Colombia: guerrilla attack candidate
Five people died on Sunday when the caravan of a candidate in elections for state governor was attacked by FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas. The incident happened when José Alberto Pérez Restrepo (pictured), a conservative candidate for governor of the state of Guaivirie, in the south of the country, was travelling to address a group of followers. Pérez was wounded in the leg.
Four policemen and a civilian died when the rebels ambushed the caravan. One of the policemen was killed by the guerrillas inside the vehicle he was driving, according to a local reporter. The elections have been scheduled for 28 February after the arrest of the current governor for corruption.
El Espectador (Colombia, Spanish)
Uruguay: new parliament to start work
The parliament elected during the general elections last October will start functioning this week, with the governing party, the left-wing Frente Amplio (FA), enjoying a working majority. For the first time in the history of Uruguay’s fragile democracy, two women will lead both chambers. Lucía Topolansky, the wife of President-elect José Mujica (pictured), will lead the Senate while Ivonne Passada will head the House of Deputies.
The new legislature will start working on issues such as security, education, energy and environment. The Movement for People Participation, a loose coalition that includes the FA, will have at least 50% of the votes.
Although the government party got a majority, the Colorado Party, one of the oldest political organisations in Uruguay, and the independents made significant advances. The number of deputies and senators in the hands of the opposition could make it difficult for the government to push through laws that require the endorsement of more that 50% of the members.
El Pais (Uruguay, Spanish)
Ecuador and China increase military cooperation
China has become a “strategic partner” for Ecuador, according to Ecuadorean local media.
In an interview with the Ecuadorean daily, La Hora, the chief of the general staff, General Fabián Varela, who recently visited Beijing, said that China will double its supplies of military vehicles and planes in the next few years.
Varela said that China has promised an additional US$2 million in support for the Ecuadorean armed forces so that Ecuador can increase its presence along the borders with Colombia and Peru.
La Hora (Ecuador, Spanish)
Argentinean film wins prestigious award
The Argentinian film El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret of her Eyes) has won the best Latin American film category of the Goya award, the Spanish Oscar. The film, which is also competing for an Oscar as best foreign film, was a clear favourite over the Peruvian La Teta Asustada, another Oscar nominee.
The winning film tells the story of a man who decides to retire and spend his time writing a novel about a real event that he himself witnessed. While he is researching for his book, the past catches up with him.
El Pais (Spanish)
European Union speeds up controversial agreement with Central America
Spain, which currently holds the presidency of the European Union, wants finally to clinch a trade agreement with the majority of Central American countries after two years of delays.
The negotiations were affected by the military coup in Honduras. Spain wants to end the negotiations before July, when its presidency ends. It is pointing out that the deal would give Central America access to a market of 500 million potential buyers.
The Spanish Minister for Ibero American relations, Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, said after he met outgoing Costa Rican President Oscar Arias that “we are optimistic but realistic too. (…) There are political and commercial problems but not of the kind that will prevent us signing an agreement [before July]”.
However, Latin American organisations have repeatedly criticised the agreement, saying it only benefits Europe. Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega said earlier this month that the conditions for the agreement were even more draconian than those imposed in the trade treaty between Central America and the United States (CAFCA-DR). The organisations believe that Central America will become an open market for European produce, while limitations are placed on the access to European markets for regional exports.
Ecuador: volcano increases activity
The Tungurahua volcano (pictured), in the Ecuadorean central Andes, has been increasing its activity, with 35 explosions in the last 24 hours. There have been al least 24 tremors and the mountain has been expelling gas and ashes.
The Tungurahua, located 5,000 metres above sea level, has been quite active since 1999 but no major eruptions have occurred during that period.