Nearly 80 ‘Highly Dangerous’ Inmates Escape Paraguay Prison

Handout pictures released by Paraguay’s ABC TV showing armed forces taking position following the escape of 76 inmates from the prison in Pedro Juan Caballero, 500 kilometers northeast of Asuncion, on January 19, 2020. PHOTO / AFP


Nearly 80 prisoners, many of them members of a Brazilian drug and arms trafficking gang and described as “highly dangerous,” have escaped from a Paraguayan prison near the border, police said.

The escapees, Brazilians, and Paraguayans made their getaway through a tunnel from the prison in the border city of Pedro Juan Caballero, police spokeswoman Elena Andrada said.

“Our best men have gone to the border to attempt to recapture the prisoners,” she said.

The number of escapees totalled 76, including 40 Brazilians and 36 Paraguayans, officials said.

Paraguay’s Justice Minister Cecilia Perez (C) speaks during a press conference in Asuncion, on January 19, 2020.PHOTO: NORBERTO DUARTE / AFP


Justice Minister Cecilia Perez issued a sharp condemnation, telling reporters that it must have taken prisoners “several weeks” to build the tunnel and adding, “It is evident that the staff knew nothing and did nothing.”

The prison’s warden was dismissed and dozens of guards were arrested.

Most of the escapees belong to a criminal gang known as First Capital Command, one of Brazil’s most powerful criminal enterprises.

Andrada said the burning hulks of five vans used in the escape were found in Ponta Pora, a Brazilian city separated from Pedro Juan Caballero only by an avenue.

Pedro Juan Caballero lies about 300 miles (500 kilometers) northeast of the capital, Asuncion.

Perez voiced “a strong suspicion that officials are involved in this corrupt scheme” and said that the escapees are considered “highly dangerous.”

The escapees included men who had taken part in a massacre last June at the San Pedro prison, Andrada said.

She said the inmates had dug a tunnel “like we see in the movies, complete with internal lighting.”

Investigators have also found hundreds of sandbags.

Brazil meanwhile moved to tighten security in the border area to help recapture the inmates, Antonio Carlos Videira, Mato Grosso do Sul state’s justice and public safety secretary told reporters.

The Department of Border Operations, the Military Highway Police and other security troops backed by a helicopter have been mobilized, he said, according to Anuncion’s ABC daily.

Brazilian Justice Minister Sergio Moro echoed the offer of support in recapturing the prisoners: “If they return to Brazil, they get one-way tickets to federal prison,” he tweeted.

Paraguay’s Interior Minister Euclides Acevedo said police special ops staff were combing the area of the escape, backed by helicopters.


70,000 Families Displaced In Paraguay Flooding

View of a flooded area in town of Puerto Falcon, near Asuncion, on May 25, 2019, after heavy rains in the past weeks caused the overflowing of the Paraguay River.  Norberto DUARTE / AFP


Heavy flooding in Paraguay has displaced 70,000 families and is threatening to further inundate the capital Asuncion in the coming weeks, the country’s weather bureau said.

Water levels on the Paraguay River are rising at a rate of 4-5 centimetres (1.5-2 inches) every day and is only 46 cm (18 in) below a “disaster” level, according to official data from the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH).

Crossing that threshold would “have a very strong impact” because of the number of Asuncion residents who have moved into the city’s floodplain, said DMH deputy director Nelson Perez on Sunday.

The city’s water service infrastructure was clogged with garbage which was exacerbating the floods, Perez added.

Unusually heavy downpours over May, including two days which together exceeded Asuncion’s average monthly rainfall, have exacerbated the flooding, said DMH meteorologist Eduardo Mingo.

Some 40,000 people in Asuncion have already been affected by the floods, official data reported.

A further 10,000 people have been displaced in the southern town of Pilar on the Argentinian border.

The government has mobilized armed forces to help displaced residents relocate to shelters, but hundreds of families have opted to stay behind in their inundated homes.


Paraguay To Have Its First Female President

The private secretary of Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, Dario Fiatiga, speaks to the press after presenting the letter of resignation of Cartes as president so he can take his seat as senator, in Asuncion on May 28, 2018. PHOTO: Norberto DUARTE / AFP


Paraguay will have a woman president for the first time in its history, at least temporarily, after outgoing leader Horacio Cartes stepped down Monday ahead of schedule.

Vice President Alicia Pucheta, 68, will complete Cartes’s mandate after he resigned to become a Senator.

On August 15, fellow conservative Mario Abdo Benitez, elected in April 22 polls, will begin his five-year term as president of one of Latin America’s poorest countries.

The parliament is due to confirm Cartes’s resignation and proclaim Pucheta as interim president on Wednesday.

Opposed to the legalization of abortion, Pucheta is from the right-wing Colorado Party, which has been in power in Asuncion for decades.

Opposition Senator Desiree Masi said she does not see Pucheta’s nomination as an advance for women in Paraguay.

“A woman who has shown her complete submission to those in power does not represent us,” she said. “One day, a woman will be come to power as she should, through the ballot box.”

But Lilian Samaniego, a senator from the Colorado Party, hailed the former lawyer’s accession to the position as an example to “motivate Paraguayan women to continue to fight for real equality of opportunity with men.”

Paraguay has just eight women among its 45 senators, and 11 among the 80 members of the lower house.

Cartes’s resignation had been expected since he was elected to the Senate in the April elections. The new senators are to be sworn in on June 30.

Landlocked Paraguay — sandwiched between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil — enjoyed consistent economic growth during tobacco magnate Cartes’s five years in power, but failed to shake off persistent poverty, corruption and drug trafficking.

It remains a land of contrasts, still marked by the 1954-1989 dictatorship of general Alfredo Stroessner.

Despite an official campaign against endemic corruption, Paraguay remains 135th out of 180 countries on the 2017 corruption index of Transparency International.


Argentina, Uruguay And Paraguay Confirm Joint 2030 World Cup Bid

FIFA Votes To Expand World Cup To 48 Teams

Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay will form a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup, which will mark the tournament’s 100-year anniversary, the presidents of the three countries confirmed on Wednesday.

Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes said in August that his country would join in the shared bid by neighbours Argentina and Uruguay, which hosted the first World Cup in 1930.

Messi Banned From Argentina’s Qualifying Campaign

Messi Banned From Argentina Qualifying CampaignWorld football governing body, FIFA has banned Lionel Messi from Argentina’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Barcelona star was punished for reportedly insulting the mother of Brazilian assistant referee, Dewson Silva during Argentina’s 1-0 win over Chile last week.

Following the ban, Argentina will contend with Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela in the absence of their best player.

However, the victory at home to the Chileans has kept the Argentines in the mix for automatic qualification, sitting in third place in CONMEBOL’s qualification process.

3.2 Billion People At Risk Of Malaria Globally – Who Report

malaria attack The World Health Organisation (WHO), says about 3.2 billion people remain at risk to malaria attack globally.

A WHO report released on Monday on World Malaria Day entitled: “Eliminating Malaria”says that in 2015 alone, 214 million new cases of the disease were reported in 95 countries and no fewer than 400,000 people died of the disease.

The report is coming a year after the World Health Assembly resolved to eliminate malaria from at least 35 countries by 2030. The report shows the goal, although ambitious, is achievable.

In 2015, all countries in the WHO European Region reported, for the first time, zero indigenous cases of malaria, down from 90 000 cases in 1995. Outside this region, eight countries reported zero cases of the disease in 2014 – Argentina, Costa Rica, Iraq, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates.

A statement by a spokesperson for WHO, Christian Lindmeier, said, the “Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030”, approved by the World Health Assembly in 2015, calls for the elimination of local transmission of malaria in at least 10 countries by 2020.

WHO’s estimates show that 21 countries are in a position to achieve this goal, including six countries in the African region, where the burden of the disease is heaviest.

“Our report shines a spotlight on countries that are well on their way to eliminating malaria,” the Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme, Dr Pedro Alonso said.

“WHO commends these countries while also highlighting the urgent need for greater investment in settings with high rates of malaria transmission, particularly in Africa. Saving lives must be our first priority.”

Since the year 2000, malaria mortality rates have declined by 60% globally. In the WHO African Region, malaria mortality rates fell by 66% among all age groups and by 71% among children under five years.

WHO pointed out that reaching the goals of the “Global Technical Strategy” would require a steep increase in global and domestic funding—from $2.5 billion today to an estimated $8.7 billion annually by 2030.

“Through robust financing and political will, affected countries can speed progress towards malaria elimination and contribute to the broader development agenda as laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” it stressed.

Pope Francis Focuses On Poor In Bolivia

pope Pope Francis has begun his second leg tour to three poorest countries in South America.

He was received by Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, President Evo Morales, who gave him a ritual pouch with coca, a sacred leaf in the Andes.

Pope Francis insisted that the Catholic Church should continue to play an important role, to protect the most vulnerable in society from the impact of capitalism.

He also called for dialogue between Bolivia and Chile over their long-time border dispute.

The Pope was said to have flown in from Ecuador and will also visit Paraguay.

The Pontiff hailed Bolivia for encouraging the poor to be active citizens, saying ”Bolivia is making important steps towards including broad sectors in the country’s economic, social and political life”.