Tag Archive: Latin America

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Updated: Wednesday, November 25, 2015, 11:58 AM

“Kissing Bug” now in Florida and Georgia
WTEV – Jacksonville, FL
Don't let the kissing bugs bite.

Here’s another reason to stay in New York this holiday season — the “kissing bug” has now spread to 28 states.

Texas is the latest to report an outbreak of infections from the Latin American triatomine bug after the pest had been spotted in other southern and western states, including Georgia, Alabama and California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The creepy crawler resembling a cockroach gets its colorful nickname because it likes to bite around the lips and eyes of people when they are asleep. More than half of the bugs carry a parasite that can cause Chagas disease in humans, dogs and other mammals.

The good news? To actually pass on the disease, the bug not only needs to bite you, but then defecate into the gash. If left untreated, up to 30% of bite victims will develop chronic conditions such as difficulty breathing, heart and intestinal complications, and, in extreme cases, death.

There have been eight million cases in Latin America and South America because of poorly constructed rural homes, according to the CDC.

To prevent an outbreak, the CDC recommends:

Sealing cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs, and doors.

Removing wood, brush, and rock piles near your house.


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Journalist Glenn Greenwald speaking at a senate hearing in Brazil on Tuesday. (Screenshot via UOL Notícias video)Expect new spying revelations “within the next 10 days or so,” Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald said on Tuesday during testimony at a Brazilian Senate committee hearing.

Telling the group of lawmakers that he had received between 15,000 and 20,00 documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Rio-based Greenwald said that the NSA surveillance stories that have been published so far represent just “a small portion” of the revelations. “There will certainly be more revelations on the espionage activities of the US government and allied governments (…) on how they have penetrated the communications systems of Brazil and Latin America” to come, he said.

“The pretext [given by Washington] for the spying is only one thing: terrorism and the need to protect the [American] people,” RT quotes Greenwald as saying.  “But the reality is that there are many documents which have nothing to do with terrorism or national security, but have to do with competition with other countries, in the business, industrial and economic fields.”

A group of activists came to the public hearing, some carrying Edward Snowden masks.  Some senators showed signs of support for the whistleblower by borrowing the activists’ masks.  One senator to do so was Eduardo Suplicy, who is seen at the hearing in this tweet below:

As TechDirt sees it, “Politicians in key countries not just supporting Snowden but wearing masks with his face on it shows just how badly the US government is losing the battle for public perception on this issue.”

Greenwald said that “The Brazilian government is showing much more anger in public than it is showing in private discussions with the US government. All governments are doing this, even in Europe,” Euronews reports.

He added that he has communicated almost daily with Snowden, who he reports is doing “very well,” and that the whistleblower “is very pleased with the debate that is arising in many countries around the world on internet privacy and U.S. spying. It is exactly the debate he wanted to inform.”


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Epoch 10 news you need to know

Curbing Gang Violence in Central America

Gang violence, fueled by the drug traffic in Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean, is having a serious effect on people’s lives and threatens to alter the social fabric of the countries in the region. Central American gangs, also called maras, named after the voracious ants known as marabuntas, are involved in a wide range of criminal activities, such as arms and drug trafficking, kidnapping, human trafficking, human smuggling, and illegal immigration.

One of the best-known Central American gangs, Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, has an estimated 70,000 members who are active in urban and suburban areas. It originated in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and then spread to other parts of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. The gang’s activities have caught the attention of the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which have conducted raids and arrested hundreds of gang members. The FBI called MS-13 “America’s most violent gang.”

MS-13 has been particularly active in Los Angeles County, the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington, D.C., Long Island, New York City, and the Boston area. Their code of conduct includes fierce revenge and cruel retribution. Members of this gang were originally recruited by the Sinaloa in their battle against the Los Zetas Mexican cartels in their ongoing drug war south of the U.S. border.

Many gang members living in the U.S. have been deported back to El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, adding to the already serious social problems in those countries. They brought with them crack cocaine and predictably, drug-related crimes were soon on a steep increase. Those gang members deported from the United States enlarged the local groups and found easy recruits among the local disenfranchised youth. Today, most of the members are in their 20s, while their leaders are in the late 30s and 40s.

The gangs’ battles with the police for control of working-class neighborhoods were met in each case with strong-arm tactics by the police. They also proved unproductive, since they unleashed more random violence and terror. As a result of each government’s efforts to eliminate them, many gang members returned to the United States, where they continued their involvement in criminal activities. Today, the gangs have expanded into southern Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, which has generated calls for a more organized effort to combat them.

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TheRealNews TheRealNews

Published on May 22, 2013

Gregory Wilpert: In spite of a new audit of election results that shows a win by Maduro that is recognized by all countries of Latin America, the US supports opposition

How the US exported its ‘dirty war’ policy to Iraq – with fatal consequences

Iraqi police arrest two suspects in Baghdad on Friday

Iraqi police with two suspects in Baghdad, 2010. Photograph: Loay Hameed/AP

In one of the fiery oratories for which he was well-known, the late Hugo Chávez once stated his belief that “the American empire is the greatest menace to our planet.” While his detractors have often sought to paint his rhetorical flourishes as a manifestation of unprovoked and unpopular extremism, to his death Chávez remained extremely popular with the majority of the Venezuelan people.

Indeed, far from being an outlier, Chávez fit well within the spectrum of both Central and Latin American popular opinion. While his style may have been his own, his beliefs and worldview regarding US interventionism were reflected in other leaders throughout the region. Looking at the history of US engagement in Latin America, it becomes evident why such a situation exists. From overthrowing democratically elected leaders, operating death squads, and torturing civilians, the history of US involvement in the region has understandably helped create a widespread popular backlash that persists to this day.

The primary theatre of war has since switched from Latin America to the Middle East, but many of the same tactics of that period – which caused so much devastation and engendered so much visceral anger – seem to have been redeployed on the other side of the world. As reported this week by the Guardian, recent investigations have suggested that Pentagon officials at the highest levels oversaw torture facilities during the war in Iraq. The allegations are decidedly gruesome: rooms used for interrogating detainees stained with blood; children tied into extreme stress positions with their bodies beaten to discoloration.

Most chillingly, a veteran of the United States’ “dirty war” in El Salvador was reported to have been brought in to personally oversee the interrogation facilities. As described by Iraqi officials this program was condoned at the highest levels of the US military and utilized “all means of torture to make the detainee confess … using electricity, hanging him upside down, pulling out their nails”. The alleged involvement of a senior participant of the American intervention in El Salvador is, indeed, particularly odious given the legacy of institutionalized torture and murder which characterized US military involvement in that country.

At the now infamous School of the Americas, thousands of Latin American “special forces” were explicitly trained in torture techniques by US handlers. Many of those SOA graduates took their new training home to El Salvador, where they waged a war that killed an estimated 80,000 Salvadoran civilians. Similar “trainees” were sent out in the thousands to kill and maim on behalf of US interests in wars from Honduras to Guatemala. In the latter alone, US-supported death squads murdered over 50,000 civilians suspected of holding sympathies with leftist rebels. The creation and patronage of locally trained militias to wreak havoc among subject populations in pursuit of American military objectives is a tactic that seems to have been adapted to the present day with great effect – most notably in Iraq.

On a summer night 2008, armed paramilitaries broke into Hassan Mahsan’s home in Baghdad’s Sadr City district and put a gun to his young daughter’s head. Demanding he reveal the location of a suspected insurgent, the men threatened to kill his daughter in front of the family before dragging Mahsan off for interrogation and telling his wife “he is finished”. The paramilitaries were members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF), an elite counterterrorism force referred to as “the dirty brigade”. Believed to be trained and guided by US military advisers at every level of its organizational hierarchy, the ISOF has been structured so as to place it outside the confines of normal oversight for such organizations. Operating today essentially as a private paramilitary force for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the ISOF has also been described as a “local ally” of the United States in the country – a euphemism for an asset utilized for covert special operations.


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Crossroads News : Changes In The World Around Us And Our Place In It

Whistle Blowers

Democracy Now

A daily independent global news hour
With Amy Goodman & Juan González

In his first public appearance since he took refuge two months ago inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, Julian Assange calls for President Obama to end his war on whistleblowers. “The United States must renounce its witch hunt against WikiLeaks. The United States must dissolve its FBI investigation. The United States must vow that it will not seek to prosecute our staff or our supporters,” Assange says. “The United States must pledge before the world that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful.” Assange spoke from a windowsill near a small balcony on the second floor of the Ecuadorean embassy as dozens of police officers looked on. He carefully did not step onto the balcony, which is considered outside the legal boundary of the embassy. The diplomatic standoff between Ecuador and Britain continues this week after Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador, but U.K. authorities say they will arrest Assange and extradite him to Sweden. [includes rush transcript]


Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief.

Tariq Ali, Ex-U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray Praise Ecuador for Granting Asylum to Julian Assange

Shortly before Julian Assange spoke on Sunday, a number of his supporters spoke outside the Ecuadorean embassy. Speakers included writer and activist Tariq Ali, as well as Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. Murray, a whistleblower himself, was removed from office in 2004 after he exposed how the United States and Britain supported torture by the Uzbek regime. “The fact that [British Foreign Secretary] William Hague now openly threatens the Ecuadoreans with the invasion of their sovereign premises is one further example of a total abandonment of the very concept of international law by the neoconservative juntas that are currently ruling the former Western democracies,” Murray says. [includes rush transcript]


Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan. He was removed from office in 2004 after he exposed how the United States and Britain supported torture by the Uzbek regime.

Tariq Ali, British-Pakistani author and activist. He is editor of New Left Review and author of many books, including Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope.


1st US case of mother-to-child Chagas disease reported

By MyHealthNewsDaily Staff

A boy born in Virginia two years ago became the known first person in the United States to have acquired Chagas disease from his mother, according to a new report that describes the case.

The case highlights the need for increased awareness of the disease  among health care providers in the United States, the researchers said. The disease occurs mainly in Latin America, but cases in the U.S. and elsewhere have been increasing, mostly due to migration, according to the World Health Organization.

Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is typically transmitted to people by bites from insects commonly called kissing bugs. Although less common, the disease can also be transmitted congenitally, meaning from mother to child during pregnancy, as was the case with the Virginia boy.

While the boy’s case was the first to be formally documented, it has been estimated that between 65 and 638 cases of congenital Chagas disease occur in the United States each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report said. That estimate is based on the typical birth rates of women from regions where Chagas disease is endemic, and the fact that in about 1 to 5 percent of pregnancies of infected mothers, the disease is transmitted to the child.

In August 2010, the mother, who had recently immigrated to the United States from Bolivia, gave birth by cesarean section when her child was 29 weeks old. The boy had signs of jaundice as well as excess fluid around his heart, abdomen and lungs. The child’s doctors, who did not know the boy had Chagas disease, administered antibiotics for what they believed to be a widespread bacterial infection called sepsis.

Two weeks after the birth, the mother revealed she had been told in Bolivia during a previous pregnancy that she had Chagas disease. After testing her baby boy, the doctors found he too had the parasite in his blood. The boy received a 60-day treatment of benznidazole, a drug for Chagas disease, and was cured.

The case “illustrates that congenital Chagas disease, even when severe, might not be recognized, or diagnosis might be delayed because of the lack of defining clinical features, or because the diagnosis is not considered,” today’s CDC report said.

Chagas disease is estimated to affect about 300,000 people in the United States, most of whom immigrated here.

Doctors in the United States should be aware of the condition so that pregnant women from at-risk areas for Chagas disease can undergo screening and be identified, the report says. Mothers diagnosed with Chagas disease should be treated for the condition, but not until after they finish breast-feeding, the report said.