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Meltwaters Ana Hoyos: “We See Great Potential for AI Expansion in Latin America”

What: We talked to Ana Hoyos, area director at Meltwater Latin America, about the recent acquisition..

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What: We talked to Ana Hoyos, area director at Meltwater Latin America, about the recent acquisition of Sysomos and what it means for the analysis of social media.
Why it matters: The social media landscape is changing at an accelerated pace; artificial intelligence is acquiring a prominent role and companies have to adapt to survive.

Meltwater's Ana Hoyos

When MeltwaterCEO Jørn Lyseggen started the company with a 15-thousand-dollar grant from the Norwegian government, little did he know that 18 years later he would be able to acquire a company like insights-driven social platform Sysomos. Now, this is Meltwater's seventh acquisition in 18 months; a month ago it bought London-based social media analyst DataSift, and eight months ago it bought real-time data analytics app Algo. Meltwater is making serious efforts to become the market leader of both Social Analytics and Media Intelligence, and at Portada we talked to Ana Hoyos, director of Meltwater Latin America, to find out more about the details behind the acquisition and what's next for Latin American markets.

Portada: What are the motivations behind Meltwater's recent acquisitions?

Ana Hoyos: "Weve been spending a lot of time trying to find the right partners and the right acquisitions to do, and its all very strategic in terms of finding only the best content and the best artificial intelligence for this concept of “Outside Insight”, which is about being able to structure unstructured data. We as a company have been monitoring online news for many years, since 2001, and then we started adding different sections to that.

The plan is for us to continue helping our clients make decisions based on that information. Were expanding a lot of our content on social media to be able to provide insights to all of our clients. The concept of our Outside Insight is to find insight from the outside, information that a company doesnt have internally, but is really valuable to understand what is happening in either the traditional landscape or the social landscape. This information can include the latest industry trends, competitive intelligence, or anything that might shape their company in a different way and then be able to make decisions based on that."

Portada: Why has Meltwater decided to acquire Sysomos?

A.H.: "Sysomos is a company that has been around for many years. Theyve been very strong since the beginning and were very excited to acquire them because we know that they have a lot of great content. Thats the main focus. We want to use as much as we can in terms of their content, talents, etc. to continue driving this vision of Outside Insight. The most important thing is were excited for the contents they already have. We see a ton of potential into integrating that content into everything else that we do, and especially because we feel like we have really strong artificial intelligence tools, and matching that with the content they have can lead to powerful results."

Portada: What are the challenges in store for social media-analytics firms in view of the latest fake news and privacy concerns?

A.H.: "With the social media landscape evolving, some of these changes have exploded and taken a lot of room in the news, like the situation with Facebook… All of these things, in the end, are natural to the industry; we can assume they are going to happen because of the nature of this content. Of course its a challenge, because its an area and an industry thats always adapting. For example, as soon as this Facebook situation happened we had to respond and immediately adapt our processes and internal communications to make sure that we knew exactly how to address this with our clients, and how to make sure we can monitor information for them in different ways.

We need to be very agile in terms of responding to any changes, but it's not necessarily a concern because it's something that is happening to everybody.

I can see that could continue to be a challenge, but what it means is we have to continue to be very adaptable. We need to be very agile in terms of responding to any changes, but its not necessarily a concern because its something that is happening to everybody. No players going to be at a disadvantage, well just all have to adapt to the situation and ultimately the companies that adapt the quickest are the ones that are going to have an advantage in the market."

Portada: What are Meltwater's plans for Latin America?

A.H.: "We have a pretty good presence in Latin America. We have operations in Buenos Aires and now our main office is in São Paulo, Brazil. We work with all countries within Latin America; we have a Spanish-speaking team and a Portuguese-speaking team. This is a really big area of focus for us because we see a lot of potential, not only because the market is somewhat untapped for us, for example, in comparison to the U.S. where we have offices in every major city. This is what we want to accomplish in Latin America, we want to continue to grow and develop in this region, were very excited about the potential it has, we work with a lot of clients in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, so we have a lot of presence in the area already. The main country that we have in our view next to establish operations in is Mexico because we have a lot of great clients there."

[People] want to educate themselves and really understand what is happening, what is next, especially in terms of social media.

Portada: What would you like to see happening next in social media analytics?

A.H.: "There are still many companies and in general people out there that dont fully understand the importance of all this data, and of monitoring information outside their company and how vital it is for them to stay on top of the industry and the market and just really understand everything thats happening inside their company. That is the first thing: I would love for people to be more involved and learn more about the subject and the concept of big data and artificial intelligence and how companies like Meltwater can really help them understand more about their company and give them a competitive advantage.

I think its starting to happen, I definitely see a change where people are excited about these topics, they want to educate themselves and really understand what is happening, what is next, especially in terms of social media. Ive seen a big push on that front from a lot of companies and a lot of the people that we speak to in the industry. I definitely think the shift is already happening, but it needs to happen more because as these companies and these clients get more involved and learn about this, it will help the industry grow and continue to develop in the right direction."

Portada: What would you say to people who are afraid of the speed at which AI is being integrated into a space like social media, which they trust with their personal information and interactions?

A.H.: "Theres always a lot of fear around artificial intelligence. People think about AI like the Sci-Fi movies that they see from Hollywood and start assuming things. Theres no reason to be scared as long as were able to adapt to the changes. The companies that are not able to adapt are the ones that are going to be in trouble. Weve already seen examples, like online retailers that are taking a lot of the market shares and spaces of the companies that never moved onto the online arena, for example, ToysRUs, who just lost a lot of market share to competitors like Amazon. I think that is the most important lesson we can take from this, theres no reason to be scared as long as you stay on top of everything, be curious and passionate about it, and then learn how to adapt to the changes and what the future is bringing. Theres definitely a lot of potential for us to make our lives better with this technology, be able to access information faster, understand things quicker…, it could add a lot of value to everybody."

[Vignettes by Meltwater]

Janet Grynberg

Janet has worked as a translator and editor for magazines and publishing houses including Expansion and Grupo Planeta since 2014. She is part of the Portada editorial team, and her main interests include literature, traveling, and exploring other cultures. Follow me on Twitter!

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Latin America

Coronavirus: What’s behind Latin America’s oxygen shortages?

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Before the clinic ran out of oxygen, Maria Auxiliadora da Cruz had been showing encouraging signs of progress against Covid-19. On 14 January, her oxygen levels had been above the normal level of 95% but, within hours of being deprived of that vital resource, her stats plummeted to 35%.

At this point, patients would normally be given intubation and oxygen by machine. Instead, the 67-year-old retired nurse died. “It was horrible,” her grieving daughter-in-law Thalita Rocha told the BBC. “It was a catastrophe. Many elderly patients began to deteriorate and turn blue.”

In an emotional video that went viral on social media, she described what was happening at Policlínica Redenção in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus. “We’re in a desperate situation. An entire emergency unit has simply run out of oxygen… A lot of people are dying.”

Brazil has the world’s second-highest Covid death toll with more than 221,000 fatalities. In Manaus, the health system has collapsed twice during the pandemic and deaths doubled between December and January.

Now there are fears the lack of oxygen supplies seen there could unfold elsewhere in Brazil and even in other parts of Latin America, where a second wave of Covid-19, in many countries, is proving to be worse than the first one.

In Peru, some hospitals have been unable to meet the demand brought by a steep rise in cases in recent weeks. As a result, patients’ relatives have had to hunt for oxygen in the black market. In some cases, they come back with nothing.

A black market is also thriving in Mexico, where more than 155,000 have died in the pandemic. To make things worse, there have been reports of thieves taking oxygen cylinders from hospitals and clinics.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one in five Covid-19 patients will require oxygen. In severe cases, this rises to three in five. The organisation says some hospitals have seen demand for oxygen increase between five and seven times above normal levels because of the influx of patients with severe and critical disease.

The most dramatic situation in the world is in Brazil, where nearly 340,000 oxygen cylinders are needed every day, according to the Covid-19 Oxygen Needs tracker. The online tool helps estimate the scale of the challenge for policymakers and was developed by the Covid-19 Respiratory Care Response Coordination partnership which includes Path and Every Breath Counts.

Also according to the tracker, Mexico and Colombia each need more than 100,000 cylinders daily.

So how does a hospital run out of oxygen?

Oxygen has been considered an essential medicine by the WHO since 2017, but Lisa Smith, from Path’s market dynamics program, says ensuring adequate supply depends on many “components” falling into place.

This includes not only sources of production, but also training to enable medical staff to monitor and manage oxygen levels.1px transparent line

Medical oxygen is produced in large quantities at plants and delivered to hospitals in two ways: either in bulk in liquid tanks or as pressurised gas in cylinders containing smaller volumes.

Liquid oxygen is the cheapest and best technology available but it requires hospitals to have the right infrastructure to pipe oxygen to the patient’s bedside. This is common in developed countries such as the US and those in Europe.

Cylinders do not require pipes and can be delivered to clinics without a sophisticated infrastructure. However, their distribution on a smaller scale means they are less cost-effective, in addition to being cumbersome to transport and handle, which also carries an increased risk of cross-contamination.

Another source of production is on-site oxygen plants, which produce oxygen to be piped or compressed into cylinders. The WHO says it is currently trying to map how many such plants exist in the countries.

After Manaus reached crisis point, oxygen donations were sent from the federal government and other states – as the local providers said they were unable to increase production – and across the border from Venezuela. But even transporting them became a problem.

Jesem Orellana, an epidemiologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, said the risk of shortage continued and was exacerbated by global demand.

According to Path, medical oxygen accounts for just 5-10% of the world’s oxygen production. The rest is used in various industries, such as mining, chemical and pharmaceutical.

“We need to think about oxygen as much as we think about electricity, water or other essential utilities,” says Ms Smith. “This can’t be something that we’re only concerned about when it’s bad, because when it’s bad, people will die.”

In the meantime, there are concerns that the strain of Covid-19 on oxygen supplies could have a knock-on effect for the treatment of other diseases.

“Covid has shown us just how essential it is in countries where there is no vaccine against Covid, no medicines,” says Leith Greenslade, who leads the Every Breath Counts Coalition. “Often, it’s down to whether you get oxygen or not, whether you live or die.”

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55829424

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Latin America

Honduran abortion law: Congress moves to set total ban ‘in stone’

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Parliament in Honduras has initially approved a bill that will make it virtually impossible to legalise abortion in the country.

The new measure will require at least three-quarters of Congress to vote in favour of modifying the abortion law, which is among the strictest in world.

Honduras forbids abortion under any circumstance, even rape or incest.

Its latest move comes in response to Argentina legalising abortion last month.

Across Latin America, there has been increased pro-choice campaigning, known as the “green wave”, based on the colour worn by protesters.

The new legislation in Honduras hinges on an article in the constitution that gives a fetus the same legal status of a person. Constitutional changes have until now been permitted with a two-thirds majority, but the new legislation raises that bar to three-quarters within the 128-member body.

The measure still needs to be ratified by a second vote. However, support was clear on Thursday: with 88 legislators voting in favour, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.

Honduras has a stanchly conservative majority, which referred to the measure as a “shield against abortion”.

“What they did was set this article in stone because we can never reform it if 96 votes are needed [out of 128]”, opposition MP Doris Gutiérrez told AFP news agency.

Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, formally proposed the change last week, calling it a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

“Every human being has the right to life from the moment of conception,” said Mr Pérez.

Ahead of the vote, UN human rights experts condemned the move, saying in a statement: “This bill is alarming. Instead of taking a step towards fulfilling the fundamental rights of women and girls, the country is moving backwards.”

Abortion has been constitutionally banned in Honduras since 1982.

In 2017, lawmakers voted on decriminalising it in the case of rape, incest or when there was danger to the mother or the fetus, but the move was roundly rejected.

Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti also have complete bans on abortion, but Honduras is the only country to also prohibit the use of emergency contraceptives in all cases, including after rape.

Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana and Argentina are the only Latin American countries to permit abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55764195

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Latin America

Mynor Padilla: Killer of anti-mining activist pleads guilty

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The ex-security chief at a mine in Guatemala, Mynor Padilla, has pleaded guilty to killing an anti-mining activist in 2009.

Adolfo Ich was killed at the Fénix mine, which was owned at the time by a subsidiary of Canadian mining giant Hudbay Minerals.

He had been campaigning against the mining project and for his community’s land rights.

Germán Chub, a bystander, was also shot, leaving him paralysed.

The guilty plea comes at a retrial after Padilla was cleared of murder at a previous trial.

What happened in September 2009?

The Fénix nickel project was owned by the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN), a subsidiary of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals.

CGN wanted to develop the mine, but the indigenous Maya community objected, arguing that much of the company’s land belonged to them.

The company said it engaged in talks to negotiate their resettlement but members of the Maya community said they were threatened with forced evictions.

On 27 September 2009, security guards at the mine attacked members of the community with machetes and firearms, according to witnesses.

Adolfo Ich was killed, Germán Chub was left paralysed, and at least seven more people were injured.

What was Mynor Padilla’s role?

Mynor Padilla was the chief of security at the Fénix project and witnesses said he was the key man in the attack on 27 September 2009.

Hudbay defended its personnel, alleging that members of the Maya community had turned on each other and that their security staff had acted in self-defence.

Following a three-year murder trial Padilla was acquitted, much to the outrage of the victims’ families who launched an appeal.

What’s the latest?

The court of appeal overturned the acquittal and ordered a retrial which began in December 2020.

After having for years maintained his innocence, Mynor Padilla entered a guilty plea which was accepted by the court on Wednesday.

A lawyer for Adolfo Ich’s widow in a civil lawsuit against Hudbay Minerals in Canada called it a “momentous day”.

Why does it matter?

There are three civil lawsuits under way against Hudbay Minerals in Canada, in connection with the Fénix mine.

One of them was filed by Adolfo Ich’s widow, Angélica Choc, who alleges that the company failed to take adequate precautions to ensure that human rights abuses would not be perpetrated by Hudbay’s security personnel.

In 2013, a court in Ontario allowed the lawsuits to proceed, making it the first time that foreign claimants were allowed to pursue a lawsuit against a Canadian company in Canada for alleged human rights abuses.

Cory Wanless, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, said that following Mynor Padilla’s guilty plea “it will be difficult for Hudbay to continue to argue that it does not bear responsibility for the killing and shooting”.

Hudbay Minerals has released a statement saying it would “review the court’s decision once it is released”, which is due to happen later this month.

The company, which sold the Félix mine to Swiss-based Solway Group in 2011, also stated that “any agreements made in the Guatemalan court do not affect our view of the facts of Hudbay’s liability in relation to civil matters currently before the Ontario court”.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55573682

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Latin America

Meltwaters Ana Hoyos: “We See Great Potential for AI Expansion in Latin America”

What: We talked to Ana Hoyos, area director at Meltwater Latin America, about the recent acquisition..

Published

on

What: We talked to Ana Hoyos, area director at Meltwater Latin America, about the recent acquisition of Sysomos and what it means for the analysis of social media.
Why it matters: The social media landscape is changing at an accelerated pace; artificial intelligence is acquiring a prominent role and companies have to adapt to survive.

Meltwater's Ana Hoyos

When MeltwaterCEO Jørn Lyseggen started the company with a 15-thousand-dollar grant from the Norwegian government, little did he know that 18 years later he would be able to acquire a company like insights-driven social platform Sysomos. Now, this is Meltwater's seventh acquisition in 18 months; a month ago it bought London-based social media analyst DataSift, and eight months ago it bought real-time data analytics app Algo. Meltwater is making serious efforts to become the market leader of both Social Analytics and Media Intelligence, and at Portada we talked to Ana Hoyos, director of Meltwater Latin America, to find out more about the details behind the acquisition and what's next for Latin American markets.

Portada: What are the motivations behind Meltwater's recent acquisitions?

Ana Hoyos: "Weve been spending a lot of time trying to find the right partners and the right acquisitions to do, and its all very strategic in terms of finding only the best content and the best artificial intelligence for this concept of “Outside Insight”, which is about being able to structure unstructured data. We as a company have been monitoring online news for many years, since 2001, and then we started adding different sections to that.

The plan is for us to continue helping our clients make decisions based on that information. Were expanding a lot of our content on social media to be able to provide insights to all of our clients. The concept of our Outside Insight is to find insight from the outside, information that a company doesnt have internally, but is really valuable to understand what is happening in either the traditional landscape or the social landscape. This information can include the latest industry trends, competitive intelligence, or anything that might shape their company in a different way and then be able to make decisions based on that."

Portada: Why has Meltwater decided to acquire Sysomos?

A.H.: "Sysomos is a company that has been around for many years. Theyve been very strong since the beginning and were very excited to acquire them because we know that they have a lot of great content. Thats the main focus. We want to use as much as we can in terms of their content, talents, etc. to continue driving this vision of Outside Insight. The most important thing is were excited for the contents they already have. We see a ton of potential into integrating that content into everything else that we do, and especially because we feel like we have really strong artificial intelligence tools, and matching that with the content they have can lead to powerful results."

Portada: What are the challenges in store for social media-analytics firms in view of the latest fake news and privacy concerns?

A.H.: "With the social media landscape evolving, some of these changes have exploded and taken a lot of room in the news, like the situation with Facebook… All of these things, in the end, are natural to the industry; we can assume they are going to happen because of the nature of this content. Of course its a challenge, because its an area and an industry thats always adapting. For example, as soon as this Facebook situation happened we had to respond and immediately adapt our processes and internal communications to make sure that we knew exactly how to address this with our clients, and how to make sure we can monitor information for them in different ways.

We need to be very agile in terms of responding to any changes, but it's not necessarily a concern because it's something that is happening to everybody.

I can see that could continue to be a challenge, but what it means is we have to continue to be very adaptable. We need to be very agile in terms of responding to any changes, but its not necessarily a concern because its something that is happening to everybody. No players going to be at a disadvantage, well just all have to adapt to the situation and ultimately the companies that adapt the quickest are the ones that are going to have an advantage in the market."

Portada: What are Meltwater's plans for Latin America?

A.H.: "We have a pretty good presence in Latin America. We have operations in Buenos Aires and now our main office is in São Paulo, Brazil. We work with all countries within Latin America; we have a Spanish-speaking team and a Portuguese-speaking team. This is a really big area of focus for us because we see a lot of potential, not only because the market is somewhat untapped for us, for example, in comparison to the U.S. where we have offices in every major city. This is what we want to accomplish in Latin America, we want to continue to grow and develop in this region, were very excited about the potential it has, we work with a lot of clients in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, so we have a lot of presence in the area already. The main country that we have in our view next to establish operations in is Mexico because we have a lot of great clients there."

[People] want to educate themselves and really understand what is happening, what is next, especially in terms of social media.

Portada: What would you like to see happening next in social media analytics?

A.H.: "There are still many companies and in general people out there that dont fully understand the importance of all this data, and of monitoring information outside their company and how vital it is for them to stay on top of the industry and the market and just really understand everything thats happening inside their company. That is the first thing: I would love for people to be more involved and learn more about the subject and the concept of big data and artificial intelligence and how companies like Meltwater can really help them understand more about their company and give them a competitive advantage.

I think its starting to happen, I definitely see a change where people are excited about these topics, they want to educate themselves and really understand what is happening, what is next, especially in terms of social media. Ive seen a big push on that front from a lot of companies and a lot of the people that we speak to in the industry. I definitely think the shift is already happening, but it needs to happen more because as these companies and these clients get more involved and learn about this, it will help the industry grow and continue to develop in the right direction."

Portada: What would you say to people who are afraid of the speed at which AI is being integrated into a space like social media, which they trust with their personal information and interactions?

A.H.: "Theres always a lot of fear around artificial intelligence. People think about AI like the Sci-Fi movies that they see from Hollywood and start assuming things. Theres no reason to be scared as long as were able to adapt to the changes. The companies that are not able to adapt are the ones that are going to be in trouble. Weve already seen examples, like online retailers that are taking a lot of the market shares and spaces of the companies that never moved onto the online arena, for example, ToysRUs, who just lost a lot of market share to competitors like Amazon. I think that is the most important lesson we can take from this, theres no reason to be scared as long as you stay on top of everything, be curious and passionate about it, and then learn how to adapt to the changes and what the future is bringing. Theres definitely a lot of potential for us to make our lives better with this technology, be able to access information faster, understand things quicker…, it could add a lot of value to everybody."

[Vignettes by Meltwater]

Janet Grynberg

Janet has worked as a translator and editor for magazines and publishing houses including Expansion and Grupo Planeta since 2014. She is part of the Portada editorial team, and her main interests include literature, traveling, and exploring other cultures. Follow me on Twitter!

Original Article

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Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latin America

Coronavirus: What’s behind Latin America’s oxygen shortages?

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Before the clinic ran out of oxygen, Maria Auxiliadora da Cruz had been showing encouraging signs of progress against Covid-19. On 14 January, her oxygen levels had been above the normal level of 95% but, within hours of being deprived of that vital resource, her stats plummeted to 35%.

At this point, patients would normally be given intubation and oxygen by machine. Instead, the 67-year-old retired nurse died. “It was horrible,” her grieving daughter-in-law Thalita Rocha told the BBC. “It was a catastrophe. Many elderly patients began to deteriorate and turn blue.”

In an emotional video that went viral on social media, she described what was happening at Policlínica Redenção in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus. “We’re in a desperate situation. An entire emergency unit has simply run out of oxygen… A lot of people are dying.”

Brazil has the world’s second-highest Covid death toll with more than 221,000 fatalities. In Manaus, the health system has collapsed twice during the pandemic and deaths doubled between December and January.

Now there are fears the lack of oxygen supplies seen there could unfold elsewhere in Brazil and even in other parts of Latin America, where a second wave of Covid-19, in many countries, is proving to be worse than the first one.

In Peru, some hospitals have been unable to meet the demand brought by a steep rise in cases in recent weeks. As a result, patients’ relatives have had to hunt for oxygen in the black market. In some cases, they come back with nothing.

A black market is also thriving in Mexico, where more than 155,000 have died in the pandemic. To make things worse, there have been reports of thieves taking oxygen cylinders from hospitals and clinics.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one in five Covid-19 patients will require oxygen. In severe cases, this rises to three in five. The organisation says some hospitals have seen demand for oxygen increase between five and seven times above normal levels because of the influx of patients with severe and critical disease.

The most dramatic situation in the world is in Brazil, where nearly 340,000 oxygen cylinders are needed every day, according to the Covid-19 Oxygen Needs tracker. The online tool helps estimate the scale of the challenge for policymakers and was developed by the Covid-19 Respiratory Care Response Coordination partnership which includes Path and Every Breath Counts.

Also according to the tracker, Mexico and Colombia each need more than 100,000 cylinders daily.

So how does a hospital run out of oxygen?

Oxygen has been considered an essential medicine by the WHO since 2017, but Lisa Smith, from Path’s market dynamics program, says ensuring adequate supply depends on many “components” falling into place.

This includes not only sources of production, but also training to enable medical staff to monitor and manage oxygen levels.1px transparent line

Medical oxygen is produced in large quantities at plants and delivered to hospitals in two ways: either in bulk in liquid tanks or as pressurised gas in cylinders containing smaller volumes.

Liquid oxygen is the cheapest and best technology available but it requires hospitals to have the right infrastructure to pipe oxygen to the patient’s bedside. This is common in developed countries such as the US and those in Europe.

Cylinders do not require pipes and can be delivered to clinics without a sophisticated infrastructure. However, their distribution on a smaller scale means they are less cost-effective, in addition to being cumbersome to transport and handle, which also carries an increased risk of cross-contamination.

Another source of production is on-site oxygen plants, which produce oxygen to be piped or compressed into cylinders. The WHO says it is currently trying to map how many such plants exist in the countries.

After Manaus reached crisis point, oxygen donations were sent from the federal government and other states – as the local providers said they were unable to increase production – and across the border from Venezuela. But even transporting them became a problem.

Jesem Orellana, an epidemiologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, said the risk of shortage continued and was exacerbated by global demand.

According to Path, medical oxygen accounts for just 5-10% of the world’s oxygen production. The rest is used in various industries, such as mining, chemical and pharmaceutical.

“We need to think about oxygen as much as we think about electricity, water or other essential utilities,” says Ms Smith. “This can’t be something that we’re only concerned about when it’s bad, because when it’s bad, people will die.”

In the meantime, there are concerns that the strain of Covid-19 on oxygen supplies could have a knock-on effect for the treatment of other diseases.

“Covid has shown us just how essential it is in countries where there is no vaccine against Covid, no medicines,” says Leith Greenslade, who leads the Every Breath Counts Coalition. “Often, it’s down to whether you get oxygen or not, whether you live or die.”

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55829424

Continue Reading

Latin America

Honduran abortion law: Congress moves to set total ban ‘in stone’

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Parliament in Honduras has initially approved a bill that will make it virtually impossible to legalise abortion in the country.

The new measure will require at least three-quarters of Congress to vote in favour of modifying the abortion law, which is among the strictest in world.

Honduras forbids abortion under any circumstance, even rape or incest.

Its latest move comes in response to Argentina legalising abortion last month.

Across Latin America, there has been increased pro-choice campaigning, known as the “green wave”, based on the colour worn by protesters.

The new legislation in Honduras hinges on an article in the constitution that gives a fetus the same legal status of a person. Constitutional changes have until now been permitted with a two-thirds majority, but the new legislation raises that bar to three-quarters within the 128-member body.

The measure still needs to be ratified by a second vote. However, support was clear on Thursday: with 88 legislators voting in favour, 28 opposed and seven abstentions.

Honduras has a stanchly conservative majority, which referred to the measure as a “shield against abortion”.

“What they did was set this article in stone because we can never reform it if 96 votes are needed [out of 128]”, opposition MP Doris Gutiérrez told AFP news agency.

Mario Pérez, a lawmaker with the ruling party of President Juan Orlando Hernandez, formally proposed the change last week, calling it a “constitutional lock” to prevent any future moderations of the abortion law.

“Every human being has the right to life from the moment of conception,” said Mr Pérez.

Ahead of the vote, UN human rights experts condemned the move, saying in a statement: “This bill is alarming. Instead of taking a step towards fulfilling the fundamental rights of women and girls, the country is moving backwards.”

Abortion has been constitutionally banned in Honduras since 1982.

In 2017, lawmakers voted on decriminalising it in the case of rape, incest or when there was danger to the mother or the fetus, but the move was roundly rejected.

Nicaragua, El Salvador and Haiti also have complete bans on abortion, but Honduras is the only country to also prohibit the use of emergency contraceptives in all cases, including after rape.

Cuba, Uruguay, Guyana and Argentina are the only Latin American countries to permit abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55764195

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Latin America

Mynor Padilla: Killer of anti-mining activist pleads guilty

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The ex-security chief at a mine in Guatemala, Mynor Padilla, has pleaded guilty to killing an anti-mining activist in 2009.

Adolfo Ich was killed at the Fénix mine, which was owned at the time by a subsidiary of Canadian mining giant Hudbay Minerals.

He had been campaigning against the mining project and for his community’s land rights.

Germán Chub, a bystander, was also shot, leaving him paralysed.

The guilty plea comes at a retrial after Padilla was cleared of murder at a previous trial.

What happened in September 2009?

The Fénix nickel project was owned by the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN), a subsidiary of Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals.

CGN wanted to develop the mine, but the indigenous Maya community objected, arguing that much of the company’s land belonged to them.

The company said it engaged in talks to negotiate their resettlement but members of the Maya community said they were threatened with forced evictions.

On 27 September 2009, security guards at the mine attacked members of the community with machetes and firearms, according to witnesses.

Adolfo Ich was killed, Germán Chub was left paralysed, and at least seven more people were injured.

What was Mynor Padilla’s role?

Mynor Padilla was the chief of security at the Fénix project and witnesses said he was the key man in the attack on 27 September 2009.

Hudbay defended its personnel, alleging that members of the Maya community had turned on each other and that their security staff had acted in self-defence.

Following a three-year murder trial Padilla was acquitted, much to the outrage of the victims’ families who launched an appeal.

What’s the latest?

The court of appeal overturned the acquittal and ordered a retrial which began in December 2020.

After having for years maintained his innocence, Mynor Padilla entered a guilty plea which was accepted by the court on Wednesday.

A lawyer for Adolfo Ich’s widow in a civil lawsuit against Hudbay Minerals in Canada called it a “momentous day”.

Why does it matter?

There are three civil lawsuits under way against Hudbay Minerals in Canada, in connection with the Fénix mine.

One of them was filed by Adolfo Ich’s widow, Angélica Choc, who alleges that the company failed to take adequate precautions to ensure that human rights abuses would not be perpetrated by Hudbay’s security personnel.

In 2013, a court in Ontario allowed the lawsuits to proceed, making it the first time that foreign claimants were allowed to pursue a lawsuit against a Canadian company in Canada for alleged human rights abuses.

Cory Wanless, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs, said that following Mynor Padilla’s guilty plea “it will be difficult for Hudbay to continue to argue that it does not bear responsibility for the killing and shooting”.

Hudbay Minerals has released a statement saying it would “review the court’s decision once it is released”, which is due to happen later this month.

The company, which sold the Félix mine to Swiss-based Solway Group in 2011, also stated that “any agreements made in the Guatemalan court do not affect our view of the facts of Hudbay’s liability in relation to civil matters currently before the Ontario court”.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-55573682

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