Today in Latin America
Top Story — Facing a Congress with an increased opposition presence, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has adopted a more conciliatory tone. In a speech to the National Assembly on Saturday lasting seven hours, Chávez called for dialog with the opposition and offered to give up his power to rule by decree as early as May, reports Spanish daily El País.
The Congress passed the “Habilitating Law” to give Chávez special decree authority in December, back when Chávez’s supporters had the two-thirds majority necessary to pass major laws. Chávez supporters retain a simple majority in the new Congress.
Chávez’s opponents viewed his call with skepticism, pointing out that he has referred to them as “bandits” and has said on other occasions that reconciliation is not possible, according to The Associated Press.
In other news, the Venezuelan telecommunications commission urged the television station Televen to stop airing the Colombian soap opera “Chepe Fortuna,” alleging that it makes fun of Venezuela and Hugo Chávez.
One of the show’s characters is named “Venezuela,” and she has a dog named “Little Hugo.”
“After careful analysis, it was found that these contents promoted political and racial intolerance, xenophobia and incitement of crime,” Venezuela’s telecommunications commission said in a statement issued Thursday, according to CNN.
Producer and script writer Miguel Ángel Baquero said the show was “a comedy of manners that is only trying to entertain people.”
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- With Chile’s 33 trapped miners safe and sound, President Sebastián Piñera now struggles to retain his popularity. Latin America News Dispatch contributor Patrick Burns reports.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- American soccer player Jonathan Bornstein made his debut for the Mexican club UNAL Tigres Saturday.
- A police commander in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz was kidnapped while on patrol in the port city of Boca del Rio.
- Roque Napoleon Muñoz, a former Olympic committee chief for the Dominican Republic and IOC member, died at the age of 83.
- Haiti’s exiled former dictator, Jean-Claude Duvalier, returned unexpectedly to his homeland Sunday for the first time since he was deposed in a coup in 1986.
- U.S. citizens will find it easier to travel to Cuba and to send remittances to the island under a new set of guidelines announced Friday by the Obama administration.
- At least 18 people were injured when an inter-city bus flipped over on a highway in El Salvador after the driver became distracted.
- Nicaragua suspended three federal judges and put them under investigation for ordering the release of 10 alleged drug traffickers.
- A third teenager who was in grave condition from burns he suffered last weekend in a reformatory fire outside Panama City has died.
- The president of Ecuador’s Delfin Sporting Club soccer team was gunned down and a female companion was wounded in the coastal city of Manta.
- Venezuela’s oil reserves total 217 billion barrels, making them the largest in the world and topping those of Saudi Arabia, President Hugo Chávez said.
- Peru banned smoking in all public buildings and in the workplace, according to a decree published Saturday.
- Rescue efforts for flood victims in Rio de Janeiro have been hindered by rains that have grounded helicopters.
- A museum featuring Beatles memorabilia has opened in Buenos Aires and features a brick from The Cavern Club, a check for 11 pounds signed by Ringo Starr and an “authentic” Beatles wig among other items.
- Chilean President Sebastian Piñera shook up his cabinet on Friday, by reassigning four portfolios.
Image: Que Comunismo! @ Flickr.