by the El Reportero wire services
A confrontation between gangsters and police in the border state of Sonora left 22 people dead on 16 May. This week has been grim for the government which does not appear to be winning its war against organised crime. Earlier in the week, gangsters assassinated or kidnapped three senior lawmen in three different operations in three different states, demonstrating the scope of their power and the quality of their intelligence sources. On 16 May a gang in Sonora simply wanted to challenge the government, so it raided the town of Cananea and took 13 people hostage. Sonora is not one of the 10 states in which the government has deployed the army. Sonora has long been used, however, by smugglers of both people and drugs.
CUBA: Fidel decries U.S. “impunity”
Rumours that Fidel Castro was to make a much-anticipated public appearance at the Workers’ Day march in Havana on 1 May were proved wrong, and the day came and went with no sign of the Cuban leader. Instead of the speech-making for which he is famed, Castro is now communicating with the Cuban people through articles in the state press. With seven missives printed to date of around 1,200 words each, he is proving himself to be as prolifi c a writer as he is a speaker.
Democrats give Uribe a taste of things to come
At the start of May Colombian President Alvaro Uribe paid his first visit to Washington since the Democrats took control of Congress. During his five years in office Uribe has never received such a chilly reception: the Democrats appear determined to make him suffer not only for his policies but also for his close alliance to President George W Bush. Colombia’s free-trade agreement (FTA) with the US is already in grave danger and long-term military cooperation is also in jeopardy.
Interstate conflict in Latin America: a thing of the past?
It has become almost a cliché that interstate armed confl ict in Latin America is a thing of the past. The last war between Latin American countries (Ecuador against Peru) took place 12 years ago; the one before that (El Salvador against Honduras), 38 years ago. In between there were three armed confrontations involving extra-regional powers, which are usually not counted. However, the region has 18 unsettled inter-state disputes, and over the past 20 years eight of them involved sabre-rattling, deployment or use of military force. The most widely held view is that the region has found a way to contain these disputes. This report takes a hard look at this assumption.
Pope assails capitalism, Marxism in address to Latin American bishops
APARECIDA, Brazil – Pope Benedict on Sunday blamed both Marxism and unbridled capitalism for Latin America’s problems, urging bishops to mould a new generation of Roman Catholic leaders in politics to reverse the church’s declining influence in the region.
He also warned of unfettered capitalism and globalization, blamed by many in Latin America for a deep divide between the rich and poor. The Pope said it could give “rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity through drugs, alcohol and deceptive illusions of happiness.”
Benedict, speaking in Spanish and Portuguese to the bishops, also said Latin America needs more dedi- cated Catholics in leadership positions in politics, the media and at universities. And he said the church’s leaders must halt a trend that has seen millions of Catholics turn into born-again Protestants or simply stop going to church. (Latin News and Canadian Press contributed to this report.)