Americas

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity
Americas

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity

 Brazil Brazil -Brazilian senators probing the country’s COVID-19 outbreak management have removed a recommendation from their report that President Bolsonaro should be charged with homicide and genocide.

Instead, the senators are now alleging him of “crimes against humanity.”

Those leading the congressional probe convened a meeting late on Tuesday to ponder over the report prepared by an opposition Senator, Renan Calheiros. They agreed to remove the genocide and homicide accusations due to technical reasons.

“The decisions were not political, but technical,” opposition Senator Humberto Costa said. “We can’t go into the risk of the report being rubbished by a judge because the definition of the crimes was not accurate.”

It merits mentioning that the draft report needs to earn the Senate committee’s nod and could be altered and vetoed.

It is also pertinent to mention that the senators’ decision, in practice, changes very little for Bolsonaro, who has denied the probe, terming it as politically motivated.

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The 66-year-old leader rejected the accusations on Wednesday, saying that he was “guilty of nothing”.

In Brazil, more than 600,000 people have died from COVID-19 – which is the second-highest death toll after the US.

The decision to go forth with the charges depends mainly on Brazil’s prosecutor-general, who is a Bolsonaro appointee and ally.

The President has downplayed the threat of COVID-19 consistently and touted unproven treatments and misinformation while not adhering to international health guidelines on public activity and mask use.

The 11-member Senate panel probed whether his actions were the cause of many of Brazil’s COVID-19 deaths.

So far, it is improbable that Bolsonaro, the far-right politician, will be tried on any such charges.

However, findings of the congressional probe underline the surging political isolation of Bolsonaro – just a year prior to the next presidential election.

The 1,200-page report was made public on Tuesday.

Ecuador: Why Did President Guillermo Lasso Declare Emergency in the State?
Americas

Ecuador: Why Did President Guillermo Lasso Declare Emergency in the State?

 EcuadorEcuador -On Monday, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso decreed a state of emergency to confront growing crime and drug trafficking in the nation.

“This isn’t just exhibited in the number of narcotic drugs consumed in our nation, but it is seen in the number of crimes that are happening has an immediate or indirect connection with the drug sale,” Lasso added. 

Cocaine is smuggled from neighboring Peru and Colombia to Ecuador, and a significant part of the crime ratio is related to drugs. 

Lasso stated that drug dealing had increased the number of burglaries of homes, homicides, theft of vehicles and goods.

President Lasso pointed out that we need to impose a state of emergency to contain crime and drugs. Police and military have been deployed on the streets to provide security.

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In a televised speech, President Lasso announced that under the 60-day curfew measures, the military and police would conduct inspections, arms checks, 24-hour surveillance, and drug search, among different exercises in nine of the nation’s 24 provinces, including Guayas.

More than 70% of deaths and acts of violence in the territory of Guayas are “somehow or another” linked with drug trafficking, Lasso added. 

Moreover, not only crimes in the town but violent deaths within prisons have additionally risen. Last month 119 people got killed in fights in jail in Guayaquil, which the public authority has accused of fighting among drug gangs.

According to the BBC, Analysts said the jail killings had most likely been directed from outside the prison, reflecting a power battle between Mexican narcotics cartels currently progressing in Ecuador. 

The government would support law to help security forces in endeavors to battle crimes and build an entity to protect officers indicted for “simply performing their job, Lasso added.

“The Administration will pardon people who are treacherously indicted for doing their work,” the President requested judges to ensure harmony and maintain order, not impunity and crime.”

Maduro ally in court to face corruption charges
Americas

Maduro ally in court to face corruption charges

Venezuela Venezuela -Venezuela’s government announced on Saturday to halt negotiations with its political opponents – in retaliation for the extradition of a close ally of President Nicolás Maduro.

Prosecutors believe the ally could be a significant witness to corruption in the South American nation.

A businessman who prosecutors think as a major conduit for corruption by Maduro’s inner circle appeared in Miami’s federal court on Monday. His appearance came after the weekend extradition that further strained relations between Venezuela’s socialist government and the U.S.

Alex Saab’s legs shook nervously as he waited, handcuffed in an orange jumpsuit, for the hearing to begin. Only hours after Saab sat on a Department of Justice aircraft, Saturday, Maduro’s government halted negotiations with Venezuela’s US-backed opposition. On the other hand, it also threw six American oil executives – accused of corruption – back into jail. It merits mentioning that they have been under house arrest in a politically charged case amid allegations of wrongful detention.

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Meanwhile, the Chair of Venezuelan opposition’s negotiating team has urged President Maduro’s administration to resume dialogue soon after the government halted its participation this weekend.

Maduro’s government put the conversations on ice after Alex Saab, a Venezuelan envoy, was taken to the United States to face corruption charges from Cape Verde on Saturday.

It was the latest hit at Norwegian-sponsored talks among the two sides, which are yet to make concrete advances toward diminishing Venezuela’s prolonged economic and social crisis.

It is pertinent to mention that most Venezuelans live in extreme poverty, suffering gasoline shortages and power blackouts. Furthermore, millions have fled the country, seeking employment and better living conditions.

“We ask our counterpart to restart the negotiations as soon as possible,” opposition negotiator Gerardo Blyde said from Mexico City.

Norway furthered that call on Twitter, saying the only solution is negotiation.

Maduro’s right arm to be extradited to the United States
Americas

Maduro’s right arm to be extradited to the United States

Cape Verde accepts the US request and extradites the man who knows all Maduro’s secrets. It is a nasty blow for the strong man of Caracas. The worst since Hugo Chávez, shortly before his death, handed him the scepter of power. His name is Alex Saab. He is 49 years old and has been the figurehead of the Venezuelan president for ten. Colombian from Barranquilla with Lebanese origins, thanks to his talent as a businessman, he entered into the good graces of Maduro, who entrusted him with his secrets. In personal business and in the triangulations that the regime has had to develop to circumvent US sanctions.

Mainly with oil, sold and bought, in addition to humanitarian contracts. That includes purchasing food for the Clap and the government’s supply and production committees to feed the poorest classes in the country. On one of these trades, Maduro’s protégé slipped: the goods purchased were damaged, which, denied with disdain by Saab, caused embarrassment and scandal.

A few years passed, and his name attracted the attention of the US Treasury Department. They see him as more than just the president’s figurehead: he’s his real right-hand man. From an anonymous organizer of social welfare centers, Alex Saab has become the referent of every official Venezuelan government negotiation in the world within a few years. Washington issued an international arrest order for laundering against him: 350 million dollars, the treasure Maduro and the regime’s top have accumulated. The US considers Alex Saab a precious witness. They know they can get confirmations and revelations from him that can nail their Venezuelan nightmare.

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But the man is brilliant. He skillfully escapes the many traps of US intelligence. He falls for a full tank of petrol: in June 2020, he stops with his private jet on the island of Sal, in Cape Verde, for a refueling. The authorities of the former Portuguese colony blocked and arrested him. Nicolás Maduro is furious. He starts a defense campaign, accuses the US of persecution, denies the role assigned to Saab. He recalls that he has diplomatic protection and is part of the delegation for dialogue with the opposition forces. The discussion started again three months ago in Mexico, thanks to Norwegian mediation. The Venezuelan president has now abruptly interrupted as a reaction to the extradition of the businessman to the US.

Alex Saab is a martyr, according to Caracas propaganda. For no one else has there been such an intense and widespread defense campaign. Photos of him stand out on all the streets of the capital. Every leading member of the regime has spent rivers of words to steal it from the Americans. The silence that enveloped the arrest of Saab in Cape Verde at the time, including by Caracas, was symptomatic. The less talked about him, the better he was. He was only interrupted when the extradition request came. After that, all the regime’s poppies were spent on his behalf.

Yesterday the verdict of the Cape Verdean High Court. The man with a thousand secrets has already arrived in Miami. Hard to believe he will sacrifice himself for his boss. If he agrees to collaborate in exchange for protection, he will pierce the web of interests and business that he has built up over many years of meticulous work. And for Nicolás Maduro, it could be the decisive blow.

Migration crisis intensifying in Latin America as communities face overt racism
Americas

Migration crisis intensifying in Latin America as communities face overt racism

 Latin America Latin America Vice President of US Kamala Harris has repeatedly raised the issue of migration in the country as a critical issue that needs urgent attention. Most people who flee Central America for the US do not want to leave their homes, and would not do so if they felt safe and economically secure.

Harris, speaking for the administration, proposed increased foreign aid and economic development programs to supplant the remittances that have fueled the region’s economies for generations. Yet many communities in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have depended for decades on family members who send wages earned in the US back home.

This foreign money received from such foreign accounts amounts for between 14 percent and 21 per cent of these Northern Triangle countries’ economies, according to 2019 data from the World Bank.

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The Director of the Office for Latino and Latin American Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha mentions that they have always had migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean. What is changing are the patterns, the governments´ response to the different flows, and the effect they have on migrants´ lives.

Although, traditionally there were Latin American countries that were the final destination for many migrants, currently all countries in the region have both migrants coming in to settle down and passing through.

Meanwhile, thousands of Haitian migrants, who are fastest growing group of immigrants in Chile are choosing to leave the country after dealing with overt racism and strict government policies that have made it terrible for these people work legally and obtain the visa.

Thousands of Haitians formerly established in Brazil and Chile arrived in Texas in September, and spent days in makeshift shelters in Del Rio, drawing global attention. Although, rising tension between the communities have made it difficult for all everyone to co-exist.

Chaos vaccines: in the US, FDA must decide to recommend or not Moderna and J&J further booster
Americas

Chaos vaccines: in the US, FDA must decide to recommend or not Moderna and J&J further booster

 America America– In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the regulatory authority that approves drugs and vaccines, is called upon to decide this week on the so-called booster dose. Americans vaccinated with Pfizer are already rolling up their sleeves for the third dose, always done with Pfizer. Less apparent at the moment is what to do for those who have had Johnson & Johnson or Moderna. FDA is questioning the need for a third injection for those who have had Moderna, or a second for those who have had Johnson & Johnson, previously believed in providing immunization with a single dose.

While Pfizer’s decline in efficacy six months after vaccination became clear in studies conducted by the pharmaceutical company, the situation is less clear-cut for Moderna. This latest vaccine uses triple RNA-based active ingredients compared to Pfizer (100 micrograms instead of 30). The decline in antibodies over time, in some studies, appeared more modest. Some efficacy studies among vaccinated people in the general population, not in trials, have suggested a decline in the efficacy of Moderna’s vaccine in preventing infection with symptoms, due to both the passage of time and the Delta variant Scientists who act as advisors to the FDA write in an opinion.

Other studies have not shown this decline.” The experts note that the vaccines currently available in the US protect against serious illness and death in any case. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are valid in the US, while the FDA has never approved AstraZeneca. In its decision expected by today, the authority may not take into account the opinion of its experts. On 22 September last, it already happened when the US regulatory agency greatly expanded the categories to be revaccinated with Pfizer. The scientific consultants had not felt like recommending the third dose to everyone.

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On 18 September, they had expressed themselves suggesting it only to the over 65 and the weak. The FDA then added a long list of people exposed to the virus to the booster dose for professional reasons, from letter carriers to supermarket clerks. The decision is based on a plethora of data on Pfizer’s effectiveness from Israel, which Moderna cannot exhibit with the same wealth of detail.

The real issue on the table is not so much the effectiveness of the third dose, which no one doubts, as the presence of rare side effects affecting the heart with RNA vaccines. Some cases of myocarditis or pericarditis occurred among young males immunized with Pfizer or Moderna. These are not severe heart inflammations – there have been no deaths – and are very infrequent, but the regulatory authorities still monitor carefully. The American data speak of a minimum of 72.4 cases and a maximum of 283.7 points per million vaccinated between 18 and 25 years. An option discussed by the FDA could be using half dosage for the Moderna booster: 50 micrograms instead of 100.

Today’s meeting will also talk about the effectiveness of the so-called mix and match: the use of vaccines different for the decoys. Preliminary data speak of an increase in protection, compared to always using the same brand. Therefore, it is likely that those who have had Johnson & Johnson (a vaccine that uses the viral vector method) will also receive a booster with an RNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). Even Europe has practically abandoned viral vector vaccines (we also used AstraZeneca). All new injections, and even third doses, are done using RNA vaccines.

Pandora Papers: Chile president faces impeachment
Americas

Pandora Papers: Chile president faces impeachment

 Chile Chile– Opposition lawmakers in Chile have initiated an impeachment proceeding against President Sebastian Pinera after his details surfaced in the Pandora Papers leaks.

His name has come forth in the controversial sale of a mining company via a firm owned by his children.

Congressman Tomas Hirsch, on Wednesday, said Pinera used “office for his personal businesses”. Hirsch said this while presenting the accusation in the lower house of Congress.

It merits mentioning that the first step in the impeachment process could last for several weeks.

The move came after Chile’s public prosecutor said that the case would open an investigation into bribery-related corruption charges and tax violations related to the sale of the Dominga mine – which happened during Pinera’s first term in office in 2010.

The probe was speeded up by the vast trove of reports on the stashed wealth of world leaders – Pandora Papers – worked up by the International Consortium of Journalists (ICIJ).

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Pinera is one of the wealthiest people in Chile. He denied any wrongdoing, claiming that the sale had been examined and dismissed by courts in 2017.

“I, as the president of Chile, have never carried out any action nor management with a link to Dominga Mining.”

But another opposition legislator, Jaime Naranjo, who is one of the leaders of the impeachment proceeding, said Pinera had “infringed the Constitution openly, compromising the honour of the nation seriously”.

Now Chile’s Chamber of Deputies, which is controlled by the opposition, will decide whether to reject or approve the indictment. As per media reports, a vote will take place during the opening week of November to direct the matter.

If it receives a go-ahead, the case would then be passed on to the Senate, which would act as a jury to decide on Pinera’s fate.

The controversy comes in advance of the presidential and legislative elections set to be held in November.

The US to reopen its borders with Canada and Mexico in November
Americas

The US to reopen its borders with Canada and Mexico in November

 Mexico Mexico -In November, the United States will reopen its borders for those who are fully vaccinated even for non-essential travel, putting an end to a blockade that has lasted for nineteen months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Travel by land, train, and ferry between the United States, Canada, and Mexico has primarily been limited to essential travel, such as trade, since the early days of the pandemic.

The new rules, announced today, will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the United States regardless of their reason for travel, beginning in early November, when a similar relaxation of restrictions on domestic air travel is expected. However, even essential travelers entering the United States, such as truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated by mid-January.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor is close to formalizing the request to President Joe Biden to make the vaccine mandatory for all companies with at least 100 employees. The Wall Street Journal reports it. The measure will be reinforced by a federal executive order to overcome resistance from some states, such as Texas.

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The White House has defined the governor’s decision to ban the vaccine requirement for company employees as “not in tune” with the economic interests of Texas. Nevertheless, Republican Governor Greg Abbott, responding to Joe Biden’s “bullying act,” banned all vaccination requirements for public and private companies in Texas, as the president ruled nationwide.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki said Abbott’s move is motivated by political interests, not science. “When you make a decision that goes against any scientific indication – added Psaki – you are not based on the interest of the people you are governing.” Since the start of the pandemic, according to John Hopkins University data, the United States has recorded 45,431,167 coronavirus cases, including 737,589 deaths.

President Joe Biden announced his brutal punch last month to fight the pandemic, forcing state employees and large companies to vaccinate and making it mandatory to use the green pass to access conventions, parties, and restaurants. That has sparked controversy and protests, especially among supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.

Mexican President intends to cancel contracts of private plants, impacting foreign companies adversely
Americas

Mexican President intends to cancel contracts of private plants, impacting foreign companies adversely

 Mexican Mexican -Impacting trade under the Mexico-U.S.-Canada free trade accord, the President of Mexico presented details of a proposal, which is going to squeeze out several private power generating plants and may provoke complaints under the trade accord as well.

Cancelling the contract of power grids, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has laid down details of cancelling the contracts of 34 private plants, which sell power into the national grid. The plan declares illegal another 239 private plants that sell energy direct to corporate clients in Mexico.

Going further ahead, under this constitution, long-term synergies, energy supply contracts and clean-energy preferential buying schemes will be cancelled too. It will impact foreign companies adversely.

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During the speech, President clarifies that after this decision is made final, it will put private natural gas plants almost last in line ahead of only government coal-fired plants. Only they will then have the right to sell electricity into the grid, despite the fact they produce power about 24 per cent more cheaply.

Opposition companies and business owners oppose this decision since all the government-run plants that burn dirty fuel oil would have preference over private wind and solar plants for ease.

Rocio Nahle, who is the secretary of energy, mentioned that the private firms are going to be in the market with 46 per cent, they are not going to be nationalized at all, not even one screw or one nut. However, Nahle didn’t explain what the difference is between effectively shuttering a private power plant and nationalizing it. Both would have zero value for the owner and would be impossible to move.

Also, the verdict lies in the hand of the state-owned utility, the Federal Electricity Commission, to determine whether it wanted to go over 54 percent market share or not.

Miami Vice: from nightlife center to a bad neighborhood
Americas

Miami Vice: from nightlife center to a bad neighborhood

 Miami Miami – Residents in South Beach, Miami’s south beach, are in turmoil. The owners of historic venues are exhausted by riots, accidents, crime incidents that frighten customers, and blaring music has created more than one problem. So, the mayor wants to limit gatherings and cut clubs to restore order and silence. The decision sparked controversy and protests.

But there’s more: the police intervention, which just a few months ago arrested a thousand people for violating the curfew imposed by the Covid pandemic, has led to accusations of racism because most of the partygoers are African Americans and Latinos. In a newspaper report, Ruban Roberts of the NAACP African American rights organization accused the police and mayor of treating blacks as “second-class tourists.”

That is the classic story where everyone seems to be correct, and everyone seems to be wrong. For years South Beach had been a dark, empty, and abandoned place, ideal for some showdown or burning cars to light up the night. Then the Miami Vice TV series and news episodes, such as the assassination of the designer Gianni Versace, transformed the southern Miami neighborhood into a reference point for nightlife.

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In the last thirty years, South Beach has flourished again, with its eight hundred art deco buildings, the historic districts of Collins Avenue, Flamingo Park, Ocean Drive, full of bars and restaurants, lakes for canoeing, the port for mooring ships cruise from which thousands of tourists descend with the desire to go salsa dancing at Mango’s Tropical Cafe. But in recent times, the weekend mega parties have extended throughout the year, with ocean gatherings and blaring music, in addition to shootings.

 “We cannot accept that this is normal – commented the mayor, Dan Gelber – the entertainment district has become the magnet of crime and disorder, and even if it produces revenues, it is not worth the problems it brings.” Last month, police stepped up patrolling the area, but the mayor has already made it clear that an effort of this size cannot be sustained for long.

Permanent measures are needed. The proposal to revise the show plan to make room for family appointments and symphonic concerts caused laughter and protests. The idea of cutting club and bar licenses does not convince everyone. Tom Glassie, the longtime owner of the Avalon Hotel, has asked to safeguard the area’s affluent patrons.

Still, others, such as the owners of the Mango and the legendary Clevelander hotel, do not want to take the risk of turning South Beach into a retirement zone. A class clash is also underway: the customers of the exclusive hotels Fontainebleau, Delano, and Faena are demanding quiet, but the same is valid for the clubs aimed at the middle class, indicated as the cause of everything.

“If you can’t afford to pay 200 dollars for dinner for two – they explain – you don’t have to have a Michelin-starred restaurant to eliminate crime”. The police argue that the most significant “problems” are not created by college students but by people who often come out of Florida and are looking for trouble. Many are African Americans and Latinos, and this ends up raising the temperature of the social conflict.  Ken Koppel, head of a committee of four hundred residents, says tourists are often “drug dealers walking around armed, with no respect for the cops.” Who wants to pay massive amounts, he adds, to live in an armored neighborhood? The situation is too tangled even for a hypothetical sequel to Miami Vice with Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, now seventy-year-olds

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