Survey finds ‘sextortion’ rife in Latin America, women worst hit

One in five people in Latin America and the Caribbean has either direct or indirect experience of officials using their positions of power to demand sexual favours, usually from women, according to a survey published on Monday.

“Sextortion” – abuse of power to obtain sexual favours – is prevalent in Latin America partly due to inequality between men and women in politics and pay though few reliable statistics exist on the form of corruption that is notoriously hard to prove.

However, a survey by anti-corruption group Transparency International of 17,000 people from 18 Latin American countries found the practise to be widespread in schools, hospitals and municipal buildings.

Seven out of 10 people said sexual extortion happened “at least occasionally”.

“In some cases, when women are asked for a bribe, the currency changes from money to sexual favours,” the chair of Transparency International, Delia Ferreira, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Of the countries surveyed, Barbados fared worst with 30% of people saying they had experiences of sextortion or knew someone who had, followed by the Bahamas and Guatemala. Panama and Chile fared best, at 14%.

Women often experience petty corruption in their daily lives at the hands of low-level civil servants who exploit mothers seeking social services, Ferreria said.

Inspired by the #MeToo movement, hundreds of thousands of women from Argentina to Mexico have taken to the streets since 2018 to speak out against sexual violence and harassment.

But despite progressive legislation protecting women in places like Brazil, rights groups say prosecutors still find it difficult to charge people for sexual exploitation because evidence is elusive and victims shy away from coming forward.

Often taking place behind closed doors and attached to stigma, there is scant information on sexual extortion in other parts of the world.

Women in Kenya have had to exchange sex for water, according to the water policy institute SIWI.

A 2014 study by the IAWJ and the Thomson Reuters Foundation on laws in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kenya, Mexico, Taiwan, Uganda and the United Kingdom found that none of the nine countries had adopted laws that use the term sextortion. (Reporting by Anastasia Moloney @anastasiabogota, Editing by Claire Cozens and Tom Finn. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Source: http://news.trust.org/item/20190923053555-8yuxe

Ship Seized In Record $1.3 Billion Cocaine Bust Belongs To JPMorgan

A record $1.3 billion, or 18,000 kilos worth) of cocaine (15,500 kilos) was seized from a container ship at a Philadelphia port after having stopped in Colombia, Chile, Peru, Panama and the Bahamas. The vessel, the MSC Gayane, is owned by JP Morgan, and was seized by US authorities according to the Wall Street Journal.  The Gayane is the world’s second-largest container ship – operated by Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Co, MSC.

“A seizure of a vessel this massive is complicated and unprecedented—but it is appropriate because the circumstances here are also unprecedented,” said US Attorney William McSwain in a statement. “When a vessel brings such an outrageous amount of deadly drugs into Philadelphia waters, my office will pursue the most severe consequences possible against all involved parties in order to protect our district—and our country.”

The Gayane was raided on June 17 by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents who found about 20 tons of cocaine with a street value of $1.3 billion stashed in several containers. The ship had sailed from Freeport in the Bahamas and before that it called in Panama and Peru after starting its voyage in Chile. It was due to sail on to Europe after the U.S. stop.

“MSC remains grateful to the government officials in the U.S. for their proactive work and has offered its continued support, building on a longstanding track record of good cooperation with the authorities,” an MSC spokesman said in a statement. “MSC is assisting and cooperating with the authorities as required and the company is not the target of any investigation.” –Wall Street Journal

The $90 million ship that can carry around 10,000 containers remains anchored at the Delaware River near the Philadelphia port, and will stay there for quite some time according to the Journal.

Eight crew members from Samoa and Serbia were arrested, while many others have been charged in the scheme according to those interviewed. The ship’s second officer and another crew member were also charged, and have been accused of helping to bring the contraband aboard.

In February, Customs agents also seized 1.6 tons of cocaine on another MSC vessel, the Carlotta, upon entry into the Port of Newark, NJ.

As a result of the two busts, MSC’s Customs-Trade Partnership certification has been temporarily suspended, meaning that the company’s cargo will be subject to enhanced scrutiny and can no longer be classified as “low risk.” MSC says it expects minimal disruption from the suspension.

Historically, ships involved in criminal activity are older and beaten up,” said Basil Karatzas, CEO of New-York-based Karatzas Marine Advisors & Co. “It is strange that such a modern and expensive vessel is involved in such a blatantly criminal case, like moving 20 tons of cocaine.”

Source: ZeroHedge

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