Today in Latin America
Top Story — Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi sent a delegation to Venezuela to meet with President Hugo Chávez in an attempt to negotiate a peaceful solution and end the bloody conflict in North Africa.
Chávez, who considers Gaddafi a good friend and has criticized the military intervention by U.S. and European forces in Libya, provided few details on the delegation and only said that that “they have come to our country to search for a political way out of Libya’s crisis.”
Last month, the Venezuelan leader proposed the formation of an international commission that would visit Libya to negotiate with the rebels and the Libyan government. The idea, however, drew little support and was rejected by Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam.
Chávez also called the NATO airstrikes on Libyan cities “madness” and accused the United States of wanting Libya’s oil and water.
“We’ve had enough abuse, wars and invasions directed against third world countries,” Chávez added.
Along with Chávez’s announcement, a peaceful solution to the situation in Libya was a main topic of discussion during a meeting in Venezuela of regional foreign ministers on Tuesday.
“(We worked on) a proposal geared toward the need to overcome the inertia of the war that has been imposed and makes a call for understanding and to increase efforts to stop the barbarity,” said Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.
Venezuela is frequently mentioned as a safe-haven for Gaddafi if he flees Libya, but Chávez and other Venezuelan officials denied that claim.
Another leader facing unrest during the so-called Arab Spring who can count on Chávez’s support is Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
Chávez, who in the past has called Assad a “socialist Arab leader, a humanist and a brother,” blamed the uprisings in the town of Deraa on terrorists and criticized efforts by western leaders to remove the Syrian leader from power.
“Terrorists are being infiltrated into Syria and producing violence and death — and once again, the guilty one is the president, without anyone investigating anything,” Chávez said.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A federal judge found Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio violated the constitutional rights of a Hispanic father and son, who were arrested during an immigration raid in Arizona.
- Police in Mexico rescued 51 migrants allegedly held captive by criminals groups in Reynosa, located across the border from McAllen, Texas.
- Federal agents in Texas are investigating an improvised explosive device found on a highway near the Mexico border.
- Rising food and fuel prices and fears that an active hurricane season looms have Cuba tightening its belt, according to government leaders and local economists.
- Haiti’s president-elect announced Monday he intends to impose taxes on money transfers and international cellphone calls to help finance schools across the chronically impoverished country.
- Prosecutors in Puerto Rico say a man once considered the top drug dealer on the U.S. territory has been convicted of drug charges.
- Guatemalan police arrested a rancher sought by the U.S. government on an extradition warrant for his alleged ties to Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel, authorities said Tuesday.
- Three suspected gang members climbed aboard a bus in El Salvador and shot a television cameraman to death as he rode to work, police said Tuesday.
- New Venezuelan taxes on windfall oil revenue will let socialist President Hugo Chávez boost spending on popular social programs by billions of dollars ahead of his re-election bid next year.
- Venezuela says it is evaluating Colombia’s request that it provide human rights guarantees for a suspected top drug trafficker when he’s extradited to Caracas.
- Authorities in Ecuador closed schools and evacuated residents in areas near a volcano Tuesday after ashes spewing from its crater fell on homes and farms, state media reported.
- Argentine police arrested a Colombian man accused of smuggling eight tons of cocaine in a submarine for Colombia’s Norte del Valle drug cartel. He will be extradited to the U.S. to face charges.
- Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo said that he had not discarded the idea of running for a second term as president, even though the Paraguayan constitution currently limits a president to one term.
- Japanese automaker Honda said it will close a factory in Brazil due to a shortage of parts resulting from Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in March.
- A city bus service in Vicente López, a suburb of Buenos Aires, announced it will only hire female drivers in order to promote safer and more “family-oriented” driving.
Image: Que Comunismo! @ Flickr.