Today in Latin America
Top Story — Venezuelans went to the polls Sunday to elect 11 mayors and two state governors, with an opposition candidate claiming the biggest prize by winning the mayorship of country’s second-largest city of Maracaibo.
Eveling Trejo, the wife of former Maracaibo Mayor Manuel Rosales, beat pro-Chávez candidate Gian Carlos Di Martino and several other opponents on Sunday, taking 58.6 percent of the counted votes. Trejo’s husband fled Venezuela last year after prosecutors brought corruption-related charges against him; Eveling Trejo is a relative newcomer to politics.
“I’m sure that from Lima, where he is, he should be happy and proud,” Trejo said, referring to her husband, according to The Associated Press.
The results were released late Sunday after officials cited that voting trends showed an irreversible outcome, but the final results are expected sometime Monday.
These regional elections are seen as a test of President Hugo Chávez’s popularity and come at a time when he is facing a number of domestic problems. Venezuela is in the midst of a recession, has double-digit inflation and widespread violent crime, all of which have made Venezuela into one of Latin America’s most dangerous countries.
Floods and landslides from recent torrential rains have left many dead and thousands more homeless, with the government promising to build more public housing and Chávez allowing some of those stranded to stay in the presidential palace.
Venezuela had more than 1.7 million registered voters eligible to participate in Sunday’s elections.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Allegations of human rights abuses have followed ex-president of Colombia Álvaro Uribe to Washington, where he is a visiting scholar at Georgetown University. While conclusive evidence of criminal wrongdoing has not surfaced, Georgetown students and the attorney for Colombian plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit against the Drummond Company are determined to force a showdown.
- Puerto Rican officials and businesses are partnering to launch a new campaign to boost the island’s economy through tourism. Von Diaz has more.
- Secure Communities, a federal anti-illegal immigration program, is stirring debate in New York. Amy Elmgren reports.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexico’s foreign secretary told delegates at the global climate conference in Cancún that there will be no secret negotiations in the meeting’s final days.
- A suspect has been arrested in the 2005 kidnapping and presumed killing of a Mexican businessman.
- The Mexican military arrested a 14-year old boy, who was allegedly a hitman for a drug cartel.
- Protests have erupted in Wisconsin over proposed changes to Wisconsin’s immigration law, which would make it resemble the controversial law seen in Arizona.
- Cuba’s Supreme Court commuted the death sentence of a Salvadoran man, Ernesto Cruz León, to 30 years in prison for his role in a string of bombings in Havana in 1997 that killed a tourist and left 11 wounded.
- Protesters and police clashed in front of Haiti’s presidential palace, as protesters demanded the annulment of recent elections.
- Authorities have detained 18 military officials and two U.S. pilots after stopping a cocaine-laden airplane from taking off in the Dominican Republic, officials said Friday.
- A Guatemalan ex-congressman has been sentenced to 203 years in prison after being found guilty of ordering the assassination of three Salvadoran representatives to the Central American Parliament and their driver in 2007.
- Ten children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico have been rescued from human smugglers who threatened to rape and kill some of them if their parents didn’t pay more money for their entry into the U.S., authorities said Friday.
- Spain Saturday offered to help resolve a festering border dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Spain’s top diplomat said at the close of the Ibero-American Summit.
- A landslide following weeks of drenching rains has buried more than 50 homes in northwestern Colombia, apparently trapping dozens of people.
- The Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador is billowing ash into the sky and sending super-hot pyroclastic flows surging down its slopes, causing authorities to evacuate nearby villages.
- Bolivia’s Congress on Friday approved a bill to nationalize the country’s pension-fund system, increase benefits and lower the minimum retirement age.
- Brazilian President Lula da Silva formerly recognized Palestinian statehood in a letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that was made public last Friday.
- Dozens of people were injured in Easter Island over the weekend as the Chilean government attempted to evict villagers in Rapa Nui from government buildings that they claim are part of their ancestral territory.
- Britain and Brazil are working together to end the deadlock over the Kyoto Protocol as one of several developed-developing nation pairs at the U.N. climate talks in Mexico.
- 92-year old María Esther Gatti de Islas, a Uruguayan human rights activist known for her decades-long quest to find her missing daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter, died Sunday in Montevideo.
Image: Que Comunismo! @ Flickr.