-In a remarkable transformation, Cuba has expanded its free-market reforms beginning on January 1 of the coming year. Changes include laying off state workers, reducing restrictions on private enterprise, and allowing certain types of workers to become self-employed and to charge their own rates.
-Mexican authorities have arrested five police officers who were captured on video torturing a detainee.
-The United States has begun considering creating a national park in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The park would set aside land that Hispanic people historically settled when it belonged to colonial Spain and then Mexico. The valley is a beautiful area, and is home to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, where the largest sand dunes in the United States (at over 700 feet in height) sit nestled up against the base of 14,000+ foot tall peaks. The area is remarkably beautiful and unique, and a national park here would be a wonderful, wonderful thing.
-Argentina and China entered an agreement of support over claims to islands, with Argentina supporting China’s claim to Taiwan and China supporting Argentina’s claim to the Malvinas/Falklands Islands.
–Bolivia extradited ex-soldier Luis Enrique Baraldini to Argentina for his role in human rights violations, including torture, during the military dictatorship of 1976-1983, during which time Baraldini served as chief of police in the province of La Pampa.
-Colombia’s murder total for 2011 dropped by 544 to 13,520 on the year (up to Christmas Day), marking the lowest number of violent deaths in the country since 1984.
-A new report out of Peru says that climate change has melted the glaciers in the country twenty years faster than previously expected, which will have a profound effect on access to and availability of water for Peru in the coming years.
-Brazil fined Chevron another $5.4 million for an oil spill in early November. Brazil had already previously fined the company $28 million and had also filed a lawsuit for $10.6 billion against the company.
-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez replaced General Hugo Carvajal, the military intelligence chief and one of the top advisers to Chavez.
-Chile’s Supreme Court ordered Chilean newspaper La Tercera to compensate thirteen readers who suffered severe burns when following a recipe for churros that the paper had published several years ago.