International court orders Costa Rica to allow in-vitro fertilization

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | DECEMBER 21, 2012

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered Costa Rica on Thursday to remove the legal restrictions that the Central American  country had imposed to prohibit in vitro fertilization.

A decade ago, a Costa Rican group of people filed a lawsuit against their government for issuing a ban on assisted fertilization. The ban began after the Sala Constitucional — Constitutional Court — officially prohibited the technique on Costa Rican soil. “It is a historic decision,” said Costa Rican Miguel Yamuni, a member of the group of families that over a decade ago sued the State of Costa Rica. “It is historic, because we were the only country in Latin that had the audacity to ban this medical technology,” he added.

“It is a landmark decision in the sense that the message to the Costa Rican government is that, in human rights, neither the Constitutional Court nor the Legislature (Congress) have the final say,” he added.

The sentence was made public by the Communication Minister of Costa Rica, Francisco Chacón, who announced that the Government of Costa Rica, presided by Laura Chinchilla, had received and would abide by the verdict of the Court. Instead of conducting a referendum or  public consultation, a group of Costa Rican people decided that an international court was best fitted to tell the country and its people what needed to be done regarding the decision to allow or not in vitro fertilization.

This is the kind of actions that help countries lose their sovereignty, but of course it is also something that the common people do not understand. The Costa Rican Communications Minister said that the judgment is final and that compliance is mandatory, further proving that Costa Rica has lost all vestiges of self-rule and sovereignty as it willfully accepts orders from an international court that has no power to order any country to do anything. It is the adherence of the government of Costa Rica to this organization and others such as the WTO, the UN and WHO that subjects the nation’s people to regulations created by foreigners in foreign lands.

The judgment issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights establishes that the State of Costa Rica must provide in vitro fertilization as part of its health insurance and social security programs. That is, the people of Costa Rica will have to pay taxes to finance a procedure to private citizens, as supposed to having each private individual seek and pay for this fertilization technique.

Costa Rica’s decision to ban in vitro fertilization came from its Constitutional Court which operated within the Supreme Court. The Court issued a ban on in vitro fertilization back in 2000 alleging that the procedure violated the basic rights of the unborn.

Some of the arguments used by those who oppose in vitro include the ideas that the in vitro process threatens human life and the rights of the unborn, because countless fertilized embryos are lost during the process.

The lawsuit called “Artavia Murillo and others v. Costa Rica” was filed by Costa Rican families as a last attempt to end what they call the dogma sustained by Catholic religious groups. Those groups, the pro in vitro families say, are influential opinion makers in the media and some political factions.

The conflict between those who favor in vitro fertilization and those who oppose it, grew a couple of years ago after the Commission on Human Rights, asked Costa Rican to reconsider its ban. The country refused to do so, which caused the Commission to send the case to the  Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which operated under the Organization of American States.

Costa Rica is known internationally for lacking an official army since 1948, its opposition to the death penalty since 1871 and its membership at the International Human Rights Court, which has an office in the capital city of San Jose since 1979. Besides submitting to the decisions of illegitimate international courts, Costa Rica is now throwing its support after a bill to legalize same-sex unions, which will certainly be another opportunity for another sector of the country to request help from international organizations that will make decisions for them.

The Real Agenda encourages the sharing of its original content ONLY through the tools provided at the bottom of every article. Please DON’T copy articles from The Real Agenda and redistribute by email or post to the web.

Three Private Prison Cities to Open in Honduras

The cities, which will be countries inside a country and are being presented as signs of ‘development’, take the saying buying off a country to a whole new level.

By ALBERTO ARCE | ASSOCIATED PRESS | SEPTEMBER 6, 2012

Honduras (AP) — Investors can begin construction in six months on three privately run cities in Honduras that will have their own police, laws, government and tax systems now that the government has signed a memorandum of agreement approving the project.

An international group of investors and government representatives signed the memorandum Tuesday for the project that some say will bring badly needed economic growth to this small Central American country and that at least one detractor describes as “a catastrophe.”

The project’s aim is to strengthen Honduras’ weak government and failing infrastructure, overwhelmed by corruption, drug-related crime and lingering political instability after a 2009 coup.

The project “has the potential to turn Honduras into an engine of wealth,” said Carlos Pineda, president of the Commission for the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships. It can be “a development instrument typical of first world countries.”

The “model cities” will have their own judiciary, laws, governments and police forces. They also will be empowered to sign international agreements on trade and investment and set their own immigration policy.

Congress president Juan Hernandez said the investment group MGK will invest $15 million to begin building basic infrastructure for the first model city near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast. That first city would create 5,000 jobs over the next six months and up to 200,000 jobs in the future, Hernandez said. South Korea has given Honduras $4 million to conduct a feasibility study, he said.

“The future will remember this day as that day that Honduras began developing,” said Michael Strong, CEO of the MKG Group. “We believe this will be one of the most important transformations in the world, through which Honduras will end poverty by creating thousands of jobs.”

Hernandez said another city will be built in the Sula Valley, in northern Honduras, and a third in southern Honduras. He gave no other details.

The project is opposed by civic groups as well as the indigenous Garifuna people, who say they don’t want their land near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast to be used for the project. Living along Central America’s Caribbean coast, the Garifuna are descendants of the Amazon’s Arawak Indians, the Caribbean’s Caribes and escaped West African slaves.

“These territories are the Garifuna people’s and can’t be handed over to foreign capital in an action that is pure colonialism like that lived in Honduras during the time that our land became a banana enclave,” said Miriam Miranda, president of the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras.

Oscar Cruz, a former constitutional prosecutor, filed a motion with the Supreme Court last year characterizing the project as unconstitutional and “a catastrophe for Honduras.”

“The cities involve the creation of a state within the state, a commercial entity with state powers outside the jurisdiction of the government,” Cruz said.

The Supreme Court has not taken up his complaint.

In an interview Wednesday, Strong said that as soon as the Honduras government gives final approval to the boundaries of the sites, the developers will begin building infrastructure on the first half square mile of the first city, where they hope to have two or three businesses as tenants within 18 months.

He said the $15 million investment was contingent on Honduran government approval. He added that no tenants have made commitments to locating to the future private city yet, but the investors envision textile manufacturing, small-product assembly and outsourced businesses like call centers or data processing as possibilities.

“People are not going to put up big money for something that could fall through,” Strong said. He did not name any of the investors in the project.

He said workers will be able to live in the cities, and the Honduran laws setting up the private areas guarantees that any citizen of the country can also live there.

“It can be a full-scale city,” Strong said. “Once we have jobs then we will need affordable housing, schools, clinics, churches, stores, restaurants, all the businesses that create a real community.”

The president of Honduras will appoint “globally respected international figures” without financial interests in the projects to nine-member independent boards that will oversee the running of the cities, whose daily operations will be administered by a board-appointed governor. Future appointments to the board will be decided by votes by standing board members, Strong said.

The governors will establish the rules by which the cities are initially run in conjunction with the developers, Strong said, but those rules can be changed in the future by popular votes among all residents of the cities.

Strong said Honduran law would not apply in the cities but they would have to adhere to international conventions on human rights and other basic principles.

He called the cities based on the best practices of free-trade zones around the world, like in Dubai, and he expected that they would successfully create jobs and help the development of Honduras.

“In general, free zones have been a spectacular success in terms of economic development,” he said. “I’m very optimistic.”

What’s Killing Central Americans by the Thousands?

All that doctors can do at this point is speculate about the cause of thousands of unexplained deaths from a mystery disease.

Associated Press
February 11, 2012

Jesus Ignacio Flores started working when he was 16, laboring long hours on construction sites and in the fields of his country’s biggest sugar plantation.

Three years ago his kidneys started to fail and flooded his body with toxins. He became too weak to work, wracked by cramps, headaches and vomiting.

On Jan. 19 he died on the porch of his house. He was 51. His withered body was dressed by his weeping wife, embraced a final time, then carried in the bed of a pickup truck to a grave on the edge of Chichigalpa, a town in Nicaragua’s sugar-growing heartland, where studies have found more than one in four men showing symptoms of chronic kidney disease.

A mysterious epidemic is devastating the Pacific coast of Central America, killing more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua since 2000 and striking thousands of others with chronic kidney disease at rates unseen virtually anywhere else. Scientists say they have received reports of the phenomenon as far north as southern Mexico and as far south as Panama.

Last year it reached the point where El Salvador’s health minister, Dr. Maria Isabel Rodriguez, appealed for international help, saying the epidemic was undermining health systems.

Wilfredo Ordonez, who has harvested corn, sesame and rice for more than 30 years in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador, was hit by the chronic disease when he was 38. Ten years later, he depends on dialysis treatments he administers to himself four times a day.

“This is a disease that comes with no warning, and when they find it, it’s too late,” Ordonez said as he lay on a hammock on his porch.

Many of the victims were manual laborers or worked in sugar cane fields that cover much of the coastal lowlands. Patients, local doctors and activists say they believe the culprit lurks among the agricultural chemicals workers have used for years with virtually none of the protections required in more developed countries. But a growing body of evidence supports a more complicated and counterintuitive hypothesis.

The roots of the epidemic, scientists say, appear to lie in the grueling nature of the work performed by its victims, including construction workers, miners and others who labor hour after hour without enough water in blazing temperatures, pushing their bodies through repeated bouts of extreme dehydration and heat stress for years on end. Many start as young as 10. The punishing routine appears to be a key part of some previously unknown trigger of chronic kidney disease, which is normally caused by diabetes and high-blood pressure, maladies absent in most of the patients in Central America.

“The thing that evidence most strongly points to is this idea of manual labor and not enough hydration,” said Daniel Brooks, a professor of epidemiology at Boston University’s School of Public Health, who has worked on a series of studies of the kidney disease epidemic.

Because hard work and intense heat alone are hardly a phenomenon unique to Central America, some researchers will not rule out manmade factors. But no strong evidence has turned up.

“I think that everything points away from pesticides,” said Dr. Catharina Wesseling, an occupational and environmental epidemiologist who also is regional director of the Program on Work, Health and Environment in Central America. “It is too multinational; it is too spread out.

“I would place my bet on repeated dehydration, acute attacks everyday. That is my bet, my guess, but nothing is proved.”

Dr. Richard J. Johnson, a kidney specialist at the University of Colorado, Denver, is working with other researchers investigating the cause of the disease. They too suspect chronic dehydration.

“This is a new concept, but there’s some evidence supporting it,” Johnson said. “There are other ways to damage the kidney. Heavy metals, chemicals, toxins have all been considered, but to date there have been no leading candidates to explain what’s going on in Nicaragua …

“As these possibilities get exhausted, recurrent dehydration is moving up on the list.”

In Nicaragua, the number of annual deaths from chronic kidney disease more than doubled in a decade, from 466 in 2000 to 1,047 in 2010, according to the Pan American Health Organization, a regional arm of the World Health Organization. In El Salvador, the agency reported a similar jump, from 1,282 in 2000 to 2,181 in 2010.

Farther down the coast, in the cane-growing lowlands of northern Costa Rica, there also have been sharp increases in kidney disease, Wesseling said, and the Pan American body’s statistics show deaths are on the rise in Panama, although at less dramatic rates.

While some of the rising numbers may be due to better record-keeping, scientists have no doubt they are facing something deadly and previously unknown to medicine.

In nations with more developed health systems, the disease that impairs the kidney’s ability to cleanse the blood is diagnosed relatively early and treated with dialysis in medical clinics. In Central America, many of the victims treat themselves at home with a cheaper but less efficient form of dialysis, or go without any dialysis at all.

At a hospital in the Nicaraguan town of Chinandega, Segundo Zapata Palacios sat motionless in his room, bent over with his head on the bed.

“He no longer wants to talk,” said his wife, Enma Vanegas.

His levels of creatinine, a chemical marker of kidney failure, were 25 times the normal amount.

His family told him he was being hospitalized to receive dialysis. In reality, the hope was to ease his pain before his inevitable death, said Carmen Rios, a leader of Nicaragua’s Association of Chronic Kidney Disease Patients, a support and advocacy group.

“There’s already nothing to do,” she said. “He was hospitalized on Jan. 23 just waiting to die.”

Zapata Palacios passed away on Jan. 26. He was 49.

Working with scientists from Costa Rica, El Salvador and Nicaragua, Wesseling tested groups on the coast and compared them with groups who had similar work habits and exposure to pesticide but lived and worked more than 500 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level.

Some 30 percent of coastal dwellers had elevated levels of creatinine, strongly suggesting environment rather than agrochemicals was to blame, Brooks, the epidemiologist, said. The study is expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal in coming weeks.

Brooks and Johnson, the kidney specialist, said they have seen echoes of the Central American phenomenon in reports from hot farming areas in Sri Lanka, Egypt and the Indian east coast.

“We don’t really know how widespread this is,” Brooks said. “This may be an under-recognized epidemic.”

Jason Glaser, co-founder of a group working to help victims of the epidemic in Nicaragua, said he and colleagues also have begun receiving reports of mysterious kidney disease among sugar cane workers in Australia.

Despite the growing consensus among international experts, Elsy Brizuela, a doctor who works with an El Salvadoran project to treat workers and research the epidemic, discounts the dehydration theory and insists “the common factor is exposure to herbicides and poisons.”

Nicaragua’s highest rates of chronic kidney disease show up around the Ingenio San Antonio, a plant owned by the Pellas Group conglomerate, whose sugar mill processes nearly half the nation’s sugar. Flores and Zapata Palacios both worked at the plantation.

According to one of Brooks’ studies, about eight years ago the factory started providing electrolyte solution and protein cookies to workers who previously brought their own water to work. But the study also found that some workers were cutting sugar cane for as long as 9 1/2 hours a day with virtually no break and little shade in average temperatures of 30 C (87 F).

In 2006, the plantation, owned by one of the country’s richest families, received $36.5 million in loans from the International Finance Corp., the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group, to buy more land, expand its processing plant and produce more sugar for consumers and ethanol production.

In a statement, the IFC said it had examined the social and environmental impacts of its loans as part of a due diligence process and did not identify kidney disease as something related to the sugar plantation’s operations.

Nonetheless, the statement said, “we are concerned about this disease that affects not only Nicaragua but other countries in the region, and will follow closely any new findings.”

Ariel Granera, a spokesman for the Pellas’ business conglomerate, said that starting as early as 1993 the company had begun taking a wide variety of precautions to avoid heat stress in its workers, from starting their shifts very early in the morning to providing them with many gallons of drinking water per day.

Associated Press reporters saw workers bringing water bottles from their homes, which they refilled during the day from large cylinders of water in the buses that bring them to the fields.

Glaser, the co-founder of the activist group in Nicaragua, La Isla Foundation, said that nonetheless many worker protections in the region are badly enforced by the companies and government regulators, particularly measures to stop workers with failing kidneys from working in the cane fields owned by the Pellas Group and other companies.

Many workers disqualified by tests showing high levels of creatinine go back to work in the fields for subcontractors with less stringent standards, he said. Some use false IDs, or give their IDs to their healthy sons, who then pass the tests and go work in the cane fields, damaging their kidneys.

“This is the only job in town,” Glaser said. “It’s all they’re trained to do. It’s all they know.”

The Ingenio San Antonio mill processes cane from more than 24,000 hectares (60,000 acres) of fields, about half directly owned by the mill and most of the rest by independent farmers.

The trade group for Nicaragua’s sugar companies said the Boston University study had confirmed that “the agricultural sugar industry in Nicaragua has no responsibility whatsoever for chronic renal insufficiency in Nicaragua” because the research found that “in the current body of scientific knowledge there is no way to establish a direct link between sugar cane cultivation and renal insufficiency.”

Brooks, the epidemiologist at Boston University, told the AP that the study simply said there was no definitive scientific proof of the cause, but that all possible connections remained open to future research.

In comparison with Nicaragua, where thousands of kidney disease sufferers work for large sugar estates, in El Salvador many of them are independent small farmers. They blame agricultural chemicals and few appear to have significantly changed their work habits in response to the latest research, which has not received significant publicity in El Salvador.

In Nicaragua, the dangers are better known, but still, workers need jobs. Zapata Palacios left eight children. Three of them work in the cane fields.

Two already show signs of disease.

‘Our Government will Sacrifice People to Accomplish a Goal’

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
January 18, 2011

Former drug dealer and government asset Ricky Ross is back in the news.  After spending 20 years in prison, Ross spoke to Russia Today television and painted a clear picture of how the U.S. government orchestrated the Iran-Contra operation and what it was capable of doing in order to further its agenda.

George H.W. Bush -head of the CIA- and Ronald Reagan simply let the commerce of drugs from Central America into the U.S. take place, said Ross to Russia Today, which enabled the financing of military covert operation in Nicaragua in the 80’s.  According to Ross, the United States did not want to let Russia take over Nicaragua as it was thought Central America was America’s backyard, and having Russians in Central America would be dangerous for the country.

Ross reminded viewers that back then, Congress had stop all financing for this kind of operation, therefore the U.S. government found it kosher to take over drug smuggling -which it continues to do until today- in order to pay for its operation in Nicaragua.  The Iran-Contra scandal almost brought down the Reagan administration, which hung from a thread for a while after the scandal was made public.

“We’ve known of several times in history when it’s sacrificed people, especially black men”, said Ross.  “They felt it was more valuable to keep the Russians and out and to keep our way of life.”  When questioned by the reporter about whether he thought the U.S. still participated in operations to smuggle drugs into the country or to take them around the world, Ross referenced the explosive increase in drug sales from Afghanistan to Europe and other places.  “Well, I mean, if we look at Afghanistan, when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, the flow of heroin was almost zero, and now it is hundreds of percents what it was then.”

Ross then spoke about Gary Webb -the murdered journalist who to a great extent exposed the Iran-Contra operation- and his reporting on the scandal.  Ross said the main stream media attacked him by twisting information Webb put out.  According to him, the media lied by saying Webb implied the U.S. government physically sent drugs into black neighborhoods, as supposed to what Webb had documented -that the U.S. government let drug dealers operate freely in order to obtain funds to continue its attack on the Sandinistas.

“Our government is out of control.  Even with the crooked cops, there was nobody we could go to and express what was going on.”  Along with Ross, countless police officers, drug dealers and others have testified of the American government’s involvement in drug dealing and trafficking and how government institutions were created to end dissent and establish a smoke screen for a secret continuity of government agenda. Much of that money, as it has been made public, is laundered through the cartels controlled by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, who then make the money disappear into ghost bank accounts.

See Ross’ complete interview below.

Costa Ricans Massively against U.S. Military Invasion

By Luis R. Miranda
The Real Agenda
August 16, 2010

In the latest survey released by a Costa Rican polling firm, it is confirmed that most of Costa Rica does not welcome on arrival and permanence of U.S. troops in their country. In recent weeks, the Congress of Costa Rica agreed to allow the arrival of military ships, planes and thousands of American marines to ‘aid’ in the war against narcotics trafficking in the Americas, which is largely driven by the U.S. and Colombia.

In the survey, whose partial results were published in a local newspaper, Costa Ricans expressed unfavorable views of the U.S. occupation. Of all respondents, 32 percent believe that the occupation is detrimental. The newspaper did not explain why, or if polled respondents were questioned as to why their opinion was such. Meanwhile, another 38 percent of respondents expressed concern that the arrival and permanence of Americans violates Costa Rican sovereignty.

Overall, 70 percent of ‘Ticos’ demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the arrival and permanence of foreign troops until December 2010. But it is the 38 percent number that sounds the bell, more than any other number. The reason is that more than one third of Costa Ricans are aware that the U.S. invasion is a violation of their sovereignty, a position that until a few weeks ago was unknown. Thus, the 57 per cent who welcomes the country’s militarization pales in comparison to the 70 percent who disapproves -32 percent who see as harmful the arrival of the Americans and the 38 percent who disapprove due to the violation of sovereignty.

Although the majority of Costa Ricans disapprove the arrival of the Americans, for the reasons mentioned above, 57 percent approval makes it clear that there is considerable support. The reason for the support, although not explained in the publication, can be easily be connected to the insecurity that the ‘Ticos’ experience daily in their neighborhoods and cities. The insecurity has been allowed to grow freely for several decades by many governments that believed the fallacy that Costa Rica was the Switzerland of Central America and that nothing would change that. Years later, the underworld, the drug lords, both locals and from abroad, gained control of the streets in the country. Drug cartels now control large areas in southern, northern and the Caribbean regions. The failure of a bureaucracy that purposely let crime grow out of control, now presents the militarization as a solution with the arrival of 7,000 troops, warships and military aircraft and helicopters, which is seen as an exageration and a threat to the sovereignty of Costa Rica. But this is not new. It is the well known modus operandi and Hegelian practice of problem, reaction, solution.

In fact, the cooperation agreement between Costa Rica and the United States did not improve at all the drug trafficking situation in the country. During the execution of this agreement, more and more drugs continue moving through Costa Rican land and waters to their northern destinations of Mexico and the United States. In South America, the treaty known as Plan Colombia did not resul in anything positive, either. Millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayers are ‘invested’ in a war regarded as a failure because it has failed to accomplish its only goal: ending the drug trade in South, Central and North America, where the largest consumer market of cocaine, crack, heroin and other drugs -made in clandestine laboratories with mixtures of pharmaceutical ingredients- is located.

In response to growing drug trafficking, the U.S. pursued a policy of ‘cooperation’ that includes the invasion of sovereign territories to supposedly stop the flow of drugs across the continent, but neither the navy nor the army, -under the guidance of the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM )- scattered across the continent have achieved that goal. People have to wonder why.

The results so far provided by the pollster UNIMER, not only reveal the overwhelming opposition of the people in Costa Rica to the occupation, but also the fatigue of the ‘Ticos’ to the ‘business as usual’ policy of their government. Although the new president arrived with great fanfare, as they all arrive, she was not able to recognize the lack of leadership from the previous governments and project a clear plan on what to do about insecurity in the country. Mrs. Chinchilla preferred to extend the policy of accepting gifts and even sacrifice the sovereignty of Costa Rica to participate in a drug war that has proved a complete failure due to the fact it is driven by corruption and not by a desire to end the drug trafficking scheme.

Another conclusion that emerges from the survey is that 57 percent of ‘Ticos’ who support military intervention ignore the failure of the current war on drugs, which is largely responsible for the bankruptcy of the United States. The policy of occupation emptied the coffers of the government, which in itself did not even have any money. Similarly, history shows that countries who sacrifice freedom and sovereignty in exchange for ‘security’, end up losing both. What this 57 percent should demand is a clear policy against crime, not the acceptance of royalties. Although the democratic system is a hedious one, as it subjects large amounts of citizens to the wishes of others, hopefully in the case of Costa Rica the voice of the majority, -which this time seems to be wiser than before- will be heard louder than ever, to wake up the minority from their sleep in the arms of ignorance.

Related Articles:

Costa Rica Occupied by U.S. Military *UPDATE*

Costa Rica Occupied: Congress Surrenders Sovereignty to U.S. Army

HSBC, Wachovia, Bank of America Launder Mexican Drug Money

Mossad in South America