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SundayJuly 22, 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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Soccer Great Maradona Says Boca Doesn’t Need Him

Soccer Great Maradona Says Boca Doesn’t Need Him

Photo: Diego Maradona News

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Argentine soccer icon Diego Maradona, recently cut loose as manager by Dubai’s Al Wasl, said former club Boca Juniors has no need for him at the helm.

Maradona backed up current Boca manager Julio Cesar Falcioni at a time when the latter had been questioned by fans after the club blew the Argentine league title in the last two weeks of season and lost the Copa Libertadores final to Brazil’s Corinthians.

Some Boca fans are also attributing star player Juan Roman Riquelme’s leaving the team to the coach, with whom it was well known that he did not get along.

“Boca has a great coach. ... I know that today there’s no place for me (with the team) because Falcioni did things very well,” Maradona told Channel 9 television in Buenos Aires.

“He has a contract. He took the team to the Copa Libertadores final, he battled for the local championship and still had a title to contest,” Maradona added, referring to the Copa Argentina, which Boca will vie for with Racing during the first week of August.

After he was dumped by Al Wasl - although he had a contract valid until 2013 - and returned to Buenos Aires, press speculation arose about the potential signing of Maradona as manager for Boca Juniors, where he won his first championship as a player in 1981-1982.

“Anyone would like to be the coach of Boca Juniors, but I wouldn’t like what they did to me (at Al Wasl) to be done to others,” he said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Drug Traffickers, Shining Path Guerrillas Kill 2 Police Officers

Drug Traffickers, Shining Path Guerrillas Kill 2 Police Officers

Photo: Peruvian police

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Two police officers were wounded in an ambush staged by guerrillas and drug traffickers in a jungle area in the southeastern Peruvian region of Cuzco, police spokesmen said.

A vehicle carrying five officers was attacked Friday afternoon in the remote area as it was heading from the town of Ocobamba to Echarate, a district in La Convencion province.

Quillabamba district precinct chief Jorge Antonio Cotito Huallanca was shot in the wrist and driver Minio Torres had his head grazed by a bullet, police spokesmen told Efe.

The officers were treated at the hospital in Quillabamba and Torres was transported Saturday to the Pardo clinic in Cuzco city because his condition worsened.

The area where the attack occurred is 2 1/2 hours by road from Quillabamba.

This part of a Cuzco is a transit zone for the drug traffickers operating in the coca-growing Valley of the Apurimac and Ene rivers, or VRAE, region.

Drug traffickers and Shining Path guerrillas based in the region often stage attacks on the security forces.

The Shining Path guerrilla group’s remnants operate in the VRAE region under Victor Quispe Palomino, alias “Comrade Jose.”

The rebels have joined forces with drug cartels and producers of illegal coca, the raw material for cocaine, officials say.

The government has made the elimination of the Shining Path’s remnants a priority.

The Maoist-inspired Shining Path launched its uprising on May 17, 1980, with an attack on Chuschi, a small town in Ayacucho province.

A truth commission appointed by former President Alejandro Toledo blamed the Shining Path for most of the nearly 70,000 deaths the panel ascribed to politically motivated violence during the two decades following the group’s 1980 uprising.

The guerrilla group, according to commission estimates, also caused an estimated $25 billion in economic losses.

Peru is the world’s second-largest cocaine producer, with potential estimated output of the illegal drug at about 300 metric tons.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazilian Artist Vik Muniz Uses Magazine Scraps to Recreate Iconic Art

Brazilian Artist Vik Muniz Uses Magazine Scraps to Recreate Iconic Art

Photo: Muniz's Interpretation of Van Gogh's "Starry Night"

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Brazilian Vik Muniz is known for unorthodox materials and presentations.  His previous exhibitions have included “Pictures of Chocolate” and “Pictures of Junk.”  Muniz’s current collection, “Pictures of Magazine 2” consists of nine works constructed using cut and torn fragments from popular magazines.

From afar, the pieces appear to be famous masterpieces by by Van Gogh, Manet, Cézanne, etc. but up-close one can see the painstaking detail. 

Vik Muniz’s “Pictures of Magazine 2” is currently on exhibition at Xippas Gallery in Paris.

Additional pieces for the collection:




Read more by HS News Staff →

Violence in Eastern Mexico Continues, 6 Die in Drug-related Violence

Violence in Eastern Mexico Continues, 6 Die in Drug-related Violence

Photo: Mexican state of Veracruz

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At least six people died in drug-related violence in the Mexican Gulf state of Veracruz, officials said.

The killings occurred between Friday and Saturday in the cities of Veracruz, Martinez de la Torre and Tres Valles.

Gunmen killed a former police officer, another man, three restaurant workers and a sixth person, who was hit by stray shots in an attack on a municipal official.

Gregorio Morales Garcia, a 42-year-old former member of the Veracruz and Boca del Rio Intermunicipal Police Department, was gunned down Friday.

Morales was killed by three gunmen who opened fire on him inside a computer rental store.

A civilian died when gunmen opened fire in the city of Martinez de la Torre on Alderman Emilio Prince Santamaria, who was wounded but survived the attack.

The mutilated body of a man was found in Martinez de la Torre early Saturday along with a message signed by the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.

Gunmen killed three workers at the La Corona taco restaurant in the city of Tres Valles on Saturday morning.

Veracruz has been plagued by a turf war between rival drug cartels that has sent the state’s murder rate skyrocketing over the past two years.

The federal government launched “Operation Safe Veracruz” last October in an effort to stem the wave of drug-related violence in the Gulf state.

On June 12, police found the remains of 14 people stuffed into an abandoned SUV on the Alamo-Potrero del Llano state highway near Los Cuates, a ranch in northern Veracruz close to the border with Tamaulipas.

The Gulf, Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels, as well as breakaway members of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana organization, are fueling the violence in the state.

Veracruz, Mexico’s third-most populous state, is coveted as a key drug-trafficking corridor to the United States, officials say.

President Felipe Calderon declared war on 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 →

EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  66-Year-Old Man Caught Smuggling 295-lbs of Pot in from Mexico

EXTREME TRAFFICKING:  66-Year-Old Man Caught Smuggling 295-lbs of Pot in from Mexico

Photo: 66-Year-old Caught Smuggling Pot

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers working at the Columbus port of entry seized 295 pounds of marijuana Tuesday. The drugs were concealed in a vehicle being driven by a 66-year-old Deming man.

“CBP officers at the Columbus port encounter smugglers of every generation. We have caught teenagers, young adults, middle aged people and senior citizens attempting to smuggle drugs from Mexico,” said CBP Columbus Port Director Robert Reza.

The seizure was made shortly after 3:30 a.m. when a 2000 Chevrolet Silverado entered the port of entry. A CBP officer interviewed the driver of the pick-up and selected the vehicle for a secondary exam. CBP officers performing the inspection noticed signs of tampering. They then x-rayed the vehicle and noted anomalies in the appearance of the floor of the truck. CBP drug sniffing dog “Domi” searched the truck and alerted to the floor. CBP officers removed a total of 276 marijuana-filled bundles from the floor of the vehicle.

CBP officers took custody of the driver, Benjamin Espino, a legal permanent resident from Mexico who lives in Deming, New Mexico.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Playing Both Sides of the Immigration Debate, Is Fox News Exploiting Hispanics?

Playing Both Sides of the Immigration Debate, Is Fox News Exploiting Hispanics?

Photo: Fox News Latino

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Leading Latino leaders are criticizing the Fox News website Fox News Latino, saying it lacks credibility among Hispanics by profiting from them even as they are demonized by the conservative parent network known for anti-immigrant coverage.

Since it launched in 2010, Fox News Latino has positioned itself as “the place to go for news that impacts the Latino Community,” covering news, politics, entertainment, and other stories through that lens.

Notably, the tone of Fox News Latino’s coverage of issues like immigration dramatically differs from that of other parts of the Fox News family, which typically adopt a hardline slant.

Last month after President Obama announced that his administration would no longer seek to deport young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children, Fox News Latino covered the story using the headline “Obama Administration Halts Deportations for Undocumented Children” and featuring a photo of a Latina activist in front of the U.S. Capitol.

By contrast, the Fox Nation website headlined its story on the subject “Obama Administration Bypasses Congress, to Give Immunity, Stop Deporting Younger Illegals” accompanied by a photo of handcuffed young Latinos.

Such disparities in coverage between the Latino-focused website and the rest of the right-wing network are frequent, with other instances including a January 2011 border shooting and last month’s Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s immigration law.

Fox News hosts and personalities regularly demonize immigrants, refusing to abandon the slur “illegals” though other outlets have done so. The network also cheerleads controversial immigration laws like those in Arizona and Alabama, and outlandish smears of immigrants.

For Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy, the entire Fox News Latino approach is a way to profit off Latinos while hurting them on the home network.

Falcón agreed Fox News Latino “covers a lot of good stuff,” but added that Fox News has “written off this community, they are propaganda. This is an admission they are not fair and balanced. It is so obvious.”

Lisa Navarrete, a spokesperson for the National Council of La Raza, also found a profit motive in the Fox News Latino enterprise: “At the end of the day, Murdoch is a business man first and their political views come second. They look at the demographic numbers.”

She said many Latinos have trouble trusting anything from Fox News, even if it comes from a Latino-focused site.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Former Soccer Player Hector Javier Cespedes Dies From Heart Attack

Former Soccer Player Hector Javier Cespedes Dies From Heart Attack

Photo: Hector Javier Cespedes

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Former Millonarios and Independiente Santa Fe player Hector Javier Cespedes died from a heart attack at the Universidad de la Sabana hospital in Chia, a city north of Colombia’s capital, the hospital said.

Cespedes arrived at the hospital on Saturday morning “without any vital signs and did not respond to efforts to resuscitate him,” hospital director Juan Guillermo Ortiz said.

The former player, who worked for Millonarios, was born in Bogota in 1952.

He made his professional debut in 1969 with Millonarios, playing in 139 games and scoring 30 goals.

Cespedes joined Santa Fe in 1975, scoring 74 goals in 246 games.

He also played for Atletico Nacional in 1979 and was a member of the Colombian junior squad.

Cespedes coached Santa Fe in 1986, but he only lasted one match, getting booted after losing to Deportes Quindio 4-2.

He returned to Santa Fe in 1990 and coached the team to the finals. Cespedes later coached Venezuela’s Mineros club.

Cespedes studied law at Universidad Libre and became an attorney.

Millonarios expressed its condolences at the death of the team executive.

“Millonarios F.C. sends a message of deep condolence to professor Cespedes’s family,” the team said in a statement.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Researchers Uncover Largest Ancient Maya Dam in Guatemala

Researchers Uncover Largest Ancient Maya Dam in Guatemala

Photo: Mayan Dam Found, Guatemala

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Archaeologists from the University of Cincinnati have recently uncovered the largest ancient dam in Central America measuring 260 feet in length and 33 feet high. 

This dam, in the ancient city of Tikal in northern Guatemala, was used to collect and hold up to 20 million gallons of water in its large reservoir.  The discovery details, which can be found in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrate how the Maya indigenous group conserved and used their own natural resources to support a society for more than 1,500 years, even during occasional periods of drought. 

Vernon Scarborough, an anthropology professor at the University of Cincinnati and a co author of the study states, “The overall goal of the research is to better understand how the ancient Maya supported a population at Tikal of perhaps 60,000 to 80,000 inhabitants and an estimated population of five million in the overall Maya lowlands by AD 700.”

This feat is even more impressive when their water filtration system is taken into account.  The archaeology team also discovered that water entering the large reservoirs only did so after ‘filtering’ through strategically placed boxes of quartz sand.  Co author and professor of geography at the University, Nicholas Dunning, stated, “These filtration beds consisted of quartz sand, which is not naturally found in the greater Tikal area.  The Maya of Tikal traveled at least 20 miles to obtain the quartz sand to create their water filters.  It was a fairly laborious transportation effort.  That speaks to the value they placed on water and water management.”

Read more at Science News →

Matisse Painting Stolen From Venezuelan Museum 10 Years Ago Finally Recovered

Matisse Painting Stolen From Venezuelan Museum 10 Years Ago Finally Recovered

Photo: Odalisque in Red Pants

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A painting by Henri Matisse that was stolen from a Venezuelan museum ten years ago has been recovered in Florida.

“Odalisque in Red Pants” was stolen from the Sofia Imber Contemporary Art Museum and replaced with a fake. Authorities are not certain how the thieves took the 1925 painting undetected.

A man and a woman were arrested on Tuesday after allegedly trying to sell the $3 million painting to an undercover FBI agent in Miami, asking $740,000 for the artwork.

Both Pedro Antonio Marcuello Guzman and Maria Martha Elisa Ornelas Lazo have been arrested for transporting and possession stolen property. According to CNN, they will appear in court on Friday and face up to ten years in prison if found guilty.

The painting of a topless woman in red pants was sold to the Caracas museum from a New York gallery in 1981 for $400,000.

Although the replacement painting that the thieves left was a poor rendition of Matisse’s masterpiece, the phony could have been on display for five years without anyone noticing according to the Los Angeles Times.

Read more about the Matisse Theft at Celebrity Cafe

Read more by HS News Staff →

3-Day Immigration Sting in Indianapolis Nets 24 Criminal Aliens

3-Day Immigration Sting in Indianapolis Nets 24 Criminal Aliens

Photo: Criminal Aliens Removed in Indianapolis

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As part of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) ongoing commitment to prioritizing the removal of criminal aliens, 24 convicted criminal aliens, immigration fugitives and immigration violators were arrested during a three-day operation in the Indianapolis area.

This operation concluded Monday and was conducted by ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) teams in Indianapolis.

Of the 24 arrested, 17 had prior convictions for crimes, such as: possessing drugs, resisting arrest, drunken driving, illegally re-entering the U.S. after deportation and criminal trespass. Three of the 24 were immigration fugitives who had been previously ordered to leave the country but failed to depart. Another three had been previously deported and illegally re-entered the United States, which is a felony.

Following is the nationality breakdown of the 23 men and one woman arrested: Mexico (17), Guatemala (3), El Salvador (2), Honduras (1), and Venezuela (1). The majority of the arrests occurred in Indianapolis, with some arrests made in Franklin and Plainfield.

Following are summaries of two individuals arrested during this operation:

  A 23-year-old Mexican national had been convicted of drug possession, and was sentenced to 180 days. He was arrested July 15 at his Indianapolis residence and remains in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

  A 33-year-old Guatemalan national had been convicted of resisting a law enforcement officer and was sentenced to a year in prison. He was arrested July 16 at his residence in Indianapolis. He remains in ICE custody pending removal proceedings.

Read more by HS News Staff →

IDB Awards $7M to Organizations in Latin America Working to Reduce Poverty

IDB Awards $7M to Organizations in Latin America Working to Reduce Poverty

Photo: Call for Proposals for Civil Society Projects

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The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced the results of the Call for Proposals for Civil Society Projects that support low-income communities and vulnerable groups, funded through the IDB-managed Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction Program.

The seven winning civil society organizations (CSOs) will execute projects in Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Guyana, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Peru with a combined amount of $7 million.

The Bank received 1,885 proposals from 26 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and carried out a thorough evaluation process. The final selection was made by the government of Japan.

The organizations and winning proposals are:

    Fundación Colonia Pirai (Bolivia, $1,342,212). The Foundation’s project will contribute to the modernization of the Advanced School of Agriculture of Colonia Pirai in Santa Cruz, and increase its educational capacity for the benefit of rural and indigenous students.

    Progresar Fundación Centro de Educación Especial (Colombia, $300,000). The project, Supporting Productive Talents and Skills, will support the development and training of children, youth, and adults with disabilities in the city of Cali, so that they may play a more active role in their communities, schools, and homes.

    Plan International, Inc. Foster Parents Plan International - Plan Guatemala (Guatemala, $1,499,500). Their project to Improve Nutrition and Food Security for Vulnerable Populations will contribute to the reduction of food and nutritional insecurity for children and women from 1,925 families in 77 communities in the Department of Baja Verapaz.

    Partners of the Americas, Guyana Chapter (Guyana, $1,161,000). Their project Development of Sustainable Communities Through the Hydroponic Production of Organic Vegetables will provide opportunities to low-income households to become self-employed entrepreneurs in organic hydroponic farming.

    Fundación Nicaragua Nuestra (Nicaragua, $340,960). The project Working Together for a Dignified and Productive Life will help increase citizen security levels by integrating at-risk youth through activities that will strengthen their community.

    Fundación Comunitaria Centro de Información y Recursos para el Desarrollo (Paraguay, $1,477,952). The project Community-Based System for Pregnant Women and Newborn Healthcare will help in the effort to improve maternal and infant health conditions in the Department of Caazapá through the installation of a local system to extend access to government healthcare facilities.

    Asociación Civil Neoandina (Perú, $842,154). The project Strengthening Community and District Management to Improve Health and Food Security will strengthen the health management and food security capacities of families, communities, and institutions in order to improve the healthcare of pregnant women and children in the district of Jangas in Huaraz.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Left Calls For Peaceful Mobilization to Annul Presidential Election

Mexican Left Calls For Peaceful Mobilization to Annul Presidential Election

Photo: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

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Leaders of the Mexican left called Friday for a peaceful popular mobilization to annul the July 1 presidential election amid allegations of vote-buying and other machinations by the victorious Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

“We are asking that the presidential election be invalidated because there are very serious violations of the constitution,” the leftist standard-bearer in the contest, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said at a press conference in Mexico City.

“We will always act peacefully,” he said at the presentation of the National Plan for Defense of Democracy and the Dignity of Mexico.

The PRI’s Enrique Peña Nieto won the election with 38.21 percent of the vote, while Lopez Obrador took second place with 31.59 percent, according to the final official tally.

But the leftist hopeful filed a motion last week with the TEPJF electoral court seeking to have the election overturned, pointing to mounting evidence of irregularities.

The initiative announced Friday will begin next week with a coordinated message in the mass media and on social networks, to be followed July 29 by information assemblies in 142 city squares across Mexico.

The activities will continue until at least Sept. 6, the deadline for the TEPJF to certify Peña Nieto as president-elect, Lopez Obrador said.

The mobilization is “open to women, men of good will” who are not ready to give up the possibility of “a democratic republic” in Mexico, the former capital mayor said.

He said the mobilization will not include the disruptive street protests and occupations carried out by his supporters after he narrowly lost the 2006 presidential contest.

“Our adversaries want us to fall into the trap of provocation, of violence,” Lopez Obrador said. “They will be disappointed. We don’t want to give pretexts to the violent ones.”

He urged the TEPJF and other authorities to “deepen the investigation” into the PRI’s vote-buying and said that the left had received information from “many PRIistas who are horrified about what happened, who are repentant.”

“It would be an injury of great magnitude to the people of Mexico to validate an election such as the one the PRI wants to buy to impose Peña Nieto,” Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico’s conservative governing party has joined the leftist coalition in demanding an investigation of the PRI’s campaign finances.

The respective chairmen of the National Action Party and the leftist PRD, Gustavo Madero and Jesus Zambrano, held a joint press conference to announce their plans to file a formal complaint with the Attorney General’s Office.

Zambrano said Madero was showing political courage by pressing for an examination of the PRI’s financial activities.

The PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000, lost the 2000 presidential election to National Action and finished third in 2006.

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.

Despite their ideological differences, National Action and the PRD have a history of working together at the state and local levels to battle the PRI.

That relationship was put under strain when Lopez Obrador lost the 2006 contest to National Action’s Felipe Calderon by 0.56 percent of the vote, a result the leftist candidate refused to accept.

Mexico’s non-partisan Yo soy 132 student movement is also mounting a campaign aimed at persuading authorities to annul the presidential election and avert the “imposition” of Peña Nieto as the country’s next head of state.

“Our general plan begins by contributing to the cleaning up of the electoral process, but it has as its goal the legitimate petition to declare the election invalid,” one of the group’s representatives, Sofia Silva, said Thursday.

Yo soy 132 emerged in May, largely as a reaction to the Mexican mass media’s bias in favor of Peña Nieto and the PRI.

The movement has already submitted to prosecutors and electoral authorities a report containing more than 1,000 instances of irregularities at polling places and said it will deliver a second dossier next week.

The movement’s spokespeople announced a “national mega-march against the imposition,” urging Mexicans to fill town squares across the country on Sunday.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Stocks See 6 Percent Fall Amid Higher Yields on Sovereign Debt

Spanish Stocks See 6 Percent Fall Amid Higher Yields on Sovereign Debt

Photo: Spanish stock market

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Spain’s benchmark Ibex-35 index plunged 5.82 percent Friday, the biggest drop of the year, as soaring yields on sovereign debt prompted investors to flee equities.

The yield on the country’s 10-year bond rose as high as 7.283 percent on the open market during the day, sending the country’s risk premium - the extra return investors demand on that bond compared to equivalent, safe-haven German debt - up to 612 basis points.

Many economists regard the country’s borrowing costs - which were above 6 percent for Spain’s five- and seven-year notes in a debt auction Thursday - as already unsustainable over the long haul.

Spain’s risk premium fell back slightly to 609 basis points by the end of trading Friday, although that still represented a new euro-era record.

Economists said market pressure on Spain mounted after the eastern autonomous community of Valencia said Friday it will request a bailout by the central government to settle its bills, becoming the first to tap into a newly created 18-billion-euro ($22 billion) fund to assist indebted regions.

The sharp drop in stocks came on the same day European economy and finance ministers gave final approval - without modifications - to a 100-billion-euro ($122-billion) aid package for ailing Spanish banks, a move applauded by the International Monetary Fund.

The selloff also came a day after Spain’s Parliament ratified - with the sole support of the governing conservative Popular Party - austerity measures approved last Friday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Cabinet.

After Thursday’s passage of measures including a rise in the VAT tax and cuts to public-sector wages and unemployment benefits, protests by tens of thousands of Spaniards were held in 80 cities nationwide and led to 15 arrests.

Spain’s economy, already in recession for the second time in three years, will contract by another 0.5 percent in 2013, Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said Friday. In April, the Spanish government had forecast a paltry 0.2 percent increase in the Iberian nation’s gross domestic product next year.

Rajoy’s administration also expects unemployment to remain virtually unchanged in 2013 at 24.3 percent.

In a press conference following a Cabinet meeting, Montoro said Spain is expected to remain in recession next year, although the drop in economic output should be “softer, with a drop in activity, but not as deep.”

Spain’s government opted for the latest austerity package - its fourth since Rajoy took office last December - as a condition for the bank bailout and for being granted more time by its euro-zone partners to bring its budget deficit in line with European Union mandates.

Spain’s economy has been battered by the global recession and the collapse of a massive real-estate bubble, which has left banks saddled with toxic property assets.

Numerous businesses failures and sky-high joblessness (roughly 50 percent for those under 25), meanwhile, have led to a sharp drop in tax revenues.

Rajoy’s administration says it is committed to growth but that the first step to economic recovery for Spain is getting its financial house in order.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Riots in Venezuelan Prison End After Month-Long Struggle, 20 Dead

Riots in Venezuelan Prison End After Month-Long Struggle, 20 Dead

Photo: Venezuelan prison riot

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Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard, or GNB, took control Saturday of a prison in the western state of Merida after a month-long conflict left 20 inmates dead, government authorities said.

The GNB militarized police “took back total and absolute control before dawn” of the Andean Region Penitentiary Center, or Cepra, in a military operation that left no fatalities, the Interior Ministry press secretary Jorge Galindo posted on his Twitter account.

Iris Varela, the minister of penitentiary services, for her part said on state television channel VTV that details would be forthcoming during the day about the crisis that was finally ended with the “total surrender of the instigators of violence.”

“The situation has been resolved, the gang leaders of that prison are now under orders of the authorities,” the minister said, and promised that the jail “from now on” will be “a penitentiary free of any kind of weapon and of any situation like the one we’ve just seen.”

Violence at the Cepra lockup broke out more than 20 days ago and according to opposition lawmaker William Davila, a member of the “special commission” designated this week by the National Assembly to deal with that situation, left 22 inmates dead and more than 60 wounded during the month of July.

The minister confirmed that during the crisis there was also a birth and said that the newborn’s mother “had come for a visit and was kept there kidnapped” by the “gang leaders of that jail.”

The crisis started as an uprising to stop some prisoners from being sent to other penal centers, which, according to non-governmental organizations working in the country’s prisons, led to the gradual intervention of the GNB that progressively took control of the prison.

The Venezuelan Prison Observatory, or OVP, made up of several NGOs, said that last year there were 560 deaths and 1,457 wounded in the nation’s 35 prisons, which have a total capacity for some 14,500 inmates but currently hold about 45,000.

Read more by HS News Staff →

1,500 Police Evict 2,000 Peruvian Squatters

1,500 Police Evict 2,000 Peruvian Squatters

Photo: Riots during the eviction

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A force of 1,500 police with officers mounted on horseback and anti-riot tanker trucks evicted 2,000 people who had occupied idle land in the Ventanilla district on Lima’s north side.

The occupiers took over an area of some 70,000 square meters (17 acres) last Wednesday, presumably encouraged by land traffickers, and since then had stood up to the cops that originally tried to remove them.

An overwhelming police contingent showed up Friday at the occupiers’ settlement in Ventanilla armed with tear-gas bombs and handguns they shot in the air to get the squatters to leave.

At least two people were injured in the clash, one by the occupiers and the other by police.

Local television showed scenes of several people being arrested, a helicopter flying overhead and cops riding up the hill on horseback to evict the settlers.

Read more by HS News Staff →

SundayJuly 22, 2012