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MondayFebruary 13, 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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Couple Sentenced to Prison & Pay $600,000 Fine for Enslaving Smuggled Immigrants

Couple Sentenced to Prison & Pay $600,000  Fine for Enslaving Smuggled Immigrants

Photo: Human Smuggling

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A husband and wife from Paso Robles who admitted harboring illegal aliens after they were smuggled into the United States and forced to work in substandard conditions at the couple’s elder care facilities were each sentenced today to 18 months in federal prison.

Maximino Morales, 46, and his wife, Melinda Morales, 48, each received 18-month sentences from United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins.

“The Filipino victims in this case were lured to the United States with false promises and were essentially performing slave labor,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “We are committed to protecting the basic civil rights of all people, no matter their status in the United States.”

The Morales, both natives of the Philippines, pleaded guilty last May to conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. The Morales, who operated four elder care facilities under the umbrella of “Four M’s, Inc.,” admitted that they recruited Filipino nationals to come to the United States with promises of work as live-in caregivers. A co-conspirator in the Philippines helped the aliens obtain fraudulent visas that allowed them to travel to the United States. After they arrived, “some of the aliens worked alone in 24-hour shifts…as caregivers at one of the Four M’s elder care residential facilities for less than minimum wage,” according to plea agreements filed in this case.

“All of the aliens lived in the care facilities, and some of the aliens slept in a closet, on a sofa, and in a walled-off portion of an unheated, attached garage.” The aliens’ pay was credited against the “debt” they purportedly owed, and the aliens were told that police or immigration authorities would be summoned if they attempted to leave.

“The victims in this case were rescued after a concerned member of the community reported the tragic working and living conditions to officials,” said Steven Martinez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The FBI will continue to spread awareness by educating the community on how to identify the signs of labor exploitation, and urges the public to report suspected cases of illegal harboring or human trafficking.”

In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Collins ordered the Morales to pay $600,000 in restitution to nine Filipino victims who were not properly paid for the work they performed.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Ricky Martin Says ‘Evita’ Brings ‘Latino Flair’ to Broadway

Ricky Martin Says ‘Evita’ Brings ‘Latino Flair’ to Broadway

Photo: Ricky Martin Says 'Evita' Brings 'Latino Flair' to Broadway

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Singer and actor Ricky Martin said he’s living a moment of happiness in both his personal and professional lives as he prepares to return to the Broadway stage in a new production of “Evita.”

“I really like what’s happening to me, I don’t know if it’s waking up every day and seeing my kids growing up, the staunchness and maturity of my partner, our relationship as a couple…and being back on Broadway is also awakening many things in me,” Martin said in an interview with People en Español.

The artist said he returned to Broadway, where he debuted in 1995 in the musical “Les Miserables,” because he always wanted to work with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“I believe we have to bring Broadway a little Latino flair. We have to keep it alive. We have to bring back Evita,” the singer said, adding that the Che he will play is not the iconic rebel Che Guevara.

“I’m a character called Che, the voice of the people. Che in Argentina can be the taxi driver, the waiter, the bartender. I’m telling the story of Evita Peron. I’m the first person to sing in the musical and I deliver the last words,” said the artist, who will share the stage with Argentine actress Elena Roger as Evita.

The artist’s role in the musical has him living in New York once again, this time with his 3-year-old twin boys, his mother and his partner who is in the Big Apple 15 days out of every month.

Martin said he and his partner don’t plan to wed in New York, where same-sex unions are legal, and that marriage isn’t even on his agenda.

Read more by HS News Staff →

ICE hands over 14,237 unaccompanied minors to Mexico in ‘11

ICE  hands over 14,237 unaccompanied minors to Mexico in ‘11

Photo: Minors turned over at border

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U.S. authorities handed over 14,237 unaccompanied children and teenagers of different nationalities found traveling alone on the border to Mexico last year, the National Migration Institute, or INM, said.

Of the minors handed over to authorities in Mexico, 11,520, or nearly 81 percent, were Mexican and the other 2,717 were of various unspecified nationalities.

The children were all cared for the INM’s office of children’s services.

Since 2007, Mexico has had a program in effect to protect undocumented minors who are handed over by the United States, the INM said.

Countries such as Argentina, Panama, Spain, Colombia and Senegal have expressed an interest in the welfare of these children, the INM said in a statement.

Mexico has worked since 2009 with 384 officials from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic “to replicate this model and train their officials to provide the specialized care required by the migrant child population,” the INM said.

The program deals with immediate problems and “the specific needs” of young migrants, “detecting those minors who are victims of possible abuse, exploitation or people trafficking,” the INM said.

“The program for aiding migrants who are minors has yielded such good results that it has been emulated by several countries in Latin America,” the INM said.

The INM currently has 362 children’s services offices.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Is Luis Suárez Race Baiting? Liverpool Striker Refuses to Shake Hand of Player he Racially Abused

Is Luis Suárez Race Baiting? Liverpool Striker Refuses to Shake Hand of Player he Racially Abused

Photo: Liverpool Striker Refuses to Shake Hand of Player he Racially Abused

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Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suarez of Liverpool’s ball club is once again in trouble for his treatment of fellow ball player Patrice Evra of Manchester United.

Ahead of Saturday’s match, Suarez and Evra stood at centerfield, but instead of shaking hands, Suarez turned away, causing everyone to shake their heads.

Flash back to December, when Suarez was suspended for 8 matches for reportedly calling Evra “negro” multiple times during a match. His actions were deemed unacceptable, and Suarez was rightfully suspended.

Jump to Saturday’s game, which was only Suarez’s second following the suspension. The 25-year-old striker had the opportunity to make things a little better for himself, but wound up doing the exact opposite by outright declining to shake Evra’s hand before the game.

Though Suarez has since said he was wrong for not shaking his hand, he already shot himself in the foot so to speak, as players on both teams, those in attendance, and those watching around the world saw what he did, or rather what he didn’t do.

Sunday, Suarez apologized, saying he let himself and Liverpool down and that he hoped the issue could not be put to rest, but that was not the end, as Liverpool’s sponsors were sure to share their thoughts in the matter with the club.

Suarez was even called “a disgrace” to Liverpool by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who also said the footballer “should never play for the club again having declined the hand of the man he racially abused.”

View “the snub heard ‘round the world” below.

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Record Number of Tourists Visit Mexico in 2011

Record Number of Tourists Visit Mexico in 2011

Photo: Mexico Tourism Strong

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Mexico registered “nearly 190 million tourists,” of whom 22.67 million were foreigners, in 2011, eclipsing the record 185.7 million tourists registered in 2008, the Tourism Secretariat said.

The figures, which were obtained from the Bank of Mexico, show that the number of visitors from Brazil rose 66 percent, while arrivals from Russia, up 55 percent, Peru, up 33 percent, and China, up 30 percent, also soared, the secretariat said.

The number of visitors from Colombia rose 23.2 percent, while arrivals from Argentina were up 18 percent and the number of visitors from Italy, up 13 percent, Australia, up 13 percent, and Britain, up 11.6 percent, also rose markedly.

Average spending by foreign tourists rose to $157.70 per visitor, up 7 percent from 2010, which had been the highest level registered.

Arrivals of foreign tourists totaled 22.67 million, up 2 percent from 2010 and 0.20 percent relative to 2008, the year when the previous record had been set.

Domestic tourists, meanwhile, totaled 167.3 million, up 4 percent from 2010 and 2.6 percent relative to 2008.

Several foreign airlines that serve Mexico reported large increases in passenger counts, including 71 percent at British Airways, 42 percent at United Airlines and 29 percent at Delta Airlines.

Among Mexican carriers, Interjet posted the best numbers, with its passenger count up 58 percent, while Aeromexico reported a 43 percent increase and Viva Aerobus saw its numbers rise about 36 percent, with all the figures being relative to 2010, the secretariat said.

The government declared 2011 the “Year of Tourism” in an effort to bolster the industry and counter the effects of media reports about the drug-related violence that has left nearly 50,000 people dead in Mexico sicne December 2006.

The tourism industry is one of the main sources of foreign exchange for Mexico and a generator of both direct and indirect jobs.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Unidentified Sickness Continues to Make Ill and Kill Many in Central America

Unidentified Sickness Continues to Make Ill and Kill Many in Central America

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Scientists and doctors have spent the past 12 years trying to get ahead of a disease that has thus far remained unidentified, while continuing to make sick and even kill a number of people in Central America.

In many cases, the mysterious illness causes chronic kidney disease. Many of those afflicted are sugar cane workers or manual labor workers along the Pacific coast of Central America.

In Nicaragua and El Salvador alone, wince 2000, more than 24,000 people have been killed by the illness. In Nicaragua, more than 1 in 4 men show symptoms of the mysterious sickness.

Those afflicted report cramps, nausea, headaches, and say that by the time they are “diagnosed” it is too late.

It was hypothesized that agricultural chemicals were to blame for the illness, though a number of studies have begun dispelling that theory.

Scientists say that the nature of the work done by those with the illness is likely where the cause rests. For hours everyday, these workers are in rough climates and likely dehydrated while they push themselves to get as much work as possible done before the end of the day.

After years of such routines, the bodies of the workers are left worn out and damaged, likely causing dehydration, which can ultimately lead to chronic kidney disease.

However, since work of this nature is not novel to Central America, researchers have not ruled out other causes, once again leaving more questions than answers.

So far, cases of the illness have been recorded as far north as Mexico and as far south as Panama.

Read more at Associated Press (via Huffington Post) →

Selena Gomez Announces She and Her Band, The Scene, are ‘Going Our Separate Ways’

Selena Gomez Announces She and Her Band, The Scene, are ‘Going Our Separate Ways’

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Following a very successful tour in Latin America, Selena Gomez has announced that she and The Scene will be splitting up, at least for now anyway.

In two Instagram posts, the 19-year-old announced that in order to concentrate on her acting career, she and The Scene would be parting ways.

The first post showed a photo of her with the band and read, “I can’t express enough how grateful I am for this group. They have been with me since day one and I can’t believe it’s actually over. I love you The Scene, marsh mellow girls, Ashley & Ashlee, Jivanta, Marco, Brian & Brian, mark, Jason, Javier, Timmy! Could NOT have done any of this without you. Currently bawling my eyes out. I’ll miss you guys.”

She followed it with a second post an hour later that stated, “Just to clear up my last instagram post, my band and I are going our separate ways for a while. This year is all about films and acting and I want my band to play music wherever with whoever. We will be back but, it will be a good while. I love them and I love you guys smile

ImageGomez has been working on a number of acting projects including Eli Roth’s Aftershock and Spring Breakers, both due out in 2013. It was also recently announced that she would be taking fellow Disney alum Miley Cyrus’ role as the the daughter of Dracula in Adam Sandler’s Hotel Transylvania. There are also talks that the young Latina is beign considered for a role in the film adaptation of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere.

Selena Gomez & The Scene saw great success with their three albums together. Since 2009, the band has released Kiss & Tell, A Year Without Rain, and 2011’s When the Sun Goes Down.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Chris Aguilar Leaves Mother’s Dead Body in Bathtub for Days

LATINO BLOTTER: Chris Aguilar Leaves Mother’s Dead Body in Bathtub for Days

Photo: Chris Aguilar Leaves Mother's Dead Body in Bathtub for Days

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An Arizona man was arrested after it was discovered that he left his dead mother’s body in her home’s bathtub while he came and went as usual.

Tucson police stated that due to the decomposition of the body, it was immediately known whose body it was or even the gender of the deceased.

It was eventually determined that the body was that of 47-year-old Carmelita Aguilar, the mother of Christopher Aguilar, who police arrested on February 4.

Police say Aguilar, 25, had been living with his mother for an unspecified amount of time, according to ABC affiliate KGUN-TV. A spokesman reported said, ‘He was aware that a person was deceased inside the apartment and concealed the death for some time while continuing to live in the apartment.’

It has not yet been determined if Aguilar is responsible for his mother’s death or even how long she had been in the tub, but he has so far been charged with abandonment/concealment of a body.

A neighbor told the local affiliate he though Aguilar ‘was an alright guy but I didn’t really trust him because of the look in his eyes, his face, he started looking like he was going nuts.’

Read more by HS News Staff →

Selena Gomez to Replace Miley Cyrus in Adam Sandler’s Animated ‘Hotel Transylvania’

Selena Gomez to Replace Miley Cyrus in Adam Sandler’s Animated ‘Hotel Transylvania’

Photo: Selena Gomez to Replace Miley Cyrus in Adam Sandler's Animated 'Hotel Transylvania'

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Selena Gomez is reportedly taking Miley Cyrus’ job as the voice of an animated vampire in Adam Sandler’s Hotel Transylvania.

Gomez has signed on to be the voice of Mavis, famous vampire Dracula’s teenage daughter.

Both Gomez and Cyrus gained international fame through Disney shows and productions, though Gomez seems to have stayed closer to their “good girl” roots, as rumors have been swirling that Cyrus is no longer involved with the animated flick due to partying too much.

According to IMDB:

Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teen-aged daughter.

Additional actors lending their voices to the film include, Sandler, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, David Spade, Fran Drescher, Andy Samberg, and even singer and The Voice judge, Cee-Lo.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Pablo Escobar’s Family Offering Colombian Narco Tours

Pablo Escobar’s Family Offering Colombian Narco Tours

Photo: Pablo Escobar Tour

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Pablo Escobar’s family has organized a tourist excursion of Medellin similar in style to the Gangsters of Chicago and which idealizes the biggest drug trafficker in the history of Colombia.

The tour route traveled in school buses brings Escobar’s last days to life, with tourist guide Natalia Buitrago telling the story of the Medellin drug cartel’s founder.

First stop on the tour is the house in the Los Olivos neighborhood where Colombian National Police gunned the kingpin down as he and his bodyguard tried to escape across adjoining rooftops - or where the drug trafficker “shot himself,” as the guide suggests, thus bolstering the legend about how Pablo died.

The tourists then continue on to Montesacro Cemetery, passing along the way the ruins of the Dallas Building, the so-called “Business Center” where the drug lord founded his empire.

The inscription “Pablo vive” (Pablo lives) on a wall of the building, abandoned since 1993 following an attempt by rivals to murder him, strikes the perfect note for tourists seeking to go back 30 years to the days when Medellin was the drug traffickers’ mecca.

Then on to Montesacro where the wish of “Don Pablo” was granted - to be buried in Colombia - as the gravestone says under which he was laid to rest beside his parents, a brother, an aunt and his bodyguard.

And it was with the saying “Better a tomb in Colombia than a prison in the United States” that Escobar launched a war against the government in the 1980s to avoid extradition that left a trail of slaughtered victims.

But the climax of the tour is neither the house in Los Olivos, nor the lonely family mausoleum, not even the ruined building, but the chance to meet in person Roberto Escobar, alias “El Osito” (Little Bear), brother and sidekick of Pablo in all his adventures.

This is the tourists’ true delight, usually young Europeans or Americans who believe that Pablo Escobar was more like Robin Hood, as some Colombian media once described him, than the powerful, murderous drug trafficker that he was.

Before arriving at the house, the cautious guide warns visitors: “Roberto justifies everything his brother ever did.”

Half-deaf and half-blind from a package bomb sent him while in jail, El Osito, as if speaking of some heroic exploits, recounts his adventures with the brother he so sorely misses.

Bullet holes in the walls and windows from a kidnapping attempt, the dining room where Pablo celebrated his last birthday the day before he was slain, secret places for hiding and storage, and a speedboat the family had at their luxurious Hacienda Napoles estate are some of the memorabilia on view at the dwelling.

“Are you sorry about anything?” a young Irishman asked him, to which Roberto Escobar replied, “Every human being makes mistakes in his life and has to be sorry about them - what’s important is not to make the same mistake twice.”

“What do you think now about all they did?” a Canadian asked him, and Escobar answered, “The cartel did some really good things, and also made some mistakes.”

On the way back, a Swiss named Mark who is touring Latin America told Efe, “Pablo did good things, he gave homes to people who had nothing, but in the end he wanted everything for himself.”

During the tour, which cost 55,000 pesos (about $30), the Swiss bought all the films about the drug trafficker and a portrait of Pablo with a dedication by Roberto with his signature and thumbprint.

The Escobars say that today, without the lucrative business of the Medellin cartel and with most of their goods seized by the government, they have no money left, even though in the 1980s they possessed one of the largest fortunes in the world.

The tour is not viewed favorably either by the authorities or by Medellin’s inhabitants, dumbfounded at how the birthplace of the Colombian drug trade is advertised on social networks and to tourists staying at hostels and hotels around the city.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Help Judge Adalberto Jose Jordan Obtain Full Senate Approval to 11th Circuit Court

Help Judge Adalberto Jose Jordan Obtain Full Senate Approval to 11th Circuit Court

Photo: Judge Adalberto Jordan Nominee 11th Circuit

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The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) has supported the nomination of Judge Adalberto Jose Jordan for the 11th Circuit and now needs our help for the last step of this confirmation. 

We ask for your assistance in reaching out to both of your U.S. Senators in support of this confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.  The vote is scheduled for today, February 13th at approximately 5:30 p.m. (EST).

Judge Jordan was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States at age 6. He excelled at the University of Miami School of Law, then served as a clerk for the U.S. 11th Circuit and later for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. After rising through the ranks at a Miami law firm, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida where he served until his appointment as U.S. District Judge in 1999.

He has now served with distinction for over a decade on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Last year President Obama appointed Judge Jordan to fill a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Growing case backlogs in court had caused the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to declare the vacancy a “judicial emergency.” 

Judge Jordan’s nomination was met with bipartisan support, a top rating of “well-qualified” from the ABA, and unanimous approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Some fear, including the HBNA, that some senators ‘remain set on obstructing’ qualified candidates if they are Obama appointees, so your support is critical.

Contact your Senator’s office at (202) 224-3121.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Check Out Video: Cristiano Ronaldo Amazing ‘Hat-Trick’ Goal Over Weekend

Check Out Video: Cristiano Ronaldo Amazing ‘Hat-Trick’ Goal Over Weekend

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Thanks to an incredible goal by Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid is closer to the La Liga title.  Check out this gooooal by Ronaldo, one of three,  helping securing a 4-2 win against the Levante team this weekend. 

His third goal, referred to as a ‘hat-trick goal’ literally leaped over the opposing team and dropped in the corner of the goal.

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African Americans Charged with Driving Undocumented Mexican Migrants into Country, $300 a ride

African Americans Charged with Driving Undocumented Mexican Migrants into Country, $300 a ride

Photo: Blacks Driving Illegal into Country

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Five Los Angeles-area residents have been indicted for operating a human smuggling scheme that relied largely on African-Americans to transport loads of illegal aliens from the U.S.-Mexico border to the Los Angeles area.

Four of the defendants, including the suspected ringleader of the scheme, Maria “Reyna” Lopez-Diaz, 60, of Compton, were taken into custody by border patrol and immigration agents.

Lopez-Diaz allegedly coordinated with international smugglers to arrange for the pick-up of illegal aliens near the border. Lopez-Diaz also allegedly purchased the smuggling vehicles and recruited the drivers, providing them with cars, cell phones and travel expenses. The investigation revealed Lopez-Diaz specifically sought out financially disadvantaged U.S. citizens from south Los Angeles who did not speak Spanish, offering them $300 to $800 for every illegal alien they successfully transported.

According to investigators, the ring charged aliens anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 to be smuggled from the border to Los Angeles. The aliens were locked inside vehicle trunks or concealed in specially built compartments under the hood or elsewhere. During a one-year period from January 2010 through January 2011, it is estimated the organization was smuggling several dozen aliens a month into the Los Angeles area.

According to investigators, the ring’s decision to primarily use non-Spanish speaking African-American drivers was a calculated attempt to try to reduce the risk of detection and prosecution. First, the defendants believed the drivers were less likely to arouse suspicion. In the event they were stopped by the Border Patrol, the drivers’ inability to speak Spanish and communicate with the aliens they were transporting meant the drivers had limited information about the broader smuggling scheme.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Publisher and Founder of Grupo Anaya German Sanchez Ruiperez Dies at 85

Spanish Publisher and Founder of Grupo Anaya German Sanchez Ruiperez Dies at 85

Photo: Spanish Publisher and Founder of Grupo Anaya German Sanchez Ruiperez Dies at 85

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Spanish publisher German Sanchez Ruiperez, the founder of Grupo Anaya, died early Sunday in the Dominican Republic, Casa del Lector director and former Spanish Culture Minister Cesar Antonio Molina told Efe. He was 85.

Sanchez Ruiperez hit his head two days ago and was hospitalized, but he did not recover from that injury, Molina said.

The publisher was in the Caribbean country with his wife Ofelia, and two days ago he fell asleep while working at his computer and hit his head. The bruise did not appear particularly serious, but he was admitted to the hospital.

The Sanchez Ruiperez family is working at present to speed up the procedure to repatriate the publisher’s body to Spain, Molina said.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday in Salamanca, the Spanish city where Sanchez Ruiperez began his career as a publisher and which houses the headquarters of the cultural foundation bearing his name and dedicated to the spread and dissemination of the culture of books and reading.

Another memorial service for the publisher will be held the following week in Madrid.

Sanchez Ruiperez, who was born in Peñaranda de Bracamonte, Salamanca, in 1926, founded the Anaya publishing house in 1959, created the foundation bearing his name in 1983 and in 1989 bought Editorial America, which he sold three years later to Mexican businessman Emilio Azcarraga of Televisa.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Gov. Henrique Capriles to Face Hugo Chavez in Venezuelan Presidential Bid

Gov. Henrique Capriles to Face Hugo Chavez in Venezuelan Presidential Bid

Photo: Gov. Capriles to Take on Chavez

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Miranda Gov. Henrique Capriles won the opposition primary held over the weekend and will face President Hugo Chavez in the Oct. 7 presidential election.

“I am not a messiah, nor do I claim to be, I am a public servant with a total commitment to our country and a commitment to everyone,” Capriles told the private Venevision network on Monday.

Capriles won Sunday’s primary election, garnering 1.8 million of the 2.9 million votes cast.

The governor will now take on Chavez, who was elected for the first time in December 1998 and has been in office since 1999.

“No one should be mistaken, we’re not coming here to govern for one sector, I don’t want to be the president of a group, of parties, I want to be the president of all Venezuelans and I am going to work very hard to win the confidence of all Venezuelans, so no one is left behind,” the 39-year-old Capriles said.

The radical sectors of both the opposition and Chavez’s political movement are “condemned to disappear,” Capriles said.

The Chavez administration has “identified” Venezuela’s social problems, but what it has done “is not sufficient,” the governor said.

Capriles said he would keep the social programs created by the Chavez administration and expand them “so that no one is excluded for being of a different political stripe than the government.”

The opposition leader said he saw himself as a “progressive” and called on others to not label him in terms of the right or the left.

Read more by HS News Staff →

MondayFebruary 13, 2012