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SundayJuly 15, 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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Ecuador’s Banana Industry Declares an Economic Emergency

Ecuador’s Banana Industry Declares an Economic Emergency

Photo: Ecuador banana industry in Trouble

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The Ecuadorian government declared an emergency alert in the banana sector whereby $5 million will be allocated to support small producers of the fruit, Agriculture Minister Javier Ponce said.

In recent weeks, the situation of banana producers has “worsened” since they are “receiving prices of $2, less than $2, when the official price is $5.50,” which led the government to declare the emergency in the sector, Ponce said.

Initially, part of the $5 million will be invested in fumigating all the plantations of small producers, which includes between 85 and 90 percent of the country’s banana production, Ponce said.

The government will also use the money to buy bananas from the producers who had contracts to sell the product that have not been fulfilled, the agriculture minister said.

“We’re not going to allow exporters to work without a contract, to impose the type of contract that they want,” Ponce said.

Officials will also not let producers be charged “absolutely illegal” expenses.

The government forecasts the creation of a banana-exporting company and a state plan to convert banana-growing areas that are no longer profitable and that must be opened up to other products, he added.

“We will not allow these abuses,” President Rafael Correa said Saturday in his weekly activity report in which he told Ponce that exporters who fail to fulfill their contracts must be closed.

“The intermediary action of the state is urgently needed” so that all the banana production is bought and sold to exporters “to avoid all this exploitation of small producers,” Correa said.

Bananas are Ecuador’s second-largest export product after petroleum.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Obama Outspending Romney on Spanish-Language Campaign Ads 7-to-1

Obama Outspending Romney on Spanish-Language Campaign Ads 7-to-1

Photo: Latino Vote 2012

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Both President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney have stressed the importance of the Latino vote and are releasing Spanish-language ads to prove it, the only difference is not only the message but the number of ads.

The Washington Post is reporting that President Obama is outspending Romney 7-to-1 buying those ads in key states like Colorado, Florida and Nevada.  The Obama campaign has spent $3.5 million from May through last week with Romney spending about $500,000.

In addition, Obama’s super PAC’s are also spending millions on Spanish-language ads while Romney’s super PAC’s are not spending anything.  Thus far the Romney campaign has produced 8 Spanish-language ads according to the Post analysis and feel that “no amount of TV commercials” will change how high the unemployment rate is for Latinos under Obama.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nearly 3,000 Colombians Displaced by Fighting

Nearly 3,000 Colombians Displaced by Fighting

Photo: Colombian soldiers

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Fighting between leftist FARC guerrillas and the Colombian security forces in the southwestern province of Cauca has driven more than 2,800 indigenous and mestizo people from their homes.

Around 1,500 of the displaced are from El Mango, a village outside the town of Argelia, where the International Committee of the Red Cross sent an initial shipment of 14 tons of humanitarian aid.

An ICRC representative in the southwestern city of Cali, Benno Kocher, said Friday the consignment includes food as well as construction materials to rebuild 74 homes rendered uninhabitable.

“We are concerned about the psychological effect on the population and the great number of people who have nowhere to return to once the situation normalizes, as many lost their houses after the battles,” he said in a statement.

The ICRC’s concern is shared by officials in the affected communities, while leaders of the nearly 100,000 Paez Indians who represent the majority in northern Cauca are demanding the withdrawal of both rebels and government troops.

The mayor of Toribio, Paez Indian Ezequiel Vitonas, told Efe by telephone that roughly 500 mestizos - people of mixed indigenous and European ancestry - have fled his municipality.

“Mestizos who lived from trade and retailing in the community have quickly emigrated, out of fear,” the mayor said.

Carlos Andres Alfonso, a senior councilor with the Association of Indigenous Governments of North Cauca, said Friday that the Indigenous Guard created by the Paez people to ensure sovereignty in their lands will continue with the task of enforcing “territorial control.”

Army troops guarding a cluster of telephone towers in the southwestern province of Cauca were driven out on Thursday by some 100 Indians.

Members of the Indigenous Guard took down gates and filled in the trenches of the military outpost on Berlin mountain, near the town of Toribio.

The Indians have repeatedly demanded that both the guerrillas and the security forces stay off their land and leave them out of the war.

The clashes in Cauca over the last 10 days prompted Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to travel to Toribio on Wednesday along with his Cabinet as a demonstration of Bogota’s concern about the situation in the province.

The indigenous people greeted Santos with boos and demanded that he withdraw the army and National Police from the area.

The Paez then approached checkpoints set up outside Toribio by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to encourage the rebels to clear out.

After Santos flatly rejected the Indians’ request and vowed not to demilitarize “a single centimeter” of Cauca, the Indigenous Guard - armed only with clubs - set out to drive the army from Toribio.

Colombia’s constitution recognizes the autonomy of the indigenous peoples and their right to exercise control over their designated territories.

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Former Boxer “La Bestia” Murdered in Ecuador

Former Boxer “La Bestia” Murdered in Ecuador

Photo: Jaime Quiñonez aka "La Bestia"

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Former boxer Jaime Quiñonez was murdered at a restaurant in Quito, Ecuadorian police said Sunday.

The 38-year-old Quiñonez, known as “La Bestia,” was killed on Saturday night, a police spokesman said.

Quiñonez was killed by two gunmen around 7:10 p.m., police spokesman Capt. Alex Romero said.

One gunshot hit the former boxer in the head, Romero said, adding that the assailants fled the scene.

At least four shots were fired at Quiñonez, who was a regular at the restaurant, an eyewitness said.

Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder, Romero said.

“They are going to be taken before a judge and the responsible authorities, and they will determine their responsibility,” the police spokesman said.

Investigators found traces of two shots in the front of the restaurant and took statements from the waiters and cooks.

Quiñonez successfully defended the inter-American heavyweight title of the International Boxing Federation in 1997 by knocking out American Willie “Dragon” Drive.

Read more by HS News Staff →

More than 500 Dead Penguins Wash Up on Brazil Beaches

More than 500 Dead Penguins Wash Up on Brazil Beaches

Photo: Dead Penguins in Brazil

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In the past week more than 500 penguins have washed up on the southern shores of Brazil, all appeared well-nourished and uninjured.  Marine experts from the country are investigating the cause of death, but don’t expect to know anything until 30 days from now.

Experts believe the penguins were doing their annual migration from Argentina, which lays south of Brazil’s Rio Grande Do Sul state were the animals were found, in search of warmer waters. 

The bodies of the dead penguins, reported to be Magellanic penguins, were found scattered along the beach towns of Tramandai and Cidreiras over the last ten days. 

About a week ago there were signs that things were afoul with some ‘lost’ penguins that were rescued from the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, where they aren’t typically found because the water is too warm for them. 

Dozens of the penguins were rescued and returned to their natural habitat the BBC reported.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Uncertain Future for Historic Buenos Aires Zoo

Uncertain Future for Historic Buenos Aires Zoo

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The Buenos Aires zoo, listed as a national historic monument for its Victorian pavilions, is facing an uncertain future after the attempt by the capital government to sell it to the highest bidder, a move that was stopped in the courts by the opposition at the last moment.

Located in Palermo, one of Buenos Aires’ fashionable districts, the zoo, which opened its doors in 1875, covers 18 hectares (45 acres) and houses some 2,000 animals of 73 species.

A tour through its facilities is like taking a trip back in time. There are primates behind the bars of an Andalusian aviary and three elephants move around near their Hindu temple and seem bored in their small allocated space.

Privatized in the 1990s under the government of Carlos Menem, in recent years the institution has been bitterly criticized regarding the situation of the animals and now is the focus of a political battle over the decision by Mayor Mauricio Macri to auction it off.

A report by the General Auditing authorities of Buenos Aires said that between 1990 and 2008 the institution lost 31 species of mammals and 72 species of birds, representing 23 percent and 55 percent, respectively, of the zoo’s collections.

The center’s current director, conservationist Claudio Bertonatti, who has been in the post for six months, acknowledges the figures, but downplays their significance.

“Many people think that the more species there are in a zoo, the better it is, but that’s a mistake. We could increase the number of species if we would accept all animals that are recovered in seizures, but we don’t do that because they arrive in very bad shape and it would be counterproductive,” Bertonatti told Efe.

Bertonatti said that, on the contrary, he feels “proud” that in recent years the institution has been able to “return to nature” some 400 animals, among them “107 Andean condors that are now flying free in several countries of Latin America.”

In his judgment, the zoo must transform itself “from an entertainment center into a conservation center with four objectives: conserving, educating, doing research and, lastly, entertaining.”

His model is the Bronx Zoo because in Buenos Aires, as is the case in the New York facility, the ideal thing would be for the animals to live in “conditions of semi-freedom,” although he admitted that the former institution has six times the space as his zoo and the Buenos Aires facility “cannot be expanded.”

While conservationists are concerned about improving the zoo and the animals’ wellbeing, local politicians have become engaged in a legal battle about the zoo’s future.

Judge Elena Liberatori last week accepted the appeal presented by opposition lawmaker Adrian Camps and suspended the public auction pushed for by the city government.

The judge ruled that any future arrangement for the zoo must be approved by the legislature, but the head of the General Directorate of Concessions of Buenos Aires, Silvia Imas, said that they will appeal the ruling because they feel that the auction “is the best option to regularize a concession that is out-of-date and to have five years to rethink how the zoo of the future will be.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Rafael Nadal Prepares For London Olympic Games

Rafael Nadal Prepares For London Olympic Games

Photo: Rafael Nadal

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Being selected to carry the Spanish flag at the London Olympic Games “is something very special and unforgettable,” tennis star Rafael Nadal said.

“I want to thank all the federations that have given me this opportunity. The Games are the most important sporting event in the world, for any athlete it means reaching your goal,” Nadal said.

Nadal, who is ranked No. 3 in the world after making an early exit at Wimbledon, said he was excited to take part in the Olympics once more.

“In Beijing 2008, when I lived in the Village with everybody, I discovered what the Olympic spirit is all about. I think it was the best experience I’ve had in my career,” Nadal said during the event Saturday at which he received the flag he will bear during the opening ceremony in London.

Nadal won the men’s singles gold medal in Beijing and also is the holder of 11 Grand Slam singles titles, the most recent coming in Paris, where he won a record seventh French Open in June.

The Spanish star’s triumph at Roland Garros, however, was followed by a stunning second-round loss at Wimbledon to 100th-ranked Czech Lukas Rosol.

The Olympic tennis tournament will be held on the grass at the All England Club, where Nadal won singles titles in 2008 and 2010.

Nadal, who has battled knee problems in recent years, said he was making progress in his preparations for the Olympics.

“I am doing everything possible to recover. After Roland Garros, I had a difficult time, but the hopes are at a maximum, the work is total and I expect to be at 100 percent” in London, Nadal said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Penelope Cruz the New Face of ‘Key to the Cure’ for Saks Fifth Avenue

Penelope Cruz the New Face of ‘Key to the Cure’ for Saks Fifth Avenue

Photo: Penelope Cruz and 'Key to the Cure'

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The “To Rome with Love” actress and Academy Award winner, Penelope Cruz,  has been tapped by Saks Fifth Avenue (SFA) to be the face of their 2012 ‘Key to the Cure’ campaign.  The Spanish beauty will be donning a specially designed tee-shirt by Carolina Herrera that promotes women’s cancer research funding.

The limited edition tee-shirt will be for sale starting on October 1st for $35 at Saks stores and online, with all the proceeds going to the Entertainment Industry Foundation’s Women’s Cancer Research Fund.  Cruz will be seen in public service announcements promoting the ‘Key to the Cure’. 

Some lucky shoppers will be able to meet Venezuelan designer Carolina Herrera in New York in October when a ‘Key to the Cure’ weekend is launched.  Cruz takes over the role from Jennifer Hudson.  SFA has raised over $30 million for women’s cancer research since it started the program some 14 years ago. 

38-year-old Cruz is currently promoting the new Woody Allen movie ‘To Rome with Love’ and wrapping up production on ‘Venuto al Mondo’, she is also on the cover of Madame Figaro magazine.


Read more by HS News Staff →

Calderon Says Peña Nieto Will Continue Anti-Drug Strategy in Mexico

Calderon Says Peña Nieto Will Continue Anti-Drug Strategy in Mexico

Photo: Felipe Calderon

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon said in an interview published Sunday by Spain’s El Pais newspaper that he was convinced that his anti-drug strategy and reforms would be continued by Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, who won the July 1 presidential election.

Calderon said he was “satisfied” with his legacy and expressed a willingness to work with the new administration to push forward energy, labor and tax reforms “that there is still enough time to get approved.”

“Many of these reforms were not achieved precisely because of obstacles from the PRI during these years and I expect this attitude, which has been damaging to the republic, can be corrected,” Calderon said.

“In terms of strengthening the institutions,” Mexico is better than it was six years ago, Calderon said, referring to the crime and drug-related violence that his administration has tried to fight.

“In terms of violence, evidently not,” the president said, adding that “there has been an exponential increase in violence in all of Latin America, and in the deaths caused by criminal organizations fighting not just for (smuggling) routes, but for territories, for the drug market.”

“I can assure you that I found truly rotted institutions at the federal, state and municipal levels, and today, at least, with their deficiencies, they are better than we got them,” Calderon said.

The government has acted “with scrupulous respect for the law” at all times, the president said in response to a question about human rights violations in the war on drugs.

Calderon said he was not concerned about being hauled before a tribunal in The Hague.

“I believe the irresponsibility for a leader would have been to not act. Surely, there have been human rights violations by the armed forces and the police. But these were exceptions, not systematic,” Calderon said.

After holding the presidency for 12 years, the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, will hand over power to the PRI and Peña Nieto following elections that are being challenged by leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Lopez Obrador also refused to accept the results of the 2006 presidential election, which he lost by a razor-thin margin to Calderon.

“The problem with Mexican democracy is not with electoral accounting,” Calderon said. “It has to do with the freedom with which a voter gets to the booth to vote for one or another candidate.”

“Our democracy has many things that need to be corrected, but any disagreements should be handled via institutional channels,” the president said.

If its victory is ratified by Mexico’s electoral court, the PRI, which governed Mexico uninterruptedly from 1929 to 2000, will return to power.

During its 71 years of largely unchallenged hegemony, the PRI relied mainly on patronage and control of organized labor and the mass media, though it was not above resorting to outright vote-rigging and even violence.

“We all lost, those of us in the government, the PAN leadership, because, perhaps, the (candidate) selection process was erratic, tortuous, politically costly ... the campaign strategy was not one of continuity, but one of change or difference,” Calderon said.

PAN candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota ended up in third place in the presidential race, winning just 25.41 percent of the vote.

A “reconstruction of the PAN, the platform, the structure, the membership, the leadership, of the process for selecting candidates,” is needed, Calderon said.

“There is much to do and to revise, but if the PAN takes the path of reconstruction, it will govern Mexico again much sooner than many think,” Calderon said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Puerto Rican Shootout Leaves 3 Dead, 1 Brain Dead

Puerto Rican Shootout Leaves 3 Dead, 1 Brain Dead

Photo: The shootout occurred in Cayey

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Three people were killed and another was left brain dead in an armed clash in the southeastern Puerto Rican town of Cayey, police said Saturday in a statement.

The incident occurred Friday night in Cayey’s Buena Vista neighborhood when a shootout erupted for reasons still unknown, the Puerto Rico Police said.

The first fatality, identified as Jonathan de Jesus Coma, 19, was found by police inside a vehicle.

The other two men slain, identified as Joshua Ortiz Haddock, 19, alias Jao, and Juan C. Tapia Colon, 24, died while receiving first aid at Cayey’s Mennonite Hospital.

Meanwhile doctors said Saturday that Luis Antonio Rodriguez Rodriguez, 25, was left brain dead.

About 20 shell casings from weapons of different calibers were found at the scene.

More than 400 people had been killed on the island through June 11 of this year.

That was lower than the figure for the same period of 2011, a year that ended with 1,136 violent deaths, some 15 percent more than in 2010 and the highest number of murders since records began to be kept in 1940.

Authorities in Puerto Rico blame rivalries between drug dealers for a spike in homicides over the past few years.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Summer Camp Attacked, 7 Raped

Mexican Summer Camp Attacked, 7 Raped

Photo: Boys and girls were attacked at a Mexican summer camp

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Seven girls were raped and a number of boys were beaten by unidentified assailants who attacked a summer camp in central Mexico last week, the Mexico state Attorney General’s Office said.

The incident occurred Thursday night at the camp in Ixtapaluca, a city in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, the AG’s office said.

About 90 children and teenagers had been camping in the area since Monday, the AG’s office said.

The camp director notified the prosecutor’s office in Ixtapaluca on Friday morning that about a dozen armed subjects had attacked the camp the night before, the AG’s office said.

“The armed group held the campers for several hours. During the time they were at the place, they sexually abused seven minor females and beat several young men,” the AG’s office said in a statement.

The assailants stole personal items and two vehicles before leaving the camp, prosecutors said.

The victims will be provided with legal, medical and psychological assistance, Mexico state Gov. Eruviel Avila said.

The perpetrators will be found and given “punishment that makes an example of them,” the governor said.

Investigators are working to identify the individuals involved in the attack, the AG’s office said.

“We have sketches based on statements, we have issued the appropriate orders and two lines of investigation are open on the identities of those responsible, with support being provided by the intelligence office of this agency, the AG’s office said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Olympian and CoverGirl Marlen Esparza Featured in Vogue

Olympian and CoverGirl Marlen Esparza Featured in Vogue

Photo: Boxer Marlen Esparza in Vogue

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Olympic-gold hopeful and Latin beauty, Marlen Esparza, is featured in this issue of Vogue donning a stunning red dress and her boxing shoes.

The 22-year-old Houstonite is starting to get recognized not only for her incredible athleticism and boxing skills but also for her beauty.  Just last month CoverGirl announced she would be the first Hispanic Olympian to be the face of CoverGirl.

This month she is featured inside the pages of Vogue, yet another pioneering moment for Esparza.  This is the first time the fashion magazine covers the sport of women’s boxing and the first time the sports is presented at the Olympics.  Clearly the magazine recognizes Esparza as one of the best with her 69-2 record and six national titles.

The article titled “Marlen Esparza: Going the Distance” tells of her 12-year journey from Pasadena, Texas to the 2012 London Olympics.  The 5-foot-3-inch, 112 pound, power house will be representing the U.S. in the flyweight division and is expected to bring home the gold.

Esparza’s father David, from Juarez, Mexico is also featured in the article and speaks of his idols, Mexican boxing legend Salvador Sanchez and now his daughter. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

Venezuelan Presidential Candidate Henrique Capriles Addresses Military

Venezuelan Presidential Candidate Henrique Capriles Addresses Military

Photo: Henrique Capriles

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The opposition candidate for the Venezuelan presidency, Henrique Capriles, said Saturday that a message he addressed to the armed forces went over “very well” and added that the “threats” of the “other candidate,” a reference to President Hugo Chavez, will not divert his “energy” from the job at hand.

“The word I have from inside our armed forces is that the message went over very well - it’s a message that invites…our armed forces to take part in developing our Venezuela,” Capriles said during a campaign tour of the northwestern state of Falcon.

Capriles was referring to an address he made last Thursday to the military during a three-minute political ad on TV, airtime he has the right to every day as a candidate and which also circulates on YouTube and social networks, after which he complained that he had learned of “orders” banning his TV speech from being seen on military bases.

Meanwhile his campaign committee released a communique supposedly issued by the Defense Ministry that “specifically and absolutely” bars all troops and the civilians who work on military bases from watching “any televised programming” in which the opposition candidate appears.

Chavez denied Friday that he gave the military any order not to watch or listen to his principal rival and slammed as “false” and “fabricated” the document circulated with the alleged prohibition.

During an interview on a regional TV channel, the president showed this Friday the “forged” document, supposedly from the Defense Ministry, and later, by way of contrast, put on camera a communique that he described as authentic.

While leading a military ceremony Saturday in Caracas that all television and radio stations were obliged to transmit, Chavez dealt with the same subject and said that “this has to be a crime,” though he added that “it’s nothing new” that psy-ops labs of the “dirty war of the bourgeoisie” forge documents.

He called on his adversaries in the coming elections to respect the nation’s armed forces, which he described as “revolutionary, socialist and Chavista,” and warned the troops of a “strategy of the bourgeoisie and the empire (his term for the United States) to divide them.”

“As commander-in-chief, as a Venezuelan and as a soldier, I must demand that the presidential candidates going around making offers, traveling around the country talking and saying what they want, that they respect our Bolivarian national armed forces,” Chavez said.

Asked about the president’s statement that this could be a crime, Capriles told reporters Saturday that “the threats and intimidation of the other candidate…don’t divert my energy, my time or my focus.”

“My plans have to do with jobs, security, housing, health care, education, opportunity. The proposals of this government are just three: threats, fear and dividing the people. That is what this government is about - instilling fear in everyone,” he said.

He maintained that he sent “a message of respect, of dignity, of commitment to the institution” of the armed forces.

“Those who decide who is the next commander-in-chief of our Venezuela will be the Venezuelan people,” Capriles said, adding that his vision is of “armed forces that are part and parcel of the nation’s development.”

Chavez and Capriles plus another five candidates will be on the ballot next Oct. 7, when 18.7 million Venezuelans elect the nation’s president for the 2013-2019 term in office.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Joran Van Der Sloot to Marry in Peruvian Prison

Joran Van Der Sloot to Marry in Peruvian Prison

Photo: Joran Van der Sloot to Marry in Prison

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Just two years into his 28-year murder conviction, Joran Van der Sloot is set to marry inside a Peru prison, his attorney Maximo Altez announced.

His attorney informed Peru media of the pending nuptials without providing any details on who the bride might be.  Van der Sloot has been busy on the romantic front.  Last June the convicted killer and lead suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba, had reportedly fathered a son with Leydi Figueroa Uceda.  Since then the 22-year-old has denied being the mother of any prison love child.

In 2010 interviews the then 22-year-old Dutchman boasted of all the marriage proposals he was receiving in prison. 

According to Altez the wedding will take place in the Miguel Castro Castro prison where Van der Sloot is serving his sentence for the murder of Peruvian Stephany Flores, a young woman he met in a local Lima casino. 

Read more by HS News Staff →

El Salvador Sees 52 Percent Drop in Murders Since Gang Truce

El Salvador Sees 52 Percent Drop in Murders Since Gang Truce

Photo: Salvadorian Gangs

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El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes said Saturday that the “truce” among street gangs that took effect last March “has had results,” since homicides have dropped 52 percent since then.

During the debut of his radio program “Talking with the President,” he said that with the truce in force between March and June there were 694 homicides, 52 percent less than the 1,448 racked up in the same period last year.

He said that before the truce there were 14 homicides a day around the country but that the daily average has now dropped to “four deaths.”

During the first six months of this year there were 1,562 homicides, 552 less than the 2,114 recorded during the same period last year.

He ruled out the possibility that some murders are being hidden by the gangs as “missing persons,” as some in the country are saying.

“The number of missing persons has gone down something like 25 percent, or 107 fewer disappearances (during the first six months of this year), so it is in no way certain that many homicides are listed as missing persons - it’s just not true,” he said.

“The truce has had its results,” he said, adding that the country cannot depend solely on the truce because all that does is create “a different scenario that allows the government to establish a national accord” in order to improve national security.

The Salvadoran government launched a national dialogue on May 2 aimed at reaching agreement with the different sectors of the country on how to allay insecurity.

The Organization of American States, or OAS, made a commitment recently to keep watch on adherence to the truce.

“The OAS is committed to this process,” which began last March with the truce and for which this organization will be the “guarantor,” the secretary general of that organization, Jose Miguel Insulza, said on a two-day visit to this Central American country on July 12-13.

The OAS will say “clearly and frankly what is going right and what is going wrong, what has made progress and what hasn’t,” he said.

During his first radio program, which will broadcast every Saturday, Funes tackled different subjects of national interest and answered calls from Salvadoran citizens pre-recorded on a cost-free line, which unfortunately had technical problems at airtime.

The one-hour program was broadcast live from the presidential residence on state-run Radio Nacional and was transmitted by 30 radio stations around the country, an official communique said.

The secretary of communications for the presidency, David Rivas, said how pleased he was at the huge audience that tuned in to the first edition of the program and at its impact on social networks, where it quickly became one of the hottest topics in El Salvador, according to the bulletin, in which the secretary also apologized for the technical problems that had arisen.

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New Security Measures in Place After Mexican Indian Murders

New Security Measures in Place After Mexican Indian Murders

Photo: The Mexican state of Michoacán

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An indigenous community in the western Mexican state of Michoacan has stepped up security measures in the wake of this week’s kidnap-murders of two of its members by suspected mobsters, saying state authorities have broken their promise to protect them.

A spokesman for the community of Cheran, a community that is made up of some 4,500 Purepecha Indians and located about 200 miles from Mexico City, told Efe that local inhabitants held a meeting Friday to determine the actions of its self-styled Resistance Movement.

A Cheran delegation that arrived Saturday in the Mexican capital, meanwhile, will press President Felipe Calderon’s administration to investigate the murders of Indians Urbano Macias and Guadalupe Jeronimo.

Both went missing last Sunday and two days later their dead bodies were found with gunshot wounds.

The killings stemmed from a long-running battle between Cheran and neighboring El Cerecito over illegal logging in the area, David Peña, an attorney advising the members of the former community, told MVS radio earlier this week.

Peña blamed mobsters for carrying out the killings. “In the last three years, that community (El Cerecito) has allied with organized crime and systematically exploited the forests,” the lawyer said.

Given the “dimension the Cheran conflict has reached at the national and international level” he said he was surprised to see authorities “go on thinking that it’s simply a fight for territory or for control of a zone, when in reality it’s a confrontation with organized crime, which is devastating a great part of this country, particularly in Michoacan.”

Groups of Purepecha Indians on Friday inspected the forests of Cheran and discovered a complete lack of police or military presence despite Michoacan Gov. Fausto Vallejo’s pledge that a contingent of 100 police would protect the area from illegal loggers and organized crime elements.

In response, roughly 1,000 Indians took over two toll booths on the highway linking Morelia, Michoacan’s capital, with the Pacific coast for several hours.

The Purepechas say 14 Indians have been shot dead since 2008 by suspected illegal loggers in cahoots with drug cartel mobsters and eight others have gone missing.

The ethnic group said it will hold demonstrations soon in Mexico City and Morelia to call attention to the violence.

The leaders of Cheran announced last year that they would no longer recognize the federal, state and municipal governments because officials could not protect their forests from illegal loggers.

In an interview this week with the newspaper Reforma, Gov. Vallejo urged the federal government to deploy more soldiers and police and provide more social development assistance to prevent organized crime gangs from continuing to dominate that highland region in the northwestern part of the state.

According to Vallejo, although there is a permanent army and federal police presence in that highland area, its topography complicates efforts to monitor the area.

He said the state government does not have the resources to combat the crime problem alone.

Read more by HS News Staff →

REPORT: UK and Mexico Lead in 2011 Nonimmigrant Admissions to the U.S.

REPORT: UK and Mexico Lead in 2011 Nonimmigrant Admissions to the U.S.

Photo: Travel Visas to U.S.

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According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration report, during 2011, there were 159 million nonimmigrant admissions to the United States according to DHS work- load estimates.

These admissions included tourists and business travelers from Canada, Mexican nationals with Border Crossing Cards, and I-94 admissions.  I-94 admissions accounted for 33 percent (53.1 million) of the total admissions. The majority (87 percent) of I-94 admissions were temporary visitors for business and pleasure, while 6.4 percent were temporary workers and families and 3.4 percent were students.

The leading countries of citizenship for I-94 admissions were Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

Nonimmigrants are foreign nationals granted temporary entry into the United States. The major purposes for which nonimmigrant admission may be authorized include temporary visits for business or pleasure, academic or vocational study, temporary employment, and to act as a representative of a foreign government or international organization.

Mexican nationals traveling as tourists to the U.S. made up the majority of admissions coming from Mexico, nearly 15 million.  This was followed by nearly one million visas given for temporary Mexican visitors coming to the country to conduct business.


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Olympics: Hurdler Looking to Win First Gold Medal for Puerto Rico

Olympics: Hurdler Looking to Win First Gold Medal for Puerto Rico

Photo: Javier Culson

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Puerto Rico is counting on hurdler Javier Culson to win the island’s first-ever gold medal in the Olympic Games that start two weeks from now in London, Puerto Rican Olympic Committee chair David Bernier told Efe in San Juan on Friday.

He spoke following Culson’s triumph in the 400-meter hurdles at the London Diamond League meeting.

The 27-year-old finished the course in 47.78 seconds, equaling his season-best performance last week in Paris.

“This demonstrates his consistency, which is the most important thing,” Bernier said. “And so we see that Javier has shown he arrived at the Olympics as everyone wants to arrive: in his optimum condition.”

“Our athlete will arrive in the best condition he can to push aside the rest and try to reach the Olympic podium,” said Bernier, a veteran of the Puerto Rican National Fencing Team.

Finishing second Friday in London was Briton David Greene, Culson’s archrival.

Culson, who is unbeaten in the 400 meters this season, won silver medals at the 2009 and 2011 IAAF World Championships in Berlin and Daegu, South Korea, respectively.

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Life Without Parole for Peruvian Nanny Who Killed Child in Texas

Life Without Parole for Peruvian Nanny Who Killed Child in Texas

Photo: Ana Cuadros

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Peruvian nanny Ana Cuadros was sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted of capital murder for the beating death in 2005 of a child in her care.

This is the second time Cuadros has been given this sentence after the first trial and conviction was ruled without effect due to irregularities.

After more than five hours of deliberation, a jury in Collin County north of Dallas asked the judge on Friday if they could listen once more to the recordings of Cuadros’ 911 emergency call and her first interrogation by the police.

After the trial which lasted five days, Cuadros’ defense said Friday during the final arguments that the young Peruvian was innocent of murder and that the evidence presented rather confirmed that the child’s death was the result of an accident.

But the jury found that Cuadros was responsible for the death of 14-month-old Kyle Lazarchik on Oct. 12, 2005.

The interpretation presented by the defense was that the little boy died from a fall from one of the fixtures in the kitchen and not from being beaten as the prosecution always maintained.

Cuadros always said that the boy fell to the floor, though in a statement to Efe in a 2010 interview, she said she made a mistake in not telling the child’s parents what had happened the day before the boy allegedly began to suffer convulsions.

For their part, prosecutors repeated to the jury that the defendant had no compassion for the minor whose death she caused and that her “conscience betrayed her” into changing her story of what happened several times when she was first questioned.

This was the second trial for Cuadros, jailed in 2005 after being accused of hitting the toddler on the head and causing his death.

In 2006, the Peruvian was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, but after three years of long legal battles mounted by her defense attorneys, an appeals court in Dallas threw out the conviction due to errors during the trial.

Prosecutors later decided to retry the case.

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Raul Castro Returns to Cuba After Trip Abroad

Raul Castro Returns to Cuba After Trip Abroad

Photo: China Daily/Xu Jingxing

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Cuban President Raul Castro returned to Havana after a 12-day tour of China, Vietnam and Russia aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and economic cooperation with those countries, the official daily Granma said Saturday.

The official daily of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba said that Castro arrived on the island Friday night “after concluding some intense and successful days” of intergovernmental contacts, and was greeted by First Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura and Interior Minister Abelardo Colome Ibarra.

“So ended more than 10 days of intens work that confirmed once more the strength of the historic ties uniting Cuba with the three countries visited, as well as the undeniable determination to further boost the relations of friendship and cooperation that already characterize us,” the daily said.

The Cuban president left Havana on July 1 with a delegation made up of Government Minister Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

After landing in Beijing on July 4, Castro met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and the two leaders appointed to become the Asian country’s president, now Vice President Xi Jinping, and its premier, current Vice Premier Li Keqiang.

Cuba and China also signed several accords including a loan from the China Development Bank, as well as economic and technical cooperation agreements that entail interest-free loans and donations to the island for a sum not yet announced.

On July 7 Castro began his state visit to Hanoi, where he met with his Vietnamese counterpart, Truong Tan Sang, and other high officials.

Raul Castro’s visit to China and Vietnam came at a time when the island is undertaking the Cuban president’s economic adjustments to “modernize” the Caribbean country’s socialist model, using a process similar to the reforms carried out decades ago by those two Asian countries.

The last stage of Raul Castro’s international tour was in Moscow, where he arrived on July 10 with an agenda that included talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, and the head of the Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev.

According to the Kremlin, the main purpose of the visit was to find ways to increase and diversify bilateral trade through a number of projects and joint ventures in the sectors of energy, transport, telecommunications, space travel and pharmaceuticals.

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Nightclub Owner Sentenced to 4.5 Years for Deadly Fire

Nightclub Owner Sentenced to 4.5 Years for Deadly Fire

Photo: Republica Cromañon victims

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The owner of an Argentine discotheque where 193 people died more than seven years ago in a fire was sentenced here Friday to 4 1/2 years in prison.

Rafael Levy, who will remain free on bail pending appeal, was found responsible for the Dec. 30, 2004, tragedy at the Republica Cromañon club in Buenos Aires.

The judges acquitted four other defendants, ex-cop Gabriel Sevald, former municipal officials Juan Carlos Lopez, Enrique Carelli and private security consultant Vicente Rizzo, spurring a protest by victims’ family members in the courtroom.

The deadly blaze was caused by a flare fired at the club’s ceiling during a concert by the band Callejeros.

Subsequent investigations showed the nightclub had been operating in violation of municipal safety regulations. On the night of the blaze, Republica Cromañon was jammed far beyond its maximum legal capacity.

The club’s then-manager, Omar Chaban, and Callejeros leader Patricio Fontanet were each sentenced to eight years in prison in May 2011.

The band’s drummer and agent, as well as three city employees, a cop and one of Chaban’s business associates, also received jail terms.

The appeals process continues, however, and no one has gone to jail so far.

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Mexican Photojournalist Acquitted of Murdering His Wife

Mexican Photojournalist Acquitted of Murdering His Wife

Photo: Dorantes Zurita was acquitted

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Mexican photojournalist Sergio Dorantes Zurita, a former employee of Newsweek magazine whose acquittal on charges of murdering his wife in 2003 was upheld last week on appeal, described his battle for justice in a radio interview in this capital.

Dorantes Zurita told Radio Formula Friday that he fought during the trial to clear his name and “try to set a legal precedent,” as well as to “stop the Federal District Attorney’s Office from continuing to manufacture witnesses and ruining the lives of innocents, like they did with me.”

Alejandra Patricia Dehesa Perez, Dorantes Zurita’s estranged wife, was stabbed to death on June 4, 2003, at the offices of Newsweek magazine in Mexico City, where she worked as an administrator.

“We had been separated for seven months and her family immediately asked the DA’s office to find me guilty of homicide, alleging that I had physically abused her,” the photographer said.

An investigation was launched and in January 2004 the DA’s office issued an arrest warrant for Dorantes, who fled to the United States.

In interviews over the years, the photojournalist has maintained his innocence and said evidence had been manufactured to pin the crime on him.

He was arrested on Feb. 20, 2007, and jailed in Oakland, California, before being handed over to Mexican authorities in October 2008 and placed in a Mexico City lockup.

Luis Eduardo Sanchez Martinez, the lone witness in the case, accused Dorantes Zurita of the crime, saying a man who appeared upset bumped into him after leaving the scene of the homicide.

He later retracted his statement, saying that he had been paid by a prosecutor to make the false accusation.

The witness was subsequently charged with making a false statement, but the one deemed false was the second one, meaning that the initial testimony stood and Dorantes Zurita remained behind bars.

The photojournalist said prosecutors used that false statement as the lone evidence against him in a “very torturous trial.”

“They made life impossible for my defense team but (his attorneys) were very deft in gradually discrediting each of the arguments” of the DA’s office, he added.

Dorantes Zurita also said the judge in the case, Joel Lopez Nuñez, “did an excellent job correcting all the errors of the previous judges” and acquitted him of the murder charge on March 30.

That sentence was upheld on July 6 by Mexico City’s Superior Tribunal of Justice.

Dorantes Zurita said he is planning to found an organization to protect people sentenced to prison in Mexico for crimes they did not commit.

“I experienced it and I met many whose lives have been ruined by the deep-rooted corruption in prosecutors’ offices and the so-called investigative police forces,” the photojournalist said.

He said it is likely that the murder will remain unsolved, as often happens in Mexico.

The killer “must be very pleased that the authorities haven’t found him and that this is yet another example of the impunity that prevails in our justice system,” Dorantes Zurita said.

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SundayJuly 15, 2012