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SundayJanuary 8, 2012

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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Chile Fires Destroy 34,000 Hectacres of Land, 500 People Homeless

An urgent appeal was launched by the Archbishop of ConcepciĆ³n, His Exc. Mgr. Fernando Chomali, to express solidarity to families who are suffering from the tragedy of the fires occurred in several municipalities in the area.

The fires have left more than 500 people homeless, caused a victim, over one hundred houses and a large company destroyed, more than 10,000 hectares of forest burned. “The Church of Concepcion is shocked by what is happening and my appeal to solidarity is for those who suffer, because many families have lost their homes and there are also people who have lost their jobs”, said Mgr. Chomali . In the note sent to Fides, the Archbishop says that due to the danger of fire in the NIPAS area, the Nursing home San Jose was also evacuated: the 20 elders are safe and in good condition, temporarily transferred to the School of Portezuelo.

“As a Church we cannot remain indifferent to the suffering of the people - said Mgr. Chomali -, and therefore launches an appeal so that aid is brought to the parishes, the Cathedral and the offices of the Social Pastoral, in order to assist and support people faced with a very complex situation. The quality of a society is measured in the ability of solidarity with those who suffer. The Church cooperates with the State, by providing pastoral structures to bring support to those affected by this tragedy. We are faced with an emergency, and the government declared red alert, and as a community of faith we cannot remain indifferent”.

The data of the damage has not yet been updated completely, unfortunately there are already 7 firefighters who have died while they were fighting against the fire in the municipality of Carahue, about 730 kilometers south of Santiago. According to the National Forest Coorporazione (CONAF), between December 30, 2011 and Friday, January 6, 2012, 34,000 hectares of forests burned in the Bio Bio region and Araucania; 171 homes were destroyed by fire, and there are 17 locations considered alive to the danger of fire, while the high temperature these days is not conducive to the full shutdown of the outbreaks.

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Latino Children Who Are Citizens Being Recruited by Narcos to Smuggle Drugs into U.S.

Latino Children Who Are Citizens Being Recruited by Narcos to Smuggle Drugs into U.S.

Photo: Kids Being Recruited by Narcos

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Children between the ages of 11 and 17 are being recruited by Mexico’s drug cartels to smuggle narcotics and work as spies, the Mexican press reported Sunday, citing information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

The children are those of Mexicans, other Latin Americans and Americans, with some coming from both sides of the border.

The number of children from the United States being recruited by the cartels has risen since the second half of 2011 because they enjoy the benefit of citizenship.

One of the places where recruiting increased in the past few months is San Diego, California, which is near the Mexican border city of Tijuana.

The number of arrests of children has risen in Southern California, with the charges ranging from drug trafficking to extortion, kidnapping and piracy.

Some of the children already belonged to gangs in the United States and had to pass tests to show the cartels they were reliable.

Different cartels pay the children varying amounts of money for the crimes they commit, the DEA said.

Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization, and the rival Gulf cartel pay an average of $500 to smuggle drugs, $1,000 to guard a kidnapping victim for a month and $1,500 to provide information on the movement of U.S. authorities in certain areas.

American children arrested by ICE told investigators the money was an important motivator and they knew they would serve at most 15 months in a juvenile facility if caught.

Mexican children, for their part, are usually deported and continue working for the cartels.

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Argentine Teacher Found Murdered after Missing for 10 Days

Argentine Teacher Found Murdered after Missing for 10 Days

Photo: Teacher in Argentina Murdered

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Argentine police on Sunday found the lifeless body of Silvia Prigent, a teacher who had gone missing 10 days ago, authorities said.

The body of the 50-year-old woman was found in an area of open ground outside Buenos Aires near the town of Tigre, where she was last seen on Dec. 29, police said.

According to local media, which have been giving the case extensive coverage, Prigent had suffered a bullet wound in the head.

In connection with her disappearance, police on Saturday in Escobar arrested a 48-year-old man who had part of the woman’s cell phone in his possession.

Police are investigating Prigent’s husband, businessman Daniel Sfeir, in connection with her disappearance and death.

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Bloody Weekend for Guatemala - 19 Murders in 24 Hours

Bloody Weekend for Guatemala - 19 Murders in 24 Hours

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At least 19 people were murdered in Guatemala over the past 24 hours in different acts of violence, police and emergency services officials said Sunday.

Eleven people were shot to death in direct attacks by presumed hit men and the bodies of two more people were found bound hand and foot and bearing signs of torture, the fire department said.

Six other people, among them a woman, died violently in different rural parts of the country in armed attacks.

So far, security forces have not reported making any arrests in any of the crimes or in determining who the killers are.

Violence has increased in Guatemala over the past 10 years, authorities say, as a result of the presence of youth gangs and drug trafficking groups who have established themselves in the country.

Last year, according to official figures, a total of 5,681 murders were committed nationwide, an average of 16 per day and a murder rate of 38.61 per 100,000 residents.

Those figures make Guatemala one of the most dangerous and violent countries in Latin America.

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Venezuelan Consul in Miami Declared Persona Non Grata, Must Leave U.S. ASAP

Venezuelan Consul in Miami Declared Persona Non Grata, Must Leave U.S. ASAP

Photo: Livia Costa Ousted out of U.S. as Venezuelan Consul

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Livia Acosta Nogura, Venezuela’s consul in Miami, was declared persona non grata by the U.S. government and will have to leave the country, a State Department spokesman told Efe on Sunday.

The Venezuelan Embassy in Washington received the official notification on Friday and the consul must leave the United States by Tuesday, Jan. 10, the State Department’s spokesman for Latin America, William Ostick, said, adding that he could not provide specific details regarding the reason for this decision.

“In accordance with Article 23 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the department declared Ms. Livia Acosta Noguera, Venezuelan consul general to Miami, to be persona non grata. As such, she must depart the United States by January 10,” Ostick said.

This article of the Vienna Convention stipulates the conditions under which the host state may communicate at any time to the sending state that one of the latter’s consular officials is persona non grata.

The article also says that the host state is not obligated to divulge to the sending state the reasons for its decision.

Last December, the Univision television network broadcast a documentary entitled “La amenaza irani” (The Iranian threat) discussing an alleged plan in 2006 to launch cyber-attacks on several nuclear plants in the United States, as well as the White House, the FBI and the CIA.

Some of the people interviewed on the program said that the Iranian, Cuban and Venezuelan embassies participated in the plan.

After the documentary was broadcast, the president of the organization Veppex, which represents the interests of Venezuelans living abroad who claim to be politically persecuted, Jose Antonio Colina, said he was in favor of investigating the consul, who has been in her Miami post since March 2011.

Veppex sent a letter on Dec. 12 to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking that both Acosta Noguera and another official at the consulate, Egard Jose Alexander Belandria, be expelled for allegedly belonging to Venezuela’s national intelligence service, Sebin.

“Diplomatic immunity cannot be used to conspire on foreign territory against the security of the country, in this case the United States,” said Colina in an interview with Efe at the time, adding that he felt there was an “important” precedent for this because “in the past she has violated federal laws by asking for photocopies of the immigration documents of Venezuelans.”

Florida Republican lawmakers Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz Balart and David Rivera and New Jersey Democratic legislator Albio Sires also asked Clinton to investigate the accusations against the Venezuelan diplomat and, if they proved to be correct, to ask her to leave the country immediately.

“If proven, these actions show Livia’s ... willingness to undermine the interests of the United States and the potential threat to our national security her activities represent,” they said in a missive sent to Clinton.

The consul last July was involved in a controversy after two Venezuelan mothers, one of them with sick daughters, complained of “political discrimination” by the consulate when it allegedly interfered with their family remittances.

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Colombian FARC Guerrillas are Large Land Owners

Colombian FARC Guerrillas are Large Land Owners

Photo: FARC Guerrillas Large Land Owners

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Colombia’s FARC guerrilla group has carried out land seizures and owns - in the names of straw men - farms of up to 42,000 hectares (105,000 acres), the director of the Territorial Consolidation and Reconstruction Unit, Alvaro Balcazar, said in an interview published by the El Tiempo newspaper.

“We can quite safely say that in the provinces of Meta and Caqueta there are farms of between 5,000 and 42,000 hectares which are in the hands of straw men” of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Balcazar said.

The entity Balcazar heads began operations on Jan. 1 and has the task of recovering for the state areas that for decades have been in the hands of illegal armed groups.

“We’ve received much information and the country is aware of the dispossessions carried out by the paramilitaries. But the seizures by the FARC are the same or worse,” Balcazar said.

The guerrilla groups “base their continued existence on the control of territory ... (but) that doesn’t mean that the people are on the FARC’s side,” Balcazar said.

If there is no state to protect them, “people necessarily wind up doing what the FARC need them to do, not because they want to but rather pressured by threats and intimidation,” he said.

The guerrillas “have taken children away, although their parents are not in agreement. They make them fulfill certain tasks and the family that refuses has to go,” Balcazar said.

“When they began to do away with illicit crops, many people were without employment and abandoned farms that were very far away and now the FARC is placing people there who carry out logistical and strategic tasks,” Balcazar said.

This is “a type of invisible repopulation,” the rural development researcher said.

“People are afraid to make a claim ... (but) if at this time we would want to conduct restitution activities it’s very difficult for people to accept having land returned to them where the FARC still has control,” Balcazar said.

Since June 2010, about 7,000 claims have been filed to recover 416,218 hectares (1.04 million acres) of land usurped by rebels and by the right-wing AUC militia federation, Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo said Thursday.

About 350,000 families “from whom was taken not less than 2 million hectares (5 million acres) will have the right to demand the restitution of their land,” Restrepo said, adding that “in the last quarter century ... the forced abandonment of about 4 million hectares (10 million acres) occurred in the country.”

President Juan Manuel Santos signed the victims and land restitution law in June 2011 at a special ceremony attended by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the guest of honor.

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Bus Accident in Brazil Leaves 7 Dead, 15 Injured

Bus Accident in Brazil Leaves 7 Dead, 15 Injured

Photo: Bus Accident Paraiba, Brazil

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At least seven people were killed and 15 others injured when a truck collided with a bus in a city in the northeastern Brazilian state of Paraiba, police said.

The driver of the bus, which was carrying 29 passengers, was among those killed in the accident, whose cause has not been determined.

The crash occurred early Saturday in Sousa, a town located about 400 kilometers (249 miles) from Joao Pessoa, the capital of Paraiba, a police spokesman told the Globo Web site.

The injured were taken to a hospital, the police spokesman said.

The driver had rested for 17 hours between trips and was working a regular shift, the bus company said.

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Professional Mexican Soccer Player, El Gato, Who Turned into Narco Kidnapper is Arrested

Professional Mexican Soccer Player, El Gato, Who Turned into Narco Kidnapper is Arrested

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A former professional soccer player turned Gulf cartel kidnapping specialist was arrested in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, prosecutors said.

Omar Ortiz Uribe, who was a goalkeeper for First Division club Monterrey, is accused of participating in the kidnappings of at least 20 people.

Ortiz Uribe, known as “El Gato” during his playing days, was suspended by the Mexican Soccer Federation for doping during Copa Libertadores matches in 2010.

He was banned from playing for two years, a penalty that was due to expire in April.

Initial reports in the press Saturday said Ortiz Uribe had been abducted, but it came out later that he had actually been arrested on kidnapping charges.

Ortiz Uribe helped the cartel by providing information about potential victims, Nuevo Leon state Security Council spokesman Jorge Domene said.

The kidnapping cell, which had been operating for about a year, paid the soccer player approximately 100,000 pesos ($7,292) per victim.

The majority of the cell’s 20 victims were businessmen whose families paid average ransoms of 1 million pesos ($72,928), Domene said.

Among the gang’s victims was pop singer Gloria Trevi’s husband, who was abducted in October 2011, the state Security Council spokesman said.

“No ransom was paid for the husband of Gloria Trevi” because the kidnappers thought the authorities were giving the case a large amount of attention, Domene said.

Four other members of the cell were arrested along with Ortiz Uribe, but the leader and six other members are at large.

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Journalist Gunned Down in Northern Mexico, Same Area Where 30 Oil Workers Went Missing

Journalist Gunned Down in Northern Mexico, Same Area Where 30 Oil Workers Went Missing

Photo: Mexican Journalist Killd Cadereyta, Mexico

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Raul Regulo Garza Quirino, a reporter for the La Ultima Palabra newspaper, was shot dead by several gunmen while driving in Cadereyta, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, police said.

Garza Quirino was killed around 5:00 p.m. Friday after being chased by several armed men, the municipal police department said.

The gunmen caught up with Garza Quirino in downtown Cadereyta, a city located about 37 kilometers (23 miles) west of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon’s capital, and opened fire on him.

Investigators are trying to determine whether the assailants were out to steal the reporter’s new vehicle.

The Nuevo Leon journalists’ association condemned the attack and called on officials to find out who killed the reporter, a spokesman for the group said.

“We demand an exhaustive investigation from the authorities to identify the intellectual and material authors so they can be punished for this cowardly murder and do not go unpunished,” association president Oscar Gonzalez told Efe.

Cadereyta is controlled by a gang that engages in various criminal activities, including stealing gasoline from northern Mexico’s largest oil refinery, which is located in the city.

More than 30 oil workers have disappeared in Cadereyta in recent months and several mass graves were discovered in neighboring areas.

Mexico, where 75 journalists have been murdered and several others have disappeared since 2000, is considered the world’s second most dangerous country for members of the media.

Nine journalists were murdered in Mexico last year, the National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, said in a statement released on Saturday.

Officials must make an effort to protect journalists from harassment and violence, the CNDH, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, said.

“Aggression against media outlets and journalists not only affects the well-being and lives of those who experience it, but it also harms society since it violates the right to information,” the CNDH said.

Nuevo Leon and neighboring states have been plagued by a wave of drug-related violence since March 2010, when three rival cartels reportedly went to war with Los Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization.

Journalists have increasingly been targeted in recent years by drug traffickers and other organized crime groups, especially in northern Mexico.

Media members must also contend with long-running abuse at the hands of federal, state and local officials.

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2,000 Year-Old Cave Paintings Found in Guanajuato, Mexico

2,000 Year-Old Cave Paintings Found in Guanajuato, Mexico

Photo: Cave Paintings Found in Mexico

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Mexican archaeologists found some 3,000 cave paintings, some almost 2,000 years old, in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said.

Sources at the institute told Efe that the discoveries were made between August and October 2011, but were not announced until specialists confirmed their antiquity and completed their analyses.

The relics came to light through the Rupestral Art Project of the Victoria River Basin - which includes semi-desert regions in the states of Queretaro and Guanajuato - developed by INAH experts and directed by archaeologist Carlos Viramontes.

INAH said in a communique Friday that the pictographs were found at 40 rock sites in an arid northeastern area of Guanajuato.

It added that the oldest images refer to rites of passage, healing, prayers for rain and mountain worship, and were created by ancient hunter-gatherer societies that occupied the area during the first centuries A.D.

These paintings, with yellow, red and black the predominating colors, generally represent human figures with headdresses, robes and shields, as well as some as yet unidentified instruments. Often in hunting and battle scenes they carry bows and arrows.

“A great diversity of animals is also to be seen, chiefly deer, canines, insects like centipedes and spiders, a great variety of birds, generally with their wings outspread, and radiating circles that probably represent the sun,” Viramontes said.

The expert said that the ancient hunter-gatherers who “created images on rockfaces were doing more than just leaving an imprint of their collective memory of historic, climatic and ritual occurrences - they painted the exposed fronts and sheltered backs of boulders as points of contact between the material and spiritual world.”

That has been determined thanks to the symbolism they used to reflect the primeval worship of stone and mountain as living beings, he said.

Also discovered in the area were religious images and inscriptions from the colonial era painted by Otomi Indian communities, along with others created by ranchers and clergy of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The discoveries are added to the more than 70 rock-art locations discovered in Guanajuato since the late 1980s.

Mexico has hundreds of cave-painting sites, with outstanding examples in the states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Yucatan, Oaxaca, Tlaxcala, Durango and Nuevo Leon, as well as in the Valley of Mexico.

The oldest rupestral art documented in Mexico up to now is in Baja California and dates back some 7,400 years.

Read more by HS News Staff →

SundayJanuary 8, 2012