Today in Latin America
Top Story — Venezuelan presidential hopeful Henrique Capriles was confident in his first press conference Monday after he won the Democratic Unity coalition’s nomination to oppose President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela’s upcoming presidential elections. Three million Venezuelan voters participated in the primary on Sunday, which the 39 year-old governor won easily with 62 percent of the vote. Capriles harshly criticized Chávez’s economic policy, characterized the Chávez administration as “a government of retrograde leftists”, and said that he would seek to pursue a Brazil-style economy that would take a business-friendly approach but would also provide social assistance to the poor. Chávez currently enjoys a 60 percent approval rating, but a third of Venezuelan voters polled have said they are still undecided about who they’d elect president.
Read more from Reuters.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexico’s tourism agency said that the country hosted a record number of foreign tourists last year despite increasing drug war violence.
- BP on Monday lost a bid to dismiss investors’ fraud claims that the company misrepresented its response capacity after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.
- Delegates from the Caribbean Community and U.N. Security Council arrived in Haiti on Monday to assess reconstruction efforts and investigate tensions between U.N. peacekeepers and civilians.
- Survivors of the deadly February 4 shipwreck off the coast of the Dominican Republic said that the boat bearing about 70 migrants already appeared to be falling apart before it set off.
- The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 21 Dominicans and one Haitian to the Dominican Republic after they were found last Thursday off the coast of Puerto Rico.
- The U.S. is concerned that drilling off the coast of Cuba could potentially affect Florida’s tourism in the event of an oil spill.
- Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina reiterated his suggestion that Central American nations consider legalizing drugs due to the U.S. inability to curb consumption.
- A 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Costa Rica early on Monday, but no injuries were reported.
- A U.S. official said that Panama and Colombia must work out the implementation details of free trade agreements with the U.S. before they can go into effect.
- Ecuadorian police said they captured a high-level drug trafficker who acted as a link between Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel and Colombian drug kingpin Daniel “El Loco” Barrera.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales is reportedly losing the support of his indigenous base amid accusations that he has ignored the new constitution that established Bolivia as a plurinational republic.
- Brazilian journalist Paulo Rodrigues was shot to death late Sunday by two men on a motorcycle in Mato Grosso do Sul state.
- During a visit with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on Monday, U.S. actor Sean Penn expressed support of Argentina’s claim to the disputed Falkland Islands.
- Chileans living in the Falkland Islands wrote a letter to Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, expressing concern that Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner would block a weekly LAN flight between Santiago and the islands.
Image: Globovisión @ Flickr.