Argentina: President rejects accusations of corruption
Argentina President Cristina Fernández has rejected charges that she and her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, made money using privileged information about currency exchange rates.
In a press conference, Fernández said that the real drama was that her family had lived clean lives in a corrupted country. She attacked the daily Clarin, accusing some of its owners of having laundered US$300 million.
The opposition has accused the “first couple” of having made millions on the money markets by allegedly using privileged information about exchange rates.
Fernández announced the appointment of Mercedes Marco del Pont as the new governor of the central bank. Del Pont is a loyal member of the President’s entourage.
El Pais (Spanish)
Clarin (Argentina, Spanish)
Colombia: HRW warns of re-emergence of right-wing paramilitaries
Human Rights Watch has warned that there is a new generation of far-right paramilitaries who are committing human rights abuses in the countryside.
In a report called “Paramilitary Heirs: The New Face of Violence in Colombia”, HRW said that the successors of the so-called United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, who were demobilised by the government, “regularly commit massacres, killings, forced displacement, rape, and extortion, and create a threatening atmosphere in the communities they control”.
José Miguel Vivanco, Americas, director of Human Rights Watch, said that “whatever you call these groups – whether paramilitaries, gangs, or some other name – their impact on human rights in Colombia today should not be minimized.”
Human Rights Watch
Bolivia: children abused in shelters
Many children are being abused in orphanages in Cochabamba (pictured), according to the local media. Between July 2009 and January 2010, 138 children were raped in shelters managed by evangelical churches. In just one of them, Vida Bolivia, at least 42 minors were abused.
These cases came to light after a soldier was almost lynched by a mob in the town of Sipe-Sipe. According to the local media, some former soldiers, who are in charge of the shelters, would “baptise” the newly arrived orphans and homeless children by raping them.
At the same time, the prosecutor for the city of Santa Cruz, Jaime Soliz, said that of the almost 3,000 births registered in the last weeks of 2009 were the result of rapes by close relatives. Most mothers are 19 years old or younger.
Chileans confident in economy
The election of Sebastián Piñera as President has boosted confidence in the economy, according to a poll conducted after the run off. Sixty percent of Chileans believe the economy will do well in the near future.
A poll conducted before the election concluded that 56% of Chileans had confidence in the economy. This is the highest level of confidence since 2002. Most people believe that prices will go up in the next few months but are optimistic about an increase in the employment market.
El Mercurio (Chile, Spanish)
El Niño has arrived
The Niño current, absent in Latin America for two years, has arrived once again, causing changes in weather patterns.
Bolivia has reported severe rains in the highlands, which have caused flooding that has destroyed almost 8,000 hectares of banana, potato, maize, fruit and rice crops.
At least 12 people have died since December as a result of landslides and floods.
It is also expected that the Niño phenomenon will affect Venezuela and the countries along the Pacific coast. There are fears that damage caused to agriculture will increase the prices of foodstuffs.
The Niño, which used to appear about once every six years, has increased in frequency. When it occurs, it causes devastation in South America.