When 20-year-old Pedro Algorta jumped on a plane heading to Chile from Uruguay in 1972, he had no idea that moments later he would be stranded in a snow-covered mountain valley having just survived a plane crash.
The plane crash, avalanche and hypothermia proved deadly for all by 16 of the 45 people aboard the flight. Those 16 were stuck in the Andes for 71 days, surviving on a diet superhuman mental stamina and cannibalism.
“Staying alive was always the main task, for which it was necessary to eat well, but not from a rational decision, rather from an instinctive imperative,” Pedro said in an interview with Vice. “I always had a hand or something in my pocket, and when I could, I would begin to eat, to put something in my mouth, to feel that I was getting nourished.”
CREDIT: PEDRO ALGORTA / FACEBOOK
For 35 years, Algorta never really talked about his experience, he didn’t have nightmares, he didn’t talk about it like other fellow survivors, he didn’t even think about what he had to do in the mountains to survive. That changed when he decided to write his book Into the Mountains and resurface all the memories to tell his story.
In his book, he describes the plane crash, how difficult it was to be part of a group of survivors and how, as a group, they made the decision to eat the dead.
“…Without convincing ourselves with logical thoughts, we just responded to our weakness, to our desire to survive,” he told Vice. “A group of us went and picked up one of the bodies that we had and we started to make a small indentation with a piece of glass and then started eating, and that was all. It was the most normal and logical thing that we could do there in order to keep eating.”
And what happened when the survivors were confronted by the families of those who had perished and they had eaten? The families said, “It’s ok.”
Just days after two mass shootings that left 31 people dead, multiple foreign countries are issuing warnings to their citizens about traveling to the United States. Venezuela, Uruguay and Japan have all released statements urging its citizens to postpone or reconsider trips to the U.S. after the “recent acts of violence.”
Here’s why some countries are calling on their citizens to reconsider making their way to the U.S anytime soon.
“These growing acts of violence have found echo and sustenance in the speeches and actions impregnated with racial discrimination and hatred against migrant populations, pronounced and executed from the supremacist elite who hold political power in Washington,” the country’s foreign ministry wrote in a statement. “This year alone, these actions have cost the lives of more than 250 people.”
“We warn Venezuelans, living in or aiming to travel to the U.S., to be extra careful or to postpone their travel, given the recent proliferation of violent acts and hate crimes,” Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro tweeted Monday.
The warning from Maduro came shortly before the White House announced that President Trump signed an executive order that expanded sanctions against the country. Back in April, the U.S. State Department also issued a warning to Venezuela when it came to travel. The U.S. gave Venezuela a Level 4: Do Not Travel, which is it’s most severe travel advisory due to crime, civil unrest and the arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens.
On the same day that Venezuela advised a travel warning, Uruguay followed suit. The country said those who visit the U.S. must take “extreme precautions” because local authorities are unable to stop mass shootings.
The Uruguayan government has also issued a similar warning about the increasing dangers if they are making a trip to the U.S in the near future. In a statement, the foreign ministry told people to be extra cautious if traveling to the U.S. because of its “increasing indiscriminate violence” and “racism and discrimination that cost the lives of more than 250 people in the first seven months of this year.”
The Uruguayan government specifically said to take notice and urged citizens to avoid places that have a large concentration of people such as theme parks, malls, concerts, religious activities, food festivals, sports events, and large city protests. Just a few days ago, the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory level for Uruguay “due to an increase in crime,” from a Level 1 warning (exercise normal precautions) to Level 2 (exercise increased caution).
Japan has also issued a warning citing the U.S as a “gun society” and it’s lack of control when it comes to shootings.
The Japanese Consul in Detroit also issued an alert quickly after news of a second shooting broke. The Consul said Japanese citizens “should be aware of the potential for gunfire” everywhere in the U.S., which they described as a “gun society,” according to the Los Angeles Times. But the Japanese government currently still lists travel to the U.S. as safe.
This isn’t the first time that countries have gone forward to issue travel warnings because of gun violence in the country. France, New Zealand, and Germany have previously issued travel advisories to the U.S. shortly after mass shootings.
Among the 22 people that were killed in El Paso, eight were Mexican nationals. Foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard has even suggested that Mexico may even seek to charge the El Paso shooter, Patrick Crusius, with committing terrorist acts against its citizens.
“It is not our disposition to involve ourselves in the internal affairs of any country, but this topic should be considered again because it affects many people, in this case, Americans, as well as Mexicans,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, said on Monday.
The deadly attacks over the weekend occurred at a shopping center in El Paso, Texas, and a popular housing complex in Dayton, Ohio. The El Paso and Dayton killings have added to what has already been an increasingly deadly year for mass killings in the U.S.
This past week was the week that the world brought attention to an issue that affects an estimated 40.3 million people around the globe, human trafficking. For Uruguayan Sandra Ferrini, 58, it was exposing a past that had followed her for most of her entire life. Ferrini was “sold” by her mother as a teenager into the world of street prostitution and after 37 years on the city streets of Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and in Europe, her story is now ready to be told.
According to a report from the International Labour Organization, there are around 5.4 victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world, with 1 in 4 victims being children.
On Tuesday, Uruguay participated in its first anti-human trafficking march, with Ferrini joining countless of others who like her had to endure sex trafficking for years. Campaigners took to the streets of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, where in the country of 3.5 million people, the most common form of human trafficking involves women and girls where they are forced into sex work.
For Ferrnini, the march was something that was on her mind all the years she had no voice on the issue and couldn’t speak up about the horrendous conditions she was placed in. She says many people choose to ignore the issue or just not address it all together.
“It’s a march that I thought about when I was held captive,” Ferrini told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Human trafficking happens every day, but people don’t want to see it. We are seen as numbers. We want to be seen as people. We will march as people.”
The details of Ferrnini past experience is just one example of the countless lives that face these situations on a daily basis. She says that she was sexually exploited for 37 years and was even forced to have sex with up to 30 men a day.
“I am a survivor of trafficking. It was my mother who sold me at the beginning,” Ferrini told Subrayado. “I was able to get rid at 45 because I had a traffic accident in which I was paralyzed. They were going to kill me, they threw me in a field, and a person rescued me.”
Human trafficking remains a global issue and the United Nations has set out to bring awareness and combat this growing issue.
Uruguay is one of the biggest epicenters when it comes to human trafficking. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons report, Uruguay was placed in its Tier 2 Watch List, which is the second-lowest ranking. This was done as the country has not meet many of the minimum standards when it comes to efforts in eliminating human trafficking.
“Most detected victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation; victims are also trafficked for forced labor, recruitment as child soldiers and other forms of exploitation and abuse,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres told the United Nations on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. “Thousands of people have died at sea, in deserts and in detention centres, at the hands of traffickers and migrant smugglers plying their monstrous, merciless trades.”
For Uruguay, this is hopefully just the start of acknowledging and bringing to light the global issue of human trafficking.
There has been some progress in recent years when it comes to decreasing the number of sex trafficking victims. In 2017, Uruguay’s National Institute for Women assisted 172 women trafficking victims which was an increase from the previous year at 131, the U.S. State Department said.
There has also been legislative work put in place as last year Uruguay updated its anti-human trafficking law and action plan. The country also just recently created a new national committee to help combat it’s anti-trafficking efforts.
Ferrini now also heads “Yes to Life, No to Trafficking,” a survivors support group. It’s these types of groups and organizations that play a big role in getting women off the streets and rebuilding their lives and most importantly, rebuilding their broken self-esteem.
“I naturalized this as a child – for me it was something that I thought I had to live,” Ferrini said. “There’s a lot of work to do in education, training and prevention.”