The week at a glance...Americas


Caracas, Venezuela

Guns banned: In an effort to curb one of the world’s highest murder rates, Venezuela has banned private ownership of guns and closed down the country’s nongovernmental gun and ammunition dealers. Starting this week, only military, police, and security personnel can purchase weapons, and then only from state-run outlets. A gun amnesty is in place so that citizens can turn in the handguns and rifles they already own. President Hugo Chávez, suffering from cancer and facing re-election this year, has been blamed for letting crime boom during his 13 years in office. The annual murder rate is now at least 50 per 100,000 people, compared with a global average of 7.

Lima, Peru

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Van der Sloot stays: Joran van der Sloot must serve his prison term in Peru—up to 28 years—before he can be extradited to the U.S., a Peruvian court ruled this week. Van der Sloot, a Dutch national, is suspected of killing American teen Natalee Holloway, who disappeared in Aruba in 2005. Though never charged with her murder, he faces U.S. charges of fraud and extortion for collecting $25,000 from Holloway’s family to reveal the location of her body, a pledge he did not fulfill. Van der Sloot confessed to murdering a Peruvian woman in 2010.

Asunción, Paraguay

Another love child recognized: Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo has for the second time acknowledged paternity of a child born when he was still a Roman Catholic bishop. Lugo, 61, renounced the priesthood in 2006. Since his 2008 election, four women have alleged that he fathered children while a priest; he acknowledged paternity of one, a 3-year-old boy, in 2009. The son he recognized this week is now 10. The mother, Narcisa Delacruz, 42, said Lugo has been financially supporting the child all along, but she filed for formal recognition because her son wanted to use his father’s name.

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