Today in Latin America
Top Story — Bolivian President Evo Morales had sharp words for U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Monday when the two attended a regional conference on defense held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
In an hour long speech at the ninth Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas (CDMA), Morales accused the United States of undermining democratic governments in Latin America and said Latin American nations can choose their own friends and business partners, regardless of U.S. opinion. While Gates was never called out by name, it was clear that the comments were directed at the Pentagon chief and former head of the CIA.
“As Secretary Robert Gates listened, Evo Morales blamed the United States for 4 coup attempts in the region since 2002,” Tweeted Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Morales allegedly blamed the U.S. for the coup attempts in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Gates showed no reaction to Morales’ speech and during his remarks focused on the need for greater military cooperation to address drug trafficking, natural disasters and criminal networks.
“The security challenges we face in our hemisphere – natural and man-made disasters, sophisticated and brutal criminal networks, illicit drugs, weapons and human trafficking – are transnational threats that affect us all,” Gates said, according to a Defense Department transcript. “To successfully confront these challenges we must stand and work together as true partners.”
When questioned by reporters on whether the U.S. had problems with Bolivia receiving civilian nuclear power assistance from Iran, Gates said that Bolivia is a sovereign nation and can have relations with any country it chooses.
Gates attendance at the conference is part of a four-day trip to Bolivia and Chile.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A Mexican doctor was mistakenly killed by police at a roadblock set up to search for the killers of a former governor.
- Mexico’s gross domestic product rose 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2010, with increases in industrial production, services and agricultural output.
- With less than a week to go before presidential elections in Haiti, aid agencies are struggling to contain a growing cholera epidemic on the island.
- A group of 17 people with ties to reputed Puerto Rican drug kingpin Jose David Figueroa Agosto, alias “Junior Capsula,” were arrested Monday by local and federal authorities.
- The Dominican Republic plans to sell $700 million in bonds overseas next year to help finance energy purchases and ease an electricity crisis that threatens to curb growth in the Caribbean’s fastest-growing economy, President Leonel Fernández said.
- El Salvador’s president says his government is “exploring” the possibility of establishing diplomatic relations with China.
- The Panama Canal will likely to see traffic rise moderately for a second straight year in 2011 as international trade continues to recover along with the world economy the Panama Canal Authority said.
- Venezuela President Hugo Chávez is renewing his threats against fugitive television station owner Guillermo Zuloaga, telling him that if he doesn’t return to Venezuela to face justice the state will take legal action against the station and his other properties.
- Hundreds of protesters opposed to a mine of Southern Copper smashed windows at a training center and set a bus on fire on Monday, witnesses said in the latest conflict over natural resources in Peru.
- Miners at Chile’s Collahuasi copper mine have moved into the 18th day of their strike and have until late Tuesday night to accept an offer from the mine’s operators before it expires.
- Brazil’s efforts to build its navy with nuclear-powered submarines may inspire its neighbors to do the same.
- Paraguay and Uruguay had the two fastest-growing Latin American economies between 2000 and 2010, according to the IMF.
- A Brazilian funeral home is capitalizing on its market of Brazilian nationals abroad by broadcasting funeral services live over the Internet.
Image: kk+ @ Flickr.