August 18, 2006
Prosecutors in Peru have asked a judge to charge Ollanta Humala, the losing candidate in the June 4 presidential election, with human rights violations over his role in counterinsurgency operations against Shining Path terrorists in the early 1990s. See CNN.com. Rumors about such abuses by Humala had been floating around ever since Humala became a leading opposition figure in recent years, and were a major issue in the presidential campaign. Humala's Union for Peru party (formerly led by Javier Perez de Cuellar, who used to be Secretary General of the United Nations) has more parliamentary seats than any other party. The possibility of political influence over the prosecutor's office cannot be denied, and this move may be part of an effort by Alan Garcia's Aprista party to form a legislative majority.
The Escondida copper mine in Chile, the largest privately-owned copper mine in the world, has been forced to shut down because of a labor strike now in its twelveth day. The workers are demanding a ten percent raise, less than the 13 percent they originally demanded. Given the sharp rise in the price of copper over the past year, there would seem to be ample room for management to give them most of want they want. See BBC.
Alfredo Stroessner, the former military dictator who ruled Paraguay from 1954 until he was overthrown in 1989, passed away in Brazil, having spent the last 17 years of his life in exile. See BBC. Though many credit him for stabilizing and modernizing the backward landlocked country, he probably deserves much of the blame for the culture of corruption that allowed the contraband "industry" to flourish.