fanning racism across the South American nation.
LIMA, Peru — False claims of fraud in Peru’s presidential runoff election have unleashed a wave of racism in the bitterly divided country targeting the apparent winner, a far-left schoolteacher from the Andes, and his largely rural supporters. Pedro Castillo has a lead of just 44,000 votes after election officials finally finished counting the 18.8 million ballots Tuesday.  But his opponent, Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned right-wing 1990s autocrat Alberto Fujimori, is falsely claiming “systematic fraud” — despite the fact that international electoral observers have praised the clean and transparent nature of the June…Read more …

Peru election: ‘Humble’ Pedro Castillo prepares to raid big business as nation swings Left Village schoolteacher who cites Lenin has rattled investors with scattergun promises to rewrite the constitution and ban imports

Peru election: ‘Humble’ Pedro Castillo prepares to raid big business as nation swings Left Village schoolteacher who cites Lenin has rattled investors with scattergun promises to rewrite the constitution and ban imports
Pedro Castillo, the rural schoolteacher on the brink of becoming Peru’s next president, wants to reshape the Covid-battered country in the style of one of his Leftist idols by seizing the profits of big business. Like Evo Morales, the former president of Bolivia, Mr Castillo, 51, rose from humble beginnings in his country’s rural hinterland to become a populist, rabblerousing union leader, before then trampolining to national office. And just like Mr Morales, Mr Castillo is bent on reshaping his country’s economy to favour the poor, in a deeply unequal society divided between a…Read more …

Presidential election in polarized Peru a tight contest between right and left

Presidential election in polarized Peru a tight contest between right and left
LIMA, Peru — The choice for Peruvians in Sunday’s presidential runoff offered no middle ground — a left-wing union leader versus the daughter of a former right-wing strongman — as critics warned that no matter the outcome, the country’s fragile democracy is under threat. Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the jailed former president Alberto Fujimori, has overcome a 20-point deficit in the polls — and a looming corruption trial — to draw level with first-time candidate Pedro Castillo, a teachers union leader running as the candidate of a Marxist-Leninist party. Fujimori has been aided by Castillo’s…Read more …

Rebel Extremist Group Kills 16 in Massacre Ahead of Presidential Vote The massacre in Peru by a Shining Path splinter group is the rebels’ worst in more than a decade.

Rebel Extremist Group Kills 16 in Massacre Ahead of Presidential Vote The massacre in Peru by a Shining Path splinter group is the rebels’ worst in more than a decade.
LIMA, Peru — The massacre of 16 people in a remote corner of Peru’s cocaine country by a Shining Path splinter group is the extremists’ bloodiest atrocity in more than a decade. The slaughter happened on Sunday at around 10pm when between three to five men dressed in black began shooting without warning into two ramshackle open-air bars in the Valleys of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantauro Rivers, a region known as the VRAEM. The men stole money and other valuables from their victims and broke into a pair of jukeboxes to ransack…Read more …

Peru forced sterilisations case: ‘They could get away with it’ Victims of mass forced sterilisations in the 1990s fear upcoming Peru presidential runoff results could close door to justice.

Peru forced sterilisations case: ‘They could get away with it’ Victims of mass forced sterilisations in the 1990s fear upcoming Peru presidential runoff results could close door to justice.
Lima, Peru – Maria Elena Carbajal still vividly recalls the doctor’s chilling response when, from her hospital bed, she asked repeatedly to see her newborn son, Francisco. “Once you have the procedure, you can see him,” the mother of four said the doctor told her, before asking: “You’re thinking of having more kids, like guinea pigs?” It was September 18, 1996, at Maria Auxiliadora Hospital in the Peruvian capital, Lima – and Carbajal, then 26, had given birth around 4am. Within three hours, she had been sterilised. Now a quarter of a century later,…Read more …

Peru is Officially Investigating If Bleach Can Cure Covid The move by the country's congress to investigate the effectiveness of chlorine dioxide against the coronavirus has been called an "embarrassment."

Peru is Officially Investigating If Bleach Can Cure Covid The move by the country's congress to investigate the effectiveness of chlorine dioxide against the coronavirus has been called an "embarrassment."
LIMA, Peru — Peru's congress has prompted ridicule by voting to investigate whether drinking or injecting an industrial bleach could cure COVID-19. Lawmakers voted 49 to 39 in favor of the motion on Thursday night to set up a committee to hear testimony about chlorine dioxide from health ministry officials and “scientists and experts in the field.” The chemical is widely available online and with hospitals overflowing, some are using it to self-medicate at home. Chlorine dioxide — which doctors warn is ineffective against the coronavirus and can have lethal consequences — is…Read more …

Peru’s COVID crisis: ‘Almost all Peruvians know someone who died’ Cocktail of factors, from poverty to a crumbling public health system, push Peru atop global per capita death rankings.

Peru’s COVID crisis: ‘Almost all Peruvians know someone who died’ Cocktail of factors, from poverty to a crumbling public health system, push Peru atop global per capita death rankings.
Lima, Peru – While the world watches in horror as India’s coronavirus case count explodes, another intense outbreak is unfolding – albeit on a much smaller scale – in Peru, which sits atop the global per capita mortality rankings. The Andean nation has registered more than 4,000 excess dead per million residents since the start of the pandemic, or more than 166,815 deaths, the Financial Times reported, a 123 percent rise compared with the historical average. Excess deaths are viewed as more accurate than the official Peruvian health ministry figure of 62,126 confirmed deaths linked…Read more …

Human Rights Are Under Threat in Peru’s Election The presidential runoff pits a hard right dictator’s daughter against a dissident union leader with an old school Soviet agenda. Both dislike the free press, LGBT and gender rights.

Human Rights Are Under Threat in Peru’s Election The presidential runoff pits a hard right dictator’s daughter against a dissident union leader with an old school Soviet agenda. Both dislike the free press, LGBT and gender rights.
LIMA, Peru — Peru’s next president is expected to be a socially conservative authoritarian with ambitions to clamp down on the media and roll back protections for gender rights. The only question remaining for voters in the June 6 runoff is whether their new head-of-government will be hard left or hard right. Dark horse leftist Pedro Castillo, a provincial primary school teacher and dissident union leader who ran on a Soviet-style policy platform, beat 17 other candidates in the surprise first round result earlier this month. He promised to abolish the constitutional court,…Read more …

Far-Left primary school teacher vowing to nationalise all mines pitted against heir to homicidal family dynasty in election no-one wants Peruvian voters have been left in despair at being forced to choose from two deeply unpopular and politically extreme candidates

Far-Left primary school teacher vowing to nationalise all mines pitted against heir to homicidal family dynasty in election no-one wants Peruvian voters have been left in despair at being forced to choose from two deeply unpopular and politically extreme candidates
Fanny Cornejo is one of Peru’s more fortunate voters. Unlike most of her compatriots, she has been able to decide which of the two politically extreme and deeply unpopular presidential candidates who emerged from Sunday’s general election, she will back in the June 6 runoff. “Castillo will not have a majority in Congress. He will have his hands tied and won’t be able to implement his crazy ideas,” says the biologist, 37, from Lima, explaining why she will vote for Pedro Castillo, the leftist dark horse who, to widespread surprise, beat 17 other…Read more …

Politically weary Peruvians to elect new president and Congress The April 11 vote comes as Peru is grappling with a coronavirus surge and years of political scandals.

Politically weary Peruvians to elect new president and Congress The April 11 vote comes as Peru is grappling with a coronavirus surge and years of political scandals.
Lima, Peru – Weary Peruvians heading to the polls this Sunday face an unlikely conundrum – an overwhelming majority of them will have rejected whomever they elect as their new president. That is the inevitable outcome of a five-way statistical tie between the leading presidential candidates, all of whom face unprecedentedly low support in a country devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and five years of political scandals. Any of the five could make it to an inevitable June 6 runoff, required when no candidate takes more than 50 percent of the vote. With the…Read more …

COVID Is Threatening the World’s Rarest Indigenous Languages From the Amazon to Siberia, COVID-19 is killing off tribal elders who are the last speakers of tongues that help us better understand how our brains work.

COVID Is Threatening the World’s Rarest Indigenous Languages From the Amazon to Siberia, COVID-19 is killing off tribal elders who are the last speakers of tongues that help us better understand how our brains work.
LIMA, Peru — Emilio Estrella was a linguistic treasure trove, possibly the only ageing speaker of Cacataibo, an endangered indigenous language in the Peruvian Amazon, still sharp enough to teach the purest, most traditional version of the tongue to an outsider. After an odyssey last November that took him and his family out of the jungle to the nearest town in search of medical care, Estrella, aged 90 (according to his government ID although no one really knows when he was born), died from suspected COVID-19. “He was like a father to me,”…Read more …

Peru’s Leading Presidential Candidates Have a Lot of Sexual Hangups One front runner has been accused of sexual harassment and wants to ban porn. The other is a celibate who thinks raped minors should be forced to complete their pregnancies in “five star hotels.”

Peru’s Leading Presidential Candidates Have a Lot of Sexual Hangups One front runner has been accused of sexual harassment and wants to ban porn. The other is a celibate who thinks raped minors should be forced to complete their pregnancies in “five star hotels.”
Lima, Peru — As the presidential race heats up, Peruvians are acclimating to the growing possibility that their next head of state will impose conservative views regarding sexuality on this highly diverse South American society. The frontrunner ahead of the April 11 election, Yonhy Lescano, is a center-left populist former lawmaker who has been accused of sexual harassment by a journalist and is known for attempting to ban pornography. His party, meanwhile, is currently trying to outlaw racy social media selfies. If Lescano wins the first round, pundits are predicting he could be accompanied in the expected…Read more …

Fury in Peru after officials secretly received vaccine before health workers

Fury in Peru after officials secretly received vaccine before health workers
LIMA, Peru — When interim president Francisco Sagasti finally unveiled Peru's first coronavirus vaccine deal last month, Peruvians wearied by nearly a year of health and economic crises compounded by the country's recent political turmoil glimpsed a light at the end of the tunnel.  As ICU doctors and nurses this month began receiving their shots from the first batch — 300,000 doses from the Chinese company Sinopharm — cautious optimism began to spread. Sagasti said he hoped to have a third of Peru’s 32 million people vaccinated by the time he steps down on July 28. But…Read more …

Vaccine diplomacy: Latin America turns to Russia and China to save them from crushing second wave Chinese and Russian jabs form early part of vaccinations efforts as hospitals choke with Covid-19 patients

Vaccine diplomacy: Latin America turns to Russia and China to save them from crushing second wave Chinese and Russian jabs form early part of vaccinations efforts as hospitals choke with Covid-19 patients
 In the Brazilian jungle city of Manaus, thought to have achieved “herd immunity” during the first, crushing Covid-19 surge last year, exhausted gravediggers are once again burying the thousands of dead vertically, one on top of the other. In Peru, much of the country returned to lockdown on Sunday, with the Andean nation’s already overwhelmed public intensive care capacity of nearly 2,000 beds — a 10-fold increase on the pre-pandemic figure — not even expected to cover half the coming demand. In Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the country’s richest man,…Read more …

She Exposed Sexual Abuse in a Catholic Kids Camp. Now She’s Facing a Prison Sentence The work of Peruvian journalist Pao Ugaz has made her the target of a string of legal actions.

She Exposed Sexual Abuse in a Catholic Kids Camp. Now She’s Facing a Prison Sentence The work of Peruvian journalist Pao Ugaz has made her the target of a string of legal actions.
LIMA, Peru — When reporters at the Boston Globe exposed child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, their investigative work was so celebrated that Hollywood made a film, Spotlight, about it. Now, after carrying out a similar crusading probe into pedophilia in a Catholic lay organization in South America, Peruvian journalist Pao Ugaz is facing jail time and a hefty damages bill. For years, Ugaz, 45, has been researching Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana, a Catholic boot camp for children from elite families. She began by contributing to the 2015 Spanish-language book Half Monks, Half…Read more …

Three presidents in one week: Peru’s youth rise up in echoes of protest movements spreading across Latin America The controversial impeachment vote has led to riots on the streets of Lima

Three presidents in one week: Peru’s youth rise up in echoes of protest movements spreading across Latin America The controversial impeachment vote has led to riots on the streets of Lima
Were it not for his parliamentary immunity, Edgar Alarcón might already be in custody awaiting trial. But instead he was able to lead his lawmaker colleagues in ousting the country's popular, corruption-busting president. The controversial impeachment vote has led to riots on the streets of Lima, and the Andean country is now on its third president in a week. The youth-led protest movement that has emerged from the turmoil claims that politicians like Mr Alarcón moved to dislodge the president to protect themselves from his proposed anti-graft laws. Mr Alarcón, the head of…Read more …

Peru Is About to Appoint Its Third President in 8 Days Manuel Merino, who was interim president for five days, is under investigation for the violent repression of protesters.

Peru Is About to Appoint Its Third President in 8 Days Manuel Merino, who was interim president for five days, is under investigation for the violent repression of protesters.
By Simeon Tegel LIMA, Peru — The whereabouts of Peru’s most recent president were a mystery Tuesday as prosecutors probed the violent repression of protests while the South American nation rushed to name its third head of state in just over a week. Manuel Merino was appointed interim president on November 10 following congress’s shock dismissal of Martín Vizcarra, the popular corruption-busting leader, the day before. But Merino resigned equally abruptly on Sunday amid a wave of national fury and international rejection of what many saw as an unconstitutional power grab by a corrupt political class…Read more …

Protests turn to celebrations as Peru’s interim president offers resignation

Protests turn to celebrations as Peru’s interim president offers resignation
By Simeon Tegel LIMA, Peru — Facing furious nationwide protests and growing international pressure, interim President Manuel Merino resigned on Sunday, less than a week after he was inaugurated to replace ousted popular president Martín Vizcarra. The resignation set Peruvians up for their fifth president in five years, as the South American nation faced its worst constitutional crisis since the fall of Alberto Fujimori’s tainted presidency two decades ago. For millions of Peruvians, particularly the young, Merino had become the face of a corrupt political class that has entrenched itself in Congress and sought to…Read more …

A Notorious Rebel Leader Just Got Peru’s President Impeached From Prison Martín Vizcarra was fighting corruption hard. It got him fired.

A Notorious Rebel Leader Just Got Peru’s President Impeached From Prison Martín Vizcarra was fighting corruption hard. It got him fired.
By Simeon Tegel LIMA, Peru — How does a democracy of 32 million people allow a rabble-rousing, former rebel leader to orchestrate, from his prison cell, the impeachment of a popular corruption-busting president? That’s the question many Peruvians are asking themselves after the shock ousting of Martín Vizcarra this week by a scandal-wracked congress most citizens have long viewed, with a handful of exceptions, as a cesspit of criminal venality. Vizcarra was fired for “moral incapacity” in a 105-19 vote, a vague term supposedly based on unproven accusations that he accepted bribes. More than…Read more …

Critics, protesters call removal of Peruvian president a legislative coup

Critics, protesters call removal of Peruvian president a legislative coup
By Simeon Tegel and Anthony Faiola LIMA, Peru — The little-known head of Peru's Congress took the helm of the South American nation Tuesday amid a public outcry over the surprise removal of the country's popular president, Martín Vizcarra. Vizcarra’s ouster late Monday and the inauguration of interim president Manuel Merino amounted to a return of the political chaos that has long plagued Peru, where nearly every president since 1990 has resigned, been indicted or been jailed amid clouds of corruption. One former president killed himself. Peru’s president faces impeachment vote amid lethal coronavirus outbreak Yet…Read more …

Peru’s president faces impeachment vote amid lethal coronavirus outbreak

Peru’s president faces impeachment vote amid lethal coronavirus outbreak
LIMA, Peru — President Martín Vizcarra faces a fast-track impeachment vote Friday in what critics have described as an attempted coup d'etat, while Peru struggles with one of the world's deadliest outbreaks of the coronavirus. Lawmakers moved to censure Vizcarra after recordings emerged last week in which he coordinated his government’s response to an influence-peddling scandal. His opponents claim the tapes indicate he ordered a visitors log to the presidential palace to be falsified to distance himself from a singer, known as Richard Swing, who received contracts, including as a motivational speaker, from…Read more …

La próxima enfermedad letal que azote al planeta podría estar escondida en la Amazonía La cuenca del río Amazonas reúne todos los factores que pueden generar nuevas enfermedades “zoonóticas”, y a una escala sin precedentes en la historia de la humanidad.

La próxima enfermedad letal que azote al planeta podría estar escondida en la Amazonía La cuenca del río Amazonas reúne todos los factores que pueden generar nuevas enfermedades “zoonóticas”, y a una escala sin precedentes en la historia de la humanidad.
Artículo publicado originalmente porVICE Estados Unidos. LIMA, Perú - Al principio, un joven agricultor del pueblo de Samuzabeti, en lo profundo de la Amazonía boliviana, empezó a sufrir fiebre y dolor de cabeza. Unos días después, sus huesos le punzaban de dolor. Luego comenzó a vomitar sangre. En dos semanas, el joven de 22 años previamente sano murió. Los médicos que analizaron muestras de su cadáver identificaron la causa de esta extraña enfermedad similar al ébola como un miembro previamente desconocido de la familia de los arenavirus. Lo llamaron virus Chapare, en honor a…Read more …

The Next Lethal Disease to Sweep the Planet Could Be Lurking in the Amazon The Amazon basin has all factors that can generate new “zoonotic” diseases, and on a scale unprecedented in human history.

The Next Lethal Disease to Sweep the Planet Could Be Lurking in the Amazon The Amazon basin has all factors that can generate new “zoonotic” diseases, and on a scale unprecedented in human history.
LIMA, Peru — At first the young farmer from the village of Samuzabeti, deep in the Bolivian Amazon, had fever and a headache. A few days later, his bones were throbbing in pain. Then he started vomiting blood. Within two weeks, the previously healthy 22-year-old was dead. Doctors analyzing samples from his cadaver identified the cause of this strange Ebola-like sickness as a previously unknown member of the arenavirus family. They named it the Chapare virus, after the sweltering, coca-growing region where Samuzabeti is located. Since that small outbreak in January 2004, the pathogen…Read more …

The country with the world’s strictest lockdown is now the worst for excess deaths

The country with the world’s strictest lockdown is now the worst for excess deaths
Far below the immaculately tended park perched spectacularly atop Lima’s sea cliffs, wetsuited surfers once again dot the shimmering South Pacific. For a fleeting moment, as beams of sunlight pierce the “winter” cloud cover and locals jog, workout or just take in the view, it is easy to forget that Peru remains in the grips of what may be the most intense Covid-19 outbreak in the world. Officially, there have been more than 28,000 deaths, in a population of 31 million. But when all fatalities are taken into account, including those without a…Read more …

Lack of Scientists Thwarts COVID Response in One of the World’s Worst Hit Countries By some counts, Peru’s COVID-19 per capita death tally is the highest in the world.

Lack of Scientists Thwarts COVID Response in One of the World’s Worst Hit Countries By some counts, Peru’s COVID-19 per capita death tally is the highest in the world.
LIMA, Peru – Learning that my neighbor Pepe had died from COVID-19 was shocking. Equally so was the news that he had first tested positive a month previously, in early July. No one in my small apartment block had been notified. Pepe was in his 50s, with health problems and a professional carer. Even at the best of times, he rarely came out of his apartment, the only other one on my floor. It was only by chance, bumping into his devastated sister in the hallway, that I learned of both his passing…Read more …

Coronavirus: el drama de infectados en Perú que recurrenal mercado negro para conseguir oxígeno

Coronavirus: el drama de infectados en Perú que recurrenal mercado negro para conseguir oxígeno
LIMA.- El limeño Mario Solís Rodríguez necesitaba oxígeno. Su madre no tenía opción. Los ruinosos hospitales públicos estaban desbordados de pacientes, y en la línea de emergencia por coronavirus que estableció el gobierno no la atendía nadie, y ya desesperada, Denisse Rodríguez tuvo que recurrir al mercadonegro. Rastrillando Facebook, esta ama de casa de 48 años encontró un vendedor informalque ofreció un tubo de oxígeno por 4500 soles peruanos, casi 1300dólares. De la calidad de ese oxígeno nadie podía dar cuentas, y el sobreprecio rondaba el 1000%, un sablazo para la economía de…Read more …

In Peru, coronavirus patients who need oxygen resort to black market and its 1,000 percent markups

In Peru, coronavirus patients who need oxygen resort to black market and its 1,000 percent markups
A neighbor helps César García carry an oxygen tank home to his stepson, Mario Solís Rodríguez, who is bedridden with covid-19 in Lima, Peru. (Rodrigo Abd/AP) LIMA, Peru — Mario Solís Rodríguez needed oxygen. His mother had no choice. The creaking public hospitals were overwhelmed with patients. The government’s coronavirus hotline wasn’t responding to her desperate calls. So Denisse Rodríguez resorted to the black market. Scouring Facebook, the 48-year-old housewife found an informal vendor offering a tank for 4,500 sols — nearly $1,300. The oxygen was of unknown quality, its price a markup of around…Read more …

El coronavirus parece no afectar a las poblaciones que viven en grandes altitudes

El coronavirus parece no afectar a las poblaciones que viven en grandes altitudes
Cuando turistas de México, China y Gran Bretaña resultaron ser las primeras víctimas del COVID-19 en Cusco, Perú, parecía que la antigua capital del Imperio Inca estaba condenada a sufrir un brote considerable. Enclavada en un pintoresco valle andino, la ciudad de gran altitud y 420,000 habitantes, puerta de entrada a la ciudadela de Machu Picchu, recibe a más de tres millones de visitantes internacionales al año, muchos de ellos procedentes de áreas activas de la pandemia como Estados Unidos, Italia y España. Sin embargo, desde esas tres muertes, acaecidas entre el 23…Read more …

From the Andes to Tibet, the coronavirus seems to be sparing populations at high altitudes

From the Andes to Tibet, the coronavirus seems to be sparing populations at high altitudes
When tourists from Mexico, China and Britain became the first covid-19 fatalities in Cusco, Peru, it seemed as if the onetime capital of the Inca Empire might be headed for a significant outbreak. Nestled in a picturesque Andean valley, the high-altitude city of 420,000 residents, the gateway to the cloud forest citadel of Machu Picchu, receives more than 3 million international visitors per year — many from pandemic hot spots, including the United States, Italy and Spain. Yet since those three deaths, between March 23 and April 3, at the start of Peru’s strict…Read more …

Perú actuó rápido, pero igual sufre uno de los brotes de coronavirus más grandes de América Latina

Perú actuó rápido, pero igual sufre uno de los brotes de coronavirus más grandes de América Latina
LIMA, Perú— Mayumi Matto se aventura a salir del confinamiento obligado por el coronavirus solo dos veces por semana, partiendo de la casa que comparte con 15 familiares. A las 7:00 am Matto, de 28 años, se une a la fila en la entrada del mercado en Puente Piedra, un barrio duro en las afueras de la capital peruana. Es una escena que se ha vuelto familiar en todo el mundo: solo se les permite ingresar a aquellos que usan cubrebocas. Los guardias de seguridad hacen cumplir la política de “sale uno, entra uno”. Los…Read more …

Peru took early, aggressive measures against the coronavirus. It’s still suffering one of Latin America’s largest outbreaks.

Peru took early, aggressive measures against the coronavirus. It’s still suffering one of Latin America’s largest outbreaks.
LIMA, Peru — Mayumi Matto ventures from her coronavirus-induced confinement in the home she shares with 15 family members just twice a week. Matto, 28, joins the queue outside the market in Puente Piedra, a gritty suburb on the edge of the Peruvian capital, at 7 a.m. It’s a scene that has grown familiar around the world: Only those wearing masks are allowed to enter. Security guards enforce a one-out, one-in policy. Waiting customers are careful to stand apart from one another. But once inside the market, everything changes. “It’s packed,” Matto says. “It’s…Read more …

Voters in Peru have a rare opportunity to replace a corrupt Congress with reformers. Will they?

Voters in Peru have a rare opportunity to replace a corrupt Congress with reformers. Will they?
A cardboard cutout of a soldier outside a debate Sunday in Lima, Peru, promotes a congressional candidate running on a security platform. (Martin Mejia/AP) LIMA, Peru — Months after President Martín Vizcarra dissolved Peru's scandal-racked Congress, voters head to the polls Sunday for a rare opportunity to clean up public life here and make politics more responsive. But Peruvians appear increasingly unlikely to take it. Four out of five approved of Vizcarra’s drastic measure in September, seen by some as helping Peru avoid the mass protests that have roiled its South American neighbors. But in…Read more …

Five Things to Know About Peru’s Jan. 26 Election The coming vote offers a big opportunity for Peru’s anti-corruption fight, and could set the stage for presidential elections next year.

Five Things to Know About Peru’s Jan. 26 Election The coming vote offers a big opportunity for Peru’s anti-corruption fight, and could set the stage for presidential elections next year.
LIMA – Peruvians will elect a new Congress on Jan. 26 after President Martín Vizcarra’s momentous decision last September to dissolve the previous legislature for resisting his anti-corruption agenda. The coming elections have the potential to channel public fury over a series of recent graft scandals, including the Odebrecht case, and pave the way for watershed political and judicial reforms aimed at cleaning up public life. But throwing unpopular politicians out of office may prove easier than finding worthy replacements. More than 80% of Peruvians applauded Vizcarra’s dissolution of Congress, which may have served as…Read more …

Peru’s president dissolved Congress. Then Congress suspended the president.

Peru’s president dissolved Congress. Then Congress suspended the president.
LIMA, Peru — President Martín Vizcarra dissolved Congress. Congress suspended Vizcarra. So who’s running Peru now? Peruvians woke Tuesday to find their country in political turmoil after late-night moves left the executive and the opposition arguing over which side was in charge. Pedro Olaechea, the president of Congress, accused Vizcarra of launching a coup. He told reporters that Vizcarra “had to dissolve Congress with this appearance of legality because otherwise he was definitely facing impeachment.” But influential voices backed Vizcarra’s move. The police and military said Vizcarra remained their “supreme commander,” the Organization…Read more …

Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, facing corruption allegations, mounts unlikely comeback

Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, facing corruption allegations, mounts unlikely comeback
BUENOS AIRES — When President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner reached her two-term limit in 2015, it felt as if an era had ended in Argentina. Flamboyant and divisive, she had come to epitomize the populist Peronist politics, rooted in economic interventionism and fervent nationalism, that have dominated this country for much of the past 80 years. Her successor, Mauricio Macri, a staid center-right businessman who carefully rations his public appearances, not only presented the personal antithesis to Kirchner, but he also effectively ran on abolishing her governing model, promising to modernize Argentina’s creaking economy…Read more …

Jaguar reintroduction plan in Argentina represents rare good news story for big cats The project could one day be reproduced in the southern United States, where the cats roamed until the 20th century.

Jaguar reintroduction plan in Argentina represents rare good news story for big cats The project could one day be reproduced in the southern United States, where the cats roamed until the 20th century.
A jaguar eats lunch in one of the enclosures in Iberá National Park, Argentina.Simeon Tegel By Simeon Tegel IBERÁ, Argentina — Driving along the rutted dirt track into Iberá National Park, it is not hard to see why this vast subtropical wetland stretching from horizon to horizon makes for ideal jaguar habitat. Capybara the size of sheep seem to be chewing the tall grass everywhere. Some even snooze in the middle of the path and only move grudgingly after vehicles stop in front of them. These outsize rodents, the world’s largest, might be a…Read more …

The Peruvian Corruption-Buster Bigger Than Mueller Because prosecutor José Domingo Pérez has cornered three of Peru’s ex-presidents.

The Peruvian Corruption-Buster Bigger Than Mueller Because prosecutor José Domingo Pérez has cornered three of Peru’s ex-presidents.
Rarely does a suicide letter make such a jarring read for an entire nation. Alan García, the domineering former president of Peru, had shot himself in the head rather than be taken into custody by police sent by José Domingo Pérez, the young prosecutor spearheading his country’s investigations into the Odebrecht mega-scandal. Had he been captured alive, García would have faced three years in pretrial detention just for starters. Denying taking bribes, he wrote: “I have seen others parade in handcuffs, maintaining their miserable existences, but Alan García does not have to suffer these…Read more …

Ex-president’s suicide brings more criticism of Peru’s pretrial detentions

Ex-president’s suicide brings more criticism of Peru’s pretrial detentions
By Simeon Tegel LIMA, Peru — It’s impossible to know why Alan García killed himself this week. The charismatic politician, once hailed as Latin America’s JFK, shot himself Wednesday after police showed up at his home in Lima on Wednesday to arrest him in the largest corruption scandal in the region’s history. Had he not killed himself, García, 69, would have faced up to three years in pretrial detention, potentially without actually being indicted — a term unthinkable in many democracies, even for suspects facing overwhelming evidence of the most heinous crimes. “It…Read more …

Former Peruvian president dead; shot himself as police attempted to make arrest

Former Peruvian president dead; shot himself as police attempted to make arrest
By Simeon Tegel and Adam Taylor LIMA, Peru — Alan García, the former two-time president of Peru, died Wednesday morning after shooting himself as police attempted to arrest him in the wide-ranging corruption scandal that has implicated scores of leaders in Peru and Latin America. García, 69, was alleged to have taken bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in return for massive public works contracts. He denied receiving money from the company. García was a giant of Peruvian politics who overcame a catastrophic first administration in the 1980s — besieged by hyperinflation, the…Read more …

After Its Own School Shooting, Brazil Debates Access to Firearms President Jair Bolsonaro supports firearms ownership, but a violence-weary public opposes relaxing gun controls.

After Its Own School Shooting, Brazil Debates Access to Firearms President Jair Bolsonaro supports firearms ownership, but a violence-weary public opposes relaxing gun controls.
By Simeon Tegel LIMA, PERU — AFTER TWO disaffected former pupils killed five teenagers, an administrator and teacher at a school in the state of São Paulo earlier in March, gun advocates in Brazil quickly cited the tragedy as an example of why the country's firearms laws needed to be relaxed. "As long as guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns," tweeted Major Sérgio Olímpio, a former police officer who is now a senator for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's ultra-conservative Social Liberal Party. He added that the massacre proved the "failure and…Read more …

Will Trump Sabotage His Venezuela Strategy? The U.S. president’s saber-rattling rhetoric threatens a unified international response to the crisis in the South American country.

Will Trump Sabotage His Venezuela Strategy? The U.S. president’s saber-rattling rhetoric threatens a unified international response to the crisis in the South American country.
LIMA, Peru — In the wake of last weekend's bloodshed during the abortive attempt to deliver humanitarian aid across hunger-ravaged Venezuela's borders, a United States-led military intervention appears increasingly possible. On Sunday, Juan Guaidó, the man recognized as Venezuela's interim president by Washington and most European and Latin American democracies, appeared to embrace U.S. President Donald Trump's repeated suggestion that the U.S. could send in the armed forces, tweeting that he was formally proposing to the international community that it have "all options open" – a euphemism widely understood to refer to the…Read more …

The Painful Journey For Venezuelans Abroad The millions of Venezuelans who fled their homeland know that even if the country climbs out of its current darkness, life elsewhere is still a better option.

The Painful Journey For Venezuelans Abroad The millions of Venezuelans who fled their homeland know that even if the country climbs out of its current darkness, life elsewhere is still a better option.
By Simeon Tegel LIMA, PERU — VENEZUELAN exiles Nayise González and Oswaldo Romero could not be clearer about their desire to return to their troubled homeland. "Of course we want to go back," says González, 38, who arrived in the Peruvian capital in November after an eight-day bus ride with not much more than the clothes she was wearing. "It is our country, our home. It is where our lives and our families are." But before that day eventually comes, González and Romero, a security guard and former police officer, are very clear about…Read more …

The Politics of Driving in Lima Peru’s capital has a chaotic, and sometimes deadly, public transportation system. Critics say its mayor puts the brakes on reform.

The Politics of Driving in Lima Peru’s capital has a chaotic, and sometimes deadly, public transportation system. Critics say its mayor puts the brakes on reform.
IT SEEMED like an innovative, and potentially lifesaving, idea in a city renowned for its reckless driving where virtually no motorist stops at crosswalks. Painting angled stripes of pastel yellows, blues and reds over the zebra crossings in Lima's financial district seemed to be working, too. By all accounts, the "artistic intervention" had caught drivers' attention and many vehicles were, finally, respecting pedestrians' right-of-way. But all that came to an abrupt halt in June, when with no prior announcement the mayor of the Peruvian capital, Luis Castañeda, had the colorful crosswalks abruptly painted…Read more …

Corruption scandals have ensnared 3 Peruvian presidents. Now the whole political system could change.

Corruption scandals have ensnared 3 Peruvian presidents. Now the whole political system could change.
LIMA, Peru — When President Martín Vizcarra pledged in his inauguration speech in March to fight “at any cost” the corruption braking Peru’s economic growth and undermining faith in its democratic institutions, the response here was a collective shrug. For as long as most Peruvians can remember, incoming heads of state have made similar promises but then done little to actually tackle the cancer of systemic graft. Meanwhile, Vizcarra, who had been serving as vice president as well as ambassador to Canada before replacing disgraced leader Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, was widely viewed as an accidental…Read more …

Peru’s long-awaited World Cup party hits frenzy with return of Paolo Guerrero

Peru’s long-awaited World Cup party hits frenzy with return of Paolo Guerrero
LIMA, Peru — When Peru beat New Zealand in a two-leg playoff in November to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1982, Carlos Tello knew it was time to change his wedding plans. “We were going to have a huge ceremony, with 300 guests, in 2019,” the 38-year-old biologist from Lima said. “Then we were going to vacation in the Caribbean to get a bit of sun.” Instead, with the enthusiastic support of his fiancee, Fanny Cornejo, the couple brought their nuptials forward a year, to this past Saturday, and scaled down…Read more …

The World’s Looming Dry Taps Poor planning, experts say, is compounding the problems from climate change and population growth to create growing public health crises around the world.

The World’s Looming Dry Taps Poor planning, experts say, is compounding the problems from climate change and population growth to create growing public health crises around the world.
LIMA, Peru — "We are the poorest of the poor. Why do we have to pay the most?" asks Diana Ureta as she washes a bucket of potatoes using turbid water fetched in a jug from a discolored plastic barrel beside her front door. Two chickens peck at the uneven dirt floor while her 4-year-old daughter, dressed in a baggy, stained T-shirt, watches her mother ferrying yet another quart from the barrel back to the kitchen. Like most of her neighbors here in the Lomo de Corvina neighborhood of Villa El Salvador, a…Read more …

While the U.S. has #MeToo, Latin America’s ‘Ni Una Menos’ spotlights femicides, violence against women “Those who commit femicides, or attempted femicides, claim they are being disrespected...they believe they have a right, a right over women’s bodies."

While the U.S. has #MeToo, Latin America’s ‘Ni Una Menos’ spotlights femicides, violence against women “Those who commit femicides, or attempted femicides, claim they are being disrespected...they believe they have a right, a right over women’s bodies."
LIMA, Perú — Three weeks and six surgeries after being doused with gasoline and set alight by a former coworker unable to accept her rejection of his advances, Eyvi Agreda remains in intensive care in Lima’s Almenara Hospital, strips of pigskin covering the second and third degree burns on 60 percent of her body. Having moved from her native Andean region of Cajamarca, the sociable 22-year-old had been working hard here in the Peruvian capital, studying international business while also paying her bills by doing shifts in a call center. All that came…Read more …

After PPK, Peru’s Left Struggles to Make Its Case Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's resignation has given leftists an opportunity in Peru. But recent history suggests an uphill climb to power.

After PPK, Peru’s Left Struggles to Make Its Case Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's resignation has given leftists an opportunity in Peru. But recent history suggests an uphill climb to power.
LIMA, Peru — It was the perfect opening for the Peruvian left. A deeply unpopular center-right president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, had just been forced to resign. The hard-right Popular Force party, which has an absolute majority in Congress and had driven his ouster, was riven by factional infighting between its leader, Keiko Fujimori, and her congressman brother, Kenji Fujimori. But instead of seizing on the moment last April, Rogelio Tucto, a congressman from the socialistic Broad Front, an alliance of tiny left-wing parties, decided to call for the liberation of the jailed former leader of…Read more …

The corruption scandal that’s ensnared not one, but three Peruvian presidents

The corruption scandal that’s ensnared not one, but three Peruvian presidents
LIMA, Peru — A day after tendering his resignation, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the third Peruvian president to fall victim to Latin America’s rumbling corruption mega-scandal, appeared to be facing increasing legal jeopardy. According to local reports, prosecutors have requested that Kuczynski be barred from leaving the country until they finalize their investigations into his dealings with the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht SA, which has admittedpaying about $800 million in bribes to win public contracts in a dozen countries, mostly in Latin America. The move marks yet another humiliation for the 79-year-old center-right economist, whose surprise…Read more …

Peruvian President Kuczynski resigns amid corruption scandal

Peruvian President Kuczynski resigns amid corruption scandal
LIMA, Peru — President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned from office on Wednesday amid a corruption scandal, just weeks before President Trump is scheduled to visit the country for a major regional summit on improved governance in the Americas. Kuczynski announced his resignation on television. He denied wrongdoing but said, “I don’t want to be an obstacle to our nation finding the unity and harmony that it so needs.” Kuczynski is one of the most prominent politicians to fall in a wave of investigations across Latin America into alleged corruption linked to a Brazilian construction firm,…Read more …

Why Peru’s Presidents Are Set Up to Fail Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's travails point to deeper problems within Peru's democracy.

Why Peru’s Presidents Are Set Up to Fail Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's travails point to deeper problems within Peru's democracy.
LIMA – Peruvian trust in democracy appears to be at rock bottom: a paltry 17 percent of the population believes their leadership governs “for the good of the whole population,” and just 45 percent say they support democracy as a system of governance. Peruvians' cynicism is not without good reason. Until recently, two former heads of state were in jail on corruption charges, while a third continues to fight extradition from the U.S. In December, President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned former President Alberto Fujimori, who was serving a 25 prison sentence, after himself only narrowly…Read more …

Reconciliation Arrives at a Latin Crossroads Elections in Colombia embody the challenges across the region of overcoming decades of violence.

Reconciliation Arrives at a Latin Crossroads Elections in Colombia embody the challenges across the region of overcoming decades of violence.
Teresita Gaviria still remembers the last time she saw her son Cristian, a 15-year-old with ambitions to be a medical doctor, alive. It was early on Jan. 5, 1998, and he was setting off with a friend on the nine-hour drive from his hometown of Medellin to the Colombian capital, Bogota. The pair never arrived. They were stopped en route by right-wing paramilitaries, who attempted to forcibly recruit the unwilling young men. It was only years later that Gaviria learned the true horror of Cristian's last moments; a jailed and repentant paramilitary revealed that her…Read more …

A prisoner in Peru drugged his twin brother and escaped from jail — to see his mom

A prisoner in Peru drugged his twin brother and escaped from jail — to see his mom
LIMA, Peru — When it comes to plotting a brazen prison escape, there may be few stratagems more effective — or soulless — than swapping places with your unwitting identical twin. That was the ploy adopted by Alexander Jheferson Delgado, a convicted sex offender and burglar, who has just been recaptured more than a year after escaping prison by drugging his twin brother and then dressing in his clothes. The escape happened on the morning of Jan. 10, 2017, when Alexander’s twin, Giancarlo Stuard Delgado, showed up at Piedras Gordas prison to visit…Read more …

A referendum in Ecuador is another defeat for South America’s left-wing populists

A referendum in Ecuador is another defeat for South America’s left-wing populists
LIMA, Peru  — When Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s combative socialist president, decided not to run in his country's 2017 presidential election, the move was widely interpreted as a tactical retreat. The strategy, commentators agreed, was to let his protege, Lenín Moreno, keep his seat warm for a single term — and take the blame for the country’s stalling economy — while Correa’s approval ratings recovered ahead of a triumphant return in the 2021 election. But if that was the plan, it has backfired spectacularly. Ecuadorans voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to approve constitutional changes that…Read more …

Controversial pardon of former Peru president upsets relatives of massacre victims

Controversial pardon of former Peru president upsets relatives of massacre victims
LIMA, Peru – Ada Ochoa still recalls the terrifying moments when she last saw her husband, Felando Castillo, alive. Around 15 men, wearing black jumpers and balaclavas burst into the couple’s modest home in Pativilca, a coastal district a couple of hours north of Lima, the Peruvian capital, during the early hours of January 29, 1992. Shouting obscenities and death threats, the men — thought to be from a secret military death squad allegedly taking orders from then president Alberto Fujimori — frog marched Castillo, 38, a subsistence farmer and father of three…Read more …

LGBT in Latin America Latin Americans say they embrace LGBT rights, yet violence toward the community seems to suggest otherwise.

LGBT in Latin America Latin Americans say they embrace LGBT rights, yet violence toward the community seems to suggest otherwise.
LIMA, Peru — "Blood was squirting out of my chest," says Brithany Cervantes as she recalls being stabbed multiple times with a broken bottle for no other reason, she says, than being a transgender woman. "All that saved me was putting my hand over my heart. I could have died," adds Cervantes, as she shows the jagged scars above her left breast and on the back of her left hand. Yet the most chilling detail regarding the frenzied nighttime attack in downtown Lima last October has little to do with her unknown assailant.…Read more …

Pardon of Peruvian autocrat Fujimori brings his powerful family back into the spotlight

Pardon of Peruvian autocrat Fujimori brings his powerful family back into the spotlight
LIMA, Peru — Alberto Fujimori, the former hard-right autocrat who led Peru in the 1990s, has offered an ambivalent apology for his administration’s endemic corruption and serious human rights abuses after his abrupt early release from prison. In a Facebook video posted Tuesday, Fujimori, 79, expressed his “profound gratitude” to President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, vowed to support national “reconciliation” and apologized to those he disappointed “with all my heart.” But his words are unlikely to assuage mounting anger over the pardon, which has convulsed Peru and sets up a power struggle within the…Read more …

Peru’s president faces impeachment over corruption allegations

Peru’s president faces impeachment over corruption allegations
LIMA, Peru — The Peruvian Congress is threatening to remove President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski from office over corruption allegations, using a fast-track impeachment process that critics describe as an assault on democracy. Kuczynski’s opponents produced documents last week showing that Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction giant at the heart of Latin America’s largest corruption scandal, made payments of nearly $800,000 to his investment banking firm, Westfield Capital. Some of the payments occurred during his previous stints as economy minister and prime minister, while Odebrecht was winning major public contracts. The center-right economist, a former U.S. citizen…Read more …

Flood of Venezuelans are fleeing depressed country. Here’s where they’re seeking refuge

Flood of Venezuelans are fleeing depressed country. Here’s where they’re seeking refuge
LIMA, Peru — It is 8 a.m. and the line of Venezuelan refugees outside the Interpol office already stretches to the end of the block. Most have just arrived in Lima with not much more than the clothes on their back and are here applying for a certificate to show they have no criminal record, a requirement for a work permit in Peru. “Leaving was tough, but staying would have been tougher,” said Andrea Sequiera, 29, as she waits at the back of the line with her husband Luis, 31, and 8-year-old son Fabian. ”We know…Read more …

Risking a Legacy To checkmate an opposition-dominated Congress, Peru’s president considers pardoning his jailed predecessor.

Risking a Legacy To checkmate an opposition-dominated Congress, Peru’s president considers pardoning his jailed predecessor.
LIMA, Peru — Pedro Pablo Kuczynski won Peru's presidential election last year thanks to his image as an honest technocrat who would fight corruption and uphold rule of law. Part of that appeal was based on his campaign pledge not to pardon his jailed predecessor Alberto Fujimori, the 1990s hard-right strongman who oversaw rampant graft, death squads and vote-rigging. Now, just 16 months into his five-year term, Kuczynski is talking up the possibility of freeing Fujimori, who is nine years into a 25-year sentence, on the grounds that he does not want the 79-year-old former autocrat…Read more …

Lights, Camera, Prejudice A new Peruvian film hits theaters this week, featuring a bumbling indigenous women played by a white man in drag.

Lights, Camera, Prejudice A new Peruvian film hits theaters this week, featuring a bumbling indigenous women played by a white man in drag.
LIMA, Peru — Peru's national identity is tightly wrapped up in its Andean heritage. Snowcapped peaks, fluffy alpacas, Inca ruins and indigenous women sporting bowler hats, brightly woven clothing and puffed skirts all help define this South American country's self-image. But based on the controversy surrounding one popular TV character, "la Paisana Jacinta" (the Peasant Jacinta), contemporary Peru still has a long road to travel before it is comfortable in its own skin as a multicultural, multiracial society. In this undated picture, Peruvian television comedian Jorge Benavides poses as la Paisana Jacinta in Lima, Peru. (STR/AFP/GETTY…Read more …

Analysis: Why Do Many on the Global Left Still Support Venezuela’s Maduro?

Analysis: Why Do Many on the Global Left Still Support Venezuela’s Maduro?
LIMA, Peru — Addressing Peru’s national congress in the wake of Venezuela’s widely condemned constituent election this summer, representative Manuel Dammert of the leftist Broad Front party described the poll as an “epic democratic accomplishment”. Hailing the heavy win by the administration of President Nicolás Maduro, Dammert expressed his "recognition and solidarity with the fraternal people of Venezuela who have defeated the imperialist meddling maneuvers of Trump and his lackeys." Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference with international media correspondents at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas on October 17, 2017. FEDERICO PARRA…Read more …

Julian Assange is squabbling with Ecuador’s new president. That could put his London refuge at risk.

Julian Assange is squabbling with Ecuador’s new president. That could put his London refuge at risk.
You might think that the world’s best-known fugitive from U.S. law would want to stay on good terms with the government that is shielding him. But that's not the way Julian Assange operates. The WikiLeaks founder, who has been holed up in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London since 2012, is embroiled in a spat with the South American country's new president, Lenín Moreno, about Assange’s vocal support for Catalonian separatists. Moreno, who assumed office in January, has asked Assange to stay out of the constitutional crisis in Spain, prompting this riposte from the self-styled champion…Read more …

Latin America’s mega-corruption scandal just claimed its two biggest names

Latin America’s mega-corruption scandal just claimed its two biggest names
LIMA — The corruption mega-scandal rumbling across Latin America just keeps getting bigger. This week it claimed its two biggest victims, Peru’s former president Ollanta Humala and his erstwhile Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Yet prosecutors in many countries have barely started delving into the labyrinthine details of nearly $1 billion in kickbacks paid by the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht to politicians from Argentina to Mexico over the years. Humala and his wife, Nadine Heredia, turned themselves in to authorities Thursday night, hours after a judge ordered that they serve up…Read more …

12 best restaurants in Lima, Peru In 24 Hours

12 best restaurants in Lima, Peru In 24 Hours
(CNN) — Paris perhaps? Or maybe New York, Rome or Tokyo? Naming the world's greatest gourmet city is the kind of confoundingly simple challenge that foodies could spend all night fighting over. Yet now there is a new candidate for the title, one that until recently few associated with haute cuisine but which has been taking the gastronomical world by storm: Lima. Since the turn of the millennium, the Peruvian capital has been the epicenter of an increasingly acclaimed culinary renaissance. A generation of creative young chefs trained in some of the top…Read more …

Why Latin America Is Finally Getting Tough on Corruption As corruption scandals spread through Latin America, its new middle class is fighting back.

Why Latin America Is Finally Getting Tough on Corruption As corruption scandals spread through Latin America, its new middle class is fighting back.
LIMA, Peru — In Brazil, Michel Temer's brief presidency inches closer to an ignominious finale amid allegations he took $5 million in bribes, the latest chapter in a massive, slow burn corruption scandal that has tainted virtually the entire political class. Across the Andes, all three of Peru's presidents spanning 2001-2016 are under investigation for graft. One, Alejandro Toledo, a sometime lecturer at Stanford University accused of taking $20 million in kickbacks, is now fighting extradition from his Palo Alto home. Elsewhere in Latin America, one high-level scandal after another has tainted current or recent…Read more …

Peru’s Opposition Plays Hardball The Fujimori-led opposition is undermining Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's ability to govern – and Peruvians' trust in government – with relentless attacks.

Peru’s Opposition Plays Hardball The Fujimori-led opposition is undermining Pedro Pablo Kuczynski's ability to govern – and Peruvians' trust in government – with relentless attacks.
Twelve months ago, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pulled off a major upset when he beat Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the jailed hard-right strongman Alberto Fujimori, in Peru’s presidential runoff. The septuagenarian centrist economist squeaked in by just 41,000 votes — out of a total of more than 17 million — after Fujimori’s populist campaign was undermined by serious corruption allegations, including the revelation that her principal financier was being investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Many in Peru regarded the result as a victory for decency and the rule of law. Kuczynski’s triumph…Read more …

Sacred Valley of the Incas — see Machu Picchu and so much more in Peru

Sacred Valley of the Incas — see Machu Picchu and so much more in Peru
It's not hard to see why the Incas called it the Sacred Valley. The 70-mile narrow strip of land, in the Peruvian Andes, that runs roughly from the old imperial capital of Cusco to the enigmatic citadel of Machu Picchu remains a place of eerie natural beauty. Against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, the fertile river valley winds below steep forests and ancient agricultural terraces while the mountain light at dusk gives the landscape an otherworldly glow. Many locals still speak Quechua -- the language of the Incas. They also grow corn, raise…Read more …

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 …

Así es el corazón de la mayor zona productora de marihuana en Sudamérica VICE News acompañó al equipo de élite antinarcóticos de Paraguay a una redada en una zona que abastece a todo el sur del continente americano. La corrupción y la falta de oportunidades generan una producción masiva de la droga.

Así es el corazón de la mayor zona productora de marihuana en Sudamérica VICE News acompañó al equipo de élite antinarcóticos de Paraguay a una redada en una zona que abastece a todo el sur del continente americano. La corrupción y la falta de oportunidades generan una producción masiva de la droga.
Desde las alturas se ven unas largas filas de plantas de marihuana que dan color al bosque seco tropical que divide a Paraguay de Brasil, un territorio que parece no tener ley. Una vez que nuestro helicóptero tipo Huey, de los que se utilizaban en la Guerra de Vietnam, aterriza con los miembros de las fuerzas especiales antinarcóticos, sabemos por qué Paraguay, una pequeña y conservadora nación, es uno de los países productores de marihuana más grandes del mundo. Las tropas fuertemente armadas saltan de la nave y comienzan a derribar los altos…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
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 of about seven acres in less…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 …

Venezuela forced to face prospect of life without president Hugo Chavez Under the constitution, new elections must be held if the President is too ill to be sworn in

Venezuela forced to face prospect of life without president Hugo Chavez Under the constitution, new elections must be held if the President is too ill to be sworn in
As Hugo Chavez struggles to recover from his fourth cancer operation in 18 months, Venezuelans are digesting the fact that he may be too ill to be sworn in next Thursday for his fourth successive presidential term. Mr Chavez, 58, has been suffering from complications including a severe respiratory infection and has not been seen in public since shortly before his surgery on 11 December. Yesterday, Nicolas Maduro, the country’s Vice-President, said after visiting Mr Chavez in Cuba that the president’s health was “complex and delicate” but insisted he was slowly recovering. “We…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 …