Judges in Peru are apparently extremely hardcore. The Honorable Raúl Rosales Mora didn’t like that Carlos Saavedra, a photographer for Caretas magazine, was snapping photos of him for a scandalous article, so he made the article a little more scandalous by whipping out a handgun.
“Don’t you know what you’re doing, pointing that gun at me?” Saavedra said, as he snapped pictures of the psycho. “You should also be careful with what you’re doing,” the judge replied, before driving away.
A video has just been released that shows the Peruvian Air Force – with the help of the CIA – shooting down a small plane flown by a family of missionaries. They thought the plane was being flown by drug traffickers when the pilot didn’t respond to radioed warnings sent on the wrong frequency.
The video is from 2001 – that is to say, the CIA has been covering this up for nine years. Here’s the video, as broadcast by ABC:
The first thing I noticed in this video is the amazing linguistic incompetence of CIA officials who presumably hold people’s lives in their hands. Hard to call off the dogs when you think the word for “machine gun” is “ratatatatat.” (CIA history tends to indicate that incompetence is one of the agency’s defining characteristics.)
Second, the reason this story is being reported at all – even nine years later – is because the victims are Americans. Non-U.S. citizens certainly wouldn’t get the same consideration, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the CIA continues to participate in extra-judicial killings in many parts of Latin America.
I ended up spending three nights in Aguascalientes. It was like a huge experiment in communal, international living… Every nationality behaved in somewhat characteristic ways. The Brazilians and Uruguayans organized football matches with the local kids. The Argentinians almost rioted but also led the organizing process. The Chileans were super-super-organized with different people assigned to be responsible for food, accommodation and health. The English deigned to get themselves organized. The Mexicans left a big Mexican flag in the Plaza with a note for people to write their names. The names appeared but I never saw anyone there. The American government was said to be providing four small helicopters for just American folk. It was rumoured that when the committee of delegates from each nation were meeting and rejected the idea that these helicopters should only be for Americans, then the Americans never participated again in the meetings and did their own thing. The Australians celebrated Australia day on Monday 25th January and it was said there was no more beer left in the town the following day.
El Salvador’s Grupo TACA and Colombia’s Avianca have completed a “strategic” merger. TACA has hubs in El Salvador, Costa Rica and Lima, Perú, while Avianca mainly flies out of Bogatá, Colombia. In a statement, the companies blather on quite a bit about synergy, which I hope means that they’ll be consolidating operations to make it cheaper and easier to travel in Latin America.
The new Avianca-TACA Limited conglomerate controls 13 carriers in 10 Latin American countries, serving a combined 75 Latin American cities with 129 aircraft. It is now the largest air travel conglomerate in the region.
Two Latin American movies are up for an Oscar in the awkwardly-named Foreign Language Film category.
El Secreto de sus Ojos, from Argentine director Juan José Campanella, looks like an investigative thriller, starring that one actor that seems to be in all Argentine movies that achieve international recognition, Ricardo Darín:
The Nation has a long, wonky, wonderful article on Mexican maize cultivation, the effects of NAFTA, and the dangers of genetically-modified seeds. Author Peter Canby backs up his excellent writing with piles and piles of meticulous research. Not to be missed. [link, via SM] (Image from Joel Penner.)
Cuban dissident Guillermo Farinas ended his hunger strike yesterday after 134 days. Farinas decided to end his strike after the Cuban government said it would release political prisoners rounded up in the "Black Spring" crackdown of 2003. Get well soon. [link]
The Uruguayan selection, which has made it to the quarter finals of the World Cup, just received a shipment of half a ton of fine cuts of beef for the mother of all asados in preparation for a contest against Ghana on Friday: "450 kilos of lomo, 200 of entrecot, 75 of vacío, 75 of colita de cuadril, 150 of ojo de bife and 50 kg of picaña." [link]
Hitmen have assassinated the PRI candidate for governor of Tamaulipas State, Rodolfo Torre Cantú. Torre was gunned down along with six others at about 10:30 this morning on a highway on the way to a campaign event. Drug mafias are assumed to be responsible. [link]
From the days when coups were something of a regional sport, new documents detail a famous British ballerina's role in a plot to topple the government of Panama. The plan was to use her yacht to gather men and arms, then "land somewhere and collect in the hills." It didn't work. [link]
Mexico's Attorney General's Office has posted on its web site irrefutable evidence that gold-plated AR-15s and diamond-studded pistol grips are not nearly as cool-looking as they sound. The deadly knick-knack collection is said to belong to Valencia Cartel leader El Lobo. [link]
Two Brazilian ranchers were sentenced to 30 years in prison apiece for ordering the killing of an environmentalist nun: "Prosecutors said the pair offered to pay a gunman $25,000 to kill the 73-year-old [Dorothy] Stang because she had prevented them from stealing a piece of land that the government had granted to a group of poor farmers." [link]
This video of a kidnapping and car chase in Mexico is notable mainly for the bad-assitude of the TV journalists who were on this like white on rice. Well done, gentlemen.
The Economist takes a peak at the Mockus phenomenon in Colombia: "His moustacheless beard gives him the air of a Baltic pastor... He is financing his campaign with a bank overdraft. His supporters rely on Facebook and make their own posters; street vendors sell unofficial campaign T-shirts." [link]
Some cruise lines will cease traveling to Antarctica after this cruise season, as a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil goes into effect next year. The ban came after a 2007 incident when a Gap Adventures ship got punctured by ice and sank, causing a mess. [link]