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5 Things to know this week from Latin America & Caribbean: Ecuadorian president disbands the legislature, Mexican active volcano alert rises

Ecuador’s president dismisses legislature as it tries to oust him

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso dismissed the legislature when armed soldiers surrounded the National Assembly in Quito on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. Lasso had been locked in a showdown with legislators who wanted to impeach him for not stopping a deal between the state-owned oil transport company and a private tanker company.

Lasso denies the accusations and said that the oil deal predated his administration. After disbanding the National Assembly, Lasso can now govern for up to six months by decree under the oversight of Ecuador’s Constitutional Court.

By disbanding the National Assembly, Lasso made the first use of a constitutional resource called “crossed death.” The resource was written into the constitution in 2008 and gives the president the option to disband Congress and temporarily rule by decree. Even though it was established as a means of avoiding political paralysis, crossed death shortens the mandate of both the assembly and the president.

The National Electoral Council now has seven days to call presidential and legislative elections, which must be held within 90 days. Those elected will finish the terms of Lasso and the lawmakers he ousted, which had been set to end in May 2025. Lasso can choose to run in the election.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apecuadorcrosseddeath

Mexicans near Popocatepetl stay vigilant as volcano’s activity increases

For more than a week, the Popocatepetl volcano has been increasingly explosive, spewing great plumes of gas, ash and incandescent rock into the air, the AP reported. The volcano is known affectionately as “El Popo” and is just 45 miles southeast of Mexico City.

The volcano’s activity temporarily halted flights at the capital’s two airports over the weekend and authorities are still monitoring the volcano’s activity. The Mexican government raised the warning level and closed schools in dozens of municipalities across three states.

On Monday, local, state and federal officials held drills for the possibility of evacuations. There were no signs of panic Monday, but people worried about the possibility of having to evacuate, leaving homes and animals unattended. Authorities have warned people to stay out of 7.5-mile radius around the peak.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apmexicoelpopo

44 indicted in Puerto Rico in $1.2M scheme to obtain pandemic relief funds

A federal grand jury in Puerto Rico indicted 44 people on Thursday accused in a $1.2 million scheme to illegally obtain pandemic relief funds, the AP reported.

The suspects are accused of submitting at least 52 loan applications to obtain federal recovery funds that U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow said they used to support their own personal lifestyles. Muldrow added several of the suspects are professional baseball coaches and players, with the majority based in Puerto Rico.

Authorities alleged the suspects submitted applications using fake tax documents, payroll records, ID cards and bank records.

One of the suspects worked at an unidentified bank, where officials seized nearly $850,000 in money related to the scheme. They also seized three cars, a power generator and some $40,000 worth of fitness equipment, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apprcovidfraud

Bolivian Catholic priest accused of abusing seminary students

Milton Murillo, a Catholic parish priest from the southern region of Tarija, Bolivia, was sent to pre-trial detention for three months during a hearing late Thursday, the AP reported. Murillo’s case is the latest in a series of scandals involving the alleged abuses of children by clergy.

Although there have been several allegations of pedophilia involving priests in Bolivia, human rights organizations say that few have been properly investigated until now. The Bolivian government said this week it will create a Truth Commission to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against children and said it will push for a law that would get rid of statute of limitations for these types of crimes.

Earlier this month, a scandal erupted involving the late Spanish Jesuit Alfonso Pedrajas. Pedrajas died of cancer in 2009 and left behind a personal diary in which he confessed to having abused around 85 minors in Bolivia during the 1970s and 1980s in Catholic boarding schools, as reported by the Spanish newspaper El País.

In response, the Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus have asked for forgiveness and pledged to support any investigations that emerge from the Pedrajas case.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://bit.ly/apboliviapriestscandal

Argentina hosts competitive under-20 World Cup

Argentina opened the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup on Saturday, marking the 23rd under-20 championship. This tournament has a lot of representation from Latin America as the South American Confederation of Football sent national teams from Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Uruguay. The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football sent in representatives from Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

This year marks the first time the Dominican Republic ever qualified for a FIFA tournament. Despite high expectations, the first goal the Dominican Republic scored was an own goal from Dominican defender Guillermo de Peña during their debut match against Nigeria. The team lost 2-1 and is preparing to face Brazil on Wednesday afternoon.

As the tournament goes through the group stages, an early favorite is the U.S. national team. The U.S. won 1-0 against Ecuador on Saturday with a last-minute goal from Mexican-American defender Jonathan Gomez. After winning 3-0 against Fiji on Tuesday, the U.S. is leading their group and is expected to play Slovakia on Saturday and move on to the knockout round.

To read the full AP story, visit: https://fifa.fans/3BPIGGa


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