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NORTH AMERICA / LATIN AMERICA
In brief
Latinamerica Press
2/29/2016
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Cuba, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru

On Feb.16, Cuba and the United States signed an agreement to resume commercial flights between the two countries, five decades after flights were suspended. Although there is still no date for the arrival of the first flight, US airlines can now compete to meet travel demand currently fulfilled by charter flights. The agreement, established as part of the resumption of diplomatic relations announced in December 2014, provides for about 20 daily flights between US cities and Cuba. However, the US government must lift the ban to US citizens to travel to Cuba due to the trade embargo imposed on the island since the 60’s.

As part of the negotiations between the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to reach a peace agreement, both sides pledged to provide information that could help find the disappeared persons during the armed conflict. The number of disappeared could be more than 100,000. The Attorney General’s Office said on Feb. 22 that there are about 2,300 unidentified remains in five cemeteries in the Eastern Plains region that includes the departments of Arauca, Casanare, Meta and Vichada. According to the Attorney General’s Office, in the cemeteries of La Macarena there are 464 bodies — of which 160 were already exhumed —, 617 bodies in Villavicencio and 571 bodies in San José del Guaviare.

Hundreds of indigenous people in Guatemala commemorated on Feb. 5 the victims of the armed conflict between government forces and the insurgent Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) that ravaged the country between 1960 and 1996. Outside the headquarters of the Judicial Branch in Guatemala City, the indigenous held a Mayan ceremony to mark the National Day of Dignity for the Victims of the Internal Armed Conflict, established in 2004. This December will be 20 years since the signing of the Peace Accords, which ended the internal war that left some 250,000 people dead or disappeared, mostly indigenous people.

Subcomandante Marcos, spokesman of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and one of the visible leaders of the insurrection of Jan. 1, 1994, in Chiapas, state in southern Mexico, was freed of criminal charges against him. A Chiapas court decreed on Feb. 22 the expiration of the statute of limitations on charges against Marcos — who in 2014 changed his name to Subcomandante Galeano — and 12 EZLN members, who were charged with sedition, mutiny, rebellion, terrorism and conspiracy. The statute of limitations expired 21 years after his arrest was ordered.

The rupture of the North Peruvian oil pipeline caused the spill of more than 3,000 barrels of oil in the northeast of Peru, in two events that occurred on Jan. 25 and Feb. 3 in the departments of Loreto and Amazonas. The spills polluted tributaries of the Marañón River, one of the Amazon’s major tributaries. A third spill occurred on Feb. 17 in Jaén, Cajamarca, during maintenance on the same pipeline. According to the Agency for Assessment and Environmental Control, the spills were caused by the deterioration of the pipeline, which is owned by state-owned oil company Petroperu. The Ministry of Health declared a state of emergency in six districts where about 8,000 people live, mostly indigenous people of the Amazonia.


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