Many of Quito’s neighborhoods have their markets, but the largest of them all is San Roque. Located in an indigenous barrio, it has all the actions of a village mercado, in the colonial heart of the city.
In the market alley.
San Roque’s market is daily, but Saturday is the busiest day. Walking across the bridge over Avenida Mariscal Antonio de Sucre, you’re suddenly thrust into the bustle. In the alley alongside the main building, furniture makers are hawking their wares. On spread-out cloths, a strange miscellanea of items—from parts for blenders to cell phones—glisten in the weak morning sun. Another aisle has heaps of used clothing. Waiters run bowls of hot soup to vendors making another sale. Women stoop in front of pails full of snail ceviche.
Emerging onto Calle Loja, the scene is ablaze with fresh fruit and vegetable stands. On the west end, past the Esmeraldan women with yucca, onions and plantains, is the fish market.
Meditating his fate.
Bundles of still-alive crabs clack their claws. Bags of shrimp shipped overnight from the coast are weighed. In cramped cages, chickens wonder their culinary fates.
Green peppers, carrots & limes.
The produce sections stretch for blocks, from Cantuña up to Cumandá, from Loja over to Calderón. Women, dressed in wrapped-around lengths of velvet
tied off with woven belts, wander the crowded streets. Plastic bags stuffed with homegrown vegies hang from their hands. In Quichua-shrill voices, they call out their offerings: Green peppers, 25 cents. Thirty limes, 50 cents. One holds a plastic bowl mounded with carrots. Another has a row of corn lined on her arm (seven for a dollar). A child has a bowl of peas.
The stands are heaped with pineapples (in this off-season, three for a dollar), melons (five for a dollar). As the harvests come, so do the bargains. Anything cultivated in Ecuador’s jungles, coasts and mountains are for sale here.
South on Calle Cuenca to Calle Rocafuerte. Turn right, walking uphill to Quiroga (where there is a stone wall on the southwest corner). Turn left. Just past the Japón public school, turn right and walk over the pedestrian bridge. (You’ll see the San Roque tunnel down below, to your right.) Soon you will be in the midst of the mercado. Once entering, turn left towards Calle Loja. It is extremely crowded, so beware pickpockets and leave valuables at home.
In the heart of Old Town Quito, just two blocks North of Plaza Santo Domingo, is an unexpected ambience in this downtown more known for colonial churches and plazas: Barrio San Marcos.
This neighborhood, centered around Calle Junín, today is home to middle-class families, artisan workshops and a parish church. It also has several interesting museums, a dance center and restaurants.
San Marcos is one of Quito’s oldest sectors. During the Inca reign, the Aclla Huasi (House of the Chosen) was where Convento de Santa Catalina is now (Flores and Espejo). The convent has a natural medicine shop (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and a museum (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5p.m. Entry: $1.50).
The barrio was founded in the 1580s. Spaniards, indigenous and mestizos lived here side by side, an anomaly for the era. It was home to Francisco Javier Ascásubi and Miguel Antonio Rodríguez, two important players in the 1809 uprising against Spanish rule. This was where, too, Manuela Sáenz lived. In the late 19th century, painters Brígida and Gertrudis Salas, and the musicians Aparicio Córdova and Carlos “Pollo” Ortiz created here.
San Marcos' plaza and church.
Calle Junín is lined with homes showing the centuries of architectural styles. A few late-16th century buildings remain, and there are some designed by Antonio Russo, an Italian who erected many of the early 20th century buildings in the Centro Histórico. Flowers spill over second floor balconies. Neighborhood stores, barbershops, tailors and other family-owned businesses speckle the landscape all the way down to the tree-shaded plaza and the parish church. Calle Junín continues two blocks more, to a cul-de-sac.
Eight artisan and artist workshops also adorn Calle Junín, including the gallery-studio of Sonia Rosales (Junín E2-143 and Almeida. Tel: 239-6320, E-mail: email@example.com), who studied for several decades in China. She creates her women-centric art with natural pigments on handmade paper.
Other artisan workshops are those of José Barrera who crafts wood (Junín E3-03 and Gutiérrez. Tel: 228-0753) and Arte Colonial Quiteño of Señor Marcelo Ruiz (Junín E2-61 and Almeida. Tel: 295-2529).
Twice a year, San Marcos hosts a street fair with artisan stands, traditional foods and live music, and showcasing the neighborhood’s creativity. Its patron saint celebration is on April 25.
Museo de Aquarela
In recent years, Barrio San Marcos has quietly become a cultural mecca in downtown Quito. Three museums lure visitors to this neighborhood. Museo Manuela Sáenz (Junín OE113 and Montúfar) highlights the life of this Quiteña who played a major role in the Wars of Independence. Further down Calle Junín is the Museo de Arquitectura (Tuesday-Saturday 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Junín 610 and Ortiz Bilbao. Tel: 228-0446. Entry: $1), where you can learn about Quito’s architectural history. On the next block is Museo de Acuarela y Dibujo Muñoz Mariño(Junín OE227), dedicated to Ecuador’s most important watercolor artists.
La Casa de la Danza now has its center in Barrio San Marcos (Junín and Gutiérrez. Tel: 295-5445). Every Saturday night, it hosts performances in its Carpa de la Paz (Peace Tent) (7-11 p.m. Entry: $2). It also has a café (Tuesday-Thursday 3-7 p.m., Saturday 7:30-11 p.m.).
Restaurante Tradición Colonial
Several restaurants, run by young Sanmarqueños, are open for lunch and dinner. Tradicional Colonial has tremendous views over La Marín (Junín E3-167 and Segunda Escalinata. Tel: 258-0124, Cel: 087-522-599). Restaurante Las Cuevas de la Colonia is in the barrio’s oldest building (Junín and Montúfar. Cel: 092-422-828). Across from Plaza San Marcos is a traditional picantería. Octava de Corpus, a wine and grill bistro-art gallery, is open only in evenings (Junín E2-167. Tel: 295-2989, URL: www.octavadecorpus.com).
If you would like to stay in San Marcos, experiencing the neighborhood’s peace and creativity, there is Casa San Marcos, an up-scale boutique hotel (Junín 655 and Montúfar. Tel: 228-1811, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, URL: www.casasanmarcos.com). The inn also houses Cafetería Quindihuasi, serving Ecuadorian fusion cuisine for lunch and dinner.
Ecuador’s visa policies and requirements are constantly changing, but V!VA Travel Guides is here to keep you in the know.
Recent changes for U.S. citizens include a six-month validity rule, where visitors are now required to have at least six months valid on their passports in order to enter or exit the country. The departure component will only be enforced if U.S. citizens, who do not have dual nationality with Ecuador, are leaving on a flight with an international stopover, like in Colombia or Panama.
U.S. citizens who are applying for immigrant visas (type 9) are also now required to obtain a criminal record, if they are over 18 years old. This criminal record must be acquired from the country where the applicant resided within the last five years, and may need to be apostilled or legalized in some cases.
As in the past, visitors to Ecuador who have any visa besides the three-month tourist visa must register it within their first 30 days in the country to avoid a hefty fine. Those with immigrant visas must register at the Dirección General de Extranjería and those with non-immigrant visas must register at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After visa registration, visa holders must obtain a “censo” card from the immigration police office, which costs $4. Travelers are required to show this card each time they enter or exit the country, and may be denied entrance or departure without it. These “censo” cards must be renewed if the current visa is changed into a different type of visa.
For more information, check Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Relations website, www.mmrree.gov.ec, or consult your local Ecuador embassy.
A copy of Tyler Burgess’ Quito, Ecuador Townscape Walks landed inV!VA Travel Guide‘s office. The small, paperback guide has instructions of 12 routes in the Old Town, Mariscal and New Town, with hints on what cafés, plazas, museums, churches and other sites to know in Quito. Leafing through the hand-illustrated booklet, I became intrigued. In all of my years of visiting Quito, Ms Burgess proposes places I’d never explored.
Next week I shall share one of the adventures here in this space.
Quito, Ecuador Townscape Walks is not a guide with descriptions of each site. It is only a collection of a dozen circuit maps, with suggestions of places to visit. Throughout, Tyler Burgess weaves in several handy features, like where to stop for a fresh fruit juice or where there are bathrooms. The booklet is illustrated with sketches of things you’ll see along the way. She takes her fellow walkers into the back streets of Quito, where few tourists ever venture, to see the daily life of Quiteños behind the façade.
Some of the routes are through neighborhoods that, after dark, do have some security problems; but as long as you hoof around during daylight hours and use common-sense security measures (keep valuables back at the hotel, don’t flash your camera, take only the money you’ll need and go with another person), you should do okay. An additional map of the city is also handy. The walks, none of which are more than 8.5 kilometers (5.2 miles), can be quite aerobic, taking on Quito’s many hills.
And this is not a surprise, considering Burgess’ life. Born in 1950 in Wyoming, she spent her adult years in Montana and Oregon. She has always been an outdoors enthusiast. In her 40s, she played soccer, performed triathlons and undertook solo backpacking trips. She coaches marathon and fitness classes. Burgess also organizes walking tours across Ireland, England, Italy and Morocco, as well as in several US cities. A few years ago, she was a Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim, walking the 880-kilometer (550-mile) route alone.
Ms Burgess has written Townscape Walks for Seattle, Oregon, Eugene and Portland. This is is her first one in a foreign land. If you are interested in learning more about the books, visit www.walk-with-me.com.
As reported a few weeks ago in Quito’s Seven Wonders, the public was invited to choose the city’s best sites. The competition ran from April until July 31. Over 14,000 people participated in the on-line voting.
A few surprises made the list—as well as some of the most well-known churches and plazas.
If you are presently in Quito or visited the city in the past, you undoubtedly have visited dozens of the nominations for Quito’s Seven Wonders.
Following in the footsteps of Asunción (Paraguay), Barcelona, Brasilia, Madrid and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Quito has decided to designate seven wonders in its own historic city. Voting began four months ago and ends July 31.
Every week, VIVA Travel Guides will be bringing you a rundown of the biggest, most important events in Latin America.
Monday, September 20th: Fiestas Patrias, Santiago, Chile
Today is the end of the four-day weekend marking the bicentennial of Chile’s independence. Major events are planned in Santiago, specifically in Parque Alberto Hurtado and the Estadio Nacional.
Tuesday, September 21st: Independence Day, Belize
Parties can be found just about everywhere in the country, as Belize celebrates its independence from the United Kingdom.
Wednesday, September 22nd: Al Trabajo en Bici, Montevideo, Uruguay
Wednesday is Car-Free Day, celebrated in many cities around the world. In Montevideo, workers and students will be encouraged to bike to work. Cyclists will gather at the Monumento al Gaucho at 6 pm.
Thursday, September 23rd: Autumn Equionox, Chichen Itza, Mexico
The Maya mastery of astronomy and architecture becomes most apparent in Chichen Itza on the first day of autumn. On this day, thousands gather to watch the sun cast the long shadow of a serpent on the flank of the main pyramid.
Friday, September 24th: La Semana del Arte, Buenos Aires, Argentina
This is the last night of this annual festival, which highlights the best of Buenos Aires’ ever-expanding art scene. Gallery nights, museum tours and other activities are on offer all week. Check out the festival’s Spanish-language website for more info.
Saturday, September 25th: South American Music Conference, Quito, Ecuador
One of Latin America’s most important house and electronica events swings through Quito this year. The highlight of SAMC 2010 is a concert Saturday night at Cemexpo, featuring DJs from around the region and headlined by Paul Oakenfold.
Sunday, September 26th: VIVA Travel Guides Boot Camp, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
VIVA editors head to beautiful Tamarindo to give a crash course on how to be a travel writer, from September 26th-October 1st. For more information about applying, check here.
Compiled by Jen O’Riordan, Eli Mangold and Libby Zay.
Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the stories our office talked about during the week of July 30th to August 6th. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!
[BRAZIL] Last Sunday, fifty-five members of a small indigenous tribe emerged from the Amazon rainforest to prove they exist and highlight the fact that their home is being mercilessly destroyed. Many of the tribe members left the rainforest for the first time in their lives to join 150 supporters in the town of Zé Doca, Maranhão, where the local Mayor’s office had previously denied the Awá people even exist. Local authorities have recently opposed a federal court ruling that ranchers, loggers and settlers who have occupied Awá lands should leave. Along with witnessing the destruction of up to 50 percent of their home, the tribe (believed to be one of Brazil’s two remaining nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes) has also been subject to massacres by settlers and have fallen victim to illnesses such as the common flu for which they have little or no immunity. [Indigenous People's Issues]
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa May Face Brother in 2014 Election
[ECUADOR] Strangely enough, the only significant opposition to Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s administration is his own kin; his old ally and older brother Fabricio. The brothers worked together to get Rafael elected in 2006, but after a rather nasty corruption charge (Fabricio’s engineering business supposedly boomed just after the younger one was elected), their relationship unraveled. There has been macho posturing on both sides, and Fabricio is quoted as saying “Nobody has so far had the testicular competence to sue me.” Should be in interesting election to watch. [BBC]
Mexico City Upholds Gay Marriage Law
[MEXICO] Eight out of ten justices in Mexico’s highest court decided to uphold a law allowing same-sex marriages in the capital. The law was passed seven months ago, but federal prosecutors said it “went against the principle of protection of the family,” according to the BBC. [BBC]
Thirty Trapped in Chile Mine
[CHILE] A small mine collapsed in northern Chile late Thursday, leaving 30 miners trapped. Rescuers believe the trapped men may have taken refuge in an underground shelter that has oxygen and food “for them to last for some time,” but no further details have been released. [Reuters]
Guatemala Willing to Meet with the U.S. About Labor Dispute
[GUATEMALA] There is a possibility that the Guatemalan government is facing hefty fines for violating terms of the joint free-trade agreement with the U.S. The U.S. AFL-CIO labor federation and six Guatemalan unions first lodged the complaints in April 2008 over the violation of labor conditions, including failure to implement laws regarding the rights of workers to bargain collectively and organize, as well as the right to acceptable working conditions. According to the International Confederation of Trade Unions, Guatemala is the second most dangerous country for workers after Colombia. Sixteen workers are thought to have died in labor-related incidents in 2009 alone. [Global Post]
The Plague Surfaces in Peru
[PERU] Both the bubonic and pneumonic plagues have appeared in Peru, killing one 14-year-old boy and infecting 31 others. The disease is carried by fleas and transmitted by their bites, and Peruvian authorities are looking into sugar and fish meal imports from the Ascope province. But don’t worry about another Black Death, the plague is easily treatable with antibiotics if found early. [AP]
Troops Found $7 Million in Cash at Home of Drug Lord
[MEXICO] Troops who raided the house of drug kingpin Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel last week found $7 million in cash. They also seized jewelry, three expensive cars, and several weapons. Coronel, who died in the gunfight, was third in line in the Sinaloa drug cartel. [AP]
Fidel Castro Plans to Address Cuban Assembly on Issue of Foreign Affairs
[CUBA] After falling ill and conceding power to brother Raul, Fidel Castro is now healthy enough to address the National Assembly. Although not officially confirmed, the state media has reported that the ex-head of state plans to orate on the impending nuclear crisis between North Korea, Iran, Israel and the US. The session will be held on Saturday, August 7th. [BBC]
Prison in Brazil Found to be Run by Inmates
[BRAZIL] Police raided a prison in Rio de Janeiro to find inmates had overrun the place. The facility, which held 150 prisoners awaiting trial, had only one guard when police arrived. Police seized keys from the prisoners, as well as a pistol, ammunition, mobile phones, and records that detailed payments made by prisoners for larger cells and better conditions. [BBC]
Baby Revives Inside Coffin at Wake in Mexico
[MEXICO] A Mexican baby who was declared dead by doctors revived inside her coffin while her wake was in progress. Apparently, during the ceremony, parents heard a strange noise coming from the casket and opened it up to find their baby very much alive. The baby was born prematurely Monday, and is now in stable condition at a hospital. The doctor who pronounced her dead is being investigated for possible negligence. [AP]
Diego Forlan in Calcutta. Courtesy BBC.
Soccer Star Diego Forlan Visits Calcutta
[URUGUAY] Diego Forlan’s visit to one of India’s few football-crazy cities has caused much excitement in recent days. The 31-year-old Uruguayan player was named player of the 2010 World Cup after scoring no less than 5 goals for his country in the tournament. Forlan’s visit was part of a football talent hunt where many of the participants come from underprivileged backgrounds. “I’ve had the opportunity to see them playing, and I’m surprised how organized the young players are. You can see real talent,” he said. A large number of followers greeted the Atletico Madrid forward on his arrival in Calcutta, and his visit to the headquarters of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity also drew large crowds of well-wishers. Forlan became a hero in his home country after his performance in South Africa and joins a list of football favorites that have visited Calcutta in recent years, including Diego Maradona, Branco, Romario, Oliver Kahn, and Gerd Muller. [BBC]
Former Chilean Secret Police Chief Blames CIA for 1974 Murders
[CHILE] General Manuel Contreras, the former chief of Chile’s feared secret police, said the CIA is to blame for the assassination of General Carlos Prats. At the time, Prats was the biggest enemy of General Augusto Pinochet, who proceeded him as head of Chile’s army. Contreras is serving combined sentences of 100 years for murders and kidnappings that took place while Pinochet headed the army. [AP]
No Oil Drilling in Ecuadorian Amazon Reserve
[ECUADOR] Ecuador decided the value of an Amazon Reserve was worth more than the oil money it would receive, and ruled against drilling in the area. It is estimated there are 846 million barrels of crude oil under the reserve, which is home to several indigenous tribes, as well as tons of flora and fauna. Under Ecuador’s new agreement with the UN, the reserve will remain untapped for at least 10 years. [V!VA]
[MEXICO] Mayan Indians in the Mexican state of Yucatan have signed a petition calling for the removal of two life-sized bronze statues from the state capital. The statues were erected in June in honor of the conquistador Francisco de Montejo and his son. In the mid-16th century, both Montejo and his son were responsible for many vicious battles and the deaths of thousands of indigenous during their quest for control of the area. The local council agreed to consider the petition on Wednesday which was signed by over 100 Mayan groups and many more individual Yucatan citizens. Over the years, Mexicans have avoided any attempt to praise or commemorate those that invaded the country and statues in their honor are rare. [AP]
Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 24th to July 29th. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!
Cristina Calcieta’s mystery has been solved. Photo courtesy AFP.
34 Years Later, Argentine Students Crack Murder Mystery
[ARGENTINA] The families of a young couple who disappeared in 1976 can finally lay the remains of their loved ones to rest after their bodies were identified by a group of students and community members in the small town of Melincue. The students linked the timing of the couple’s disappearance with a discovery of two brutalized bodies a rural farmer had made in 1976, and DNA tests proved their suspicions. Under the Argentine military dictatorship that ruled at the time, tens of thousands of suspected left-wing activists were murdered or disappeared. [AP]
Other South American Countries Attempt to Diffuse Venezuela/Columbia Feud
[COLOMBIA / VENEZUELA] After Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez severed ties with Colombia last Thursday, South American foreign ministers failed to bring the two countries back together at a meeting in Quito, Ecuador Thursday. Brazil President Lula da Silva plans to speak with Chavez on August 6th. Venezuela and Colombia have a long history of mixed feeling toward each other, and on Thursday Colombia accused Venezuela of harboring around 1,500 leftist guerrillas and closed the consulate. [Colombia Reports / Reuters]
Troops Kill Mexican Drug Kingpin
[MEXICO] Soldiers gunned down Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a leader of the Sinaloa cartel during a raid of his hideout in the western city of Guadalajara. In an attempted to escape, Coronel fired on soldiers as helicopters hovered overhead. One soldier was killed and another wounded. “The scope of [his] influence and operations penetrate throughout the United States, Mexico, and several other European, Central American, and South American countries,” said the FBI in a statement. [AP]
Ancestors of Australian Marsupials Arrived from the Americas
[GERMANY] According to genetic research from Germany, well known Australian species such as kangaroos, possums, koalas and wombats share a common ancestor that must have traveled to the region from the Americas. “I think this is pretty strong evidence now for the hypothesis of a single migration [to Australia] and a common ancestor,” said Juergen Schmitz, of the University of Muenster research team. The DNA analysis unfortunately does not tell us when this migration to Australia occurred, but researchers speculate that it may have taken place some 30-40 million years ago. [Discovery News]
Catalan Bullfight Ban Raises Debate in Latin America
[LATIN AMERICA] After Catalonia, Spain banned bullfighting last Wednesday, many bullfighting enthusiasts and animal rights groups throughout Latin America are having heated debates about the support. The tradition of bullfighting dates back to Spanish colonization in countries like Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Mexico, which is home to the world’s largest bullring. Michel Lagravere, father of Franco-Mexican child bullfighting star Michelito, said the Catalan parliament vote was “more anti-Spanish than anti-bullfight.” [Montreal Gazette]
Diego Maradona’s Tenure Ends as Argentina’s Coach
[ARGENTINA] Diego Maradona confirmed the end of his time as Argentina’s coach on Wednesday. Maradona accused Julio Grondona, president of the Argentinian Football Association, of lying to him and Carlos Bilardo, the national team’s general manager, of betraying him. Although many are blaming Maradona for Argentina’s loss in the World Cup, Maradona pointed out: “Not since 1990 has Argentina made it past the quarter finals.” [guardian.co.uk]
Argentina and Uruguay Reach Agreement on Pollution Monitoring
[ARGENTINA / URUGUAY] An agreement has finally been reached in the 7-year dispute between Argentina and Uruguay regarding pollution of the shared Uruguay River. The controversy began when Argentina raised concerns about contamination of the river from a Finnish paper mill on the Uruguayan side. The agreement was signed at the presidential palace and calls for a joint-scientific committee to monitor and identify pollution from all farming, industrial and urban centers that spill their waste into the Uruguay River and its tributaries. Argentina hopes the agreement will please environmentalists who have been blocking a bridge linking Gualeguaychu to Fray Bentos in Uruguay for the past three years. The UPM mill was built there seven years ago despite Argentina’s objections that it would pollute the river. [Global Times]
UNESCO Takes Galapagos Islands Off the Threatened List
[ECUADOR] After a 14-5 vote, the United Nations has voted to remove the Galapagos Islands from its list of endangered sites. The committee believes Ecuador has made significant progress in protecting and preserving the Islands. The Galapagos Islands had been on the list since 2007 after threatened by tourism, over-fishing and the introduction of invasive species. The Galapagos Islands has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. [Voice of America]
United States Closes Consulate in Ciudad Juarez
[U.S. / MEXICO] The United States announced closure of its consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico indefinitely. A U.S. official said the consulate was closed due to a “credible threat.” Last year, more than 2,600 people were killed in drug-related violence in the city. In March, the consulate closed for several days after a U.S. employee, her husband, and the husband of another staff member were killed. [BBC]
Watch a news report on the situation in Arizona. Video courtesy MSNBC.
Illegal Immigrants Prepare to Leave Arizona as New Law Takes Effect
[U.S. / MEXICO] A controversial immigration law, which could see an influx of deportees returning to Mexico, took effect in Arizona yesterday. Shelters across the border in Mexico are gathering supplies and preparing for a 20-25% increase in occupancy in the coming months. However, some say that many illegal immigrants will simply move from Arizona to another American state rather than return to Mexico. Mexico already extended its annual voluntary repatriation program in anticipation of the Arizona law, beginning the initiative earlier than usual in June. Other Mexican states such as Guanajuato and Chihuahua have also announced employment programs for possible returnees. [ABC News]
Chilean President Rejects Calls to Pardon Officials
[CHILE] In a televised address to the nation last Sunday, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera stated the sweeping pardons requested by the Catholic Church for military prisoners would not be granted under his government. The 60 military prisoners were convicted of humans rights abuses during the ear now known as the “Dirty War.” The majority of the prisoners live in a comfortable, well-equipped prison build especially from them. Standing up to the Catholic Church was a bold move, however, recent scandal and sexual abuse claims against Chilean priests have tarnished the Church’s reputation in recent years. Despite the rejection, the Church reacted positively saying that at least now the issue of overcrowding and conditions in Argentina’s prisons had been put on the national agenda. [NY Times]
Cuban Hunger Striker Departs Hospital
[CUBA] Guillerrno Farinas, an opposition activist who went on a 134-day hunger strike, has departed the hospital after three weeks of treatment. The 48-year-old psychologist and journalist began accepting food and water on July 8 after an agreement was reached between the Catholic Church and President Raul Castro to release 52 political prisoners. Twenty prisoners have so far been flown in exile to Spain with their families. [AP]