On his first visit to Latin America, President Barack Obama has scheduled a visit to Rio de Janeiro’s most famous ‘favela,’ or shantytown, Cidade de Deus, a nod to the city’s recent efforts to quell criminal activity in these poor neighborhoods. At Americas Quarterly, contributing blogger Jason Marczak has a report on some of the NGOs and social advocacy groups active in Mare, another one of Rio’s larger favelas. The magazine has more analysis about what awaits Obama during his first trip to Latin America, including what kind of influence could Japan’s current nuclear disaster could exert during the stopover in Chile. In an Op-Ed, Obama said energy and economy are the top issues for the trip but discussions over security policy may take precedent once Obama arrives in Brazil on Saturday, and later El Salvador on March 22.
La Jornada has published another U.S. State Department cable obtained from WikiLeaks, which alleges that security boss Julian Leyzaola’s crackdown on crime in Tijuana was partly succesful because he “came to an agreement” with one faction of the Tijuana Cartel, a.k.a. the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO). According to the cable, dated July 14, 2009, under the reported “pact” Leyzaola focused police efforts on persecuting one break-away faction of the Tijuana Cartel, led by Eduardo Teodoro Garcia Simental, alias ‘El Teo.’ “It is tempting to see Leyzaola as the good guy fighting the corrupting influence of the drug cartels, and he does indeed seem intent on modernizing the Tijuana police force, and no one has suggested that Leyzaloa himself is corrupt,” the cable states. “Unfortunately, though, the picture is a bit murkier.” Leyzaola is a retired military colonel who last week assumed the post of top security director in Juarez.
El Tiempo reports on what appears to be another routine confiscation of a weapons cache belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – FARC), except the 40,000 AK-47 cartridges, a ton of explosive material and 197 uniforms were all apparently traced to Venezuela. The goods were found in the department of Arauca, which borders Venezuela and is a stronghold for both the FARC and the National Liberation Army (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional – ELN).
El Nuevo Dia of Puerto Rico has a report about which ten municipalities have the country’s highest homicide rates, reaching levels that haven’t been seen in the past 30 years, according to the newspaper. The numbers appear to be inflated, however, due to low population in many of the surveyed areas.