Today in Latin America
Top Story — Two Colombian men were arrested in the Valencia region in eastern Spain who allegedly worked as “debt collectors” for Colombian drug cartels and are suspected of committing over 200 murders.
Henry Norberto Valdés Marín, also know as “El Pollo” and Mauricio Alberto González, alias “El Ronco”, were captured by Spanish police on Sunday night at different addresses in the Valencia region after information was given to them by the Colombian counterparts.
“These are the most dangerous Colombian citizens to have been detained in Spain up until now due to their history and the variety of criminal activities that they were involved with,” The Spanish Interior Ministry said, according to the Montreal Gazette.
Both men were also wanted on charges of drug trafficking and illegal weapons possession. They face extradition to Colombia.
Valdés Marín is allegedly the logistics coordinator for a group of hitmen working for Colombia’s Norte del Valle drug cartel that is known as Le Negra. The group is suepcted to operate in eight countries and is blamed for the 2004 death of soccer player Albeiro “El Palomo” Usuriaga.
González Sepúlveda allegedly lead part of the now-defunct Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) and has ties to Colombia’s Envigado drug cartel. He had skin grafted to his finger tips to disguise his identity.
Spain is one of the main entry points in Europe for cocaine coming from Colombia and it is believed that the two men moved to Spain with the aim of continuing their criminal activities in the country.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Molly O’Toole shares some images from her recent 852-mile, 72-hour trip across the Southwest border, from San Diego, California to Arizona and back in this photo essay.
- The extradition of key Colombian paramilitary leaders to the United States is disrupting a historic amnesty program intended to demobilize units and deliver basic information, such as the location of bodies, to victims’ relatives. ProPublica explains in this investigative report.
- Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, lead author of the controversial immigration bill SB 1070, sat down with Molly O’Toole to discuss illegal immigration and elections. Here’s what he had to say.
- With classes about to begin, undocumented students are breathing a sigh of relief. Alison Bowen explains why.
- Chile has a new education initiative that it hopes will attract more qualified teachers. Read more about the new program in this article by Dispatch contributor David Mauro.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexico’s immigration minister, Cecilia Romero Castillo, resigned Tuesday, three weeks after 72 Central and South American migrants were killed.
- Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) pitched a bill on Tuesday that would require federal authorities to take a more “humane” approach when enforcing immigration laws, called the “Families First Immigration Enforcement Act of 2010.”
- Mexico prepares to celebrate its bicentennial Wednesday.
- With time running short on the congressional calendar, the best chance of passing a bill this year that lifts the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba and removes hurdles on food sales to the island is after the November 2 congressional elections, a top U.S. lawmaker said on Tuesday.
- Haiti’s prime minister defended the speed of reconstruction in his earthquake-ravaged country in a speech Tuesday, saying rubble in the capital is being cleared as fast as possible.
- A former adviser for American missionaries accused of taking children out of Haiti has been extradited to the United States in an immigrant smuggling case, officials said Tuesday.
- U.S. health regulators have warned Bristol Myers Squibb Co. over repeated manufacturing violations at its facility in Puerto Rico and said future drug approvals could be at risk, according to a letter released on Tuesday.
- El Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes said on Monday in a speech in Florida that to build a safer region where fewer people are compelled to abandon their countries of origin, the access to public services and wages must be increased.
- The Organization of American States is holding a seminar to train people on the rights of indigenous peoples in the inter-American system from Sept. 13 – 17.
- Colombian authorities have arrested a veteran lawmaker and former president of Congress on criminal conspiracy charges for alleged collusion with far-right militias.
- Award-winning Colombian journalist Claudia Duque has been refused entry to Britain. She was invited by the National Union of Journalists to give a speech about her work in upholding human rights.
- A rescue official says a military helicopter has crashed into a Venezuelan navy research boat and fallen into the sea, leaving the pilot and co-pilot missing and four crew members on the boat injured.
- Ismael Benavides, a banker who previously served in President Alan García’s cabinet, will take over as finance minister as Peru’s economy surges at one of the fastest paces in the world.
- Bolivia saw some of the region’s strongest economic growth last year thanks to its socially progressive economic model that bucks traditional capitalism and the neoliberal policies that have ruled the nation for decades, Bolivian Minister of Economy and Public Finance Luis Alberto Arce said Tuesday.
- Brazil plans to tighten security around its tax database after presidential candidate’s Jose Serra records were illegally accessed.
- Former Argentine President Néstor Kirchner was released from the hospital after undergoing surgery to repair a blocked coronary artery.
- Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet will take control of a new United Nations agency to promote women’s equality.
Image: USEmbassyMadrid @ Flickr.