Around Latin America

May 14, 2012

-Brazilian military police forcefully removed around 300 families from a camping site in Minas Gerais this weekend (photos available here). Members of the Movimento da Luta nos Bairros, Vilas e Favelas (“Movement for Struggle in Neighborhoods, Boroughs and Favelas”; MLB) had created the “Ocupação Eliana Silva” site in state capital Belo Horizonte to protest the lack of housing and poor conditions that exist in many urban developments.

-In one of the more extreme acts of violence that has captured headlines the world over, 49 headless bodies were dumped along the side of the road in Monterrey, Mexico. Authorities were quick to blame warfare between drug cartels for the act.

-In more puzzling environmental news from South America’s Pacific coast, over 2,000 dead birds have washed up on Chilean beaches recently (in addition to the dead birds and dolphins appearing on Peruvian beaches). Between the deaths and the massive plastic garbage “reefs” in the Pacific (one of which is twice the size of Texas), it’s very clear that the oceans are already suffering massive and disastrous ecological destruction at the hands of human production.

-A US citizen who has been imprisoned in Bolivia for eleven months without being charged with anything has launched a hunger strike in an effort to bring attention to his case, a strike that has garnered international coverage in the past few days.

-Salvatore Mancuso, a former high-ranking leader in the right-wing paramilitary group Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia; AUC), has claimed that the paramilitary group helped finance the 2006 re-election of ex-president Álvaro Uribe, claims that Uribe was quick to deny.

-Meanwhile, the FARC is set to release a French journalist it took hostage a little over a week ago.

-Adrian Vazquez, a Panamanian man who survived being stranded at sea for 28 days in a small fishing boat, is preparing to sue the cruise line that passed near him but failed to help him 16 days into his ordaeal.

-To recover from a forest fire that ravaged the Torres del Paine National Park late last year (and only added to embattled President Sebastián Piñera’s woes), Chile has announced it will plant 200,000 trees a year for the next five years. The move will try to speed up a recovery that environmentalists estimated could take eighty years.

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