The week at a glance ... Americas
Monterrey, MexicoHow to survive a massacre: The Mexican state of Nuevo León has put out a manual to train teachers and students how to respond if drug gangs attack a school. “When an explosion is heard,” the manual says, “students should crouch with their chests to the ground” and “stay away from windows.” It also advises avoiding eye contact with gunmen. The war among drug gangs hasn’t yet reached inside schools, but authorities said shootouts near campuses are becoming more common. “The protocols are a personal tool to know what to do, how to act in these new times,” said Public Security Secretary Luis Carlos Treviño.
Kingston, JamaicaCoke in custody: The notorious gang leader whose attempted arrest set off four days of deadly riots in the Jamaican capital last month is now in custody. Christopher “Dudus” Coke was arrested on his way to turn himself in at the U.S. Embassy. Coke, wanted in the U.S. on gun and drug charges, ran the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood of Kingston as his personal fiefdom, providing residents with jobs, schools, and protection. Tivoli Gardens is also the home base of Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who sought for more than a year to persuade the U.S. to drop the charges against Coke. Last month, Golding finally ordered Coke’s arrest, and Tivoli rose up to protect its benefactor. “They see him as a Robin Hood or even a Jesus,” said the Rev. Earlmont Williams, who arranged for Coke to give himself up—“someone who stands up for them and is willing to die for them, even if he is an evil messiah.”
Bogotá, ColombiaSmooth transition: Colombians elected the ruling party’s candidate for president in a landslide this week, endorsing a pro-U.S. foreign policy. The Harvard-educated Juan Manuel Santos says he wants to continue the policy of outgoing President Álvaro Uribe and have Colombia remain Washington’s leading Latin American ally. As defense minister for three years under Uribe, Santos was responsible for major victories against the FARC rebels, who control much of the country’s cocaine trade; he’s also credited with improving the military’s human-rights record. His top priority, he said, will be lobbying the U.S. to ratify a U.S.-Colombian free-trade deal, which was negotiated during the Bush administration but is still languishing in Congress.
Lima, PeruConfession recanted: Dutchman Joran van der Sloot, the longtime suspect in the 2005 disappearance in Aruba of American teenager Natalee Holloway, has recanted his confession to the murder of a Peruvian woman. In an interview with Holland’s De Telegraaf, van der Sloot said he was “tricked” into confessing, and hinted that the FBI, for unclear reasons, had lured him to Peru. Van der Sloot’s mother, Anita, meanwhile, said the pressure of being the main suspect in the Holloway case may have caused her son to snap. “I now believe that Joran may indeed have done something,” she said. “Joran is sick in his head, but he didn’t want any help.”