country:peru

  • Would You Return This Lost Wallet? - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/20/science/lost-wallet-what-to-do.html

    In all but two countries, more people emailed to return wallets containing money than cashless wallets. Only Peru and Mexico bucked that pattern, but those results were too slight to be statistically significant, the researchers said. On average, 40 percent of people given cashless wallets reported them, compared with 51 percent of people given wallets with money.

    Researchers were surprised. But then they ran the experiment again in three countries (Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States), adding “big money” wallets containing $94.15. The difference was even starker. Way more people emailed to return the wallets with the larger amount: 72 percent compared with 61 percent of people given wallets containing $13.45 and 46 percent of people given cashless wallets.

    Why?

    “The evidence suggests that people tend to care about the welfare of others and they have an aversion to seeing themselves as a thief,” said Alain Cohn, a study author and assistant professor of information at the University of Michigan. People given wallets with more money have more to gain from dishonesty, but that also increases “the psychological cost of the dishonest act.”

    Christian Zünd, a doctoral student and co-author, said a survey they conducted found that “without money, not reporting a wallet doesn’t feel like stealing. With money, however, it suddenly feels like stealing and it feels even more like stealing when the money in the wallet increases.”

    Research assistants recorded the gender, age and friendliness of each recipient, how busy they were, whether they had computers handy to send email, and whether co-workers, security guards or cameras could have observed the wallet handoff (possibly making the person feel more compelled to return it). None of these factors mattered, they found.

    People reporting lost wallets received an email thanking them and saying the owner had left town and they could keep the money or donate it to charity. But, the researchers wondered, if the wallets were actually collected, would people turn them in but keep the money?

    So they tested that in Switzerland, which has relatively little corruption, and the Czech Republic, which ranks at the opposite extreme, Dr. Cohn said. In both countries, nearly all the money was returned with the wallets, except for some change, which they think accidentally fell out.

    Dr. Mazar, who’s studied people’s honesty in laboratory experiments, said that altruistic result underscores people’s concerns about self-image. “Taking the money and returning the wallet would make you equally bad, or actually even more bad,” she said. “There’s no way you can convince yourself that you are a moral person.”

    The researchers surveyed people to see if they expected bigger rewards for returning more money; they didn’t. They also tested for altruism by planting wallets containing money but no key, the one item specifically valuable for the wallet’s owner. People reported those too, although less than wallets with keys.

    #Altruisme #Comportement_moral #Pshychologie #Economie

    • Only Peru and Mexico bucked that pattern, but those results were too slight to be statistically significant, the researchers said.

      c’est pas significatif mais on cite quand même ces pays… #clickbait

  • Venezuela : un sondage auprès de 2000 personnes indique qu’un peu moins de la moitié de la population souhaite émigrer. En moyenne, 2 membres par famille sont déjà à l’étranger.

    Consultores 21 : 47% de los venezolanos quiere emigrar
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/nacional--canales/consultores-los-venezolanos-quiere-emigrar_285055

    47% de la población venezolana desea salir del país, afirmó el presidente de la encuestadora Consultores 21, Saúl Cabrera, luego de un estudio realizado en el territorio nacional.

    La encuesta, que abarcó a 2.000 personas distribuidas en todo el país, indica que 47% de los ciudadanos de la clase popular prefiere salir hacia Suramérica y son Colombia, Chile y Perú los destinos preferidos. Las cifras muestran que Colombia cuenta con 29% del favoritismo, seguida de Chile con 21%, Perú con 20%, Ecuador con 13% y Argentina con 8%.

    La razón de estas opciones obedecen a que la mayoría de los encuestados tiene un familiar en estas naciones. “La gente se quiere ir adonde ya están los venezolanos porque ahí tienen a sus familiares (...). Dos integrantes de cada familia está fuera de Venezuela", dijo Cabrera en una entrevista para Unión Radio.

    Indicó que los que desean emigrar en su mayoría son adultos de clase media y baja, con estudios secundarios completos y que trabajan por cuenta propia o en el sector privado.

    Lamentó que el emigrante se va sin una red de apoyo, propenso a enfrentar carencias y condiciones poco óptimas para su desenvolvimiento.

  • Wearing the Lead Glasses
    https://placesjournal.org/article/wearing-the-lead-glasses

    There is a room full of soil in downtown #New_Orleans. The soil is parceled into large baggies inside plastic tubs arranged on metal shelves. It’s like a library, except instead of books there are bags of earth. This is the soil archive of Dr. Howard W. Mielke, whose lab belongs to the Environmental Signaling Laboratory at the Tulane University School of Medicine. Mielke established the archive at Xavier University of Louisiana in 1991, and moved it to Tulane in 2006. He has catalogued some 17,000 bags of soil. They come from as far away as Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania; La Oroya, Peru; and Oslo, Norway — and as close as the daycare centers and playgrounds of New Orleans. All are contaminated with lead.

    #pollution #sol #plomb

  • As Thousands of Taxi Drivers Were Trapped in Loans, Top Officials Counted the Money - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/19/nyregion/taxi-medallions.html

    [Read Part 1 of The Times’s investigation: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers]

    At a cramped desk on the 22nd floor of a downtown Manhattan office building, Gary Roth spotted a looming disaster.

    An urban planner with two master’s degrees, Mr. Roth had a new job in 2010 analyzing taxi policy for the New York City government. But almost immediately, he noticed something disturbing: The price of a taxi medallion — the permit that lets a driver own a cab — had soared to nearly $700,000 from $200,000. In order to buy medallions, drivers were taking out loans they could not afford.

    Mr. Roth compiled his concerns in a report, and he and several colleagues warned that if the city did not take action, the loans would become unsustainable and the market could collapse.

    They were not the only ones worried about taxi medallions. In Albany, state inspectors gave a presentation to top officials showing that medallion owners were not making enough money to support their loans. And in Washington, D.C., federal examiners repeatedly noted that banks were increasing profits by steering cabbies into risky loans.

    They were all ignored.

    Medallion prices rose above $1 million before crashing in late 2014, wiping out the futures of thousands of immigrant drivers and creating a crisis that has continued to ravage the industry today. Despite years of warning signs, at least seven government agencies did little to stop the collapse, The New York Times found.

    Instead, eager to profit off medallions or blinded by the taxi industry’s political connections, the agencies that were supposed to police the industry helped a small group of bankers and brokers to reshape it into their own moneymaking machine, according to internal records and interviews with more than 50 former government employees.

    For more than a decade, the agencies reduced oversight of the taxi trade, exempted it from regulations, subsidized its operations and promoted its practices, records and interviews showed.

    Their actions turned one of the best-known symbols of New York — its signature yellow cabs — into a financial trap for thousands of immigrant drivers. More than 950 have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Times analysis of court records, and many more struggle to stay afloat.

    Remember the ‘10,000 Hours’ Rule for Success? Forget About It
    “Nobody wanted to upset the industry,” said David Klahr, who from 2007 to 2016 held several management posts at the Taxi and Limousine Commission, the city agency that oversees cabs. “Nobody wanted to kill the golden goose.”

    New York City in particular failed the taxi industry, The Times found. Two former mayors, Rudolph W. Giuliani and Michael R. Bloomberg, placed political allies inside the Taxi and Limousine Commission and directed it to sell medallions to help them balance budgets and fund priorities. Mayor Bill de Blasio continued the policies.

    Under Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. de Blasio, the city made more than $855 million by selling taxi medallions and collecting taxes on private sales, according to the city.

    But during that period, much like in the mortgage lending crisis, a group of industry leaders enriched themselves by artificially inflating medallion prices. They encouraged medallion buyers to borrow as much as possible and ensnared them in interest-only loans and other one-sided deals that often required them to pay hefty fees, forfeit their legal rights and give up most of their monthly incomes.

    When the medallion market collapsed, the government largely abandoned the drivers who bore the brunt of the crisis. Officials did not bail out borrowers or persuade banks to soften loan terms.

    “They sell us medallions, and they knew it wasn’t worth price. They knew,” said Wael Ghobrayal, 42, an Egyptian immigrant who bought a medallion at a city auction for $890,000 and now cannot make his loan payments and support his three children.

    “They lost nothing. I lost everything,” he said.

    The Times conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed thousands of records and built several databases to unravel the story of the downfall of the taxi industry in New York and across the United States. The investigation unearthed a collapse that was years in the making, aided almost as much by regulators as by taxi tycoons.

    Publicly, government officials have blamed the crisis on competition from ride-hailing firms such as Uber and Lyft.

    In interviews with The Times, they blamed each other.

    The officials who ran the city Taxi and Limousine Commission in the run-up to the crash said it was the job of bank examiners, not the commission, to control lending practices.

    The New York Department of Financial Services said that while it supervised some of the banks involved in the taxi industry, it deferred to federal inspectors in many cases.

    The federal agency that oversaw many of the largest lenders in the industry, the National Credit Union Administration, said those lenders were meeting the needs of borrowers.

    The N.C.U.A. released a March 2019 internal audit that scolded its regulators for not aggressively enforcing rules in medallion lending. But even that audit partially absolved the government. The lenders, it said, all had boards of directors that were supposed to prevent reckless practices.

    And several officials criticized Congress, which two decades ago excepted credit unions in the taxi industry from some rules that applied to other credit unions. After that, the officials said, government agencies had to treat those lenders differently.

    Ultimately, former employees said, the regulatory system was set up to ensure that lenders were financially stable, and medallions were sold. But almost nothing protected the drivers.

    Matthew W. Daus, far right, at a hearing of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2004. CreditMarilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
    Matthew W. Daus was an unconventional choice to regulate New York’s taxi industry. He was a lawyer from Brooklyn and a leader of a political club that backed Mr. Giuliani for mayor.

    The Giuliani administration hired him as a lawyer for the Taxi and Limousine Commission before appointing him chairman in 2001, a leadership post he kept after Mr. Bloomberg became mayor in 2002.

    The commission oversaw the drivers and fleets that owned the medallions for the city’s 12,000 cabs. It licensed all participants and decided what cabs could charge, where they could go and which type of vehicle they could use.

    And under Mr. Bloomberg, it also began selling 1,000 new medallions.

    At the time, the mayor said the growing city needed more yellow cabs. But he also was eager for revenue. He had a $3.8 billion hole in his budget.

    The sales put the taxi commission in an unusual position.

    It had a long history of being entangled with the industry. Its first chairman, appointed in 1971, was convicted of a bribery scheme involving an industry lobbyist. Four other leaders since then had worked in the business.

    It often sent staffers to conferences where companies involved in the taxi business paid for liquor, meals and tickets to shows, and at least one past member of its board had run for office in a campaign financed by the industry.

    Still, the agency had never been asked to generate so much money from the business it was supposed to be regulating.

    Former staffers said officials chose to sell medallions with the method they thought would bring in the most revenue: a series of limited auctions that required participants to submit sealed bids above ever-increasing minimums.

    Ahead of the sales, the city placed ads on television and radio, and in newspapers and newsletters, and held seminars promoting the “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

    “Medallions have a long history as a solid investment with steady growth,” Mr. Daus wrote in one newsletter. In addition to guaranteed employment, he wrote, “a medallion is collateral that can assist in home financing, college tuition or even ‘worry-free’ retirement.”

    At the first auctions under Mr. Bloomberg in 2004, bids topped $300,000, surprising experts.

    Some former staffers said in interviews they believed the ad campaign inappropriately inflated prices by implying medallions would make buyers rich, no matter the cost. Seven said they complained.

    The city eventually added a disclaimer to ads, saying past performance did not guarantee future results. But it kept advertising.

    During the same period, the city also posted information on its website that said that medallion prices were, on average, 13 percent higher than they really were, according to a Times data analysis.

    In several interviews, Mr. Daus defended the ad campaigns, saying they reached people who had been unable to break into the tight market. The ads were true at the time, he said. He added he had never heard internal complaints about the ads.

    In all, the city held 16 auctions between 2004 and 2014.

    “People don’t realize how organized it is,” Andrew Murstein, president of Medallion Financial, a lender to medallion buyers, said in a 2011 interview with Tearsheet Podcast. “The City of New York, more or less, is our partner because they want to see prices go as high as possible.”

    Help from a federal agency

    New York City made more than $855 million from taxi medallion sales under Mayor Bill de Blasio and his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg.

    For decades, a niche banking system had grown up around the taxi industry, and at its center were about half a dozen nonprofit credit unions that specialized in medallion loans. But as the auctions continued, the families that ran the credit unions began to grow frustrated.

    Around them, they saw other lenders making money by issuing loans that they could not because of the rules governing credit unions. They recognized a business opportunity, and they wanted in.

    They found a receptive audience at the National Credit Union Administration.

    The N.C.U.A. was the small federal agency that regulated the nation’s credit unions. It set the rules, examined their books and insured their accounts.

    Like the city taxi commission, the N.C.U.A. had long had ties to the industry that it regulated. One judge had called it a “rogue federal agency” focused on promoting the industry.

    In 2004, its chairman was Dennis Dollar, a former Mississippi state representative who had previously worked as the chief executive of a credit union. He had just been inducted into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame, and he had said one of his top priorities was streamlining regulation.

    Dennis Dollar, the former chairman of the National Credit Union Administration, is now a consultant in the industry. 

    Under Mr. Dollar and others, the N.C.U.A. issued waivers that exempted medallion loans from longstanding rules, including a regulation requiring each loan to have a down payment of at least 20 percent. The waivers allowed the lenders to keep up with competitors and to write more profitable loans.

    Mr. Dollar, who left government to become a consultant for credit unions, said the agency was following the lead of Congress, which passed a law in 1998 exempting credit unions specializing in medallion loans from some regulations. The law signaled that those lenders needed leeway, such as the waivers, he said.

    “If we did not do so, the average cabdriver couldn’t get a medallion loan,” Mr. Dollar said.

    The federal law and the N.C.U.A. waivers were not the only benefits the industry received. The federal government also provided many medallion lenders with financial assistance and guaranteed a portion of their taxi loans, assuring that if those loans failed, they would still be partially paid, according to records and interviews.

    As lenders wrote increasingly risky loans, medallion prices neared $500,000 in 2006.

    ‘Snoozing and napping’

    Under Mr. Bloomberg, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission began selling 1,000 new medallions.

    Another agency was also supposed to be keeping an eye on lending practices. New York State banking regulators are required to inspect all financial institutions chartered in the state. But after 2008, they were forced to focus their attention on the banks most affected by the global economic meltdown, according to former employees.

    As a result, some industry veterans said, the state stopped examining medallion loans closely.

    “The state banking department would come in, and they’d be doing the exam in one room, and the N.C.U.A. would be in another room,” said Larry Fisher, who was then the medallion lending supervisor at Melrose Credit Union, one of the biggest lenders. “And you could catch the state banking department snoozing and napping and going on the internet and not doing much at all.”

    The state banking department, which is now called the New York Department of Financial Services, disputed that characterization and said it had acted consistently and appropriately.

    Former federal regulators described a similar trend at their agencies after the recession.

    Some former employees of the N.C.U.A., the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said that as medallion prices climbed, they tried to raise issues with loans and were told not to worry. The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve Board also oversaw some lenders and did not intervene.

    A spokesman for the Federal Reserve said the agency was not a primary regulator of the taxi lending industry. The rest of the agencies declined to comment.

    “It was obvious that the loans were unusual and risky,” said Patrick Collins, a former N.C.U.A. examiner. But, he said, there was a belief inside his agency that the loans would be fine because the industry had been stable for decades.

    Meanwhile, in New York City, the taxi commission reduced oversight.

    For years, it had made medallion purchasers file forms describing how they came up with the money, including details on all loans. It also had required industry participants to submit annual disclosures on their finances, loans and conflicts of interest.

    But officials never analyzed the forms filed by buyers, and in the 2000s, they stopped requiring the annual disclosures altogether.

    “Reviewing these disclosures was an onerous lift for us,” the commission’s communications office said in a recent email.

    By 2008, the price of a medallion rose to $600,000.

    At around the same time, the commission began focusing on new priorities. It started developing the “Taxi of Tomorrow,” a model for future cabs.

    The agency’s main enforcement activities targeted drivers who cheated passengers or discriminated against people of color. “Nobody really scrutinized medallion transfers,” said Charles Tortorici, a former commission lawyer.

    A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement that during the mayor’s tenure, the city improved the industry by installing credit card machines and GPS devices, making fleets more environmentally efficient and creating green taxis for boroughs outside Manhattan.

    “The industry was always its own worst enemy, fighting every reform tooth and nail,” said the spokesman, Marc La Vorgna. “We put our energy and political capital into the reforms that most directly and immediately impacted the riding public.”

    Records show that since 2008, the taxi commission has not taken a single enforcement action against brokers, the powerful players who arrange medallion sales and loans.

    Alex Korenkov, a broker, suggested in an interview that he and other brokers took notice of the city’s hands-off approach.

    “Let’s put it this way,” he said. “If governing body does not care, then free-for-all.”

    By the time that Mr. Roth wrote his report at the Taxi and Limousine Commission in 2010, it was clear that something strange was happening in the medallion market.

    Mr. Daus gave a speech that year that mentioned the unusual lending practices. During the speech, he said banks were letting medallion buyers obtain loans without any down payment. Experts have since said that should have raised red flags. But at the time, Mr. Daus seemed pleased.

    “Some of these folks were offering zero percent down,” he said. “You tell me what bank walks around asking for zero percent down on a loan? It’s just really amazing.”

    In interviews, Mr. Daus acknowledged that the practice was unusual but said the taxi commission had no authority over lending.

    Inside the commission, at least four employees raised concerns about the medallion prices and lending practices, according to the employees, who described their own unease as well as Mr. Roth’s report.

    David S. Yassky, a former city councilman who succeeded Mr. Daus as commission chairman in 2010, said in an interview that he never saw Mr. Roth’s report.

    Mr. Yassky said the medallion prices puzzled him, but he could not determine if they were inflated, in part because people were still eager to buy. Medallions may have been undervalued for decades, and the price spike could have been the market recognizing the true value, he suggested.

    Meera Joshi, who became chairwoman in 2014, said in an interview that she was worried about medallion costs and lending practices but was pushed to prioritize other responsibilities. Dominic Williams, Mr. de Blasio’s chief policy adviser, said the city focused on initiatives such as improving accessibility because no one was complaining about loans.

    Worries about the taxi industry also emerged at the National Credit Union Administration. In late 2011, as the price of some medallions reached $800,000, a group of agency examiners wrote a paper on the risks in the industry, according to a recent report by the agency’s inspector general.

    In 2012, 2013 and 2014, inspectors routinely documented instances of credit unions violating lending rules, the inspector general’s report said.

    David S. Yassky, the former chairman of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.

    The N.C.U.A. chose not to penalize medallion lenders or impose extra oversight. It did not take any wide industry action until April 2014, when it sent a letter reminding the credit unions in the taxi market to act responsibly.

    Former staffers said the agency was still focused on the fallout from the recession.

    A spokesman for the N.C.U.A. disputed that characterization and said the agency conducted appropriate enforcement.

    He added the agency took actions to ensure the credit unions remained solvent, which was its mission. He said Congress allowed the lenders to concentrate heavily on medallion loans, which left them vulnerable when Uber and Lyft arrived.

    At the New York Department of Financial Services, bank examiners noticed risky practices and interest-only loans and repeatedly wrote warnings starting in 2010, according to the state. At least one report expressed concern of a potential market bubble, the state said.

    Eventually, examiners became so concerned that they made a PowerPoint presentation and called a meeting in 2014 to show it to a dozen top officials.

    “Since 2001, individual medallion has risen 455%,” the presentation warned, according to a copy obtained by The Times. The presentation suggested state action, such as sending a letter to the industry or revoking charters from some lenders.

    The state did neither. The department had recently merged with the insurance department, and former employees said it was finding its footing.

    The department superintendent at the time, Benjamin M. Lawsky, a former aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, said he did not, as a rule, discuss his tenure at the department.

    In an emailed statement, the department denied it struggled after the merger and said it took action to stop the collapse of the medallion market. A department spokesman provided a long list of warnings, suggestions and guidelines that it said examiners had issued to lenders. He said that starting in 2012, the department downgraded some of its own internal ratings of the lenders.

    The list did not include any instances of the department formally penalizing a medallion lender, or making any public statement about the industry before it collapsed.

    Between 2010 and 2014, as officials at every level of government failed to rein in the risky lending practices, records show that roughly 1,500 people bought taxi medallions. Over all, including refinancings of old loans and extensions required by banks, medallion owners signed at least 10,000 loans in that time.

    Several regulators who tried to raise alarms said they believed the government stood aside because of the industry’s connections.

    Many pointed to one company — Medallion Financial, run by the Murstein family. Former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, the current governor’s father, was a paid member of its board from 1996 until he died in 2015.

    Others noted that Mr. de Blasio has long been close to the industry. When he ran for mayor in 2013, an industry lobbyist, Michael Woloz, was a top fund-raiser, records show. And Evgeny Freidman, a major fleet owner who has admitted to artificially inflating medallion prices, has said he is close to the mayor.

    Some people, including Mr. Dollar, the former N.C.U.A. chairman, said Congress excepted the taxi trade from rules because the industry was supported by former United States Senator Alfonse D’Amato of New York, who was then the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

    “The taxi industry is one of the most politically connected industries in the city,” said Fidel Del Valle, who was the chairman of the taxi commission from 1991 to 1994. He later worked as a lawyer for drivers and a consultant to an owner association run by Mr. Freidman. “It’s been that way for decades, and they’ve used that influence to push back on regulation, with a lot of success.”

    A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said Medallion Financial was not regulated by the state, so the elder Mr. Cuomo’s position on the board was irrelevant. A spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio said the industry’s connections did not influence the city.

    Mr. Murstein, Mr. Woloz, Mr. Freidman and Mr. D’Amato all declined to comment.

    The aftermath
    “I think city will help me,” Mohammad Hossain, who is in deep debt from a taxi medallion loan, said at his family’s home in the Bronx.

    New York held its final independent medallion auction in February 2014. By then, concerns about medallion prices were common in the news media and government offices, and Uber had established itself. Still, the city sold medallions to more than 150 bidders. (“It’s better than the stock market,” one ad said.)

    Forty percent of the people who bought medallions at that auction have filed for bankruptcy, according to a Times analysis of court records.

    Mohammad Hossain, 47, from Bangladesh, who purchased a medallion for $853,000 at the auction, said he could barely make his monthly payments and was getting squeezed by his lender. “I bought medallion from the city,” he said through tears. “I think city will help me, you know. I assume that.”

    The de Blasio administration’s only major response to the crisis has been to push for a cap on ride-hail cars. The City Council at first rejected a cap in 2015 before approving it last year.

    Taxi industry veterans said the cap did not address the cause of the crisis: the lending practices.

    Richard Weinberg, a taxi commission hearing officer from 1988 to 2002 and a lawyer for drivers since then, said that when the medallion bubble began to burst, the city should have frozen prices, adjusted fares and fees and convinced banks to be flexible with drivers. That could have allowed prices to fall slowly. “That could’ve saved a lot of people,” he said.

    In an interview, Dean Fuleihan, the first deputy mayor, said the city did help taxi owners, including by reducing some fees, taxes and inspection mandates, and by talking to banks about loans. He said that if the City Council had passed the cap in 2015, it would have helped.

    “We do care about those drivers, we care about those families. We attempted throughout this period to take actions,” he said.

    Federal regulators also have not significantly helped medallion owners.

    In 2017 and 2018, the N.C.U.A. closed or merged several credit unions for “unsafe business practices” in medallion lending. It took over many of the loans, but did not soften terms, according to borrowers. Instead, it tried to get money out as quickly as possible.

    The failure of the credit unions has cost the national credit union insurance fund more than $750 million, which will hurt all credit union members.

    In August 2018, the N.C.U.A. closed Melrose in what it said was the biggest credit union liquidation in United States history. The agency barred Melrose’s general counsel from working for credit unions and brought civil charges against its former C.E.O., Alan Kaufman, saying he used company funds to help industry partners in exchange for gifts.

    The general counsel, Mitchell Reiver, declined to answer questions but said he did nothing wrong. Mr. Kaufman said in an interview that the N.C.U.A. made up the charges to distract from its role in the crisis.

    “I’m definitely a scapegoat,” Mr. Kaufman said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

    Glamour, then poverty
    After he struggled to repay his taxi medallion loan, Abel Vela left his family in New York and moved back to Peru, where living costs were cheaper. 

    During the medallion bubble, the city produced a television commercial to promote the permits. In the ad, which aired in 2004, four cabbies stood around a taxi discussing the perks of the job. One said buying a medallion was the best decision he had ever made. They all smiled. Then Mr. Daus appeared on screen to announce an auction.

    Fifteen years later, the cabbies remember the ad with scorn. Three of the four were eventually enticed to refinance their original loans under far riskier terms that left them in heavy debt.

    One of the cabbies, Abel Vela, had to leave his wife and children and return to his home country, Peru, because living costs were lower there. He is now 74 and still working to survive.

    The city aired a commercial in 2004 to promote an upcoming auction of taxi medallions. The ad featured real cab drivers, but three of them eventually took on risky loans and suffered financial blows.
    The only woman in the ad, Marie Applyrs, a Haitian immigrant, fell behind on her loan payments and filed for bankruptcy in November 2017. She lost her cab, and her home. She now lives with her children, switching from home to home every few months.

    “When the ad happened, the taxi was in vogue. I think I still have the tape somewhere. It was glamorous,” she said. “Now, I’m in the poorhouse.”

    Today, the only person from the television commercial still active in the industry is Mr. Daus. He works as a lawyer for lenders.

    [Read Part 1 of The Times’s investigation: How Reckless Loans Devastated a Generation of Taxi Drivers]

    Madeline Rosenberg contributed reporting. Doris Burke contributed research. Produced by Jeffrey Furticella and Meghan Louttit.

    #USA #New_York #Taxi #Betrug #Ausbeutung

  • Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism
    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2019/06/global-wildlife-tourism-social-media-causes-animal-suffering

    I’ve come back to check on a baby. Just after dusk I’m in a car lumbering down a muddy road in the rain, past rows of shackled elephants, their trunks swaying. I was here five hours before, when the sun was high and hot and tourists were on elephants’ backs.

    Walking now, I can barely see the path in the glow of my phone’s flashlight. When the wooden fence post of the stall stops me short, I point my light down and follow a current of rainwater across the concrete floor until it washes up against three large, gray feet. A fourth foot hovers above the surface, tethered tightly by a short chain and choked by a ring of metal spikes. When the elephant tires and puts her foot down, the spikes press deeper into her ankle.

    Meena is four years and two months old, still a toddler as elephants go. Khammon Kongkhaw, her mahout, or caretaker, told me earlier that Meena wears the spiked chain because she tends to kick. Kongkhaw has been responsible for Meena here at Maetaman Elephant Adventure, near Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, since she was 11 months old. He said he keeps her on the spiked shackle only during the day and takes it off at night. But it’s night now.

    I ask Jin Laoshen, the Maetaman staffer accompanying me on this nighttime visit, why her chain is still on. He says he doesn’t know.

    Maetaman is one of many animal attractions in and around tourist-swarmed Chiang Mai. People spill out of tour buses and clamber onto the trunks of elephants that, at the prodding of their mahouts’ bullhooks (long poles with a sharp metal hook), hoist them in the air while cameras snap. Visitors thrust bananas toward elephants’ trunks. They watch as mahouts goad their elephants—some of the most intelligent animals on the planet—to throw darts or kick oversize soccer balls while music blares.

    Meena is one of Maetaman’s 10 show elephants. To be precise, she’s a painter. Twice a day, in front of throngs of chattering tourists, Kongkhaw puts a paintbrush in the tip of her trunk and presses a steel nail to her face to direct her brushstrokes as she drags primary colors across paper. Often he guides her to paint a wild elephant in the savanna. Her paintings are then sold to tourists.

    Meena’s life is set to follow the same trajectory as many of the roughly 3,800 captive elephants in Thailand and thousands more throughout Southeast Asia. She’ll perform in shows until she’s about 10. After that, she’ll become a riding elephant. Tourists will sit on a bench strapped to her back, and she’ll give several rides a day. When Meena is too old or sick to give rides—maybe at 55, maybe at 75—she’ll die. If she’s lucky, she’ll get a few years of retirement. She’ll spend most of her life on a chain in a stall.

    Wildlife attractions such as Maetaman lure people from around the world to be with animals like Meena, and they make up a lucrative segment of the booming global travel industry. Twice as many trips are being taken abroad as 15 years ago, a jump driven partly by Chinese tourists, who spend far more on international travel than any other nationality.

    Wildlife tourism isn’t new, but social media is setting the industry ablaze, turning encounters with exotic animals into photo-driven bucket-list toppers. Activities once publicized mostly in guidebooks now are shared instantly with multitudes of people by selfie-taking backpackers, tour-bus travelers, and social media “influencers” through a tap on their phone screens. Nearly all millennials (23- to 38-year-olds) use social media while traveling. Their selfies—of swims with dolphins, encounters with tigers, rides on elephants, and more—are viral advertising for attractions that tout up-close experiences with animals.

    For all the visibility social media provides, it doesn’t show what happens beyond the view of the camera lens. People who feel joy and exhilaration from getting close to wild animals usually are unaware that many of the animals at such attractions live a lot like Meena, or worse.

    Photographer Kirsten Luce and I set out to look behind the curtain of the thriving wildlife tourism industry, to see how animals at various attractions—including some that emphasize their humane care of animals—are treated once the selfie-taking crowds have gone.

    After leaving Maetaman, we take a five-minute car ride up a winding hill to a property announced by a wooden plaque as “Elephant EcoValley: where elephants are in good hands.” There are no elephant rides here. No paint shows or other performances. Visitors can stroll through an open-air museum and learn about Thailand’s national animal. They can make herbal treats for the elephants and paper from elephant dung. They can watch elephants in a grassy, tree-ringed field.

    EcoValley’s guest book is filled with praise from Australians, Danes, Americans—tourists who often shun elephant camps such as Maetaman because the rides and shows make them uneasy. Here, they can see unchained elephants and leave feeling good about supporting what they believe is an ethical establishment. What many don’t know is that EcoValley’s seemingly carefree elephants are brought here for the day from nearby Maetaman—and that the two attractions are actually a single business.

    Meena was brought here once, but she tried to run into the forest. Another young elephant, Mei, comes sometimes, but today she’s at Maetaman, playing the harmonica in the shows. When she’s not doing that, or spending the day at EcoValley, she’s chained near Meena in one of Maetaman’s elephant stalls.

    Meena Kalamapijit owns Maetaman as well as EcoValley, which she opened in November 2017 to cater to Westerners. She says her 56 elephants are well cared for and that giving rides and performing allow them to have necessary exercise. And, she says, Meena the elephant’s behavior has gotten better since her mahout started using the spiked chain.
    Read MoreWildlife Watch
    Why we’re shining a light on wildlife tourism
    Poaching is sending the shy, elusive pangolin to its doom
    How to do wildlife tourism right

    We sit with Kalamapijit on a balcony outside her office, and she explains that when Westerners, especially Americans, stopped coming to Maetaman, she eliminated one of the daily shows to allot time for visitors to watch elephants bathe in the river that runs through the camp.

    “Westerners enjoy bathing because it looks happy and natural,” she says. “But a Chinese tour agency called me and said, ‘Why are you cutting the show? Our customers love to see it, and they don’t care about bathing at all.’ ” Providing separate options is good for business, Kalamapijit says.

    Around the world Kirsten and I watched tourists watching captive animals. In Thailand we also saw American men bear-hug tigers in Chiang Mai and Chinese brides in wedding gowns ride young elephants in the aqua surf on the island of Phuket. We watched polar bears in wire muzzles ballroom dancing across the ice under a big top in Russia and teenage boys on the Amazon River snapping selfies with baby sloths.

    Most tourists who enjoy these encounters don’t know that the adult tigers may be declawed, drugged, or both. Or that there are always cubs for tourists to snuggle with because the cats are speed bred and the cubs are taken from their mothers just days after birth. Or that the elephants give rides and perform tricks without harming people only because they’ve been “broken” as babies and taught to fear the bullhook. Or that the Amazonian sloths taken illegally from the jungle often die within weeks of being put in captivity.

    As we traveled to performance pits and holding pens on three continents and in the Hawaiian Islands, asking questions about how animals are treated and getting answers that didn’t always add up, it became clear how methodically and systematically animal suffering is concealed.

    The wildlife tourism industry caters to people’s love of animals but often seeks to maximize profits by exploiting animals from birth to death. The industry’s economy depends largely on people believing that the animals they’re paying to watch or ride or feed are having fun too.

    It succeeds partly because tourists—in unfamiliar settings and eager to have a positive experience—typically don’t consider the possibility that they’re helping to hurt animals. Social media adds to the confusion: Oblivious endorsements from friends and trendsetters legitimize attractions before a traveler ever gets near an animal.

    There has been some recognition of social media’s role in the problem. In December 2017, after a National Geographic investigative report on harmful wildlife tourism in Amazonian Brazil and Peru, Instagram introduced a feature: Users who click or search one of dozens of hashtags, such as #slothselfie and #tigercubselfie, now get a pop-up warning that the content they’re viewing may be harmful to animals.

    Everyone finds Olga Barantseva on Instagram. “Photographer from Russia. Photographing dreams,” her bio reads. She meets clients for woodland photo shoots with captive wild animals just outside Moscow.

    For her 18th birthday, Sasha Belova treated herself to a session with Barantseva—and a pack of wolves. “It was my dream,” she says as she fidgets with her hair, which had been styled that morning. “Wolves are wild and dangerous.” The wolves are kept in small cages at a petting zoo when not participating in photo shoots.

    The Kravtsov family hired Barantseva to take their first professional family photos—all five family members, shivering and smiling in the birch forest, joined by a bear named Stepan.

    Barantseva has been photographing people and wild animals together for six years. She “woke up as a star,” she says, in 2015, when a couple of international media outlets found her online. Her audience has exploded to more than 80,000 followers worldwide. “I want to show harmony between people and animals,” she says.

    On a raw fall day, under a crown of golden birch leaves on a hill that overlooks a frigid lake, two-and-a-half-year-old Alexander Levin, dressed in a hooded bumblebee sweater, timidly holds Stepan’s paw.

    The bear’s owners, Yury and Svetlana Panteleenko, ply their star with food—tuna fish mixed with oatmeal—to get him to approach the boy. Snap: It looks like a tender friendship. The owners toss grapes to Stepan to get him to open his mouth wide. Snap: The bear looks as if he’s smiling.

    The Panteleenkos constantly move Stepan, adjusting his paws, feeding him, and positioning Alexander as Barantseva, pink-haired, bundled in jeans and a parka, captures each moment. Snap: A photo goes to her Instagram feed. A boy and a bear in golden Russian woods—a picture straight out of a fairy tale. It’s a contemporary twist on a long-standing Russian tradition of exploiting bears for entertainment.

    Another day in the same forest, Kirsten and I join 12 young women who have nearly identical Instagram accounts replete with dreamy photos of models caressing owls and wolves and foxes. Armed with fancy cameras but as yet modest numbers of followers, they all want the audience Barantseva has. Each has paid the Panteleenkos $760 to take identical shots of models with the ultimate prize: a bear in the woods.

    Stepan is 26 years old, elderly for a brown bear, and can hardly walk. The Panteleenkos say they bought him from a small zoo when he was three months old. They say the bear’s work—a constant stream of photo shoots and movies—provides money to keep him fed.

    A video on Svetlana Panteleenko’s Instagram account proclaims: “Love along with some great food can make anyone a teddy :-)”

    And just like that, social media takes a single instance of local animal tourism and broadcasts it to the world.

    When the documentary film Blackfish was released in 2013, it drew a swift and decisive reaction from the American public. Through the story of Tilikum, a distressed killer whale at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, the film detailed the miserable life orcas can face in captivity. Hundreds of thousands of outraged viewers signed petitions. Companies with partnership deals, such as Southwest Airlines, severed ties with SeaWorld. Attendance at SeaWorld’s water parks slipped; its stock nose-dived.

    James Regan says what he saw in Blackfish upset him. Regan, honeymooning in Hawaii with his wife, Katie, is from England, where the country’s last marine mammal park closed permanently in 1993. I meet him at Dolphin Quest Oahu, an upscale swim-with-dolphins business on the grounds of the beachfront Kahala Hotel & Resort, just east of Honolulu. The Regans paid $225 each to swim for 30 minutes in a small group with a bottlenose dolphin. One of two Dolphin Quest locations in Hawaii, the facility houses six dolphins.

    Bottlenose dolphins are the backbone of an industry that spans the globe. Swim-with-dolphins operations rely on captive-bred and wild-caught dolphins that live—and interact with tourists—in pools. The popularity of these photo-friendly attractions reflects the disconnect around dolphin experiences: People in the West increasingly shun shows that feature animals performing tricks, but many see swimming with captive dolphins as a vacation rite of passage.

    Katie Regan has wanted to swim with dolphins since she was a child. Her husband laughs and says of Dolphin Quest, “They paint a lovely picture. When you’re in America, everyone is smiling.” But he appreciates that the facility is at their hotel, so they can watch the dolphins being fed and cared for. He brings up Blackfish again.

    Katie protests: “Stop making my dream a horrible thing!”

    Rae Stone, president of Dolphin Quest and a marine mammal veterinarian, says the company donates money to conservation projects and educates visitors about perils that marine mammals face in the wild. By paying for this entertainment, she says, visitors are helping captive dolphins’ wild cousins.

    Stone notes that Dolphin Quest is certified “humane” by American Humane, an animal welfare nonprofit. (The Walt Disney Company, National Geographic’s majority owner, offers dolphin encounters on some vacation excursions and at an attraction in Epcot, one of its Orlando parks. Disney says it follows the animal welfare standards of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, a nonprofit that accredits more than 230 facilities worldwide.)

    It’s a vigorous debate: whether even places with high standards, veterinarians on staff, and features such as pools filled with filtered ocean water can be truly humane for marine mammals.

    Dolphin Quest’s Stone says yes.

    Critics, including the Humane Society of the United States, which does not endorse keeping dolphins in captivity, say no. They argue that these animals have evolved to swim great distances and live in complex social groups—conditions that can’t be replicated in the confines of a pool. This helps explain why the National Aquarium, in Baltimore, announced in 2016 that its dolphins will be retired to a seaside sanctuary by 2020.

    Some U.S. attractions breed their own dolphins because the nation has restricted dolphin catching in the wild since 1972. But elsewhere, dolphins are still being taken from the wild and turned into performers.

    In China, which has no national laws on captive-animal welfare, dolphinariums with wild-caught animals are a booming business: There are now 78 marine mammal parks, and 26 more are under construction.

    To have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see rare Black Sea dolphins, people in the landlocked town of Kaluga, a hundred miles from Moscow, don’t have to leave their city. In the parking lot of the Torgoviy Kvartal shopping mall, next to a hardware store, is a white inflatable pop-up aquarium: the Moscow Traveling Dolphinarium. It looks like a children’s bouncy castle that’s been drained of its color.

    Inside the puffy dome, parents buy their kids dolphin-shaped trinkets: fuzzy dolls and Mylar balloons, paper dolphin hats, and drinks in plastic dolphin tumblers. Families take their seats around a small pool. The venue is so intimate that even the cheapest seats, at nine dollars apiece, are within splashing distance.

    “My kids are jumping for joy,” says a woman named Anya, motioning toward her two giddy boys, bouncing in their seats.

    In the middle of the jubilant atmosphere, in water that seems much too shallow and much too murky, two dolphins swim listlessly in circles.

    Russia is one of only a few countries (Indonesia is another) where traveling oceanariums exist. Dolphins and beluga whales, which need to be immersed in water to stay alive, are put in tubs on trucks and carted from city to city in a loop that usually ends when they die. These traveling shows are aboveboard: Russia has no laws that regulate how marine mammals should be treated in captivity.

    The shows are the domestic arm of a brisk Russian global trade in dolphins and small whales. Black Sea bottlenose dolphins can’t be caught legally without a permit, but Russian fishermen can catch belugas and orcas under legal quotas in the name of science and education. Some belugas are sold legally to aquariums around the country. Russia now allows only a dozen or so orcas to be caught each year for scientific and educational purposes, and since April 2018, the government has cracked down on exporting them. But government investigators believe that Russian orcas—which can sell for millions—are being caught illegally for export to China.

    Captive orcas, which can grow to 20 feet long and more than 10,000 pounds, are too big for the traveling shows that typically feature dolphins and belugas. When I contacted the owners of the Moscow Traveling Dolphinarium and another operation, the White Whale Show, in separate telephone calls to ask where their dolphins and belugas come from, both men, Sergey Kuznetsov and Oleg Belesikov, hung up on me.

    Russia’s dozen or so traveling oceanariums are touted as a way to bring native wild animals to people who might never see the ocean.

    “Who else if not us?” says Mikhail Olyoshin, a staffer at one traveling oceanarium. And on this day in Kaluga, as the dolphins perform tricks to American pop songs and lie on platforms for several minutes for photo ops, parents and children express the same sentiment: Imagine, dolphins, up close, in my hometown. The ocean on delivery.

    Owners and operators of wildlife tourism attractions, from high-end facilities such as Dolphin Quest in Hawaii to low-end monkey shows in Thailand, say their animals live longer in captivity than wild counterparts because they’re safe from predators and environmental hazards. Show operators proudly emphasize that the animals under their care are with them for life. They’re family.

    Alla Azovtseva, a longtime dolphin trainer in Russia, shakes her head.

    “I don’t see any sense in this work. My conscience bites me. I look at my animals and want to cry,” says Azovtseva, who drives a red van with dolphins airbrushed on the side. At the moment, she’s training pilot whales to perform tricks at Moscow’s Moskvarium, one of Europe’s largest aquariums (not connected to the traveling dolphin shows). On her day off, we meet at a café near Red Square.

    She says she fell in love with dolphins in the late 1980s when she read a book by John Lilly, the American neuroscientist who broke open our understanding of the animals’ intelligence. She has spent 30 years training marine mammals to do tricks. But along the way she’s grown heartsick from forcing highly intelligent, social creatures to live isolated, barren lives in small tanks.

    “I would compare the dolphin situation with making a physicist sweep the street,” she says. “When they’re not engaged in performance or training, they just hang in the water facing down. It’s the deepest depression.”

    What people don’t know about many aquarium shows in Russia, Azovtseva says, is that the animals often die soon after being put in captivity, especially those in traveling shows. And Azovtseva—making clear she’s referring to the industry at large in Russia and not the Moskvarium—says she knows many aquariums quietly and illegally replace their animals with new ones.

    It’s been illegal to catch Black Sea dolphins in the wild for entertainment purposes since 2003, but according to Azovtseva, aquarium owners who want to increase their dolphin numbers quickly and cheaply buy dolphins poached there. Because these dolphins are acquired illegally, they’re missing the microchips that captive cetaceans in Russia are usually tagged with as a form of required identification.

    Some aquariums get around that, she says, by cutting out dead dolphins’ microchips and implanting them into replacement dolphins.

    “People are people,” Azovtseva says. “Once they see an opportunity, they exploit.” She says she can’t go on doing her work in the industry and that she’s decided to speak out because she wants people to know the truth about the origins and treatment of many of the marine mammals they love watching. We exchange a look—we both know what her words likely mean for her livelihood.

    “I don’t care if I’m fired,” she says defiantly. “When a person has nothing to lose, she becomes really brave.”

    I’m sitting on the edge of an infinity pool on the hilly Thai side of Thailand’s border with Myanmar, at a resort where rooms average more than a thousand dollars a night.

    Out past the pool, elephants roam in a lush valley. Sitting next to me is 20-year-old Stephanie van Houten. She’s Dutch and French, Tokyo born and raised, and a student at the University of Michigan. Her cosmopolitan background and pretty face make for a perfect cocktail of aspiration—she’s exactly the kind of Instagrammer who makes it as an influencer. That is, someone who has a large enough following to attract sponsors to underwrite posts and, in turn, travel, wardrobes, and bank accounts. In 2018, brands—fashion, travel, tech, and more—spent an estimated $1.6 billion on social media advertising by influencers.

    Van Houten has been here, at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, before. This time, in a fairly standard influencer-brand arrangement, she’ll have a picnic with elephants and post about it to her growing legion of more than 25,000 Instagram followers. In exchange, she gets hundreds of dollars off the nightly rate.

    At Anantara the fields are green, and during the day at least, many of the resort’s 22 elephants are tethered on ropes more than a hundred feet long so they can move around and socialize. Nevertheless, they’re expected to let guests touch them and do yoga beside them.

    After van Houten’s elephant picnic, I watch her edit the day’s hundreds of photos. She selects an image with her favorite elephant, Bo. She likes it, she says, because she felt a connection with Bo and thinks that will come across. She posts it at 9:30 p.m.—the time she estimates the largest number of her followers will be online. She includes a long caption, summing it up as “my love story with this incredible creature,” and the hashtag #stopelephantriding. Immediately, likes from followers stream in—more than a thousand, as well as comments with heart-eyed emoji.

    Anantara is out of reach for anyone but the wealthy—or prominent influencers. Anyone else seeking a similar experience might do a Google search for, say, “Thailand elephant sanctuary.”

    As tourist demand for ethical experiences with animals has grown, affordable establishments, often calling themselves “sanctuaries,” have cropped up purporting to offer humane, up-close elephant encounters. Bathing with elephants—tourists give them a mud bath, splash them in a river, or both—has become very popular. Many facilities portray baths as a benign alternative to elephant riding and performances. But elephants getting baths, like those that give rides and do tricks, will have been broken to some extent to make them obedient. And as long as bathing remains popular, places that offer it will need obedient elephants to keep their businesses going. 


    In Ban Ta Klang, a tiny town in eastern Thailand, modest homes dot the crimson earth. In front of each is a wide, bamboo platform for sitting, sleeping, and watching television.

    But the first thing I notice is the elephants. Some homes have one, others as many as five. Elephants stand under tarps or sheet metal roofs or trees. Some are together, mothers and babies, but most are alone. Nearly all the elephants wear ankle chains or hobbles—cuffs binding their front legs together. Dogs and chickens weave among the elephants’ legs, sending up puffs of red dust.

    Ban Ta Klang—known as Elephant Village—is ground zero in Thailand for training and trading captive elephants.

    “House elephants,” Sri Somboon says, gesturing as he turns down his TV. Next to his outdoor platform, a two-month-old baby elephant runs around his mother. Somboon points across the road to the third elephant in his charge, a three-year-old male tethered to a tree. He’s wrenching his head back and forth and thrashing his trunk around. It looks as if he’s going out of his mind.

    He’s in the middle of his training, Somboon says, and is getting good at painting. He’s already been sold, and when his training is finished, he’ll start working at a tourist camp down south.

    Ban Ta Klang and the surrounding area, part of Surin Province, claim to be the source of more than half of Thailand’s 3,800 captive elephants. Long before the flood of tourists, it was the center of the elephant trade; the animals were caught in the wild and tamed for use transporting logs. Now, every November, hundreds of elephants from here are displayed, bought, and sold in the province’s main town, Surin.

    One evening I sit with Jakkrawan Homhual and Wanchai Sala-ngam. Both 33, they’ve been best friends since childhood. About half the people in Ban Ta Klang who care for elephants, including Homhual, don’t own them. They’re paid a modest salary by a rich owner to breed and train baby elephants for entertainment. As night falls, thousands of termites swarm us, attracted to the single bulb hanging above the bamboo platform. Our conversation turns to elephant training.

    Phajaan is the traditional—and brutal—days- or weeks-long process of breaking a young elephant’s spirit. It has long been used in Thailand and throughout Southeast Asia to tame wild elephants, which still account for many of the country’s captives. Under phajaan, elephants are bound with ropes, confined in tight wooden structures, starved, and beaten repeatedly with bullhooks, nails, and hammers until their will is crushed. The extent to which phajaan persists in its harshest form is unclear. Since 2012, the government has been cracking down on the illegal import of elephants taken from the forests of neighboring Myanmar, Thailand’s main source of wild-caught animals.

    I ask the men how baby elephants born in captivity are broken and trained.

    When a baby is about two years old, they say, mahouts tie its mother to a tree and slowly drag the baby away. Once separated, the baby is confined. Using a bullhook on its ear, they teach the baby to move: left, right, turn, stop. To teach an elephant to sit, Sala-ngam says, “we tie up the front legs. One mahout will use a bullhook at the back. The other will pull a rope on the front legs.” He adds: “To train the elephant, you need to use the bullhook so the elephant will know.”

    Humans identify suffering in other humans by universal signs: People sob, wince, cry out, put voice to their hurt. Animals have no universal language for pain. Many animals don’t have tear ducts. More creatures still—prey animals, for example—instinctively mask symptoms of pain, lest they appear weak to predators. Recognizing that a nonhuman animal is in pain is difficult, often impossible.

    But we know that animals feel pain. All mammals have a similar neuroanatomy. Birds, reptiles, and amphibians all have pain receptors. As recently as a decade ago, scientists had collected more evidence that fish feel pain than they had for neonatal infants. A four-year-old human child with spikes pressing into his flesh would express pain by screaming. A four-year-old elephant just stands there in the rain, her leg jerking in the air.

    Of all the silently suffering animals I saw in pools and pens around the world, two in particular haunt me: an elephant and a tiger.

    They lived in the same facility, Samut Prakan Crocodile Farm and Zoo, about 15 miles south of Bangkok. The elephant, Gluay Hom, four years old, was kept under a stadium. The aging tiger, Khai Khem, 22, spent his days on a short chain in a photo studio. Both had irrefutable signs of suffering: The emaciated elephant had a bent, swollen leg hanging in the air and a large, bleeding sore at his temple. His eyes were rolled back in his head. The tiger had a dental abscess so severe that the infection was eating through the bottom of his jaw.

    When I contacted the owner of the facility, Uthen Youngprapakorn, to ask about these animals, he said the fact that they hadn’t died proved that the facility was caring for them properly. He then threatened a lawsuit.

    Six months after Kirsten and I returned from Thailand, we asked Ryn Jirenuwat, our Bangkok-based Thai interpreter, to check on Gluay Hom and Khai Khem. She went to Samut Prakan and watched them for hours, sending photos and video. Gluay Hom was still alive, still standing in the same stall, leg still bent at an unnatural angle. The elephants next to him were skin and bones. Khai Khem was still chained by his neck to a hook in the floor. He just stays in his dark corner, Jirenuwat texted, and when he hears people coming, he twists on his chain and turns his back to them.

    “Like he just wants to be swallowed by the wall.”

    #tourisme #nos_ennemis_les_bêtes

  • Peru’s first autonomous indigenous gov’t strikes back against deforestation
    https://news.mongabay.com/2019/04/perus-first-autonomous-indigenous-govt-strikes-back-against-deforesta

    The Wampis is an indigenous group comprised of thousands of members whose ancestors have lived in the Amazon rainforest of northern Peru for centuries.
    Mounting incursions by loggers, miners and oil prospectors, as well as governance changes that favored industrial exploitation, left the Wampis increasingly worried about the future of their home. Representatives said they realized that only by developing a strong, legal organizational structure would they have a voice to defend their people and the survival of their forest.
    After numerous meetings among their leaders, representatives of 27 Wampis communities, with a combined population of 15,000 people, came together in 2015. They invoked international recognition of the rights of indigenous people and on Nov. 29 declared the creation of an autonomous territorial government called the Wampis Nation to defend its territory and resources from the growing pressures of extractive industries.
    Wampis Nation territory covers an area of rainforest one-third the size of the Netherlands along northern Peru’s border with Ecuador. Leaders say their newfound autonomy and authority has allowed them to directly expel illegal deforestation activities from their land.


    A soldier in the Peruvian army in camouflage and prepared to watch over the country’s borders. Photo by Marcio Pimenta.

    #Pérou #peuples_premiers #terres

  • (1) John Hudson sur Twitter : “I asked Peru’s foreign minister what he might do if sanctions against Maduro start negatively impacting the humanitarian situation in Venezuela. Pompeo stepped in & said I “ shouldn’t ask questions like that ” & accused me of blaming the crisis on the US. I didn’t, but you decide: https://t.co/6rVJp8iF4Y” / Twitter
    https://twitter.com/John_Hudson/status/1117448785293189120

    #limites #démocratie #journalisme

  • Welcome to hell: The Peruvian mining city of #La_Rinconada — RT Op-ed
    https://www.rt.com/op-ed/454486-la-rinconada-hell-mining-peru


    Magestic approach to La Rinconadsa - through garbage
    © Andre Vltchek

    While the West attacks Venezuela, a country that improved the lives of many of its citizens, it overlooks horrors that are taking place in Peru and other ‘pro-market’ countries in Latin America.
    La Rinconada, which lies at over 5km above sea level, is the highest settlement in the world; a gold mining town, a concentration of misery, a community of about 50,000 inhabitants, many of whom have been poisoned by mercury. A place where countless women and children get regularly raped, where law and order collapsed quite some time ago, where young girls are sent to garbage dumps in order to ‘recycle’ terribly smelling waste, and where almost all the men work in beastly conditions, trying to save at least some money, but where most of them simply ruin their health, barely managing to stay alive.

    I decided to travel to La Rinconada precisely during these days when the socialist Venezuela is fighting for its survival. I drove there as the European elites in Bolivia were trying to smear the enormously popular and successful President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, while the elections were approaching.

    As in so many places in the turbo-capitalist and pro-Western Peru, La Rinconada is like a tremendous warning: this is how Venezuela and Bolivia used to be before Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales. This is where Washington wants the entire Latin America to return to. Like those monstrous and hopeless slums surrounding Lima, La Rinconada should be a call to arms.


    Nature is nothing to gold diggers
    © Andre Vltchek


    Aluminium hell
    © Andre Vltchek

    #extractivisme

  • Opinion | Stephen Kinzer: We’re edging closer to nuclear war - The Boston Globe
    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/03/07/edging-closer-nuclear-war/upTrxiHlrXiO0Xo40EqsfM/story.html

    Once while waiting for a flight at an airport in Ecuador, I stared at a giant map of the country that was painted on the terminal wall. It looked odd. Ecuador seemed much larger than I remembered. Finally I realized that on this map, its borders had been drawn to include territory in the Amazon that Ecuador lost to Peru in the 19th century and still claims. A banner over the map proclaimed: “Ecuador Was, Is and Will Always Be an Amazon Nation.” The dispute over this territory has set off several wars between Peru and Ecuador. The last one, in 1995, led to several hundred casualties. In a world where nuclear weapons are widely spread, political passion could turn an obscure dispute like this into global catastrophe.

    That world is emerging. The Trump administration has been moving systematically to undermine accords that have kept nuclear proliferation within possibly manageable limits over the last half century. Most recently it announced that the United States will withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, which regulates several classes of nuclear missiles. Steps like this produce little if any military gain and damage the United States in the court of world opinion.

    #armes #nucléaire

  • Maria Chavez & Jordi Wheeler
    http://www.radiopanik.org/emissions/moacrealsloa/maria-chavez

    Live from the Fly Studio in Brussels with a solo gig of Jordi Wheeler, Maria Chavez and as a duo gig.

    Multi- instrumentalist, Jordi Wheeler and Abstract Turntablist, Maria Chavez have been collaborating as a performative duo since 2015. Jordi’s multi-faceted talents as a musician combines with Maria’s current abstract turntablism practice creating a sonic result that is based on active listening with improvisation.

    Their duo work has been presented by Documenta14 in Kassel, Germany as part of Every Time An Ear Di Soun, Cruces Espacio de Arte in Madrid, Spain and as part of the Abasement Series at Max Fish, NYC.

    MARIA CHAVEZ

    Born in Lima, Peru, Maria Chávez is known as an abstract turntablist, sound artist and DJ. Accidents, coincidence and failures are themes that unite her (...)

    http://www.radiopanik.org/media/sounds/moacrealsloa/maria-chavez_06104__1.mp3

  • The shady origins of gold refined in Switzerland

    Most of the gold in the world passes through Switzerland. This is a business worth CHF70-90 billion ($70-90 billion) depending on the year. Gold arrives here in unrefined form, and leaves the country in all its glittering purity.

    Sometimes, though, it is of highly dubious provenance. The government recognises the risk, which is why it recently issued a report on the subject. This report raises concerns over the exploitation of mine workers, and makes several recommendations to Swiss firms active in the field.

    Swiss refineries process 70% of the unrefined gold mined in the world each year. Four of the nine major players in the global gold industry conduct most of their business here in Switzerland. While the gold originates in ninety different countries, roughly half of all the gold imported for processing in Switzerland comes from Britain, the United Arab Emirates or Hong Kong – three countries that produce no gold themselves.

    Gold accounts for 63% of Britain’s exports to Switzerlandexternal link, 92% of the Emirates’ and 78% of Hong Kong’s. But then too, Switzerland imports a significant amount of gold from countries that largely depend on it as a main export, such as #Burkina_Faso (where gold represents 72% of the country’s exports), #Ghana (51%) and #Mali (77%).

    As can be seen from the accompanying chart, some of the main gold producers are countries not exactly known for respecting human rights. But looking at the second table, we also see that among the gold producers are several countries at war, which use the profits from gold to bankroll hostilities. In all these cases, the phrase used is “illegal gold” or “dirty gold” or even “blood gold”.

    An important economic sector

    To show just how important this sector is for the Swiss economy: in 2017, for example, 2404 metric tons of gold were imported, with a value of about CHF70 billion. In the same year Switzerland exported gold worth approximately CHF67 billion. In other words, 24% of Swiss exports and 31% of imports were directly linked to gold.

    To compare this with the other “jewels in the crown” of Swiss industry: in the same period the country’s watchmakers made about CHF20 billion in exports, the equivalent about 24 million watches and clocks. Swiss chocolate makers exported just under CHF1 billion, or 128,000 tons of chocolate.

    To match the achievements of the gold sector, these other industries would have to export 85 billion chocolate bars or 84 million watches and clocks. Only the pharmaceutical industry packs more economic weight: in 2017 the Swiss pharma giants exported goods to the value of CHF 98 billion.

    Limited transparency

    The trade in gold is worth one out of three Swiss franc’s worth of imports, and a quarter of a franc’s worth of exports. Not exactly peanuts, is it? The charts provided by the Observatory of Economic Complexity are instructive in this regard:

    This is not a sector known for transparency. Far from it. There has been no lack of scandals over the years – from Peru to Togo (see story), via Burkina Faso and the Congo. In all these cases there has been talk of “blood gold” arriving from these countries in Switzerland to be refined. Then the gold in all its purity ends up in Britain, India, China and Hong Kong.
    What is “blood gold”?

    What exactly counts as “blood gold”? As the name implies, it’s gold stained with human blood, extracted in ways that fly in the face of human rights. “Bloody gold” also involves trampling of the rights of native peoples to self-determination and ownership of their ancestral lands.

    Illegal mining of gold causes environmental damage, mainly due to pollution by heavy metals. Furthermore, gold mining often goes together with gun-running for local wars, organised crime, and money laundering.

    Some of this gold has a way of getting to Switzerland for refining. The Swiss government has long been aware of this risk. In its report on the trade in gold published recently, it admits it cannot exclude the possibility that gold produced at the expense of human rights may be coming into Switzerland.
    Blood gold - origin and traceability

    In a joint statement, several of the Swiss NGOs active in campaigning for human rights agree that the government’s analysis pinpoints the major problems in this high-risk economic sector, but they find that the solutions proposed are inadequate.

    One of the main problems is knowing where the gold actually comes from. More than half of all gold entering Switzerland comes from Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong. These countries no more produce gold than does Switzerland itself. They are just the second-last stop on the journey of unrefined gold from other parts of the world.

    “Multinationals that refine gold in Switzerland know perfectly well where their raw materials are coming from," say Marc Ummel, head of development policy in the raw materials sector at Swissaid. "They just don’t say it.”

    While the federal government recognises in its report that the origins of gold need to be traceable, in practice the regulatory agencies just know the last country it came from, not the real country of origin.

    For Ummel, the answer to the problem is simple. “We call on the government to require the Federal Customs Administration to find out the origin of goods arriving and not just the last country exporting them to Switzerland”.

    Over the years, adds Ummel, the gold industry multinationals have been saying they want to improve the quality of information available. “But what does that mean? It would be enough just to declare the origin of the gold, what country, what mine it is coming from, and above all whether these mining operations pay heed to basic human rights and respect the environment. That would be improving the quality of information all right. But it isn’t happening.”

    Voluntary compliance

    As the government’s own report says, Swiss refineries apply “voluntary” standards to ensure that production is in line with social and environmental considerations. But there is no obligation to comply.

    The federal government itself endorses (but does not enforce) the standards developed by the OSCE and encourages (but does not compel) corporations to implement them.

    The “Better Gold Initiative” (BGI) was launched by Switzerland in 2013 in Peru with a view to sourcing gold from small-scale mines that respect the voluntary sustainability guidelines. The project meant that from 2013 to 2017, some 2.5 tons of gold produced in a responsible manner were extracted and sold. It was certainly a laudable undertaking, but it represented no more than 0.015% of yearly world production.
    Well-meaning but imperfect legislation

    Swiss legislation already on the books is among the strictest in the world in regulating trade in gold, the federal government says. Laws on control of precious metals and combatting money-laundering aim to ensure that gold being processed in the refineries does not come from illegal mining.

    Ummel does not share this view. “It’s not really true,” he says. “The European Union, even the US, have stricter laws. Swiss law does try to curb illegal gold mining, but, as the government admits, it does not have explicit provisions on respecting human rights.” Despite this admission, the federal government sees no need for new legislation in the matter.

    Why this reluctance? Ummel has his theories. “The federal government talks about the tough international competition that the Swiss industry has to confront,” he notes. “So, not wishing to add to the difficulties of a sector involving one third of all imports and a quarter of all exports, the government has little inclination to clean things up.”

    Competition is a fact. As Ummel himself admits, “there are more refineries in the world than there is unrefined gold.”
    What’s the answer?

    In its report, the federal government has eight recommendations for greater transparency, but it is not considering making anything compulsory.

    The NGOs, in contrast, are calling for a requirement of “due diligence” (https://www.swissaid.ch/fr/conseil-federal-rapport-or), with sanctions that would be invoked if the diligence was not done. That is, they say, the only real step to take in the direction of trasparency. It remains to be seen whether the industry is able – or willing – to do it.

    https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business/multinationals_the-shady-origins-of-gold-refined-in-switzerland/44621040
    #or #matières_premières #Suisse #extractivisme #transparence #multinationales

  • ELN y disidencia de las FARC controlan minas de coltán y oro en Venezuela
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/latinoamerica/eln-disidencia-las-farc-controlan-minas-coltan-oro-venezuela_259336

    Desde hace aproximadamente dos años, la presencia de guerrilleros del Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) y disidentes de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) que no se unieron al proceso de paz se ha notado y denunciado en Venezuela, especialmente en los estados Bolívar, Apure, Amazonas, estos dos últimos fronterizos con Colombia.

    Allí han replicado sus asentamientos en zonas selváticas así como el control de rutas de transporte y poblaciones, pero se han involucrado especialmente en la explotación de los recursos minerales del suelo venezolano, específicamente el oro, diamante y coltán.

    Se trata de la reinvención de estos grupos a la sombra del gobierno del presidente fallecido Hugo Chávez que tuvieron luz verde para entrar y descansar en Venezuela, pero bajo el régimen de Nicolás Maduro tienen un «trabajo formal en las minas»: organizar a los mineros para explotar el recurso, luego transportarlo y entregarlo al gobierno venezolano, que desde hace poco tiempo recurre a la explotación minera como nueva fuente de riqueza ante el declive de su producción petrolera. 

    Funciona como una especie de alianza laboral en la que la Fuerza Armada Nacional de Venezuela (FANV) tiene un rol pasivo, con apenas presencia en algunos puntos de control y haciéndose la vista gorda ante la actividad de la zona. Así lo explican el diputado por el estado Bolívar, Américo De Grazia, y el ex candidato a gobernador y también ex diputado de esa región Andrés Velásquez, recientemente amenazados por el presidente Maduro por denunciar lo que ocurre al sur del país.

    «Estas actividades de explotación y entrega de oro y coltán al gobierno venezolano solían estar a cargo de los ’pranes’ (criminales o ex convictos pertenecientes al crimen organizado que controlan la explotación de los recursos), pero poco a poco los disidentes de las FARC y guerrilleros del ELN que han entrado a Venezuela han ido asumiendo estos roles», explicó Velásquez a El Tiempo de Colombia. 

    «Los guerrilleros están haciendo el mismo trabajo de los pranes, pero al gobierno les ha resultado mejor la cosa con ellos porque se supone que son más organizados, tienen mejor control de la zona y hay menos problemas entre clanes», agregó.

    El diputado De Grazia, oriundo de la zona, discernió que son tres los puntos donde los guerrilleros colombianos han logrado establecerse. En Parguaza, una zona conocida como el cuadrante entre los estados Bolívar, Apure, Amazonas y que pellizca la frontera con Colombia, donde se explota el coltán. «Esta zona es custodiada y operada por el ELN», aseguró. 

    La segunda zona es en San Vicente de Paúl, en el municipio Cedeño también en el estado Bolívar, donde hay explotación de diamante y el tercer punto es la zona de Bochinche, en la zona limítrofe entre Venezuela y el Esequibo, al extremo oriental del estado Bolívar. 

    En este último punto la explotación es de oro, lo mismo que en el municipio Sifontes, donde se encuentra la zona de Tumeremo, fuente prácticamente inagotable del metal precioso y por eso también de mafias por controlarlo. Allí han ocurrido al menos tres masacres de mineros en los últimos dos años.

    • Reprend l’article d’il y a 5 jours d’un journal local de l’état Bolívar, El Correo del Caroní

      Correo del Caroní - ELN explora suelo venezolano desde hace cinco años y se expande para controlar minas y pasos fronterizos
      http://www.correodelcaroni.com/index.php/ciudad/ciudad-bolivar/305-eln-explora-suelo-venezolano-desde-hace-cinco-anos-y-se-expande

      Sus motivaciones son principalmente económicas, asegura la organización colombiana Fundación Ideas para la Paz, que ha mapeado en el país la presencia del ELN y disidentes de las FARC que buscan controlar minas y paso de combustible y alimentos.

      La presencia de guerrilleros colombianos del Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) y disidentes de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) se ha hecho fuerte y crece desde 2013 al sur de Venezuela, cuando el primer grupo hizo incursiones tímidas desde el estado Apure hacia Amazonas, fronterizo con Colombia.

      Un informe de 2017 de la organización colombiana Fundación Ideas para la Paz (FIP) indica que el ELN así como disidencias de las FARC, específicamente del Frente 16 y Acacio Medina, se ha movido a zonas de alto valor estratégico para su financiamiento. En el caso de Colombia, hacia los departamentos de Guainía, Vichada y Arauca y, en Venezuela, a Apure, Bolívar y Amazonas, en donde el domingo emboscaron a militares y asesinaron a tres de ellos, tras la captura de Luis Felipe Ortega Bernal, alias Garganta, comandante del Frente de Guerra Oriental del ELN.

      El Gobierno venezolano ha insistido en negar la presencia del ELN y disidencias de las FARC en Venezuela, pese a que la misma Cancillería de Colombia nombró a Ortega Bernal como “un reconocido cabecilla del ELN, cuyo prontuario delictivo le mereció circular azul por parte de Interpol, por múltiples delitos cometidos en nuestro país”.

      Un mapa de la presencia de los irregulares, trazado por la FIP, dibuja la presencia del ELN en Amazonas desde Puerto Páez en el municipio Pedro Camejo del estado Apure hasta San Fernando de Atabapo en el municipio Atabapo del estado Amazonas, mientras que los disidentes de las FARC se despliegan en el sur de Amazonas en las cercanías del Parque Nacional Yapacana, al suroeste de la confluencia del río Ventuari en el río Orinoco, y en el norte a pocos kilómetros de la capital de Amazonas.

    • Carte interactive de situation aux frontières colombiennes, par la Fundación Ideas para la Paz
      ESPECIAL FRONTERAS –Inseguridad, Violencia y Economías Ilegales: los Desafíos del Nuevo Gobierno
      http://www.ideaspaz.org/especiales/mapa-fronteras

      et le rapport


      http://ideaspaz.org/media/website/fip_seguridad_fronteras.pdf

      01. Frontera con Venezuela
      02. Frontera con Venezuela y Brasil
      03. Frontera con Ecuador y Perú
      04. Frontera con Brasil y Perú
      05. Frontera con Panamá

    • InSight Crime, une autre ONG, basée en Colombie, établit le constat

      El ELN opera en 12 estados de Venezuela
      https://es.insightcrime.org/noticias/analisis/eln-opera-12-estados-venezuela

      Pero contrario a los comentarios de Padrino, InSight Crime logró identificar la presencia del ELN en 12 estados de Venezuela (la mitad del país), mediante un monitoreo de las denuncias publicadas en prensa en 2018 sobre la actividad de esta guerrilla en territorio venezolano, los informes de algunas ONG y las informaciones suministradas por fuentes oficiales en las zonas fronterizas.

      Según estos registros el ELN tendría presencia en Táchira, Zulia, Apure, Trujillo, Anzoátegui, Lara, Falcón, Amazonas, Barinas, Portuguesa, Guárico y Bolívar. Allí estaría desarrollando actividades como contrabando de ganado, contrabando de gasolina, cobro de extorsiones, distribución de comida, emisoras de radio, reclutamiento de menores, ataques a funcionarios de cuerpos de seguridad, narcotráfico y minería ilegal, entre otras.

      La última incursión en Bolívar, el 14 de octubre, dejó como resultado seis personas ejecutadas en el municipio de Domingo Sifontes, la más importante zona minera del país, donde el gobierno Venezolano desarrolla el proyecto Arco Minero. Este hecho no solo mostró el poder que la guerrilla colombiana tiene en territorio venezolano, sino que puso de manifiesto el largo recorrido que han hecho, para tener presencia en la mitad del país.

  • Rainforest destruction from gold mining hits all-time high in Peru
    https://phys.org/news/2018-11-rainforest-destruction-gold-all-time-high.html

    That’s an area larger than San Francisco and 30 percent more than previously reported.

    “The scale of the deforestation is really shocking,” said Luis Fernandez, executive director of CINCIA and research associate professor in the department of biology.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTUhUZ49v3g

  • 56,800 migrant dead and missing : ’They are human beings’

    One by one, five to a grave, the coffins are buried in the red earth of this ill-kept corner of a South African cemetery. The scrawl on the cheap wood attests to their anonymity: “Unknown B/Male.”

    These men were migrants from elsewhere in Africa with next to nothing who sought a living in the thriving underground economy of Gauteng province, a name that roughly translates to “land of gold.” Instead of fortune, many found death, their bodies unnamed and unclaimed — more than 4,300 in Gauteng between 2014 and 2017 alone.

    Some of those lives ended here at the Olifantsvlei cemetery, in silence, among tufts of grass growing over tiny placards that read: Pauper Block. There are coffins so tiny that they could belong only to children.

    As migration worldwide soars to record highs, far less visible has been its toll: The tens of thousands of people who die or simply disappear during their journeys, never to be seen again. In most cases, nobody is keeping track: Barely counted in life, these people don’t register in death , as if they never lived at all.

    An Associated Press tally has documented at least 56,800 migrants dead or missing worldwide since 2014 — almost double the number found in the world’s only official attempt to try to count them, by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. The IOM toll as of Oct. 1 was more than 28,500. The AP came up with almost 28,300 additional dead or missing migrants by compiling information from other international groups, requesting forensic records, missing persons reports and death records, and sifting through data from thousands of interviews with migrants.

    The toll is the result of migration that is up 49 percent since the turn of the century, with more than 258 million international migrants in 2017, according to the United Nations. A growing number have drowned, died in deserts or fallen prey to traffickers, leaving their families to wonder what on earth happened to them. At the same time, anonymous bodies are filling cemeteries around the world, like the one in Gauteng.

    The AP’s tally is still low. More bodies of migrants lie undiscovered in desert sands or at the bottom of the sea. And families don’t always report loved ones as missing because they migrated illegally, or because they left home without saying exactly where they were headed.

    The official U.N. toll focuses mostly on Europe, but even there cases fall through the cracks. The political tide is turning against migrants in Europe just as in the United States, where the government is cracking down heavily on caravans of Central Americans trying to get in . One result is that money is drying up for projects to track migration and its costs.

    For example, when more than 800 people died in an April 2015 shipwreck off the coast of Italy, Europe’s deadliest migrant sea disaster, Italian investigators pledged to identify them and find their families. More than three years later, under a new populist government, funding for this work is being cut off.

    Beyond Europe, information is even more scarce. Little is known about the toll in South America, where the Venezuelan migration is among the world’s biggest today, and in Asia, the top region for numbers of migrants.

    The result is that governments vastly underestimate the toll of migration, a major political and social issue in most of the world today.

    “No matter where you stand on the whole migration management debate....these are still human beings on the move,” said Bram Frouws, the head of the Mixed Migration Centre , based in Geneva, which has done surveys of more than 20,000 migrants in its 4Mi project since 2014. “Whether it’s refugees or people moving for jobs, they are human beings.”

    They leave behind families caught between hope and mourning, like that of Safi al-Bahri. Her son, Majdi Barhoumi, left their hometown of Ras Jebel, Tunisia, on May 7, 2011, headed for Europe in a small boat with a dozen other migrants. The boat sank and Barhoumi hasn’t been heard from since. In a sign of faith that he is still alive, his parents built an animal pen with a brood of hens, a few cows and a dog to stand watch until he returns.

    “I just wait for him. I always imagine him behind me, at home, in the market, everywhere,” said al-Bahari. “When I hear a voice at night, I think he’s come back. When I hear the sound of a motorcycle, I think my son is back.”

    ———————————————————————

    EUROPE: BOATS THAT NEVER ARRIVE

    Of the world’s migration crises, Europe’s has been the most cruelly visible. Images of the lifeless body of a Kurdish toddler on a beach, frozen tent camps in Eastern Europe, and a nearly numbing succession of deadly shipwrecks have been transmitted around the world, adding to the furor over migration.

    In the Mediterranean, scores of tankers, cargo boats, cruise ships and military vessels tower over tiny, crowded rafts powered by an outboard motor for a one-way trip. Even larger boats carrying hundreds of migrants may go down when soft breezes turn into battering winds and thrashing waves further from shore.

    Two shipwrecks and the deaths of at least 368 people off the coast of Italy in October 2013 prompted the IOM’s research into migrant deaths. The organization has focused on deaths in the Mediterranean, although its researchers plead for more data from elsewhere in the world. This year alone, the IOM has found more than 1,700 deaths in the waters that divide Africa and Europe.

    Like the lost Tunisians of Ras Jebel, most of them set off to look for work. Barhoumi, his friends, cousins and other would-be migrants camped in the seaside brush the night before their departure, listening to the crash of the waves that ultimately would sink their raft.

    Khalid Arfaoui had planned to be among them. When the group knocked at his door, it wasn’t fear that held him back, but a lack of cash. Everyone needed to chip in to pay for the boat, gas and supplies, and he was short about $100. So he sat inside and watched as they left for the beachside campsite where even today locals spend the night before embarking to Europe.

    Propelled by a feeble outboard motor and overburdened with its passengers, the rubber raft flipped, possibly after grazing rocks below the surface on an uninhabited island just offshore. Two bodies were retrieved. The lone survivor was found clinging to debris eight hours later.

    The Tunisian government has never tallied its missing, and the group never made it close enough to Europe to catch the attention of authorities there. So these migrants never have been counted among the dead and missing.

    “If I had gone with them, I’d be lost like the others,” Arfaoui said recently, standing on the rocky shoreline with a group of friends, all of whom vaguely planned to leave for Europe. “If I get the chance, I’ll do it. Even if I fear the sea and I know I might die, I’ll do it.”

    With him that day was 30-year-old Mounir Aguida, who had already made the trip once, drifting for 19 hours after the boat engine cut out. In late August this year, he crammed into another raft with seven friends, feeling the waves slam the flimsy bow. At the last minute he and another young man jumped out.

    “It didn’t feel right,” Aguida said.

    There has been no word from the other six — yet another group of Ras Jebel’s youth lost to the sea. With no shipwreck reported, no survivors to rescue and no bodies to identify, the six young men are not counted in any toll.

    In addition to watching its own youth flee, Tunisia and to a lesser degree neighboring Algeria are transit points for other Africans north bound for Europe. Tunisia has its own cemetery for unidentified migrants, as do Greece, Italy and Turkey. The one at Tunisia’s southern coast is tended by an unemployed sailor named Chamseddin Marzouk.

    Of around 400 bodies interred in the coastal graveyard since it opened in 2005, only one has ever been identified. As for the others who lie beneath piles of dirt, Marzouk couldn’t imagine how their families would ever learn their fate.

    “Their families may think that the person is still alive, or that he’ll return one day to visit,” Marzouk said. “They don’t know that those they await are buried here, in Zarzis, Tunisia.”

    ——————

    AFRICA: VANISHING WITHOUT A TRACE

    Despite talk of the ’waves’ of African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, as many migrate within Africa — 16 million — as leave for Europe. In all, since 2014, at least 18,400 African migrants have died traveling within Africa, according to the figures compiled from AP and IOM records. That includes more than 4,300 unidentified bodies in a single South African province, and 8,700 whose traveling companions reported their disappearance en route out of the Horn of Africa in interviews with 4Mi.

    When people vanish while migrating in Africa, it is often without a trace. The IOM says the Sahara Desert may well have killed more migrants than the Mediterranean. But no one will ever know for sure in a region where borders are little more than lines drawn on maps and no government is searching an expanse as large as the continental United States. The harsh sun and swirling desert sands quickly decompose and bury bodies of migrants, so that even when they turn up, they are usually impossible to identify .

    With a prosperous economy and stable government, South Africa draws more migrants than any other country in Africa. The government is a meticulous collector of fingerprints — nearly every legal resident and citizen has a file somewhere — so bodies without any records are assumed to have been living and working in the country illegally. The corpses are fingerprinted when possible, but there is no regular DNA collection.

    South Africa also has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and police are more focused on solving domestic cases than identifying migrants.

    “There’s logic to that, as sad as it is....You want to find the killer if you’re a policeman, because the killer could kill more people,” said Jeanine Vellema, the chief specialist of the province’s eight mortuaries. Migrant identification, meanwhile, is largely an issue for foreign families — and poor ones at that.

    Vellema has tried to patch into the police missing persons system, to build a system of electronic mortuary records and to establish a protocol where a DNA sample is taken from every set of remains that arrive at the morgue. She sighs: “Resources.” It’s a word that comes up 10 times in a half-hour conversation.

    So the bodies end up at Olifantsvlei or a cemetery like it, in unnamed graves. On a recent visit by AP, a series of open rectangles awaited the bodies of the unidentified and unclaimed. They did not wait long: a pickup truck drove up, piled with about 10 coffins, five per grave. There were at least 180 grave markers for the anonymous dead, with multiple bodies in each grave.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is working with Vellema, has started a pilot project with one Gauteng morgue to take detailed photos, fingerprints, dental information and DNA samples of unidentified bodies. That information goes to a database where, in theory, the bodies can be traced.

    “Every person has a right to their dignity. And to their identity,” said Stephen Fonseca, the ICRC regional forensic manager.

    ————————————

    THE UNITED STATES: “THAT’S HOW MY BROTHER USED TO SLEEP”

    More than 6,000 miles (9,000 kilometers) away, in the deserts that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border, lie the bodies of migrants who perished trying to cross land as unforgiving as the waters of the Mediterranean. Many fled the violence and poverty of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador or Mexico. Some are found months or years later as mere skeletons. Others make a last, desperate phone call and are never heard from again.

    In 2010 the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team and the local morgue in Pima County, Ariz., began to organize efforts to put names to the anonymous bodies found on both sides of the border. The “Border Project” has since identified more than 183 people — a fraction of the total.

    At least 3,861 migrants are dead and missing on the route from Mexico to the United States since 2014, according to the combined AP and IOM total. The tally includes missing person reports from the Colibri Center for Human Rights on the U.S. side as well as the Argentine group’s data from the Mexican side. The painstaking work of identification can take years, hampered by a lack of resources, official records and coordination between countries — and even between states.

    For many families of the missing, it is their only hope, but for the families of Juan Lorenzo Luna and Armando Reyes, that hope is fading.

    Luna, 27, and Reyes, 22, were brothers-in-law who left their small northern Mexico town of Gomez Palacio in August 2016. They had tried to cross to the U.S. four months earlier, but surrendered to border patrol agents in exhaustion and were deported.

    They knew they were risking their lives — Reyes’ father died migrating in 1995, and an uncle went missing in 2004. But Luna, a quiet family man, wanted to make enough money to buy a pickup truck and then return to his wife and two children. Reyes wanted a job where he wouldn’t get his shoes dirty and could give his newborn daughter a better life.

    Of the five who left Gomez Palacio together, two men made it to safety, and one man turned back. The only information he gave was that the brothers-in-law had stopped walking and planned to turn themselves in again. That is the last that is known of them.

    Officials told their families that they had scoured prisons and detention centers, but there was no sign of the missing men. Cesaria Orona even consulted a fortune teller about her missing son, Armando, and was told he had died in the desert.

    One weekend in June 2017, volunteers found eight bodies next to a military area of the Arizona desert and posted the images online in the hopes of finding family. Maria Elena Luna came across a Facebook photo of a decaying body found in an arid landscape dotted with cactus and shrubs, lying face-up with one leg bent outward. There was something horribly familiar about the pose.

    “That’s how my brother used to sleep,” she whispered.

    Along with the bodies, the volunteers found a credential of a boy from Guatemala, a photo and a piece of paper with a number written on it. The photo was of Juan Lorenzo Luna, and the number on the paper was for cousins of the family. But investigators warned that a wallet or credential could have been stolen, as migrants are frequently robbed.

    “We all cried,” Luna recalled. “But I said, we cannot be sure until we have the DNA test. Let’s wait.”

    Luna and Orona gave DNA samples to the Mexican government and the Argentine group. In November 2017, Orona received a letter from the Mexican government saying that there was the possibility of a match for Armando with some bone remains found in Nuevo Leon, a state that borders Texas. But the test was negative.

    The women are still waiting for results from the Argentine pathologists. Until then, their relatives remain among the uncounted.

    Orona holds out hope that the men may be locked up, or held by “bad people.” Every time Luna hears about clandestine graves or unidentified bodies in the news, the anguish is sharp.

    “Suddenly all the memories come back,” she said. “I do not want to think.”

    ————————

    SOUTH AMERICA: “NO ONE WANTS TO ADMIT THIS IS A REALITY”

    The toll of the dead and the missing has been all but ignored in one of the largest population movements in the world today — that of nearly 2 million Venezuelans fleeing from their country’s collapse. These migrants have hopped buses across the borders, boarded flimsy boats in the Caribbean, and — when all else failed — walked for days along scorching highways and freezing mountain trails. Vulnerable to violence from drug cartels, hunger and illness that lingers even after reaching their destination, they have disappeared or died by the hundreds.

    “They can’t withstand a trip that hard, because the journey is very long,” said Carlos Valdes, director of neighboring Colombia’s national forensic institute. “And many times, they only eat once a day. They don’t eat. And they die.” Valdes said authorities don’t always recover the bodies of those who die, as some migrants who have entered the country illegally are afraid to seek help.

    Valdes believes hypothermia has killed some as they trek through the mountain tundra region, but he had no idea how many. One migrant told the AP he saw a family burying someone wrapped in a white blanket with red flowers along the frigid journey.

    Marta Duque, 55, has had a front seat to the Venezuela migration crisis from her home in Pamplona, Colombia. She opens her doors nightly to provide shelter for families with young children. Pamplona is one of the last cities migrants reach before venturing up a frigid mountain paramo, one of the most dangerous parts of the trip for migrants traveling by foot. Temperatures dip well below freezing.

    She said inaction from authorities has forced citizens like her to step in.

    “Everyone just seems to pass the ball,” she said. “No one wants to admit this is a reality.”

    Those deaths are uncounted, as are dozens in the sea. Also uncounted are those reported missing in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. In all at least 3,410 Venezuelans have been reported missing or dead in a migration within Latin America whose dangers have gone relatively unnoticed; many of the dead perished from illnesses on the rise in Venezuela that easily would have found treatment in better times.

    Among the missing is Randy Javier Gutierrez, who was walking through Colombia with a cousin and his aunt in hopes of reaching Peru to reunite with his mother.

    Gutierrez’s mother, Mariela Gamboa, said that a driver offered a ride to the two women, but refused to take her son. The women agreed to wait for him at the bus station in Cali, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) ahead, but he never arrived. Messages sent to his phone since that day four months ago have gone unread.

    “I’m very worried,” his mother said. “I don’t even know what to do.”

    ———————————

    ASIA: A VAST UNKNOWN

    The region with the largest overall migration, Asia, also has the least information on the fate of those who disappear after leaving their homelands. Governments are unwilling or unable to account for citizens who leave for elsewhere in the region or in the Mideast, two of the most common destinations, although there’s a growing push to do so.

    Asians make up 40 percent of the world’s migrants, and more than half of them never leave the region. The Associated Press was able to document more than 8,200 migrants who disappeared or died after leaving home in Asia and the Mideast, including thousands in the Philippines and Indonesia.

    Thirteen of the top 20 migration pathways from Asia take place within the region. These include Indian workers heading to the United Arab Emirates, Bangladeshis heading to India, Rohingya Muslims escaping persecution in Myanmar, and Afghans crossing the nearest border to escape war. But with large-scale smuggling and trafficking of labor, and violent displacements, the low numbers of dead and missing indicate not safe travel but rather a vast unknown.

    Almass was just 14 when his widowed mother reluctantly sent him and his 11-year-old brother from their home in Khost, Afghanistan, into that unknown. The payment for their trip was supposed to get them away from the Taliban and all the way to Germany via a chain of smugglers. The pair crammed first into a pickup with around 40 people, walked for a few days at the border, crammed into a car, waited a bit in Tehran, and walked a few more days.

    His brother Murtaza was exhausted by the time they reached the Iran-Turkey border. But the smuggler said it wasn’t the time to rest — there were at least two border posts nearby and the risk that children far younger travelling with them would make noise.

    Almass was carrying a baby in his arms and holding his brother’s hand when they heard the shout of Iranian guards. Bullets whistled past as he tumbled head over heels into a ravine and lost consciousness.

    Alone all that day and the next, Almass stumbled upon three other boys in the ravine who had also become separated from the group, then another four. No one had seen his brother. And although the younger boy had his ID, it had been up to Almass to memorize the crucial contact information for the smuggler.

    When Almass eventually called home, from Turkey, he couldn’t bear to tell his mother what had happened. He said Murtaza couldn’t come to the phone but sent his love.

    That was in early 2014. Almass, who is now 18, hasn’t spoken to his family since.

    Almass said he searched for his brother among the 2,773 children reported to the Red Cross as missing en route to Europe. He also looked for himself among the 2,097 adults reported missing by children. They weren’t on the list.

    With one of the world’s longest-running exoduses, Afghans face particular dangers in bordering countries that are neither safe nor welcoming. Over a period of 10 months from June 2017 to April 2018, 4Mi carried out a total of 962 interviews with Afghan migrants and refugees in their native languages around the world, systematically asking a series of questions about the specific dangers they had faced and what they had witnessed.

    A total of 247 migrant deaths were witnessed by the interviewed migrants, who reported seeing people killed in violence from security forces or starving to death. The effort is the first time any organization has successfully captured the perils facing Afghans in transit to destinations in Asia and Europe.

    Almass made it from Asia to Europe and speaks halting French now to the woman who has given him a home in a drafty 400-year-old farmhouse in France’s Limousin region. But his family is lost to him. Their phone number in Afghanistan no longer works, their village is overrun with Taliban, and he has no idea how to find them — or the child whose hand slipped from his grasp four years ago.

    “I don’t know now where they are,” he said, his face anguished, as he sat on a sun-dappled bench. “They also don’t know where I am.”

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/global-lost-56800-migrants-dead-missing-years-58890913
    #décès #morts #migrations #réfugiés #asile #statistiques #chiffres #monde #Europe #Asie #Amérique_latine #Afrique #USA #Etats-Unis #2014 #2015 #2016 #2017 #2018
    ping @reka @simplicissimus

  • Latin American and Caribbean countries sign historic treaty giving environmental rights the same status as human rights | UN Environment
    https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/latin-american-and-caribbean-countries-sign-historic-treaty-giving
    http://www.unenvironment.org/sites/default/files/styles/topics_content_promo/public/2018-10/IselaGonzalezDiaz-CreelChihuahua-Mexico.jpg?itok=8ST8qfSa

    Within 24 hours of its opening, fourteen nations signed the Escazú Agreement; with one more signing the next day. This treaty enacts binding provisions for States to equip their citizens with information, judicial corrections and spaces for public participation in environmental matters concerning them. The Escazú Agreement’s official name is the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters.

    “The fact that fourteen countries have already signed today is extraordinary” stated Epsy Campbell Barr, the Vice President of Costa Rica.

    The agreement is not only the first environmental treaty for the Latin America and Caribbean region. It is also:

    At the forefront of environmental democracy with only one other regional treaty on environmental democracy: Europe’s Aarhus Convention
    The only treaty to have emerged from Rio+20
    The first time a legal agreement includes an Article on environmental human rights defenders (Article 9)

    The Latin America and Caribbean region is home to numerous multifaceted conflicts involving communities opposing business and government interest that threaten their environment,livelihoods and ancestral lands. Global Witness reports that Latin America and the Caribbean has consistently the highest number of murders of environmental defenders in the world. [...]

    In an emotional ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 27 September 2018, Heads of State and ministers from the following countries signed the Agreement: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Saint Lucia and Uruguay. The Dominican Republic and Haiti added their signatures to the legal instrument later the same day and Paraguay signed on the following day.

    #traité #environnement #Amérique_latine #Caraïbes

  • UN Human Rights Council passes a resolution adopting the peasant rights declaration in Geneva - Via Campesina
    https://viacampesina.org/en/un-human-rights-council-passes-a-resolution-adopting-the-peasant-right

    Seventeen years of long and arduous negotiations later, peasants and other people working in rural areas are only a step away from having a UN Declaration that could defend and protect their rights to land, seeds, biodiversity, local markets and a lot more.

    On Friday, 28 September, in a commendable show of solidarity and political will, member nations of United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution concluding the UN Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. The resolution was passed with 33 votes in favour, 11 abstentions and 3 against. [1]

    Contre : Australie, Hongrie et Royaume-Uni

    In favour: Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Chile, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela

    Abstention: Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

    https://viacampesina.org/en/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2011/03/Declaration-of-rights-of-peasants-2009.pdf

    #droit_des_paysan·nes

  • 2.3 million Venezuelans now live abroad

    More than 7% of Venezuela’s population has fled the country since 2014, according to the UN. That is the equivalent of the US losing the whole population of Florida in four years (plus another 100,000 people, give or take).

    The departing 2.3 million Venezuelans have mainly gone to neighboring Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, and Peru, putting tremendous pressure on those countries. “This is building to a crisis moment that we’ve seen in other parts of the world, particularly in the Mediterranean,” a spokesman for the UN’s International Organization for Migration said recently.

    This week, Peru made it a bit harder for Venezuelans to get in. The small town of Aguas Verdes has seen as many as 3,000 people a day cross the border; most of the 400,000 Venezuelans in Peru arrived in the last year. So Peru now requires a valid passport. Until now, ID cards were all that was needed.

    Ecuador tried to do the same thing but a judge said that such a move violated freedom-of-movement rules agreed to when Ecuador joined the Andean Community. Ecuador says 4,000 people a day have been crossing the border, a total of 500,000 so far. It has now created what it calls a “humanitarian corridor” by laying on buses to take Venezuelans across Ecuador, from the Colombian border to the Peruvian border.

    Brazil’s Amazon border crossing in the state of Roraima with Venezuela gets 500 people a day. It was briefly shut down earlier this month—but that, too, was overturned by a court order.

    Venezuela is suffering from severe food shortages—the UN said more than 1 million of those who had fled since 2014 are malnourished—and hyperinflation. Things could still get worse, which is really saying something for a place where prices are doubling every 26 days. The UN estimated earlier this year that 5,000 were leaving Venezuela every day; at that rate, a further 800,000 people could leave before the end of the year (paywall).

    A Gallup survey from March showed that 53% of young Venezuelans want to move abroad permanently. And all this was before an alleged drone attack on president Nicolas Maduro earlier this month made the political situation even more tense, the country’s opposition-led National Assembly said that the annual inflation rate reached 83,000% in July, and the chaotic introduction of a new currency.

    https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/08/venezuela-has-lost-2-3-million-people-and-it-could-get-even-worse
    #Venezuela #asile #migrations #réfugiés #cartographie #visualisation #réfugiés_vénézuéliens

    Sur ce sujet, voir aussi cette longue compilation initiée en juin 2017 :
    http://seen.li/d26k

    • Venezuela. L’Amérique latine cherche une solution à sa plus grande #crise_migratoire

      Les réunions de crise sur l’immigration ne sont pas l’apanage de l’Europe : treize pays latino-américains sont réunis depuis lundi à Quito pour tenter de trouver des solutions communes au casse-tête migratoire provoqué par l’#exode_massif des Vénézuéliens.


      https://www.courrierinternational.com/article/venezuela-lamerique-latine-cherche-une-solution-sa-plus-grand

    • Bataille de #chiffres et guerre d’images autour de la « #crise migratoire » vénézuélienne

      L’émigration massive qui touche actuellement le Venezuela est une réalité. Mais il ne faut pas confondre cette réalité et les défis humanitaires qu’elle pose avec son instrumentalisation, tant par le pouvoir vénézuélien pour se faire passer pour la victime d’un machination que par ses « ennemis » qui entendent se débarrasser d’un gouvernement qu’ils considèrent comme autoritaire et source d’instabilité dans la région. Etat des lieux d’une crise très polarisée.

      C’est un véritable scoop que nous a offert le président vénézuélien le 3 septembre dernier. Alors que son gouvernement est avare en données sur les sujets sensibles, Nicolas Maduro a chiffré pour la première fois le nombre de Vénézuéliens ayant émigré depuis deux ans à 600 000. Un chiffre vérifiable, a-t-il assuré, sans toutefois donner plus de détails.

      Ce chiffre, le premier plus ou moins officiel dans un pays où il n’y a plus de statistiques migratoires, contraste avec celui délivré par l’Organisation internationale pour les migrations (OIM) et le Haut-Commissariat aux Réfugiés (HCR). Selon ces deux organisations, 2,3 millions de Vénézuéliens vivraient à l’étranger, soit 7,2% des habitants sur un total de 31,8 millions. Pas de quoi tomber de sa chaise ! D’autres diasporas sont relativement bien plus nombreuses. Ce qui impressionne, c’est la croissance exponentielle de cette émigration sur un très court laps de temps : 1,6 million auraient quitté le pays depuis 2015 seulement. Une vague de départs qui s’est accélérée ces derniers mois et affectent inégalement de nombreux pays de la région.
      Le pouvoir vénézuélien, par la voix de sa vice-présidente, a accusé des fonctionnaires de l’ONU de gonfler les chiffres d’un « flux migratoire normal » (sic) pour justifier une « intervention humanitaire », synonyme de déstabilisation. D’autres sources estiment quant à elles qu’ils pourraient être près de quatre millions à avoir fui le pays.

      https://www.cncd.be/Bataille-de-chiffres-et-guerre-d
      #statistiques #guerre_des_chiffres

    • La formulation est tout de même étrange pour une ONG… : pas de quoi tomber de sa chaise, de même l’utilisation du mot ennemis avec guillemets. Au passage, le même pourcentage – pas si énorme …– appliqué à la population française donnerait 4,5 millions de personnes quittant la France, dont les deux tiers, soit 3 millions de personnes, au cours des deux dernières années.

      Ceci dit, pour ne pas qu’ils tombent… d’inanition, le Programme alimentaire mondial (agence de l’ONU) a besoin de sous pour nourrir les vénézuéliens qui entrent en Colombie.

      ONU necesita fondos para seguir atendiendo a emigrantes venezolanos
      http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/mundo/onu-necesita-fondos-para-seguir-atendiendo-emigrantes-venezolanos_25311

      El Programa Mundial de Alimentos (PMA), el principal brazo humanitario de Naciones Unidas, informó que necesita 22 millones de dólares suplementarios para atender a los venezolanos que entran a Colombia.

      «Cuando las familias inmigrantes llegan a los centros de recepción reciben alimentos calientes y pueden quedarse de tres a cinco días, pero luego tienen que irse para que otros recién llegados puedan ser atendidos», dijo el portavoz del PMA, Herve Verhoosel.
      […]
      La falta de alimentos se convierte en el principal problema para quienes atraviesan a diario la frontera entre Venezuela y Colombia, que cuenta con siete puntos de pasaje oficiales y más de un centenar informales, con más de 50% de inmigrantes que entran a Colombia por estos últimos.

      El PMA ha proporcionado ayuda alimentaria de emergencia a más de 60.000 venezolanos en los departamentos fronterizos de Arauca, La Guajira y el Norte de Santander, en Colombia, y más recientemente ha empezado también a operar en el departamento de Nariño, que tiene frontera con Ecuador.
      […]
      De acuerdo con evaluaciones recientes efectuadas por el PMA entre inmigrantes en Colombia, 80% de ellos sufren de inseguridad alimentaria.

    • Migrants du Venezuela vers la Colombie : « ni xénophobie, ni fermeture des frontières », assure le nouveau président colombien

      Le nouveau président colombien, entré en fonction depuis hier (lundi 8 octobre 2018), ne veut pas céder à la tentation d’une fermeture de la frontière avec le Venezuela.


      https://la1ere.francetvinfo.fr/martinique/migrants-du-venezuela-colombie-xenophobie-fermeture-frontieres-a
      #fermeture_des_frontières #ouverture_des_frontières

    • Fleeing hardship at home, Venezuelan migrants struggle abroad, too

      Every few minutes, the reeds along the #Tachira_River rustle.

      Smugglers, in ever growing numbers, emerge with a ragtag group of Venezuelan migrants – men struggling under tattered suitcases, women hugging bundles in blankets and schoolchildren carrying backpacks. They step across rocks, wade into the muddy stream and cross illegally into Colombia.

      This is the new migration from Venezuela.

      For years, as conditions worsened in the Andean nation’s ongoing economic meltdown, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans – those who could afford to – fled by airplane and bus to other countries far and near, remaking their lives as legal immigrants.

      Now, hyperinflation, daily power cuts and worsening food shortages are prompting those with far fewer resources to flee, braving harsh geography, criminal handlers and increasingly restrictive immigration laws to try their luck just about anywhere.

      In recent weeks, Reuters spoke with dozens of Venezuelan migrants traversing their country’s Western border to seek a better life in Colombia and beyond. Few had more than the equivalent of a handful of dollars with them.

      “It was terrible, but I needed to cross,” said Dario Leal, 30, recounting his journey from the coastal state of Sucre, where he worked in a bakery that paid about $2 per month.

      At the border, he paid smugglers nearly three times that to get across and then prepared, with about $3 left, to walk the 500 km (311 miles) to Bogota, Colombia’s capital. The smugglers, in turn, paid a fee to Colombian crime gangs who allow them to operate, according to police, locals and smugglers themselves.

      As many as 1.9 million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015, according to the United Nations. Combined with those who preceded them, a total of 2.6 million are believed to have left the oil-rich country. Ninety percent of recent departures, the U.N. says, remain in South America.

      The exodus, one of the biggest mass migrations ever on the continent, is weighing on neighbors. Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, which once welcomed Venezuelan migrants, recently tightened entry requirements. Police now conduct raids to detain the undocumented.

      In early October, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, Colombia’s foreign minister, said as many as four million Venezuelans could be in the country by 2021, costing national coffers as much as $9 billion. “The magnitude of this challenge,” he said, “our country has never seen.”

      In Brazil, which also borders Venezuela, the government deployed troops and financing to manage the crush and treat sick, hungry and pregnant migrants. In Ecuador and Peru, workers say that Venezuelan labor lowers wages and that criminals are hiding among honest migrants.

      “There are too many of them,” said Antonio Mamani, a clothing vendor in Peru, who recently watched police fill a bus with undocumented Venezuelans near Lima.
      “WE NEED TO GO”

      By migrating illegally, migrants expose themselves to criminal networks who control prostitution, drug trafficking and other rackets. In August, Colombian investigators discovered 23 undocumented Venezuelans forced into prostitution and living in basements in the colonial city of Cartagena.

      While most migrants are avoiding such straits, no shortage of other hardship awaits – from homelessness, to unemployment, to the cold reception many get as they sleep in public squares, peddle sweets and throng already overburdened hospitals.

      Still, most press on, many on foot.

      Some join compatriots in Brazil and Colombia. Others, having spent what money they had, are walking vast regions, like Colombia’s cold Andean passes and sweltering tropical lowlands, in treks toward distant capitals, like Quito or Lima.

      Johana Narvaez, a 36-year-old mother of four, told Reuters her family left after business stalled at their small car repair shop in the rural state of Trujillo. Extra income she made selling food on the street withered because cash is scarce in a country where annual inflation, according to the opposition-led Congress, recently reached nearly 500,000 percent.

      “We can’t stay here,” she told her husband, Jairo Sulbaran, in August, after they ran out of food and survived on corn patties provided by friends. “Even on foot, we must go.” Sulbaran begged and sold old tires until they could afford bus tickets to the border.

      Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has chided migrants, warning of the hazards of migration and that emigres will end up “cleaning toilets.” He has even offered free flights back to some in a program called “Return to the Homeland,” which state television covers daily.

      Most migration, however, remains in the other direction.

      Until recently, Venezuelans could enter many South American countries with just their national identity cards. But some are toughening rules, requiring a passport or additional documentation.

      Even a passport is elusive in Venezuela.

      Paper shortages and a dysfunctional bureaucracy make the document nearly impossible to obtain, many migrants argue. Several told Reuters they waited two years in vain after applying, while a half-dozen others said they were asked for as much as $2000 in bribes by corrupt clerks to secure one.

      Maduro’s government in July said it would restructure Venezuela’s passport agency to root out “bureaucracy and corruption.” The Information Ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.
      “VENEZUELA WILL END UP EMPTY”

      Many of those crossing into Colombia pay “arrastradores,” or “draggers,” to smuggle them along hundreds of trails. Five of the smugglers, all young men, told Reuters business is booming.

      “Venezuela will end up empty,” said Maikel, a 17-year-old Venezuelan smuggler, scratches across his face from traversing the bushy trails. Maikel, who declined to give his surname, said he lost count of how many migrants he has helped cross.

      Colombia, too, struggles to count illegal entries. Before the government tightened restrictions earlier this year, Colombia issued “border cards” that let holders crisscross at will. Now, Colombia says it detects about 3,000 false border cards at entry points daily.

      Despite tougher patrols along the porous, 2,200-km border, officials say it is impossible to secure outright. “It’s like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket,” said Mauricio Franco, a municipal official in charge of security in Cucuta, a nearby city.

      And it’s not just a matter of rounding up undocumented travelers.

      Powerful criminal groups, long in control of contraband commerce across the border, are now getting their cut of human traffic. Javier Barrera, a colonel in charge of police in Cucuta, said the Gulf Clan and Los Rastrojos, notorious syndicates that operate nationwide, are both involved.

      During a recent Reuters visit to several illegal crossings, Venezuelans carried cardboard, limes and car batteries as barter instead of using the bolivar, their near-worthless currency.

      Migrants pay as much as about $16 for the passage. Maikel, the arrastrador, said smugglers then pay gang operatives about $3 per migrant.

      For his crossing, Leal, the baker, carried a torn backpack and small duffel bag. His 2015 Venezuelan ID shows a healthier and happier man – before Leal began skimping on breakfast and dinner because he couldn’t afford them.

      He rested under a tree, but fretted about Colombian police. “I’m scared because the “migra” comes around,” he said, using the same term Mexican and Central American migrants use for border police in the United States.

      It doesn’t get easier as migrants move on.

      Even if relatives wired money, transfer agencies require a legally stamped passport to collect it. Bus companies are rejecting undocumented passengers to avoid fines for carrying them. A few companies risk it, but charge a premium of as much as 20 percent, according to several bus clerks near the border.

      The Sulbaran family walked and hitched some 1200 km to the Andean town of Santiago, where they have relatives. The father toured garages, but found no work.

      “People said no, others were scared,” said Narvaez, the mother. “Some Venezuelans come to Colombia to do bad things. They think we’re all like that.”

      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-migration-insight/fleeing-hardship-at-home-venezuelan-migrants-struggle-abroad-too-idUSKCN1MP

      Avec ce commentaire de #Reece_Jones:

      People continue to flee Venezuela, now often resorting to #smugglers as immigration restrictions have increased

      #passeurs #fermeture_des_frontières

    • ’No more camps,’ Colombia tells Venezuelans not to settle in tent city

      Francis Montano sits on a cold pavement with her three children, all their worldly possessions stuffed into plastic bags, as she pleads to be let into a new camp for Venezuelan migrants in the Colombian capital, Bogota.

      Behind Montano, smoke snakes from woodfires set amid the bright yellow tents which are now home to hundreds of Venezuelans, erected on a former soccer pitch in a middle-class residential area in the west of the city.

      The penniless migrants, some of the millions who have fled Venezuela’s economic and social crisis, have been here more than a week, forced by city authorities to vacate a makeshift slum of plastic tarps a few miles away.

      The tent city is the first of its kind in Bogota. While authorities have established camps at the Venezuelan border, they have resisted doing so in Colombia’s interior, wary of encouraging migrants to settle instead of moving to neighboring countries or returning home.

      Its gates are guarded by police and officials from the mayor’s office and only those registered from the old slum are allowed access.

      “We’ll have to sleep on the street again, under a bridge,” said Montano, 22, whose children are all under seven years old. “I just want a roof for my kids at night.”

      According to the United Nations, an estimated 3 million Venezuelans have fled as their oil-rich country has sunk into crisis under President Nicolas Maduro. Critics accuse the Socialist leader of ravaging the economy through state interventions while clamping down on political opponents.

      The exodus - driven by violence, hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicines - amounts to one in 12 of the population, placing strain on neighboring countries, already struggling with poverty.

      Colombia, which has borne the brunt of the migration crisis, estimates it is sheltering 1 million Venezuelans, with some 3,000 arriving daily. The government says their total numbers could swell to 4 million by 2021, costing it nearly $9 billion a year.

      Municipal authorities in Bogota say the camp will provide shelter for 422 migrants through Christmas. Then in mid January, it will be dismantled in the hope jobs and new lodgings have been found.


      https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-migration-colombia/no-more-camps-colombia-tells-venezuelans-not-to-settle-in-tent-city-idUSKCN

      #camps #camps_de_réfugiés #tentes #Bogotá #Bogotà

    • Creativity amid Crisis: Legal Pathways for Venezuelan Migrants in Latin America

      As more than 3 million Venezuelans have fled a rapidly collapsing economy, severe food and medical shortages, and political strife, neighboring countries—the primary recipients of these migrants—have responded with creativity and pragmatism. This policy brief explores how governments in South America, Central America, and Mexico have navigated decisions about whether and how to facilitate their entry and residence. It also examines challenges on the horizon as few Venezuelans will be able to return home any time soon.

      Across Latin America, national legal frameworks are generally open to migration, but few immigration systems have been built to manage movement on this scale and at this pace. For example, while many countries in the region have a broad definition of who is a refugee—criteria many Venezuelans fit—only Mexico has applied it in considering Venezuelans’ asylum cases. Most other Latin American countries have instead opted to use existing visa categories or migration agreements to ensure that many Venezuelans are able to enter legally, and some have run temporary programs to regularize the status of those already in the country.

      Looking to the long term, there is a need to decide what will happen when temporary statuses begin to expire. And with the crisis in Venezuela and the emigration it has spurred ongoing, there are projections that as many as 5.4 million Venezuelans may be abroad by the end of 2019. Some governments have taken steps to limit future Venezuelan arrivals, and some receiving communities have expressed frustration at the strain put on local service providers and resources. To avoid widespread backlash and to facilitate the smooth integration of Venezuelans into local communities, policymakers must tackle questions ranging from the provision of permanent status to access to public services and labor markets. Done well, this could be an opportunity to update government processes and strengthen public services in ways that benefit both newcomers and long-term residents.

      https://www.migrationpolicy.org/research/legal-pathways-venezuelan-migrants-latin-america

    • Venezuela: Millions at risk, at home and abroad

      Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world and is not engulfed in war. Yet its people have been fleeing on a scale and at a rate comparable in recent memory only to Syrians at the height of the civil war and the Rohingya from Myanmar.

      As chronicled by much of our reporting collected below, some three to four million people have escaped the economic meltdown since 2015 and tried to start afresh in countries like Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. This exodus has placed enormous pressure on the region; several governments have started making it tougher for migrants to enter and find jobs.

      The many millions more who have stayed in Venezuela face an acute humanitarian crisis denied by their own government: pervasive hunger, the resurgence of disease, an absence of basic medicines, and renewed political uncertainty.

      President Nicolás Maduro has cast aside outside offers of aid, framing them as preludes to a foreign invasion and presenting accusations that the United States is once again interfering in Latin America.

      Meanwhile, the opposition, led by Juan Guaidó, the president of the National Assembly, has invited in assistance from the US and elsewhere.

      As aid becomes increasingly politicised, some international aid agencies have chosen to sit on the sidelines rather than risk their neutrality. Others run secretive and limited operations inside Venezuela that fly under the media radar.

      Local aid agencies, and others, have had to learn to adapt fast and fill the gaps as the Venezuelan people grow hungrier and sicker.

      https://www.irinnews.org/special-report/2019/02/21/venezuela-millions-risk-home-and-abroad
      #cartographie #visualisation

    • Leaving Home Through a Darkened Border

      I’m sitting on the edge of a boat on the shore of the Grita river, a few kilometers from the Unión bridge. The border between San Antonio del Tachira (Venezuela) and Cucuta (Colombia), one of the most active in Latin America, is tense, dark and uneasy. I got there on a bus from Merida, at around 4:00 a.m., and people were commenting, between WhatsApp messages and audios, that Maduro had opened the border, closed precisely the last time I went through in a violent haze.

      Minutes after I got off the bus, I could see hundreds standing in an impossible queue for the Venezuelan immigration office, at Boca de Grita. Coyotes waited on motorbikes, telling people how much cheaper and faster it’d be if they paid to cross through the side trail. I approached the first motorbike I saw, paid 7,000 Colombian pesos (a little over $2) and sleepily made my way through the wet, muddy paths down to the river.
      Challenge 1: From Merida to the border

      Fuel shortages multiplied the bus fares to the border in less than a month; the few buses that can still make the trip are already malfunctioning. The lonely, dark roads are hunting grounds for pirates, who throw rocks at car windows or set up spikes on the pavement to blow tires. Kidnapping or robberies follow.

      The bus I was in stopped several times when the driver saw a particularly dark path ahead. He waited for the remaining drivers traveling that night to join him and create a small fleet, more difficult to attack. The criminals are after what travelers carry: U.S. dollars, Colombian pesos, Peruvian soles, gold, jewelry (which Venezuelans trade at the border for food or medicine, or a ride to Peru or Chile). “It’s a bad sign to find a checkpoint without soldiers,” the co-driver said, as he got off to stretch his legs. “We’ll stop here because it’s safe; we’ll get robbed up ahead.” Beyond the headlights, the road was lost in dusk. This trip usually takes five hours, but this time it took seven, with all the stops and checkpoints along the way.
      Challenge 2: Across the river from Venezuela to Colombia

      Reaching the river, I noticed how things had changed since the last time I visited. There was no trace of the bottles with smuggled fuel, barrels, guards or even containers over the boats. In fact, there weren’t even that many boats, just the one, small and light, pushed by a man with a wooden stick through muddy waters. I was the only passenger.

      The paracos (Colombian paramilitaries) were in a good mood. Their logic is simple: if Maduro opened the border, lots of people would try to cross, but since many couldn’t go through the bridge due to the expensive bribes demanded by the Venezuelan National Guard and immigration agents, this would be a good day for trafficking.

      The shortage of fuel in states like Tachira, Merida and Zulia destroyed their smuggling of incredibly cheap Venezuelan fuel to Colombia, and controlling the irregular crossings is now the most lucrative business. Guerrillas and paracos have been at it for a while, but now Venezuelan pro-Maduro colectivos, deployed in Tachira in February to repress protests, took over the human trafficking with gunfire, imposing a new criminal dynamic where, unlike Colombian paramilitaries, they assault and rob Venezuelan migrants.

      A woman arrives on a motorbike almost half an hour after me, and comes aboard. “Up there, they’re charging people with large suitcases between 15,000 and 20,000 pesos. It’s going to be really hard to cross today. People will grow tired, and eventually they’ll come here. They’re scared because they’ve heard stories, but everything’s faster here.”

      Her reasoning is that of someone who has grown accustomed to human trafficking, who uses these crossings every day. Perhaps she’s missing the fact that, in such a critical situation as Venezuela’s in 2019, most people can no longer pay to cross illegally and, if they have some money, they’d rather use it to bribe their way through the bridge. The binational Unión bridge, 60 km from Cucuta, isn’t that violent, making it the preferred road for families, pregnant women and the elderly.

      Coyotes get three more people on the boat, the boatman sails into the river, turns on the rudimentary diesel engine and, in a few minutes, we’re on the other side. It’s not dawn yet and I’m certain this is going to be a very long day.

      “I hope they remove those containers from the border,” an old man coming from Trujillo with a prescription for insulin tells me. “I’m sure they’ve started already.” After the failed attempt to deliver humanitarian aid in February, the crossing through the bridges was restricted to all pedestrians and only in a few exceptions a medical patient could be let through (after paying the bribe). The rest still languishes on the Colombian side.
      Challenge 3: Joining the Cucuta crowd

      I finally reach Cucuta and six hours later, mid-afternoon, I meet with American journalist Joshua Collins at the Simón Bolívar bridge. According to local news, about 70,000 people are crossing it this Saturday alone.

      The difference with what I saw last time, reporting the Venezuela Live Aid concert, is astounding: the mass of Venezuelans lifts a cloud that covers everything with a yellowish, dirty and pale nimbus. The scorching desert sunlight makes everyone bow their heads while they push each other, crossing from one side to the other. There’s a stagnant, bitter smell in the air, a kind of musk made of filth, moisture and sweat.

      Joshua points to 20 children running barefoot and shirtless after cabs and vehicles. “Those kids wait here every day for people who want to cross in or out with packs of food and merchandise. They load it all on their shoulders with straps on around their heads.” These children, who should be in school or playing with their friends, are the most active carriers nowadays, working for paramilitaries and colectivos.

      The market (where you can buy and sell whatever you can think of) seems relegated to the background: what most people want right now is to cross, buy food and return before nightfall. The crowd writhes and merges. People shout and fight, frustrated, angry and ashamed. The Colombian police tries to help, but people move how they can, where they can. It’s unstoppable.

      The deepening of the complex humanitarian crisis in the west, plus the permanent shortage of gasoline, have impoverished migrants to a dangerous degree of vulnerability. Those who simply want to reach the border face obstacles like the absence of safe transportation and well-defined enemies, such as the human trafficking networks or the pro-Maduro criminal gangs controlling the roads now. The fear of armed violence in irregular crossings and the oppressive tendencies of the people controlling them, as well as the growing xenophobia of neighboring countries towards refugees, should be making many migrants wonder whether traveling on foot is a good idea at all.

      Although the border’s now open, the regime’s walls grow thicker for the poor. This might translate into new internal migrations within Venezuela toward areas less affected by the collapse of services, such as Caracas or the eastern part of the country, and perhaps the emergence of poor and illegal settlements in those forgotten lands where neither Maduro’s regime, nor Iván Duque’s government hold any jurisdiction.

      For now, who knows what’s going to happen? The sun sets over the border and a dense cloud of dust covers all of us.

      https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2019/06/11/leaving-home-through-a-darkened-border

  • Estas son las rutas terrestres que utilizan los venezolanos para emigrar
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/latinoamerica/estas-son-las-rutas-terrestres-que-utilizan-los-venezolanos-para-emigra

    Agence France-Presse (AFP), agencia de noticias, publicó este martes una infografía que explica las rutas que utilizan los venezolanos para desplazarse por el continente suramericano.

    En la imagen se describe cuáles son las vías que usan quienes desean emigrar a países como Colombia, Ecuador, Brasil, Perú, Chile y Argentina. Además, discierne los costos y el tiempo de demora entre cada destino.

    A pesar de que existen rutas alternas, que también son muy adoptadas los caminos alternos, ya sea para rebajar la trayectoria o para dirigirse a destinos menos comunes.

    Desde que Ecuador y Perú implementaron la exigencia del pasaporte vigente para ingresas en estos países, los venezolanos han optado por transitar por trochas y vías peligrosas.

  • The History of Civilization Is a History of Border Walls

    When I joined my first archaeological dig at a site near Hadrian’s Wall in 2002, walls never appeared in the nightly news. Britain was still many years away from planning a barrier near the opening of the Chunnel in Calais. Saudi Arabia hadn’t yet encircled itself with high-tech barricades. Israel hadn’t started reinforcing its Gaza border fence with concrete. Kenya wasn’t seeking Israel’s help in the construction of a 440-mile barrier against Somalia. And the idea that India might someday send workers high into the Himalayas to construct border walls that look down on clouds still seemed as preposterous as the notion that Ecuador might commence construction on a 950-mile concrete wall along its border with Peru.

    No one chatted about walls while we cut through sod to expose the buried remains of an ancient fortress in northern Britain. I doubt that anyone was chatting about walls anywhere. The old fortress, on the other hand, was generally considered the crown jewel of British archaeology. For more than 30 years, sharp-eyed excavators at the Roman fort of Vindolanda had been finding writing tablets — thin slivers of wood upon which Roman soldiers had written letters, duty rosters, inventories, and other assorted jottings. At first, the tablets had represented something of a technical challenge; their spectral writing faded almost immediately upon exposure to air, almost as if written in invisible ink. But when the writings were recovered through infrared photography, a tremendous satisfaction came from the discovery that Roman soldiers complained about shortages of beer while the wives of their commanders planned birthday parties. The Romans, it turned out, were a lot like us.

    Archaeology, even at such a special place, was tiring business, but after work I enjoyed taking hikes along the wall. It was beautiful countryside — well lit by an evening sun that lingered late during the Northumbrian summer — and as I ambled over the grassy hills, occasionally enjoying the company of sheep, I sometimes imagined I was a lonely Roman soldier, stationed at the end of the world, scanning the horizon for barbarians while I awaited a resupply of beer. I’m ashamed to say that I took no detailed notes on the wall itself. It made for beautiful photographs, the way it stretched languidly over the countryside, but my real interest lay in other things: the Roman soldiers, the barbarians, the letters. If anything I saw in Britain was to hold any significance for my research, it seemed obvious that I would find it in the wet gray clay of Vindolanda. There I hoped only to discern tiny clues about a particular period of Roman history. Such are the modest goals of the academic. For the duration of my stay, my focus was on the clay. All the while, I was standing right next to a piece of a much bigger story, a fragment of the past that was about to rise up from its ancient slumber to dominate contemporary politics on two continents. I was leaning against it, resting my hand on it, posing for pictures by it. I just didn’t see it.

    It was my interest in the barbarians that finally opened my eyes to the historical importance of walls. The barbarians were, in the main, inhabitants of every North African or Eurasian wasteland — the steppes, the deserts, the mountains. Civilized folk had erected barriers to exclude them in an astonishing array of countries: Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Britain, Algeria, Libya, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Peru, China, and Korea, to give only a partial list. Yet somehow this fact had entirely escaped the notice of historians. Not a single textbook observed the nearly universal correlation between civilization and walls. It remained standard even for specialists to remark that walls were somehow unique to Chinese history, if not unique to Chinese culture — a stereotype that couldn’t possibly be any less true.

    By some cruel irony, the mere concept of walls now divides people more thoroughly than any structure of brick or stone.

    The reemergence of border walls in contemporary political debates made for an even more surprising revelation. Like most people my age, I had watched the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 with great excitement. To many of us, it looked like the beginning of a new era, heralded by no less towering an international figure than David Hasselhoff, whose concert united both halves of Berlin in inexplicable rapture. More than a quarter-century has passed since then, and if it had once seemed that walls had become a thing of the past, that belief has proven sorely wrong.

    Border walls have experienced a conspicuous revival in the 21st century. Worldwide, some 70 barriers of various sorts currently stand guard. Some exist to prevent terrorism, others as obstacles to mass migration or the flow of illegal drugs. Nearly all mark national borders. By some cruel irony, the mere concept of walls now divides people more thoroughly than any structure of brick or stone. For every person who sees a wall as an act of oppression, there is always another urging the construction of newer, higher, and longer barriers. The two sides hardly speak to each other.

    As things turned out, it was the not the beer or the birthday parties that connected the past to the present in northern England. It was the wall. We can almost imagine it now as a great stone timeline, inhabited on one end by ancients, on the other by moderns, but with both always residing on the same side facing off against an unseen enemy. If I couldn’t see that in 2002, it was only because we were then still living in an anomalous stage in history and had somehow lost our instinct for something that has nearly always been a part of our world.

    How important have walls been in the history of civilization? Few civilized peoples have ever lived outside them. As early as the 10th millennium BC, the builders of Jericho encircled their city, the world’s first, with a rampart. Over time, urbanism and agriculture spread from Jericho and the Levant into new territories: Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Balkans, and beyond. Walls inevitably followed. Everywhere farmers settled, they fortified their villages. They chose elevated sites and dug ditches to enclose their homes. Entire communities pitched in to make their villages secure. A survey of prehistoric Transylvanian farming villages determined that some 1,400 to 1,500 cubic meters of earth typically had to be moved just to create an encircling ditch — an effort that would have required the labor of 60 men for 40 days. Subsequently, those ditches were lined with stone and bolstered by palisades. If a community survived long enough, it might add flanking towers. These were the first steps toward walls.

    The creators of the first civilizations descended from generations of wall builders. They used their newfound advantages in organization and numbers to build bigger walls. More than a few still survive. We can estimate their heights, their thicknesses, their volumes, and their lengths. But the numbers can only tell us so much. We will always learn more by examining the people who built the walls or the fear that led to their construction.

    And what about these fears? Were civilizations — and walls — created only by unusually fearful peoples? Or did creating civilization cause people to become fearful? Such questions turn out to be far more important than we’ve ever realized.

    Since 2002, I’ve had ample time to reflect on the Roman soldiers who once guarded Hadrian’s Wall. They certainly never struck me as afraid of anything. Then again, they weren’t exactly Roman, either. They came chiefly from foreign lands, principally Belgium and Holland, which were in those days still as uncivilized as the regions north of the wall. Everything they knew of building and writing, they had learned in the service of Rome.

    As for the Romans, they preferred to let others fight their battles. They had become the definitive bearers of civilization and as such were the target of a familiar complaint: that they had lost their edge. Comfortable behind their city walls and their foreign guards, they had grown soft. They were politicians and philosophers, bread makers and blacksmiths, anything but fighters.

    The Roman poet Ovid knew a thing or two about the soft life, but he also had the unusual experience of learning what life was like for Rome’s frontier troops. The latter misfortune came as a consequence of his having offended the emperor Augustus. The offense was some peccadillo — Ovid never divulges the details — compounded by his having penned a rather scandalous book on the art of seduction. “What is the theme of my song?” he asked puckishly, in verse. “Nothing that’s very far wrong.” Augustus disagreed. Reading Ovid’s little love manual, the moralistic emperor saw plenty of wrong. He probably never even made it to the section where Ovid raved about what a great ruler he was. Augustus banished the poet from Rome, exiling him to Tomis, a doomed city on the coast of the Black Sea, 60-odd miles south of the Danube.

    Tomis was a hardscrabble sort of place, a former Greek colony already some 600 years old by the time of Ovid’s exile in the first century AD and no shinier for the wear. Its distinguishing characteristics were exactly two: First, it was about as far from Rome as one could be sent. Second, it lay perilously close to some of Rome’s fiercest enemies, in an area that didn’t yet have a border wall. Like northern Britain, the region of Tomis would one day receive its share of border walls, but in Ovid’s day, the only barriers to invasion were the fortifications around the city itself.

    Ovid suffered in his new home. It was one thing to live in a walled city, but quite another to be completely confined within those walls. In his letters to Rome, Ovid complained that the farmers of Tomis couldn’t even venture out onto their fields. On the rare occasion when a peasant dared to visit his plot, he guided the plow with one hand while carrying weapons in another. Even the shepherds wore helmets.

    Fear permeated everyday life in Tomis. Even in times of peace, wrote Ovid, the dread of war loomed. The city was, for all intents and purposes, under perpetual siege. Ovid likened the townspeople to a timid stag caught by bears or a lamb surrounded by wolves.

    Occasionally, Ovid reminisced on his former life in the capital, where he’d lived free from fear. He wistfully recalled the amenities of Rome — the forums, the temples, and the marble theaters; the porticoes, gardens, pools, and canals; above all, the cornucopia of literature at hand. The contrast with his new circumstances was complete. At Tomis, there was nothing but the clash and clang of weapons. Ovid imagined that he might at least content himself with gardening, if only he weren’t afraid to step outside. The enemy was quite literally at the gates, separated only by the thickness of the city’s wall. Barbarian horsemen circled Tomis. Their deadly arrows, which Ovid unfailingly reminds us had been dipped in snake venom, made pincushions of the roofs in the city.

    The birth of walls set human societies on divergent paths, one leading to self-indulgent poetry, the other to taciturn militarism.

    There remained a final indignity for Ovid: the feeble, middle-aged author was pressed into service in defense of Tomis. As a youth, Ovid had avoided military service. There was no shame for shirkers back in Rome, a city replete with peaceniks and civilians. Now aging, Ovid had finally been forced to carry a sword, shield, and helmet. When the guard from the lookout signaled a raid, the poet donned his armor with shaking hands. Here was a true Roman, afraid to step out from behind his fortifications and hopelessly overwhelmed by the responsibility of defending them.

    From time to time, a Chinese poet would find himself in a situation much like Ovid’s. Stationed at some lonely outpost on the farthest reaches of the empire, the Chinese, too, longed for home while dreading the nearness of the barbarians. “In the frontier towns, you will have sad dreams at night,” wrote one. “Who wants to hear the barbarian pipe played to the moon?” Sometimes they meditated on the story of the Chinese princess who drowned herself in a river rather than cross beyond the wall. Even Chinese generals lamented the frontier life.

    Oddly, none of these sentiments appear in the letters written by the Roman soldiers at Vindolanda. Transplanted to a rainy land far from home, they grumbled at times about the beer supply but had nothing to say about shaky hands or sad dreams. It was as if these barbarian-turned-Roman auxiliaries had come from another world, where homesickness and fear had been banished. Perhaps they had.

    Almost anytime we examine the past and seek out the people most like us — those such as Ovid or the Chinese poets; people who built cities, knew how to read, and generally carried out civilian labor — we find them enclosed behind walls of their own making. Civilization and walls seem to have gone hand in hand. Beyond the walls, we find little with which we can identify — warriors mostly, of the sort we might hire to patrol the walls. The outsiders are mostly anonymous, except when they become notorious.

    The birth of walls set human societies on divergent paths, one leading to self-indulgent poetry, the other to taciturn militarism. But the first path also pointed to much more — science, mathematics, theater, art — while the other brought its followers only to a dead end, where a man was nothing except a warrior and all labor devolved upon the women.

    No invention in human history played a greater role in creating and shaping civilization than walls. Without walls, there could never have been an Ovid, and the same can be said for Chinese scholars, Babylonian mathematicians, or Greek philosophers. Moreover, the impact of walls wasn’t limited to the early phases of civilization. Wall building persisted for most of history, climaxing spectacularly during a 1,000-year period when three large empires — Rome, China, and Sasanid Persia — erected barriers that made the geopolitical divisions of the Old World all but permanent.

    The collapse of those walls influenced world history almost as profoundly as their creation, by leading to the eclipse of one region, the stagnation of another, and the rise of a third. When the great border walls were gone, leaving only faint traces on the landscape, they left indelible lines on our maps — lines that have even today not yet been obscured by modern wars or the jockeying of nations for resources. Today, a newer set of walls, rising up on four continents, has the potential to remake the world yet again.


    https://medium.com/s/greatescape/the-history-of-civilization-is-a-history-of-border-walls-24e837246fb8
    #civilisation #histoire #murs #murs_frontaliers #histoire #frontières #livre #David_Frye

  • The Rise and Fall of the Latin American Left | The Nation
    https://www.thenation.com/article/the-ebb-and-flow-of-latin-americas-pink-tide

    Conservatives now control Latin America’s leading economies, but the region’s leftists can still look to Uruguay for direction.
    By Omar G. Encarnación, May 9, 2018

    Last December’s election of Sebastián Piñera, of the National Renewal party, to the Chilean presidency was doubly significant for Latin American politics. Coming on the heels of the rise of right-wing governments in Argentina in 2015 and Brazil in 2016, Piñera’s victory signaled an unmistakable right-wing turn for the region. For the first time since the 1980s, when much of South America was governed by military dictatorship, the continent’s three leading economies are in the hands of right-wing leaders.

    Piñera’s election also dealt a blow to the resurrection of the Latin American left in the post–Cold War era. In the mid-2000s, at the peak of the so-called Pink Tide (a phrase meant to suggest the surge of leftist, noncommunist governments), Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Bolivia, or three-quarters of South America’s population (some 350 million people), were under left-wing rule. By the time the Pink Tide reached the mini-state of Mexico City, in 2006, and Nicaragua, a year later (culminating in the election of Daniel Ortega as president there), it was a region-wide phenomenon.

    It’s no mystery why the Pink Tide ran out of steam; even before the Chilean election, Mexican political scientist Jorge Castañeda had already declared it dead in The New York Times. Left-wing fatigue is an obvious factor. It has been two decades since the late Hugo Chávez launched the Pink Tide by toppling the political establishment in the 1998 Venezuelan presidential election. His Bolivarian revolution lives on in the hands of his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, but few Latin American governments regard Venezuela’s ravaged economy and diminished democratic institutions as an inspiring model. In Brazil, the Workers’ Party, or PT, was in power for 14 years, from 2002 through 2016, first under its founder, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, between 2003 and 2011, and then under his successor and protégée, Dilma Rousseff, from 2011 to 2016. The husband-and-wife team of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of the Peronist Party governed Argentina from 2003 to 2015. Socialist Michelle Bachelet had two nonconsecutive terms in office in Chile, from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2018.

    Economic turmoil and discontent is another culprit. As fate would have it, the Pink Tide coincided with one of the biggest economic expansions in Latin American history. Its engine was one of the largest commodities booms in modern times. Once the boom ended, in 2012—largely a consequence of a slowdown in China’s economy—economic growth in Latin America screeched to a halt. According to the International Monetary Fund, since 2012 every major Latin American economy has underperformed relative to the previous 10 years, with some economies, including that of Brazil, the region’s powerhouse, experiencing their worst recession in decades. The downturn reined in public spending and sent the masses into the streets, making it very difficult for governments to hang on to power.

    Meanwhile, as the commodity boom filled states’ coffers, leftist politicians became enmeshed in the same sorts of corrupt practices as their conservative predecessors. In April, Lula began serving a 12-year prison sentence for having accepted bribes in exchange for government contracts while in office. His prosecution, which in principle guarantees that he will not be a candidate in this year’s presidential race, was the high point of Operation Car Wash, the biggest anti-corruption dragnet in Brazilian history. Just after leaving office, in 2015, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was indicted for fraud for conspiring with her former public-works secretary, José López, to steal millions of federal dollars intended for roadwork in Argentina. The “nuns and guns” scandal riveted the country, with the arrest of a gun-toting López as he hurled bags stuffed with millions of dollars over the walls of a Catholic convent in a suburb of Buenos Aires. In Chile, Bachelet left office under a cloud of suspicion. Her family, and by extension Bachelet herself, is accused of illegal real-estate transactions that netted millions of dollars.

    All this said, largely overlooked in obituaries of the Pink Tide is the right-wing backlash that it provoked. This backlash aimed to reverse the shift in power brought on by the Pink Tide—a shift away from the power brokers that have historically controlled Latin America, such as the military, the Catholic Church, and the oligarchy, and toward those sectors of society that have been marginalized: women, the poor, sexual minorities, and indigenous peoples. Rousseff’s impeachment in 2016 perfectly exemplifies the retaliation organized by the country’s traditional elites. Engineered by members of the Brazilian Congress, a body that is only 11 percent female and has deep ties to industrial barons, rural oligarchs, and powerful evangelical pastors, the impeachment process was nothing short of a patriarchal coup.

    In a 2017 interview, Rousseff made note of the “very misogynist element in the coup against me.… They accused me of being overly tough and harsh, while a man would have been considered firm, strong. Or they would say I was too emotional and fragile, when a man would have been considered sensitive.” In support of her case, Rousseff pointed out that previous Brazilian presidents committed the same “crime” she was accused of (fudging the national budget to hide deficits at reelection time), without any political consequence. As if to underscore the misogyny, Rousseff’s successor, Michel Temer, came into office with an all-male cabinet.

    In assessing the impact of the Pink Tide, there is a tendency to bemoan its failure to generate an alternative to neoliberalism. After all, the Pink Tide rose out of the discontent generated by the economic policies championed by the United States and international financial institutions during the 1990s, such as privatizations of state enterprises, austerity measures, and ending economic protectionism. Yet capitalism never retreated in most of Latin America, and US economic influence remains for the most part unabated. The only significant dent on the neoliberal international order made by the Pink Tide came in 2005, when a massive wave of political protests derailed the George W. Bush administration’s plan for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA. If enacted, this new trade pact would have extended the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to all countries in the Americas save for Cuba, or 34 nations in total.

    But one shouldn’t look at the legacy of the Pink Tide only through the lens of what might have been with respect to replacing neoliberalism and defeating US imperialism. For one thing, a good share of the Pink Tide was never anti-neoliberal or anti-imperialist. Left-wing rule in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile (what Castañeda called the “good left”) had more in common with the social-democratic governments of Western Europe, with its blend of free-market economics and commitment to the welfare state, than with Cuba’s Communist regime.

    Indeed, only in the radical fringe of the Pink Tide, especially the triumvirate of Chávez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Rafael Correa of Ecuador (the “bad left,” according to Castañeda), was the main thrust of governance anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist. Taking Cuba as a model, these self-termed revolutionaries nationalized large sectors of the economy, reinvigorated the role of the state in redistributing wealth, promoted social services to the poor, and created interstate institutions, such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, to promote inter-American collaboration and to challenge US hegemony.

    Second, the focus on neoliberalism and US imperialism obscures the Pink Tide’s biggest accomplishments. To be sure, the picture is far from being uniformly pretty, especially when it comes to democracy. The strong strand of populism that runs through the Pink Tide accounts for why some of its leaders have been so willing to break democratic norms. Claiming to be looking after the little guy, the likes of Chávez and Maduro have circumvented term limits and curtailed the independence of the courts and the press. But there is little doubt that the Pink Tide made Latin America more inclusive, equitable, and democratic, by, among other things, ushering in an unprecedented era of social progressivism.

    Because of the Pink Tide, women in power are no longer a novelty in Latin American politics; in 2014, female presidents ruled in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Their policies leave little doubt about the transformative nature of their leadership. In 2010, Fernández boldly took on the Argentine Catholic Church (then headed by present-day Pope Francis) to enact Latin America’s first ever same-sex marriage law; this was five years before same-sex marriage became the law of the land in the United States. A gender-identity law, one of the world’s most liberal, followed. It allows individuals to change their sex assigned at birth without permission from either a doctor or a judge. Yet another law banned the use of “conversion therapy” to cure same-sex attraction. Argentina’s gay-rights advances were quickly emulated by neighboring Uruguay and Brazil, kick-starting a “gay-rights revolution” in Latin America.

    Rousseff, who famously referred to herself with the gender-specific title of a presidenta, instead of the gender-neutral “president,” did much to advance the status of women in Brazilian society. She appointed women to the three most powerful cabinet positions, including chief of staff, and named the first female head of Petrobras, Brazil’s largest business corporation; during her tenure in office, a woman became chief justice of the Federal Supreme Court. Brutally tortured by the military during the 1970s, as a university student, Rousseff put human rights at the center of Brazilian politics by enacting a law that created Brazil’s first ever truth commission to investigate the abuses by the military between 1964 and 1985. She also signed laws that opened the Brazilian Army to women and that set into motion the corruption campaign that is currently roiling the Brazilian political class. These laws earned Rousseff the enmity of the military and conservatives.

    Bachelet, the last woman standing, made news when she entered office, in 2006, by naming the same number of men and women to her cabinet. After being term-limited, she became the first head of the newly established UN Women (formally known as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), before returning to Chile to win a second term at the presidency in 2014. During her second term, she created the Ministry of Gender Equality to address gender disparities and discrimination, and passed a law that legalized abortion in cases of rape, when there is a threat to the life of the mother, or when the fetus has a terminal condition. Less known is Bachelet’s advocacy for the environment. She weaned Chile off its dependence on hydrocarbons by building a vast network of solar- and wind-powered grids that made electricity cheaper and cleaner. She also created a vast system of national parks to protect much of the country’s forestland and coastline from development.

    Latin America’s socioeconomic transformation under the Pink Tide is no less impressive. Just before the economic downturn of 2012, Latin America came tantalizingly close to becoming a middle-class region. According to the World Bank, from 2002 to 2012, the middle class in Latin America grew every year by at least 1 percent to reach 35 percent of the population by 2013. This means that during that time frame, some 10 million Latin Americans joined the middle class every year. A consequence of this dramatic expansion of the middle class is a significant shrinking of the poor. Between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of Latin Americans living in poverty (under $4 per day) shrank from 45 to 25 percent.

    Economic growth alone does not explain this extraordinary expansion of the Latin American middle class and the massive reduction in poverty: Deliberate efforts by the government to redistribute wealth were also a key factor. Among these, none has garnered more praise than those implemented by the Lula administration, especially Bolsa Família, or Family Purse. The program channeled direct cash payments to poor families, as long as they agreed to keep their children in school and to attend regular health checkups. By 2013, the program had reached some 12 million households (50 million people), helping cut extreme poverty in Brazil from 9.7 to 4.3 percent of the population.

    Last but not least are the political achievements of the Pink Tide. It made Latin America the epicenter of left-wing politics in the Global South; it also did much to normalize democratic politics in the region. With its revolutionary movements crushed by military dictatorship, it is not surprising that the Latin American left was left for dead after the end of the Cold War. But since embracing democracy, the left in Latin America has moderated its tactics and beliefs while remaining committed to the idea that deliberate state action powered by the popular will is critical to correcting injustice and alleviating human suffering. Its achievements are a welcome antidote to the cynicism about democratic politics afflicting the American left.

    How the epoch-making legacy of the Pink Tide will fare in the hands of incoming right-wing governments is an open question. Some of the early signs are not encouraging. The Temer administration in Brazil has shown a decidedly retro-macho attitude, as suggested by its abolishment of the Ministry of Women, Racial Equality, and Human Rights (its functions were collapsed into the Ministry of Justice) and its close ties to a politically powerful evangelical movement with a penchant for homophobia. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macri has launched a “Trumpian” assault on undocumented immigrants from Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru, blaming them for bringing crime and drugs into the country. Some political observers expect that Piñera will abridge or overturn Chile’s new abortion law.

    But there is reason for optimism. Temer and Macri have been slow to dismantle anti-poverty programs, realizing that doing so would be political suicide. This is hardly surprising, given the success of those programs. Right-wing governments have even seen fit to create anti-poverty programs of their own, such as Mexico’s Prospera. Moreover, unlike with prior ascents by the right in Latin America, the left is not being vanished to the political wilderness. Left-wing parties remain a formidable force in the legislatures of most major Latin American countries. This year alone, voters in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia will have presidential elections, raising the prospect that a new Pink Tide might be rising. Should this new tide come in, the Latin American left would do well to reform its act and show what it has learned from its mistakes.

    Latin American leftists need not look far to find a model to emulate: Uruguay. It exemplifies the best of the Pink Tide without its excesses. Frente Amplio, or Broad Front, a coalition of left-wing parties in power since 2005, has put the country at the vanguard of social change by legalizing abortion, same-sex marriage, and, most famously, recreational marijuana. For these reasons alone, in 2013 The Economist chose “liberal and fun-loving” Uruguay for its first ever “country of the year” award.

    Less known accomplishments include being one of only two countries in Latin America that enjoy the status of “high income” (alongside Chile), reducing poverty from around 40 percent to less than 12 percent from 2005 to 2014, and steering clear of corruption scandals. According to Transparency International, Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America, and ranks among the world’s 25 least corrupt nations. The country also scored a near perfect 100 in Freedom House’s 2018 ranking of civil and political freedoms, virtually tied with Canada, and far ahead of the United States and neighboring Argentina and Brazil. The payoff for this much virtue is hard to ignore. Among Latin American nations, no other country shows more satisfaction with its democracy.

    Omar G. EncarnaciónOmar G. Encarnación is a professor of political studies at Bard College and author of Out in the Periphery: Latin America’s Gay Rights Revolution.

    #politique #amérique_latine #impérialisme

  • Are Genetic Testing Sites the New Social Networks? - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/16/style/23-and-me-ancestry-dna.html

    At-home genetic testing services have gained significant traction in the past few years. 23andMe, which costs $99, has over five million customers, according to the company; AncestryDNA (currently $69), over 10 million.

    The companies use their large databases to match willing participants with others who share their DNA. In many cases, long-lost relatives are reuniting, becoming best friends, travel partners, genealogical resources or confidantes.

    The result is a more layered version of what happened when Facebook first emerged and out-of-touch friends and family members found one another. Children of long-ago casual sperm donors are finding their fathers. Adoptees are bonding to biological family members they’ve been searching for their entire lives.

    The Genetic Global Village

    Others who have their DNA tested are forming relationships not with specific people, but with their family’s places of origin.

    One example is Leah Madison, 32, an education outreach coordinator for the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev. She was planning trips to Peru and Korea when she learned a year and a half ago from 23andMe that her family came from Greece, Italy and the Iberian Peninsula.

    Over the winter she and her father went to the Iberian Peninsula for two weeks. She felt an ineluctable connection to the people as she ate their bread masterpieces, toured buildings by Antoni Gaudí and danced to flamenco music.

    “I had a piece of paper that tells me I’m from Spain,” Ms. Madison said. “But then I went there and I noticed all these people have curly hair, and maybe that is where mine comes from?” Now she feels compelled to visit the other places as well.

    Perhaps the most frustrating reality is when users don’t have any known connections at all. This can happen to people in certain ethnic groups, including Latinos and Asians, that thus far have fewer people using the services and a smaller database.

    “Diversity in genetic research is a global problem,” said Joanna Mountain, the senior director of Research at 23andMe, adding that the company is offering free testing in some countries to begin to rectify that. “The results for Hispanics and Asians aren’t there yet, but they are coming,” said Jenn Utley, a family historian at Ancestry (the parent company of AncestryDNA). “The database keeps growing.”

    #Génomique #Données_personnelles #Familles #23andme

  • #NEW_SEVEN_WONDERS_OF_THE_WORLD

    Les #Sept_Nouvelles_Merveilles_du_Monde
    https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/outdoors-and-adventure/articles/new-seven-wonders-of-the-world
    consulté le 03/06/2018

    The following list of the New Seven Wonders is presented without ranking, and aims to represent global heritage.
    In 2007, more than 100 million people voted to declare the New Seven Wonders of the World. The following list of seven winners is presented without ranking, and aims to represent global heritage.

    #Great_Wall_of_China (#China)
    https://travel.home.sndimg.com/content/dam/images/travel/fullset/2015/10/12/new-seven-wonders-great-wall-of-china.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462.suffix/1491581549051.jpeg
    Built between the 5th century B.C. and the 16th century, the Great Wall of China is a stone-and-earth fortification created to protect the borders of the Chinese Empire from invading Mongols. The Great Wall is actually a succession of multiple walls spanning approximately 4,000 miles, making it the world’s longest manmade structure.

    #Christ_the_Redeemer Statue (#Rio_de_Janeiro)
    https://travel.home.sndimg.com/content/dam/images/travel/fullset/2015/10/12/new-seven-wonders-christ-the-redeemer.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462.suffix/1491581548898.jpeg
    The Art Deco-style Christ the Redeemer statue has been looming over the Brazilians from upon Corcovado mountain in an awe-inspiring state of eternal blessing since 1931. The 130-foot reinforced concrete-and-soapstone statue was designed by Heitor da Silva Costa and cost approximately $250,000 to build - much of the money was raised through donations. The statue has become an easily recognized icon for Rio and Brazil.

    #Machu_Picchu (#Peru)
    https://travel.home.sndimg.com/content/dam/images/travel/fullset/2015/10/12/new-seven-wonders-machu-picchu.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462.suffix/1491581548990.jpeg
    Machu Picchu, an Incan city of sparkling granite precariously perched between 2 towering Andean peaks, is thought by scholars to have been a sacred archaeological center for the nearby Incan capital of Cusco. Built at the peak of the Incan Empire in the mid-1400s, this mountain citadel was later abandoned by the Incas. The site remained unknown except to locals until 1911, when it was rediscovered by archaeologist Hiram Bingham. The site can only be reached by foot, train or helicopter; most visitors visit by train from nearby Cusco.

    #Chichen_Itza (#Yucatan_Peninsula, #Mexico)
    https://travel.home.sndimg.com/content/dam/images/travel/fullset/2015/10/12/new-seven-wonders-chichen-itza.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462.suffix/1491581548887.jpeg
    The genius and adaptability of Mayan culture can be seen in the splendid ruins of Chichen Itza. This powerful city, a trading center for cloth, slaves, honey and salt, flourished from approximately 800 to 1200, and acted as the political and economic hub of the Mayan civilization. The most familiar ruin at the site is El Caracol, a sophisticated astronomical observatory.

    The Roman #Colosseum (#Rome)
    https://travel.home.sndimg.com/content/dam/images/travel/fullset/2015/10/12/new-seven-wonders-roman-coloesseum.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462.suffix/1491581548881.jpeg
    Rome’s, if not Italy’s, most enduring icon is undoubtedly its Colosseum. Built between A.D. 70 and 80 A.D., it was in use for some 500 years. The elliptical structure sat nearly 50,000 spectators, who gathered to watch the gladiatorial events as well as other public spectacles, including battle reenactments, animal hunts and executions. Earthquakes and stone-robbers have left the Colosseum in a state of ruin, but portions of the structure remain open to tourists, and its design still influences the construction of modern-day amphitheaters, some 2,000 years later.

    #Taj_Mahal (Agra, #India)
    https://travel.home.sndimg.com/content/dam/images/travel/fullset/2015/10/12/new-seven-wonders-taj-mahal.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462.suffix/1491581548979.jpeg
    A mausoleum commissioned for the wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal was built between 1632 and 1648. Considered the most perfect specimen of Muslim art in India, the white marble structure actually represents a number of architectural styles, including Persian, Islamic, Turkish and Indian. The Taj Mahal also encompasses formal gardens of raised pathways, sunken flower beds and a linear reflecting pool.

    #Petra (#Jordan)
    https://travel.home.sndimg.com/content/dam/images/travel/fullset/2015/10/12/new-seven-wonders-petra.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.616.462.suffix/1491581549062.jpeg
    Declared a World Heritage Site in 1985, Petra was the capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV, and likely existed in its prime from 9 B.C. to A.D. 40. The members of this civilization proved to be early experts in manipulating water technology, constructing intricate tunnels and water chambers, which helped create an pseudo-oasis. A number of incredible structures carved into stone, a 4,000-seat amphitheater and the El-Deir monastery have also helped the site earn its fame.

    En 2007, plus de 100 million de personnes ont voté pour élire les Sept Nouvelles Merveilles du Monde.
    La #Grande_Muraille_de_Chine (#Chine) :
    Construite antre le Vème siècle avant J.C. et le XVIème siècle, la Grande Muraille de Chine a été conçue pour protéger les frontières de l’Empire chinois des invasions mongoles. Aujourd’hui, la Grande Muraille est une succession de multiples murs qui s’étend sur environ 6 500 kilomètres : il s’agit de la plus longue construction humaine au monde.
    La statue du #Christ_Rédempteur (Rio de Janeiro) :
    La statue du Christ Rédempteur se dresse sur le mont du Corcovado depuis 1931. Cette statue de 40 mètres de haut a été conçue par Heitor da Silva Costa et a coûté environ 250 000 dollars (une grande partie du financement provient de dons).
    Le Machu Picchu (#Pérou) :
    La cité inca du Machu Pichu est supposée avoir été le centre de la capitale Inca Cusco. Construite au milieu du Vème siècle, la citadelle a été par la suite abandonnée par les Incas. Le site, qui n’a été découvert qu’en 1911 par l’archéologue Hiram Bingham, n’est accessible qu’à pied, en train ou en hélicoptère depuis Cusco.
    Chichen Itza (#Péninsule_du_Yucatan, Mexico) :
    La puissante cité de Chichen Itza, probablement construite entre le IX ème et le XIIIème siècles, était le centre économique et politique de la civilisation maya. Les ruines les plus visitées sont celles de l’observatoire astronomique El Caracol.
    Le #Colisée (Rome) :
    Construit au Ier siècle avant J.C., le Colisée a pu accueillir, pendant environ 500 ans, presque 50 000 spectateurs pour les spectacles de gladiateurs et autres événements publics. À cause de tremblements de terre et de vols, le Colisée est aujourd’hui en ruines.
    Le Taj Mahal (Agra, #Inde) :
    Mausolée construit pour la femme de l’Empereur Mongol Shah Jahan, la Taj Mahal a été construit entre 1632 et 1648. Cette structure de marbre blanc comprend un certain nombre d’influences et de styles architecturaux, parmi lesquels les styles persan, islamique, turque et indien.
    Pétra (#Jordanie) :
    Déclaré site mondial de l’UNESCO en 1985, Pétra était la capitale de l’Empire nabatéen au Ier siècle avant J.C. Cette civilisation était apparemment très avancée dans la maîtrise de l’irrigation, ce qui a permis de créer un pseudo-oasis.

    Mon commentaire sur cet article :
    La volonté mondiale de choisir « Sept Nouvelles Merveilles du Monde » montre bien que l’art peut permettre de redéfinir les « codes » établis. On remarque en effet que les « Sept Merveilles du Monde », dont la liste datait de l’Antiquité, se trouvaient toutes aux alentours de la Méditerranée (la pyramide de Khéops à Gizeh en Égypte, les Jardins suspendus de Babylone, la statue de Zeus à Olympie, le temple d’Artémis à Éphèse, le mausolée d’Halicarnasse, le colosse de Rhodes et le phare d’Alexandrie). Plus encore, presque aucune de ces œuvres mystiques n’existe encore aujourd’hui : ces merveilles n’étaient que le symbole de la puissance culturelle et du développement avancé des « civilisations européennes ». Les « Sept Nouvelles Merveilles du Monde » permettent de sortir de cet européanocentrisme en reconnaissant la magnificence de civilisations « autres ».

  • Organisation des États américains, vers une suspension du Venezuela

    OEA acordó iniciar proceso de suspensión de Venezuela
    http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/politica/oea-acordo-iniciar-proceso-suspension-venezuela_238769

    11 países se abstuvieron en la votación de la resolución planteada por la OEA para declarar ilegítima la reelección de Nicolás Maduro y la “alteración del orden constitucional” en Venezuela. 

    Los países que se abstuvieron fueron Saint Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Trinidad y Tobago, Uruguay, Antigua y Barbuda, Belice, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Haití y Nicaragua.

    La resolución fue aprobada por 19 votos a favor de los 35 países miembros de la OEA. Entre los países a favor están Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brasil, Canadá, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estados Unidos, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, México, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, República Dominicana y Santa Lucía.

    Bolivia, Dominica, San Vicente y Venezuela votaron en contra de la resolución.

    Ahora se efectuará una Asamblea General Extraordinaria, en la que se hará la deliberación sobre la suspensión de Venezuela del organismo Interamericano.

    • Mais ce n’est pas gagné, puisqu’il faut 24 voix en Assemblée générale. Les États-Unis à la manœuvre.

      EE UU juega su carta en la OEA y logra un triunfo parcial en Venezuela
      http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/juega-carta-oea-logra-triunfo-parcial-venezuela_238796

      Fuentes diplomáticas describieron como una «partida de póker» el proceso que culminó anoche con una resolución que abre la puerta a la suspensión como Estado miembro de Venezuela, la mayor sanción de la que dispone el organismo y que, en sus 70 años de historia, solo ha aplicado a dos países: Cuba y Honduras.

      «Estados Unidos tenía las mejores cartas, trajo a su vicepresidente y a su secretario de Estado, Mike Pompeo, pero uno no sabía si todo era un farol», resumió una de esas fuentes.

      El objetivo de EE UU era suspender a Venezuela de la OEA, un proceso que no es automático: era necesario aprobar la resolución, reunir al Consejo Permanente y luego convocar una Asamblea General extraordinaria con los cancilleres de las Américas para lograr el respaldo de 24 países, es decir, dos tercios de los 35 miembros del organismo.

      Los 24 votos eran muy difíciles de conseguir debido al tradicional respaldo del Caribe a Venezuela, que durante años les prestó dinero y les permitió acceder a petróleo subvencionado.

      Para aprobar la resolución eran necesarios 18 votos y sus impulsores (los 14 países del Grupo de Lima y EE UU) lograron 19, aunque hubo once abstenciones y cuatro Estados votaron en contra.

  • Indonesia Turns to Google in War on Illegal Fishing – gCaptain
    http://gcaptain.com/indonesia-turns-to-google-in-war-on-illegal-fishing

    But it’s not game over for the minister: she says local boats are still working with “global pirates” who catch fish just outside the permitted zone, which are then shipped to foreign destinations. And that’s where Google comes in.

    They still steal from us. We see it on Google fishing watch,” [Indonesia’s Fisheries Minister Susi] Pudjiastuti said, referring to Global Fishing Watch, an online mapping platform co-founded by Google. “They use Indonesian-affiliated companies and businesses and basically take their catch a few miles beyond the exclusive economic zone, where a refrigerated mothership is waiting.

    Indonesia last year became the first nation to share its Vessel Monitoring System information — government-owned data used to monitor maritime traffic — with the global monitoring platform, founded by Google, Oceana and SkyTruth, and funded by partners including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

    Pudjiastuti’s initiative instantly made nearly 5,000 previously invisible boats viewable. She has called for other nations to follow her lead, with Peru last year committing to making its fishing data available.

    Brian Sullivan, the manager of Google Ocean and Earth Outreach, said information from Indonesia’s VMS was fed through the same algorithm used by Global Fishing Watch to produce a new set of analytics. That was then added to raw satellite imagery to produce an even more detailed footprint of fishing activities in near-real time.

    Susi reached out to us and said ’I like what you’re working on, we’d like to see how we could use that information in Indonesia,” California-based Sullivan said in a telephone interview. “She has been probably one of the most progressive ministers within fisheries for taking something that historically all governments had kept extremely close.

    By using machine learning and watching how a vessel moves, Google’s technology is able to establish patterns, and determine whether a vessel is in transit or fishing.

    A study published last month found that foreign fishing in Indonesia dropped by more than 90 percent and total fishing by 25 percent following the tough policies introduced by Pudjiastuti, which also included a ban on all foreign-owned and -made boats from fishing in Indonesia and the restriction of transfers of fish at sea.

    We know what it looks like when a vessel is broadcasting because we see that vessel’s position,” said Sullivan. “And if it then goes quiet for a while and then reappears on the other side of a marine-protected area that would be considered suspicious activity.