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SaturdayDecember 24, 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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Latin American Growth Expected to Slow Down in 2012

Latin American Growth Expected to Slow Down in 2012

Photo: Latin American Economy Expected to Slow in 2012

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Economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean will slow down next year due to the sluggish performance of the world economy and uncertainty and volatility of financial markets, warns a United Nations report released this week.

The report estimates that growth in the region will drop to 3.7 per cent in 2012, compared to 4.3 per cent this year.

Although growth had already slowed down from 5.9 per cent in 2010, the report states that most of the region showed “a positive performance thanks to a favorable external situation.” However, an increase in volatility and uncertainty during the second half of the year significantly complicated the global economic environment.

In particular, the report, which was produced by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), points to the current state of the Euro as a key factor that could contribute to economic uncertainty in the region.

The region’s high level of reserves and low levels of public debt – except for a few Caribbean countries – are strengths that would enable it to better face the economic downturn next year, says the report.

Growth also varies within the region with South American countries showing the most growth this year at 4.6 per cent, followed by Central America with 4.1 per cent. However, the Caribbean nations grew only 0.7 per cent.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nicaragua Files Suit Against Costa Rica at UN World Court over Border Violations

Nicaragua Files Suit Against Costa Rica at UN World Court over Border Violations

Photo: San Juan de Nicaragua River

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Nicaragua has filed suit against Costa Rica at the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ), citing violations to national sovereignty and major environmental damages to its territory due to the construction of a new road along the banks of the San Juan River.

Nicaragua contends that the construction work by its southern neighbor along most of the border area between the two countries is resulting in grave environmental consequences, according to a press release issued by the ICJ, which is also known as the World Court.

Nicaragua argues that “Costa Rica’s unilateral actions… threaten to destroy the San Juan de Nicaragua River and its fragile ecosystem, including the adjacent biosphere reserves and internationally protected wetlands that depend upon the clean and uninterrupted flow of the river for their survival.”These works have already caused and will continue to cause economic damage.

Among the damages listed by Nicaragua is the dumping of sediments in the river such as soil, uprooted vegetation and felled trees, which the Government says are a danger to water quality, aquatic life – including several endangered species – and to rare flora and fauna on both sides of the river bank.

In addition, it states that the sediments will degrade the soil already devastated by deforestation due to agricultural and industrial developments in Costa Rica’s territory, adding that the impact if these is already being felt. “These works have already caused and will continue to cause economic damage,” Nicaragua said.

The Nicaraguan Government is requesting the court to declare that Costa Rica has breached its territorial integrity, as well as its obligation under international law and several environmental conventions to protect the environment and biodiversity in the region.

It is also requesting that the court declare that Costa Rica must restore and pay for all the damages and not undertake any further developments in the area without a cross-border environmental impact assessment, which is presented to Nicaragua for analysis and reaction.

Nicaragua stated in its proceedings that Costa Rica has repeatedly refused to give it appropriate information on the construction work it is undertaking and has denied any obligation to prepare and provide it with an assessment of the environmental impact in the area, which would allow for an evaluation of the work.

Nicaragua stressed that producing an assessment and presenting it to both governments is of utmost importance and added that it reserves the right to request provisional measures.

The two countries have had disputes over their borders before. In July 2009, the ICJ issued a ruling over what navigational and related rights Costa Rica has in the section of the San Juan River close to its mouth at the Caribbean Sea.

The ICJ, which is based in The Hague, is the principal judicial organ of the UN. Its rulings are binding and without appeal.

Read more at UN News →

Brazil Slaps New Fine on Chevron for November Oil Spill

Brazil Slaps New Fine on Chevron for November Oil Spill

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Brazil’s environmental protection agency has fined U.S. oil supermajor Chevron an additional 10 million reais (some $5.3 million), saying the company lacked an emergency plan for coping with accidents such as the Nov. 8 oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state.

The agency, known as Ibama, accused the company of breaching the terms of its environmental license for the Frade oil field, where the oil spill occurred, the official Agencia Brasil news agency said.

According to the agency, the company’s emergency vessels lacked specialized equipment and were therefore late in responding to the mishap.

Friday’s fine was the second that Ibama has imposed on the San Ramon, California-based oil company in connection with the oil spill. On Nov. 21, the company was fined 50 million reais ($26.8 million) for the involuntary “release of oil into the sea.”

The second fine comes a week after federal prosecutors said they were seeking 20 billion reais ($10.7 billion) in environmental damages from Chevron and Switzerland’s Transocean, the drilling contractor for the well where the spill occurred.

The prosecutor’s office in the southeastern city of Campos, Rio de Janeiro state, also requested a court injunction to halt the companies’ operations and a daily fine of 500 million reais ($266.8 million) in case of non-compliance, Agencia Brasil said.

Separately, a court granted a request by the Fishermen’s Federation of Rio de Janeiro for an independent expert evaluation of the oil spill’s potential damage to fishing production in the region, where some 10,000 people ply that trade.

The spill began on Nov. 8 at an appraisal well in the offshore Campos basin due to an “unexpected pressure spike or ‘kick’” during “drilling toward a targeted reservoir,” Chevron said in its preliminary assessment of the incident.

Chevron estimates that a total of 2,400 barrels of crude leaked into the sea, although officials in Rio de Janeiro state say nearly 15,000 barrels were spilled.

The company dispersed or recovered the majority of the crude that rose to the surface and the oil sheen, located some 120 kilometers (75 miles) off the coast of that state, has almost completely dissipated

Read more by HS News Staff →

2012 Hispanic Voice Town Hall Set to Launch in New Year

2012 Hispanic Voice Town Hall Set to Launch in New Year

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The 2012 Hispanic Voice is set to launch in 2012 to motive Latinos to think about their future in America.

2012 Hispanic Voice believes that Latinos all across America seek leadership that understands their voice, appreciates their identity and can help them enable themselves and their future.

The 2012 Hispanic Voice Town Hall Tour will kick-off in January of 2012 in Santa Ana, California to discuss these issues and many others that will shape the agenda for Hispanics in America. “Hispanics, like other multicultural groups, think differently about their lifestyles, their careers and their families, says 2012 Hispanic Voice founder, Glenn Llopis. America must be reintroduced to its original values that helped create the foundation for prosperity in this country. Hispanics, Asians and all immigrant groups must help reintroduce America to its original value system that quickly became extinct when greed, distrust and selfishness got in the way of our land of opportunity.”

The 2012 Hispanic Voice is a nonpartisan initiative formed to help Hispanics in America understand the responsibility of their voice and identity in order to cultivate sustainable economic prosperity in America.

To learn more click here

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cuba to Pardon 2,900 Prisoners-No Mention of American Alan Gross

Cuba to Pardon 2,900 Prisoners-No Mention of American Alan Gross

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Cuban President Raul Castro says his government will pardon nearly 3,000 prisoners in the coming days for humanitarian reasons.

Castro made the announcement Friday in a speech to lawmakers. He said 86 foreigners from 25 countries would be among the 2,900 inmates slated for release. 

Earlier, Cuban media said the prisoners being freed would include some convicted of crimes against the security of the state, along with inmates who are more than 60 years old or are ill, women and young people who do not have long criminal records. The reports said those convicted of serious crimes like drug trafficking, murder or espionage will not be released.

The announcement comes two weeks after Pope Benedict said he planned to visit Cuba next year before the Easter holiday.

The Cuban government’s announcement made no mention of American contractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year term in Cuba after he was convicted earlier this year of crimes against the communist state. Gross was arrested two years ago this month for bringing communications equipment into the country. The case has further strained relations between the United States and Cuba, which do not have formal diplomatic relations, only interests sections that are technically part of the Swiss embassies in each other’s capitals.

Read more at voice of america →

Charges in Panamanian Drug Ring that Hid Coke and Heroin in Hair Weaves and Wigs

Twelve individuals from the Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland – and the country of Panama – have been charged in a 20-count indictment alleging international drug trafficking.

The charges result from an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The nearly three-year investigation involved federal and local law enforcement agencies in the United States and Panama.

According to the indictment and court statements, U.S.-based defendants Edmund, Cook and Archer recruited primarily female couriers to travel to Panama to smuggle multiple kilograms of heroin and cocaine from Panama to the United States. Most of the couriers smuggled the drugs in small compartments sewn into Lycra shorts in an effort to avoid law enforcement detection. After a number of couriers using that method were arrested, the organization began concealing the drugs within hair weaves and wigs.

Regardless of the smuggling methods, once the couriers received the drugs they traveled by bus or airplane to Mexico, where they ultimately crossed or attempted to cross the U.S. border in Texas border towns.

Read more by HS News Staff →

STUDY: Less Inclusion of Latinos in Corporate America

STUDY: Less Inclusion of Latinos in Corporate America

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The Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), one of the nation’s leading Hispanic advocacy organizations, released the results of its 2011 HACR Corporate Inclusion Index (HACR CII) survey.

The index serves as a core component of HACR’s Corporate Accountability Strategy that tracks and evaluates the Hispanic inclusion practices of Fortune 100 companies and HACR corporate partners. This is done with a focus on HACR’s four pillars of corporate social responsibility and market reciprocity: employment, procurement, philanthropy and governance.

“HACR CII participating companies should be commended for their willingness to be transparent and share their information. Over the past three years we have seen improved ratings from 19 out of 27 companies that have participated in the HACR CII. These companies are leading by example and Hispanic consumers are taking notice,” said Carlos F. Orta, president and CEO of HACR.

A total of 122 corporations were invited to participate in the 2011 HACR CII survey; 50 companies were rated for this year’s report. Overall, findings continue to indicate that there is much room for improvement in closing the inclusion gap.

Key highlights from this survey include:

– A decrease of Hispanics in the C-Suite from 8% in 2010 to 7% in
– Procurement dollars spend for Hispanic-owned businesses
increased about 1.5% between 2010 and 2011
– Philanthropic investment remains unacceptable with (HACR CII
participating) companies contributing less than 3% of total
dollars distributed to Hispanic communities
– Representation on corporate boards saw an increase from 6.46%
in 2010 to 8.33% in 2011

“In general, there has been very slow progress in most corporations in terms of Hispanic inclusion. However, our partners and the companies that have participated in the HACR CII since its inception are doing a better job of moving the needle on this issue,” stated Janet Murguia, HACR Board of Directors Chair and president and CEO National Council of La Raza. “There is a lot of work to be done to increase Hispanic inclusion at all levels of Fortune 100 companies. HACR stands ready to help those companies who are committed and ready to engage around this issue.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Self-Employment the Preference for Many Cuban Women

Self-Employment the Preference for Many Cuban Women

Photo: Many Cuban Women Prefer Self-employment

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Cuba has seen an increase over the last two years in the number of women and workers of a higher educational level who have opted for self-employment, though the young seem uninterested, a recent survey shows.

A survey taken by the National Statistics Office, or ONE, between July and August concluded that those engaged in private businesses have doubled since 2009 when a similar study was made.

The results of the study were presented at a Dec. 16 Cabinet meeting chaired by President Raul Castro and were published Friday by the Communist Party daily Granma.

According to the ONE poll, the majority of the self-employed are between 40 and 49 or over 60.

At the same time the educational level of those in the sector has risen, as has the participation of women.

By the end of November there were 357,663 Cubans employed in the incipient private sector, and, according to official sources, the number has grown at an ever faster rate since the government expanded the scope for small business as part of its adjustments to “modernize” Cuba’s socialist model.

It is estimated that 66 percent of those workers were previously without a job.

Castro’s reforms mean a small, controlled opening for private enterprise, the “slimming down” of the inflated work forces in the state sector and the progressive elimination of subsidies and “unnecessary paternalism.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Former San Juan Police Chief Denied Bail in Kiddie Porn Case

Former San Juan Police Chief Denied Bail in Kiddie Porn Case

Photo: Former Puerto Rico Police Chief- Hilton Cordero arrives at court

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Federal Judge Silvia Carreño on Thursday denied bail to the former chief of the San Juan Municipal Police, Hilton Cordero, who stands accused of 22 counts of production of child pornography.

Carreño justified her decision due to the flight risk and the danger that, in her judgment, the former police chief poses to society.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent testified at the hearing that law enforcement authorities found on Cordero’s computer explicit photos of minors in sexual situations.

Cordero, according to the agent, also exchanged messages with sexual content with a minor living near him in the San Juan suburb of Carolina.

The former police chief pleaded not guilty to the 22 charges during the hearing and he must now wait until Feb. 6, 2012, which is when the judge set his next court appearance, to learn the date his trial will begin.

The Cordero case caused great commotion on Puerto Rico by coinciding, at the beginning of last spring, with domestic violence incidents involving two other high-ranking cops: Richard Nazario and Juan Sergio Rubin.

The former members of the police top brass charged with maintaining public order and safety have appeared in the print media accused of sexual violence and abuse.

Read more by HS News Staff →

CHILL OUT This Weekend with a Latin American Natural Wonder

CHILL OUT this weekend with a Latin American natural wonder.  Guess What and Where this is?


Read more by HS News Staff →

US Bishops to Study 50-state Approach to Immigration at Utah Conference

A three-day conference on issues faced by Catholic advocates of comprehensive immigration reform is scheduled for Jan. 11-13 in Salt Lake City.

The conference is sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. The conference’s title, “Immigration—A 50-State Issue: A Focus on State and Local Immigration Initiatives,” reflects the USCCB’s position that immigration is a federal issue, said Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City.

He said the conference is a wonderful opportunity for the diocese. “Anytime anything of that size comes in here, it gives us a platform to once again speak of the important immigration issues to our people,” he told the Intermountain Catholic, Salt Lake City’s diocesan newspaper. Bishop Wester added that immigration legislation created by state governments tends to create a harsh environment for undocumented people, and the conference can help advocates learn how to help these immigrants. “On a broader scale, it allows us to be part of the solution that we hope will come about once the 2012 elections are over,” he said.

Immigration must be dealt with on a federal level, said Kevin Appleby, USCCB director of migration policy. “If you have 50 different state policies and untold number of local policies on immigration, you’re not going to have an effective system. Instead of putting energy into passing bills that are unconstitutional and build fear in communities, we should put energy into getting our federal delegation to do the right thing and reform the immigration system.”

Read more at Catholic News →

Minority Residents in North Carolina Victorious, Courts Reject Voter ID Law

Minority Residents in North Carolina Victorious, Courts Reject Voter ID Law

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A District of Columbia federal court rejected a challenge in North Carolina to a key part of the Voting Rights Act that helps ensure minorities’ right to vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, had intervened in the case, Laroque v. Holder, on behalf of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP and six minority residents.

“The right to vote has been under attack across the country, with many states passing laws that will keep minorities, seniors and low-income residents away from the polls,” said Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project.

“Today’s decision recognizes the importance of the Voting Rights Act for protecting everyone’s right to vote. States that challenge the constitutionality of a law that is so critical for ensuring eligible voters can participate in our democracy are not acting responsibly.”

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark civil rights law that helps protect the right to vote for language and racial minorities. Under Section 5 of the VRA, certain states with a history of voter suppression - including North Carolina - must have changes to their election laws approved to ensure they are not discriminatory. Today’s ruling expressly rejected a constitutional challenge to the extension of Section 5 of the VRA by Congress in 2006.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Undocumented Waiter May Die Without Funds for Transplant

Undocumented Waiter May Die Without Funds for Transplant

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Front paged at the New York Times today is the jaw-dropping story of Angel, a New York waiter and undocumented immigrant who may soon die because he doesn’t have the money for a kidney transplant.  You should really read the whole story here.

Angel, a husband and father of two in his early 30s, has been battling late-stage renal disease without health insurance and without papers for almost two years.  His condition, likely passed down from his father, who died of kidney failure when Angel was 8, suddenly flared up in January 2010, raising enormous complications in a life where Angel had been quietly working, supporting his mother and half-siblings, paying taxes, and learning English.

His brother volunteered to donate a kidney, but without legal status or insurance, there is no way they can afford the $100,000 operation.

Through a quirk of history, nearly all Americans suffering from late-stage renal disease, regardless of insurance status, are covered under federal Medicare for dialysis and transplantation.  Some of these benefits extend to undocumented immigrants—the government is willing to pay for a lifetime of dialysis for Angel at $75,000 a year.  But it is not willing to cover the $100,000 one-time cost of transplantation.

For some, even the thought of the government offering dialysis to save an immigrant’s life is too much.  U.S. Rep. Dana T. Rohrabacher (R-CA) believes that care for undocumented immigrants is “bankrupting American health care” and is a proponent of the idea that hospitals should hand undocumented emergency room patients over for deportation.  Rohrabacher had no sympathy for Angel and in fact, responded to his story with one of the most heartlessly crass statements to come from a public official this year:

They [undocumented immigrants] should not get any benefit from breaking the law, especially something as expensive as organ transplants or dialysis…If they’re dead, I don’t have an objection to their organs being used.  If they’re alive, they shouldn’t be here no matter what.

Angel and his brother looked at non-government options, but a private insurance plan cited his “pre-existing condition” and refused to cover him for his first year.  At one hospital, administrators overruled surgeons who volunteered to waive their operation fees.  At another, a counselor told Angel he would have to pay twice the usual $100,000 cost in advance, to cover any complications.

Surgery back in Mexico would only cost $40,000.  But because Angel and his brother have already taken out loans, they would have to sneak back into the U.S. afterward to pay them back, or risk being completely cut off from their U.S. citizen children in New York.

Everywhere they look, Angel and his brother find dead ends.  If Angel could only obtain legal status, he could be covered by government Medicare.  But as millions of undocumented immigrants know, there are very, very few routes to legalization, and in any case it would likely take years.

In the ultimate irony, undocumented immigrants in the U.S. can donate organs, but cannot receive them.  “Organ registries do not record illegal status,” wrote the New York Times, “but a study estimated that over a 20-year period noncitizens donated 2.5 percent of organs and received fewer than 1 percent.”

For Angel, time is running out.  Many undocumented immigrants with life-threatening illnesses neither find a way to cover their costs or find any other solution.  According to the Times story, a Mexican mother of two died waiting for a small-bowel transplant, just as lawyers won a yearlong legal battle with Medicaid to pay for it.

Read more at Americas Voice Online →

SaturdayDecember 24, 2011