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Latin America

El Salvador: Evelyn Hernández cleared over baby’s death

Media playback is unsupported on your device A 21-year-old woman in El Salvador whose baby was found dead in the toilet where she gave birth has been cleared during a retrial. Evelyn Hernández had always maintained she was innocent, saying that she did not know she was pregnant and lost consciousness during the birth. Prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence of 40 years. Her case has been closely watched in El Salvador and abroad with women's rights activists demanding she be acquitted. El Salvador has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the world. Abortion is illegal in all circumstances and those found guilty face between two and eight years in jail. But in many cases, including the one against Ms Hernández, the charge is changed to one of aggravated homicide, which carries a minimum sentence of 30 years. The mothers being criminalised in El Salvador Where women may be jailed for miscarrying Ms Hernández's case was the first of its kind in El Salvador in which a full retrial had been ordered. Previously, women accused of aborting their babies have had their sentences commuted after their 30-year jail terms were deemed "disproportionate and immoral" but their verdicts were not overturned. Women's rights activists hope Ms Hernández's retrial will set a precedent for other women jailed under El Salvador's strict anti-abortion laws to fight their sentences. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has in the past called on El Salvador to reform its "draconian" abortion laws. What happened? Evelyn Hernández says she experienced severe stomach pains and bleeding while at her home in rural El Salvador on 6 April 2016. She went to the toilet, located in an outhouse, where she fainted. Her mother took her to a hospital, where doctors found she had given birth. She was arrested after the body of her baby was found in the toilet's septic tank. Ms Hernández, who was 18 at the time, says she had been raped by a gang member but that she had no idea that she was pregnant. She said she had confused the symptoms of pregnancy with stomach ache because she had experienced intermittent bleeding, which she thought was her menstrual period. "If I'd known I was pregnant I would have awaited [the birth] with pride and joy," she said in the past. She also said that while she had "felt something come loose" inside her, she did not hear a baby cry out and did not realise she was giving birth. She was initially accused of abortion but the charge was changed to one of aggravated homicide with prosecutors arguing she had hidden her pregnancy and not sought antenatal care. In July 2017, the judge ruled that Ms Hernández knew she was pregnant and found her guilty. She was sentenced to 30 years in prison of which she has already served 33 months. Why was there a retrial? Ms Hernández' lawyers appealed against the judge's decision. They said forensic tests showed that the baby had died of meconium aspiration, inhaling his own early stool. This can happen while the baby is still in the uterus, during delivery or immediately after birth. The lawyers said the test proved that Ms Hernández had not tried to abort the baby but that it had died of natural causes. "There is no crime," defence lawyer Bertha María Deleón said. In February 2019, El SalvadoRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew] BBC [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Latin America

Argentina’s economy minister resigns as peso sheds value

Argentina's economy minister Nicolas Dujovne has resigned amid a financial crisis exacerbated by the president's defeat in a primary poll. The country's peso shed 20% of its value against the US dollar after President Mauricio Macri suffered the resounding loss last Sunday. In a letter to the president, Mr Dujovne said he had given his all. Mr Macri was beaten in the primary elections by his left-wing rival Alberto Fernández. Mr Fernández's running mate is former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner who presided over an administration remembered for a high degree of protectionism and heavy-handed state intervention in the economy. He won the primary with 47.7% of the votes with Mr Macri receiving 32.1%. Is this the end of Macri's vision for Argentina? Macri trounced in primary vote Following the primary result, credit-rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor's downgraded the country's debt rating amid concerns about a possible future default. Days after the defeat, Mr Macri announced a series of measures including income tax cuts and increases in welfare subsidies. Petrol prices will also be frozen for 90 days. Mr Dujovne said that the government's economic team needed "significant renewal". "I believe my resignation is in keeping with my place in a government that listens to the people and acts accordingly," he wrote. He will be replaced by Hernan Lacunza, the current economy minister for Buenos Aires province. A cabinet shuffle has been rumoured for several days. Mr Macri was elected in 2015 on promises to bRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew] BBC [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Latin America

Blank-page book on Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro goes viral

A 190-page book on why Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro "should be respected and trusted" has gone viral on social media after it emerged 188 of its pages are blank. The author said it was a "protest" to force people to "come up with their own answers" on the controversial leader. In a few hours more than 200 reviews were posted on the book's Amazon page. Most of them praised the initiative but a few said they had been misled. The author said nobody had bought the book. After it went viral online, a warning saying "Attention: satirical book" was added to its description on Amazon and the book was listed as unavailable, O Globo newspaper reports (in Portuguese). Mr Bolsonaro, who came to power in January, is a deeply divisive figure who has made racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks. In recent weeks, he has been internationally criticised for the increasing deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. The president, a former army captain and congressman, has not commented on the book. Bolsonaro: Brazil's unlikely president Is the honeymoon period over for Bolsonaro? The author, 30-year-old Willyam Thums from the southern city of Porto Alegre, described the book Why does Bolsonaro deserve respect and trust? as an "answer to the question that hasn't silenced Brazil". "It's a protest," he told Veja São Paulo website (in Portuguese). "The idea is to not give any answer as I think Bolsonaro doesn't deserve anything." On the two pages where there is text, Mr Thums describes the book as the "result of countless hours of work" offering an "exclusively impartial" view about the "undeniable merits" of Mr Bolsonaro. He said he was inspired by a similar book about US President Donald Trump. The book had gone unnoticed until Wednesday, Mr Thums said, when it began being widely shared on social media. Most of the reviews posted on Amazon supported the initiative. "Congratulations to the author over his hard work," said one user. Another said: "It's the best and most comprehensive analysis about the person who is changing the country." Some, however, disagreed. One said it was "sad… that serious people were wasting time and money". Another user said the book had been bought for a doctoral research and that its description had "misled readers". But Mr Thums – a PhD student in comparative literature in the US – disputed this. "No-one has ever bought this book." Amazon did not comment on the case but said customers had up to 30 days to return products and ask for a refund. Mr Bolsonaro was elected last year promising to be tough on crime and corruption and to revive the economy. But critics and even some of his supporters have expressed doubts about his ability to lRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew] BBC [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Latin America

Brazil torture victim’s testimony triggers landmark case

Details provided by the sole survivor of a torture centre in Brazil could lead to the imprisonment of a man accused of raping her during her captivity. The accused has so far been shielded by a 1979 amnesty law which prevents military officials from being prosecuted for crimes committed under military rule. But now a court has ruled that he should stand trial for the alleged rape of Inês Etienne Romeu, who managed to survive her time at the clandestine torture centre by pretending she had been "turned" by her captors. More than 400 people were killed or disappeared during Brazil's military rule and Ms Romeu's detailed account of her months in captivity at the clandestine prison dubbed "House of Death" were key in bringing information about the military's excesses to light. Read more: Watch: Brazil victims revisit torture cells The ruling comes at a time when far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has expressed nostalgia for the time when Brazil was under military rule. How did the ruling come about? Prosecutors in the state of Rio have been investigating a former army sergeant, Antônio Waneir Pinheiro de Lima, over crimes he is alleged to have committed at a torture centre in the 1970s, when Brazil was under military rule. They tried to open a criminal case against Sgt Lima but a judge in Rio state argued that Mr Lima was protected by an amnesty law. The law, which was passed by the military regime in 1979 and upheld by Brazil's Supreme Court in 2010, shields those who committed "political crimes" between September 1961 and August 1979 from prosecution. The prosecutors appealed against the judge's decision at a federal tribunal. On Wednesday, the judges on the federal tribunal voted two against one to open a criminal case against Sgt Lima. The judges accepted the argument made by the prosecutors that the crimes Mr Lima is accused of, including rape and kidnapping, constitute crimes against humanity and as such cannot be covered by the 1979 amnesty law. They ordered that Sgt Lima face a criminal trial. However, this decision could be overturned by the supreme court. What is Sgt Lima accused of? Sgt Lima is suspected of kidnapping, torturing and raping a left-wing activist at a torture centre in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis, north of Rio de Janeiro. The woman, Inês Etienne Romeu, was the only person to leave the centre, dubbed House of Death, alive. The building was a clandestine jail used to hide and torture left-wing activists. At least 22 political prisoners are thought to have been killed there. Media playback is unsupported on your device Ms Romeu, who was arrested on suspicion of taking part in the kidnapping of the Swiss ambassador Giovanni Enrico Bucher, was held there between May and September 1971. She said that during her captivity she was subjected to physical and psychological torture so severe that she tried to kill herself on three occasions. She also said that she was raped twice by Sgt Lima who was one of the jailers at the "House of Death". Sgt Lima has said that he was a "watchman" at the centre but has denied having any knowledge of what went on inside the house. He was arrested in 2014 as part of an investigation into military-rule era crimes. What became of Inês Etienne Romeu? Ms Romeu managed to get ouRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew] BBC [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Latin America

Emiliano Sala ‘exposed to carbon monoxide in plane crash’

Media playback is unsupported on your device Footballer Emiliano Sala was exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide prior to a fatal plane crash in the English Channel, a report has revealed. Sala, 28, and pilot David Ibbotson, 59, crashed on 21 January while travelling from Nantes in France to Cardiff. Toxicology tests on Sala's body showed CO levels in his blood were so great it could have caused a seizure, unconsciousness or a heart attack. The Sala family said there should be a detailed examination of the plane. Mr Ibbotson, from Crowle, North Lincolnshire, has still not been found. What does the report say? The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said Sala's blood had a COHb (carboxyhaemoglobin – which forms in red blood cells upon contact with carbon monoxide) level of 58%. At this level, symptoms would include include seizure, unconsciousness and heart attack. It added: "A COHb level of more than 50% in an otherwise healthy person is generally considered to be potentially fatal." It is likely Mr Ibbotson would also have been exposed to carbon monoxide. Piston engine aircraft such as the Piper Malibu involved in the crash produce high levels of carbon monoxide. The gas is normally conveyed away from the aircraft through the exhaust system, but poor sealing or leaks into the heating and ventilation system can enable it to enter the cabin. Several devices are available to alert pilots over the presence of carbon monoxide – they are not mandatory but can "alert pilots or passengers to a potentially deadly threat". What will happen next? AAIB investigators are working with aircraft manufacturers in the USA – where the Piper Malibu was registered – to look at how carbon monoxide could have entered the cabin. "Operational, technical and human factors" will be considered. Geraint Herbert, the AAIB's lead inspector for this investigation, said: "Symptoms at low exposure levels [to carbon monoxide] can be drowsiness and dizziness, but as the exposure level increases, it can lead to unconsciousness and death. "The investigation continues to look into a wide range of areas in relation to this accident, but in particular we are looking at the potential ways in which carbon monoxide can enter the cabin in this type of aircraft." Wednesday's bulletin was the second to be released following the crash, but the investigation is not expected to report its full findings until early 2020. How has Sala's family reacted? Daniel Machover of Hickman & Rose solicitors, who represents the family, said: "The family believe that a detailed technical examination of the plane is necessary. "The family and the public need to know how the carbon monoxide was able to enter the cabin. Future air safety rests on knowing as much as possible on this issue." Why hasn't the plane been recovered? The AAIB responded to calls for the plane to be retrieved from the sea bed by saying it filmed substantial video evidence at the scene after the aircraft was found in February. "It was not possible at the time to recover the wreckage," it said. "We have carefully considered the feasibility and merits of returning to attempt to recover the wreckage. In this case, we consider that it will not add significantly to the investigation and we will identify the correct safety issues through other means." The statement said after a "violent impact with the sea", the wreckage may not even give definitive answers and the reasons for not retrieving the plane had been explained in detail to both the Sala and Ibbotson families. What has Cardiff City said? The club said it was "concerned" by the report, adding: "We continue to believe that those who were instrumental in arranging its [the plane's] usage are held to account for this tragedy." In an interview in February, football agent Willie McKay, who commissioned the flight, told the BBC he and his family paid for it. He was not involved, he said, in selecting the plane or the pilot and it was not a cost-share arrangement. How have experts interpreted the report? Retired pilot and aviation safety commentator Terry Tozer said the finding was "a surprise", adding: "It shows you can never tell what the root cause of an accident is until the investigators have dug into the nitty gritty. "How and why did the carbon monoxide get in? Presumably through the exhaust system… the fumes get into the ventilation system." Mr Tozer said he had never encountered anything similar before and would not expect carbon monoxide poisoning to be a big risk on such an aircraft. He added: "It's not like a car where you can open the windows. It can creep up on you, and that could be a slow process. "It's odourless so you wouldn't necessarily know you were being fed these fumes unless you had a detection system – but that isn't mandatory for this type of aircraft." Mr Tozer agreed with the Sala family that salvaging the wreckage and examining it would be the only way to find how the leak occurred. "Aviation accidents usually come about when a number of factors accumulate. "So, we start with the pilot and his lack of qualifications, then circumstances that delay the flight to night time, possibly feeling pressure the pilot then takes off when he shouldn't and finds weather that he is struggling with and the final straw is that his ability is impaired by poisoning from a leak in the exhaust and he loses control." How dangerous is carbon monoxide? By James Gallagher, health and science correspondent, BBC News Carbon monoxide is an invisible killer with no smell, colour or taste. It is deadly because the gas starves the body of vital oxygen. Your red blood cells contain haemoglobin – its job is to pick up oxygen from the lungs and transport it around the body. The problem is haemoglobin prefers carbon monoxide and binds to the gas iRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew] BBC [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

Latin America

Brazil’s indigenous women protest against Bolsonaro policies

Hundreds of indigenous women occupied a building of Brazil's health ministry in the capital, Brasília, on Monday to protest against the policies of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. The group of some 300 protesters demanded better healthcare for indigenous people, especially women, and condemned proposed changes to how these services are delivered. The Bolsonaro government wants to make towns and cities responsible for providing medical services to indigenous people, and community leaders fear local authorities lack the infrastructure and specialised units required. The federal government is currently in charge of healthcare, and indigenous communities are visited by specially trained professionals. The protesters, who are in the city for the first March of Indigenous Women, sang and danced inside and outside the building of the Special Secretariat of Indigenous Health, known as Sesai. "We've been left abandoned. They treat indigenous people like animals," 43-year-old Teresa Cristina Kezonazokere told Correio Braziliense newspaper (in Portuguese). The demonstration ended almost 10 hours later, when Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said he would talk to some of their leaders. There were no reports of violence. Organisers say the event in Brasília aims to highlight the role of women in indigenous communities. On Wednesday, some 1,500 indigenous women from 110 ethnic groups are expected to join a protest to defend rights they say are under threat under Mr Bolsonaro. "We don't have to accept the destruction of our rights," said indigenous leader Sônia Guajajara. 'We fight for the right to exist' The president has promised to integrate indigenous people into the rest of the population and repeatedly questioned the existence of their protected reserves, which are rights guaranteed in the country's constitution. Mr Bolsonaro, who supports policies that favour development over conservation, says the indigenous territories are too big in relation to the number of people who live there and has promised to open some of them to agriculture and mining. Brazil's unlikely president 'Football pitch' of Amazon forest lost every minute More than 800,000 indigenous people live in 450 demarcated indigenous territories across Brazil – which cover about 12% of land. Most are located in the Amazon region and some people live totally isolated. Critics say Mr Bolsonaro's positions have eRead More – Source [contf] [contfnew] BBC [contfnewc] [contfnewc]

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