Today in Latin America
Top Story — Drug-related violence in Mexico took the lives of 51 people over the weekend, including 15 decapitations in the resort town of Acapulco.
The murders, which also included mutilations, drive-by shootings and summary executions, occurred in southeastern Guerrero and northern Chihuahua states, as well as in Mexico City.
The 15 decapitated bodies were found on a walkway to an Acapulco beach with notes claiming the men had intruded on a drug cartel’s turf. The dead were between the ages of 15 and 25.
It was the largest single group of decapitation victims ever found in Mexico.
While it is unclear which cartel committed the beheadings, handwritten posters at the crime scene were signed “El Chapo Guzmán,” which refers to Mexico’s most wanted man and leader of the Sinaloa crime syndicate.
The posters , which allegedly are meant to warn rival cartels against extorting “quotas” from local politicians and businesses and are being viewed as an attempt to separate the Sinaloa cartel as less predatory than its rivals.
This weekend’s beheadings are the latest problems stemming from a turf war for drug shipment routes by at least three cartels; La Familia, Los Zetas, and the Sinaloa Cartel.
Despite the violence in Acapulco, tourism to “Pearl of the Pacific” has not suffered as much as was expected.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Contributor Romeo Guzman recounts the celebrations of the birth of the Virgen de Guadalupe last month in New York City.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Arizona’s attorney general Tom Horne declared a Mexican-American studies program in Tucson schools in violation of a state law that went into effect on Jan. 1.
- Mexico City police plan to crack down on drunk driving in the capital by attempting to reduce the number of bribes taken by police.
- Arizona has declared Mexican-American studies programs in the Tuscon Unified School District illegal.
- Alleged terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, considered a hero and a freedom fighter by some within the Cuban-American community, will go on trial in El Paso Monday under accusations of lying to immigration authorities about his role in a series of bombings in Havana.
- Human rights groups have denounced the deportation of undocumented Haitians in the Dominican Republic.
- Puerto Rican studies scholar Frank Bonilla died at 85 on Dec. 28. See the New York Times profile here.
- A bus crash in Guatemala’s western highlands has killed at least 14 people and injured at least 25 others.
- Gunmen opened fire on a minibus in Honduras, killing eight people on Friday, police say.
- Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla has decided to begin erecting barriers at the mouths of the Colorado, Sarapiqui, and San Carlos rivers to prevent the possible entrance of Nicaraguan boats.
- A panel of 15 UN judges will hear arguments next week in a bid by Costa Rica to force Nicaraguan troops out of territory it claims has been unlawfully occupied in a long-running border dispute.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has accused the Organization of American States of interfering in Venezuela.
- Rail operations have restarted after 50 train cars carrying coal from Glencore’s Prodeco unit in Colombia derailed earlier this week, a private company in charge of the railway concession said on Saturday.
- A Spanish tourist hospitalized in the Colombian city of Barranquilla with swine flu symptoms died after it was confirmed that he had contracted the disease, health officials said.
- The flooding, mudslides and highway blockages due to intense rains spread Sunday to the Peruvian regions of Ancash, Cuzco, Huanuco and Pasco with thousands of people reported to be affected, officials said.
- The Bolivian public transport drivers’ unions decided to raise the fares on public transportation between 22 and 24 percent despite the fact that President Evo Morales’s administration cancelled the recent hike in the cost of liquid fuels.
- Secret intelligence files revealed that the now defunct West German government knew that former Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was hiding in Argentina before he was kidnapped by Mossad agents and put on trial in Israel.
- About 100,000 people have been left homeless in four southeastern Brazilian states due to heavy flooding.
- Five policemen and 11 prisoners were injured during a riot Saturday night in a prison in the Canelones province of Uruguay.
Image: Uberdadofthree @ Flickr.