The week at a glance...Americas
HavanaCastro lives: Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro emerged from retirement to deny rumors that he was on his deathbed. The rumor began more than a week ago when a Venezuelan doctor said he had been informed that Castro had had a stroke and was in a coma with just weeks to live. This week, Castro resumed his old column in the state newspaper Granma, writing, “I don’t even remember what a headache feels like.” The article was accompanied by photos showing Castro, 86, standing outside and reading the latest issue of Granma. Castro, who retired as president in 2008, hasn’t been seen in public since March and stopped writing his regular weekly column in June.
Rio de Janeiro Affirmative action: A new law that went into effect this week sets aside half of all places in state universities for minorities and public-school kids. “The law helps pay off Brazil’s historical debt to our poorest young people,” said President Dilma Rousseff. Almost half of Brazilians are either black, indigenous, or mixed-race, and most of those minority groups attend public schools widely condemned for their poor quality. The 50 percent quota is being phased in over four years, beginning with the 2013 freshman class.
Buenos Aires Navy loses ship: The commander of the Argentine navy resigned last week after a U.S. hedge fund had one of his frigates impounded. Libertad, a training ship, was seized last month in Ghana at the behest of NML Capital, a U.S. bondholder that refused to accept a greatly reduced payout when Argentina defaulted on its government bonds in 2001. The firm has been pursuing Argentine assets ever since, but Buenos Aires says it won’t pay. “Vulture funds will never see Argentina kneel down before their decisions,” Cabinet Chief Juan Manuel Abal Medina said. Still, the government didn’t risk losing a plane, too—it chartered a flight to bring the crew home.