The week at a glance...Americas
Montreal Another mayoral scandal: Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum, who took office less than a year ago with a promise to “end an era of sleaze,” has resigned after being arrested for fraud. The city’s first English-speaking leader in more than a century, Applebaum was appointed interim mayor in November after his predecessor stepped down over allegations of corruption in campaign finances. Applebaum is accused of accepting bribes for awarding construction permits; he says he is innocent but can’t perform his duties while fighting the charges. Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is still resisting calls to quit over allegations that he smokes crack.
Caracas, Venezuela Gun control: Venezuela has adopted even more sweeping gun-control measures in an effort to curb skyrocketing rates of murder and violent crime. “Any arm that is confiscated will be destroyed immediately,” said National Assembly leader Diosdado Cabello. “The sale of weapons and ammunition also ends.” Private ownership of guns was banned last year under late President Hugo Chávez, with exceptions only for soldiers, police officers, and security guards. Yet in the first three months of this year there were 3,400 murders, mostly with guns.
Rio de Janeiro Echoes of Istanbul: Hundreds of thousands of Brazilians have taken to the streets in mass protests against the government. The protest started as an outcry over a rise in bus fares but morphed into rage over police brutality and economic inequality. Brazilians are angry that the government has spent billions on sports stadiums in preparation for hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics while the poor lack schools and basic services. “My government is listening to the voices calling for change,” said President Dilma Rousseff, a former leftist activist. “It is good to see so many young people, and adults—the grandson, the father, and the grandfather—together holding the Brazilian flag, singing our anthem and fighting for a better country.”
Buenos Aires Ex-president convicted: Former Argentine President Carlos Menem was sentenced to seven years in prison for smuggling weapons to countries that were under arms embargoes in the 1990s. Menem admitted signing orders to ship the weapons, but said he didn’t know they’d end up in Croatia and Ecuador, an excuse the court found implausible. At the time, Ecuador was fighting a border war with Peru, while Croatia was embroiled in the wars stemming from the breakup of Yugoslavia. But Menem, 82 and now a senator, won’t go to jail. Even if the Senate were to lift his parliamentary immunity, he would serve his time under house arrest because of his age.