The week at a glance ... Americas


Durango, Mexico

Hit squad based in prison: A Mexican prison warden and five of her guards have been charged with providing guns and cars to inmates so they could carry out drug-related hits, including the massacre of 17 people last week. After the killings, the inmates—members of the Sinaloa cartel—would return to their cells at Gómez Palacio prison, prosecutors said. The warden, Margarita Rojas Rodriguez, was charged with abetting the murders of at least 30 people. Authorities were alerted to the corruption at the prison by another drug gang, Los Zetas, which is battling the Sinaloa cartel for control of the state of Durango. Los Zetas posted a video to the Web last week showing a police officer telling of Rojas’ complicity with the Sinaloa gang. The officer was then shot in the head.

Caracas, Venezuela

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Tensions escalate: Venezuela cut off diplomatic relations with Colombia last week after the Colombian government presented convincing evidence that Venezuela has been harboring Colombian rebels. The evidence included photos and videos of alleged FARC camps in Venezuela. President Hugo Chávez said the materials were forged to provide a pretext for Colombia and the U.S. to attack Venezuela, and he ordered more troops to the Colombian border. Chávez also threatened to cut off oil sales to the U.S. if Venezuela was attacked by Colombia, a threat most analysts dismissed as empty. Venezuela’s economy depends on oil exports, and the U.S. is its biggest customer.

Aripuana, Brazil

Indians take hostages: Some 300 Brazilian Indians armed with bows and arrows occupied the unfinished Dardanelos hydroelectric dam this week, briefly taking more than 100 construction workers hostage. The Indians, members of eight different regional tribes, were demanding compensation for the destruction of a burial ground that they say was dynamited during the construction of the dam. They released the workers unharmed after authorities agreed to hold talks on reparations. “This construction has caused a big impact on the lives of our people,” Indian chief Aldeci Arara said. “This protest is helping us expedite a solution.”

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