The world at a glance . . . Americas
TorontoTeen’s Gitmo ordeal on video: Videos released this week show Canadian citizen Omar Khadr, then 16, anguished and weeping during a 2003 interrogation at Guantánamo Bay. Khadr, who grew up in Afghanistan, has spent six years in the U.S. detention facility, where he has been charged with providing support to terrorism after allegedly throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. Canada’s Supreme Court ordered the Canadian government to release the tapes—which show Canadian intelligence officials interviewing Khadr—so that they can be used in his defense at an upcoming trial before a U.S. military commission. The videos show Khadr crying, pulling his hair, and moaning, “Help me.” Interrogation transcripts also show that Khadr told officials he was tortured by U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, where he was captured fighting alongside the Taliban. “Promise you’ll protect me from the Americans,” Khadr reportedly said.
Mexico CityDrug lords infiltrate government: Drug traffickers are trying to take over the Mexican state, the head of Mexico’s intelligence service said this week. Guillermo Valdes said members of drug cartels had infiltrated the police, courts, and other government bodies, and that drug money may even have funded the campaigns of some members of the Mexican legislature. “Congress is not exempt,” he said. “It is a real risk.” Mexico’s struggles with drug gangs are causing alarm north of the border. President Bush recently signed a law giving Mexico $400 million in aid for its drug war.
HavanaCommunism lite: President Raúl Castro warned Cubans last week to prepare for a “realistic” brand of communism that does away with excessive state subsidies that promote economic equality. In his first speech to the parliament since taking over the presidency from his brother Fidel in February, Castro said Cubans would have to work harder to get ahead. “Socialism means social justice and equality, but equality of rights, of opportunities, not of income,” he said. “Equality is not egalitarianism.” The statement marks a sharp reversal from the philosophy espoused by Fidel, who frequently said that Cuba was building an “egalitarian” society. Cuba’s parliament meets for just a few hours twice a year to endorse the president’s proposals.
Caracas, VenezuelaVenezuelans demand democracy: Thousands of Venezuelans demonstrated in the capital last week, demanding that opposition figures be allowed to run in the upcoming elections. President Hugo Chavez has placed 272 opposition members on a blacklist that bars them from running for state and local offices in November. Chanting “Freedom!,” some 10,000 people marched to the Supreme Court building, where they urged the justices to lift the ban. Venezuela’s influential Roman Catholic Church joined the movement, calling the blacklist “a measure that tarnishes the democratic environment.” Chavez’s ex-wife Marisabel Rodriguez, who as a member of the legislature helped draft the current constitution, said the ban is blatantly unconstitutional.