Libya’s Muammar al-Gaddafi Is Not In Venezuela, Officials Say
February 22, 2011 By Staff
Today in Latin America
Top Story — Rumors swirled Monday that Libyan strongman Colonel Muammar Gaddafi fled to Venezuela due to unrest in his North African nation, but both countries denied those reports.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague noted that he had seen some information that suggested Gaddafi was on his way to Venezuela Monday. Venezuela’s information minister retorted saying that Gaddafi was not heading to the country, a statement matched by the Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kayem, who said the reports were “groundless.”
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro said that he learned that the Libyan leader was in Tripoli “exercising the powers granted to him by the state and facing the situation.” This is the strongest denial yet by the Venezuelan government about speculation that Gaddafi left Libya to seek shelter from close ally President Hugo Chávez.
Gaddhafi also appeared on Libyan state televison at 2.a.m. Tuesday morning, holding an umbrella up through the open door of a passenger car and denying rumors that he had fled to Venezuela.
The large scale unrest recently throughout the Middle East has worried Chávez’s government, with Chávez’s interior minister, Tareck El Aissami, last week accusing the U.S. government of trying to foment a “virtual Egypt” in Venezuela by suggesting that the Organization of American States be allowed to visit youths on a hunger strike to protest the jailing of opposition politicians.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Arson attacks and shootouts left 13 people dead over the weekend in Acapulco as as the Mexican Open Tennis Tournament opened in the famous port city.
- A rosary service for Jaime Zapata, the U.S. ICE agent killed in Mexico, was scheduled for Monday evening in Brownsville, Texas.
- As a politics-weary Haiti begins the final push toward next month’s presidential elections, many there doubt that the process would be free from the chaos, fraud and controversy that plagued the first-round of voting.
- Reporters Without Borders on Monday called for the release of Pedro Arguelles Morán and Albert Santiago Du Bouchet, the last two journalists remaining in prison in Cuba for pursuing their profession, according to Paris-based RSF.
The crime wave that is besetting Puerto Rico continued on the weekend with a triple murder in the Vega Baja district, bringing to 179 the number of murders so far in 2011, a figure that is 40 more than had been registered by the same date last year.
- A new law that took effect Monday in Honduras that allows family members to call in the police on people who smoke at home.
- At least 14 people died and 106 others were injured Monday in an accident involving three buses and a cargo truck, emergency organizations and police told Efe.
- The Colombian navy says U.S. and Colombian rescuers have saved six people from a shipwrecked catamaran after more than 24 hours adrift at sea.
- Ambulances whisked three students to a hospital Monday after they fainted while on a hunger strike to demand an international probe into alleged human rights abuses by President Hugo Chávez’s government.
- A cousin of former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe was sentenced Monday to 90 months in jail by the Supreme Court, which found him guilty of criminal conspiracy for his links to murderous right-wing militias.
- Police in Ecuador reported the rescue of two foreign tourists who were kidnapped last Thursday in the country’s Andes mountains.
- Railroad service to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu was halted Monday due to the rise in the Urubamba River, along which the rail line runs, officials with the rail company told Efe.
- Chile and Israel worked together to spy on the Iranian ambassador in Santiago as the Jewish state grew increasingly concerned about Tehran’s influence in South America, according to a eaked US cable from 2008.
- The oldest son of the late dictator Alfredo Stroessner died in Paraguay, making it more difficult to recover a huge fortune amassed by his family, according to human rights activists.
- Argentina sought to reassure Uruguay Monday that a new set of import barriers isn’t targeted toward the neighboring country and won’t affect trade between the two countries.
- Brazil’s economy will pick up speed in 2012, according to President Dilma Rousseff.
Image: Open Democracy @ Flickr.