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FridayOctober 12, 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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Fidel Castro in Good Health, Says Son

Fidel Castro in Good Health, Says Son

Photo: Fidel Castro

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One of Fidel Castro’s sons said the former Cuban president “is well” and maintains a daily routine that includes reading and physical exercise.

“The commander is well, going about his daily occupations, reading, doing exercises,” Alex Castro said after inaugurating Thursday in the eastern city of Guantanamo an exhibit of his photographs of Fidel, the official AIN news agency reported.

Once again this week social networks like Twitter have been buzzing with rumors about the health of the 86-year-old Fidel Castro, who delegated power to younger brother Raul in 2006 after being stricken with a serious intestinal ailment.

Castro has not published his “Reflections,” newspaper articles he began writing during his convalescence, since June 19, after a week when he surprised readers with a series of brief, cryptic messages.

The last photos of the leader of the Cuban Revolution to be released were in late March, when Fidel Castro, accompanied by several members of his family, was seen in Havana with Pope Benedict XVI during his pastoral visit to Cuba.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Dominican Organizations March In Protest of Proposed Tax Hikes

Dominican Organizations March In Protest of Proposed Tax Hikes

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Grassroots organizations protested here Friday against the Dominican government’s proposal to raise taxes.

Representatives of the groups gathered in front of Congress to denounce President Danilo Medina’s fiscal plan and to demand sanctions against his predecessor, Leonel Fernandez, for having created the budget deficit that is being cited as the reason for tax increases.

In a letter to lawmakers, the organizations also argued for a public housing program and an agrarian reform.

The groups vowed to keep up their struggle until Medina, who took office in August, “fulfills his campaign promises and helps the poorest.”

Ordinary Dominicans “don’t have to pay for anybody’s theft,” protest spokesman Victor Jeronimo said.

Medina’s plan calls for raising an additional 53 billion pesos ($1.36 billion) to address a budget deficit of $3.8 billion, equivalent to 6.5 percent of gross domestic product.

“The reality is hard,” Medina said recently, calling for “effort and sacrifice from everyone” to put the country back on the path of sustainable development.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Gov. Quinn Inaugurates La Casa Housing Center for Latino Students in Chicago

Gov. Quinn Inaugurates La Casa Housing Center for Latino Students in Chicago

Photo: La Casa Student Housing and Resource Center

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn inaugurated here on Thursday the La Casa Student Housing and Resource Center, which offers a place to live and study at affordable prices and near the city’s main universities.

The initiative - which is sponsored by the Resurrection Project, a community organization in Chicago’s mainly Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood - cost $12 million, of which the state government contributed $8.4 million.

“Higher education is the key to improving our economy and preparing our students for the workforce of tomorrow,” Quinn said at the ceremony. “This new student housing development will provide more resources to students to help them as they pursue their degrees.”

La Casa “was created because we want all children in our community to know that a bachelor’s degree is not an option, but a requirement,” said the CEO of the Resurrection Project, Raul Raymundo.

He pointed out that in the United States there are more than 12 million Latinos going to college, but they continue to be the least-accomplished group when it comes to completing a degree.

La Casa in June began to receive young people from Latino neighborhoods like Pilsen and Little Village/La Villita, most of them the first in their families to go to college.

The building has six floors and is located in the heart of Chicago’s Mexican community.

The structure has easy access to one of the elevated train lines and several bus routes, and it is just a few minutes from the city’s main universities and community colleges.

On the first floor of the building is a reception area, a space for recreation, a cafeteria, a meeting room and laundry.

On the other floors are dorm rooms for 100 students and kitchens. Utilities and wireless Internet are included in the lodging cost.

Each floor also has a residential assistant, most of them post-graduate students who act as permanent mentors.

Next to La Casa there is a Resource Center for students where there is access to computers and a multi-use room in which to hold workshops.

Funds for the project came not only from the Illinois government but also from private foundations and philanthropic contributions.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Olympian Calls On Lawmakers To Take a Stand Against Childhood Obesity

Mexican Olympian Calls On Lawmakers To Take a Stand Against Childhood Obesity

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Mexican diver Paola Espinosa, a medalist in the London Olympics, urged lawmakers to do more to ensure the nation no longer leads the world in childhood obesity.

“Pass laws that promote programs so we’re no longer No. 1 in childhood obesity,” Espinosa said Thursday in a ceremony at the lower house of Congress to honor 2012 Olympic and Paralympic medalists.

Obesity currently affects 29 percent of Mexican boys and girls between five and 11, 30 percent of children aged 12-19 and seven of 10 adults, according to the Health Secretariat.

Also attending the ceremony were divers Ivan Garcia, German Sanchez and Laura Sanchez and archer Aida Roman, as well as 10 Paralympic athletes.

Espinosa and partner Alejandra Orozco won a silver medal in the synchronized 10m platform at the London Games.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Washington Mother Burned Son’s Hands on Stove for Touching iPad

LATINO BLOTTER: Washington Mother Burned Son’s Hands on Stove for Touching iPad

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A Washington mother is facing charges of burning her young son’s hands on an electric stove and pouring salt in the wounds because he was misbehaving.

On September 25, a student at a Lynwood-area school informed school officials that one of his classmates had “owies” on his hands.

The boy with the injuries was Karina Torrescano Hernandez’s 6-year-old son. Initially, when asked how he hurt his hands, the boy, whose name was not released, said he hurt himself on the monkey. Eventually, the boy began crying and said his hands were burned by his mother because he touched an iPad.

When confronted by police, Hernandez said he burned his hands trying to roast marshmallows. She told them it probably happened while she was taking a nap, which she often did because she works the night shift. Hernandez said she did not take him to the hospital because she did not want her children, she also has a 3-year-old, to be taken away.

However, when doctors examined the boy, they found scarring indicative of multiple burns likely caused by “an electric stove or something similar.”

Despite the mother’s claims, a babysitter also came forward and said she heard the boy was intentionally burned because he had misbehaved. She also told police she was worried about the boys, who were described as “exceptionally compliant” due in large part to their fear of angering their mother.

Further investigation by doctors found the boy also had scar on his head, his neck, shoulder, and buttocks.

Hernandez was arrested Wednesday and taken to jail on one count of domestic violence and second-degree assault of a child. She is being held on $25,000 bond.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Singer Lila Downs Honored for her Contribution to Mexican Culture

Singer Lila Downs Honored for her Contribution to Mexican Culture

Photo: Lila Downs (Mano a Mano)

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Singer Lila Downs was honored here by the organization Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders for her work to spread awareness about indigenous people.

Downs, who divides her time between New York and her native Mexico, accepted the Yoloxochitl Award from last year’s recipient, chef Zarela Martinez, who pioneered Mexican cuisine in the Big Apple.

Being honored by her compatriots “is an opportunity to make known that a very great effort is being made to educate and share cultural spaces that exist for the Mexican community,” the Latin Grammy-winning artist told Efe.

Downs, 44, performed several songs after receiving the award.

Every year, Mano a Mano honors a person “who represents who we are,” the organization’s executive director, Juan Carlos Aguirre, told Efe.

“Lila represents a very important segment of Mexico, with all its cultural diversity,” he said.

Born in southern Mexico to an Anglo-American father and a Mixtec Indian mother, Downs fuses indigenous and traditional music with genres such as folk, blues, jazz, hip hop and rock.

She is currently touring the United States to showcase her latest album, “Pecados y milagros.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER UPDATE: Elizabeth Escalona Gets 99 Years for Beating Daughter into Coma

LATINO BLOTTER UPDATE: Elizabeth Escalona Gets 99 Years for Beating Daughter into Coma

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A Texas mother who pled guilty to felony injury to a child after she beat her 2-year-old daughter so severely she was in a coma for two days.

At just 23, Elizabeth Escalona is the mother of 5 children, but when it came 2-year-old Jocelyn Cedillo, she was no mother.

Frustrated by potty training issue, Escalona glued the toddler’s hands to the wall and savagely attacked her, kicking her in the stomach and beating her with a milk jug, according to Escalona’s other children.

The toddler suffered bleeding in her brain, bite marks, skin torn from her hands, a fractured hip, and multiple bruises. While in the hospital, doctors found super glue and paint chips still stuck to her hands from the wall she had been glued to.

In court this week, Escalona’s family begged the judge for leniency in sentencing, but on Friday, they sobbed as they learned she had been sentenced to 99 years.

The prosecution had initially asked for 45 years to life, saying Escalona had not taken responsibility for her actions and is an unfit mother with a history of violence, but during the trial, they asked for life in prison.

When she was still a teenager Escalona threatened to kill her mother. She began doing drugs and joined a gang.

Dallas County prosecutor Eren Price said, “Elizabeth lies to hide the evil … Only a monster glues her daughter’s hands to the wall.”

“On Sept. 7, 2011, you savagely beat your child to the edge of death,” State District Judge Larry Mitchell said. “For this you must be punished.”

The Dallas mother, who gave birth to fifth child this year, will be eligible for parole in 30 years. Meanwhile, her children have been placed with their grandmother.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Penelope Cruz in Talks to Play Ex-Wife of Fashion Heir in ‘Gucci’

Penelope Cruz in Talks to Play Ex-Wife of Fashion Heir in ‘Gucci’

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Spanish actress Penelope Cruz is currently being considered for a role in the film Gucci.

According to The Wrap, Cruz, 38, is in talks to play Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of the late heir to the fashion empire, Maurizio Gucci.

In 1995, as he arrived as work, Gucci was shot and killed by a hitman on the steps outside his office. The hitman was hired by Reggiani and she was initially sentenced to 29 years in prison. The couple had married in 1973 and were divorced in 1991, however, Gucci had left Reggiani for another woman in 1985.

Gucci has been floating around Hollywood for awhile, once even having Angelina Jolie tentatively attached.

The film will be directed by Jordan Scott, daughter of Hollywood heavyweight Ridley Scott.

The Italian family/fashion house has been trying to bring Gucci back to the top of the Hollywood fashion elite for years, and has become “increasingly involved in the film world.

In October 2011, Reggiani was offered a chance at parole, but ultimately refused, saying, “I’ve never worked in my life and I’m certainly not going to start now.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Decade After Clown Rapes Girl, He is Finally Put Away

LATINO BLOTTER: Decade After Clown Rapes Girl, He is Finally Put Away

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A man who worked as a professional clown is facing up to 10 years in prison for abducting and raping a young girl in California in 2002.

While still in costume and makeup as “El Tin Larin” the clown, prosecutors say Jose Guadalupe Jimenez, 43, of Anaheim, snatched a 12-year-old girl from a Taco Bell, drove to an area near Ladera Vista Junior High School, and raped her in the car. He them drove to a motel, but when he went to talk to a motel worker, the girl was able to escape.

On Wednesday, Jimenez took a plea bargain and admitted guilt to one count of lewd acts upon a child under 14 and one count of forcible lewd acts upon a child.

The rape case has remained unsolved, and without any leads, until last year when Jimenez was arrested on an unrelated misdemeanor and his DNA was collected. In 2002, DNA had been collected off the girl, but it did not match anyone already in the system. This time, however, the Jimenez’s DNA was a match for that of the 2002 rape.

Jimenez was given credit for 650 days served in jail and must serve at least 85 percent of the 10-year sentence.

Deputy District Attorney Katherine David said Jimenez will forever have to register as a sex offender and this conviction also counts as two strikes against him.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Caucus of Hispanic State Legislators Get Behind Initiatives to Promote Financial Literacy

Caucus of Hispanic State Legislators Get Behind Initiatives to Promote Financial Literacy

Photo: Promoting Financial Literacy Amongst Latinos

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The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators announced they passed a resolution by Representative Juan Candelaria of Connecticut that supports expanded financial literacy and empowerment for all Americans, especially young adults and Latino households.

The NHCSL staff and legislators will work with other organizations to promote financial literacy, support activities related to the Financial Literacy Month, and urge policy makers to publicize solutions and recommendations for those seeking financial help.

Although the majority of Hispanic households with incomes of at least $45,000 believe they are financially successfully, one-third of them say they still need help making financial decisions. Smart financial decisions are the result of financial education and access to financial management tools, but because these are hard to acquire, it is easy for many individuals to make poor financial choices and become financially unstable.

Read more by HS News Staff →

What if Residents of the Amazon Were Able to Charge Cells Phones With Solar Energy?

What if Residents of the Amazon Were Able to Charge Cells Phones With Solar Energy?

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“What if rainforest residents could charge cell phones in the Amazon?”

This is one question that is being answered thanks to donations received on the website Kickstarter.

Jeff Mansfield explains his project,TAKING CHARGE, as a pocket guide to portable solar power and smartphones in Brazil’s Amazon. The project is an extension of an initiative called the Luz Portatil Brasil, which has a primary goal of bringing portable, solar energy to developing countries. Mansfield is “raising money to create digital toolkits that complement the pads.”

In the Amazon, I realized that something as seemingly simple as a cell phone—and the ability to charge it with solar energy anywhere on the river—could create a versatile and important resource for the local land planning of river communities and the development of their sustainable forest enterprises. What was missing was an accessible “starter toolkit” of useful mobile phone applications, an effective and participatory means to demonstrate to the community what a smartphone could do and a practical, accessible “user’s guide” with how-to instructional diagrams, local tips and photos.  River citizens could contribute knowledge to the “user’s guide” for their peers in other communities, sharing insights on how they have used the USB-based solar energy kit and smartphone in their sustainable forest enterprises and communities.


So far, Mansfield has raised $3,550 of the $12,800 goal, and with 32 days to go, there is still a ways to go. The fundraising ends on Tuesday, November 13.

In his own way, Mansfield knows first hand what it’s like to be cut off from the world. Since birth, he has been deaf. In the video below, he signs, “The reality is part of the deaf experience, as we use interpreters, family members and advocates to voice our concerns, needs, issues and opinions — not too different from the inhabitants of the Amazon… Interlocutors, foreigners and outsiders continue to speak for the region and its inhabitants on issues ranging from energy, agriculture, biodiversity and conservation. Largely missing from this global conversation is the voice of the people that actually live in the forest.”

Read more at TAKING CHARGER - Kickstarter →

HS News Celebrates Spain’s National Day

HS News Celebrates Spain’s National Day

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Today all of Spain is celebrating La Fiesta Nacional de España known as Spain’s National Day.  The national holiday celebrates the day Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in an expedition funded by the Spanish Crown. 

The day also celebrates Spain’s connection to the global Hispanic community.  In 1981, Spain via royal decree established this day as ‘Dia de la Hispanidad’. 

The current monarch’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia presided over a large military parade to kick off festivities.  This year many of the public activities have been scaled back due to the country’s economic problems and the government austerity program. 

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent the people of Spain the following congratulatory message:

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Spain as you celebrate La Fiesta Nacional de España this October 12.

With the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s landing in Florida approaching, we are reminded of Spain’s important contributions that have made a profound role in shaping this nation’s history. Today the United States and Spain are working closely together to tackle the challenges of an increasingly globalized world. We share a common desire to strengthen peace and security worldwide, protect the environment, and promote economic prosperity. The United States deeply values the strong alliance between our two nations as well as Spain’s important contributions to international organizations such as NATO, the United Nations, and the OECD.

On this Fiesta Nacional de España, we join with Spain in the spirit of friendship and look forward to deepening our cooperation in the years to come.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Hispanic HIV Diagnosis Vary by Region, South has Largest Occurrence Rate

Hispanic HIV Diagnosis Vary by Region, South has Largest Occurrence Rate

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Hispanic Americans are diagnosed with HIV infection nearly three times as often as whites, but rates and causes differ by region, a new study finds. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

For the study, researchers analyzed 2010 data from 46 states and Puerto Rico and found that the rate of HIV diagnoses among Hispanics in the Northeast (55 per 100,000 people) was more than twice that of any other region in the United States.

The investigators also found that the largest percentage of HIV diagnoses among Hispanics occurred in the South (35.4 percent).

Male-to-male sex was the primary method of HIV transmission among Hispanics overall, but those living in the Northeast were more likely to have been infected through injection drug use than Hispanics with HIV in other regions, the study authors noted in a news release from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hispanics in the Northeast were also more likely to be of Puerto Rican descent, while those in other regions of the country were more likely to be of Mexican or Central American descent, according to the report published in the Oct. 12 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

When compared with Hispanics in the 46 states included in the study, those in Puerto Rico diagnosed with HIV were more likely to have contracted the virus through injection drug use or sexual contact with a member of the opposite sex.

These regional differences require that HIV testing, prevention and treatment efforts be tailored to the different needs of these regions, concluded researcher Qian An of the division of HIV/AIDS prevention at the CDC National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, and colleagues.

Read more by HS News Staff →

25 Texas Mexican Mafia Prison Gang Members Indicted for Multiple Crimes, Policeman Among 25

25 Texas Mexican Mafia Prison Gang Members Indicted for Multiple Crimes, Policeman Among 25

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Alleged members or associates of the notorious Texas Mexican Mafia (TMM) prison gang have been indicted for trafficking in heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine; firearms violations; and for distributing explosive materials.

Among those charged included Michael Mares, 50, an Onalaska Police officer who knowingly provided firearms to a convicted felon on two occasions, according to the indictment.

According to the 22-count indictment, the TMM formed in the early 1980s in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

The indictment alleges the defendants conspired with one another and others from 2008 through October 2012 to procure illegal drugs and distribute the drugs to numerous associates involved in drug trafficking in order to carry out the business of the gang. Alleged gang members also illegally sold numerous assault rifles, other guns, and even detonation cord during the course of the investigation, according to the indictment.

The four-year investigation resulted in the return of a sealed indictment October 4, 2012.

If convicted of the conspiracy charge, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment and a $10 million fine.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico Researches Non-conventional Oil and Gas Resources

Mexico Researches Non-conventional Oil and Gas Resources

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Mexico plans to invest 3.13 billion pesos (some $242 million) in a project that will use state-of-the-art technology to assess the nation’s prospective non-conventional oil and gas resources, the Energy Secretariat said.

The Mexican Petroleum Institute will carry out the project with the active participation of state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, at the Galaxia block in the Burgos basin and the Limonaria block in the Tampico-Misantla basin, both located in northeastern Mexico, the secretariat said in a statement.

The project will enable Mexico, one of the world’s largest crude producers, to “organize areas with potential resources into a hierarchy and determine if these are oil or gas formations.”

It also will involve “the conceptual design of well drilling and termination” with a view to causing the least possible environmental and social impact and achieving the highest profitability, as well as the training of specialized human resources in the field.

“This amounts to an unprecedented push for research in this sector at the national level because of the size of the technological and investment impact the approved amount entails,” the secretariat said.

The project, it said, will lay the foundation for the future sustainable development of shale gas and shale oil, non-conventional hydrocarbons that are trapped in low-permeability rock and require special technology to extract.

It also will involve “a very significant economic outlay” that will lead to the creation of jobs and capabilities at the national level, it said.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency said late last year that Mexico has a bright energy future, especially in natural gas.

“Mexico is sitting on very large natural gas fields that could allow it to end gas imports and could give it energy independence,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in November 2011.

Mexico, according to estimates by international organizations, has the world’s fourth-largest shale gas reserves, with some 680 trillion cubic feet of the fuel.

Shale gas comes from unconventional geological formations and requires different extraction methods, including the use of pressurized fluid to create a facture in the rock layer, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Gas production will be developed under existing laws and will be undertaken using the incentive-based contracts created by the 2008 energy industry reforms, Energy Secretary Jordy Herrera said last year.

The incentive-based contracts will allow companies to invest, produce and earn bigger profits from more productive gas fields, Herrera said.

Mexico is searching for new resources at a time when oil production has fallen by a quarter from its peak of 3.4 million barrels a day in 2004.

Though production has recently stabilized and the country achieved a reserve-replacement ratio of 100 percent this year, Mexico’s output has suffered from the natural decline of the once-super giant Cantarell offshore field and a lack of sufficient investment.

In addition to assessing its non-conventional reserves, Pemex also is looking to boost energy production by focusing on exploring deep-water areas in the Gulf of Mexico, where significant oil finds have been made in recent months.

Read more by HS News Staff →

UPDATE: Death Toll for Miami Parking Garage Collapse Now 3

UPDATE: Death Toll for Miami Parking Garage Collapse Now 3

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Firefighters on Thursday found the body of one man underneath the rubble of the parking garage that collapsed in the Miami suburb of Doral, raising to three the number of known fatalities.

One worker still remains buried under tons of cement and rescue efforts are continuing.

“The chances that that person is alive are minimal, due to the amount of rubble,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesperson Griselle Marino told Efe.

Nevertheless, Miami-Dade County police continue to hold out hope that the man may still be alive in a gap in the ruins.

A team of Fire Rescue specialists on Wednesday managed to extract one of the construction workers who had been trapped in the rubble, although to do so they had to amputate both his legs.

“It was the only way to save him,” said Marino.

The man, who had been buried from the waist down by tons of cement rubble, was taken by helicopter to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was admitted in very serious condition.

In all, about 10 injured workers were transported to area hospitals.

One section of the parking garage, which was under construction on the Doral campus of Miami Dade College, suddenly collapsed on Wednesday.

No students - only construction workers - were in the parking garage at the time of the collapse.

Airborne television images broadcast on Thursday showed a huge pile of cement rubble and construction equipment at the site.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Army Colonel, 8 Soldiers Charged For Deaths of Protesters in Guatemala

Army Colonel, 8 Soldiers Charged For Deaths of Protesters in Guatemala

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An army colonel and eight troops were arrested Thursday for the deaths of as many as eight protesters during a confrontation last week, Guatemala’s attorney general said.

Col. Juan Chiroy Sal, the commander of the contingent that fired at protesters, bears the greatest responsibility for the killings, Claudia Paz y Paz told a press conference in the capital.

Chiroy, she said, “had the mission of rendering support to the police, but he didn’t coordinate the actions and disobeyed the order the police commander gave to not approach the site of the demonstration.”

Hundreds of people mobilized early last Thursday to block the Interamerican highway at six different points in the western province of Totonicapan.

The protest was spurred by President Otto Perez Molina’s proposals for constitutional changes, an overhaul of the curriculum for aspiring teachers and a recent hike in electric rates.

Two truckloads of army troops were sent to the spot known as Alaska to assist police trying to clear the highway.

Col. Chiroy brought his troops to within about 500 meters (1,600 feet) of the main concentration of protesters, told them to get out of the trucks and then left them there, the attorney general said Thursday.

“The most grave and serious thing is that he (Chiroy) abandoned the scene and left the army members without command,” she said.

Police managed to dispel the protesters without any casualties, Paz y Paz said.

“The information compiled shows that the police told the army not to approach (the protest) because it was not appropriate,” she said.

While the AG’s office says six protesters were killed - including two shot in the back - and 34 other people injured, peasant organizations insist eight civilians died.

Guatemala’s president announced Wednesday that the military will no longer be used to disperse protests.

Perez Molina, a retired army general who was elected on a promise to crack down on crime, said his administration will allow justice to run its course in the Totonicapan case.

Last week’s episode was the first instance of army aggression against peasants in Guatemala since the end of the country’s 1960-1996 civil war, which left more than 200,000 dead, most of them indigenous people slaughtered by the military and its allies.

Read more by HS News Staff →

FridayOctober 12, 2012