The week at a glance...Americas
HavanaDissident released: As part of an attempt to win trade concessions from Europe, Cuba this week released prominent dissident Óscar Elías Biscet, a doctor and human-rights activist arrested with 74 others in 2002 and accused of being in the pay of the U.S. Most of that “Group of 75” have since been released into exile, but Biscet has consistently refused to leave Cuba. “The Cuban authorities couldn’t make me mentally ill like they wanted to,” Biscet said. “I’ve followed the teachings of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and applied them in prison.” President George W. Bush awarded Biscet the Presidential Medal of Freedom in absentia in 2007.
Guatemala CityFirst Lady wants top job: Guatemala’s First Lady Sandra Torres says she is running for president, even though the constitution forbids close relations of the incumbent to enter the race. Torres, wife of President Álvaro Colom, said she was persuaded by a “popular clamor” of support in the cities and towns she claims to have helped in her role as head of a government anti-poverty agency. She didn’t mention how she planned to get around the constitutional bar, but sources in the ruling party said the couple might arrange an amicable divorce. “It is an unconstitutional candidacy,” said retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina, candidate for the right-wing opposition Patriot Party and the current favorite to win the September election, “but we will have to go through all the processes that the law requires.”
Caracas, VenezuelaChávez blasts boob jobs: President Hugo Chávez used his regular television address this week to rail against breast-augmentation surgery. Chávez criticized doctors who he said “convince some women that if they don’t have some big bosoms they should feel bad.” Chávez said it was “a monstrous thing” that poor women who are struggling to pay bills waste their money on costly operations. According to estimates by the Venezuelan Society of Plastic Surgeons, between 30,000 and 40,000 women in Venezuela get breast implants each year, making the country one of the world’s leading markets for the procedure.