South American Football Officials May Lose Diplomatic Immunity in Paraguay

Former CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leóz, left, poses with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile and then-President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay. (Image: Juan Alberto Pérez, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Former CONMEBOL President Nicolás Leóz, left, poses with President Michelle Bachelet of Chile and then-President Fernando Lugo of Paraguay. (Image: Juan Alberto Pérez, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Top Story — Legislators in Paraguay voted on Thursday to strip the South American football organization of diplomatic immunity, a move that will likely accelerate an international investigation into claims of corruption at FIFA.

Paraguay’s President Horácio Cartes is expected to sign a law, passed Thursday by the Senate, which would revoke diplomatic immunity from the CONMEBOL organization, one of FIFA’s six continental bodies, the BBC reported.

As one Paraguayan lawmaker noted, CONMEBOL’s privileged status allows its directors to bring a diplomatic pouch through the international airport in Asunción, Reuters reported.

Two former presidents of CONMEBOL, Eugenio Figueredo of Uruguay and Nicolás Leoz of Paraguay, are among those included on an indictment by the U.S. Justice Department, which alleges widespread corruption and money laundering among FIFA’s top officials.

The scandal at CONMEBOL, which has prompted the Vatican to suspend a charity partnership with the organization, is also casting a shadow over the Copa América football tournament, which began on Thursday.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • In the first four months of 2015, Mexico has deported 79 percent more Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans than in the same period last year, according to the country’s National Immigration Institute.
  • Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto said on Thursday that he will not release the records showing how he and his wife came to possess several properties before the findings of an official investigation into the homes are made public.

Caribbean

  • Two U.S. senators have introduced a bill known as The Cuba Trade Act of 2015, which would allow businesses to export goods and services to the island nation, despite an economic embargo that still remains in place.

Central America

  • A day after Guatemala’s Supreme Court moved forward with a process that could strip President Otto Pérez Molina of his immunity from prosecution, the president has denied any involvement in the two corruption scandals at the center of investigators’ attention.
  • A new program in Nicaragua has begun training sex workers as judicial mediators, bringing them in closer contact to the legal system in an effort to prevent abuse of marginalized workers.
  • For Salvadorans who have been deported after living for years in the United States, call centers provide an economic lifeline for thousands of English speakers who face stigma upon arriving back in the Central American country.

Andes

  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has held members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia responsible for an attack to the country’s energy system Wednesday, which left more than 30,000 people without power.
  • Former San Cristóbal Mayor Daniel Ceballos—imprisoned in Venezuela since March 2014—has ended his hunger strike after 20 days, announcing through his lawyer that his demands have been partially met.

Southern Cone

  • The Brazilian Confederation of Football on Thursday voted to impose a cap on tenure terms for future presidents of the organization — as well as assemble an ethics committee — in an apparent response to the bribery scandal currently engulfing FIFA.
  • A photo-essay featured in the International Business Times shows a violent clash between Chilean police and over 200,000 students protesting the country’s education system ahead of the Copa America, which kicked off on Thursday.

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