Top Story — Mexican officials arrested the brother of former Guerrero state Gov. Ángel Aguirre on Tuesday, accusing him of taking some $19 million in kickbacks for construction contracts. Carlos Aguirre was arrested alongside six others — including former state officials and some of Aguirre’s relatives — on money laundering charges.
The announcement comes amid increasing scrutiny on corruption among Mexican politicians, particularly in Guerrero state, where 43 students from a teachers’ college went missing last September.
In October, former Gov. Aguirre took a leave of absence in the face of protests calling for his resignation, which widely condemned his handling of the missing students’ case as well as widespread corruption in his administration. Then, in November, President Enrique Peña Nieto became embroiled in a conflict-of-interest scandal after news website Aristegui Noticias revealed that Peña Nieto’s wife bought a luxury mansion mansion from a company that had been awarded a number of large government contracts — the first in a series of scandals involving top officials.
Carlos Aguirre has occupied several other state and federal positions. In 2012, while a member of Guerrero state’s government, Aguirre was accused by lawmaker of having allegedly expelled protesting Ayotzinapa students — the same school from which the 43 students disappeared in September — from a major highway, igniting clashes in which two students died.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The amount of cocaine seized by Mexico’s armed forces significantly dropped to just over one ton in 2014, a figure that stands out given the country’s key role in the drug’s journey to markets in the United States.
- The American Civil Liberties Union sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its Customs and Border Protection unit in order to obtain records of so called “roving patrols,” which are responsible for monitoring areas away from the U.S.-Mexico border, after an earlier, fruitless FOIA request.
- Puerto Rico is considering legislation that would fine parents of obese children who fail to lose weight over a six month period up to $800, in an effort to combat a 28 percent rate of obesity in children.
- A famous Dominican drug trafficker claimed he helped finance former President Leonel Fernández’s political campaigns, the latest development in ongoing revelations regarding corruption in the country.
- A record 26.3 million people travelled to the Caribbean in 2014, spending an all-time high of $29 billion dollars, providing a needed boost to one of the most tourism-dependent regions in the world.
- A mob of around 200 Guatemalan villagers beat and burned to death an 18-year-old woman who they believe killed her 8-year-old stepdaughter, who was found dead in a latrine pit next to her home.
- Clergy members of El Salvador’s Catholic Church made contradictory statements regarding church participation in dialogue with gang leaders, pointing to a split in the church over support for the gangs’ latest truce.
- Venezuela introduced a new foreign currency exchange system that will allow for a free-floating exchange rate for the bolivar alongside a subsidized rate for major imports, an effort to aid a flailing economy.
- A Venezuelan drug kigpin who was extradited back to his country from Colombia was sentenced to 14 years in prison for trafficking and money laundering.
- Colombia’s FARC rebels will continue their unilateral cease-fire, according to a statement issued by a member of the organization in Havana on Tuesday.
- Brazil’s congress passed legislation that will impede President Dilma Rousseff’s ability to cut spending items added to the national budget by legislators seeking to benefit their own districts, a major setback for Rousseff as she attempts to cut federal spending.
- As the investigation into Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s mysterious death continues, forensic scientists have discovered DNA evidence of an unidentified second person in his apartment.
- Brazilians have found creative ways to draw attention to their country’s historic drought, with residents of Sao Pãolo dressing as water fountains during pre-Carnival celebrations.