Month: May 2019

Colonia Dignidad: Germany to compensate Chile commune victims
Post

Colonia Dignidad: Germany to compensate Chile commune victims

Germany will pay compensation of up to €10,000 (£8,700; $11,000) to victims of a notorious and abusive commune in southern Chile.

Colonia Dignidad was founded by former Nazi soldier Paul Schäfer in 1961.

The commune, which was located 350km (220 miles) south of Santiago, was run as a secretive cult and dozens of children were sexually abused there.

Hundreds of German and Chilean survivors will now be eligible for compensation.

The decision to pay the victims was made by a government commission in Berlin on Friday. A fund of €3.5m will be set aside to do so.

It comes a week after prosecutors dropped their investigation into a German doctor who worked at the commune.

A court in Chile had found Hartmut Hopp guilty of complicity in child sex abuse committed by Schäfer, but he fled to Germany before he could be jailed.

German prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to uphold the ruling.

What was Colonia Dignidad?
Colonia Dignidad was a colony set up by Schäfer in the remote Maule area.

He ran it as a secretive cult with members living as virtual slaves and prevented from leaving by armed guards with dogs.

At its peak, 300 Germans and Chileans were living in the 137 sq km (53 sq mile) compound surrounded by wire fencing and overlooked by a watchtower with searchlights.

Children were forced to live separately from their parents and dozens were sexually abused by Schäfer.

What else happened there?
It was not just members of Schäfer's sect who suffered abuse.

Under the military rule of Gen Augusto Pinochet, Colonia Dignidad became a clandestine detention centre. About 300 opponents of the regime were interrogated and tortured in its underground tunnels both by members of the Chilean secret police and Schäfer's associates.

At least 100 people are thought to have been murdered there. One of those believed to have been killed at the site is US academic Boris Weisfeiler, who went hiking in Chile in 1984.

Missing in Chile: What happened to Boris Weisfeiler?

In its report, released on Friday, the German commission said Schäfer "tore families apart, abused countless children and actively collaborated with Pinochet dictatorship henchmen on torture, murRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

BBC
[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Venezuela crisis: Both sides in Norway for peace talks
Post

Venezuela crisis: Both sides in Norway for peace talks

Norway has attempted to facilitate high-level talks between Venezuela's government and political opposition, both sides have said.

The government and the opposition have been engaged in a bitter power struggle since January.

Reports of a meeting between the two sides in Norway's capital Oslo first emerged on Thursday.

They were later confirmed by Juan Jorge Valero, Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

Opposition leader Juan Guaidó said he had sent "some envoys" to Norway, but denied that talks had already been held with Mr Maduro's delegation.

The timing of the talks is a surprise. They come just days after 10 opposition lawmakers were stripped of their immunity and charged with treason, and shortly after Mr Guaidó said he was considering asking the US to launch a military intervention to oust President Maduro from power.

Previous attempts at mediation between the two Venezuelan sides have failed, with the opposition alleging the government only engaged in them to divide their rivals and buy time.

However, Norway has in the past successfully mediated in the Colombian armed conflict.

'Days of talks'
Mr Valero told reporters: "I can confirm that there are dialogues but I cannot go into details".

He said the talks were between representatives of the Venezuelan government and what he called the "democratic part" of the opposition.

Norwegian broadcaster NRK, quoting anonymous sources, reported that talks had been under way for "several days" and that representatives of the two sides were due to return to Venezuela on Thursday.

At a rally in Caracas, Mr Guaidó acknowledged that Norway had been attempting to "mediate" in the political crisis.

"Everyone who joins the process of liberation and democratisation of Venezuela… will be absolutely welcome," he added.

'Very important mission'
NRK said the Venezuelan government was represented by Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez and the governor of Miranda province, Héctor Rodríguez.

Speaking on TV on Wednesday, President Maduro said Mr Rodríguez was "overseas, on a very important mission" but did not give further details.

Venezuelan media said the opposition was represented by former lawmaker Gerardo Blyde and a former minister, Fernando Martínez Mottola.

Neither Mr Blyde nor Mr Mottola have commented on the reports.

Norway's foreign ministry said it would not comment on whether the talks had taken place and what Norway's role, if any, was.

Spiralling tension
While the opposition and the government have been at loggerheads for years, the situation escalated after President Maduro was sworn in for a second term on 9 January after elections which were widely dismissed as "neither free nor fair".

On 23 January, the president of the opposition-controlled NationRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

BBC
[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]

Brazil’s Vale warns another mining dam at risk of collapse
Post

Brazil’s Vale warns another mining dam at risk of collapse

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Brazil's mining firm Vale has warned that another dam is at risk of bursting months after the collapse of a similar structure killed more than 230 people.

The dam near the south-eastern city of Barão de Cocais could burst next week if the current pace of movement in the embankment of the mine pit nearby continues, Vale told prosecutors.

The dam contains waste from the Gongo Soco mine, inactive since 2016.

Hundreds of residents seen at risk have been evacuated since February.

The complex, in Minas Gerais state, is located some 60km (40 miles) from where the Brumadinho dam collapsed in January without warning, sending down a torrent of toxic sludge that buried some of the dam's facilities and a village.

In documents sent to prosecutors, Vale said it was unclear whether the slippage in the embankment of the mine would result in the collapse of the Sul Superior dam, 1.5km away.

The movement was detected by radar and, if it continues at the same rate, a rupture may happen between 19 and 25 May, according to Vale.

It could then cause liquefaction of the dam, a process where the barrier gets weakened as it turns to water. This it thought to be the cause of the collapse of the Brumadinho dam, also owned by Vale, Brazil's largest mining company.

Like Brumadinho, the Sul Superior barrier is a tailing dam – the cheapest and least stable type of structure – used to store waste from mining operations. Vale said work at Gongo Soco mine had stopped in 2016.

The first concerns were raised in February, triggering the evacuation of more thRead More – Source

[contf]
[contfnew]

BBC
[contfnewc]
[contfnewc]