IN THE NEWS
4Court: Cops Too Hard on May 8 Protesters
Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) ruled that the National Police used excessive force against protesters during the May 8 presidential inauguration. Rallying on the outskirts of La Sabana Park, hundreds of demonstrators carried signs for popular causes such as ending open-pit gold mining. The judges said police officers overreacted by grabbing the protesters in headlocks and using nightsticks. The protests might have drawn more support, but prominent activists called off an environmentalist rally to respect the transfer of powers that day.
4Next Vote: Gay Marriage?
After a drawn-out fight by same-sex couples to gain the same rights as heterosexual marriages, gays could finally get their plight onto the national agenda with a possible public referendum in December. Supreme Elections Tribunal President Luis Antonio Sobrado told reporters Wednesday that all that’s needed for the vote is a petition with 135,000 signatures. The referendum, to coincide with December’s national mayoral elections, was announced as a gay union bill withers in the Legislative Assembly. Christian groups have fought the move, calling it an affront to Costa Rican values. President Laura Chinchilla also has expressed unfavorable views on homosexuality. Her predecessor, President Oscar Arias, made remarks in support of gay rights just before leaving office.
4Forced to Run with FARC
The Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), are allegedly using Panamanian indigenous people to haul drugs through the dense jungles of the Central American nation’s southern Darien province. “They say: ‘You die, or you take us,’” tribal leader Betanio Chiquidama, who represents the Embera and Wounaan in Darien, told Reuters newswire. Security analysts stress that traffickers are increasingly using Central America as a corridor amid a clampdown in Colombia and Mexico. Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli pledged to improve security with new bases built to combat drug trafficking, including one in Darien.
4Ortega Wants to Dissolve Congress?
In an impromptu meeting with private sector leaders at 11 p.m., Wednesday, May 26, President Daniel Ortega asked for “permission to dissolve congress” and install a new “popular government.” The proposal seemed to be in half-jest, and drew nervous laughter and sidelong glances from those attending. Since several of Ortega’s allies in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) have made similar moves, Ortega’s intentions may be genuine; he’s held similar meetings in the past to gauge reactions to other ideas. Pundits have speculated for some time that Ortega is trying to lead the country into a major crisis in order to justify dissolving the National Assembly – the only branch of government he doesn’t control.