Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Top Stories: September 6th, 2011

  • After two attempts to land in difficult weather, a Chilean military plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean, killing 21 people.
  • A study following the devastating earthquake in Haiti may provide new techniques for tracking refugees through cell phone signals and help aid organizations better assist in crisis and disaster situations.
  • Julio Casas Regueiro, Cuba’s defense minister, died on Saturday due to heart failure at the age of 75. Reguerio had been a close associate of President Raul Castro and risen through the military ranks over the past twenty years. His death comes amid ‘Cuba’s aging leadership’ and efforts to ‘reinvigorate the weak socialist economy by allowing more private enterprise,’ reports the NY Times.
  • On Sunday, Uruguay’s defense ministry agreed to fire its commander and at least five officers from Haiti after charges and video evidence of sexual assault surfaced. Cell phone images of UN peacekeepers abusing an 18 year-old Haitian man flooded the internet over the weekend, causing public outrage and demands for justice. The images showed several Uruguayan troops holding the boy down on a mattress, laughing, pulling his pants down, and simulating sexual acts. No evidence of rape has been confirmed, but the investigation continues.
  • Mexican federal police discovered an underground tunnel in the border town of Nogales, Arizona allegedly used for human trafficking and the transfer of illicit goods. This is the second such tunnel they have found in the area.
  • The Catholic Church denounced ‘acts of abuse by pro-government crowds’ against the Ladies in White dissident group in Cuba. The Cuban government denies any involvement in the counter-protests at the Ladies’ marches, arguing that they are ‘spontaneous.’ The Ladies in White are wives and mothers of former political prisoners who have been organizing weekly marches in Havana for years. The Cuban government has made explicit efforts to discredit the women, saying that the dissidents are being paid by Washington to ‘destabilize the government.’
  • President Calderon delivered his last State of the Union address on Friday. Calderon made a promise to continue the fight against organized crime and corruption, following last week’s Monterrey casino massacre. The Mexican President also announced the creation of an Office for Victim’s Assistance, acknowledging that many of the 40,000 people killed in the drug war have been innocent civilians.
  • Camila Vallejo has become the face and leader of the Chilean student protests over the past few months, in a movement demanding greater government subsidies for high college tuition costs, measures to ease student debt, and changes in the education voucher system. While President Sebastian PiƱera offered some concessions to Vallejo and other representatives of the movement in a meeting on Saturday, but the proposal still fails to meet the students’ demands.
  • Two female journalists were found murdered in Mexico City, bearing the marks of drug cartel violence. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters as they are targeted by drug cartels and corrupt officials.
  • Two Mexicans are facing 30-year charges of acts of terrorism and sabotage after posting false messages on their Twitter accounts that gunmen were taking children from schools. The posts caused a chaos of car crashes and panic as parents in Veracruz rushed to schools to save their children. Some human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, are calling the charges exaggerated and in violation of freedom of expression.
  • Mexico’s House Justice Committee will vote on a proposed law today which would punish the defamation of political candidates and electoral institutions. According to a supporter of the bill, Arturo Zamora, federal deputy of the Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), the law is necessary to protect politicians from false charges, which can unfairly damage their reputations.
  • Colombia’s new defense minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon was sworn in yesterday, promising new technology-based strategies to confront rebel groups and stronger actions against drug trafficking. Pinzon was brought in to replace Rodrigo Rivera as drug-related violence has increased in the past few months, inciting fears that security gains are being reversed. Pinzon immediately ordered ‘the final blow’ to the Farc rebel group.
  • U.S. and Colombian authorities have demonstrated some successes against the organization of Daniel ‘El Loco’ Barrera, one of Colombia’s most powerful and enigmatic drug lords, reports In Sight Crime. Operation Deep Water—targeting semi-submersible drug submarines—has led to 19 arrests and Operation Final Flight—targeting aerial drug routes—captured 30 people and 21 aircrafts.
  • The Bolivian government has denied accusations that ‘El Chapo,’ the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, has been operating out of Bolivia under the protection of corrupt officials, including the former commander of the Bolivian police.