Today in Latin America
Top Story — Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega can return to his home country after a French court approved his extradition on Wednesday. Noreiga will not conclude his 7-year prison sentence in France for money laundering, and now awaits the signature of French Prime Minister Francois Fillon before he can be released to Panama. Noriega’s lawyer said that a small group of Panamanian officials are on their way to France to accompany him on his return flight, which could be as soon as Thursday. Notorious for his long alliance with the CIA and eventual ouster in the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, Noriega was tried in absentia in Panama for embezzlement, corruption and the murder of political opponents. Prior to his arrival in France, Noriega served a 17-year prison sentence in the U.S. for drug trafficking with the Medellín cartel. The former dictator’s advanced age may allow him to serve his sentence under house arrest.
Read more at the AP.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Sixteen people were kidnapped, shot to death and burned in Sinaloa, Mexico, and another seven people were shot by gunmen in separate incidents on Wednesday.
- Three alleged members of the Zetas drug cartel shot the driver of an 18-wheeler to death in an attack in Houston. The driver was carrying 300 pounds of marijuana on his body.
- Alabama authorities dropped charges against German Mercedes-Benz executive Detlev Hager after he was pulled over and could not produce proper identification last week.
- Nearly 5 percent of Haiti’s population has been infected with cholera since its outbreak last year. 202 Haitians died of cholera last month.
- An article in Cuba’s Communist Party paper Granma entitled “Vulgarity in Our Music: A Choice for the Cuban People?” questioned the growing popularity of reggaetón music on the island.
- Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes’ decision to name Gen. David Munguia Payes as Security Minister has inflamed controversy as Payes replaces former guerrilla commander Manuel Melgar.
- Honduran police have been implicated in the murders of students Carlos Pineda and Alejandro Vargas, who were shot in October after surveillance footage showed a police vehicle following their car.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos are expected to discuss the whereabouts of new FARC commander Timochenko when they meet on Monday.
- Peruvian President Ollanta Humala asked protesters of a $4.8 billion gold mine project to back down on Thursday, saying he wanted to avoid violence.
- China will loan Venezuela $4 billion to boost oil output, update power plants, and produce more aluminum and iron.
- Colombian scientists are training white rats to sniff out landmines that kill hundreds each year in Colombia.
- Citing negligence, Brazil has suspended Chevron’s drilling rights until the cause of an oil spill early this month is clarified.
- Members of the Pai Tavytera tribe in Paraguay’s Amambay province have asked for protection after 4 members of their tribe have been killed, allegedly by drug traffickers.
- A U.S. Embassy official in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has charged a Uruguayan army major with assault, according to Uruguayan Col. Mario Stevenazzi.
- In an $80 million deal, Chile will take delivery of a French navy landing craft in an effort to modernize its defenses.
Image: / Ryan @ Flickr.