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Argentina’s VP Cristina Kirchner receives six-year jail term

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The latest in Latin American politics today:

Argentina VP Kirchner slapped with six-year jail term

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BUENOS AIRES – An Argentine court sentenced Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to six years in jail and disqualified her from holding public office in a high-profile corruption case.

The powerful vice president, who has temporary immunity due to her current role, will not face immediate prison time and is expected to appeal the sentence, with the case likely to spend years winding through higher courts.

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Technically, Kirchner could run for office while the appeals are pending, but she said that she “would not be a candidate for anything” in next year’s general election.

Honduras enters partial state of emergency amid gang crackdown

TEGUCIGALPA – The Honduran government mobilized thousands of police officers to areas controlled by criminal groups, marking the beginning of a partial state of emergency across parts of two of the country’s largest cities.

The decision is part of leftist President Xiomara Castro’s crackdown on gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18. Some cities have been struggling in recent months with a “war tax,” in which gangs extort individuals or businesses.

The measure, announced last week, suspends some constitutional rights in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula and is set to last until Jan. 6, according to the country’s police chief, Gustavo Sanchez.

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Venezuela’s Guaido hopes Washington will extend Citgo protection from creditors

CARACAS – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said he hopes Washington will extend a license protecting refiner Citgo Petroleum Corp from creditors amid political talks with Caracas that could lead to a revision of U.S. sanctions on the country.

A license protecting the Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil firm PDVSA from seizure by creditors expires in January.

“It is important that the license is extended (for another year),” Guaido told Reuters in his Caracas office, adding that conversations with creditors “have always been a possibility.”

PDVSA put up a majority stake in Citgo as collateral for its 2020 bond on which it defaulted, meaning bondholders could seek its Citgo shares as repayment.

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Mercosur leaders rattled by Uruguay’s free-trade ambitions

MONTEVIDEO – At a meeting of South America’s major Mercosur trade bloc, which includes Brazil and Argentina, leaders sought to pressure host country Uruguay over plans for go-it-alone trade deals with China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“The solution is not for each one of us just to do our own thing,” said Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, chiding Uruguay.

One of the smallest economies in South America, Uruguay has been trying for years to conclude unilateral trade agreements that it considers more beneficial than Mercosur.

Peru’s Castillo says opponents trying to ‘blow up’ democracy with impeachment trial

LIMA – Peruvian President Pedro Castillo came out fighting ahead of his third impeachment trial in Congress, accusing his opponents of trying to “blow up” democracy in the copper-rich South American nation.

Peru’s congress summoned Castillo last week to respond to accusations of “moral incapacity” to govern, which will precede a congressional vote on whether to oust him.

“They intend to blow up democracy and disregard our people’s right to choose,” Castillo said in a ceremony celebrating the creation of the national police. (Compiled by Steven Grattan and Brendan O’Boyle; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Leslie Adler)

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