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The Andean Condor is in Trouble. The Reasons are Known, and Preventable

(wer-al zwowe)


LIMA, Peru — Another day, another endangered species, or so it seems.

The Andean condor could be next. The iconic giant scavenger is a national symbol of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, but it is disappearing in parts of the region. 

According to the Red List of Threatened Species, the conservationists’ bible, there are an estimated 10,000 of the birds left in the wild.

Yet things are not as simple as that.

“The problem is no one really knows,” says Robert Wallace, who heads the Wildlife Conservation Society’s operations in Bolivia.

“It is very hard with animals that cover such large distances and inhabit such inaccessible terrain. The condors you see in one place today and 300 miles away tomorrow could easily be the same animals.”

What is known is that populations in Argentina and Chile, mainly Patagonia, are relatively healthy, while there are thought to be just a handful left in Ecuador and Colombia. Venezuela probably now has no resident condors left.

In Peru, one forthcoming study puts the minimum number at just 250. Meanwhile, Jessica Galvez-Durand, head of sustainable wildlife management for the Peruvian government, says that there are “fewer than 2,500.”


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Ecuador to Officially Recognize Same-Sex Unions


Following a meeting with LGBT advocates last week, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has announced that same-sex couples will have the option of having their relationship officially recognized by the government. 

MapTelesur reports:

"The LGBT community have the constitutional right to register on their union," Correa said during his weekly report.

Previously, the Ecuadoran Civil Registry did not recognize these unions because they had no legal status according to law, however Correa said that from now on this right has to be respected and if denied, the authorities will take action on the matter.

Correa, however, maintained that he is still opposed to same-sex marriage. 

Ecuadorian Authorities Crack Down On Inhumane 'Gay Conversion' Clinics

According to Ecuador's Health Minister, Carina Vance, the country currently has over 80 unlicensed clinics, which offer to treat a range of ailments from alcoholism and substance addiction to homosexuality. These clinics have undergone enhanced scrutiny as of late, thanks to reports of torture, rape, and inhumane treatment that are beginning to surface. Last year, two people died at these clinics under mysterious circumstances. Now, thanks to survivors like Denisse Freire, we have witnesses to the sort of horrifying atrocities being committed within these mysterious treatment centers. 

According to France 24, Freire was sent to a center at age 15, after her mother discovered her in her room with another female classmate. 

"They tortured me with electric shocks, didn't let me bathe for three days, gave me almost nothing to eat, hit me a lot, hung me by my feet. They told me it was for my own good."

Freire was also forcibly raped in an effort to rid her of her same-sex attraction. She was able to escape after two months. Unfortunately, he story is just one example of many. "We have reports of physical attacks, the use of ice water on inmates," Health Minister Vance told the press. "We have lesbians who have reported what the clinics called 'sex therapy,' but which consists of being raped by men...We are talking here about a mafia, a network that operates nationally in each of the provinces, which are violating human rights."

Vance, who is also openly gay, informed reporters that, since March of last year, 18 of these clinics have been closed for health and/or human rights violations. Unfortunately, the so-called "mafia" that supports these clinics often includes many elected officials, including at least one former health ministry official. Ecuadorian law also permits forced treatment of an "addict" if the treatment is ordered by a judge. Leah Burbano of the Lesbian Women and Woman Movement also notes that many gay people are also placed into these clinics by close family members, which "creates an emotional weight." She notes, though, that families are very often unaware of the inhumane atrocities committed by these clinics when sending their relatives to these camps. "This is not a struggle between parents and children. It's a struggle against these clinics."

Earlier this year, the advocacy websites and were able to gather over 178,000 signatures on an online petition to shut down these clinics. AllOut co-founder Andre Bank thanked the "courageous LGBT and women's rights activists in Ecuador, and supporters around the world who helped elevate this national scandal to global prominence." 

Former Ecuadorean Presidential Candidate Nelson Zavala Receives Fine, Political Rights Suspension for Anti-Gay Remarks

Former Ecuadorean presidential candidate and evangelical pastor Nelson Zavala had his political rights suspended for a year and was fined more than $3,000 by an electoral court for making anti-gay remarks during his campaign, the BBC reports:

ZavalaAn electoral court sentenced him for saying gays were "immoral" and suffered from "severe deviation of conduct" during the February election campaign. Lawyers for Mr Zavala, an evangelical preacher who says he can "cure" gay people, said he would appeal.

The candidate came last out of eight candidates with 1.23% of the votes. President Rafael Correa was re-elected for a third term with nearly 60% of the vote.

The ruling bars Mr Zavala from standing as a candidate, affiliating himself or being involved with a political party or movement.

The BBC add:

Gays and lesbian activists applauded the decision, which was called a "milestone".

Mr Zavala's comments in February were denounced to the electoral authorities by a number of groups.

Judge Patricia Baca Mancheno found Mr Zavala violated the electoral code, which "forbids candidates of publicly expressing any thoughts that discriminate or affect other people's dignity or utilise symbols, expressions or allusions of a religious nature."

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa Apologizes to LGBT Community on National TV: VIDEO


Rafael Correa, Ecuador's President who was reelected in a landslide on Sunday, apologized to LGBT people during his victory speech, reports Andrés Duque at Blabbeando.

Said Correa:

A few months ago I used a number of inappropriate words that were offensive to LGBT groups and for which I apologized in writing - and I stated I would apologize again after winning [the election] to make sure they knew I wasn't doing it simply for political gain.

Once again I'd like to express my apologies to those LGBT groups for some words that might have escaped me. Each one of us was born and grew up with stereotypes and stigmas and we have to fight against this type of - let's call it deformed - social upbringing, etcetera. But our commitment is to defend everyone's dignity and equality. We are diverse but never unequal.

And I was reminded of this by the leader of a GLBT group who I greatly admire a couple of days ago. You need a lot of courage to lead these type of movements. Let's offer them all our support and - on a personal basis - I offer my full respect and the effort and commitment to eliminate all types of discrimination in this country.


Read Blabbeando's full post here.

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U.S. Embassies In Latin America Get Down With Gay Pride

ElSalvadorSecretary of State Hillary Clinton has made no secret of her commitment to LGBT rights around the world. "Gay rights are human rights," she has said on a number of occasions. Apparently her State Department colleagues in Latin America agree.

Only a few weeks after it was reported that the U.S. Embassy in Kenya was celebrating pride, Andrés Duque reports that half-a-dozen U.S. satellites in the Latin America took part in their own pride events.

For example, Anne Andrew, the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica, held a "roundtable" on LGBT rights there, while the U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, sent out a tweet reiterating the States' engagement on LGBT issues. "The US Government supports the Honduran LGBT community in their fight for equality and respect," she wrote.

Officials in Chile, Panama, El Salvador and Ecuador also sent representatives to pride parades or held their own events, including a high heel race to erode traditional gender norms in Ecuador. As you can see in the photo above, the participants were in it to win it.

Read Duque's excellent article HERE.


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