Latin American governments congratulate Chavez win in Venezuela

MEXICO CITY -- Governments in Latin America quickly congratulated Hugo Chavez on his reelection Sunday as president of Venezuela, a sign of his convincing win over strong opposition challenger Henrique Capriles.

With Chavez's victory, Venezuela's socialist government is set to remain in power at least through 2019 and maintain its position as a regional leader for leftist governments that are Bolivarian ideological allies or depend on Venezuela's oil and subsidies.

The congratulations were effusive and personally directed at the president who has been in office for more than 13 years, making Chavez, 58, the longest-serving leader in Latin America.

"Your decisive victory assures the continuation of the struggle for the genuine integration of Our America," said Cuban President Raul Castro, in a statement released by the communist country's embassy in Mexico City.

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Evita now graces Argentina's 100-peso note

Evita graces peso note
BUENOS AIRES -- Exalted in countless books, a Broadway musical and a Madonna movie, Argentina’s Eva Peron now graces that country’s 100-peso note in commemoration of her death 60 years ago Thursday.

In a ceremony, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said she wants the Eva Peron commemorative peso note to become permanent, replacing one featuring Julio Argentino Roca, one of the country's early presidents.

“It seems to me to be an homage that we owe not only to her but to ourselves,” Fernandez told a gathering Wednesday at the presidential palace.

In the background was an enlarged facsimile of the bill, featuring a profile shot of the blond former dancer popularly known as Evita. She was the wife of President Juan Peron, who ruled from 1946 to 1955, and then again for nine months prior to his death in 1974.

The 100-peso note currently is valued at nearly $22.

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Paraguay faces fallout after president's ouster

Paraguay's Lugo
SAO PAULO, Brazil -- The governments of South America have united to punish Paraguay for  removing President Fernando Lugo on Friday, suspending the country’s membership in regional organizations for what some leaders are calling a coup.

When news spread that the Paraguayan Senate had voted to oust the left-leaning former Catholic bishop, widespread condemnation came quickly from leaders in a region with bad memories of dictatorships and democratic instability. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said her government would not recognize the new government formed by Federico Franco, who served as Lugo’s vice president before turning against him.

“Argentina will not validate the coup d’etat in Paraguay,” Kirchner said. “This is about more than Lugo.... This is a definitive attack on institutions and a replay of situations we had thought were totally forgotten.”

For all of Latin America’s varied ideological stripes, the negative response was surprisingly unanimous. Left-wing governments in Venezuela and Ecuador announced they’d cut off shipments of oil. Chile’s conservative government pulled its ambassador from the country. Colombia’s president, Miguel Santos, issued a statement saying there may have been an “abuse” of the proceedings. And regional powerhouse Brazil has put forward the possibility of further sanctions against Asuncion.

U.S. State Department representative Victoria Nuland said on Monday that Washington is “quite concerned about the speed of the process used for this impeachment in Paraguay."

Paraguay has been suspended from both Unasur, or the Union of South American Nations, and Mercosur, the regional trading bloc, until new elections take place.

Mercosur will hold an emergency meeting this week in Argentina to decide what action to take against the poor, land-locked nation. Lugo continues to consider himself the legitimate president of Paraguay and said he will attend the summit to explain the situation. It’s unclear what effect the actions will have on the new government in Paraguay, which has denounced its dismissal from the organizations.

It’s also unclear why the Paraguayan Senate voted now to oust Lugo, who would have been replaced in nine months during an election in which he could not participate.  The Senate's  impeachment proceedings consisted of broad charges of mismanaging the country after a land dispute turned deadly. It was conducted in a matter of hours, and Lugo was not allowed to prepare his own defense. The vote was nearly unanimous.

The government of Mexico, which is not a member of the South American organizations, released a statement affirming that “even if the political judgment took place according to the procedures established in the Paraguayan Constitution, Mexico considers that the proceedings did not give ex-President Lugo the time and space needed for the defense he had a right to.”


 Gay marriage, long legal in Spain, now in its dictionary

Dozens of Syrian military men said to have defected

Mexico election candidates rally thousands in final days of race

-- Vincent Bevins

Photo: Ousted Paraguay President Fernando Lugo gives one of his bodyguards a traditional drink before a meeting  in Asuncion, Paraguay. Credit: Cesar Olmedo / Associated Press





Argentina bomb defused where Colombia's ex-president was to speak

Bomb found at Gran Rex Theater in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

BUENOS AIRES -- Argentine officials on Tuesday found a bomb in a Buenos Aires auditorium where former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is scheduled to speak.

Federal police said the crude explosive was discovered by employees at the Gran Rex Theater in central Buenos Aires, where Uribe is to participate in a business leadership conference Wednesday. No group immediately claimed responsibility and there were no arrests.

Authorities said the bomb consisted of a cardboard box filled with black powder explosive and a cellphone connected to a detonator.

On May 15, Colombia’s former interior minister, Fernando Londoño, was the target of a bombing that killed his driver and bodyguard. Some officials suspect the rebels known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, were responsible, although no suspects have been named officially.

The cellphone was programmed to detonate Wednesday afternoon, when the highest concentration of people was expected at a post-conference cocktail hour. 

Investigating Judge Norberto Oyarbide said the bomb constituted a “very serious” plot and could have had “unpredictable consequences.”

"It’s a simple apparatus but sufficient to cause the death of people who were nearby,” Oyarbide said at a news conference in front of the theater. Also scheduled to speak at the Wednesday conference are Guy Caron, co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, and an official with the Barcelona pro soccer team.

Late Tuesday afternoon, organizers said the conference would go on as scheduled.

Leftist organizations and Colombian residents critical of the presence of Uribe had planned a midday demonstration Wednesday to protest his appearance.

There was no comment from the Argentine government as of late Tuesday. Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon issued a statement saying his government “rejected any form of terrorism.” 


U.N. nuclear chief reports tentative deal with Iran

U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan leaving post a year early

Lebanon court releases Islamist whose arrest triggered clashes

-- Andres D’Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia

Photo: Police stand guard outside the Gran Rex Theater in Buenos Aires on Tuesday. Credit: Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press 


Argentina stirs Falkland Islands furor with Olympics ad [Video]

Argentina has stirred up its perennial debate with Britain over the Falkland Islands by airing a television ad showing one of its Olympic athletes sprinting and doing push-ups on the disputed South Atlantic archipelago, including at a war memorial.

"To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil," the ad concludes. Besides appearing on Argentine television, the ad has been viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube.

Argentina and Britain have disagreed over who owns the islands since the 19th century. The dispute has heated up again this year as both countries marked the 30th anniversary of the outbreak of a war over the Falklands that cost hundreds of lives. Argentina wants Britain to negotiate over the islands; Britons say it is up to the islanders themselves, who have resisted Argentine claims to the territory.

British officials called the Olympic ad insensitive and disrespectful. Falkland Islanders said it had been filmed without their knowledge and condemned the video as an attempt to politicize the Olympics.

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What may have caused an Argentine baby to be mistakenly declared dead?


This post has been updated. See the note below for details.

The stunning case of a baby who was declared dead only to be found whimpering in the morgue nearly 12 hours later has riveted Argentina. The family said it planned to sue the hospital where the infant, named Luz Milagros, or Miracle Light, was born and later struggled for her life in intensive care.

[Updated, 11:30 a.m. April 16: To understand how a baby might be declared dead then found alive, The Times turned to Yao Sun, director of neonatal clinical programs at UC San Francisco's Benioff Children's Hospital.]

How could a baby mistakenly be declared dead?

Obviously it’s extremely rare, and that’s why this story has fascinated people. What it sounds like to me -- gleaning what I can from what I’ve read -- is that at the time the baby was born, the baby did not have many of the clinical signs of life. As far as I can tell, this was a pretty premature infant.

So I would guess that the baby was not breathing, was limp, was most likely blue and could have had such a slow heart rate that when they listened they didn’t hear it. We will frequently attempt to resuscitate a baby like that, but there are certain circumstances in which we would not attempt it.

How would a baby like that have survived?

My understanding is that the baby was transferred to a cooled area of the morgue rather quickly. Here I’m hypothesizing, but that may have allowed the baby to survive by cooling the metabolic rate so much that the organs of the body don’t need as much oxygen and nutrients. You’d normally expect that if the heart rate was that low, the baby would have died relatively quickly.

Even though the patient is dying, it doesn’t mean that they may not, on occasion, have something like a gasp or movement. In the end stages of dying, the brain stem can still occasionally fire primitive reflexes which can result in a gasp. That’s not truly breathing effort, but a primitive breathing reflex.

I would expect that this baby is going to be at extremely high risk for having a lot of problems. The risks for mortality and long-term poor neurological outcomes are extremely high. [As of Friday, doctors said the baby had suffered cardiopulmonary failure and an infection. She was in critical condition.]

How do you make the decision whether to try to resuscitate a baby?

We consider several factors. Gestational age is one of them. Some neonatologists will attempt to resuscitate essentially any live-born infant no matter their gestational age -- but that’s not the most common. For most neonatologists, 23 to 24 weeks of gestational age is seen as viable.

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Argentina newborn found alive in icy morgue suffers medical setback

Analia Bouter and husband Fabian Veron
BUENOS AIRES -- Doctors in Argentina on Friday struggled to save the life of a baby who was mistakenly declared dead last week and spent 12 hours in a refrigerated hospital morgue before her mother discovered she was alive.

Luz Milagros Veron, who survived in a tiny wooden box in the morgue at Perrando de Resistencia Hospital, on Thursday suffered cardiopulmonary failure and an infection. She was in critical condition and in the neonatal intensive care ward Friday, hospital administrators said.

The baby was born three months premature, weighing slightly more than a pound and apparently stillborn. Doctors at the hospital signed a death certificate and sent her to the morgue.

Before leaving the hospital later that night, her mother Analia Bouter, asked to see her infant’s body one last time. After a hospital worker pried the lid off the box, she heard her frost-covered baby whimper and saw her make slight movements, Bouter later told reporters at a news conference. The baby was in stable condition until her Thursday emergency.

Hospital director Dr. Jose Luis Meiriño has insisted that the hospital follows “strict medical protocols” and that the baby was born with “no apparent vital signs.” Her birth was attended by an obstetrician, a gynecologist and a neonatologist, he said.

The provincial health minister, Francisco Baquero, has said an investigation would be conducted, adding, “We’re dealing with a human error.”

The baby’s father, Fabian Veron, told reporters: “In spite of everything, we believe that if my daughter is still with us its because it’s a message that she will survive.” The couple have four other children.


Mexico presidential race leaves voters dismayed

Brazil wins the gold medal in gridlock

Yes, they're abierto: Cubans open their doors to small business

-- Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia

Photo: Analia Bouter and her husband, Fabian Veron. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

Argentina president Fernandez proposes oil firm nationalization

Argentina President Cristina Fernandez
BUENOS AIRES -- Blaming a lack of investment in domestic energy production for a spike in oil and gas imports, Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner sent a proposal to congress Thursday to nationalize a majority interest in YPF, the country’s largest oil company.

If approved, the government would acquire a 50.1% interest in the company, whose majority owner is Spain-based Repsol. News of the proposal sent YPF share prices soaring 8.6% in New York Stock Exchange trading, as investors positioned themselves for the government’s possible purchase of shares.

Fernandez has ramped up her criticism of the oil industry in recent weeks, blaming it for a doubling of energy imports last year and a reversal of the country’s once sizable energy surplus.

But industry analysts point to Fernandez’s populist fuel price controls and consumer subsidies as reasons for the production decline. By forcing producers to charge customers less than market prices for gasoline, diesel and gas, she makes them loath to spend millions of dollars in drilling for new reservoirs, analysts said.

In a recent interview with the Times, energy consultant Daniel Gerold of Buenos Aires said Argentina's price controls thus feed a “vicious cycle” of decreasing domestic supplies and rising imports, cutting Argentina’s trade surplus.

The issue has become a political football. Local politicians in several states who support Fernandez have revoked about a dozen of YPF’s exploration permits in the last month. Meanwhile, YPF this week promised to invest $4.4 billion over the next five years in several projects in Santa Cruz state.

Fernandez on Thursday met with member governors of the Federal Organization of Hydrocarbon Producing States and was expected to address the nation about nationalization.

Opposition senator Maria Eugenia Estenssoro criticized the proposal as the “third rape of YPF in 12 years,” referring to formerly state-owned YPF’s privatization in 1999, and the 2008 sale of a large stake in the energy company to a close ally of the president “who didn’t put up any money.”

Many of Latin America’s former state-owned oil companies have undergone partial privatization in recent years, a hybrid  policy that has enabled former monopolies such as Petrobras of Brazil and Ecopetrol of Colombia to expand production and profits.

Conversely, tighter state control at Venezuela’s state-owned petroleum company PDVSA since massive strikes in 2002 and 2003 prompted President Hugo Chavez to fire 20,000 workers there has led to a sharp decrease in crude output and efficiency.


North Korea rocket launch reportedly fails

Argentina, Britain mark Falklands War's 30th anniversary

Colombian rebels free last 10 military hostages

-- Special correspondents Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires and Chris Kraul in Bogota, Colombia.

Photo: Argentina President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner arrives for an event at the government house in Buenos Aires on Thursday, April 12, 2012. Credit: Eduardo Di Baia /Associated Press

Prince William burned in effigy on Falklands War anniversary


Every day on WorldNow, we choose a remarkable photo from around the world. Today we picked this fiery shot from Argentina, which is marking the 30-year anniversary of the Falkland Islands War.

The Falkland Islands are under British control and have been since 1833, but Argentina says it inherited the South Atlantic archipelago from the Spanish crown. Thirty years ago, more than 900 people died in a bloody 74-day war as Britain drove off Argentinian troops who had invaded the islands.

The anniversary has underscored tensions over the islands. Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner railed Monday against the British for maintaining control of the Falklands, calling it "absurd," and has warned Argentinian banks not to lend money to oil exploration projects under discussion there.

PHOTOS: Thirty years ago -- a look back

This striking photo underscores just how tense the anniversary has become: Argentinian leftists protesting near the British Embassy in Buenos Aires are burning an effigy of Prince William, who recently participated in naval exercises near the islands. The demonstrators also burned a British flag.

Britain argues that the Falkland Islanders should decide whose leadership they want. Nearly all of the islanders are British citizens, and they have repeatedly insisted that they want to be British.

Argentina has countered that, under the United Nations charter, self-determination is reserved for “ethnic groups,” not for “spaces illegally occupied by transplanted communities.”  


Happiness tops in Denmark, lowest in Togo, study says

Palestinian on hunger strike is freed, deported to Gaza

Syria violence continues as Annan prepares to brief U.N. [Video]

-- Andres D'Alessandro in Buenos Aires, Chris Kraul in Bogota and Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Members of the leftist Quebracho political group burn an effigy representing Prince William during a demonstration near the British Embassy in Buenos Aires. Credit: Daniel Garcia / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

25 suspected Anonymous hackers arrested in international sweep

Twenty-five alleged hackers from the freewheeling, decentralized Anonymous protest movement have been arrested across Europe and South America in a massive sweep coordinated by Interpol, an agency based in France that links police around the world.

Suspects arrested in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain were believed to have carried out coordinated digital attacks against the Colombian Ministry of Defense, a Chilean electrical company and other targets, the Associated Press reported.

The Spanish national police said Tuesday that they had arrested four “cyberdelinquents” tied to Anonymous, accused of blocking and defacing websites of political parties, institutions and businesses. Authorities seized 25 personal computers, hard drives and other equipment for analysis. Two servers used by the group in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic were blocked.

One of the arrestees, known by the aliases "Thunder" and "Pacotron," was believed to be in charge of the Anonymous infrastructure in Spain and Latin America, Spanish police said.

The Interpol website was down Tuesday evening. Online chatter hinted that Anonymous had carried off a revenge attack, echoing retaliatory hacks in the past when other members were arrested.

“ seems to be #TangoDown. We can’t say that this surprises us much,” an Anonymous account tweeted.

The loosely linked band of hackers has carried off a number of cyber attacks, many of them with activist aims, such as opposing broad bills against online piracy or supporting the "Arab Spring" protests.

In December, it brought down the Stratfor security think tank server and claimed to have stolen credit card numbers from its clients to nab money for Christmas donations.

Last year, it claimed to have obtained emails, credit card information and other sensitive data from U.S. police websites in retaliation for the arrests of alleged members in the U.S. and Britain.

The year before, it said it had attacked PayPal as part of "Operation Avenge Assange" after PayPal decided to stop processing donations for WikiLeaks, which many of its members admire.

And just a few weeks ago, it posted a 16-minute recording of an FBI conference call with foreign policing agencies about two British teenagers allegedly tied to the hacking group. 

"There are future operations planned in the way of everything from campaign finance reform, to elections, to infosec [information security] and much, much more, stay tuned," an Anonymous activist told the CNET technology news website in an interview Tuesday. "Expect us."


Syrian envoy denounces U.N. talks, walks out [Video]

French council throws out legislation on genocide denial

Venezuela's Chavez has surgery in Cuba; no word on cancer spread

-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles




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