Latin America Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:18:35 +0000 en-gb Torrential rains kill at least 15 in Brazil's Sao Paulo Mudslides and flooding caused by torrential rains have killed at least 15 people in Brazil's mega-city Sao Paulo.

Thirteen people were buried under landslide while two others drowned in the floodwater, Brazil's rescue service said on Friday on its official Twitter account.

According to Traffic Engineering Company (CET), rainfall caused a record length of 177 kilometers of congested roads in the Brazilian business capital in the early morning hours.

The previous record was set on February 23, with 126 kilometers of congestion.

Sao Paulo is known for its rapidly changing weather. Locals say that all four seasons can be experienced in one day.

Rainfall is abundant, annually averaging 1,454 millimeters (57.2 in).

In 2011, heavy rain killed at least 24 people in the state of Sao Paulo


Latin America Fri, 11 Mar 2016 19:31:30 +0000
Venezuela recalls top diplomat from US to protest sanctions Venezuela has withdrawn its top diplomat from the United States in response to Washington’s renewal of sanctions on several Venezuelan officials.

President Nicolas Maduro announced the decision to recall Maximilien Arvelaiz in an address on Wednesday, lashing out at US President Barack Obama who slapped sanctions on seven Venezuelan officials in March of 2015.

The renewal "is a stain for Obama because he had plenty of opportunities to rectify the situation but imposed arrogance," Maduro said.

“Enough arrogance, double standards, condescension and intrigue.”

Venezuela and the US have had stormy ties since late Hugo Chavez became Venezuela’s president in 1999. They have been without ambassadors in each other's capitals since 2010.

Arvelaiz was proposed as ambassador to the US a year and a half ago, but Washington did not approve him.

Maduro said he is acting in response to Obama's announcement last week that he would renew classifying Venezuela as an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to US national security.

"Don't they want good relations with us? I think not," Maduro said. The Venezuelan president has said the opposition wants to oust him with help from the United States. The opposition announced Tuesday it would make use of all means to oust Maduro.


Latin America Thu, 10 Mar 2016 12:06:42 +0000
Former Brazilian President Lula charged with money laundering Brazil has officially filed charges against the country’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a money laundering investigation.

State prosecutors in Lula’s home state of Sao Paulo charged the ex-president on Wednesday in connection with a two-year-old federal graft probe.

It revolves around state-oil company Petrobras, which is already at the center of a scandal over its handling of contracts for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The nature of the charges against Lula is still sketchy. However, the former leader is accused of owning an undeclared luxury triplex apartment at a seaside resort in Sao Paulo.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in the Sao Paulo prosecutor's office said the former president “is accused of hiding property in relation to the triplex in Guaruja.”

State prosecutors said they will provide more details regarding the case on Thursday.

A judge must still formally accept the charges for the case to proceed. Lula has denied any wrongdoing, saying the charges are politically motivated.

The charges come just days after Lula was taken into custody for questioning by police.


Latin America Thu, 10 Mar 2016 12:02:44 +0000
Bodies partially dissolved in acid barrels found in Mexico Partially dissolved remains of several people have been found in acid filled barrels in Mexico’s central Puebla state.

Local authorities discovered ten barrels along with nine plastic bags filled with mutilated human remains in the municipality of San Andres Calpan on Thursday.

"It's likely more than three people, we still need to study the contents of the bags," a source from the state prosecutor's office said on Saturday.

According to Press TV, three male pelvic bones have so far been identified, one of which belongs to a 50-year-old, the source added.

According to an official statement, the bodies are probably linked to an incident in the neighboring municipality of Cuautlancingo.

On Tuesday, armed men raided an illegal cockfight and killed and kidnapped several people.

Four missing people complaints have so far been issued over the kidnappings, although police believe the actual number of abductees is actually higher.


Latin America Sun, 06 Mar 2016 09:12:20 +0000
Venezuelan students clash with police over high court ruling Students in the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal have clashed with police in protest at a ruling by the country’s Supreme Court, which seeks to limit legislative powers of the opposition.

According to Press TV, protests broke out on Wednesday in the western city, where the students wearing masks set up road blocks and threw Molotov cocktails at officers.

The protesters are against a Tuesday decision by the high court that stripped the opposition-led National Assembly of power to remove judgesand thus restrict the powers of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who faces allegation of packing the Supreme Court with allies.

Reports said student protesters, from Catholic University, attacked a police brigade near the seat of the state government, pelting stones and petrol bombs.

According to a city official's tweet, “the protesters use violence to support a National Assembly that wants to violate the rule of law."


Latin America Thu, 03 Mar 2016 10:36:48 +0000
31,500 people infected with Zika in Colombia, government says More than 31,500 people, including at least 5,013 pregnant women, have been infected with the Zika virus in Colombia, the government announced on Saturday.

The epidemic could affect 600,000 people in the country and cause about 500 cases of microcephaly, a congenital defect in which the head of a baby is abnormally small and brain development is not completed, the government stated.

In addition, medical officials estimate that there are an alarming number of up to 1,000 cases of people affected by the Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can cause muscle weakness and paralysis, possibly linked to Zika.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that the Zika epidemic is spreading “alarmingly” and could affect up to four million people in Americas this year.

The Aedes genus mosquito has been identified as the carrier of the virus, but Zika transmission through sexual contact, blood transfusions or rarely from mother to child around the time of birth, is possible as well.

The virus has been reported in more than 30 countries and according to experts, with the pace the virus is spreading, especially in the Americas, more cases of Zika-linked birth defects will soon surface in other countries.


Latin America Sat, 13 Feb 2016 20:24:18 +0000
Venezuela oppositions vows to topple President Maduro Venezuela’s opposition has vowed to speed up efforts to oust President Nicolas Maduro after a top court gave him expanded authority over the country’s struggling economy.

“In the next few days, we will have to present a concrete proposal for the departure of that national disgrace that is the government,” speaker of the opposition-led National Assembly Henry Lisandro Ramos Allup said Friday.

Ramos and other leaders in the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) opposition coalition have already pledged to work out a strategy within six months to oust Maduro.

They have hinted at a new constitution or a referendum, before his term in office expires in 2019.

“Nobody doubts now that that six-month time-frame is too long. It is not we who impose the timing, it is the needs of the country. We will find a method -- have no doubt,” Ramos said.

The opposition outcry came a day after Venezuela’s Supreme Court overruled the National Assembly and gave Madura wider executive powers to control the budget, companies and the currency.

The Venezuelan president has vowed to start exerting his expanded powers immediately and work to improve economy.

On Friday, the leader of the Democratic Action party accused the administration of “doing all it can to provoke a coup.” He said the opposition would only overthrow the president by constitutional means.


Latin America Sat, 13 Feb 2016 15:38:50 +0000
Palestine opens embassy in Brazil amid Tel Aviv-Brasilia row The Palestinian Authority has inaugurated its first diplomatic mission in the Western Hemisphere in Brazil as diplomatic tensions escalate between the regime of Israel and the South American state.

Palestinian Ambassador Ibrahim Alzeben led the opening ceremony in the Brazilian capital city of Brasilia. The event was attended by Brazilian government officials, representatives of Arab countries and members of the local Arab community.

“This is the conclusion of a dream of mine that was also a dream of colleagues that came before me in this mission in the last four decades,” Alzeben said.

He further expressed hope that the development will be “the beginning of a new phase in relations between Brazil and Palestine, that they can be closer and more diversified.”

The Palestinian embassy was built on a 1,580-square meter piece of land donated by former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. The mission is situated close to major Brazilian government buildings, including the presidential palace, the Congress and the Supreme Court.

The Palestinian diplomat hoped a Brazilian embassy will be opened in al-Quds and Palestine will secure a free-trade agreement with countries of Mercosur, the South American trade bloc.

Ties between Brazil and Israeli regime soured after Brasilia recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv in July 2014 to express its outrage at the 50-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

More than 2,200 Palestinians were martyred and over 11,100 others were injured in the offensive.


Latin America Sat, 06 Feb 2016 08:55:17 +0000
WHO declares Zika virus global health emergency Microcephaly is a condition in which babies are born abnormally with small heads and underdeveloped brains. Since October when the neurodevelopmental disorder gained traction in Brazil with over 4,000 reported cases, researchers have established links to the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

According to experts, with the pace at which the virus is spreading, especially in the Americas, more cases of Zika-linked birth defects will soon surface in other countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus an international public health emergency on Monday following recommendations from UN experts and criticism over the lack of response to the virus.

"Members of the committee agreed that the situation meets the conditions for a public health emergency of international concern. I have accepted this advice," said WHO Director General Margaret Chan after a meeting of the WHO’s international health regulations emergency committee in Geneva.

The declaration, which puts Zika’s alert level on that of the Ebola virus, will fast-track funding for research aimed at dealing with the infection and creating a vaccine.

Over the past two years Ebola has claimed the lives of over 10,000 people in West Africa. The WHO has suffered widespread criticism for its slow reaction to the epidemic.


Latin America Wed, 03 Feb 2016 09:06:40 +0000
Eleven people shot dead at birthday party in Mexico

At least eleven people have been fatally shot at a birthday party in southern Mexico, authorities say.


According to the reports, the incident occurred on Friday at a teenager's 15th birthday party in the Mexican state of Guerrero, said governor Hector Astudillo.

"There was a problem at a 15th birthday party, and according to the information we have, 11 people were killed," Astudillo told AFP on Sunday without giving any additional details.

The authorities found seven bodies in Guerrero on Friday. All the bodies showed signs of torture, with their hands and feet tied and a bullet wound to the head.

Guerrero has become one of the deadliest and most dangerous states in Mexico. It has been the scene of drug-related abductions and homicides.

A total of 324 homicides, all of them related to organized crime and drug cartels, were reported in the state in just two months between October and December last year, according to official figures.


Latin America Mon, 01 Feb 2016 09:38:12 +0000