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FridayApril 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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Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller to co-direct “Sin City” sequel

Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller to co-direct “Sin City” sequel

Photo: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller will co-direct "Sin City" sequel

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Director Robert Rodriguez and comics writer Frank Miller have joined forces to start production on a sequel to “Sin City,” a project that has been on hold for years but will finally begin shooting in the U.S. this summer, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The film dubbed “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” will be financed by AR Films and distributed by Dimension Films, an affiliate of The Weinstein Company.

Rodriguez and Miller will co-direct the sequel, also based on the like-named comics Miller published in the 1990s, as they did the original “Sin City” in 2005.

The story evolves around characters caught up in violence at Basin City, an ominous, corrupt metropolis.

The first “Sin City,” with Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro and Clive Owen headlining a distinguished cast, grossed more than $160 million.

Casting for the sequel will start next week and production is scheduled to kick off this summer at Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas.

“I have wanted to reteam with Frank Miller and return to the world he created since the day we wrapped the original but have felt a duty to the fans to wait until we had something truly exceptional that would meet and exceed what have become epic expectations,” the Hispanic filmmaker said.

“‘A Dame to Kill For’ will certainly be worth the wait,” Rodriguez, the director of “Desperado,” said.

Miller will also share scriptwriting chores with William Monahan.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Greenpeace Launches Cyber Campaign Urging Spain to Ban Coastal Drilling

Greenpeace Launches Cyber Campaign Urging Spain to Ban Coastal Drilling

Photo: Greenpeace Launches Cyber Campaign Urging Spain to Ban Coastal Drilling

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Greenpeace on Friday launched a cyber campaign to urge Spain’s minister of industry, energy and tourism, Jose Manuel Soria, to ban oil and natural gas drilling in coastal areas.

The group Ecologists in Action, meanwhile, announced that it will call on Spain and Morocco - via an EU-brokered accord - to pledge not to develop hydrocarbon deposits in the seabed between the Canary Islands and continental Africa, saying such a moratorium is needed to protect the region’s rich biodiversity.

The head of Greenpeace’s climate change and energy campaign, Sara Pizzinato, and the local spokeswoman for Ecologists in Action, Esther Fresno, presented the proposals on board the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker, which is anchored at Las Palmas, Canary Islands, after being used in a sustainable fishing campaign off western Africa.

The visit was a show of support for local organizations, institutions and civic movements that oppose Spanish-authorized oil prospecting 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the coasts of the easternmost Canary Islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.

Pizzinato noted that April 20 will mark the two-year anniversary of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, which unleashed the largest crude spill in U.S. history, and insisted that “we haven’t learned anything.”

Spanish-authorized oil prospecting at depths of up to 3,500 meters (11,475 feet) off the Canary Islands would be very similar to drilling work in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Greenpeace, which says that evidence of the dangers can be seen regularly despite Repsol’s safety assurances,

Oil released in the Deepwater Horizon blowout reached coastal areas 300 kilometers (185 miles) away, and if such a catastrophe occurred off the Canary Islands it would affect the entire archipelago, Pizzinato said.

She also said safety valves are not secure at the depths contemplated in the prospecting plans, and that it would be difficult to respond if a deepwater spill occurred.

Greenpeace also announced it will file an appeal with Spain’s Supreme Court against the government decree authorizing the prospecting.

Referring to the cyber campaign, Pizzinato said concerned individuals can contact Soria by that avenue and urge him to halt all oil and natural gas drilling, redirect the government’s focus to renewable energies, eliminate its moratorium on their use and promote more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazil allows abortion when fetus has major brain damage

Brazil allows abortion when fetus has major brain damage

Photo: Brazil Court rules aborting a fetus suffering from anencephaly is not an offence.

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Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal ruled that aborting a fetus suffering from anencephaly - the absence of a large part of the brain and the skull - is not a criminal offense.

Only two of the 11 justices voted against decriminalization, while another recused himself because he had previously argued the case while serving as a state attorney general.

One of the two “no” votes was cast by Chief Justice Cezar Peluso, who predicted the decision would lead to a “massacre” of anencephalic fetuses.

Until now, Brazil has permitted abortions only in cases of rape or a threat to the life of the mother.

A woman who terminates a pregnancy under any other circumstances faces up to three years in prison, while the doctor who performs the procedure can be jailed for four years.

Chief federal prosecutor Roberto Gurgel presented to the court an advisory document in support of decriminalizing abortion in cases of anencephaly.

The high court’s ruling came in response to a suit filed in 2004 by the National Confederation of Health Workers, which said that denying the option of termination to a woman carrying an anencephalic fetus violated the mother’s right to dignity.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Javier Bardem Could Share the Screen With Fassbender, Pitt in Ridley Scott Film “The Counselor”

Javier Bardem Could Share the Screen With Fassbender, Pitt in Ridley Scott Film “The Counselor”

Photo: Javier Bardem Could Share the Screen With Fassbender, Pitt in Ridley Scott Film "The Counselor"

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Ridley Scott has reportedly recruited both Brad Pitt and Spanish actor Javier Bardem to star alongside Michael Fassbender in the upcoming thriller The Counselor.

The Scott-directed film may also include Pitt’s partner Angelina Jolie, as rumors have been making their way around Hollywood. There is also said to be interest Natalie Portman to play the female lead.

In February, rumor had it that Bardem, who is currently filming alongside Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond movie Skyfall, and Pitt were up against each other for the role of the villain, but Deadline is now reporting that the heavy-hitters may both have a place in the film.

The Counselor follows the story of a lawyer (Fassbender), who finds himself in way over his head after getting involved in drug trafficking.

Production is set to begin production in late June, and Fox is expected to pick it up, as the director’s Scott Free company has a first look deal with the studio.

Jeremy Renner of The Bourne Legacy has reportedly signed on to be a part of the movie as well.

The screenplay for The Counselor was written by award-winning author Cormac McCarthy.

Bardem in particular has familiar with McCarthy’s work, as he played the sociopath antagonist in the film adaptation of McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, Anton Chigurh. The 2005 novel’s 2007 film by the same name won four Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Read more at Deadline →

VIDEO: Short Film Showcases a Corrupt Mexico with Child Actors

VIDEO: Short Film Showcases a Corrupt Mexico with Child Actors

Photo: Short film showcases child actors in a mock Mexico, sparking controversy.

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Film produced by the group Nuestro Del Futuro (Our Mexico of the Future) shows child actors as kidnappers, corrupt cops, drug traffickers, and greedy politicians in a mock Mexico. The video was indeed a much needed wake up call for the corruption and overwhelming violence that currently is enveloping the country.

As expected, the video sparked controversy with those who believed it to be a ploy of political manipulation that was also offensive to the innocence of children, even regarding as child abuse.

The group producers of the short film, headed by the Mexican insurance company GNP, published several advertisements in the paper mentioning that it merely reflected the life and concerns of citizens who have endured the same situations.

Congressman Mario di Costanzo didn’t agree with the group, arguing that there used of children in no way would help inspire change. He instead stated, ” It is unacceptable, scandalous, the they have shown children smoking, armed, kidnapping people with pistols and locking them in trucks.”

The 4-minute film called “Ninos Incomodo” (Discomforting Kids), themed with the 1970s balled “Una Manana” (One Morning), has so far accumulated more that 1.8 million views since its posting earlier in the week.


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LATINO BLOTTER: Drunken Gun Game in California Ends With 1 Death, 2 Arrests

LATINO BLOTTER: Drunken Gun Game in California Ends With 1 Death, 2 Arrests

Photo: LATINO BLOTTER: Drunken Gun Game in California Ends With 1 Death, 2 Arrests

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A Los Angeles area home was the site of a game gone horribly wrong over the weekend, when one man’s life was ended after being shot in the head.

On the night of Sunday, April 8, police say a group of friends were drinking and playing a game called “Pass the Pistol”, when two shots were fired from the gun, with one bullet shooting 25-year-old Saul Radillo Zacarias in the head.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office says 43-year-old Tito Roberto Diaz and the victim were guests at a party hosted by 25-year-old William Israel Jimenez and a roommate on April 8. Police, who responded to a “shots fired” call at the Van Nuys apartment, found the victim’s body in a dumpster outside of the complex.

The defendants were found underneath parked cars near the scene and arrested by officers of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Diaz is charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of carrying an unregistered, loaded handgun. The complaint also alleges that the defendant personally used a firearm, a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun.

Jimenez is charged with one count of accessory after the fact with a special allegation that a principal was armed with a firearm.

Diaz and Jimenez remain in custody. Bail for Diaz is recommended at $115,000, while Jimenez is being held on $40,000 bail.

If convicted as charged, Diaz faces a maximum sentence of 14 years, eight months in state prison and Jimenez faces a maximum term of four years in county jail.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Shakira Announces Alliance Funding Education for Poor Students

Shakira Announces Alliance Funding Education for Poor Students

Photo: Shakira announces alliance to provide funding education for low-income children.

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Colombian singer Shakira announced on the eve of the Americas Summit here an alliance of foundations to fund quality education for low-income children.

The alliance, which will invest $24 million during the first two years, comprises the superstar’s Pies Descalzos foundation, the Colombian Culture Ministry and several other NGOs.

“It’s an alliance specifically for the construction of 13 early-education centers that will benefit 6,200 kids with quality teaching,” Shakira said at an event in Cartagena’s Bicentenario neighborhood.

The artist, a native of the nearby city of Barranquilla, stressed the importance of the alliance, which is already instructing children under 6, “the most important years in human life, the ones that most shape their future,” she said.

At that age “the child’s brain, cognitive and motor faculties and the ability to form relationships with others begin to develop, so we’re convinced that we have to invest in them, the earlier the better,” Shakira said.

The 13 educational centers will be built in the Colombian provinces of Bolivar, Cundinamarca, Magdalena, Atlantico and Choco, all with high rates of extreme poverty.

Shakira planned to present the joint projects on Friday to an audience of executives and politicians at the Business Forum leading up to this weekend’s gathering of heads of state in Cartagena.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Costa Rica’s Dog Dilemma - One Million Abandoned a Year and 95% Come from Puppy Mills

Costa Rica’s Dog Dilemma - One Million Abandoned a Year and 95% Come from Puppy Mills

Photo: Costa Rica's Dog Dilemma - One Million Abandoned a Year and 95% Come from Puppy Mills

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Any responsible pet owner knows that owning pets, especially dogs, is a big responsibility. However, in Costa Rica there is a big dog dilemma.

With thousands of puppy mills, so-called breeders, and pet shops throughout the island nation, dogs are everywhere, yet sadly, an estimated one million dogs are released to the streets each year by owners no longer able to or perhaps no longer want to care for them.

Just as in many other countries, dogs in Costa Rica are used as status symbols, given as gifts to children and loved ones, and brought in as companions. However, when the novelty wears off and the dogs grow, often without proper training or space to live, they can become more work than their owners think they are worth, and the dogs are thrown out into the street.

Dogs once welcomed into homes are just as quickly left to fend for themselves on the streets and even given a new name, “callejeros” or “street dogs”.

ImageAnimals rescue workers have long urged residents to carefully consider bringing a pet into their home, and to never buy from pet stores, as many of the dogs come from puppy mills that continue to mistreat and over breed dogs, that as many now see just wind up on the streets.

During a recent National Geographic Channel documentary, “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Milan traveled to with Last Chance for Animals (LCA) to take a look inside puppy mills. Lat year, the Cesar Milan Foundation and LCA teamed up to create a PSA in Costa Rica tilted, “Adopt, Don’t Shop.”

See the Spanish-language PSA below.


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‘American Idol’ Judges Save Jessica Sanchez After the Singer Receives Fewest Votes (VIDEO)

‘American Idol’ Judges Save Jessica Sanchez After the Singer Receives Fewest Votes (VIDEO)

Photo: 'American Idol' Judges Save Jessica Sanchez After the Singer Receives Fewest Votes

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In a shocking turn of events on Thursday nights’ American Idol results show, teenage power house and thought-to-be leader of the pack, Jessica Sanchez received the least votes and was singing her final song on the AI stage, when judge Jennifer Lopez and her fellow judges rushed on stage.

“Give me that mic! This is crazy!” Lopez protested. “Yes, we’re using the save! You’re not going home,” she told the 17-year-old. “Go sit down!”

As an addition to the recent seasons of American Idol, the judges were given the power to “save” one singing from elimination a season. After being shocked at the seeing Sanchez in the bottom three, judge Randy Jackson called it “ridiculous.” So it was almost no surprise when the judges used this season’s save on the little lady with the big voice.

“Let me just say this, from myself, Steven and Jennifer,” Jackson said. “This girl is one of the best singers in America, ever. Are you kidding me? Please, everybody, please vote for the best,” he added. “It’s about finding the best.”

When the half-Mexican, half-Filipino was asked by host Ryan Seacrest if she was surprised to have recieved the lowest number of votes, the humble, yet confident singer said, “I don’t expect anything. I just want people to know that I’ve been working hard my whole life.”

Though many would hands-down pick Sanchez as one of the top contestants (if not the top contestant) this season, it appears anything is possible. And with this season’s judges’ save now in play, more surprises and upsets could be on the horizon.

What do you think? Did the judges make a good decision in using their save on Jessica Sanchez? Or should they have sent her packing and saved it for someone else?

Read more by HS News Staff →

New Shoe Line for Celebrity Chef Aaron Sanchez

New Shoe Line for Celebrity Chef Aaron Sanchez

Photo: Celebrity Chef Aaron Sanchez New Shoe Line

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Celebrity chef, Aaron Sanchez, knows how to stay on his toes, comfortably.  Sanchez is the star of the Food Network series, “Heat Seekers,” and the author of two cookbooks.  In addition he is the owner of three restaurants in New York and Kansas, and now is the designer of a new kitchen friendly footwear line. 

The Chef Signature Series, by the brand MOZO, a division of Deckers Outdoor Corporation, will feature a Latin flare.  On one slip on shoe, Sanchez carefully selected red, green and white, the colors of the Mexican flag.

According to Sanchez website, he is the “son of celebrated Mexican cooking authority Zarela Martinez.”  He opened his first restaurant in 2001 called Paladar, a pan-Latin inspiration on the Lower East Side of New York.  In 2005 Sanchez was nominated by the James Bear Foundation as the “Rising Star Chef of the Year”.

In order to prepare for this new endeavor, Sanchez told Footwear News, that he approached the project as he would a new dish.  “I got to know all the elements of the shoes,” said Sanchez. “I’m interested in their composition and how this affects their performance.” Although these shoes are designed for kitchen and restaurant workers, they will appeal to others as well.  “They’re not [just] about a chef’s shoe,” he said. “They’re visually appealing to workers in hospitals and can be worn with a sport coat. They have a mainstream [everyday] life to them.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latino Entertainers Join Sierra Club to Celebrate Earth Day

Latino Entertainers Join Sierra Club to Celebrate Earth Day

Photo: Latino Artists Supporting Sierra Club

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Jessica Alba, Gina Rodriguez, Edward James Olmos and many artists have joined the Sierra Club to celebrate Earth Day with other lovers of nature in a special video produced by the environmental organization.

Each artist shares his or her devotion to their special outdoor place. Other artists participating in the video include Bob Weir, Octavia Spencer, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Will Forte, Josh Jackson, Stan Lee, Tim & Eric, Coco Austin (Ice-T’s wife), and Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and mayor of the City of New York. From the parks of Los Angeles to Ensenada, New York, find out what is the special place for each one of them.

To celebrate Earth Day 2012, on April 22nd, join the Sierra Club in celebrating the mountains, deserts, grasslands, forests and rivers that form the great natural surroundings and remain an integral part of the character of America. The Sierra Club founder John Muir, was convinced that when you brought people to the natural environment of the earth they would fall in love and would be encouraged to protect it.

On April 22, more than one billion people, according to Earth Day 2012,  around the globe will participate in Earth Day 2012 and help Mobilize the Earth. People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Selena Gomez Launches Summer Apparel For Her Kmart Clothing Line

Selena Gomez Launches Summer Apparel For Her Kmart Clothing Line

Photo: Selena Gomez Launches Summer Apparel For Her Kmart Clothing Line

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On April 22, Selena Gomez will launch her summer apparel designs for her clothing line “Dream Out Loud” at Kmart. The former Disney star is also getting ready to debut her new perfume.

In 2010, Gomez launched fashion line “Dream Out Loud by Selena Gomez” with help from designers Tony Melilio and Sandra Campos. The line reflects the 21-year-old’s bohemian-inspired style with clothes made from recycled or eco-friendly materials.

Gomez is also said prepping the release of her new fragrance to be launched exclusively at Macy’s and Macys.com in May, with wider distribution planned for later in the year.

ImageLast summer, Adrenalina, an extreme sports and adventure-themed lifestyle brand, announced it had signed a fragrance license agreement with Gomez. Adrenalina stated that alongside Gomez it would develop, manufacture, and distribute the singer and actress’s fragrance throughout the world. Ilia Lekach, chairman and C.E.O. of Adrenalina, said, “We are incredibly enthused to be working with Ms. Gomez and will reveal more details pertaining to the fragrance as we get closer to the launch date.”

According to Women’s Wear Daily the fragrance smells of “orange, pineapple, peach and raspberry; [with] a heart of purple freesia, Cosmone musk and dewberry, and a drydown of amber, vanilla, chocolate and coconut. Eaux de parfum in two sizes, 1.7 oz. for $45 and 3.4 oz. for $55, will be sold.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Esperanza Spalding Rocks It on Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show’ (VIDEO)

Esperanza Spalding Rocks It on Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show’ (VIDEO)

Photo: Esperanza Spalding on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

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New Artist of the Year Grammy winner, Esperanza Spalding rocked it on last night’s ‘The Daily Show,” check out the video.

Spalding was on Jon Stewarts’ show to promote her new album ‘Radio Music Society’.  She performed “Black Gold” and “Crowned & Kissed”.  Her visit with Stewart came on the heels of her visit on the ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’. 

The jazz artist has a diverse background claiming Native American, Hispanic, African-American and Brazilian ancestry.  She was the first jazz artists to win the prestigious Grammy for Best New Artist in 2011.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latino Roots at Yale

Latino Roots at Yale

Photo: Latinos at Yale

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A new exhibit opened Monday at Yale University’s Sterling Memorial Library depicting the historical growth of Latinos on campus since the 1960s.  The exhibit, originally conceived as collaboration between the university library and Yale’s Latino Cultural Center, features historical documents which display the struggle of Latinos at the Ivy League University. 

Rosalinda Garcia, La Casa’s cultural director and assistant dean of Yale College, described the exhibit as allowing the Latino community to share their story with others.  According to Garcia the exhibit depicts a “story that is unfinished, but worth telling.  It’s crucial that our students know how hard their predecessors worked to secure all of the resources we have today.” 

Students and librarians have been working diligently on the preparation of the exhibit since November of 2010.  Kerri Sancomb, the exhibit’s preparator in the preservation department of the library devoted numerous hours to selecting historical information to include in the exhibit.  According to Garcia, Sancomb, “spent countless hours going through bins and bins of historical documents, trying to identify items to include.”  Students, such as Daniel Pizarro ART ’12, also participated in the creation of the exhibit.  “The exhibit was an opportunity for me to engage in cultural research, one that particularly inspired me due to its activist roots and provoked me to rethink my role as a student.”

Other students were equally inspired by the exhibit’s message.  Jessica Tordoff ’15, a non Latina, believes that the display “places the Latinos’ struggle into a broader context.”  A Latino student, Paulo Costa ’14 said that the exhibit should hopefully encourage the Yale administration to hire more Latino faculty. 

The exhibit itself focuses slightly more heavily on the 1970s after many documents from the 1980s and 1990s were missing from La Casa’s archives.  Garcia hopes that students and alumni will be inspired to acquire the missing information and donate it to the exhibit. 

According to the exhibit, in 1968 there were less than 10 Latino students at Yale University.  At the beginning of the 21st century, more than 20 graduate and undergraduate Latino groups were created on campus.  The exhibit will be on display until June.

Read more at Yale Daily News →

Obama Reiterates Commitment to Immigration Reform and Calls Republican Hypocrites

Obama Reiterates Commitment to Immigration Reform and Calls Republican Hypocrites

Photo: Obama interview

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The Interview, Conducted by “Noticiero Telemundo” News Anchor José Díaz-Balart Aired on Friday, April 13 (6:30 pm ET/PT, 5:30 pm CT). An Extended Version Will Run ON “Enfoque con José Díaz-Balart” on Sunday, April 15 (12 p.m. ET/PT, 11 a.m. CT)

President Barack Obama joined news anchor, José Díaz-Balart in an in-depth conversation about the economy, international relations, immigration reform and other subjects of interest to the Hispanic community, before heading to the “2012 Summit of the Americas” in Cartagena, Colombia.


The conversation opened with the subject of North Korea and the potential consequences of its recent failed missile test: “They make all these investments, tens of millions of dollars in rockets that don’t work at a time when their people are starving, literally. What we intend to do it to work with the international community to further isolate North Korea,” said the President.


When asked about immigration reform, the President blamed Republicans for blocking it: “Somehow Republicans want to have it both ways, they want to vote against these laws and appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment when we have a nominee who said that Arizona laws, which allow those same kids with Latino surnames to potentially be picked up and asked for their papers, and then they come and say: ‘but we really care about getting this issue resolved once and for all.’ That looks like hypocrisy to me. What I want to see is folks to be serious about getting this issue resolved once and for all. I am prepared to do it. I am going to fight for it, I am going to push for it, and I think the vast majority of democrats are going to do so as well.”

The interview is part of a series of informative specials and segments that make up “Decisión 2012,” a Telemundo News initiative that houses all reporting related to the 2012 elections, complemented with the public service campaign “Vota por tu futuro” (“Vote for your future”) created to raise awareness among the Hispanic population about the importance of exercising the right to vote.

Read more by HS News Staff →

“Latin America is Booming” Marriott Aims to Double Footprint in Caribbean and Latin America by 2017

“Latin America is Booming” Marriott Aims to Double Footprint in Caribbean and Latin America by 2017

Photo: marriott in Latin America

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More than 70 additional hotels and 14,000 new jobs planned in the next five years. Heralding a “golden age of travel,” Marriott International (NYSE: MAR) plans to double the number of hotels in the Caribbean and Latin America within the next five years. Arne Sorenson, the new CEO of Marriott International, will make the announcement at the Americas CEO Summit in Cartagena, Colombia, adding that the number of jobs at Marriott hotels in the region is expected to increase from 13,000 to 27,000 by the end of 2017.

The company also said it expects to double its presence in Colombia with the additions of Marriott hotels in both Cartagena and Cali.

This year’s hotel openings in the region showcase the company’s broad portfolio of top brands, including the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the Americas at Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico to the JW Marriott in Cusco, Peru and the Courtyard by Marriott at Mexico City Airport.

Currently, Marriott has 35 hotels signed and under development in the Caribbean and Latin America.  These include The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba, The Ritz-Carlton, Panama City (Panama), JW Marriott Cusco (Peru), Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel (Haiti) and the Renaissance Santiago (Chile).  By 2017, Marriott envisions its portfolio in the region rising to over 140 hotels and 30,000 rooms either opened or in the development pipeline.
Today, Marriott International is represented with 69 hotels in 25 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America. Nine of Marriott’s 18 brands are currently represented in the region:  The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott (luxury); Marriott Hotels & Resorts (upscale); Renaissance Hotels and Autograph Collection (lifestyle); Courtyard by Marriott (upper moderate);  Marriott Executive Apartments and Residence Inn by Marriott (extended stay); and Fairfield by Marriott (moderate).

“Latin America is booming, in terms of economic growth and political and institutional stability, which is creating a promising business climate,” said Mr. Sorenson, whose title is president and CEO. “The rising middle class throughout the region is eager to travel to new places and do business on the road. Worldwide, we’re seeing a golden age of travel, and Latin America is at the forefront.  This, when combined with the strong performance and preference of our brands in the gateway markets, provides tremendous opportunity for Marriott’s world class brands and service.”

“This is an exciting time for hotel development in Latin America; the growing regional demand and broadening market, combined with the lack of consistent domestic hotel product and service, represents a large opportunity to develop upscale branded hotels as well as multi-unit moderate tier development platforms with local partners in the region,” said Laurent De Kousemaeker, chief development officer, Caribbean and Latin American Region, for Marriott International.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico and Cuba Consider Doing Joint Oil Exploration in Gulf of Mexico

Mexico and Cuba Consider Doing Joint Oil Exploration in Gulf of Mexico

Photo: Mexico and Cuba Work for Oil Together

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon said his country’s state-owned oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos, is considering participating and investing in crude and natural gas exploration and production projects in Cuban territorial waters.

He commented at the end of his first official visit to the Communist-ruled island, where he reached agreements to boost bilateral trade and investment, as well as bi-national cooperation in health, education, culture and sports.

On the energy front, Pemex and Cuban counterpart Cupet signed a “non-binding letter of intent” to evaluate the Mexican company’s possible direct participation in oil exploration and production in Cuba’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico.

Calderon, whose term expires late this year, said before departing Cuba that Pemex was considering participating in blocks contiguous to Mexico’s exclusive zone in the Gulf of Mexico, “always with full respect for both countries’ sovereignty.”

Cuba’s EEZ covers some 112,000 sq. kilometers (43,240 sq. miles) and is divided into 59 blocks, 22 of which have been awarded to foreign companies such as Spain’s Repsol-YPF, Venezuela’s PDVSA and PetroVietnam.

Cuba says the zone holds as much as 20 billion barrels of crude, while other estimates put the EEZ’s reserves at between 5-9 billion barrels.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spain: With Surprising Number of Allegedly Stolen Babies, Gov’t to Set Up Database

Spain: With Surprising Number of Allegedly Stolen Babies, Gov’t to Set Up Database

Photo: Spain: With Surprising Number of Allegedly Stolen Babies, Gov't to Set Up Database

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Following a wave of allegations of illegal adoptions, Spain’s government pledged Thursday to set up a database of infants who may have been stolen during the 1939-1975 Franco dictatorship and beyond.

The government announced that and other measures after meeting with associations of affected parents and families on Thursday, the same day the first suspect in the baby-stealing scandal, 80-year-old Sister Maria Gomez Valbuena, appeared before Madrid’s Superior Tribunal of Justice.

Prosecutors in different Spanish provinces are investigating hundreds of cases of alleged child-stealing, especially between 1950 and 1990.

The national government, which said the measures are aimed at “determining the real scope of the problem,” also will create a working group coordinated by the Justice Ministry and the Attorney General’s Office.

The Justice Ministry will facilitate efforts to gather evidence from public registries, including information about births and possible deaths of newborns over the past 50 years.

Health officials, for their part, will gather information from hospitals after gaining prior authorization, working in collaboration with regional health services.

The justice, interior and health ministers - Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon, Jorge Fernandez Diaz and Ana Mato, respectively - and Attorney General Eduardo Torres-Dulce met Thursday with representatives of associations comprising people who say their babies were taken from them.

More than 1,400 official enquiries had been opened and 14 exhumations carried out through Nov. 14, 2011.

The acting national ombudswoman, Maria Luisa Cava de Llano, has asked the AG’s office to send her updated information on the investigations.

Gomez Valbuena, who refused to testify in Thursday’s hearing, is the first person accused in the scandal; Maria Luisa Torres alleges the Sisters of Charity nun took her daughter from her in 1982 at a Madrid hospital.

The nun, who has been named in dozens of complaints filed by mothers who say their newborn children were stolen and “sold” into adoption, worked at the Santa Cristina hospital in the Spanish capital at the time the alleged crimes occurred.

Torres told the judge that Gomez Valbuena first tried to tell her the baby had died during labor and later said she was taking the newborn from her because she was an “adulterer” who was not married to the child’s father.

The scandal came to light in 2008 following the passage of the Historical Memory Law, when Spaniards began learning about children being snatched away from Republican families and placed with Franco supporters during the 1936-1939 civil war and subsequent dictatorship.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Latinos and NASCAR:  A Growing Friendship

Latinos and NASCAR:  A Growing Friendship

Photo: Adrian Fernandez, NASCAR driver

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The Hispanic stamp is becoming ever more prominent on the NASCAR circuit, with Latino drivers and teams and, even, marketing strategies directed at that segment to broaden the sport’s fan base.

In a mechanical workshop in Mooresville, North Carolina, a team of five people is making history each day by working for Viva la Raza Racing, the first Hispanic NASCAR team in the United States.

Oscar Sanchez, the director of Promo Race, the Mexican firm that is sponsoring the project, told Efe that his first dream had “become reality” when the team was formed in February and that 2012 will be a “learning year.”

“We’ll seek and support Hispanic talent, youngsters from 17 to 20 years old, who want to race, but we also need the sponsorship of brands that support this initiative, both in Mexico as well as in the United States, who are seeking to penetrate the Hispanic market,” he emphasized.

The team will participate this year in the races of the Whelen All-American Series and K&N Pro Series, with an eye toward getting into the main categories, the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series.

Cody Sommer, the team chief for Viva la Raza, says that over the next 10 years, Hispanics will form “a fundamental part of NASCAR.”

“I see and I believe in the potential there is in this market. There’s a need for companies or someone who sponsors, for a long time, the team, with mechanics, drivers, cars. NASCAR can come to be the main sport of Hispanics,” he said.

To achieve that, NASCAR acknowledges that it must invest more in advertising and public relations initiatives to reach a potential market of more than 50 million Hispanics in the United States.

NASCAR recently began to seek a marketing agency with experience in the youth segment, multicultural, with an emphasis on the Hispanic market, online marketing and media planning.

Tyson Webber, the accounts vice president for GMR Marketing in Charlotte, said that the key to motivating Hispanics is “education.”

“There’s no doubt about the growth potential of the Latino population and above all the buying power for any brand,” Webber - who managed the ad campaign for Lowe’s, the main figure of which was Mexican NASCAR driver Adrian Fernandez - told Efe on Thursday.

“You have to understand the Hispanic market and increase your knowledge about NASCAR. This won’t happen overnight, but it’s already begun and especially among the youngest fans,” the sports marketing expert said.

Nine years ago, NASCAR created the program Drive for Diversity, an initiative that each year gathers together the talents of minority drivers and female members of the pit crew.

However, Hugo Lopez, the publisher of the Mexican sports newspaper La Cascarita in Charlotte, who has closely followed the interest in NASCAR by taking Hispanic fans to the racetracks, told Efe that what’s needed is “more promotion.”

“There are Hispanics who don’t know ... that there are Hispanic NASCAR drivers. The organization is certainly working harder to get to that market but I think it lacks the figure or the driver who everyone can follow,” Lopez said.

Along those lines, some of the sport’s fans say they feel that the changeover of Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya from Formula 1 to NASCAR has contributed to getting more Hispanic interested in the sport.

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FridayApril 13, 2012