The week at a glance...Americas


Mexico City

Backlash against rich privilege: Mexicans have had enough of the well-connected throwing their weight around. Last week Andrea Benítez, a woman who was denied the table she wanted at Mexico City’s popular Maximo Bistrot, called in restaurant inspectors who worked for her father, the federal attorney general for consumer protection, and the establishment was briefly shut down. But an eruption of tens of thousands of angry tweets caught the government’s attention, and the president this week ordered an investigation into abuse of power. “It’s such blatant corruption that’s right in our faces,” said Max St. Romain, who saw the restaurant incident. “It’s a connection to the corruption that ruled Mexico for decades—the fact that a child of someone in power can use it just on a whim, on a tantrum.”

Caracas, Venezuela

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Slugfest: Venezuelan lawmakers brawled on the floor of parliament this week over last month’s disputed presidential election. The legislature, dominated by supporters of late leader Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor, President Nicolás Maduro, had just passed a measure denying opposition members the right to speak in parliament until they accepted Maduro as president; the opposition has insisted it will not do so until his narrow win is confirmed by a full recount. The scuffle broke out after opposition lawmakers unfurled a banner that read “parliamentary coup” and shouted, “Fascists!” Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges, who afterward sported a black eye, was defiant. “They can beat us, jail us, kill us, but we will not sell out our principles,” he said.

Caracas, Venezuela

American filmmaker arrested: Venezuela has arrested an American documentary-maker and accused him of being a spy sent to finance and foment civil war. Timothy Tracy, 35, was making a documentary about the disputed Venezuelan election to replace late President Hugo Chávez. President Nicolás Maduro, who narrowly won the election, faces protests by opponent Henrique Capriles’s followers, who say the election was stolen. Just like Chávez before him, Maduro claims that all protest against his rule is U.S.-funded. Venezuelans interviewed by Tracy for his film said that he was politically neutral and evenhanded, and opposition groups have denied receiving any money from him.

São Paulo

Unhappy meals: The Brazilian government has fined McDonald’s $1.6 million for marketing unhealthy food to kids. Procon, Brazil’s consumer advocacy agency, said the fast-food chain was marketing its fatty french fries and sugar-packed sodas to children by advertising Happy Meals containing toys from the movie Avatar. “There’s no need to appeal as they do to children without the maturity or the rationality to enter the market as consumers,” said Procon’s top lawyer in São Paulo, Renan Ferraciolli. The obesity rate among Brazilian kids has more than doubled in the past two decades.

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