Brazil's Former President 'Unfazed' By Due Corruption Ruling

Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva says there's insufficient evidence to uphold his conviction for corruption and money laundering in Brazil's massive "Car Wash" investigation.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio 'Lula' da Silva is "not concerned" by an imminent appeals-court ruling after being convicted in July of corruption and money laundering as part of the massive "Car Wash" investigation. 

At a press conference at the Lula Institute, Lula – who continues to lead the polls for next year's presidential elections – told reporters he was unfazed by the ruling's possible outcome, scheduled for January 24, in the southern city of Porto Alegre.

He emphasized that while insufficient proof has been provided to uphold his sentencing by judge Sergio Moro, a number of legal tools remain at his disposal and can be invoked if necesary.

RELATED: Lula Will Call a Constituent Assembly If He Wins Presidency in Brazil

Asked how he would reinvigorate Brazil's economy, the former president said that, in contrast to the line taken during his first two terms in office when he spoke about "distributing income, nowadays we must start talking about wealth distribution."

He also vowed that, if re-elected, he would use the country's international reserves to jumpstart the economy, which would, in turn, incentivize the domestic market.

Lula also reiterated his promise to democratize the media, something he had previously hoped would occur during former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's second term in office.

And he offered his thoughts on the overall political environment in Brazil, which has been rocked by a slew of scandals and corruption cases in the ongoing "Car Wash" graft investigation.

His interview coincided with the release of the latest CNI/Ibope survey, which revealed that a mere six percent of the population considers the administration of Senate-imposed President Michel Temer to be "excellent" or "good."

Renato da Fonseca, executive director of CNI's Research and Competitiveness department, said the survey indicates that "the population, in general, still doesn't perceive" any improvement "in the economy."

The poll, which surveyed 2,000 people in 127 municipalities between December 7 and 10, with a margin of error of two percentage points, also showed that 88 percent of respondants reject Temer and 90 percent distrust him.

Over the past few months, polls undertaken by Vox Populi, Datafolha, Data Poder 360, Instituto Parana, the National Confederation of Transportation/MDA and Ipsos have all shown that Lula enjoys a comfortable lead in Brazil's 2018 presidential election.

His term in office was marked by a slew of social programs, which lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty and removed the country from the UN World Hunger Map.

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Argentina Navy Confirms Explosion Inside Lost Submarine

Relatives of the officers inside of the submarine in Argentina have strongly criticized the actions of the government and the Navy.

The Argentine Navy has confirmed that there was an explosion in the area where the lost submarine was last seen on Nov. 15, Clarin reported. Navy spokesman Enrique Balbi mentioned that this would explain why the crew didn't use any of the emergency mechanisms.

RELATED: How Did Argentina Lose a Submarine And Its Crew?

Balbi added that information suggests that the submarine could have experienced an implosion, explaining why they haven't found any pieces of the submarine in the sea. They said a sound was detected four hours after the last contact was made with the submarine, which had an electric fault.

Meanwhile, relatives of the officers inside of the submarine in Argentina have strongly criticized the actions of the government and the Navy, saying delays and slow protocol hindered the search. Relatives also stood outside of Navy headquarters, chanting "you lied to us," according to El Pais.

Elena and Federico, the brothers of Cristian David Ibanez, one of the officials inside the ARA San Juan, said they live with pain as they await news on their brother and the rest of the crew.

"We are waiting for a miracle, that our brother appears along with all his crewmates, but I also feel that I am waiting for a wake," said Elena. "I need to hug my brother."

During a visit by President Mauricio Macri to the relatives, they said the application of search protocol was delayed and that the collaboration of other countries should have been accepted days before. The Navy said they complied in time with all protocols in this case.

"If they had accepted the aid as soon as they knew about the communication, they would have already found them," said Ibanez's brother, Federico.

Federico said his brother had sent him pictures from Ushuaia, from where he sailed, and asked his daughter and his wife to wait for him at the Mar del Plata port.

"The anguish of living in uncertainty is the worst," Federico said. "It's impressive that so much time has passed and we still don't know anything".

The relatives await at the Naval Base of Mar del Plata, located in the province of Buenos Aires, where the submarine was expected to arrive between Sunday Nov. 18 and Monday Nov. 19.

RELATED: Argentine Submarine Rescue Hopes Dwindle as New Sound 'Anomaly' Detected

For Psychiatrist Enrique Stein, who leads the support team for the relatives at the base, the situation demands respect and precautions to avoid misinformation.

"At this moment, people suffer the emotional situation based on the cycles of information, which leads to illusions and disappointments, which is logical," Stein said.

Previously, Balbi said one possibility was that the submarine couldn't go afloat and was stranded in the bottom of the sea, or that it could have been navigating on the surface. The submarine was last heard from on Nov. 15 and carried a maximum seven-day supply, a deadline that was met on Wednesday.

"It is a critical situation and the concern is growing. We are all worried, just like the relatives,"

PHOTOS: REUTERS

@Armada_Arg Este es el avión C130 de @CanalOficialFAA operando desde la Base Aeronaval Almirante Zar en el marco de las tareas de búsqueda del

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Legendary Uruguayan Singer Daniel Viglietti Has Died

Viglietti died October 30 in Montevideo at age 78 due to complications from surgery. 

Uruguayan singer Daniel Viglietti died on Monday in Montevideo, due to complications from surgery.

RELATED: Colombia's Indigenous March to Demand Government Comply with Peace Accord

The renowned artist's death came as a surprise for everyone, including his sister, according to composer Ruben Olivera said. 

He was 78 years old. 

A beloved singer-songwriter, Viglietti led a generation of great Uruguayan musicians and performers who emerged in the 1960s in creating a unique sound for the era. 

Along with musicians such as Alfredo Zitarrosa and Los Olimarenos, he introduced what became known as the "Popular Uruguayan Song" which was itself linked to the widely popular "Nueva Cancion" - both a genre and a movement. 

Throughout his life, Viglietti remained committed to several notable causes and was favored among thousands of Latin Americans and European alike. Among his admirers was famous intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre.

In 1972 the singer was jailed for opposing military rule in Uruguay.

Among his best-known compositions are "A Desalambrar", "Cancion Para Mi America", "Milonga de Andar Lejos" and "Gurisito."

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Amid Prisoner Hunger Strike, Colombia's Santos Signs Last Amnesty for FARC Members

The former rebels are demanding the release of all political prisoner and say only 832 of 3,400 have been included in the deal.

The Colombian government announced Monday a new batch of amnesty legislation that would apply for 3,600 members of the FARC, without clarifying if it applied to the members in the current transitional zones or political prisoners.

RELATED: Jailed FARC Members Continue Hunger Strike for Promised Amnesty

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia criticized Santo's previous amnesty announcement since only 832 of 3,400 members who are currently imprisoned were part of the deal.

Santos announced this was the third and last agreement he will sign and said more than 7,000 members will receive amnesty or be released from prison. Until now 1,346 political prisoners have been on a hunger strike for the past two weeks demanding release.

A list of 455 human rights defenders and personalities from all over the world, including Nobel Peace prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, signed a letter to the Colombian government to demand the release of the political prisoners under the peace agreement and asked for Pope Francis' intervention in the name of those being held.

"There is no reason to keep thousands of political prisoners imprisoned, especially those who are covered by the Peace Agreement between the government and the FARC, who, in compliance with the agreement and Law 1820, were to be released on December 31, 2016," read the letter.

It's been six months since the Colombian Congress signed the Amnesty and Pardons Act, but the FARC condemned the state's failure to release prisoners within the framework of the peace agreement signed last year.

According to the deal negotiated since 2012 and signed in Cuba, arrest warrants will be also nullified and requests for amnesty must be resolved within a period no longer than three months after they are presented to a court.

RELATED: Colombia's FARC Launches Coop As First Act After Disarmament

The FARC delivered 7,132 weapons last month to end decades of armed conflict and to start its transition into political life. The United Nations still needs to give all the certificates to the former rebels making their delivery of weapons official.

The 26 transitional zones where members gathered during the implementation of the peace deal will cease to exist and give way to their return to civilian life. The group has denounced the paramilitary violence that has increased in areas vacated by the group, leading to more murders and threats to social justice leaders in the country.

The FARC will now form a political entity and receive five seats in the House of Representatives and five in the Senate beginning in 2018 during two electoral periods. Any member of the FARC will be able to occupy those seats.

The country's second largest group, the National Liberation Army began a similar process of peace talks, which have been taking place in Ecuador since the beginning of 2017

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Bolivia's Evo Calls US 'Military Empire,' Slams US-Chile Naval Operations

The maneuvers, which began on July 1, include anti-terrain and anti-submarine operations.

Bolivian President Evo Morales slammed the joint naval operations between the U.S. and Chile, called Teamwork South 2017, which started off the coast of Chile Saturday.

RELATED: Soft Coups Made in USA to Control Latin America: Bolivia

Calling Chile the "Cain of South America" on Twitter, the Bolivian president said Sunday the "(U.S.) military empire" and the "small Israel of South America" are training to continue invading peaceful peoples.

"Joint maneuvers Teamwork South 2017: When brothers learn kill together," Morales said in a tweet, adding, "USA-Chile with naval operations Teamwork South 2017: Colonies learning from their masters."

@evoespueblo Imperio militar y el pequeño Israel de Sudamérica entrenando para seguir invadiendo pueblos pacíficos.

@evoespueblo EEUU-Chile con operaciones navales Teamwork South 2017: Las colonias aprendiendo de sus amos.

TWS-17 is a bi-annual Chile-United States naval exercise that conducts training sessions in "intermediate and advanced anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare operations," the U.S. navy's website stated.

The maneuvers, which began on July 1, include anti-terrain and anti-submarine operations. Some fleets and equipment involved in TWS-17 exercises are from the United States Southern Command Naval Forces Fourth Fleet along with the destroyer USS Chafee (DDG90), that will carry two helicopters, a fast attack submarine, and two P-8A Orion aircraft. The Destroyer 40 Squadron and the Combined Task Force 46 are also involved.

The relationship between La Paz and Santiago has been tense since Chile invaded Bolivia in 1879, taking nearly 250 miles of its coast and 74,500 square miles of its rich mineral territories. This conflict between the two countries is currently at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

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Chile: Students Protest to Demand Universal Education

Education in Chile is prohibitively expensive for many students, and leaves many more with crippling debts that generate huge rates of interest.

The Confederation of Chilean Students, also known as Confech, is holding a march on Wednesday to reject and oppose the proposed reforms to higher education offered by the government, continuing the movement for universal higher education in Chile.

RELATED: Colombia's 37-Day Teachers Strike Ends in Victory for Educators

The students are marching under the slogan: “advancing toward free public education, without debt.”

“We hope that all students, workers, officials, and those who believe that there must be deep changes in the education system can participate,” the President of the Federation of Students of the Catholic University, Sofia Barahona said.

The leaders of the Confech of Santiago have called the protests because they believe it is necessary to pressure the government from the streets in order to implement improvements to higher education.

Education in Chile is prohibitively expensive for many students, and leaves many more with crippling debt that generate large profits off of interest.

The fight for universal education access has become a swelling social movement in Chile, as many condemn President Michelle Bachelet's rolling back of many promised reforms.

In many protests in the past, state police have responded forcefully to demonsrators, using tear gas and water cannons to subdue the students.

“We call all Chileans to protest and express themselves, because this is the opportunity we have to rectify and dispute education in Chile,” Daniel Andrade, President of the Federation of Students of University of Chile said.

The protesters will march at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in Santiago and Valparaiso, as well as towns and cities.

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Argentina's Cristina Fernandez Calls for Unity Against Neoliberalism, Launches New Political Movement

The former President announced the new "Citizen's Unity" alliance that wil against the conservative government 

Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner launched Tuesday a new political alliance called Citizen's Unity that will put forward candidates to context seats in the country's upcoming legislative elections in the name of checking President Mauricio Macri's power in Congress.

RELATED: Macri's Conservative Coalition Loses Support Ahead of Legislative Elections

"I call for a citizen's unity, the unity of all Argentines," Fernandez said to a crowd of tens of thousands in Buenos Aires.

The politician criticized the rise in prices in basic services, incudluding gas and electricity, under the neoliberal agenda of the Macri administration.  

"We need to put a limit on this government in the next elections to stop this adjustment," Fernandez said. "With them we don't have a future, I don't think it's fair that we are suffering."

Social organizations and civil groups gathered at the packed stadium where the local Arsenal Football Club plays shouted, "We will return, we will return," a chorus made famous by her supporters. Some 30,000 people were expected to attend her announcement.

Fernandez, known in Argentina by her initials CFK, was expected to announce whether or not she will run for senator in Argentina's most populous province in the legislative elections scheduled for Oct. 22.

RELATED: Argentina's Workers Prepare Massive March Against Neoliberalism

"I come here to join as one more, to put my body, my head and my heart," Fernandez said. "To represent the interests of the men and women of flesh and bone."

The new alliance is made up of five political parties — New Gathering, Broad Front, Victory Party, Kolina and Federal Commitment — four of which were previously part of Fernandez' former political alliance, the Front for Victory. The Citizen's Unity coalition does not include Fernandez party with which she was elected president, the Justicialist Party, which is part of the Front for Victory. 

If Fernandez decides to run in this election, she could end up competing against her former Transportation Minister Florencio Randazzo, who has already announced his candidacy. Two sources close to her told Reuters she intends to run in Buenos Aires.

Rather than affiliating for the election with Peronism, the country's dominant progressive political movement, Fernandez and her allies' party aims to fight "the reinstatement of the neo-liberal model" under President Macri.

Candidates have until Saturday to confirm their plans to run in the legislative elections.

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Socialist Lenin Moreno sworn in as Ecuador president

QUITO: Lenin Moreno was sworn in as president of Ecuador on Wednesday following a tight race that the disabled former vice president won on promises of maintaining the social programs of his leftist predecessor Rafael Correa.

The 64-year-old Moreno, a socialist, last month won a runoff vote in the oil-exporting country, bucking a shift to the right in South America as leftist governments struggle to maintain support.

Guillermo Lasso, a former banker, called for a recount after losing the runoff election. The electoral council upheld Moreno's 2.3 percent margin of victory.

Moreno, one of the world's few paraplegic heads of state, has said he will continue anti-poverty programs. But he has promised a more conciliatory style and more open dialogue with adversaries in contrast to Correa's often combative manner.

During his four-year term, Moreno faces a challenging panorama of a faltering dollarized economy with a heavy debt burden and low oil prices

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