Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Top Stories: September 7th

  • · On August 31st, the Peruvian Minister of Defense Daniel Mora Zevallos commented that Peru should reach a political agreement of ‘final reconciliation,’ putting an end to all judicial processes against members of military forces and police officers accused of committing grave violations of human rights, reports WOLA. Public criticism of the comments erupted, urging President Ollanta Humala to reject the ‘unacceptable and impermissible’ comments and maintain his commitment to the ‘judicialization of human rights violators.’
  • · Just the Facts reports on the illegal wiretapping scandal involving Colombia’s intelligence agency, the Department of Administrative Security (DAS). Under the Uribe Administration, the DAS was apparently ordered to conduct illegal surveillance of Supreme Court judges. According to the Washington Post, the operation was being directly funded by U.S. dollars, equipment, and training. U.S. officials deny knowledge of the illegal activities the funding was supporting, but an investigation remains to be seen.
  • · Panamanian police arrested 80 Colombians and Panamanians allegedly members of a major cocaine trafficking ring led by the Colombian trafficker, Jorge Indalecio Marmolejo. The group supposedly moved at least 18 tons of cocaine in the last two years.
  • · President Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN) asked the governor of Nuevo Loredo and the mayor of Monterrey to step down following last month’s casino massacre in the capital city of the state. The PAN called for the resignations on the grounds that there was ‘obvious support’ from state police for the criminals responsible for setting fire to the casino.
  • · Women in Mexico are suffering from the ever-increasing threat of gender-based violence, frequently on the part of organized crime groups, making it clear that they ‘are by no means bystanders to the violence in Mexico.’ Women in Mexico may be targeted by sex traffickers, recruited by drug gangs, or become victims of ‘femicide.’ Illegal female migrants are particularly vulnerable to kidnappings and sexual violence.
  • · Deportations of Honduran migrants has spiked in the US, causing authorities in the country to express concern the President Obama has failed to follow through on his promise to halt the deportation of non-criminal illegal immigrants.
  • · Increased violence and financing scandals continue to plague the presidential campaign in Guatemala as the September 11th election day quickly approaches. According to Mirador Electoral, a coalition of watchdog NGOs, the two leading parties have well exceeded that spending cap of 48 million quetzales ($6 million). Otto Perez Molina’s Partido Patriotica has spent Q88.7 million while UNE-GANA of current President Alvaro Colom has spent Q61.8 million. The violation of the spending cap is concerning because the amount of money invested in the campaign tends to directly correlate each party’s success at the polls.
  • · The recent arrest of a the FARC’s ‘extortion mastermind’ has revealed evidence that the Colombian organized crime group is working to expand its extortion operations to include multinational corporations, especially those involved in the oil sector. Oil is one of Colombia’s fastest growing and most profitable industries, with strong support from President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration.
  • · Colombia may begin auctioning rights to coal and gold deposits as a part of a move to further develop the country’s oil industry. Auctioning such rights could help ‘spur exploration and production’ not only in oil, but other minerals such as copper, platinum, and coltan as well.
  • · A recent economic boom in the mining and oil industries in Peru has led to increased violence and abuses of indigenous communities residing on ancestral land in the Amazon and the Andes. In response, President Ollanta Humala approved a law which grants consultation rights to local indigenous communities regarding development projects on their land, BBC reports.
  • · Brazil plans to begin pulling out troops from the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, amid claims that the security situation in the aid country has ‘substantially improved’ since 2004. The purpose of the mission was to restore order following the overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, but has been plagued with controversy due to a cholera outbreak resulting in more than 6,000 deaths and the alleged rape of an 18-year-old Haitian man.
  • · Argentina was the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, marking a big first step towards sexual equality in the region. Now, the Argentine congress is considering a proposed law that would allow transgender people to change their names and gender on all legal documents, birth certificates included, in a quick procedure.