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SundayAugust 26, 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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Tropical Storm Issac Results in Large Evacuations in Cuba

Tropical Storm Issac Results in Large Evacuations in Cuba

Photo: Tropical Storm Isaac in Cuba

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Tropical Storm Isaac caused the evacuations of more than 20,000 people in Cuba, as well as minor flooding in coastal areas, overflowing rivers, power outages and damage to homes while it moved over the waters north of the island en route to Florida, state media reported Sunday.

In the eastern province of Holguin, which Isaac deluged on Saturday afternoon, 20,312 people left their homes to take shelter with relatives and 382 people had been evacuated and were being housed in official shelters.

This is the largest number of displaced people in Cuba due to the gusting winds and torrential rains associated with the storm.

The eastern provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Las Tunas, Holguin and Camaguey, which comprise almost half the country’s territory, were on storm alert when Isaac arrived.

Isaac made landfall in Cuba on Saturday at the southern town of Imias, in Guantanamo province, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Punta de Maisi, in the far eastern part of the island.

In Baracoa, a coastal town in Guantanamo prone to flooding, more than 2,000 people had to abandon their homes, a situation that also occurred to a greater or lesser extent in Granma, Camaguey and Ciego de Avila.

Many of the evacuees were domestic tourists who had to break off their summer vacations early to return to their homes from coastal resort areas.

In addition to the forced population flows, in Baracoa 23 houses collapsed, and four of them were total losses, and banana and fruit crops were damaged. There was also an eight-hour power outage there.

Other damage, mainly downed power lines and the like, occurred in the towns of Gibara, Sagua de Tanamo and Rafael Freyre, all of which are in Holguin’s coastal area.

During the morning, the heavy rains continued to fall in the east and the latest bulletin from the Cuban weather service said that that would be the case across most of the country all day Sunday.

So far, no fatalities from Isaac, which is moving toward the northwest, have been reported in Cuba.

On Sunday afternoon, heavy rains will continue to fall nationwide, although the downpours will gradually diminish, Cuban weather service Forecast Center chief Jose Rubiera said.

The threat remains of “light to moderate” coastal flooding in the south central and northwest coastal - where Havana is located - parts of the country, Rubiera said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Brazil’s Petrobras Makes Deepwater Oil Discovery in Atlantic

Brazil’s Petrobras Makes Deepwater Oil Discovery in Atlantic

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Oil and gas have been found in a field in the deepwater Sergipe-Alagoas basin in the Atlantic, Brazilian state-controlled oil giant Petrobras said.

Tests confirmed the presence of petroleum and “good quality” gas at the Moita Bonita well, which is at a depth of 2,775 meters (9,098 feet).

The well is about 85 kilometers (53 miles) off the coast of Aracaju, the capital of Alagoas state, Petrobras said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The Moita Bonita well is in block BM-SeAl-10, which Petrobras is operating without the participation of foreign oil companies.

“The company plans to continue studies in the area, including an analysis of rock and fluid data obtained at the well, with the goal of filing the Discovery Evaluation Plan” required by the National Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels Agency, or ANP, the company said.

Petrobras, Brazil’s largest corporation, is one of the world’s fastest-growing oil companies.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Gangland Violence Claims Another 10 Lives in Mexico

Gangland Violence Claims Another 10 Lives in Mexico

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Drug-related violence has left 10 people dead over the past 24 hours in the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz, local authorities said.

Army soldiers found four people bearing gunshot wounds and signs of torture inside an abandoned vehicle that had been spotted early Saturday morning in the mountainous central zone of Veracruz.

Also Saturday morning, two people were shot and killed in the Miguel Hidalgo neighborhood of the port of Veracruz, the state’s largest city.

On Friday, authorities found the remains of four decapitated individuals inside black garbage bags along the Boca del Rio-Paso del Toro federal highway in the same port city.

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

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.

The federal government launched “Operation Safe Veracruz” last October in an effort to stem the wave of drug-related violence in the Gulf coast state, which is coveted as a key drug-trafficking corridor to the United States.

More than 50,000 people, according to official figures, have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and militarized the struggle against the country’s powerful drug cartels.

Mexico registered 27,199 murders in 2011, or 24 per 100,000 people, the highest number since Calderon took office, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or INEGI, said Monday.

The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which poet turned peace activist Javier Sicilia founded last year after his son was brutally murdered by suspected drug-gang members, puts the death toll from Mexico’s drug war at 70,000.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Venezuelan Oil Refinery Blast’s Death Toll Rises to 39

Venezuelan Oil Refinery Blast’s Death Toll Rises to 39

Photo: Victims of the blast

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The death toll from the explosion this weekend at the Amuay oil refinery in the northwestern Venezuelan state of Falcon has risen to 39, the government said.

The Amuay refinery is one of three that make up the Paraguana Refinery Complex, or CRP, the largest in this South American country and one of the largest in the world.

Workers clearing the rubble from Saturday’s blast found “new corpses,” Vice President Elias Jaua told state television.

“Up to this moment, of the figure of 39 (people) who are in the social security hospital morgue, 18 of them are already acknowledged to be members of the Bolivarian National Guard,” Jaua said.

Fifteen of the victims are civilians and, mainly, relatives of the soldiers who were in the houses of the 45th Detachment of the National Guard, a military complex with residential infrastructure, Jaua said.

“There are six corpses still to be identified,” the vice president said.

Twelve injured people are being treated in different hospitals in the city of Punto Fijo, located 528 kilometers (328 miles) west of Caracas, where the refinery is located, and another nine injured were transported to the western city of Maracaibo, Jaua said.

A total of 86 people had to be given some kind of medical attention, many of them for burns, although the majority of them have already been released, Jaua said.

Oil and Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez said the blast was the result of a gas leak that formed a “cloud” and exploded at 1:11 a.m., producing a huge shock wave that damaged homes in the surrounding area along with a National Guard facility.

Ramirez said that the explosion “caused severe damage to National Guard Outpost 45” and blasted a part of the storage-tank area, causing a huge fire that burned all day.

“In the end we had nine storage tanks hit by the explosion,” the minister said, adding that when the fatal cloud was detected the alarm was sounded, but it all happened “too fast” and the explosion was “almost immediate.”

Jaua said that 209 houses and 11 local businesses had been damaged and that 13 families “had their homes completely destroyed” and were transported to the Punto Fijo naval base to be housed in the meantime.

The vice president said that the existing contingency plan was activated “to control the fire,” admitting that firefighters have not been able to extinguish it but saying they will continue “battling all during the night” to do so.

After the incident, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered a “thorough” investigation of the matter and decreed three days of national mourning for the victims.

CRP manager Jesus Luongo on Sunday denied that the blast had occurred due to lack of maintenance, adding that some $6 billion had been invested in the refinery complex over the past three years.

Meanwhile, the general secretary of the Futpv petroleum workers union, Ivan Freites, accused the government of neglecting maintenance work in the oil industry in recent years.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Missing Mexican Tourist Found Murdered in Croatia

Missing Mexican Tourist Found Murdered in Croatia

Photo: Selena Margarit Graciano Macedo

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The remains of a woman found in Marjan park in the city of Split are those of a Mexican tourist who was murdered, Croatian police said Sunday.

Selena Margarit Graciano Macedo’s remains were found on Saturday at the popular park, which is on a hill, a police spokesman told HTV.

An autopsy found that the 31-year-old Graciano Macedo was murdered and investigators are searching for her killer, the police spokesman said.

Investigators are focusing on a group of homeless people and drug addicts who live in cardboard dwellings around the park, HTV reported.

Graciano Macedo’s body was found at the park after an intense four-day search launched when her brother, Enmanuel Graciano, reported the tourist missing.

Split’s residents are distressed over the crime because it is the first killing that anyone can recall in the tourist destination and occurred in broad daylight at a popular recreation area, HTV and other media outlets reported.

No one saw or heard anything unusual during the time that the killing happened, Croatian media said.

A resident saw the Mexican tourist in the park around 7:00 p.m. on the day she went missing, unofficial reports said.

Investigators initially found a sandal and hat belonging to the victim, but they later discovered evidence of a struggle along with her backpack and a bloody knife.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Argentine Soccer Team Pennant Made a Trip to the Moon with Neil Armstrong

Argentine Soccer Team Pennant Made a Trip to the Moon with Neil Armstrong

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Astronaut Neil Armstrong, who died earlier this weekend, carried a pennant belonging to Argentina’s Independiente de Avellaneda on his history-making 1969 trip to the Moon.

Armstrong, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 82 due to complications from recent heart surgery, confirmed during a November 1969 trip to Buenos Aires that he carried the souvenir to the Moon.

The first man to walk on the Moon visited Argentina’s capital along with Apollo 11 crewmates Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins as part of a global tour organized by NASA.

Armstrong landed on the Moon with Aldrin on July 20, 1969, in the lunar module Eagle while Collins circled overhead aboard the command module Columbia.

The space pioneer said he had carried the pennant to the Moon, confirming statements by team officials that had been called into question by the public in Argentina at the time.

Hector Rodriguez, who served as Independiente’s public affairs chief at the time, proposed making Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins honorary partners in the team before Apollo 11’s voyage to the Moon.

“If they are going to be the greatest heroes of the century, they have to be Independiente partners,” Rodriguez said at the time.

Team management agreed to the deal and the three astronauts were registered as partners, with Aldrin as No. 80,399, Armstrong as No. 80,400 and Collins as No. 80,401.

Identification cards bearing photos provided by the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires were sent to the United States along with club pennants and gear for the astronauts’ children.

Armstrong thanked the team for its gesture in a May 1969 letter and said he wished to “be able to visit Buenos Aires soon and that circumstances will allow me to accept your invitation to visit the club,” an event that never took place.

Rodriguez was invited to a reception held for the astronauts in Buenos Aires by U.S. Ambassador to Argentina John Davis Lodge.

Armstrong said during the reception that the Independiente pennant brought the astronauts good luck on the trip to the Moon,

The story makes partners and fans of Independiente, which has won a record seven Libertadores Cups, proud.

The team, however, is currently struggling and could be relegated from Argentina’s First Division, something that has never happened before.

Read more by HS News Staff →

T.S. Isaac His Cuba as a “Very Weak” Storm, May Strengthen On Way to Florida

T.S. Isaac His Cuba as a “Very Weak” Storm, May Strengthen On Way to Florida

Photo: Tropical Storm Isaac (BBC)

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Cuba got its first battering Saturday from Tropical Storm Isaac and expects to see a cross-country buildup of the wind and rain whirled in by the storm, whose center crossed the extreme eastern part of the country.

Isaac made landfall near Imias, a town in the easternmost province of Guantanamo, around noon with maximum sustained winds of 95 kilometers (60 miles) per hour, and was moving north-northwest headed for Florida.

Cuban meteorologists said the eye of the storm was almost imperceptible when it hit the country, and forecast its leaving during the early afternoon Saturday at some point on the northern coast between the provinces of Las Tunas and Guantanamo as it enters the Florida Straits.

With that movement the storm is likely to cover Cuba with its clouds and heavy rains that up to noon Saturday continued lashing the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where Isaac caused at least four deaths.

Cuban meteorologist Jose Rubiera said on state television that the heaviest rains will affect eastern Cuba starting Saturday afternoon and will gradually march across the rest of the country as the storm advances toward the Florida Keys.

According to Rubiera, Isaac hit Cuba as a “disorganized” and “very weak” storm, though the warm waters of the Florida Straits could whip it into a Category 1 hurricane.

The first reports of people being evacuated this Saturday came from Baracoa, a town in Guantanamo, where some 1,000 locals had to leave their houses due to the advancing sea waters and seek shelter in the homes of friends and family.

Official media also said that a number of tourist attractions and seaside resorts in the provinces of Holguin, Camaguey and Ciego de Avila were evacuated, in most cases putting an early end to tourists’ summer vacations.

Despite being located some 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) west of the eastern tip of the country, winds have strengthened in Havana over the last few hours and some rain has fallen.

In his report, Rubiera said that this weekend “winds will be pretty strong across almost all of the country,” with speeds of 30 to 45 kph (20 to 30 mph) in the western and central areas, from 30 to 55 kph (20 to 35 mph) a little farther east in Camaguey province, and from 70 to 95 kph (40 to 60 mph) on the easternmost tip of the country.

Authorities are keeping a close watch on technical conditions and water volumes in national reservoirs, which on average are currently at 66 percent of capacity.

In provinces like Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara and Camaguey, however, reservoirs are above 80 percent of capacity and some are completely full, so that a sudden increase in volume is cause for concern.

On the other hand, eastern provinces like Granma have a serious problem with reservoir levels down to around 35 percent of capacity, which prompted the Hydraulic Resources Institute to speculate that Isaac’s rains will be “beneficial” for some of the reservoirs in the region.

Read more by HS News Staff →

FARC Rebels Bomb Portion of Colombia’s Transandino Pipeline

FARC Rebels Bomb Portion of Colombia’s Transandino Pipeline

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A new bomb attack destroyed a stretch of the Transandino pipeline in a rural area of the southwestern province of Nariño, authorities said Saturday.

Oscar Hurtado - mayor of the town of Puerres, the nearest urban center - said the sabotage occurred at some 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the downtown district between the rural areas known as Loma Redonda and La Esperanza.

The 306-kilometer (190-mile) pipeline, operated by state oil firm Ecopetrol, transports oil from Lago Agrio in Ecuador to Colombia’s Pacific Ocean port of Tumaco.

Fire department officials in Ipiales, a town near Puerres, said the attack caused no environmental damage to water sources and that the fire was extinguished.

Factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, that operate in the area have recently focused on blowing up electric power infrastructures in the southwestern provinces of Nariño, Cauca and Valle del Cauca.

The bomb attack comes as part of the FARC’s escalating violence that began more than two weeks ago when the rebels destroyed electric towers and immediately knocked out power in several towns along Nariño’s Pacific coast.

One of the cities most affected had been Tumaco, the second largest Colombian port on the Pacific, with some 170,000 inhabitants, but authorities said Saturday that electricity had been restored after being out for more than two weeks.

Read more by HS News Staff →

ICE, Mexico Honor 23 Graduates of Mexican Customs Investigator Training Program

A group of 23 Mexican customs officers completed a rigorous 10-week training program modeled on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Training Program to prepare them to more effectively fight crime along the southern border and within Mexico.

Students of the ICE-sponsored Mexican Customs Investigator Training (MEXCIT), their instructors, and Mexican and U.S. dignitaries attended a graduation ceremony at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Charleston Aug. 23, 2012. The event underlined ICE’s continuing commitment to partner with Mexico in confronting drug cartels and other criminal organizations whose actions undermine public safety, erode the rule of law and threaten the national security of the United States, Mexico and the world at large.

ICE Director John Morton commended the students for completing the challenging and physically demanding course work that included getting a dousing of pepper spray. Morton said MEXCIT is the first of its kind and “stands as a shining example of the strength of the U.S. and Mexico’s commitment to bilateral cooperation.”

A total of 47 Mexican customs officers have now completed this training program.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Eva Longoria, George Lopez to Host PADRES Contra el Cancer’s Annual Fundraiser

Eva Longoria, George Lopez to Host PADRES Contra el Cancer’s Annual Fundraiser

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On September 28th and 29th, 2012 Eva Longoria, will host PADRES Contra el Cancer (PADRES), 12th annual fund-raising gala, “El Sueño de Esperanza Gala” at the all new Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.  Actor and Comedian George Lopez will also, lend his support once again and act as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.

PADRES, a non-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life for children with cancer and their families, will be honoring Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and Los Angeles Lakers forward, Metta World Peace, for their philanthropic and inspiring contributions to the pediatric cancer community.  Funds raised that evening will support PADRES educational and quality of life programs and economic services benefiting PADRES families in California, South Florida, New York City and Las Vegas, NV.

The evening will also include a Live Musical Performance by Grammy Award Nominee, Aleks Syntek, who is also the winning Judge/Coach of the hit TV Series “La Voz”.

Eva Longoria, PADRES National Spokesperson, and PADRES invite supporters from across the nation to come together and embark on the journey to bring HOPE to children with cancer and their families. For individuals who would like to attend this exclusive event, tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by contacting PADRES.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Voting Rights Victory: California Legislature Approves Election Day Registration

Voting Rights Victory: California Legislature Approves Election Day Registration

Photo: Voter Registration (John Clarke Russ)

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As voter suppression laws spread across the country, voting rights advocates can take heart: the biggest state in the nation is on the cusp of passing a major voter protection initiative.

Election Day Registration (EDR), which allows citizens to register up to and on Election Day, passed the California State Senate today by a party-line vote of 23-13. AB 1436 had passed the State Assembly in May 47-26.

Under current law, Californians cannot register to vote in the final two weeks before an election, just as many Americans are beginning to tune in. EDR will eliminate that deadline, ensuring that no citizen is disenfranchised because he or she wasn’t registered beforehand.

This won’t just benefit slackers. Historically-disenfranchised citizens like minorities and poorer Americans, will particularly benefit from EDR. On average, studies have found that EDR boosts voter turnout by seven percentage points. Common Cause’s Phillip Ung told ThinkProgress he “expects voter turnout to increase by the hundreds of thousands” solely as a result of EDR.

Eight states currently allow their citizens to register on Election Day: Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. California is poised to become the latest, and by far the largest, state to enact EDR.

California’s version of EDR differs slightly from the way it’s employed elsewhere. Rather than allowing citizens to register at regular polling stations, as they do in Maine, for instance, California will have Election Day registration at a county registrar’s office, where citizens will be able to vote as well.
The bill now returns to the Assembly for a concurrence vote — which is all but assured of passage — due to a small change in the Senate version before reaching Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) desk. Brown has not commented publicly on the bill, but has been very supportive of election reform efforts in the past and advocates expect he will sign the legislation.

AB 1436 also increases the fine for voter fraud to $50,000, one of the highest penalties in the country.

Assuming Brown signs the bill, it will not take effect until the next presidential election in 2016.

Read more at ThinkProgress →

Families Still Waiting for Justice a Year After Deadly Attack on Casino Royale

Families Still Waiting for Justice a Year After Deadly Attack on Casino Royale

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Grieving family members continue to await justice a year after their loved ones were killed in a shocking daytime attack on a casino in the northern Mexican industrial city of Monterrey.

Ten men and 42 women died on Aug. 25, 2011, when members of the Los Zetas drug cartel - generally regarded as Mexico’s most ruthless criminal outfit - doused the inside of Monterrey’s Casino Royale with gasoline and set it ablaze.

Investigators have determined that the criminal gang was trying to intimidate the casino’s owners into making extortion payments and that many more lives were lost than intended in the poorly planned attack.

The gunmen told the people inside the casino to get out before setting fire to the building, but the emergency exits were closed. The majority of the 52 victims died from smoke inhalation, with only seven burning to death.

Some of the suspects have told investigators they were scolded by their bosses for killing so many people at the casino, which was the target of an extortion racket common in several parts of Mexico.

A year later, many of the victims’ children, parents, spouses and other relatives still have not come to terms with their loss and feel frustrated and angry that no suspects have yet been convicted.

Alejandro Morales said he feels he has lost everything since the death of his son, Ruben Noe, telling Efe through tears that his only desire is to die so he can be with him.

“What I want is to die already and follow my son. Many people lost a son, lost a mother; I lost two in one, my son and my best friend. He was my best friend. He was everything to me,” Morales said.

A 19-year-old student, Ruben had begun working at Casino Royale a day before the tragedy in hopes of saving enough money to travel to Spain and pursue a degree in wine stewardship.

“He dreamed of being a sommelier. That was his passion and that’s why he went to work there because he would earn a little more. He was always looking for information on schools in Spain; he already had it all planned,” Morales said.

He said his son could have escaped when the fire broke out but his efforts to carry others to safety cost him his own life.

“He was a healthy, tall, agile boy. He could have gotten out alive, but he helped in the evacuation. He crouched down so people could get on his back and could get out.”

Eduardo Enrique Martinez Cavazos was 54 when he went to the casino for what he thought would be “a little relaxation” with his wife, Patricia Saenz. When the fire broke out, the two became separated amid the confusion and she never saw him again.

“I hear my children crying and this situation’s very difficult, mixed in with rage and powerlessness,” Patricia said, referring to her 18-year-old twin sons Eduardo and Enrique and 14-year-old son Alejandro, who has spinal muscular dystrophy.

They are still waiting for “justice to be done and for the others responsible to be arrested.”

According to authorities, 17 of the 18 suspects in the massacre have been arrested and are currently subject to criminal proceedings.

But Samara Perez Muñiz, spokeswoman for the victims’ families, told Efe that the federal government has not yet fulfilled its promise to prosecute all those responsible for the deaths, especially casino owner Raul Rocha Cantu.

“So far we know absolutely nothing about him ... One year later, it’s ridiculous that we have no idea what’s happened with that man,” Perez, who lost her 18-year-old son Brad Xavier Muraira, in the fire, said.

Rocha Cantu sent a letter to Monterrey’s El Norte daily last September saying he had fled the country because Mexican authorities could not protect him from Los Zetas.

Nuevo Leon’s Security Council said that same month that he had given statements to Mexican prosecutors in the U.S. state of Florida.

President Felipe Calderon “has been unable to or hasn’t wanted to investigate,” Perez Muñiz said, adding that she hopes the Casino Royale case “will be one of the first matters taken up by” Enrique Peña Nieto, who will be inaugurated on Dec. 1 as Mexico’s next head of state if the TEPJF electoral court certifies his victory at the polls.

The victims’ relatives have received financial aid to cover funeral costs and medical and psychological care and some have been awarded scholarships from the Nuevo Leon state government, whose capital is Monterrey.

But some families said they are still waiting to receive monetary compensation that Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala promised them after the tragedy.

On Saturday, Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring that justice is served and that those responsible for the tragedy are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

“Here, before the victims, I confirm my commitment to seeing that justice is served by applying the law with maximum severity; only in that way will we respect the dignity of the victims and (their loved ones),” Medina said in Monterrey on the first of three days of mourning decreed by his administration in memory of the victims.

A mass will be celebrated at the Our Lady of Carmen Parish Church and the Archdiocese of Monterrey announced that all parish churches in the city will dedicate their celebrations and actions to the victims of last year’s tragedy.

A procession will be made to the Casino Royale, where a vigil is to be held from 4:00 p.m. to midnight Saturday with different activities outside the building.

Home to many of Mexico’s industrial giants, Monterrey long seemed immune to the drug war that has claimed more than 50,000 lives nationwide since December 2006, when Calderon took office and militarized the struggle against the Zetas and other drug cartels.

But the metropolis and its suburbs have been battered by a wave of drug-related violence since March 2010.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Guatemalans Continue Vigilante Justice, Kill Man Accused of Murder

Guatemalans Continue Vigilante Justice, Kill Man Accused of Murder

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An accused killer was burned to death Friday by a mob in a suburb of the Guatemalan capital, the municipal fire department said.

Residents of Mixco beat Edin Estuardo Canon before dousing him with gasoline and setting him ablaze, department spokesman Raul Hernandez told reporters.

The mob captured Canon after he allegedly shot Fernando and Erick Mendez, a father and son working together in the jewelry business.

Fernando, 53, died later at a hospital, while 23-year-old Erick was badly wounded.

Guatemala has seen 178 lynchings in 2012, resulting in 11 deaths, according to figures kept by the national ombud’s office.

Vigilante justice as a widespread phenomenon in Guatemala dates from the 1996 signing of peace accords that ended the country’s 36-year civil war.

The absence of police in isolated communities and pervasive distrust of the judicial system are the main reasons for the rising number of lynchings in the Central American nation, analysts say.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Oil Refinery Explosion in Venezuela Kills 26, Injures 86

Oil Refinery Explosion in Venezuela Kills 26, Injures 86

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The Venezuelan government said that 26 people have now been confirmed killed in an explosion early Saturday at the Amuay oil refinery in the northwestern state of Falcon.

The nation’s Vice President Elias Jaua told state-run VTV television that the fatalities have “increased in number to 26 compatriots, 17 of them members of the Bolivarian National Guard (militarized police).

Health Minister Eugenia Sader had previously told the press that 86 people were taken to Rafael Calle Sierra Hospital in the city of Punto Fijo where the refinery forms part of the Paraguana Refinery Complex, one of the world’s biggest.

She said that 77 people “had left the hospital,” either because they had only slight burns or were taken for treatment to a hospital in neighboring Zulia state, and that five patients are being treated in Punto Fijo, 528 kilometers (328 miles) west of Caracas.

Sader gave a list of the victims, of whom at least 12 were National Guard agents.

Jaua had said previously that two people were sent to Zulia with severe burns.

The vice president lamented the deaths caused by the accident, the result of a gas leak that formed a cloud which exploded at 1:11 a.m., producing a huge shock wave that damaged homes in the surrounding area along with a National Guard facility.

Oil and Mining Minister Rafael Ramirez said that the explosion “caused severe damage to National Guard Outpost 45,” a military complex with a residential infrastructure, and blasted a part of the storage-tank area.

“In the end we had nine storage tanks hit by the explosion,” the minister said, adding that when the fatal cloud was detected the alarm was sounded, but it all happened “too fast” and the explosion was “almost immediate.”

“Right now we have the fire under control, though we just have to wait until the hydrocarbon residues in the tanks burn away - the billowing black smoke we observe is coming from that combustion,” he said.

He said that all units are cooperating on measures to cordon off the area and continue working to secure the area.

Venezuelan television showed pictures of enormous columns of smoke rising from the industrial complex.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas Released After Being Detained 4 Times in A Week

Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas Released After Being Detained 4 Times in A Week

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Prominent Cuban dissident Guillermo Fariñas was released Saturday after almost 48 hours in custody, he told Efe in a telephone call.

The psychologist and independent journalist said he was held at a police station in Santa Clara, the city where he lives some 270 kilometers (168 miles) east of Havana, from Thursday afternoon until Saturday morning, adding that this was the fourth time he was detained in one week.

State security agents arrested him on Thursday, he said, along with other members of the opposition, for mounting a street protest against the supposed removal of a computer from the home of dissident Jorge Luis Artiles, something they blame the authorities of doing.

Fariñas said he was arrested and freed soon afterwards on three other occasions - on Friday, Aug. 17, on Saturday, Aug.18, and on Tuesday, Aug. 21 - all for the same reason.

About the treatment he received at police headquarters, he said “it was normal and there was no kind of provocation” by the officers.

Guillermo Fariñas, recipient of the European Parliament’s 2010 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, has been detained temporarily several times this year.

His family has denounced the situation as “worrying” because of his various health problems related to the 20 hunger strikes he has staged since 1996.

Separately, the illegal but tolerated Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation said this week that dozens of dissidents have been arrested in recent days in the eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Holguin, the central province of Villa Clara and the western province of La Habana.

The detainees include Jose Daniel Ferrer, who was one of 75 government opponents jailed in the Cuban government’s 2003 “Black Spring” crackdown, the commission said, adding that his whereabouts remains unknown after his arrest on Thursday.

All of the members of the Group of 75 were released from prison in a process that ended last year.

Ferrer, a 42-year-old resident of the eastern town of Palmarito de Cauto and leader of the outlawed opposition group Patriotic Union of Cuba, was temporarily detained on other occasions in February, April and May.

Havana routinely classifies Cuba’s internal opposition as counterrevolutionaries and “mercenaries” in the service of the United States.

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Mexican Environmental Groups Demand Pemex to Clean Up Oil Spill

Mexican Environmental Groups Demand Pemex to Clean Up Oil Spill

Photo: Pemex oil spill

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Mexican environmental authorities are demanding that state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos clean up a crude spill that occurred when a loading buoy sank nearly two weeks ago and polluted six beaches.

The sinking of the buoy (used to load crude onto tankers in deep water) happened off the coast of the southern state of Oaxaca, near the Salina Cruz refinery in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Local media reported Thursday that a boat collided with the buoy because it lacked signaling lights, causing it to sink and spill the crude it was storing.

Mexico’s environmental protection agency, Profepa, instructed Pemex to immediately take steps “to prevent crude from continuing to spread off the coasts of fishing communities in the state of Oaxaca.”

For his part, Environment Secretary Rafael Elvira Quesada, criticized the response of Pemex representatives to the spill.

“There was a delay on the part of the local Pemex official in charge in responding to the emergency; the volume of crude contained in the buoy has spread, which reflects scant willingness to care for the environment,” Elvira Quesada said.

The official said the important thing is not the volume of crude spilled but its environmental impact.

The federal Environment Secretariat said authorities have detected the presence of crude on the Salinas del Marques, Brasil, Brasilito, Azul, Punta Conejo and Escondida or Guelaguichi beaches in Oaxaca and urged Pemex to collect the spilled crude and clean up those areas.

It noted that environmental authorities toured the region Thursday to assess the situation and determine the damage caused to marine species that inhabit that region, such as crabs, fish and turtles, as well as the ecosystem in general.

In that respect, Profepa said Pemex must immediately inform authorities of accidents that threaten the environment and not let days go by before authorities can carry out their inspections. It added that Pemex only notified officials of the spill several days after it occurred.

Several fishermen’s organizations have reported damage to marine ecosystems and fishing grounds, which they depend on for their livelihoods.

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SundayAugust 26, 2012