Today in Latin America
Top Story — Police in Jamaica launched an assault on the neighborhood of alleged drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke Monday in an effort to apprehend him.
Jamaican security forces moved into Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens district amid heavy gunfire as Coke’s supporters fought to to stop his extradition to the U.S., where he is wanted on drug and gun running charges.
The unrest has already left two police officers dead and six more wounded. An unknown number of casualties have been reported throughout Kingston.
On Sunday, Jamaican officials declared a state of emergency throughout parts of Kingston due to the violence between Coke’s loyalists and law enforcement. The United States has been seeking Coke’s extradition for nine months, but until recently the Jamaican government has ignored the request.
Coke, who allegedly holds a heavy influence in West Kingston, has been compared to both Robin Hood and the last Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. He controls his terriotry through a mix of violence, charity and corruption and the unrest in Kingston stems is between those who want him extradited and those who see him as a benefactor and philanthropist.
“He lives in a poor area, and because of his sale of cocaine, he basically plays the Robin Hood role,” said Jamaican-born attorney David Rowe, a University of Miami adjunct professor, according to CNN. “They don’t know, if he’s extradited, who will be there for them. There are mothers wondering, ‘Who’s going to buy my child lunch?’ or ‘If I get sick, who’s going to pay my hospital bills?’ ”
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Police appear to be making strides toward containing drug trafficking violence in Rio de Janeiro. Find out why in this Dispatch.
- A special report on Colombia’s DAS intelligence service’s plan to disinform the public, impede political opposition and intimidate the country’s citizens.
- Read about the 16 people arrested in New York for acts of civil disobedience while protesting for comprehensive immigration reform at Alison Bowen’s blog Beyond Borders.
- An article on the struggles faced by undocumented immigrants who have graduated from college in the United States by Julio Salgado.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The U.S. consulate in Mexico issued a travel warning about several unconfirmed reports of unauthorized checkpoints where some motorists who didn’t stop were shot at and killed.
- The Associated Press reported that Mexican drug cartels are increasing their trafficking of “black tar” heroin into the United States, which due to the drug’s potency and low price worries law enforcement who fear a widening of the drug’s appeal among users.
- England defeated Mexico in an international friendly soccer match at Wembley Stadium as a warm-up for this summer’s World Cup in South Africa.
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow textile companies in Haiti greater access to the U.S. market.
- A Texas man has been charged with assaulting a flight attendant in a disturbance that forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Puerto Rico.
- Honduran President Porfirio Lobo met with Colombian president Alvaro Urbibe Monday, beginning a two-day visit to Colombia.
- Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli issued the government’s first official apology for the country’s 1968-1989 military dictatorship Monday.
- Arenal Volcano, a major tourist attraction in Costa Rica, erupted Monday. Authorities had evacuated the area and no one was reported injured.
- Colombia’s economy should grow more than the targeted 2.5 percent in 2010, according to the country’s Finance Minster Oscar Ivan.
- Nine Colombian marines were killed and two wounded in a firefight with FARC guerrillas in the southern state of Caqueta.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the country will increase its use of thermoelectricity and plans to ease its power rationing program.
- American rock band Aerosmith played for a crowd of 30,000 fans in Lima, Peru over the weekend, as part of their tour of Latin America that ends in Costa Rica.
- Chevron asked Ecuadorean courts to disregard an environmental expert who has said the company should pay $27 billion in damages for polluting the Amazon rainforest.
- Chile’s planned debt sale to finance rebuilding efforts from this year’s February earthquake will go forward despite the European debt crisis, according to the country’s finance minister.
- A 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Acre region in northwestern Brazil early Monday, but no damage was reported.
- The Teatro Colón, Argentina’s greatest opera house, reopened Monday after three years of restoration in time for the country’s bicentennial.
- Paraguay forward Roque Santa Cruz said Monday that he hopes teammate Salvador Cabañas can play for Paraguay in time for the World Cup.
- Argentina defeated Canada 5-0 in a World Cup warmup Monday.
Image: airbornshoedan @ Flickr.
This post has been corrected. An earlier version erroniously stated that the state of emergency was declared on Friday; it was declared on Sunday.