UNITED STATES: Unidentified White House officials have been covertly meeting with Venezuelan military rebels over the past year, sitting in on discussions about staging a coup and removing President Nicolás Maduro from power, the New York Times revealed. The Venezuelan military and others from the Latin American security apparatus that have been in conversation with White House officials are on the U.S. sanction list or have been accused of torturing critics, jailing political dissidents, being involved in the drug trade or collaborating with the Colombian FARC rebels, among other things.
President Maduro seemingly knew nothing about the confidential meetings, and in response to the disclosure, the White House National Security Council spokesman stressed that the U.S. prefers a peaceful “restoration of governance by democratic parties.” The U.S. has a long history of intervention in the coups, rebellions and military regimes in the Latin American region.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
MEXICO: On September 6, a gang called “La Línea” staged an attack on the State Security Commission stationed in the town of El Nogal in the Chihuahua highlands just as officers returned from arresting three gang suspects. The ambush resulted in 10 casualties, four state police officers dead and six wounded. La Línea works for the Juárez drug cartel which has spread to other parts of Chihuahua from its base in the border city of Ciudad Juárez.
VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES: The parliament sent three bills for review that promote the establishment of a medical marijuana industry, pending approval from the executive. The bills were endorsed by Saboto Caesar, the archipelago’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, who seeks to decriminalize marijuana and grant amnesty to individuals who had been cultivating it in the islands. After receiving a first reading at Parliament last week, the three bills have now been sent to a select committee that includes Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.
COSTA RICA: An electric bicycle rental system might be launched in Costa Rica, making it the first Central American nation with such service. SGSV, the company that presented the proposal of the project during the Smart City Congress organized by the Costa Rican Electricity Institute, expects to start with close to 40 stations in capital city San José. Monthly membership is expected to be around USD 5-7. Celebrated for its environmental policy around the world, Costa Rica intends to become a carbon-neutral state by 2021.
COLOMBIA-VENEZUELA: Over fifty members of the indigenous group Yukpa returned to Venezuela yesterday night through Plan Vuelta a la Patria or Return to the Motherland. Over 1,600 migrants have returned to Venezuela since the plan was launched. The Yukpa people had been at the Colombian border for four months, with some of the members having faced deportation twice now. The group has tried to obtain a bi-national status (Colombia-Venezuela) for months, to little avail. To further their crisis, Venezuelan authorities don’t recognize their status as an Indigenous tribe.
ECUADOR: The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague has ruled in favor of Chevron in a long-standing oil dumping dispute that dates back to 1993, when some 30,000 local residents from the Lago Agrio region in the Amazon sued Texaco—who was later acquired by Chevron. Ecuador is expected to pay an undecided amount in damages back to Chevron in an arrangement to be made over the next 90 days. The Hague ruling considered Ecuador violated a U.S. treaty when it allowed a USD 9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in 2011.
CHILE: Chileans remember the human losses from the Pinochet dictatorship, as this week brings the 45-year mark of the military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende from power. Thousands of families, activists and musicians gathered yesterday in the capital and marched towards the Detained, Disappeared and the Executed Memorial in the Central Cemetery. The demonstrations happened in the midst of a strong rejection to Chile’s Supreme Court decision from August 1 that gave conditional freedom to seven human rights violators from the Pinochet-era.
GOT NEWS? Send the editors tips, articles and other items for inclusion in Today in Latin America to firstname.lastname@example.org.