The Xpat Weekly: The Five Most Important Stories in Latin America This Week

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1. Cuba: Obama’s Dialogue with Raul Castro Exposed Disagreements

President Barack Obama arrived in Cuba last Sunday. The next day, after touring around Havana, Obama met with President Raul Castro in the Old Palace of the Revolution.

In a press conference, Mr. Obama stated, “I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War”. Both parties agreed on the urgency of ending the embargo, but soon disagreements arose. President Obama emphasized the value of “freedom of speech” which “are not just American values but universal values.”

Tensions ensued when Mr. Castro was questioned by the press. When asked about the jailed dissidents, Castro replied: “Political prisoners? Give me a list and I will release them immediately”. Later, Mr. Castro reaffirmed his belief that free healthcare is a human right. President Obama agreed that the US had issues with health care and inequality, but that “democracy was the way to solve them”

Changes in Cuba may not happen quickly. Yet, Obama’s visit has been a great step for the diplomatic relations between both nations.

The Guardian

2. Argentina:Obama visits Argentina’s Dirty War Memorial

On Wednesday, President Obama arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His visit coincided with the commemoration of “Argentina’s Dirty War”. On March 24, 1976, the US installed a genocidal regime that killed 30,000 Argentinians, including pregnant women. As part of his agenda, Mr. Obama, accompanied by President Mauricio Macri, visited the Dirty War Memorial.

Afterward, Mr. Obama said the US had been slow to stand for human rights: “Democracies must have the courage to acknowledge when we don’t live up to the ideals we stand for”. He assured US foreign policy has changed, now prioritizing human rights. Mr. Obama also announced that US intelligence secret files from that era would be released.

President Obama also praised President Macri. The Argentinian president has worked hard to reinstate his nation into international markets. Mr. Macri successfully resolved his debt issues with US hedge funds. Mr. Obama said he was impressed, and confident that Argentina would reassume its leadership in the region.


3. Mexico: The CJNG Cartel has expanded to Baja California

The CJNC, one the most powerful Mexican cartels, has expanded his activities to Baja California. This unfortunate news was delivered by Gualberto Ramirez, one of the heads of Mexico’s Attorney Office. The region had previously been controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel. But since El Chapo’s arrest, the CJNC has been fiercely imposing its rule.

Baja California has several fast smuggling routes into the US. Mexican experts predict there will soon be a violent cartel war between the CJNC and the Sinaloa. The CJNG (Jalisco New Generation Cartel) emerged in 2011, but they aggressively expanded since 2015. Last April, they wreaked havoc in Jalisco, bombing several gas stations and shooting down a military helicopter. This violent cartel already controls the regions of Guanajuato, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Morelos and Veracruz.

Nemesio Oseguera “El Mencho”, the head of CNJG, is considered one of Mexico’s most dangerous men. Under his rule, the CNJC was able to defeat “The Knight Templars” and the feared cartel of “Los Zetas”.

Insight Crime

4. Venezuela: Indigenous People Get Involved in Drug Trafficking

Drug traffickers keep smuggling routes along the Orinoco River, in Venezuela. Sadly, these criminals have been exploiting the regional Warao tribe. Just last year, 50 indigenous people were imprisoned for drug-related crimes.

Forced by smugglers, Indigenous people transport drugs in their canoes. But they are actually being used as a decoy, to distract the police from larger drug shipments. For the Warao, buying a canoe is a sign of success, a way to a better life. Now it has become a curse. The majority of Waraos in prison were canoe owners. According to official files, the Warao have so far transported over 700 kilograms of drugs (cocaine, marijuana and crack).

The Warao first got approached by smugglers due to their knowledge of the land and the waterways. Soon, smugglers began to bribe them “taking advantage of their ingeniousness and their honesty”.

Venezuela lacks the legal structure to give the Warao a fair trial. Lawyers assure that a special legal code is needed for such cases. Some natives lack an ID and don’t even speak Spanish.

Armando Info

5. Peru: After Allegations of Bribery, Electoral Board Decided Not to Disqualify Keiko Fujimori

The Peruvian Electoral Board has been playing favorites. Such was the opinion of most Presidential candidates after the Electoral Board kept Keiko Fujimori on the race.

Keiko Fujimori was formerly accused of buying votes during a rally. Last week, young Peruvians staged a march in Centro de Lima, calling for her removal. After the lenient verdict was issued, another protest erupted outside the Electoral board building. Most people condemned the Board’ favoritism. Earlier this month, candidate Cesar Acuna had been disqualified for the same charges. Another candidate, Veronika Mendoza, said that “the Board’s decision shows that, in Peru, justice is not equally applied to everyone. Peruvians are fed up of being discriminated by your name, place of origin, gender, social class.”

Now there are rumors that on election day, April 5, there will be massive demonstrations if the irregularities continue.


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