Category Archives: Latin America

Mass graves in Mexico; gov’t coverup alleged

Two sobering stories from the charnel house that is Mexico, where the government literally knows where the bodies are buried — and, in at least one case — attempts to conceal the grisly truth.

[The maps are from Google Maps].

More than 600 buried in mass grave near Torreon

Torreon, where more that 600 were buried in a mass grave.

Torreon, where more that 600 were buried in a mass grave.

First from RT:

Remains of more than 600 bodies were unearthed from what may become Mexico’s largest mass grave found to date, according to local media. It was discovered near Torreon, one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

The gruesome find was made in a 16-hectare paddock in San Pedro, near the city of Torreon, according to Notimundo news outlet, citing Grupo VIDA, an NGO representing the relatives of missing persons.

The bones, teeth, clothing, and footwear of more than 600 victims were found lying in the site, which appears to be a crime scene, the group said.

The NGO’s representative, Silvia Ortiz, said the remains have been handed over to the authorities for further identification. Members of the Attorney-General’s office of Mexico and its forensics unit were involved in gathering the remains, as was the National Human Rights Commission.

Ranches surrounding the San Pedro municipality have become notorious in recent years as mass killing sites used by criminal gangs active in the area. According to official data, roughly 2,000 people have gone missing as a result of protracted violence between drug cartels, EFE news agency reports.

In January of 2015, the city of Torreon was listed by Mexico’s Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

More than 100 bodies in Tetelcingo

Tetelcingo, where 119 bodies were buried.

Tetelcingo, where 119 bodies were buried.

The story from teleSUR English:

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission harshly criticized the government’s “improper” handling of the case of 119 bodies found in a mass grave in the central state of Morelos and urged authorities to establish national protocols for these cases, which unfortunately are a common occurrence in the violence-torn country.

Investigator Enrique Guadarrama said only 21 of the 119 people buried in the clandestine grave had been identified by name and that in at least 44 cases, the deaths appeared to be violent but were not properly investigated. He added that there were three cases where family members identified bodies that officials still kept buried in the mass grave.

“The remains of any person deserve to be treated with respect, and the circumstances and conditions of their death must be determined by the authority, which is forced to act to clarify the facts when it is presumed the existence of an illicit,” said Guadarrama.

The 33-feet deep mass grave had been discovered November 2014 in the town of Tetelcingo. Prosecutors have stated that the bodies may have been dumped illegally by officials, in an apparent attempt at “concealment of crimes.” The investigation into who is responsible is ongoing and unresolved.

Big Pharma grabs up Peruvian native biosphere

The classic exemplar of the evils of modern capitalism is the pharmaceutical industry, extorting vast sums from the most vulnerable as they rush to create a new cartel beyond the dreams of the corporate bucaneers of yore.

Rushing drugs to market armed with tests performed by bought-and-paid-for academics isn’t enough for them.

Now they’re busily grabbing up the plants traditional cultures have relied on for their own pharmacopeia.

Consider their latest target, via teleSUR English:

The production and consumption of natural Andean and Amazonian ancestral products in Peru is threatened by the “biopiracy” of foreign companies who have filed over 11,690 patents for the domestic produce of the region, effectively poaching the natural heritage of the country. The resources are said to be rich in nutrients and vitamins and range from those with anti-aging properties to those that act as natural aphrodisiacs.

Small farmers could be among those worst affected if foreign companies obtain the patents. “Campesinos have been guardians of seeds and diversity generation after generation, from our ancestors to our fathers we have inherited the seeds,” said Director of the National Association of Ecological Products of Peru Moises Quispe.

“We campesinos are very conscious about it. These seeds are part of our lives, and if there’s a new owner who patents them for their own economic interests, it’s a very worrying situation.”

Peru has 4,400 species of native plants with various uses, including 1,200 which have medicinal properties. The products that have the highest number of patents filed are Tara with 3,989, Yacon with 3,211, Maca with 1,406, Cat’s Claw with 843, Cascarilla with 648 and Purple Corn with 294, among 23 others. The data was collected by the state-run National Commission Against Biopiracy, but they only monitor 35 of the 4,400 species facing this threat.

A tenth of Mexican cops are found unfit for duty

Yetr they remain on duty in a country where the line between cops and robbers seems to grow more indistinct by the day.

From teleSUR English:

More than 28,000 police officers in Mexico – almost one out of ten cops in the country – have failed workplace screening tests yet remain on active duty, according to a new study by Mexican non-governmental watchdog group Causa en Comun, or Common Cause.

The study said that of 303,492 Mexican federal, state and municipal police officers across the country, 28,000 failed to pass polygraph tests, drug screening, and aptitude tests. Common Cause said that it concerned that many officers were not reevaluated in a timely fashion, as the law requires a review every three years.

Moreover, according to the 2009 National Public Security Law, all sworn personnel working in a preventative or investigative capacity must be dismissed from the force if they fail the workplace screening tests.

In the state of Sinaloa – one of Mexico’s most troubled regions – 654 officers, representing nearly 55 percent of federal judicial personnel in the state, failed the tests. For Sinaloa state police, 592 officers representing approximately 37 percent of all provincial officers failed their evaluations.

The state of Guerrero, where 43 college students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College disappeared while traveling to Mexico City two years ago, has significant numbers of unfit officers, as do the states of Michoacan, Veracruz and Baja California.

Two more Ayotzinapa students are gunned down

Two years after the 26 September 2014 abduction and disappearance of 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College in the state of Guerrero [previously], two more the school have been murdered.

From teleSUR English:

The bodies of two students from the Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa were found among five who were killed allegedly by paramilitary groups in the area, speakers of the school said Wednesday.

The school is the same school that had enrolled the 43 students who were forcibly disappeared and presumed murdered two years ago in the nearby city of Iguala, in the violence-ravaged southern state of Guerrero.

Jonathan Morales and Filemon Tacuba were killed on Tuesday in the Tixtla-Chilpancingo highway, while they were aboard a public transportation van that was intercepted by gunmen who forced them and other passengers to get off the vehicle and shot them at the foot of the road, in what authorities described as an execution.

The students were returning from internships as part of the activities of their senior year.

The bodies of Jonathan and Filemon were mourned Wednesday morning at the Ayotzinapa college. The student’s committee said that there is widespread fear on the campus which has forced many students to leave the men-only boarding school.

Chart of the day: Amazon oil processed in the U.S.

And California r4eaders should note that the Golden State accounts for a large share of the oil extracted at great cost to one of the world’s richest and most diverse environment.

From Well to Wheel: the Social, Environmental, and Climate Costs of Amazon Crude, a report from Amazon Watch:


Map of the day: The ongoing spread of Zika virus

From the latest World Health Organization Zika Situation Report, with the darker the  country, the more recently the virus has become endemic, carried by local mosquitoes:


CDC issues more Zika travel advisories

And a new warning from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Today, CDC posted Zika virus-related special travel considerations for 11 Southeastern Asian countries. CDC now recommends that pregnant women should consider postponing nonessential travel to these countries because of the uncertain risk of Zika virus infection. CDC is issuing these special travel considerations so that travelers, especially pregnant women, can make informed decisions about their travel and their health.

The countries included in these considerations are Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor), and Vietnam.

Zika virus has been present in areas of Southeast Asia for many years, and several countries have reported occasional cases or small outbreaks. Recent variations in the number of cases reported in the area have been observed. Zika virus is considered endemic in some of these countries, and many people who live there are likely immune. But US travelers to areas where Zika is endemic may not be immune to the virus and infections have occurred in travelers to Southeast Asia.

The level of risk for Zika virus infection in these countries is unknown, but it is likely lower (but not zero) than in areas where Zika is newly introduced and spreading widely. However, because Zika virus infection during pregnancy causes severe birth defects, including microcephaly and other severe brain abnormalities, pregnant women should talk to their healthcare provider and consider postponing nonessential travel to Southeast Asia. Zika virus testing should be offered to pregnant women and considered for other people who have symptoms of Zika virus disease if they have recently traveled to Southeast Asia.

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U.N. declares the Americas a measles-free zone

Some good news from the United Nations News Center:

The region of the Americas is the first in the world to have eliminated measles, a viral disease that can cause severe health problems, the United Nations health agency has declared.

“This is an historic day for our region and indeed the world,” said Carissa F. Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization of the UN World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) yesterday, noting that the achievement culminates a 22-year effort involving mass vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella throughout the Americas.

“It is proof of the remarkable success that can be achieved when countries work together in solidarity towards a common goal. It is the result of a commitment made more than two decades ago, in 1994, when the countries of the Americas pledged to end measles circulation by the turn of the 21st century,” she added.

The announcement was made during the 55th Directing Council of PAHO/WHO, which is currently under way and is being attended by ministers of health from throughout the Americas.

Measles is the fifth vaccine-preventable disease to be eliminated from the Americas, after the regional eradication of smallpox in 1971, poliomyelitis in 1994, and rubella and congenital rubella syndrome in 2015.

Before mass vaccination was initiated in 1980, measles caused nearly 2.6 million annual deaths worldwide. In the Americas, 101,800 deaths were attributable to measles between 1971 and 1979. A cost-effectiveness study on measles elimination in Latin America and the Caribbean has estimated that with vaccination, 3.2 million measles cases and 16,000 deaths between 2000 and 2020 will have been prevented in the region, WHO said.

“This historic milestone would never have been possible without the strong political commitment of our Member States in ensuring that all children have access to life-saving vaccines,” Ms. Etienne said.

“It would not have been possible without the generosity and commitment of health workers and volunteers who have worked so hard to take the benefits of vaccines to all people, including those in vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities. Indeed it would not have been possible without the strong leadership and coordination provided by PAHO, Regional Office for the Americas of WHO,” she added.

Process to eliminate measles

Measles transmission had been considered interrupted in the region since 2002, when the last endemic case was reported in the Americas. However, as the disease had continued to circulate in other parts the world, some countries in the Americas experienced imported cases, according to WHO.

The International Expert Committee for Documenting and Verifying Measles, Rubella, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome Elimination in the Americas reviewed evidence on measles elimination presented by all the countries of the region between 2015 and August 2016 and decided that it met the established criteria for elimination. The process included six years of work with countries to document evidence of the elimination.

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