Today in Latin America
Top Story — A recently released Colombian poll predicts that Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus would beat Juan Manuel Santos in a second round vote in the country’s next presidential election.
The poll, conducted by the Centro Nacional de Consultoría, had Santos winning the first round by a one percent margin, but losing in the run-off election with 44 percent versus 50 percent for Mockus.
The poll indicated that Colombia’s electorate may be shifting as the May 20 presidential elections approach.
Current President Álvaro Uribe, a conservative, has won great popularity for his hardline approach toward leftist guerrillas and his emphasis on security. First elected in 2002, he was re-elected in 2006 after the country’s Constitution was revised by referendum to allow one consecutive re-election.
Just a year ago, observers expected Uribe to win a second re-election handily if he succeeded in passing a constitutional reform allowing him to run for a third term. When the measure was rejected by Colombia’s Constitutional Court, most thought Santos, Uribe’s former defense minister, would win the upcoming presidential elections, though by a narrower margin.
Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogotá running as an independent, has seen his popularity explode after his small Green Party performed well in congressional elections last month.
Analysts credit Mockus’ success in part to his emphasis on civic virtue and tough stance on corruption. Mockus is supported by the business community.
Both candidates are expected to continue Uribe’s security policies, according to Reuters.
Other Top News: Paraguayan lawmakers gave President Fernando Lugo and the army emergency powers Saturday, allowing them to pursue a guerrilla group known as the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP, in Spanish) that has committed two major kidnappings in the country’s northern territory. The guerrillas allegedly kidnap for ransom, citing a need for change to help the rural poor.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Arizona’s governor Jan Brewer signed a strict new immigration law on Friday.
- With the conference under way in Cochabamba, Nikolas Kozloff, author of No Rain in the Amazon: How South America’s Climate Affects the Entire Planet, asks how climate change will affect El Niño — an irregular weather pattern that periodically wreaks havoc on the Andes.
- In the wake of a report criticizing 287(g) and similar programs that deputize local officials to enforce federal immigration law, we wondered what supporters of these programs consider their biggest successes. So Alison Bowen asked around to find out who’s been detained and deported in these programs. She contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which trains the officers, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies, both groups that support 287(g). Read the latest post at her blog Beyond Borders to find out what they told her.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- At least four people were killed and 10 wounded when gunmen attacked a convoy carrying the public security minister for Michoacán state in Mexico.
- An 1,100-pound bull gored one of Spain’s top bullfighters during a fight in the Mexican city of Aguascalientes.
- The Mexican army killed five people in a shootout near the near the northern city of Monterrey.
- The Cuban government held municipal elections on Sunday.
- Moody’s Investors Service raised the Dominican Republic’s credit rating one level, to B1.
- Guatemala’s government handed over a military document showing evidence soldiers killed villagers during the country’s civil war. The document could help prosecute top officials for genocide.
- Guatemalan immigration activists oppose the new immigration legislation in Arizona.
- President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras left for the United States on Saturday. He will visit New Orleans and Miami and speak with an official from the World Bank.
- Costa Rica’s infant mortality was down in 2009, to it’s lowest in 59 years.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gave members’ of the country’s armed forces a 40 percent pay raise Sunday, in a move that aims to consolidate his support with the military.
- A Peruvian police chief, who faces homicide charges after commanding a police operation that resulted in 33 deaths at an Indian road blockade last June, was named a member of the Peruvian Interior Ministry’s human rights commission.
- Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa appointed Wilson Pastor to replace Germanico Pinto as minister of nonrenewable natural resources.
- A Brazilian woman ordered to relinquish her child to his American father is appealing the ruling, but her lawyer says she will not try to evade justice.
- Chilean prosecutor Javier Armendáriz announced a criminal investigation of a popular retired priest, Fernando Karadima, accused of sexually abusing five young men in his parish residence. A Roman Catholic official in Chile, however, acknowledged Sunday that the investigation has been suspended while he looks for more evidence.
- A former Nazi soldier who founded a colony of German immigrants in Chile died Saturday in a Chilean prison, where he was serving time for child molestation and human rights abuses during the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
- Zurich Financial Services announced Friday it will take a $200 million pretax hit in earthquake claims from Chile. The number is higher than analysts expected.
Image: World Economic Forum @ Flickr.