Human rights defender Carmelo AgÃ¡mez has been in jail for a year (photo source).
- The Wall Street Journal editorial page is perhaps the most conservative of any major U.S. daily. Today’s editorial sings the praises of Colombian President Ãlvaro Uribe. But it also urges him not to seek a third term.
- In a joint statement, the presidents of Brazil and Argentina “expressed their concern about the presence in the region of military forces from an extra-regional power,” a direct rebuke of the U.S.-Colombia military agreement signed last month.
- Carmelo AgÃ¡mez, a leader of the Movement of Victims of State Crimes in Sucre, Colombia, has been an outspoken critic of the paramilitary groups who dominated his home region. AgÃ¡mez has now been in jail for a year awaiting trial on charges of collaborating with… paramilitary groups. “AgÃ¡mez’s unjust detention is just one emblematic example of a much bigger problem: the extensive use of malicious criminal investigations and trumped-up charges to silence human rights activists in Colombia,” writes Andrew Hudson of Human Rights First.
- The webcast of yesterday’s House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the Cuba travel ban is worthwhile viewing for the impassioned, but often incredibly simplistic, statements from the members of Congress in attendance. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana, ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-California, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) jointly published an op-ed Tuesday in the Miami Herald calling for an end to the travel ban. Human Rights Watch meanwhile released an extensive report contending that the human rights situation in Cuba is not improving.
- Cuba is the reason why a Florida senator has put a hold on Thomas Shannon’s nomination to be ambassador to Brazil. The lack of ambassadorial representation, Bloomberg reports, may have cost U.S. aerospace company Boeing a huge arms sale to Brazil.
- As the Obama administration moves to recognize the result of November 29 elections in coup-governed Honduras (read the incredibly tortured exchange on this subject in Wednesday’s State Department briefing), the “May I Speak Freely” website, which closely monitors Honduras, explains why this is a bad idea.
- With elections just a few weeks away, President Evo Morales leads polls by a wide margin in Bolivia, and center-right candidate SebastiÃ¡n PiÃ±era leads by a narrow margin in Chile.
- The Bush administration’s chief of Customs and Border Protection called publicly for a reinstatement of the U.S. assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, in order to limit the flow of weapons to drug cartels in Mexico.
- The Pan-American Health Organization reports that 43.4 percent of Guatemalan children under 6 suffer from chronic malnutrition. The percentage approaches 70 percent in rural areas. Child malnutrition is as severe in Guatemala as it is in Nigeria, Yemen, Ethiopia and Madagascar.
- â€œA big watch and cool knife get you only so far. Once theyÂ´re convinced youâ€™re serious about their concerns (social, environmental and political) they take you seriously.” – from a Southern Command article about U.S. riverine training in Ecuador’s Amazon basin region.