- - Monday, November 7, 2011


Ex-general wins presidential election

GUATEMALA CITY — In the end, Guatemala’s electoral tradition and weariness with crime trumped rising enthusiasm for a youthful populist.

Guatemalans once again have elected the presidential candidate who lost the previous election, something they have done since democracy returned to the Central American country in 1986.

Retired general and former intelligence director Otto Perez Molina of the conservative Patriotic Party won an easy and early victory on Sunday in a runoff against tycoon-turned-political-populist Manuel Baldizon of the Democratic Freedom Revival party. Mr. Perez won by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.

Voters were drawn to Mr. Perez’s “iron-fist” approach to rampant crime in a country overrun by gangs and Mexican drug cartels and with one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

President Alvaro Colom had to send the military to various parts of the country in the past six months to regain control from the drug gangs.

“The first order of business will be to lower the levels of violence and insecurity that we’re living [with], and work with Congress to improve the federal budget,” Mr. Perez said after his victory, touching on the country’s other major problem.

Guatemala has one of lowest tax rates in the world, raising little money for schools, roads or other improvements that would help lift the country out of poverty.

More than half of Guatemala’s 14 million people live below the poverty line. The establishment traditionally has fought hard against raising taxes.


Military captured key drug cartel figure

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican military Monday said it has detained the principle lieutenant in the Arellano Felix cartel that controlled drug trafficking in Tijuana for two decades.

Army spokesman Col. Ricardo Trevilla said 34-year-old Juan Francisco Sillas Rocha was captured in the border city across from San Diego, Calif.

Mr. Sillas allegedly reported directly to Fernando Sanchez Arellano, a nephew of the original Arellano Felix brothers who now runs the gang, Col. Trevilla said.

Mr. Sillas was supposed to take on the Sinaloa Cartel in 2008, when Mexico’s most powerful drug gang stepped up efforts to take over Tijuana routes, Col Trevilla said.

That battle is partly to blame for the spike in Tijuana violence between 2007 and 2009.


Police search for man who shot reporter in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO — Police in Rio de Janeiro are searching for the gunman who shot a Brazilian journalist to death as he covered an anti-drug-trafficking operation.

Homicide division chief Felipe Ettore said Monday that the shooter might be among the nine people arrested or the four suspects killed during Sunday’s operation. Mr. Ettore said police are looking for clues in video taken by 46-year-old Gelson Domingos da Silva.

Mr. Silva was shot in the chest while covering a police incursion into the Antares slum in Rio’s west side for the Bandeirantes channel.


Anti-Chavez TV appeals hefty fine

CARACAS — Venezuela’s last major opposition television channel appealed a $2 million-plus fine to Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Monday, saying the penalty imposed by government regulators might force it to cut back news coverage or drive it into bankruptcy.

A large crowd including opposition politicians, university students and government opponents accompanied Globovision’s attorneys to the court, where they asked judges to annul the ruling.

“The fine is impossible to pay and seriously compromises the channel’s stability and normal functioning,” said Ricardo Antela, one of Globovision’s lawyers.

The government telecommunications agency says it fined Globovision because the channel presented misleading coverage that fomented violence during a prison uprising that pitted armed inmates against National Guard troops in June.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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