Today in Latin America
Top Story — A car bomb believed to have been planted by Colombia’s Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish) guerrillas killed three police officers and left two civilians wounded in the southwestern department of Cauca.
Regional police commander Gen. Orlando Pineda said that the bomb exploded Tuesday night outside the police station in the small town of Jambalo, with the FARC rebels attacking the post with homemade mortars soon after. Along with the police station, fifteen adjoining homes were also damaged.
Besides the three police officers killed, a woman and her seven-year-old child were injured in the fighting, but both are in stable condition.
It is unknown whether any FARC rebels were injured or killed in the fighting, but Colombian officials said that the army and air force have secured the town to prevent any other attacks.
Further north in Colombia’s Chocó department, two police officers were also killed by alleged members of the FARC during a raid early Wednesday morning. Two other officers were injured in the attack.
The guerrillas fled after the attack and the town is safe for residents, according to Martín Marmolejo, communications chief for the Medio San Juan municipality. The attack was the first such assault on a police station in the area in recent memory, he added.
The attacks by the FARC in the region are revenge attacks for a number of operations by the security forces in the area, during which they seized tons of marijuana and cocaine, Regional police commander Gen. Orlando Pineda said.
Colombian security forces have recently been pursuing FARC guerrillas into the nearby mountains and have killed many FARC leaders over the past year, and arrested others. Last September, during an army bombing raid, FARC military commander Jorge Briceño, better known as Mono Jojoy, was killed.
The FARC are the last remaining guerrilla army in Latin America and have been fighting the Colombian government since 1964. Over the past decade their size and capabilities have been reduced as Colombia’s government launched a military offensive first under former-President Álvaro Uribe and continued under current President Juan Manuel Santos.
In March, the Colombian military killed the head of security for FARC commander Alfonso Cano.
However, according to Colombia’s Semana newspapaer, the recent attacks and kidnapping by the FARC show a resurgence in the group.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexico’s National Security Spokesman said that the country’s drug policy is not a “war” against drug cartels, but a strategy to dismantle criminal organizations.
- The National Guard Bureau is weighing its options about what to do with the 560 soldiers now assigned to border-security duty in Arizona, part of 1,200 troops placed along the entire Mexican border.
- During a press conference Wednesday at the Billboard Latin Music Conference, the rock group Mana urged Latinos to vote and to support immigration reform.
- Prominent Cuban anti-Castro militant Orlando Bosch, 84, has died in Miami.
- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has approved the selection of veteran diplomat John Caulfield to head the U.S. mission in Cuba, officials said.
- Ninety-nine pre-Columbian artifacts were returned to Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli by U.S. customs officials on Wednesday after an investigation that has lasted over a decade.
- Hunger-striking nurses in Venezuela ended their protest Wednesday after the government raised wages for public employees.
- Ecuador declared a national alert after the Tungurahua volcano, notorious for previous eruptions, began spewing lava again, forcing closure of schools and a widening evacuation of residents.
- Peru’s political uncertainty is undermining the strength of its once-robust financial markets, knocking the stock market down from lofty levels.
- Leftist President Evo Morales announced Wednesday the discovery by French energy giant Total of natural gas deposits that he said would boost Bolivia’s reserves by 30 percent.
- Searchers found the outer section of a flight recorder from the Air France jet that crashed off the coast of Brazil in 2009, killing all 228 aboard.
- Oil workers in Argentina’s Santa Cruz province ended a 26-day strike late Tuesday that reportedly cost Argentina an estimated $300 million.
- Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced that her government would be sponsoring a bill to limit the amount of rural land and farmland that can be owned by foreigners.
- Uruguay’s Central Bank president said the country could raise reserve requirements for banks in order to combat inflation.
Image: Eutoxeres @ Flickr.