Latin America

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Puerto Rican Cop Reveals The Truth About The Ongoing Humanitarian Crisis From Hurricane Maria

(POPEYE) A Hispanic radio station in NYC (La Mega) takes a call from a police officer in Puerto Rico. She tells the truth about the situation on the ground in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and who is to blame for aid not being distributed throughout the island. English subtitles are in the video.












Miracles of Engineering in Peru: Drinking Water Out of a Billboard

(LATIN AMERICAN HERALD TRIBUNE)   Peru’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) was about to open the applications for the period 2013, so they needed to get students’ attention.

Lima, the capital, and its surrounding villages such as Bujama are located in the coastal deserts of Peru. In these places, there were many people suffering from the lack of clean and potable water.

“Here in Bujama district most of us draw water from the well. It’s not nice and it’s polluted,” said Francisco Quilca, a Bujama’s district resident.

The rain in this region is almost zero, but its atmospheric humidity is about 98%. Inspired by this, UTEC built the first billboard that produces drinking water out of the air. The billboard has unique technology that captures the air humidity and turns it into drinking water.

“Each generator captures the air humidity and from there it goes to a reverse osmosis system. Each tank stores about 5.28 gallons of water. These 5 generators purify the vital liquid and its total is gathered in one tank,” said one of UTEC’s engineers involved in the project.

The billboard has already produced about 2,496.42 gallons of drinking water in a 3 month period, an amount that equals the water consumption of hundreds of families per month.

“They could put this in different places. If possible in every village, in each town, so water is generated through these billboards. The water really gives us life,” added Quilca.


Miami’s Godmother of Cocaine, Griselda Blanco, Gunned Down In Colombia

(CBS 4 MIAMI) Griselda Blanco is responsible for a time in Miami’s history most would want to forget.

“If she wanted you killed and their were innocent people around, well, sorry. I’m going to get you,” West Miami Police Chief Nelson Andrew said.

He spent years as a homicide detective chasing her and the bloody violent mess she left behind.

“She was a woman in a man’s world and she had to be more violent and more ruthless than her male counterparts in order to gain respect,” Andrew said. “In order to maintain that pinnacle that she was at. So I think that’s why she did it and it became second nature to her.”

Blanco, who was called “The Godmother,” had her hit man carry out so many murders they lost count. She even crafted a signature hit.

“It was very, very effective. Two guys on a motorcycle. That’s it.” Andreu said. In a twist of irony, that’s exactly how she died Monday in Medellin, Colombia. As she walked out of a butcher shop a motorcycle pulled up. The passenger shot her twice in the head. She died at the hospital. The gunmen got away.

Blanco is believed to be behind the notorious double murder at Dadeland Mall in 1979. The gunmen unloaded their weapons in a liquor store ratcheting up the drug war in the streets of Miami.

There were many innocent victims including the son of Jesus Castro. Andreu said that Castro refused to help one of Blanco’s sons who was in trouble.

“This was an offense that was punishable by death,” Andreu explained.

Castro hid for awhile but eventually Blanco’s hit man found him.

“They pulled up alongside of him when he was on Dixie Highway, South of Dadeland. He sees a van pull up next to his. The sliding door opens and there is three guys with machine guns shooting. He leans forward. The kid sitting on the armrest. It was a Toronado. Brand new Toronado. When he goes forward the kid gets hit twice in the face. (He) falls to the floor. He’s able to get away from them in traffic.”

Castro put his son in a bathtub of ice and held his hand all night. In the morning, he wrapped the boy in a blanket with his passport and dropped him at a local mosque. Castro apparently thought he was leaving the boy at the church he was baptized, but confused the address with another.

Many were amazed Blanco lived to be 69 years old.

“The only thing to be surprised about is that it didn’t happen sooner,” local filmmaker Billy Corben said.

He received notice of her death he says about an hour before the media picked up on it. The call came from a family member. Corben and his colleague Alfred Spellman documented the Godmother’s violent life in two movies called “Cocaine Cowboys.”

The films include interviews from those investigating to those who carried out the hits. CBS4 reporter Al Sunshine is featured often as he reported from the front lines.

Blanco ended up going to prison for twenty years when the Feds caught up to her. She escaped the electric chair in Florida though following a sex scandal at the state attorney’s office that tainted the case.

“When you consider that she was the greatest, if not the greatest mass murder, in the history of Miami, she wound up serving less than 10 years in prison,” Corben recalled.

Two of her three sons were murdered the moment the United States deported them back to Colombia and many expected the same for Blanco.

Andreu explained “She hurt so many people. So many families. Killed so many people that we knew it was only a matter of time.”

There was a lot of talk she escaped to Argentina for awhile. According to Corben there was talk about sending her to Spain but in the end she stayed put.

“I can’t imagine a lot of countries are anxious to stamp Griselda Blanco’s passport.” Corben said.

Many were surprised that Blanco had moved back to her hometown of Medellin where she had many enemies.

“She was released from Florida prison and deported to Columbia in 2004 and she’s been living quietly, low key there in a comfortable home in what I have heard as described as the Bel Aire of Columbia,” Corben said. “A guard gated exclusive community.”

Blanco was 69. She is survived by one lone son who lives in Miami.

In a MySpace video he is seen proudly announcing, “My mother is Griselda Blanco and I’m the proud son of the queen of cocaine.”

Michael Corleone Sepulveda is named after the main character of the mafia movie The Godfather. Sunrise police busted him in 2011, just like his mother, for cocaine trafficking. He is currently awaiting trial on house arrest. He operates a company called The Blanco Group which works primarily in the music industry. Online, he appears to have quite the following on Facebook.

Andreu spent twenty plus years investigating homicides in Miami-Dade. He regards the Godmother, as the worst of the worst.

“I investigated several serial killers and I go around teaching about serial killers, but ruthlessness and not caring about innocent people, she tops the list by far. You know serial killers, they may target, but they target one person at a time,” Andreu said.

Andreu has written a fictional book called Dead Red. The novel revolves primarily around his homicide investigating experience. He said he is considering writing a book about the experience with the Godmother and the Cocaine Cowboy Era.

Billy Corben and his production company Rakontur is in the midst of revisiting Cocaine Cowboys in what they are calling a remix. One would expect this week’s developments will likely be featured in the film.

“It was certainly an extraordinary end to and extraordinary life. I think there is certainly more to be told,” Corben said.

RELATED: Griselda Blanco, ‘Queen of Cocaine’ killed in Colombia

Bolivian police mutiny over pay, other issues


(CNN)    Talks continued Saturday in Bolivia, where a police mutiny over pay has included the storming of buildings and a hunger strike by officers’ wives.

Bottom-rank officers across the country are demanding a substantial pay increase and a retirement pension equal to their current salaries.

They have a monthly base salary of $115 and want a jump to $287.

Other demands include the resignation of their commander.

The hunger strike, started by 60 spouses, began this week and was being held in La Paz and other cities.

The tension rose Thursday when mutineers entered a building used by higher-level officers.

Friday, protesters raided police intelligence offices, seizing computers and burning investigation documents. Protesters threw rocks while others burned papers, furniture and other items in the street.

Government officials appealed for peaceful negotiations.

“The best way to continue working on these requirements is not by way of pressure or to seize and occupy public offices,” said Carlos Romero, minister of government. “It’s not by destroying of public property, by burning documents — it’s not the way.”

Protesting police are in charge of controlling the massive demonstrations that occur frequently in La Paz.

Members of Bolivia’s armed forces have taken over many of the tasks performed by police.

Ombudsman Rolando Villena raised concerns about citizen safety.

“We are concerned about the helplessness in which the population is in,” he said. “The absence of protection by the police. We call upon both parties to seek a solution within the framework of dialogue.”

Coast Guard dispatching ships and personnel to Costa Rica to threaten Nicaragua

(WMR)    After conducting its successful coup d’etat in Honduras against President Manuel Zelaya, the imperialistic Barack Obama administration is now bent on ousting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega by massing a huge U.S. Coast Guard and Marine Corps presence in neighboring Costa Rica, a base of operations for Reagan administration-backed CIA operations in the 1980s in support of the Nicaraguan contras.

Costa Rican government officials, including President Laura Chinchilla, Vice President Luis Lieberman Ginsburg, Security Minister Jose Maria Tijerino, counter-narcotics Commissioner Mauricio Boraschi, and the Costa Rican Congress agreed to Operation Joint Patrol, which will see 7,000 US Marines, 46 mainly U.S. Coast Guard vessels, and 200 helicopters and 10 combat aircraft descend on Costa Rica, which does not have a military force, from July 1 to December 31.

At a time when the Coast Guard vessels could be used to assist in the clean-up of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, they will be used in an operation widely believed to be targeting the Sandinista government of Nicaragua, which incurred the ire of Israel and its Zionist ally in San Jose, Costa Rica, Vice President Lieberman, by severing relations with the Tel Aviv regime over the Israeli attack on the Gaza aid flotilla.

The official reason for Operation Joint Patrol is to combat drug trafficking but few in the Costa Rican opposition and in Nicaragua believe that to be the sole reason. The Joint Patrol operation is being likened to Plan Colombia, which has targeted the governments of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa from Colombian territory. The Costa Rican opposition has denounced Chinchilla’s government for militarizing Costa Rica.

It is also believed by WMR’s sources in Costa Rica that Costa Rican Vice President Lieberman, a noted Zionist, has arranged for Israeli special forces to enter Costa Rica in order to participate in operations directed against the government of Nicaragua.

Venezuela govt to nationalize 11 US owned oil rigs


Venezuela’s legislature has voted to nationalize 11 oil rigs owned by the US firm Helmerich & Payne.

The rigs, located in Monagas, Anzoategui and Zulia states, will be taken over by state oil giant Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the official news agency AVN said.

PDVSA had asked the legislature controlled by supporters of leftist President Hugo Chavez to take over the rigs after the US firm declined to negotiate a new service contract, unlike 32 other foreign firms.

The oil giant is South America’s top oil producer.

Since 2007 Caracas has nationalized companies in industries from oil to utilities, to telecoms, cement, steel and banking.

Argentina’s central bank chief resigns amid debt row

(AFP)   Argentina’s embattled central bank chief, Martin Redrado, announced his resignation Friday amid a row with President Cristina Kirchner over her bid to use reserves to pay down government debt.

“I feel that my term at the head of the Central Bank has concluded and I have decided definitively to leave the office of president of the Central Bank, satisfied with the duties I have performed,” Redrado told reporters.

Redrado had rejected Kirchner’s bid to set aside 6.5 billion dollars in central bank foreign currency reserves to pay government bonds maturing this year.

Gang lured victims to grisly death ‘for trade in human fat’

(TIMES ONLINE) Since the days of the Spanish conquests, the children of the Andes have been terrified by tales of strangers who kill South American Indians on lonely roads, sucking out their fat to make lotions and potions for sale in the West.

A police officer displays two bottles said to contain human fat

A police officer displays two bottles said to contain human fat

Now the figure of the “Pishtaco” has jumped from myth into reality, after Peruvian police revealed the arrests of a gang who have been killing for human fat, allegedly for sale to the European cosmetics industry.

Police in Lima, the capital, said that three suspects had confessed to killing five people, luring their victims into the Peruvian jungle with promises of work before cutting off their heads and limbs to collect fat. But the gang may have been engaged in the gruesome practice for decades, police suspect. At least 60 people, mostly farmers and indigenous Peruvians, have gone missing in the area this year alone.

At least six other suspects remain at large, including the gang’s alleged leader, Hilario Cudeña, 56. One of those arrested, Elmer Segundo Castillejos, said that Mr Cudeña had been murdering for fat for more than 30 years. The lead prosecutor, Jorge Sans Quiroz, said that two Italian citizens were suspected of conspiring to sell the fat “to be commercialised in European laboratories”, although no sales have yet been confirmed.

Two of the suspects were arrested in Lima carrying a bottle of liquid human fat, which they told police was worth $15,000 (£9,000) a litre, said Colonel Jorge Mejía, the head of Peru’s anti-kidnapping police. One had claimed that their gang was not the only one in the trade, he said.

Police showed reporters in Lima two bottles of amber fluid and the picture of a rotting head of a 27-year-old male victim. Mr Castillejos, 29, had led officers to the head, dumped in a coca-growing valley in the Huánuco region, after his arrest last month, Mr Mejía said.

Mr Castillejos told police how the gang had removed the victims’ heads, arms, legs and organs before suspending the torsos and warming them, causing fat to drip into tubs.

The gang has been dubbed the “Pishtacos” after the centuries-old myth of rich, pale-faced strangers killing travellers. The mythical killers were the conquistadors and their descendants, symbolising European exploitation of the indigenous tribes of the Andes.

Medical experts were incredulous at the case, casting doubt on the existence of a significant black market for human fat. Neil Sadick, a dermatology professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, said that human fat was used in anti-wrinkle procedures but was always extracted from the patients themselves, usually from the stomach or buttocks. “There would be a risk of immunological reaction that could lead to life-threatening consequences” if fat from someone else were used, he said.

One plastic surgery professor, Adam Katz, of the University of Virginia, said that even if fat from strangers were to be used, donations were easy to come by. “It doesn’t make any sense at all, because in most countries we can get fat so readily,” he said.

A dermatology professor at Yale University, Lisa Donofrio, speculated that a small market might exist, outside mainstream cosmetics, for human fat extracts to keep skin supple, but said that scientifically such treatments were “pure baloney”.

Police said they had first become aware of the gang’s existence four months ago, when they received tips that human fat from the jungle was being sold in Lima.

The police intercepted a container filled with fluid on its way to the capital from Huánaco and tests confirmed that it was human fat, Mr Mejía said. On November 3, police arrested Serapio Marcos Veramendí and Enedina Estela in a Lima bus station with a litre of human fat. Their testimony led to the arrest of Mr Castillejos three days later at the same station.

The group have been charged with homicide, criminal conspiracy, illegal possession of firearms and trafficking, according to court documents.

Slim pickings

In 1917 The Times was the first paper to report that the Germans were boiling down fat from their dead soldiers to make soap. The story became widely accepted. In 1925, the Foreign Secretary, Sir Austen Chamberlain, admitted that it had been a lie

Last year a surgeon in California was accused of using human fat to fuel his car. Dr Craig Alan Bittner extracted triglycerides from fat he acquired in liposuction operations and converted it to diesel. The state health department started an investigation

Also last year, Pete Bethune, a New Zealander, broke the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe by speedboat in a vessel running partly on the skipper’s own body fat. Earthrace was powered entirely by biofuel and went round the world in 11 minutes short of 61 days

Fat cells removed during liposuction can be turned into stem cells used to regenerate human tissue. In October, doctors in Cincinnati replaced a 14-year-old boy’s cheekbones using fat cells from his own body.

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