Obama Pledges Drug-Fighting Assitance to El Salavdor; Ends Latin American Visit Early

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited El Salvador on Tuesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited El Salvador on Tuesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited El Salvador on Tuesday.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — U.S. President Barack Obama wrapped up the final leg of his Latin American tour Tuesday in El Salvador, where he pledged $200 million to Central America to fight drug cartels and discussed immigration reform in the U.S.

The U.S. President was forced to cancel a visit to Mayan ruins on the schedule for Wednesday morning due to rising concerns from lawmakers about U.S. intervention in Libya. Obama is scheduled to depart for Washington at 11 a.m., a few hours ahead of schedule.

During his stop, Obama praised Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, the first leftist leader in El Salvador’s recent history, for both his policies and efforts to “overcome old divisions.”

“I thought that President Funes gave a very eloquent response to one of my questions during our bilateral meeting. He said: ‘I don’t want a young man in El Salvador or a young woman in El Salvador to feel that the only two paths to moving up the income ladder is either to travel north or to join a criminal enterprise,’ ” Obama said, according to The Washington Post.

Funes accompanied Obama on a visit to the cathedral in San Salvador, where Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was assassinated while he celebrated Mass on March 24, 1980.

On the topic of immigration, Obama said that any immigration reform in the U.S. has to come in the form of bi-partisan legislation and that something needs to be done for those already in the United States illegally.

“This is the time to do it and I will continue to push hard to make it happen. The politics of this are difficult. But I am confident that ultimately we are going to get it done,” he said, according to Fox News.

Obama has faced criticism from other Latin American nations, such as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, for taking a foreign visit in the midst of the coalition attack on Libya and in the wake of Japan’s devastating earthquake.

In an interview with The Miami Herald, Obama said he was not disappointed with the reaction and stressed that there was “strong international support” for enforcement of the no-fly zone.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

Caribbean

  • Yoani Sánchez, a dissident Cuban blogger who was hailed last year as a hero of press freedom, was attacked in a documentary film by the island’s government for waging a “cyberwar” against the communist regime.
  • Puerto Rico’s nonvoting congressional delegate was the biggest spender last year in the U.S. House of Representatives, a nonpartisan foundation says.

Central America

  • Two investors in Goldcorp Inc., the world’s second-largest producer of the metal by market value, proposed the suspension of a Guatemalan mine to be put to a shareholder vote, after the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights asked the company to close the mine over allegations it had adversely affected the health of local residents.
  • The United States returned U.S. citizen Emily Ruiz, 4, to Guatemala, the home country of her parents, in a case that it highlighting the issues undocumented parents whose children are born here.

Andes

  • Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez says he hopes to send one million barrels of oil per day to China within the next three years, but industry data suggest the odds are against that happening.
  • The number of confirmed H1N1 flu cases in Venezuela has risen to 100, the country’s health minister, Eugenia Sader, said Tuesday.
  • Four players of the Colombian national soccer squad have had their hotel rooms robbed in Madrid where they are due to play a friendly against Ecuador this weekend.
  • The body of Peruvian diplomat Sergio Alonso del Castillo Cebreros, who disappeared in the Russian capital early on the morning on New Year’s Day, was found Tuesday in a Moscow River canal, police said.

Southern Cone

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