Today in Latin America
Top Story — Brazilian federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against seventeen Chevron and Transocean oil executives on Wednesday for an oil leak that caused 110,000 gallons of oil to seep into waters off the coast of Rio de Janeiro in November. The seventeen defendants, who could face jail time and $555,555 in individual fines, hail from the U.S., Brazil, France, Australia, Britain and Canada and include the Brazilian heads of Chevron and Transocean. While experts debate whether the ruling will adversely impact foreign investment in oil exploration in Brazil, the environment minister for Rio de Janeiro state told reporters that he didn’t think the Brazilian government’s reaction to the leak was “excessively rigorous” and said that Chevron acted imprudently by developing an area of the ocean floor without properly estimating the pressure in the underground reservoir the oil seeped from. Chevron has denied any wrongdoing. Oilfields off the coast of Brazil could hold 50 billion barrels of oil and have the potential to make Brazil one of the biggest oil producers in the world.
Read more from the Los Angeles Times.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The Mexican Supreme Court voted not to free Frenchwoman Florence Cassez despite pressure from France. Cassez was sentenced to 60 years for kidnapping in 2005.
- A man and woman in Toronto were charged in the murder of 17 year-old Jamaican teenager Melonie Biddersingh, whose body was found nearly 20 years ago in a suitcase.
- About 20 people whose boat washed ashore in Los Angeles were taken into immigrant detention on Wednesday morning.
- In spite of criticism from Amnesty International, a UN police official said that the trial of two Pakistani peacekeepers sentenced for sexual abuse dealt out “rapid” justice after sentencing them to a year in prison each, plus hard labor.
- Two California men participating in a gay cruise of the Caribbean were arrested on the island of Dominica, where sex between same-sex couples is illegal.
- Cuban Communist Party daily Granma said that dissidents in Cuba and the U.S. were planning to disrupt the visit of Pope Benedict XVI next week.
- U.S. Senator Marco Rubio said that increased Internet access in Cuba could lead to regime change.
- Salvadoran Bishop Fabio Colindres said that the Church had brokered a truce between the rival MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs, which he credited with reducing the country’s homicide rate in the last month.
- The Attorney General’s Office in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, said that an escalating conflict between the MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs were responsible for the deaths of 11 people in the last 48 hours.
- The lawyer of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega said that Noriega had been diagnosed with a brain tumor after being hospitalized Wednesday, but doctors have not yet confirmed this.
- Colombian troops killed 33 suspected FARC guerrillas in Arauca province on Wednesday as part of the government’s new “Sword of Honor” plan to target key armed units.
- Indigenous demonstrators marching across Ecuador for the last two weeks are nearing Quito, where they plan to continue their protest against mining projects in the Amazon.
- Venezuela’s Monagas state governor, Jose Gregorio Briceno, said his suspension from the Socialist Party was partly a result of his refusal to cover up an oil leak into a local river by declaring that the water was safe.
- Uruguayan President José Mujica issued a formal apology to the family of María Claudia García de Gelman for her 1976 kidnapping and murder in collaboration with the Argentine government. Her daughter Macarena, who was given up for adoption at birth, brought the case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
- The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Chilean government to pay a lesbian judge and her daughters $50,000 plus court costs for denying the judge custody of her daughters.
- Striking Argentine truck drivers will meet with the government on Wednesday in order to negotiate a deal to end the truckers’ three-day strike.
Image: kthomason @ Flickr.