Spain's Podemos Snubs Argentina's Macri over Rights Abuses

Spanish lawmakers criticized the visit of Argentine President Mauricio Macri and the human right violations of his government.

Left parties in the Spanish Congress criticized Wednesday the presence of Argentine President Mauricio Macri, with one lawmaker greeting him with a shirt demanding the release of Milagro Sala, an Indigenous activist and lawmaker who was dubbed the first "political prisoner" of Macri's administration when she was arrested after a protest in January 2016.

RELATED: Macri Rejects UN's Call to Release Political Prisoner Sala

Macri also received a letter from the left-wing party Podemos party requesting the release of the activist, who has been in jail for more than a year. After his address to Congress, none of the Podemos lawmakers applauded.

In a second rejection to Macri’s visit, the same party announced its members will not participate in the state dinner that the Spanish king will offer on Wednesday in honor of the Argentine president, his wife Juliana Awada and his team. All parties in Congress are often invited for celebrations as part of official visits by presidents or heads of state.

Upon his arrival, President Macri also shook the hand of lawmaker Irene Montero, a spokesperson for Podemos, who wore a white t-shirt with a drawing of Sala and in black letters the phrase "Free Milagro."

Irene Moreno received Macri in the Spanish Congress with a t-shirt that asks "Freedom for Milagro Sala."

Montero called Macri "an offshore agent," referring to his use of tax havens revealed through the Panama Papers leak last year that identified Macri as one of a dozen global power players with assets in offshore companies.

"It’s not necessary to do those acts of honoring a president of the type of Macri," said Montero during a press conference Tuesday. She also accused him of being "responsible for human rights violations".

RELATED: Milagro Sala Trial: ‘I Apologize for Being Black and an Indian'

Meanwhile, Lawmaker Anton Gomez-Reino blasted the visit, saying that the Congress "is not a chamber of commerce in the service of the Popular Party of (Primer Minister Mariano) Rajoy and President Macri. Congress is not a platform for his friends’ businesses."

Iñigo Errejon, also from Podemos, said he was troubled by the fact that Macri called the parliamentary coup in Brazil against former President Dilma Rousseff “a political change.”

Meanwhile, back in Argentina various workers’ organizations called a massive protest in the capital city of Buenos Aires to protest the Macri government. The movements have also suggested that the may set up an encampment in the center of the capital city to continue the protest against also said they could set up a camp under the emblematic obelisk monument in the center of the city.

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Former Uruguayan President Mujica Warns of Trade Wars

Mujica was called "the world's poorest president" by his followers.

Former President Jose "Pepe" Mujica, who governed Uruguay from 2010 to 2015, warned Monday of the possibility of global trade wars erupting.

"The Uruguayan government must deal with an international situation full of uncertainties, and we don't know whether this situation will lead to a trade war. Hopefully not, but it's a latent danger," Mujica said after a meeting of his Broad Front coalition.

The 81-year-old former president of Uruguay, who has been involved in politics his whole life, has previously said he thinks U.S. President Donald Trump has “powerful enemies” and won't be around for long.

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Wife of Brazil's Ex-President Lula da Silva Dies of Aneurysm

Lula's Workers' Party announced the death of the former first lady of the nation at the age of 66.

Marisa Leticia Rocco, wife of the former Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, died on Thursday in the city of Sao Paulo from an aneurysm, said the Workers' Party lawmaker Benedita da Silva.

RELATED: Lula Targeted Once Again in Petrobras Corruption Scandal

Rocco, 66, was taken on to the emergency room at Sao Paulo’s Hospital Sirio Libanes on Jan. 24 due to a stroke,  but her health quickly deteriorated. She was in an induced coma and her doctors described her condition Wednesday as "irreversible."

"I want to announce the death of the wife of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has authorized us to do so, and ask for a moment of silence on behalf of who was the first lady of Brazil," said the Workers' Party, or PT, lawmaker Benedita da Silva in Brazil's lower house of Congress.

Rocco was Brazil’s first lady between 2003 and 2011, and was accused several times without proof of allegedly accepting, along with Lula, bribes from construction giant Odebrecht, one of the companies implicated in the corruption scandal centered on state-run oil company Petrobras. 

Lula published on his Facebook page a message thanking "all the expressions of affection and solidarity received in the last 10 days for her recovery."

Rocco had four children, three of them with Lula, and was his second wife. They married in 1973 when they were both widows, and she participated in the founding of the Workers' Party in 1980.

"The family authorized the preparatory procedures for organ donation," Lula had written on his Facebook page nearly an hour before news of his wife's death was released. 

Lula, despite being continuously accused of corruption, has suggested more than once that he may be a candidate in Brazil’s 2018 presidential election.

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Colombian Senator: FARC-EP Disarmament Unprecedented

Bogota, Feb 1 (Prensa Latina) Colombian senator Ivan Cepeda has described as unprecedented the massive arrival of the FARC-EP, the country's largest guerrilla group, to the transition points and zones to put down weapons, displacement that continue today.

Speaking to the 'Semana en Vivo' program, the congressman stated that the transfer of this group -in demobilization phase- to stages of 14 departments is the result of a long negotiation period and demonstrates the strict compliance of the acquired commitments.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) have passed all tests and are arriving in the places where the adaptation works have been making progress, also to others in which there is no water or electricity; in most cases the guerrillas are undertaking works to turn them into habitable zones, he insisted.

According to Sergio Jaramillo, High Commissioner for Peace, he should be in the transition points and zones -the latter smaller than the former- about 6,300 members of the rebel group to disarm and prepare for reintegration into civilian life.

The movements of troops began on Saturday, January 28th, from the pregroup stages to the 26 transition points and areas with accompanying observers of the tripartite supervisory mechanism.

This group is made up of spokesmen of the government, FARC-EP and a political mission coordinated and funded by the United Nations.

President Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleon Jimenez, top leader of that organization, signed on November 24th the definitive agreement to end the long confrontation between both parties.

The challenge now is to implement everything agreed to ensure the success of the so-called post-conflict.

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Massive Wildfires in Chile Devastate Entire Town, Kill 6

The death toll has reached six, with the fires displacing thousands of people in a government-declared state of emergency.

More than a thousand houses were reduced to ashes in the town of Santa Olga, Chile, as forest fires continue consuming a large part of the central zone of the South American country.

PHOTOS: Chileans Battle Horrific Fire in UNESCO World Heritage Site

“Nobody can imagine what happened in Santa Olga. What we have experienced here is literally like Dante's Inferno,” said Mayor of Constitucion, Carlos Valenzuela. “We were recovering after the last earthquake, but this tragedy has messed up everything.”

The death toll has reached six. As the fires displace thousands of people, the government has declared a state of emergency and has allocated personnel and resources to handle the situation.

The National Forestry Corporation said in a statement dozens of growing wildfires have so far destroyed some 238,000 hectares of forests in central and southern Chile, forcing the evacuation of at least 4,000 people.

"From the beginning we have dedicated all our efforts and resources," said President Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday. She also highlighted that the priority is "to save the lives of our compatriots."

RELATED: 100,000 Hectares of Chilean Forest Lost as Wildfire Rages On

Bachelet, who spoke in a press conference, thanked the international aid that has reached Chile so far, especially specialized rescuers sent from Mexico, Colombia, Peru and France.

"There are 99 fires, of which 30 have been controlled, and our civil protection corps are now struggling to control the rest," the president said and announced that she’ll meet with intelligence agents in coming hours "to determine the causes of these fires," since it has not been ruled out that the fires were provoked due to the abundance of them.

All affected areas are under a state of emergency, while several cities, including capital Santiago, are shrouded in smoke. Thousands of emergency workers and firefighters are trying to curb and extinguish the flames amid strong winds and a heat wave. These natural disasters often occur in parched woods during the summer and many of them are sparked as a result of human activity.

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Colombian Government Ready to Talk with ELN for Complete Peace

Bogota, Jan 12 (Prensa Latina) The Colombian government has expressed its willingness to begin formal talks with the ELN with the promptness and seriousness demanded by the country, an option that both sides are exploring in Ecuador since today.

Responding to a letter sent by supporters of the negotiations with that insurgent movement, the head of the government spokesmen, Juan Camilo Restrepo, ratified the willingness of dialogue of the current administration, but insisted on the release of former congressman, Odin Sanchez, who is in the hands of that group.

According to the minister, both delegations of spokesmen are preparing in the Ecuadorian capital the joint meeting that could happen tomorrow, Colombian news reports said.

We arrived in Ecuador to continue the exploratory phase, we are convinced to make every effort to start this dialogue with the seriousness and promptness demanded by the country, Restrepo said in a statement released here.

The Executive and the National Liberation Army (ELN) announced in Caracas on March 30 their decision to begin such rounds of meetings, but there is no timetable for the meetings up to now.

This is a less numerous guerrilla than the FARC-EP but have been equally active more than 50 years ago.

Shortly after the announcement carried out in Venezuela, President Juan Manuel Santos conditioned the establishment of that other negotiation table for Sanchez' release, while the rebel organization rejects any conditioning prior to the talks.

Such stances keep the talks at a standstill despite calls from religious people, politicians, victims and other figures of the national stage to open the planned appointments and achieve a full detente scenario after the signing of the peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP), which occurred on November 24.

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Argentine Indigenous Leader Milagro Sala Hit With New Sentence

Milagro Sala, dubbed the first political prisoner of Macri's government, already received a three-year suspended prison sentence this week.

An Argentine court slapped a new sentence against jailed Indigenous leader Milagro Sala Thursday, just a day after she was handed down a three-year suspended prison sentence for being guilty of “aggravated damages” linked to a protest she led against the conservative government in her home province in Jujuy.

IN PHOTOS: 200 Days is Enough! Free Milagro Sala!

The Jujuy court issued Sala the maximum fine of 3,870 Argentina pesos — nearly half the monthly minimum wage of 8,060 pesos — and prohibited her from participating in any civic and political organizations for three years, the same term as her suspended prison sentence.

Sala was charged with a misdemeanor of “occupying public space, disorderly conduct and the obstruction of vehicle and pedestrian traffic.” The court also ordered the Tupac Amaru organization that Sala leads to shut down its location in Jujuy.

Sala, who has been dubbed the first political prisoner of President Mauricio Macri’s administration, was jailed last January after leading a 52-day sit-in against Jujuy governor and Macri ally Gerardo Morales.

She was initially detained on accusations of inciting mob violence with the occupation — a protest that was reportedly carried out in a peaceful manner — but was soon hit with a barrage of other charges of alleged corruption and illicit enrichment that kept her behind bars for months as investigations continued.

RELATED: Milagro Sala Trial: ‘I Apologize for Being Black and an Indian'

The new three year prohibition of Sala’s participation in social and political organizations extends until the end of Morales’ term as the governor of Jujuy.

After being jailed for nearly a year, on Wednesday a court handed her three years probation with a suspended prison sentence.

Sala is the leader and founder of Tupac Amaru, a 70,000 member-strong organization inspired by the ideals of South American Indigenous liberator Tupac Amaru, revolutionary leader Che Guevara, and former Argentine First Lady Eva Peron, that works with Indigenous and poor communities on a number of political issues.

She is also a lawmaker with the parliament of the sub-regional South American trade bloc Mercosur, known as Parlasur, though her detention has blocked her from being able to fulfill her parliamentary duties.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has slammed Sala’s arrest as arbitrary, calling for her immediate release. President Macri ignored the ruling.

Social movements have also rallied behind Milagro Sala, demanding her release as well as freedom for other political prisoners.

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New South American Directors Present Their Films in Havana

Havana, Dec 14 (Prensa Latina) ''You will never be alone'', by Chilean Alex Anwandter, and ''Francisco Sanctis's Long night'', by Argentineans Andrea Testa and Francisco Márquez, will face each other today in the contest to win the First Work Award at the Havana''s 36th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema.

Anwandter makes his debut on the Cuban circuit as a screenwriter and composer of a film about the relationship of a father with his homosexual son, especially after a violent attack on the adolescent.

Inspired by a real-life case, in the film, a retreated manager of a mannequin factory, played by Sergio Hernandez, is struggling to fight for a promotion in his work or the payment of medical services for his son, played by Andrew Bargsted, victim of a homophobic aggression.

The picture was included in the Berlinale and several reviews and specialized critics have made the analysis of issues such as incommunication and abandonment, as well as an exceptional soundtrack.

On the other hand, 'Francisco Sanctis's Long night' is the adaptation of homonymous novel by Humberto Constantini, placed in Buenos Aires during 1977, in the middle of the military dictatorship.

An office worker and with a quiet life next to his wife and children, Francisco Sanctis faces a dilemma after contacting an old love who asks his help for two people who would be arrested that same night by the army.

Presented at Cannes, Andrea Testa and Francisco Márquez's first film comes from having won the prize for the best film in the international section at the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (Bafici).

At the Havana festival there are also other films from new directors with excellent references such as 'Los Nadie', by Colombian Juan Sebastián Mesa, awarded in Venice; the Argentina-Chile co-productions, 'Rara' by Pepa San Martín; and Argentina-France's 'El invierno', by Emiliano Torres, both awarded in San Sebastian.

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