ARGENTINA: Authorities announced on Sunday that Diego Maradona’s doctor is under investigation to establish if there was negligence in the football legend’s treatment. Argentine police searched Leopoldo Luque’s home on Sunday and seized some medical records, computers, hard drives and cellphones. The Associated Press reported that Luque, who was part of Maradona’s medical team, defended his treatment of the former footballer, crying as he spoke. Maradona died at the age of 60 from a heart attack last Wednesday.
Maradona became an idol after he led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, and he was also revered in Italy where he helped Napoli win two Serie A titles. Argentina declared three days of national mourning, between last Thursday and Saturday. Thousands lined up on Thursday to visit Maradona’s casket in the presidential mansion Casa Rosada, until the event broke up into chaos and led to clashes between the police and the crowds. The Argentine league restarted on Saturday with a tribute to the football great. Maradona was a fervent supporter of Latin America’s leftist movements and cultivated relationships with Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.
HEADLINES FROM THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
CHILE: The Senate approved on November 26 the proposal of President Sebastián Piñera’s government allowing for a second pension withdrawal to help mitigate the economic effects of coronavirus pandemic. The opposition had submitted a proposal for a second pension withdrawal via constitutional reform, which Piñera pledged to take to the country’s constitutional court. The president then proposed his own plan, which caps withdrawals at 150 Chilean Unit of Account (around $5,666) and includes the payment of a tax to withdraw. The proposal is expected to cause more protests. The pension withdrawal is expected to put $18 billion in the hands of over 10 million Chileans.
VENEZUELA: A judge convicted six Citgo oil executives to prison for alleged corruption last Thursday. The five executives who are U.S. citizens received an eight year sentence while the sole U.S. permanent resident received a 13-year sentence. U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and the executives’ families condemned the convictions and requested that they be returned to the United States. The executives flew to Caracas in 2017 for what they thought was a budget meeting but were surprised by military police and sent to jail. Citgo is part of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company, PDVSA.
CUBA: Over 200 artists, activists and intellectuals protested in front of the Cuban Ministry of Culture on Friday. By the late evening, Vice Minister Fernando Rojas and other officials met with the protesters and agreed to talks, assuring protesters that the government would respect independent art. The protest came one day after police evicted a group of young artists and independent journalists from the San Isidro Movement’s headquarters in Havana, who were on a hunger strike that began after one of the movement’s members, rapper Denis Solís, was arrested for allegedly having “ties to terrorists” in Florida.
EL SALVADOR: Hundreds of gang members were paraded in handcuffs in front of reporters on Saturday in a show of force by President Nayib Bukele’s administration after a one-week U.S.-backed raid called “Operation Regional Shield” led to the arrests of hundreds of suspected criminals throughout El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. El Salvador led the arrests in the three Central American countries, with a total of 572 detentions as of Friday. Prosecutors in El Salvador obtained warrants for 1,152 suspects in total, primarily MS-13 and 18th Street Gangs members. Most face charges including extortion, kidnapping and murder. Displaying detainees to the press is a tactic used before by Bukele, who faced criticism in April after publishing photos of almost naked jailed gang members, packed tightly together in human chains amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
HONDURAS: Former President Manuel Zelaya was detained on Friday at the country’s Toncontín International Airport for eight hours after attempting to fly to Mexico via Houston, Texas, while carrying $18,000 in undeclared cash. Zelaya said the money was not his, saying that, “obviously, someone must have put it in my belongings.” Zelaya called for an investigation into who put the money into his luggage, suggesting that the money was planted to have him detained in the United States on his layover. Dozens of supporters gathered outside the airport to demand that Zelaya, leader of the leftist Liberty and Refoundation party, be released, leading to clashes between the National Police and the protesters.
#RCVNoticias 🚨ÚLTIMA HORA🚨
Se reportan protestas en el aeropuerto Toncontín, simpatizantes del expresidente Manuel Zelaya Rosales, indignados por su detención. pic.twitter.com/0QrY0kJ3N1
— Radio Cadena Voces (@RCVHonduras) November 28, 2020
MEXICO: A federal judge in Toluca issued an arrest warrant against jailed former Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna for illicit enrichment after prosecutors documented real estate in his possession valued at 27 million pesos (USD $1.4 million), the origin of which cannot be accounted for. The warrant opens the possibility for Mexico to request that García Luna be extradited from the United States, where he has been locked up on cocaine trafficking charges since U.S. federal agents arrested him in Dallas in December. Federal prosecutors from the Eastern District of New York say that he accepted millions of dollars in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for allowing the cartel to operate freely. Under the terms of the extradition treaty between the two countries, García Luna could be extradited to Mexico only after he is acquitted or finishes serving his sentence in the United States.
MEXICO: As COVID-19 cases are rising in Mexico City, the capital is moving closer to the “red” alert level, which would trigger another suspension of non-essential activities. But in the city’s historic center, the streets are still crowded with vendors and Christmas shoppers, and laws banning the sale of alcohol on weekends are being ignored. To address the problem, the city will remove around 11,000 street vendors from the popular areas of La Lagunilla, Tepito and other parts of the center on Mondays, Tuesdays and Sundays for the rest of the year. All other vendors in the center will not be allowed to operate after 5 p.m.
UNITED STATES: Outgoing President Donald Trump is racing to finish work on the wall at the United States border with Mexico, a central promise of his campaign, before leaving office. The president’s goal is to complete 450 miles of wall by the end of 2020. A little over 400 miles had been completed as of mid-November. President-elect Joe Biden has promised that he will stop construction as soon as he is inaugurated on January 20. But his advisors indicated to The New York Times that it is unlikely the new administration will tear down any existing barriers. Rather, Biden plans to focus on relaxing immigration restrictions in other ways.