Likely top stories this week: U.S. legislators make a last push for immigration reform; Correa visits Bolivia; The Colombian defense minister travels to Panama; Juan Manuel Santos declines help from Jesse Jackson; a Chilean general involved in the “Caravan of Death” commits suicide.
Renewed Push for Immigration Reform in U.S. House of Representatives: Despite a looming government shutdown, House Democratic leaders said last week that they plan to introduce a comprehensive immigration bill similar to the one passed in the Senate in June. Meanwhile, some House Republicans have been working on a series of bills that would address individual aspects of immigration reform, such as border security, the legal status of young undocumented immigrants and the creation of a low-skilled worker visa program. Immigration reform advocates are expected to participate in rallies across over 80 U.S. cities on October 5, and to converge on Washington DC on October 8 to demand a vote on comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.
Correa to Visit Bolivia, Morales to Visit Argentina: The Bolivian government confirmed Sunday that Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa will visit Bolivia this week, while Bolivian President Evo Morales is scheduled to visit Argentina the following week. Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said that he will receive Correa on Thursday, October 3, and will discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations. Correa last visited Bolivia on July 4, and Morales returned the visit to Ecuador on July 23.
Colombian Defense Minister Begins Seven-Country Tour: Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón will begin a seven-nation tour this week to discuss security with Central American and Caribbean leaders. On Monday, he will meet with Panamanian Security Minister José Raúl Mulino to discuss security along the countries’ shared border and in the jungles of the Darién Gap, where the FARC’s “Frente 57” has been active. Pinzón’s trip will conclude on October 4, after visits to Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Santos Refuses Jesse Jackson’s Offer to Mediate Hostage Release: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos declined an offer from U.S. civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday to help mediate the release of a U.S. marine held hostage by the FARC since June. While in Cuba on Saturday, Jackson said that he was willing to help mediate the release of Afghanistan war veteran Kevin Scott Sutay, who was kidnapped on a trek to the Venezuelan border. The FARC invited Jackson to participate in the negotiations in a statement on Saturday after Jackson called for Sutay’s release. However, Santos has said that he will only allow the Red Cross to receive Sutay.
Chilean General Who Served Pinochet Commits Suicide: Eighty-seven year-old former general Odlanier Mena fatally shot himself this Saturday, a day before he was scheduled to return to a military prison where he is serving a six-year jail term. Mena was found guilty of involvement in the “Caravan of Death,” a military operation that rounded up and murdered at least 100 Chileans across the country opposed to Pinochet’s 1973 coup. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera had announced plans to close the Cordillera military prison, where inmates had access to a tennis court, gardens, and a barbecue area, and Mena’s lawyer said that the general was upset by the proposed move.