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SundaySeptember 16, 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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Mexico City Legislator Stabbed to Death

Mexico City Legislator Stabbed to Death

Photo: Mexico City State Legislator Jaiime Serrano Killed

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A state legislator who belonged to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was murdered over the weekend in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, prosecutors said.

Jaime Serrano Cedillo was stabbed on Sunday, the Mexico state Attorney General’s Office said.

Serrano Cedillo, a “local legislator from the 25th district of Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, was hospitalized around 1330 hours on Sept. 16 and lost his life from the wounds,” the AG’s office said in a statement.

The lawmaker was stabbed in Nezahualcoyotl, a city about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from Mexico City.

“The Mexico state prosecutor’s office will conduct the corresponding investigation to determine how the incidents occurred and find the whereabouts of the suspect or suspects, and will work in strict observance of the law,” the AG’s office said.

Prosecutors did not say whether the lawmaker’s killing was linked to organized crime.

Serrano Cedillo died less than two days after Eduardo Castro Luque, another PRI member, was gunned down.

Castro Luque was shot dead Friday night outside his house in Ciudad Obregon, a city in the northern state of Sonora.

The long-time businessman was elected to represent the 17th district in Cajeme and was to have taken office this week.

Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, of the PRI, discussed Castro Luque’s killing in a Twitter posting.

“I condemn the murder of Dep. Eduardo Castro. I am confident that the full force of the law will be brought to bear on those responsible. My thoughts are with his family,” Peña Nieto said.

Mexico state Gov. Eruviel Avila Villegas, who also belongs to the PRI, expressed concern over Serrano Cedillo’s death and said he ordered Attorney General Miguel A. Contreras to investigate the lawmaker’s murder.

“We will find the person or persons responsible and will bring the full weight of the law down on them. My thoughts are with the family of Jaime Serrano Cedillo,” the governor said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Agents Confiscate Over 12 Tons of Cocaine, Marijuana in Anti-drug Campaign

Colombian Agents Confiscate Over 12 Tons of Cocaine, Marijuana in Anti-drug Campaign

Photo: Seized drugs in Colombia

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Drug enforcement agents seized more than 12 tons of cocaine and marijuana in Colombia during a three-day multi-faceted operation in several regions, officials said Sunday.

Almost 42 tons of controlled chemical products were also seized in the anti-drug campaign, which was launched by the National Police’s drug enforcement unit in six provinces.

The results of the offensive were presented to the press by the head of the drug enforcement unit, Gen. Luis Alberto Perez, in Riohacha, the capital of La Guajira province, where he traveled for an operation in which his personnel seized 1,825 kilos of cocaine.

The cocaine was being transported in a truck, but the occupants fled after exchanging gunfire with police on a road near Dibulla, a town on the country’s Caribbean coast through which the drug was to have been shipped to Central America with the ultimate destination of the United States.

The shipment belonged to Los Urabeños, one of the gangs that took over from the dissolved United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, military federation, Perez said.

A second shipment of 1,696 kilos of the drug was seized at a laboratory that was raided by police in the mountainous area of Mondomo, in the southwestern province of Cauca.

That lab, which had the capacity to produce two tons of pure cocaine per month, belonged to a front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrillas, Perez said.

Another 1,527 kilos of cocaine were seized at a laboratory in the rural area outside Tauramena, a town in the eastern province of Casanare, Perez said, without saying to which group or band it belonged.

Drug enforcement agents seized another 436 kilos of coke in three operations on roads near the cities of Florencia, Manizales and Popayan in different parts of the country.

During the operation, more than 7.5 tons of marijuana were seized in the rural part of Buenaventura and on a highway near Cerrito, both in the southwestern province of Valle del Cauca, Perez said.

Drug enforcement agents also found 20 kilos of heroin hidden in a rural area in the southwestern province of Nariño that belonged to the Los Restrojos gang, Perez said.

And drug enforcement agents also intercepted 41,839 kilos of controlled chemical products that were being transported along a highway in Norte de Santander province in northeastern Colombia and that were destined for labs controlled by the FARC, the anti-drug unit commander said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Free Trade Will Strengthen LatAm’s Role in Global Economy, Says Mexican President-elect

Free Trade Will Strengthen LatAm’s Role in Global Economy, Says Mexican President-elect

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Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto said in an interview published Sunday by Brazil’s Epoca magazine that “free trade is the path for Latin America,” where he will visit several countries during an upcoming tour.

“Free trade, far from protectionism, is the path that we should take to make Latin America a thriving actor in the global economy,” Peña Nieto said.

The Mexican president-elect begins a tour Monday that will take him to Guatemala, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Peru.

Brazil is an “essential partner in Latin America and an unparalleled go-between in the hemisphere,” Peña Nieto said, adding that he hoped to “consolidate a relationship” that has had “ups and downs” but offers “great opportunities” due to the “trade capacity” of both countries.

Mexico “finds itself at a significant moment” that cannot “be wasted” and should be taken advantage of to turn the country into “one of the world’s leading economies,” the president-elect said.

Mexico’s “broad network of free trade agreements” and “its privileged geographic location,” along with “important reserves of natural resources, like petroleum and precious metals, are the bulwarks for laying the foundations for the future,” Peña Nieto said.

Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, will be inaugurated on Dec. 1.

The PRI, which governed Mexico from 1929 to 2000, has been out of power for 12 years.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican President Calderon Kicks off Independence Day Celebrations With the “Grito”

Mexican President Calderon Kicks off Independence Day Celebrations With the “Grito”

Photo: President Felipe Calderon

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Mexico is celebrating the 202nd anniversary of its independence from Spain this weekend, with a series of events scheduled to mark the occasion.

President Felipe Calderon led the traditional ceremony from the balcony of the National Palace Saturday night before some 100,000 people who gathered in Mexico City’s huge Zocalo plaza.

Calderon gave the “Grito,” the traditional Independence Day rallying cry, for the last time in his six-year term, which ends in December.

The ritual of the Grito, one of the most important for Mexicans, consists of national, state and municipal officials shouting “viva” for the heroes of the War of Independence and for Mexico.

The ceremony commemorates Father Miguel Hidalgo’s rallying cry early on the morning of Sept. 16, 1810, in the city of Dolores Hidalgo, in the central state of Guanajuato, the birthplace of the independence movement.

Calderon will hand over power in less than three months to Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, who won the July 1 presidential election.

The governors of Mexico’s 31 states also participated in ceremonies at which they gave the Grito to citizens gathered in plazas.

Security was tight at the ceremonies held around the country in an effort to prevent violent incidents, such as the 2009 grenade attack staged by members of Los Zetas, one of Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels, in 2009 in Morelia, the capital of the western state of Michoacan.

Eight people died and about 100 others were wounded in the attack, which targeted people attending the independence celebration in Morelia, Calderon’s birthplace.

Some 24,000 police officers will be deployed this weekend in Mexico City to prevent any outbreaks of violence, with 2,300 officers posted in the Zocalo for the ceremony at the National Palace, Federal District officials said.

The independence celebrations are normally a family affair in Mexico, with people enjoying traditional dishes, such as pozole, a type of stew, and tamales.

The Mexican army will stage its traditional parade on Sunday.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Could Chile’s Robinson Crusoe Island Be Home to $10 Billion Treasure?

Could Chile’s Robinson Crusoe Island Be Home to $10 Billion Treasure?

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The site of Robinson Crusoe’s confinement, a refuge for pirates and - in effect - a prison for criminals, the Juan Fernandez archipelago guards dozens of mysteries and probably more than one stash of treasure that a determined American is trying to locate.

Located some 670 kilometers (415 miles) off the coast of Chile, its nearly 900 residents are the heirs and guardians of a history loaded with legends.

It was Spaniard Juan Fernandez who was the first European to sight the Pacific archipelago on Nov. 22, 1574, after he set sail to find a quicker navigation route between Peru and Pendo, some 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of Santiago.

Years after the islands were claimed, Spanish colonizers abandoned them and, because of their advantageous position in the South Pacific, they became the haunt for pirates and corsairs, especially the English and the French.

That is what Victorio Bertullo, historian and the head of the local library on Robinson Crusoe Island, the only inhabited one in the archipelago, which is also comprised of the nearby Santa Clara islet and Alexander Selkirk Island, some 180 kilometers (112 miles) away, told Efe.

The library is the only one that has been rebuilt after the 2010 tsunami devastated the island, including most of the town of San Juan Bautista and, worst of all, killed 16 people, including a Spanish tourist.

The wave of water that rolled over the island swept away numerous examples in various languages of “Robinson Crusoe,” the novel by Daniel Defoe published in 1719 that was inspired by the true adventures of Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk, who found himself marooned on the isolated speck of land.

Selkirk “was marooned as punishment for not obeying the orders of Capt. Stradling, of the vessel Cinque Ports, in 1704, and spent four years and four months alone on the island until he was rescued in February 1709 by Capt. Woodes Rogers, of the English ship Duke,” Bertullo said.

At first, the historian said, the Scottish seaman lived in a part of the island where currently the town of San Juan Bautista stands, on the shore of Cumberland Bay, and he climbed the steep side of what is known today as “Selkirk’s Lookout” to search the surrounding ocean for ships that might rescue him.

Now, that climb can be made on muleback, prodded along the way by the commands of Guido Balbontin.

“Alexander Selkirk came here to see any ship that might rescue him,” the islander told Efe standing beside a plaque written in English saying that the lookout point is the spot where the seaman put his observational talents to use.

It is, in fact, the only point on the island where one can see both slopes of the mountains that divide it. On the left, are the bay and San Juan Bautista and on the right are crags, cliffs and slopes covered in pristine green foliage.

Just two kilometers (1 1/4 miles) from the lookout is the tiny islet of Santa Clara. And as the visitor ponders the view that Selkirk also contemplated, light mist moves in from the horizon and covers the paradise with a white blanket.

Some 15 minutes by boat from Cumberland Bay is Puerto Ingles, and on that small rocky cove is the so-called Cave of Robinson Crusoe, where Selkirk made his home during part of his time on the island.

“The story says that that was his first refuge, but because he was killing off the goats there, and so that Spanish ships would not find him, he had to move to another area called Buenas Aguas,” Rudy Aravena, the former president of the island’s Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, told Efe.

“Archaeologists from National Geographic found a compass and data turned up showing that he had his second house there,” Aravena said.

But Puerto Ingles is also the epicenter of the determined search being mounted by Bernard Keiser, a Dutch-born nationalized American who since 1995 has invested thousands of dollars in trying to find stashes of hidden treasure on the island.

One of those could have been buried in 1714 by Spaniard Juan Esteban Ubilla y Echevarria and is said to consist of 800 barrels of gold valued at $10 billion, 100 chests of silver, precious stones and a rose fashioned of gold and emeralds.

“Two years ago he was here, apparently with the intention of renewing his permit,” park ranger Alfonso Andaur said.

“I think he should be coming in October to make new explorations to see if it’s really where he thinks,” Mayor Leopoldo Gonzalez said, adding that because it was an obligatory way station for pirates and corsairs, the island could have “more than one treasure.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

UN: Increasing Argentina’s Maize Exports Will Alleviate Pressure on International Markets

Argentina’s announcement that it would export an additional 2.75 million tonnes of maize this year will help ease tight international markets, the United Nations food agency said today, adding that while this is a welcome measure, countries must remain vigilante to avoid a global food crisis.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the announcement was made by Argentina’s Minister of Agriculture, Norberto Yauhar, who had just met with FAO’s Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, at the UN agency’s headquarters in Rome, Italy.

Argentina is the world’s second biggest exporter of maize, and was responsible roughly for 15 per cent of the world’s maize exports in the last three years. The increase will bring the amount of maize from the 2011-2012 harvest to a total of 16.45 million tonnes, FAO stated in a news release.

This summer’s drought in the United States – the worst in over 50 years – fuelled fears of a food crisis when the FAO Food Price Index, which measures the prices of 55 food commodities, including meat, dairy, sugar, and cereals, surged by six per cent in July. However, food prices have remained steady in the past month.

During their meeting, Mr. Yauhar and Mr. Graziano da Silva noted that the world is now better placed to cope with higher food prices than during the crisis of 2007-2008, partly because of mechanisms likes the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), which contributes to increasing market transparency and reducing price volatility.

Mechanisms like AMIS, which was established in 2011 by the Group of 20 (G20) leading economies, make it possible for countries to coordinate action and respond faster to volatile food price situations, Mr. Graziano da Silva said.

The two men noted that there was better coordination within the UN system to address food security issues and stressed that it was important for countries to work together through international mechanisms rather than taking unilateral action, according to FAO. They also underlined that financial markets and trade should be regulated to avoid speculation on prices, which contribute to their volatility.

Mr. Graziano da Silva also emphasized the need for the international donor community to increase its immediate and long-term support to poor countries, which are significantly affected by changes in the prices of the food basket.

According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP) – which provides food relief in humanitarian emergencies such as war and natural disasters – every 10 per cent increase in the price of its food basket means finding an additional $200 million a year to buy the same amount of food.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish Man Fakes Own Kidnapping Hoping to Collect Ransom and Pay off Debts

Spanish Man Fakes Own Kidnapping Hoping to Collect Ransom and Pay off Debts

Photo: Ransom money

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A 30-year-old man in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia has been charged with faking his own kidnapping to collect ransom from his family, police said Sunday.

Police received a report on Sept. 7 from someone close to the man, who lives in Lleida province, that he had been abducted.

The person filing the police report told officers that the man said he was being held in an apartment in the eastern city of Valencia and feared for his life.

The supposed kidnapping victim continued sending e-mail messages and making telephone calls to relatives to get them to pay ransom for his safe release.

The man claimed he was being beaten, that the kidnappers had already broken two fingers on one of his hands and that a finger would be broken for every hour that passed without ransom being paid.

Investigators reached the conclusion after analyzing the phone calls and other evidence that the man had faked his kidnapping to get his hands on some cash because he was deeply in debt.

Police in Catalonia contacted the force in Valencia, which assisted in the investigation.

The supposed victim, identified only as Albert C.Ll., was found last Monday walking down a street.

He was arrested and charged with filing a false police report.

Read more by HS News Staff →

¡Felicidades! Mexico on Your 202nd Year of Independence

¡Felicidades! Mexico on Your 202nd Year of Independence

Photo: Celebrating Mexico's 202nd Year of Independence

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Today, all of Mexico is celebrating and rejoicing its 201-year old independence from Spain.  The Spanish arrived in the 1500’s and stayed for nearly 300 years as it colonized the region, destroyed the Azteca empire while enslaving native populations and decimated indigenous tribes as they were being converted to Catholicism.  The fight for independence started in 1810 and lasted for 21 years as Mexican’s fought Spain led by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and many other heroes of the revolution.

Mexico today is the 14th largest independent nation in the world with approximately 115 million citizens.  Recognized as much for its culture as its flora and fauna and its emerging economy.  It ranks 11th in the world for its purchasing power and is the tenth most visited country in the world with 21 million coming annually to enjoy Mexico.  As it struggles with its democratic processes and the deadly drug cartel wars it continues to move forward with change and democratically crafted solutions while keeping an eye on its role as an international world power. 

The Grito (cry for independence) sounds at midnight in Mexico City and in many other world cities with large Hispanic populations preceded by parades, fireworks and festivals. 

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent their congratulations to Mexico and all its people:

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Mexico as you celebrate your independence this September 16.

Our two nations are linked by geography, but we also share deep-rooted economic, cultural, and social ties. The millions of Americans who trace their roots to Mexico share their customs, language, music, and cuisine, enriching American culture all across our country. Every year, increasing numbers of Mexicans and Americans travel between our two countries, creating friendships and ties that reinforce our close relationship.

Above all, Mexico and the United States share a mutual commitment to freedom and democracy. The tolling of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia in honor of American Independence more than two centuries ago echoes the joyful pealing of Guanajuato’s church bells that accompanied Mexico’s valiant struggle for freedom. The people of the United States share in the spirit and cause of Father Miguel Hidalgo’s celebrated Grito de Dolores.¡Viva México!

Read more by HS News Staff →

U.S. Marine Corps Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month With Events Around the Country

U.S. Marine Corps Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month With Events Around the Country

Photo: U.S. Marine Corps (USMC)

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To honor the historical contributions made by Latino men and women, the United States Marine Corps is partnering with several national organizations to host events around the country in celebration of this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month.

Throughout the celebratory month, Marines will engage with communities across the nation:

    September 20 is Hispanic Heritage Night at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. The Marine Corps is celebrating the achievements of Latinos by inviting students from the Hispanic College Fund to join them as they watch the Washington Nationals go head to head against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
    On September 22-23 and September 29-30 COPA Univision’s 4th annual soccer tournament and festival will be in full swing with stops in Fresno, CA, and New York, NY. The Marine Corps is partnering with the Spanish-language television network encouraging fans to test their strength with a chin-up challenge during the pre-game festival.
    September 29 and October 6, the Marine Corps is helping students prepare for college by handing out scholarship information and providing career advice at the New Futuro Summit and “Make a Difference Expo” in Los Angeles, CA, and Houston, TX.
    On October 10 the organization of MAES: Latinos in Science and Engineering will host their 2012 national symposium in Las Vegas, NV. The Marines are mentoring a team of college students as they demonstrate their knowledge of STEM during the annual MAES College Decathlon.

In addition to partnering with organizations, the Marine Corps has partnered with Major League Soccer, the official digital platform of Major League Soccer (MLS), and Terra Networks.

The MLS will be featuring a video series, “Journey to Excellence,” that showcases Hispanic professional soccer players and demonstrates how their successes can be attributed to the values learned through a Hispanic upbringing. The Hispanic values the soccer players all refer to relate back to the core values of honor, courage and commitment – which serve as the foundation of the Marine Corps.

Terra Networks, a leading bilingual media platform highlighting Hispanic-focused entertainment, sports and news, will highlight the stories of several Latino Marines throughout the month in a custom Hispanic Heritage Month hub on their popular website.


Read more by HS News Staff →

12,000 Nicaraguan Families to Benefit From Improved Housing Conditions

12,000 Nicaraguan Families to Benefit From Improved Housing Conditions

Photo: Nicaragua

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The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a loan of up to $5 million to Nicaragua’s Foundation for the Promotion of Local Development (Prodel), paving the way for the non-profit organization serving the base of the pyramid to expand financing for basic community infrastructure and incremental home improvement projects.

Prodel will use proceeds from the IDB loan to expand financing to local governments, microfinance institutions, credit unions and microcredit companies, so they can boost lending for home improvement projects. The Foundation further plans to expand its lending to municipalities in the north, central, and western parts of the country to support local basic community infrastructure projects that use an innovative methodology in which communities work with local governments to plan and co-finance infrastructure works.

According to a recent IDB study, 78 percent of the families in Nicaragua either do not have a roof over their heads or live in poor quality or inadequate housing. Government data shows that the country’s housing deficit was estimated at 957,000 units in 2007, of which 64 percent had qualitative problems.

Under the community infrastructure program, Prodel finances small- to medium-sized projects (averaging $70,000) that seek to improve streets and pedestrian access to the neighborhoods, as well as introduce sewer drainage systems, drinking water microsystems, and access to energy (preferably alternative). The program includes the implementation of innovative design and construction methodologies of community infrastructure projects, as well as a range of different repayment methods for the works based on the type of infrastructure project and adapted to the income flows of families and municipalities.

Under the home improvement program, Prodel plans to expand its financing for home expansions and improvements such as the connection to new services introduced through the community infrastructure projects, such as the installation of water pipes into the home, construction of bathrooms, electrical systems, etc. Besides financing, the program will provide construction-related technical assistance for home improvements that low-income populations would not normally be able to access.

The IDB loan to Prodel has a five-year term and will be complemented by $7 million from Prodel’s own resources and $2 million from other sources.

Read more by HS News Staff →

UN Urges Honduras to Make Greater Efforts to Protect Children From Sexual Exploitation

UN Urges Honduras to Make Greater Efforts to Protect Children From Sexual Exploitation

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A United Nations independent expert today called on Honduras to increase its efforts to protect children from sexual exploitation, adding that the country still faces many challenges to ensure they are not victims of prostitution, pornography and abuse.

The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, Najat Maalla M’jid, warned that the rate of girls that are sexually exploited is “extremely worrying,” as well as the large number of young women who are pregnant due to abuse by relatives. She noted that the lack of sex education does not allow children to be aware of the inherent risks of sexual relations and early pregnancies.

During her visit, which ended on Friday, Ms. Maalla M’jid met various Government officials, civil society and private sector representatives. She also visited centres dedicated to the protection of children who have been victims of violence and abuse, where she spoke to children and teenagers about their experiences.

Ms. Maalla M’jid noted that reforms at a national and local level have not been effective due to a lack of coordination among institutions, limited resources, and slow judicial investigations, which do not ensure protection to victims and witnesses.

The Special Rapporteur called on the Government to adopt a unified and integrated approach to address the issue, and to reinforce its police and justice mechanisms so they effectively sanction perpetrators as quickly as possible. She also stressed that progress will not be achieved without strong political will and support from UN agencies and the international community.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.

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Venezuela, Bolivia Dispute Drug Trafficking Accusations Made by the U.S.

The governments of both Venezuela and Bolivia rejected Saturday the accusations made against them by the White House in its latest memo regarding the war on drugs, and said the U.S. was chiefly responsible for this scourge.

“Venezuela deplores the United States government’s insistence on undermining bilateral relations by publishing this kind of document, with no respect for the sovereignty and dignity of the Venezuelan people,” the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said in a communique.

In a memorandum published Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said that Bolivia and Venezuela, together with Burma, are countries that “have failed demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.”

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry “rejects in the most decided manner the accusations of the government” of the United States, and said that this document is “plagued with false statements, political preconceptions and veiled threats,” which only repeat its “permanent line of aggression against independent sovereign governments.”

Meanwhile Bolivian President Evo Morales said the U.S. has “no morality, authority or ethics” to speak about the war on drugs because, he said, that’s where the biggest market for cocaine is located and it keeps growing.

“The United States has no morality, authority or ethics that would allow it to speak about the war on drugs. Do you know why? Because the biggest market for cocaine and other drugs is the United States,” Morales said in a speech he gave in the Andean region of Oruro.

“They should tell us by what percentage they have reduced the internal (drug) market. The internal market keeps growing and in some states of the United States they’re even legalizing the sale of cocaine under medical control,” the Bolivian president said.

For its part, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry accused Washington of allowing a “fluid transit” of banned substances across its borders, as well as “the laundering of capital from drug trafficking through the financial system.”

“The government of the United States has become principally responsible for this plague that is the scourge of the entire world,” it said.

The ministry added that Venezuela began to produce results in the war on drugs in 2005 when it cut off relations with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA.

It also said that Venezuela has been free of illicit crops since 2006, as acknowledged by the United Nations, and has pursued and deported kingpins of criminal organizations, including 19 that were extradited to the United States over the past six years.

Another criticism Morales made against the United States was the the objections it raised before the United Nations against Bolivia’s request that chewing coca leaf be accepted as “an ancestral, cultural practice.”

“I’m convinced that the drug trade is no less than the United States’ best business,” the Bolivian president said, noting that since 1961, when the first international anti-drug agreements were signed, drug trafficking has grown rather than declined.

He said that in view of reports from the United States, he has suggested to the presidents of South American countries that they form a commission to judge how well Washington is doing in the war on drugs.

The Bolivian administration said Saturday that since 2006, when Morales took power, some 182 tons of cocaine have been seized, while in the previous five years only 49 tons were confiscated.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Ex-Professional Colombian Soccer Player, Friend Gunned Down in Guatemala

Ex-Professional Colombian Soccer Player, Friend Gunned Down in Guatemala

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Two Colombians, including an ex-professional soccer player, died in an armed attack by unknown assailants at a restaurant in the Guatemalan town of Malacatan on the Mexican border, officials said Saturday.

A spokesperson for the National Civil Police, or PNC, told reporters that the victims, identified as ex-professional soccer player Alex Montaño and Luis Henry Hurtado, were talking together in a restaurant when armed men burst in and shot them.

“Investigations are underway, but everything indicates that this was a planned attack,” the sources said.

Hurtado died at the scene of the shooting while Montaño passed away as he was being admitted to a public hospital.

Malacatan is located on the coast of San Marcos province, some 290 kilometers (180 miles) west of the Guatemalan capital and across the border from southwestern Mexico.

In that area, according to authorities, international drug-trafficking rings operate, as do criminal groups engaged in arms and people smuggling.

Montaño, 38, had played as a midfielder with Juventud Retalteca, Municipal and Petapa, three squads of the National Soccer League of Guatemala.

The restaurant where the attack occurred is owned by another Colombian ex-soccer player, John Jairo Rivas, who was unhurt.

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Guatemalans Displaced by Fuego Volcano Evacuation Return Home

Guatemalans Displaced by Fuego Volcano Evacuation Return Home

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The thousands of people who were evacuated Thursday because of the violent eruption of the Fuego volcano, located some 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of the Guatemalan capital, returned home Saturday after seismic activity diminished.

The Conred emergency management agency said in a commuique that evacuees have been returning home since Friday afternoon and were all back by Saturday.

Authorities said that while the volcanic eruption took no victims nor caused material damage, it did force the evacuation of at least 10,600 people to safer areas to avoid a catastrophe.

When the volcano erupted, firefighters and army personnel aided the evacuation of Sangre de Cristo, Panimache I and II, Morelia, Santa Sofia, Yucales and La Rochela.

The latest report of the National Seismology Institute, or Insivumeh, said that Fuego’s volcanic activity has dropped to “moderate” levels and nearby populations are no longer endangered.

At the same time, however, authorities are maintaining a “yellow” alert to warn of possible changes in seismic activity, and the volcano remains under permanent observation.

The Fuego volcano began erupting for the sixth time this year at around 4:00 a.m. Thursday, with powerful explosions sending columns of ash more than 3,000 meters (9,830 feet) above its crater.

The volcano has erupted 60 times since 1524, with the most violent occurring in 1932, 1971, 1974 and 1999.

Fuego, whose name in the indigenous Kakchikel language, is “Chi Cag” (where the fire is), is one of the most impressive, constantly active volcanoes in Central America.

Rising 3,760 meters (12,327 feet) above sea level, it straddles the provinces of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango and Escuintla and has been continuously active since 1999.

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Police Nab 12 Suspected La Resistencia Gang Members in Western Mexico

Police Nab 12 Suspected La Resistencia Gang Members in Western Mexico

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Mexican authorities announced the arrests of 12 suspected members of the La Resistencia criminal gang, which operates in the western state of Jalisco.

Four of the detainees were the organization’s main operators in Jalisco and “received orders” from the group’s reputed leader and founder, Ramiro Pozos Gonzalez, alias “El Molca,” state Attorney General Tomas Coronado Olmos said Friday.

“They recognize ‘El Molca’ as their direct boss. They jointly ran the collection (of ransom payments) from Mexico state and we know they were an integral part of the command structures (the gang) had in Jalisco,” Coronado said.

Federal police arrested the 42-year-old Pozos Gonzalez Tuesday in Metepec, a city in the central state of Mexico.

The purported operators were identified as Gerardo Venegas Serrano, Armando Rafael Figueroa Martinez, Angel Sanchez Rosales and Francisco Javier Blancas, all natives of Jalisco state.

The suspects, including two teenage boys and five women, have been linked to the discovery of 18 dismembered bodies found May 9 inside two SUVs in the town of Ixtlahuacan, Coronado said.

“We know they participated in that joint operation and they may also have taken part in its planning,” the state AG said.

The detainees are suspected of kidnapping 14 people, including two who were found dead inside the SUVs in Ixtlahuacan and 12 who managed to escape.

They also were allegedly involved in seven abductions in the Guadalajara metropolitan area and other cities in Jalisco state.

The suspects were arrested during a state law enforcement operatio\n while some of them were trying to collect a ransom for a kidnapped 73-year-old businessman, Coronado said.

This week’s capture of Pozos Gonzalez may have prompted the suspected kidnappers to accelerate their negotiations, as they knew they would be under more intense scrutiny, he said.

The detainees also could face charges in connection with at least another six murders still under investigation by state authorities.

The break-up of the erstwhile Milenio cartel in 2011 gave rise to the La Resistencia organization - backed by leaders of the La Familia Michoacana and Gulf cartels - and another gang known as Jalisco Nueva Generacion, authorities say.

La Resistencia was led by “Ramiro Pozos Gonzalez, alias ‘El Molca,’ Elpidio Mojarro Juarez, alias ‘El Pilo,’ and Victor Manuel Torres Garcia, alias ‘El Papirrin,’ who was arrested by the federal police on Feb. 28, 2011,” federal police drug enforcement unit chief Ramon Eduardo Pequeño said Wednesday in announcing Pozos Gonzalez’ arrest.

Pozos Gonzalez, a native of Zapopan, Jalisco, operated in that state, as well as in Michoacan, Mexico state and the Federal District.

La Resistencia formed an alliance last September with the notorious Los Zetas mob to increase its operational strength and maintain a front against Jalisco Nueva Generacion, headed by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, alias “El Mencho.”

Turf battles between La Resistencia and Jalisco Nueva Generacion have left scores of people dead in western Mexico, especially Jalisco state, since last year.

That region has been one of the flashpoints in a drug war that has left some 60,000 dead since President Felipe Calderon, whose term ends this year, took office in late 2006.

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Oil Production in Ecuador Over 500,000 Barrels Per Day

Crude production in Ecuador rose in July to 508,000 barrels per day, its highest level since February 2011, the Central Bank said.

The Andean nation, the smallest member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, produced a total of 15.7 million barrels that month, 11.5 million from fields managed by state-run companies and the rest by private firms, Friday’s report said.

Accumulated output between January and July came in at 106.9 million barrels.

In July, Ecuador exported nearly 10.2 million barrels of crude valued at some $914 million, or an average price of $89.78 per barrel.

Its accumulated oil exports between January and July totaled approximately 76 million barrels and generated $7.6 billion in revenue.

The report also said 5.9 million barrels of petroleum derivatives were produced in July and 41.6 million barrels in the first seven months of the year.

Ecuador’s oil mainly comes from the northern part of its Amazon region and it is transported to the Pacific coast via the SOTE and OCP pipelines.

Oil is Ecuador’s main export product and also a key source of government revenue.

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7 Bodies Discovered at Mexican Roadside Murder

7 Bodies Discovered at Mexican Roadside Murder

Photo: Murders in Mexico

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Seven people were found dead on a road in northeastern Mexico in a suspected incident of gangland violence, officials said.

The corpses - all men between 50 and 65 - were found Friday on a rural road in the municipality of San Fernando, the Tamaulipas state Attorney General’s Office said.

The bodies bore gunshot wounds and most of the victims had their hands tied. “Shell casings and a high-caliber round were found at the scene,” the state AG’s office said in a statement.

According to the initial probe, the victims apparently had been killed six hours before their bodies were found.

The grisly discovery was made public after the corpses of nine men were found hanging from a bridge in the Tamaulipas city of Nuevo Laredo, located across the border from Laredo, Texas.

The bodies found in San Fernando bore signs of torture. A message left by the perpetrators of the multiple homicide said the victims were members of the notoriously violent Los Zetas cartel.

The sprawling, mainly rural municipality of San Fernando has been the scene of two of the worst massacres in Mexico’s years-long drug war.

A group of 72 Latin American migrants were massacred by the Los Zetas drug cartel in August 2010, apparently after refusing to work for the gang as enforcers or couriers.

The Zetas also were blamed for the massacre of 193 migrants found in 47 clandestine graves between April and June of 2011.

The mass graves were found following reports that gunmen had forced men off buses headed for Reynosa between March 19 and March 31.

The bus passengers were grabbed in a bid to “identify possible members” of the Gulf cartel, which has been battling Los Zetas for control of smuggling routes into the United States, some of the suspects arrested in connection with the killings told investigators.

Friday’s slayings came two days after marines captured the Gulf mob’s top leader, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, alias “El Coss,” in the Tamaulipas port city of Tampico, an operation in which not a single shot was fired.

Costilla Sanchez’s capture left the Gulf mob - one of Mexico’s oldest criminal organizations - without its two top leaders. On Sept. 3, marines captured Mario Cardenas Guillen, alias “El Gordo,” who had headed another branch of that drug cartel.

These blows should exacerbate drug-related violence in Mexico, experts say, because the Zetas will look to seize control of areas still under the control of the Gulf cartel, which maintains its stronghold in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas and also operates in other parts of northern Mexico and the country’s Gulf coast.

The Gulf cartel and the Zetas, its former armed wing, severed ties in 2010 and that split has sparked turf battles in northeastern Mexico that have left thousands dead.

That region is one of the flashpoints in a nationwide drug war that has left some 60,000 dead since President Felipe Calderon, whose term ends this year, took office in late 2006.

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SundaySeptember 16, 2012