Today in Latin America
Top Story — Leaders of El Salvador’s Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs confirmed Friday that they have reached a truce which they say has contributed to a sudden decline in the country’s homicide rate. However, allegations of a deal between government and gang members has incited controversy in El Salvador, which previously trailed only neighboring Honduras as the most deadly country in the world in 2010. A February report released by an anonymous government source said that officials within the country’s Public Security and Justice Ministry “offered, if it is necessary, to make deals or negotiate with subjects who have power inside organized crime structures to reduce homicides.” In early March, 30 members of the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs were moved from a maximum security prison into prisons that offered better living conditions. Head army and police chaplain Monsignor Fabio Colindres confirmed that he had helped negotiate a truce between the rival gangs, but said it was done without government participation. Meanwhile, homicides in El Salvador have fallen from over 400 per month in January and February to 186 in the first 21 days of March.
Read more from the New York Times.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexico’s PAN, PRI and Green Parties have all failed to reserve 40 percent of their political positions for women, failing to meet the 40 percent quota required by law.
- At a Sunday mass in Mexico, Pope Benedict XVI urged Mexican Catholics to keep their faith despite the country’s struggle with violence, immigration and economic hardship.
- The town of Farmer’s Branch, Texas, is continuing to push for enforcement of an immigration law that prevents undocumented immigrants from renting within city limits despite legal challenges costing almost $5 million.
- The U.N. Development Program has urged Haiti to reconvene its reconstruction panel to deal with recovery after the 2010 earthquake, though the panel was dissolved last October.
- Members of Cuban dissident group Ladies in White protested on Sunday without incident, a departure from the detentions that took place last week.
- A maid at a Puerto Rican resort has been accused of beating her colleague to death while cleaning a hotel room.
- At a summit attended by the presidents of Panama and Costa Rica, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina proposed that the U.S. and other major drug consuming nations should pay for the cost of drug seizures in Central America.
- Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina proposed a number of ways to combat drug trafficking in Central America, including formally suggesting that drug transport and consumption be decriminalized.
- An explosion in an apartment building in Bogotá killed three people and seriously injured another on Sunday.
- The Colombian government was angered by a demonstration in a Venezuelan neighborhood honoring the fourth anniversary of the death of FARC leader Manuel Marulanda.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said he expected to return from Cuba on March 29 after he undergoes radiation therapy for his cancerous tumor.
- A 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit central Chile on Sunday night two years after a major quake destroyed the area, but no immediate deaths or injuries were reported.
- Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner declassified the controversial Rattenbach Report, which illustrated mistakes made by Argentina’s leadership during the 1982 Falkland Islands War.
- Brazilian police in São Paulo are working to capture the so-called “Gang of Blondes”, a group of women who have kidnapped shoppers at malls and maxed out their credit cards.
- At least 1.2 million acres of Paraguay’s Chaco rainforest have been deforested in the last two years.
Image: JoePhilipson @ Flickr.