Ibero-American News Digest
Haiti Cholera Deaths Higher than Reported
Sept. 11 (EIRNS)Although the official toll of Haitians who have died of cholera stands at 6,200, with 430,000 infected, many on-the-ground medical sources emphasize that the actual figure of dead and infected is not really known, because of the number of cases occurring in remote areas, which are impossible to count. For people in those regions, any health care to which they might have access is four or five hours away on foot, and many cholera victims die before ever reaching a clinic.
Moreover, during the current rainy season, many non-governmental organizations that were treating cholera victims pulled out of Haiti, claiming lack of funds, and thus the cholera relief effort slowed just at the moment it should have been accelerating. Dr. Gabriel Thimothe, executive director of the Haitian Health Ministry, has stated that the existing funding "is not enough to fight against cholera in the upcoming months."
According to AlterPresse Sept. 11, in just two days in early September, approximately 50 new cholera cases were recorded in several municipalities in Haiti's South department. Serge Louissant, the departmental director of public health, reported that "the incidence of cholera infection has actually been increasing in the South, for about two weeks."
One medical source inside Haiti remarked that the official numbers of dead or infected "are only the documented cases of cholera. Both numbers could be doubled in my opinion."
New British Provocations Against Argentina
Sept. 10 (EIRNS)Argentina's Defense Minister Arturo Puricelli has accused Great Britain of launching a "new provocation" against his country, after the British warship HMS Clyde carried out naval exercises in the South Atlantic on Sept. 7, using heavy machine guns and live ammunition. The exercises occurred in the so-called "exclusion zone" the British have established around the islands.
Britain illegally seized the Malvinas (Falklands) from Argentina in 1833, and still today refuses to discuss the issue of sovereignty with the Argentines, despite numerous United Nations resolutions urging them to do so. Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly stated there is nothing to negotiate. A Foreign Office statement dated Sept. 8 provocatively noted that "our defensive posture in the Falklands remains unchanged. There are in the region 1,200-1,500 military personnel on the Falkland Islands at any one time."
A few days before the naval exercises, on Sept. 5, Puricelli met in Buenos Aires with his Brazilian counterpart Celso Amorim, and the two signed a joint declaration reiterating the two governments' "strategic alliance." The declaration underscores their commitment to strengthening bilateral cooperation in defense matters, including joint naval exercises in the South Atlantic, which might also include third countries. The two leaders also vowed to keep the South Atlantic a "zone of peace and cooperation, free of nuclear weapons."
Brazil has staunchly defended Argentina's claim to sovereignty over the Malvinas.
Chilean Students Resume Protests
Sept. 11 (EIRNS)Although Chilean student and teacher leaders and representatives of allied civic organizations met with President Sebastín Piñera on Sept. 3 to discuss their demands for a free, high-quality public educational system, they have not agreed to halt the nationwide protests that have rocked the country, and Piñera's Presidency, over the past four months.
On Sept. 8 students and teachers took to the streets again around the country to reiterate their demands. Students warn that Education Minister Felipe Bulnes's proposal for a three-week period of dialogue, with one weekly meeting of student and teacher leaders with government officials, is inadequate. Camilo Ballesteros, head of the University of Santiago's student federation (Usach), warned that the government is only looking for a way to end the student mobilizations, without seriously addressing their demands.
"The majority of students reject the authorities' offer," said Camila Vallejo of the Chilean Students' Federation, Confech. The proposal doesn't address "topics which are of vital importance," such as ending the for-profit system which the Pinochet dictatorship imposed on the country, Vallejo said. On Sept. 12, Confech is expected to issue its official counterproposal to the government, as to how the talks should proceed.
The Chilean student protests not only have broad popular support; they have also garnered wide international support, including from Spain's Indignados movement, as well as from many Ibero-American student and teacher organizations.
In Colombia, students and teachers took to the streets on Sept. 7 in several cities to protest President Juan Manuel Santos's proposed education reform bill, which students say is an attempt at privatizing the nation's public school system. The bill calls for pumping private resources into the public school system, which Santos refers to as the "profit component." Student leaders warn that if Santos tries to push the bill throughhe now says he will withdraw itthey will resort to the Chilean model of protest.
"Like we have seen in Chile, we are students trying to tell the world that we need free public education," said student leader Natalia Amando. "It is a necessity for a healthy society." Students are also supporting teachers whose health benefits are threatened by another one of Santos's "reform" bills.