Colombia Will Halt Air Attacks on FARC

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Top Story — Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos on Tuesday announced that he has ordered a halt to air attacks by the military against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a move The Associated Press called the government’s “biggest yet toward an eventual end to hostilities.” The announcement comes days after the news that the military and the FARC will work together to clear landmines.

The ban on airstrikes, a key tactic that has resulted in the deaths of several FARC leaders, will last a month, Santos said, but could be extended if the FARC maintains its own ceasefire. When that one-sided truce was announced in December, Santos ordered the military to maintain its offensive against the guerrillas.

Santos, in his announcement, also said he would form a non-partisan commission to advise him on the upcoming stages of the ongoing peace talks with the FARC in Havana, Cuba.

The move immediately garnered criticism from conservative Colombian politicians, including former president and leading senator Álvaro Uribe, who tweeted that Santos had “paralyzed” the armed forces.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Eduardo Medina Mora, a Mexican prosecutor who has been questioned for his close ties to President Enrique Peña Nieto, was sworn into Mexico’s supreme court Tuesday, despite never having served as a judge, in a move critics say is evidence that Mexico’s political class is ignoring ongoing issues of credibility and corruption.
  • Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman, known for her role in the Academy-award nominated “Miss Bala,” will become Mexico’s first Bond girl in the upcoming 007 film “Spectre.”
  • Texas Judge Andrew S. Hanen, known for a February ruling that temporarily blocked President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration reform, has a reputation as a fair judge in his home state, according to The New York Times.

Caribbean

  • Cuba has affirmed its “unconditional support” for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro after Obama’s decision to implement sanctions against Venezuelan officials, with Fidel Castro publishing a message in Cuban state media congratulating Maduro for his courage “in the face of brutal plans by the United States government.”
  • Retired American basketball player Jim Bostic has plans to build a national basketball program in Haiti by 2020, hoping to bring the sport that provided him and his friends with a “way out” of their community and poverty to the island nation, which he visited for the first time following the 2010 earthquake.

Central America

  • A drive-by attack at a hospital in Guatemala has left at least one dead and 22 injured after a grenade intended for Marlon Ochoa, the brother of the founder of the Calle 18 gang who was receiving a checkup in the hospital, missed its intended target.
  • Panama’s Supreme Court requested that former President Ricardo Martinelli be stripped of the immunity he enjoys as the leader of his party so that he may be proseucted for acts of corruption during his years as president.

Andes

  • Peru’s government may seek to resume the practice of shooting down suspected drug aircraft, a controversial policy opposed by the United States that has resulted in deadly cases of mistaken identity.
  • In response to new U.S. sanctions, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said on Tuesday he will seek “anti-imperialist” decree powers, the second time he has done so since taking office in 2013.

Southern Cone

  • Following a ruling by the Brazilian Soccer Confederation, Brazilian soccer clubs that fail to pay their players on time will now face point deductions, a harsh penalty that would affect their standings in the league.
  • France’s government has opened a manslaughter investigation in relation to a deadly crash between two helicopters in Argentina, which killed ten people, including three popular athletes.

Image: Presidencia de la República de Colombia, public domain

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