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Latin America Roundup - April 19/20

April 20, 2008 | 10:51 am

Migrants_send_less_money_home The U.S. economic downturn and beefed-up border control have meant hard times for many Mexicans who depend on remittances from the north, reports Ken Ellingwood. The developments have produced worry and deep uncertainty in towns such as Tejaro, a farming community of 4,200 where pickup trucks bear license plates from Nevada and Minnesota. Virtually every family here has sent relatives across the border, usually illegally and often to the same few U.S. destinations.

Picture: Lilia Acevedo works at a hardware store in Tejaro, Mexico, whose business has been hurting. Sarah Meghan Lee / For The Times

Fred Garza has been patrolling a piece of the Rio Grande for 16 years, usually riding solo on horseback, sometimes venturing to areas where his radio and cellular phone have limited range. But Garza isn't looking for drug smugglers, human traffickers or illegal immigrants. He's looking for stray livestock that might be carrying a tick with a deadly disease into the United States, reports the Associated Press.

Five high-ranking retired navy officers were indicted in Chile on Friday for the abduction, torture and killing a British-Chilean priest and other dissidents in the days after Chile's 1973 military coup. The priest, Michael Woodward, was taken into custody by security forces in the port city of Valparaiso on Sept. 16, 1973, five days after the coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power, says the Associated Press.

Fernando_lugo_2 The leading presidential candidate in Paraguay, Fernando Lugo (pictured) is seen as an agent of change by supporters and as a leftist fanatic by critics, writes Patrick J. McDonnell.

Tiny, landlocked Paraguay, still recovering from the stultifying legacy of the 35-year dictatorship of Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, will cast ballots Sunday to elect a new president. The stunning emergence of Lugo, a former Roman Catholic bishop, as the leading presidential candidate has turned the place upside down. Picture: Jorge Saenz, Associated Press

Michael_chertoffHomeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff (pictured) is the point man for White House efforts to stop illegal immigration. He has an ambitious agenda -- and a stubborn streak to match. Nicole Gaouette spent some time with the man in Tuscon. Picture: Ken Cedeno / Bloomberg News

At the heart of the debate over whether the Los Angeles Police Department's Special Order 40 should be revised is a call for closer cooperation between cops on the street and federal immigration authorities, writes Monica Varsanyi in Opinion.

Since 1979, when the policy went into effect, L.A. police officers have purposely stayed clear of enforcing immigration law. The reason seems obvious: In a city with growing immigrant populations, especially Latino, noncitizens must feel confident that they can come forward and inform cops when a crime is committed, or act as witnesses, without fear of deportation.

Immigrant rights activist Angelica Salas was one of more than 80 people at the "Nation of Immigrants" Passover Seder held this month by the local Anti-Defamation League at Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

"The singing, the poems and the prayers by others were really welcoming, and even if you weren't Jewish, you really felt welcome. And even if this isn't your faith and your tradition, there was a message," said Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. Ari B. Bloomekatz reports on how the Passover meal is helping to build bonds between communities.

Agustin Gurza tells us how to enjoy Cinco de Mayo, or May 5, an annual Mexican holiday, in style in East Los Angeles. "To avoid the Cinco syndrome, here are a few offbeat alternatives offering more refined aspects of Mexican culture in more intimate settings. What better way to celebrate the defeat of the French than with good food, fine wine and sophisticated music, all with a Mexican twist?" he writes.