This Latino Week

FARC rebels confirm disarmament, Police helicopter attacks Supreme Court in Venezuela, Mexico and Chile advance to Confederations Cup semi-finals
by: 
Jim McKenna

The United Nations confirmed this week that Colombia’s FARC rebels, which had previously been active in armed struggle for half a century, had handed in their weapons. FARC will remain a political organisation and will compete in future elections, but this week marked a symbolic shift from violence to peace.

The move was accompanied by a ceremony between senior FARC figures, UN officials and the Colombian government. In contrast to last year’s ceremonies, which were often high-profile and celebratory, the affair was more low-key and the tone more modest. This is viewed as a response to the failed referenda of last year, where anti-FARC figures helped to vote down the original terms.

UN figures have registered and stored over 7,000 weapons, and have been held in secure containers in transition zones for the FARC. This process will continue for a few months, when the arms will eventually be disposed of, and turned into monuments that will be placed in Bogota, Havana and New York.

Police helicopter attacks Supreme Court in Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has publicly condemned “terrorists” who have attempted to launch grenades at the capital’s Supreme Court, following months of protests and conflict. The explosives did not detonate, averting death and disaster, but the country clearly remains susceptible to further attacks.

Maduro has took a hostile tone following the event, claiming that he and his supporters would be willing to take up arms and fight any opposition group if it toppled his government. Calling for a potential “new phase of the revolution”, Maduro’s words are widely considered to be a call for an uprising in the event of a successful opposition takeover.

Oscar Pérez, a former intelligence figure in the Venezuelan government, has taken credit for the attack, and claimed to be the pilot who flew the helicopter. He has publicly released videos calling for people to “free” themselves from the government, and has criticised Maduro’s approach to civil liberties. The move is the most visible example of protests against the government, and may result in copycat attacks or a further escalation of measures against opposition figures by the state.

Mexico and Chile advance to Confederations Cup semi-finals

The two Latin American representatives of the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia managed to advance to the knock-out stages of the tournament, thanks to second-place group finishes for both sides. Mexico, the 2015 CONCACAF Cup winners, and 2015 Copa América victors Chile, finished behind European sides Portugal and Germany respectively, and will face their opposite group winner in this week’s semi-finals.

The final round of group matches saw Mexico defeat hosts Russia 2-1, despite falling behind in the first half. The result saw Russia exit the tournament at the earliest possible stage, and saw Mexico tied top of Group A on 7 points with Portugal. Chile missed out on an opportunity to top group B with a frustrating 1-1 draw against Australia, meaning they finished behind Germany.

The final group results were largely as expected, with Mexico and Chile considered to be two of the strongest sides in the competition. However, they will be underdogs in the last four, and are largely expected to contest the third/fourth placed play-off next week.