U.S. and Peruvian vessels perform tactical maneuvers last week in Peruvian territorial waters. (Source)
- Two popular former mayors turned presidential candidates, Antanas Mockus (two terms in BogotÃ¡) and Sergio Fajardo (MedellÃn), will combine on the same ticket for Colombiaâ€™s May 30 presidential election, making theirs the most formidable opposition (non-uribista) candidacy.
- I published an overview of Colombiaâ€™s election campaign last week to the opendemocracy.net website.
- In the past 24 months, Colombian authorities have intercepted more than 6,000 arms and more than 3 million rounds of ammunition that were made in China. Nearly all belonged to â€œnewâ€ paramilitary groups.
- China just donated US$2.6 million in vehicles and parts to Boliviaâ€™s armed forces. A Chinese corporation is also building Boliviaâ€™s first telecommunications satellite, which will cost La Paz about US$300 million. Chinese President Hu Jintao, meanwhile, will visit Brazil, Chile and Venezuela in mid-April following his attendance at the nuclear summit President Obama is convening in Washington.
- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met in Caracas with Bolivian President Evo Morales and Venezuelan President Hugo ChÃ¡vez. He agreed to expand Russiaâ€™s energy investment and defense ties with Venezuela. Morales said he asked Putin to â€œincrease its presence in Latin America, to return in force to Latin America.â€
- Citing the Brazilian daily O Estado de SÃ£o Paulo, Spainâ€™s El PaÃs reports on a U.S.-Brazilian plan to open a joint drug-trafficking-monitoring center in Brazil. The center, the article indicates, would be modeled on Joint Inter-Agency Task Force South, a small facility in Key West that monitors suspicious air and boat traffic in the Caribbean and the eastern Pacific. According to the report, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Brazil in the middle of this month.
- Senators Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) and John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) introduced legislation that would significantly change the priorities and strategies of U.S. counter-drug programs in the Americas. As Abigail Poe notes on the Just the Facts blog, this legislation bears little resemblance to the Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act that the House of Representatives passed last year.
- Thanks to stepped-up registration efforts that legalized 28,000 Colombian refugees in the past year, Ecuador now has 50,000 registered Colombian refugees in its territory (at least 100,000 more remain unregistered). Notes the BBC, â€œColombia has given the UNHCR funding of US$600,000 over the past 10 years – an average 50 cents per refugee per year – to help pay for integration projects.â€
- Mexicoâ€™s army will begin gradually pulling its 6,000 troops out of violence-torn Ciudad JuÃ¡rez. â€œThis means the beginning of the end for the polemical military deploment to the zone, approved in 2006,â€ reported the BBC. March was the most violent month of Mexican President Felipe CalderÃ³nâ€™s more than three years in office, with 958 murders.
- The U.S.S. Carl Vinson, an aircraft carrier with more than 3,000 servicepeople on board, just spent a week in Peru carrying out joint maneuvers and other activities.
- Costa Ricaâ€™s outgoing president, Nobel Laureate Ã“scar Arias, suggested in a TV interview that Uruguayan President JosÃ© Mujica abolish his countryâ€™s armed forces, as Costa Rica did in 1948. Mujica said no.