News Opinion Politics South America

8 Killed In Bolivia As Protesters Call For Return of Ousted President Evo Morales : NPR

With tensions running high following Morales’ resignation last Sunday, demonstrators have taken to the streets to decry the nation’s interim president, Jeanine Añez.

Source: 8 Killed In Bolivia As Protesters Call For Return of Ousted President Evo Morales : NPR

Entertainment South America

Buenos Aires Zoo Becomes Eco-park | Official English Website for the City of Buenos Aires

The historic zoo is being transformed into an educational, animal-friendly eco-park. Come to see the transformation in process!

The historic zoo

Buenos Aires zoo was opened in 1888 and functioned until 2016. Although today it is in the process of being transformed into the modern eco-park, visitors can still appreciate its original Victorian-era architecture. The pavillions, which have been declared national historic monuments, reflect the traditional architecture of the countries that the different animals came from – with Moorish, Indian, Chinese and Greek/Roman-style buildings.  The former zoo also boasts numerous pieces of art including work by Argentine scultress Lola Mora.

Source: Buenos Aires Eco-park | Official English Website for the City of Buenos Aires

Disasters Earthquakes South America

Chile earthquake: Chile hit by 6.8 magnitude quake near Santiago | World | News |

A HUGE 6.8 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Chile today according to the USGS.

Chile, located on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” has a long history of deadly quakes, including an 8.8-magnitude quake in 2010 off the south-central coast that triggered a tsunami that devastated coastal towns.

Source: Chile earthquake: Chile hit by 6.8 magnitude quake near Santiago | World | News |

Fires South America

Amazon rainforest fire: How did the Amazon fire start – How long has it been on fire? | World | News |

BRAZIL’S Amazon rainforest has seen a record number of fires this year, – but how did the Amazon rainforest fire start and how long has it been on fire?

The heavy smoke caused a daytime blackout more than 1,700 miles away in Brazil’s largest city São Paulo on Monday.

Josélia Pegorim, Climatempo meteorologist, told Globo: “The smoke did not come from fires from the state of São Paulo, but from very dense and wide fires that have been going on for several days in Rondônia and Bolivia.

“The cold front changed the direction of the winds and transported this smoke to São Paulo.”

The smoke resulting from some of these wildfires was also captured in satellite images released by NASA.

Source: Amazon rainforest fire: How did the Amazon fire start – How long has it been on fire? | World | News |

Mexico News Opinion South America

Trump reaches immigration deal with Guatemala

President Trump announced Friday that Guatemala would agree to restrict asylum applications to the US from Central America — a win for his effort to stem the tide of illegal immigrants at the

Source: Trump reaches immigration deal with Guatemala

Crash South America

(firstpost) – Two crew members of Tom Cruise’s new film Mena die in Colombia plane crash

Bogota, Colombia: Actor Tom Cruise flew in a helicopter across the Colombian Andes just 10 minutes before a small plane on the same dangerous flight path crashed into a jungled mountain, killing two crew members from his upcoming movie, civil aviation authorities said.

An official with the aviation agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter, said the cause of the crash Friday that killed two people and seriously injured a third is still under investigation.

Those killed were veteran Hollywood pilot Alan Purwin and Venezuelan Carlos Berl, while another American, Jimmy Lee Garland, survived. All were experienced pilots although it’s not clear which of the three were in command of the plane at the time of the crash, the official said.

“Jimmy is the black box right now so we need to talk to him to find out what happened,” the official said.


They crashed while returning to the city of Medellin on the twin-engine Piper-Aerostar 600 after a day of filming with Cruise for the film “Mena,” which stars the actor as American pilot Barry Seal, a drug runner recruited in the 1980s by the CIA to try to capture the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar.

Cruise, a pilot, arrived in Medellin last month flying the same 1960s-era plane, which was similar to the one Seal would have flown for Escobar’s cartel, the official said. Photos of the actor sitting in the cockpit of the US-registered plane, and standing with Purwin outside the aircraft, have circulated for days in social media.

On Friday, Cruise left in one of two helicopters transporting crew from the colonial town of Santa Fe de Antioquia at around 5 p.m. local time. When they arrived at Medellin’s Olaya Herrera airport with nightfall approaching, and the plane didn’t show up, they alerted air traffic controllers, the official said.

A plane overhead located the downed aircraft just below a high ridge thanks to a distress signal, allowing rescuers to arrive to the crash site quickly and rush Garland to a hospital in Medellin, where he was in critical but stable condition.

“We were very lucky to get there so quickly,” said the official.

This is the second time an aviator has died while working on a film with Cruise. Famed stunt pilot Art Scholl went down in waters near San Diego while performing a nose dive during the 1985 making of “Top Gun.”

Although there were no reports of bad weather in Santa Fe de Antioquia when the plane took off, the official described the normally 10-minute flight as a “bungee jump” or “roller coaster” requiring a skilled pilot to quickly take the plane from near sea level to a height of 3,000 meters, or 9,800 feet, to clear the Andes before descending sharply for the approach into the steep valley surrounding Medellin.

The official said the three pilots had flown the route at least a half-dozen times in recent days but were flying without the assistance of instruments and could have been disoriented by heavy clouds that regularly form near the crest of the Andes. When filming in other parts of the country, such as the Amazon, the crew of “Mena” had heeded authorities recommendation they have a Colombian pilot on board, the official said.

Colombia’s jagged terrain, heavy rainfall and long, empty distances makes it one of the most dangerous places in the world for aviators. Medellin’s Olaya Herrera airport has been the site of numerous accidents since the 1935 crash that killed famed Argentine tango singer Carlos Gardel. It closes at night and allows only domestic flights.

Cruise was able to land there on Aug. 20 because his flight originated in Barranquilla, along the country’s Caribbean coast, and he was accompanied by a Colombian co-pilot, the official said.

Garland is a flight instructor and manager of a regional airport near Atlanta. A representative at the Cherokee County Airport, who declined to be identified out of respect for her boss’ privacy, told The Associated Press that the producers of “Mena” shot several flight scenes at the facility and were so impressed with Garland’s professionalism as a flying double for Cruise that they brought him to Colombia to continue filming there.

The Colombian official said Garland underwent three operations overnight and a specialist from the U.S. was arriving to assist in his recovery.

Cruise’s spokeswoman, Amanda Lundberg, had no comment on Friday’s accident and the film’s director Doug Liman as well as local and US-based producers did not reply to emails and phone calls seeking comment.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the crew members and their families at this difficult time,” Universal Pictures, which is distributing the film, said in a statement. It declined further comment, saying more details weren’t available.

Purwin was founder and president of Los Angeles-based Helinet Technologies. On the company’s website, he’s described as “one of the top film pilots of his generation” with a list of credits from television and major Hollywood movies such as “Transformers,” ”Pearl Harbor” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

“There are no words that can express our heartache for we have lost one of the world’s greatest helicopter pilots and one of aviation’s greatest leaders,” Helinet CEO Steve Gatena said in a statement posted on the company’s website.

In his last tweet sent Wednesday, Purwin expressed joy at flying between 12,000-foot peaks and posted a picture of a plane trailed by a helicopter landing at Santa Fe de Antioquia’s dirt runway.

Associated Press

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Legal Politics South America

(washington post) – Cuba pardons more than 3,500 prisoners ahead of Pope Francis visit

The Cuban government said it plans to pardon 3,522 prisoners over the next 72 hours as a “humanitarian” gesture ahead of Pope Francis’s visit to the island beginning next week.But the announcement appeared to rule out pardons for at least some of the dozens of inmates that rights groups consider political prisoners. Convicts serving time for crimes against “national security” would not be eligible for release, said the statement in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Those receiving pardons will include inmates over age 60 or under 20 with no prior convictions and prisoners whose terms are nearing an end, as well as women, the infirm and foreigners whose countries will accept their repatriation.

The amnesty, ordered by the State Council, the Cuban government’s supreme body, will not extend to those serving time for homicide, rape, drug trafficking and other serious offenses in Cuba such as “cattle rustling,” according to Granma.

The government issued similar amnesties prior to previous papal visits. Nearly 3,000 inmates received pardons before Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival in 2012, and Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1998 prompted the release of several hundred others.

Francis will arrive in Havana on Sept. 19, and Cuban dissident groups have urged the pontiff to intervene with the Castro government to secure the release of jailed activists.

Amanda Duran, a member of the island’s illegal-but-tolerated Cuban Commission for Human Rights and Conciliation, said the group was trying to determine whether any of the 71 inmates on its list of political prisoners would be eligible for the amnesty.

“The phone lines are very congested right now,” she said.

The Vatican has not confirmed whether the pope will meet with Castro opponents during his four-day, three-city tour of the island before arriving Sept. 22 in the United States.

The timing of the Cuban government announcement is notable, as U.S. and Cuban diplomats commence bilateral talks Friday in Havana that mark their first formal meetings since the two nations reopened embassies.

A statement issued by the State Department said U.S. negotiators would meet with Cuban officials “to discuss next steps in the normalization process and schedule dates for future discussions on shared priorities.” The statement said the U.S. delegation did not plan to enter into “extensive discussions” in Friday’s talks.

Nick Miroff is a Latin America correspondent for The Post, roaming from the U.S.-Mexico borderlands to South America’s southern cone. He has been a staff writer since 2006.

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crime News South America

(fox news) – Death of U.S. teen in Paraguay first ruled suicide now being investigated as a murder

crime News South America

(The Washington Post) – Mexico: Top drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman escapes

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, seen in this Feb. 22, 2014 photo, has now escaped from prison twice. (Eduardo Verdugo, File/Associated Press)

By Katherine Corcoran 
MEXICO CITY — Top drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has done what Mexican authorities promised would not happen again after his re-capture last year — escaped for a second time from a maximum security prison.

A manhunt began immediately late Saturday for the head of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, which has an international reach and is believed to control most of the major crossing points for drugs at the U.S. border with Mexico.

Associated Press journalists near the Altiplano prison, 90 kilometers (56 miles) west of Mexico City, said the roads were being heavily patrolled by Federal Police, who had also set up checkpoints. Flights were also suspended at Toluca airport near the penitentiary in the state of Mexico.

Guzman was last seen about 9 p.m. Saturday in the shower area of the Altiplano prison, according to a statement from the National Security Commission issued early Sunday. After a time, he was lost by the prison’s security camera surveillance network. Upon checking his cell, authorities found it empty.

Mexican officials had no further comment on Guzman’s escape, but scheduled a press conference for Sunday morning.

Guzman’s escape is a blow to the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto, which has received plaudits for its aggressive approach to top drug lords. Since the government took office in late 2012, Mexican authorities have nabbed or killed six of them, including Guzman.

Guzman was caught by authorities for the first time in Guatemala in 1993, extradited and sentenced to 20 years in prison on drug-trafficking related charges. He escaped from Puente Grande, another Mexican maximum-security prison in western Jalisco state, in 2001 with the help of prison guards. The lore says he escaped in a laundry cart, although there have been several versions of how he got away.

He was re-captured in February 2014 after eluding authorities for days across his home state of Sinaloa, for which the cartel is named. He was listed as 56 years old last year, though there are discrepancies in his birth date.

Guzman faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the U.S. as well as Mexico, and was on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list. The U.S. has said it would file an extradition request, though it’s not clear if that has already happened.

Former Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told The AP earlier this year that sending Guzman to the United States would save Mexico a lot of money, but said Mexico would prosecute him at home as a matter of national sovereignty.

He dismissed concerns that Guzman could escape a second time. That risk “does not exist,” Murillo Karam said.

During his first stint as a fugitive, Guzman transformed himself from a middling Mexican capo into arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in the world. His fortune grew to be estimated at more than $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which listed him among the “World’s Most Powerful People” and ranked him above the presidents of France and Venezuela.

Guzman has long been known for his ability to pay off local residents and even authorities, who would tip him off to security operations launched for his capture. He finally was tracked down to a modest beachside high-rise in the Pacific Coast resort city of Mazatlan on Feb. 22, 2014, where he had been hiding with his wife and twin daughters. He was taken in the early morning without a shot fired.

But before they reached him, security forces went on a several-day chase through Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. They found houses where Guzman supposedly had been staying with steel-enforced doors and elaborate tunnels that allowed him to escape through the sewer system.

Even with his 2014 capture, Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel empire continues to stretch throughout North America and reaches as far away as Europe and Australia. The cartel has been heavily involved in the bloody drug war that has torn through parts of Mexico for the last decade, taking at least an estimated 100,000 lives.

Altiplano, which is considered the main and most secure of Mexico’s federal prisons, also houses Zetas drug cartel leader Miguel Angel Trevino, and Edgar Valdes Villarreal, known as “La Barbie,” of the Beltran Leyva cartel.

Follow Katherine Corcoran @kathycorcoran on Twitter.

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