The world at a glance . . . Americas
MontrealSex-abuse claims: A Catholic religious order that runs a prestigious boys’ school has been hit with a legal action alleging that dozens of boys were victims of sexual abuse between 1972 and 2001. The motion seeking class-action status says monks from the Les Freres de Ste. Croix religious order routinely had sexual relations with the boys, and that when allegations of abuse by four monks surfaced, in 1994, the order covered it up. Several of the plaintiffs said they had been trying to get the order to issue a public apology, but that it had responded, “File your suit and we’ll see what happens in court.” Members of the order still serve on the board of the school, College Notre Dame, but only two monks from the order still work there.
Mexico CityBounty on drug lords: The Mexican government this week offered rewards of $2 million for information leading to the arrest of any of 24 people identified as the nation’s top drug lords. While similar awards have been offered in the past on individual drug lords, this marks the first time Mexico has identified all the men it considers the most powerful and dangerous cartel leaders. The government also offered $1 million rewards for information leading to the arrests of 13 drug cartel lieutenants. Drug violence in Mexico has killed more than 7,000 people in the past 14 months. This week, a state police commander in the western state of Michoacan was ambushed and killed in his vehicle while he waited at a traffic light.
Caracas, VenezuelaHard times: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who has spent years funneling the state’s oil revenues into sweeping social programs, has been forced to acknowledge that hard times have arrived. Confronting a struggling economy and a sharp decline in oil prices, Chávez this week announced plans to trim “nonessential state spending” and raise the national sales tax from 9 percent to 12 percent. More than half of Venezuela’s government spending is funded by oil revenues, which have dropped dramatically as crude prices have plummeted 65 percent since their July 2008 peak. Separately, Chávez said he had hoped that relations between Venezuela and the U.S. would improve, but he now realizes that Obama is a “poor ignoramus” who doesn’t understand the region.