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FridayMay 18, 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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8 Arrested In Mexico May Be Linked To the Massacre of 49 People

8 Arrested In Mexico May Be Linked To the Massacre of 49 People

Photo: Mexican army soldiers took part in the operation in Nuevo Leon

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Mexican army soldiers detained eight purported members of the Gulf drug cartel during an operation in the small northeastern town of China, the Defense Secretariat said.

The troops taking part in the ground recon operation in Nuevo Leon state seized four rifles, a handgun, three hand grenades, 881 rounds of ammunition of different calibers, 34 ammunition clips for different weapons, a kilo of white powder (apparently cocaine), two vehicles and tactical and communications gear from the suspects, the secretariat said Thursday in a statement.

The detainees may be linked to the massacre of 49 people whose mutilated bodies were found on May 13 in Cadereyta, a city outside the Nuevo Leon state capital of Monterrey, local media cited officials as saying.

The Mexican government blames the massacre on a multi-state turf war pitting an alliance of the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels against the rival Los Zetas mob.

Interior Secretary Alejandro Poire said recently the massacre in Cadereyta could be related to other multiple homicides in previous weeks in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, the northwestern state of Sinaloa and the western state of Jalisco.

More than 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon took office five-and-a-half years ago and militarized the struggle against the country’s numerous, well-funded drug cartels.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spain Hoping to Increase Economic Relations with Brazil

Spain Hoping to Increase Economic Relations with Brazil

Photo: Spain's foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, spoke of the objective

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Spain’s foreign minister lobbied in Sao Paulo Thursday for strengthening “economic diplomacy” to tighten economic and trade links between his country and Brazil.

On his first visit to the Latin American country since he took over his Cabinet duties, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo’s objective is to stress Brazil’s importance “as a strategic partner,” he told a press conference at the headquarters of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce.

Spain is the second-largest foreign investor in Brazil, with a total of $85 billion invested here so far, according to official figures.

The minister, who on Thursday met in Sao Paulo with representatives of Spanish groups with interests in the country, said that one of his priorities is to provide more resources and training to Spain’s diplomatic legations to contribute to the process of internationalizing Spanish business.

He said the 47 Spanish embassies and 54 consulates that lack trade attaches will receive the proper training to guarantee they can provide support for Spanish businesses who are seeking economic opportunities abroad.

As the executive director of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Maria Luisa Castelo, told Efe, one of the points discussed with Garcia-Margallo during the meeting concerned the difficulties for small and medium-sized businesses who want to establish operations in Brazil.

Castelo emphasized the costs of setting up in the country and the high level of bureaucracy as two of the thorny points for smaller firms who want to enter the Brazilian market.

The minister’s visit to Sao Paulo was scheduled to end Thursday afternoon with a visit by the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, and a reception at the Miguel de Cervantes school.

Garcia-Margallo met on Wednesday in Brasilia with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Rome Masters Will Have 2 Spaniards, Nadal and Ferrer, Go Head-to-Head in Semifinals

Rome Masters Will Have 2 Spaniards, Nadal and Ferrer, Go Head-to-Head in Semifinals

Photo: Rome Masters Will Have 2 Spaniards, Nadal and Ferrer, Go Head-to-Head in Semifinals

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Spain’s Rafael Nadal battled past Czech Tomas Berdych 6-4, 7-5 Friday to book his spot in the Rome Masters semifinals, where countryman David Ferrer awaits.

Nadal and Berdych, the runner-up in last week’s Madrid event, treated the crowd at the Foro Italico to a high level of baseline tennis and a contrast of styles between the Spaniard’s heavy topspin and the Czech’s flatter drives.

The world No. 3 got off to a fast start by breaking Berdych’s serve in the opening game and then avoided complications by staving off a break point three games later en route to a 3-1 lead.

Highly efficient on his service games early on, Nadal put 84 percent of his first serves in play and won 90 percent of those points in taking the first set in 46 minutes.

The big-hitting Berdych seemed intent on taking the match the distance when he grabbed a break of serve in the sixth game of the second set and then consolidated it one game later to take a 4-3 lead.

But Nadal then began striking his ground strokes with more authority and making forays into the net to heap the pressure on Berdych, whose unforced errors allowed the Spaniard to tie up the score at 4-4.

The world No. 7 managed to move within one game of the set after battling through a back-and-forth service game that went to several deuces and in which he had to fight off a few break points.

The Czech, however, was unable to repeat the story two games later, dropping serve to fall behind 5-6 and then bowing out in the next game when he sent a forehand wide of the sideline.

“I played one of my best matches on clay against a difficult opponent,” Nadal said in the post-match press conference. “It was a big match and one of the higher quality matches this year because the level of the opponent is high and he is playing with big confidence.”

“I played under pressure all the time in the match; my chances on the return were few so I had to be focused. I hit a few fantastic shots and this kind of shot comes with confidence,” the world No. 3 said.

Nadal is trying to rebound after a disappointing early exit in last week’s Madrid event, where he complained bitterly about the controversial and slippery blue-clay courts. He also was leapfrogged in the rankings by Swiss arch-rival Roger Federer after his third-round loss there to countryman Fernando Verdasco.

Next up for five-time champion Nadal in Saturday’s semifinals will be Ferrer, who continued his strong run of form this clay-court season by defeating Frenchman Richard Gasquet on Friday 7-6 (7-4), 6-3.

The two Spaniards squared off in a tightly contested final a few weeks ago in another clay-court event in Barcelona, where Nadal prevailed 7-6 (7-1), 7-5.

Ferrer, the world No. 6, trails in his head-to-head against Nadal 14-4 and told reporters after advancing to the semifinals that the 10-time Grand Slam champion will have to “have a bad day” if he is to pull off the upset.

The other semifinal will be a blockbuster contest pitting world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the defending champion, against Federer, who is seeking his first title at this tournament.

Both players put on impressive displays in their quarterfinal matches Friday, with Djokovic rolling past French world No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 6-1 before Federer dispatched Italy’s Andreas Seppi 6-1, 6-2 in the night match.

The Rome Masters is one of the most important clay-court events on the ATP calendar and the last big tune-up for the French Open, which gets underway later this month.

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. Pleads For Fair Trial Of Brooklyn Contractor Imprisoned in Bolivia

U.S. Pleads For Fair Trial Of Brooklyn Contractor Imprisoned in Bolivia

Photo: Jacob Ostreicher was imprisoned in January 2011

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The U.S. government expressed concern Thursday about a 53-year-old American who is on hunger strike in a Bolivian prison and demanded that La Paz ensure he receives a fair and “transparent” trial.

Jacob Ostreicher, a 53-year-old flooring contractor from Brooklyn, New York, began the hunger strike last month to protest his continuing incarceration without formal charges.

“We are worried about his physical well-being,” State Department spokesman William Ostick told Efe.

“We recognize that Mr. Ostreicher’s case is subject to the jurisdiction of the Bolivian judicial system,” the official said. “We urge the Bolivian government to make every possible effort to guarantee a fair, transparent and prompt trial for Mr. Ostreicher.”

U.S. consular officials visit Ostreicher whenever he asks and are ready to see him more often if he wishes, Ostick said, adding that the diplomats have been present at every court hearing in the case.

Since Ostreicher’s arrest, on Jan. 3, 2011, U.S. authorities have maintained frequent contact with Bolivian officials “at the highest level” to urge that the American receive due process, the State Department spokesman said.

Ostreicher went to Bolivia in 2008 to start a rice plantation in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, in partnership with several other people.

His Bolivian defense lawyer, Jimmy Montaño, said prosecutors began investigating the U.S. man for alleged money laundering after Ostreicher’s Bolivian agent purchased land from two Brazilian nationals suspected of ties to drug trafficking.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Environmental Group Commends Mexican Farmworker For His Stance on Food Justice

Environmental Group Commends Mexican Farmworker For His Stance on Food Justice

Photo: Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) fight for food justice

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Lucas Benitez, a Mexican immigrant who helped organize fellow farmworkers in Florida, shared with colleague Greg Asbed the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Growing Green Award in the category of Food Justice.

“We in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers feel proud,” Benitez told Efe from San Francisco, where the Growing Green Awards ceremony took place.

“The NRDC started giving these awards four years ago, but today is the first time it includes the category of Food Justice, which consists of growing food in fields where human rights and the environment are respected,” he said.

A native of the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, Benitez was only 17 when he migrated to the Southwest Florida town of Immokalee in 1992 to look for work.

“When I arrived to work in the agriculture industry in the tomato fields of Immokalee I experienced, along with my co-workers, a great lack of respect on the part of owners and supervisors,” he recalled.

“There were bosses that even let you see a pistol to intimidate, so no one says anything,” Benitez said, adding that a worker who slipped away for a moment to drink some water would routinely face verbal and physical abuse.

But it was theft of wages that ultimately drove the workers to fight back, he said.

“One day, at the end of 1992 we - Mexicans, Central Americans and Haitians - decided to organize to demand our rights and in 1995 we had the first general strike of more than 3,000 workers for a week,” the CIW co-founder said.

“With this,” he continued, “we managed to get the country’s attention and we exposed what was happening in the agricultural areas of Florida.”

Building on the initial strike, the CIW spearheaded public campaigns to persuade fast-food chains to put pressure on growers to improve pay and working conditions for farmworkers, campaigns that led to significant concessions by employers.

Burger King Corporation, Yum! Brands - parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and other chains - and McDonald’s eventually signed accords with the CIW to nearly double the piece-work rate for tomato pickers.

CIW’s 2005 agreement with Yum! Brands came after a four-year-long battle that included a national boycott of the conglomerate’s Taco Bell chain.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Santa Muerte Cult Members Charged with Murders of Boys, Woman

Santa Muerte Cult Members Charged with Murders of Boys, Woman

Photo: Santa Muerte Cult Members Charged with Murders of Boys, Woman

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Eight people have been formally charged for the horrific murders of two young boys and a woman.

Mexican prosecutors say the suspects claimed they killed two 10-year-old boys and a 55-year-old as offerings to Santa Muerte (Saint Death or Holy Death).

The 8 suspects are said to be members of an extended family and now face charges of conspiracy, corrupting minors, first-degree homicide, illegal burial, and robbery. Some face sentences of up 50 years in prison.

One of suspects is a 15-year-old who will be held in a separate youth facility until she turns 18.

The victims were killed between 2009 and 2012.

Santa Muerte is a sacred figure often followed by criminals and drug traffickers. Figures depicted the saint generally appear as skeletal figures clad in long robes and carrying one or more objects, usually a scythe and a globe.

The cult of Santa Muerte has been condemned by the Catholic Church of Mexico though is still relatively popular in lower classes and those in the crime world.

It has been estimated that about two million people across Mexico and the U.S. are now a part of the Santa Muerte cult.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jessica Sanchez Makes Top Two on ‘American Idol’ - Can She Win it All?

Jessica Sanchez Makes Top Two on ‘American Idol’ - Can She Win it All?

Photo: Jessica Sanchez Makes Top Two on 'American Idol' - Can She Win it All?

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On Thursday night’s elimination show, Jessica Sanchez was revealed as one of the final two contestants on Fox’s American Idol.

Week after week, the 16-year-old from Chula Vista, California has impressed both the viewers and judges alike with her big voice.

Throughout the 11th season of American Idol the half-Filipino half-Mexican songstress has belted out covers of some of the most powerful singers’ songs. Sanchez has showed her stuff singing songs by the late Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, as well as Jennifer Holiday, AI alum Jennifer Hudson, and Luther Vandross.

Next week, Sanchez will go up against fellow finalist Phillip Phillips of Leesburg, Georgia and find out if she is the next American Idol.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombia’s Ecopetrol Market Value Hits $126.72 Billion, Overtakes Brazil’s Petrobras

Colombia’s Ecopetrol Market Value Hits $126.72 Billion, Overtakes Brazil’s Petrobras

Photo: Colombia's state-run Ecopetrol is now Latin America's most valuable company

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Colombian oil company Ecopetrol overtook Brazilian energy firm Petrobras earlier this week to become Latin America’s largest public company by market value, according to a study by Sao Paulo-based consultancy Economatica.

Though their shares are publicly traded, both companies are controlled by their respective governments.

Ecopetrol’s market capitalization, or the value of its outstanding shares, rose to $126.72 billion at Tuesday’s market close from $89.4 billion at the end of December, when it ranked as the fifth-biggest company, the study said.

Petrobras’ market value, meanwhile, fell from $155.44 billion at the end of 2011 to $123.86 billion at Tuesday’s market close, the study added.

According to Economatica, a decline in Petrobras’ share price in recent weeks coupled with the sharp depreciation of the Brazilian real relative to the U.S. dollar in 2012 have caused the company’s market capitalization to plunge to its March 2009 level.

Ecopetrol’s market value now also is higher than that of Brazilian mining conglomerate Vale, which currently ranks fourth with a market capitalization of $96.59 billion, down from $105.53 billion in December when it was in second place.

Vale also was leapfrogged by Brazilian brewer AmBev, whose market value rose from $99.99 billion at the end of last year to $109.76 billion on Tuesday.

Mexico City-based telecom giant America Movil remained in fifth place with a market capitalization of $94.62 billion at Tuesday’s market close, while Brazilian banks Itau-Unibanco and Bradesco stayed in sixth and seventh place with market values of $61.13 billion and $49.96 billion, respectively.

Wal-Mart de Mexico, $47.12 billion; Santander Brasil bank, $29.94 billion; and state-controlled Banco do Brasil, $29.48 billion, currently hold positions eight through 10.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: After 5 DUIs in 5 Weeks, 45-Year-Old NJ Man Arrested

LATINO BLOTTER: After 5 DUIs in 5 Weeks, 45-Year-Old NJ Man Arrested

Photo: After 5 DUIs in 5 Weeks, 45-Year-Old NJ Man Arrested

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How this man was still able to drive the New Jersey roads is beyond comprehension.

On Wednesday, Anderson Sotomayor, 45, was arrested after being caught driving under the influence for the fifth in just five weeks.

Just before noon, police pulled Sotomayor over in Vineland, NJ after a concerned citizen called police to tell he was driving even though he should not be. Officers caught up to Sotomayor quickly and noticed he was driving erratically.

Officers say that when they approached the vehicle, Sotomayor had a can of beer in his lap and even admitted to taking oxycontin earlier that morning. He reportedly refused to take a breathalyzer.

Prior to Wednesday’s incident, Sotomayor was caught driving the wrong way on a one-way street before hitting the curb and driving off the road on Saturday. Prior to that, he was charged with DUI on April 9, 11, and 25.

According to a local ABC affiliate:

He was also issued five summonses - not including drunken driving - on April 2. Police say that day, he swerved around a school bus as it unloaded kids, ran into a stop sign, smashed into a car and fled the scene of the accident.

His driving record includes two prior drunk driving convictions in 1989 and 1992. His license has been suspended 23 times and he’s got multiple violations for speeding and careless driving. But his license was recently restored.

Sotomayor was charged with illegal use of CDS, DWI, Reckless, Driving, Failure to maintain lane, and having an open container of an alcohol beverage in a motor vehicle.

For his alleged oxycontin use, Sotomayor’s bail has been set at $10,000 though he remains in jail in lieu of bail.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Conflict Arises Over Mariela Castro Being Granted U.S. Visa for California Conference

Conflict Arises Over Mariela Castro Being Granted U.S. Visa for California Conference

Photo: Conflict Arises Over Mariela Castro Being Granted U.S. Visa for California Conference

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Now that Raul Castro’s daughter has received a U.S. visa to attend an academic event in California some are protesting.

Mariela Castro was granted a visa by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and that decision has upset a number of Cuban-American activists and lawmakers.

President Castro’s daughter, head of CENESEX (Center for Sex Education), a campaign to raise awareness in Cuba to stop homophobia, will participate in the 30th Congress of the Latin American Studies Association, which will be held May 23-26 in San Francisco.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), has criticized Mariela being given the visa, saying she is “a vociferous advocate of the regime and opponent of democracy, who has defended the regime’s brutal repression of democracy activists.”

Menendez is among those who feel it is preposterous to allow her entry to the U.S. while American contractor Alan Gross remains in Cuba unable to leave and U.S. diplomats in Havana are being increasingly harassed by the Communist regime, some having their tires slashed and pets poisoned.

Last week, Mariela called the support of U.S. President Barack Obama for same-sex marriage “excellent.”

“I congratulate President Obama for a humane message,” Castro stated, “[One] of understanding, where he acknowledges ... that he, too, has been changing his opinion in favor of marriage, the free union of same-sex couples.”

With the granting of this visa, one has to wonder if Castro’s visa marks the start of a change in U.S. policy.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Man Killed, 2 Women Stabbed, Baby Found in Car Seat Outside

Man Killed, 2 Women Stabbed, Baby Found in Car Seat Outside

Photo: Man Killed, 2 Women Stabbed, Baby Found in Car Seat Outside

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A driver’s Saturday night discovery led police to a gruesome crime scene in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The driver reported seeing a baby on the side of the road, and when police arrived they found a 3-month-old boy in a car seat.

Authorities began looking for the mother after a neighbor said they believed the mother lived nearby. When officers arrived at woman’s home, no one answered, but distress sounds could be heard coming from inside. The officers kicked down the door and witnessed a terrible scene.

Police found two women and man bound and bleeding from apparent stab wounds. The man, identified as Javier Maldonado, 32, had succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. The women, whose names were not released were 36 and 18. The 18-year-old is the mother of the baby and her mother was the 36-year-old. Maldonado was the boyfriend of the older woman.

It is unclear why the baby was left outside or who left him there. There are currently no suspects in the case, though police say the incident was not random. Authorities are calling the women, who are both in critical condition, the key witnesses in the case, though due to their condition had not been interviewed.

The baby, who was not injured, was placed with the Department of Children and Families.

Read more by HS News Staff →

City Baffled as Someone Breaks into Car, Steals Nothing, Leaves Tortillas

City Baffled as Someone Breaks into Car, Steals Nothing, Leaves Tortillas

Photo: City Baffled as Someone Breaks into Car, Steals Nothing, Leaves Tortillas

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It looks like someone in Seattle, WA has a unique sense of humor…or maybe they were just really drunk.

An unidentified person in the rainy city reportedly broke into someone’s Jeep by breaking a window. What has everyone baffled however, is that nothing was stolen. Something was left behind though.

Seattle police say about a dozen tortillas were found scattered across the floor of the vehicle.

With no suspect and nothing actually stolen, the Seattle Police Department has poked fun at the situation and released this ‘punny’ message:

The Seattle Police Department would like to take this opportunity to remind car prowlers that you shouldn’t break in to something that’s nachos.

The Jeep had been parked near the University of Washington.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Hastings Center Addressing Issue of Undocumented Immigrants Lack of Access to Healthcare

Hastings Center Addressing Issue of Undocumented Immigrants Lack of Access to Healthcare

Photo: Hastings Center and Undocumented Immigrants

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A new website of The Hastings Center seeks to identify who the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are and issues around health care access for them.

When they get sick, more than 11 million residents of the United States confront two flawed systems: immigration and health care. Through this project, The Hastings Center is exploring the consequences of excluding undocumented immigrants and migrants from obtaining health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and the continuing exclusion of this population from Medicaid coverage and most other entitlement programs.

The site is geared to journalists, policymakers, advocates, and anyone who is interested in issues concerning undocumented patients. It features:

• issue briefs on the demographic and socioeconomic status of undocumented immigrants, their use of health care, and how U.S. policy affects their access to care

• an interactive database of key resources featuring selected journal articles, policy studies, and media reports on undocumented immigrants, the health care safety net, and related issues

• a news feed, updated continuously, with the latest developments on undocumented immigrants and their access to health care

In the coming months, new features will appear, including a special report on the arguments for providing health care to undocumented patients and offering an ethical framework for clinicians, health care organizations, and others who care for and advocate on behalf of this population. The website will also include updates on journal articles, presentations, and other project activities.

The website is part of a Hastings Center research project that explores ethical, legal, and policymaking challenges that arise when undocumented immigrants living in the US need medical care.

The Hastings Center is an independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit bioethics research institute founded in 1969 located in Garrison, New York.

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Activists Plan to Protest Carlos Slim’s Honorary Degree from George Washington University

Activists Plan to Protest Carlos Slim’s Honorary Degree from George Washington University

Photo: Carlos Slim to Face Protest at George Washington University

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Nearly 1,000 Latino leaders, students, community activists and others from across the U.S. will come to the National Mall in Washington DC this Sunday, May 20th, 2012 to protest the presentation of Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, with an honorary degree from George Washington University during its graduation ceremony. 

According to the ‘Two Countries One Voice’ coalition this effort is:  “committed to exposing Slim’s predatory, monopolistic methods with which he has amassed his fortune.”

The coalition sent a letter to George Washington University officials requesting that it sever all ties with Slim and not honor such a man who made his billions on the backs of the Mexican poor.

The University declined the request.

This coalition like many in Mexico feel Slim’s America Movil company is monopolistic with its control of 80% of Mexico’s telecommunications and that it “price-gouges Mexican customers billions of dollars for basic telephone and Internet service,” while Telemex is enjoying a profit margin of 47%.

Read more by HS News Staff →

New U.S. Census Report Shows More Than Half of Infants Are Minorities

New U.S. Census Report Shows More Than Half of Infants Are Minorities

Photo: According to the Census Bureau 50.4% of babies were from minority groups

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For the first time in U.S. history, the majority of the population under the age of 1 are minorities, according to figures released Thursday by the Census Bureau.

According to estimates, 50.4 percent of U.S. babies were from minority groups as of July 1, 2011, compared with 49.5 percent the previous years.

The Census Bureau confirmed that the total percentage of the population belonging to minorities in 2011 was 36.6 percent, an increase of 0.5 percent in a little more than a year compared with the figures for 2010.

“Today’s news on the Census numbers confirms what we’ve known for a while: In the next few decades, there will not be an ethnic majority in our nation,” the Center for American Progress’ Vanessa Cardenas said.

“The new numbers,” she said, “also require us to pause and reflect about what kind of country we want to be 20, 30 years from now and are an urgent call for us to address the education, health care, and economic disparities that plague the communities that are growing the most.”

“If we are successful in giving them the tools they need, the United States will be poised to be more innovative and more competitive in an increasingly globalized economy,” according to Cardenas, director of CAP’s Progress 2050 initiative.

Jurisdictions where the presence of minorities is greatest include Hawaii, with 77.1 percent; the District of Columbia, 64.7 percent; California, 60.3 percent; New Mexico, 59.8 percent; and Texas, 55.2 percent.

No other state has a minority population exceeding 46.4 percent.

On the national level, the minority group with the greatest numbers continues to be Hispanics with 52 million people in 2011 and the highest growth rate - 3.1 percent - which increased the proportion of Hispanics in the country’s total population from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 16.7 percent last year.

“The Latino population is very young, which means they will continue to have a lot of births relative to the general population,” Mark Mather, associate vice president of the Population Reference Bureau, said.

“But we’re seeing a slowdown that is likely the result of multiple factors: declining Latina birth rates combined with lower immigration levels. If both of these trends continue, they will lead to big changes down the road,” he predicted.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Expert Calls a U.S. Without its Hispanic Population “Impossible to Think About”

Expert Calls a U.S. Without its Hispanic Population “Impossible to Think About”

Photo: Expert Calls a U.S. Without its Hispanic Population "Impossible to Think About"

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The enormous demographic growth and buying power of the Hispanic population give this community a key role in the present and future of the United States, experts in Miami agreed on Thursday.

The figures and statistics confirm that “it’s going to be impossible to think about the future of the U.S. without thinking about Hispanics,” emphasized Leo F. Estrada, UCLA associate professor or urban planning.

With more than 50 million Hispanics in the country, a fact that makes them the largest minority in the United States - and the fastest growing - the presence of this group is always showing “areas of growth,” added Estrada, who participated in the biannual conference of the Cuban American National Council.

In his comments at a session on Hispanic Demographics and Consumer Trends, Estrada analyzed figures and statistics that draw a new map of the country’s demographic reality and the opportunities that are opening up for companies that know how to interpret and assimilate these changes.

He put into contest various figures, including the fact that one out of every seven people in the United States is Hispanic, albeit with the precipitous growth of this community “we’ll rapidly get to 20 percent and we will continue advancing.”

The main growth of the Hispanic community is being registered in states like South Carolina, with a 148 percent growth rate for this ethnic group, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas, although 50 percent of the Latino population lives in California, Texas and Florida.

He noted that between 1990 and 2011 the purchasing power of Latinos grew by 457 percent, compared with 11 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 173 percent for African Americans.

This is a situation that is not only transforming the country’s present character, but “will also delineate its future,” said Monica Gil, vice president for Communication and Public Affairs at The Nielsen Company, agreeing with Estrada.

The sum of all these factors regarding the Hispanic population, the median age for which is 27, compared with a national median of 37, is “defining the U.S. culture,” Gil emphasized.

She characterized the Hispanic population as a very diverse community, with its own consumption and leisure habits and a very well-defined “cultural sustainability” where 60 percent of adult Latinos want to be bicultural.

Estrada insisted that this change in the U.S. cultural and economic map is “very difficult to accept for the population” of the country, in general.

“They are changes that have happened so rapidly that society has not adapted” to them, something that has facilitated the rise of “groups with anti-immigrant sentiments” that lobby against the use of Spanish, he said.

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2 Men With Connections to Mexican Cartel Are Convicted of Murder in San Diego

2 Men With Connections to Mexican Cartel Are Convicted of Murder in San Diego

Photo: Valencia and Olivera were convicted by a Californian jury

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Two men on the payroll of a Mexican drug kingpin operating in San Diego were convicted of murdering two people and then dissolving their bodies in acid.

David Valencia, 42, and Jose Olivera Beritan, 38, will be sentenced July 19, San Diego County Superior Court Judge John Einhorn said.

The maximum sentence for first-degree murder is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

“We will not sit by and let drug gangs conduct their business on our streets,” Deputy District Attorney James Fontane said, hailing the verdicts.

Valencia and Olivera were convicted as a part of a case involving nine murders and a total of 17 defendants, though several of the accused remain at large.

The two men were part of Los Palillos (The Toothpicks), a breakaway faction of the Arellano Felix drug cartel, based just across the border from San Diego in Tijuana.

Conflict among rival cartels and between criminals and the security forces has claimed more than 50,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against drug traffickers.

The murders in San Diego represent one of the few instances where Mexico’s drug war has spilled over the border into the United States.

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FridayMay 18, 2012