Juan Manuel Santos.
Today in Latin America

Colombian Congressional Elections Favor Conservative Partido de la U and Juan Manuel Santos; Candidates with Paramilitary Ties Win Seats

March 16, 2010 By Staff

Juan Manuel Santos.

Juan Manuel Santos.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Preliminary results from Colombia’s parliamentary elections held on Sunday indicate the country will continue to steer a conservative course.

The Partido de la U, which supports current President Álvaro Uribe, received the most Senate seats. The result augured well for former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, who has pledged to maintain Uribe’s policies. Santos is currently favored to win May’s presidential election.

“Today the U party has won — the party of President Uribe,” Santos said on Sunday. “We are newly consolidated as the principle political force in the country.”

The elections were characterized by low voter turnout and numerous accusations of irregularities, according to news reports. Some 80 candidates received financing from illicit sources, including drug traffickers and paramilitaries, according to the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE, in Spanish), a non-governmental organization.

At least 25 Senate seats went to candidates under investigation for ties to right-wing paramilitary groups or to relatives of paramilitaries, Agence France-Presse reports.

Spanish speakers can view the election results at El Tiempo’s Web site.

Just published at the Latin America News Dispatch: Claudia Llosa’s “The Milk of Sorrow” Takes Peru to the Oscars (Film Review).

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • American FBI agents were sent to Ciudad Juárez to help Mexican authorities investigate the drive-by shootings of three people connected to the U.S. consulate.
  • Evaristo Pacheco of Visión Informativa was killed in the state of Guerrero. He was the fourth journalist to be murdered in Mexico this year.
  • Only 34,427 out of an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 undocumented Haitians living in the U.S. before the Jan. 12 earthquake have applied for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which would allow them to live and work legally in the U.S. for 18 months.

Caribbean

  • Haiti’s politicians and business leaders are finishing a reconstruction plan that could be worth up to $14 billion.

Central America

  • Assassins gunned down news director for TV Aguán Nahúm Palacios in Tocoa, Honduras. He was the third Honduran journalist to be killed in the last two weeks.
  • Roberto Micheletti, the former interim President of Honduras following the country’s June 28 coup last year, was denied entry to Nicaragua by immigration authorities. (Spanish)

Andes

  • Bicyclists rode nude through the streets of Lima, Peru, in a protest to demand respect from the drivers with whom they share the road.
  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said that Basque immigrants living in Venezuela are not involved in terrorist activities. A Spanish judge has accused the Venezuelan government of assissting Colombian insurgents and Basque separatists in a plot to assassinate Colombian President Álvaro Uribe. Chávez denies the charges.

Southern Cone

  • Zulema Yoma, the ex-wife of former Argentine President Carlos Menem, asked to reopen an investigation into the death of the couple’s 26 year-old son in a helicopter accident fifteen years ago. Thirteen witnesses in the case are now dead.
  • Electricity was restored in Chile on Monday after a blackout cut power to 90 per cent of the country.
  • Brazilian President Lula da Silva met with Israeli leaders on Monday to urge peace talks and to discuss Israel’s free trade agreement with MERCOSUR, which goes into effect in April.
  • Uruguayan President José Mujica and Bolivian President Evo Morales signed an agreement that will give Bolivia access to Uruguayan ports in exchange for Bolivian natural gas.

Image: Center for American Progress @ Flickr.

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