Today in Latin America
Top Story — A former Colombian senator and second cousin of President Álvaro Uribe, Mario Uribe, was arrested on Wednesday on charges that he had links to the paramilitary group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC).
Colombian authorities arrested him in the city of Medellin and plan to transfer him to the capital, Bogota.
The arrest relates to charges that Mario Uribe conspired with the AUC in the 1990s to gain control of land in northeastern Colombia. Jairo Castillo, alias “Pitirri,” says he saw a meeting in which Mario Uribe negotiated with paramilitaries for the land. Mario Uribe denies the allegations.
Mario Uribe was previously arrested in 2008 on similar charges but released due to insufficient evidence.
President Uribe said that his administration needs to make more progress toward uncovering ties between the government and FARC guerillas, but did not comment on the arrest of Mario Uribe.
“The policy of democratic security makes justice possible,” Uribe said Wednesday, according to Business Week. “It pains me that we still haven’t made progress on the FARC’s involvement in politics.”
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Hooded gunmen killed 13 people in the Oaxaca state of Mexico including a ranch owner and his three sons. The murders happened only days after 19 people died in the Tamaulipas state due to clashes between the police and suspected drug groups.
- The U.S. Department of State added the Mexican states of Durango and Coahuila to its list of places that U.S. travelers should avoid, due to the escalation of violence in these states.
- The Mexican national soccer team beat Bolivia 5-0 in an international friendly played at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.
- Brazilan President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and said Castro looked “exceptionally well.”
- Drug trafficking in Central America has quickly become a major security threat within the region, according to a report by the International Narcotics Control Board.
- Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in a statement released Thursday called the corruption charges brought against him in Honduras political persecution.
- A 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit off Nicaragua and Costa Rica’s western coasts Wednesday night, but caused no reports of injuries or damage.
- The Colombian Constitutional court is expected to rule today on the legality of a referendum to allow current President Álvaro Uribe to run for a third consecutive term.
- Venezuela disputed Thursday a report by the Organization of American States (OAS) that accused the government of President Hugo Chavez of human rights abuses and political repression.
- Seven people died after a plane crashed Thursday near the Nazca Lines in southern Peru.
- Dispute over Falklands highlights tensions over business climate in Argentina.
- Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva arrived in Haiti for a state visit, where he will announce an aid package.
- Paraguayan soccer great Arsenio Erico’s remains were repatriated from Buenos Aires.
- Uruguay signed its first scientific exchange agreement with Peru. (Spanish)
Image: Cameron and Katie @ Flickr.