Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Colombian NGO Somos Defensores reported that 49 human rights activists were murdered in Colombia last year, a 36 percent increase over 2010. Somos Defensores, comprised of three different Colombian non-governmental organizations, said that 25 of the 49 murders occurred in the provinces of Antioquia, Córdoba and Sucre, where land disputes have led to a high level of violence, but also along Colombia’s southern border with Ecuador. Colombian human rights workers also suffered an increased number of disappearances, assaults, arbitrary arrests, and other violations in 2011. The Somos Defensores report identified most of the victims as indigenous Colombians belonging to the Nasa, Emberá and Awa tribes, people identified as community leaders and landless peasants trying to reclaim their lands. According to the report, 50 percent of the attacks against human rights workers can be attributed to Colombian paramilitary groups.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed overhauling a Clinton-era ban that prohibits undocumented immigrants from applying for visas to the U.S. for ten years after entering the country illegally, allowing some families to apply for “hardship waivers”.
- Mexican officials said that they would phase out the use of Volkswagen beetle taxis at the end of this year by having their cab licenses expire.
- Jamaica is considering whether it will become a republic and break with the U.K. as Prince Harry visits the country as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour for Queen Elizabeth.
- Practitioners of the Afro-Cuban Santería religion are disappointed but not surprised that Pope Benedict XVI will not meet with them after the late Pope John Paul II refused to meet with them.
- Haiti Teleco’s director of international relations, Jean Rene Duperval, faces money laundering charges after allegedly pocketing $500,000 in bribes.
- Central American presidents will meet with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden Tuesday in Tegucigalpa to discuss drug violence, security issues, and the possibility of future drug legalization.
- Thousands of miners and their supporters marched in Peru’s Amazon region on Monday to protest new measures against illegal gold mining.
- Shots were fired while Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles spoke in the Cotiza neighborhood, a stronghold of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
- Colombian businessman Andres Arroyabe, known as “the Machine”, was arrested at his ranch for allegedly supplying weapons and armored cars to the Urabenos gang.
- Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announced that she would open a new museum to memorialize Argentines who died in the 1982 Falkland Islands war against Britain.
- FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke extended an apology to Brazil on Monday after he angered the Brazilian government for alleging that the country was unprepared for the 2014 World Cup.
- The Confederation of Chilean Students will deliver a letter to Chile’s La Moneda expressing their support of protesters in the Aysén region decrying a lack of government support.
- Uruguayan officials found the bodies of two crew members killed aboard a South Korean vessel that caught fire Saturday in Montevideo.
Image: dfinnecy @ Flickr.