Chile fire in Valparaiso kills 12 and forces thousands to evacuate



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Gideon Long reports from Chile

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated from Chile’s port city of Valparaiso to escape a moving fire that has killed at least 12 residents.

Some 1,200 firefighters are battling the large blaze, which has destroyed hundreds of homes since Saturday.

President Michelle Bachelet put the army in charge of the evacuation after declaring the city, 110km (70 miles) west of Santiago, a disaster zone.

Security forces are on the streets to maintain order and prevent looting.

Earlier, the authorities said 16 residents had died, but it turned out that one family had been counted twice.

One official said it was the “worst catastrophe” he had ever seen.

“We fear that the fire will spread to the centre of the city, which would increase the severity of the emergency,” regional governor Ricardo Bravo, a life-long resident of Valparaiso, said.

The old centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site, packed with old buildings that are vulnerable to fire.

Difficult job

Strong Pacific coast winds have pushed the fire deeper into the neighbourhoods of Valparaiso, hampering the battle to contain the blaze.

The city is built on a series of steep hills, separated by narrow winding streets, making the job of firefighters all the more difficult, says the BBC’s Gideon Long in Santiago.

Large parts of Valparaiso are without electricity, and residents were said to be suffering from smoke inhalation.

It was an apocalyptic scene as the flames covered the city in a bright glow

The blaze forced thousands of residents to evacuate and leave most of their belongings behind

Some residents returned to discover that their homes had been destroyed

Refuges have been set up to house residents who were forced to flee

President Bachelet is in the city to oversee an emergency committee’s response.

“The people of Valparaiso have courage, have strength and they aren’t alone,” she said during a tour of the worst-hit areas.

“In some places the fires have started again so we’re working on this and people will continue to be protected,” the president added.

Temporary shelters have been set up for residents who were forced to flee.

The Chilean Red Cross has appealed for donations, such as food and other basic supplies, to help those who were left homeless.

“We will send all of this to the people because they lost everything,” a Red Cross volunteer told the BBC.

The fire started on Saturday, and most of the damage was done overnight.

‘Hell’

Those residents who managed to return to their homes discovered that they had been destroyed.

“It’s all burned down. My sister’s house also burnt to the ground,” Rosa Guzman told the Reuters news agency.

Another resident said the blaze felt as if “hell encircled my family”.

“The fire raced down the hills and destroyed everything in its path,” Miguel Ramirez told the AFP news agency.

This is the second emergency that President Bachelet has had to face in the first month of her second term in office, after an 8.2 earthquake hit northern Chile on 1 April.

Fires are frequent in central Chile, where summer sends temperatures soaring.

The Chilean Red Cross has appealed for donations to help those who were left homeless

The fire began on Saturday, with most of the damage done overnight

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-27007884

Toward a World Heritage Action Plan for Latin America and the Caribbean 2014 …

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined document WHC-13/37.COM/10A,

2.  Recalling Decisions 32 COM 11D, 34 COM 10B.2, 35 COM 10B and 36 COM 10C adopted respectively at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008), 34th (Brasilia, 2010), 35th (UNESCO, 2011) and 36th (Saint Petersburg, 2012) sessions,

3.  Expresses its sincere appreciation to the States Parties from Latin America and the Caribbean for their efforts in preparing and submitting their Periodic Reports and thanks especially all focal points and site managers for their effective participation and commitment;

4.  Notes with satisfaction that all the 32 States Parties from Latin America and the Caribbean have participated actively in the Periodic Reporting exercise and 29 Section I questionnaires and 122 Section II questionnaires were successfully submitted;

5.  Reiterates its satisfaction that at the moment of the launching of the second cycle, 116 draft retrospective Statements of Outstanding Universal Value were submitted and welcomes the final submission of 66 Statements for adoption by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session;

6.  Thanks the authorities of Argentina, Barbados, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic and Mexico for their support in successfully organizing regional and sub-regional meetings, in collaboration with the World Heritage Centre and UNESCO field offices;

7.  Takes note of the successful use of the special electronic platform as an indispensable tool in providing the comprehensive documentation, gathered in the World Heritage Centre database for future monitoring and follow-up of the Action Plan and acknowledges the importance of this tool in developing the thematic working groups and their related programmes;

8.  Welcomes with satisfaction the synthesis report and endorses the proposal to develop the Action Plan to be submitted to the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session for evaluation;

9.  Requests the World Heritage Centre to develop the above-mentioned Action Plan, in collaboration with the States Parties of the region, the Advisory Bodies, the focal points, site managers and the World Heritage related-Category 2 Centres in the region and other partners;

10.  Also takes note of the significant progress made concerning the Retrospective Inventory for the region, both in terms of clarification of boundaries and minor boundary modifications and also requests the States Parties to continue participating actively in this regard, especially when clarifications or modifications of boundaries have been requested by the World Heritage Committee in relation to the evaluation of the state of conservation of the respective properties;

11.  Also thanks the Government of Spain for financing the translation of the Report containing the results of the Second Cycle of the Periodic Reporting into Spanish, further requests the World Heritage Centre to widely disseminate the Report among all stakeholders in the region, encourages the publication of the report in the World Heritage Papers series and calls on the international community to support the request;

12.  Decides that the significant modifications to boundaries and changes to criteria (re-nominations) requested by States Parties as a follow-up to the Second Cycle of the Periodic Reporting Exercise will not fall within the limit of two nominations per State Party per year imposed by Paragraph 61 of the Operational Guidelines , while they will still fall within the overall limit of forty-five complete nominations per year. This decision shall apply for the 1 February 2014 and 1 February 2015 deadlines for the Latin America and the Caribbean Region, after which time the normal limit established in Paragraph 61 will be resumed;

13.  Encourages the States Parties and all other World Heritage partners and stakeholders, including the UNESCO Category 2 Centres in the Region, to actively cooperate and to take the necessary actions to follow-up, in a concerted and concrete manner, towards the development of the Action Plan;

14.  Also encourages UNESCO Category 2 Centre for World Heritage of Zacatecas (Mexico) and the UNESCO Category 2 Centre Lucio Costa of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) for heritage management, when appropriate, to coordinate their activities and the development of learning tools in Portuguese and Spanish to implement the capacity-building strategy and associated programmes, also welcomes the establishment of an observatory for heritage management foreseen in Brazil, and calls for a close cooperation with the Caribbean Capacity building Programme (CCBP);

15.  Recognizes the valuable role played by local communities, including indigenous peoples, in the management of cultural and natural heritage properties and further encourages programmes at Latin America and the Caribbean World Heritage properties to also focus on the active involvement and participation of the local communities in their implementation and derivation of direct benefits;

16.  Also calls on the States Parties to cooperate with technical and financial resources at the national level to implement the Action Plan, and on the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies to provide support for its implementation.

Read more …

Article source: http://whc.unesco.org/en/events/1160

Why the Heritage Foundation’s Jim DeMint Doesn’t Understand Basic American …

Article source: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2014/04/jim_demint_american_abolitionism_and_constitutional_conservatives_why_the.html

Landrieu requests help for Poverty Point listing

U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, met with National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis April 3 and requested that the Administration send a high-ranking U.S. Official to represent and support Poverty Point’s World Heritage site nomination at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Vote Session in Doha, Qatar this summer.

 Traditionally, the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO attends the World Heritage Committee Session to support the nomination of U.S. sites when the committee votes to designate World Heritage sites. Currently, the nomination for the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO is pending in the U.S. Senate.

 During her meeting, Sen. Landrieu emphasized to Director Jarvis that a high-ranking official is crucial to show support for the nomination of Poverty Point, which is the only American site up for a vote this year.

 “Today, I emphasized to Director Jarvis that senior-level representation at this year’s World Heritage session is crucial for Poverty Point to have a strong chance to gain World Heritage Status. We must do everything we can to strategically position Poverty Point so that this historic gem receives the recognition it deserves in order to increase tourism and grow Northeast Louisiana’s economy,” said Sen. Landrieu. “I’m optimistic that Director Jarvis will find the right person to represent Poverty Point’s nomination, and I will continue to work with local leaders and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne to do everything I can to help Poverty Point achieve this well-deserved designation that holds great potential for our state.”

 “I continue to champion Poverty Point’s nomination for World Heritage designation because the site is historically significant and holds tremendous tourism and economic development potential for northeast Louisiana. I believe it is important for the United States to be proactive in representing and supporting the nomination, and I appreciate what Senator Landrieu is doing to help make that happen,” said Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne.

“This is just another example of Senator Landrieu’s hard work, dedication, and thoughtfulness to help Northeastern Louisiana.  What an incredible honor and economic boost it would be for Poverty Point to win such an important recognition,” State Senator Francis Thompson said.

The 38th session of the World Heritage Committee will be held from June 15th to June 25th in Doha, Qatar. The session will take up votes for pending World Heritage nominated sites, including Poverty Point.

 Poverty Point dates back more than 3,000 years, when a vast trading network stretched for hundreds of miles across the continent. The site is a large architectural complex consisting of three or four earthen mounds, one of which is the second largest earthen structure in North America; a series of six large earthen ridges, which are believed to have been living areas; and a large flat plaza. It is considered an engineering marvel that took five million hours of labor to build.

 Last year, Sen. Landrieu successfully added a provision in support of Poverty Point to FY 2014’s Appropriations bill, but it was stripped by House Republican leaders. For years, Sen. Landrieu has supported Poverty Point and worked with local leaders to secure World Heritage site status.

Article source: http://www.richlandtoday.com/index.php/news/534-landrieu-requests-help-for-poverty-point-listing

7 World Heritage Sites in Central America

Central American countries have a lot to be proud about. The beauty in those countries can be summed up by the World Heritage Sites that grace the continent.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites are places listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as of special cultural or physical significance.

SEE ALSO: Colonia del Sacramento, a World Heritage Site

A total of 981 sites around the world have been listed since 2013.

Italy is home to the greatest numbers of World Heritage Sites with 49 sites.

Each of the seven countries in Central America has landed a prestigious spot in the list, some countries even having more than one World Heritage Site.

Here are the top Central American gems worth visiting!

Top 7 Central American gems

1. Belize – Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

Brain coral found in the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System. (Wikimedia Commons)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1996

The largest reef system in the northern hemisphere is found in Belize.

The Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System is home to several threatened species including sea turtles, manatees and the American crocodile.

Because of it’s mangrove cutting and overdevelopment, the reef system has been listed as endangered since 2009.

2. Costa Rica – Cocos Island National Park

Cocos Island National Park is located 550 km off the Pacific Coast of the Costa Rica. (Shutterstock)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1997

Costa Rica is home to the only island in the tropical eastern Pacific with a tropical rainforest.

Cocos Island National Park is popular among divers, who consider it as one of the best places in the world to encounter pelagic species such as sharks, rays, tuna and dolphins.

3. El Salvador – Joya de Ceren Archaeological Site

Joya de Ceren provides valuable archaeological for everyday life in the 6th century. (Wikimedia Commons)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1993

This archaeological site in El Salvador established after a pre-Hispanic farming community was buried under an eruption of the Laguna Caldera volcano around AD 600.

The still intact Joya de Ceren are the remains that have been preserved by the country.

4. Guatemala – Antigua Guatemala

Antigua was built in an earthquake prone region, 1,500 m above sea level. (Shutterstock)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1979

The cultural site of Antigua Guatemala preserves its principal monuments as ruins after the region was largely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773.

5. Honduras – Maya Site of Copan

The Maya Site of Copan was discovered in 1570 by Diego Garcia de Palacio. (Shutterstock)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1980

The Maya Site of Copan is one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization. The site is functioned as the political, civil and religious centre of the Copan Valley.

6. Nicaragua – Leon Cathedral

La Catedral de Leon is located in the heart of Leon, Nicaragua. (VOXXI/Jessica Lucia Roiz)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: 2011

Voyage to the colonial city of Leon, Nicaragua if you want to see the biggest cathedral in Central America.

La Catedral de Leon (Leon Cathedral) was built more than 150 years ago and has a fusion between Baroque and Neoclassical architectural styles.

SEE ALSO: Why you’ll fall in love with Leon, Nicaragua

7. Panama – Portobelo-San Lorenzo Forts

Portobelo-San Lorenzo forts. (Shutterstock)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: 1980

Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo are excellent examples of the 17th and 18th century Spanish military architecture.

The Panamanian cultural site, which was constructed to protect the Isthmus of Panama, is inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Article source: http://voxxi.com/2014/04/04/world-heritage-sites-central-america/

Landrieu hopes official attends World Heritage meeting

WASHINGTON (KNOE 8 News) – U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today met with National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and requested that the Administration send a high-ranking U.S. Official to represent and support Poverty Point’s World Heritage site nomination at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Vote Session in Doha, Qatar this summer.

Traditionally, the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO attends the World Heritage Committee Session to support the nomination of U.S. sites when the committee votes to designate World Heritage sites. Currently, the nomination for the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO is pending in the U.S. Senate.

During her meeting, Sen. Landrieu emphasized to Director Jarvis that a high-ranking official is crucial to show support for the nomination of Poverty Point, which is the only American site up for a vote this year.

“Today, I emphasized to Director Jarvis that senior-level representation at this year’s World Heritage session is crucial for Poverty Point to have a strong chance to gain World Heritage Status. We must do everything we can to strategically position Poverty Point so that this historic gem receives the recognition it deserves in order to increase tourism and grow Northeast Louisiana’s economy,” said Sen. Landrieu. “I’m optimistic that Director Jarvis will find the right person to represent Poverty Point’s nomination, and I will continue to work with local leaders and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne to do everything I can to help Poverty Point achieve this well-deserved designation that holds great potential for our state.”

“I continue to champion Poverty Point’s nomination for World Heritage designation because the site is historically significant and holds tremendous tourism and economic development potential for northeast Louisiana. I believe it is important for the United States to be proactive in representing and supporting the nomination, and I appreciate what Senator Landrieu is doing to help make that happen,” said Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne.

“This is just another example of Senator Landrieu’s hard work, dedication, and thoughtfulness to help Northeastern Louisiana. What an incredible honor and economic boost it would be for Poverty Point to win such an important recognition,” State Senator Francis Thompson said.

The 38th session of the World Heritage Committee will be held from June 15th to June 25th in Doha, Qatar. The session will take up votes for pending World Heritage nominated sites, including Poverty Point.

Poverty Point dates back more than 3,000 years, when a vast trading network stretched for hundreds of miles across the continent. The site is a large architectural complex consisting of three or four earthen mounds, one of which is the second largest earthen structure in North America; a series of six large earthen ridges, which are believed to have been living areas; and a large flat plaza. It is considered an engineering marvel that took five million hours of labor to build.

Last year, Sen. Landrieu successfully added a provision in support of Poverty Point to FY 2014′s Appropriations bill, but it was stripped by House Republican leaders. For years, Sen. Landrieu has supported Poverty Point and worked with local leaders to secure World Heritage site status.

Article source: http://www.knoe.com/story/25156731/landrieu-hopes-official-attends-world-heritage-meeting

Battles Loom Over Crimea’s Cultural Heritage

— From the 16th-century Tatar Khans’ palace in Bakhchisaray to the former tsarist residence that hosted the World War II Yalta conference, Crimea’s heritage sites have become a source of bitter contention since Russia seized the region from Ukraine.
 
For Kyiv, which does not recognize Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, losing the cultural and historic legacy of the Black Sea peninsula would be another major blow and Ukraine is readying for long legal battles with Russia.
 
“We will never give up the valuable heritage in Crimea because that is the property of Ukraine,” the country’s prosecutor general, Oleh Makhnitsky, told Reuters on Wednesday.
 
Ukraine’s Culture Minister, Yevgen Nishchuk, said Kyiv was amending its laws to seek justice internationally should Russia start removing cultural goods from Crimea or take over formal supervision of the region’s heritage sites.
 
One exhibition, put together by five museums – including four in Crimea – and currently on display in Amsterdam, has already fallen hostage to the conflict over the region, the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the Cold War.
 
Both Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities as well as Kyiv claim ownership of the exhibition, titled “Crimea – Gold and Secrets of the Black Sea”, which features golden artifacts and precious gems dating back to the fourth century BC.
 
The show is operated by the University of Amsterdam and spokesman Yasha Lange said a legal investigation was going on to determine to whom the collection should be returned after it closes at the end of August.
 
“The exhibition should return to Crimea,” said Valentina Mordvintseva, who works for Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences in Crimea’s provincial capital of Simferopol and who helped Amsterdam’s Allard Pierson Museum set up the exhibit.
 
“So it has become a political issue,” she told Reuters. “If the things end up held in Kyiv, I think it would be bad for Ukraine itself because it would look like vengeance.”
 
She was referring to a March 16 referendum in Crimea, an impoverished region of two million with a narrow ethnic Russian majority, which yielded an overwhelming victory for those advocating a split from Ukraine to join Russia.
 
Kyiv and the West dismissed the hastily arranged vote as a sham but Moscow used it to justify formally incorporating Crimea on March 21.
 
Crimea has since then introduced the Russian ruble as its currency and switched to Moscow time, while Russian troops have taken over Ukrainian military bases, forcing Kyiv to pull out its soldiers with their families.
 
Tatars, Tsars and Stalin
 
Prosecutor Makhnitsky said the Justice Ministry in Kyiv was preparing to register lawsuits with international organizations to assert its rights to the historic and cultural sites in Crimea.
 
The ministry refused immediate comment on what exactly it plans to do, but any such endeavor is likely to be an uphill battle as Russia controls the region.
 
Underscoring how any efforts from Kyiv could face further obstacles, some directors of Crimea museums have welcomed unification with Russia in the hope it will lead to increased budget support from Moscow.
 
Valery Naumenko, director of a museum housed in the historic residence of the Crimean Khans in Bakhchisaray, complained that Kyiv had not allocated any funds for the upkeep of the palace, which is dominated by two slender minarets.

“Ukraine has no resources and no moral right after these two decades to put up a bigfight over Crimea’s heritage,” he told Reuters.

“Everybody understands that the

A general view shows the Swallow’s Nest castle overlooking the Black Sea outside the Crimean town of Yalta, March 28, 2014.A general view shows the Swallow’s Nest castle overlooking the Black Sea outside the Crimean town of Yalta, March 28, 2014.
decision is taken and we must all get used to living under the new conditions.”
 
“The sooner politicians and culture workers in Kyiv understand that, the sooner life in Crimea and Ukraine will improve,” he said.
 
In the elegant Livadia Palace in Yalta, director Larisa Dekusheva said she hoped to see more Russian tourists, now that Moscow has said it is determined to make Crimea a more popular holiday destination.
 
The white stone palace, sitting on a slope with spectacular views over the Black Sea, was the last residence built for the tsars before the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and served as a tuberculosis sanatorium afterwards.
 
In February 1945 the site hosted the seven-day Yalta Conference, when Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt made key decisions on the post-war order.
 
“It was originally the property of the Romanov family, that is of the tsars of Russia,” Dekusheva added, saying Moscow had historic rights to the palace and Kyiv should not seek any compensation.
 
Crimea’s new government has angrily dismissed any talk of potential compensation claims for the property it nationalized in separating from Ukraine.
 
“We will not pay a thing, we will make our case in proper legal proceedings. If such claims are presented, we will come up with counterclaims,” Rustam Temirgaliyev, Crimea’s First Deputy Prime Minister, told Reuters in late March.

Article source: http://www.voanews.com/content/battles-loom-over-crimeas-cultural-heritage/1884776.html