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Portal:Latin America

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Latin America was a name coined by "Emperor of Mexico" Maximilian I in an effort to gain legitimacy, since his patron, Napoleon III, spoke French, a Latinate tongue like Spanish and Portuguese. Maximilian did not last, but the coinage of "Latin America" is one of the most successful of all time. Latin America is traditionally defined as the regions of the Americas where Spanish, the language of Spain, and Portuguese, the language of Portugal, were spoken -- in other words, every part of the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Suriname and a few small islands that speak Dutch, that was not Anglo America. (English is a Germanic language.) Therefore, virtually all of the Western Hemisphere except the United States, Canada, and the non-Hispanophone countries of the Caribbean and South America have tended to come under the heading of Latin America. Other areas where languages derived from Latin, such as Papiamento and Creole, predominate are sometimes included and sometimes excluded from Latin America, depending on the speaker.

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La Paz
Credit: Rodrigo Achá

Panorama of La Paz, the capital and second largest city in population (after Santa Cruz de la Sierra) of Bolivia. The city hosts numerous local festivities, and is an important cultural center of Bolivia.

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Triatoma infestans, is a vector for Chagas' Disease
Chagas disease is a tropical parasitic disease caused by the flagellate protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. T. cruzi is commonly transmitted to humans and other mammals by an insect vector, the blood-sucking insects of the subfamily Triatominae (family Reduviidae) most commonly species belonging to the Triatoma, Rhodnius, and Panstrongylus genera. The disease may also be spread through blood transfusion and organ transplantation, ingestion of food contaminated with parasites, and from a mother to her fetus. The symptoms of Chagas disease vary over the course of an infection. In the early, acute stage, symptoms are mild and usually produce no more than local swelling at the site of infection. The initial acute phase is responsive to antiparasitic treatments, with 60–90% cure rates. After 4–8 weeks, individuals with active infections enter the chronic phase of Chagas disease that is asymptomatic for 60–80% of chronically infected individuals through their lifetime. The antiparasitic treatments also appear to delay or prevent the development of disease symptoms during the chronic phase of the disease, but 20–40% of chronically infected individuals will still eventually develop life-threatening heart and digestive system disorders. The currently available antiparasitic treatments for Chagas disease are benznidazole and nifurtimox, which can cause temporary side effects in many patients including skin disorders, brain toxicity, and digestive system irritation.


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Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Río Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina
Credit: Mariano

Cueva de las Manos (Spanish for Cave of Hands) is a cave or a series of caves located in the province of Santa Cruz, Argentina, 163 km (101 mi) south of the town of Perito Moreno. It is famous for (and gets its name from) the paintings of hands. The art in the cave dates from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago.Several waves of people occupied the cave, and early artwork has been carbon-dated to ca. 9300 BP (about 7300 BC). The age of the paintings was calculated from the remains of bone-made pipes used for spraying the paint on the wall of the cave to create silhouettes of hands.

The site was last inhabited around 700 AD, possibly by ancestors of the Tehuelche people. It was entered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991.

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