Mexican town gripped by fear after gunbattle
VILLA UNION, Mexico (AP) — A small town near the U.S.-Mexico border began cleaning up Monday, gripped by fear after the killing of 22 people in a ferocious weekend gunbattle between drug cartel members and security forces.
A 72-year-old woman living near Villa Union’s city hall recounted how she huddled with two of her grandchildren inside an armoire during the shooting.
The street in front of her home was littered with shell casings, and her walls and door were pocked with bullet holes.
“I’m still trembling,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear for her safety. “We’ve never seen anything like this. It was as if they just wanted to sow terror.”
Around midday Saturday, armed men in a convoy of dozens of vehicles arrived in Villa Union and began shooting up city hall. Many of the vehicles were emblazoned with the cartel’s initials — CDN, for Cartel del Noreste, or Northeast Cartel — as were the attackers’ bulletproof vests.
Coahuila Gov. Miguel Riquelme said state security forces arrived within an hour and surrounded the town, about 35 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas.
Sixteen gunmen were killed, along with four state police officers and two civilians, he said.
On Monday morning, the town of about 6,000 people was strewn with burned-out vehicles, and the city hall’s facade was so riddled with bullet holes it looked like a sieve.
Workers swept up glass and rubble out front and began to plaster over the holes, while others collected important documents. Broken glass covered the floor, a crucifix had fallen from a wall, furniture was destroyed, and portraits of local politicians were pierced by bullets.
Brazil’s Bolsonaro under fire after tariffs from Trump
SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s U.S.-focused foreign policy efforts suffered a severe setback on Monday when his American counterpart Donald Trump pledged to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum on the South American nation.
Trump initially leveled the threat by Twitter while accusing Brazil and neighboring Argentina, governed by U.S. allies Bolsonaro and Mauricio Macri, of manipulating their currencies and hurting American farmers.
Brazil’s vice president denied the accusation, but Bolsonaro, who openly admires Trump, was reticent; the far-right politician said he could call Trump “if needed.”
Argentina’s production and labor minister, Dante Sica, said Trump’s announcement caught policymakers by surprise.
Both South American nations were among a group of U.S. allies that Trump exempted from steel and aluminum tariffs in March 2018. The American president’s threat to reverse that decision and impose the metals tariffs on Argentina and Brazil is another example of his mercurial approach to trade policy.
He also called on America’s central bank to act to prevent other countries from devaluing their currencies.
“Brazil has really discounted. If you take a look at what’s happened with their currency, they’ve devalued their currency very substantially by 10 percent. Argentina also,” Trump said shortly before departing for a NATO conference in London. He did not provide specifics on the tariffs.
The stakes are high for Bolsonaro, who has made his relationship with Trump a cornerstone of his diplomacy and is called by both friends and foes “the Trump of the tropics.”
Prince Andrew’s accuser asks UK public for support
LONDON (AP) — Prince Andrew suffered fresh scrutiny Monday night when the woman who says she was a trafficking victim made to have sex with him when she was 17 asked the British public to support her quest for justice.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre told BBC Panorama that people “should not accept this as being OK.”
Giuffre’s first UK television interview on the topic describes how she says she was trafficked by notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein beginning in 2001 and ordered to have sex with Andrew three times, including once in London.
“This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked, this is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys’ royalty,” Giuffre tells the program.
Andrew, 59, has categorically denied having sex with Giuffre and apologized for his association with Epstein, who died in prison in August in what New York City officials said was a suicide.
The disgraced prince has stepped down from royal duties “for the foreseeable future” because of his friendship with Epstein and the allegations of sexual wrongdoing with an underage girl. He says he is willing to cooperate with appropriate law enforcement inquiries if required to do so.
The scandal is one of the worst to have gripped the royal household in recent decades and has severely tarnished the reputation of Andrew, one of Queen Elizabeth II’s four children.
Amnesty says at least 208 killed
in Iran protests
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — At least 208 people in Iran have been killed amid protests over sharply rising gasoline prices and a subsequent crackdown by security forces, Amnesty International said Monday, as one government official acknowledged telling police to shoot demonstrators.
Iran has yet to release any nationwide statistics over the unrest that gripped the Islamic Republic beginning Nov. 15 with minimum prices for government-subsidized gasoline rising by 50%. State-run media did not acknowledge the Amnesty report and Iran’s mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Iran shut down internet access amid the unrest, blocking those inside the country from sharing their videos and information, as well as limiting the outside world from knowing the scale of the protests and violence. The restoration of the internet in recent days across much of the country has seen other videos surface.
“We’ve seen over 200 people killed in a very swift time, in under a week,” said Mansoureh Mills, an Iran researcher at Amnesty. “It’s something pretty unprecedented event in the history of the human rights violations in the Islamic Republic.”
In a statement Monday, Amnesty said there had been “dozens of deaths” in the Tehran suburb of Shahriar, likely one of the areas with the highest toll of those killed in the unrest. Shahriar had seen heavy protests.
Amnesty offered no breakdown for the deaths elsewhere in the country, though it said “the real figure is likely to be higher.” Mills said there was a “general environment of fear inside of Iran at the moment.”