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Archive for the ‘Latin America’ Category

Today in Latin America: November 4, 2015

Guatemala President-Elect Doubles Down on Anti-Corruption Pledges

Top Story — In an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, Guatemala’s President-elect Jimmy Morales said he will work to strengthen the mandate of domestic and international anti-corruption bodies within the Guatemalan government when he takes office on January 14, after winning a landslide election amid nationwide protests over a massive graft scheme.

Morales said he has already petitioned Guatemalan prosecutors as well as the U.N.-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CIGCIG) to help vet his cabinet. He also promised to extend CICIG’s mandate to 2021.

Investigations led by CICIG with the help of Guatemalan prosecutors led to the resignation and arrest of ex-President Otto Pérez Molina, a former military general, amid a wave of anti-corruption popular protests. Morales, a television comedian, rode that sentiment and claims of being a political outsider to claim 67 percent of the vote in the October 25th run-off presidential election against former first lady Sandra Torres.

Despite this overwhelming political mandate, doubts have been raised over what critics see as Morales’ lack of concrete policy positions and his ability to pass legislation as the head of his party, the National Convergence Front which holds just 11 of 158 seats in the Congress. Founded in 2004 by military officers who, similar to Pérez Molina, participated in anti-insurgency campaigns against Marxist guerrillas during the 1980’s Civil War, the FCN has attempted to “restore dignity to the military within the country and minimize the prosecution of military officials.

Morales has claimed that he will not appoint any former military commanders to his cabinet with the exception of the defense ministry. Nevertheless, after the election, one political analyst predicted Morales would be forced to strike up alliances with the same elites who supported Pérez Molina.

In a recent interview with Morales, Univisión anchor Jorge Ramos asked the president-elect to detail his personal wealth and to promise that by the end of his term he would not be further enriched.


North America

The mayor of Cocula in Mexico’s Guerrero state has been placed under house arrest after authorities caught him meeting with the alleged leader of a drug gang. The Cocula municipality was the alleged site of the incineration of 43 students from a Guerrero teacher-training school, according to a controversial government account of the students’ disappearances.


The Havana International Fair, a week-long trade show marked by contrast the Cuban government’s official suspicion of open markets, has attracted attention this year due to the participation of 20 major U.S. corporations.

A leading Puerto Rican physician said Tuesday said that the United States’ reduction of health care funds for the territory has contributed to an exodus of Puerto Rican doctors, and that many healthcare practitioners on the island plan to protest the cutbacks.

The results of Haiti’s presidential elections, which took place on Oct. 25, will not be released until Thursday, stoking claims of fraud and mismanagement.

Central America

Thousands of starving crocodiles kept on the farm of the wealthy Honduran Rosenthal family were fed for the first time on Tuesday after the U.S. government froze the family’s assets due to money laundering allegations.


Colombian troops killed 12 members of the powerful Usuga Clan gang in the state of Antioquia.

Peace talks in Colombia could extend past an agreed-upon March deadline, as negotiators still need to debate how justice will be delivered for crimes committed during the conflict, the FARC commander codenamed Carlos Antonio Lozada said Tuesday.

McDonald’s French fries reappeared in Venezuela on Monday after a nearly year-long absence following an 85 percent drop in potato imports in 2014, a challenge the company overcame by purchasing them locally.

Southern Cone

Reuters examines the situation facing Brazil’s Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, who last week spoke out in an effort to quell long-standing rumors he will soon resign in the face of a difficult task: helping push through an austerity package despite widespread opposition.

The former president of the Brazilian Football Confederation José Maria Marin plead not guilty to corruption charges in New York after his extradition from Switzerland, where he was arrested with six other FIFA officials in May.

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Today in Latin America: November 3, 2015

Colombia’s ELN Promises Hostage Release, Asks For Catholic Church Role in Peace Talks

Top Story — Colombia’s leftist guerrilla National Liberation Army announced Monday that it will free two soldiers kidnapped following a recent deadly raid, and on the same day appealed to the Catholic Church via Twitter to mediate a bilateral cease-fire and peace talks with the government.

Soldiers Andrés Felipe Pérez and Antonio Rodríguez were kidnapped during the Oct. 26 attack by the ELN in Güicán in the state of Boyacá, which killed 11 soldiers and one police officer who were transporting votes from the gubernatorial and mayoral elections from the day before.

The statement by Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla group said that the church should have a definitive role in any peace talks and agreed with a September statement by Pope Francis that Colombia cannot afford another failed peace process. More than 200,000 people have been killed and some 92,000 people have gone missing since the conflict began in 1964.

The ELN’s larger counterpart, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, has been in peace negotiations in Havana, Cuba since 2012, and urged the government to include the ELN in deliberations back in May. Since 2014, the rebel group has only engaged in preliminary informal peace talks.


North America

Officials continue to deny claims of a semi-official plan to promote sex tourism within the border city of Tijuana, according to a Los Angeles Times report on the city’s La Coahuila, a “tolerance zone” where the regulated and illegal sex trades flourish.

A Mexican national was sentenced to life in prison by a California judge on Monday after pleading guilty to a series of 9 murders stretching back to the 1980’s, some of which, he claims, were committed at the behest of an unnamed drug cartel.


Two French pilots who fled a 20-year drug smuggling jail sentence in the Dominican Republic last week were arrested by French police in Lyon on Monday.

The Cuban state-owned telecommunications company Etecsa and U.S. firm Sprint have signed the first agreement for direct roaming between the two countries.

During Cuba’s top international trade fair the economic ministers of Spain and Cuba announced a deal to refinance Cuba’s $221.9 million debt to Spain along with other measures to increase economic flows between the two.

Central America

Ahead of Wednesday’s general elections, Belize’s chief elections officer has spoken out concerning threats against her and her family, a month after Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow dissolved the National Assembly.

Guatemalan President-Elect Jimmy Morales met with Acting President Alejandro Maldonado on Monday to begin the power transition process within the country, following the ouster of former President Otto Pérez amid charges of corruption and fraud.


Ecuador’s government must pay some $1 billion to the U.S. Occidental Petroleum Corporation for seizing an oil field belonging to the company in 2006, at which time it was the largest oil firm in the country, following a decision by a World Bank tribunal to resize the payment following an initial 2012 ruling.

The Miami Herald looks into the relocation of residents from an Andean mining town to a brand new development built by a Chinese corporation to spotlight the surge of Chinese investment in the region, in which the companies involved are perceived by some to treat local citizens and workers better than in China, a phenomenon reportedly due in part to strong regulation.

An explosion in a pharmaceutical lab in the Galerias district of Bogotá, Colombia, left 15 injured on Monday.

Southern Cone

Brazil’s main oil workers’ union remained on strike for a second day Monday in protest of state oil firm Petrobras’ recent asset sales, part of an overall downsizing effort following a collapse in oil prices and a historic corruption scandal at the firm.

Nine of the 33 Chilean miners whose rescue in 2010 captivated international news have sued their lawyers for fraud, claiming that they were cheated out of royalties for a Hollywood depiction of their ordeal starring Antonio Banderas, among other financial remuneration.

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Today in Latin America: November 2, 2015

Sexual Harassment on Mexican TV Show Sparks Debate, Calls for Government Investigation

Top Story — A potentially pre-planned instance of sexual harassment between a male presenter and his female co-host on Mexican television last week has sparked a national debate on sexism and may now lead to a government investigation, according to the BBC.

The incident began when the variety show “A Toda Máquina” aired last Saturday. A video from the program, which has now gone viral, showed presenter Enrique Tovar lifting the skirt of his co-host, Tania Reza. He then continued to make sexual advances until he groped her breast. Initially Reza attempted to brush Tovar off, but eventually stormed off the set, saying, “I can’t work like this.” Tovar excused his co-host by turning to the camera and explaining she was “a bit hormonal.”

The interaction generated a public outcry and a national conversation regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, with several prominent lawmakers condemning Tovar. But in a surprising twist of events, Televisa —the producers behind the show and the largest media company in Latin America— issued a statement explaining the interaction was a stunt pre-planned with the intention of making the video go viral. Televisa was unaware of the stunt in advance and fired both Reza and Tovar, who confirmed this version of events in a YouTube video.

But on Oct. 26, Reza posted a status on her Facebook, which has now received over 15,000 likes, saying that she was pressured by the network to corroborate their version of events, adding that Tovar’s actions were inappropriate.

While Tovar and Reza have both been rehired and will undergo obligatory sexual harassment training, Senator Angélica de la Peña told the BBC on Sunday that she has requested the government launch a formal investigation.

“The broadcaster refuses to recognize that there is bullying and sexual harassment amongst its employees,” said Peña, who is president of the Senate’s Human Rights Commission. “This case is a microcosm of the violence that women have to deal with in Mexico.”


North America

Pope Francis will visit Mexico for the first time in February 2016, when he is expected to address migration and the country’s high levels of violence, church officials announced on Sunday.

Mexico’s navy has rescued two Ecuadorean and two Colombian fisherman who have been lost at sea for 30 days after their boat ran out of fuel off the northern coast of Ecuador.


Investigators are looking into whether the wreckage found on Saturday off the coast of the Bahamas belongs to the cargo ship El Faro, which went missing on Oct. 1 during Hurricane Joaquin with 33 crew members on board.

Haitians gathered in cemeteries across the country on Sunday to observe the Voodoo festival of the dead, a two-day event that coincides with the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls Day on Nov. 2, which are celebrated across Latin America.

Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro García Padilla on Friday signed an executive order banning plastic bag use from mid-2016 onwards, just days after legislators voted to reject an equivalent bill. The executive order was signed on the same day that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency committed to helping Puerto Rico clean one of its most polluted waterways.

Central America

Speaking to a group of visitors from El Salvador on Friday, Pope Francis had harsh words for clergymen who denigrated the late Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Romero after his assassination in 1980, saying that, “He was defamed, slandered… even by his own brothers in the priesthood and the episcopate.”

Two suspected gang members in El Salvador died in a confrontation at a police station while four men, among whom were at least one Mara gang member and one minor, were found shot to death in the rural San Sebastian township, authorities announced on Friday.


The Peru-based Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a secretive Roman Catholic society prevalent throughout Latin America, is being investigated by the Vatican following accusations that the founder of the society sexually abused young recruits.

FARC rebels in Colombia indicated Sunday that the group’s unilateral ceasefire, which began in July and significantly lowered the country’s levels of violence, may be at risk due to ongoing military operations, and has called a meeting with international delegations to discuss the issue.

Colombia’s attorney general announced the capture and arrest of Ferney Tapasco, a fugitive former government official charged with the murder of the well-known journalist Orlando Sierra back in 2002.

Southern Cone

Brazilian authorities announced that they have contained forest fires that have destroyed half of the Arariboia indigenous reserve in the Amazon region after loggers and farmers allegedly set the fires last month in a bid to exploit the reserve’s natural resources.

Brazilian prosecutors have reached a settlement with individuals and companies allegedly involved in the so-called Carwash kickback scheme, who agreed to return close to $622 million to the government.

Under the urging of Chile’s Supreme Court President Sergio Muñoz, prosecutors are increasing their efforts to prosecute crimes committed during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in the 70s and 80s.

The first-ever World Indigenous Games, in which nearly 2,000 athletes from over two dozen countries participated, closed in Brazil on Saturday after significant praise from some, but criticism from other indigenous rights groups who argued the money spent on the games should have been used for indigenous education and health initiatives.

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Today in Latin America: October 30, 2015

Accusations of Electoral Fraud Threaten Results, Peace in Haiti

Top Story — Despite initial reports of a lack of violence or fraud during Haiti’s municipal, legislative and presidential elections held Sunday, new concerns regarding potential illegal activity have arisen. Some election observers and opposition candidates have claimed that the elections saw systematic fraud on a large scale.

Chief among the allegations were those of opposition presidential candidate and former Senator Moïse Jean-Charles, one of a few front-runners in the 54-candidate race. On Thursday, Jean-Charles alleged that ballots with votes for him were burned and left behind a building in Port-au-Prince while dozens of other votes for him have gone missing, suggesting a cover-up by officials with ties to current President Michel Martelly. Following the allegation, Jean-Charles’ supporters burned tire barricades in some sectors of the city.

Along with the claims of ballot destruction were allegations of ballot stuffing, voters entering voting booths multiple times and the black market sale of accreditation cards, which were distributed to political party monitors ahead of election day with the hopes of minimizing fraud. Reports of accreditation cards being sold for $3 on Sunday and the same card being used to vote multiple times typified the varied claims of irregularity.

All ballots in Haitian elections have to go through a lengthy verification process held in a secure location. Preliminary results are expected to be announced at some point after Nov. 3. A spokesman for current President Michel Martelly’s Tet Kale party has denied all allegations of fraud as a “pure fiction.”


North America

Mexico’s Congress decided to maintain a 10 percent tax on sugary drinks in an effort to combat the country’s obesity epidemic, a move that comes after the lower house of Congress had proposed to cut the tax by half last week for some drinks.

As Mexico prepares to honor those who have passed during the Day of the Dead, parents of the 43 missing students from Mexico’s Guerrero state refuse to set up commemorative altars and accept the government’s finding that their children are dead.

Meanwhile, Mexican prosecutors, at the urging of the disappeared students’ families, are gathering new testimony from federal security officials to determine their complicity in the events of Sept. 26, 2014.


Cuban President Raúl Castro will travel to Mexico on Nov. 5 —his first visit to the country since he became president— to meet with his Mexican counterpart Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss economic cooperation between their countries.

Fox News Latino explores the slow, often unreliable Cuban rail system, the first ever built in Latin America that now suffers from underinvestment and theft.

People born in the Dominican Republic but of Haitian descent have long been treated as second-class citizens in their own country, with many forced to drop out of school due to lack of proper identification, even despite recent efforts to get formally registered, according to The New York Times.

Central America

El Salvador’s Congress passed a bill Thursday that will tax phone and internet use, as well as big companies, in order to strengthen the country’s police and security forces.

Slate examines how village life in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua, will be upended by the country’s proposed $50 billion interoceanic canal project, which could displace anywhere between 27,000 and 100,000 Nicaraguans.


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has declared he will be suing the U.S. government over President Obama’s executive order in March that classified Venezuela as a threat to the United States.

Despite public skepticism over its environmental impact, Bolivia announced its plans to construct a $300 million nuclear complex, a project that President Evo Morales says will run smoothly with the use of Russian technology and Argentine assistance.

Peru has finally lifted the state of emergency in the southern Andean regions of Apurimac and Cusco and agreed to meet with local leaders, nearly a month after violent protests at Las Bambas copper mines left three people dead and prompted the suspension of civil liberties.

A quadrupling of ticket prices for Venezuelan professional baseball games has left many stadiums half-empty this season, despite the incredible popularity of the sport in Venezuela, The Associated Press reports.

Southern Cone

Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández urged the Argentine population on Thursday night to support her party and the current government before the upcoming runoff elections on Nov. 22, in which her heir apparent Daniel Scioli will face a tight race against opposition candidate Mauricio Macri.

A CNN exclusive investigation explores Brazil’s extensive attempts to combat illegal gold mining operations in the Amazon, which contribute to massive deforestation throughout South America.

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Spooky Stories to Get You Ready for Our Show

In honor of el Día de los Muertos and Halloween, this weekend’s Latino USA (premiering tomorrow October 30 at is all about the legends, tall tales, cuentos and ghost stories handed down from generation to generation. To get our listeners ready for the show, our team created a video playlist of some of the most popular stories we have heard (and songs about those stories, too).

Here is a video of New Mexico’s Joe Hayes retelling The Legend of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman):

The La Llorona song has been performed by many artists. The version from Chavela Vargas is perhaps the most well-known by contemporary audiences:

La Lechuza (The Owl) is another legend we will be discussing. A group of students produced a quick summary of the story’s main plot points.

La Lechuza even made local Texas news a few years ago.

There’s also a song about La Lechuza.

There are, of course, other spooky stories. This is Joe Hayes’ retelling of El Cucuy.

Another legend is that of El Silbón (The Whistler).

And don’t forget about El Chupacabra (The Goat Sucker)

What legends and stories would you include? Tweet us @LatinoUSA or add your comments below. In addition, if you haven’t heard our latest show, here is “Ghost Stories.”

Featured image by Native Cartoon.

Today in Latin America: October 29, 2015

Colombia Government May Call Cease-Fire in January

Top Story — Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos plans to call a bilateral ceasefire starting on the first day of 2016 if negotiators from the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia can agree on the fifth and final agenda item in ongoing peace talks—restitution for victims of the internal conflict.

Santos’ announcement marks the first time that the government has agreed to enter a bilateral truce since the two sides began peace negotiations three years ago.

In September, Santos and the FARC’s commander, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverri, alias Timochenko shook hands for the first time after setting a deadline of March 23, 2016 for all items on the agenda to be resolved, and for the final agreement to be put to a vote by Colombian constituents. The leaders also agreed that FARC rebels would disarm within 60 days of the deal being signed.

The FARC have observed a unilateral cease-fire since July. They have called for the same measure by the government since talks began in 2012. To date, the Santos administration has refused, citing past failed negotiations in which the rebels took advantage of truces to re-arm.

Government and rebel negotiators have recently resolved several points on the agenda, the most delicate of them concerning the punishment of rebels accused of committing crimes. The two sides have also reached agreements over land rights, drug trafficking and the political participation of rebels after the peace process. They have also vowed to work together to clear minefields and search for the estimated 25,000 people who have gone missing since the conflict began in 1964.

Colombia’s 51-year-old internal conflict has claimed 220,000 lives and displaced five million people, according to The Associated Press.


North America

A Human Rights Watch report released Wednesday highlights evidence suggesting Mexico’s federal police shot and killed civilian protesters attempting to flee and surrender in two separate incidents this year.

Mexico has deployed thousands of laborers and its navy to remove masses of foul-smelling seaweed from beaches along the Caribbean coast which have raised fears of hampering the crucial tourism industry.

Mexico’s Supreme Court convened Wednesday to debate a citizen group’s efforts at securing legal permission to consume marijuana, which if successful could open the door for the further relaxation of marijuana laws nationwide.


Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, during the first-ever state visit by his country’s leader to Cuba, said in Havana on Wednesday that Italy is committed to strengthening economic ties with Cuba in the years to come, urging Italian businesses to invest there.

Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank announced Wednesday that its liquidity, or its cash available for spending, dropped to $875 million at the end of September, highlighting concerns that a fiscal crisis will force the territory to default on an upcoming bond payment.

Central America

The number of women fleeing gangs and domestic violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras has increased fivefold since 2008 and continues to rise, according to a report released Wednesday by the UN’s refugee agency, which compares the crisis to similar patterns of migration in the Middle East and Africa.

The International Criminal Court announced Wednesday it will not open a full investigation into crime allegations connected to Honduras’ 2009 coup, noting that despite the credibility of accusations of human rights violations they do not qualify as crimes against humanity under the international court’s jurisdiction.


The coca growers’ union in Bolivia announced that they will sell 20 tons of the crop, illegal under UN conventions, to finance President Evo Morales’ pursuit of another presidential term in 2019—an effort that will require removing a constitutional ban blocking his third successive presidential term.

A new report highlighting the Venezuelan central bank’s sales of its gold reserves in order to make bond payments has been taken as evidence a default is looming, although others analysts have commented on Venezuela’s consistent reliability as a debtor in the face of such predictions.

Southern Cone

An opinion poll demonstrated that two out of every three Brazilians hope for President Dilma Roussef’s impeachment, a position activists highlighting Wednesday when they chained themselves to a pillar in the congress demanding that lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha initiate impeachment proceedings, which he has delayed due to his own corruption accusations.

Allies of the defeated Argentine presidential candidate Sergio Massa said Wednesday that they will not support ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli, which damages his chance to win over undecided voters against Mauricio Macri.

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Today in Latin America: October 28, 2015

UN Supports Lifting of Cuba Embargo, US Position Increasingly Isolated

Top Story — The United Nations on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution demanding an end to the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba. The United States, having recently discussed abstaining from the annual vote, ultimately voted against the resolution for the 24th consecutive year.

A record 191 countries, including Cuba, sided with the resolution—an increase from the 188 countries that voted in its favor over the past three years. Only the United States and Israel voted in opposition to the resolution, which is nonbinding but is considered a way to call attention to the United States’ increasing isolation over the issue, according to The Associated Press.

Tuesday’s vote was the first since the historic December announcement that Cuba and the United States would be restoring diplomatic relations. The United States had recently discussed abstaining from the vote for the first time in 23 years on the condition that the resolution’s text be updated to reflect the recent cooperation between the two countries.

Abstention from the vote would have placed pressure on the Republican-led U.S. Congress to lift sanctions against Cuba, but U.S. officials said that attempts to engage their Cuban counterparts in such discussions were unsuccessful, and that the resolution’s text did not reflect significant changes. Speaking to The Associated Press six days before the vote, a U.S. official said the resolution “looks very similar to resolutions from previous years, and doesn’t appear to fully reflect the spirit of engagement that President Obama has championed as the best way to advance our shared interests with Cuba.”

Obama has shown support for an end to the embargo, and has urged Congress to repeal it. The State Department in May removed Cuba from its state sponsors of terrorism list, and the two countries have re-inaugurated embassies in each other’s capitals since announcing that they would be restoring diplomatic ties.


Guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and government forces have disappeared more than 93,000 people during Colombia’s 50 year civil war—more than any other Latin American country. In our latest podcast, journalist Jessica Diaz-Hurtado brings us the story of one woman trying to find her disappeared husband.


North America

In a radio interview on Monday, Mexican Secretary of the Interior Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong announced that the United States is providing intelligence —but not on-the-ground assistance— in the hunt for the fugitive Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, which has now spread across three different Mexican states.

An unnamed source in the prosecutor’s office of Mexico’s Zacatecas state announced on Tuesday that authorities there found four severed heads in a cooler — a symbol, the prosecutors allege, of escalating tensions within the state between the formerly dominant Zetas cartel and the emergent Gulf and New Jalisco cartels.

The Mexican state of Jalisco and a Chinese state-owned company agreed Tuesday to begin the initial due diligence process for the creation of a large manufacturing park that would become one of the Chinese government’s largest developments in Mexico, according to Mexican officials close to the deal who spoke with Reuters.

The New York Times has published an in-depth look into a tax on sugary drinks in Mexico that was intended to fight the country’s obesity epidemic, and recent efforts to reduce that tax.


The Dominican Republic has demanded the extradition of two French pilots who fled the country while awaiting an appeals trial on charges of trafficking cocaine.

Central America

The long-running Honduran newspaper Tiempo announced Tuesday that they would be temporarily shutting their doors after the U.S Treasury Department froze the bank accounts of the publication’s owners —former vice-President Jaime Rosenthal and his Grupo Continental— on money laundering charges.

Guatemalan prosecutors have detained 11 people, including the former private secretary to ex-President Álvaro Colom, and are searching for two more in connection to a scheme to set drug prices at public hospitals in exchange for kickbacks.

El Salvador arrested an evangelical pastor and 28 alleged members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang on terrorism charges related to the alleged collection of extortion funds while posing as church members.


Citing the increased threat of paramilitary forces engaging in smuggling and drug trafficking, Venezuela has ordered a state of exception in the southwestern state of Amazonas bordering Colombia, allowing for the temporary suspension of the rule of law.

Ecuador will be investing more heavily in its mining industry by planning five large projects worth about $3.1 billion, with officials estimating that once the projects are operational, mining exports will reach almost $4 million annually.

A Peruvian court found a Catholic priest guilty of raping a boy he supervised as a chaplain in a private school, and sentenced the priest to 35 years in prison on Tuesday, which precludes the possibility of an investigation by Peru’s attorney general into potential sexual abuse at the hands of the former head of one of the country’s elite Catholic societies.

Southern Cone

Argentine opposition presidential candidate Mauricio Macri said Tuesday that his camp has begun talks with defeated candidate Sergio Massa, who has hinted that he may endorse Macri against ruling-party candidate Daniel Scioli.

Argentina’s government has increased restrictions on U.S. dollar transfers, including a reduction of the daily amount companies can transfer abroad and a limit on hard currency assets insurers can hold — a decision that appears to be motivated by the looming runoff vote in the presidential elections.

The majority of Brazilians are unwilling to pay higher taxes to pull the country out of its worst financial slump in 25 years because of their mistrust of President Dilma Rousseff’s ability to improve the economy, a CND/MDA poll has shown on Tuesday.

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Today in Latin America: October 27, 2015

Defeated Argentine Presidential Hopeful Expected to Support Center-Right Macri in Runoff

Top Story — Argentina’s November presidential election is headed to a runoff with no clear favorite. Reuters reported on Monday, however, that unnamed officials from the camp of defeated presidential hopeful Sergio Massa confirmed he will support opposition candidate Mauricio Macri, who surprised the country in Sunday’s election by winning only some two percent fewer votes than outgoing leftist president Cristina Fernández’s heir apparent Daniel Scioli.

Sunday’s results were a shock to Scioli supporters, and signal a desire to shift from nearly 12 years of leftist “Kirchnerismo” governance, which began in 2003 with the election of Fernandez’s late husband Néstor Kirchner.

While their policies have nationalized industries, expanded social welfare and decreased unemployment, critics point to a 25 percent annual inflation rate and the country’s 2014 default on its public debt. The president was also embroiled in scandal earlier this year over allegations that she participated in a cover-up of the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that killed 85 people.

If elected, center-right Macri is expected to cut public spending and liberalize the economy to attract foreign investment. International investors will be keeping an eye on the upcoming runoff as U.S. traded bank stocks climbed in the wake of Sunday’s results, some seeing double-digit gains.

All three candidates pledged to increase security and crack down on drug trafficking, a rising concern among Argentines. While Scioli supported expanding the role of the military in domestic policing roles, Macri and Massa went a step further, favoring giving the military permission to shoot down planes suspected of carrying illicit drugs.


North America

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made a phone call Monday to Jimmy Morales, the former TV comedian who won Guatemala’s presidential election on Sunday, and offered to work with the Morales administration “to combat corruption,” according to a White House statement.

The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has hired prominent immigration activist César Vargas —a “dreamer” who earlier this year became the first undocumented immigrant permitted to practice law in New York— as a Latino outreach strategist in Nevada.

Mexico was able to avoid destruction and the loss of human life during Hurricane Patricia in part because the government was aggressive and proactively deployed thousands of soldiers and police, evacuated tens of thousands of residents and informed the public of potential risks, according to the Los Angeles Times.


Tentative results from Haiti’s Sunday presidential election will likely be unknown for at least 10 days, even though the election process was largely void of any violence or disorder, in part because the results can only be announced by the country’s Provisional Electoral Council.

Cuban Interior Minister and famous revolutionary figure Abelardo Colomé Ibarra resigned Monday, citing health reasons.

Cuba’s birthrate has plummeted since the 1970s, resulting in an increasingly declining —and increasingly older— population, a fact The New York Times says is likely to cause both economic and political crises in the future.

Two French pilots convicted of trafficking cocaine in the Dominican Republic have fled the country, the BBC reports.

Central America

The highly publicized arrest of a mayor in Honduras on Oct. 22 for his alleged involvement in a criminal organization points to a larger trend of changes in regional distributions of power, which have given local governments more control of budgets and security forces, according to InSight Crime.


The ELN, Colombia’s second-largest rebel group, reportedly ambushed and killed 12 security officers as they returned ballots cast in Sunday’s municipal and gubernatorial elections in an indigenous reservation in the country’s central Boyacá province. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the attacks threatened talks that are taking place now in preparation for formal peace negotiations between the ELN and the government.

Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has denied claims made by a former employee, who has since fled the country, that her office used false evidence in the trial of Leopoldo López, an opposition leader sentenced to 14 years in prison for his role in anti-government protests.

A former Ecuadorian judge whose testimony earlier this year helped a U.S. judge throw out a $9.5 billion pollution lawsuit against Chevron has now retracted his story in an international tribunal, Vice News reports.

Southern Cone

Brazilian police raided the offices of a company owned by the son of former President Luíz Inácio “Lula” da Silva in the search for evidence relating to bribery, extortion and influence trafficking between the company and the Brazilian Finance Ministry. The raid is the latest in a series of bribery and influence peddling charges that have tarnished the reputation of Lula and his Workers’ Party.

Analysts have forecasted that several key economic indicators in Brazil are worse than expected, and the country’s recession could deepen in 2016.

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Today in Latin America: October 26, 2015

In Upset, Argentina’s Election Will Head to Second Round

Top Story — In Argentina’s presidential election on Sunday, Argentina’s Daniel Scioli failed to avoid a runoff in a major upset. Meanwhile in Guatemala, comedian Jimmy Morales won second-round polls by a landslide, and polling in Haiti passed off without either major violence or a clear winner.

Scioli, the longtime favorite and the chosen successor of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, appeared early on Monday to have tied with the opposition mayor of Buenos Aires Mauricio Macri, The Associated Press reported. Both candidates received some 35 percent of the vote, contrary to many analysts’ expectation that Scioli, the governor of Buenos Aires province, would win outright.

In the run-off election to be held on Nov. 22, Macri could upset Scioli by winning over support of the third-place candidate, Sergio Massa, who has also cast himself as a departure from the ruling party’s populism.

In Guatemala, Jimmy Morales claimed victory late on Sunday with projections showing he won more than two-thirds of the vote. The election’s second round comes a month and a half after the arrest of former president Otto Pérez Molina on corruption charges.

Morales, a first-time politician with few stated policy positions, will confront the aftermath of widespread anti-corruption protests which helped push Pérez out of office. When he assumes office on January 14, Morales will have to govern despite his party, the National Convergence Front, holding just 11 of 158 seats in the next Congress.

In Haiti, nearly 15,000 policemen as well as U.N. peacekeepers and election observers from the Organization of American States were on hand to ensure peaceful and fraud free presidential, municipal and legislative elections in the country that has just 10 elected senators following the collapse of the congress in January.

Despite violence during pre-election proceedings and long lines throughout the day, election officials commented that proceedings at the over 1,500 polling locations went smoothly, with only two stations reporting to have closed and scattered incidents of violence.

Partial results for the 54 candidate presidential race and the local races are not expected for at least 10 days while final results could take over a month. A run-off for the presidential election is slated for December, with the winner facing an uphill battle to improve living standards and a stagnant economy.


North America

Hurricane Patricia hit Mexico this weekend without causing any deaths or major damage, a departure from the catastrophe many predicted, and a political opportunity for President Enrique Peña Nieto, who pledged aid to affected areas and toured the coastal city of Manzanillo Saturday.

Gustavo Barahona-Sánchez, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras arrested by police in Louisiana who have since been accused of racial profiling, was released Saturday, though he may still face deportation.

The latest episode of NPR’s Latino USA examines the conditions faced by inmates in U.S. prisons, including one who has served more than 30 years in a maximum-security facility, during which time he has launched a scholarship fund and other philanthropic programs.


The Dominican Republic’s New York consul accused author Junot Díaz of being “anti-Dominican” and stripped Díaz of a 2009 award after the author spoke out publicly against his country’s policy toward Haitian immigrants.

A conference in Havana on offshore oil development may result in U.S.-Cuban cooperation in the sector as Cuba plans to resume drilling as close as 50 miles from Florida’s coast next year.

The accessibility of pirated, royalty-free and state-sanctioned U.S. television shows and movies in Cuba may be at risk in light of evolving U.S.-Cuban relations.

Central America

PBS Newshour interviewed Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández on his strategies for combatting the causes of emigration from his country, particularly domestic violence against women.

Confidential files containing testimony by survivors of El Salvador’s civil war were stolen last week from the University of Washington Center for Human Rights, following a FOIA request by the group for CIA documents related to rights abuses during the conflict.


Independent candidate Enrique Peñalosa won Bogotá’s mayoral election on Sunday with a center-right platform focused on security and public transit, the first time in 12 years a left-leaning candidate has not taken that office.

A Colombian soldier was killed during an attack on Sunday by the National Liberation Army, the country’s second largest guerrilla group after FARC, while providing security for regional and municipal elections, which have brought into office a class of politicians who President Juan Manuel Santos said will will play a key role in implementing the outcome of the anticipated peace agreement with the FARC.

A Venezuelan prosecutor fled the country and released a video on Friday accusing President Nicolás Maduro’s administration of pressuring him to use false evidence to condemn opposition leader Leopoldo López, who has appealed his 13-year sentence for inciting violence at anti-government protests.

Southern Cone

Brazil’s top court seized $2.45 million from Swiss bank accounts alleged to belong to lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, one day after he said that President Dilma Rousseff’s manipulation of accounts was not a crime, eliminating the grounds for her impeachment in an unexpected move.

A Russian investment firm is seeking to acquire a $4 billion stake in Brazil’s telecommunications giant Oi, despite the firm’s failure to displace its competitors to date.

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Today in Latin America: October 22, 2015

Obama Administration Drafts Bankruptcy Protection Plan for Puerto Rico

Top Story — The Obama administration on Wednesday proposed a series of measures to assist Puerto Rico in restructuring its $72 billion in debt. The proposal will grant Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories a means of declaring bankruptcy, which they are currently barred from doing.

The announcement by the Obama administration came on the same day that talks broke down between creditors and Puerto Rico’s Government Development Bank after the creditors did not agree to accept reduced bond repayments. Gov. Alejandro García Padilla described Puerto Rico’s debt crisis as a “death spiral” in June, and said that the $72 billion in debts were not payable.

The U.S. Treasury-backed plan includes the creation of an independent body to oversee the U.S. commonwealth’s finances, and will write a new chapter of bankruptcy code specifically designed for U.S. territories. The proposal will also expand Medicaid coverage and extend income tax credits for Puerto Ricans, bringing those programs into line with what mainland residents already receive.

The majority of the plan will need to be approved by the Republican-led Congress, which has recently opposed any form of debt relief to the struggling U.S. commonwealth.

García Padilla largely welcomed the proposed measures in a statement, saying that “they have the support of my administration.” With regards to the proposed financial oversight board, García Padilla said that it would need to respect Puerto Rican autonomy and comply with “the democratic principles of our relationship with the United States.”


North America

Mexican authorities have arrested six suspected organizers behind Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s July escape from a maximum security prison. According to Attorney General Arely Gómez, the arrests include the believed mastermind of the operation, a member of Guzmán’s legal team with access to the prison, and the drug kingpin’s brother-in-law, believed to have advised the construction of his escape tunnel.

The Obama administration is expected to oppose a U.N. resolution that criticizes — for the 23rd straight year — the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, despite the thaw in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent shot and killed a Mexican man who allegedly wielded a knife as he attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in Calexico, California.


The Cuban government launched an initiative Wednesday that aims to protect sharks around its shores by implementing new regulations on fishermen, a plan devised in conjunction with the U.S.-based Environmental Defense Fund.

In a Wednesday address on state television, Haiti’s prime minister and several other top officials assured voters that they would keep their promise and maintain ordered, fair and peaceful elections in the country this coming weekend.

Central America

Guatemala’s anti-corruption protest movement and calls to boycott presidential elections have lost momentum, according to a piece in The Christian Science Monitor, after massive demonstrations that lead to the ousting of former President Otto Pérez Molina in September.

Meanwhile, The Guardian explores what is says is “Latin America’s enduring fondness for grotesque racist caricatures,” an issue that has been brought to the foreground by the heavy favorite in Guatemala’s presidential race, former comedian Jimmy Morales, whose former blackface character is still used in hair and soap product advertisements in the country.

A new cargo ferry between El Salvador and Costa Rica will begin operations in January, with the aim of lowering transportation costs, reducing traffic at the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border and helping truckers avoid security threats they encounter on their route between the two countries.


Bolivian President Evo Morales became Bolivia’s longest-serving leader at nine years, eight months and 27 days on Wednesday, a milestone celebrated during a religious ceremony at pre-Incan religious site Tiwanaku. A referendum in 2016 will determine whether Morales can run for another five-year term after his current one ends in 2020.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and members of his United Socialist Party have accused a prominent businessman and a Harvard economist of conspiring to destabilize the country’s socialist government after the two were secretly recorded discussing the need for an International Monetary Fund intervention to rescue the recession-hit country.

U.S. authorities are carrying out investigations in multiple U.S. jurisdictions to determine whether Venezuelan officials used state-run oil company PdVSA for a series of kickback schemes that could have cost the South American country billions of dollars, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Southern Cone

Three Brazilian lawyers on Wednesday filed what is considered to be the most significant attempt to date to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff. The request will be reviewed and potentially accepted by lower house speaker Eduardo Cunha, one of Rousseff’s most vociferous antagonists, who is himself the target of a major corruption probe.

A new civil union law goes into effect today in Chile that gives greater rights to unmarried co-inhabiting couples, including the ability to make medical decisions and own property together.

The social programs established by Argentine President Cristina Fernández affect 35 percent of the population, which may explain why the president’s chosen successor Daniel Scioli is expected to win Sunday’s election despite the country’s sagging economy and rising inflation, according to The Associated Press.

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Today in Latin America: October 21, 2015

Mexico Announces New Investigation Into Student Disappearances

Top Story — Mexican authorities on Tuesday announced they will conduct a new investigation into the fate of 43 missing students whose disappearance in the state of Guerrero in 2014 provoked widespread protests and highlighted discontent over persistent insecurity across Mexico.

The government’s new task force will employ international experts assisted by satellite and drone technology, based on recommendations by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

A justice official said the investigation will be conducted in full agreement with the IACHR, although the government continues to insist that military troops will not be questioned by independent investigators, contrary to the IACHR’s requests and despite alleged evidence of military involvement in the disappearances.

According to an earlier investigation by the attorney general’s office, the 43 university students who were training to be teachers were abducted in September 2014 by corrupt local police and then turned over to drug traffickers, who killed them and incinerated their remains in a garbage dump.

Activists, including the students’ relatives, have disputed that account, as have international observers from organizations like the IACHR, highlighting alleged gaps in the official story and calling for an independent, international probe.

In late September, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced plans to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Ayotzinapa disappearances. Earlier this month, he said he will seek to pass legislation aimed at improving efforts to locate nearly 25,000 Mexicans who have gone missing.


North America

A Mexican national was sentenced to 27 years in a U.S. prison after pleading guilty to his role in the death of a Border Patrol agent in 2010, a shooting later linked to the “Fast and Furious” scandal at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously voted to remove tariffs and to set price floors and quotas for subsidized sugar imports from Mexico, ending an 18-month dispute with an apparent victory for the U.S. sugar lobby.

An angry mob in the town of Ajalpan in Mexico’s Puebla state beat, killed and then set fire to two men conducting a survey, despite attempts by local police to protect the men.


Cuban artist Danilo Maldonado, known as “El Sexto”, was released from a Cuban jail Tuesday, ending ten months of imprisonment for allegedly planning to release two pigs painted with the names of the Castro brothers.

Jamaican health officials announced that they are battling outbreaks of two common bacteria in hospitals which have killed 18 babies, most of them premature, over the past three months.

Central America

A judge in Panama rescinded an INTERPOL arrest warrant for former Colombia soccer star Freddy Rincón, who was sought for money laundering and drug-related criminal conspiracy charges.


Six people were killed in Bogotá on Tuesday when a small plane on its way to pick up former Colombian President Andrés Pastrana crashed before landing, prompting Pastrana to urge President Juan Manuel Santos to investigate the incident as a possible assassination attempt.

Brazil backed out on Tuesday of an international mission to observe Venezuela’s Dec. 6 parliamentary elections following a refusal by President Nicolás Maduro’s government to allow a former Brazilian Supreme Court chief justice and government minister to lead the delegation, following a dispute over an attempted audit by Brazil, a key diplomatic ally of Venezuela.

Peru’s President Ollanta Humala fired public prosecutor Julia Príncipe on Tuesday in the middle of her investigation into his wife for alleged money laundering, prompting an outcry which led Humala’s own justice minister to resign.

Southern Cone

In Argentina, two top pollsters said on Tuesday that if presidential frontrunner and ruling party heir Daniel Scioli wins the first round of presidential elections on Sunday, the vote will be close enough that other candidates will likely wait for a final count before accepting defeat, possibly delaying an official result by five to seven days.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is struggling to implement reforms promised during her 2013 campaign, including a new constitution and free education, in the wake of corruption scandals and a drop in the price of copper, the country’s top export.

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Today in Latin America: October 20, 2015

Report: Corruption Probe into Walmart’s Mexican Operations Unlikely to Result in Prosecutions

Top Story — A three-year investigation led by the U.S. Justice Department has found little evidence of corruption in the business practices of Walmart executives in Mexico, a Wall Street Journal report revealed Monday. Nearly 20% of Walmart’s 11,500 stores are located in Mexico.

Using unnamed sources with knowledge of the case, the report detailed the findings of the multi-departmental investigation into a potential violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The sources have claimed that, with the five-year statute of limitations on corruption charges looming, the case in Mexico could be resolved with a small fine and no criminal charges. The Justice Department investigation allegedly failed to differ significantly from Walmart’s internal investigation.

The findings challenge a 2012 series of Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reports into the company’s practices in Mexico, which found that Walmart de Mexico executives reportedly attempted to hide $24 million in suspect payments. Those bribes were allegedly made to government officials and other middlemen to acquire permits, circumvent democratic oversight and best competition in facilitating the construction of new stores in the country.

The 2012 investigation caused Walmart stock prices to fall nearly 5% immediately following its release, costing a reported $10 billion. In response, Walmart fired their legal counsel in Mexico and spent nearly $650 million on the internal investigation and compliance upgrades.

The recent federal investigation did, however, reportedly find evidence that Walmart paid widespread but small-scale bribery in India, and that charges are expected in that case.


North America
U.S. investigators ordered some 700 businesses in the Miami area to report large sales of goods like cell phones earlier this year, a new enforcement tactic aimed at thwarting drug traffickers who buy products in dollars and ship them southward to be sold in Mexican pesos in order to launder their proceeds.

Mexico’s lower house of congress has approved tax cuts for sugary drinks, which critics of the proposal say will exacerbate Mexico’s obesity rate, which is already one of the highest in the world.

The body of a man was found hung from a bridge on Monday in Mexico City, where such displays of public violence, often signs of territorial disputes between drug cartels, are rare.

An outburst of violence Monday ahead of Haiti’s presidential election resulted in the killing of two pregnant women and at least 13 other people in the Cité Soleil slum of Port-au-Prince.

Monday marked the 55th anniversary of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, which remains in place despite renewed diplomatic ties between the two.

Central America
Two U.S. Congresswomen co-wrote an editorial for Vice condemning El Salvador’s prohibitive abortion laws, which they calling on for Secretary of State John Kerry to condemn ahead of a speech at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by one of 17 Salvadoran women imprisoned after suffering birth complications.

Over 100 protesters in San José, Costa Rica, marched against public sexual harassment on Sunday, following the stabbing of a man who posted a popular video of himself shaming another man for harassment.

Peruvian ex-President Alan García will run in April elections for a third non-consecutive term, although he is currently polling third behind Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of imprisoned former President Alberto Fujimori, in first place.

Bolivia will double its external debt to $13 billion, its vice president announced Monday, through a deal with China to receive $7 billion of credit toward infrastructure projects.

Southern Cone
In Chile, a former Pinochet-era intelligence officer and two German members of the Colonia Dignidad cult were given extra prison time on Monday for orchestrating the 1975 kidnappings of 50 people who were taken to the cult’s enclave in the isolated Maule region, where the victims were tortured and sexually abused.

The black market value of Argentina’s peso reportedly hit a new low on Monday based on fears that Daniel Scioli, favored in the upcoming presidential election on Oct. 25, will devalue the currency, analysts and illicit traders told Reuters.

Many public-sector workers in Brazil retire early or pass benefits on to family members, resulting in a massive pension crisis that is rapidly draining public finances, according to the New York Times.

Rescue workers have reported at least seven injuries but no deaths from an explosion that damaged dozens of buildings in Rio de Janeiro’s São Cristovão neighborhood, an incident authorities have blamed on a gas leak.

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Today in Latin America: October 19, 2015

Starting today, Latino USA will be cross-posting the daily “Today in Latin America” news summary from Latin America News Dispatch. Here is the digest for Monday, October 19, 2015:

Colombian Government, FARC Agree to Search for Tens of Thousands of Missing People

Top Story — Colombia’s government and FARC rebels agreed Saturday to collaborate on finding the tens of thousands of people who have disappeared since the country’s armed conflict began more than 50 years ago.

The announcement addresses a key sticking point between the two sides in peace negotiations, which have lasted for nearly three years in Havana, Cuba. According to Colombia’s attorney general, 52,000 people have disappeared since the war began, but local victim groups say that number may be higher: between 70,000 and 100,000.

Representatives for both sides said they will create a special unit to search for the disappeared, and that they will release information to the families of the missing. They have also pledged to share information with the International Committee of the Red Cross, which will conduct its own searches for victims. Some 220,000 people have been killed during the war, the longest ever in Latin America.

President Juan Manuel Santos hailed the development as “another step for peace.” Officials have been holding peace talks in Cuba since November 2012, and are committed to a March 23 deadline for a final deal. Once an agreement is reached, it will have to be approved by Colombian voters before it can be ratified.


North America

The U.S. State Department has decided to withhold nearly $5 million in anti-drug funds to Mexico, prompted by a failure to protect human rights.

Mexican officials allege that Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa Cartel, injured himself while pre-emptively fleeing from a police mission to recapture him in the country’s northwestern mountains on Friday.

Information acquired by Reuters has revealed that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s plan to limit migration into the country from Central America, dubbed “Frontera Sur,” has resulted in a 40% increase in migrant complaints of abuse by Mexican officials working in the National Migration Institute.

In 2013, nine undocumented activists walked across the border from Mexico to the United States, demanding to be let in and granted asylum — a story that NPR’s Latino USA tells in full in their latest episode, The Dream 9.


Ahead of Haiti’s presidential elections on Oct. 25, polls conducted in Port-au-Prince and Miami disagree about who is leading among the 54 candidates in the race, though three candidates have emerged as frontrunners: government-backed Jovenel Moïse, Jude Célestin and former Senator Moïse Jean-Charles.

On Saturday, the Cuban government denied claims made by Fox News and a Miami-based research institute that the country has sent troops to Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

Central America

Former Guatemalan army Gen. Héctor Mario López Fuentes died at the age of 85. López was in charge of the army during the most violent period of the country’s 36-year civil war that ended in 1996, and was arrested on charges of genocide in 2011, though his health prevented the case from going to trial.

An Al Jazeera America investigation published Saturday looks into the cases of Central American asylum seekers held for months in for-profit detention centers run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Nearly 900,000 small-scale Guatemalan farmers living in Central America’s “Dry Corridor” are struggling to produce enough food to feed their families amid a year-long drought thought to be caused by shifting El Niño weather patterns.


Murders on the Colombia-Venezuela border dropped by 10 percent since Venezuela’s controversial security crackdown in August, Colombia’s defense minister admitted in a report, saying that “the border with Venezuela on the Colombian side is safer now than a year ago.”

Five people died and seven more were injured when a small plane crashed in a residential neighborhood in Bogotá shortly after take-off: the third fatal small-aircraft crash in three months in the Colombian capital.

Not even thieves are interested in Venezuela’s currency, the bolívar, according to a report in the New York Times, which points out that the country’s economy will shrink by 10 percent and that inflation is predicted to hit 159 percent in 2015.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has called for legal action against Lorenzo Mendoza, the billionaire CEO of the country’s largest private company, after state media broadcast his phone call with an economist who thinks Venezuela should receive a loan and “adjustment” plan from the International Monetary Fund.

Southern Cone

Two polls published on Sunday indicate that Argentine ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli could win the Oct. 25 presidential election outright—one week after a poll by the Poliarquia consultancy indicated that Scioli would likely face an opponent in a run-off.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff reiterated that she has no plans to fire Finance Minster Joaquim Levy, despite calls from the president of her own Workers’ Party that she do so. Levy faces pressure over the country’s spiralling recession and climbing inflation rates.

After Uruguay took in five Syrian families fleeing the country’s civil war last year, many Uruguayans have become disillusioned with the refugees, whose complaints about living conditions in Uruguay make them appear to be “rude, ungrateful guests,” according to The Associated Press.

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Rural Ecuador: America’s New Retirement Spot

For many Americans, retiring seems like it is becoming increasingly out of reach. We work later into our old age and Social Security benefits are often not enough to live off of. So some people interested in retiring have found a cheap solution: moving to Latin America. One place in particular, has been attracting retirees as of late—the small town of Cotacachi, Ecuador, not far from the country’s capital of Quito. The town’s population is split between mestizos (a mix of indigenous and European ancestry) and the Kichwa, an indigenous community that live on Cotacachi’s outskirts. But a growing subset of wealthy Americans buying large property is creating a stark visual and economic contrast in a relatively poor area. Reporter Dusty Christensen went to Cotacachi to find out how these new arrivals are enjoying their lives in Ecuador and how the indigenous community is dealing with the influx of outsiders.

Photo by Dusty Christensen

Do Cubans Still Run Miami?

Cuban culture has dominated Miami for the last 50 years, ever since Cubans fled to the U.S. following the Castro revolution. But recently, other Latin Americans have been moving in—leading to tension around the idea that Cuban immigrants get preferential treatment.

Image of mural at Miami’s Little Havana district by Infrogmation (Wikimedia Commons)


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