Latin America News Roundup: 23rd December 2013

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Augusto Pinochet and his wife Lucía Hiriart (photo: Chilean Congress Library)

Agusto Pinochet and his wife Lucía Hiriart (photo: Chilean Congress Library)

Chile: In a historic verdict, eight former members of the Chilean military were today convicted of the killing of 14 people in the so-called ‘Caravan of Death’ in 1973, during the first months of Agusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. They are the first to be convicted of crimes linked to the Caravan, which saw up to 100 people killed by a military death squad that travelled the country in the weeks following Pinochet’s coup, rounding up dissidents and assassinating them. The eight were sentenced to between three and 15 years depending on their role in the killings, which took place on 19th October 1973 in Antofagasta. The judge also ordered reparations of 100m Chilean pesos (US$190,000) for the mothers and widows of the victims and 50m Chilean pesos (US$95,000) for each of the children.

Colombia: A Washington Post report released yesterday has revealed how the CIA secretly aided the Colombian government in its fight against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), providing help in the tracking and killing of at least two dozen FARC leaders with the use of GPS tracking and smart bombs. All have been killed since 11th September 2001, as part of the so-called ‘War on Terror’. The revelations came as a result of over 30 interviews conducted by the newspaper with former and current Colombian and US intelligence and military officials. The interviews also confirmed the role of the US in providing the Colombian Air Force with the smart bombs that were launched across the border into Ecuador to kill Raul Reyes, a senior FARC leader, in March 2008.

Paraguay: Prosecutors in Paraguay have confirmed they are investigating former president Federico Franco and his wife, the senator Emilia Alfaro, for corruption. The accusations are related to irregularities in the administration of the bi-national hydroelectric dam, Itaipú, and the also over the rigging of contract bids, with the brothers Aldo and Atilio Alegre, friends of Franco and the First Lady, named in particular. Franco was president of the nation for just over a year after the so-called “parliamentary coup” that led to the removal of his predecessor Fernando Lugo.

Brazil: Twenty people have died and almost 50,000 have been displaced after the worst rains in over 30 years led to flooding in the south-eastern state of Espírito-Santo. Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, who is due to visit the affected area tonight, declared a state of emergency in the state, and said that the government had “mobilised” to assist the 47 municipalities currently under water.

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