Canada will make vaccination mandatory as of the end of October for air and rail passengers, and as of Oct. 29 for federal government workers, including members of the military and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday.
“We have covered a lot of ground against Covid-19,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference in the capital, Ottawa. “But our fight is not over.”
Public servants who are still unvaccinated and have no verified medical exemption will be put on unpaid leave as of Nov. 15, he said. The federal government estimates that more than 80 percent of its 300,450 civilian workers — more than 240,000 people — are already fully vaccinated. The military has about 95,000 regular and reserve members, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has about 19,000 officers.
“It’s very simple,” Mr. Trudeau said of the possibility that large numbers of government workers might miss the Nov. 15 deadline. “If you want to continue to work for the public service of Canada you need to be fully vaccinated.”
The requirement does not apply to employees of Canada’s provincial and local governments.
Canada is one of the most heavily vaccinated countries in the world — among people aged 12 or older, almost 81 percent are fully vaccinated, and almost 87 percent are at least partially vaccinated. From age 12, all can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, and those age 18 and over are also eligible for the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Still, the country is undergoing a fourth wave of the virus, with hotspots in several western areas: Alberta, where all coronavirus restrictions were lifted in June; Saskatchewan; and the very sparsely populated Northwest Territories.
Mr. Trudeau, a Liberal, first announced the plan to mandate vaccination in August, offering little detail. Most polls show overwhelming support among Canadians for mandatory vaccination.
But the prime minister’s snap election call shortly afterward — in what proved to be the vain hope that high approval ratings for his pandemic performance would give him the majority of votes in the House of Commons he was denied in 2019 — prevented implementation of the mandate. During that election campaign, Erin O’Toole, the Conservative leader, opposed mandatory vaccination even for his party’s candidates.
Mr. Trudeau confirmed during the news conference on Wednesday that the vaccine mandate for travel would apply to members of Parliament. The vaccination rules for the House of Commons must be set by Parliament, not the government, but Mr. Trudeau has mandated that his Liberal members be vaccinated.
Some unions have challenged mandatory vaccination regulations introduced by other levels of government. Earlier court decisions on other pandemic measures, however, suggest that it will be difficult to overturn such rules.
El Chapo’s Wife Sentenced to 3 Years in Prison
Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of the notorious Mexican drug lord best known as El Chapo, was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in prison on charges of helping run her husband’s multibillion-dollar criminal empire and playing a role in his escape from custody after he was captured in 2014.
Ms. Coronel, a former beauty queen who married El Chapo — whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera — in 2007, on her 18th birthday, was arrested at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, in February, two years after her husband was convicted at a trial in New York City and sentenced to life in prison.
She had been in the cross-hairs of U.S. authorities for months. She ultimately pleaded guilty in June to helping Mr. Guzmán smuggle drugs across the U.S. border and make his dramatic flight from a high-security Mexican prison, an operation that involved a self-powered rail cart, a watch outfitted with a GPS device and a mile-long tunnel dug into the shower of his cell.
A dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, Ms. Coronel has, like her husband, long been a figure of public fascination, a role that she has often stoked by her lavish lifestyle and her laissez-faire attitude toward paparazzi. At her sentencing hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, she expressed “true regrets” for her crimes and begged Judge Rudolph Contreras to ignore the fact that she was the wife of an infamous drug lord.
“Perhaps because of this, there is reason for you to be harder on me,” Ms. Coronel said. “But I pray that you do not do that.”
While it is unusual for law enforcement to go after the spouses of drug-world figures, prosecutors at Mr. Guzmán’s trial offered substantial evidence that Ms. Coronel, while still in her 20s, was deeply enmeshed in her husband’s criminal business.
They introduced BlackBerry messages, for instance, that made clear that she had helped Mr. Guzmán conduct his illicit operations, sometimes alongside her own father, Inés Coronel Barreras, who was one of her husband’s top lieutenants and was taken into custody in 2013 in Mexico.
Other messages indicated that Ms. Coronel was intimately involved not only in Mr. Guzmán’s famous 2015 tunnel escape from Altiplano prison in Toluca, Mexico, but also in helping him to evade capture by American and Mexican authorities after a botched raid in 2012 in the Mexican resort town Cabo San Lucas.
At Mr. Guzmán’s trial, his onetime chief of staff, Dámaso López Núñez, told the jury that Ms. Coronel had sought to help her husband escape from prison yet again after he was recaptured in 2016 and returned to Altiplano. According to Mr. López, Ms. Coronel hatched a plot to bribe Mexico’s top prison official, but Mr. Guzmán was extradited to the United States to stand trial before the plan could be carried out.
As part of her plea deal with the government, Ms. Coronel agreed to turn over about $1.5 million in illicit proceeds from her husband’s illegal operations. While she admitted to helping him move at least 450 kilograms of cocaine, 90 kilograms of heroin and nearly 90,000 kilograms of marijuana into the United States over the years, she still received a relatively light sentence in part because her role in smuggling even that amount of drugs made her a “minimal participant” in a much larger criminal enterprise, according to her plea deal.
“The defendant was not an organizer, leader, boss or other type of manager,” Anthony J. Nardozzi, a federal prosecutor, told the court. “Rather she was a cog in a very large wheel of a criminal organization.”
In the wake of Ms. Coronel’s arrest, there was widespread speculation that she — like so many of Mr. Guzmán’s former allies — had decided to cooperate with U.S. authorities against other members of the organization he once led, the Sinaloa drug cartel. But in court papers filed this month, prosecutors said she had helped the government only in the prosecution of her own case.
Ms. Coronel’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, called the allegations that she had cooperated with the government “garbage,” adding that they had put his client’s life in danger. “I don’t know if she can ever go back to her home in Mexico,” Mr. Lichtman said.
The Sinaloa cartel remains one of Mexico’s most powerful criminal mafias, even in Mr. Guzmán’s absence. It is said to be run by an uneasy alliance of his sons, one of his brothers and his longtime partner, Ismael Zambada García, all of whom have been indicted in the United States.
U.S. Removes Colombia’s FARC Rebel Group From Terrorist List
WASHINGTON — The State Department removed the Revolutionary Forces of Colombia from its list of foreign terrorist organizations on Tuesday, as many of the group’s former commanders have turned to conventional politics after a decades-long conflict.
In a statement, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the group, known as FARC, had “formally dissolved and disarmed” and “no longer exists as a unified organization that engages in terrorism or terrorist activity or has the capability or intent to do so.”
The move, which drew criticism from several prominent Republicans, is a sign of the Biden administration’s support for a fragile peace deal that the Colombian government signed with the FARC in November 2016. The agreement officially ended a five-decade conflict in which the U.S. military backed the government against a left-wing fueled insurgency that was funded by the drug trade. The fighting left more than 220,000 people dead.
Colombia had urged Washington for years to remove the FARC from its official list of terrorist groups, and Mr. Blinken said in his statement that the shift would allow the United States to “better support implementation of the 2016 accord, including by working with demobilized combatants.” Many of the FARC’s former top military commanders are now prominent politicians.
Under the deal, more than 13,000 FARC rebels agreed to lay down their arms in return for more government investment in neglected rural areas. But implementation of the accord has been shaky. Government aid has been slow to materialize in remote areas, and pockets of armed rebels carry on their fight.
After a helicopter carrying Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, was attacked in July, the government arrested 10 former FARC rebels and charged them with attempted assassination and a car bombing at a military base.
Mr. Blinken said two rebel groups formed by former FARC commanders who refused to demobilize were designated terrorist organizations. Segunda Marquetalia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army, or FARC-EP, are responsible for armed attacks, assassinations and hostage-takings, he said.
The United States also designated several leaders of the two groups as terrorists.
Some Republicans have criticized the Biden administration’s decision to remove the FARC’s terrorist group designation. After the planned action was first reported last week by The Wall Street Journal, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Mike McCaul of Texas, called the move “an exercise in appeasement.”
FARC members “have not exercised remorse or acts of contrition for their ongoing narco-terrorism against innocent Colombians & Americans,” Mr. McCaul wrote on Twitter.
“President Biden’s decision to remove the FARC from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations will embolden terrorist groups throughout Latin America, empower narco-traffickers and pave the way for Castro-chavismo in Colombia,” Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, said in a statement.
Barbados Drops the Queen and Becomes a Republic
In the early hours of Tuesday, at a ceremony attended by hundreds of masked officials, a prince and at least one pop star, the Caribbean island of Barbados became a republic, cutting ties with Queen Elizabeth II and casting off the last major vestige of its colonial past.
The nation swore in its first president, Sandra Mason, a former governor general who had been appointed by the queen. A 21-gun salute rang out as the national anthem played. The red, yellow and navy blue royal flag was lowered — exactly 55 years after the country gained independence from Britain.
“Today, debate and discourse have become action,” Ms. Mason, 72, told the onlookers gathered in the capital, Bridgetown. “Today, we set our compass to a new direction.”
Ms. Mason received a majority vote in Parliament in October to take on the role. In a speech afterward, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said: “We believe that the time has come for us to claim our full destiny. It is a woman of the soil to whom this honor is being given.”
The island nation, a democracy of about 300,000 people, announced in September that it would remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state, the latest Caribbean island to do so. It joined Guyana, which gained independence in 1966 and became a republic in 1970; Trinidad and Tobago, which became independent in 1962 and a republic in 1976; and Dominica, which gained full independence as a republic in 1978.
Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are among the nations that still call the queen their head of state. Barbados will remain part of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 countries with roots in the British Empire.
On Tuesday, thousands celebrated across Barbados as nearly 400 years of British rule ended.
In the audience to witness the uncoupling in Bridgetown was a representative of Britain: Prince Charles, Elizabeth’s eldest son and heir. He received the Order of Freedom of Barbados.
In a speech, Charles delivered a message from his mother, conveying the “warmest good wishes.” He also congratulated Barbadians and said, “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.”
“Tonight you write the next chapter of your nation’s story,” he added. “You are the guardians of your heritage.”
Also among the crowd was the global pop star Rihanna. During the ceremony, the singer, who was born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in Barbados, was declared a national hero.
She received the honor, Prime Minister Mottley said, for commanding “the imagination of the world” with her excellence, creativity, discipline and, “above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth.”
“May you continue to shine like a diamond,” Ms. Mottley added.