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MondayJune 25, 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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Colombian FARC Rebels Using Teens to Detonate their Bombs

Colombian FARC Rebels Using Teens to Detonate their Bombs

Photo: Teenage Bombers in Colombia

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Colombia’s National Police released videos purporting to show leftist FARC rebels using teenagers to detonate bombs.

Appearing in the pictures is a supposed 14-year-old female guerrilla loaded with explosives, half-naked, painted green and with a leg wounded in combat in the northeastern region of Catatumbo.

Also seen is a camouflaged 17-year-old boy, who according to authorities detonated explosives against army troops and was killed along with a number of soldiers.

Col. Eliecer Camacho, police commander in Norte de Santander province, told Caracol Television that these young people are trained by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for close to eight months in rural areas “where they undergo tough, almost inhuman training.”

The authorities plan to denounce this practice to humanitarian organizations.

According to figures of the Colombian government’s Humanitarian Aid for the Demobilized, between 2002 and 2011 a total of 2,962 minors belonging to illegal armed groups were demobilized.

But a police officer who spent 13 years as a prisoner of the FARC, Carlos Jose Duarte, said after being freed in April together with another nine men in uniform that he never saw children guerrillas and that the youngest combatant he encountered was 17.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Last of Its Kind – Giant Pinta Tortoise ‘Lonesome George’ Dies in the Galapagos

Last of Its Kind – Giant Pinta Tortoise ‘Lonesome George’ Dies in the Galapagos

Photo: 'Lonesome George' Photographed by Galapagos National Park Service

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At approximately 100-to-120 years-old the last Giant Pinta tortoise has passed away on the Galapagos Islands, where it is native to.  The Galagalogs archipelago of islands are located 600 miles from Ecuador and are world famous for their diverse plant and animal life.

The giant tortoise died childless when efforts to find a female Giant Pinta tortoise failed, hence the name ‘Lonesome George’.  Environmentalists even tried having ‘Lonesome George’ mate with other giant tortoises outside of his species, those efforts also failed. 

The tortoise was found unresponsive Sunday in his play yard.  The tortoise was identified in 1972 on the Galapagos Island by a Hungarian scientist.

With the death of ‘Lonesome George’ the species officially known as ‘Chelonoidis Abringdoni’ has become extinct.  There are some 20,000 other giant tortoises on the Galapagos but ‘Lonesome George’ was the symbol for the park and of the struggles of rare species to survive in modern times.

The park favorite will be embalmed and remain placed somewhere in the park. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazilian Teacher Surrenders After Running Away With 14 year old- After Her Family Attacks Him

Brazilian Teacher Surrenders After Running Away With 14 year old- After Her Family Attacks Him

Photo: Classroom

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A teacher handed himself over to police in the southern Brazilian city of Alvorada after two days on the run with a 14-year-old student with whom he had apparently been romantically involved for several months.

The teacher showed up Sunday morning at the girl’s home to return her to her parents and then headed for the police station, but before he could get there the student’s relatives attacked the 46-year-old educator.

After receiving medical attention, he was taken to the police station for interrogation.

According to police, the teacher went to the school last Friday to hand in his resignation after his wife discovered his love affair with the minor and he decided to leave town to avoid a scandal.

The student invented an excuse so she could leave school and travel with her teacher.

According to the teenager, who said she went away with the adult of her own free will, the two had a love affair over the past six month that was discovered last week by another teacher who saw them kissing.

The school administration was told what was going on, as was the teacher’s wife who gives classes at the same institution and had recommended the hiring of her husband.

“It was a consensual act by the minor. They planned their getaway when the teacher’s wife found out what had happened,” Newton Martins de Souza Filho, the police commissioner of Alvorada, a suburb of Porto Alegre, said.

According to the commissioner, the teacher will not be arrested since for now he cannot be charged with either kidnapping or rape, since the girl said she went away with him of her own accord.

Brazilian law defines rape as sexual relations with anyone younger than 18, with the exception of consensual relations with those between ages 14 and 17, in which case the crime is one of criminal sexual relations.

But the police have not been able to determine whether the pair even had sex.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Human Rights Group Condemns Murder of 16-Year-Old Transsexual in Mexico

Human Rights Group Condemns Murder of 16-Year-Old Transsexual in Mexico

Photo: Human Rights Group Condemns Murder of 16-Year-Old Transsexual in Mexico

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The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights condemned Monday the recent murder in Mexico of a 16-year-old transsexual.

Octavio Hernandez Villanueva was found dead last Wednesday in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico.

“The information available further indicates that the body was found wearing women’s clothes, presenting abrasions and a knife wound on the neck,” the IACHR said in a statement.

A number of social organizations have expressed concern about the negligence of the authorities in the investigation of the killing, based on their assumption that it might be a crime of passion.

“The IACHR reminds the State of its obligation to investigate such acts on its own initiative and to punish those responsible,” added the release from the panel, which is an independent institution of the Organization of American States.

The commission urged Mexican authorities to “conduct an investigation that takes into account whether this murder was committed because of the gender expression, gender identity or sexual orientation of the victim.”

The IACHR also insisted that the Mexican government must especially protect children and teenagers, whose age makes them particularly vulnerable.

Pointing to a flow of reports from Mexico on killings, torture, arbitrary arrest and other abuses against lesbians, gays, and transsexual, bisexual, and intersex persons, the commission said that the authorities’ ineffective response “fosters high rates of impunity, which in turn lead to the chronic repetition of such crimes, leaving the victims and their families defenseless.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Shoot-Out at Mexico City’s International Airport Leaves 3 Police Dead

Shoot-Out at Mexico City’s International Airport Leaves 3 Police Dead

Photo: Police Shot Dead at Mexico City Airport

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Mexican authorities are reporting the shooting death of three policemen at Mexico’s City International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de Mexico Benito Juarez) earlier today.  The federal police officers were at the airport to arrest individuals believed to be involved in narco-trafficking out of the airport.

The shooting occurred in Terminal 2, at approximately 9:00 am CST, by the food court and away from the security checkpoint for ticketed travelers.  According to the Associated Press, witnesses describe the shooters as dressed in police uniforms.  Authorities have not confirmed if the suspects were police officers or imposters with uniforms.  Two of the officers died on the scene and another died at the hospital.

Apparently the suspects opened fired when they saw they were surrounded by federal police.  After the shoot out, the gunmen fled and escaped to the airport parking area and thus far no one is in custody for the shootings.

Overall, airport shootings in Mexico are rare. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Human Smugglers Use Private Plane to Transport Immigrants Through Texas

Human Smugglers Use Private Plane to Transport Immigrants Through Texas

Photo: Human Smugglers Use Private Plane to Transport Immigrants Through Texas

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents teamed up with Border Patrol in Texas where BP agents say a man attempted to charter a private plane to transport illegal immigrants from safe houses to San Antonio.

On Wednesday, ICE and Border Patrol conducted a routine check of a private plane at McAllen-Miller International Airport and spoke with its five passengers. The passengers confessed to being in the country illegal, saying they had been brought to the airport by a man named Luis Gallegos Avila. The immigrants were told say they were U.S. citizens should they be asked while boarding the plane.

According to a criminal complaint, “Gallegos assured the undocumented immigrants that everything would be fine, and there would be no problems at the airport.”

The five Mexican immigrants told authorities they had crossed into the U.S. via the Rio Grande, and were picked up by Gallegos Avila and taken to various stash houses where they stayed until he picked them up around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Federal authorities took Gallegos Avila into custody after he was spotted dropping the immigrants off at the airport at around 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Chihuahua Born Without Front Legs Will Get to Experience New Life Thanks to New Set of Wheels

Chihuahua Born Without Front Legs Will Get to Experience New Life Thanks to New Set of Wheels

Photo: Chihuahua Born Without Front Legs Will Get to Experience New Life Thanks to New Set of Wheels

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Due to a deformity, a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix named Vespa had a very limited experience with the world, but thanks to a Colorado firm, Vespa is now getting a whole new view thanks to a new set of wheels.

Vespa was born without fully formed front legs, a challenge many may not realize is harder to overcome than if it had been her back legs.

After losing her last dog to a heart condition, Brenda Jones decided to take on a dog with special needs, because every dog deserves a chance at a happy life. Brenda adopted Vespa from the Chihuahua Rescue and Transport and immediately recognized her new little friend would need some extra help if she was ever going to move around around on anything other than carpet or grass. Because of her deformity, Vespa’s front legs are like “little ‘chicken wings,’” Brenda described, “that allow her to crawl or hop, but only on soft surfaces.

In a blog on the Life With Dogs website, Brenda wrote, “I wanted her world to be bigger than that, so I researched front wheels for dogs. (She was not a candidate for prosthesis). Missing front limbs are a much bigger challenge than missing or injured back limbs, as it turns out.”

Image Click here to watch a video of how “Vesy” is now able to see the world.

Vespa is not the only dog to have caught our attention, recently we covered the story of another special needs Chihuahua, Peggy Leg aka the first “bionic dog.”

Peggy was recently fitted for a titanium foot implant, because much like Vespa, she was not born with perfect limbs. Peggy was facing the amputation of one of her legs because the paw attached had never fully formed and the extra weight of the leg was putting strain on her back, as there was no paw to hold the weight of that side.

However, medical researchers at NCSU had been looking for a dog to fit with a titanium foot implant, just as Peggy’s rescuers were looking for a prosthesis to help her.

ImageThe researchers had been looking for the right little dog and Peggy Leg fit the bill. If successful, her “bionic leg” will help researchers determine if similar procedures can be done for men and women, particularly those in the military who have been injured.

Both Peggy and Vespa are now beginning their journeys towards new more active lives thanks to medical research and caring owners.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Teen Escapes Burglars by Climbing Out Second-Floor Window

LATINO BLOTTER: Teen Escapes Burglars by Climbing Out Second-Floor Window

Photo: LATINO BLOTTER: Teen Escapes Burglars by Climbing Out Second-Floor Window

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A teenage girl was alone in her family’s Carlsbad, California home when she heard someone ring the doorbell. When she went to see who it was she did not recognize the man and woman and decided not to answer the door.

Just after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, just minutes after the doorbell rang, the 16-year-old girl told police she heard someone kick in the dog door. She immediately called her mother who told her to get out of the house. The teen later told police she climbed out a second-floor bedroom window and jumped from a first-floor roof. Meanwhile, the mother called police.

The teen, who was unhurt, ran to a neighbor’s home for help.

The burglars, later identified as Emmanuel Saucedo and Natalie Espinoza, were found separately. Espinoza, 22,  was found in a courtyard of an assisted living facility with a number of stolen items, including rings belonging to the teen’s mother. She was already on parole for intimidating a witness. Saucedo, 24, was nabbed just a few blocks away just an hour after the burglary. Saucedi was on probation for drug charges.

Espinoza and Saucedo were both arrested on warrants, suspicion of burglary, and possessing stolen goods.

Witnesses told police they saw Espinoza and Saucedo leave in a white sedan after the burglary and say the vehicle also carried two other people. However, the vehicle was not found and the two people were not identified.

The teenager who had been in the house was able to positively identify Saucedo as the man she saw ringing her doorbell.

Read more by HS News Staff →

‘Hairspray’ Actor James Marsden Having Baby with Brazilian Model After One-Nght Stand in Miami

‘Hairspray’ Actor James Marsden Having Baby with Brazilian Model After One-Nght Stand in Miami

Photo: 'X-Me'n and 'Hairspray' Star James Marsden Expecting Child With Brazilian Model, Rose Costa

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Actor, singer, model James Marsden is expecting a child with Brazilian model Rose Costa.

This will be the third child for Marsden, 38, but the first for Costa, 24. The two met earlier this year and Costa is said to already be about three months into the pregnancy.

Marsden (X-Men, Hairspray, Enchanted) has two children with Lisa Linde, the daughter of country music songwriter Dennis Linde, who wrote Elvis Presley’s “Burning Love.”

Linde filed for divorce on September 23 of last year. The two had been married since 2000.

Marsden reportedly met Costa in Miami, rumor has it their fling was a one-night affair during Costa’s layover (no pun intended) on her way back to Brazil to renew her visa.

Costa had been living in Los Angeles with actor Chris Santos (The Girlfriend Experience) until she decided to move to New York in August 2011 to advance her modeling career. A source reportedly told the New York Post Santos “is heartbroken.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Is Jennifer Lopez Being Used? Boyfriend Casper Smart Fighting Rumors He’s Gay

Is Jennifer Lopez Being Used? Boyfriend Casper Smart Fighting Rumors He’s Gay

Photo: Is Jennifer Lopez Being Used? Boyfriend Casper Smart Fighting Rumors He's Gay

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Rumors are now swirling that Jennifer Lopez’s boyfriend, dancer-choreographer Casper Smart, is simply using her to further his career, and that he’s actually gay.

Though the couple’s reps deny the rumors, but dancer Joshua Lee Ayers, who has worked with Smart, insists (via Twitter) “the truth [will] come out soon.”

Smart, 25, and Lopez, 42 began dating in November just months after Lopez and Marc Anthony announced their split.

Ayers has been making accusations against Smart for awhile now, tweeting “Ur Gay Homie @caspersmart Know as a low key homo in Hollywood.”

ImageOn a number of occasions, Ayers has also posted this photo of Smart (see right) as “proof” of the dancer’s alleged homosexuality.

Mark, the couple’s rep told RadarOnline, “Casper is not gay. These comments are born from envy and jealousy.”

Ayers has been making gay claims against Smart for some time now, as well as accusing him of stealing moves from other dancers, and will likely not stop until either Smart shocks everyone and actually “comes out” or until he’s made to stop. For now, however, Ayers’ claims continue on Twitter ( @MilkcolmX ).

Read more by HS News Staff →

OPINION:  Reasons SB 1070 Damages America

OPINION:  Reasons SB 1070 Damages America

Photo: Opinion on S.B. 1070 Supreme Court Decision

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Today the Supreme Court struck down three parts of Arizona’s anti-immigration law, S.B. 1070, while allowing Arizona to implement the “papers please” provision that will inevitably lead to racial profiling.  Section 2(B) of the law mandates that police check the papers of anyone they suspect is in the country without legal status.

S.B. 1070 and laws like it break apart the fabric of our society, harm our public safety, and most of all, do not solve the problem of a broken immigration system. Here we list the top reasons why S.B. 1070 damages our country:

1. The law institutionalizes racial profiling

Arizona’s S.B. 1070 compels police to ask for papers from anyone they have a reasonable suspicion of being without status. Under this law any person of color, or anyone with a foreign accent, can be required to prove their status and be jailed—regardless of whether they are a citizen or an immigrant—until they can do so.

By targeting certain groups of people living within the state, the Arizona law amounts to an ethnically divisive and deeply hostile social policy. It raises the specter of states treating people differently based solely on their appearance rather than on their actions. Every person in Arizona and states that pass S.B. 1070-like legislation will be required to carry proof of their legal status at all times or face the possibility of being detained. In practice it will be people of color that bear the brunt of these policies.

2. The law compromises public safety and health

Instead of focusing on community safety, law enforcement professionals in Arizona and other states with anti-immigrant laws will be forced to focus more on detaining unauthorized immigrants. As Sgt. Bryan Soller, president of the Mesa, Arizona Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 9, puts it, “If we’re getting hammered with calls, is a misdemeanor [trespassing by an illegal immigrant] more important than a stabbing or shooting? No.” Likewise, immigrants who live in fear of anti-immigrant laws will be afraid to go to the police to report a crime, making all of our communities less safe.

As for public health, in the months after Alabama’s similar immigration law was enacted, health workers in Alabama reported that people are afraid to come to their clinics for flu shots. A key safeguard of public health is a robust immunization program that protects all residents against diseases such as chicken pox, measles, polio, and even the flu. But if parents are afraid to get flu shots for themselves or their children, even though the law technically says that lawful status is not required for immunizations, our whole society is put at risk.

3. S.B. 1070 doesn’t solve illegal immigration

States have no authority to deport immigrants from this country—that power falls solely to the federal government. S.B. 1070’s strategy, therefore, is to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they “self-deport.” But research shows that anti-immigrant laws don’t cause self-deportation. At best immigrants either leave the state for a friendlier one or go deeper underground. This strategy can have devastating effects on legal and undocumented immigrants and citizens alike, but they don’t result in deporting a single undocumented immigrant.

Read more at American Progress →

After Son Killed by Drunk Driver Anna Gonzalez, Mother is Forced to Pay for Blood Clean-up

After Son Killed by Drunk Driver Anna Gonzalez, Mother is Forced to Pay for Blood Clean-up

Photo: When Anna Gonzalez killed Loretta Robinson's son the greiving mother had to pay for the clean-up

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Last summer Loretta Robinson of South Carolina received some of the worst new of her life - her son had been killed by a drunk driver.

The woman who allegedly hit Justin Darryl Walker’s car was an undocumented immigrant who never got a South Carolina driver’s license named Anna Gonzalez, but the loss of her son was not the end of Robinson’s trauma.

On Tuesday, Gonzalez pled guilty and was sentenced to 17 years in prison. After Gonzalez entered her plea, Robinson showed the judge bills she was sent, some from the city of Greenville itself, following Justin’s death. Perhaps the most painful was from the city - a bill to have her son’s blood cleaned from the street as well as other debris caused by the accident, which her son did not cause.

On top of the bill for clean up, Robinson has spent thousands of dollars to store her son’s crushed vehicle on the chance the case went to trial and have the car towed.

ImageSince her son died, Robinson says she has had trouble working due to the emotional effects of both the loss of her son and the stress of the bills that followed.

Though the state has victim assistance, it primarily covers funerals, medical costs, and counseling expenses.

Robinson told WYFF 4 she does not expect she will get any money from Gonzalez, who has lived in the U.S. for 12 years.

Though Gonzalez’s drunk driving killed Justin, this story shines a light on a separate issue.

‘We have to be able, as a country, to figure out a way with people here who are illegal and commit crimes,’ Robinson said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Housing Boom in Ecuador for $530 Priced Houses

Housing Boom in Ecuador for $530 Priced Houses

Photo: $530 Housing in Ecuador

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Although in Ecuador’s coastal city of Guayaquil many of the 2 million people live below the poverty line, Hogar de Cristo, a Catholic social services organization has created a housing boom by offering homes for $530.00. 

Delivery and assembly of these houses brings the total cost to close to $700.  Only the low income families qualify for these single room homes with bamboo walls and zinc roofs.  The popularity of these basic homes is evident after viewing the hillsides of Guayaquil which are now covered with Hogar de Cristo homes; replacing slums into neighborhoods.  It is estimated that Hogar de Cristo sells 50 houses per day and has sold 130,000 in Guayaquil and its surrounding areas. 

The Catholic organization of Hogar de Cristo, which translates to, “Home of Christ,” began with an idea by the late Father Alberto Hurtado S.J.  He later founded the organization in 1944; then other Jesuits continued his ministry in the 1970s.  Today Father Robert Costa, S.J. is the organization’s director. 

Although the price of $530 is what Hogar de Cristo believes the poorest of the poor should be able to spend on housing, they also offer financing for those that still cannot afford the base price.  Some families will be given the option to finance the house interest free over three years for about $14 per month.  Yet, this monthly payment could be reduced to as little as zero if the family is truly in need.  “Our goal is to never turn a client away for financial reasons.  So we have to keep costs to a minimum,” said Father Costa to Inside Costa Rica.

Although the homes are wildly popular the company has faced some criticism.  Some people believe that the houses are too basic, as they do not include things such as glass windows, electricity or plumbing.  Father Costa explains, “Bamboo is a symbol of poverty in this area.  And in fact, I’m not proud of these houses.  People shouldn’t have to live in these conditions.  But we say, ‘Better a wood and bamboo house today than a brick house five years from now.’ Our view is that people who don’t have a roof over their heads can’t wait.  Some of our applicants are literally living under pieces of cardboard.”

 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Supreme Court Decision Strikes Down Portion of SB1070 Immigration Law, Upholds ‘Papers Please’

Supreme Court Decision Strikes Down Portion of SB1070 Immigration Law, Upholds ‘Papers Please’

Photo: U.S. Supreme Court Rule on SB1070

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Today the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-to-3 decisions struck down three out of five provisions of Arizona’s immigration law, SB 1070.  This decision is seen as a partial victory for the U.S. government and their position that immigration law is the sole preview of the federal government.  This is also seen as a victory for the Obama administration that sued the state of Arizona when it implemented its far reaching immigration law.

One of the most controversial provisions of the law, the right of local police to request proof of someone’s legal status if there is ‘reasonable suspicion’ they are here illegally, was upheld with some warnings.  Immigrant advocates and many in the Latino community have felt this provision if upheld would lead to racial and ethnic profiling of the community.

The court rejected Arizona’s request to charge immigrants with a misdemeanor if they were not carrying their appropriate documentation allowing them to be in the country; they also struck down SB1070’s provision to make it a crime if the undocumented apply for a job and finally Arizona cannot arrest someone ‘solely’ if they are suspected of being in the country illegally.

Many immigrant rights organizations are disappointed with the ‘papers please’ provision being upheld: “In one sweep, the Supreme Court has sided with Arizona and allowed racial profiling as an acceptable law enforcement tool,” said Angelica Salas, director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

Read more by HS News Staff →

30 Crime Victims Found throughout Mexico, Majority in Abandoned Cargo Truck

30 Crime Victims Found throughout Mexico, Majority in Abandoned Cargo Truck

Photo: 30 Criome Victims Found throughout Mexico

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The remains of 30 suspected victims of drug-related violence have been discovered over the past day and a half in three different parts of Mexico, including 11 bodies in a clandestine grave in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz and 14 others in the country’s northeast region.

The group of 14 victims was found Saturday morning inside an abandoned cargo truck at a shopping center parking lot in Mante, a town in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, authorities said.

A spokesperson for the state Attorney General’s Office told Efe that municipal employees discovered the corpses of the 10 men and four women along with a threatening message directed at the Gulf cartel.

The grisly discovery marked the second time in less than a month that dismembered bodies have been found in the downtown section of Mante.

On June 7, 14 bodies were found inside a vehicle in front of the mayor’s office with a threatening message for the Gulf cartel’s main rival, Los Zetas.

The Zetas, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization, used to be on the Gulf cartel’s payroll but they broke away from their former bosses and now control several lucrative territories.

Separately, military spokespersons and local authorities confirmed that the skeletal remains of 11 people were found in the town of Lerdo de Tejada alongside a road leading to the Gulf of Mexico.

They said members of the Navy Secretariat arrived at the scene early Friday and cordoned off the zone to unearth the remains.

The excavation work at the clandestine grave concluded Friday afternoon.

Considering their advanced state of decomposition, investigators said in a preliminary report that the bodies had likely been buried for months.

The state of Veracruz has been mired in an intense wave of violence stemming from a turf war involving three drug cartels and constant police and army operations to combat the gangs.

Last Sunday, seven suspected cartel gunmen were killed in an armed clash with police and army soldiers in that same state.

Elsewhere, the dismembered bodies of three men and two women were found Saturday in the western town of Tepalcatepec, a spokesperson with the Michoacan state Attorney General’s Office said.

The bodies, which bore signs of severe torture, were found Saturday morning inside plastic bags on a bridge linking Tepalcatepec with the nearby town of Buenavista Tomatlan, the spokesperson said.

A message was left with the bodies but authorities did not reveal its content to the media.

Tepalcatepec is located in the Tierra Caliente region that straddles the states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico and is known for its sweltering heat.

That region has been the scene of bloody turf battles for control of the production of narcotics such as marijuana, heroin and crystal meth.

Michoacan’s more than 270-kilometer (170-mile) Pacific coastline also in an entry point for cocaine that is shipped in from South America and bound for the United States.

President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against Mexico’s drug cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006, deploying tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.

The death toll in Mexico’s drug war stands at more than 50,000 since 2006.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Dominican Singer Mickey Taveras Calls Salsa Music “the Mother of All Latin Rhythms”

Dominican Singer Mickey Taveras Calls Salsa Music “the Mother of All Latin Rhythms”

Photo: Dominican Singer Mickey Taveras Calls Salsa Music "the Mother of All Latin Rhythms"

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Dominican singer-songwriter Mickey Taveras told Efe Sunday that salsa “will never die” because “it is the mother of all Latin rhythms,” and he complained about the “tremendous harm” that piracy does to composers.

Salsa “has its place, above merengue, above bachata, over reggaeton,” Taveras said, adding that there is always that time when you need salsa that touches the heart or cheers you up.

Salsa is a classic sound, the singer of “Me gustas” (I Like You) said.

Taveras said piracy had forced him to change the way he markets his music.

“Basically, we make a small number of discs and use them for promotions and the ones you can, you sell directly to earn something,” the 41-year-old singer-songwriter said.

“Piracy has done tremendous harm to composers, to authors, since people can get access to buy (music) very cheaply and you don’t get back your investment,” the Dominican salsa singer said.

Fans can buy music on the official Mickey Taveras Web site, the singer, who began performing as a Spanish rocker at the age of 12 in his hometown of Moca, said.

Taveras is performing Sunday in a free concert for residents of Rio Abajo, a Panama City neighborhood that lost several houses to a fire recently ahead of the 75th anniversary of its founding.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Secretary of State Clinton Reaffirms Strong Ties Between U.S. and Spain

Secretary of State Clinton Reaffirms Strong Ties Between U.S. and Spain

Photo: U.S.-Spanish Council Forum 2012

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday stressed the strength of relations between Spain and the United States, which she described as “vital” for both economies and for bringing prosperity to the people of both countries.

U.S.-Spanish ties are vital for our economies, for the soundness and prosperity of both, Clinton said at the closing ceremony of the 17th United States-Spain Council Forum, where Spanish Crown Prince Felipe also spoke.

She also said that this cooperation can spur business activity and lead the way to overcoming the current economic crisis.

Clinton, who arrived at the forum in Jersey City after taking part in this week’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, spoke of Spaniards as “allies and partners,” and said she wished them prosperity.

With regard to Spain’s economic woes, Clinton said she hoped the euro zone loan to recapitalize Spanish banks will restore investor confidence, and also expressed her support for labor-market and other structural reforms being carried out by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s administration.

Spain’s crown prince, for his part, spoke of the “solid” cooperation between Spain and the United States and the benefits it can bring to both countries to generate trade and overcome the current global economic crisis.

Felipe expressed Saturday his certainty that in today’s complex and increasingly globalized world, especially in the context of the grave economic crisis that is squeezing many economies like Spain’s, a solid cooperation of Spain and the United States will be to the benefit of all.

The prince said in his speech Friday inaugurating this year’s forum that the Iberian nation is committed to achieving greater budget stability while simultaneously spurring growth.

“As difficult as the current economic moment may be, for Spain and the whole of the euro zone, we should not forget that it is precisely in these times when it is even more necessary for us to address, without delay, new and more ambitious goals in our quest and determination to achieve greater budgetary stability, together with economic growth,” Felipe said.

The crown prince, who attended the forum with his wife, Princess Letizia, said the gathering “represents an excellent opportunity to convey a message of confidence to both business communities.”

In that regard, he pointed to a recently published report by the Business Competitiveness Council - a think tank whose member companies account for a quarter of Spain’s gross domestic product - that “examined the solvency levels of the Spanish economy and has predicted a very promising future.”

Spain, in recession for the second time in three years, has been battered by the collapse of the country’s 1995-2007 real estate boom, which has left banks saddled with toxic property assets.

A sharp drop in tax revenues stemming from numerous businesses failures and a jobless rate above 24 percent also have caused the country to miss its EU-mandated budget-deficit targets despite stringent austerity measures.

Earlier this month, euro zone finance ministers approved a loan of up to 100 billion euros ($126 billion) to recapitalize Spain’s ailing lenders, and Rajoy’s administration will formally request the aid on Monday.

Because that assistance is to be channeled through the government, the loan has heightened concerns about Spain’s public debt burden.

Also in attendance at the forum’s inaugural dinner at the Liberty Science Center in Hoboken, New Jersey, were U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Spanish Development Minister Ana Pastor, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and other dignitaries.

The forum is part of the activities of the United States-Spain Council, a non-profit organization founded in 1997 with the backing of both governments to promote economic, financial, cultural, educational and political cooperation.

Felipe, who participated in last year’s forum in 2011 in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo, hailed the close ties between the United States and Spain, pointed to “freedom, democracy and the rule of law” as the “essence of the United States” and said Spain also shares those same principles.

The crown prince also mentioned U.S.-Spanish cooperation with Latin America and noted that in some countries of that region the United States and Spain occupy the top two positions in terms of foreign direct investment.

“A space as vast in area as it is generous in opportunities is being opened in that region for our companies to share their knowledge, capital and technology with local firms,” Felipe said.

That investment will help ensure “Latin America’s abundant natural resources” will translate “into growth and development opportunities for their populations and profits for our respective business communities.”

The crown prince also underlined the growing presence of the Hispanic world in American life.

“This is a growing reality that ... cannot be ignored in a country where the first Europeans, the Spanish, arrived on the coasts of Florida 500 years ago, an anniversary we’ll celebrate together in 2013,” he said.

The United States’ increasingly “vigorous” Hispanic component “strengthens our bond and offers a unique, historic opportunity” for promoting cultural and economic ties and tackling shared challenges, the crown prince said.

Felipe and Letizia attended Saturday’s working sessions, which centered on the economic and fiscal situation in the euro zone, infrastructure and transport opportunities and the growth of the biotechnology industry.

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MondayJune 25, 2012