Today in Latin America
Top Story — In an apparent attempt to stop drug cartels from laundering money, the Mexican government announced Tuesday strict limits on the exchange and deposit of U.S. dollars in the country’s banks.
The limits were announced as President Felipe Calderón faces criticism for his administrations failure to intercept the elicit money that cartels bring into Mexico.
“For the last few years we’ve seen the Mexican banking system receiving a very large amount of U.S. dollars in cash, far beyond what could be explained by the activities and dynamics of the economy in Mexico,” said Finance Minister Ernesto Cordero, according to the Los Angeles Times.
A U.S. and Mexican joint report stated that cartels send between $19 billion and $29 billion a year from the U.S. to Mexico, with just under half that amount making its way into banks.
The limits state that tourists and Mexican citizens without bank accounts will be able to exchange up to $1,500 a month, while Mexicans with bank accounts can change a maximum of $4,000.
Mexico has seen a surge in drug-related violence in June and officials believe that the limits will help reduce this violence, which some attribute to turf battles between rival cartels. Much of the money brought into Mexico from the United States is used to purchase high-powered assault weapons.
“This measure is consistent with a strategy of fighting not just drug trafficking but also organised crime,” Cordero said, according to the BBC. “We have to close the way to dollars from sources that may be illegal.”
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck southern California and northern Mexico late Monday. There were no reports of injuries or damages.
- A bullfighter in Mexico was arrested for a breach of contract when he fled the ring in the middle of a fight.
- At least ten people died when two freight trains collided in the western Mexican state of Sinaloa
- U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz criticized former Cuban head of state Fidel Castro’s recent comments about Israel as anti-semitic.
- On Tuesday, the Cuban government denounced its inclusion on a U.S. list of countries that does not do enough to control human and child trafficking.
- The Jamaican government has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of alleged drug lord Christopher “Dudus” Coke.
- Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellrive visited Florida on Tuesday, looking for potential investors for $5.3 billion in rebuilding projects.
- The cost of rebuilding in Guatemala following Tropical Storm Agatha could cost up to $1 billion, according to President Álvaro Colom.
- Cuban doctors and public health specialists working in Nicaragua commemorated the 165th anniversary of the birth of Antonio Maceo and the 82nd anniversary of the birth of Ernesto Ché Guevara.
- The United States eased tariffs on sugar imports from Costa Rica, which was the last barrier in the Central America Free-Trade Agreement.
- Four Colombian men held captive by the FARC for almost 12 years returned to Bogotá on Monday.
- The U.S. State Department criticized the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for issuing an arrest warrant for the owner of a television station critical of Chávez.
- Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Secretary General Néstor Kirchner is in Guayaquil, Ecuador to meet with President Rafael Correa.
- Peru and Aruba plan to share information about Joran Van der Sloot, the Dutchman accused of two murders.
- Canada’s House of Commons approved a free trade agreement with Colombia on Monday.
- The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predict that Brazil will lead an agricultural boom over the next decade, along with China and India.
- Interpol said Tuesday that it arrested Lebanese national Moussa Hamdan in Paraguay, on charges of financing the militant Shiite group Hezbollah.
- Chile filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to sell up to $3 billion in global bonds to help fund rebuilding projects after a devastating earthquake last February.
Image: Photos8.com @ Flickr.