Central America Theater

Guatemalan drug czar busted

Guatemala's anti-drug chief and two of his senior officials were arrested Nov. 16 on charges of conspiring to import and distribute cocaine in the United States. The Guatemalan government assisted in the investigation but the arrests were an embarrassment for President Oscar Berger, who has tried to clean up the country's image as corrupt.


from Weekly News Update on the Americas


More than a thousand people are feared dead in flooding and mudslides in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas as a result of Hurricane Stan, which hit the region on Oct. 4. Heavy rains continued in some areas at least until Oct. 8. The worst destruction was in western Guatemala, where at least 652 people were reported dead and 384 missing as of Oct. 10; whole indigenous communities were buried by mudslides in Solola and San Marcos departments. Another 133 people died in Mexico and the rest of Central America. Observers attributed much of the devastation to deforestation, and noted that poverty forces poor campesinos to live in vulnerable areas.

U.S. threatens to tighten noose on Nicaragua

On his October 4 visit to Nicaragua, US deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick met with President Enrique Bolaños and other senior officials to discuss the country's ongoing political crisis. Speaking with reporters in Managua, Zoellick warned of stark consequences if an opposition alliance succeeds in ousting Bolaños.


from Weekly News Update on the Americas

Shortly before flying to his Texas ranch for a month-long vacation, on Aug. 2 US President George W. Bush signed the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) into law, following a 19-month effort to get the controversial measure approved by Congress. So far, the legislatures of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the US have approved it; Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua have not yet ratified. "CAFTA is more than a trade bill," Bush said at the White House signing ceremony. "It is a commitment among freedom-loving nations to advance peace and prosperity throughout the region." (Bloomberg News, Washington Times, Aug. 2)

Echoes of war haunt Nicaragua

1980s nostalgia fans should enjoy the political battle which is heating up in Nicaragua, even if the sides are more confused this time around. Hopefully, the situation will not come to armed conflict this time, but echoes of the war that rocked the country 20 years ago are being raised.


from Weekly News Update on the Americas


According to a report issued July 20 by the Emerging Inter-Institutional Mission, a collaboration of 11 human rights organizations and local governments in northern Ecuador, the Colombian Armed Forces violated Ecuadoran air space and territory in Sucumbios province on June 24 and 25. The incidents took place as rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) attacked an army post in Teteye, in the southern Colombian department of Putumayo, killing 22 soldiers. According to Alexis Ponce, president of the Latin American Human Rights Association (ALDHU), a member of the military revealed that nearly 20 Colombian soldiers in civilian clothes entered Ecuador "with weapons to see what the situation was like."

Nicaraguan president plugs CAFTA, faces impeachment

"Twenty years ago this summer," the vile Otto Reich writes for the July 18 National Review, "Washington’s hottest debate centered on the Contras’ war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua — and how to keep the nations of Central America from falling into the hands of Marxist terrorists or right-wing death squads. It was the equivalent of today’s Iraq debate. The eventual victory of freedom in Nicaragua came at a cost of tens of thousands of lives — and it is now in jeopardy. The hard Left in Latin America has learned its lessons: It is no longer trying to gain power by force, because it fears (with just cause) the unmatched power of the United States and the willingness of recent Republican presidents to use it in the defense of freedom; it is therefore resorting to political warfare to regain power, and one of its battlefields is again Nicaragua."


from Weekly News Update on the Americas


On June 30 the US Senate voted 54-45 to approve the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), a pact largely eliminating tariffs on about $32 billion in annual trade between Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the US. Also on June 30, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee voted 30-11 to send the measure to the full House for a vote. The House debate will probably start on July 11, when Congress returns from its Independence Day recess.

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