Today in Latin America
Top Story — Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom apologized Thursday for a notorious massacre that claimed the lives of 201 adults and children in the village of Dos Erres in December 1982, during Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict. In a special ceremony at the Palace of Culture, Colom referred to the fact that none of the members of the military responsible for the massacre had been brought to justice until this August, when four former soldiers were sentenced to 30 years each for the murders. The Canadian government is currently under pressure to prosecute for crimes against humanity the U.S.-Canadian-Guatemalan citizen Jorge Sosa Orantes, a former member of the Guatemalan military unit that carried out the Dos Erres massacre, rather than extradite him to the United States to face lesser charges. Colom’s apology on Thursday comes less than a week after El Salvador’s Foreign Minister, Hugo Martínez, apologized for Salvadoran troops’ massacre of thousands of villagers in the Salvadoran town of El Mozote in December 1981. The El Mozote massacre in El Salvador and the Dos Erres massacre in Guatemala occurred within a year of each other, both carried out by U.S.-backed security forces who claimed to be fighting leftist guerrillas.
Read more from the BBC.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Days after two Mexican protesters were shot to death during a student protest in Guerrero, authorities discovered three unidentified bodies Wednesday at the headquarters of the Federation of Guadalajara Students in nearby Jalisco state.
- U.S. Lawmakers are planning to introduce a BRAIN act that would give foreign students who have earned a Master’s or Ph.D. degree in the U.S. a fast track to a permanent visa.
- An annual public opinion survey by the German Marshall Fund found that a slight majority of Americans support retaining birthright citizenship, a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, and that almost two-thirds support the Dream Act.
- The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers extended its period of public comment for a draft report on a 90-mile oil pipeline to be built in Puerto Rico. The document hasn’t yet been translated into Spanish.
- While Barack Obama reiterated his support of unrestricted remittances and visits for Cuban-Americans with family in Cuba, some Cuban-Americans worry about a rider to a spending bill that would impose stricter limits on both.
- Honduras turned alleged Guatemalan drug lord Mario Ponce over the the U.S. government on Thursday.
- The Peruvian government has asked that Panama be allowed to join the Pacific Alliance so that goods can move easily through that country on their way to Mexico, another member of the group.
- A Costa Rican sloth caught a ride with tourists to the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary after they discovered the animal lying on the forest floor.
- A French court sentenced Venezuelan terrorist Carlos Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as “Carlos the Jackal”, to a life in prison for four attacks in the 1980s.
- Peru’s growth in October was the slowest in 21 months, indicating a slowdown in private investment attributed to mining protests and growing unrest.
- A Colombian judge sentenced three construction moguls to over seven years in prison for an embezzlement scheme involving the ex-mayor of Bogotá.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales said he would continue to demand access for the sea from Chile before the International Court in the Hague.
- Hugo Moyano, a top Argentine union leader, said he would resign his post within the party of Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, saying the president was straying from the party’s Peronist values.
- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has signed a nationwide indoor smoking ban for public placed.
- Regional trade bloc Mercosur is expected to fast-track Venezuela’s entry as a full member, despite the fact that the Paraguayan senate has opposed the country’s entry.
Image: Surizar @ Flickr.