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SundayOctober 14, 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’s President-Elect Peña Nieto in Spain Offers Support to Economy

Mexico’s President-Elect Peña Nieto in Spain Offers Support to Economy

Photo: Mexican President Elect Peña Nieto in Spain

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Mexican President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto delivered an address Monday to business leaders in Madrid, offering Spain the support and assistance of his incoming administration in dealing with the economic crisis.

Peña Nieto, who takes office on Dec. 1, said his goal was to strengthen the relationship between “both brotherly peoples.”

The president-elect discussed the economic strategies he planned to implement after taking office.

The objective of these policies is to promote “the development of my country, but they will also help Spain get out of the crisis,” Peña Nieto said.

“Spain is our second most important trade partner in the European Union, and the No. 1 investor country, with more than $45 billion, but this relationship still has much to give both peoples,” Peña Nieto said.

The next Mexican government will be “aware of the optimal situation that Mexico is in at this time for being competitive in the region and against other countries,” the president-elect told Spanish business leaders.

“We will continue working on a free-market economy, but placing more emphasis on the social aspects. We will create a trade economy, but with social feeling, taking advantage of the agreements we have with other countries,” Peña Nieto said.

The president-elect also discussed the future of Mexico’s energy industry.

“We must undertake energy reforms that will allow us to be more competitive and to have more private (sector) participation in Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex),” Peña Nieto said, adding that “this does not mean that Pemex is going to be privatized.”

“It is a national company and the state should maintain control, ownership and oversight of the resources. These conditions should remain. It is not going to be privatized,” the president-elect said.

The incoming administration will seek to have “a greater trade presence in the world,” taking “more advantage of the trade agreements” that Mexico has signed with 44 countries, including EU members, Peña Nieto said.

The Mexican president-elect will meet later in the day with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and King Juan Carlos I.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Mudslide’s Death Toll Climbs to 10

Colombian Mudslide’s Death Toll Climbs to 10

Photo: Mudslide in Colombia

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The death toll from the mudslide that hit a hamlet in southwestern Colombia earlier this month has risen to 10, with five people still listed as missing, emergency management officials said.

Search teams plan to continue looking for the bodies of the five missing residents of Villas del Prado, a hamlet in Huila province, National Risk Assessment Unit, or UNGRD, spokeswoman Sandra Calvo told Efe.

The latest figures on the number of people who disappeared in the Oct. 6 mudslide were compiled after the bodies of four people listed as missing were found, Calvo said.

The search will be concluded between Sunday “and Monday since the reconstruction plan continues for the dwellings, which are 33,” as well as the road, the UNGRD spokeswoman said.

Work crews are repairing a bridge and clearing the La Chorrera stream, which caused the natural disaster, Calvo said.

The UNGRD has spent nearly 100 million pesos (about $55,627) on assistance to families in Villa del Prado and neighboring Remolinos that were affected by the mudslide.

The two hamlets are outside the city of Isnos.

Officials inspected La Chorrera, a tributary of the Magdalena River, Colombia’s largest waterway, on Saturday and said erosion on the hillside affected by the mudslide would require the evacuation of other families.

The Villas del Prado disaster is the first of Colombia’s second annual rainy season, which lasts from October through December.

The natural disaster affected a large section of Isnos, a city whose archaeological and cultural sites draw many tourists.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mothers of Missing Migrants Follow the “Route of the Immigrant” Through Mexico

Mothers of Missing Migrants Follow the “Route of the Immigrant” Through Mexico

Photo: Mothers of the missing migrants

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A caravan made up of Central American women whose children went missing in Mexico while trying to reach the United States has set out to try to find out what happened to the migrants.

The caravan - made up of 10 women from Guatemala, 19 from Nicaragua, three from El Salvador and 28 from Honduras - set out Saturday on the 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) journey on the so-called “route of the immigrant” in southeast and central Mexico.

“They started today in Guatemala (and) in 24 days they will cover 14 states in southeastern and central Mexico, as well as 23 specific locations in that country identified on the route of the immigrant,” a National Roundtable for Migration in Guatemala, or Menamig, spokeswoman told reporters Saturday.

The women, whose children disappeared in recent months on the journey to the United States, met in Guatemala City on Saturday to discuss the effort to find the missing migrants.

The women took part in religious ceremonies in front of Guatemala City’s Metropolitan Cathedral and held a press conference to denounce officials’ “indifference” regarding the fate of their loved ones.

“Dozens of bodies of supposed migrants have been found in areas in southeast Mexico, but we have not obtained the support of the authorities to identify them,” one of the Honduran women said.

“Different Mexican activists, all supporters, migrants’ shelters, cooperatives, non-governmental organizations (and) universities” will participate in events in the 23 places where the caravan will pass, the Menamig said.

Amnesty International and Mexican National Human Rights Commission representatives will accompany the caravan, the organization said.

An average of 50 Central Americans a day head for the United States, where they hope to find a better future, the International Organization for Migration says.

The Central Americans’ trek across Mexico is a dangerous one, with criminals and corrupt Mexican officials preying on the migrants.

Gangs kidnap, exploit and murder migrants, who are often targeted in extortion schemes, Mexican officials say.

Central American migrants follow a long route that first takes them into Chiapas state, which is on the border with Guatemala, walking part of the way or riding aboard freight trains, buses and cargo trucks.

Read more by HS News Staff →

4 Year Old Daughter of Model Alessandra Ambrosio Already Following in Mom’s Footsteps

4 Year Old Daughter of Model Alessandra Ambrosio Already Following in Mom’s Footsteps

Photo: Alessandra Ambrosio

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Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio may have passed along her catwalk gracefulness to 4-year-old daughter Anja, because the model revealed that her little girl is already a runway professional.

Us Weekly caught up with Ambrosio on Thursday at amfARS’s Inspiration Gala in Los Angeles, where the 31-year-old brunette beauty and mom of two said, “She does the runway by herself – she knows how to do everything. She’s like a little pro already. She likes to sing around the house. That’s her thing.”

Ambrosio and fiancé Jamie Mazur welcomed their second child, a son named Noah, in May, and little Anja uses her baby brother as an at-home audience. “Anja loves to entertain Noah. She’s all about singing to him and just performs for him,” the proud mom shared. “There is always noise in the house and there is always something happening. My life is never boring.”

And according to the Daily Mail, Ambrosio and Mazur had parenting the two children down pat just a couple months after welcoming their second child, as the two were spotted about and about in Malibu in July, taking turns holding their baby boy and looking after a hyper, beaming Anja.

Read more at The Celebrity Cafe →

$15 Million National Hispanic Leadership Initiative Announced

$15 Million National Hispanic Leadership Initiative Announced

Photo: Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative (Catholic Extension)

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In the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, Catholic Extension announced the launch of the national Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative, a three-year commitment of strategic investment by Catholic Extension to fund the salaries of 100 new Hispanic lay leaders in poor mission dioceses across the U.S. The initiative is aimed at positively impacting Hispanic ministry in the U.S. Catholic Church.

Nearly 40 percent of U.S. Catholics are Hispanic, and some predict that as soon as 2020, Hispanics could be the majority in the Catholic Church. However, less than 10 percent of paid leadership in the Church is Hispanic. The Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative is designed to address this growing need by building pastoral capacity in dioceses where Hispanics are present in significant numbers through creating new lay leadership positions. These new leaders will be able to reach out to thousands of Hispanic Catholics across the country.

This initiative is designed not as a temporary solution to address an immediate crisis in human resources for Hispanic ministries, but to serve as a catalyst for a more substantial leadership investment in Hispanic ministry on the part of Catholic dioceses.

This is a $15,000,000 initiative over the three-year period. The cost of the positions will be split equally between Catholic Extension and the participating dioceses. Catholic Extension will invest in Hispanic lay leadership in its initial years. At the conclusion of the three-year partnership, dioceses will be responsible for sustaining the position on their own.

Leaders throughout the U.S. echo the need for support for Hispanic Catholics in today’s Catholic Church, including Dr. Arturo Chavez, president and CEO of Mexican American Catholic College. Dr. Chavez has over 28 years of teaching and ministry experience, and is a supporter of the Hispanic Lay Leadership Initiative. He spoke recently at a Catholic Extension conference bringing together many of the newly hired Hispanic lay leaders from across the country.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Homeless Families in Spain Squatting After Eviction

Homeless Families in Spain Squatting After Eviction

Photo: (Voice of America)

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By Caroline Arbour, Voice of America

Protest groups in Spain have helped families that were kicked out of their homes by banks find shelter in repossessed, empty apartment buildings. Police moved in quickly in most cases, but in Seville about 30 families are going on six months of illegal occupation.

Fifty-four-year old Mercedes Lladanosa showed us around the two-bedroom apartment she shares with her daughter and granddaughter. It has hardwood floors and a fancy faucet in the bathroom. But bare light bulbs hang uselessly from the ceiling.

The electricity was shut off months ago.

And the washing machine is only for show, as the city cut off the building’s access to running water last week.

They cook with a gas camping stove. What little furniture Lladanosa has was donated or found in the trash. It is not much - a couch, a bed and a crib. 

Squatting for survival

She and more than 100 others have been living like this since May, in this five-story building that was completed three years ago and left empty when the developer went bankrupt. 

Nearly 40 families moved in with help of members from the 15M activist group, like Antonio Moreno Rosana.

“Right now in Spain we have something like 517 evictions a day. The thing is, just in Andalucía I think, there are 116,000 empty houses. It is outrageous that you have got empty houses when people are getting thrown out into the street,” said Rosana.

Rampant evictions

Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have been evicted from their homes since the housing bubble burst in 2008.

Once a house is repossessed by the banks, the owner is still liable for the mortgage, meaning several generations are being saddled with debt.

Rosana said it makes no sense.

“We think that, you know, if a bank has an empty house for a year or two years, that should be expropriated immediately. It is like you have it empty? No, you can not have it empty. We are going to put some people in there, if you are going to have it empty,” said Rosana.

15M group protests

The 15M movement has tried a few times in Madrid, Barcelona and the Catalonian city of Sabadell to house evicted families in buildings now belonging to banks, but efforts were swiftly defeated by police. Lladanosa and her fellow squatters risk being thrown out any day.

Not everyone lives in the building out of absolute necessity, and for some, making a statement is worth the risk.

Social worker Montserrat Sanchez lost her job in an immigrant center two months ago and could not pay her rent anymore, so she went back to live with her mother and father, but then left.

“I think I have the right, like everyone living in this world, to have my own house and my own place where to stay. And I do not think it is right to go back with my parents. So that is why I came here,” said Sanchez.

Lladanosa and others show us the water fountain installed outside the building this week by the city, on the corner of an intersection, next to garbage bins. She hauls water from there up to her apartment to wash herself and to clean her clothes.

The unemployed cook turned housekeeper said she wants to regain her dignity. She wants a roof over her head. Not for free. She wants to catch a break, though, and pay rent that she can afford.

Read more at Voice of America →

Ranchera Singer Vicente Fernandez Announces Farewell Concert

Ranchera Singer Vicente Fernandez Announces Farewell Concert

Photo: Vicente Fernandez

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The Mexican singer of ranchera music, Vicente Fernandez, announced that he will bid farewell to the spotlight with two concerts on Dec. 14-15 in the western state of Jalisco.

“I want to go back home to say my goodbyes,” the Mexican said Friday before the second of three shows at the Festival of Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco where he was born.

The 72-year-old Fernandez, considered mariachi music’s all-time great, announced in early 2012 his retirement from the concert stage to spend more time with his family and to step down while his image among the public remains impeccable.

The artist admitted to some health problems from an inflamed liver and said his decision to retire is “definitive,” though he did add that he will continue to record discs.

The singer who made famous such numbers as “Mujeres Divinas” (Divine Women) and “Las Llaves de Mi Alma” (Keys to My Soul) will make a farewell tour through Spain, Central America, South America and the United States, to make his final wrap in the land of his birth.

In a career stretching over more than 50 years, the “Charro of Huentitan” recorded more than 90 albums and won numerous Billboard, Grammy and Diosa de Plata awards.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Nicaragua Using $45M Loan to Improve Health Services For Most Vulnerable Groups

Nicaragua Using $45M Loan to Improve Health Services For Most Vulnerable Groups

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The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a second loan for $45 million to Nicaragua to improve spending priorities and efficiency on health and social protection for the country’s most vulnerable groups. The reforms carried out by the program will meet the needs of pregnant women and children in the poorest fifth of the nation’s population.

Over the medium term, improved targeting of resources will result in the provision of comprehensive health services and psychosocial support to some 38,000 families and more than 47,000 children under three years in the poorest communities in 37 municipalities. These actions are expected to reduce the well-being gap in these communities by 15 percent.

This loan is the second in a two-part policy-based series of operations. As a result of the first operation, which was approved last year for the same amount, the Nicaraguan government adopted a National Policy on Comprehensive Early Childhood. The policy focuses on the comprehensive care of children, including emotional, socio-emotional, physical, and cognitive development in the first stage of life.

In addition, the Bank financing will help to implement the Master Register of Protagonists in more than 25 poor municipalities. The registry will consolidate information on pregnant women and children under six years to ensure that they receive the care they need.

The program will promote reforms that gradually make adjustments in the allocation and distribution of spending on public health and social protection. One goal is to establish a methodology for monitoring social performance to improve budget implementation by the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and the Ministry of Family, Adolescent, and Child Services (MIFAN).

This loan will be carried out by the Ministry of Finance with the support of other institutions, mainly MINSA and MIFAN. The IDB financing consists of $22.5 million from the Fund for Special Operations, for a term and grace period of 40 years and an interest rate of 0.25 percent; and a $22.5 million loan from the ordinary capital for a 30-year term, a five-year grace period, and a SCF-Fixed rate of interest.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Newly Appointed Mexican Archbishop Faced With Challenges in New Location

Newly Appointed Mexican Archbishop Faced With Challenges in New Location

Photo: Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez

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The new archbishop of Monterrey, Mexico, is known for putting an emphasis on social ministries and serving poor populations—most recently in the southern state of Chiapas as archbishop of Tuxtla Gutierrez.  The spokesman for the Mexican bishops’ conference, Father Manuel Corral, said Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez is also known as a no-nonsense administrator, for “showing leadership within the conference” and “not searching for a media profile.”

Archbishop Cabrera will take those characteristics to northern Mexico and a region being ripped apart by crime and corruption, having been tapped Oct. 3 by Pope Benedict XVI to lead the Archdiocese of Monterrey.

The archdiocese is considered one of Mexico’s most important, and its leader is often elevated to the position of cardinal. It is an important industrial key where society is known for its conservative mores. But it’s a city suffering through some of the worst of Mexico’s drug and organized crime violence, the result of warring between the Los Zetas and the Gulf cartels, whose leaders took up residence alongside polite society in an area considered the richest in Latin America

The cartels also recruited disaffected youth from marginalized areas and carried out some of the country’s worst crimes, including an August 2011 attack on a casino that killed 52 employees and patrons. Repairing the social fabric—and not simply serving the comfortable classes—should be a top priority, say church officials and observers.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Saving the World, One Broken Stick at a Time

Saving the World, One Broken Stick at a Time

Photo: NewsTaco

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By Oscar Barajas, NewsTaco

I am the last person in the world you would expect to save the world. As a kid, I would go to the backyard and light Styrofoam on fire and dance around it, like a pagan, so it was a bit of a shock when I joined the Ecology Club in high school. At first I joined it because it provided shelter inside the main building away from rainy days. However, I realized that the girls heavily outnumbered the boys, and this was the only forum where girls would actually care for what I had to say.

The club advisor was a mousy science teacher named Mr. Rowland. He would call the meetings to order and then read off the minutes from previous meetings. I sat in the back eating my lunch, observing the room. The room was filled with a lot of good people. It seemed that only the gothic students, students looking to beef up their college applications and people like me who just needed some guidance. This seemed like the best place to do it because there were so many social outcasts.

It seemed like we were always fundraising. The goal was to buy an acre of the Amazon Rain Forest, so that the loggers could never get to it. In retrospect, I did not know what that meant back then, let alone now. Even if we ended up raising the money, there was no guarantee that the loggers would respect our rights as sophomore and senior landowners. I never really knew how we would pull it off, considering that Americans are not allowed to own land in Mexico. Brazil seemed to be out of the question.

One of the things that we did was sell overglorified Gummy Worms called “Earth Worms.” My poor friend Susan Romero must have sold hundreds of bags. They did not trust me selling them because they knew I would eat my merchandise without returning the profits. They were right. After all, I cannot even think of how many bags of worms Susan fronted me. I think she is still waiting for me to pay her for them.

But it was not all about raising money for impossible causes. We were better off adopting stars and naming them after Robert Smith songs. There were a couple of Saturday morning clean-up projects at local parks.

We never made it out to the beaches. I hated those days because Saturday morning was far more sacred than even Sunday. I treated the whole ordeal like it was court ordered community service. I dragged my feet and would resort to simply holding the trash bag after claiming that the nail at the end of my stick was not sharp enough to stick through anything. My utter laziness would usually coincide with Mr. Rowland telling us to inform him in case we got stuck with a syringe.

The high school band played on as we continued to clean up and the California heat would catch up around noon. I remember hating every last member of the band. They should have been down there with us holding those useless sticks instead of playing the theme song to the 1960’s Batman television show. Picking up people’s garbage did not make me feel like a superhero – not even like the junior varsity Super Friends like Hawkman, Green Arrow or Giant Apache.

In the end, I felt like people like Susan had their heart in the right place. People like her end up leaving bigger footprints despite the effort to displace her carbon footprints. Unfortunately she had people like me eating her Earth Worms right out of her backpack and blaming it on leprechauns and Mr. Rowland.

This article was first published in NewsTaco.

NewsTaco provides you with innovative and insightful news, critique, analysis and opinion from a Latino perspective in a 24-hour world.

Read more at NewsTaco →

Labor Dept. Looking to Fund $1.5M Grant for Improving Labor RIghts in Colombia

Labor Dept. Looking to Fund $1.5M Grant for Improving Labor RIghts in Colombia

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs is seeking eligible applicants under a $1.5 million competitive grant solicitation to develop centers for workers’ rights in Colombia.

As part of the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, the two countries entered into a comprehensive action plan on labor rights that laid the groundwork for significant labor rights improvements in Colombia. Colombia committed to protect internationally recognized labor rights, prevent violence against labor leaders and prosecute perpetrators of violence.

The Labor Department’s grant(s) will fund one or more projects that build on work already begun by Colombia to increase public awareness of labor rights, and improve workers’ ability to protect and claim their rights. Funding will be awarded to one or more qualifying agencies to improve the capacity of local organizations to educate and advise workers on the scope and application of relevant labor laws and, when necessary, to provide legal services regarding the requirements under which workers are allowed to exercise their rights.

Applications must be submitted by Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. EST electronically via Grants.gov or as hard copies mailed to the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Procurement Services, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Room S-4307, Washington, DC 20210, Attention: Brenda White and James Kinslow.

All awards will be made by Dec. 31. The solicitation for grant applications (SGA 12-16) is available online at DOL.gov and Grants.gov.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Colombian Police Arrest 71 After “Day of Dignity” Protests

Colombian Police Arrest 71 After “Day of Dignity” Protests

Photo: Day of Dignity (@BogotaIndignada)

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Colombian “indignados” took to the streets of the nation’s biggest cities during their “Day of Dignity” protest against the country’s social inequality, during which 71 people were arrested in the capital for disturbing the peace.

A range of social sectors answered the call to Friday’s demonstrations in Bogota, from students participating in an apprenticeship program to judicial employees who walked off the job Thursday to demand the government comply with a 20-year-old mandate to standardize their pay.

A total of 71 demonstrators were arrested in Bogota on grounds of causing public disorder, while charges were filed against one individual for striking a police officer.

Bogota government secretary Guillermo Asprilla told reporters that eight people suffered slight injuries.

Meanwhile several downtown stores in the capital were damaged when attacked with clubs and stones, as was a bus station.

Interior Minister Fernando Carrillo, for his part, regretted that some people took advantage of legitimate marches to carry out acts of violence.

“What the government wants to repeat today and always guarantee is the right to freedom of speech, the right to march. We have the absolute conviction that social organizations should be able to exercise this right of social protest - the only thing we regret is that there have been isolated acts of violence,” Carrillo said.

Protests were not confined to the cities, however, as residents mounted demonstrations in remote rural areas of provinces such as Putumayo, bordering Ecuador, and Norte de Santander, which sits on the border with Venezuela.

The number of participants nationwide was about 300,000, David Florez, spokesman for the leftist Marcha Patriotica movement and organizer of the protest together with close to 100 non-governmental organizations, told Efe.

Florez said that the “National Indignados March” took place in 25 of the 32 Colombian provinces and had a spirit of “civilizing the widespread disagreement of the Colombia people with the unequal model of the country.”

According to local media, homemade bombs were thrown during many of the demonstrations, while paint-filled capsules were splattered against some buildings.

Florez also said that “at this critical juncture we must demand the direct participation of the popular movement in the peace talks” between the government and the FARC, planned to begin on Oct. 17 in Norway.

“The possibility of making peace must include all Colombians in a discussion of the kind of country we want. There can be no peace if this continues to be the most unequal country in the world,” he said.

Colombia is the world’s 10th most-unequal country in terms of income distribution as measured by the Gini index, a metric used by the World Bank, United Nations and other international institutions.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Shootout in Rio’s Favelas Between Drug Traffickers and Brazilian Police Leave 5 Dead

Shootout in Rio’s Favelas Between Drug Traffickers and Brazilian Police Leave 5 Dead

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At least five suspected drug traffickers died Saturday in a shootout with police who were getting ready for this Sunday’s occupation of two huge “favelas,” or shantytowns, in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro controlled by drug trafficking gangs, officials said.

The shootout took place Saturday morning in Morro do Juramento, a favela on Rio de Janeiro’s north side, where police went in answer to an anonymous tip about the arrival in the poor neighborhood of suspected drug traffickers thought to be fleeing from the favelas about to be occupied.

The case was handled directly by the state police’s elite Special Operations Battalion, or BOPE, precisely the force planning Sunday’s occupation of the Jacarezinho favela and the Manguinhos complex of poor neighborhoods.

BOPE agents arriving at Morro do Juramento around 4:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) this Saturday to check out the report were greeted with gunfire and found themselves in the midst of a shootout that ended with five dead, all identified as drug traffickers.

Police seized three handguns, one submachine gun and three grenades in the operation.

“We’ve been watching the movements of favela dwellers since Friday in line with the occupation we’re preparing,” the spokesman for BOPE, Maj. Ivan Blaz, said.

The official admitted that police had received a number of anonymous tips about drug traffickers from Jacarezinho and Manguinhos looking for refuge in neighborhoods still controlled by their allies.

These two massive favelas on Rio de Janeiro’s north side are controlled by drug gangs, and in their plazas can normally be seen drugs being sold and consumed, especially crack, a viciously harmful cocaine derivative that has become a challenge to health authorities.

The Rio de Janeiro regional government plans to install in both favelas Police Pacification Units, or UPP, as the permanent stations are known whose mission is to recover areas previously dominated by organized crime.

The installation of UPPs is one element of the successful public security policy launched by the Rio de Janeiro government in 2008 to expel drug gangs from the city’s favelas before the Olympic Games the city will host in 2016.

This policy, which has significantly reduced Rio’s violence and crime rates, has been considered a model for other countries of the region by multilateral organizations.

Up to now police have installed their stations in 28 favelas and poor neighborhood complexes, including the Complexo do Alemao, which was the main stronghold of the Vermelho Command, the biggest criminal organization in Rio de Janeiro, and Rocinha, the largest favela in all Brazil.

Unlike previous operations when police announced the date for invading crime-ridden neighborhoods and were able to occupy them with little resistance because the drug traffickers had already fled, this time BOPE decided to carry out operations beforehand in favelas where the fleeing gunmen were likely to go.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Still No News 1 Year After Spanish Aid Workers’ Kidnapping in Kenya

Still No News 1 Year After Spanish Aid Workers’ Kidnapping in Kenya

Photo: Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut (MSF)

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One year after the kidnapping of Spanish aid workers Montserrat Serra and Blanca Thiebaut in Kenya, the Spanish Foreign Minister and Doctors without Borders pursue with extreme caution the procedures to free them from captivity.

Blanca and Montserrat were kidnapped on Oct. 13 last year from the refugee camp of Ifo, in Dadaab, Kenya, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Somali border, when their vehicle was stopped with gunshots at by an armed group.

Both have been held against their will since then in Somalia, according to Doctors without Borders, which repeats its “indignation and sorrow” in a communique published on its Web site, where it again demands the immediate release of its two aid workers.

The Spanish secretary of state for foreign affairs, Gonzalo de Benito, told Efe this week that every effort is being made to set the captives free, but insisted on the need to maintain the caution of the past year.

The same caution was requested once more by the families of Blanca Thiebaut and Montserrat Serra through Doctors without Borders of the media and of local, national and international organizations.

The families expressed their worry and sorrow at the kidnapping and said they would do everything possible to achieve the victims’ release, while at the same time were grateful for the discretion with which the case has been handled over the past year.

Little has been reported in the news about the two aid workers and no organization has publicly investigated the case, though the prime suspects seem to be the radical Islamist group Al Shabab, which operates in the area and has ties to the terrorist organization Al Qaeda.

Last Feb. 15, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said in Algeria that the government of Spain had received “a proof of life” from the aid workers.

In the past 16 years, more than 50 Spanish aid workers have been kidnapped while taking part in humanitarian work, including the two workers of Doctors without Borders.

Three members of that same organization were abducted previously, one in Colombia in 1998 and two in Somalia’s Puntland region in 2007 and 2008.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexican Cartel Boss Arrested In Connection With Massacre

Mexican Cartel Boss Arrested In Connection With Massacre

Photo: Mauricio Ramirez Tamez

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Army troops arrested the man who reputedly runs the Gulf drug cartel’s operation in the central city of San Luis Potosi, Mexico’s defense department said Friday.

Mauricio Ramirez Tamez, who was detained Wednesday along with two associates in the northern border city of Reynosa, is linked to the murders of 14 people found dead two months ago on the outskirts of San Luis Potosi, the department said in a statement.

Ramirez Tamez was originally part of Los Zetas, a group formed by special forces veterans and deserters that functioned for years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel.

But the two criminal organizations split in 2010 and Ramirez Tamez and his immediate Zetas superior, Ivan Velazquez Caballero, decided to join the Gulf outfit, the defense department said.

The Gulf leadership sent Ramirez Tamez and Velazquez Caballero to San Luis Potosi to mount an offensive aimed at reclaiming the states of San Luis Potosi and neighboring Zacatecas from the Zetas, according to the statement.

Ramirez Tamez is thought to have ordered the murder of 14 Gulf cartel employees he suspected of actually working for Zetas No. 2 Miguel Angel Treviño Morales

The bodies of the 14 men were discovered Aug. 9 inside a stolen van abandoned on the San Luis Potosi-Zacatecas highway.

Conflict among rival drug cartels and between the criminals and the security forces has claimed more than 60,000 lives in Mexico over the last six years.

Read more by HS News Staff →

President Calderon Inaugurates Mexico’s First Solar Power Plant

President Calderon Inaugurates Mexico’s First Solar Power Plant

Photo: President Felipe Calderon at the plant inauguration (Ariel Gutierrez)

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon inaugurated a large-scale solar power plant that he touted as the region’s first, a pilot facility in the northwestern state of Baja California that features 4,000 photovoltaic panels and 1 MW in generating capacity.

The plant is “the first in Mexico, the first in all of Latin America,” the president said, adding that it will serve as an experimental model for state-owned electric utility Comision Federal de Electricidad in its drive to develop renewable energy.

He noted that at present 26 percent of the electricity produced in Mexico comes from renewable sources, “from water, wind or sun,” in which no oil, natural gas or diesel is consumed.

The 2010-2024 National Development Plan set a goal of increasing clean energy’s share of total electricity production in Mexico to 35 percent.

Calderon also stressed the need to further develop a model that is currently in place in other parts of the country and which involves mounting solar panels on houses to supply needed electricity and connecting them to the national energy grid.

The plant inaugurated Friday was built in the town of Santa Rosalia, in the center of the Baja California peninsula, by the Microm firm, a Grupo Condumex unit that specializes in renewable energy.

Condumex is owned by Mexican magnate Carlos Slim, the world’s wealthiest person with a net worth of $68 billion.

The plant generates electricity using photovoltaic panels, while a solar-tracking technology orients the panels so they are perpendicular to the sun’s rays from dawn to dusk.

A U.S. firm, SolFocus Inc., announced in March the launch of a “landmark solar power plant” near the border town of Tecate in Baja California state, located north of Baja California Sur.

It said in a press release that construction of the planned 450 MW plant, to be built in partnership with Mexican land and real estate developer Grupo Musa and U.S.-based energy developer Synergy Technologies, would start in late 2012 and that the plant would be operational before the end of 2013.

Northern Mexico possesses the “third greatest solar resource in the world, making it an ideal location for this project,” the press release, dated March 29, said.

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SundayOctober 14, 2012