Robert’s Latin America Round-Up


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Site of Mexican ambush. Via LA Times.

Site of Mexican ambush. Via LA Times.


Osama bin Laden
Latin American leaders reacted with acclaim, silence and condemnation after a United States Navy SEAL assault team killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last week. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Peruvian President Alan Garcia praised bin Laden’s death. Garcia said the killing may be a miracle performed by the deceased Pope John Paul II. The Chilean Foreign Ministry called the death “positive news.” Mexican President Felipe Calderon congratulated U.S. President Barack Obama, and Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro said bin Laden “had outstanding bills to pay with justice and with the world.”

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, however, said the U.S. acted in a barbaric and illegal manner. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said the killing “has turned [bin Laden] into a much more dangerous man.” Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino said the U.S. responded disproportionately to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota was less partial. He said the killing could both reduce tensions in the Middle East but provoke an anti-American reaction. The Nicaraguan government, which is closely tied to Venezuela, did not explicitly condemn the killing. “Do not celebrate the death of anyone, nor lament the death of a terrorist, a mass murderer and a person with the moral category of bin Laden who murdered thousands of innocent people,” Nicaraguan Vice President Jaime Morales Carazo said.

Meanwhile, The Christian Science Monitor questioned analysts about what bin Laden’s death means for Latin American states struggling with insurgencies of their own, and what Latin America could possibly teach the rest of the world. And with bin Laden dead, questions are being raised about who will now become the world’s most wanted man. One candidate: Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, boss of Mexico’s Sinaloa Cartel.

Around 130 police officers working in the central Mexican city of Acambaro were arrested by state and federal police last Tuesday, several days after a similar operation in the nearby town of Tarandacuao. The officers comprise about half of the city’s police force, reports The Latin American Herald Tribune, although other reports claim all of the city’s police force is under investigation. Police in both cities are suspected of collaborating with the Familia Michoacana, a major drug cartel in the region. The news followed a Mexican government report which noted Mexico’s cops in the country’s most dangerous states are also the least professional.

But police corruption and lack of professionalism is not limited to the country’s northern badlands. More than 2,700 police officers in the Federal District were dismissed last year, according to El Sol De Mexico, as drug violence increased around the country’s capital. The adjacent state of Morelos has “become another Ciudad Juarez,” reports IPS. And in Juarez, an altercation erupted between federal police and the bodyguards of Juarez Mayor Hector Murguia. Federal police aimed rifles at the mayor’s bodyguards after seeing a “convoy of heavily armed individuals riding in three vehicles and speeding, looking and behaving like organized crime gunmen.” In January, federal police shot and killed one of Murguia’s bodyguards.


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