The world at a glance . . . Americas



The bicycle thief: Toronto’s most prolific bicycle thief has finally been arrested. Police had long suspected that used-bike-shop owner Igor Kenk was dealing in stolen bicycles, but they couldn’t prove that he knew his wares were hot. But last week, after an abrupt spike in bike thefts, they arranged a sting and caught him and an accomplice stealing two bikes off the street—although not the ones the cops had planted. When the police raided Kenk’s warehouse, they reported finding nearly 3,000 stolen bicycles, along with large stashes of cocaine, crack, and marijuana. He faces dozens of charges of theft and drug possession.

Mexico City

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Anti-kidnapping technology: Wealthy Mexicans have begun implanting microchips under their skin so they can be tracked in case of kidnapping. The trend began after the CEO of Xega, a company that makes devices to track stolen vehicles using GPS signals, was kidnapped in broad daylight in 2001. Xega decided to adapt its technology to track people through microchips. Kidnapping is a lucrative and growing industry in Mexico, with at least 6,500 abductions last year alone. “Before, they only kidnapped key, well-known, economically successful people like industrialists and landowners,” said Sergio Galvan, Xega’s commercial director. “Now they are kidnapping people from the middle class.”

Lima, Peru

Tribal lands protected: Thousands of Peruvian Indians celebrated this week after the Congress repealed two laws that would have allowed Amazonian tribal lands to be sold to developers. President Alan Garcia had decreed the measures to help bring Peruvian law in line with a free-trade agreement he signed with the U.S. But after dozens of indigenous tribes protested, occupying oil and electrical plants in the Amazon basin, the legislature moved to block the laws. “This is a new dawn for our people and for all Peruvians who wish to develop in liberty, not in oppression,” said Alberto Pizango, president of the Peruvian Jungle Inter-Ethnic Development Association. Garcia said the repeal of the laws would condemn the tribes to poverty.

Asuncion, Paraguay

New leftist president: President Fernando Lugo, in office for only two weeks, has quickly made it clear he will aggressively move Paraguay to the left. The former Roman Catholic bishop, elected last April but inaugurated in mid-August, said he would accept no salary—part of what he called his campaign to “bring an end to an exclusive Paraguay, a secretive, notoriously corrupt Paraguay.” He also fired most top military and police officials and replaced them with loyalists. During his inauguration ceremony, Lugo accepted a replica of the sword of 19th-century revolutionary Simón Bolivar from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, an act that marks Lugo as a follower of Chavez’s socialist agenda.

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