The week at a glance ... Americas
Bogotá, ColombiaVideo shows hostages: The Colombian rebel group FARC has released a video showing five hostages who have been held in captivity for more than a decade. The men, four soldiers and a policeman, include Cpl. José Libio Martínez, who was kidnapped in 1997 along with Sgt. Pablo Moncayo. Moncayo was freed earlier this year. In the video, Martínez sends a message to his 12-year-old son, Johan Steven, who was born after his capture, and urges both of the candidates in the upcoming second round of the Colombian presidential election, Juan Manuel Santos and Antanas Mockus, to open talks with the rebels. “I don’t want to be the last man freed, but rather the last man taken hostage,” he says. Both candidates have vowed to continue the hard-line policy of President Álvaro Uribe, who has always refused to sanction prisoner-exchange deals, a key FARC demand.
Lima, PeruDutch suspect confesses: A fugitive Dutchman suspected of involvement in the disappearance of an American teenager in Aruba five years ago has confessed to murdering a young woman in Lima, Peruvian authorities said. Last week Joran van der Sloot was arrested in Chile and deported to Peru after fleeing across the border following the discovery of the body of 21-year-old Stephany Flores Ramirez. Authorities say van der Sloot admitted that he strangled Ramirez after he found her reading articles about him on the Internet. Van der Sloot has always denied that he had anything to do with the disappearance of 18-year-old Natalee Holloway, who went missing in 2005. But according to a Dutch reporter who secretly taped him, he admitted to being present when she died and asking a friend to help him dispose of the body.
São Paulo, BrazilWorld’s largest gay parade: More than 3 million people jammed the central avenues of São Paulo this week, in what organizers called the world’s largest gay pride parade. The annual parade this year had a political theme tied to upcoming national elections in October: “Vote against homophobia. Defend citizenship.” While Brazil is considered generally tolerant toward homosexuals, rights groups say 198 gays were killed in hate attacks in Brazil last year, and President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva issued a decree creating a National Day Against Homophobia. The parade, first held in 1997, was sponsored by both the state government and Petrobras, Brazil’s state-run oil company.