Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Santiago’

Pope Names 19 New Cardinals, Focusing on the Poor.

Pope Francis on Sunday named his first batch of cardinals, choosing 19 men from Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, including Haiti and Burkino Faso, to reflect his attention to the poor.

Francis made the announcement as he spoke from his studio window to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

Sixteen of the appointees are younger than 80, meaning they are eligible to elect the next pope, which is a cardinal’s most important task. The ceremony to formally install them as cardinals will be held Feb. 22 at the Vatican.

Some appointments were expected, including that of his new secretary of state, the Italian archbishop Pietro Parolin, and the German head of the Vatican’s watchdog office for doctrinal orthodoxy, Gerhard Ludwig Mueller.

But some names were surprising.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope’s selection of churchmen from Haiti and Burkino Faso, which are among the world’s poorest nations, reflects Francis’ attention to the destitute as a core part of the church’s mission.

Also chosen to become a “prince of the church,” as the cardinals are known, was Mario Aurelio Poli, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, a post Francis left when he was elected as the first Latin American pope in March.

His selections also came from Managua, Nicaragua; Santiago, Chile; and Rio de Janeiro. The appointees included churchmen from Seoul, South Korea, and the archbishop of Westminster, in Britain, Vincent Nichols.

In a sentimental touch, the three men too old to vote for the next pope include 98-year-old Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla, who had served as personal secretary to Pope John XXIII. The late pontiff will be made a saint along with John Paul II at the Vatican in April.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

60 Dead in Spanish Train Crash.

A train hurtled off the tracks in northwestern Spain on Wednesday killing 60 passengers and injuring more than 100 as carriages crumpled into each other in a smoking wreckage of tangled steel.

Four carriages overturned in the smash, smoke billowing from the remnants, as bodies were lain out under blankets along the tracks.

The wagons piled into each other and folded up like an accordion. One was ripped apart by the force of the smash, one of its ends pushed upwards into the air.

Disaster struck at 8:42 pm (1842 GMT) as the train carrying 218 passengers and four staff was about to enter Santiago de Compostela station in the northwestern region of Galicia.

“They are provisional figures still but there are 60 dead, a spokesman for the central government representative in the region told AFP.

“They are provisional figures still but there are 60 dead. There are 111 injured who have been identified and between 15 and 20 more who have yet to be identified.”

Francisco Otero, who was inside his parents’ home just beside the section of the track where the accident happened, told AFP he “heard a huge bang. As if there had been an earthquake.”

“The first thing I saw was the body of a woman. I had never seen a corpse before. My neighbours tried to pull people who were trapped inside the carriages with clubs and they eventually got them out with a hand saw. It was unreal,” he said.

The train had left Madrid and was heading for the northwestern town of Ferrol as the Galicia region was preparing celebrations in honour of its patron saint James.

A witness told radio Cadena Ser that carriages overturned several times on a bend and came to a halt piled up on each other.

Public television TVE said the train may have derailed because it was speeding at the time of the accident but a spokesman for state railway company Renfe said it was too soon to say what caused the accident.

“There is an investigation underway and we have to wait. We will know what the speed is very soon when we consult the train’s black box,” a Renfe spokesman said.

Emergency services workers in red jackets tended to injured passengers lying on a patch of grass as ambulance sirens wailed in the background.

One middle-aged man wearing a white shirt had his face covered in blood as a policeman appeared to give him instructions as to where to go.

“There are bodies laying on the railway track. It’s a Dante-esque scene,” Feijoo told news radio Cadena Ser.

The accident happened on a stretch of high-speed track about four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the main train station in Santiago de Compostela, the destination of the famous El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage which has been followed by Christians since the Middle Ages.

The train was the Alvia model which is able to adapt between high-speed and normal tracks.

“I want to express my affection and solidarity with the victims of the terrible train accident in Santiago,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is from Santiago de Compostela, said in a twitter message.

The prime minister was to visit the scene of the accident on Thursday.

“I saw that there were people down the railway line trying to open windows with stones,” one unidentified woman told public television TVE.

Over 1,000 people responded to appeals from area hospitals for blood donations to help the injured.

The town hall of Santiago de Compostela called off planned concerts and firework displays that had been planned as part of the festivities in honour of its patron saint.

The crash came less than two weeks after a passenger train derailed just south of Paris, killing six people and injuring 30 more.

French rail operator SNCF said that derailment may have been caused by a connecting bar that came loose.


© AFP 2013

Brazilian Apostle Targets Houston for Next Megachurch.


Apostle Valdemiro Santiago
Apostle Valdemiro Santiago, founder of the Worldwide Church of God’s Power, bellows in Portuguese to a packed crowd in a rented Astoria, Queens, church. (RNS)

The apostle bellowed in Portuguese to a packed crowd in a rented Astoria, Queens, church.

“Get out, spirit of death. Now you are burnt, now you are plucked out by my God!”

A blood-curdling shriek rose from one of the front pews, but Apostle Valdemiro Santiago, founder of the Worldwide Church of God’s Power, didn’t flinch.

“Don’t be afraid, church, by these screams,” Santiago reassured the crowd. “They are the evil spirits being defeated.”

Fourteen years after he started out in the countryside outside Sao Paulo, Santiago sits at the helm of a booming Pentecostal church in Brazil, the world’s fastest-growing evangelical country. He now leads 4,000 churches, including 10 in the United States, where fiery worship and exorcisms form part of the appeal.

Like many missionary churches, the Worldwide Church plans to proselytize and attract the local Brazilian diaspora and America’s growing Hispanic population and non-immigrant whites, as well.

“These Pentecostal reverse-mission churches are going to realize, when white faces start walking in the door, that they’ve got the potential for growth but that they need to fine-tune their message,” said Nick Street, senior writer with the Center for Religion & Civic Culture at the University of Southern California who’s studied the reverse-migration trend in Nigeria, India, and Brazil.

They will also need to become more “seeker-friendly” at a time when Protestants no longer represent a majority of the population. Instead of pandering to people’s pocketbooks and egos with the same old prosperity gospel, the Worldwide Church will need its own hook.

Despite Santiago’s vast personal wealth, the movement’s relative poverty and simplicity may be its greatest asset, Street said.

“They won’t have movie nights or giant facilities with PowerPoint presentations,” he said. “The main thing they offer is this fiery worship of the Holy Spirit.”

It may be just what the spiritual doctor ordered for many of America’s newly unaffiliated and disenchanted believers.

The Worldwide Church appears on 25 million Brazilian television sets, with up to 22 hours of daily programming. But its growing network will face stiff competition from better-established Pentecostal churches catering to America’s Spanish-speaking and African-American communities, argues Baylor University religion scholar Paul Freston, who notes that most Brazilian churches’ rhetoric of inclusion rarely matches their reality.

“I find it very hard to imagine that Valdemiro is going to manage to break the mold,” Freston said.

Yet the Worldwide Church of God’s Power stands out as the only successful breakaway from the larger Universal Church of the Kingdom of God—headed by Santiago’s former mentor, Bishop Edir Macedo, who has since accused Santiago of working for the devil.

Santiago’s charisma and man-of-the-people mystique has allowed the movement to grow, said Cecilia Loreto Mariz, a researcher with the Center for the Study of Latin American Pentecostalism.

Jovial, boisterous, irreverent and ever mindful of his teenage years living on the streets as a bricklayer, Santiago likes to cast himself as a backwoodsman (with a special fondness for cowboy hats), whose church is an extension of that ruggedness. Speaking to Brazil’s largest news daily, the Folha de Sao Paulo last year, he admitted that his “people do not search for sophistication, luxury, glamour, or a church fashioned of marble or gold.”

They search for small miracles to ease their troubles, such as when the apostle relieved an Orlando, Fla., man’s rheumatic pains and alleviated another’s reliance on a walker. These healings are why people lined up an hour before the Astoria service to present themselves for an apostolic laying on of hands.

“You who were in pain,” Santiago commanded, “check again.” The crowd murmured in amazement.

The apostle waded among his massed followers, mopping his sweaty brow with handkerchiefs that he threw into the sea of straining hands. Three camera crews broadcast everything back to crowded churches in Brazil.

Despite reports in the Brazilian press of the apostle’s $3 million mansion, his private jet and helicopter, and his recent fine for illegally endorsing a political candidate, the crowds still come. An estimated 3 million showed up in Sao Paulo in January 2012 to commemorate Santiago’s newly completed 150,000-seat temple.

The largest evangelical megachurch in the United States, by comparison, is Joel Osteen’s 50,000-member Lakewood Church in Houston—situated just 12 miles from a brand-new branch of Santiago’s Worldwide Church of God’s Power.



Latin America would like a Latin pope, odds slim.

  • FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2012 file photo, Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz is congratulated by a faithful prior to a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican a day after installing 22 of them as cardinals. After the resign of Pope Benedict XVI, announced on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, Cardinal Braz de Aviz allegedly is among the contenders to be the pope's successor. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, file)

    View PhotoAssociated Press/Pier Paolo Cito, file – FILE – In this Feb. 19, 2012 file photo, Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz is congratulated by a faithful prior to a Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter’s …more 


  • FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2007 file photo, Brazilian Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Sao Paolo is applauded during an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and the new cardinals in the Paul VI hall at The Vatican. After the resign of Pope Benedict XVI, announced on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, Cardinal Scherer allegedly is among the contenders to be the pope's successor. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, file)View PhotoFILE – In this Nov. 26, 2007 file …
  • FILE - In this Nov. 24, 2007 file photo, Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri poses for a picture during a meeting with relatives and friends at the Vatican. After the resign of Pope Benedict XVI, announced on Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, Cardinal Sandri allegedly is among the contenders to be the pope's successor. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, file)View PhotoFILE – In this Nov. 24, 2007 file …

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Latin America is home to the world’s largestRoman Catholic population, but hopes that the next pope will come from the region appear faint, experts said Monday.

The predominance of Europeans on the College of Cardinals means that the odds are stacked against a Latin American pope, even though the names of a number of high-ranking churchmen from the region have been bandied about, analysts said. The 118-member college, with 62 European members and only 19 from Latin America, will elect a successor for Pope Benedict XVI, who announced Monday he will resign due to age.

Still, hope springs eternal.

“Since Latin America is a fortress for Christianity during these rough times, it would be healthy for us to get a Latin American pope,” said Fernando Reyes, 57, a professional violinist, who prays daily at the La Merced church in Santiago, Chile.

Crossing himself before leaving the church, Reyes noted, “I would be proud. We’ve had Italian, Polish, German. It’s time for a Latin American.”

Brazilian Cardinals Joao Braz de Aviz, a 65-year-old who has earned praise as head of the Vatican’s office for religious congregations, and Odilo Pedro Scherer, the 63-year-old archbishop of Sao Paulo, have been mentioned as possibilities.

Other Latin Americans posited as possible popes include Argentina’s Leonardo Sandri and Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Sandri is head of the Vatican’s office for Eastern rite churches. He earned fame as the “voice” of Pope John Paul II when the pontiff lost the ability to speak because of his Parkinson’s disease.

Also mentioned in 2005, when Benedict was chosen, was Honduran Archbishop Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga.

But it is unclear whether any one of them could gain traction.

“To see the possibilities for a Latin American pope, you have to look at the makeup of the College of Cardinals,” said Bernardo Barranco, an expert at Mexico’s Center for Religious Studies. “From the get-go, I see it as difficult for a Latin American … because the college has not only been “re-Europeanized,” it has also been “re-Italianized.”

While some see Latin America’s estimated 40 percent of the world’s 1.2-billion Catholic population as a bulwark of the faith, the church is also facing challenges in the region from evangelical churches.

In Mexico, the percentage of the population who identify themselves as Catholics dropped from over 90 percent in the 1980s to 84 percent in 2010, the latest year for which data is available.

In Brazil, home to a number of charismatic or evangelical churches, the drop has been even more precipitous, from 84 percent in 1995 to 68 percent in 2010.

“In numerical terms, Latin America is majority Catholic, in broad terms, but these aren’t the best times for the church,” said Barranco. “On the contrary, it is going through a severe crisis the like of which it has never seen before.”

Still, some see Latin America’s still-large Catholic population as a decisive force.

“It would be a central argument for electing a Latin American pope, because the future of the church is in the Southern Hemisphere,” said R. Andrew Chesnut, a professor of Religious Studies at the Virginia Commonwealth University. “I am not going to make any predictions, but I think there will be a contingent of European cardinals who would support an African or Latin American candidate.”

For Rosita Mejia, 44, who has sold religious items for 25 years outside the La Merced church, the next pope’s country of origin is less important than his vigor, energy and proximity to the people, none of which were distinguishing characteristics of Benedict VXI.

“In five years, only one person has asked me for a Benedict prayer card. In comparison hundreds of people have asked for John Paul II,” Benedict’s more charismatic predecessor, she said. “I would like for the next pope to be younger, and have more time to travel the world, and perhaps come to Chile like John Paul did.”


By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO | Associated Press

Mexico announces possible oil alliance with Brazil.

Mexican President announces possible oil alliance with Brazil during summit in Chile.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — President Enrique Pena Nieto has announced that Mexico and Brazil are studying a possible alliance between their two state-owned oil companies.

Mexico’s office of the presidency released information about the announcement Pena Nieto made Saturday at a summit of Latin American and European leaders in Santiago, Chile, after meeting withBrazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The Mexican president says the possible partnership between Mexico’s Pemex and Brazil’s Petrobras could include the sharing of technology and working together on development programs.


Associated Press

Europe’s Emigrants Face Red Tape in Latin America.

Geologist David Rodriguez and actress Cristina Pascual, two of the nearly six million Spaniards left jobless in the European recession, fled to Latin America last year, figuring their futures would be brighter in the booming economies on this side of the Atlantic.

Instead, they found themselves stuck, facing so many bureaucratic hurdles that their only option was to work illegally, for much lower wages. Without a work visa, they couldn’t get a formal job. Without a job offer, no visa. And without a job and a visa, they had no way of securing an all-important tax-identification number, freezing them out of Chile‘s booming formal economy. Trying to bend the rules can result in deportation for the worker, and fines for the company.

Rodriguez and Pascual are among the many migrants watching this weekend as leaders from the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean seek ways of eliminating the red tape that has made it so difficult for foreigners to bring their skills across borders.

The vast majority of migrants between the continents used to travel to Europe, but the trends flipped after 2010, when economic indicators began to improve in Spain and Portugal’s former colonies. Now Spanish and Portuguese workers are arriving by the thousands each year, entering on tourist visas and job-hunting in Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Argentina. Spanish migrants with skills needed in the mining industry are particularly sought after in Chile.

But the bureaucracy is getting in the way.

Rodriguez, 32, graduated from college in Spain in 2010, and spent the next 28 months in a frustrating search for work in his field while he lived with his parents. Then a friend, architect Maria Moreira, posted a Facebook message saying she was migrating to Chile. He jumped at the chance to come along, but soon found himself stuck without authorization to work. Despite high demand for exactly the skills he could offer, it took four months of rejections before he found a low-paid internship that eventually led to a company’s sponsorship for his paperwork.

Spain’s national statistics service said more than 40,000 Spaniards abandoned the country in search of work during the first six months of last year, up sharply from the 28,000 during the same period in 2011. The same agency said this week that unemployment has reached a record 26 percent in Spain.

Reducing roadblocks is urgent for the leaders at this summit. The IMF forecasts the Latin American and Caribbean economies to grow 3.6 percent this year even as Europe retreats 0.2 percent. The continents’ economies are inexorably tied to each other, with EU countries representing 43 percent of Latin America’s international trade. Making it easier for workers to move to where the jobs are can help all these countries, in part by increasing the remittances people send home to their families.

Chile isn’t unique in the demands it places on foreign workers. Brazil and Argentina are famous for their red tape, and lacking EU citizenship, many Latin Americans haven’t been welcomed into Europe’s job market, either.

The summit agenda includes fostering “best practices” for lowering barriers to work. One example: representatives of 400 universities on both sides of the Atlantic met in Santiago this week to create a “common space for higher education,” with the goal of standardizing the degrees and certifications awarded throughout both regions.

The agenda also advocates equal treatment for citizens of all nations, a sore point in the former colonies of Europe. While EU citizens can enter any country in the region on tourist visas, Latin Americans have been humiliated in Europe’s airports, interrogated and sent home even though they said they complied with the entry rules.

“Welcome to a better world,” is how Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera greeted his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy, a tongue-in-cheek phrase that resonates on all sorts of levels for travelers between both regions.

Rodriguez and Pascual can testify that their welcome was difficult at best during their first months in Chile.

Without formal work and a visa, they couldn’t get the Chilean identity numbers known as RUTs, which are vital for all aspects of life. Without a RUT, you can’t get a telephone line, buy a cellphone, obtain a credit card, open a bank account, or make hundreds of other transactions in Chile.

Pascual, a 38-year-old actress, spent five months in low-paid, under-the-table jobs before she got help from the Spanish embassy, where she now works as a cultural representative.

“The bureaucracy here is terrible,” Pascual says. But now she sounds contented, and spends much of her time supporting other Spaniards who keep arriving in Chile. “Many people are coming, so we help them a little, because it’s very bureaucratic here, very complicated, and they get desperate.”


By EVA VERGARA Associated Press

Cuban Baptists Rally to Aid Hurricane Sandy’s Victims.

Hurricane Sandy damage

Hurricane Sandy’s torrential rains and 105-mph winds slammed eastern Cuba Oct. 25, damaging about 130,000 homes—demolishing more than 15,000 of them and leaving 11 people dead. Among those killed was a couple from First Baptist Church in the hard-hit coastal city of Santiago.

The Baptist couple—whose names were not released—died when a wall collapsed in their home during the storm.

Hurricane Sandy devastated their city of Santiago, affecting nearly 70 percent of the area, news reports said. In Santiago and surrounding provinces hit by the storm, many of the 150 churches and 200 house churches affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Eastern Cuba were damaged; some were completely destroyed. The convention’s seminary and home for the elderly also sustained damage.

The storm’s intensity caught many people unprepared, reports said. Debris, fallen trees and downed electrical poles now block most of the area’s roads, making it difficult to bring aid supplies by vehicle. The storm also caused a citywide power outage predicted to last several more weeks.

In the wake of the disaster, Baptist Global Response released $5,000 in emergency funds last weekend and anticipates providing more funds for relief efforts soon, said a BGR official. In addition, the Florida Baptist Convention has contributed $5,000 in aid and other state Baptist conventions are planning assistance as well.

But even before outside aid arrived, Cuban Baptists in Santiago were reaching out to the community, despite their own losses.

“The great thing is even in the midst of all the challenges and difficulties that are being faced right now, a lot of the pastors we’ve been able to speak to and the members of their churches just immediately began to step up to the plate,” said an IMB representative who travels frequently to Cuba. “Even though they themselves had had a lot of loss and a lot of damage, they’ve been coming together to try to help people in the community.”

To meet the pressing needs for food and water, local Baptist churches have begun setting up the first of 35 planned soup kitchens throughout Santiago and other locations ravaged by the storm.

“As a church, we have proposed to invest all our efforts and resources to help the needy,” one local pastor wrote in a letter to the president of the Baptist Convention of Eastern Cuba. “Today we began to prepare food. Early in the morning we only had a little bit of rice, but thanks to God, with the contributions of various members, we were able to feed 60 people. Tomorrow we will cook for 100. We know this is insufficient, but we have already begun. God will continue to provide.”

Local Cuban Baptists also are gathering clothing and other supplies for people in need. Fourth Baptist Church of Santiago has made their generator available daily so locals can charge cell phones and batteries, and even hooked it up to a TV in the street so people can watch the news.

As local Baptists met immediate needs, Cuban Baptists from the western side of the island quickly stepped in to contribute to the relief effort, too.

“As soon as the hurricane had passed,” said the IMB representative, “[leaders from the Baptist Convention of Western Cuba] discovered what some needs were, and they immediately loaded a truck with a lot of rice that they had stored for a hurricane and sent it with other foodstuffs and purified water and other things they felt would be needed.”

In addition to meeting physical needs, Cuban Baptists are using the opportunity to reach out to their neighbors spiritually, the IMB worker said.

“Our brothers and sisters [in Cuba] are recognizing that this terrible situation is an amazing opportunity to share the love of Christ in very real and tangible ways,” he said. “They take the call to share the Gospel very seriously at all times, but in the midst of their own suffering, that actually draws the church together, and it helps them to focus on finding the real needs of their neighbors and demonstrating the love of Christ.”

The disaster also has motivated Cuban Baptists to step up their efforts in meeting their national goal of seeing 1 million new believers in Cuba by the year 2020, the IMB representative said. Cuban Baptists set this goal several years ago, calling it the “20/20 Vision.”

“Cuban Baptists from both the eastern and western Baptist conventions are very strong, mission-minded, Great Commission Christians,” he said. “And I think, as tragic as this is, this is an opportunity to be a part of seeing a million new believers by 2020. That’s an amazing perspective on things, just recognizing in the midst of this tragedy, God is going to do something amazing for those who love Him.”

Click here to give to IMB’s General Relief Fund.

Emily Pearson is an IMB writer living in the Americas.



Andes survivors mark 40th anniversary of crash.


SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Surviving members of an Uruguayan rugby team have played a match postponed four decades ago when their plane crashed in the Andes, stranding them for 72 days in the cordillera and forcing them to eat human flesh to stay alive.

The Old Christians Club squared off Saturday in Santiago in a game that was tied 1-1 against the Old Grangonian Club, the former Chilean rugby team they were supposed to play back when their flight went down. Their terrifying story became the basis of a best-selling book and a Hollywood movie.

“At about this time we were falling in the Andes. Today, we’re here to win a game,” crash survivor Pedro Algorta, 61, said as he prepared to walk onto the playing field surrounded by the jagged mountains that trapped the group.

During the anniversary ceremony, military jets flew over the field, where parachutists draped in Chilean and Uruguayan flags landed. In a corner, survivors wept when officials unveiled a commemorative frame with pictures of those who died in the snowy peaks.

“The conditions were more horrifying than you can ever imagine. To live at 4,000 meters without any food,” said survivor Eduardo Strauch, 65. “The only reason why we’re here alive today is because we had the goal of returning home … (Our loved ones) gave us life. They made the sacrifice for others.”

The Uruguayan air force plane that carried the team crashed in a mountain pass in October 1972 while en route from Montevideo to Santiago. Of the 45 passengers aboard, 16 survived by feeding on dead family members and friends preserved in the snow.

“I think the greatest sadness I felt in my life was when I had to eat a dead body,” said Roberto Canessa, 59, who was a teenage medical student at the time of the crash.

“I would ask myself: Is it worth doing this? And it was because it was in order to live and preserve life, which is exactly what I would have liked for myself if it had been my body that lay on the floor,” he said

Desperate after more than two months in the frigid peaks, Canessa and Fernando Parrado left the crash site to seek help. It was the group’s last attempt at survival.

After 10 days of trekking, they spotted Sergio Catalan, a livestock herder in the foothills of the Chilean Andes. The conditions were such that the pair couldn’t get too close to Catalan, but from afar, they heard him say one word: “Tomorrow.”

“With that (word), our suffering ended,” Canessa said.

Catalan, who at the time rode his horse to the nearest town to alert rescuers, returned to meet the survivors on Saturday in a hat and poncho. He walked slowly this time with the aid of a cane and pointed at the sky when helicopters hovered over the field just as they did 40 years ago over the barren mountains.

Carlos Paez, 58, waved a small red shoe at a helicopter carrying Parrado as he did when the Chilean air force choppers rescued him and the others. Parrado gave a similar red shoe to his friends at the crash site before he left for the cordillera and guided rescuers back.

“I came back to life after having died,” said Parrado, whose mom and sister died in the Andes. “It’s something that very few people experience.” His experience, he said scarred him but made him stronger and brought him a newfound appreciation for life.

“Since then, I have enjoyed fully, carefully but without fear. I tried to enjoy my friend, my dog, my passions, a second at a time,” said Parrado, who has been a TV host, a race car driver and a motivational speaker.

Survivor Daniel Fernandez, 66, held the trophy that would have been the reward for the game to be played the day of the crash.

The ordeal “taught me that we set our own limits,” Fernandez said. “If I had been told: ‘I’m going to leave you in a mountain 4,000 meters high, 20 degrees Celsius below zero (-4 Fahrenheit ) in shirtsleeves, I would have said: I last 10 minutes.’ Instead, I lasted 72 days.”


Follow AP’s Luis Andres Henao on Twitter:


By BY LUIS ANDRES HENAO | Associated Press

Cuba frees dissident detained after Pope visit.

Related Content

  • File photo of Cuban dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer (C-back). Ferrer, leader of the banned Patriotic Union of Cuba (UPC), was arrested on April 2 along with 42 activists in a crackdown on protesters in Santiago de Cuba after the pope visited the island. (AFP Photo/Adalberto Roque)File photo of Cuban dissident Jose …

Police in Cuba released Jose Daniel Ferrer, a political dissident arrested shortly after the visit to the island by Pope Benedict XVI, the activist told AFP.

“They released me around 1:00 pm,” Ferrer said by telephone from his home in the town of Palmarito de Cauto, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, 900 kilometers (550 miles) southeast of Havana.

“Physically I don’t feel well, but my spirits are high,” said Ferrer, 41.

Ferrer, leader of the banned Patriotic Union of Cuba (UPC), was arrested on April 2 along with 42 activists in a crackdown on protesters in Santiago de Cuba after the pope visited the island.

The group was arrested after protesting the detention of a dissident who chanted anti-government slogans during the pope’s visit in late March. Most were released after a few days.

Ferrer said that police told him he could wait at home for a trial on disorderly conduct charges, although no date has been set. The police also warned that they would be monitoring him.

“They told me that the activities that I instigate, organize and finance are actions against the revolution that cause public disorder,     and that if I continued they would … take me back to prison,” Ferrer said.

However if he limited his opposition to writing behind closed doors, then the authorities told him that they could dismiss the case.

Ferrer vowed to continue with his outside activities.

While in detention, Ferrer went on a three-day hunger strike complaining about prison food. He ended his protest when prison officials let his wife bring food.

Ferrer was one of dozens of dissidents sentenced to prison in 2003 but was released in 2011 through the mediation of the Catholic Church.

About 130 political prisoners were freed as a result of that dialogue. Most left for Spain, but Ferrer and 11 others refused to leave their homeland.

Havana considers dissidents “mercenaries” in Washington’s pay.



Pope sympathetic to inmates,’ all Cubans’ desires.

Related Content

SANTIAGO, Cuba (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is expressing sympathy with the “just aspirations and legitimate desires” of all Cubans, including prisoners.

Benedict says he carries the sufferings and joys of islanders in his heart, and specifically mentions inmates among others.

But he is not singling out “political prisoners” as his predecessor John Paul II did during his 1998 visit to Cuba.

Benedict is also urging more progress in relations between the church and a government that was officially atheist until the early 1990s. And he’s criticizing the excesses of capitalism, a more palatable message for Cuban authorities than his recent comment that Marxist ideology is outdated.

He spoke Monday upon arrival in the eastern city of Santiago.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

SANTIAGO, Cuba (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI says he has “heartfelt affection” for all Cubans, both on the island and in exile.

The pontiff says in his arrival speech that Cubans are ever present in his heart and prayers, “wherever they may be.” He spoke in the eastern city of Santiago, where he is kicking off a three-day tour.

Cuban President Raul Castro greeted him at the airport, just days after Benedict declared the island’s Marxist system outdated.

Benedict is on a mission to renew the faith in Latin America’s least Catholic country. Less than 10 percent of the population is observant.

The pope is to celebrate a huge outdoor Mass later Monday in Santiago’s main square.


Associated PressBy ANDREA RODRIGUEZ and NICOLE WINFIELD | Associated Press

Tag Cloud