Protests In Chile Unearth Stark Disparity Within Chilean Society

The protests in Chile have been fluctuating in intensity since they started in October 2019. While the protests were started because of a small hike in the price of public transportation, it is underpinned by a burgeoning dissatisfaction “against the poor quality of public health care and education; against low wages and the rising cost of living; against the meager pensions that Chileans receive in old age,” which have led to this wave of anti-government demonstration.

Chile has been touted as a stable, developed country which has enjoyed great prosperity in terms of capital revenue as the country with the highest per capita income rate in Latin America. In addition to this, Chile also belongs to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a 36 member club of mostly rich nations. However, wealth disparity remains high as Quartz reporter Annalisa Merelli has found that the GINI Coefficient of Chile sits at around 46.6 and has an income gap which is 65% higher than the OECD average. The main reason for the protests is that there seems to be a large amount of revenue flowing into Chile, yet the vast majority of Chileans do not reap the rewards of their country’s economic prosperity. There is great anger towards the billionaire President Sebasitián Piñera, as many Chileans believe he does not understand the needs of the people. Currently, his approval ratings have dropped to the single figure number of 6%, the lowest recorded rating. There have also been a large number of protesters demonstrating against gender inequality in Chilean politics and how the patriarchal system in Chile filters down the issues of sexual assault and gender violence unto society.

However, not all protests have been peaceful, as violence has once again flared up in Chile as the protests intensify. This has been met by a quite repressive use of force by the Chilean National Police Force. There has now been a total of 27 deaths with over 2,500 people injured during bouts of violent encounters and vandalism. The National Institute of Human Rights in Chile has found that a total of 10,000 people have been detained.  Shockingly, around 1,100 children were held by the Chilean Police forces.

National Human Rights Institute (INDH) director Sergio Micco has stated that these acts of repression have been “the most serious and have seen the most human rights violations committed since 1989,” when brutal Dictator Augusto Pinochet was in power. This is unprecedented and has led to widespread shock among the international community due to the fact that this is occurring in a democracy which is meant to uphold the rights of its people. As Mr. Micco exclaimed “This occurred in democracy, in our democracy. How was this possible?”

Al Jazeera has reported that “the institute has filed hundreds of legal actions against authorities for homicide, torture, sexual violence and other abuses.” The UN and several other international organisations have condemned these abuses against human rights and have called for these actions to be immediately halted. Recently, President Piñera announced that a constitutional referendum would take place in April in the hope that this would quell the protests. This has not happened, even though reform to the outdated constitution, which was made during the rule of Pinochet, has been one of the main demands by protesters. Even if the constitution is to be reformed, it will likely take an additional 18 months for the new constitution to be drafted and released. Chileans want immediate change and many believe that this referendum will not satisfy this need. “Students are planning larger demonstrations for March, and those in the streets say they don’t expect the new constitution to address their concerns which range from higher pensions and free education to the removal of the center-right president and the end of capitalism,” as reported by the Washington Post.

On Wednesday the 29th of January President Piñera told an audience of business leaders. “We don’t know how what started on October 18 will end. There are two paths: One is violence, and the other is to attentively compile all of the voices and respond respecting the rule of law without sacrificing our ability to grow.” The Chilean President is correct about the fact that there are two paths, however, it seems that his government is straddling the fine line between cooperation and violence. The National Police Force is acting under the jurisdiction of his government, and so far President Piñera has yet to satisfy the demands of the protesters. Additionally, economic growth projections for 2020 have been cut from 2.3 percent to 1 to 1.5 percent because of the “violence, looting and destruction that have halted the economy.”

There will be an uphill battle for President Piñera to gain greater approval as he is unrelatable to the majority of Chileans and must start listening intently to the demands of the protesters. Gender parity in the constitutional assembly must be instated by President Piñera as gender equality is one of the major demands by Chile’s feminist movement. There must also be a greater array of policies developed and implemented to combat the income inequality of Chile. Most importantly there should be a denouncement of the violence used by the Chilean National Police Force and all those detained under unjust pretences should be released.

For now it will be a wait and see approach for all involved in the situation of Chile. Protesters, for the most part, do not want an increase in violence and are still hopeful for the April referendum. However, they will wait and watch the movements of their President to see whether he will listen to their demands. President Piñera should be aware of his dwindling support and understand that he must listen to the demands given to him if he has any hope of holding onto power.

  • Published in World

Rafael Bonachela: «I Have Recreated a Relationship with all its Colors»

In the final days of 2019, choreographer Rafael Bonachela returned to Cuba to work with Acosta Danza dancers. His duet Soledad, is part of the program Bodies, the new season that the company directed by first dancer Carlos Acosta, presents on January 24th, 25th, 26th and 31st and February 1st and 2nd, at the Great Theater of Havana Alicia Alonso We had a talk with the artist about this dramatic love duo.


—How does the idea of
​​creating Soledad is born?

—In 2005, dancers Antonia Grove and Theo Clinckard founded PROVE an independent dance project in London. Just then I had decided to stop dancing professionally and I wanted to devote myself fully to choreography. They hired me for a work for ‘PROVE’ and then I created Soledad, something that it meant a lot to me at the time of my career. Tony and Theo are magnificent dancers whom I knew very well, even Tony and I had danced together at the Rambert Dance Company. They bet for me and it was the beginning of my adventure as a choreographer.


- How was the creative work?

- Collaboration is always at the core of my creativity. I involve dancers a lot during the creative process. I think it’s important that there’s a dialogue to open the doors to change, to discovery, and to find new ways of communication through the body and movement.


«In the process of creation different ideas were proposed connected to the essence of the work. With those ideas in mind, we made a series of improvisations and experiments. From there it was generated the movement language implicit in the work.


«Soledad is a technical duo, very physical, but at the same time private and with small gestures. Both men and women alike have to manipulate, hold each other, pull and push each other. There is a lot of contact and connection to give weight to the dancers. It’s essential that there is trust between them so that they can throw themselves and risk being carried away by each other ».


- What moment in the relationship of a couple does this work reflect?

—I’d say that, from the most tender, delicate and intimate moment to the most passionate, fierce, and savage. They are two people who love each other, protect each other and sometimes don’t understand each other: a relationship with all their colors.


—The music of Soledad belongs to Latin American composers and performers, with the exception of violinist Gidon Kremer. Why did you choose this music to tell such a universal story?


"Being Spanish who lived in London, I really wanted to choreograph with Latin music and I chose songs that I had always liked and that I knew would inspire me."


«I discovered the music of Chavela Vargas through Pedro Almodóvar's films, I really like her tone of voice and passion of the lyrics. I am fascinated by stringed instruments and Piazzolla’s music and played by Gidon Kremer gives a psychological tension to the work and a Latin melancholy that I could not resist.


Rafael Bonachela is one of the best known Spanish choreographers in the international dance arena. Artistic director of the Sydney Dance Company, he has created works for companies like the Transitions Dance Company, of the United Kingdom, Contemporary Dance of Cuba and the Dance Works Rotterdam, among others. He has also worked for famous artists like singer Kylie Minogue, for companies like MTV and has collaborated in several advertising campaigns.


—How did you establish the link with Acosta Danza?


—I have followed the company's trajectory since it was founded. Carlos and I have always talked about a possible collaboration and when I saw them dancing at the Grec Festival in Barcelona I thought Soledad would be the perfect piece for the company.


—What is your opinion about the interpretation of Soledad by Acosta Danza, after working with our dancers?

—They are very well prepared dancers, with a solid classical and contemporary base and that is the best combination to dance my works. On top of that, they are open minded artists and intelligent bodies. Their performance is very good, very consistent and daring. It’s a pleasure to watch them completely devoted and get carried away by the dance.


- Do the Acosta Danza dancers offer any contribution in their interpretation of Soledad, different from the rest of the artists who have danced it?


—It has always been said that Cubans have music in their blood and these dancers have a special connection with Latin American music that supports the play, they feel it to the core and of course they also understand the lyrics and their meaning. The diversity of the company is something that enriches the work, there is a strength and above all a sensuality in the interpretation of these dancers which is unique.

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Cuba stands out as the first country in Latin America in diabetes control

Havana, January 14 (RHC)-- Cuba is the country with the best glycemic control and has the lowest diabetes mortality rate in Latin America. 

In statements to the Cuban News Agency, Dr. Ileydis Iglesias Marichal, director of the National Institute of Endocrinology, stressed that all patients are guaranteed access to glucometers and medications.

The specialist described the preventive approach of this disease from the Primary Health Care stage and to the research in the field of diabetes, a condition that affects 425 million people worldwide.

"This condition is considered a worldwide health catastrophe that continues to spread, and much more worrying is not only the number of registered cases, but the number of hidden diabetics, without early and timely diagnosis and treatment, which leads to the appearance of complications," the scientist warned.

"Cuba has not escaped this reality, and by the end of 2018 there were more than 723,000 patients diagnosed, but there are others who live with the disease and don't know it," she said.

Edited by Jorge Ruiz Miyares

  • Published in Cuba

Social Inequality is Generating Conflict in Latin America: UNDP

Throughout 2019, the populations of Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Haiti have taken part in massive public demonstrations, which have been strongly repressed, causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of detainees and wounded.

The United Nations Development Program ( UNDP ) warned on Monday that inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean can cause greater social crises, as evident by the popular protests in several countries in the region.

RELATED: Evo Morales Vows to Return to Bolivia After Right-Wing Coup

The director for Latin America and the Caribbean of UNDP, Luis Felipe López, defined inequality as "one of the most important structural problems in Latin America, without a doubt, and when it interacts with other elements it becomes one of the destabilization factors".

On Monday, the 2019 Human Development Report presented a worldwide report that was titled “Beyond income, beyond the averages, beyond the present: inequalities of human development in the 21st century”. The regional chapter of the report will be released today in Bogotá, Colombia.

The report, which was previously distributed to the media, indicates that Latin America and the Caribbean persists as the second most unequal region in the world, second only to Sub-Saharan Africa, despite the fact that in the last decade hundreds of thousands of people left the country due to poverty.

This serious social inequity has caused disagreements among broad sectors of the population that is increasingly having difficulty accessing education, health or the pension system, among other things.

Throughout 2019, the populations of Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Haiti have taken part in massive public demonstrations, which have been strongly repressed, causing dozens of deaths and hundreds of detainees and wounded.

The 2019 UNDP Human Development report underlines that the focus cannot only be on economic growth at any cost, but that social inclusion should be privileged.

Lopez said social protests in the region are explained because "inequality in a context of economic growth, as there was, generated aspirations that have not been satisfied."

“These other manifestations of inequality become more evident, such as segregation, lack of social mobility, lack of voice in politics. Countries are richer, but equally unequal," he added.

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US to help ‘legitimate Latin American govts’ to PREVENT protests from ‘morphing into riots’ – Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the US will help "legitimate governments" in Latin America in order to prevent protests from "morphing into riots.”

Pompeo made the comments while delivering remarks at the University of Louisville on Monday.

He declared that US policy in Latin America is based on “moral and strategic clarity,” meaning Washington “cannot tolerate” regimes it deems unsatisfactory in the region.

Pompeo said that protests in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador reflect the "character of legitimate democratic governments and democratic expression" and that governments in the region should respect that.

We’ll work with legitimate governments to prevent protests from morphing into riots and violence that don’t reflect the democratic will of the people.

“Diplomatic Realism, Restraint, and Respect in Latin America”...

Pompeo added that the US will "continue to support countries trying to prevent Cuba and Venezuela from hijacking those protests." He also accused Russia of “malign” influence in Latin America and of “propping up” the democratically elected Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro.

The eyebrow-raising comments come in wake of the November coup in Bolivia, which saw socialist President Evo Morales ousted while violent protests and attacks on politicians forced him to leave the country. Opposition leader Jeanine Anez has since declared herself an "interim president." The opposition-led protests began over alleged election irregularities.

Also on rt.com Bolivia’s coup: Morales toppled not due to his failures, but due to his success...

Pompeo’s distinctively frank comments are an admission of sorts that the US will encourage violent protests and regime change where it deems a government to be illegitimate, but will work to quash anti-government sentiment in countries it sees as obedient allies.

While the US wholeheartedly supported the Bolivian coup, as well as coup attempts in Venezuela earlier this year, it has all but ignored anti-government protests in Chile, where it blames "malign" Russian and Chinese influence.

In both Venezuela and Bolivia, Washington supports the unelected self-declared “interim presidents.”

Pompeo concluded by saying there remains an "awful lot of work to do" in the region, referring to Latin America as the US's "back yard." He also warned against “predatory Chinese activities” in the region, which he claimed can lead countries to make deals that "seem attractive" but are "bad" for citizens.

Also on rt.com Trump threatens to rock Brazil & Argentina with renewed tariffs on metals

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Venezuelan president says Trump has obsessive hatred of Latin Americans

In the new season of his RT TV show, Ecuador’s former President Rafael Correa on Thursday interviewed Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, where both critically addressed the complex realities the Bolivarian Revolution is currently facing.

During their one-hour conversation, the two leaders of contemporary Latin American politics talked about the economic and social situation of Venezuela, which, as Correa said, is "victim of a disinformation campaign" whereby the political opposition tries to benefit from problems that have been "clearly caused by the so-called 'sanctions' which are actually illegal aggressions against sovereign countries."

In order to highlight the effects of the U.S.-led economic aggression, President Maduro recalled that from the beginning of President Hugo Chavez's administration in 1999 up to 2015, “we had annual revenues of $50 billion from oil sales.  Now we only receive $4 billion.”

Maduro also mentioned that the death of Commander Hugo Chavez in March 2013 meant a "very big blow" for his country because "internal enemies, but especially the U.S. imperial power, began to design tactics to replace Chavismo."

During the presidency of Donald Trump, over the last two years, "the war with Washington has had a devastating effect on our social stability and people's lives," the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) leader said.

"Venezuela cannot either open or close international bank accounts.  It cannot pay for any type of product.  In addition, we are now being threatened with a complete naval blockade."

In his talk with Correa, the Bolivarian president once again denounced that the U.S. government actions imply many financial costs to the Venezuelans.  "They have confiscated and robbed us of almost $30 billion," Maduro said and explained that Venezuela is carrying out "an economy of resistance."

In order to tackle this situation, his administration has established priority policies, one of which is food and medicine production.  This goal is "at the center" of those priorities so as to be able to supply the population.

"Venezuela has no sanctions, it has aggressions," Maduro said and added: "Trump has an obsessive hatred against Latin American peoples, refugees, immigrants; he has a special hatred of the Venezuelan people and our history."

"I compare [what happens now] with the Hitler era, with that same vision that Hitler imposed against the Jews before the war," he stressed.  Based on the challenges it faces at the current historical moment, the Venezuelan government is laying the long-term foundations to overcome the country's traditional dependence on oil revenues.

"I have defined 16 'development drivers' on the basis of our country's economic, industrial and technological realities," Maduro said and recalled that transforming a natural resources-based growth model, which has been in place for the last 100 years, is a difficult task.

Nevertheless, "despite all imperial aggressions, we are standing strong and ready to resume the path towards growth,", President Maduro affirmed.

For his part, in order to illustrate what is happening in Venezuelans' everyday live, Rafael Correa asked the audience to imagine what it means to live under siege.  "Imagine a country which cannot sell oil, its main product; even if it could sell it and obtain some foreign currency, it cannot buy anything because it cannot use the international financial system," the Ecuadorean politician said.

“That is what they have done to Venezuela.  And, in their eagerness to sanction a government without having the right to do so, they are sanctioning the whole population," Correa stressed.​​​​​​​

Before finishing the interview, Correa invited President Maduro to describe in his own words the Venezuelan political system.  "In Venezuela, they tell us, there is no democracy and you are a 'usurper'," Correa said provocatively.

"Over 20 years of revolution, we have had 25 elections for president, governors and mayors," Maduro replied and, with a hint of irony, he said that it would be "a strange dictatorship."  The Venezuelan president recalled that the Chavista movement has beaten the opposition in 23 out of those 25 elections.  

Rafael Correa concluded his program by reiterating his support for Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan people.  "Intellectual honesty does not mean being neutral, which is impossible. Intellectual honesty means trying to maintain objectivity, despite the partiality we all have and our ideological inclinations."

  • Published in World

Coup Master: Michael Kozak New US Envoy for Latin America


The new acting head of U.S. diplomacy toward Latin America is no stranger to the implementation of interventionist tactics in the region, where for thirty years he learned and perfected the tactics to oust governments.

In par with its belligerent policy towards Latin America, United States President Donald Trump appointed Thursday Michael Kozak as Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, a U.S. diplomat known for his expertise in regime change.

“Kozak is one of those rare diplomats without fear of using force for what the U.S. considers a noble goal," journalist and Director of the Andes section of the Associated Press Joshua Goodman tweeted on Thursday.

This comes as Trump warned that with former National Security Advisor John Bolton out he will enforce an even harder policy against Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, thus Kozak will likely become his ‘go-to-guy’.

The new acting head of U.S. diplomacy toward Latin America is no stranger to the implementation of interventionist tactics in the region, where for thirty years he learned and perfected the tactics to oust governments, a craft that was later exported to Eastern Europe and the former USSR.

Kozak, 73, began his work in the 1970s when he worked as a negotiator on the Panama Canal Treaties during the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations. He then participated in the U.S. role to downplay the Sandinista revolution in 1978-1979 and was a member of the U.S. mediation team that implemented the Egypt-Israel peace treaty and sought a solution to the Lebanese Civil War.

As many other operatives of regime change under Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., he was tasked to push for U.S. interventions in Latin America. Panama’s Manuel Noriega wrote in his memoirs that the two CIA-State Department operatives who were sent to negotiate and then engineer his downfall from power in 1989 were William Walker and Kozak.

In 1991, during his time as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the inter-American Affairs Bureau, Kozak proposed six different options to go against General Manuel Contreras, head of the DINA secret police during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile.

The most radical option was to covertly snatch Contreras without the consent of the then democratic Chilean government violating international law and the country’s sovereignty in a bid to distance themselves from the U.S.-backed dictatorship in the name of “human rights.”

Then his path through key nations in the region took him to Haiti. In March 1993, Kozak was a deputy to U.S. Special Advisor Lawrence Pezzullo on issues related to the Caribbean nation and part of the U.S.-backed ousting of Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

After that from 1996 to 1999, he served as chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, undermining the Cuban government, especially during the island’s “special period.”

Under Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., he took his vast expertise in regime change to the former Soviet bloc. In 2000, Clinton appointed him as U.S. ambassador to Belarus, by 2001 he mounted "Operation White Stork" designed to overthrow President Alexander Lukashenko.

During an exchange of letters to The Guardian in 2001, Kozak unapologetically admitted that he was doing in Minsk exactly what he had been doing in Nicaragua and Panama.

"As regards parallels between Nicaragua in 1989-90 and Belarus today, I plead guilty. Our objective and to some degree methodology are the same," he said.

The strategy repeated in exact detail the tactics the U.S. used to help the Serbian opposition overthrow Slobodan Milosevic, and the Nicaraguan opposition who unseated Daniel Ortega in 1990. Mainly channeling funds to non-governmental organizations, such as the Centre for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (Canvas), to push for regime change from within.

According to leaked internal emails from intelligence firm Stratfor, Canvas “may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle.” The same strategy which later would be used in Venezuela.

  • Published in World

Cuba on alert over increase in dengue cases

The increase of cases of dengue and other diseases in the Americas has placed Cuba's healthcare system on alert, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Local health authorities are carrying out efforts to control Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit dengue, Zika, and yellow fever, said Dr. Francisco Duran, national director of Hygiene and Epidemiology at the Cuban Ministry of Public Health.

These viral diseases represent a serious threat of morbidity and mortality for communities and families living in high-risk areas, he explained.

Although Cuba has suffered some dengue outbreaks in the first half of 2019, they all have been controlled, said the official.

Duran warned about the importance of strengthening prevention measures at home to prevent the breeding and proliferation of the vector.

It is also necessary to educate the population on the symptoms of these diseases to avoid deterioration and receive a timely treatment.

So far this year, more than 2 million dengue cases have already been reported in the Americas, where 70 percent of the population lives in conditions conductive to the transmission of the disease.

The country in the region which presents the most cases is Brazil, with more than 1 million cases and some yellow fever cases.

Duran made the remarks during the 26th International Course on Dengue, Zika, and other Arboviruses being hold at Havana's Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine, which was attended by experts from 50 nations. 

  • Published in Cuba
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