Today in Latin America
Top Story — Rescue efforts are underway in southern Mexico after a mudslide destroyed scores of homes and raised fears of a massive death toll.
The mudslide occurred in the town of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec around four in the morning, as a 650-foot-wide hill collapsed sending tons of mud over as many as 300 houses. Early reports stated that the death toll could reach into the hundreds, but by evening no deaths had been reported and only 11 people were missing.
Three adults and eight children were missing, said Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake and Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz, according to the Associated Press.
Due to poor road conditions caused by heavy rains, the first rescue crews were forced to wait until the afternoon to begin their search efforts. The workers are using megaphones to call out to survivors and searching homes for people.
“We are without electricity, light, phone service,” Donato Vargas, a community official in Santa Maria, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We are used to landslides in this area, but we’ve never seen one like this.”
Rescue helicopters brought workers and supplies to the storm ravaged town, including 200 picks and 200 shovels.
Mexican President Felipe Calderón spoke to officials in Santa Maria early in the day, who told him that the town was attempting to rescue people using two earth movers.
“We are dismayed by this tragedy, deeply saddened, but very determined to do everything we can, God permitting, to save the victims who may still be alive under the landslide,” Calderón said, according to the New York Times.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- With Venezuela having gone through historic parliamentary elections on Sunday, Juan Fajardo takes a look at how both supporters and opponents of Hugo Chávez have used marches and street protests to vie for control of public space in this photo essay.
- A new government program aims to make Chile a heaven for start-ups. David Mauro has the story.
- With Brazil’s election season in full swing, Hugo Passarello Luna takes a look Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva’s presidency.
- Chile’s President, Sebastián Piñera, laid out an ambitious program to bring his country into the ranks of the developed world in a speech on Wednesday.
- Journalism in Mexico has become a dangerous job and has many people- from President Calderón to bloggers- wondering how to best to protect reporters.
- The Senate voted to stall the DREAM Act on Tuesday, which had been inserted as an amendment to the defense appropriations bill. Latin America News Dispatch contributor Raisa Camargo reports from Washington.
- Low-Wage Immigrant Workers Face Special Challenges & Risks, reports Alison Bowen in her blog, Beyond Borders.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A federal agency is issuing a $1 million fine against Abercrombie & Fitch over the way the clothing retailer kept track of the employment eligibility of its workers.
- A judge has dismissed charges against five former state and local police officers and ordered their release a year after they were arrested on suspicion of aiding drug traffickers in Mexico’s western Michoacán state.
- Another murder of a Mexican mayor on Monday is contributing to the security concerns of officials from towns near the U.S. border, who are now seeking refuge in the United States amid the ongoing drug war.
- Tropical Storm Matthew left at least eight people dead and badly damaged housing, infrastructure and agribusiness in Central America and Mexico over the weekend, according to preliminary reports on Monday.
- Friends and family of the Nicaraguan official found dead in his Bronx apartment are gathered tonight to say their goodbyes.
- Parts of Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida were under a tropical storm alert Tuesday, as a tropical depression gathered strength and was likely to become Tropical Storm Nicole, forecasters said.
- Officials unveiled details of a $3 billion, two-part development plan for the capital’s historic quarter Tuesday that aims to ease traffic jams, attract more tourists and create thousands of jobs as Puerto Rico enters its fourth year of recession.
- A bank and companies from Brazil will assist Nicaragua in financing an $800 million hydropower plant, wire services reported.
- A group of women on Tuesday delivered to the Nicaraguan government thousands of signatures collected in Europe by Amnesty International to demand the restoration of therapeutic abortion in this Central American country.
- A fisherman in Costa Rica has been explaining his unusual relationship with a crocodile called “Pocho,” who he plays with like a pet dog. Chito says he found the reptile with a gunshot wound 20 years ago on the banks of the Parismina river and nursed him back to health at his home.
- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica announced on Monday an agreement with the Ukraine to implement a system of bilateral consultations.
- Integrated Peruvian, Chilean and Colombian stock-exchange operations are set to begin November 22, said the president of Peru’s stock exchange on Tuesday.
- A prominent opposition leader ruled out seeking a referendum to try to unseat Hugo Chavez, advising the president Tuesday to focus instead on governing the country until he is up for re-election in 2012.
- Venezuelan police say they have arrested a drug suspect from Iceland as he was trying to board a flight to Germany.
- Bank workers in Brazil plan a nationwide strike Wednesday after voting down an inflation-based 4.3 percent salary increase.
- The 33-trapped Chilean miners could be freed by the middle of October, thanks to advances rescue workers have made in drilling.
- Uruguayan soccer star Diego Forlan will be the figurehead in a new tourism campaign for the Southern Cone nation.
- A new bill will be sent to Paraguay’s congress next week that would allow private investors to run the country’s airports.
Image: TomSpinker @ Flickr.