Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Venezuelan Supreme Court defied an international human-rights court and dealt a major blow to the political aspirations of one of President Hugo Chávez’s main rivals on Monday. The court ruled that Leopoldo López, a former mayor of the Chacao district, could not serve in public office through 2014 because he allegedly mishandled public funds among other corruption charges, though López has not been convicted of a crime. The ruling dismissed last month’s decision by the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights that López should have his political rights reinstated. In a statement on its Web site, the Venezuelan Supreme Court said it was upholding the constitution and denied that Lopez was being barred for political reasons. Under the Chávez administration, Venezuela has been accused by human rights groups of using the judicial system to block or marginalize political opponents. In Chávez’s 12 years in power hundreds of opponents have been banned from government service for similar reasons. “From the beginning, this decision was going to be based on political reasons,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue. Chávez has “always been worried about López. This is not consistent with the rule of law.”
Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch
- A class action lawsuit filed in Illinois has the potential to change the rules under which Immigration and Customs Enforcement can issue a detainer for those suspected of immigrating illegally. Check out the report by Amy Elmgren.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Grupo Mexico must give back $1.3 billion in shares to Southern Copper Corp for making the company overpay for a Mexican mining company.
- Respected Mexican journalist Miguel Ángel Granados Chapa, who wrote for the daily newspaper Reforma, died at the age of 70.
- The vast majority of athletes screened at the U-17 World Cup in Mexico tested positive for traces of clenbuterol in their bodies because they ate contaminated meat.
- The chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus slammed Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain for saying the United States should erect an electrified, 20-foot border fence to help stem undocumented immigrants from entering the country.
- A University of Miami researcher is studying what may be a genetic trait linked to higher rates of breast cancer in the Caribbean.
- NPR reports on how the Ladies in White, a Cuban protest group, are coping with the loss of leader Laura Pollán.
- The trial for 14 police officers and prison officials in Haiti for the deaths of at least 11 inmates during a prison break begins today.
- The death toll due to heavy rains in Central America has reached at least 80 dead, with the greatest number of lives lost in El Salvador at 32.
- A rash of violence over the weekend in the northern Honduran city of San Pedro de Sula has left 15 people dead.
- Commissioning for the Phase I expansion of a geothermal power plant in Nicaragua by Canada’s Ram Power Corp has begun.
- Many people from the Costa Rican town of Siquirres turned out for the funeral of a 15-foot-long crocodile and internet celebrity called “Pocho.”
- Early polls indicate that between 46 and 48 percent of Bolivian voters submitted invalid ballots in Sundays’s judicial elections, in defiance of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ attempt at judicial reforms.
- Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that presidential candidate hopeful Leopoldo López will not be able to serve in public office through 2014, despite a ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that he should.
- The missing ten year-old daughter of the mayor of Fortul, Colombia, was freed after mediation by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), though it is not yet clear who kidnapped her or why.
- Chilean Armed Forces deputy secretary Alfonso Vargas said that nearly 57,000 18-year old Chileans will need to report for a military draft within the month in order to fill the gap in new recruits.
- Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva said accusations that he embezzled funds intended to promote sports among poor Brazilian children are “farcical” and “false.”
- Flights in Brazil and Argentina have resumed after another volcanic eruption from Chile’s Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex disrupted air traffic in the region.
Image: LuisCarlos Díaz @ Flickr.