Today in Latin America
Top Story — While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and officials from Central America will pledge to confront the powerful drug cartels operating in the region during a two-day meeting that opens today in Guatemala City, it seems unlikely that Clinton will announce the investment of any more funds to the cause. At the meeting, representatives from throughout the region are expected to discuss a coordinated security plan to stem the incursion of cartels that have been pushed into Central America from Mexico and Colombia. U.S.-backed anti-drug crackdowns in those two countries are a main reason why the drug cartels have moved into poorer countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador. U.S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela said that while at the meeting they may discuss repackaging some of the U.S. assistance, it will not be a donor’s conference. Instead, Valenzuela said, “we’re taking substantial amounts of support for Central America and try to convert it into a far more strategic strategy.”
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A United Nations envoy said that Mexico must take emergency measures to fight an alarming epidemic in obesity.
- Hurricane Beatriz pounded Mexico’s Pacific coast, closing the ports of Acapulco, Manzanillo and Zihuatanejo and leaving tourists sheltering in their hotels.
- The Southern Baptist Convention drafted a resolution supporting a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants.
- The nomination of the top U.S. diplomat in Havana as ambassador to Nicaragua has hit a snag, with two Cuban-American U.S. senators complaining that his performance in Havana augurs ill for his assignment in Sandinista-ruled Managua.
- Cuba’s feared “Lady Anti-Corruption” has reported a setback in the fight against malfeasance in Havana — a top priority of Raúl Castro’s government as it tries to overhaul the island’s foundering economy.
- The Haitian parliament rejected the nomination of Daniel-Gerard Rouzier to serve as prime minister, in a blow to new President Michel Martelly.
- Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes said that Zetas drug cartel members have scouted his country in an attempt to obtain weapons from corrupt police officers and soldiers.
- Two Cuban-American U.S. senators are complaining about the appointment of the new ambassador to Nicaragua, claiming he hasn’t been tough enough on Cuba.
- University researchers from Costa Rica and the United States discovered a new species of large land crab on Cocos Island in Costa Rica.
- Venezuela is abuzz these days over the condition of its normally omnipresent president, Hugo Chávez.
- Three members of a Colombian paramilitary organization were convicted Tuesday in federal court in New York for their role in the kidnapping of an American who was held hostage in a jungle camp for nearly a year.
- U.S. President Barack Obama called Peruvian president-elect Ollanta Humala Tuesday to congratulate him on his election victory earlier this month and to praise Peru’s commitment to democracy.
- James Peck of the Falkland Islands became an Argentine citizen in a special ceremony attended by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, increasing tensions between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the contested islands.
- Former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva shared the U.N.’s $250,000 World Food Prize with former Ghanian President John Kufuor for cutting hunger in their respective countries by half while in office.
- The President of Uruguay’s state-run oil company ANCAP announced Monday that there was an 80 percent chance that oil reserves would be found in the country’s hydrocarbon rock formations, which may allow Uruguay to export petroleum.
- Maria Gomes Valentim, a 114-year-old Brazilian woman considered the world’s oldest living person, died Tuesday of pneumonia.
Image: Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela by U.S. Embassy Montevideo @ Flickr.