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In the middle of ongoing discussions about the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Colombia, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing yesterday, February 12, 2009, on one of the pressing issues regarding the FTA: the rising violence against union labor leaders in Colombia. Although the topic of yesterday’s hearing was not specifically about the FTA, the issue was brought up on several occasions by Committee members. The majority of the witnesses who testified agreed that the issue of violence against union labor leaders must be addressed before the FTA is...

Today, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy presented its main findings on the limits and unwanted effects of the 'war on drugs' in Latin America over the past 30 years. The Commission was headed by former Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia), and Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico) and includes 17 independent members. According to today's declaration, the anti-drug strategy pursued in the region over the past 30 years has failed and the...

Increasingly, major U.S. news sources are covering the rapidly spreading violence in Mexico's border towns and throughout the country. Today, it made the front page of the Washington Post after a Mexican general, along with his bodyguard and his driver, was tortured and killed in Cancun last week. He had been there less than one week, recently recruited by Cancun's Mayor to "train...

While last week we speculated about what would happen if the drug cartels in Mexico actually reached a truce, this week's news coverage on Mexico remains grim. According to El Universal, 508 people were killed in drug-related violence in January 2009 alone - more than double the amount of deaths in January 2008. An article in Sunday's Washington Post cites the increasing...

The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that warring drug-trafficking gangs in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa may have declared a truce in December. The result is a sudden drop in the narco-fueled violence that claimed more than 5,000 lives across Mexico last year.

After a record year of bloodshed, killings have dropped by two-thirds from the December level in the state of Sinaloa, the historic center of Mexican drug trafficking,

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Recently, the growing presence of Russia and Iran in Latin America - especially in left-wing governments such as Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia - has elicited some concern in the United States. Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave his opinion on Russia and Iran's role in Latin America at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on challenges the Defense Department faces. Below are excerpts of Secretary Gates' answer to Senator Mel Martinez's question on the subject from the Voice of America article...

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