Top Story— Argentine former dictator Jorge Rafael Videla on Tuesday denied that his government had systematically kidnapped the babies of murdered political prisoners during his 1976-1981 rule. Human rights groups like the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo estimate that some 500 babies were born in captivity to pregnant women kidnapped by Argentine security forces, and were given to new families after their mothers were murdered. Videla, who faces 50 years in prison for his alleged role in the state-sponsored baby thefts, said the pregnant prisoners “used their child embryos as human shields when they operated as fighters,” and denied that any “implicit order framed in a systematic plan” came from the upper ranks of his government. His administration is accused of stealing at least 34 infants from their mothers, who were held in torture centers. Videla is currently serving a life sentence for torture, murder, and kidnapping. As many as 30,000 people were killed during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship, according to rights groups.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A Mexican poll on Tuesday showed that leading presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto has maintained a wide margin over his rivals before the July 1 elections.
- The Mexican Navy said that a helicopter containing four crew members has gone missing after it flew over western Mexico.
- Police in Arizona are expecting to struggle with the implementation of Arizona’s SB 1070 after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld one of its controversial “show me your papers” provision.
- The U.N.’s human rights section in Haiti reported that rapes are rarely investigated and almost never go to trial.
- René González, one of the “Cuban Five” who served 13 years in a U.S. prison for spying, has asked to serve the remainder of his probation in Cuba.
- Puerto Rican airport workers protested over the planned privatization of the island’s international airport.
- El Salvador’s more than 100-day gang truce may result in giving gangs more long-term political power.
- Guatemala’s economy minister said Monday that the U.S. agreed to halt an arbitration panel that would have investigated the use of child labor in the Central American country.
- Bolivia’s police strike entered its sixth day as police officers and the Bolivian government continue talks over wages and indigenous marchers are expected to convene on La Paz.
- Venezuelan presidential candidate Henrique Capriles asked the National Elections Council to intervene and prevent Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for taking up more than three minutes on special broadcasts to campaign for his reelection.
- The Colombian Navy and U.S. DEA discovered a semi-submersible vessel thought to belong to the Rastrojos drug gang.
- Ecuador’s environmental minister, Marcela Aguinaga, said giant tortoise “Lonesome George”, who died at age 100, will be embalmed and put on display for tourists.
- Ousted former Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo said he would no longer attend a Mercosur summit scheduled in Mendoza, Argentina, where he was planning to protest his impeachment.
- Brazil has introduced an innovative new reading program that would allow prison inmates to shorten their sentences a maximum of 48 days a year, or four days for every book they read.
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