Today in Latin America
Top Story — Bolivian President Evo Morales on Monday said that the regional South American bloc UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations) should “decertify” the United States in its counternarcotics efforts. Morales’ comments come after the U.S. blacklisted Bolivia for failing to meet counterdrug obligations in 2008 and its renewed the designation last week. The move by the U.S. allows the country to implement possible sanctions, but U.S. President Barack Obama waived any penalties for Bolivia and Venezuela, which is also on the list, so the U.S. can support programs it says aim to help those nations’ people. Morales, a former coca grower, said his country is doing everything it can to fight cocaine trafficking, but added that he does not believe coca should be classified as a controlled substance. “If the United States can certify or decertify, why can’t UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations) decertify the United States if the origin of drug trafficking is U.S. consumption of cocaine?” Morales said.
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- Mexican President Felipe Calderón called on the U.S. government to reduce weapon sales to Mexico and domestic demand for illegal drugs, in a talk before business leaders at the Waldorf-Astoria on Monday. Mari Hayman has more.
- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and a group of immigration activists and religious leaders kicked off a campaign promoting the DREAM Act on Thursday. Andrew O’Reilly reports from New York City.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Members of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) demanded a local politician be investigated in the case of slain congressman Moises Villanueva.
- Mexican poet Javier Sicilia’s peace caravan rolled on through southern Mexico despite threats of violence against the group.
- CBS News obtained secretly recorded conversations that raise questions as to whether some evidence is being withheld in the murder of a Border Patrol agent.
- A group of farmers in Alabama asked legislators Monday to make emergency changes to the state’s tough new immigration law, claiming it puts at risk millions of dollars of crops due to a sudden lack of hands for harvest.
- An aide to the Dominican Republic’s top anti-drug official has been shot to death.
- Cuba is set to begin drilling for oil off its shores near the Florida keys by December.
- Vigils will are being planned in Washington and New York for detained U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross, following Bill Richardson’s unsuccessful attempt to open negotiations for his release.
- Two earthquakes struck Guatemala Monday, killing three people, damaging homes and leaving a major to El Salvador blocked by mudslides.
- Heavy rains in Nicaragua caused a wall in a family’s home to collapse in the Masaya province, killing a couple and their five-year-old son.
- The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed an injunction Monday that prevented Ecuadorean indigenous groups from collecting, outside of Ecuador, $18 billion in damages from Chevron Corporation for toxic pollution in the 1970s and 1980s.
- Colombian prosecutors on Monday convicted paramilitary warlord Rodrigo Mercado in absentia for the 2003 slaying of leftist mayor Edualdo Díaz.
- A new law passed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and taking effect Monday requires mining companies in Venezuela to sell all gold they extract to the government.
- Peru will accelerate spending on infrastructure to boost the country’s economy following a series of government decrees on Monday.
- A Uruguayan judge on Sunday issued orders to detain five former U.N. peacekeepers suspected of raping a Haitian teenager following their return home from Haiti on Friday.
- Twenty prison employees have been fired after a 14-year-old Brazilian girl said she was drugged, beaten, and raped by prison inmates after being smuggled inside Heleno Fragoso prison in Pará state over the weekend.
- Farmland in Argentina’s Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Santa Fé provinces is still suffering from drought, despite some rain over the weekend.
- Highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease has been detected in Paraguayan cattle, the first time in eight years that the virus has been found in the country’s livestock.