The week at a glance...Americas
HavanaCapitalism spreads: Cuba’s Communist Party approved sweeping economic changes this week at its first party congress in 14 years. For the first time since the 1959 revolution, Cubans will be allowed to buy and sell their homes and cars in private transactions. Mass layoffs are planned for the public sector, and the private sector is due to expand. Meanwhile, President Raúl Castro, who succeeded older brother Fidel as president three years ago, officially succeeded him as head of the party at this congress, where the ailing Fidel made a surprise appearance. Both Castros said they now support a limit of two five-year terms for top officials, a reform that activists dismissed as window dressing. “In this way the ruling elites are giving themselves 10 more years of totalitarian continuity,” said human-rights activist Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz.
San Fernando, MexicoCrooked cops: Sixteen police officers were arrested last week in connection with the killings of 145 people, whose bodies were found in mass graves this month. The officers are accused of providing protection to the killers, who are suspected of being members of Los Zetas, Mexico’s most violent drug cartel. They will be held without charge for 40 days while prosecutors investigate the allegations. The victims were bus passengers kidnapped while traveling through Tamaulipas state. Authorities believe they were massacred when they refused to join the Zetas as gunmen or drug mules. More than 15,000 people were killed in drug-related violence in Mexico last year.