Today in Latin America
Top Story — A federal operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms known as “Fast and Furious” has allowed hundreds of guns into the hands of Mexican drug traffickers.
The original idea behind the program was to sell guns to suspected drug smugglers in order to track them.
But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) lost track of hundreds of the weapons, some of which turned up later at crime scenes. Two guns sold to suspected drug smugglers as part of the program were linked to the murder of a border patrol agent in Arizona in December.
“With the number of guns we let walk, we’ll never know how many people were killed, raped, robbed,” said John Dodson of the ATF in an interview with the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity.
The Senate will hold a hearing to determine who authorized the program. Attorney General Eric Holder will testify.
Both Holder and President Barack Obama deny that they authorized the ATF to sell guns to suspected Mexican drug smugglers, though documents released by congressional investigators indicate that the Justice Department approved wiretaps related to the gun tracking program.
The documents do not indicate that knowledge of the program extended beyond the Arizona ATF and Justice Department offices.
“The Attorney General takes the allegations that have been raised seriously, which is why he has asked the Inspector General to investigate and made clear to everyone in the Department that under no circumstances should guns be allowed to cross the border,” the Department of Justice said in a statement Wednesday.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexico’s central bank bought over 90 tons of gold between January and March of this year in an effort to to diversify their reserves out of U.S. dollars.
- A U.S. congressman announced that he will introduce a strict immigration bill that will crack down on “sanctuary” cities.
- A report by a U.N.-appointed panel determined that fecal matter that was improperly disposed of by U.N. peacekeepers was the cause was the cause of the cholera outbreak in Haiti that has killed more than 4,500 people.
- An increase in new cholera patients in rural Haiti has raised concern that the outbreak may be starting to surge again with the spring rainy season.
- The International Court of Justice refused Wednesday to let either Costa Rica or Honduras intervene in a legal dispute about Nicaragua and Colombia’s maritime border in the Caribbean.
- Right-wing lawmaker Keiko Fujimori has virtually caught up with left-wing nationalist Ollanta Humala one month before Peru’s presidential election, a poll showed on Wednesday.
- After a two-year pause on trade, the Obama administration informed congressional leaders Wednesday that it’s ready to negotiate legislation to implement free-trade agreements already reached with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
- Unionized workers for Occidental Petroleum Corp. (OXY) in Colombia are threatening a work stoppage that could halt production at the 90,000-barrel-a-day Cano Limon oil field.
- Experts from Chile, who helped rescue miners there last October, headed to Mexico Wednesday to aid in the rescue of nine workers trapped in a mine after an explosion.
- A delegation from the Inter-American Press Association arrived in Argentina to look into complaints that the government is trying to eliminate independent media.
- French officials informed relatives of the dead from the Air France Airbus A330 accident that they would try to recover the bodies in the wreckage of Brazil.
Image: U.S. Coast @ Flickr.