Around Latin America

April 29, 2012

-It has been a terrible week for journalists in Latin America. Earlier this week, a Brazilian journalist from the country’s Northeast who often covered crime was shot six times and killed while eating dinner at a restaurant, marking the fourth murder of journalists in the country this year.  And yesterday, police found a Mexican journalist who investigated the drug trade dead in her home even while in Colombia a French journalist (and five state agents) went missing and another four died in a battle with guerrillas. And while not nearly as severe as murder, Panamanian President apologized to a reporter after calling him a drug addict.

-Scott and Brandi may have more to say on this, but tens of thousands of students in Chile peacefully returned to the streets to demand free public education, even as embattled President Sebastián Piñera announced tax reforms to fund the educational reforms that the government has slowly begun to implement after months of protests that threaten the right-wing going into next year’s presidential elections (elections that at least some right-wing military members guilty of ex-torture are attempting to influence).

-It has been a busy week full of social mobilizations in Bolivia. First, miners joined teachers in protests for better pay in demonstrations that turned violent. And yesterday, indigenous peoples again marched to protest the construction of a road through a national park in the Amazonian lowlands. Similar protests led President Evo Morales to cancel the plans last year, but counter-protests saying the road would lead to economic development led Morales to resume plans for the road.

-Brazil’s Congress passed a highly controversial land law that opponents say does nothing to penalize people responsible for deforestation. While the bill passed Congress, Dilma Rousseff may still use her line-item veto powers on provisions that in previous bills she described as too “lenient” to those guilty of environmental destruction.

-In a move designed to make things official, the Argentine Senate approved the nationalization of YPF, the recently-expropriated oil company, and at a well-attended political rally, President Cristina Kirchner thanked the opposition for supporting the move.

-While it is the Secret Service scandal involving Colombian prostitutes that has captured the headlines in the United States, it is an isolated incident. A Brazilian ex-prostitute is threatening to sue the United States embassy and five officials for injuries she sustained when a van picking up United States Marines from a strip club ran over her and left her behind with a broken collarbone and punctured lung in a parking lot late last year.

-Allegations of child labor and slave-like conditions on sugarcane plantations in the Dominican Republic have spurred the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate.

-A drug-trafficking suspect in Venezuela has accused former Supreme Court justice Eladio Aponte of having close ties to drug traffickers while he served on the country’s highest court, allegations judge Aponte denies.

-In a case of life imitating art, two Cuban actors who were the stars of a movie about defectors have themselves defected to the United States, taking advantage of a film festival in New York to go missing and seek asylum while in Miami.

-Austria is set to return to Mexico a headdress that allegedly belonged to Motecuhzoma, (aka Moctezuma), the emperor of the Mexica (Aztec) empire when the Spanish arrived to what is now Mexico in 1519.

-Tiago Klimeck, he actor who accidentally hanged himself while portraying Judas in a passion play during holy week, died last week, two weeks after going into a medically induced coma.

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