Kelowna, British Columbia
Wildfires chase thousands: Three big wildfires forced 11,000 Canadians to flee their homes in British Columbia this week, and thousands more were told to prepare for possible evacuation. Firefighters said they believed the fires were caused by human activity, though not necessarily arson. The region has been so dry this summer, they said, that a single cigarette tossed from a car window could spark a massive blaze. British Columbia is a major source of Canada’s lumber exports. None of the fires so far this year have threatened the timber industry, but the worst fires tend to happen later in the summer as the forests continue to dry out.
Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
Housing dilemma: The Justice Department did not meet this week’s deadline for a report on where to house Guantánamo Bay prisoners, and asked for an additional six months. A task force was supposed to send its recommendations to President Obama, but officials said the issues were so complex that they required further study. Some detainees are considered too dangerous to be released, but they can’t be prosecuted because evidence against them is either lacking or was obtained through harsh interrogation techniques. Ultimately, they may have to remain in U.S. custody. Unnamed officials quoted in The Washington Post said the administration remains committed to closing the prison in Cuba by next January, but that substantial legal and political obstacles had yet to be resolved. “These are hard, complicated, consequential decisions,” one official said.
President linked to Colombian rebels: Leftist Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has been forced to issue a public denial that he has received money from Colombia’s FARC rebels. On a video shown on Colombian TV this week, one of the rebels says his leftist group helped fund Correa’s presidential campaign. Correa says the video is a setup intended to destabilize his country. But Colombia has asked the Organization of American States and Interpol to look into the allegations. It’s not the first time Colombia has accused Ecuador of colluding with the FARC. Last year, the Colombian military bombed a FARC base on Ecuador’s side of the border. Ecuador cut off diplomatic ties at that time and has not restored them.
La Paz, Bolivia
Down with the U.S.: Several Latin American leaders applauded this week as Bolivian President Evo Morales denounced the U.S. at a Bolivian national celebration. The presidents of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Paraguay joined Morales for the bicentennial anniversary of an uprising against Spanish rule. In a speech kicking off the festivities, Morales blamed America for the recent coup in Honduras and called for an end to U.S. influence in the region. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez echoed Morales’ message, calling on Latin American soldiers “to never again put themselves at the service of a coup-plotting bourgeoisie.”