Around Latin America

May 23, 2012

As I was absent from blogging the past several days, a lot of worthwhile news came out of Latin America, so today will have two posts on news from around the region (the second will come later today).

-Former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who governed the country from 1981-1982 and who was already on trial for genocide for the murder of over 1700 indigenous people during his rule, is now facing a second genocide charge after a judge ruled he could be tried for his role in the Dos Erres massacre.

-In what is an ongoing crisis, journalists suffered another difficult week last week, as a Mexican journalist was kidnapped and killed.

-Although Enrique Peña Nieto, the presidential candidate from the Partido Revolucionário Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party; PRI), has extended his lead in the polls heading into July’s election, not all Mexicans are thrilled with his rhetoric, policies, and party. Thousands of Mexican students took to the streets to protest against the return of the PRI, which governed the country under one moniker or another from 1928 until 2000 in what has come to be known as the “institutional dictatorship.”

-Amnesty International has called on Jamaica to investigate the possible violations of human rights for the armed forces’ actions during May 2010, when the Jamaican government declared a state of emergency to arrest Christopher “Dudus” Coke.

-Last week, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and Vice President Amado Boudou were out of the country, leaving the country with its first ever Jewish president for two days. Provisional president of the Senate Beatriz Rojkes assumed the office of president from Wednesday to Thursday.

-Activists in Guyana are mobilizing in order to pressure the government to repeal anti-sodomy and anti-cross-dressing laws in the Caribbean country.

-Back in 1997, while Alberto Fujimori was president, leftist guerrillas occupied the Japanese embassy and held hostages before Peruvian forces attacked and ended the situation. While the forces were lauded for their efforts at the time, new evidence suggests that the troops summarily executed some of the leftists, including a 17-year-old girl, after they had surrendered.

-As I’ve discussed before, current Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who was a member of a leftist group that opposed the military dictatorship of 1964-1985, suffered torture under the regime. Now Rousseff, along with other victims of torture, has received an apology and will be provided with compensation for her suffering at the hands of the Brazilian military government in the 1970s, even while the recently-appointed Truth Commission begins its work on investigating the crimes of the past and the fates of victims.

-Former members of Haiti’s army and their supporters took to the streets last week to protest against the Haitian government’s orders that they disband. Forty-six people were arrested, including two US citizens who aided the military members.

-Is Argentina’s strengthening currency fueling the growth of the black market?

-The Brazilian Congress has passed a freedom of information act that may become an important step in governmental and bureaucratic transparency in a state that has often been opaque to legal activists, citizens, and scholars alike.

-Finally, Guatemala’s Volcán del Fuego began spewing ash and lava, leading to an increased alert level for those living near the 12,000+ foot tall volcano.

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