-The prison camp at Guantanamo Bay turns 10 years old today, with no sign of closing or of the detainees receiving trial anytime soon.
-Mexican ex-president Ernesto Zedillo is facing charges of crimes against humanity for the murder of 45 unarmed indigenous people in southern Mexico in 1997. The charges argue that, as president of the country, Zedillo was responsible for the armed forces that armed paramilitary groups that indiscriminately targeted indigenous peoples in the state of Chiapas during attempts to violently quash the Zapatista movement in the 1990s Zedillo, the last president from the Partido Revolucionário Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI), claims that he is immune from charges due to his status as a former president of a sovereign country.
-Speaking of the Zapatistas, the Christian Science Monitor has this interesting article providing a summary and initial analysis of possible reasons how the Zapatista movement has managed to avoid the sway of organized crime in Mexico.
-A day after Timochenko, one of the leaders of Colombia’s FARC guerrilla movement, proposed resuming peace talks with the government, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos rejected the offer, saying that the government would not talk with the movement until the rebels demonstrated an interest in “true” peace by releasing hostages and an ending violent acts.
-U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner was in South America this week, where he visited a favela in Rio de Janeiro. However, Boehner betrayed a fatally-flawed understanding of the security issues facing favela residents (and poor reasoning) when he praised the militarization of the favelas as a model to integrate the marginalized into society more broadly on more equal footing. Greg put it best (and most succinctly) in explaining the problem:
He [Boehner] has it exactly backwards. The reason the Rousseff government, like Lula before, has to send troops into neighborhoods is because the inhabitants still are not being treated equally. I hope “pacification” leads to equality of opportunity, but they are not synonymous. Let’s see after the Olympics and World Cup are over, and it’s no longer necessary to worry quite so much about what foreigners think.
-Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega was inaugurated to his third term (and second consecutive term) as president yesterday.
–Last month, reports came out that the U.S. had laundered millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels. Documents released on Monday show that those reports were true, as DEA agents who had infiltrated drug cartels in Mexico allegedly attempted to learn how cartels were operating and to trace the international flow of drugs and money in the drug trade.
-Brazil has become the first country to use clean energy in the Antarctic, fueling a scientific research station with a generator that runs on ethanol,
-A video of a wealthy Mexican attacking a doorman in his apartment has further increased already-extant anger over class-based discrimination.
-The Guatemala Times has an excellent editorial that assesses the presidency of Álvaro Colom as he prepares to leave office and right-wing ex-general Otto Perez Molina prepares to be inaugurated. It’s a particularly remarkable editorial because it calls out the wealthy Guatemalan elites of the country for holding power in such a way that democracy in many ways is a facade and for dividing the country in a useless and outdated Cold War-style “us or them” mentality. Mike over at Central American Politics does a great job explaining just why this is a remarkable (and remarkably courageous) stand from the newspaper.