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Latin America Roundup -- April 25

April 25, 2008 |  9:05 am

Cafta Guatemala accused in CAFTA labor complaint

Guatemalan and U.S. labor groups filed a complaint Wednesday with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that Guatemala had failed to uphold its own labor laws as required under the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The complaint alleges that, despite provisions in the pact requiring workers' rights to be protected, Guatemalan trade unionists have been threatened, fired and even assassinated -- including a union official who was shot dead in front of his young children last year, Marla Dickerson writes.

Photo: Farm workers march in Guatemala City last week. Rodrigo Abd / Associated Press

Hopes of finding ballooning Brazilian priest fade

Rescue workers were losing hope Thursday of finding a priest who disappeared off the southern coast of Brazil after drifting out to sea four days ago suspended from hundreds of helium-filled party balloons. Father Adelir Antonio de Carli went missing Sunday night after he called friends from his mobile phone to say his contraption made of some thousand balloons would soon crash into the Atlantic Ocean. Here's the story.

Hundreds riot at L.A. detention center for illegal immigrants

L.A. County sheriff's officials are looking into a gang-related "melee" that broke out Tuesday at the Lancaster Mira Loma Detention Center. Two detainees were badly injured, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Anna Gorman write. The riot involved hundreds of immigration detainees at a county-run facility that houses more than 900 people in Lancaster. Guards had to use tear gas grenades to restore order, authorities said Thursday.

Illegal immigration issues roil Iowa town

Marshalltown Marshalltown, where a quarter of residents are Latino, is seeing rising anti-immigrant sentiments, especially after a deadly car crash involving a woman in the country illegally, P.J. Huffstutter writes.

"Every day, I struggle not to be angry," says Ramona Kilborn, 59, who suffered a broken rib and other injuries in the accident. "All I can think is that my mother would likely still be alive if the immigration laws would have been enforced."

Photo: Ramona Kilborn and husband Merrell were injured and her mother was killed in the accident. Matthew Putney / For The Times.

Blood Weed

Would softening drug laws alleviate or worsen drug violence in the U.S. and Mexico? Charles "Cully" Stimson and Jacob Sullum debate.

Charles "Cully" Stimson argues that legalizing all drugs would not "alleviate" drug violence. But it may change the nature of the violence -- likely for the worse. Jacob Sullum, on the other hand, argues that violent disputes simply aren’t common in industries that sell legal substances such as alcohol.

Want to have your say? Click here.

Guillermo_del_toro_and_peter_jackso Guillermo del Toro to direct 'The Hobbit' and sequel

It's been rumored for ages, but now it's official. Peter Jackson and the production team behind "The Lord of the Rings" legacy have tapped Mexican director Guillermo del Toro to direct "The Hobbit" and its sequel, "The Hobbit 2." Deborah Netburn reports.

Photo: Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro.

Sports

Pachuca nears another CONCACAF Champions Cup

The Mexican team gets a tie in Costa Rica against Saprissa and needs only a win at home next week to advance to the FIFA World Club Cup. Pachuca of Mexico is one victory shy of successfully defending the CONCACAF Champions Cup it won last year and thereby making a return trip to the FIFA World Club Cup in Japan in December, Grahame L. Jones writes.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

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