Top Story — An Argentine court on Thursday convicted former dictators Jorge Rafael Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, as well as seven others, for their role in stealing the babies of political prisoners and giving them up for adoption after their mothers were disappeared. Videla, who received a 50-year sentence, and Bignone, who received a 15 year-sentence, already face life sentences for other crimes against humanity, but their convictions pave the way for the prosecution of other members of Argentina’s government and military during the country’s 1976 to 1983 dictatorship. Videla has said the state never officially instituted a plan to systematically rob babies and give them up for adoption, but also blamed pregnant prisoners for using their unborn children as “human shields”. Argentina’s independent Center for Legal and Social Studies says that a total of 1,861 defendants have been named in cases of state-sponsored terror, but only 17 percent of the cases have reached a verdict (92 percent were found guilty). Among seventeen upcoming cases in Argentina for dictatorship-era crimes is a “mega-case” involving the Navy Mechanics School (ESMA) in Buenos Aires, a notorious torture center where thousands of political dissidents were kidnapped, tortured, and disappeared.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Tens of thousands of Mexicans marched to protest the election of Enrique Peña Nieto as Mexico’s next president, saying the PRI manipulated the elections.
- Incoming Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto said that he believed it was time for a re-evaluation of Mexico’s drug war, but said he opposed legalization.
- Cuban President Raúl Castro made a stop in Vietnam on Sunday to see how the communist nation has integrated itself into the capitalist system.
- Two men suspected of stealing were lynched and burned by a mob in Santo, Haiti, while another man was also lynched over the weekend.
- A Dominican tourism group has initiating a tour called “La Ruta del Chivo” to take tourists to places made famous during the 1930-1961 dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo.
- A U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesperson said that a man flying a plane suspected of drug trafficking had been shot dead in Honduras by two DEA agents.
- Costa Rica’s security ministry said that U.S. and Costa Rican authorities seized 2,265 kilograms (1.13 tons) of marijuana being carried by speedboat in the Caribbean.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said that his rival Henrique Capriles was trying to incite violence by campaigning in areas where Chávez is heavily supported.
- Tribal members released three hostages in Bolivia after the government agreed to nullify the concession granted to Canadian mining firm South American Silver in the Potosi region.
- Leftist leaders across Latin America have vocally questioned what role the U.S. had in the impeachment and subsequent removal of former Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo.
- Customs agents on the northern Chilean border discovered a crate full of fake rocks containing 350 kilograms of cocaine scheduled for shipment to Spain.
- The government of the state of Bahia in Brazil is financing a plan to breed genetically modified mosquitoes that would cut down cases of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease.
Image:Emmanuel Frezzotti @ Flickr.