Today in Latin America
Top Story — The season’s first tropical storm ripped through Central America and southern Mexico over the weekend, leaving an estimated 131 people dead and thousands more missing and homeless.
Tropical Storm Agatha caused major flooding and landslides in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras and prompted Honduras to declare a state of emergency.
The hardest hit country was Guatemala, where official counts reported 108 dead and 53 missing. President Álvaro Colom said that during a single-12 hour period on Sunday 4.3 inches of rain fell on he valley where Guatemala City is situated.
“The department has collapsed. There are a lot of dead people. The roads are blocked. The shelters are overflowing. We need water, food, clothes, blankets — but above all, money,” said Gov. Erick de León of the department of Chimaltenango, according to The Associated Press.
The storm also added to the disruption of an erupting volcano in Guatemala, as the Pacaya volcano spewed ash on regions close to the capital.
The storm has dissipated but heavy rains are expected throughout the region for the next few days.
“Many places are cut off but it appears the weather will improve a bit today and we will be able to airlift supplies to those places. The road network is badly damaged,” President Colom said at a news conference on Sunday, according to the BBC.
- The skulls and bones of a dozen men who fought for Mexico’s independence were exhumed from a crypt in Mexico City’s Angel of Independence monument to be examined by experts as part the country’s bicentennial celebration.
- 20 to 25 more bodies were recovered from an abandoned silver mine in southern Mexico, that is near the popular tourist town of Taxco. Authorities believe the bodies were put there by drug traffickers.
- Mexico’s World Cup soccer team trimmed down it’s roster to the final 23 players, excluding three more players including FC Barcelona midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos.
- Cuban political dissidents are still waiting for changes in their treatment that were promised after a meeting with Cardinal Jaime Ortega.
- The Jamaican government faces challenges in its attempts to reassert control over neighborhoods long in the hands of local gang leaders.
- After being devastated by an earthquake and series of aftershocks beginning on Jan. 12, Haiti remains far from ready for hurricane season, which starts today.
- A sinkhole in Guatemala City swallowed a three-story building as the death toll continues to mount in the wake of tropical storm Agatha.
- Unidentified gunmen attempted to assassinate Nicaraguan National Police chief Aminta Granera Sunday, but there have been no arrests.
- Honduran President Porfirio Lobo will make an appearance as a keynote speaker in a Miami conference sponsored by the Minority Chamber of Commerce and Florida Minority Community Reinvestment Coalition (FMCRC).
- Alberto Labbé was appointed Ambassador of Chile in Panama.
- Greystar Resources will not have to redesign the Angostura gold project in Colombia to conform to new mining regulations in the country, as Colombia accepted the company’s appeal against the demand to resubmit an environmental study on the project.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez verbally attacked the the corporate president and a union leader of Venezuela’s largest food producer over critical comments he made about Chavez’s efforts to expand the state’s role in the economy.
- Lori Berenson, freed after 15 years in prison for her involvement with Peru’s Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA), asked Peru to commute her sentence so she can return to the United States.
- Argentina extended the deadline for its debt swap for an additional two weeks, to June 22.
- A Brazilian public official criticized the Obama administration after U.S. officials spoke dismissively about the nuclear fuel swap deal signed by Iran with Brazil last Friday.
- Chile’s unemployment rate fell to 8.6 per cent from February to April and is expected to continue improving.