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The Happiest Countries in the World Are All in Latin America

Gallup interviewed 150,000 adults in 148 countries, asking such questions as, “Did you smile or laugh yesterday?” and “Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?” to build a positive-experience index. Surprisingly, the leading countries in terms of positive emotions were all in Latin America, from Paraguay to Nicaragua, according to Quartz.

The survey used a scale from 0 to 100 and found that the world’s positive-experience index average for 2014 was 71/100—”the same as 2013, and just about what it’s been since 2006.”

The country with the least positive emotional score was Sudan (47/100). Happiness levels are also low in Tunisia, Serbia, Turkey, and others, apparently thanks to war and other forms of political instability.

In Bolivia and El Salvador, for example, 59 perecnt of respondents replied “yes” to all of the questions about both positive and negative emotions, which gives these nations particularly high “emotional” scores.

Search Coordinator for Ayotzinapa Students Assasinated

Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, coordinator of the search for the 43 Ayotzinapa teachers’ college students, was assasinated in Mexico.

Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco, 45, was found dead last weekend in a taxi he owned with a gunshot to the head.

In response to authorities’ lack of action against organized crime, he founded a self-defense group in 2013 in the Mexican state of Guerrero. A year later, the group formed a commission to launch the search for the 43 students of the rural teachers’ college in the community of Ayotzinapa who disappeared on September 26, 2014.

The BBC interviewed him about the search:

The activist never found the students, but thanks to his efforts, the search discovered 129 bodies which have been turned over to the authorities for identification.

An Amazon Tribe's 500-Page Traditional-Medicine Encyclopaedia

The Amazon Rainforest supports millions of plants that could be vital ingredients in still-undiscovered medications. For that reason, many pharmaceutical companies and even the US government are currently funding projects to study the indigenous plant knowledge of native shamans and healers in the area, and develop new drugs.

The Matsés people, who live in Peru and Brazil, have created a health encyclopedia more than 500 pages long cataloging their traditional medicinal practices, preserving ancestral knowledge for younger generations. The majority of the shamans are old and without apprentices. So when they die a vast knowledge also disappears.

But, in order to avoid bio-piracy, this information remains with the Matsés people; it is only accessible in the native tongue and is only distributed within the tribe’s villages. Protective measures also include: “no scientific names are used to identify local plant species, and no plants will be pictured in detail, so as not to be identifiable to outsiders.”

“The [Matsés Traditional Medicine Encyclopedia] marks the first time shamans of an Amazonian tribe have created a full and complete transcription of their medicinal knowledge written in their own language and words,” Christopher Herndon, president and co-founder of Acaté, told Mongabay in an interview.

According to Pachamama Alliance, a global community focused on creating a sustainable future, the health and wellbeing of the Western world, often comes at a high price for indigenous peoples. As pharmaceutical companies have realized that their research generates better outcomes if they co-operate with indigenous people and tap into their wisdom, rainforest tribes are at risk of losing control over their resources.

Once the pharmaceutical companies have developed the drug, they file patents claiming exclusive rights to the medical use of the plant – hence limiting or even denying access to the plants that indigenous peoples have relied upon for centuries.

That's why in 2010, the tenth Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing. It specifically addresses the issue of bioprospecting and the rights of indigenous peoples to access to forest resources, intellectual property, and adequate compensation.

Acaté, a San-Francisco-based non-profit, assisted the five shamans who compiled the encyclopaedia. In the encyclopaedia, each entry is categorized by a disease name and features explanations of how to recognise the disease according to symptoms, understand its root causes and know how to prepare medicine from specific plants to use as treatment. The entries also make readers aware of alternative therapeutic options.

The idea behind the project is to make the tribes less dependent on conventional doctors and western drugs, while maintaining their self-sufficiency.

Watch This Giant Rainbow Mural Transform a Low-Income Mexican Neighborhood

A low-income neighborhood in Mexico was transformed in a giant rainbow by the collective Germen Crew—a youth organization of muralists and street artists formed by 15 graffiti artists, under the direction of Mibe (Luis Enrique Gómez Guzmán), who's teamed with Mexican Government.

The more than 200 homes of the village of Palmitas, in the city of Pachuca (Hidalgo State), are now connected through colors.

Another example of the collective's “urban neomuralism” is Mexico City's famous Jamaica Market, which comprises over 1,000 stands dedicated to the sale of flowers, floral arrangements, ornamental plants, and garden accessories. Last year, the crew created a mural that visualizes a symbolic ritual beginning with “Mother Earth” (Tonantzin) giving birth to a life-form that transforms into flowers on the south façade of the famous flower market.

Pope Francis in Latin America: ‘Ideologies End Badly, They Serve No Purpose’

Pope Francis concluded his eight day tour of South America, where he held mass in the three countries he visited: Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. The pontiff's message centered on peace and the most needy.

He also advocated “playing cleanly and staying clear of corruption.”

But it was during the close of the tour in Asuncion on Saturday, July 11 where he gave one of the most political speeches of his trip stating:

Ideologies end badly; they serve no purpose. Ideologies have a relationship to the people that is absent, unhealthy or evil. Ideologies don't take into account the people. In the last century ideologies have ended in dictatorships. [Ideologies] think of the people, but don't let the people think.

Do You Know These 10 Afro-Puerto Ricans?

The reclaiming of history as an ally of marginalized groups is key to their very survival. This is especially true in a colonial context such as Puerto Rico, where history has been and continues to be used as a means to justify inequalities and deny visibility.

In the spirit of doing justice to the men and women who have contributed greatly to Puerto Rico, and yet have been sidelined by years of official history, the digital magazine La Respuesta, which focuses primarily on the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States, recently published a short post titled 10 Afro-Puerto Ricans Everyone Should Know, which briefly highlights the legacy of people such as pro-independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos, literary critic and lawyer Nilita Vientós Gastón, and intellectual leader Arturo Schomburg.

Peruvian Ministry of Education Makes 24 Indigenous Alphabets Official

Alumnos nivel inicial. Comunidad asháninka de Pamaquiari. Foto en Flicker del usuario  Global Humanitaria (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Kindergarten students. Ashaninka community in Pamaquiari. Photo on Flickr by user Global Humanitaria (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The alphabets of 24 indigenous languages were made official in Peru as a result of joint efforts by the Ministry of Education and numerous indigenous communities. The documents were adopted by consensus and will be used to help preserve and improve the use of these languages, both in their written and spoken forms.

De ese modo, los 24 alfabetos deberán ser usados por las entidades públicas cuando tengan que emitir información escrita dirigida a esos grupos étnicos, en concordancia con lo dispuesto también por la Ley 29735 que regula el uso, preservación, desarrollo, recuperación, fomento y difusión de las lenguas originarias del Perú.
[…]
De esa manera, se respeta el derecho de los niños y adolescentes a recibir educación en su lengua materna. Está comprobado que así aprenden mejor porque se sienten más motivados y porque se respeta su identidad cultural, fortaleciéndose su autoestima.

Thus, these 24 alphabets should be used by public entities every time they have to issue written information addressed to these ethnic groups, as it is established by the Law 29735, which regulates the use, preservation, development, recovery, foster and spread of the indigenous languages of Peru.
[…]
In this way, the right of children and teenagers to be educated in their own native language is respected. It's been proven that this is the way they can learn better, as they feel more motivated, their cultural identity is respected, and their self-esteem becomes stronger.

As usual, Twitter echoed the news:

Ministry of Education makes official the alphabets of 24 indigenous languages, which will be used by all public entities.

Perú reconoce 24 alfabetos nativos.

Mexican Indigenous Community Accuses Famous Designer of Plagiarism

French designer Isabel Marant has made a name for herself in the world of fashion, owing to her eclectic style, which blends materials and ethnic influences together in her designs. These creations carry a price tag starting in the hundreds of dollars.

However, for the authorities and citizens of Santa María Tlahuitoltepec, a Mixe community in Mexico, they were more than just a source of inspiration. They accuse Marant of selling her creations as if they were her own take on the traditional dress of the territory.

“Tlahuitoltepec defends its embroidery; accuses Frenchwoman Isabel Marant of plagiarism”.

The famous dressmaker sells this piece for $290, close to 4,500 Mexican pesos, while the price of the garment in the indigenous community is around 600 pesos ($40).

Marant is “hijacking a cultural heritage for commercial benefit, which puts indigenous communities at risk, as well as the originality of the fashion industry”, maintained the mayor, Erasmo Hernández González, who stated that they will be taking legal action.

Can Abortion Be Discussed in Medellín's Metro?

Residents of the city of Medellín, Colombia, are asking themselves if the metro is the place to talk about abortion, stemming from an ad by the #ladecisiónestuya (the decision is yours) campaign that's running in the public transit system's cars, as shared by user Jaime Andrés (@JAIM3_ANDR3S):

The Decision Is Yours pic.twitter.com/Nbaq2zJHXn

— Jaime Andrés (@JAIM3_ANDR3S) May 26, 2015

The campaign is being spearheaded by a non-profit organization offering sexual and reproductive healthcare services, carrying the message: “398,000 abortions should not be illegal.”

Under the hashtag #Abortonoesculturametro (Abortion Is Not Metro Culture) referring to the set of rules governing Medellín's Metro called “Cultura Metro” (Metro Culture), people have been sharing their opinions for and against abortion, in the same way that the mass transit system installations’ cars are used on a daily basis to post messages using other graphic material.

Pregnant 11-Year-Old in Uruguay Refuses Abortion

Pregnant 11-year-old who refused to abort creates controversy.

We wrote recently about about a 10-year-old pregnant girl from Paraguay who was allegedly raped by her stepfather and who was unable to have an abortion because of legal limitations in the country. Now, in Uruguay, where abortion is legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the case of a pregnant 11-year-old who refused to have one has shocked the country.

This girl, who has been said to have an intellectual disability, was raped by the 41-year-old grandfather of her half-sister. This man is now in custody and will be prosecuted for rape, Uruguayan officials told Agence France-Presse.

Family members, doctors, social organizations, and the media have encouraged the girl to terminate the pregnancy. They have even pressured the government to try and force her to go through with it, according to Pangea Today. The response was, however, not favorable to them:

“There is no risk for the life of the child or baby, so we cannot force her to have an abortion,” the director of INAU, Monica Silva, said.

You Can Also Demand Justice for the Journalists Killed in Mexico

More than 500 journalists, writers, artists and defenders for freedom of expression from around the world wrote an open letter to the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, in which they called for explanations on the murder of Rubén Espinosa and all other journalists killed in the country, according to the blog Journalism in the Americas.

On July 31, photo journalist Rubén Espinosa was found dead along with four women in a Mexico City apartment. Upon receiving death threats, he fled from Veracruz, where 14 other journalists were killed in recent years, to Mexico's capital last June with the purpose of protecting his integrity.

The letter says:

Since 2000, dozens of journalists have been killed in Mexico, and approximately 20 more remain disappeared. The great majority of these crimes have never been prosecuted”…

… Mr. President, we urge you:

1. To guarantee the immediate and effective investigation of the assassination of Rubén Espinosa and the shameful number of journalists in Mexico who have met the same fate, and the thorough investigation of state and municipal officials who, in each case, may have been involved.
2. To undertake an immediate review of the procedures established to protect reporters’ lives, and to make a swift and effective commitment to guarantee and protect freedom of expression in Mexico.

The letter has the support of PEN and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). People like Mexican actor Gael García Bernal, Indian writer Salman Rushdie, American journalist Christiane Amanpour and hundreds of journalists, writers and artists have signed the open letter, and now you too could also add your name.

The ‘Escopetarra': A Killer Instrument

If you believe that nothing good can come from a rifle, then you have to get to know the “escopetarra”—a hybrid that transforms two “lethal” weapons (an AK-47 and a guitar) into an instrument of peace. “Escopetarra” is a Spanish blend that combines the words “escopeta” (shotgun) and “guitarra” (guitar).

In his Spanish-language podcast, Colombian musician César López talks about how he created the instrument, tracing it from the moment of its conception to all of the technical issues he faced creating it, as well as its characteristic sound.

There are more AK-47s in the world than any other gun, thanks to how unusually cheap the weapon is to make. It is estimated that there are 35-to-50 million AK-47s in existence, not counting those that are manufactured illegally each year.

“Primero, el AK 47 es el arma que más muertos le ha causado al planeta Tierra en toda su historia. Es el arma que se ha usado en Sudáfrica, Medio Oriente, Centro América, en Colombia”, dijo López en entrevista con la cadena estadounidense Univision.

“First of all, the AK-47 has caused the most deaths by any weapon on the planet. It's been used in South Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and also in Colombia”, stated López in an interview with the American television network, Univision.

The first “escopetarra” was made in 2003 using a Winchester rifle and a Stratocaster electric guitar. The rifle is taken apart in a way that it is no longer considered a weapon and cannot be used as such.

Currently, about 20 “escopetarras” have been presented to prominent musicians and international leaders who stand for peace, including the Colombian band, Aterciopelados, Argentinean musician Fito Páez, and UNESCO.

Public Prosecutor's Office in Colombia to Monitor Twitter Accounts of Public Servants During Elections

Are you aware of any irregularities which might jeopardize the transparency or security of Elections 2015? Tell us here:

On October 25, Colombians head to the polls to elect governors, departmental assemblies, mayoral offices, municipal and district councils as well as administrative boards throughout the country. Since the electoral campaign began on July 25, public officials have been banned from using social media to support candidates.

Ante la proximidad de la jornada democrática en la que los colombianos elegirán gobernaciones, asambleas departamentales, alcaldías, concejos municipales y distritales y juntas administradoras locales, la Procuraduría General de la Nación insta a los colombianos a poner en conocimiento de las autoridades competentes las posibles irregularidades que puedan afectar la transparencia y seguridad de las elecciones.

As election day draws closer, a time when Colombians will democratically elect all governing bodies throughout the country, the Office of the Inspector General urges citizens to alert the relevant authorities of any irregularities which might affect the transparency and security of the electoral process.

According to the magazine Semana, the Inspector General's office will closely monitor the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of public servants in order to avoid any kind of political suasion. Likewise, they encouraged Colombians to make any reports of irregularities through social media or other means of communication.

‘Stereotypes Are Another Unregulated Way to Commit Violence Against Nicaraguan Women’

In an opinion piece published in alternative magazine ConexionesKatya Najlis explores the ideas that lead to women being harassed on the street in Nicaragua. The essay presents multiple examples and reflections linking the majority of theories defending the right of Latin American women to move about freely without concern for safety to the social conventions that perpetuate gender inequality:

Los estereotipos hacia la mujer nicaragüense se convierten en otro método de violencia que nadie regula. El machismo asume el cuerpo de la mujer como un objeto público. El uso de imágenes sexistas contribuye a esta realidad, violentándola de forma implícita y posicionándola como un objeto. […] Lamentablemente, algunas mujeres hemos llegado a pensar que es “normal” o que “por nuestra culpa” somos víctimas de este tipo de abuso, y es que los acosadores aprovechan las unidades de transporte –sobre todo las rutas–, para ofendernos sexualmente.

Stereotypes have become another way to commit violence against Nicaraguan women that nobody regulates. Macho sexism assumes that women's bodies are public objects. The use of sexist images contributes to this reality, violating a woman implicitly and positioning her as an object. […] Sadly, some of us women have been led to think this is “normal” or that “it's our fault” we are victims of this type of abuse, and it's because our aggressors use public transport — and especially the streets — to offend us sexually.

Global Voices Partners with Sin Embargo México

Global Voices Latin America recently join forces with Mexican news site Sin embargo.

Global Voices Latin America recently join forces with Mexican news site Sin embargo.

Global Voices Latin America and Mexican news site Sin Embargo recently agreed to join forces to spread original stories form Mexico and Latin America to a global audience.

Sin Embargo is a Spanish language news site based in Mexico that produces original journalism and investigative stories. The site was founded in 2011, under the slogan “rigorous journalism”, and is among Mexico's top news sites. Every month the site averages 4.6 million unique users and 10 million page views.

While many digital news operations aggregate content from other sites, founder and publisher Jorge Zepeda Patterson believes that “the only possibility for generating significant traffic is by creating your own content.”

Starting July, Global Voices will translate and publish stories from Sin Embargo on its Spanish and English language sites. Some stories may get translated into up to 30 languages through our Lingua translation project. This is the first story Global Voices published as part of the cooperation: Mexico Was Hacking Team's No. 1 Client for Spyware.

Peruvian Police Arrest Elderly Drivers for a Good Reason

Captura de pantalla de video publicado en YouTube.

Screenshot of video posted on YouTube about the detention and happy ending for the elderly in Peru.

In the Peruvian city of Huancayo, located in the center of the country, agents of the local Police Transit Authority arrested several elderly drivers of public transportation vehicles:

A pesar que los conductores se resistían a ir a la dependencia policial, por contar con todos los documentos en regla. Fueron trasladados 12 ancianos los cuales se encontraban disgustados con la policía y aseguraban que todo eso les parecía una injusticia.

Although the drivers were reluctant to go to the police station, as they had all their documents in working order, 12 elderly drivers were taken by the police, all of them angry, claiming that it was all an act of injustice.

But what could be considered a routine action was actually a different way to honor these drivers due to Father's Day, celebrated in Peru on the third Sunday of June. When the “arrested” men entered the police station, they were welcomed with presents, snacks and drinks.

The news traveled all the way to Mexico, where El Sol de Nayarit posted the story and the reactions by some of the honored guests:

“Muchísimas gracias, fue una sorpresa”, aseguró uno de los padres.
“Fue una sorpresa grande para mi, nunca hemos recibido nada” dijo otro.
Uno de los afortunados mencionó que en un primer momento se encontraba muy molesto, pues pensó que recibiría una multa que no merecía.

“Thank you very much, it was a surprise”, said one of them.
“This was a huge surprise for me, we've never received anything”, expressed another one.
One of the lucky guys mentioned that at first he was pretty angry, as he thought he'd be unfairly fined.

Brother, I've got something in my eye… :’) HUANCAYO POLICE PRETEND TO ARREST ELDERLY DRIVERS.

In this video below, you can see the arrest of some of the drivers and the cordial welcome they had at the police station:

Argentinian Football Fans Travel 1,500 Kilometers in a Refurbished Bus to Cheer on Their Team

La Serena, Chile. Imagen en flickr del usuario Ronald Woan (CC BY-NC 2.0).

La Serena, Chile. Image on Flickr by user Ronald Woan (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Five very loyal fans of the Argentinian national football team traveled over 1,500 kilometers by land to cheer on their favorite team in the Copa América, to be hosted in Chile between June 11 and July 4, 2015.

The fans departed from Mar del Plata, southwest of Buenos Aires Province, and arrived in La Serena, in Chile. To do that, they refurbished an old bus they used as transport and shelter during the adventurous journey:

Un periplo de más de 1.500 kilómetros en “El Perro Vago”, una máquina de los años 70 que en la actualidad cuenta con cinco camas y baño portátil, un esfuerzo familiar que estos hinchas nos invitaron a conocer.

The over 1,500 kilometer tour in “El Perro Vago” (The Lazy Dog), a vehicle from the 1970s that currently holds five beds and a portable bathroom, these fans invited us to discover this family effort.

The innovative name of the vehicle comes from Marcelo Gali's father, one of the fans that just arrived to La Serena:

Viajamos ahora yo, papá, mi hermano, un tío y un amigo de papá. Paramos primero en Buenos Aires, después en San Luis y luego en Mendoza. […] Por la albiceleste nos bancamos todo y seguimos donde sea.

Now it's me travelling with my dad, my brother, an uncle and a friend of my dad's. We stopped first in Buenos Aires, then in San Luis and then in Mendoza. […] For the Argentinian national team (known as the albiceleste for its white and light blue colors), we'll endure anything. We'll follow them wherever they'll go.

On Twitter, some users shared the fans’ story, along with images:

El Perro Vago: The story of the self-sacrificing Argentinian fans who arrived in La Serena.

The truth is that all is fair when it comes to team loyalty.

The Copa América is the most important football tournament of the South American continent and gathers ten national teams plus two guest teams.

If I Were FIFA President…

After the recently reelected FIFA president, the Swiss Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, surprisingly resigned on June 3 amidst a corruption scandal that hit the supreme football organization, Twitter users started to speculate not about who might become the next leader, but what would happen if they were.

The result was the satiric hashtag #SiYoFueraPresidenteDeLaFIFA (If I were FIFA president)

Some proposed “improvements” to the game and championships:

If I were FIFA president, the Champions (UEFA) days would be worldwide holidays.

If I were FIFA president we would have a World Cup every 2 years of there would be a Clubs World Cup with 36 teams.

If I were FIFA president, MORE SUPPORT TO THE MINOR NATIONAL TEAMS!

Others spoke about broadcast rights:

If I were FIFA president I would forever forbid Televisa to broadcast any football event

And some others preferred to think how they would change the past:

If I were FIFA president It would have been goal by Yepes

If I were FIFA president I would repeat Brazil's World Cup with a goal kick by Mexico on the 90 minute and a yellow card for Robben

Meanwhile, more than one proposed to award players with potential:

If I were FIFA president I would give a Golden Ball to this awesome player…

Peru Sets Up First Bilingual Spanish-Awajun Civil Registrar

Delegación de la comunidad awajún en visita al Congreso Peruano. Foto en Flickr con licencia (CC BY 2.0).

Delegation of the Awajun community during a visit to the Peruvian Congress. Image taken from Flickr and published under license (CC BY 2.0).

May 21 marks the National Day of Cultural and Linguistic Diverisity, and to commemorate the occasion, the Peruvian National Registrar of Identification and Civil Status (Reniec) launched the Awajun-Spanish bilingual civil registrar:

Las actas generadas de esta manera tendrán el mismo valor oficial que las actas tradicionales en castellano, y sus copias certificadas podrán obtenerse en cualquier agencia o Plataforma Virtual Multiservicios (PVM) del Reniec.

The documents thus generated will have the same official validity as the documents in Spanish, and the authenticated copies will be available in any agency or at the Virtual Multiservices Platform of Reniec.

The Awajún are an ethnic group from the Peruvian Amazon region. Their language has 70,000 Peruvian speakers in the departments of Amazonas, Cajamarca, Loreto and San Martín.

On Twitter, users shared remarks and pictures of this new registrar:

RENIEC set up the online first bilingual civil registrar (Spanish – Awajun) in America.

I have Awajun lessons. I had forgotten.

New Awajun bilingual civil registrar has something new: its registers, besides being manual, will be…

At Least 48 Fatalities After Landslide Hits Colombian Village

Salgar en Antioquia. Imagen en Flickr del usuario Iván Erre Jota (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Salgar in Antioquia, Colombia. Image on Flickr by user Iván Erre Jota (CC BY-SA 2.0). Archive photo

At least 48 people were killed and an unknown number of people are missing after a landslide caused by heavy rains that hit the community of Salgar, in the Colombian department of Antioquia, in the early hours of May 18, 2015.

The secretary of government of Salgar, Zulma Osorio, declared that the “tragedy has had an overwhelmingly big magnitude (…), there are many fatalities, the community has completely collapsed.”

The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, expressed this on Twitter:

We've declared a state of public disaster in Salgar to respond to the emergency. From the national government and with the governor of Antioquia, Sergio Fajardo, all our support goes to the victims.

The Red Cross of Antioquia used the microblogging network to ask for donations:

Huge tragedy in Salgar, if you can help with blankets and non-perishable food at the logistics center in Medellin.

Other users said:

More rescuers and less opportunistic people is what it needed in Salgar right now.

Now the politicians pro and against are taking advantage of the tragedy in Salgar! MISERABLE PEOPLE.

Government responds to the emergency in Salgar, Antioquia, which has left more than 30 dead.

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