The world at a glance . . . Americas


Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

9/11 suspects seek execution: Five Guantánamo Bay detainees accused of planning the 9/11 attacks offered to confess and plead guilty this week, but changed their minds when a judge said the plea might prevent them from being sentenced to death. Accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others have said they want to die as martyrs. The five are believed to be eager to be executed before the presidential inauguration, since President-elect Barack Obama has said he plans to close the Gitmo detention center. The men indicated they would not express remorse. “I reaffirm my allegiance to Osama bin Laden,” said one defendant, Ramzi Binalshibh. “I hope the jihad continues and I hope it hits the heart of America with weapons of mass destruction.”

San Pedro Sula, Honduras

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Central American union: Central American countries agreed last week to form a common currency and issue a common passport for their citizens. Leaders from Honduras, El Salvador, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Nicaragua also pledged to create a joint credit fund to help their region weather the global financial meltdown. “The architecture of the economy needs changes,” said Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. “We have to achieve financial, trade, and food independence within the region.” The countries did not specify a timetable for implementing their common currency and passport.

São Paulo, Brazil

Serial killer targets gays: A serial killer could be responsible for the murders of 13 gay men over the past two years, Brazilian police said this week. The men were all killed in a suburban park on the outskirts of São Paulo that is known as a meeting place for gays. Authorities said the murders have several common characteristics. “The victims were found with their pants down, and most were killed with gunshots to the head and neck,” said Police Chief Paulo Fernando Fortunato. He said he was going public with the investigation to warn people that the park was a dangerous place at night.

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