Today in Latin America
Top Story — Hundreds of Brazilian police officers and military troops occupied nine favelas in the city of Rio de Janeiro that had been in the hands of drug traffickers.
The move, the first of its kinds since last November, brought nearly 1,000 civilian, military and federal police, 17 armored vehicles, four amphibian vehicles and marine riflemen to the favelas of the city. Favela is the name for Brazil’s shanty towns.
“The situation is calm and we have completed the first part of the operation — controlling the territory,” military spokesman Colonel Lima Castro, according to AFP. The forces faced little opposition in the two-hour operation that kicked off at dawn.
Brazilian officials also plan to deploy special police units in the favelas and set up permanent police posts designed to guarantee the security of the 20,000 people who live in the nine favelas. Sunday’s operation was meant to find where drug traffickers hide weapons and drugs.
Along with the raids, officials in Rio also announced Friday that they have an armored Bell Huey II helicopter meant to combat the gangs as the city beefs up security in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
“The helicopter can also be used for search and rescue operations and is used for this purpose by the US Air Force, the New York Police and Colombian forces. A lighter version also is on service in Argentina, Peru and Dominica Republic,” said Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Francisco Ramos, according to MercoPress.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- At least 17 people died due to drug-related violence in northern Mexico this weekend, with nine deaths taking place in Ciudad Juárez.
- 35 animals at a zoo in the northern Mexico state of Chihuahua froze to death due to the region’s coldest weather in six decades.
- The White House expressed concern over Cuba’s decision to seek a 20-year prison sentence for U.S. government contractor Alan Gross, who was arrested more than a year ago for allegedly aiding dissidents on the island.
- The son of a former Haitian police chief living in exile in Honduras after taking part in coup plots in his homeland was killed in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, authorities said Friday.
- Despite pressures and pending issues of national interest, the parliamentary group of Renewed Democratic Freedom (Lider) confirmed its intention to continue an inquiry in the Congress of Guatemala, now unable to conduct any business because of the inquiry.
- Honduras authorities say gunmen ambushed the director of the nation’s main prison and shot up the car he was driving, wounding the official in the head and also hitting a prison employee who was a passenger.
- Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry protested to its Nicaraguan counterpart the “intentional alteration” mapping of Nicaragua, as published earlier this week by the Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales (INETER) that includes the piece of land in dispute between the two countries as part of its territory.
- Mexico’s ambassador to El Salvador was injured in a hit-and-run incident Saturday in an exclusive residential area of this capital, police said.
- Hundreds of Venezuelans have held a demonstration demanding the government halt expropriations of private companies and condemning its stance toward union protests.
- Colombia’s biggest rebel group called on President Juan Manuel Santos to use an expected handover of hostages within the next week as an opportunity to begin dialogue for peace.
- Three people were killed and another wounded in a gunfight arising from a dispute between a father and his children over control of a lucrative gold mine in northern Peru, the media said on Friday.
- Two major droughts in Brazil’s Amazon region in the last six years have played major roles in global climate change, scientists said.
- Police on Chile’s Easter Island raided a luxury hotel Sunday to evict the last of dozens of indigenous protesters, who are fighting for ancestral lands and a larger share of profits from the tourism industry.
- The coach of Chile’s national team, Marcelo Bielsa, quit Friday as political turmoil inside the country’s soccer federation intensified.
- The International Monetary Fund said the outlook for Uruguay looks good as the country continues its economic revival from a banking crisis in 2002.
Image: David Berkowitz @ Flickr.