Today in Latin America
Top Story — A Colombian judge sentenced Corporal Luis Alejandro Toledo to 54 years in prison for passing off murdered civilians as members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Toledo, who was found guilty of forced disappearance, murder, and conspiracy to commit a crime, is one of thousands of Colombian soldiers under investigation for “false positives” — the term used for the practice of posing dead civilians with weapons to make them look like armed FARC guerrillas that were killed in combat. Toledo reportedly admitted that he did not act alone, and said that he and other soldiers from his unit lured three men to an isolated farm in November 2007 under the pretense of offering them work, killed the men, and then posed them with weapons that the soldiers had purchased themselves. The Colombian attorney general’s office is investigating over 1500 similar cases.
Read more from the BBC.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The Mexican government issued a critical statement Wednesday directed towards authorities in the state of Sonora, who said that murdered activist Nepomuceno Moreno had a criminal record.
- The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a measure Tuesday that would increase the number of family-based visas permitted each year in an effort to shorten visa approval wait times.
- Authorities investigating a newly-discovered U.S.-Mexico drug tunnel found 32 tons of marijuana and electric rail cars, hydraulic doors and an elevator.
- Haitian President Michel Martelly announced Tuesday that he hoped to create 500,000 jobs in Haiti in the next 3 years.
- Some Guayanese voters are claiming election fraud as officials continued to tabulate the results of Monday’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Wednesday.
- Cuban researchers are studying the therapeutic benefits of scorpion venom in relieving symptoms of cancer.
- Arrest warrants have been issued for three former in-laws of Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, who are accused of embezzling money designated for public works projects.
- ECLAC reported that poverty in Latin America has dropped 17 percent in the last 20 years in all countries except Mexico and Honduras.
- The Panama Canal brought in a record $1 billion during fiscal year 2010-2011 as it undergoes a $5.25 billion expansion project set to be completed in 2014.
- The U.S. confirmed Wednesday that alleged Colombian drug lord Maximiliano Bonilla-Orozco, for whom the State Department was offering a $5 million reward, was captured in Venezuela.
- The controversial Conga mining project in northwestern Peru has been suspended in the face of public demonstrations.
- The demand for private armored cars is booming in Latin American countries like Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico.
- Argentina will now allow police and federal security officers who identify as transsexual to recognize their partners and use the uniforms and facilities of their gender of self-identification.
- Chevron said Brazil’s harsh reaction to an oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro in early November was “puzzling”.
- Former Paraguayan guerrilla Marciano Villagra, whose son and brother were disappeared during the rule of dictator Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, died Monday in Asunción at age 93.
Image: aniara @ Flickr.