Missing Beauty Queen, Sister, Found Dead in Honduras

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Top Story — The bodies of reigning Miss Honduras María José Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofía, 23, were found in a riverbank grave in an area west of the capital city, Tegucigalpa, police announced Wednesday. Since the sisters went missing on Nov. 13, their disappearance has become national news in the country with the world’s highest peacetime murder rate.

Sofía Alvarado’s boyfriend, Plutarco Ruiz, has been arrested and is considered the main suspect in the killings. Aris Maldonado, an alleged accomplice, is also in custody. Honduran police said they expect to make more arrests.

The sisters were reportedly killed on the night of Nov. 13, sometime after a party to celebrate Ruiz’s birthday. According to the National Police director, Gen. Ramón Sabillón, Ruiz allegedly shot his girlfriend Sofía during a heated argument after he became jealous that she had danced with another man. María Alvarado was then shot when she apparently tried to flee. She was hit two times in the back of the head.

“This is not a crime of passion,” said Salvador Nasrallah, a former presidential candidate and TV personality. “This is machismo.”

María Alvarado was once employed as a model on Nasrallah’s TV show X-O Da Dinero.

Experts point to a Central American epidemic of femicide: the murder of women and girls occasioned by their gender. In Honduras, the rate of violent deaths of women and girls has seen an increase of 263 percent between the years of 2005 and 2013.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto announced he will disclose his assets in a bid for transparency, just as the first lady announced plans to sell her rights to a house whose ownership by a company previously involved in public works exposed a possible conflict of interest.
  • As the federal government plans to reduce the number of National Guard troops on the U.S.-Mexico border this spring, several Texas officials propose to replace them with state troopers until next fall.

Caribbean

  • A Cuban doctor in Sierra Leone has tested positive for Ebola, becoming the first of 256 Cuban medical professionals deployed to West Africa to contract the virus.
  • Three bills in the Jamaican House of Representatives seek to amend the constitution to institute the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of appeal for all legal cases, replacing the U.K. Privy Council as the final court of appeal in civil and criminal cases.

Central America

  • Ongoing clashes over the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the Guatemalan town of Pojom left two dead in recent days.
  • Nicaraguan politician Edén Pastora denied accusations by Costa Rican officials that Nicaraguan workers had ventured into Costa Rican territory, the latest chapter in the ongoing border dispute between the two countries over Calero Island.

Andes

  • U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken announced that the Obama administration would like to work with the Republican-led Congress in imposing sanctions on Venezuela. Republicans have been pushing for sanctions on the South American country following a crack-down on anti-government protests earlier this year.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department has placed popular Colombian soccer club Envigado and its owner on a list of foreign drug kingpins, the second Colombian team to be financially blacklisted by the U.S. government for allegedly functioning as a money laundering operation.

Southern Cone

  • A Chilean court has ordered the payment of some $7.5 million to 30 former political prisoners, who were imprisoned for two years on a remote island in the country’s extreme south during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil have increased by almost 8 percent since 2013, according to a report by more than 30 environmental groups.

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