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Dominican Republic Issues Arrest Warrants for Fugitives in France

Top Story — The Dominican Republic has issued arrest warrants for three French nationals on people-smuggling charges related to their alleged role in the Oct. 27 escape of two French pilots from the Dominican Republic. In an interview with Paris Match magazine last month, the three men —including right-wing member of the European Parliament Aymeric Chauprade and Pierre Malinowski, assistant to the controversial right-wing French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen— claimed they helped to arrange the escape to free “compatriots in danger” who had been convicted of cocaine trafficking.

The pilots, Pascal Fauret and Bruno Odos, were sentenced to 20 years in prison in August of this year after allegedly being caught in the resort town of Punta Cana with 1,500 pounds of cocaine aboard a privately hired jet in March of 2013.

The two were on house arrest awaiting an appeal in the case when they reportedly left the island on a tourist ship before transferring to another vessel on its way to the French Antilles. The escape was reportedly accomplished with the help of Chauprade and his conspirators before flying to Paris. Fauret and Odos were arrested in France on Nov. 2 in connection with the case.

According to Dominican Attorney General Francisco Domínguez Brito, the country has also engaged the international policing organization Interpol’s “Red Notice” system to help capture the three conspirators should they leave France.

Legal analysts have said that the extradition of Fuaret and Odos to the Dominican Republic is unlikely.

HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE

North America

The Associated Press reported Monday on kidnappings in Mexico conducted by corrupt police, who often work in tandem with local cartels and operate with impunity.

A 5.5 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico on Monday, causing buildings in Mexico City to shake and workers to evacuate their offices, although no casualties were immediately reported.

Texas on Monday filed an extension request with the U.S. Supreme Court related to its attempt to block President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, which if successful, would mean delaying a ruling on the case until Obama leaves office.

Caribbean

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez will reportedly meet with officials from across Central America in El Salvador on Tuesday to discuss the matter of the more than 2,000 Cuban migrants currently stranded in Costa Rica on their way to the United States. The AP reports that the historic exodus of Cubans to the United States —some 45,000 are expected to travel this year by land to the Texas and California borders—has been fueled by social media.

Central America

Honduras is considering asylum requests made by five Syrians arrested in the country on their way to the United States with stolen Greek passports, and should finalize the decision by the end of the week, a government official said on Monday.

Climate change is partly responsible for the recent shift Guatemala’s climate patterns, which are destabilizing farming practices for the country’s poorest citizens, according to an in-depth report by the International Business Times.

Andes

Venezuela’s political opposition is celebrating the presidential victory of Mauricio Macri in Argentina as a sign of its own chances to defeat leftist politics, which will come to a head in parliamentary elections on Dec. 6 when they run against the ruling Socialist Party.

A U.S. judge criticized prosecutors in Colombia for supposedly deplorable prison conditions in the detention center where a U.S. tech-company CEO was awaiting extradition. The CEO has since been moved.

Southern Cone

The financial analysis company Standard & Poor’s reduced the credit rating of Brazilian mining company Samarco Mineração on Monday to a speculative non-investment grade in light of its lethal dam burst earlier this month.

Argentina’s President-elect Mauricio Macri announced swift political reforms on Monday, including plans to suspend Venezuela from regional free trade organization Mercosur, replace officials in the country’s central bank and change the current fixed exchange rate with the U.S. dollar.

The trade minister of Brazil told Reuters he foresees improved economic relations with Argentina under Macri, with the possibility to increase trade flow between the two countries.

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The next TODAY IN LATIN AMERICA will be published on Monday, November 30.