Today in Latin America
Top Story — Venezuelan baseball player Wilson Ramos was kidnapped from his home in the city of Valencia Wednesday by four armed men who took him away in a van, according to Kathe Vilera, the spokeswoman for his team, the Tigres of Aragua. The kidnapping of the 24-year-old catcher, who also plays in the U.S. Major Leagues for the Washington Nationals, brought attention to the problem of violent crime in Venezuela — an issue that has long plagued the left-wing Hugo Chávez government. Venezuela’s Institute for Investigations on Coexistence and Security estimated the country suffered some 1,179 kidnappings last year, or about three per day. Venezuelan police confirmed the kidnapping and said they were working to rescue Ramos. There were no reports of a ransom demand at the time of writing.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexican soldiers have detained Olvidio Limón Sánchez, an alleged top operator of the Sinaloa Cartel and one of the United States’ most-wanted fugitives.
- The Vatican announced Thursday that Pope Benedict XVI may make a trip to Mexico and Cuba next year.
- Jerry Lewis, the Arizona State Senator who defeated Russell Pearce in a recall election this week, called for a kinder line on immigration Thursday during a telephone press conference.
- The Miami Herald reviews the war of words on Twitter between Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez and Raúl Castro’s daughter Mariela.
- Puerto Rican prosecutors charged prison guard Héctor Cruz Santiago with eight counts of negligent homicide Thursday for the drowning deaths of inmates who died when their van was engulfed by floodwaters.
- Honduras’s El Heraldo newspaper is questioning whether 3,000 guns disappeared from government warehouses during the 2002-2006 presidency of Ricardo Maduro.
- Newly-elected Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina said that he “has no regrets” about his military past and denied allegations that he was involved in wartime atrocities.
- Nicaragua is the first of fifteen low-income countries to receive a pneumonia vaccine as part of a special campaign to fight the disease.
- Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos offered to kill a controversial education reform bill if tens of thousands of protesting students returned to their classes, but students say they want the bill withdrawn without conditions.
- Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa appointed a new head of Ecuador’s central bank and a new political economy minister on Thursday.
- A Peruvian journalist received a suspended prison sentence for defamation on Monday for his reporting on corruption.
- A dozen former military officials will stand trial in Uruguay on Thursday in an investigation into the torture and death of Aldo Perrini during the Uruguay’s 1973-1985 dictatorship.
- Chile’s Senate voted in favor of a law that will prohibit discrimination against minorities, including gays and lesbians. The proposed law now passes to the Chamber of Deputies.
- Thousands protested in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday against an oil law that will redistribute oil revenues among Brazil’s states.
- Inflation data from Brazil’s national statistics agency was leaked a day ahead of its scheduled release.
Image: Keith Allison @ Flickr.