Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Peruvian government declared a 60-day state of emergency in the Echarate region following the kidnapping of dozens of gas pipeline workers who were allegedly rounded up and driven away by Shining Path guerrillas. The workers, now thought to number at least 40, were taken Monday morning from their hotel in the hamlet of Kepashiato and are employed by Swedish company Skanska and Peruvian company Ransa. The guerrillas are reportedly demanding $10 million in ransom, and contrary to initial reports, they have not yet released the hostages. According to Kepashiato’s mayor, the guerillas spent several hours stocking up on provisions and lecturing locals on the evils of the government and the natural gas industry before driving the hostages away in sports utility vehicles.
Read more from the Washington Post.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Mexican President Felipe Calderón arrived in Cuba Wednesday for talks with Cuban President Raúl Castro and other top Cuban officials.
- A 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Mexico on Wednesday, while a 5.9-magnitude quake hit off the Oregon coast.
- Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that immigrants seeking low-skilled jobs will be subject to mandatory language testing for proficiency in English and French.
- U.S. State Department officials made a visit to northern Haiti to tour an industrial park being built there.
- Former FBI official Hector Pesquera was sworn in Wednesday as Puerto Rico’s new chief of police and will be in charge of 17,000 officers.
- Cuban soccer player Yosmel de Armas has claimed asylum in the U.S. after he disappeared from his team’s hotel in Nashville while they were visiting for a tournament.
- The owner of an ambulance company was shot dead in Puerto Rico by two rival paramedics who claimed he was stealing one of their patients.
- Guatemalan judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez said that the defense team for Efraín Ríos Montt successfully suspended a hearing scheduled for Thursday in which prosecutors were expected to produce evidence against the former dictator.
- The U.N. called on Honduras to adopt measures to stop the killing of lawyers, nine of whom have been assassinated in recent months.
- 49 of the 75 deaths reported in El Salvador during Holy Week were murders, according to authorities. 91 were murdered during the same period last year.
- Nine miners trapped in an abandoned copper mine in Peru were rescued Wednesday after being trapped underground for 6 days.
- Colombia’s foreign minister said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez plans to attend the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena this weekend.
- Colombia’s Wayuu tribe will have jurisdiction in the case of a 10 year-old girl and Wayuu tribal member who gave birth to a healthy baby two weeks ago.
- A Brazilian judge ruled that U.S. oil company Chevron Corp and drill-rig operator Transocean Ltd. can not be barred from operating in Brazil after two consecutive oil spills.
- Five Argentine medical professionals were suspended after a premature baby girl that had been declared stillborn was actually still alive and trapped inside a coffin twelve hours after her birth.
Image: Asier Solana Bermejo @ Flickr.