Today in Latin America
Top Story — Five former Guatemalan paramilitaries were sentenced Tuesday to a total of 7,710 years in jail each for their participation in the 1982 massacre of Achi Maya Indians in Plan de Sanchez, Guatemala. Four of the five men were part of the Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil, a civilian militia formed by the Guatemalan military to help fight leftist guerrillas during Guatemala’s civil war, and another was a military commissioner. The men reportedly led the army to the village of Plan de Sanchez on July 18, 1982, where hundreds of people had gathered for market day, and systematically tortured, raped and murdered them. Tuesday’s sentence reflects a penalty of 30 years for each of the 256 people killed in the massacre, plus an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity. However, Judge Jazmin Barrios said that the men would only serve 50 years each, because Guatemalan law imposes a maximum 50-year limit on time in prison.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck Mexico on Tuesday between Acapulco and Oaxaca, collapsing about 60 homes near the epicenter.
- Russell Pearce, the former senator who authored Arizona’s tough immigration law SB1070, is running for the senate again after he lost his seat in a recall election four months ago.
- Scientists tracked a rare western gray whale from its habitat in Russia to the waters off of Mexico using a satellite tracking tag.
- Haitian authorities ordered former members of Haiti’s armed forces occupying old barracks to clear out. The former soldiers were there in the hopes that Haitian President Michel Martelly will restore Haiti’s military, which was disbanded in 1995.
- A U.S. college basketball team will face off against a Cuban team for the first time in sixteen years in Havana this summer.
- U.S. actor Sean Penn will receive the 2012 Peace Summit Award at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates for his relief work in Haiti.
- A banner hung in Guatemala’s northern Peten province and attributed to the Zetas drug cartel said that civilians would be killed if civil and military authorities in Guatemala continued to crack down on the cartel.
- “When Mountains Tremble”, a documentary film shot in Guatemala the 1980s by U.S. director Pamela Yates, could be used as evidence to convict former strongman Efraín Ríos Montt, who faces genocide charges.
- Venezuelan presidential hopeful Fernando Capriles dismissed claims by the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez that there was a plot to assassinate him.
- Under pressure from its neighbors, Peru decided to cancel a visit by the British warship HMS Montrose in an effort to side with Argentina in the continuing dispute over the Falkland Islands.
- Colombia’s largest oil company shut down the Caño Limón Covenas pipeline again after it was attacked by guerrillas for the fourteenth time this year.
- Bolivian Minister Carlos Romero said that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos pledged to support Bolivia in its effort to gain access to the sea from Chile.
- A Uruguayan judge overseeing an investigation into the murders of 16 hospital patients said that two nurses arrested Sunday have confessed to killing the patients with stolen drugs and other methods because they “didn’t like seeing people suffer”.
- Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said that the $12.7 billion Brazil will be spending on the World Cup is justified and is being used for infrastructure improvements in the 12 host cities.
- Argentine Industry Minister Debora Giorgi said that Argentina was seeking to renegotiate its auto trade agreement with Mexico.