The week at a glance...Americas



Crack scandal grows: The office of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is hemorrhaging staffers as questions mount over the alleged existence of a video showing the mayor smoking crack. After stonewalling for nearly a week, Ford denied there was such a tape and said he is not a crack addict. But this week, Ford’s chief of staff was fired after he went to police with a tip from another staffer about the location of the purported tape. Two press spokesmen have quit. And the Toronto Globe and Mail published an investigative story alleging that Ford’s brother, Doug Ford, who also works for him, was a hashish dealer in the 1980s.

Mexico City

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Who is that masked man? A caped crusader in a wrestling mask is waging a one-man war on Mexico City’s notoriously inconsiderate drivers. Jorge Cañez—who calls himself Peatonito, or “little pedestrian”—confronts cars that have stopped in crosswalks, physically pushing them back when possible. Carrying a can of white spray paint, he roams the streets, creating official-looking crosswalks and street lanes and pausing to sign autographs for children. “The pedestrian is nobody in this city,” Cañez told The Wall Street Journal. “He has been forgotten by authorities.”

Guatemala City

Facing U.S. justice: Guatemalan authorities have extradited former President Alfonso Portillo to the U.S. to face charges of using U.S. banks to launder some $70 million embezzled from his government. The government’s decision to extradite Portillo was a tacit admission that he would not be able to be convicted in Guatemala, where the justice system is seen as corrupt and easily influenced. In 2011, a Guatemalan court found Portillo not guilty of embezzlement, while this year a court overturned the landmark genocide conviction of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. Portillo, who was president from 2000 to 2004, is the first former Latin American leader ever to be extradited to the U.S.

Caracas, Venezuela

U.S. soldiers shot: Two U.S. Embassy military attachés were injured by gunfire outside a Caracas strip club this week. “Apparently it was a fight originating in a nightspot where these people were attacked, and shots were fired at them,” police spokesman Douglas Rico told Venezuelan TV channel Globovisión. Violent crime is endemic in the Venezuelan capital, which has one of the highest murder rates in the world. President Nicolás Maduro recently deployed the army in the city to set up checkpoints, and he wants to ban TV shows that promote a “cult of weapons.” The soldiers’ injuries aren’t life-threatening.

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