Vatican committee: Church credibility at risk over sex abuse

VATICAN CITY – Organizers of an upcoming Vatican summit on sex abuse prevention are warning that the credibility of the Catholic Church is in jeopardy over the abuse scandal and are urging participants to meet with victims personally before coming to Rome. In a letter sent Tuesday to the presidents of bishops' conferences worldwide, organizers … Continue reading “Vatican committee: Church credibility at risk over sex abuse”

VATICAN CITY – Organizers of an upcoming Vatican summit on sex abuse prevention are warning that the credibility of the Catholic Church is in jeopardy over the abuse scandal and are urging participants to meet with victims personally before coming to Rome.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the presidents of bishops' conferences worldwide, organizers said the church must develop a "comprehensive and communal response" to the crisis, and that the first step is "acknowledging the truth of what has happened."

Pope Francis invited the church leaders to the Feb. 21-24 summit to respond to what has become the gravest threat to his papacy, as the sex abuse and cover-up scandal erupted in the U.S., Chile and elsewhere this year.

In revealing the first details of the preparations for the meeting, the Vatican said the summit would focus on three main areas: responsibility, accountability and transparency.

"Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world," the organizers wrote.

"Each of us needs to own this challenge, coming together in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the church accountable," they said.

It was signed by the four members of the preparatory committee for the meeting: Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, as well as the Vatican's leading abuse experts Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and the Rev. Hans Zollner.

They urged conference presidents to meet with victims before they come to Rome "to learn firsthand the suffering they have endured."

The appeal was clear evidence that throughout the church, many bishops continue to deny the scope of the problem and have never met with a victim.

Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that doing so "is a concrete way of putting victims first and acknowledging the horror of what happened."

Francis announced he was convening the summit in September, signaling awareness at the top of the church that clergy sex abuse is a global problem and not restricted to some parts of the world or a few Western countries.

Francis is still working to recover from his botched handling of the sex abuse scandal in the Chilean church, sparked earlier this year when he repeatedly discredited victims of a notorious Chilean predator priest.

His papacy was then jolted by accusations from a retired Vatican ambassador that Francis himself rehabilitated a now-disgraced American ex-cardinal accused of molesting and harassing adult seminarians. Francis hasn't responded to the allegations, though he has ordered a limited investigation into them.

Putin: Russia has enough missiles without violating treaty

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday rejected the U.S. claim that Russia developed a new cruise missile in violation of a key nuclear treaty, arguing that Russia has no need for such a land-based weapon because it already has similar missiles on its ships and aircraft.

Washington warned this month it would suspend its obligations under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in 60 days if Russia did not return to full compliance. The U.S. claims the 9M729 cruise missile breaches the INF, which bans all land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles.)

Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusation. Speaking to Russia's top military brass Tuesday, Putin rejected the U.S. claim of developing a land-based cruise missile, saying Russia now has similar air- and sea-launched weapons to do the job.

Putin said the Russian military has successfully tested air-launched Kh-101 and sea-launched Kalibr cruise missiles with a range of 4,500 kilometers (2,790 miles) in combat in Syria.

"It has probably made our partners worry, but it doesn't violate the INF treaty," Putin said.

Putin said the treaty signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev didn't limit sea- and air-launched cruise missiles, which the Soviet Union didn't have at the time and the United States did in significant numbers.

The Russian president argued that the pact represented "unilateral disarmament" for the Soviet Union, adding: "God only knows why the Soviet leadership did it."

He emphasized that with Russian strategic bombers and navy ships now armed with long-range cruise missiles, it makes the development of similar land-based weapons redundant.

"It makes no difference whatsoever if we have a Kalibr-armed submarine or aircraft carrying missiles or similar weapons ashore," he said. "We can strike any targets within the range of 4,500 kilometers from the territory of Russia."

Putin added, however, that Russia could easily build such land-based missiles if the U.S. opts out of the INF Treaty, which he described as a key stabilizing factor.

"If we have similar air- and sea-launched systems, it wouldn't be that difficult for us to do some research and development to put them on land if needed," he said.

Putin added that Russia also has other new weapons that aren't banned by the INF, such as the air-launched Kinzhal hypersonic missile and the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, saying that they have significantly bolstered Russia's military capability.

"No one has hypersonic weapons yet, but we have it," he said.

Kinzhal has already been commissioned by the military, which put them in service with a squadron of MiG-31 fighter jets.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that the aircraft carrying missiles have flown 89 patrol missions over the Caspian and the Black Seas this year.

Shoigu said the Avangard will enter service with the military next year.

Putin suggested that other countries that built intermediate-range missiles should be engaged in talks on a possible new agreement.

"Why not start talks on their accession to the treaty, or discuss parameters of a new agreement?" he said.

Visually impaired Michigan woman missing in Peru, family says

A legally blind Michigan woman who traveled to Peru for a wedding and to visit some of the country’s famous sites has vanished, her family says.

Carla Valpeoz, a 35-year-old social worker from Detroit, traveled to the South American country for a friend’s wedding last month.

After the festivities, the worldwide traveler and author of Visionless Adventures planned to stay another two weeks taking in tourist attractions.

She was set to return home Saturday — but her brother said she was not on her flight and he has not heard from her in more than a week.

“She has extremely low vision,” Carlos Valpeoz told FOX2 Detroit from his New York home. “She uses a walking cane when she travels by herself.”

Alicia Steele, 32, of Detroit, told the Detroit Free Press that she had traveled with Valpeoz to the wedding. They split up afterward with plans to meet back in Lima on Dec. 13.

But Carla never made it to Lima. Presuming her friend was OK and that she might have just lost her phone, Steele decided to just meet up with her for their flight back to the U.S.

"We've been searching ever since," Steele told the Free Press in a phone interview Monday from Peru. "The last thing we heard is that a man who works at the entrance of Machu Picchu saw her. She was by herself on the 15 and was going to climb up Machu Picchu…She looked well and she looked good."

Family and friends appear to be receiving conflicting information, however. Steele said she received a text message from her friend on Dec. 11 talking about the trip to Machu Picchu.

“I can’t wait to tell you all about it. It was absolutely worth 100%,” the text message said. “I’m coming in on Thursday afternoon so I will send you the details through email once I check in. It would be a wonderful welcoming to have all of you come pick me up.”

Carlos Valpeoz said his sister met up with a group of Spanish tourists while visiting the historic site who overheard that she needed some help getting around. He said they invited her along and spent the entire day together.

“They were excited about their adventure and wanted to go out to celebrate, so they went out to a club in downtown Cusco,” he told FOX2 Detroit. “And they returned to the hostel around 4 a.m.”

His sister was seen on surveillance video Dec. 12 getting into a taxi and heading to a street where there is a bus terminal. It is not known if she got on a bus.

Carlos Valpeoz told the Free Press he doesn’t believe any of the friends she made on the trip had anything to do with her disappearance.

“They seem extremely concerned, really freaked out and very open and willing to discuss anything that I’ve asked them,” he said.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News on Tuesday that authorities are aware of the reports regarding Valpeoz's disappearance in Peru, but, due to privacy concerns, declined further comment.

“The U.S. Department of State and our embassies and consulates abroad have no greater responsibility than the protection of U.S. citizens overseas,” the spokesperson added.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

Why ‘justice’ prevailed in 2018, according to Merriam-Webster

Robert Mueller’s investigation of US President Donald Trump; Brett Kavanaugh’s tense hearings in Congress; the fight for social, racial and gender equality: the past year has seen an absorbing and tumultuous news cycle.

And now, “justice” — the crux of some of the most gripping stories of the past 12 months — has been recognized for its central place in the public consciousness. US publishing company Merriam-Webster has named the noun its Word of the Year for 2018, after it saw a 74% spike in look-ups compared with 2017.

    “The concept of justice was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice,” the company said when explaining its choice. What's words of the year say about us”In any conversation about these topics, the question of just what exactly we mean when we use the term justice is relevant, and part of the discussion,” it said.Read More”Justice” was among the most-consulted words on Merriam-Webster’s website throughout the year, the company said, and saw jumps in search volume in the wake of numerous news stories.The move follows Oxford Dictionaries’ decision to crown “toxic” its word of the year, and’s selection of “misinformation” as its winner.It comes days after Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison, and in a week when sweeping criminal justice reforms look set to dominate the US Senate’s agenda.

    Nationalism, pansexual and Laurel also shone in 2018

    “Justice” takes the Word of the Year title from last year’s winner, “feminism.” In addition to its top pick, the company also shone a spotlight on 10 words that saw jumps in interest in 2018.”Nationalism” saw an 8,000% spike in look-ups in late October after Trump controversially described himself as a nationalist at a rally in Houston.”Pansexual” attracted attention after singer Janelle Monáe self-identified with the term in an interview in Rolling Stone in April, while “lodestar” saw an increase when the rarely used noun convinced some commentators that Vice President Mike Pence was the anonymous writer of an explosive New York Times opinion piece.

      Other words that saw large jumps in look-ups included “Laurel,” which was at the heart of a viral debate over a short piece of audio in May, and “respect,” which spiked in searches after the death of the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, in August. It’s not unusual for a political term to grab the top spot, though — “socialism,” “austerity” and “bailout” have all been crowned by the company in the past decade.

Honduran mom and children in viral tear gas photo allowed entry to US

Maria Lila Meza Castro — the mother photographed running with her children away from tear gas at the US-Mexico Border in November — was permitted into the US late Monday night, Sandra Cordero with Families Belong Together told CNN.

Meza Castro and her children were initially denied entry Monday afternoon at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry along the Mexico/California border due to capacity issues, according to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson. US Congressman Jimmy Gomez tweeted the family is on American soil and has filed for asylum.

    “After 7hrs, I can now confirm: Maria Meza & her kids — featured in this @Reuters image fleeing tear gas at the border last month — just filed for asylum. They’re on American soil. @RepBarragan & I are still here observing conditions on the ground. #RefugeesWelcome,” his tweet read.

    After 7hrs, I can now confirm:

    Maria Meza & her kids — featured in this @Reuters image fleeing tear gas at the border last month — just filed for asylum.

    They’re on American soil.@RepBarragan & I are still here observing conditions on the ground. #RefugeesWelcome @fams2gether

    — Rep. Jimmy Gomez (@RepJimmyGomez) December 18, 2018

    Earlier in the day, CBP allowed eight unaccompanied minors entry after they waited several hours. They were a part of a group of 15 people that included Meza Castro.Read MoreThe group of migrants was escorted by California Democratic Reps. Gomez and Nanette Barragan and organizations that included Families Belong Together.Some migrants have a number in black ink written on their arms. Here's why.The congressional delegation of two crossed into Mexico late Monday morning and had planned to spend most of the day visiting shelters housing Central American migrants after a planned visit to the port of entry. The organized “turn in” at the port of entry, however, never happened as CBP denied entry to the group when they arrived at the port of entry in the early afternoon. The lawmakers and Cordero had vowed to stay until everyone from the group gets in.”As members of the Homeland Security Committee we came here to observe the asylum process. In congressional hearings we are told by CBP directors that minors and those most vulnerable can turn themselves in at any port of entry. Yet here we are with 15 migrants — 13 of them children — and they will not let them in,” Barragan told CNN by phone.

    Documenting migrants’ conditions

    Members of Congress have been asked by several pro-immigrant groups to travel to the border to document the conditions of the migrants while they wait weeks and sometimes months for their turn to cross into the US to ask for asylum. In a press release, Families Belong Together, one of the groups involved, accused the Trump administration of deliberately slowing down the border processing, forcing migrants into a months-long wait and putting their lives at risk. “There are children freezing here. They [CBP] have now sent officers in SWAT gear to intimidate us. It is sad to think that these children are just left out here in the cold in US soil,” Barragan said. A look inside the journey of Central American migrants bound for the USIn a tweet late Monday, Barragan said, “CBP still refusing to show us inside Otay Mesa facility. We would love to see the full capacity they keep citing.”A spokesperson for CBP provided CNN with a statement that read in part, “This past year, CBP experienced a 121 percent increase in the number of asylum seekers we processed at our ports of entry, and overall CBP processed almost 93,000 claims of fear in fiscal year 2018. … As we have done for several years, when our ports of entry reach capacity, we have to manage the queues and individuals presenting without documents may need to wait in Mexico as CBP officers work to process those already within our facilities.”Barragan and Gomez have asked CBP officials on the ground for permission to go inside and see for themselves that the facility is at capacity but continue to be denied entry, they said.

      “We are going to find out if they have the capacity one way or another, even if that means we need to ask for the records for this particular day from the oversight committee,” Barragan said.On Tuesday, another congressional group is expected to visit the CBP station in New Mexico where a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl died.

Rape victim accused of attempting to murder baby has been freed from jail

A 20-year old who became pregnant after being raped by her stepfather was freed from an El Salvador jail Monday and acquitted on charges of attempting to murder her baby, CNN en Español reported.

Imelda Cortez had been imprisoned since April 2017 after she gave birth to her stepfather’s baby in a latrine, according to the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), which has been supporting her case. Cortez was taken into custody and accused of attempted murder even though the baby was found alive and well. She faced up to 20 years in prison, according to her lawyer Alejandra Romero. Abortion is illegal in El Salvador under all circumstances, without exception.

    .m-infographic–1533807932047 { background: url(// no-repeat 0 0 transparent; margin-bottom: 30px; padding-top: 363.2%; width: 100%; -moz-background-size: cover; -o-background-size: cover; -webkit-background-size: cover; background-size: cover; } @media (min-width: 640px) { .m-infographic–1533807932047{ background-image: url(//; padding-top: 92.82051282051282%; } } @media (min-width: 1120px) { .m-infographic–1533807932047{ background-image: url(//; padding-top: 92.82051282051282%; } } <!– Cortez’s defense argued she fainted while giving birth and had no control of her actions. The prosecutor’s office requested charges be changed to abandonment and helplessness, punishable by one to three years in prison. Her defense agreed to the lesser charges, but the court ruled to exonerate her of all charges. Read More”The judge has said that Imelda is a victim of repeated sexual violence and that also explains why she couldn’t have behaved differently at the time she gave birth,” her attorney, Bertha Deleon, told reporters.

    Cortez grew up being abused

    Cortez grew up in an impoverished family in rural Jiquilisco municipality, southern El Salvador. From the age of 12, she was sexually abused by her 70-year-old stepfather, according to the petition to free her. The petition had received over 63,000 signatures as of Monday night. Paula Avila-Guillen, director of Latin America Initiatives for the Women’s Equality Center who has spoken with Cortez’s lawyer, told CNN that the young woman “didn’t understand that she had just given birth, so after she found herself bleeding she started screaming and was taken to the hospital.”The people fighting the world's harshest abortion law”Later they found the baby who was completely healthy,” said Avila-Guillen, adding that after Cortez was detained, the child was cared for by Cortez’s mother who was still living with the stepfather.”What makes Imelda’s case even more outrageous is that she had been a victim of sexual violence by her stepfather since she was 12 years old until she was 18, however she’s been treated as a perpetrator and not a victim,” Avila-Guillen said.

      In the small, socially conservative Central American country, women who have an abortion, or simply miscarry, can face up to 50 years in prison.At least 129 women were prosecuted under El Salvador’s stringent anti-abortion laws between 2000 and 2011, according to the pressure group Citizens Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion.

Journalists faced ‘unprecedented’ hostility this year, report says

More journalists were killed, abused and subjected to violence in 2018 than in any other year on record, with those in the profession facing an “unprecedented level of hostility,” a new report has found.

Murder, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances of journalists all increased compared to last year, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), who criticized politicians and public figures for encouraging disdain for the news media.A total of 80 journalists were killed — 61% were murdered or deliberately targeted for their reporting, while 39% were killed while reporting. The report also found that 348 reporters were being detained and 60 were being held hostage.

    There is no good reason to want to kill a journalistThe findings further highlight the volatility faced by journalists across the world over the past twelve months, a period which has seen high-profile murders and imprisonments as well as verbal attacks on the news media by key global figures, including US President Donald Trump. “Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” RSF secretary general Christophe Deloire said in a news release accompanying the report.Read More”The hatred of journalists that is voiced, and sometimes very openly proclaimed, by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists,” he added.The “shocking” murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October, which led to an international outcry, demonstrated “the appalling nature of the Saudi regime and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s oppressive methods,” the organization said. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has previously said that Khashoggi’s murder “does not reflect the Kingdom’s policy nor its institutions.”The RSF report added that the high-profile killing of Slovakian journalist Ján Kuciak and the arrests of Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone in Myanmar demonstrated “how far some people will go to silence ‘troublesome’ journalists.”

      For the first time, the US joined the list of deadliest countries for journalists in the annual report, with six reporters killed in 2018. Four journalists were murdered in a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland in June, while two journalists were killed in May while covering hazardous weather in North Carolina. Afghanistan was the deadliest country, with 15 reporters killed, followed by Syria, Mexico and Yemen.

Brazilian healer accused of sexually abusing more than 300 women

More than 300 women have accused Brazilian faith healer João Teixeira de Faria of sexually abusing them, according to Brazil’s state media agency, citing the Department of Public Ministry of the state of Goiás.

The women, from countries around the world, were seeking spiritual healing, the statement says. The accusations first aired December 7 on the Globo TV program “Conversa com Bial,” during which 10 people came forward with their allegations.At least 335 people have contacted the Department of Public Ministry with accusations. But André Fernandes, civil police superintendent in Goiás, said authorities have only received 15 formal complaints so far. Prosecutors say the allegations against Teixeira include rape.

    “They are very compelling statements, very precise, over two hours of interview, with all possible details, all the circumstances,” Fernandes said.Teixeira’s attorney, Alberto Toron, said his client is innocent. Read MoreA court ordered Teixeira’s arrest Friday at the request of state prosecutors. He turned himself in to authorities Sunday without incident and was accompanied by his two defense attorneys, said Fernandes, who was present when Teixeira was taken into custody. Teixeira, 76, is in jail, police in Goiás said. Agencia Brasil reporter Alex Rodrigues told CNN Teixeira is being held in isolation, away from other prisoners. According to Brazil state media, police said Teixeira went through a “long negotiation” to surrender. Toron said in a Sunday news release that he would ask authorities to allow Teixeira to serve his pretrial prison order at home because of his health and age. Toron said his client takes medicine to lower his blood pressure. He also said his client is a cancer survivor.

    Teixeira gained worldwide fame after Oprah interview

    Teixeira, who is not a trained doctor, says he calls on the spirits of dead doctors while performing so-called spiritual surgeries and treatments, sometimes using medical instruments to cut his patients without anesthesia. Between 3,000 and 5,000 people of all nationalities come to see Teixeira every week, according to his spiritual center, Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola, located in Goiás. In 2013, Teixeira, who is also known as “John of God,” gained international fame after an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey has since removed the interview from her website.

      “I empathize with the women now coming forward and hope justice is served,” Winfrey said in a statement.Teixeira last appeared in public at his Dom Inacio de Loyola Center on Wednesday, where he gave a short speech proclaiming his innocence.

UN condemns North Korea rights violations and nuke spending

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly on Monday condemned North Korea's "systematic, widespread and gross violations of human rights" and its diversion of resources into pursing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles over the welfare of its people.

It noted "with concern" that over 10 million North Koreans are estimated to be undernourished and that there is "an unacceptably high prevalence of chronic and acute malnutrition" in the reclusive northeast Asian nation.

The resolution, sponsored by Japan and the European Union, was adopted by consensus, though countries including Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela disassociated themselves from it. Many expressed opposition to assembly resolutions singling out specific countries and said the Geneva-based Human Rights Council should deal with rights issues.

North Korea's U.N. ambassador, Kim Song, said his country "categorically rejects" the resolution, calling it "a product of (a) political plot and hostile forces."

He accused Japan of "provoking confrontation" with North Korea "by going back against the main trend in (the) Korean peninsula" when delicate political negotiations are underway.

Since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reached out to South Korea and the United States early this year, the two Korean leaders have met several times and Kim held a historic summit with President Donald Trump — with another one expected in the new year. But there has been no significant progress on Kim's commitment to nuclear disarmament, and as a result no lifting of U.N. or U.S. sanctions against North Korea.

The resolution's approval followed the U.S. failure to get enough votes to discuss North Korea's human rights record in the Security Council a week ago. It had succeeded for the last four years, and diplomats said the U.S. is likely to try again in the new year when five new members join the council.

A statement released Monday by North Korea's U.N. Mission noted opposition to the U.S. move and asserted again that the Security Council "is neither a place for discussion on any human rights issue nor a platform where a human rights issue is politicized to flare up confrontation."

Whatever the change in the Security Council's composition, North Korea said it shouldn't be used as a platform "where U.S.'s high-handedness and arbitrary practice would prevail."

The General Assembly resolution adopted Monday expresses "very serious concern" at reports of torture, detention, rape, public executions, the imposition of the death penalty, the absence of the rule of law, and "collective punishments extending up to three generations."

It also expressed concern at forced labor in North Korea and its "extensive system of political prison camps where a vast number of persons are deprived of their liberty and subjected to deplorable conditions" as well as "all-pervasive and severe restrictions, both online and offline, on the freedoms of thought, conscience, religion or belief, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association."

The resolution condemns "the systematic abduction, denial of repatriation and subsequence enforced disappearance of persons, including those from other countries, on a large scale."

It "acknowledges" the findings of the U.N. commission of inquiry on North Korea in 2014. The commission said testimony and information it gathered "provide reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state for decades and by institutions under the effective control of its leadership."

The General Assembly strongly urged North Korea "to immediately put an end to the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights" by fully implementing U.N. resolutions and recommendations including closing prison camps and releasing all political prisoners.

Venezuelan migrants hit Peru’s street, dancing to survive

LIMA, Peru – The three Venezuelan migrants eke out a living 90 seconds at a time in a busy intersection of Peru's capital. When the traffic light flashes red, the acrobatics and break dancing starts.

With a captive audience of pedestrians and commuters packed inside city buses, the dancers' headstands, dizzying spins and fast-paced steps on a good day net up to $20 in pocket change — nearly three times the monthly minimum wage in Venezuela.

It also earned them a brush with a Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie.

"You never know how it will go in the street," said dancer Karin Rojas. "One day it's good and the next day it's bad."

The trio is just part of a flood of Venezuelans fighting for survival after fleeing their homeland and the worst economic crisis anybody in Latin America can remember.

Most Venezuelan migrants head to neighboring Colombia, overwhelming border towns. They hawk their valuables on the street, sell hotdogs or repair shoes.

Farther-off Peru is the second-most-common destination.

Rojas, 25, and her husband, Francisco Diaz, arrived in Lima in 2016, leaving behind their mountainous home in the Venezuelan state of Merida, where they ran a break dancing collective.

In Peru, they met the third partner, Angel Fernandez, a short and stout 22-year-old from their home state. The three settled on a busy intersection in Lima to perform.

Six days a week, they bound into the intersection with each red light — an exhausting 80 times over a 13-hour workday. They end some days just $5 richer, and hurting physically.

The sun cooks the asphalt. Their palms are covered in calluses and fingers sometimes bleed. Rojas says her bones ache and her head throbs.

Still, Rojas said, their life is better than in Venezuela, where she would go two days in a row without eating. Now, she can afford three meals a day.

Their dancing also caught the attention of Jolie in October, when the American actress visited Lima as a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Their moves impressed Jolie, and she told them not to give up their dreams.

Rojas and Diaz hope to parlay earnings from their street dancing into buying a three-wheel motorcycle taxi, a common form of transportation in Lima's poor outskirts.

"We're never going to stop dancing," Rojas said. "Dancing helps us forget all of our sorrows."