The news at a glance...Americas
Mexico CityAgainst the drug war: Tens of thousands of Mexicans rallied this week to demand an end to the government’s military tactics in the drug war. The rally was led by poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed this spring in a massacre by a drug gang. Sicilia said he wanted to start a mass movement to oppose both the cartels and the government’s aggressive pursuit of them, but was focusing his criticism on the politicians because, unlike the drug dealers, they “can be held accountable by the people.” Nearly 40,000 people have died in drug violence over the five years since President Felipe Calderón began his all-out military onslaught on drug cartels, sending tanks and troops into border cities.
HavanaFree to go: The Cuban regime has proposed allowing Cuban citizens to travel abroad as tourists for the first time in more than 50 years. The proposal is one of 313 pro-capitalist reforms adopted by the Communist Party Congress in April and published this week. Some of the guidelines, including the legalization of private sale of houses and cars, had already been announced, but the easing of travel restrictions surprised many Cubans and Cuba watchers. It’s unclear how or when the travel restrictions will be eased. Currently, Cubans must file vast amounts of paperwork and pay hundreds of dollars to apply for an exit visa, and applications are usually turned down. Dissident Havana economist Óscar Espinosa Chepe predicted chaos. “A lot of people would leave for good because of the economic conditions that we face,” he told The Miami Herald.
Caracas, VenezuelaColombian rebels as guns for hire: Records show that Venezuelan officials contracted Colombia’s FARC rebels to assassinate opponents of President Hugo Chávez. The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies says its analysis of the computer files of a top FARC commander known as Raúl Reyes, secured after he was killed in 2008, shows that Venezuelan officials also asked the FARC to train Venezuelan pro-government militants. The files don’t reveal whether any assassinations were actually carried out. Chávez conceded last month that some of his political allies had collaborated with the FARC, but he said they did so “behind all our backs.” The computer files directly contradict that assertion: They contain an account of a direct meeting at which Chávez agreed to give Reyes money to buy weapons.
Buenos Aires One way to control inflation: The Argentine government is cracking down on financial firms that dare to publish their own estimates of the inflation rate. The government insists that inflation is 10 percent, but private investment firms and consultants figure the true rate is at least 25 percent, the second-highest in the world after Venezuela’s 27 percent. The government has slapped hefty fines on at least 10 economic consultancy firms for “spreading false information.” One of them, Ecolatina, appealed this week to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to “intervene to prevent further such violations of constitutional rights,” and to “recognize the existence of inflation as a problem and implement the measures necessary to resolve it.”