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SundayFebruary 19, 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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17 Peru Inmates Escape and Allegedly Take the Guards as Their Hostages

At least 17 prisoners escaped Sunday morning from the Challapalca prison, in Peru’s Puno region, after allegedly taking some of their guards hostage, the head of the National Penitentiary Institute, Jose Perez, said.

“The great majority have been identified by their nicknames. There are 17 prisoners (with a lot of convictions). The people who go to Challapalca are people who have very long ... and stiff sentences,” Perez told Radio Programas del Peru, or RPP.

The Challapalca prison is located about five hours by road from the southern city of Puno and there are no communications systems in the area.

The possible taking of hostages “is ... preliminary. We’re going to investigate until the end,” the Peruvian prison chief said.

According to initial information, the prisoners received the help of accomplices who were waiting for them outside the facility.

“This was coordinated. There were pickup trucks (outside the prison) awaiting the ones who escaped. It’s not something that just happened, but rather (it was) planned,” he said.

Perez said that he was traveling to the area to evaluate the situation, noting that there is a dearth of prison personnel in Peru.

Prison officials from the Puno and Arequipa regions are also traveling to Challapalca, along with police and army personnel.

Meanwhile, the head of the Peruvian police, Gen. Raul Salazar, announced Sunday that the border with Chile had been closed because of its proximity to Challapalca.

“The border is closed. The photographs of the fugitives are going to be disseminated on the national level so that citizens may cooperate with us and feel committed to the security of the country,” Salazar told RPP.

The general also said that about 3,000 police officers were being mobilized throughout the country to capture the prisoners, who were serving sentences of murder, aggravated robbery, extortion and kidnapping, among others.

“We have deployed all the forces we have in (the regions of) Tacna, Puno, Cusco Apurimac, Moquegua, Ica, Arequipa, Cuzco and Ayacucho. All the areas have been reinforced on an ongoing basis,” he said, adding that the apprehension of the escapees was “imminent.”

The state-run Andina news agency reported that security measures had also been reinforced along the border with Bolivia.

The prosecutor in the town of Desaguadero, Oscar Jimenez, confirmed that the fugitives escaped with the weapons and uniforms of their guards.

At the time of the escape, the prison housed 129 inmates, although it has the capacity for 240.

In Peru’s prisons, the majority of inmates live in overcrowded conditions where they are exposed to diseases such as tuberculosis and where there are not enough guards, according to different sources.

Read more by HS News Staff →

More Fires in Honduras - This Time Three Public Markets Burn to the Ground

More Fires in Honduras - This Time Three Public Markets Burn to the Ground

Photo: Honduras Fire in Markets

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At least eight people were injured in a terrifying trio of fires that broke out in three public markets in this capital, the local fire department said.

The causes of Saturday’s multiple conflagration are not yet known but the fire was of “great magnitude” and required “much effort” to extinguish, fire department chief medical officer Felix Castillo said.

Eight people were affected by smoke inhalation and/or suffered other unspecified injuries and were taken in ambulances to the capital’s state-run Escuela Hospital, the fire department said.

The fire occurred in an area with several public markets and other individually-owned businesses in Tegucigalpa’s twin city of Comayguela, which is part of the Central Municipal District making up the Honduran capital.

The sheer size of the blaze was “something unusual” along with the fact that, evidently, the fires broke out in three markets simultaneously, Tegucigalpa Mayor Ricardo Alvarez said.

The Colon, San Isidro and Alvarez markets were the ones affected by the blaze.

Losses are estimated to be in the millions of dollars and initiatives are being sought to help the vendors recover their businesses, the mayor said.

The markets offered clothing, shoes, consumables of all kinds, toys, notebooks and school supplies, plastic items and electric appliances, among other things, and substantial quantities of those goods were destroyed by the flames that sent up enormous columns of black smoke, which could be seen from everywhere in the city.

Officials, meanwhile, said the death toll from the fire in a prison last Tuesday has risen to 358, while the task of identifying the often badly charred corpses - being conducted at the federal Attorney General’s Office’s forensics lab - and the investigation of the country’s worst-ever prison tragedy are both proceeding slowly.

The fifth of the 10 inmates with serious burns being treated at Escuela Hospital, identified as Alexis Bonilla Flores, died on Saturday, prosecutor’s office spokesman Melvin Duarte told Efe.

Four other injured prisoners died between Wednesday and Friday in the same hospital.

Of the 358 people who died in the Comayagua prison farm, located in central Honduras, 357 were inmates and the other was a woman who was visiting her incarcerated husband.

The cause of the prison fire has not been determined, but Honduran Security Secretariat spokesman Hector Ivan Mejia told reporters last week that the blaze was “apparently started by a short-circuit” and flames spread through one of the two cell blocks at the prison.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Rio Carnival Brings Out Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone and Others

Rio Carnival Brings Out Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone and Others

Photo: Jennifer Lopez in Rio for Carnival

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U.S. actresses Jennifer Lopez and Sharon Stone arrived in Brazil as specially invited guests of the Carnival celebrations in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, respectively.

Lopez, who is currently starring in a Brazilian beer commercial, arrived at midday on Sunday at Rio’s international airport along with her boyfriend, dancer Casper Smart, with whom she later emerged on the balcony of their hotel to greet her fans.

“I just arrived in Rio. Hi to everyone. My first time here during Carnival. I love Brazil,” wrote the actress and singer on her Twitter account.

Lopez will be present at the samba school parades in Rio, viewing the event from a guest box for the beer company for which she filmed the commercial that has been showing for the past several months on Brazilian television.

Meanwhile, actress Sharon Stone arrived on Saturday evening in Salvador, the capital of the northeastern state of Bahia, which - along with Rio - has one of the most heavily attended Carnival events in the country.

The actress later went to the Terra viewing box to watch the parade of bands passing through the streets of Salvador day and night during the Carnival festivities.

Meanwhile, local media reported that the founder of Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner, canceled the trip he had scheduled to Rio as an invited guest of another beer company due to health problems.

Hefner will be replaced by his younger son Cooper, who will be in the Marques de Sapucai sambodrome along with six Playboy bunnies who will participate in the election of the girl who will become the representative for Devassa, one of the country’s largest beer brands.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Major Bus Accident in Ecuador Today Leaves at Least 27 Dead and 30 Injured

Major Bus Accident in Ecuador Today Leaves at Least 27 Dead and 30 Injured

Photo: Deadly Ecuador Bus Trip

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At least 27 people died and 30 others were injured Sunday in a bus crash in the northern Ecuadorian province of Imbabura, Victor Bazantes, with the fire department in the city of Ibarra, told Efe.

Based on the statements of survivors, Bazantes said that apparently the bus in which they were riding had a problem with its brakes and crashed into a wall, then rolled down an incline.

The accident occurred on the Ibarra-San Lorenzo highway linking the provinces of Imbabura with Esmeraldas, the latter on the border with Colombia.

Three children died in the crash, which occurred near the community of Cuajara, near the city of Ibarra, the capital of the same-named Andean province.

The injured were taken to nearby medical facilities, but two people were transported by helicopter to Quito, Bazantes said.

A relative of some of the victims told the daily El Comercio that the people on the bus were Jehovah’s Witnesses who were traveling to a church service in the parish of Lita.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Illinois Governor Names Undocumented Migrant to State DREAM Commission

Illinois Governor Names Undocumented Migrant to State DREAM Commission

Photo: Illinois DREAM Commission

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Undocumented immigrants have won “a place at the table where decisions are taken,” 24-year-old activist Rigoberto Padilla-Perez, recently named to the
Illinois DREAM Commission, said Friday.

“Rigo”, as he is known, was one of the first members of the movement of undocumented young people, or “dreamers,” who have lived in the United States since childhood and are championing the legalization of their immigration status and a chance to study.

His name was taken into account by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn this month when he appointed seven members to a commission that will seek private funds for scholarships to aid undocumented students wanting a college education.

“My appointment is an acknowledgment of the work I’ve done over the last few years. Everyone congratulates me and I’m very grateful, but I know the hard part is yet to come,” Padilla-Perez told Efe.

He was born in Mexico and came to Chicago at the age of 6, where he lived without any problems until he was stopped for a traffic violation when he was 21.

Immigration began his deportation process in late 2009, but the case fired up the immigrant community and an intervention by congressmen from Illinois helped get an immigration judge to suspend his expulsion for a year.

Since January 2010 his temporary stay in the country has been renewed annually, so that Rigo has gone on with his life, his work in a law office and his studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

His goal is to become an immigration lawyer with an activism far beyond what he can do as a member of the Immigrant Youth Justice League and the National Immigrant Youth Alliance.

The Mexican’s work is highly visible because he campaigns on behalf of young people facing deportation, traveling all over the country and giving workshops that train them to be leaders of their communities.

“I teach them to speak with the media and to share their stories. I think that despite being undocumented, they have to be as visible as possible and not live fearfully in the shadows,” he said.

He said that young activists have prioritized “the local struggle” in searching for scholarships and financial support, because they’re not optimistic about the passage of the original DREAM Act that remains bogged down in Congress.

The bill would provide a path to legalization for tens of thousands of undocumented students.

“Nothing’s going to be done during the next two years at the federal level because the House of Representatives is Republican and they oppose the law,” Padilla-Perez said.

He said that despite the words of (President Barack) Obama, immigration agents appear to have a quota of deportations and keep trying to meet it non-stop.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

40 Die in Narco Prison Fight Near Monterrey, Mexico

40 Die in Narco Prison Fight Near Monterrey, Mexico

Photo: MX Prison Fight Leaves 40 Dead

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At least 40 inmates died in a fight early Sunday at the prison in Apodaca, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, officials said.

“There are 40 inmates dead,” all of whom were in cell block D, warden Gilberto Ceceña said.

Investigators are trying to determine what started the fight, the warden said.

About 400 relatives of inmates have gathered outside the prison, with some screaming for information about their loved ones.

The highway to the prison in Apodaca, located about 22 kilometers (14 miles) from Monterrey, has been closed.

The fight may have involved members of the rival Los Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.

The death toll could rise because investigators are still going through the medium-security prison, Nuevo Leon state Security Council spokesman Jorge Domene told reporters.

The cause of the fight, which started in the early morning hours, has not been determined and the dead inmates have not been identified, Domene said.

The fight started around 2:00 a.m. in the prison in Apodaca, a suburb of Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, Domene said.

Gunfire was heard during the fight, but officials have not determined whether it came from guards or inmates.

Federal and state security forces regained control of the prison Sunday morning and the Nuevo Leon state government set up an area to assist inmates’ relatives, who have gathered around the prison and are seeking information about loved ones.

The prison in Apodaca houses about 3,000 inmates, or about 30 percent more prisoners than it was designed to hold, as is the case in most prisons in Mexico.

The fight at the prison in Apodaca produced the largest death toll from an incident of this type in the past few years in Mexico.

A fight last month at a prison in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas left 31 inmates dead.

A fire apparently caused by a short-circuit at the prison in Apodaca left 14 inmates dead and 35 others injured on May 20.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Hottest Pepper on the Planet – Trinidad Moruga Scorpion

Hottest Pepper on the Planet – Trinidad Moruga Scorpion

Photo: Triniad Moruga Scoprion Hottest Pepper

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Experts at the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Institute have named the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper the world’s hottest.  This golf ball sized, sweat inducing, mouth on fire pepper has been found to top the Scoville heat scale at more than 1.2 million units, while some have gone as high as 2 million heat units.

The Chile Pepper Institute, which is part of the College of Agriculture at the university, was pushed by those in the spicy foods market to determine the hottest peppers by establishing their average heat levels.  Paul Bosland, a pepper expert and head of the institute led the research. 

The top five hottest varieties were selected.  The winner, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was planted along with, the Trinidad Scorpion, the 7 Pot, the Chocolate 7 Pot, and also the Bhut Jolokia.  The Bhut Jolokia was a previous record holder, being named in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records as the hottest pepper. 

The team planted 125 plants of each variety.  They were then harvested, dried, and ground to a powder.  Experts then extracted the capaicinoids, the compound that produces the pepper’s heat.  These were studied individually to determine where the pepper fell on the heat scale.  According to one expert, the capaicinoids produced such intense heat that during the study their latex gloves were not a strong enough barrier. 

 

Read more at Telegraph UK →

Film Producer Allegedly Forged Documents to Get Financing for Antonio Banderas Movie

Film Producer Allegedly Forged Documents to Get Financing for Antonio Banderas Movie

Photo: Antonio Banderas Project "The Big Bang" Has Problems

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A major bank in Hong Kong, Standard Chartered, alleges that the Los Angeles based production company, Hannibal Pictures, forged important documents needed for financing the 2011 Antonio Banderas film, “The Big Bang.”  Hollywood web reporter, TheWrap, reports that the bank has halted all film lending activities.  Elaine Chin, a bank spokesperson, will not comment on the legal investigation, however, she states that the bank is ending their film lending business because it is not a need in Asia or the Middle East.

Hannibal Pictures, founded in 1999 by Richard Rionda Del Castro, produces about 3-6 films a year and most recently produced the Kevin Spacey film, “Casino Jack” and is currently working on the upcoming film, “USS Indianapolis:  Men of Courage.”

According to sources close to the film, Hannibal Pictures allegedly forged the signature of an employee from Film Finances, the bond company on the production, as well as the notice of assignment to the bank.  These documents were then used to obtain a loan in the amount of 7 million dollars to put toward the 17 million dollar film production.  When asked about the legal investigation, Hannibal’s spokesperson only replied with, “It’s in the lawyer’s hands.”

The forgeries were not discovered until the movie was delivered and the situation is an embarrassment for Standard Chartered.

The film, “The Big Bang”, starring Antonio Banderas, only opened in select theaters in 2011 and received mediocre reviews.  According to The New York Times, the movie is, “a jumble of notions tossed into a hat.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Controversial Futbol Coach, Tomas Boy, Could be Sidelined After Punching Photographer

Controversial Futbol Coach, Tomas Boy, Could be Sidelined After Punching Photographer

Photo: Morelia Coach Tomas Boy Punches Photographer

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Morelia Monarcas soccer club coach Tomas Boy is the subject of a criminal complaint filed with prosecutors in the central state of Puebla alleging that he punched a photographer, Mexican media reported.

The coach confronted Victor Rojas, a photographer for the Sintesis newspaper, for snapping photos of him as he arrived at the Los Olivos training complex.

The incident occurred on Saturday just before the First Division team practiced with Special Olympics players at the facility.

A furious Boy punched the photographer in the face, eyewitnesses said.

Monarcas public relations chief Mario Mendoza managed to separate Boy and Rojas, who filed a criminal complaint a few hours later with the Puebla state Attorney General’s Office.

Boy, who was on the Mexican national team that reached the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup, is one of the most controversial coaches in the First Division because of his history of confrontations with fellow coaches and players.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New Multi Million Dollar Dominican Republic Mansion for Rafael Nadal

New Multi Million Dollar Dominican Republic Mansion for Rafael Nadal

Photo: Nadal in Dominican Republic

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Currently you can find tennis great, Rafael Nadal in the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition with model Bar Refaeli, but he is also celebrating his new home in the Dominican Republic.  Ranked number two in the world, the tennis star will be attending a ceremony to collect the keys of his new home in the Dominican Republic from March 2nd – March 4th. 

Many of the Dominican’s top executives, owners of the residential project, Nadal, and of course other worldwide personalities will be in attendance. 

Located next to the Bahía Principe Club and Resort in the residential community of Playa Nueva Romana, Nadal will enjoy all the resort amenities while at the same time relax in the privacy of his own, multimillion dollar home.  This new home, a two story villa, has three bedrooms, a terrace, as well as a swimming pool and garden area. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Youth Flee Spain’s Economic Crisis for Brighter Future in Chile

Youth Flee Spain’s Economic Crisis for Brighter Future in Chile

Photo: Spain Unemployed Flee to Latin America

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With 5.27 million people unemployed and almost half of the young population without jobs, young professionals in Spain are turning to Latin America as their only hope for economic stability. 

They are fleeing from the crisis that is punishing not only their home country of Spain, but the rest of Europe as well.  As a result, instead of looking towards other European countries, they are planning to immigrate to South America. 

The youth, prepared with careers and languages and without the responsibilities of a family, are embarking on the long journey across the ocean to Chile for better economic stability.  Gerardo, a 31 year old telecommunications engineer, Marga, a 28 year old architect and María Angeles, a journalist and lawyer, 27, all have decided to pack up their belongings and begin the journey to Santiago for a new and better life.

According to statistics from the Department of Interior, 388 resident visas were awarded to Spanish citizens in 2010 and in 2011 between January and October, this number increased to 464. 

According to Marga González-Calvo, living in Chile for the past 15 months, Chile is an ideal location for Spaniards.  “For us right now Chile is a good location, because it provides economic stability and there is a lot of work.”  However Marga does admit that living so far from home can bring everyone a little homesickness.  “It requires much personal strength because we are more than 13,000 kilometers from home.  There are only 15 days of vacation a year and the salaries are not excessively high”

Yet, the economic steadiness makes up for this hardship.  María Angeles, who arrived in Chile in 2010 agrees with Marga’s sentiment about family.  “Without a doubt the toughest part is living far from family.  You are always missing them.  Yet, I saw in Chile that there were possibilities and many of my classmates were either leaving Spain or searching for a job for months.”

However not all Spanish ex-patriots have found a steady job.  Gerardo Cornejo, a telecommunications engineer, in spite of having an impressive résumé, still is searching for a position.  “In Chile, as well as in Spain, the financial sector is air tight.”

In total, there are 48,031 Spanish registered in the Consulate and this number will quite possibly continue to increase.

Read more at El Mostrador →

Dayana Mendoza Gets Cheered On as Celebrity Apprentice Debuts Tonight

Dayana Mendoza Gets Cheered On as Celebrity Apprentice Debuts Tonight

Photo: Dayana Mendoza on Celebrity Apprentice

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As “The Celebrity Apprentice” runs its first episode this Sunday Feb 19 at 9pm on NBC, the Latino Commission on AIDS (the Commission) wishes Dayana Mendoza the best luck in the show.

Dayana will compete with 18 businesses-savvy celebrities for the goal of raising money and awareness for their charity of choice. The last person standing will have the honor of delivering a $250,000 bonus check to their designated charity –Dayana chose the Commission as her charity organization.

The relationship between Dayana Mendoza and the Commission started few years ago, when she, as the reigning Miss Universe 2008, devoted her time to raise HIV awareness and promote safe sex practices among Latinas. She took the HIV test publicly in an event organized by the Commission in East Harlem, NYC. Shortly after, she was named “Madrina” (godmother) of the Commission, a recognition to those individuals that commit themselves to promote prevention and education related to HIV/AIDS.

Recently Dayana Mendoza was appointed as Benefit Committee Chair for Cielo Latino, the benefit gala of the Commission.

The Latino Commission on AIDS (Commission) is a nonprofit membership organization founded in 1990 dedicated to fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Latino/Hispanic communities.

Buena Suerte from Everyone, Everywhere and from HS News staffers. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Governor Implicated in Cash-Stuffed Suitcase Incident

Mexican Governor Implicated in Cash-Stuffed Suitcase Incident

Photo: Cash Stuffed Plane

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A senator has filed a criminal complaint against the governor of the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz and two of his employees over the seizure of nearly $2 million in undeclared cash on an official plane, the governing party said.

The case dates back to late January, when two Veracruz government employees were arrested at an airport near Mexico City for transporting 25 million pesos ($1.9 million) in cash without providing proof of its origin or destination.

Sen. Juan Bueno Torio of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, filed the complaint Thursday with the federal Attorney General’s Office against Gov. Javier Duarte, of the main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

Veracruz government employees Miguel Morales Robles and Said Sandoval Zepeda, who were arrested on Jan. 27 for transporting the money inside a suitcase and a backpack, also were named in the complaint.

The accusations are justified because “this action constitutes a serious violation of criminal law,” the PAN said Thursday in a statement, adding that there are reasonable grounds to suspect the cash haul was destined to illegally finance political campaigns.

When the scandal first broke, the PAN said it was suspicious that the money was seized at the airport in the central city of Toluca, where Enrique Peña Nieto, the PRI’s presidential hopeful and frontrunner in the polls, lives.

For his part, the chairman of the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, Jesus Zambrano, said the cash-filled suitcase “in all certainty” was an attempt to “divert funds from the state government” to Peña Nieto’s campaign.

The Veracruz government, meanwhile, says the money was intended for a service provider and that payment was sent in cash to meet a deadline.

But the Mexican press has called into question that explanation, noting that the invoices for those payments were issued hours after reports surfaced about the cash seizure.

The PRI governed Mexico without interruption from 1929-2000, a regime described by Peruvian Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa as “the perfect dictatorship.”

That era ended with the election in 2000 of the PAN’s Vicente Fox, who was succeeded six years later by party colleague Felipe Calderon after the closest contest in Mexican history.

The PRI siphoned off tens of millions of dollars from Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos to fund its doomed 2000 presidential campaign.

Read more by HS News Staff →



SundayFebruary 19, 2012