Today in Latin America
Top Story — In a recording broadcast Wednesday by a Mexican television network, a top member of Mexico’s La Familia drug cartel confirmed the death of one of its leaders.
Servando Gómez, the alleged leader of La Familia, told cartel members not to despair over the death of Nazario Moreno, alias “The Doctor,” and asked them to continue fighting federal police.
“If they think that in this way they are going to go into Michoacán and Los Zetas are going to occupy our turf or our towns … How wrong they are! Let’s show them what we’re made of, we’re a family, let’s show unity … Nobody can abandon any area,” Gómez said, according to Fox News.
Gómez also expressed regret that the Mexican government did not take into consideration the cartel’s November offer to disband if authorities promised to take control of Michoacán state “with firmness and decisiveness.”
The offer was made in the form of a letter and said La Familia would dissolve if the government promises to protect citizens. It was dropped in the streets of some mountain towns in the western state of Michoacán.
La Familia is one of the newest, smallest and strangest of Mexico’s drug cartels. They announced their arrival on the country’s drug-trafficking scene in September 2006, when a member dropped five severed heads on to a nightclub dance floor along with a message about divine justice.
Among the country’s seven major cartels, La Familia has a reputation for operating like a quasi-religious cult and has significant support among the local population.
“Give hope to the comrades everywhere, we are going forward,” Gómez said, according to The Guardian newspaper. “We are fighting for our people and for our cause. This is a just cause, a social cause born of the way we have been treated.”
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Brazil’s Lula da Silva may be one of the region’s emblematic left-leaning figures, but Nikolas Kozloff’s piece based on WikiLeaks cables concerning Brazil paints a different picture.
- The U.S. Supreme Court grappled last week over whether the state of Arizona has authority to implement standards and penalties on employers who knowingly hire undocumented workers.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A joint U.S.-Mexico committee met Wednesday to discuss border management issues and border violence.
- The number of murders in Ciudad Juárez topped 3,100, making 2010 the deadliest year since the battle between warring drug cartels began in 2008.
- Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents seized a van containing one ton of marijuana parked above an underground tunnel that led from Nogales, Arizona to Mexico.
- Cuba’s National Assembly convened Wednesday to discuss economic reforms proposed by the Raúl Castro government.
- The United Nations announced Wednesday that it has called for an independent commission to study whether U.N. peacekeepers caused a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 2,400 people in Haiti.
- Photographs obtained by a United Nations-backed justice group in Guatemala could be the smoking gun in a case against a former interior minister and other officials accused of extrajudicial killings, an official said.
- A court in Paris on Wednesday rejected a request for the release of imprisoned former Panamanian dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega.
- Weeks of rain has caused flooding that has claimed more than 250 lives and affected more than 1.9 million people in Colombia.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is using autocratic powers to subvert the will of the people, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday after the socialist leader said he would rule by decree for a year.
- The House on Wednesday passed a bill that would extend a trade program for Andean countries as an alternative to drug production and trafficking. The 1991 program applies to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
- The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Brazil must override its 31 year-amnesty law that presents an obstacle to prosecuting crimes committed during the country’s 1964-1985 dictatorship.
- Amnesty International criticized the Paraguayan government for raiding an NGO that opposed a research trip in the country’s Chaco region that was planned but never carried out by members of the British Natural History Museum in November.
- After immigrant squatters rioted in Buenos Aires last week, the Argentine government put Minister of Defense Nilda Garre in charge of its newly-formed internal security ministry and appointed former provincial Gov. Arturo Antonio Puricelli as the new defense minister.
- Leaked U.S. cables show that former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet was concerned about the increasingly “radicalized” Mapuche Indians, suspecting that they were being funded by “terrorist groups and/or Venezuela”.
Image: Lucy Nieto @ Flickr.