Today in Latin America
Top Story — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter arrived in Cuba Monday for a three-day visit, where he is expected to discuss the case of jailed American contractor Alan Gross.
Wearing a white guayabera, Carter and his wife Rosalynn were greeted on the tarmac in Havana by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. The 86-year old former president is expected to meet with Cuban leader Raúl Castro and other high ranking officials.
The visit from Carter has attracted a great deal of attention in Cuba, where his administration is remembered as the first to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba by Americans.
The Carter Center in Atlanta said the trip was a “private, nongovernmental mission,” but many hold out hope that he will discuss the release of Alan Gross, who earlier this month was sentenced to 15 years in prison for establishing illegal Internet connections using satellite communications equipment under a U.S. Aid program.
If Carter does help secure the release of Gross, which the Obama administration says improved relations hinge on, than Carter’s visit could jump-start a new period in U.S.-Cuban relations. Carter is the only former or sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba in more than five decades and previously went to the island in 2002.
Besides meetings with Cuban officials, Carter will also hold talks with leader of Cuba’s tiny Jewish community.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- During a speech in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama assured Hispanic Americans Monday that he will not abandon the effort to overhaul U.S. immigration policy.
- Police in central Mexico found the bodies of six men and one woman inside an abandoned car in a wealthy neighborhood near the city of Cuernavaca.
- Four people died of swine flu in the Mexican border state of Chihuahua, according to local authorities.
- The Dominican Republic is forging ahead in the use of natural gas to fuel cars, but availability still lags.
- A 4-year-old U.S. citizen who was deported to Guatemala will return to be reunited with her family in New York this week, a family attorney said Monday.
- Ernesto Ángel Montaner, a fugitive extradited from Costa Rica, faces Medicare fraud charges after an FBI sting operation.
- A Panamanian diplomat who donned a lace dress and with a banana in his bustline for carnival in Spain has offered to resign amid outrage at home over the gender-bending display.
- Hugo Chávez urged Venezuelans to cut their calories to avoid obesity.
- Colombia is refurbishing its armed forces in expectation of a final victory over FARC rebels, who are seen to be losing momentum in their war on President Juan Manuel Santos.
- Hundreds of thousands of Peruvian children returned from summer vacation this month with a new addition to their school uniform: a hat.
- Three Chilean prison guards are being held for negligent homicide in the deaths of 66 inmates under their charge during a December prison fire that killed a total of 81 people.
- A U.S. District Court ruled in favor of Banco de la Nación Argentina’s contention that it cannot be held responsible for the Argentine government’s remaining obligations on defaulted debt.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez arrived in Argentina Tuesday to receive the Rodolfo Walsh prize, awarded by the University of La Plata for promoting “popular communication”.
- A Paraguayan priest who attempted to run for mayor of a small town in December has been accused of fathering a child with a parishoner.
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