Thursday, September 8, 2011

Top Stories: September 8th, 2011

  • According to a poll released on Wednesday, President Hugo Chavez’s approval ratings remain around 50% in Venezuela but a large majority of those polled reported disapproval with the government’s performance in jobs, housing, the economy, corruption, and crime.
  • Additional troops were sent to the Alemao slum in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday after drug traffickers opened fire on fellow soldiers. The slum has been dominated by drug traffickers, making it a key area for authorities attempting to clean-up Brazil’s security in preparation for the upcoming Olympic games.
  • Representatives from the Latin American nations with more than 12,000 U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti called a meeting scheduled for today to discuss the implications and repercussions of the alleged sexual assault of a Haitian teen by the U.N. forces. Both Brazil and Uruguay have announced intentions to begin withdrawing troops prior to a full scale removal of the mission. The peacekeepers have incited anger and frustration within Haiti, especially following a cholera outbreak largely blamed on the presence of Nepalese troops.
  • Mexican authorities have identified 18 more suspects in the Monterrey massacre, all of whom are members of the Zetas drug cartel. The authorities are offering a $1.3 million reward for any information leading to their capture. According to the LA Times, the owner of the casino has been located in the United States and will be brought in for questioning. In an interview, Attorney General Marsiela Morales said that six sketches of the suspects will be released and that investigators believe one or more may be police officers.
  • Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has announced plans to overhaul the country’s military with big spending increases and changes in the armed forces leadership. The plans come amid concerns that Colombia may be reverting back to a guerilla war. The funds are to be used to deliver a ‘final blow’ to Colombian guerilla groups and Marxist rebels.
  • A paper recently published at Brookings discusses the growing issue of ‘idle youth’ in Latin America. Major increases in the 15 to 24 year-old demographic in the region created a ‘window of opportunity’ for economic growth. However, the region has been failing to provide adequate education for the 15 to 18 year-old group and job creation for the 18 to 24 year-old range has not been able to accommodate the growth.
  • Thousands of people protested corruption in the Brazilian government during the country’s Independence Day celebration in Brasilia. Three government ministers have left office due to corruption allegations and dozens of other officials have lost their jobs or been arrested since President Dilma Rousseff took office in January, reports BBC News.
  • Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is visiting Cuba in an attempt to release a US subcontractor who was imprisoned for bringing illegal satellite equipment into the country. Alan Gross, 62, was arrested for distributing ‘illegal communications equipment’ he says was part of an attempt to help Cuba’s small Jewish community gain access to the internet. While the State Department has been aware of Richarson’s plans to visit Cuba, he is ‘traveling in a personal capacity.’
  • A Council on Hemispheric Affairs report analyses the growing conflicts facing Central American migrants attempting to travel northward through Mexico. The journey through Mexico to the United States has become increasingly dangerous, with many migrants falling victim to violence by criminal gangs, assaults, sexual slavery, kidnapping, extortion, or murder.
  • According to the LA Times, newly obtained e-mails from the White House reveal that three national security officials were receiving some details about the Fast and Furious gun-trafficking operation, which allowed illegal guns to be purchased in an effort to track their path to Mexican drug cartels. The officials deny that the e-mails provided information about the covert activities of Fast and Furious agents. The Attorney General of Arizona passed the investigation on to federal attorneys in Los Angeles and San Diego amid allegations that the Arizona Attorney was involved in the operation.
  • As part of a study by Accion Ciudadana, In Sight Crime published a report mapping threats and risk to politicians from organized crime groups, particularly the Zetas drug cartel, in the upcoming presidential elections.
  • An IPS article analyses why how Nicaragua has managed to maintain a significantly lower crime rate than its neighboring countries, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, some of the most violent countries in Latin America. According to analysts and experts, Nicaragua has managed to maintain two important factors contributing to its more peaceful society: community policing and greater social cohesion.
  • In a series called ‘Dictatorships Meet Justice, Decades On,’ IPS has compiled a conglomerate of articles covering recent human rights and corruption cases attempting to bring violators to justice decades after crimes were committed, many during periods of dictatorship or civil war.