The news at a glance...Americas
Port-au-Prince, Haiti‘Sweet Micky’ is president: Haitian youths held dance parties in the streets this week after Michel Martelly, the carnival singer known as “Sweet Micky,” was declared the winner of Haiti’s presidential runoff. Preliminary results showed Martelly beating former First Lady Mirlande Manigat in a landslide, with more than two thirds of the vote. It was quite a comeback for the singer, who initially didn’t make the runoff when the Election Council said he had placed third in the first round; it reversed that ruling after international observers said the count was blatantly fraudulent. Martelly, known for his flamboyant singing act involving skirts, wigs, and his bare backside, ran on a promise that as a political outsider, he would reform Haiti’s corrupt and dysfunctional political system. He will now be in charge of handling billions of dollars in foreign aid and finding housing for some 800,000 people displaced by the catastrophic 2010 earthquake.
Mexico CityBig incentive: Mexico is ramping up its fight against money laundering by offering whistle-blowers up to one quarter of any illicit funds or property seized as a result of their information. Drug traffickers are believed to launder about $10 billion in profits in Mexico every year. President Felipe Calderón has already imposed some anti-laundering measures, such as restricting deposits of cash in bank accounts to $4,000 per month. Other measures are pending, including banning cash purchases of land, yachts, and cars worth more than $7,700. Public servants, law enforcement, and bank employees are ineligible for the program, because they are already supposed to be reporting suspicious transactions.
Quetzaltenango, GuatemalaDrug bust: A team of U.S. and Guatemalan forces captured the man believed to be Guatemala’s biggest drug lord last week, in a joint effort that highlights the growing role of U.S. drug enforcement in the region. Helicopters swooped in to grab Juan Ortiz Lopez, known as “Chamalé,” from his home just a week after President Obama pledged $200 million to combat drug trafficking in the region. “This is the capture of a big fish,” said Interior Minister Carlos Menocal. Washington is trying to prevent Guatemala, a democratic U.S. ally, from being overrun by the cartels that have been relocating to Central America to escape a crackdown by the government in Mexico.
Off the coast of BrazilAir France bodies found: After two years of searching with robot submarines, French investigators have found the wreckage of the 2009 Air France crash that killed 228 people. The debris rests on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, more than 12,000 feet deep, not far from where air-traffic controllers lost contact with Flight 447 during a violent thunderstorm. Bodies of some of the victims are visible inside part of the cabin. “It’s very encouraging for us after having no news for so long,” said Nelson Marinho, head of a group representing victims’ families. “We’ll finally be able to bury them.” Officials say the corpses should be recovered within a month, and they hope the jet’s black boxes, which could provide information about the cause of the crash, will also be found.
‘Triple Frontier,’ Brazil Hotbed of Islamic militancy: Islamic extremists from al Qaida and other groups have established a base in a remote part of Brazil, Brazilian magazine Veja reported this week, citing unnamed U.S. and Brazilian police sources and WikiLeaks documents. The article said at least 20 high-ranking members from al Qaida, Hezbollah, and Hamas are hiding out in the “Triple Frontier” area along the borders with Argentina and Paraguay, where they raise money and plan attacks against Western targets. Veja named Khaled Hussein Ali, a Lebanese national with legal residence in Brazil, as a top al Qaida official who manages operations in more than a dozen countries. It said police fear terrorist attacks when Brazil hosts the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.