Top Story — Already in deep water over allegations that it used prisoners from the former East Germany to make its products, Swedish home furnishing giant IKEA now faces charges that it employed Cuban dissidents as well. According to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), former Stasi secret police files revealed that IKEA struck a deal with the Castro government in 1987 after an East German trade mission went to Havana for talks with the Cuban interior ministry. The Stasi files state that Ikea production sites were “incorporated in the prison facilities of the interior ministry in Cuba.” Problems arose in 1988 when the first shipment of “Falkenberg” sofas from Cuba arrived in poor condition. Ikea denied any knowledge of Cuban dissidents being employed to make its products but promised to look into the matter.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The remains of Mexican photojournalists Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna were discovered with two other unidentified bodies near a canal in Veracruz state.
- Three federal SWAT officers working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement were shot and wounded after serving a warrant on a man suspected in a triple homicide in Petaluma, California.
- In an effort to avoid a nearly $1 billion fine, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim agreed to lower charges levied by his company, Telcel, against competitors.
- Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, now UN special envoy to Haiti, urged the Haitian government to confirm a new Prime Minister within the week in a statement on Thursday.
- Six people associated with a small company known as Recycle Tech agreed to a $3.2 million settlement with the SEC after it was discovered that they were duping investors into believing that the company would build housing after the Haiti earthquake.
- Lloyd Brevett, the former bassist of Jamaican band the Skatalites, passed away at age 80 on Thursday.
- El Salvador’s MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs announced in the Quezaltepeque prison that their gang truce has extended to school zones, where they claimed they would stop recruiting members.
- Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concluded that years of neglect and allowing prisons to essentially run by the prisoners themselves contributed to the Comayagua prison fire that killed 361 in Honduras in February.
- The Guatemalan government it is possible that the Zetas drug cartel was involved in a riot at an army outpost in Huehuetenango near the Mexican border.
- The Brazilian government sent 350,000 troops to the border with Bolivia after the governor of the Brazilian state of Acre claimed that Bolivian troops drove Brazilian farmers from their lands on the other side of the border.
- Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said that Latin America should form its own human rights body free of U.S. influence and participation.
- Peruvians are expressing outrage after a man had to hike into the jungle to retrieve to body of his police officer son who disappeared in a confrontation with Shining Path guerrillas.
- The Brazilian government has launched “Operation Agata 4″, sending 8,500 troops to patrol the Amazon for drug trafficking and other illegal activity.
- Some Brazilian legislators have begun to investigate crimes committed during the country’s 1964-1986 military dictatorship in an attempt to push for the appointment of Truth Commission members.
- Argentine legislators overwhelmingly approved the takeover by the Argentine government of Spanish company Repsol SA’s shares in energy company YPF.
Image: kaktuslampan @ Flickr.