Friday, May 30, 2008

Chile Police Chief Dies in Helicopter Crash

General Jose Bernales (1949-2008)

General Jose Bernales was on official visit to Panama

A Bell UH-1N helicopter crashed on May 29 at 2.00 p.m. local time in downtown Panama City, the capital of that Central American country. On board was a delegation of the Chilean military police (Carabineros) that included its director Gral. Jose Bernales (59), Lieut.Coronel Oscar Tapia, Lieut.Coronel Ricardo Orozco, Captain Mauricio Fuenzalida and Commander Maria De Felix of the Panama police. The helicopter crashed against a shopping mall called “Banana Price” and until now 12 people have been confirmed dead including Teresa Bianchini, wife of General Bernales. According to eyewitnesses of the accident the pilot of the helicopter fell onto the roof of the store and declared that “one of the motors had failed”. Another survivor was Sargeant Jose Munoz of the Carabineros and it seems that he may have been the man that bystanders said had jumped off the helicopter seconds before it hit the Banana Price building. TVN, Panama´s state television network reported that only a few days ago an advertisement had appeared on the Panamanian government website announcing the need to buy spare parts for a UH-1N helicopter. A few hours after the crash, the President of Panama, Martin Torrijos phoned his Chilean counterpart Michelle Bachelet to inform her of the death of the four police officers. Bachelet decreed three days of national mourning and appointed General Eduardo Gordon as the new Director of Carabineros. The father of President Torrijos, General Omar Torrijos was responsible for signing the Torrijos-Carter Accord whereby the United States returned control of the Panama Canal to the local government was also killed in a suspicious helicopter crash in 1981. It is expected that the remains of all the Chilean citizens that were killed in the crash will return by airplane in the evening of May 30. General Bernales joined the force in 1970 and had been appointed Director in 2005. Many Chilean citizens acknowledge that Bernales was able to improve the reputation of the Carabineros police force that was seriously affected during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet that lasted from 1973 to 1989. In 2006 General Bernales fired the head of the anti-riot squad after the officers under his command had brutally beaten up several press reporters and photographers during a street protest in downtown Santiago.
The Carabineros (riflemen in Spanish) police corps was formed in 1927 and its initial mission was to patrol the 4,000 kilometers of border that Chile shares with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. At present it force is of approximately 30,000 and its activities include patrolling in urban areas, investigating traffic accidents and maintaining order during public events such as football matches and cultural events.
You may listen to the anthem of Carabineros at

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manchester United Wins 2008 UEFA Champions League

Defeats Chelsea in Final played Moscow after penalty shootout

May 21, Moscow Olympic Stadium.
Referee: Lubos Michel (Eslovakia)
Starting Lineups:
Chelsea: P.Cech,J.Terry,M.Ballack,F.Lampard,M.Essien,R.Carvalho.A.Cole,J.Cole,C.Makelele,F.Malouda, D.Drogba. Coach: Avram Grant

Manchester United:
E.Van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand, P.Scholes, W.Rooney, O.Hargreaves, W.Brown, P.Evra, N.Vidic, M.Carrick,C.Tevez, C.Ronaldo.

Manchester United won its third European club championship in front of 85,000 spectators after defeating Chelsea in a thrilling match that could also have been won by the London club. Man Utd. came onto the pitch as the favorite after winning the English Premier League two weeks ago and immediately took control of play. It was Cristiano Ronaldo, considered to be the world’s best footballer of the moment that scored for Man.Utd in the 26th minute. Ronaldo headed in an excellent cross from the right by Wes Brown. Ronaldo´s Argentine teammate Carlos Estevez could have increased the scoreboard twice in the next ten minutes.
However, Chelsea equalized in the 44th minute after Frank Lampard finished off a fast counterattack with close range shot.
If Man.Utd had been in control during the first half, it was Chelsea that took over in the second half and could have won the match in the 77th minute after Didier Drogba´s shot hit the right post of Erwin van der Sar´s goal. As the action progressed the fans sensed that an extra thirty minutes would have to be played and also many players began to fall on the pitch with cramps. In the 86th minute Ryan Giggs replaced Paul Scholes and as extra time began Nicholas Anelka and Juliano Belletti came on for Chelsea.
Extra Time :
In the third minute Frank Lampard could have scored yet again but his shot hit the crossbar.
With only five minutes of play left an argument began between all the players that ended with Didier Drogba being sent off after the Chelsea striker slapped a Manchester United player.
Then came the dramatic penalty shootout that would decide which team would become this years champion.
First to score was Carlos Tevez for Man. Utd as did Michael Ballack, Michael Carrick and Juliano Belletti. Then came the first surprise of the evening as Cristiano Ronaldo´s penalty was blocked by Peter Cech, the Chelsea goalkeeper. Frank Lampard, Owen Hargreaves, Ashley Cole and Nani scored alternatively and the last to take a penalty would have to be John Terry, the Chelsea Captain. If Terry had scored, Chelsea would have been the first London club to win the Champions League, but due to the slippery surface caused by the rain, Terry slipped in the precise moment as he kicked the ball sending it wide of Van Der Sar´s left post. The penalty shootout continued with Anderson and Ryan Giggs scoring for United, but Nicholas Anelka missed the last penalty for Chelsea and so the 2008 champion is the team coached by Sir Alex Ferguson.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Colombian Army Captures Commander Karina

FARC suffers several setbacks in less than a year

During a recent public speech President Alvaro Uribe surprised his audience when he declared that “If Karina wants to surrender her life will be spared.” It seems that Uribe knew that one of the main leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was already negotiating with the authorities as to when and where she would turn herself over. It is not clear exactly how Karina was finally arrested after more than twenty years of activity with FARC but the rebel leader was shown to the local press as she entered the headquarters of the IV Army Brigade in Medellin. President Uribe had a personal grudge against Karina since she was involved in the 1993 murder of Uribe´s father.

Karina was shown handcuffed and wearing a black bulletproof vest with the initials D.A.S on the back. The D.A.S is Colombia’s main intelligence agency and played a fundamental role in Karina´s arrest that occurred on May 14 in a small town called La Soledad in western Colombia.
According to the D.A.S, Karina stated that the army had cornered her for several weeks and that her comrades of the 47th front had nothing to eat. Karina has lost an eye during earlier shootouts with the Army and many more scars suffered during her long struggle in the Colombian jungle. Before Karina´s arrest, three other FARC commanders had been killed in separate incidents:

March 7, 2008: Ivan Rios was shot as he was sleeping in a jungle base by Pedro Montoya, his chief bodyguard, that afterwards cut off Rio’s right hand with a machete and surrendered himself to a nearby Army patrol. Montoya presented Rios´ hand as proof that he had killed his superior officer and claimed the US$2.5 million reward offered by the Colombian government.

March 1, 2008: Raul Reyes, FARC´s spokesman, was killed along with 19 other rebels when his base in neighboring Ecuador was destroyed by cluster bombs fired from Colombian Air Force jets. Reyes was the man in charge of negotiating the release of many prisoners and civilian hostages held by FARC in bases deep inside the jungle. This attack also caused a major diplomatic incident between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela, with the last two countries closing their embassies in Bogota, the Colombian capital.

Sept 3, 2007: In a similar operation as that of Raul Reyes, Tomas Medina (a.k.a Negro Acacio) was also killed during a bomb attack by the Colombian Air Force. According to the Colombian government, Negro Acacio was in charge of collecting taxes from well-known drug traffickers such as Fernandinho Beira Mar, the main trafficker in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Chilean Founder of IC-USTA Dies as Murder Suspect

Gerardo Rocha presided of a worldwide network of 33 universities

Gerardo Rocha (55), founder of the International Council of Universities of Saint Thomas Aquinas (IC-USTA) died on May 5, 2008 at the Indisa Clinic in Santiago, Chile. Rocha had been interned at this clinic in coma since February 21 of this year after an incident that occurred at the seaside resort of El Quisco, located 120 kilometers to the west of Santiago. According to the Chilean police, that day Rocha and two associates identified as Cesar Osores (a 33-year-old former police officer expelled from the force after killing an innocent civilian) and Marcelo Morales (39) broke into the home of Jaime Oliva in El Quisco. The three men began to beat up the 79 year old auctioneer and torture him with a tazer (an electronic device that sends 50,000 volt electroshocks into the body) after which Oliva passed out. Thinking that Oliva was dead, Rocha and Osores dragged the unconscious man to a room on the second floor and poured gasoline over his body. According to Morales, that was in the first floor, it was Gerardo Rocha that ignited the fuel causing a massive explosion. According to Morales, Rocha came running down the stairs with his body covered in flames and said, “I didn’t know that gasoline was so volatile”. Morales and Osores took Rocha in a car to a nearby hospital while the fire destroyed Jaime Oliva’s wooden holiday home. Forensic experts later declared that Oliva died from inhalation of carbon monoxide and that no traces of bullets were found in his body. Days later the police arrested Osores, Morales and Dante Yutronic, owner of a well-known store known as “La Casa del Espia” (the House of the Spy), that sells surveillance and self defense equipment. Yutronic is also a private investigator that Rocha had hired for US$100,000 to tail and investigate the life of Jaime Oliva, whom Rocha believed to be having an affair with his current wife, Veronica Espinoza. It seems that what finally triggered Rocha´s criminal impulse was a video given to him by Yutronic where a woman similar to Espinoza is seen entering Oliva´s house. Later the police proved that it was another woman that had gone to see Oliva at El Quisco. At present Yutronic is still in detention accused of selling Rocha the tazer and other weapons as well as the illegal surveillance carried out on Jaime Oliva and his family.
Why did the multimillionaire founder of a chain of 33 Universities with 500,000 students located in places as varied as Australia, Japan, Morocco and Mozambique and also a member of Mensa, (an organization formed in 1946 at Oxford University that only accepts individuals with high IQs) get involved in such a murder? According to the Chilean police, Gerardo Rocha already had a long history of psychopathic behavior. As a child, Rocha declared to his family that he had frequent conversations with the Virgin Mary and that he was destined to continue with the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Another trait of Rocha´s personality appeared at the age of 19 when he married his first wife Carla Haardt, whom he met while studying medicine at the Roman Catholic University, Chile´s most exclusive. According to Haardt, Rocha had constant fits of jealous anger and imagined that she was having an affair with another man.
In 1980, Rocha was charged in court after beating up a man that had given Carla Haardt a handbag as a present. Rocha was also physically abusive with Haardt and burnt the handbag in front of her. Rocha then tried to improve his relationship with his wife by seeking advice from a priest that belonged to the fundamentalist Roman Catholic “Opus Dei” organization that is extremely powerful in Chile.
Meanwhile, due to his influential contacts within the Pinochet regime, Gerardo Rocha´s educational project begins to prosper and in 1988 he is allowed to create the “Universidad Santo Tomas (UST)”. In the 1990s, Rocha takes a step further and creates the IC-USTA whose latest member country is China that allowed the University to set up a campus in November of 2007. Apart from the negative publicity created by the Rocha incident, the Universidad Santo Tomas (UST) is not in a very good legal situation in Chile since Dante Yutronic has also been accused of spying on the professors and employees of the university. The academic board and administrative employees union have filed a legal action against the UST for “illegal tapping of telephone conversations and undercover surveillance of UST employees”. Gerado Rocha´s personal fortune has been inherited by his daughter Karla Rocha that must face a compensation claim filed by the Oliva family for a total of US$5 million.

Brazil´s Best Footballer is from Chile

Jorge Valdivia Leads Palmeiras to win Sao Paulo State Championship
It was a week-end of exciting football all over Brazil as most state championships in this nation of 190 million people came to an end.

In Sao Paulo, the industrial capital of Brazil, all attention was focused on the Palestra Italia Stadium, home ground of the Palmeiras F.C that represents the Italian community but also has millions of fans all over the country.

The Palmeiras fans were anxious to see their team defeat Ponte Preta and end the 12 year dry spell of not having won any tournament, except for 1999, when Palmeiras won the Libertadores Cup (South American Champions league). The Palestra Italia was full to its 30,000 capacity and many thousands were left out since the day before the police had reported that many tickets had been forged by a gang that stole the printing machine from the stadium.
Fundamental in helping Palmeiras win its 22nd Sao Paulo State Championship (known by the locals as Paulista) has been Jorge Valdivia, a 24 year old attacking midfielder that was transferred in 2006 from Chilean club Colo Colo. At first Valdivia had a hard time winning a permanent place in the Palmeiras squad but after six months he had become the favorite of the fans not only in Sao Paulo but also in the rest of Brazil that nicknamed him “The Magician”.

The green Palmeiras shirt with Valdivia´s name on the back has become the most sold in Sao Paulo sports stores. In 2007 Valdivia was voted “Best Attacking Midfielder” by the Brazilian press and during this year’s championship his goals were crucial to get Palmeiras into the final after defeating archrivals Corinthians (1-0) and Sao Paulo F.C. (2-0). During the first half against Ponte Preta on Sunday, Palmeiras were already 2 goals up but it was Valdivia that wrapped up the match in the 70th minute as he scored a spectacular goal (his ninth in the tournament) with a long range shot after dribbling four rival players. The Palmeiras fans went into ecstasy as they sensed they were well on the way to reaching their objective and began to shout “We are the Champions” while setting off fireworks, green flares and smoke bombs as play continued. Alex Mineiro scored two more goals and also became leading goalscorer of this year’s Paulista championship with 15 goals. After the match Brazilian TV highlighted Valdivia´s goal and statements where he declared that along with the birth of his daughter, this was the most important moment in his life. Now Palmeiras fans are worried since the club has received offers of up to US$ 40 million from several European clubs that want to hire Valdivia. The “torcida” (organized supporters club) has begun a fundraising campaign in order to raise Valdivia´s salary and allow the Chilean player to continue at Palmeiras and help the team win this year’s “Brasileirao” (Brazilian National Championship) that will begin in a few weeks. What will decide the fate of Brazil’s most popular footballer? The devotion of the Palmeiras fans or the club’s financial needs due to a debt of several million dollars?

Results from other State Championship finals:

Rio de Janeiro: Flamengo 3 - Botafogo 1
Rio Grande do Sul: Internacional 8 - Juventude 1
Minas Gerais: Cruzeiro 1- Atletico Mineiro 0
Parana : Atletico Parana 2 - Coritiba 1
Bahia: Vitoria 5 – Itabuna 1