Today in Latin America
Top Story — A landslide triggered by heavy rains on the eastern edge of the Bolivian capital of La Paz has now destroyed more than 400 homes in nine poor neighborhoods.
There have been no fatalities in the slow-moving slide, which began last weekend, but the slides have left more than 100,000 people without running water.
Displaced residents picked through rubble in an effort to recover belongings on Wednesday and some searched for remains of loved ones in a ruined cemetery. Thousands are being housed temporarily in schools and on sports fields.
The Bolivian government declared a national state of emergency due to the torrential rains across much of the country and authorities labeled the disaster as the capital’s worst on record.
The Bolivian capital sits below a high-altitude plateau and is surrounded by unstable hills.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- President Felipe Calderón plans to meet Thursday in Washington with President Barack Obama in an attempt to repair relations.
- The Texas Department of Public Safety warned college students planning spring break trips to Mexico of the possible dangers related to the country’s drug cartels.
- Five members of the National Ballet of Cuba, including one of its leading dancers, have remained in Canada after performing there, dance officials said Wednesday.
- The U.N. says one of its peacekeepers in Haiti has died in an apparent accident in a town north of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
- The economic reforms now under way in Cuba will take at least five years to be fully implemented, President Raúl Castro said, acknowledging a delay in the planned elimination of 500,000 positions at state enterprises.
- Latin America is enjoying growth and stable democracy with the “notable exceptions” of the leftist governments of Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.
- Leading human rights activists condemned Venezuelan authorities on Wednesday for sentencing a union leader to prison for launching a strike, saying more than 100 other unionists also face charges after participating in protests.
- A top Bolivian security official pled not guilty in a Miami federal court Wednesday on charges of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the U.S., in a scandal that has rocked the government of Evo Morales and provoked a wide-ranging police crackdown.
- Venezuela’s Ministry of Health has annulled by decree an anti-smoking law which would have prohibited smoking in public places and offices of work a day after it was published. By contrast to the US, Canada, Europe and Asia, Venezuela is one of the few countries that still allowed smoking in a wide variety of public places, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and stadiums.
- A Chilean congressional commission Wednesday found two mine owners responsible for the accident that trapped 33 men underground last year.
- The Brazilian Senate approved the creation of the Olympic Public Authority to coordinate government preparations for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
- Argentina launched a tax evasion and money-laundering probe of multinational agribusinesses including U.S.-based Cargill Inc.
Image: twiga269 @ Flickr.