Today in Latin America
Top Story — Digitized documents from Guatemala’s national police archive were made public Friday at the University of Texas at Austin, where researchers unveiled a new digital archive spanning over a century’s worth of state terrorism, social and political control and surveillance in Guatemala. The archive currently holds 12 million pages of police documents — part of the disintegrating stacks of paper that were discovered in an abandoned munitions depot in 2005 by the office of Guatemala’s human rights ombudsman. The documents, known as the Historical Archive of the National Police (AHPN), span a period from 1882 – 1997 and include personal dossiers containing identification documents, interrogation records and photos of those held in police custody. Although they were made public in 2009, this is the first time that members of the public can search the documents online. Guatemala’s Historical Clarification Commission found that at least 50,000 of the more than 200,000 people killed during Guatemala’s armed conflict were forcibly disappeared by U.S.-backed Guatemalan security forces; most of the victims were indigenous Guatemalans. Evidence from the AHPN has been critical in allowing prosecutions for human rights abuses in Guatemala to go forward.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- BP claims that Halliburton destroyed evidence proving that the company shared the blame for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and became the worst oil spill in U.S. history.
- Under fire from critics, the American Heritage Dictionary revised its definition of the term “anchor baby” to clarify that it is derogatory.
- Mexico’s leading presidential candidate and former governor of Mexico state Enrique Pena Nieto embarrassed himself at a book fair when he couldn’t name any books that influenced him.
- At least three people were killed and many more remain missing after a boat carrying approximately 100 migrants bound for Puerto Rico capsized off the coast of the Dominican Republic.
- Cuba’s Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission said that there were 257 political arrests in Cuba last month.
- Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that Jamaica would hold general elections on December 29.
- Haitian President Michel Martelly said he had plans to promote Haiti as a tourist destination to encourage its future economic growth.
- Gunmen opened fire at the offices of Honduran newspaper la Tribuna on Monday, injuring a security guard.Police reportedly arrived on the scene five hours later.
- Former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias advised Haitian President Michel Martelly in a letter delivered Monday that he should not restore Haiti’s disbanded army.
- Costa Rica has submitted a claim against Nicaragua to the International Court of Justice on Monday over territorial disputes with its neighbor.
- Protesters against the Conga mine project in northern Peru said they felt the government had betrayed them by declaring a state of emergency after they agreed to halt a planned general strike last Thursday.
- Seven people were killed and another injured during a mudslide in Tolima, Colombia on Monday.
- Venezuela took advantage of the CELAC summit last Friday to sign a number of bilateral agreements with other Latin American and Caribbean nations, incuding Mexico and Mercosur members Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.
- Chile’s Communist Party has asked a judge to order the exhumation of Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, who died just weeks after the country’s 1973 military coup and may have been a victim of foul play.
- A week after forensics experts identified the remains of teacher and journalist Julio Castro in a military barrack, Uruguayan General Pedro Aguerre said that any pact of silence within the country’s armed forces to hide crimes committed during the 1973-1985 dictatorship must come to an end.
- The Brazilian government announced that satellite footage of the Amazon rainforest showed that deforestation has fallen to its lowest recorded level since 1988.
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