La Señal Informativa de América Latina <![CDATA[Colombia: 10 Arrested for Abusing Disabled Children]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 14:43:00 -0400 Colombian police have arrested ten people after they found children with disabilities who were being abused inside of a clinic run by the government.

Colombian Miners Face Repression, Abuse During Protests

The workers were part of the staff at a mental health care center contracted by the Colombian Institute for Child Welfare in the central city of Ibague, department of Tolima.

They were charged with torture, conspiracy to commit a crime and the destruction of evidence, including the director of the health center, and will now have to wait for a trial date.

"The children were subjected to degrading acts of cruelty, they were tied to their beds," Child Welfare prosecutor Mario Gomez said.

"The people who supposedly looked after them and had to protect their rights gave them drugs to keep them under control and applied military doctrine to punish them."

Authorities haven't said how many children were victims of these acts in the institution, but the building has since been closed for further investigation.

Police say they were informed of the action by a former employee who gave them information and neighbors who heard the screams and shouting of the children.

"We have concrete information that they threw hot soup in the face to the children," Colonel Jorge Morales said. "The organization violated all kinds of human rights of our children and adolescents."

Police said the rescued children were suffering nervous breakdowns and were taken to other medical facilities.

<![CDATA[Top Human Rights Group Demands Justice for Santiago Maldonado]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 13:48:00 -0400 Amnesty International has asked the government of Argentina to guarantee justice after the family of Santiago Maldonado confirmed that his body was found, after almost 80 days since he disappeared.

Maldonado's Brother Accuses Argentina's Government of Hypocrisy

Santiago's family believes his body was placed in the Chubut River earlier this week, after he was taken during a protest in Mapuche territory that was cleared by police on Aug. 1.

"In this tragic moment, we join the family of Santiago and we will not rest until justice is done and all responsible people at all levels of government are prosecuted," Amnesty International Argentina Director Mariela Belski said.

Santiago's brother, Sergio, told reporters outside the morgue in Buenos Aires that relatives were able to identify his body by his tattoos. "It's Santiago," he said.

"This does not take away from the fact that police are responsible ... we are going to continue the investigation to know the truth and to have justice," Sergio said.

Authorities said the autopsy on Santiago's body will take about a week to show results on the actual causes of his death. 

Several human rights organizations and students gathered in the historic Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires to demand justice for Santiago as well as the resignation of Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich.

They alleged police are responsible for his disappearance. 

His body was found days before key regional elections in Argentina.

"The authorities must ensure that an independent investigation is carried out to determine who was responsible for the disappearance and death of Santiago, who ordered it, and who knew it and didn't act," Belski said.

<![CDATA[Nicaragua Unveils Central America's Largest Baseball Stadium]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:42:00 -0400 Nicaragua has unveiled its long-awaited baseball stadium in Managua, replacing the former baseball field built in 1948. The new structure will hold up to 15,670 people and is the country’s first stadium constructed to Major League Baseball, MLB, standards and codes.

Nicaragua Congratulates Venezuela on Regional Elections

The stadium took almost two years and US$36 million to build. The facility can hold 1,000 cars, large screens to view games, advanced technology and a security system that enables game-goers to evacuate within 10 minutes.

The stadium will likely take the name “Denis Martinez," after Nicaragua’s former MLB player, and for whom the previous field is named. Yet, the name “Stanley Cayasso” is also on the table in homage of the country’s first “symbol of national baseball."

Martinez holds the record, 245, for the most wins by a Latin American pitcher in the MLB. 

He and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega were on hand at the stadium’s inaugural game last night against Taiwan, as part of a three-game series to run Oct. 20-22. The match was sold out as the least expensive tickets cost an equivalent of US$2. Players competed in the rain and ended with a 2-2 tie.

<![CDATA[Former Rio de Janeiro Governor Gets 72 Years in Prison for Money Laundering]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 12:34:00 -0400 The former governor of Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state has been found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to 13 additional years in prison.

Former Rio Governor Arrested Over Bribery Allegations

Last year, federal prosecutors accused Cabral of leading a criminal organization that accepted US$66 million in bribes from construction firms in exchange for infrastructure contracts from 2007 to 2014, the years he served as governor. Cabral, 53, faced his third trial for corruption charges, where he was found guilty for the third time.  

The projects included the renovation of the famed Maracana Soccer Stadium, where the final match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup was held, along with public works in some of Rio's biggest slums and the construction of a major highway around the city's outskirts.

The politician had been in prison for the past 11 months and will now see his jail term increase to 72 years. 

Cabral was considered the most powerful figure in Rio politics for the past decade until he was pushed out of office by anti-corruption protests in April 2014. He was also a key figure in the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, which right-wing President Michel Temer is a member of.

He was also governor at the time when Rio de Janeiro, the capital of the state, was chosen to host the 2016 Olympic Games. 

Marcelo Bretas, the judge who ordered the sentence, said Cabral had "deviated from the noble attributions granted to him by the people's vote to dedicate himself to crimes for several years."

Cabral's defense team said in an official statement that the sentence was "unjust."  

<![CDATA[Chile: Presidential Election Campaigns Underway]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 10:56:00 -0400 Political candidates in Chile have begun their electoral campaigns ahead of the Nov. 19 presidential and legislative elections. The event will also decide future regional councilors.

A Constituent Assembly Is Essential For a New Chile: Activist

Chile's eight presidential candidates had 20 minutes of airtime Friday night to present their campaign platforms in what is known as the "electoral slot" in the country's radio and television stations.

Elections in Chile are complex, since roughly 60 percent of people who can vote don’t participate in elections.

One of the main issues that will dominate this election will be the possibility of calling for a constituent assembly to change the Constitution, which was created in 1980 and approved in 1981 under the military regime of Augusto Pinochet.

Among the presidential candidates are former President Sebastian Piñera of the right-wing Chile Vamos party, Alejandro Guillier, an independent, Beatriz Sanchez of the leftist Broad Front, Carolina Goic of the conservative Christian Democracy Party and Jose Antonio Kast, a right-wing independent.

Since the military dictatorship ended in 1990, the country's center-left parties have won the past four elections. The right wing and centrists only won once, when Piñera received a majority of votes in 2010.

The campaign is set to end on Nov. 16.

President Michelle Bachelet has said she will not run again, as this is her second term. Piñera leads the polls with his candidacy in the Chile Vamos coalition.

President Michelle Bachelet has said she will not turn again, as this is her second term. Pinera leads the polls with his candidacy in the Chile Vamos coalition.
<![CDATA[Former Colombia Rebels Face ‘Very Serious Challenges’: UN]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 10:55:00 -0400 Andrew Gilmour, a top United Nations human rights official, has expressed concern over the well-being of former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, militants, saying they are having a hard time reintegrating into civilian society.

Indigenous Leader and His Son Killed in Tumaco, Colombia

Former FARC militants, Gilmour claimed, "have not found alternative means of income for them and their families.” 

Gilmour visited rural Colombia and assessed that the government needs to do more in these rural areas, which were once FARC-controlled zones. He stressed that reintegrating them “should not be beyond the bounds of what is basically a developed country and economy.” 

If not done quickly, “then this vacuum (will get) filled by highly undesirable elements,” like illegal extractive industries and drug cartels. "There is a strong chance (former FARC militants) will go back to something worse," he added.

FARC members and the Colombian government agreed to peace a year ago and have since created a legally-recognized political party. Former militants began handing in between 6,000 and 8,000 weapons to the U.N. in March. However, as former FARC militants return home, there is “nothing for them," Gilmour said.

The U.N. leader described the peace deal as a "success," but said "very serious" challenges remain, as “peace itself is not sustainable if not accompanied by social and economic integration."

Last year's peace deal ended 52 years of armed conflict in Colombia, where more than 220,000 died and 6 million people were displaced.

It’s not only a lack of economic opportunity that is derailing peace in Colombia, but right-wing paramilitaries. By January of this year, 25 former FARC members and 13 of their family members were killed with impunity. Thirty seven ex-combatants, many with U.N. amnesty status, have been killed as of Oct. 20.

Social leaders and activists for peace are also becoming targets of the paramilitaries. Just yesterday, an activist and his son were killed in Tumaco, a coastal city and hotbed for drug exports to the United States. According to Patriotic March, 101 human rights and peace defenders were killed between January and August of this year.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said he will deploy 4,000 Armed Forces members and 2,500 police officers to Tumaco "to take control of the whole territory, with emphasis on the rivers, which have become corridors for drug trafficking."

<![CDATA[Hundreds of Thousands Rally for Independence As Catalan Leader Defies Madrid]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 10:29:00 -0400 450, 000 people have been taking part in a protest on the streets of Barcelona to show their support for the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's defiance of direct rule by the Spanish government.

Spain's Rajoy Gives Catalonia 10 Days to Drop Independence Bid

In a televised speech, Puigdemont rejected what he called the "illegal" measures taken by Madrid to govern the region.

He said the decision by the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to fire the regional government and force a new election, which will be effective from next Friday was, "the worst attack against the institutions and the people of Catalonia since the military dictatorship of Francisco Franco."

But he stopped short of saying he would make good his threat to push ahead with the independence bid before direct rule takes effect, “I ask the (Catalan) parliament to meet in a plenary session during which we, the representatives of the citizens’ sovereignty, will be able to decide over this attempt to liquidate our government and our democracy, and act in consequence.” 

The regional assembly is expected to decide on Monday whether to hold a session to formally proclaim the republic of Catalonia.

Nearly 850 Injured in Catalonia Independence Referendum

Earlier, Rajoy announced that his government will apply Article 155 of the Constitution to the Catalan government in order to “protect the general interest of the nation.” 

The move is in response Puigdemont’s refusal to pledge allegiance to Madrid and the disputed secession referendum.

Rajoy is also calling for the Catalan leader's imprisonment.

He said the next steps are to remove executive branch members and Puigdemont from their roles. They will also remove the Catalan Parliament president, vice president and all council members who played a direct or indirect role in advocating for Catalonia’s independence.

Moreover, Madrid is preparing to accuse all of them, including Puigdemont, of rebellion against the government. If found guilty, they could face a prison sentence of up to thirty years.

National ministries will take over their responsibilities until elections are held. Rajoy has six months to hold elections, but wants to hold them as soon as possible.

Rajoy also announced that Madrid will decrease Catalan parliamentary roles and current Catalan leaders won’t be able to propose a candidate for the upcoming election.

This is the first time in Spain’s history that the government has announced it will use the 39-year-old Article 155.

Several European Union officials have announced their support for Rajoy, with others staying on the sidelines, saying “this is a Spain issue.”

Rajoy added at the press conference that all of these measures still have to be approved by the National Assembly. Authorities are currently filing paperwork to put Article 155 into action.

The prime minister claimed Madrid isn’t taking over Catalan “autonomy” or “suspending government functions,” but will continue to function “under the orders of new authorities, designated by the Spanish Government.”

He reiterated that Puigdemont “couldn’t have acted worse in the last few days,” saying “it wasn’t our wish to apply Article 155, but the law can’t be ignored.” 

<![CDATA[Mexico Blocks UN Enforced Disappearance Committee Visit]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 08:57:00 -0400 The Mexican government didn't allow the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances to enter the country on Friday, a move heavily criticized by human rights organizations seeking justice.

Mexico Marks 3 Years Since 43 Ayotzinapa Students Were Disappeared

The organization, which claimed their visits have been denied since 2013, said they regret the fact that victims won't be allowed to have higher protections and won't receive help to resolve related crimes. 

Committee Chairman Suela Janina said the group has tried to visit Mexico for the past four years without any success, even after contact was made between the two parties to reach a possible agreement.

"We believe that the visit is a good instrument to help the member state overcome this problem," Janina told EFE.

Jan Jarab, a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, said the country should join those states already benefiting from the help of the committee.

"It is imperative that Mexico opens a new path of justice for the victims of disappearance and reinforces the regime of international protection against this crime," Jarab said in a statement

Jarab also reminded the government that it's been eight years since Mexico ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

"Recognition of the competence of the Committee would provide victims with a higher standard of protection and would allow them access to an international body specializing in the legitimate claim of their rights."

Meanwhile, after three years of debate, Mexico's Lower House of Congress approved the Forced Disappearance Law, which still needs about US$22 million to be approved in the 2018 budget in order for its implementation.

<![CDATA[ Pope Francis Warns Brazil of Its "Scandalous Corruption"]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 06:39:00 -0400 During a meeting with the Community of the Pontifical Piusy ​​College of Rome, held in Italy, Pope Francis demanded on Saturday the need for a "united and fraternal clergy in solidarity" in Brazil, facing the "scandalous corruption" of the Brazilian government.

Brazil's Lower House Votes on Charges Against Temer

"At this difficult time in their national history, when so many people seem to have lost hope in a better future because of the enormous social problems and scandalous corruption, Brazil needs its clergy to be a sign of hope," the Pope said.

It is not the first time that Pope Francis has spoken on the subject.

Brazilians "need to see a united and fraternal clergy in solidarity in which priests tackle the obstacles together without falling into the temptations of selfishness," said the Pope. "I am sure that Brazil will overcome its crisis and I trust that you will act as protagonists in this," said Francis to students and members of the Church.

In his speech, Francis addressed the audience as "student priests" and warned them that "this new condition" can mean an "imbalance" between the four pillars that sustain the life of a priest: the spiritual, academic, and emotional dimensions, as well as pastoral work.

Brazilian Diplomat Removed from Post After Criticizing Temer

He noted that the Brazilian government’s corruption could tempt people to make the priesthood a materially lucrative position.

Brazil’s corruption scandal continues as President Michel Temer escaped corruption charges when a Senate committee chose not to hold the President accountable for bribery claims over a recorded conversation the President had with a businessman in March.

<![CDATA[Spain's King Says Catalonia Belongs in Spain ]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 03:39:00 -0400 Spain’s King Felipe VI intervened in the Catalonia crisis by saying that the territory, which voted to secede, will remain a part of Spain.

King of Spain Condemns ‘Illegal’ Catalan Independence Vote

He continued that the crisis in Catalonia had created a divide in Spanish society and that Spain’s democratic institutions would find a solution to the issue.

The Spanish government has maintained that the independence referendum that was held on October 1 is illegal and illegitimate.

The Spanish King has said in the past that separatists have "broken the democratic principles of the rule of law" and demonstrated "disrespect to the powers of the state," especially directing his statements to organizers of the referendum.

Despite repression and attacks by police, 90% of Catalans voted in favor of independence. Critics have attributed this to a pro-government boycott of the referendum, while separatists cite the crackdown initiated by the national police force that made it hard, if not impossible, for many to participate.

Madrid has responded by threatening to administer direct control of the region, citing Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont threatened to move forward with the move towards independence if political repression against Catalans continues or if Article 155 is triggered, the first time it will have ever been utilized since the ratification of Spain’s Constitution.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is set to announce the full framework of joint plans on Saturday. Part of the proposed plans include early elections in Catalonia in January.

 Spanish Government, Socialist Workers' Party Agree on Catalonia Elections

Rajoy has also floated the idea of seizing control of Catalonia’s public assets including the local police force.

Opposition groups, such as the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), announced they would boycott an election which they see as "imposed" on the region, and Catalans are expected to launch massive street protests if Madrid attempts to impose direct control.

<![CDATA[FARC Militant Turned Social Leader Killed in Colombia]]> Sat, 21 Oct 2017 02:28:00 -0400 The Colombian National Human Rights Coordinator, Cristian Delgado, indicated that 37 ex-combatants have already been killed in seven months.

 Colombia's Coca Producers and Social Organizations Launch Indefinite Strike

A new victim joins the list of ex-rebels killed in Colombia, Henry Meneses Ruiz, a former militant in the Alternative Revolutionary Force of the Colombia (FARC) turned social leader.

Meneses Ruiz was murdered this Friday in the northern region of the Department of Cauca which lies in the southwest of Colombia.

The Colombian National Human Rights Coordinator, Cristian Delgado, indicated that 37 ex-combatants have already been killed in seven months. The Coordinator reminded Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos that the peace accords also protect the lives of former combatants.

Indigenous Leader and His Son Killed in Tumaco, Colombia

Amid rampant political violence in the South American country, social movements and the FARC demand security and protection from local authorities and the Colombian government. The groups have also demanded a crackdown on paramilitaries groups that target their members.

President Juan Manuel Santos has said in the past that his government is committed to upholding the terms of the peace agreement that would put an end to the Colombian conflict that has been ongoing for over 50 years. 

<![CDATA[96-Year old Former Nazi SS Officer Charged for Mass Murders]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 23:15:00 -0400 A German court has handed down a sentence to a 96-year old former Nazi SS officer for carrying out killings at a concentration camp in Poland.

The man, who has not yet been named, worked at the Majdanek Concentration Camp in the city of Lublin between August 1943 and January 1944.

German Court Gives Leader of Nazi Sex Cult in Chile 5 Years

The then-22 year old worked as a member of the fifth company of the SS Death's Head unit, which was responsible for administering concentration camps for the Third Reich.

According to Frankfurt-am-Main prosecutors, where the man now lives, he was tasked with “securing the camp and guarding the prisoners to be killed.”

“According to available information, the accused, as well as other SS members of the camp, knew about the cruelty of the organized mass killings,” continued the prosecutor’s statement, released Friday. “He should have known that people, who were fiercely opposed to their fate, were killed out of racial despicable motives.”

The man is specifically accused of being involved with “Operation Harvest Festival” which took place in November 1943.

That event saw some 18,000 Jews shot outside the camp, while music was played over loudspeakers to drown out the sounds of the mass murder, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM).

“He knowingly and willingly contributed to these insidious and cruel acts,” the prosecutions said.

The USHMM notes that the SS killed some 74,000 to 90,000 people in Majdanek. Some were shot, many killed in gas chambers.

The camp was liberated in July, 1944 by Soviet Red Army forces.

<![CDATA[Maldonado's Brother Accuses Argentina's Government of Hypocrisy]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 22:49:00 -0400 The late Argentine activist Santiago Maldonado's brother, Sergio, has denounced President Mauricio Macri's decision to phone his mother two days before the country's legislative elections.

Maldonado Family Confirms Body is Missing Argentine Activist's

Sergio also denied that the Justice Minister, German Garavano, had a telephone conversation with him.

"I think they are very perverse, it is very low, there is a limit," he told the TN News Channel, Grupo Clarin. "I see him (Garavano) and President Macri saying they spoke, when they never cared about us. (Macri) calls my (mother) two days before the election, it's very low, they make me sick. they use things politically, it seems pathetic."

Earlier, Sergio confirmed the body found on Tuesday in the Chubut River, in the Argentine department of Cushamen, is that of his brother, Santiago.

The 28-year-old activist had been missing since the start of August after taking part in a demonstration supporting the Indigenous Mapuche community in Patagonia.

Sergio went on to say, "I want to contradict what German Garavano said, because he did not speak to me on the telephone." 

"I was called (Garavano) and I did not answer because I am very sad and hurt. I only answered a message," said Sergio adding, "Come out and say he talked with me... He is a liar....If you spoke to me, show the recording."

He then apologised for his frustration, ""I'm sorry, but I have to unload somewhere. It can not be that you have to live these things, there is a limit, you have to have a little more respect, you can not be so hypocritical, so crap."

Body Found on Argentine River Bank Near Location of Maldonado Disappearance

Garavano later acknowledged to TN that "the family is angry with the Government...the important thing is to develop the expert study and hopefully give him answers." The Minister went on to say that, "The Government has always been in the position that it should be... Justice will explain what happened."

He added "It is a judicial case that was given a political dimension and dissemination in the media."

Regional social leaders, human rights groups, politicians and public figures have been condemning the young activist's death and demanding the truth, justice and respect from Macri's government.

Many are also criticising the right-wing media and the Argentine Security Minister, Patricia Bullrich.

The former Colombian senator and activist Piedad Cordoba posted a tweet which said, "The body of Santiago Maldonado appears. A murder sign of painful setbacks for Latin America. Truth and justice for your family."

<![CDATA[Milagro Sala Denounces Constant Harassment in Argentine Prison]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 20:32:00 -0400 The Argentine Indigenous leader Milagro Sala says she is being harassed in prison.

Milagro Sala: To Violate My Rights Is to Violate Against Democracy

"We do not put up with everything they are doing to us. They harass us. They do not settle for having me arrested. What more do they want from me?," Sala said in a statement.

On Thursday night, she received medical treatment including nine stitches after she injured her arm with a glass.

Sala self-harmed after Judge Isidoro Cruz rejected a defense plea of habeas corpus, requesting her transfer to a clinic for health problems, despite the court certifying that she suffers from severe depression.

She is said to be stable again now and was able to talk to her lawyer as well as her husband after she had seen the doctors.

Sala is due to receive regular visits again on Saturday.

Next week, the Inter Amercian Commission on Human Rights, IACHR, is scheduled to discuss her case.

The agency has expressed concern over her repeated arrest and detention as well as the “potential aggravation of the risk of harm it poses to her life and integrity.” 

The IACHR also warned that the decision to detain the leader violates the precautionary measure it issued in her favor on July 28.

IACHR Expresses 'Great Concern' Over Milagro Sala Detention

Last week Sala was removed from house arrest and taken to Alto Comedero prison in the northwestern province of Jujuy.

Her lawyer says it was as an abduction because the action was taken without the notification or knowledge of the defense. 

As head of Argentina's Tupac Amaru neighborhood association, part of the Association of State Workers of Jujuy, Sala won a seat in 2015 in the regional parliament of the Mercosur trade group of South American nations, Parlasur.

She was arrested on January 16, 2016, after being accused of "inciting criminal acts" linked to a protest she led against authorities.

The Jujuy provincial government then broadened the charges, alleging her movement had "embezzled public funds" meant for the construction of housing for low-income people.

The United Nations demanded that the government release Sala, while the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention described her incarceration as "annihilation by the state.”

Sala has denied any wrongdoing.


<![CDATA[After Sanctions, Canada to Host Third Meeting of Lima Group to Solve “Venezuelan Crisis”]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 20:25:00 -0400 Canada is set to host its third meeting of the Lima Group — a gathering of countries from the Americas who have previously sought intervention in Venezuela through the OAS — next week in Toronto.

Venezuela Lodges Protest With Canada for Condemning Regional Elections

“Canada is deeply concerned by the deteriorating political and economic crisis in Venezuela and is working intensively with like-minded countries, through the Lima Group and the international community, to advocate for the restoration of democracy and the protection of human rights for the Venezuelan people,” the statement announcing the meeting read.

Calling Venezuela’s government “the Maduro regime”, the group — which includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Saint Lucia — seeks “a solution to the Venezuelan crisis.”

The meeting on October 26 will be the third of the Lima Group, which in its earlier two meetings had marked Venezuela as a “dictatorship.”

Just a day earlier, Venezuela’s foreign minister lodged "a firm and forceful” protest note with Canada, after Canada’s foreign minister rebuked Venezuela’s recent regional elections.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said Thursday that Canada’s criticisms amount to the government's "permanent" and "systematic interference" in the affairs of the Caribbean country.

Canada Leads Attacks on Venezuela to Push ‘Political Agenda’

On Tuesday, Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, who was widely criticized in March for admitting she’s “proud” of her family’s Nazi past, released a statement saying, “Canada is very concerned by the actions of the Venezuelan regime to hinder free and fair elections.”

Last month, Canada placed sanctions on 40 Venezuelan government officials, including President Nicolas Maduro. Venezuela had slammed the sanctions as an attempt to “undermine the peace and social stability achieved in our nation after the formation of the National Constituent Assembly.”

Ottawa has long meddled in the South American country, including endorsing OAS proposals calling for intervention and meeting with right-wing opposition activists.

<![CDATA[Forensic Panel Says Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda Did Not Die of Cancer]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:34:00 -0400 An investigation into Pablo Neruda's probable cause of death, has found that Chile's most famous poet did not die of prostate cancer.

Experts to Present Results of Investigation into Death of Chilean Poet Neruda

Forensic experts told a news conference in the capital Santiago, they were certain Neruda had not been killed by the disease.

The panel of experts focused on identifying pathogenic bacteria that might have caused his death. 

Dr Aurelio Luna said they were "100% convinced" that the death certificate "does not reflect the reality of the death".

The official version was that he died of cachexia, or weakness, and wasting of the body due to chronic illness — in this case cancer.

Luna added, "We still can't exclude nor affirm the natural or violent cause of Pablo Neruda's death."

The Nobel Laureate died in 1973 at the age of 69, less than two weeks after a military coup led by Chile's former dictator General Augusto Pinochet.

His former driver Manuel Araya maintains Neruda was poisoned by the secret service.

Pinochet Dictatorship Laws Linger in Chile After 37 Years

The poet was suffering from prostate cancer, but it was not life-threatening - leading the experts to conclude a third party could have possibly been involved.

They will now carry out tests on a toxin found in his remains.

Neruda’s body was exhumed in 2013 and reburied last year.

In 2015, Chile’s government said it's “highly probable that a third party” was responsible for his death.

Neruda was a supporter and personal friend of Chile's deposed socialist President, Salvador Allende.

He was traumatized by the military takeover and the persecution and killing of his friends.

The celebrated writer had planned to go into exile, where he would have been an influential voice against the dictatorship.



<![CDATA[Oscar Lopez Rivera at World Festival of Youth and Students: ‘Young Must Pick up Fight Against Imperialism’]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:25:00 -0400 Oscar Lopez Rivera, the Puerto Rican independence fighter freed from prison earlier this year, has addressed the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi, Russia, telling the audience it is up to the young to “fight against imperialism.”

Russia Hosts the World Festival of Youth and Students

Remarking on the fact that Puerto Rico has been colonized by the United States for 119 years, Lopez Rivera said "a government represented by Mr. Donald Trump only demonstrates where imperialism is today, what it intends to do, especially with Cuba and Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and all Latin American countries.”

“That is why it is up to all, but especially the young, to take this fight against imperialism," he added.

Lopez Rivera also chided U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the island, after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria last month.

Trump threw donation supplies at crowds and Lopez Rivera said he “came to Puerto Rico as a clown to speak to its inhabitants in the most outrageous and insensitive way we can imagine.”

One youth from Cuba thanked the former political prisoner, saying he had sent Lopez Rivera letters while he was in prison.

The activist thanked the young man and added, "the whole world depends on youth, it is the future of every society."

"All the countries of Latin America have to do everything possible to remove the common enemy from our people, for imperialism cannot function without the help of those elites that benefit from it,” Lopez Rivera said. “You are here denouncing with meridian clarity what is imperialism, for example, the blockade imposed on Cuba, the colonialism faced by Puerto Ricans, which seeks to eradicate the face of the planet, because colonialism destroys, dehumanizes."

In #Sochi Oscar Lopez Rivera @radio_cubana: the whole world depends on youth, the youth is the future of the society @PensarAmericas"  

More than 20,000 young people from 150 countries are attending the week long event in Sochi to discuss global political issues, ranging from the fight against xenophobia in the United States to student movements, as well as health and education.

The World Federation of Democratic Youth founded the gathering to combat fascism and imperialism after World War II.

A day earlier, the Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly's President, Delcy Rodriguez, had praised the forum’s efforts toward world peace and equality for the future.

Venezuela Praises ‘Young Revolutionaries’ at World Festival of Youth and Students

“You are victims of an unequal world which fosters war, terrorism, exclusion and all kinds of warfare intended to annihilate humanity," Rodriguez said, later offering more optimistic advice.

“You are the creative vanguard for a world based on solidarity, cooperation, friendship and brotherhood.”

“In light of serious imperial threats against our homeland, President Maduro asked the Venezuelan people to defend peace and sovereignty and our people responded. We are proud to count on President Nicolas Maduro, who was a young revolutionary, just like you,” she had added.

<![CDATA[Suicide Bombers Target Mosques in Afghanistan Killing Dozens During Friday Prayers]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:42:00 -0400 Suicide bombers have attacked two mosques in Afghanistan, killing at least 72 people, including several children.

In Kabul, a bomber detonated an explosive in a Shia mosque during Friday prayers. The interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said 39 people died.

Taliban Continues Attacks on Afghan Security Forces

The Islamic State group says one of its suicide bombers detonated a vest at the scene but provided no evidence to support the claim.

In a separate bombing at a Sunni mosque in central Ghor province, a police spokesman said at least 33 people had been killed.

The second attack appeared to target a local leader from the Jamiat political party, according to a statement from Balkh provincial governor Atta Mohammad Noor, a leading figure in Jamiat.

No one has claimed responsibility.

Afghanistan's Shia population has been heavily hit this year, with at least 84 people killed and 194 wounded in attacks on Shia mosques and religious ceremonies, according to a UN report released last week.

The Islamic State group said its fighters had carried out many of the bombings.

But over the past week, the Taliban has been responsible for many other attacks, killing 130 people.

On Wednesday, Afghan security forces were targeted in an ambush which nearly wiped out an army camp in the southern province of Kandahar.

Two other attacks on the same day left six policemen dead in the northern Balkh province and another nine were killed in Farah.

Afghanistan: Scores of Police Killed, Hundreds Injured in Series of Taliban Operations

Just a day earlier, the Taliban had also launched a number of other attacks, killing at least 74 people.

As a result, Kabul has refused to hold peace talks with the group, but the CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, is still promoting attempts to bring the Taliban back to the negotiating table.

As the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan reached its 16-year anniversary, the Taliban has reiterated its opposition to “America's arrogant politics and evil policy,” noting that it is “not tired nor will it feel fatigue” in its ongoing war to expel occupying forces from the country.

<![CDATA[Maldonado Family Confirms Body is Missing Argentine Activist's]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:32:00 -0400 The family of the missing Argentine activist Santiago Maldonado have confirmed that a body found in the Chubut River earlier this week is their son's.

March for Missing Activist Ahead of Autopsy on Unidentified Body in Buenos Aires

His brother Sergio told the media outside the morgue in Buenos Aires that they were able to make the identification by the markings and tatoos on the remains.

"We were able to look at the body, ...we recognized the tattoos. We are convinced that it is Santiago," Sergio said. 

He added, "This does not remove that the Gendarmerie (police) is responsible...we are going to continue the investigation so that to know the truth and to have justice".

The autopsy is underway and Sergio said the DNA tests are expected "within a few days."

Later on the family's Facebook page, a message was posted which said, "There is very little we can say about out feelings after the confirmation...this pain does not know words...the circumstances of the body's discovery give us many doubts...we need to know what happened to Santiago and who is responsible for his death. All of them. Not only those who took his life but those who, by action or omission, collaborated in the cover-up and harmed the search process."

It also called for political forces to "make the greatest effort to support and guarantee all actions to help us find the Truth and obtain Justice. The death of Santiago should not be the subject of divisions or interests. No one has the rights to the pain of this family, for which we ask respect."

28-year-old Santiago went missing on August 1 and an unidentified body was found in the area where he disappeared on Tuesday.

The remains were discovered caught in the branches of willow trees on the Chubut river, about 1,500 meters from the community guard of the Indigenous Mapuche community in Pu Lof, near Esquel.

The activist went missing there shortly after he was arrested during a demonstration in support of Argentina’s Indigenous Mapuche community.

The protest in Patagonia was part of a long-running dispute between Benetton, the Italian clothing retailer that owns 2.2 million acres of land, and the Indigenous people who claim part of the territory.

According to witnesses, the rally was interrupted by the federal police force. One participant and community member, Matias Santana, claimed to have seen officers force Maldonado into a vehicle after knocking him unconscious.

On Wednesday, the family's lawyer questioned why the body had only been found this week after three other unsucsessful dredging attempts,  "We have no explanation of why the other results were negative and this is positive."

Sergio Maldonado also asked why the body had been found upstream, in a previously checked area

He tweeted that he thought the remains could have been planted there.

<![CDATA[Mayor of Ixtlahuacan Shot Dead by Gunmen in the Mexican State of Colima]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:55:00 -0400 A Mexican Mayor, Crispin Gutierrez Moreno, has been killed as he was traveling to Colima's capital city.

Gutierrez Moreno was shot by gunmen in a car, who quickly drove away from the scene, according to a statement by the Attorney General's office.

Indigenous Leader and His Son Killed in Tumaco, Colombia

Some reports say two suspects have been arrested but there's been no official confirmation.

The gunmen left behind an AK-47 rifle and some ammunition.

54-year-old Gutierrez Moreno was the mayor of Ixtlahuacan in the state of Colima.

He is the third municipal leader to have been killed in Mexico this month.

The mayor of Huitzilan, Manuel Hernandez, was targeted on October 10 while the mayor of Parache, Stalin Sanchez, died on October 7.

“I have instructed the Prosecutor General to carry out exhaustive work to find those responsible and apply the law rigorously. There cannot be impunity!” Colima's State Governor Jose Ignacio Peralta Sanchez said on his Facebook account.

While the state government  has launched a special investigation and issued a statement which said, “State institutions in cooperation with federal agents have implemented a special search operation to locate those who shot the mayor while he traveled in his vehicle.”

In a separate incident, police in Michoacan said the mayor of Coalcoman, Jose Misael Gonzalez was injured in a shooting. He is been reported to be in stable condition.