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SaturdayJune 9, 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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Indian Company to Terminate $2.1 Billion Contract With Bolivian Mining

Indian Company to Terminate $2.1 Billion Contract With Bolivian Mining

Photo: Jindal Steel & Power Ltd

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India’s Jindal Steel & Power Ltd. plans to pull out of a contract to develop a massive iron-ore deposit in eastern Bolivia, President Evo Morales’ largest mining project, officials said Saturday.

Jindal sent a letter to the government to terminate its $2.1 billion contract to mine iron ore and other minerals at El Mutun and build a steel complex, having previously signaled those intentions in May after being penalized for the second time in two years for alleged non-compliance with contract terms.

Bolivian Mining Minister Mario Virreira confirmed to local media that he was aware of the letter but said he had not seen it yet and would comment next week.

El Mutun, located in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, which borders Brazil and Paraguay, contains some 40 billion tons of different minerals, mainly iron ore.

In 2007, Jindal signed contracts with Morales’ government to develop roughly half of El Mutun’s reserves and build a steel mill, an iron ore pellet plant and other industrial facilities.

The Morales government, which has struggled to bring industrial projects to fruition since coming to power in 2006, says Jindal should have invested $600 million to date but has failed to meet that commitment.

The Indian company, meanwhile, said its investments have exceeded that amount and denounced the government’s “unilateral non-compliance” with promises to provide land for the project, build access roads to El Mutun and supply natural gas for the proposed steel complex.

Jindal said in a statement last month that it was evaluating whether to remain in Bolivia after Virreira announced the government was collecting on a second performance bond from the company in the amount of $18 million.

Morales’ leftist government had collected on the first performance bond in 2010 in the same amount, accusing the company of delays in developing El Mutun, a move that sparked a still-unresolved legal dispute between the parties.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Drug Boss Arrested for the Murder of Mexican Activist’s Son

Drug Boss Arrested for the Murder of Mexican Activist’s Son

Photo: Javier Sicilia

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Army troops apprehended a drug kingpin in connection with last year’s murder of the son of anti-violence activist Javier Sicilia, the Mexican defense department said Friday.

Raul Diaz Roman was captured Thursday in Tecamac, a town in the central state of Mexico, the department said in a statement.

The suspect was the reputed boss of the Beltran Leyva cartel’s operations in Morelos state, where Sicilia’s son was slain, and it was people under Diaz’s command who carried out the murder, the department said.

Diaz worked for the cartel while still an active-duty member of the Morelos police, overseeing drug trafficking in the cities of Cuernavaca, Xochitepec and Jiutepec, according to the statement.

It was March 2011 when Juan Francisco Sicilia and six other men were found dead inside a vehicle in Temixco, Morelos.

His son’s death prompted Javier Sicilia, a prominent poet and commentator, to abandon literature and create the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity to press for an end to the Mexican government’s militarized approach to crime-fighting.

A multi-front conflict pitting rival drug cartels against each other and the security forces has claimed more than 50,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon gave the armed forces the leading role in the struggle with organized crime.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Discovery en Español and AT&T Chicago Unite To Promote Employment Opportunities for Latinos

Discovery en Español and AT&T Chicago Unite To Promote Employment Opportunities for Latinos

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Discovery en Español today announced a collaboration with AT&T Chicago on “DESCUBRE TU TALENTO” (Discover Your Skills), a multimedia public affairs campaign designed to raise awareness of career opportunities within the U.S. Hispanic community and provide the necessary resources to obtain marketable job skills and expertise. In a speech to students at the Paul Simon Chicago Jobs Corps Center, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis expressed her support for “DESCUBRE TU TALENTO” and its goals.

“Discover your Skills” is a campaign launched in May of 2011 by Discovery Communications that addresses the growing gap between the needs of employers and the skills of America’s workforce.  It has leveraged Discovery’s resources to highlight career opportunities in skilled trades, and expressed the importance of training workers to fill critical jobs in manufacturing, health care, energy, technology, construction and other industries.

Discovery en Español’s “DESCUBRE TU TALENTO” is a customized version of this corporate initiative specifically targeting U.S. Hispanics.  The program will provide Spanish-speakers with tips about workforce preparation, including resume writing and interview basics, and consolidate useful links to resources that provide access to education and training, including job search engines and research on a wide variety of career paths. Discovery en Español will make this invaluable information available on-air featuring network personalities who will issue a call to action and encourage Hispanics to learn about career opportunities online at a fully dedicated Spanish website, through social media via Facebook and by rolling out grassroots initiative throughout the country.

AT&T is committed to providing career opportunities to Hispanics, veterans, and other designated groups of qualified applicants. As part of the “DESCUBRE TU TALENTO” outreach in Chicago, AT&T will assist Discovery en Español in the following ways:

    Volunteers with AT&T’s Hispanic employee resource group, HACEMOS will mentor applicants at the Chicago Job Corps site on a monthly basis.
    Volunteers with the AT&T Career4Vets job search program and AT&T Veterans Employee Resource Group will mentor and advise veterans seeking career opportunities with AT&T.
    AT&T will encourage other employees to volunteer in the community through an internal volunteerism portal which matches employees with appropriate opportunities. Source: PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1dApK)
    AT&T Pioneers will enlist their volunteers to mentor and assist applicants.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Healthcare Provider and Organization Working to Curb The Latino Doctor Shortage

Healthcare Provider and Organization Working to Curb The Latino Doctor Shortage

Photo: Sara France

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As more patients from underserved populations start to enter the health care system through health care reform, there will be an increasing need to have more African-American and Latino physicians to help provide quality health care. Kaiser Permanente is working to address the shortage of physicians by expanding its relationship with National Medical Fellowships (NMF) and contributing $1 million to support medical students through education and training programs. 

According to U.S. Census data and the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile, Latinos represent 16 percent of the population and only five percent of physicians.

Understanding and addressing health disparities is crucial to improving community health. Greater access to providers is the first place to start. When given the opportunity, minority patients often select a physician or health care professional of their own racial-ethnic and cultural background because there is a high level of confidence that the physician will understand the patient’s unique health care needs. This will have a positive impact on health outcomes and provide equitable care to our communities.

“Every time a member walks through the door, we want them to feel that they are being heard and cared for by someone who understands. Whether they see a Latina surgeon, an African-American cardiologist who is fluent in Spanish, or their trusted family physician– we provide them culturally responsive care, the highest quality of care in the language the member prefers and with respect for their culture at every point of contact,” said Frank Meza, MD, MPH, Family Medicine and Physician Ambassador, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and 2007 Recipient of the NMF Distinguished Alumni Award.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Website “Frontera List” Covers Violence In Mexican Border Region

Website “Frontera List” Covers Violence In Mexican Border Region

Photo: Flickr: Manoso

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The Web site Frontera List tracks the violence of Mexico’s drug war as part of a wider mission to document events and trends in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands.

“The Internet site is a continuation of a project that began during the era of the (19)90s as a list of a social group who shared news,” Frontera List creator Molly Molloy told Efe by telephone.

Molloy, a research librarian at New Mexico State University, said the original list mainly comprised journalists and academics.

The list’s initial focus was on issues such as the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but shifted in 2005-2006 to growing drug-related violence in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, neighboring Laredo, Texas.

But it was after the explosion of violence in Ciudad Juarez in 2008 that Frontera List came to be dominated by posts about the drug war, Molloy said.

“So many things were happening that I began to send more and more information, many people began to be interested in what happened in Ciudad Juarez,” she said.

Frontera List became a daily chronicle of the mayhem in Juarez, a metropolis of more than 1 million people just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, that for several years bore the sad distinction of being the most dangerous city in the Americas.

A multi-front conflict pitting rival drug cartels against each other and the security forces has claimed more than 50,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon gave the armed forces the leading role in the struggle with organized crime.

The Web site Fronteralist.org was launched in February, along with a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

Anyone who reads every day what happens in Mexico and learns about the victims would find it increasingly difficult to believe the claims of U.S. and Mexican officials that roughly 90 percent of the fatalities are linked to organized crime, Molloy said.

U.S. media, she said, fail to “ask the right questions” about the violence in Mexico, while journalists south of the border have been intimidated by the murder of dozens of their colleagues.

Political interests and the money Mexico gets from Washington for the war on drugs lead Mexican authorities to exaggerate the success of their efforts against organized crime, according to Molloy.

“Fewer than 2 percent of these murders in Mexico are investigated. How can they say that 90 percent of the victims are linked to the cartels?,” she demands. “There’s no way to know what time of relationship really existed if there’s no investigation.”

Accounts in the Mexican press show that many of drug-war dead were victims of extortionists or simply people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, Molloy points out.

She also suspects there is an element of “social cleansing” in the killings, with gunmen’s eliminating “undesirables” on behalf of cartels or even the authorities.

Despite the mayhem south of the border, Molloy says she has no fear for her personal safety and that she continues to travel to Mexico when necessary for her work.

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. and Peru Extend Agreement to Protect Peruvian Heritage

U.S. and Peru Extend Agreement to Protect Peruvian Heritage

Photo: Chavin ornamental objects

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The Department of State announced on Friday the extension of the “Memorandum of Understanding Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Peru Concerning the Imposition of Import Restrictions on Archaeological Material from the Pre-Hispanic Cultures and Certain Ethnological Material from the Colonial Period of Peru” (MOU).

The MOU covers archaeological remains of ancient cultures - such as the Chavin, Moche, Cuzco, Incas - that developed in Peru from 12,000 B.C. to A.D. 1532. Their achievements include the construction of city complexes; advances in metallurgy; the production of textiles, gold and silver jewelry, and unique styles of polychrome ceramic vessels. They are a reminder that the accomplishments of these ancient cultures are among the most important in the history of mankind. The MOU also protects ethnological material produced during the Colonial period (A.D. 1532-1821) such as sculpture and paintings with stylistically distinct iconography.

This MOU, in effect since 1997, is possible under U.S. legislation that implements the UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, a framework of cooperation to stem pillage and unauthorized transport of cultural objects across boundaries. Systematic pillage of archaeological sites in Peru and removal of ecclesiastical ethnological material has caused irreparable loss to Peruvian history and tradition. Their protection promotes alternative approaches to accessing this material for cultural, educational, and scientific purposes and offers Peru the opportunity to develop long-term solutions for safeguarding its unique ancient past.

By extending this MOU, the United States demonstrates its continued respect for the extraordinary cultural heritage of Peru.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Televisa Denies Promoting Mexican Presidential Candidate In Return For Money

Televisa Denies Promoting Mexican Presidential Candidate In Return For Money

Photo: Enrique Peña Nieto

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The media conglomerate that dominates Mexican broadcast television has denied allegations it took money in exchange for raising the profile of Enrique Peña Nieto, the favorite to win the July 1 presidential election.

In a statement, Televisa said an article reporting the allegations - published this week in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper - acknowledges that it was impossible to confirm the authenticity of the documents that served as the basis for the article.

Those documents, some of them posted on The Guardian’s Web site, appear to show an outline of fees charged by Televisa for favorable news reports and other coverage in 2005 and 2006 of the then-governor of the central state of Mexico and other prominent politicians.

In its statement, Mexico’s No. 1 TV network said it did not provide comment to The Guardian correspondent, Jo Tuckman, before the article was published Thursday because it could not “give an opinion on something we know nothing about.”

“The lack of journalistic rigor with which (the article) was written is seen in the fact the reporter uses the word ‘apparently” eight times, yet this word does not appear in the headline,” Televisa said.

(In an update on The Guardian’s Web site posted Friday, the headline on the same story reads: “Mexico media scandal: Televisa’s alleged collusion with Peña Nieto.” The newspaper also posted the alleged “outline of fees,” saying the “source who supplied them has now agreed to let us publish them”)

Televisa said Tuckman’s article acknowledges the documents are the same ones published in 2005 by investigative journalist Jenaro Villamil in Mexico’s Proceso magazine, “which the parties have repeatedly disavowed for the past seven years.”

The network added that it has contacted the newspaper’s executives to demand they conduct “a thorough investigation and offer (the company) a public apology.”

For his part, David Lopez Gutierrez, press coordinator for Peña Nieto’s campaign, said in a statement that the candidate’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, has no knowledge of the documents referenced in the article The Guardian published Thursday.

He added that in 2005 and 2006, when Peña Nieto was the governor of Mexico state, no contract of the type mentioned by the daily existed.

“All the communications contracts with respect to the government’s activities, as well as their costs, were transparent and are available on the Mexico state government’s transparency portal,” Lopez Gutierrez said.

The documents to which The Guardian gained access appear to show that Televisa took money in exchange for favorable coverage of prominent politicians on its news and entertainment programs, and used those same spaces to denigrate the leftist who narrowly lost the 2006 presidential election and is running second behind Peña Nieto in this year’s contest: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

“The documents - which consist of dozens of computer files - emerge just weeks ahead of presidential elections on July 1, and coincide with the appearance of an energetic protest movement accusing the Televisa network of manipulating its coverage to favor the leading candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto,” the British daily said.

“While it has not been possible to confirm the authenticity of the documents - which were passed to the Guardian by a source who worked with Televisa - extensive cross checks have shown that the names, dates and situations mentioned largely line up with events,” the article said.

A protest movement sprung up in Mexico last month after Peña Nieto visited the Universidad Iberoamericana and was jeered by students.

Those in Peña Nieto’s inner circle and some members of the media downplayed the incident, accusing the students of being agitators and prompting them to counterattack by making a video that was posted on YouTube.

The criticism led to the birth of the “Somos mas de 131” (We Are More Than 131) movement, which took its name from the number of students who appeared in the video and later evolved into the “Yo soy 132” (I Am 132) movement when students from other universities joined the protests.

Students rallied under the movement’s banner on May 18 at the headquarters of Televisa, rejecting Peña Nieto’s candidacy and calling for balanced coverage in the media.

In another protest a week later, about 1,000 students from public and private universities marched to Televisa’s regional office in the city of Guadalajara to demand “Mas educacion, menos telenovelas” (More Education, Fewer Soap Operas).

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

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

But the PRI has benefited politically by high levels of drug-related violence in recent years and appears poised to take back the presidency with the telegenic Peña Nieto as its standard-bearer.

Read more by HS News Staff →

RUBIO WATCH:  Senator Rubio Issues a Stern Warning to Cuban Government

RUBIO WATCH:  Senator Rubio Issues a Stern Warning to Cuban Government

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As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Global Narcotics, Marco spoke at a hearing Thursday about countering repression and strengthening civil society in Cuba . The committee heard from the State Department as well as several pro-democracy activists and former political prisoners in Cuba, who spoke via video conference and telephone. In his opening remarks, Marco warned the members of the Castro government who commit human rights violations that they will be brought to justice when the regime falls.

Here is an excerpt of Marco’s comments:

Rubio: “If you’re involved in beating people, if you’re involved in jailing people in Cuba, if the government is using you whether it’s here in the United States as part of the interest section or in Cuba and abusing human rights, your name is being recorded… and you will be brought before justice.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Florida Tops the Country in Latino Graduation Rates

Florida Tops the Country in Latino Graduation Rates

Photo: Justin Brockie

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Hispanic and African American students in Florida are much more likely to graduate from high school than their counterparts in other states according to a new national report. Education Week today released the 2012 Diplomas Countreport highlighting Florida’s graduates compared to the nation. The report, which is based on data from the graduating class of 2009, shows that Florida’s Hispanic and African American students outpace the national graduation rate average by 10 and 3.5 percentage points, respectively.

Hispanic female graduates top the nation with 77.5 percent of female students graduating, more than 10 percentage points higher than the national average of 66.1 percent. The Florida Hispanic graduating class ranks second in the nation overall.

Additionally, Florida’s African American male students exceed the national graduation rate average by 4 percentage points.

Florida ranks third in the nation for the largest increases in graduation rate during the past decade, rising from 52.5 percent in 1999 to 70.4 percent in 2009 (an increase of 18 percentage points), surpassing Maryland, Massachusetts, and Texas. Among the nation’s largest public school systems, Broward County (78.3) and Palm Beach County (75.4) graduation rates rank among the top ten in the country. Lee County ranked eleventh (74.6).

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘For Greater Glory’ Dramatizes Mexican War

‘For Greater Glory’ Dramatizes Mexican War

Photo: The Greater Glory

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Almost 90 years ago, a civil war erupted in Mexico over religious freedom. Tens of thousands died on both sides during what’s known as the “Cristero Wars.” But even in Mexico today, the history is not well-known. For Greater Glory, a new film starring Andy Garcia, dramatizes those events.

Alan Silverman’s movie review of “For Greater Glory”

In 1926, the newly-elected president of Mexico banned religious activities, with special focus on the country’s most widespread faith: Roman Catholicism.

As soldiers shut churches and arrested priests, opposition to the government’s policies grew into a nationwide revolt.  The leaders turned to a retired war hero, General Ernesto Gorostieta, to make their ragtag band into an army.

Andy Garcia stars as General Gorostieta and, like the character, he says the cause went beyond individual beliefs.

“You don’t have to be a man of faith or a Catholic, for that matter, to be in this movie,” Garcia notes. “Nor do you have to be one to go see the movie. The character is a historical, heroic character in terms of the film and to be called upon to play him is a great privilege and you want to honor him. He deserves to be recognized for what he committed to.”

Born in Cuba, Garcia was five years-old when his family immigrated to Florida to escape Castro’s authoritarian government. He says that history gives him insight into what motivated the Cristeros rebels in Mexico.

“There are certain parallels in this movie to my own life, obviously, because I come from a country where religious freedom, for many years, was completely taken away,” he explains. “I mean the Church is in Cuba now, and they have kind of peeked their head in there, but for many years it wasn’t allowed at all. So it’s an easy cause for me to champion because to me it is more about absolute freedom of the human being.”

For Greater Glory was filmed in Mexico at many of the locations where the actual events took place, but where, until recently, they were not included in history books or taught in schools. The international cast includes Oscar-winner Peter O’Toole along with a ‘who’s who’ of Latino actors from Mexican Eduardo Verástegui and Chilean Santiago Cabrera to Panama’s Rubén Blades and American Eva Longoria.


Read more at Voice of America →

Brazilian Camila Alves to Marry Matthew McConaughey This Weekend in Texas

Brazilian Camila Alves to Marry Matthew McConaughey This Weekend in Texas

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Actor Matthew McConaughey and his love, Camila Alves, are planning to walk down the aisle this weekend in Texas.

The couple has invited only a handful of friends and family to the ceremony.

The wedding will also prevent Alves from attending a luncheon in Beverly Hills, where she was to be honored by the Step Up Women’s Network. She will deliver her remarks to the luncheon via video.

McConaughey, 42, and Alves, 30, got engaged on Christmas Day.

“She’s been asking Mateo to put a ring on it forever,” a friend of Alves said. “She’s so happy. It’s like a dream!”

The actor began dating the Brazilian model/handbag designer in 2006. They have two children: 3-year-old Levi and 2-year-old Vida.

They recently relocated to Austin from Los Angeles.

“I grew up here,” McConaughey said in March. “We got children, family values, neighbors and common sense.”

Alves initially hoped for a wedding in her native Brazil.

“Camila wants to get married in Brazil with her family all around,” Life & Style magazine reported in January. “She misses the food and the people there, so she’s planning a big, beautiful Brazilian wedding.”

However, she’s obviously changed her mind.

Read more about Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves here

Read more by HS News Staff →

Puerto Rican Schools to Teach Most Classes in English

Puerto Rican Schools to Teach Most Classes in English

Photo: 31 schools will begin teaching in English in August

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English will gradually replace Spanish as the language taught in Puerto Rico’s public schools under a 10-year plan due to enter into force later this summer, Education Secretary Edward Moreno Alonso told Efe Friday.

The plan will start to be implemented in August at 31 schools, where children aged 5-9 will have all of their subjects in English with the exception of Spanish and History.

In 35 other schools, students will begin to be taught a certain amount of subjects in English depending on their teachers’ ability to make the transition.

The goal is for the program to be extended to all 860 schools in Puerto Rico’s public school system within a period of 10 years, according to Moreno Alonso, who said the increased emphasis on English is in response to parents’ demands.

According to the secretary, this initiative of Gov. Luis Fortuño’s administration is aimed at ensuring Puerto Rican children can exercise their right to “acquire a strong command of English.”

Moreno Alonso said that at the small number of schools where the program has already been instituted there are “waiting lists.”

The education secretary also noted that most job openings on the U.S. commonwealth require command of English as well as Spanish.

In his latest address to the legislature on April 24, Fortuño, who is up for re-election in November, said his administration would take steps to more firmly establish English-language instruction in the island’s public school system.

“Starting next fiscal year, we’ll begin introducing the comprehensive Bilingual Generation program with a very clear goal: to ensure that in a period of 10 years each and every child who graduates from high school in Puerto Rico is perfectly bilingual, with full command of both Spanish and English,” Fortuño said.

But the chairman of the small Puerto Rican Independence Party, Fernando Martin, told Efe the plan unveiled by Moreno Alonso was indicative of the “ideological obsession” of the governing New Progressive Party, or PNP, which favors U.S. statehood for the island.

A lawmaker with the main opposition Popular Democratic Party, Sen. Juan Eugenio Hernandez Mayoral, said last month that exclusive instruction in English could have a detrimental effect on Puerto Ricans’ knowledge of Spanish.

He recalled that only 30 percent of Puerto Ricans speak English at a high level, while the 2010 U.S. Census indicates that Spanish is the native tongue for 96 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.9 million residents

English had been the language of instruction in Puerto Rican high schools between 1900 and 1948.

Spanish and English are co-official languages of Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth since 1952.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Ex-Gov. Yarrington Says Allegations He’s Connected to Drug Cartels Are False

Mexican Ex-Gov. Yarrington Says Allegations He’s Connected to Drug Cartels Are False

Photo: Mexican Ex-Gov. Yarrington Says Allegations He's Connected to Drug Cartels Are False

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A Mexican former state governor accused of ties to drug cartels denied the allegations and said they were aimed at discrediting his party ahead of the July 1 presidential election.

The administration of lame-duck President Felipe Calderon is “trying to stigmatize the PRI as a party of criminals,” Tomas Yarrington told MVS radio.

The PRI’s candidate for president, Enrique Peña Nieto, enjoys a wide lead in the polls.

Yarrington, who governed the northern state of Tamaulipas from 1999-2004, said Calderon’s government is pressuring the judiciary to issue a warrant for his arrest on the eve of next month’s balloting.

U.S. federal prosecutors on May 22 filed forfeiture cases involving two properties in Texas - which borders Tamaulipas - they say Yarrington purchased via front men using bribes from drug cartels.

The U.S. Justice Department subsequently requested information from Mexico about Yarrington’s net worth.

“In my persecution they are not seeking justice, there is deception,” Yarrington said. “I don’t have any relationship with organized crime, I haven’t received bribes, have not provided protection to any criminal nor have I carried out money laundering activities.”

The former governor also reiterated earlier affirmations by his U.S. lawyer that he does not own the Texas properties targeted in the forfeiture cases.

The Mexican Attorney General’s Office has had Yarrington’s bank accounts frozen and is aggressively investigating both him and his successor in Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernandez.

“Maliciously, they have been leaking that the assets and firms of Tamaulipas businessmen belong to me, with the intent of leaving the impression that I have immense net worth, which is absolutely false,” Yarrington told MVS.

“In their desperation to boost (ruling party) candidate (Josefina Vazquez Mota), they slander and hurt people and firms in the state of Tamaulipas,” he said.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, governed Mexico without interruption from 1929-2000 and is expected to regain the presidency in next month’s vote, ending 12 years of rule by the rightist National Action Party.

Last October, Calderon suggested in an interview with The New York Times that some PRI members would be susceptible to making deals with organized crime if the party returned to power.

It is generally accepted that PRI administrations brokered agreements among rival drug cartels to prevent bloody turf battles of the kind that have become routine in Mexico over the last five years.

Peña Nieto’s frontrunner status in the presidential race is due in part to Mexicans’ frustration over persistently high levels of drug-related violence throughout Calderon’s term.

Calderon militarized the struggle against Mexico’s heavily armed, well-funded drug mobs shortly after taking office in December 2006, deploying tens of thousands of troops across the country.

The strategy has led to headline-grabbing captures of cartel kingpins, but the accompanying violence has claimed more than 50,000 lives.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Government Authorizes Witness Protection Law

Mexican Government Authorizes Witness Protection Law

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President Felipe Calderon signed into law a measure authorizing benefits - including new identities - for people who find themselves at risk due to their participation in judicial proceedings, Mexico’s attorney general said.

The program is open to crime victims, witnesses, police, forensic technicians, judges and other court personnel, Marisela Morales told reporters.

Individuals accepted to the program will be eligible for healthcare, psychological counseling, temporary housing and subsidies for food and transportation.

When necessary, Morales said, authorities will find a new home, job or school for a protected person. In select cases, the person will be provided with a new identity.

The new law also creates an autonomous protective unit within the AG’s office that will be headed by a presidential appointee, she said.

The law will take effect in 180 days, the attorney general said.

Mexico is in the grip of a conflict among drug cartels and between criminals and the security forces that has claimed more than 50,000 lives since December 2006, when the newly inaugurated Calderon militarized the struggle against organized crime.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Court Overturns Ruling, “Queen of the Pacific” Will be Extradited to the U.S.

Mexican Court Overturns Ruling, “Queen of the Pacific” Will be Extradited to the U.S.

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A Mexican federal court ruled that a reputed drug trafficker known as the “Queen of the Pacific” can be extradited to the United States.

The judges overturned a January ruling blocking the handover of Sandra Avila Beltran on grounds that U.S. authorities were seeking to try her on the same charges as those she had already been acquitted of in Mexico.

While one of the two U.S. charges against Avila is related to the Mexican prosecution, the other is separate, the federal tribunal found.

The ruling means that Avila can be tried in the United States for the delivery of 100 kilos of cocaine to Chicago in 2001. The Mexican foreign ministry is expected to authorize her extradition in the coming days.

Avila has been in custody since September 2007.

In late 2010, Avila and Colombian Juan Diego Espinosa, who was extradited to the United States in December 2008, were acquitted of charges of conspiracy to smuggle several tons of cocaine into Mexico and other charges.

Last year, an appeals court upheld the acquittal of the pair on charges of organized crime, drug trafficking and money laundering, saying there was insufficient evidence to support allegations they acquired, transported or introduced the big haul of cocaine into Mexico by boat in 2001.

Avila is the niece of Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, alias “El Padrino” (The Godfather), who is serving a long prison sentence in Mexico; and grand-niece of Juan Jose Quintero Payan, a co-founder of the Juarez cartel who was sentenced in the United States to 18 years in prison on drug trafficking charges.

Said to have been a key intermediary between Colombian cocaine producers and Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, Avila is the most prominent woman in the hyper-macho world of the Mexican drug trade.

Mexican media have compared Avila to the main character in Spanish writer Arturo Perez-Reverte’s novel “La Reina del Sur” (The Queen of the South), which was subsequently turned into a hit television miniseries.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Costly Network Infrastructure Means Prospective Mexican TV Operators Must Invest $1 Billion

Costly Network Infrastructure Means Prospective Mexican TV Operators Must Invest $1 Billion

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Bidders in a planned auction of two broadcast television channels in Mexico must be prepared to invest at least $1 billion to cover the cost of network infrastructure and other expenses, the head of the Federal Telecommunications Commission, or Cofetel, said.

“This amount includes consideration, the opening bid, the rollout of the network and even generation of content,” Mony de Swaan said in a telephone press conference.

Cofetel on Wednesday approved a plan for an unprecedented auction of frequencies for two nationwide broadcast television channels that is aimed at bringing new competitors into a duopoly market.

The commission chief said the investment outlay could vary if cost-cutting arrangements are made among the operators in areas such as infrastructure-sharing.

“If we decide to do two big packages, we could contemplate a cheaper rollout if both networks share,” he said.

De Swaan said the two new television channels or networks could begin operating in three years, when all operators will be required to have made the switch from analog to digital broadcasting.

He added that the entire process, which begins with the publication of the auction rules and call for bids and ends with the awarding of concession rights, could last up to 18 months.

“I estimate six months for the rules and the publication of the call for tenders and the rest of the process I think would take a year; I would think optimistically that we’ll take 18 months,” the Cofetel chief said.

De Swaan said the process is prolonged because of different aspects, including expected legal challenges by some participants.

The auction rules also must be thoroughly reviewed to determine the best mechanisms for the quick, efficient and competitive development of the projects.

No decision has yet been made on whether current broadcast operators may participate, he said, noting that the goal is to promote greater competition in the sector.

De Swaan added that the winning bidders will be evaluated not only in terms of the amount of their monetary offer but also their vision of providing effective service and low costs to society. “No one will take the auction with a big cash payout,” he said.

Mexico’s broadcast television is a duopoly market dominated by Televisa, the world’s largest Spanish-language media conglomerate, and the smaller TV Azteca.

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Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso Gets $205 Million Pemex Rig Contract

Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso Gets $205 Million Pemex Rig Contract

Photo: Carlos Slim

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Billionaire Carlos Slim’s Grupo Carso said its Operadora Cicsa unit received contracts worth $205 million from state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, to build three offshore oil rigs.

The contracts were signed with Pemex Exploracion y Produccion, a unit of the state-owned oil giant, and cover construction of the Ek-A2, Ayatsil-A and KU-B platforms in Campeche Sound, Grupo Carso said in a filing with Mexican securities regulators.

The orders will be fulfilled in about 17 months, Grupo Carso said, adding that the contracts cover engineering, supply, construction and other services for the platforms.

Grupo Carso is a conglomerate with interests in a number of industrial, trade and infrastructure businesses.

Slim is ranked by Forbes magazine as the world’s richest person.

Pemex, Latin America’s largest corporation and the world’s third-largest oil producer, has a monopoly over the Mexican petroleum industry.

The state-owned corporation is the biggest source of revenue for the Mexican Treasury.

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SaturdayJune 9, 2012