Today in Latin America
Top Story — Spanish police seized 1,760 pounds of cocaine hidden in a truck used as a backup vehicle in the Dakar Rally, an off-road car race, held this year in Argentina.
The truck was first shipped from Spain to Argentina, where the race is now held because of security concerns over terrorist attacks in Africa. It was then allegedly loaded with cocaine during one of the race’s stages held from January 1 to 16 and shipped back to Spain after the race.
The truck was seized last Friday in Bilbao, Spain as part of a joint effort between Spanish and Argentine authorities.
“The vehicle had been totally transformed to adapt it to its supposed participation in the competition as a support truck, with publicity and logos of the event painted on its side,” a police statement released on Tuesday said, according to The BBC.
Seven suspects were arrested, all Spaniards who were allegedly part of a drug smuggling ring that aimed to transport the cocaine to the Balearic island of Ibiza for its summer party season.
Authorities in Barcelona also found 6,000 euros and false documents in the apartment of the ring’s alleged leader.
Other top news: A new report by the Mexican government shows that more than 22,700 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderón began a U.S.-supported crackdown against Mexico’s drug cartels in December of 2006.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Lesly Kernisant of the Haitian American-led investment group SImACT discusses the challenges of bringing investment to Haiti.
- The National Security Archive uncovered a diplomatic cable confirming that days before the assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier in 1976, Henry Kissinger canceled a warning to southern cone dictators against carrying out a series of international murders.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- In an agreement announced at the Nuclear Security Summit, Mexico said it would work with the United States and Canada to convert its highly enriched uranium reactor.
- Tourism is down in Mexico due to the rise in violence between drug cartels and fears over last year’s swine flu breakout.
- The Cuban government privatized small barbershops, manicurists and hair salons for the first time since 1968, when the revolutionary government nationalized small business.
- First lady Michelle Obama made an unscheduled visit to Haiti on Tuesday.
- Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño submitted a bill to reduce the territory’s legislature by 30 percent in order to save money. Puerto faces a $3.2 billion deficit.
- Costa Rican President-elect Laura Chinchilla said that Honduras should be allowed back in the Organization of American States, after it was suspended from the organization following last year’s coup.
- Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega did not accept the invitation to Costa Rican President-elect Laura Chincilla’s inauguration, so Chinchilla plans to personally invite him during her visit to the country.
- Colombia plans to buy nine Black Hawk helicopters from U.S. based company Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.
- A prison fight in Venezuela left seven inmates dead and 10 guards wounded at the Santa Ana Prison in the western part of the country.
- Workers at the Huarón silver mine in Peru went on strike, shutting down production over a dispute over workers’ profit-sharing payments.
- A Brazilian court sentenced a rancher to 30 years in prison for the 2005 murder of U.S.-born nun Dorothy Stang.
- The death toll resulting from floods and mudslides in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has risen to 246, with 161 missing. The “Christ the Redeemer” statue, a major world tourist attraction, has been closed.
- The price of soybeans rose to a seven-week high due to speculation that China will continue to import from the United States due to a dispute with Argentina’s soybean producers.
- Chile may sell its stake in power producer Empresa Eléctrica de Norte Grande S.A. in order to finance reconstruction from February’s earthquake and Tsunami.
- The Vatican was attacked for a cardinal’s claim that pedophilia is linked to homosexuality, not celibacy. The controversy was sparked when the Pope’s alleged number two, Tarcisio Bertone, blamed homosexuality on a visit to Chile.
- Uruguay and Venezuela expanded oil accords, according to German Riet, an oil official who accompanied José Mujica on his visit to Caracas to speak with Hugo Chávez.
- Police in Hamburg, Germany, siezed 1.4 tons of cocaine shipped from Paraguay. The shipment is reportedly Germany’s biggest cocaine haul to date.
Image: InnerCore @ Flickr.