Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Venezuelan government cut diplomatic ties with neighboring Colombia Thursday, as the dispute between the two countries escalated.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made the annoucement shortly after Colombia accused Venzuela of harboring 1,500 Colombian guerillas, during a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington D.C.
“We have no other choice but, out of dignity, to totally break our relations with our brother nation of Colombia,” Chávez said, according to Reuters.
Luis Alfonso Hoyos, the Colombian ambassador to the OAS, presented videos, maps and photos to support the claim FARC and ELN rebels have bases in Venezuela and said the material was clear evidence that Venezuela is sheltering rebels.
OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza said that the regional body could not mount an inspection mission into Venezuela without the government’s consent.
Venezuela closed its embassy in Bogotá and gave the mission 72 hours to leave.
Tension between the two countries has been palpable as Chávez and outgoing Colombian President Álvaro Uribe have been involved in a war of words for the last few years.
Colombian President-elect Juan Manuel Santos declined to comment to the press regarding the dispute during a visit to Mexico.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- The Board of Immigration Appeals is reviewing the case of Lesly Yajayra Perdomo. The board’s decision may make it easier for Guatemalan women to claim asylum in the United States, based on the argument that they face high levels of violence in their home country. Read more at the latest installment of Alison Bowen’s blog, Beyond Borders.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Eight suspected gang gunmen died in a battle with Mexican soldiers in the remote mountains of northern Chihuahua state, the federal Public Safety Department said Thursday.
- Two electricians who have been on a hunger strike for three months in Mexico City to protest the government’s shutdown of state-run electric company Luz y Fuerza del Centro were reported to be in critical condition on Thursday.
- Rock group Rage Against the Machine said Wednesday they will headline a concert to raise money for organizations challenging the controversial Arizona immigration law. The show, scheduled for Friday, will mark the group’s first Los Angeles performance in 10 years.
- Cuba has replaced its long-serving health minister José Ramón Balaguer, 78, in the latest in a flurry of recent leadership changes by the government of President Raúl Castro.
- More than 200,000 buildings in Haiti have been assessed for structural damage after January’s massive earthquake as part of United Nations-backed efforts to boost reconstruction activities.
- Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega rejected a resolution from leaders at the Central American Integration System (SICA) in San Salvador to readmit Honduras to the organization.
- Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom ordered soldiers to patrol the streets of Guatemala City to combat violent crime.
- Rescuers are searching for five missing people following a landslide in a small town near Guatemala City.
- Pacaya volcano is threatening to erupt again as researchers have detected increased vibrations inside the volcano 18 miles from Guatemala City.
- Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa failed to pass a law that would allow the Central Bank to fund investment projects using deposits.
- Twenty-one police officers were arrested in Venezuela for allegedly helping two suspected Mexican drug traffickers escape from prison.
- Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori made a campaign stop in New Jersey on Thursday to target Peruvians living abroad.
- A Peruvian woman jailed in Bolivia protested prison conditions there, telling Bolivian authorities that she had been handcuffed to the bed of her cell for 45 days.
- The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) announced that Chile has passed Brazil to become Latin America’s number one direct foreign investment recipient.
- The China Development Bank loaned Argentina $10 billion in order to build a new high-speed rail system.
- Paraguay and Uruguay may cooperate with the Bolivian government to build a 2,000 kilometer gas pipeline between Asunción and Montevideo.
- Uruguayan airline Pluna is filing a complaint with antitrust authorities against Buquebus, the Argentine-owned ferry company that crosses the Rio de la Plata between the two countries.
Image: Globovisión @ Flickr.