Today in Latin America
Top Story — Switzerland froze approximately $4.6 million from the family of former Haitian leader Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier that was held in Swiss banks. The Haitian government has demanded the money since 1986, saying that Duvalier pilfered the it during his years in power.
The Swiss Supreme Court overruled an earlier decision to send the money to aid groups in Haiti. The Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 11 — just one day before the earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince — but the decision was not made public until Wednesday. It was shortly after reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The Swiss government is searching for a way to pass legislation allowing the funds to be returned to the Haitian government.
“We assume this money doesn’t belong to the Duvalier family,” said Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Sclumpf, according to UPI, “We have blocked the money again today to prevent it from going somewhere that it shouldn’t for political reasons. We hope this money finally goes back to the country.”
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- At least two of the Mexico’s six major drug cartels have used drug rehabilitaion centers to recruit new memebers and sell their illicit substances.
- The U.S. Treasury voiced support for ending Haiti’s external debt to international financial institutions.
- A bill before the U.S. Congress may provide a $30 billion tax break to Lond0n-based rum maker Diageo if it moves its operations from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands.
- Former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya said Wednesday that newly inauguarted president Porfirio Lobo has done little to remove the members of the miliatry,political and judicial systems who helped carry out Zelaya’s ouster in June of last year.
- Centrist presidential candiate Laura Chinchilla leads opinion polls in Costa Rica going into Sundays election. If she wins, Chinchilla will be the first female head of state in Costa Rican history.
- Chiquita Brands International faces a lawsuit for allegedly supporting Marxist rebels who killed five U.S. missionaries.
- Brazil is considering reducing the amount of natural gas it imports from Bolivia.
- The train to Machu Picchu will remain closed until April.
- Argentina’s new central bank director Mercedes Marcó del Pont took office, marking an increase in government influence over the institution.
- Brazil’s currency dropped 2 percent against the dollar.
Image (United Nations @ Flickr): Water arrives in Haiti.