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MondayMarch 12, 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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US-Brazil Celebrate 18 Years of Science & Technology Cooperation

US-Brazil Celebrate 18 Years of Science & Technology Cooperation

Photo: U.S. Brazil Science & Technology Cooperation

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On March 12-13, the United States and Brazil will mark 18 years of science and technology cooperation at the Joint Commission Meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation in Brasilia, Brazil.

The meeting, which is held under the auspices of the U.S.-Brazil Science and Technology Agreement, monitors progress on and identifies new areas of scientific cooperation. Representatives from more than a dozen U.S. Government agencies and research institutions will meet with their Brazilian counterparts to discuss innovation, disaster management, measurement standards, public health and ocean sciences. They will also discuss women in science and Brazil’s Science without Borders Scholarship program, which aims to send 75,000 Brazilian students abroad – with an additional 26,000 funded by the private sector – to study and conduct research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will head the U.S. delegation. Minister Marco Antonio Raupp of the Brazilian Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation will lead the Brazilian delegation.

The last Joint Commission Meeting was held in 2009 in Washington, D.C.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Immigration Advocates File Suit Against DHS to Disclose Its Deportation Records

Immigration Advocates File Suit Against DHS to Disclose Its Deportation Records

Photo: No More Deportations Urged

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Last week, an alliance of national immigration advocacy organizations filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), seeking to compel the release of documents concerning the agency’s Criminal Alien Program (CAP).

Seeking greater transparency, the American Immigration Council (AIC) and the Connecticut chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) brought the suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which requires federal agencies to produce responsive, non-exempt records upon request.  For years, the public has been unable to scrutinize CAP because DHS has shrouded the program in secrecy.

CAP is the workhorse of the federal immigration enforcement system. Under CAP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are stationed in prisons and jails, visit other detention facilities, and initiate deportation proceedings against people convicted of criminal offenses. However, CAP also sweeps up individuals who have been arrested but never convicted of any crime.

And while DHS is still rolling out Secure Communities, CAP — a more far-reaching program — has been operational for years. Over the past five years alone, CAP has led to the arrest of more than a million people, and the program was implicated in approximately half of all removal proceedings in FY 2009.

“Although CAP supposedly targets the worst criminal offenders, the limited information we have shows that this is not always the case,” according to Melissa Crow, Director of AIC’s Legal Action Center. “Like Secure Communities, this insidious program seems to target individuals with little or no criminal history for deportation and to incentivize pretextual stops and racial profiling.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Chavez Expects to Return to Venezuela from Cuba this Week

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said his progress “is favorable” following his Feb. 27 operation in Havana to remove a cancerous tumor and said he should return to his country “no later than this week.”

Chavez said on a Venezuelan state television program broadcast Sunday from Cuba that his latest physical exams “confirm and continue to confirm” his favorable medical progress and said that in the next few days he will begin radiation therapy.

“Next week we’ll begin the phase, already announced, of radiation therapy,” Chavez said, without stating whether he will be treated in Caracas or Havana.

Chavez arrived in Havana on Feb. 24 for surgery to extract a lesion and the “surrounding tissue” from his pelvic region. He disclosed last week that the lesion was cancerous.

The 57-year-old president had a larger, malignant tumor removed from the same region last year, but has never revealed the precise nature of the cancer. He underwent several rounds of chemotherapy after the initial surgery before announcing in October that he was cancer-free.

“With the grace of God, it should be no later than this week that I begin my physical return to Caracas, to Venezuela,” Chavez said.

In his speech he read a medical report from the 13th day after his operation, which notes his “good general state of health” and that he continues “with no complication of any kind.”

Chavez said that he continues on his “longest, most uphill march” but that in the short term he is headed straight for a “memorable” triumph in the “battle of Carabobo,” as he calls the Oct. 7 presidential elections after a famous victory won by Simon Bolivar in the Venezuelan War of Independence.

The leftist head of state, in power since 1999, hopes to be elected for another term in a race against the governor of the central state of Miranda, Henrique Capriles, the consensus candidate of Venezuela’s long-divided opposition.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Javier Bardem Goes Blond for Bond

Javier Bardem Goes Blond for Bond

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Spanish actor Javier Bardem will wear a police uniform and a blond wig in his role as the villain in the next James Bond movie, according to photos from the shoot published Monday in London.

As is customary, the greatest secrecy surrounds the production of the next flick in the Agent 007 saga, but scenes filmed on the streets of downtown London last weekend revealed some intriguing details of “Skyfall” starring Daniel Craig as Bond.

Bardem plays a bad guy named Silva, but in the pictures he is dressed as a British cop and wears a blond wig that recalls his peculiar hairstyle in the movie “No Country for Old Men,” a part that won him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

The leading characters of “Skyfall” are in London, where several scenes have been shot in Whitehall, the site of most government offices, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

During a press conference for the film last November, whose production had to be delayed for financial reasons, Bardem said that Bond movies bring “good memories” of his youth in Spain and that he was sure the experience was going to be “a lot of fun.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sofia Vergara to Host ‘Saturday Night Live’ in April

Sofia Vergara to Host ‘Saturday Night Live’ in April

Photo: Sofia Vergara to Host 'Saturday Night Live' in April

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During this weekend’s Saturday Night Live with host Jonah Hill, a commercial break announcement revealed that Sophia Vergara will be hosting an upcoming show.

On April 7, the Modern Family star will host SNL with musical guest One Direction, a popular British boy band.

One thing is for sure, accents will be flying Saturday.

This will mark the first time the Latino bombshell will host the show, but with a very active funny bone, she’s sure to bring the laughs.

We can’t want to see the hilarious Colombiana on SNL, what about you?

Read more by HS News Staff →

After Greta Van Susteren Complains, Louis C.K. Backs Out of Correspondents Association Dinner

After Greta Van Susteren Complains, Louis C.K. Backs Out of Correspondents Association Dinner

Photo: Louis C.K. Backs Out of Correspondents Association Dinner

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After Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren started an uproar over comedian Louis C.K. headlining the 68th annual Radio & Television Congressional Correspondents, the red-haired funnyman has announced that he will no longer be performing.

On the Record conservative host Van Susteren wrote on her blog Thursday that she would not attend the Radio and Television Correspondents Assn. Dinner if the comedian remained the headliner, and urged others to boycott as well.

In the blog titled “I refuse to go to the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner — no one should go” she wrote:

Another pig ... and a media association has hired the pig, Louis C.K., to be their headliner for the big media dinner? Really? I am not going. I refuse to go. Everyone in the media should join me in this boycott.

The headliner of this year’s Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner is “comedian” Louis C.K. Comedian?  I don’t think so.  Pig? yes.

C.K. is known as the fouled-mouthed funnyman who routinely points out the ridiculousness of the world we live in á la George Carlin, and makes no apologies for expressing his opinions, even when they don’t reflect popular opinion.

With all the hoopla around his appearance at the dinner, (it should be pointed out this is not the White House Correspondents Dinner) C.K. decided to back out of the June 8 event, with a rep saying, “He just didn’t want to do it anymore.”

Last year, the father of two received four Emmy nominations for his critically acclaimed FX series Louie and his stand-up special Louis C.K.: Hilarious.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Knee Injury Takes NBA’s Ricky Rubio Out for Season and 2012 Olympics

Knee Injury Takes NBA’s Ricky Rubio Out for Season and 2012 Olympics

Photo: Knee Injury Takes NBA's Ricky Rubio Out for Season and 2012 Olympics

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Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio was only in his first year with the Minnesota Timberwolves when a showdown with Kobe Bryant ended his season.

With just 20 seconds remaining in the Timberwolves’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Rubio injured his knee after colliding with Bryant. He fell to the floor and was taken off the court. After being examined it was determined that he had torn his ACL and would be out the rest of the season, also missing the 2012 Olympics, in which he was to play for the Spanish team.

After announcing in June 2011he had signed with Minnesota, Rubio made his regular season debut on December 26. After an impressive start to the season, the 21-year-old player was selected to participate in the 2012 Rising Star challenge. Before his injury, Rubio had helped the Timberwolves into playoff contention.

In his season-ending game last week, the Timberwolves fell to the Lakers at 105 to 102.

After his injury, teammate Kevin Love tweeted:

Love my teammate and friend @rickyrubio9. Here’s to a quick recovery. We will miss you.

Rubio is the first player in the NBA to have been born in the 1990s.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jose Canseco Turned Away From Mexican League For Allegedly Taking Banned Substances…Again

Jose Canseco Turned Away From Mexican League For Allegedly Taking Banned Substances…Again

Photo: Jose Conseco Turned Away From Mexican League For Allegedly Taking Banned Substances

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Jose Canseco is once again in trouble with baseball officials for taking banned substances, though his time it’s with the Mexican Baseball League.

The former major league hitter was trying out with the Quintana Roo Tigers, hoping to one-day move back up to the major leagues, when he refused to take a drug test and allegedly admitted to Mexican league officials that he had taken a banned substance.

ESPN Deportes has reported that the banned substance, which he took without a prescription, was testosterone.

In 2005, the 47-year-old former designated hitter admitted to using steroids in his tell-all book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hit & How Baseball Got Big”. In 2008, he was detained by San Diego Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after crossing border from Mexico with illegal substances. The fertility drug found on Canseco is extracted from the urine of a pregnant woman and helps produce testosterone in athletes who are cycling off steroids.

In true Canseco fashion, he took to Twitter after last week’s banned substance controversy, saying, ““How can I test positive when I never took any test don’t believe everything the media tells you.the truth always comes out I am not using any illegal substanced. [sic]” He added, “All I am on is prescription medication for low testosterone .legal and very important for my health.”

The Cuban-born hitter later added, “Dam I don’t want to leave Mexico the people here are very good to me and I want to play with the tigers.”

In his tweets, Canseco said that any reports of him not having a prescription for the testosterone are false because he “had the prescription in [his] pocket,” adding that the doctor called someone and told Canseco not to take the test.

Whatever the truth is, Canseco appears determined to share his story via Twitter and also apparently fight an MMA bought with Shaq.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jennifer Lopez Announces New Clothing Line ‘Classic: Remixed’ (VIDEO)

Jennifer Lopez Announces New Clothing Line ‘Classic: Remixed’ (VIDEO)

Photo: Jennifer Lopez Announces New Clothing Line

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Jenny From the Block teamed up with Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky to film a new TV spot for Lopez‘s “Classic: Remixed” clothing line for Kohl’s department stores.

With a nod to the Kiki Dee Band and somewhat retro spring fashion, the “American Idol” judge performs to the band’s 1974 hit “I Got the Music in Me” while showing off her new fashion line.

The video kind of reminds us of her time as a Fly Girl on “In Living Color”.

Check out the commercial and tell us what you think?


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Cameron Diaz the New Face of TAG Heuer ‘Link Lady’ Watches

Cameron Diaz the New Face of TAG Heuer ‘Link Lady’ Watches

Photo: Cameron Diaz the New Face of TAG Heuer Watches

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On March 7, TAG Heuer’s newest brand ambassador Cameron Diaz appeared before delighted international press on the Rhine river banks the night before the opening of BaselWorld. Welcomed on stage by thunderous applause, she proudly displayed the new Link Lady.

“I am thrilled to be here in Switzerland to be a part of the launch of the Link Lady” said Cameron Diaz. “Throughout my career, I have been very selective about aligning myself with brands. I love the fact that TAG Heuer challenges the rules and thinks outside the box and I’m honoured to be associated with such an iconic and forward-thinking brand”.

Cameron now joins the highly exclusive circle of TAG Heuer Ambassadors: alongside Maria Sharapova, she will champion timepieces dedicated to women, whilst Leonardo DiCaprio, who needs no further introduction, with Formula 1 World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Chen Dao Ming in China and Shah Rukh Khan in India, will support the models for men. Worthy heirs of Steve McQueen, they all have the ability to defy the rules and defy conventions, to fight for a cause and challenge their own values and assumptions; free-minded and rebellious to the very core, they give time new look, a new allure. Like TAG Heuer, they are pioneers, all in their own unique way. With her unorthodox body of work challenging every principle in the making of a star, Cameron Diaz is dangerously more than just a sexy blonde. Her partnership with TAG Heuer was therefore a given.

On her wrist the totally feminine Link Lady, the newest and most elegant of the TAG Heuer range. “I have been a fan of the TAG Heuer brand for many years.  When they showed me the design for the Link Lady, I thought it was the perfect evolution of timeless watchmaking and iconic designs, all reinterpreted with glamour and elegance for a modern woman”. The case is a little round pebble, refined and delicate. The bracelet is inspired by the iconic LINK bracelet with its S-shaped links. The dials come in several colours and the edges feature a light undulating concentric guilloché. Finally, as Cameron Diaz likes to point out, this is much more than a watch, it is a piece of jewellery.

During the evening, the guests had an opportunity to discover Diamond Star, a Haute Couture version of the Link Lady. This timepiece holds a place in the range that is akin to the wedding dress on the catwalk: it is the sublime expression of inspirational design. The automatic movement floats in space, the oscillating mass executes a skilfully choreographed ballet and the diamonds are like shooting stars flickering in the rich stellar skies of the Galaxy. The dial and the case back seem to dissolve, allowing the designer to revel in creating this celestial dance.

Ms. Diaz’s partnership with TAG Heuer will also serve to benefit and raise awareness for programs that empower women, including UN Women.  “I am deeply appreciative that TAG Heuer shares my desire to support women who are not free to pursue even the most basic goals, simply because of their gender. And announcing our partnership on the eve of International Women’s Day makes it even more significant,” said Diaz.

Read more by HS News Staff →

JUST IN:  Obama Blocks Controversial Texas Voter ID Law, Citing Unfair to Latinos

JUST IN:  Obama Blocks Controversial Texas Voter ID Law, Citing Unfair to Latinos

Photo: Texas Voter ID Law Blocked

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The Obama administration has just blocked Texas’ proposed voter ID law that would require government issue photo identification to vote.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) cited the demographic make up of the Latino voting base as reason for the block, saying the law would have an unfair impact on the Hispanic voter.

The data submitted to the DOJ according to TPM showed that “Hispanic registered voters in Texas were either 46.5 percent of 120 percent more likely than average voter to lack a form of photo ID.”

This contentious issue tends to run along party lines with Republican insisting on voter ID laws to maintain election integrity though the number of voter fraud cases is nearly none-existent.  Whereas Democrats views this as an effort to keep minorities away from the voting poll, feeling they will be the most affected by any Voter ID requirement.

The head of the DOJ’s civil rights division, Thomas Perez stated: “Even using the data most favorable to the state, Hispanics disproportionately lack either a driver’s license or a personal identification card.”

Eight voter ID laws were passed in eight states in 2010.

Click here for the letter the DOJ sent to Texas Director of Elections.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim Partners with Larry King on Digital TV Project

Mexican Billionaire and the World’s Richest Man, Carlos Slim Helu is not satisfied as El Rey of telecom in Mexico he is now looking to tackle the internet television market.

He and former CNN host Larry King just announced they are teaming up to form a new internet television venture called Ora.Tv.  The venture is also expecting to bring King back in front of the camera with a new daily talk format show.

The plan is for Ora.tv to be ad-supported and all content will be streamed onto computers, phones, iPads and internet TV’s. 

Thus far Larry King is the only program announced but Ora.tv said several others are in development.  The company is expected to be in operation later this year where it faces stiff competition from YouTube, Hulu and Netflix.

Read more by HS News Staff →

FARC Guerilla Extradited to US, Facing Kidnapping and Terrorism Charges of U.S. Citizens

FARC Guerilla Extradited to US, Facing Kidnapping and Terrorism Charges of U.S. Citizens

Photo: FARC Guerilla Beltran Herrera Extradiated

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Alexander Beltran Herrera, 35, aka Jhon Alexander Beltrain Herrera, aka Rodrigo Pirinolo, an accused member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), has been extradited from Colombia to face hostage taking and terrorism charges in the United States.

Beltran Herrera was extradited from Colombia to the US over the weekend to face charges in an indictment returned on Feb. 22, 2011.  The indictment, which names as defendants 18 members of the FARC, charges Herrera specifically with one count of conspiracy to commit hostage taking; three counts of hostage taking; one count of using and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence; one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

If convicted of all the charges against him, he faces a maximum potential sentence of life in prison.

FARC is an armed, violent organization in Colombia, which since its inception in 1964, has engaged in an armed conflict to overthrow the Republic of Colombia, South America’s longest-standing democracy.  The FARC has consistently used hostage taking as a primary technique in extorting demands from the Republic of Colombia.  Hostage taking has been endorsed and commanded by FARC senior leadership.  The FARC has characterized American citizens as “military targets” and has engaged in violent acts against Americans in Colombia, including murders and hostage taking.

The FARC was designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. Secretary of State in 1997 and remains so designated.

Beltran Herrera was allegedly involved in the hostage taking of three U.S. citizens, Marc D. Gosalves, Thomas R. Howes and Keith Stansell.  These three individuals, along with Thomas Janis, a U.S. citizen, and Sergeant Luis Alcides Cruz, a Colombian citizen, were seized on Feb. 13, 2003, by the FARC after their single engine aircraft made a crash landing near Florencia, Colombia.  Janis and Cruz were murdered at the crash site by members of the FARC.

According to the indictment, Gonsalves, Howes and Stansell were held by the FARC at gunpoint and were advised by FARC leadership that they would be used as hostages to increase international pressure on the government of the Republic of Colombia to agree to the FARC’s demands.

Throughout the captivity of these three hostages, FARC jailors and guards, including Beltran Herrera, used choke harnesses, chains, padlocks and wires to restrain the hostages, and used force and threats to continue their detention and prevent their escape.  The indictment also accuses Beltran Herrera of using and carrying a military-type machine gun during the hostage taking and providing material support and resources to aid in the hostage taking and to aid the FARC. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Celebrating Dali’s Sweet, Enduring Mini Masterpiece:  Chupa Chups

Celebrating Dali’s Sweet, Enduring Mini Masterpiece:  Chupa Chups

Photo: Chupa Chups Logo by Dali

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Did you know the famous Spanish lollipop, Chupa Chups, also had a famous logo designer, the surrealist Spanish painter, Salvador Dalí. 

The artist is most well known for his original masterpiece, Persistence of Memory, yet many Dalí enthusiasts might be surprised to know that another one of his masterpieces was created on a much smaller scale, that of a lollipop wrapper.

In 1969, Dalí met with friend and founder of the lollipop company, Enric Bernat.  Bernat was unimpressed with the logos he had been presented as branding for his sweet sucker and discussed his frustrations with his artist friend.  Dalí, nicknamed by some as ‘Avida Dollars’ or ‘eager for cash,’ expressed interest with the project and began sketching on old newspapers in the café.  After several hours of work, the famous daisy shaped logo was created.

Soon afterwards the daisy shaped ‘Chupa Chups,’ coming from the word ‘chupar’ meaning to suck, entered candy shops and are still being sold today.  The bright daisy, placed specifically on the top of the candy to keep the logo intact, can still be spotted in stores today by children as well as adults.

Read more at Fast Co. Design →

Xochimilco is Dying Experts Say

Xochimilco is Dying Experts Say

Photo: Xochimilco Facing Demise

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The ancient site of the Aztec’s floating gardens, Xochimilco, is quite possibly facing its demise.  The gardens, once bountiful and dating back to the time of the Aztecs, are now weedy and overrun by cattle.  The waters are invaded by foreign fish many extremely toxic after being fed by waste water treatment plants. 

Luis Zambrano, a biologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in the nation’s capital, has been studying the area for several years and attempting to help its ecosystem recover.  He believes that the decline began long ago upon the arrival of Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés in 1519.  It was then that they began draining the lakes and thus altering its ecosystem. 

Fisherman Roberto Altamirano is also working to save the UN World Heritage Site, by helping to remove the exotic fish from the canals.  Over the last two years, Altamirano netted close to 650 tons of these species of African tilapia and Asian carp and removed them from the waterways, yet when people hear of the fish’s origin many will not buy them.  There is a fear that the fish coming from the dirty waters of Xochimilco are too toxic to consume.

Zambrano is also concerned about the endangered salamander, the axolotl, once found in abundance in these waters.  In a 1998 survey, 6,000 axolotls were located per every square kilometer, while ten years later only a depressing 100 could be found.  Researchers have attempted to begin a rescue program for the salamanders and currently have 20 laboratory raised axolotls in this cleaned and netted stretch of canal.  However, Zambrano also states that they have not been able to locate one of these salamanders in the wild, famous for regenerating lost limbs, for months.  According to Zambrano, the future of Xochimilco and its wildlife does not look promising.  He states, “The place is dying.”

These canals fed close to 50 square miles of gardens during Aztec times which produced several crops a year, such as chiles, greens, cactus and herbs.  Yet, after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, life has steadily declined for Xochimilco.  Filled with rubble after the earthquake in Mexico City in 1985, reduced in size by almost half with the construction of a highway, as well as continuous neglect and lack of funding all have led to the possibly imminent demise of this wonder of the world. 

Martha Teresa Delgado, the environmental secretary for the Mexico City government, said that although many people have discussed possible solutions to save Xochimilco, no one has produced the funding to actually make it happen. 

Although he continues to work towards Xochimilco’s recovery, Zambrano does not sound optimistic.  “Things have been bad for a long time. But now we fear that the destruction is accelerating, that within our lifetimes this very special place will no longer exist,” Zambrano said. “It will just be a few dirty canals for the tourists and will mean nothing.”

Read more at Washington Post →

FARC Detonates Roadside Bomb Leaving 6 Wounded in Colombia

FARC Detonates Roadside Bomb Leaving 6 Wounded in Colombia

Photo: FARC Bombing Leaves 6 Wounded, Colombia

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Four soldiers and two civilians - a woman and a boy - were wounded when the FARC guerrilla group detonated a house rigged with explosives as a military convoy passed by in San Vicente del Caguan, a city in the southern Colombian province of Caqueta, a military commander said.

The attack occurred Saturday morning on the road that leads from the San Vicente del Caguan airport to the Cazadores Battalion base on the city’s outskirts, army 12th Brigade commander Gen. Fabricio Cabrera told Efe.

Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas detonated about 200 kilos (some 440 pounds) of explosives as the convoy approached, Cabrera said.

“The house bomb was made of cement and they had been preparing it since its construction, they even planted explosives in the foundation. They had it waiting for the right time until they detonated it as the military convoy was passing by,” Cabrera said.

The woman and the boy were walking on the road, which is surrounded by houses, about one kilometer (0.62 miles) from the downtown area.

The soldiers and the two wounded civilians were taken to a hospital in Florencia, the capital of Caqueta, and are out of danger, the general said.

The army vehicle hit by the blast was destroyed, the Juan Bosco school was damaged and the windows of the control tower at the airport were shattered, Cabrera said.

The damage to the control tower forced airport officials to restrict nighttime operations, Colombian Civil Aviation Agency director Santiago Castro said.

Airport officials, however, did not find any damage to the planes sitting on the landing strip at the time of the explosion.

The FARC, Colombia’s oldest and largest leftist guerrilla group, was founded in 1964, has an estimated 8,000 fighters and operates across a large swath of this Andean nation.

The Colombian government has made fighting the FARC a top priority and has obtained billions in U.S. aid for counterinsurgency operations.

The FARC has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years at the hands of the Colombian security forces.

Alfonso Cano, the FARC’s top leader, was killed on Nov. 4 in a military and police operation that the government hailed as the biggest blow to the FARC in its nearly 50-year history.

Cano, a 63-year-old intellectual who had entered the ranks of the FARC 30 years ago, was killed in in a remote area of the southwestern province of Cauca a few hours after fleeing a bombardment.

The FARC also suffered a series of blows in 2008, with the biggest coming in July of that year, when the Colombian army rescued a group of high-profile rebel-held captives: former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, U.S. military contractors Thomas Howes, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalves, and 11 other Colombian police officers and soldiers.

The FARC is on both the U.S. and EU lists of terrorist groups. Drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping-for-ransom are the FARC’s main means of financing its operations.

Read more by HS News Staff →



MondayMarch 12, 2012