Today in Latin America
Top Story — Contrary to expectations, Juan Manuel Santos gained a strong lead in the first round of Colombia’s presidential elections on Sunday, according to preliminary results announced by Colombia’s National Registry.
With more than 90 percent of the votes counted, Santos led with 46.6 percent. Antanas Mockus held second place with 21.5 percent. The contest will go to a second round in June because neither candidate won a simple majority.
Polls in recent weeks had predicted a much closer race, with Green Party candidate Antanas Mockus coming from behind to challenge Santos.
As Uribe’s former defense minister, Santos has benefited from the popularity Uribe gained for his victories against the half-century old leftist insurgency, led by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish).
Both candidates have pledged to maintain Uribe’s security policies.
- Mexican President Felipe Calderón said that he does not object to the United States sending up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S. – Mexico border as long as the soldiers do not arrest Mexicans trying to get into the United States.
- Pirates from Mexico have robbed fisherman on Falcon Lake, a remote reservoir that straddles the international boundary between Mexico and the state of Texas.
- Five bodies were found in an abandoned silver mine in the southern Mexican town of Taxco and authorities suspect that there may be more than 20 other bodies at the site.
- The Jamaican government has been accused of indiscriminate violence in its hunt for alleged drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke.
- Cuba’s northwest coast awaits oil from the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
- The slow pace of Haitian reconstruction continues to frustrate those whose lives were devastated by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
- The practice of “exotic wakes” has the Puerto Rican authorities up in arms.
- Tropical storm Agatha has killed at least 83 people from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras after striking Guatemala on Saturday.
- Guatemala’s Pacaya Volcano erupted Friday, displacing hundreds of people and covering parts of Guatemala City in ash.
- President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua threatened to dissolve the country’s National Assembly Wednesday night, and a spokesman for the country’s Liberal Party has since called for the OAS to intervene.
- Current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo acknowledged that the expulsion of former president Manuel Zelaya last June constituted a coup, a position Lobo had earlier denied.
- Honduras’ World Cup team could not exchange team shirts after a match with opponents from Belarus because the team was traveling with too little equipment.
- Director Oliver Stone said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was misunderstood by the Western media, but that Chaváz should also cut down on his hours-long television appearances.
- According to his attorney, the Peruvian indigenous leader Alberto Pizango was released from custody a day after he was arrested upon his return from exile in Nicaragua.
- The Bolivian government said it plans to negotiate with an indigenous group that lynched four policemen accused of theft and murder in the province of Potosi.
- Ecuadorean authorities began allowing 2,500 evacuees to return home and planed to reopen the Guayaquil airport, after the eruption of the Tungurahua volcano began to abate.
- Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tyyip Erdogan cancelled his visit to Argentina this weekend after Buenos Aires city officials called off the inauguration of a monument to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey.
- Uruguayan President José Mujica proposed a controversial new tax regime that would require Uruguayan citizens to declare assets held outside the country in a bid to help the country qualify as a member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
- The parents of the Pakistani man accused in Chile of bringing explosives into the U.S. Embassy have arrived in Santiago to visit their son, who continues to profess his innocence.
- Paraguay came from behind to tie 2-2 with the Ivory Coast in a World Cup warmup Sunday.