Latin America Roundup -- April 17

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A morning breakfast briefing for a delegation of Southern California business and government officials in Washington to lobby Congress turned nasty yesterday morning, writes James Hohmann. A bitter war of words erupted over the proposed Colombian free trade agreement, and some 200 guests, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, found themselves caught in the middle of the high-level trade dispute that has exposed a deep rift between the administration and the Democratic congressional leadership.

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton said Wednesday that the department’s controversial policy on dealing with illegal immigrants was widely misunderstood by the public and some of his own officers, and promised to clarify the rule in the next couple of weeks. Bratton strongly defended the basic intent of the policy, known as Special Order 40, which prohibits officers from initiating contact with individuals for the sole purpose of determining whether they are illegal immigrants, Richard Winton writes.

We asked La Plaza readers to vote on Special Order 40 here.

Things are looking up for Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes, who have managed to land a new stadium and a proven goal scorer all in the space of a few days. San Jose has dipped into the past and brought Haitian striker Jean Philippe Peguero back into MLS, finishing the deal just before the league’s international transfer deadline at midnight Tuesday, writes Grahame L. Jones.


Picture: Colorado’s Jean Philippe Peguero, left, gets blocked off the ball by Chivas USA’s Douglas Sequeira in a 2005 game at the Home Depot Center. Peguero, a Haitian who has been playing for Bondby of the Danish league, has been obtained on loan by San Jose, which hopes the striker can regain the form he showed in MLS from 2004-06. (Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times)

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City