This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep in Caracas, Venezuela. This country is about to hold a presidential election. Voters are replacing the late Hugo Chavez, who shouldered this oil-rich republic onto the world stage. He often denounced the United States as an oppressive empire - even as he sold Americans oil - and imported gasoline from U.S. refineries. The election of his successor this weekend gives us a chance to listen to a changing Latin America.
In the village of Corozal in Honduras, men ready boats for fishing excursions and boys play soccer on a beach lined with thatched huts.
On a sandy lot next to the town's main street, two teenage boys begin playing drums while women sing. For centuries, this has been the signature sound of celebration for the Garifuna, an Afro-Caribbean people on the Atlantic coast of Central America. Now this music has an additional purpose: to prevent HIV.
Let's hear now about a dramatic trial in Guatemala. That country's former dictator is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, stemming from the killings that happened in the early 1980s. Seventeen hundred indigenous Guatemalans - the Ixils people - died during one of the bloodiest periods of the country's three-decade-long war, a war that ultimately claimed more than 200,000 lives. At the time the U.S.-backed strongman, Ephraim Rios Montt, ruled the country.
In a Guatemalan courtroom Tuesday, prosecutors will present their case against a former military dictator who ruled during one of the bloodiest periods in the Central American nation's 36-year civil war.
Efrain Rios Montt is accused of genocide in the murder of tens of thousands of Guatemala's Indians. Human rights advocates and the families of victims have struggled for years to bring him before the court, and they say it is the first trial in Latin America of a former president in the country where he ruled.
The tall and imposing Nicolas Maduro stepped forward last week to be sworn in as Venezuela's interim leader following the death of President Hugo Chavez.
Before the country's packed congressional hall, he swore to complete Chavez's dream to transform the OPEC power into a socialist state, allied with Cuba and decidedly opposed to capitalism and U.S. interests in Latin America.