1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to secondary content

SundaySeptember 9, 2012

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

Read More

Massive Blackout HIts Cuba, Many Struggling Under Oppressive Heat

Massive Blackout HIts Cuba, Many Struggling Under Oppressive Heat

Photo: Rolling Blackout in Cuba

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Power was restored Monday to several sections of Havana that were left without electricity for nearly six hours due to a problem over the weekend with a transmission line in central Cuba.

Electric service returned around 2:00 a.m. in the capital and was welcomed by residents awake in the early morning hours.

“An interruption in a 220,000 volt transmission line between Ciego de Avila and Santa Clara” occurred at 8:08 p.m. Sunday, state-owned power company Union Electrica said.

The outage “affected electric service from Camaguey (in central Cuba) to Pinar del Rio” in the island’s extreme west, an Union Electrica statement read on state television nearly four hours after the blackout occurred said.

An Efe reporter toured Havana and found the capital to be nearly completely dark, with a few downtown hotels and some buildings with generators managing to keep their lights on.

Many people moved chairs into the streets to escape the oppressive heat indoors, using candles and flashlights to find their way around.

Cubans deal with the high summer temperatures by keeping fans going nearly all the time.

The blackout also affected the western provinces of Pinar del Rio and Matanzas, as well as Villa Clara and Cienfuegos, which are in central Cuba, but the power was out for a shorter time in many places.

Electric service was apparently not interrupted from Ciego de Avila, in the central region of the country, to the extreme eastern part of the island, residents in those areas told Efe by telephone.

The government has not commented on the outage.

Power outages are common on the island, but this was the most widespread blackout in recent memory.

A blackout affected western Cuba in August 2006, when two transmission towers that had been stripped of structural parts collapsed.

The outage, however, only lasted about three hours and occurred in the early morning hours.

Cubans contend with frequent outages, but service is usually restored quickly and blackouts are localized.

Read more by HS News Staff →

El Salvador Utilizing Ocean Monitors to Prevent Natural Disasters

El Salvador Utilizing Ocean Monitors to Prevent Natural Disasters

Photo: El Salvador

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

El Salvador’s Environment and Natural Resources Ministry has installed two oceanographic stations in the Pacific to monitor waves and currents, allowing the country to be better prepared for potential disasters, officials said.

The government “has installed two wave and current measurement systems. The information provided by this equipment will allow us to reduce the loss of human life and damage to dwellings and businesses along the coast,” Environment and Natural Resources Ministry oceanographer Francisco Gavidia said.

“They are going to allow us to improve forecasts ... of threats from extreme waves, unusual waves, that flood and damage infrastructure along the coast,” Gavidia told Radio Nacional.

One of the stations is six kilometers (3.7 miles) from La Union, a port city located 183 kilometers (114 miles) southeast of San Salvador, and the other is two kilometers (1.2 miles) outside of Acajutla, a port city in the western province of Sonsonate, the ministry said in a statement.

The oceanographic stations join two wave monitors installed in the ports to measure sea levels, the ministry said.

Each station has a sensor at a depth of 20 meters (65 feet) connected by underwater cable to a buoy equipped with solar panels and a special transmitter to send information to scientists on land, the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry said.

El Salvador is the first country in Latin America to have permanent oceanographic monitoring stations in the Pacific.

Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile use similar equipment but operate the units for short periods of time only.

Read more by HS News Staff →

400th Anniversary of Cuba’s Our Lady of Charity Drew Celebrations Internationally

400th Anniversary of Cuba’s Our Lady of Charity Drew Celebrations Internationally

Photo: Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre festivities

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

The festival of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, patroness of Cuba, drew thousands of people to Masses and processions that were marked by messages of love and unity for Cubans on and off the island, where this year the 400th anniversary of the finding of the saint’s image is being held.

Just as in the earlier celebrations of the Jubilee Year, which began in January, prayers “for each and every Cuban wherever they may be” were given on Saturday, the festival for the patron saint in a country that considers that image of the Virgin Mary found in 1612 as a symbol of identity and faith.

At the patroness’s national sanctuary, located in the town of El Cobre in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, hundreds of people jammed the church on Saturday to attend a Mass that began with the Cuban national anthem and was broadcast live on national television.

Besides the religious faithful, present at the Mass at El Cobre were local municipal officials from the city of Santiago de Cuba, located some 950 kilometers (589 miles) east of Havana, as well as the head of the Office of Religious Affairs on the Central Committee of the governing Communist Party, Caridad Diego.

In Havana there was a huge procession through the streets of Caridad parish in Central Havana headed by Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

Ortega, who is archbishop of Havana, celebrated a Mass at which he said that the Virgin of Charity “is more than a symbol of the homeland, it’s like a link that unites all Cubans without distinction.”

At the procession before the Mass were members of the Ladies in White dissident group, but Efe did not learn of any incident involving them, in contrast to the 2011 procession when a group of people were arrested for shouting slogans calling for the release of the regime’s political prisoners.

State media reported Saturday that two historical sites located on the route covered by the image of the patron saint from where it was found on Nipe Bay to the El Cobre sanctuary were declared National Monuments.

The Virgin of Charity, or “Cachita,” as it is popularly called on the island, is also known as the Virgen Mambisa because Cuban independence fighters - known as “Mambises” - venerated it during their uprising against Spanish colonialism in the late 1800s.

Santeria and other Afro-Cuban cults associate the Virgin of Charity with Oshun, a deity of the Yoruba cult that represents fresh water, love, fertility and feminine sensuality.

In 1612, according to the legend, three salt collectors found the wooden image of the saint floating in the waters of Nipe Bay along with a board that read: “I am the Virgin of Charity.”

Between August 2010 and December 2011, the Virgin’s image was taken on a tour of 30,000 kilometers (18,600 miles) around the island and millions of Cubans turned out to witness its passage, the first pilgrimage on which Catholic Church authorities had taken the decorated wooden statue since the 1959 communist revolution.

Cuban exiles in Miami, meanwhile, marked the feast day with a religious ceremony and concert at which several local musical performers participated.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Ceasefire Will Not Hinder Peace Talks, Says Colombian Rebels

Ceasefire Will Not Hinder Peace Talks, Says Colombian Rebels

Photo: Juan Manuel Santos

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

A spokesman for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group told a Bogota daily that upcoming peace talks with the government will not break down if its request for an immediate truce is not granted.

He was referring to the FARC’s demand that a cease fire be implemented at the outset of the negotiations, a proposal the Colombian government says it will not consider.

“It’s not that the FARC is going to stubbornly insist that without a cease fire or truce we won’t go forward. It’s not that, but rather to try to convince (the government) with arguments,” Marco Calarca, whose real name is Luis Alberto Alban, told El Tiempo in an interview published Saturday.

“If there’s a way to stop (the fighting) momentarily, while striving to build the formula to halt it definitively, that would be best,” Calarca said from Havana.

“Sooner or later, there will have to be cease fires and a truce ... The sooner we do that, there’ll be less deaths and less wounded. If it’s done six months later, there will be painful losses, due to the confrontation,” Calarca said.

On Thursday, the FARC’s Mauricio Jaramillo said in a press conference in the Cuban capital that the rebels will propose that a cease fire be immediately adopted at the onset of the talks, which are set to get underway on Oct. 8 in Oslo and later move to Havana.

But Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said later that same day after meeting with Colombia’s military and police brass that “there won’t be any kind of cease fire. We won’t have anything here until we reach a final agreement.”

He also called on the security forces to “intensify their actions” against the rebels.

Separately, Calarca said in another interview Friday with Colombia’s RCN radio that the peace talks with the government will not be derailed over the issue of whether senior guerrilla Simon Trinidad - behind bars in the United States - is allowed to participate as a negotiator.

“For the tranquility of all friends of peace, we don’t think this is a matter that will break this (process) that’s just beginning,” he said.

The FARC spokesman said the guerrilla group’s request for Trinidad’s inclusion in the negotiations will have to be evaluated with Colombian government delegates “once the talks formally begin.”

Colombia extradited Trinidad in 2004 to the United States, where he is serving a 60-year prison sentence in connection with the capture of three U.S. military contractors held captive by the FARC.

Santos said Thursday in regard to the possible presence of Trinidad as a negotiator that both sides must be “realistic.”

“There are things that can be done and other that can’t. That’s important to understand in this process,” the president added.

The accord establishing a framework for the peace process was signed on Aug. 26 in Havana after six months of secret exploratory discussions on the communist-ruled island under the auspices of the Cuban and Norwegian governments.

Former Vice President Humberto de la Calle will head the Colombian government’s negotiating team in the peace talks.

FARC representatives said in a press conference Thursday in Havana that the rebels’ negotiating team will be led by Ivan Marquez, a member of the group’s political leadership, and Jesus Santrich, who is part of the guerrilla military command.

Santos said earlier this week that the forthcoming negotiations will focus on rural development and improved access to land; security guarantees for the political opposition and activists; an end to armed conflict and the full demobilization of the guerrillas; the problem of drug trafficking; and the rights of victims of both the rebels and the security forces.

The new peace process differs from earlier failed attempts, according to the president, in that it will unfold outside Colombia.

The most recent negotiations, during the 1998-2002 government of President Andres Pastrana, took place in a demilitarized area of southern Colombia - dubbed “Farclandia” - and collapsed amid mutual recriminations.

Santos’ decision to talk peace with the FARC is supported by 60 percent of Colombians, according to a Gallup poll released last weekend, while the smaller ELN insurgency has expressed an interest in joining the process.

The loudest criticism of the venture has come from Santos’ predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, who called the peace process “a slap in the face to democracy.”

The FARC has battled a succession of Colombian governments since 1964. The insurgency swelled to nearly 20,000 fighters in the early 2000s, but now numbers around 8,500 combatants.

Colombia’s armed forces, bolstered by billions of dollars of aid from the United States, have scored dramatic successes against the FARC in recent years, but the rebels remain capable of inflicting significant damage on the military and on vulnerable infrastructure.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Cuba Experiments with “Magnetizers” Devices to Save Fuel

Cuba is experimenting with “magnetizer” devices designed on the island that help vehicles and electric generators save fuel, thanks to the effect of their magnetic field on combustion, the official daily Granma said Saturday.

The device was invented six years ago at a state company of electric components in the western province of Pinar del Rio, and since then has been used with “favorable” and “promising” results in state buses and diesel generators.

The innovation director of the Ernesto Che Guevara Electronic Components Company, Oslirio Claro Rodriguez, told Granma that the devices produce savings because they allow a greater efficiency of combustion both “in stationary motors and those for the road.”

“They create a magnetic field in fluids able to change some of their properties, which favors combustion and, as a result, reduces consumption,” he said.

“Their use has no limits - your can even use them in a motorcycle,” he said.

Trials carried out for a year on generators of the state utility Union Electrica and of the National Bus Company brought savings of between 1 and 4 grams of fuel for every kilowatt generated, and in some motors they economized up to 80 liters (20 gallons) of diesel in 24 hours.

Other experiments showed an average fuel savings of 6 percent on a bus, where the magnets and “magnetic concentrators” that make up the device have to be installed at several points - injectors, carburetor intakes, fuel feed and return lines.

The newspaper said that the Tourism Ministry ordered the installation of some 3,000 magnetizers in its road fleet, while the National Bus Company is putting in an order to equip its passenger vehicles.

During 2012 the Ernesto Che Guevara Electronic Components Company aims to manufacture 20,000 of these devices for domestic clients and, according to Claro Rodriguez, it is capable of expanding production.

Granma noted that the product’s “relevance” could increase when research is completed on using them in fuel oil generators.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Police Shut Down Illegal Gold Mine

An illegal gold mine operating in a rural area in Huila, a province in southern Colombia, has been shut down, police said.

A mobile unit of the Huila police force seized a pump and pans used by gold miners.

A length of hose, a vacuum and filter, a metal shovel, three containers filled with diesel and other gear worth about 4 million pesos (some $2,217) was also seized at the site, police said.

Police found the mine in a rural area near the town of Tesalia through which the Yaguarcito River flows.

The equipment found at the site was turned over to the Alto Magdalena Regional Corporation, or CAM, in Neiva, the capital of Huila.

CAM representatives accompanied police on the raid targeting the illegal gold mining operation.

Illegal mining, according to police figures released in November 2011, accounts for about 50 percent of all activity in the industry in Colombia, causes extensive environmental damage and helps finance illegal armed groups.

Gold has become Colombia’s No. 3 export commodity, generating about $200 million in 2010, officials said.

Colombian officials have been targeting illegal mining, drug trafficking, corruption, arms trafficking and the financing of illegal armed groups as part of a larger crackdwon on money laundering, which is estimated to total about 20 trillion pesos ($11.1 billion).

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Federal Police Capture High Ranking Sinaloa Cartel Member

Mexican Federal Police Capture High Ranking Sinaloa Cartel Member

Photo: Adelmo Niebla Gonzalez

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

A high-level member of Mexico’s powerful Sinaloa drug cartel was arrested by the Federal Police, the Public Safety Secretariat said.

Adelmo Niebla Gonzalez was captured last Thursday in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa, thanks to intelligence work, the secretariat said.

Investigators have determined that Niebla Gonzalez smuggled different types of drugs, including marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin, from various places in Mexico into the United States via the Arizona desert, the secretariat said.

Niebla Gonzalez was also involved in smuggling firearms into Mexico, the Public Safety Secretariat said.

“There is information that he established himself more than 20 years ago in Sonoyta, Sonora, where he started his criminal career by helping migrants cross illegally into the United States via the border zone. He was arrested and deported to Mexico for this reason by authorities in that country on various occasions,” the secretariat said in a statement.

Niebla Gonzalez formed his own criminal organization, known as Los Memos, and set up operations in Sonoyta, smuggling drugs into the United States and becoming a top operative for Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman.

Los Memos has a strong presence in Sonora, a border state in northwest Mexico, and works with other gangs allied with the Sinaloa cartel.

Niebla Gonzalez’s arrest was made on the same day that the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, included Griselda Lopez Perez, Guzman’s second wife, on the drug kingpin list.

“Today marks the third time in the past five months that OFAC has targeted family members who act on behalf of Chapo Guzman,” OFAC director Adam J. Szubin said in a statement.

“This is another strike against the brutal Sinaloa Cartel and Chapo’s wife, who has served as a major criminal facilitator on his behalf,” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration financial operations chief John Arvanitis said.

The U.S. Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, known as the Kingpin Act, prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with individuals included on the list and freezes any assets such individuals may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

Chapo Guzman has been on the list of U.S. drug kingpins since June 1, 2001.

The Sinaloa cartel, according to intelligence agencies, is a transnational business empire that operates in the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Americas and Asia.

The Sinaloa organization, sometimes referred to by officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico and has an extensive drug distribution network in the United States.

Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001, is considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.

Chapo Guzman tops the list of Mexico’s most-wanted criminals and is on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Former President Carter Calls For Greater U.S.-LatAm Relations

Former President Carter Calls For Greater U.S.-LatAm Relations

Photo: Jimmy Carter (CAF)

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

As the XVI Annual CAF Conference came to a close, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter called for stronger relations between the U.S. and Latin America, and regretted that the U.S. “is not doing enough as a major country to bring peace and harmony, trade and commerce, and understanding and basic human rights to the people in Latin America.”

Carter also said that while he was in office, he had a very deep interest in Latin America. However, “I have not seen that interest in either candidate for president in the United States unfortunately, and my prediction is that they will not elevate Latin America to the highest priority in the next four years unless some negative crisis evolves.”

Challenges to Latin America’s development were keenly discussed during the CAF Conference, which has become a must-attend forum for public and private sector leaders across the hemisphere.

This year’s CAF Annual Conference XVI, hosted over 400 Latin American and U.S. political leaders, international organization members, business leaders, members of the financial community, academics, journalists and political analysts participating in the two-day event.

The CAF Annual Conference seeks to share information and perspectives on areas pertaining to Latin America’s development. Key conference topics included: the U.S. election and its impact on Latin America; pending challenges for sustainable development; views on addressing drug trafficking, violence and transnational crime.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Activists Use Rio 2016 Exhibition to Highlight Troubles of Brazil’s Awá Tribe

Activists Use Rio 2016 Exhibition to Highlight Troubles of Brazil’s Awá Tribe

Photo: Casa Brasil (Survival)

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Tribal rights campaigners targeted a London exhibition celebrating Brazil’s cultural heritage ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, to highlight the plight of “Earth’s most threatened tribe.”

Visitors attending “Casa Brasil” at London’s iconic Somerset House are being handed leaflets by Survival International explaining the devastating effects illegal logging is having on Brazil’s Awá tribe.

The urgency of the situation was compounded earlier this week by news of a government investigation, which discovered illegal loggers working less than six kilometres away from an Awá community.

Survival launched its campaign to “Save Earth’s most threatened tribe” over 100 days ago, with the help of Oscar-winning film star Colin Firth.

Since then, more than 32,000 people have written to Brazil’s Justice Minister urging him to do more to protect the Awá’s land, which suffers the fastest rate of deforestation of any indigenous territory in the Amazon.

The Awá say the situation is urgent: “We don’t want to see the illegal loggers destroying our forest. Send them away; we want our land to be completely ours, for our own use. Help us as fast as you can.”

Read more at Survival International →

Coco Latino Honors Aspiring Filmmakers After Nationwide Search (VIDEO)

Coco Latino Honors Aspiring Filmmakers After Nationwide Search (VIDEO)

Photo: Brianna Torres

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

The Coco Latino Hispanic Identity Video Project recently announced the winners of its inaugural, nationwide competition.  The grand prize winner, who took home $10,000, was Arizona resident Brianna Torres.  The project’s runner-up was New Yorker Frisly Soberanis.

The Coco Latino Project’s goal has been to identify and support young and developing Latino filmmakers with the potential for greatness. The stories captured through the Coco Latino project reflect the current political, economic and cultural climate of our country from the Latino perspective.

Two young filmmakers were selected for their skillful storytelling through the medium of video.  The two finalists, Brianna and Frisly, were flown to Los Angeles for a special event co-hosted by Univision Radio.

The winner, Brianna Torres, is an aspiring filmmaker with a Cuban father and Mexican-American mother.  She’s holding down two jobs while seeking a career in film and has considered moving to L.A. to get her career off the ground.  Brianna hails from Flagstaff, AZ.
Here is Brianna’s winning video:

The runner-up, Frisly Soberanis, is just 18 years old, will be starting school at Brooklyn College soon and is the oldest of five brothers.  He too is an aspiring filmmaker, and we see a lot of potential in him.  Frisly hails from Corona, NY. Here is Frisly’s video:


Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Rock Group Mana Play Their Greatest Hits in Puerto Rico

Mexican Rock Group Mana Play Their Greatest Hits in Puerto Rico

Photo: Mana in Puerto Rico

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Mexican rock band Mana returned to Puerto Rico for a big concert featuring most of its all-time hits, after being away for more than a year following the launch of its world tour “Drama y Luz” (Drama and Light) on the same Caribbean island.

The group, led by singer Fernando “Fher” Olvera, drummer Alejandro Gonzalez, guitarist Sergio Vallin, and Juan Calleros on bass, kicked off Friday night’s concert with “Oye Mi Amor” (Listen My Love), one of the top hits of their more than 20-year career.

“Good evening, Puerto Rico. We’re really glad to be back. We missed you like crazy. Last night we had the greatest time,” were Fher’s words of greeting to the crowd of more than 10,000 packed into the Jose M. Agrelot Coliseum in San Juan.

The band, which this year won a Grammy for Best Latin Pop, Rock or Urban Album for “Drama y Luz,” followed up with “Dejame Entrar” (Let Me In) and “De Pies a Cabeza” (From Head to Toe), the theme song of a like-named telenovela.

The 52-year-old vocalist went on with the show singing “Lluvia al Corazon” (Rain on My Heart), the first number he sang from his latest disc “Drama y Luz.”

The Mexican quartet continued the evening with “El Dragon” and “Vuela Libre Paloma” (Fly Free, Dove), which Fher decidated to his mother, Rosario Sierra, who died March 10, 2010.

Bad news about his family continued to dog Fher in 2010 when on April 25, a month after he lost his mother, his sister Rosario Olvera Sierra passed away. Both deaths were from cancer.

Mana continued with a threesome of resentfully romantic songs - “Amor Clandestino” (Concealed Love), “El Verdadero Amor Perdona” (True Love Pardons) and “Mariposa Traicionera” (Traitorous Butterfly), until the rock group segued to an instrumental number.

The show proceeded with “Manda Una Señal” (Send a Sign), after which drummer Alejandro Gonzalez displayed his talent with the “Latinoamerica” composition from the new disc.

The Mexican group wound up the concert with “Clavado en un Bar” (Stuck in a Bar), “Rayando el Sol” (Close to the Sun), “Corazon Espinado” (Thorny Heart) and “Labios Compartidos” (Shared Lips).

After Friday’s concert in San Juan, the Mexican rockers’ next stops are two cities in California, performing Sept. 13 in the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield and the next day at the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

Then it will be onward to Las Vegas, Ontario and Arizona to finally finalize the tour with a pair of concerts at the Mexico City Sports Palace in early October.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Malnutrition Kills 95 Guatemalans Under the Age of 5 in 2012

Malnutrition Kills 95 Guatemalans Under the Age of 5 in 2012

Photo: Malnutrition in Guatemal

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

At least 95 children less than 5 years old have died in Guatemala from acute malnutrition so far this year, according to the Epidemiology Department of the Public Health and Social Assistance Ministry.

A report by the ministry published Saturday in the local press said the deaths occurred between January and August 2012.

The nutritional census taken by authorities showed that 95 children had died from causes associated with acute malnutrition and another 7,926 also suffered from that condition.

According to the report, out of the total number of fatalities among toddlers, 16 were in the western province of Quetzaltenango, 11 in the northern province of Baja Verapaz and eight in the northwestern province of Huehuetenango, while the remainder were in other regions of the nation’s interior.

During 2011, Guatemala had 125 deaths from malnutrition, more than the 105 in 2010, but fewer than the 160 in 2009, according to official statistics.

The report states that most of the youngsters suffering from malnutrition lived in the southern province of Escuintla, which had 1,022 cases, in the eastern province of Chiquimula where 836 were detected, and in the northwestern province of San Marcos with 613.

The government of President Otto Perez Molina, who began his four-year term in office on Jan. 14, is promoting the “zero hunger” program, with which he is attempting during his administration to reduce by 10 percent the incidence of malnutrition, which currently affects one out of every two children.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spaniard Briefly Abducted by Al Qaeda-linked Group in Africa

Spaniard Briefly Abducted by Al Qaeda-linked Group in Africa

Photo: Mali, Africa

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Salafist militant group Ansar al Din, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, told Efe Saturday that it abducted a Spanish citizen in northern Mali earlier this week before freeing him 24 hours later.

In a statement to Efe, a spokesman for Ansar Al Din, Sanda Uld Bumana, said that the Spaniard, whose identity was not revealed, was seized Thursday outside the northern Mali town of Niafounke and remained a captive of the Salafist group for 24 hours, after which he was released safe and sound.

Uld Bumana said that the Spaniard was “redirected” to the city of Mopti, controlled by Mali authorities, who since April have been fighting Ansar al Din and other Salafist militant groups that, in union with Tuareg rebels, declared the Independent State of Azawad, an area of some 850,000 sq. kilometers (325,000 sq. miles) in northern Mali.

According to the Ansar Al Din spokesman, the Spanish citizen was boating down the Niger River when he was intercepted by several militants of that group.

Uld Bumana stressed the dangers of the area where the Spaniard was kidnapped and warned against any “recklessness.”

Since April, when the State of Azawad was proclaimed - it is not recognized by the international community - the area has been controlled by a number of armed Salafist organizations including Ansar Al Din, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and the Movement for Monotheism and Jihad in East Africa, groups that have claimed responsibility for several kidnappings of citizens from western nations.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Pick-up Truck Plunges Into Ravine Killing 7, Injuring 18 in Peru

Pick-up Truck Plunges Into Ravine Killing 7, Injuring 18 in Peru

Photo: Truck crash victim

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

At least seven people died and another 18 were injured early Saturday when the pick-up truck in which they were riding plunged down a ravine in the southern Peruvian region of Ayacucho, local media said.

The truck crash occurred in the Ayacucho province of Victor Fajardo with passengers traveling from the rural community of Huancaraylla to the Huancapi district, according to a report on RPP radio.

Four men and three women were identified among the fatalities, while the injured were taken by police to medical centers in nearby towns.

The Andina state-run news agency said that, according to Ayacucho police, the accident occurred in the wee hours of Saturday for reasons not yet determined.

Police and prosecutors are carrying out investigations at the remote scene of the accident, located at some seven hours by road from Huamanga.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Suspect Apprehended in Connection With Killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent

Mexican Suspect Apprehended in Connection With Killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent

Photo: U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Mexican police have arrested a suspect in the shooting death of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, whose slaying has been at the center of a U.S. congressional investigation into an alleged federal gun-running probe known as Fast and Furious.

The Public Safety Secretariat said federal police detained Jesus Leonel Sanchez Meza on Thursday in the northwestern state of Sonora, adding that the suspect is believed to have killed Terry to avoid arrest on Dec. 14, 2010, in Arizona.

Sanchez Meza is wanted for extradition by the United States in connection with Terry’s murder.

In a statement, the secretariat said the FBI had offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Sanchez Meza, who was detained by federal police in the city of Puerto Peñasco.

News outlets such as CBS Evening News have reported that Fast and Furious was a botched federal undercover sting run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Phoenix field office, saying the ATF deliberately allowed weapons to be smuggled into Mexico by straw purchasers allegedly working for drug cartels, a tactic known as “gun-walking.”

The idea reportedly was to trace the weapons purchased by the illicit buyers to powerful drug traffickers in Mexico, but agents lost track of the guns and they ended up at crime scenes, including Terry’s.

CBS also said that similar gun-smuggling probes were conducted during former President George W. Bush’s administration.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted in June to hold U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for his refusal to hand over documents relating to Fast and Furious, although legal analysts said the citation was unlikely to result in criminal charges against Holder.

Fortune magazine, however, said in an investigation published in early July that the ATF never intentionally allowed straw purchasers to traffic guns to Mexican drug mobs as an operational tactic.

Instead, agents were largely unable to stop the illegal flow of guns because they were “hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn,” Fortune said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. Coast Guard, Dominican Navy Seize 3,300 Pounds of Cocaine

U.S. Coast Guard, Dominican Navy Seize 3,300 Pounds of Cocaine

Photo: U.S. Coast Guard retrieving cocaine

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

The U.S. Coast Guard and the Dominican navy confiscated 1,498 kilos (3,300 pounds) of cocaine after smugglers tossed the haul overboard in Caribbean waters.

The drug seizure occurred Monday night when a Coast Guard aircraft on routine patrol spotted a high-speed vessel heading north to the Dominican Republic.

The suspected smugglers began throwing contraband overboard before speeding away and U.S. and Dominican authorities eventually recovered 60 bales of cocaine.

“This is the ninth major drug interdiction since the end of May that the Coast Guard has been involved in, keeping over 7,000 kilograms of illicit drugs from reaching our shores and bringing 29 criminals to face justice,” Capt. Drew Pearson, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Juan, said.

“Each interdiction has been the result of coordinated efforts between all law enforcement agencies here in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and in this case, the Dominican Republic navy,” he said.

In the press release, the Coast Guard said a patrol boat offloaded approximately 2,035 pounds (924 kilos) of cocaine with a wholesale value of more than $25.5 million at Coast Guard Sector San Juan on Friday.

Pedro Janer, the acting special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Caribbean division, said the operation was possible thanks to cooperation among federal, Puerto Rican and Dominican authorities.

Read more by HS News Staff →

SundaySeptember 9, 2012