Around Latin America

January 29, 2012

-Cuba’s Communist Party met this weekend, and in the closing speech, Raul Castro announced he will limit political terms, including his, to ten years.

-Miguel Nazar Haro, who headed Mexico’s spy agency during the “dirty war” that tortured, murdered, and “disappeared”  Mexican leftists in the 1970s and 1980s, died at the age of 87 last week. Nazar Haro had been placed under house arrest in 2004 while authorities investigated Nazar Haro’s role in the “disappearance” of six farmers, but in 2006, a judge threw out all charges, putting a significant dent in then-president Vicente Fox’s efforts to investigate human rights abuses committed during the “institutional dictatorship” of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that governed Mexico in one guise or another from 1929 to 2000 while often paying only perfunctory lip-service to democratic processes.

-A fire broke out at a Peruvian rehabilitation center, leaving at least twenty-seven people dead. The Christ Is Love treatment center was apparently not an authorized rehabilitation center, and early reports are that the doors of many of the rooms were locked from the outside, perhaps contributing to the number of fatalities.

-Uruguay’s government has agreed to pay US$513,000 to a woman who had been kidnapped and illegally adopted after her parents were tortured and killed during the military dictatorship. Uruguayan state agents murdered Macarena Gelman’s father in Argentina before kidnapping her mother (who was pregnant with Macarena), who was tortured and disappeared, shortly after giving birth. The kidnappings and murders took place under Operation Condor, a program in which South American dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil cooperated in torturing and murdering “subversives” from each other’s countries (with support from the U.S.). Like so many of her generation in Argentina, Gelman has only recently learned the true nature of her past and the fate of her parents.

-One of Brazil’s most-wanted drug lords was captured this weekend. Authorities arrested Fabiano Atanasio da Silva, who ran a drug gang in Rio de Janeiro and who had remained on the loose since his escape from prison in 2002, while he was vacationing in São Paulo state.

The recently-excavated ruins of an Aztec school are now on exhibition in Mexico City. The school, which was built between the 1480s and 1500s, was found while workers were renovating another building. The Mexica (Aztec) empire had a complex school system that boys and girls attended, with one school system for nobles and another for commoners.  Priests trained children of nobles to prepare them for the Nahua priesthood or to assume a high role in Mexica state, while at the commoners’ schools, laypersons trained children in practical subjects. The end result was an abundance of well-bred nobles, intellectuals, and others whose social role was considered vital for well-being of the kingdoms and peoples of the Mexica Empire in the 1400s-1500s.

-A Chilean police officer received a suspended sentence for his 2008 assault on a journalist. Cpl. Ivar Barria Alvarez had been found guilty of hitting a journalist who was covering a protest with a metal riding crop, leaving the journalyst partially blind.

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  1. May 6, 2012 at 08:45
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