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FridayMarch 18, 2011

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

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Colombia to Strengthen Its Attorney General Office and Judicial Transparency

The Inter-American Development Bank approved a $10 million loan to Colombia to improve public management transparency and increase regulatory compliance.

The loan will be used to strengthen the role of the Office of the Attorney General (PGN, after its Spanish initials). This project, based upon the pillars of prevention and oversight, is expected to make a significant contribution to Colombia’s efforts to make its institutions to comply with rules and improve the country’s transparency standards, which are regularly monitored by independent organizations.

This project is expected to help Colombia increase its Transparency International index to 4.0 by 2020 from 3.0 today. The country is also expected to reduce corruption levels as measured by the corruption indicator tracked by the World Bank to the 10-25 percentile from the 25-50 percentile today.

In the area of prevention, coordination mechanisms will be developed between the central level and 82 PGN bureaus throughout the country, while a public contract guide to support public works supervision efforts and a good-practices manual for government procurement will be issued.

Additionally, an integrated preventive information system that includes prevention indicators, risk management, business intelligence, and jurisprudence in the area of prevention will be implemented. Likewise, interoperability between the PGN’s internal information systems and those of other public institutions and oversight agencies will be promoted.

Furthermore, an ambitious training plan for 650 officials around the nation will be launched. This plan will include manuals, protocols, guides, and e-learning content and modules.

In the area of oversight, the project will provide mechanisms to measure public agencies’ regulatory compliance, strengthen lawfulness and ethical principles in the society at large, and help create the conditions for greater citizen engagement in the fight against corruption through an awareness campaign in the mass media.

To this end, the project will produce an index to gauge compliance with norms ruling the destination of general revenue-sharing system funds and royalties that will be implemented at six pilot subnational entities. The project will also support training on information collection; and pilot introduction of methodologies to measure lawfulness at two national public institutions.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jobs at Top of President Obama’s Latin America Agenda as Noted in His Op-ed

This is the full text of the op-ed by President Obama as published in today’s USA Today and offered by the White House Press Secretary:

In recent weeks, we’ve seen how turmoil and tragedy around the globe can affect our own prosperity and security; how events abroad often have implications for everything from markets on Wall Street to families’ wallets on Main Street. And as a nation, we will continue to do everything we can both to promote stability and democracy in the Middle East and help the people of Japan recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

But in this increasingly interconnected and fiercely competitive world, our top priority has to be creating and sustaining new jobs and new opportunities for our people.

Lately, we’ve seen signs that we’re moving in the right direction. Our economy added nearly a quarter of a million new private sector jobs last month, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in nearly two years. And to keep that progress going, we’ve got to keep competing for every new job, every new industry, and every new market in the 21st century.

That’s one of the reasons I will travel to Latin America this week — to strengthen our economic relationship with neighbors who are playing a growing role in our economic future.

Nearly 600 million people live in Latin America. The region’s economy grew by about 6% last year. Between 2010 and 2015, it’s expected to grow by one-third. And as these markets are growing, so is their demand for goods and services — goods and services that, as president, I want to see made in the United States of America.

Every $1 billion we export supports more than 5,000 jobs here at home. That’s why last year, I set a goal for this country: to double our exports of goods and services by 2014. And we are on track to meet this goal: exports were up 17% in 2010.

The impressive growth that we’ve seen in Latin America in recent years is good for the people of the hemisphere, and it’s good for us. Thanks in part to our trade agreements across the region, we now export three times as much to Latin America as we do to China, and our exports to the region — which are growing faster than our exports to the rest of the world — will soon support more than 2 million jobs here in the United States.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Black Eyed Peas Sing “Just Can’t Get Enough” on “American Idol” (VIDEO)

Black Eyed Peas Sing “Just Can’t Get Enough” on “American Idol” (VIDEO)

Photo: Th Black Eyed Peas

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Frontman will.i.am dedicated the song to “our friends in Japan. Check out Tabboo’s solo!

Read more by HS News Staff →

Man Believed to Have “Racist Views” Invited to Speak to State Senate on Arizona-Mexico Border

Man Believed to Have “Racist Views” Invited to Speak to State Senate on Arizona-Mexico Border

Photo: Glenn Spencer, chairman of a civilian border watch group American Border Patrol

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A man described as a “vitriolic Mexican-basher” who looks for white supremacists to join his group was invited by an Arizona lawmaker to speak to a state Senate’s border security committee about his assessment of the Arizona-Mexico border.

Glenn Spencer, chairman of the American Border Patrol was asked to address the panel, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which keeps an eye on hate groups, has an online profile of Spencer. A three-page profile to be exact, which states that he “may have done more than anyone to spread the myth of a secret Mexican conspiracy to reconquer the Southwest.”

The center’s director of research, Heidi Belrich said “it’s completely shocking” that Spencer would be the one addressing the state Senate panel because he “is so far out of the mainstream because of these racist views that he shouldn’t be invited in the public debate about immigration,” she said. “There have got to be more legitimate sources about border security — professors, specialists in the field, Border Patrol agents. Something.”

Spencer has said he is not racist and has never solicited white supremacists to join the American Border Patrol. He claims he uses his own money to conduct surveillance along the border, and that the ABP is a nonprofit that serves a government watchdog that primarily monitors the border by air.

Despite his claims that ABP is not a hate group, it has been on SPLC’s watch list since 2001.

Read more at The Washington Post →

Illegal Alien Arrested, Charged with Voter Fraud and Tampering with Voting Machines

An illegal alien from the Philippines was arrested Thursday morning on a felony complaint charging her with 17 counts related to voter fraud in Lake County. The state charges resulted from a joint investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Lake County State’s Attorneys Office. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also provided assistance.

Maria Azada, 53, of Grayslake, Ill., was arrested March 17 by ICE HSI agents and a Lake County State’s Attorneys special investigator. Azada faces 17 felony counts in Lake County Circuit Court of perjury, mutilation of election materials, and tampering with voting machines in connection with illegal voting by a non-U.S. citizen.

The investigation began in February 2009 when Azada admitted to a USCIS officer during an interview for an immigration benefit that she had voted in an election. It is illegal for foreign nationals to vote in national or state elections in the United States.

A subsequent investigation revealed that Azada allegedly voted nine times in primary, general and consolidated elections between 2003 and 2009. According to the arrest warrant, Azada allegedly falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen on two Illinois Voter Registration applications.

“Our nation’s founders reserved the right to vote in this country for U.S. citizens,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Chicago. “ICE HSI will work aggressively to investigate and bring to justice anyone who falsely claims to be a U.S. citizen so they can illegally vote in an election.”

If convicted, Azada faces up to five years in state prison on each of the two perjury counts. She also faces up to three years on each of the six counts of tampering with voting machines, and each of the nine counts of mutilation of election materials.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Coalition of Civic Organizations Oppose Texas Voter ID Law, Vote Set For Monday

A coalition of civic organizations, including the League of Women Voters-Texas, Texas NAACP, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas believe proposed legislation requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls is a waste of resources because it would spend state money to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

The bill is expected to come before the House of Representatives Monday, March 21.

Anita Privett of the League of Women Voters-Texas said on the issue: “The measures proposed are costly and unnecessary. They would only serve to discourage and disenfranchise legitimate voters across the state. Texas already ranks last, out of all 50 states, when it comes to voter turnout. Texas needs to increase voter turnout, not enact new measures to further suppress citizen participation.”

Gary Bledsoe of the Texas NAACP noted: “Senate Bill 14, known as Voter ID, is intended to address a ‘potential loophole’ in current voter laws that might result in problems by requiring all persons to provide a voter ID. There is no evidence, however, suggesting that voter impersonation is a problem in Texas.”

Terri Burke, Executive Director of the ACLU of Texas concluded: “There are significant barriers to obtaining a photo ID for many Texas citizens, including students and young people, seniors, minorities, people with disabilities, those juggling several jobs, and rural voters. The burden will be greatest for those citizens who cannot afford to take time off work, get transportation, or stand in line to apply for a photo ID. While the bill makes some concessions for those over 70, it does not address the fundamental disenfranchisement it will cause. The bill will have a negative impact on rural voters, many of whom must drive long distances to secure a valid ID since many DPS offices are hundreds of miles from small ranching and farming communities.”

Luis Figueroa of MALDEF: “SB 14 would create the most restrictive voter identification requirements in the nation virtually ensuring expensive implementation, legal challenges, and disenfranchisement of eligible voters.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Bandido-Hackers Target Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, Jessica Alba and Others

Bandido-Hackers Target Demi Lovato, Christina Aguilera, Selena Gomez, Jessica Alba and Others

Photo: Cyber Bandits Hack and Publish Stars Pics

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The list of those affected by a hacking ring reads like an entertainment who’s who and allegedly includes sports personalities, politicians and 50 other Hollywood actresses!

Gossip site TMZ lists Vanessa Hudgens, Scarlett Johanson, Ali Larter , Busy Phillips, Miley Cyrus, Emma Caulfield, Addison Timlin and Renee Olstead, as well as other victims of the hack-attack. The hacker bandido also targeted Latina stars like Jessica Alba, Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. 

The cyber bandits published sensitive information- mostly racy pictures, they found in the celebrities private accounts.

ImageThe FBI has gotten involved, and agents sat down with Vanessa Hudgens, to investigate how her email account was infiltrated, and private pictures leaked.

Hacking into a private account is easier than one might expect; Once the hacker has a hold of the actual celebrity email address, all he/she has to do is follow the “forgot my password” link and answer a secret question.

In the case of a celebrity, the answer to a question like “mother’s maiden name” “name of first pet” or even “What’s your favorite teacher?” is nine times out of ten, a Google search away; Every interview, every questionnaire, every comment the celebrity has made, can easily be reviewed, and the answer found.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Five Aeromexico Flight Crew Members This Week Alone In Trouble for Drinking on the Job

The Mexican ministry of Communications and Transportation announced yesterday that they have suspended five flight personnel from Aeromexico for flying drunk or attempting to fly drunk, this week.

One pilot, one co-pilot and one flight attendant, all from Aeromexico, were suspended for being under the influence on a flight from Puerto Vallerta to Mexico City this past Wednesday. 

This announcement comes on the heels of two Aeromexico pilots found to be drinking before they took off on a flight from Costa Rica to Mexico City this past Saturday.  The pilot and co-pilot were stopped from taking off by the rest of the flight crew when they suspected the pilots had been drinking.  These two pilots’ licenses were also suspended.

The Mexican aviation ministry is looking into whether the pilot licenses of these individuals should be permanently revoked and canceled.  In addition, the carrier itself is under investigation to see if it is doing enough to assure passenger safety.

Read more at El Paso Times →

Shakira Will Perform Free Concert in Mexico

Shakira Will Perform Free Concert in Mexico

Photo: Shakira will sing for free in Mexico

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The Colombian artist is expected to break the record of attendance to one of her upcoming shows.

Shakira has agreed to sing a free show—her first free event in Mexico,  in Mérida, Yucatán on July 16.

The concert will be sponsored by a group of Mexican entrepreneurs, who reportedly paid the singer aprox. 15 million pesos (about a million and a quarter dollars) hoping the show will increase tourism to the area.

Good idea we think. 

ImageOn other Shakira news, she was recently in Brazil, where she presented President Dilma Rousseff with an autographed guitar and a promise to support efforts to improve the welfare of children in the South American nation. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico Looking to Prove They Really Are “Going Green”

Mexico Looking to Prove They Really Are “Going Green”

Photo: Mexico looks to collect information to prove their reduction of greehouse gas emissions

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Looking to increase the country’s international “green credibility,” Mexico has started a program to prove they are making strides and actually reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Juan Mata Sandoval, the director-general of climate change policy at Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, said, “This system is a starting point for being more transparent, because the more transparent we are, the more opportunities for financing further actions we will have in the international arena.”

U.S. consulting firm Abt Associates has been working with Mexico to make information regarding the actions and implementation of their climate policy more accurate and easier to collect.

As part of Mexico’s climate policy, they hope to cut greenhouse emissions by six percent – compared to 2000. By 2050, they hope to cut back by 50 percent. They to acknowledge, however, that it will take monetary and technological support from the global community to reach that goal, but hope that by that point, they’ll have a good track record to show their progression.

Mexico also hopes to set an example to other developing countries, and use the data collected to show them that “going green” is not impossible for them.

Read more at Scientific American →

Arizona Senate Strikes Down Five Bills Aimed at Undocumented Immigrants

Arizona Senate Strikes Down Five Bills Aimed at Undocumented Immigrants

Photo: No shame signs this time. Arizona strikes down 5 immigration bills.

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Thursday, five bills with undocumented immigration at their cores, were struck down by the Arizona Senate. This was a severe departure from last year’s implementation of a harsh local law enforcement measure that shined a glaring spotlight on the state and its treatment of the Hispanics.

Those critical of the defeated bills believed them to be erroneous, and said they were just shadowing the much bigger issues the state needs to deal with first.

“It’s time for us to take a timeout,” said Republican Sen. John McComish of Phoenix. “It’s something that the people don’t want us to be focusing on.”

Republicans were divided on the five bills. Two of the proposals were intended to force the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against birthright citizenship if the child was born to undocumented immigrants. The remaining bills were for heath care, public services, and activities such as driving.

After the ruling, Democratic Minority Leader David Schapira of Tempe said, “I’m hopeful that now we can move on and focus on the business of the state.”

One of the bills, sponsored by SB1070 sponser Republican Sen. Russell Pearce, would have made it a crime for undocumented immigrants to drive in Arizona, and also included provisions on public benefits and aid, registering vehicles, and workplace hiring. The bill also would have required the eviction of those residing in public housing if they allowed undocumented to live with them.

Also included in Pearce’s proposal was the ban on undocumented students attending Arizona public universities and community colleges. Currently, they are allowed to attend these schools, but must pay out-of-state tuition rates.

The other two bills would have required hospitals and schools to contact federal immigration authorities if patients can’t provide insurance or legal status documentation, or file reports on enrollment unauthorized immigrant students.

Wednesday, a letter from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce was signed by CEOs of major employers and other business groups who believed additional measures taken against undocumented residents would further negatively effect the economy and the state’s tourism.

“Arizona’s lawmakers and citizens are right to be concerned about illegal immigration,” the letter said. “But we must acknowledge that when Arizona goes it alone on this issue, unintended consequences inevitably occur.”

Democrats unanimously voted against all five bills, with Republican were slit on two of the bills.

Read more at AOL News →

Coming to a Cruise to Panama and Spain Soon: ‘All-You-Can-Drink’ Option

What is sure to bring joy to the many cruise-loving people out there – an ‘All-You-Can-Drink’ package option coming soon to some Royal Caribbean cruises.

The cruise line is offering this budget option on some of its cruises on its Panama-and Spain based Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship as well as its UK-based Independence of the Seas and its Asia-based Legend of the Seas.  Sorry this option is not available on its popular Mexican or Caribbean cruises.

No more holding your breath to see what your bar bill is at the end of your cruise, it’s billed on a daily basis and at a fixed amount.

The ‘All-You-Can-Drink’ packages start at $29/day for all the beer and house wine you can drink, and includes a 25% discount for other wines and liquors.  For the big spender with a more refined liquor palette there is the Premium Package for $49/day for all the beer, house wine AND premium liquor brands you can consume on a daily basis.

Read more at Travel USA Today →

International Criticism for U.S. Immigration Detention Centers

International Criticism for U.S. Immigration Detention Centers

Photo: U.S. Immigration Detention Center

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A key international human rights organization is reporting that U.S. immigration detention centers are woefully inadequate with detainees receiving unjust treatment, poor health care and minimal access to legal aid.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is part of the influential Organization of American States (OAS), has issued a report not only criticizing immigration detention facilities, it is also critical of local municipalities immigration law enforcement practices.

The commission feels people are being singled out by race or the pretense of a crime investigation whereby they are arrested for immigration violations.  Though many of the criticisms of the U.S. immigration detention system is not new it is the first time a highly respected international member organization levels those criticisms.  The U.S. is a member of OAS. 

A scathing criticism was leveled at the detention center’s prison-like atmosphere when indeed they are only detention centers.  The commission said it was “deeply troubled by the continual and widespread use of detention in immigration cases.”

Read more at New York Times →

Latino Fans Pushing the Growth of MMA and the UFC

Latino Fans Pushing the Growth of MMA and the UFC

Photo: The UFC's current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez

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Ask any number of 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. if they are interested in watching the mixed martial arts (MMA) most notably displayed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and you’ll see quite a few hands go up. Really, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone in the U.S. who hasn’t at least heard of it. And among that 18-34 demographic, 20 percent are Latino.

Boxing promoter Bob Arum recently told USA Today that the MMA was for “a tattooed, skinhead white guy who enjoys watching similar-looking, untalented individuals,” but seeing as how 37 percent of Latino males 18-34 say they are “very interested” in the UFC, Mr. Arum might want to take a second to remove that foot from his mouth.

Recent Simmons data revealed that only 23 percent of the 18-34 demographic of UFC viewers are non-Latino, and Latinos are more involved fans of the sport and are 25 percent more likely to say they watch pay-per-view UFC fights than non-Latinos.

With Latino fighters like Kenny Florian, Thiago Alves, Daniel Gracie, Tito Ortiz, and current UFC heavyweight champ, Cain Velasquez, it really isn’t a surprise that Latinos are quickly finding a new sport to gather around, and with the large number of fighters training and being exported out of Brazil and learning from the highly respected Gracie family, there are more fighters to come.

Networks are sure taking notice as well. Early in 2010, the UFC announced that pay-per-view fights with Spanish-language announcing would soon be available. MTV’s Tr3s even picked joined in on the hoopla and signed a deal that resulted in the broadcasting of Bellator’s fourth season. Bellator Fighting Championships is a MMA promotional company headquartered in Chicago, and much like the UFC, they have a number of Latino fighters.

Some merchandise has even been geared directly towards the sport’s Latino fans. Like these shorts, from clothing company and fighter-finder TapouT, which brandishes a Mexican flag down one leg.

So though some like Alum didn’t think the MMA and the UFC would be that popular among anyone that wasn’t some angry tattooed white guy, others like Read more by HS News Staff →

Did Demi Lovato Donate A Million Dollars to Japan?

Did Demi Lovato Donate A Million Dollars to Japan?

Photo: Demi Lovato might have Donated 1M to Japan

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The Disney star, Demi Lovato, has started a campaign to encourage aid and support to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

Rumors say the young actress joined actress Sandra Bullock in the list of most generous donations the Red Cross has received for victims of the disaster in Japan. Lovato has allegedly donated $1,000,000 like Bullock did, according to Perez Hilton. Gossipcop.com, however has said the donation didn’t happen and is just a rumor.

The teen idol was seen walking the streets of Los Angeles encouraging others to join her pro Japan cause, with a hand made poster that read “Please Help.”  Lovato recently returned home for a 3 month stint in rehab and has been reaching out to her fans via Youtube and Facebook. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Migrant’s Family Suing US Government for Causing His Death

Mexican Migrant’s Family Suing US Government for Causing His Death

Photo: Border crossing at San Diego/Tijuana

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Family members of a Mexican migrant killed at the San Diego border crossing have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the United States government.

The suit states that on May 28th, Anastacio Hernandez, 42, was beaten by immigration agents before one of them shot him with a stun gun several times once he was already on the ground. Hernandez’s family argue that the agents used excessive force.

The San Diego County coroner has ruled the death a homicide. It was determined that a heart attack, hypertension and methamphetamine use were contributing factors, but not the cause.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday, and family attorney Eugene Iredale said the cases’ key evidence is cell-phone audio from a witness. Iredale said that, on the recording, Hernandez can be heard crying for help as a witness yells for agents to stop.

“This was a man who was frightened and who was really, at the time, pleading for his life,” Iredale said at news conference organized by San Diego’s Mexican consulate.

Spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jackie Wasiluk, expressed she would not comment on pending litigation.

President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon has denounced the incident. He stated that a death “with that degree of violence is a truly unacceptable violation.”

Last month, the government denied the family’s administrative claim for damages.

It has been reported that Hernandez was deported last May after being stopped for a traffic violation in San Diego. He returned to the U.S., but was arrested by Border Patrol. He was being taken back to Tijuana, Mexico when he was shot with the stun gun.

He lived in San Diego for more than 20 years, and is survived by his partner, Maria Puga. The couple had five children, ages 4 to 20.

Read more at The Washington Post →

Spain’s TV Show “El Hormiguero” Brings the Silly out of Orlando Bloom (VIDEO)

Spain’s TV Show “El Hormiguero” Brings the Silly out of Orlando Bloom (VIDEO)

Photo: Orlando Bloom in Spain's "El Hormiguero"

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British actor Orlando Bloom played drums, wore blonde wigs and ski goggles for a delighted Spanish audience.

Bloom, 34, chatted about Boss Orange, the Hugo Boss fragrance he sponsors, as well as taking bareback riding lessons for his role as Legolas, in The Lord Of The Rings. 

Watch the whole show below.


Read more by HS News Staff →

PepsiCo Foundation Announces $5 Million Grant to Bring Fresh Water Supply to Latin America

The PepsiCo Foundation today announced a $5 million grant to the AquaFund, a fund launched by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to facilitate investment in water supply and sanitation, water resources and solid waste management and wastewater treatment. PepsiCo is the first private sector donor to the AquaFund; all previous contributions have been made by sovereign governments.

A direct output of the landmark public-private partnership initiated last month between PepsiCo and IDB, the grant will fund a variety of projects, including but not limited to, microcredit loans for safe water and improved sanitation projects in Latin America, reaching approximately 500,000 people in the region by 2015.

The first PepsiCo Foundation-supported AquaFund project will launch in Peru and others are planned in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Venezuela.

The partnership between PepsiCo and IDB aims to spur social and economic growth in 26 countries in Latin America. The partnership kicked-off with an agriculture initiative in Mexico that creates a sustainable market for sunflowers, providing loans and a source of income for some 850 Mexican farmers and their families.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Majority of Children in Puerto Rico Live in Poverty

Majority of Children in Puerto Rico Live in Poverty

Photo: Poverty in Puerto Rico

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A recent report from the National Council of La Raza paints a grim picture for the youth of Puerto Rico:  56% live in poverty, they have highest rate of teen births, and the highest rate in U.S. of teens not attending school or working.

The fact that 56% of all Puerto Rican children live in poverty is more than triple the rate in the rest of the U.S.  The start of life for these same children is also grim, with 2007 statistics showing 11% of newborns weighing less than 5.5lb.  In addition Puerto Rican women are more susceptible to premature births.

One of the culprits behind these grim statistics is that average household income on the island is $20,975 versus $60,764 for mainland U.S.  In addition a near majority of Puerto Rican children live in single-parent households. 

Read more at Latin American Herald →

Mayor of Juarez Would Welcome US Help to Stop Cartel Violence

Mayor of Juarez Would Welcome US Help to Stop Cartel Violence

Photo: ElPaso and Juarez Mexico

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U.S. Ambassador in Mexico Carlos Pascual met with Juárez Mayor Héctor Murguía to discuss national security matters after last week’s blow against the Barrio Azteca gang, known to operate in both El Paso and Juárez.

“To put a stop to the criminal wave, it is necessary to get the help from any organization or country that is willing to do it. My administration is open to cooperate,” Murguía said Monday in Juárez.

“My stance is that in Juárez we would welcome help from any institution, be it Mexican or foreign,” Murguía said.

He said that criminals live in El Paso and cross the border into Juárez to commit crimes. “That is why we need to collaborate with U.S. authorities,” he said.

ICE agents already operate in other cities in Mexico. In February, ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata was shot dead in San Luis Potosí while on duty. Another agent, Victor Avila, was also shot in the same attack but survived. Both were assigned to Mexico City.

Murguía also spoke with Pascual about the Mérida Initiative, a $1.4 billion drug-fighting aid package. Murguía wanted to learn what Juárez can do to obtain more funding, Villareal said.

Read more at El Paso Times →

15th Annual Border Issues Conference Being Held in Washington D.C.

The annual Border Issues Conference will once again bring the needs of the border region to the forefront of discussion among top leaders in our nation’s capital.  This year’s conference will feature panels on strengthening the security cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico, improving bi-national trade, commerce, and tourism amid current economic and security challenges, and enhancing socioeconomic development along the border. 

One of the objectives of the conference is to ensure that lawmakers and other leaders from the U.S. and Mexico continue to recognize and address the unique socioeconomic and security challenges that are confronting border communities today.

The conference began yesterday with a special tribute to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, a Member of the Congressional Border Caucus.  Sister city guests Mayor Manuel de Jesus Baldenebro Arredonde of San Luis Rio Colorado, Mexico and Mayor Juan Carlos Escamilla of City of San Luis, Arizona will also be recognized.  Today the conference continues with three panels and the keynote address.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will keynote the Conference.  Other conference participants include Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State Matthew Rooney.  The bipartisan conference is co-chaired by Congressman Silvestre Reyes and Congressman Michael McCaul.

In her remarks, Secretary Napolitano underscored the Obama Administration’s unprecedented efforts to strengthen security along the Southwest border, which include increasing the number of Border Patrol agents from approximately 10,000 in 2004 to more than 20,700 today; doubling the number of personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces; and deploying approximately one quarter of all U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel to the Southwest border region – the most ever.

Read more by HS News Staff →

International Fund Allocated to Support Guatemala’s Human Rights

International Fund Allocated to Support Guatemala’s Human Rights

Photo: UN Sec Ban Ki-Moon in Central America

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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced a $10 million contribution from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund to support efforts to entrench the respect of human rights and strengthen the security and justice systems in Guatemala.

The Fund was set up in 2006 to support efforts to augment peace and stability in countries emerging from conflict.

‘We are all aware of how hard Guatemala has worked in pursuit of lasting peace and full implementation of the Peace Accords signed 15 years ago,” said Mr. Ban. “We are here today to seize this momentum and bolster the country’s peacebuilding efforts,” he said, adding that the country’s civil society must be an active participant in the process.

Mr. Ban also met with the leaders of many Central American States – Costa Rica, Belize, El Salvador, Panama, the Dominican Republic and Honduras – while in Guatemala, during which he briefed them on the unfolding events in the Middle East and North Africa, especially Libya.

The meeting between Mr. Ban and the regional leaders also dwelt at length on how Central American governments are working to consolidate democracy and the challenges of tackling organized crime and impunity.

He said the UN initiative against impunity in Guatemala had generated considerable interest from other countries which are considering adopting the model.

They also discussed the challenges of poverty and inequality, and touched on how fiscal reform and increased investment in State services can help improve people’s standard of living.

The issue of climate change and sustainable development also came up, with the Secretary-General stressing that each country needs national prevention and preparedness strategies to cope with the inevitable impact, taking into account the region’s vulnerability to hurricanes.

The Secretary-General held bilateral meetings with the President of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo; the Vice-President of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Alburquerque de Castro; the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow; and the Foreign Minister of El Salvador, Hugo Martínez Bonilla.

Read more by HS News Staff →

FridayMarch 18, 2011