Today in Latin America
Top Story — Former columnist for Ecuadoran daily El Universo Emilio Palacio, who is tied up in a high profile lawsuit brought by President Rafael Correa, has fled his home country. Palacio said in a letter posted to his Twitter account from Miami Sunday that he left Ecuador due to renewed threats against his freedom of expression. The alleged threats included a new lawsuit for libel for calling state journalists “fascists,” and the threat of a separate lawsuit for perjury, brought by a minister whose name Palacio said he could not remember. Palacio also said that authorities were pressuring him to name one of his anonymous sources in the police. Referring to elected President Rafael Correa as a “dictator,” Palacio said he feared he would wind up in prison. Correa won a lawsuit against Palacio and three executives of El Universo in July for libel that brought penalties of three years in prison and $42 million in fines. The defendants are appealing the decision, which was condemned by organizations supporting freedom of the press, including the Committee to Protect Journalists. Correa says he is treated unfairly by the Ecuadoran press.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- More than 230,000 people have been displaced by Mexico’s drug war, about half whom are seeking refuge in the United States. Yet the U.S. government approves very few Mexican asylum applications. Raisa Camargo explores why in this report from El Paso.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexican police announced Sunday that they had unearthed five bodies buried in a field 60 miles from Mexico City after an unidentified caller said that 23 people had been buried there.
- Mexican President Felipe Calderón deployed 1,500 troops to Monterrey on Saturday to investigate the murder of an estimated 52 people when a casino there was torched by armed men on Thursday.
- Mexican police took three suspected drug cartel members into custody this week for issuing Tweets threatening that “For each Zeta killed, a child will die”.
- Cuban folksinger Pablo Milanés, who identifies strongly with the Cuban Revolution, played a concert in Miami on Saturday.
- The murder of a Haitian official and kidnapping of a U.S. citizen in Port-au-Prince prompted American authorities to issue a safety warning over the weekend.
- Guatemala’s Constitutional Court approved the extradition of former President Alfonso Portillo to the United States, where he faces money laundering charges.
- Indian Commerce Secretary Rahul Kullar will visit Panama and Colombia this week, where he will discuss the possibility of signing free trade agreements with the two countries.
- A former Nicaraguan official said Friday that the country’s Sandinista government was behind the bomb that killed three journalists and four rebels at a 1984 news conference in neighboring Costa Rica.
- Honduras recognized Palestine as an independent state Friday.
- Seven men from a Mennonite colony in Bolivia were sentenced to 25 years for drugging and raping more than 100 women in their small community.
- Five Colombian policemen were allegedly killed by FARC guerrillas in northern Colombia, Caracol Radio reported on Saturday.
- Ecuadorean journalist Emilio Palacio has fled to Miami after being sentenced to three years in prison and a $42 million fine for allegedly libeling Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez checked into a hospital in Caracas on Saturday night to begin his third round of chemotherapy.
- A sixteen year-old Chilean protestor was killed Friday morning after he was allegedly shot from a police patrol car in the municipality of Macul, according to the boy’s family. Another 206 people were reportedly injured and 1,394 arrested during the country’s two-day general strike.
- The family of Boris Weisfeiler, a U.S. mathematics professor who disappeared in Chile in 1985 near a notorious torture compound, is disappointed that Weisfeiler was not listed on a list published Friday naming an additional 30 people killed during the Pinochet dictatorship.
- Five people died in Rio de Janeiro’s Santa Teresa neighborhood when a street tram popular with tourists derailed on Saturday, injuring more than 30.
- Police in Salta, Argentina said that three suspects held in the murder and rape of two French tourists have presented conflicting testimonies during a crime scene reenactment on Friday.
Image: AteoP_23 @ Flickr.