Today in Latin America
Top Story –Hugo Chávez surprised nearly everyone by returning to Venezuela early Monday morning, after spending nearly a month in Cuba convalescing from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. In contrast to his somber speech last week from Cuba, the much-thinner Chávez seemed more vivacious while breaking into song and telling tales of his youth in the army during his pre-dawn talk. The Venezuelan leader still remained quiet about what type of cancer he has or where it was located on his body. “I’m very happy to be home again,” Chávez, embracing his brother, Adán Chávez, and Vice President Elías Jaua on the tarmac at the Maiquetía airport near Caracas.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexican authorities on Monday announced the arrest of a leader of the Zetas drug cartel who is allegedly connected with the killing of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent earlier this year.
- Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won the governorship in the state of Mexico, which could be key in next next year’s presidential elections.
- Tropical storm Arlene ripped through Mexico over the weekend, killing 17 people and affecting thousands more.
- The U.S. government eased restrictions on travel to Cuba, issuing more travel licenses that would allow thousands more Americans to reach the island.
- The trial of a Michigan man accused of abusing Haitian children has been postponed until next April.
- The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for a small plane that may have crashed off eastern Puerto Rico.
- Villagers in Guatemala beat, shot and stabbed to death five men and a woman suspected of robbery in a remote mountain town.
- A United Nations human rights expert said that El Salvador’s new law requiring the country’s Supreme Court decisions to be unanimous undermines the independence of the judiciary.
- Colombia’s FARC guerrilla leader Alfonso Cano was almost killed or captured over the weekend during a military strike, according to President Juan Manuel Santos.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales apologized Saturday to the Jewish community in Argentina for hosting the Iranian defense minister last month.
- Peruvian President-elect Ollanta Humala will visit Washington D.C. on Tuesday to strengthen bilateral ties with the U.S.
- Fourteen of the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground last year have requested early retirement because they can not get past the physical and psychological effects of the ordeal.
- Uruguay confirmed another round of offshore lease bidding for hydrocarbons exploration next September.
Image: Bernardo Londoy @ Flickr.