South America

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Re: South America

Post by blindpig » Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:50 pm

Chaos and Fear in Latin America’s Prisons as COVID-19 Spreads

1.5 million inmates are detained across Latin America’s facilities. | Photo: EFE

Published 28 April 2020 (12 hours 9 minutes ago)

Three people died following riots in Peru, while Chile and Colombia reported hundreds of coronavirus cases.

As the coronavirus pandemic is starting to spread across Latin America’s massively overcrowded prisons, putting the lives of tens of thousands at risk, riots have been reported in almost all the region’s countries as inmates say their fundamental rights to safety and protection are being violated.

A riot was reported Monday in the Castro Castro prison in Peru’s capital, Lima, resulting in a fire and the death of three people inside the prison.

The number of people incarcerated in Peru is close to 91,000, according to figures last updated two years ago. Of the country’s 68 severely overcrowded prisons, 23 hold more than 1,200 people, although only eight have such a capacity.

Another disturbance was also reported at the Ancon II prison located on the outskirts of Lima. Inmates rioted to demand medicine and food. They said they are eating only twice a day and are no longer receiving food from their families since visits are restricted, according to local media.

In another prison, the Huamancaca Chico prison in the department of Junin, located in the center of the country, prisoners were asking for COVID-19 tests after two of their fellow inmates died. Police responded by shooting tear-gas canisters.

Peru's prision population is so far the worst-hit in the continent with 613 cases and at least 13 deaths.

In Chile, authorities have confirmed Monday more than 300 COVID-19 cases in the Puente Alto prison in downtown Santiago both among inmates and prison staff. The facility’s 1,100 prisoners are terrorized and have few means to protect themselves as social distancing is impossible in cell blocks.

In Colombia, where prison overcrowding amounts to 51 percent, 213 people contracted the deadly virus and three died so far.

Human rights groups have been warning of the disastrous effects that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on jailed people in that South American nation, which is regularly accused of violating its prisoner’s fundamental rights.

In addition, since the pandemic started, there were at least 23 deaths in prison riots in Colombia not directly due to the virus itself but out of fear of it​​​​​.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez endorsed Monday the house detention solution for common law prisoners after tensions mounted over the past weeks in the country's prisons with several riots and confrontations. Prisoners outside of jails would be controlled with electronic devices, the president said.

“Prisons are a very risky place of human concentration. Contagion and contamination can occur very easily,” he stressed.

In El Salvador, authorities over the weekend crammed prisoners together in prison yards while searching their cells, throwing away distancing measures. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele ordered the security crackdown after more than 20 people were killed Friday and reports suggested the orders came from imprisoned gang leaders.

About 1.5 million inmates are detained in Latin America’s facilities. Because of corruption, intimidation, and inadequate guard staffing, the prisons are often quasi-ruled by prisoners themselves while low budgets also create perfect conditions for the virus to spread. There is often little soap and water.

Throughout the region, the prisoners' demands come down to simply be properly protected from the virus. ... -0020.html

You don't hear much about what's going on in the hellholes of SC and other states of with nursing homes, killing grounds for "expensive and non-productive citizens.
"We ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror."

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Re: South America

Post by blindpig » Fri May 08, 2020 12:05 pm

'We're Living in a Catastrophe': Peru's Iquitos Hit by COVID-19

Iquitos, still reeling from a dengue fever outbreak and plagued by poverty, is now facing the COVID-19 pandemic. | Photo: social networks

Published 7 May 2020 (11 hours 13 minutes ago)

Iquitos, still reeling from a dengue fever outbreak and plagued by poverty, depends on air deliveries for medicine, equipment and oxygen to face a pandemic of the magnitude of COVID-19.

Hemmed in by a sea of jungle, plagued by dire poverty and already reeling from a dengue fever outbreak, Iquitos is now the second major Amazon city – after Manaus in Brazil – to take a brutal hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the impact of the pandemic, Iquitos faces an added obstacle in efforts to contain the disease, as the largest city in the world, which cannot be reached by road; it depends on intermittent air deliveries for essential supplies of medicine, personal protective equipment, and oxygen.

"We are living in a catastrophe," Graciela Meza, executive director of the regional health office in Loreto, the vast Amazon region which surrounds the city of half a million inhabitants, said to The Guardian.

The city's main public hospital was overflowing with nearly five times the number of patients its 180 beds could hold, said Meza, who herself was also recovering from the virus.

"I've never seen anything like this in my life, or even in my dreams," said Meza, a lifelong Iquitos resident, who compared the situation to living in a disaster film.

"Most victims have died from a lack of oxygen; 90 percent have died because of lack of medical supplies," Meza added.

She had counted dozens of dead every day over the last three weeks, including two nurses and three doctors – the latest a junior doctor in his twenties.

A woman receives medical assistance at Loreto Regional Hospital. Photograph: Getty Images

Just how bad Loreto's COVID-19 outbreak remains unclear, but few in Iquitos doubt it exceeds the official count of 62 dead and 1,595 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.

Hundreds of critically-ill patients were seated outside in rocking chairs around the hospital grounds or, in the last few days, in three field hospitals erected in football pitches and stadiums in the city.

"There's no oxygen in the lungs of the world," Meza remarked bitterly, referring to the city's Amazon location. "That should be the headline for your story," she added.

Her tone switched to anger as she said: "We only have our dreadful authorities to blame for their corruption and decades of chronic under-investment in healthcare."

The comments reflected growing outrage at the slow response of the regional government amid allegations that private companies were profiteering from a monopoly on oxygen tanks.

The local prosecutor's office in Iquitos has announced an investigation into reports that the Loreto regional government was paying inflated prices for oxygen cylinders – including alleged purchases from a company owned by the daughter of a councilor.

In the final hours before COVID-19 claimed her life, Cecilio Sangama watched helplessly as his eldest sister Edith gasped for breath, while he was unable to purchase a cylinder costing above $1,000.

"Her body could not hold on. She needed oxygen, but we just couldn't afford it," said Sangama, 49, a municipal worker, speaking by telephone from Iquitos.

"I had promised her: 'Don't worry, sister, today I will find you a cylinder,'… but in the end, there was nothing I could do." His voice broke, and he fell silent for a few seconds. "My sister died just a few hours ago; we are trying to find a way to give her a Christian burial."

Patients occupy cots in the corridors of Loreto Regional Hospital due to high demand. Photograph: Getty Images

According to the medical team, much of the disaster that Iquitos is experiencing has to do with the negligence of the government that on Monday promised to bring medical supplies and oxygen as well as replenish the number of medical professionals, as more than a dozen of them infected with COVID-19 were evacuated. But these promises came too late, they claim.

"We asked for the medicine more than a month ago," Agustina Huilca, president of the local doctor's federation, said. They desperately need strong antibiotics, anti-coagulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs to treat COVID-19, she highlighted.

"[As doctors], we feel impotent, frustrated, and isolated. We feel abandoned by the government," Huilca added.

The pandemic could not have come at a worse time since Iquito was already struggling with the end of a dengue outbreak, along with an outbreak of leptospirosis. Both dengue and COVID-19 cause fevers that have complicated diagnoses. At the same time, the warm climate of the city, overcrowded living conditions, poverty, and geographical isolation are the perfect setting for an unprecedented crisis.

"I suspect that in Iquitos the situation is already out of control," Valerie Paz-Soldan, a Peruvian-American social scientist and director of Tulane Health Offices for Latin America, said. ... -0014.html

This may put the lie to the contention that #19 is suppressed by high temperature and humidity. It is always hot & humid in Iquitos.


Peru: Penitentiary System President Resigns After Prison Crisis

Inmates of Miguel de Castro Prison, Lima Peru. April 2020. | Photo: Twitter/@RedRadioVe

Published 7 May 2020

Villar took office on March 24, amidst the Covid-19 outbreak in the South American nation.

Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra received Gerson David Villar Sandy's resignation as president of the National Penitentiary Council (INPE).

Villar took office on March 24, amidst the Covid-19 outbreak in the South American nation. During his management, several inmate riots occurred resulting in 12 convict deaths. The protesters were demanding health care and sanitary security in prisons after two guards died due to the virus.

In a second inmate violent demonstration in Miguel Castro penal facility, nine inmates died. Also, in Huancayo penal facility another riot occurred due to the virus outbreak among the inmate population. Besides, over 250 guards and prison workers tested COVID positive during Villar's time in office.

Several social organizations criticized the former president of the National Penitentiary Council because of his lack of strategic guidance in facing the virus and the lack of sanitary protection to both inmates and guards. The Peruvian Ombudsman Office requested the government in late April for inmates’ release to prevent more cases.

"COVID-19 is deepening the critical situation of prisons in Peru," warned Jan Jarab, Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

On May 4, nine inmates were released under humanitarian reasons in the context of the health emergency. Peruvian government also aims for mitigating overcrowding in prisons to restrain the spread of Covid-19.

As local news media reported, Rafael Eduardo Castillo Alfaro took over the position on May 6 as Peruvian National Penitentiary Council president. His office assumption occurs amidst the virus spreading in the South American nation, a famine exodus, and social discontent due to a lack of an effective governmental response to the virus.

So far, Peru registers 54,817 COVID positive cases, 1,533 deaths, and 17,527 recoveries. ... -0011.html


Chile: Santiago City's Neighborhoods Enter New Confinement

Image of everyday life in a neighborhood, Santiago, Chile, May 7, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 7 May 2020

This South American country is experiencing an increase in new cases since last week.

Chile’s Health Minister Jaime Mañalich Wednesday announced that a dozen neighborhoods in Santiago will return to confinement from Friday onwards due to the worrying advance of the pandemic in a city that concentrates 85 percent of the new infections.

"We have to look at the metropolitan region very carefully. The disease is moving towards neighborhoods that are more vulnerable due to their population density, economic situation, and type of housing," Mañalich said.

"The situation in the country is heterogeneous. Now we have to fight in Santiago and move forward together and with enormous effort," he added.

Unlike countries such as Argentina or Colombia, which ordered quarantine since the first COVID-19 cases began to become evident, Chile did not want to decree national confinement and opted for "selective and strategic quarantines."

This health policy implies that restrictions are imposed and enforced. they rise in each neighborhood or city according to the number of new infections.

Map showing Santiago's neighborhoods that will remain in quarantine from Friday.

However, President Sebastian Piñera decreed a state of emergency with a curfew starting at 10 pm and ordered schools, universities, and non-necessity businesses to close their doors.

Although his officials have proclaimed that the peak of the contagion has been exceeded, Chile is experiencing a significant increase in new cases since the middle of last week.

In the last 24 hours, for example, 1,032 new COVID cases and 6 deaths were reported, which increases the total number of infected to 23,048 people and death toll to 281.​​​​​​​

Among the poor neighborhoods that will be quarantined are La Florida, Cerro Navia, and Renca.

Meanwhile, people will be able to move without restrictions in the upper-class neighborhoods located east of Santiago city, where the first COVID-19 cases were detected in early March. ... -0005.html
"We ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror."

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Re: South America

Post by blindpig » Sat May 30, 2020 1:08 pm

Chile's Covid 19 Cases Surpass 90,000

A health worker transports a COVID-19 patient at San Jose Hospital in Santiago, Chile, May 20, 2020. | Photo: Jorge Villegas/Xinhua

The Chilean Ministry of Health announced on Friday that the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country had risen to 90,638, with 944 deaths.

The ministry reported that 1,143 coronavirus patients are currently on ventilators, with 306 in critical condition. Authorities stated that there are another 345 ventilators available to the nation's private and public health networks.

Health authorities said that 16,333 PCR tests were performed in the last 24 hours for a total of 546,506 tests administered since screening for the disease first began in March.

Minister of Health Jaime Manalich said that the government has arranged for the construction of 85 sanitary residences equipped with 4,157 beds so that those diagnosed with the disease can be easily isolated.

Manalich added that "all those who do not comply with the quarantine can be transferred, using public force, to a health residence."

Additionally, the Chilean government announced that it has decided to extend the quarantine in Santiago and 38 nearby towns until June 5 due to an increase in cases in recent weeks. ... -0017.html


Ecuador: Native Communities Vulnerable to COVID Outbreaks

Secoya community members in Ecuadorean Amazon, Ecuador. May, 2020. | Photo: Twitter/@radiolacalle

Published 28 May 2020

Siekopai-Secoya leaders stated in late April about one elderly death related to COVID symptoms and last week reported one of his relatives in intensive care due to similar signs.

Ecuador’s Ombudsman Office demanded on May 27 government health assistance and COVID testing kits for the Siekopai-Secoya native community.

“The Ombudsman's Office calls on the national Government and, through it, the Ministry of Public Health, the national and cantonal EOC of the municipalities of Shushu ndi and Cuyabeno, to provide immediate and appropriate preventive medical care and treatment for the Siekopai-Secoya nationality,” the governmental body stated in official communication.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon reported on May 27 over 400 positive cases among Kichwa, Waorani, Achuar, Shiwiar, Shuar, and Siekopai native communities.

The ombudsman representatives stressed government accountability for native communities’ protection and rights’ acknowledgment. Besides, it urged the Health Ministry to implement precautionary strategies to eliminate indigenous discrimination in sanitary assistance.

"Here, cases of Covid-19 have already been identified and Fundación Raíz has been able to act to prevent the spread and thus take care of the wise grandparents."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (Redesca) alerted about native groups' vulnerability and possible extinction. Both organizations stressed Siekopai’s territories locate far from urban centers and hospitals.

Siekopai-Secoya leaders stated in late April about one elderly death related to COVID symptoms and last week reported one of his relatives in intensive care due to similar signs.

Thus far, Ecuador registered 38,103 COVID positive cases, 3,275 deaths, and 18,425 recoveries from the virus. ... -0006.html
"We ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror."

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