Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

“Collateral damage” grows in Mexico’s army-led drug war

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I heard the bursts of gunfire near my house in Monterrey as I was showering this morning. Then the ambulance sirens started wailing, and as I drove my kids to school about 20 minutes later, a convoy of green-clad soldiers, their assault rifles at the ready, sped by us. In northern Mexico, where I cover the drug war, it has become a part of life to read about, hear and even witness shootouts, but today I shuddered at the thought: what if those soldiers accidentally ever shot at me?

MEXICO-DRUGS/DEAD

It was in February 2007 that Amnesty International raised concerns over Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s decision, two months earlier, to send thousands of troops across the country to control Mexico’s spiraling drug violence. Echoing worries voiced by the United Nations, the rights group warned that sending the army onto Mexican streets to do the job of the police was a bad idea. Even individual soldiers have commented to Reuters, off the record of course, that they feel very uncomfortable about their new role. MEXICO-DRUGS/

Back then, when there was still plenty of optimism about winning the war against drug cartels, many Mexicans brushed off concerns of rights abuses and the possible deaths of innocent bystanders. Washington praised Calderon for his bold move.

But almost four years on, it would seem Amnesty, the U.N. and a host of other rights groups were right. For the family of slain architect Fernando Osorio, who was shot dead by soldiers who mistook him for a hitman late last month, they were certainly right. Fernando, 34, was killed on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico’s richest city, as he worked on a piece of land soon due to become a housing development. “The army is committing atrocities, they destroyed my family today,” Fernando’s father Oswaldo Osorio told reporters on Oct. 28.

from Reuters Investigates:

Enter stage left — Brazil’s next president?

BRAZIL-ELECTION/ROUSSEFFNot every president has a police mugshot, but it's not so surprising in Latin America.

A special report out of Brazil today sheds new light on Dilma Rousseff, a former guerrilla leader who is likely to be elected the booming country's next president. She spent nearly three years in jail in the early 1970s and was tortured by her military captors. She's come a long way since then.

from Reuters Investigates:

Dive in, the water’s fine

Special reports are the best of the best from Reuters, and this is the place to find them. We'll be featuring investigative stories, in-depth profiles and long-form narrative stories here.

Reuters has a global Enteprise Reporting team with editors in New York, London and Singapore, drawing on the work of some 2,900 journalists in 200 bureaus around the world.

Colombian election heats up

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Just a month ago all seemed set for Juan Manuel Santos to secure Colombia’s presidency. Santos, a former defense minister for President Alvaro Uribe, is credited with some of the most successful operations against the country’s FARC guerrillas. But now Santos has a fight on his hands after the surprising surge for two-time Bogota mayor Antanas Mockus. 

COLOMBIA-ELECTION/ Known as much for his successful city administration as for his off-beat style, Mockus has won supporters with his message of clean government and continuity of Uribe’s policies. Polls now show Colombians are more concerned with bread-and-butter issues like jobs, healthcare and education than with violence from the waning war.

China’s Long March into Latin America

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A $16 billion oil deal between China and Venezuela signed this week illustrates Beijing’s growing economic might and political influence in Latin America.

Trade between the region and China has swelled from $10 billion in 2000 to more than $102 billion in 2008.

When is a coup not a coup?

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Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was seized by the military, bundled onto a plane in his pajamas and flown out of the country. The people who took over the country last Sunday say it was not a coup.

The interim government, led by Congress speaker Roberto Micheletti, argue that Zelaya’s ouster was legal as it was ordered by the Supreme Court after the president had tried to extend his four-year term in office illegally. 
 
They say he was acting unconstitutionally and had to be removed. 
 
The rest of the world seems to disagree. From U.S. President Barack Obama to arch-U.S. rival Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, world leaders have condemned Zelaya’s removal and used the term “coup.”
 
In the days before the coup, opposition leaders said they planned to impeach Zelaya over his plan to hold an unofficial public survey to gauge support for letting presidents run for re-election beyond the current one four-year term. They said a congressional committee set up to investigate Zelaya found he had violated the Central American nation’s laws and would ask Congress to declare him unfit to rule. 
 
Does one unconstitutional act justify another? In a democracy, is it ever justified for soldiers to seize a president and spirit him out of the country? Does the fact that Congress quickly elected a successor, who will serve only until presidential elections in November, make any difference?

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