Today in Latin America
Top Story – Two people were shot dead at a military checkpoint in northern Mexico, authorities said Monday.
Soldiers attacked a car passing a military checkpoint, saying the car failed to stop, shooting and killing a 15-year-old boy and his father, The Miami Herald Reports. Relatives said the car had passed the convoy when the soldiers opened fire.
Mexico’s Defense Department expressed its condolences to the family and promised an investigation.
The news comes just as The Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration is considering a “substantial” increase in military support for Mexico, where a three-year-long drug war has claimed 28,000 lives and undermined government authority, particularly in the northern states bordering the U.S.
Supporting President Felipe Calderón’s military offensive against the country’s drug cartels “remains a top administration priority,” the L.A. Times reported, citing an unidentified White House official — but the Mexican military’s human rights record is acting as an obstacle.
The U.S. currently provides Mexico with military support for anti-drug operations through a program called the Merida Initiative. But $62 million in funding has been withheld due to concern about human rights abuses.
The Obama administration said Friday it would recommend the release of $36 million in withheld funding, citing progress on human rights abuses, but State Department officials have said a separate pile of $26 million should be held until more progress has been made.
Mexico’s military and police have been tied to numerous human rights violations, including killings, arbitrary detentions, torture and rape. A 2009 report by Human Rights Watch said that abuses continue to occur in part because the military itself was responsible for investigating allegations of abuse, creating an environment that lend itself to impunity.
“The need to improve public security in Mexico is clear,” said José Miguel Vivanco of HRW, when the report was released. “But, to be effective, any strategy to address security must also deal with the rampant impunity for military abuses committed during public security operations.”
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Tens of thousands of unaccompanied children immigrants are presenting perplexing problems for U.S. policymakers. Alison Bowen explains in her latest post at Beyond Borders.
- After losing in a second-round election to Alán García in 2006, controversial Peruvian nationalist Ollanta Humala is running for the presidency again. Get to know him in this interview with Paul Alonso.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- New Mexico voters strongly disapprove of the state’s policy of giving driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, and a majority of them give a thumbs-up to Arizona’s new immigration law, according to a poll released Sunday by the Albuquerque Journal.
- Tropical Storm Hermine has formed in the western end of the Gulf of Mexico, becoming the eighth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season.
- The State Department has determined that Mexico can receive millions in anti-drug money that was contingent on its human rights performance, but officials said Friday that they are withholding additional funds in hopes of seeing more progress.
- The U.S. Coast Guard has called off its search for a Ukrainian sailor who disappeared from a cargo ship off the west coast of Puerto Rico, ending a two-day effort.
- A Houston-based industry group have said that the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba could undermine attempts to address potential oil spills affecting U.S. coasts once Cuba beings drilling in the Florida Straits.
- A third migrant survived a massacre that left 72 dead in a Mexican border state, and could play a key role in authorities’ investigation of the crime, El Salvador’s president Mauricio Funes said.
- The death toll from torrential rains that have pounded Guatemala had reached 45 by Monday night, with more still missing.
- A 70cm (27-inch) tall Colombian has been named the world’s shortest living man by Guinness World Records.
- Three police officers have been arrested in connection with the killing and apparent robbery of an Italian tourist off the Venezuelan Caribbean resort island of Margarita, prosecutors said Monday.
- Police in Ecuador say 15 people were killed and at least seven injured when a drunken man drove an SUV into a crowded bus stop in the coastal city of Guayaquil.
- Peru’s petroleum agency said on Monday the south of the country could be home to another 30 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas, which would more than double the country’s current proven reserves of the fuel.
- Former Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga will appeal his prison sentence of nearly three years for defaming a bank, his attorney said Sunday.
- A truck carrying explosives for mining in Chile’s Antofagasta region exploded in a collision with another vehicle on Monday, killing four people aboard.
- The leader of the Uruguayan border province of Rio Negro urged Uruguayan President Jose Mujica and Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to halt the Argentine blockade of a bridge spanning the Rio Uruguay, continuing despite an agreement between the two heads of state to jointly monitor river pollution from a controversial paper mill.
- The 33 trapped Chilean miners of the San José mine marked the one-month anniversary of their confinement since a mine shaft collapsed on August 5.
- Argentines are being exposed to violent attacks inside and just outside banks as an increasing number of people rely on cash-only transactions to avoid paying high taxes.
- As Brazilian cinema is enjoying a global resurgence, the government is concerned about portrayals of the country as crime-ridden and violent.
Image: Gobierno Federal @ Flickr.