TIME faith

Bienvenido Francisco! Scenes from the Pope’s Visit to Latin America

The Pope addressed a million people in Ecuador, sipped coca leaf tea in Bolivia, and is also set to visit Paraguay on his tour of Latin America. Here, a look at how the region's Catholics have welcomed "Papa Francisco"

TIME South America

Pope Pushes for Environmentalism in South America

Pope Francis
Fernando Llano—AP Faithful take picture with their mobile phones as Pope Francis departs from the San Francisco Church in Quito, Ecuador, on July 7, 2015

"The goods of the earth are meant for everyone"

(QUITO, Ecuador) — Pope Francis wraps up the first leg of a three-nation South American pilgrimage Wednesday after issuing an impassioned call for a new economic and ecological world order where the goods of the Earth are shared by everyone, not just exploited by the rich.

Francis will visit the elderly and give a pep talk to local priests before flying to Bolivia, where the environment, ministering to the poor and the government’s tense relations with the Catholic Church are high on the agenda.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian known for anti-imperialist and socialist rhetoric, will greet Francis at the airport and join him for a speech to local officials and diplomats before the pontiff goes to the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz. The stop in La Paz is being kept to four hours to spare the 78-year-old pope from the taxing 4,000-meter (13,120-foot) elevation.

Francis and Morales have met on several occasions, most recently in October when the president, a former coca farmer, participated in a Vatican summit of grassroots groups of indigenous and advocates for the poor who have been championed by Francis. Their shared views on the need for wealthy countries to drastically change course to address climate change bump up against Morales’ anti-clerical initiatives that have roiled relations with the local church.

Taking up the global warming issue in Quito on Tuesday, Francis pressed the arguments made in his headline-grabbing encyclical earlier this month that the planet must not be exploited by the wealthy few for short-term profit at the expense of the poor.

“As stewards of these riches which we have received, we have an obligation toward society as a whole and toward future generations,” Francis said. “We cannot bequeath this heritage to them without proper care for the environment, without a sense of gratuitousness born of our contemplation of the created world.”

His call was particularly relevant for Ecuador, a Pacific nation that is home to one of the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems but is also an OPEC country heavily dependent on oil extraction.

He delivered the challenge in back-to-back speeches at Catholic University and a meeting with business leaders and indigenous groups, the latter of which have championed his encyclical.

“The goods of the Earth are meant for everyone, and however much someone may parade his property, it has a social mortgage,” Francis said. “The tapping of natural resources, which are so abundant in Ecuador, must not be concerned with short-term benefits.”

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has been harshly criticized by environmentalists and indigenous groups for pushing mining and oil drilling in the Amazon, which together with the Galapagos Islands give Ecuador an unrivaled designation as one of the Earth’s environmental priorities. That push, coupled with high crude prices, allowed Correa to lift 1.3 million people out of poverty in his eight years in office.

Francis has called for environmentally responsible development, one that is aimed at helping the poor without sacrificing the planet. The oil industry and its supporters, particularly in the U.S., have criticized the pope’s anti-fossil fuel campaign as irresponsible and uninformed.

Francis is likely to repeat his message in Bolivia, South America’s poorest country. Morales has been hailed as an environmental hero to many for demanding rich nations do more to halt global warming, but he has been assailed by conservationists at home who say he puts oil and gas extraction ahead of clean water and forests.

The pope will spend the rest of his Bolivian stay in Santa Cruz, where he will headline another summit of grassroots groups and visit with inmates at the notoriously violent Palmasola prison. After that he is going to Paraguay.

___

Associated Press writers Jacobo Garcia and Frank Bajak contributed to this report.

TIME Pope Francis

More Than 1 Million Gather for Pope’s Mass in South America

Massive crowds gather for Pope Francis' first big event of his three-nation South American tour

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador (AP) — More than 1 million people filled a park in Ecuador’s main port city on Monday for Pope Francis’ first big event of his three-nation South American tour, hoping for a glimpse of Latin America’s first pope returning to his home soil for a Mass dedicated to the family.

Many pilgrims spent the night outdoors, and some walked for miles to reach the park on Guayaquil’s northern outskirts where the crowd sang hymns and sought pockets of shade to keep cool amid the scorching sun and high humidity.

“I’m tired. I’m hungry, I haven’t slept but I’m also full of emotion and joy in my heart,” said Vicente Huilcatoma, a 47-year-old retired police officer who walked 25 miles (40 kilometers) to reach Samanes Park.

Government organizers estimated that more than 1 million people turned out for the papal Mass. Across the park, Ecuadoran national flags and papal banners waved above the enormous sea of people. Ecuador’s population is about 15 million.

On his arrival in Guayaquil, the pontiff allowed several acolytes on the tarmac to take selfies with him. He was met by Mayor Jaime Nebot, who gave him ceremonial keys to the city made from gold and silver and encrusted with topaz and pearls.

Francis headed first to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy, where 2,000 invitees gathered including child cancer patients, residents of homes for the elderly abandoned by their families and some of Guayaquil’s poorest people.

A child reached out to touch Francis as he arrived at the shrine and nearly poked him in the eye. The pope walked away grinning, then spent a minute in silent prayer beneath a huge painting of Jesus Christ.

He told those gathered that he would pray for them “and I won’t charge you a thing. All I ask, please, is that you pray for me.” Before leaving, he kissed the head of a disabled child in a wheelchair as he made his way through the crowd.

After the open-air Mass, a private lunch was planned with a group of Jesuits.

A highlight was to be a reunion with the Rev. Francisco Cortes, a priest affectionately known as “Padre Paquito,” to whom the Argentina-born pope, then the Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, entrusted his seminarians on study trips to Ecuador years ago.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Cortes couldn’t fathom that Bergoglio remembered him, much less made a point of coming to have lunch.

“I don’t know what to ask him,” the soon-to-be 91-year-old Cortes said. “He said he wanted to see me and I’m amazed that he’s coming. For the first time, I have known a pope.

The “pope of the poor” returned to Spanish-speaking South America for the first time as pontiff Sunday, stressing the importance of protecting the needy and the environment from exploitation and — in a nation whose president was booed as his vehicle followed the papal motorcade Sunday — to foster dialogue among all sectors of society.

Francis’ only other trip back to Latin America since being elected pope was in 2013, when he visited Brazil, where Portuguese is the main language.

Children in native dress greeted Francis Sunday at Mariscal Sucre airport outside Ecuador’s capital of Quito, the wind blowing off his skullcap and whipping his white cassock as he descended from the plane following a 13-hour flight from Rome.

In a speech in front of President Rafael Correa, Francis signaled some key themes for the visit, which also takes him to Bolivia and later Paraguay: the need to care for society’s most marginal, guarantee socially responsible development and defend the Earth against profit-at-all-cost development that he says most harms the poor.

The environmental message — from a pope who last month issued a treatise staking the Earth’s preservation as a core mission — is particularly relevant for Ecuador, a Pacific nation that is home to one of the world’s most species-diverse ecosystems but is also an OPEC country heavily dependent on oil. High crude prices allowed Correa to lift 1.3 million people out of poverty in his eight years in office.

But now that prices have fallen, the generous social safety net Correa has woven is threatened. He’s had to cut government spending and been buffeted for nearly a month by the most serious anti-government street protests of his tenure.

Along Francis’ motorcade route into Quito, the throngs followed chants of adulation for the pontiff with jeers of “Correa out!” when the president’s entourage followed.

Correa also has angered environmentalists and the nation’s main indigenous group, CONAIE, by moving forward with oil drilling and mining projects in pristine Amazon forests.

Standing by Correa’s side at the airport, Francis pledged the Catholic Church’s readiness to encourage respect for peoples’ differences and foster “dialogue and full participation” so all are ensured a better future.

Correa, who spoke before Francis, echoed the pope’s concerns about an “unjust and immoral” global economic system, accusing the world’s rich countries of unfairly exploiting the developing world’s resources without reciprocating with technology transfers.

Francis thanked Correa for his “consonance of thought.”

“You’ve cited me too much,” he said.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, estimated that 500,000 people lined the route that took Francis to the Vatican ambassador’s residence.

Many in the crowd said they hoped the pope would have a calming effect on the country’s tense political situation.

Former President Gustavo Noboa, who led the country through its worst political and economic crisis from 2000-2003, told the AP on Monday that Francis’ visit is important for such a polarized country.

The 78-year-old Noboa, using a walker, stressed the importance of understanding Francis’ message of “helping out one’s neighbor, being humble and forgiving.”

Francis chose to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay specifically because they are among the poorest nations in a region that claims 40 percent of the world’s Catholics.

He’s skipping his homeland of Argentina, where as archbishop he ministered to the poorest slum-dwellers, to avoid papal entanglement in this year’s presidential election.

Francis’ stops later in the week include a violent Bolivian prison, a flood-prone Paraguayan shantytown and a meeting with grass-roots groups in Bolivia.

Crowds are expected to be huge. While the countries themselves are small, they are fervently Catholic: 79 percent of the population is Catholic in Ecuador, 77 percent in Bolivia and 89 percent in Paraguay, according to the Pew Research Center.

Before leaving Rome, Francis did some hometown ministering, with Lombardi saying the pope welcomed 10 homeless people into the Vatican.

TIME Pope Francis

Pope Francis Returns to South America

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Latin America’s first pope returned to Spanish-speaking South America on Sunday for the first time, beginning a nine-day tour that will take him to three of the continent’s poorest countries.

Children in traditional dress greeted Pope Francis at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre airport, the wind blowing off his skullcap and whipping his white cassock as he descended from the plane following a 13-hour flight from Rome. He personally greeted and kissed several indigenous youths waiting for him on the side of the red carpet.

The “pope of the poor” will highlight in his visit to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay his priorities of protecting the marginalized and the planet from injustice and exploitation.

In a speech in front of President Rafael Correa, he immediately signaled key themes: the need to care for society’s most marginal, ensuring socially responsible economic development and, turning to Ecuador specifically, defending “the singular beauty of your country.”

“From the peak of Chimborazo to the Pacific coast, from the Amazon rainforest to the Galapagos Islands, may you never lose the ability to thank God for what he has done and is doing for you,” he said, praising Ecuador’s “singular beauty.”

The Pacific nation of 15 million is home to more than 20,000 plant species as well as the Galapagos Islands, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1535.

Thousands lined the motorcade route that would take Francis him to the Vatican ambassador’s residence, many hopeful the pope will have a calming effect.

Travel agency worker Veronica Valdeon called the Argentine pontiff “a light in the darkness.” “We are living difficult moments in our country,” she said, “and Francis brings a bit of joy.”

Francis is to preside over two big open-air Masses in his three days in Ecuador — one in the steaming Pacific port of Guayaquil on Monday, the other Tuesday in the capital on the site of the city’s former airport.

Francis’ stops later include a violent Bolivian prison, a flood-prone Paraguayan shantytown and a meeting with grass-roots groups in Bolivia, the sort of people he ministered to in the slums of Buenos Aires as archbishop.

Crowds are expected to be huge. While the countries themselves are small, they are fervently Catholic: 79 percent of the population is Catholic in Ecuador, 77 percent in Bolivia and 89 percent in Paraguay, according to the Pew Research Center.

Beyond the major public Masses in each country, Vatican organizers have scheduled plenty of time for the pope to meander through the throngs expected to line his motorcade route.

TIME Ecuador

This Picture Sums Up the Dire Threat Faced by the World’s Shark Populations

This photo released by Ecuador's Attorney General, shows hundreds of shark fins seized by the police in Manta, Ecuador, Wednesday, May 27, 2015.
Ecuador's Attorney General—AP This photo released by Ecuador's Attorney General, shows hundreds of shark fins seized by the police in Manta, Ecuador, on May 27, 2015

Hundreds of fins lie piled up in Ecuador, part of a massive haul originally bound for Asia

It’s a shocking image, but it only represents a fraction of the 200,000 shark fins seized Thursday by Ecuadorian police. They were about to be illegally exported to Asia.

The haul was uncovered in the port city of Manta, southwest of the capital Quito, and would have fetched up to $2 million had it reached its final market, reports the BBC.

Police raided nine locations and arrested six people, including a Chinese national, on charges of damaging wildlife.

The South American country’s Interior Minister José Serrano said authorities had “dealt a major blow to an international network that trafficked shark fins.”

The fins are often used to make shark-fin soup, considered a delicacy in most of China. But heavy demand from China’s increasingly affluent population, and brutal finning methods, have led to a decline in shark numbers and many countries have either outright banned finning or have heavily regulated the shark-fishing industry.

A tweet from what appeared to be Serrano’s Twitter account showed what looked like several photos of the grim haul, accompanied by a demand to put an end to criminal networks destroying the ecosystem.

[BBC]

TIME Ecuador

Ecuador’s President Stood Next to an ‘I’m With Stupid’ Shirt

A classic gag claims another victim

The “I’m With Stupid” shirt is a classic gag. But apparently it can still fool some people, even presidents.

That’s what happened to Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa when he posed for a picture recently with a young boy wearing the shirt—with the arrow pointing directly at Correa.

The hashtag #IAmWithStupidMashi sprang up in the aftermath (Mashi is Correa’s nickname). And yes, Correa speaks fluent English. He has a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois, NPR reports.

 

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 24, 2013

Photojournalism Daily is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights work from David Guttenfelder’s last assignment for the Associated Press, shot this summer. The photographs capture a fascinating road trip from the country’s capital Pyongyang to Mount Paektu further north, a place considered to be the birthplace of North Korea’s original revolution.


David Guttenfelder: The Road to Paektu (Associated Press)

Rubén Salgado Escudero: Solar Power in Burma (TIME LightBox) Beautifully lit photographs document how solar energy is changing Burmese lives.

Pietro Paolini: Capturing Ecuador at a Crossroads (CNN Photo blog) Intriguing images of contemporary Ecuador.

A Picture is Worth One Thousand Pounds: The Story of Food Waste (National Geographic PROOF) National Geographic’s photo coordinator Jenna Turner writes about the work that went into producing Robert Clark’s photograph, which portrays how much food an average American family of four wastes in a year.

Anders Petersen (Vogue Italia) The Swedish photographer discusses the philosophy behind his work.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME United Kingdom

Julian Assange Says He Will Leave London’s Ecuadorian Embassy ‘Soon’

Assange has spent more than two years in Ecuadorian embassy in London

In a news conference from the Ecuadorian embassy in London on Monday, WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange stated that he’s preparing to “leave soon,” after more than two years of sheltering inside.

The WikiLeaks founder, who is wanted for questioning over rape allegations in Sweden and faces extradition, didn’t elaborate as to when precisely he would be leaving the embassy where he has been seeking political asylum since June 2012. He did say that he wouldn’t be leaving for the reasons being reported in the British press, suggesting that recent reports about a heart condition are not accurate. Yet Assange did also mention in the conference that his health had suffered while living in the embassy.

The Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricarod Patin, who was also present at the conference, said, “The situation must come to an end. Two years is too long. It is time to free Assange. It is time for his human rights to be respected.” He also reiterated that Ecuador would, “continue to offer him our protection.”

In an interview with the Daily Mail published over the weekend, Assange said, “Maybe it’s time to think that WikiLeaks is not the main problem here for the West, maybe me and my publishing house are a lesser threat than say the Islamic State in Iraq or, closer to home, paedophiles in Westminster.”

[BBC]

TIME United Kingdom

Julian Assange May Be Britain’s Next Top Model

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London June 14, 2013.
Reuters Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London June 14, 2013.

The WikiLeaks founder is reportedly set to strut his stuff on the catwalk at London Fashion Week this September

Julian Assange, the fugitive founder of WikiLeaks, may be making a guest appearance at London Fashion Week in September, the Independent reports.

Ben Westwood, son of acclaimed British designer Vivienne Westwood, has reportedly asked Assange to model in his show, which will be held at Ecuador’s embassy.

Though an international embassy might seem a strange choice of venue for good-looking, well-dressed people, Westwood has little choice. His sartorial star has been taking shelter in the embassy for the past two years to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sex offenses.

Unfazed by his model’s infamy, Westwood commented: “I want to highlight Julian Assange’s plight. What happened to him is totally unfair.”

Should the WikiLeaks founder participate he’ll by joined by six other models wearing clothes inspired by Clint Eastwood Westerns and what Westwood called Assange’s “combat-beret look”.

Though Assange has yet to comment on this latest job offer, he is no stranger to publicity, even when in hiding. In October 2012, Lady Gaga swung by the embassy to pay him a visit and in Nov. 2013 he opened rapper M.I.A’s “Matangi” tour via Skype.

Tantalizingly, Westwood has also suggested he’ll showcase a “garment with a Julian Assange print”. Whether this look will be hitting the stores in a few months time remains to be seen.

[Independent]

TIME intelligence

WikiLeaks Teases ‘Very Important Secret Document’ Release

Julian Assange
Anthony Devlin—AFP/Getty Images WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London on June 14, 2013.

While Julian Assange gives journalists some World Cup predictions

Two years after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange walked into Ecuador’s embassy in the U.K. seeking asylum, his whistleblowing group says it is set to release new classified documents pertaining to “international negotiations.”

WikiLeaks offered little detail on its forthcoming release except to say it contains information pertaining to around 50 countries, including Canada.

In a conference call with journalists from the Ecuadorean embassy in London on Wednesday, Assange — who remains publisher of the secret-spilling group — offered no indication that he intends to travel to Sweden to submit himself for questioning by prosecutors over allegations of sexual misconduct made roughly four years ago.

Prosecutors have declined offers to meet with Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in the U.K., his attorney said Wednesday. According to WikiLeaks, “new information” pertaining to the Swedish investigation will be revealed next Tuesday, though the group would not offer further details.

Assange has not been guaranteed safe passage to Ecuador, which has granted him asylum amid a presumed U.S. Department of Justice investigation into WikiLeaks, and has spent two years confined to Ecuador’s British embassy.

Assange’s supporters say the U.K. has spent about $10 million just on policing the embassy in order to apprehend Assange should he leave its confines. He admitted to journalists this week that he had managed to watch the World Cup from his embassy home.

“The reception in this building is quite difficult, but perhaps it makes it a bit harder for the bugs to transmit through the walls as well,” he said, apparently referring to surveillance devices. Assange said his sporting loyalties now lie with his hosts, unsurprisingly. “Of course, Ecuador undoubtedly deserves to win the World Cup and has a pretty decent team,” he said. “But I think there’s such prestige riding on the issue for Brazil that they are the most likely victors.”

In his comments Wednesday, Assange called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to drop any investigation into WikiLeaks or resign. He also said he believes Edward Snowden’s asylum in Russia will be renewed should the NSA leaker reapply.

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