Weekly News Update on the Americas
There were celebrations in Mexico City's downtown Alameda park on March 4 as 31 same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses at the Civil Registry on the nearby Arcos de Belén avenue under a new law that took effect that day in the Federal District (DF). The DF legislature passed the law on Dec. 21, making Mexico City the first city in Latin America to recognize same-sex marriages.
The Latin America and Caribbean Unity Summit, a two-day meeting of 32 regional leaders in Cancún, Mexico, ended on Feb. 23 with an agreement that included the formation of a new hemispheric organization, provisionally named the "Community of Latin American and Caribbean States." The leaders made plans for further meetings, in Venezuela in July 2011 and in Chile in 2012, to continue discussing the mechanics of the new group and to establish its final name.
On Feb. 19 Fourth District judge Rodolfo Pedraza Longhi, in Querétaro, capital of the central Mexican state of Querétaro, upheld a 21-year prison sentence for two indigenous women charged with kidnapping six agents of the now-defunct Federal Investigation Agency (AFI). The two women—Teresa González Cornelio and Alberta Alcántara Juan—had been charged in connection with a March 26, 2006 incident in the market in Santiago Mexquititlán community, Amealco de Bonfil municipality, which the AFI agents raided in an unsuccessful search for pirated DVDs.
Thousands of Guatemalan public school teachers blocked roads on Feb. 22 to push their demand for the government of President of Alvaro Colom to give them a 16% pay raise this year. According to Joviel Acevedo, head of the 80,000-member National Teachers Assembly (ANM), the protesters obstructed highways connecting Guatemala with Honduras, El Salvador and México, and blocked roads accessing Guatemala City. Amilcar Montejo of the Municipal Transit Police (PMT) told reporters the blockages had caused chaos in various routes leading to the center of the capital. A group of unionists including Acevedo occupied the Education Ministry (Mineduc).
Meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Jan. 24-29 for the 10th annual World Social Forum, 24 Latin American social organizations issued a statement denouncing what they called a "new, aggressive escalation of imperialism." The groups charged that there is an "expansion of the US military presence in the region" that "seeks, in addition to intimidating the political transformation processes in the region, to position [US] military force in strategic areas of great natural wealth."