Top Story — Puerto Rican officials reported that 70 percent of the 1,136 murders on the island last year could be attributed to drug violence, prompting Puerto Rican governor Luis Fortuño to ask the U.S. federal government to increase its assistance in patrolling Puerto Rico’s coasts. This week, Puerto Rican authorities made a major drug bust at Luis Muñóz Marín International Airport and arrested airport baggage handlers and airline workers thought to be involved in a drug-trafficking scheme. Another raid uncovered heroin and cocaine being smuggled on a boat. U.S. officials say that 80 percent of the drugs that pass through Puerto Rico are destined for the United States, and lawmakers are scheduled to hold a congressional hearing on drug trafficking in Puerto Rico in the next month.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Thousands of Mexicans protested against presidential candidate Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party on Sunday after Mexico’s four presidential hopefuls finished their final televised debate ahead of the July 1 elections.
- The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeals of seven men imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, including a Yemeni man picked up in 2001.
- Mexican police announced that they have picked up four suspected drug cartel members who operate in the city of Acapulco.
- Authorities in the Bahamas have recovered 11 bodies after a boat filled with Haitian migrants sunk after it set off on Sunday for the United States.
- Cuban Olympic heavyweight champion Teofilo Stevenson died of heart disease at age 60.
- Honduran human rights groups have documented the murder of 48 peasant farmers since January 2012 over land conflicts.
- El Salvador’s La Prensa Grafica reported that Mara gangs are making incursions into Belize.
- Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego erupted Sunday, prompting the local government to issue an Orange alert due to ash and flowing lava.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez officially launched his reelection bid on Monday before a crowd of many thousands in Caracas.
- Colombian soccer player Alex de Avila was shot and killed and another teammate was wounded when a man on a motorcycle opened fire near Barraquilla.
- During a visit to Rome, Bolivian President Evo Morales promoted quinoa as a staple crop that would help solve the global food crisis.
- Highways around Buenos Aires are becoming more dangerous for motorists due to a recent spike in highway gang kidnappings and robberies, according to authorities.
- Some Jewish leaders in Brazil have asked Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff not to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he visits Brazil for the Rio + 20 Conference.
- Uruguay granted legal recognition to a same-sex couple married in 2010 in Spain, the first decision of its kind in the South American country.
Image: Dave Delaney @ Flickr.