Central America 21/03/11
UN Secretary General vows to support Central America against organised crime, while Guatemalans sue the US government over 1940s medical experiments.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon met with Central American leaders at a conference in Guatemala this week and promised to support the region in its fight against violence and unrest.
‘Organised crime is an international phenomenon that requires a regional response’, affirmed Ban Ki-Moon, at the meeting attended by presidents Alvaro Colom of Guatemala, Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, Porfirio Lobo of Honduras and Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize.
They met to address the wave of criminal violence that has swept Central America – much of it blamed on street gangs, with El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras particularly affected. Concern has also arisen over the increasing influence of Mexican drugs cartels, which traffic South American cocaine through the region en route to the United States.
The families of Guatemalans who were deliberately infected with syphilis in the 1940s are suing the US government for compensation. As previously reported by Pulsamérica, from 1946 to 1948 the US purposely infected some 700 Guatemalans with syphilis or gonorrhoea in clandestine medical experiments.
The Obama administration apologised when the news emerged last year, but lawyers in Guatemala say that the US government has still not established a fund to compensate the victims and their families. Last Monday these lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against US federal health officials.
Wikileaks cables published this week by La Nación detail the suspension of US aid to Costa Rica between 2004 and 2006. Costa Rica lost $40 million in annual funds as punishment for refusing to sign an agreement guaranteeing immunity to US soldiers and citizens before the International Criminal Court.
In a protest organised via Facebook, 16,000 Guatemalan citizens have voiced their opposition to the candidacy of First Lady Sandra Torres de Colom. As reported last week, Torres aims to succeed her husband in the forthcoming presidential elections.
The press in El Salvador are eagerly anticipating the arrival of Barack Obama, who began his ‘symbolic’ Latin American tour in Brazil on Saturday. Due to arrive in El Salvador on Tuesday, Obama aims to restore Washington’s regional influence and pacify the anti-American sentiment espoused by leftist leaders like Hugo Chávez.
Finally, an Aeroméxico flight from Costa Rica to Mexico was cancelled last week because the two pilots were allegedly drunk. The flight was delayed for nearly 24 hours while the airline sent replacements for the two inebriated airmen.