Welcome to Tuesday, where the death toll among pro-democracy protesters tops 500 in Myanmar, Suez Canal gets unstuck at last, and a mafioso's love of food (and tattoos) is his downfall. Le Monde also reports from Belarus, where Lukashenko's regime is doing everything it can to avoid new mass protests.*Turkish
• Myanmar protests top 500 deaths: Myanmar protesters launch a "garbage strike" by leaving trash at intersections in Yangon to oppose military rule, as the death toll among pro-democracy protesters surpasses 500.
• Britain won't share vaccines for now: Already far outpacing European neighbors' vaccination rollouts, the UK said today it won't send any vaccines to other countries until all of its adult population gets the jab. Canada meanwhile suspends use of AstraZeneca vaccine for those 55 and younger while it investigates rare cases of blood clotting.
• World leaders' call: In an article published in several international newspapers, 24 world leaders are calling for a global pandemic treaty to improve cooperation and transparency in case of future outbreaks. China, the United States and Russia were absent from the signatories of the letter.
• Bolsonaro reshuffle: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro has replaced six ministers in a major cabinet reshuffle as he faces mounting pressure amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
• Suez Canal reopens: Traffic resumes in Egypt's Suez Canal after the stranded container ship Ever Given, which blocked the canal for nearly a week, was finally freed by salvage teams.
• Google's "eco-friendly" routes: Google Maps app will start directing drivers along "eco-friendly" routes that are estimated to generate less carbon emissions based on traffic and other factors.
• Mobster chef betrayed by tattoos: A fugitive Italian mafia member was arrested in the Dominican Republic after he was identified through his body tattoos … on his Italian cooking videos on YouTube.
Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm features a picture of the finally freed "Ever Given," the container ship which had blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week.
In Belarus, purpose and method in hunting down demonstrators
While mass protests have ceased since the fall in Belarus, Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya, the opposition figurehead in exile in Lithuania, called on Belarusians to take to the streets again on March 25 for Freedom Day. But president Alexander Lukashenko's regime has stepped up the pressure on the country and is sending more and more protesters to prison to try to prevent a new mass mobilization, reports Thomas d'Istria in Paris-based daily Le Monde.
With more than 33,000 arrests of protesters since Aug. 9, stays in detention centers have become an important facet of the protest movement. As of March 19, the human rights organization Viasna counted 288 political prisoners. This number keeps growing. "Recently, the Minister of the Interior spoke of more than 2,300 cases of politically motivated detentions," says Liubakova. "If these protesters are sentenced to years in prison, the number of political prisoners will increase."
Igor, 36, has also served time in prison. Igor works at an independent cultural institution and was arrested on his way to join a "solidarity chain" during his lunch break. In the fall, he was held for three days in Minsk's Okrestina prison. This did not deter him from demonstrating again. "People like me who have spent time in Okrestina or other prisons cannot change our minds. It's impossible to give up the fight."
In Minsk, the residents of the neighborhoods have set up a fund to pay fines. When one of them gets arrested, "calls are immediately made via dozens of chats on Telegram an encrypted messaging application to collect money," says Igor. The neighborhood also organizes to give gifts, send letters or be present when protesters are released. Volunteers are also stationed outside police stations or detention centers to obtain information on the arrivals and transfers of prisoners.
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The Mandarin word for "Patriots"— the term is used by China, as part of sweeping reforms to Hong Kong's electoral rules, to make sure the special administrative region is governed by politicians loyal to mainland China.
After 58 years on the run, man finds out he didn't kill his cousin
A man who fled Colombia in 1963 thinking he had inadvertently killed his cousin was finally tracked down in Brazil, 58 years after the incident — and told he hadn't killed anyone.
Humberto Botero had fled to Brazil thinking he was responsible for burning his cousin to death: The cousin, Hugo, had spilled fuel on himself while moving a barrel of gasoline, and handed Humberto a match, which he lit. "He gave me a box of matches. I lit one and he burned up like a torch," Colombia's Noticias Caracol channel cited Humberto as saying recently.
Humberto's sister Marleny said "he went away thinking Hugo would die, since they found him in bad shape." The family sought him out in local prisons, but he was not among the inmates. His mother Angélica Arroyave assumed he had died.
Earlier this year, Humberto's son put out a message on a social platform seeking out his father's family. And he found them. Humberto recently spoke online to his cousin Hugo who told him he had forgiven him "long ago," and to his 95-year-old mother. "It's an inexplicable emotion," she said, "happiness on the one hand and sadness on the other."
The families could not yet reunite, in the midst of a pandemic.
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Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge.
— Lead prosecutor Jerry Blackwell during opening arguments Monday in the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of murder of George Floyd, who died during an arrest last year in Minneapolis. A video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck sparked a nationwide and worldwide protest movement against police violence toward people of color. Blackwell told jurors that Chauvin, "put his knees upon Floyd's neck and his back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath — no, ladies and gentlemen — until the very life was squeezed out of him" Defense attorney Eric Nelson used his opening statement to focus on Floyd's use of fentanyl and methamphetamine, his resistance to the arresting officers and preexisting medical conditions. Jurors also heard that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, not the infamous 8:46.
With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.
CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.
Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.
It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.
Abundant sunshine, low temperatures
The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.
Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.
It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.
Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park
Chinese want to expand
The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.
The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.
The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.
The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.
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