Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Cuban government Monday lambasted the hunger strike of dissident journalist Guillermo Fariñas as “blackmail” and refused to release 26 political prisoners in need of medical care.
Fariñas began his hunger strike on February 24 of this year, a day after the death of Orlando Zapata. Zapata was a Cuban political activist and prisoner who died on the 83rd day of his hunger strike while protesting prison conditions on the island.
“I say to them: either they free the 26 political prisoners who are the sickest, or nothing. I am going to stick to my position to the end,” Fariñas told Agence France Presse.
Cuba’s Granma newspaper accused Fariñas of being an agent for the United States or European interests and said the country “which has demonstrated many times its respect for human life and dignity, will not accept pressure or blackmail.”
Fariñas was taken to the hospital last Wednesday, suffering from severe dehydration and fainting. He has allegedly refused any treatment.
A statement released by 43 Cuban political prisoners said they were “profoundly touched” by Fariñas’ hunger strike.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Bolsa Mexicana de Valores SAB, the operator of Mexico’s stock market, signed an alliance Monday with the CME Group Inc., allowing for the routing of derivatives orders between the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the local market.
- Driver Sebastien Loeb of France won the Mexico Rally over the weekend. Loeb has now won the race four times.
- Haitian President René Préval said continued food aid to his country threatens to undermine the local economy.
- A helicopter accident in Guatemala injured six people on board after crashing on a soccer field.
- U.S. President Barack Obama met with El Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes on Monday.
- Colombia’s FARC guerillas said Monday that they want security guarantees before releasing two hostages, who FARC commanders promised to free over a year ago.
- The Venezuelan bolivar fell Monday after the central bank stopped its sale of dollar-denominated bonds.
- 140,000 judges will manage Bolivia’s regional elections on April 4 of this year.
- Brazil announced that it will raise tariffs on U.S. imports such as fruit and automobiles in retaliation for illegal subsidies paid to American cotton growers.
- Brazilian President Lula da Silva will not attend the inauguration of Chilean President-elect Sebastian Piñera on March 11, but Uruguayan President José Mujica has confirmed that he will travel to Santiago for the ceremony. The U.S. will send National Security Advisor James L. Jones to represent the Obama administration.
- Foreign scientists have flocked to seismic zones in Chile to research the February 27 earthquake and its aftereffects.
- An Argentine grandmother will face trial for marijuana possession despite an Argentine law allowing the personal consumption of marijuana, as an appeals court ruling states she can’t prove the marijuana was for personal use.