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The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that warring drug-trafficking gangs in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa may have declared a truce in December. The result is a sudden drop in the narco-fueled violence that claimed more than 5,000 lives across Mexico last year.

After a record year of bloodshed, killings have dropped by two-thirds from the December level in the state of Sinaloa, the historic center of Mexican drug trafficking,

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Recently, the growing presence of Russia and Iran in Latin America - especially in left-wing governments such as Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia - has elicited some concern in the United States. Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave his opinion on Russia and Iran's role in Latin America at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on challenges the Defense Department faces. Below are excerpts of Secretary Gates' answer to Senator Mel Martinez's question on the subject from the Voice of America article...

At the end of July 2008, Ecuador formally notified the United States that it will not renew the United States' ten-year agreement to use the Manta air base as a "Forward Operating Location" when it expires in November 2009. The United States has therefore "officially" known of the need to find a new location for the air base for six months and "unofficially" has been aware of its potential closing since Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa's election in 2006. Yet no final decision has been made about where to...

On the first full day of President Barack Obama's administration, newspapers throughout Latin America reported on the fanfare of the inauguration, the historical significance of the swearing in of the United States' first African-American president and the challenges that he must immediately confront. A few articles used the occasion to look at the future of U.S. policy toward the region and/or specific countries. Entire Region:...

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held its hearing to confirm Senator Hillary Clinton's nomination as the Obama administration's Secretary of State. During the hearing, Clinton focused on such topics as the conflicts in the Middle East, energy independence, and more mundane issues like potential conflicts of interest with Bill Clinton's international foundation. The United States' relationship with Latin America got significantly less attention, but did manage to find a place in Clinton's opening...

Here is another contribution from CIP Intern Matthew McClellan on Monday's meeting between Barack Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

On January 12, Barack Obama and Felipe Calderón met in Washington DC’s Mexican Cultural Institute. The Office of the President-Elect, in a January 8 press release on the change.gov website, noted that “There is a long-standing tradition…of U.S. Presidents...

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