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.


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.”


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.


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.

TIME Follow Friday

#LightBoxFF: For Ivan Kashinsky, ‘the World Is Watching’

Freelance photographer Ivan Kashinsky uses Instagram to chronicle the massive cultural and generational shifts happening in of his hometown of Quito, Ecuador through his documentary series #projectmibarrio

Welcome to this week’s edition of TIME’s LightBox Follow Friday, a series where we feature the work of photographers who are using Instagram in new and engaging ways. Each week we will introduce you to the person behind the feed through his or her pictures and share an interview with the photographer.

This week on #LightBoxFF, TIME spoke with Ivan Kashinsky (@ivankphoto), a freelance photographer based in Quito, Ecuador, whose work has been featured in TIME, Smithsonian and National Geographic. Kashinsky is also a member of Panos and co-founder of the Runa photo collective.

LightBox: How are you using Instagram now, and how has it become a part of your professional practice/workflow? Are you taking photos with your phone, are you uploading images you’ve taken with your camera, or both?

Ivan Kashinsky: I use Instagram everyday. It has become a part of my identity as a photographer and has allowed me to try something new. At first it was more of a playful experiment, but then it grew into something serious, something much bigger than I could have imagined. Through Instagram my photography can be viewed by thousands of people around the globe; it’s my ticket to get my personal vision out into the world. I only use phone photos on Instagram. I have enjoyed the freedom of letting go of that giant weight from time to time. It’s almost like I’m floating in comparison to when I’m using my DSLR. If I see a scene, a character, or a detail that speaks to me, I can reach into my pocket and start making images.

Kashinsky’s first Instagram post in the #projectmibarrio series, taken Jun. 18, 2013

LightBox: What is the purpose of your feed? What does Instagram provide for you, professionally and creatively, that other platforms don’t?

IK: Recently, my feed has become a place where I can tell a story. I call it “Project Mi Barrio.” About 10 months ago, I started documenting my neighborhood and the surrounding area with my phone. As superhighways, malls and fast food joints came crashing in, I began to wonder if the “Old Ecuador” and its traditions would survive. I’m witnessing the collision of hundreds of years of ancestral customs with full-blown modernity, and the mix is fascinating. You can find these two polar opposites living together, inside the same house, or even inside the same person. When I started seriously working on PMB, I began shooting with the same intensity and mindset that I have when tackling a project with my DSLR. That’s when my phone photography switched from playful image-making to one of my most important projects. My phone has become the tool to tell this story. I feel like the world is watching.

LightBox: Which post inspired the most audience feedback and engagement? Why do you think that photo got people’s attention, and do you agree with it?

IK: It’s difficult, but I try not to pay too much attention to how many likes or comments a photo gets. Often my favorite and most powerful images have the least amount of likes. So I don’t want the general public to shape how I think when I’m making images. Recently I published a photo of a Jehovah’s Witness trying to convert me in my neighborhood. Jehovah’s Witnesses from all over the world began madly commenting on my feed. For this photo I had 150 comments, when usually there are only 10 or so. I try not to jump in, especially when things get ugly. I like to take photos that may fall out of the realm of what people might consider a successful image. It’s fun to stretch peoples’ minds a bit and try something different.

LightBox: What other outlets did you have for sharing your work before Instagram? Do you find it liberating to be able to produce and distribute work instantaneously?

IK: My work has been published in magazines like National Geographic. I love that process, as well. I had the opportunity to sit down with some of the best photo editors and look through thousand of images. I learned so much while doing that, thinking intensely about what each image in your story says and how it adds to the overall message. Editing 40,000 images down to 10 is quite an exercise in thinking about photography. Instagram is much different. I find that I take fewer photos than when working with the DSLR. Every day I work on a project bit by bit. Sometimes I find myself editing in the bathroom or while waiting in line. It is satisfying to get your work out there fast and publish whatever photo you want, no matter how funky it might be. But both processes are valid and key to my development as a photographer.

Ivan Kashinsky is a freelance photographer based in Quito, Ecuador. Follow him on Instagram @ivankphoto

Krystal Grow is a writer for TIME LightBox

See more from TIME’s #LightBoxFF series here

TIME Out There

Portraits of the Authentics: Photographing Ancient Cultures Before They Pass Away

Photographer Jimmy Nelson spent three-and-a-half years documenting the vanishing cultures of the world. His new book, Before They Pass Away, serves as visual record of what is — and what was — as the world continues evolving in 2013.

Jimmy Nelson spent his early days in Nigeria—his father was a geologist for Shell—and his adolescence at a Jesuit boarding school in northern England. He was 16 when he contracted cerebral malaria while visiting his parents in Africa, but when he returned to school he was “treated” with the wrong medicine. The next morning, his hair had fallen out. Two years later, tired of living like an outcast—he’d had enough of being judged by his appearance—he fled to where bald heads were not only accepted, but seemingly the norm. By then, he had also found photography.

Nelson landed in Tibet and began eking out a living by shooting editorial work, mainly in warzones and poverty-stricken corners of the world. Five years later, he had switched to commercial photography—advertising was a specialty—to support a wife and three kids. That was all well and good until five years ago, when the one-two punch of the global financial meltdown and the industry’s preference of digital photography over film put a dent in his ability to provide for his family.

Friends and colleagues began to offer advice. You have to go back to the source, they’d say. You have to go back to your passion.

Fast-forward to today. At 45, Nelson is about to release Before They Pass Away, a massive book—both physically and thematically—that’s the result of three-and-a-half years spent documenting vanishing cultures. In what is perhaps the most comprehensive contemporary look at some of the world’s last remaining tribes, the book chronicles Nelson’s experiences photographing 35 populations that have neither adapted to the modern world, nor shown a desire to join it.

Spending up to two weeks with each culture, Nelson would locate, meet, connect with and photograph these “last of the untouched.” After a guide or translator made an initial introduction, Nelson would step in to begin forming a bond and eventually get people to pose—in the jungle, on a mountaintop, in a river. Using the 4×5 plate camera, always in soft light, didn’t just slow him down and focus his concentration; it enabled him to directly confront his subjects. He would always be positioned lower than they were, and they would be seated or standing higher, above him, like icons. Getting them to remain still for a four-to-five-second shutter was a feat in itself. And stripping himself of his own modern-day arrogance and colonialist nature came with time.

His experience in Ethiopia with the Banna is a good example. The tribesmen were high on khat, he recalls, and holding Kalashnikovs. His way of getting close was by getting small.

“You become inferior and you let them push you around; you do not show fear, but you show vulnerability and insecurity,” he says. After that, he would befriend who he felt was the most empathetic one, warm up to him, praise him, bank on his vanity. Once that tribesman had his picture taken, making him feel good and big and strong, everyone wanted their picture taken.

And on it went with, among others, the Samburu in Kenya and the Maasai in Tanzania, the Gauchos in Argentina and the Huaorani in Ecuador, the Nenets of Russia and the Tsaatan of Mongolia. Each location was picked for its geographic remoteness and each tribe selected for its authenticity, rather than its anthropologic vulnerability. (Three regions were purposefully not included: Australia, due to ingrained cultural problems between modern citizens and the aborigines; West Africa, since al-Qaeda-linked militants were running rampant in Mali; and North America where, Nelson says, the tribes haven’t fully retained their heritage the way others have.)

The idea of the book, meanwhile, isn’t just to show photography, but to create a discussion about the imbalance Nelson sees in the world.

“We’re out of context,” he says. That doesn’t mean we should reset to tribal living, but instead create a dialog with the last of the authentics to see where we went wrong; to learn from the purest source what they’re doing right and to take that with us into the future. Nelson doesn’t want them to end up as we have, and so he plans to revisit each tribe to start that conversation.

Jimmy Nelson is an Amsterdam-based photographer focused on disappearing cultures. See more of his project at BeforeThey.com.

Andrew Katz is a reporter with TIME covering international affairs. Follow him on Twitter @katz.

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