Today in Latin America
Top Story — Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left South Africa on Thursday and is headed toward Haiti, The New York Times reports. He is expected to arrive today.
“We experience sadness in leaving our dear friends, but on the other hand, we are delighted to return home after seven years,” Aristide said in a statement read mostly in Zulu, according to the Times. “In Haiti also they are very happy because they were waiting for us.”
Thousands of supporters gathered at the airport this morning to await the former leader’s return, according to The Associated Press.
The return promises to stir controversy as Haiti approaches its runoff election on Sunday. Aristide was a polarizing figure who was elected twice and overthrown twice. He accuses the United States of involvement in the second coup against him, which brought General Raoul Cedras to power.
President Barack Obama opposes Aristide’s return to Haiti, saying that it could destabilize the country before the election on Sunday.
Aristide’s return to Haiti follows that of Jean-Claude Duvalier — the former dictator known by his nickname as “Baby Doc.” Duvalier is currently awaiting the outcome of legal proceedings for corruption and human rights abuses.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The Arizona Senate defeated five bills aimed at illegal immigration Thursday in a departure from its stance last year.
- A senior Mexican official said Thursday that the U.S. should do “much more” to prevent the smuggling of high-powered weapons into Mexico.
- Police in Acapulco found the body of a 4-year-old girl early Thursday — the fifth child killed in drug-related violence in the city in less than a week.
- Pfizer plans to release a chewable form of Viagra in Mexico next week.
- The main Puerto Rican political parties disagreed Wednesday about the recommendations made by the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status.
- The Cuban government plans to release 10 additional political prisoners, including one of the “Group of 75” dissidents rounded up and jailed in March 2003.
- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a $10 million contribution from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund to support efforts to entrench the respect of human rights in Guatemala.
- A World Bank arbitration court sided with El Salvador in a dispute brought by U.S. miner Commerce Group, saying it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
- President Hugo Chávez announced a freeze in plans to develop nuclear power in Venezuela due to the growing emergency at a nuclear plant in Japan.
- The Ecuadorian Provincial Court of Sucumbios accepted appeals, by both Chevron Corp. and the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, to the multibillion-dollar judgment against the U.S. company, a court official said.
- Spain’s Queen Sofia on Wednesday visited a poor neighborhood of the Colombian city of Cartagena where Spanish aid will finance a large part of a sewer project serving more than 50,000 residents.
- President Obama will begin his trip to South America on Saturday by meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in Brasilia and delivering a speech in a Rio de Janeiro favela.
- An Argentine consulting firm that released data at odds with the government’s inflation statistics will no longer publish its own inflation estimates, citing government fines and pressure.
- The foreign ministers of Argentina and Uruguay announced that their two countries will submit a joint bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2030, the centennial of the first World Cup, played in Uruguay.
Image: Ben Piven @ Flickr.