The world at a glance . . . Americas
Army needs vacation: The war in Afghanistan has overstretched Canada’s armed forces, and the military will need a yearlong rest to recover, Canada’s top army official said this week. “Beginning in July 2011, we will have to explore the possibility of taking a short operational break, that is well-organized and synchronized, of at least one year,” Gen. Andrew Leslie said. He said an ongoing personnel shortage meant that new recruits could not be properly trained and vital equipment could not be maintained. Tanks needed for training are sitting idle, he said, because there are no mechanics to refurbish them. Canada has 2,800 troops in Afghanistan, compared with the U.S.’s 30,000.
La Paz, Bolivia
U.S. diplomat expelled: Bolivian President Evo Morales kicked another U.S. diplomat out of the country this week, saying the man had been conspiring with opposition groups. Morales claimed that U.S. Embassy political officer Francisco Martinez had been helping a Bolivian policeman accused of spying on the state oil company for the CIA. The State Department denied the allegations against Martinez as well as the notion that the CIA had infiltrated the state oil company. It called Martinez’s expulsion “unwarranted and unjustified.” Morales booted out the U.S. ambassador for similar reasons last September and expelled all U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials in November.
Bodies exhumed: Forensic experts began exhuming bodies from a mass grave this week as part of an investigation into the 1980–2000 “dirty war” that pitted the military and right-wing death squads against the Maoist Shining Path rebels. Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates that there are more than 4,000 mass graves across the country, holding tens of thousands of victims. The grave excavated this week holds about 50 bodies of people believed to have been tortured and killed by the military. Most of the civilians killed during the conflict, though, were victims of the Shining Path. The commission finished its report on the conflict in 2003; now it is concentrating on using DNA to identify the remains in the mass graves.
Church vs. state: The Brazilian government took the unusual step of criticizing the Catholic Church this week, after the church opposed an abortion for a 9-year-old raped by her stepfather. Doctors who performed the abortion said the girl could have died if she had brought the twin fetuses to full term. But Brazilian archbishops responded by excommunicating the girl’s mother, the doctors, and others involved in facilitating the abortion. “I believe the position of the church is extreme, radical, and inadequate,” said Health Minister José Gomes Temporão. Brazil, a heavily Catholic country, allows abortion in cases of rape or when the mother’s life is in jeopardy. “God’s law is above any human law,” said Archbishop José Cardoso Sobrinho.