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FridayOctober 19, 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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Mexican Indians Being Used by Cartels to Smuggle Drugs Across the Border

Mexican Indians Being Used by Cartels to Smuggle Drugs Across the Border

Photo: Raramuri Indians

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The Raramuri Indians of Chihuahua state, renowned for their ability to cover long distances on foot, are being used by Mexican drug traffickers to smuggle narcotics into the United States.

Attorneys, social workers and members of the Raramuri community interviewed by Efe said recruiting the indigenous youth was the brainchild of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, Mexico’s most-wanted fugitive.

Ken del Valle, a defense lawyer in El Paso, Texas, said that over the past four years he has counseled “dozens” of Raramuris, also known as Tarahumaras, who were arrested for trying to smuggle drugs across the border from Ciudad Juarez.

The Raramuris inhabit communities in the Sierra Tarahumara region of Chihuahua, an impoverished area of Mexico where severe droughts in recent decades have brought hunger and despair.

“When young people go to cities or towns to look for work they recruit them there. They (the drug traffickers) ride around in an SUV” looking to find people willing to carry a marijuana-filled backpack across the border, Del Valle said, relating what he has heard from his clients.

“Then they take them with a guide. They take them close to where the drugs are and leave them at the border, each one with about 10 kilos (22 pounds),” the attorney said.

The guide, he added, carries a cellphone and is the one who has all the contact numbers for delivering the drugs in the United States. “They walk at night and rest during the day,” Del Valle said.

But most Tarahumaras are ignorant of a key aspect of the law: “If they catch a group and each one has 10 or 20 kilos of marijuana, it’s a conspiracy for the total (amount), that is for 100 or 200 kilos and all are responsible for the 100 or 200 kilos,” the attorney said.

Randall Gingrich, a U.S. social worker who has lived for more than 20 years in the Sierra Tarahumara, said drug-trafficking gangs are “ubiquitous” in the region.

“The situation has deteriorated greatly over the past 20 years. I’ve seen the change in the way the drug gangs behave toward the Tarahumaras,” he said by phone.

“They offer them large amounts of money that they’re never going to obtain (by other means), but the problem is that the risk is high and sometimes they don’t even pay them,” Gingrich said.

Stories that have spread by word of mouth in the Sierra Tarahumara have aroused suspicion and apprehension among some members of the Raramuri community.

For 17-year-old Bernardino, who refused to give his surname, fear carries more weight than the lure of easy money and the desire to alleviate grinding poverty.

“I haven’t smuggled because if you make a mistake they kill you,” he said outside a church in Colonia Tarahumara, a poor district founded 16 years ago on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez, a hard-scrabble city wracked in recent years by drug-related violence.

Bernardino, who arrived at the border a few weeks ago looking for construction work, and teenagers like him are regarded by drug cartels as fresh meat.

Some 150 Raramuri families eke out a living in Colonia Tarahumara, where most men work in construction while the women - typically dressed in multi-colored skirts and shawls - make handicrafts and beg for money.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Entrepreneurs Introduce Moto-Taxis to Madrid

Entrepreneurs Introduce Moto-Taxis to Madrid

Photo: MotoTaxi Low Cost company

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Madrid has joined other European and Latin American cities in offering a transport system with motorcycles, conceived as a way of relieving traffic jams.

“One day when we were stuck in traffic the idea occurred to my partner who is a motorcyclist,” Eric Goyenechea, a Cuban living in Madrid and one of the heads of the MotoTaxi Low Cost company, told Efe.

With that idea in mind, he and his Argentine partner Juan Pablo Lazaro traveled to such cities as London, Amsterdam and Paris, where these vehicles were already in use, to study their operations.

“We have motorcycle speed but with built-in comfort. Our motorcycles have a roof and a trunk for hand luggage,” Goyenechea said of the new service that started up this week in the Spanish capital.

Among the impediments, he recalled that they had to go through considerable red tape to patent their business. “Since it’s something new here, there are no regulations, so it took us more than a year to open the business, but now we have everything in order,” he said.

In times of economic crisis, offering “low cost” transport is a big moto-taxi attraction. “We charge 1.50 euros ($1.95) to start and 0.70 euros per kilometer ($1.46 per mile),” while a normal taxi costs between 2.15 euros ($2.80) and 3.10 euros ($4.00) to start, according to the time of day or the day of the week.

“Executives, business owners and even some students in a hurry have already tried the service. They’re people who have to get somewhere as quick as they can,” he said.

Users can contact the company by telephone or just grab one of the moto-taxis found on the busiest streets of the capital.

“We have mototaxis where we know there will be customers that need us, though we’re still waiting for the municipality to authorize official moto-taxi stands,” Goyenechea said.

The company, which has eight moto-taxis and 17 workers, has only been in business for a few days, but its owners say they’re very pleased with the “good reception.”

Their joy is not shared by Madrid’s cabbies, however, who fear they will lose clients and have taken steps against their new rival.

“We’ve presented a complaint to the municipality of Madrid because that company is downgrading the business,” Mariano Sanchez, president of the Taxi Federation, told Efe.

He said that “they have added features like the taximeter and the luminous sign that says ‘taxi’ which is only regulated for us, so the municipality has to do something about it.”

Nonetheless, Madrid Deputy Mayor Miguel Angel Villanueva said Thursday that national legislation “exempts vehicles of three wheels or less from needing authorization to be able to work. And we can’t logically create a city statute contrary to the national one. There is no legal possibility to halt or regulate this activity,” he said.

Eric Goyenechea preferred to sidestep the issue.

“We’re not doing anything illegal, we have all the permits. There doesn’t have to be a confrontation. They are taxis and we are moto-taxis,” he said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Maryland May be First to Pass a State DREAM Act

Maryland May be First to Pass a State DREAM Act

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Maryland could become the first state in America to pass its own version of the DREAM Act by referendum.

The proposal will appear as Question 4 on the ballot in the Nov. 6 elections.

A new Washington Post poll shows 59 percent of likely voters support the idea, while 35 percent are opposed.

Should it be approved, young undocumented residents in Maryland - the so-called DREAMers - would be allowed to pay in-state tuition at public universities and community colleges.

In the current situation, an undocumented youth living in Maryland must pay around $25,554 a year, while someone legally in Maryland pays $7,175.

The state legislature passed a law to lower tuition rates for undocumented students and Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley signed it into law in May, but that was quickly opposed by some Republicans, who hastened to collect signatures to force a referendum on the measure.

Though other states including California, New York, Colorado, Utah, Texas, Illinois and New Mexico have also introduced bills or already have laws favoring an equivalent cost of tuition, Maryland will be the first to submit the matter to a popular vote.

To qualify for in-state tuition under the Maryland DREAM Act, it will be sufficient for undocumented youths to prove that they have studied at a school in the state during the last three years and that their parents pay taxes.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico Offers Higher Tomato Prices in Hopes Of Retaining Export Agreement

Mexico Offers Higher Tomato Prices in Hopes Of Retaining Export Agreement

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Mexico’s government and farmers have offered to accept higher prices for tomatoes exported to the United States in a bid to avert the scrapping of a 16-year-old agreement, a senior Mexican official said.

Deputy Foreign Trade Secretary Francisco de Rosenzweig said the offer was extended during bilateral meetings to resolve the dispute, which has been dubbed the “tomato war.”

The Mexican government began talks with U.S. authorities after Florida growers in June requested the cancellation of the 1996 accord regulating tariff-free exports of Mexican tomatoes to the United States.

The existing bilateral pact is known as a “suspension agreement” because the U.S. Commerce Department in 1996 halted an anti-dumping investigation against Mexican growers and agreed to a deal setting a minimum price for imports of Mexican tomatoes.

The accord has been renegotiated on two occasions. The most recent extension, signed in 2008, expires this year.

Rosenzweig said Mexico’s offer was discussed in the first two weeks of October with U.S. Commerce Department officials, noting that it calls for the agreement to be extended to all Mexican tomato growers, 15 percent of whom are not covered by the current deal.

He said it also calls for enforcement mechanisms to be strengthened and for the floor price for Mexican tomatoes entering the United States to be raised by between 18 percent and 25 percent, depending on the product.

“This offer is unprecedented in the 16 years the agreement has been in force,” Rosenzweig said.

He added that Mexican officials are expecting a quick response from their U.S. counterparts so a deal can be struck to renegotiate the accord.

In late September, the Commerce Department announced a preliminary position in favor of terminating the deal.

That announcement, which came on the eve of a scheduled meeting with Mexican tomato producers to review the pact, prompted Mexican officials to warn that such a move could trigger a trade war.

Mexican media, meanwhile, quoted Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari as saying it was “obvious” that this summer’s request by the growers in Florida, a key swing state, was aimed at putting pressure on the Obama administration ahead of the November election.

In a statement last month, Florida Tomato Exchange director Reggie Brown slammed the agreement as “outdated and failed” and said the Commerce Department’s preliminary position was “welcome news to domestic growers” struggling to compete with cheap exports from Mexico.

In addition to Mexico, U.S. agricultural and business groups have also expressed opposition to ending the pact, with the Fresh Produce Association of America saying that U.S. producers could request the imposition of anti-dumping duties on Mexican tomatoes if the agreement were to be scrapped, potentially triggering a costly trade war.

The United States imported $8.5 billion worth of farm products from Mexico last year, more than from any other nation. Tomatoes accounted for nearly a quarter of the total.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Venezuela Considers Offering Direct Flights to “Allies” Russia, China

Venezuela Considers Offering Direct Flights to “Allies” Russia, China

Photo: Conviasa

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Venezuela is considering investments of up to $300 million for the purchase of long-range aircraft to begin intercontinental flights to “allied” countries like China and Russia, the aquatic and air transport minister told Efe.

Elsa Gutierrez said that after boosting national and regional connections with the purchase of six Brazilian Embraer aircraft at a cost of $270 million, state airline Conviasa is now working on buying aircraft “to serve different international destinations with direct flights.”

“When we say Russia and China, we’re not talking just about Russia and China and nothing else - we want to be able to offer Venezuelans and businessmen access and connection facilities in a competitive but not an unregulated way,” she said in stressing the importance of connecting Caracas with the capitals of those two countries.

For his part, the president of Conviasa, Cesar Martinez, told Efe that the investment being considered by the company for the new purchase “is approximately $300 million.”

The acquisition of “between two and four long-range aircraft” will be considered on the basis of price, he said.

Martinez said that being evaluated at the moment is the purchase of the AirBus A330 and A340 models and “aircraft of the (U.S.) Boeing company,” always with the requirement of having complete access to spare parts, something the U.S. has made difficult in recent years.

Conviasa is considering making use of routes “related to trade with Venezuela’s allies” like Russia and China, Martinez said.

He said, for example, that Venezuela will carry out the large-scale export of orchids to Russia and maintain steady trade with China.

Flights to New York, Miami and Montreal plus “more routes to Europe” are also contemplated in the new plan.

The president of Conviasa said that studies of the new routes will be under evaluation by the end of next year, once the company has the new aircraft in its possession.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: New Mexico Man Shoots Niece With Shotgun

LATINO BLOTTER: New Mexico Man Shoots Niece With Shotgun

Photo: New Mexico man, Marvin Martinez, shot and killed his niece

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A New Mexico man has been charged with shooting and killing his niece despite his mother’s attempts to wrestle the gun away from him.

Marvin Martinez, 55, was arrested in Albuquerque and charged with murder for killing his 20-year-old niece, Ashley Raulerson.

Martinez’s mother told police she witnessed the incident, saying Martinez walked into a bedroom, pulled out a shotgun and shot Raulerson twice while she was on the couch. The mother could not give police a reason for him shooting his niece, but said she wrestled the gun away from her son before he took off and drove to another family member’s home.

According to KOAT 7, the family member is a female officer with the Albuquerque Police Department.

As family called police, Martinez took off again.

Realizing police had blocked off the area, Martinez came to a screeching halt, judging by the black marks on the road left by his tires, and took off on foot.

After failed attempts to hide between cars, Martinez is said to have surrendered peacefully.

No motive has been given, but police say Raulerson’s mother was called earlier that day and was told Martinez was “acting crazy.”

He was also described as a veteran taking a number of prescription drugs.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Catholic Latinos Siding with Obama, Evangelicals Divided

Catholic Latinos Siding with Obama, Evangelicals Divided

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The Latino vote varies according to religion: while Catholics and people without religious affiliation overwhelmingly support President Barack Obama, Hispanic evangelicals are divided, according to a report released Thursday by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

That division exists also on support for same-sex marriage, with 52 percent of Hispanics in general in favor and 66 percent of Latino evangelicals opposed.

Support for the incumbent Democratic president is overwhelming among Hispanics without any religious affiliation, who back Obama over rival Republican Mitt Romney by 82 percent to 7 percent.

Among Latino Catholics, 73 percent say they support the Democratic candidate and 19 percent the Republican.

Out of every 10 evangelical Protestants surveyed by Pew, five support Obama and four favor Romney.

This division is explained by the “double reality” in which evangelicals live, University of Michigan Professor Daniel Ramirez told Efe on Thursday.

At church they are exposed to the “rightist discourse,” but they do not live isolated from the Hispanic community, immigration problems and “the xenophobia against Latinos over the past 15 years.”

“They live in another reality from evangelical whites and that impedes evangelical Latinos from supporting 100 percent the program of the ... religious right,” Ramirez added.

Support among Latinos for same-sex unions grew from 31 percent in 2006 to 52 percent now, an unusual jump, according to Ramirez, that goes beyond “generational change” in the United States.

The favorable opinion of gay marriage can be explained by the “broader” concept of family Hispanics have compared with the “more nuclear” vision of Anglos, he suggests.

“It’s true that there’s machismo in Hispanic cultures and it’s strengthened by their religions, but the concept of the family is broader, which creates more tolerance for the members of the family who are different. They think about them when they vote and are aware that they’re not going to vote for an option that harms their direct relatives,” the professor explained.

The survey was performed among 1,765 people and has an error margin of around plus/minus 4 percent.

Of the total number of Latino registered voters, calculations are that 57 percent are Catholic, 16 percent are evangelical Protestants and 15 percent have no religious affiliation.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Christina Aguilera Talks With Chelsea Handler About Not Wearing Underwear (VIDEO)

Christina Aguilera Talks With Chelsea Handler About Not Wearing Underwear (VIDEO)

Photo: Christina Aguilera Talks With Chelsea Handler About Not Wearing Underwear

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On Thursday, Christina Aguilera made an appearance on Chelsea Lately to set the record straight on whether or not she wears underwear.

Aguilera agreed to appear on the show, on which host Chelsea Handler has mentioned Aguilera’s risque and sometimes plain outrageous outfits, but only if Handler would don one of the singer’s fishnet-no-pants outfits.

Check out the video below to see The Voice judge explain her lack of undergarments.

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Community Again Outraged by Immigration Agents Targeting Families Outside Detroit Schools

Community Again Outraged by Immigration Agents Targeting Families Outside Detroit Schools

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As a community member I am outraged, and as a mother, I am heartbroken.

Those were the words of State Representative Rashida Tlaib after parents called for her to do something about U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents targeting parents outside Detroit schools in Michigan.

Earlier this week, two immigrant families were approached by agents as they dropped off their children at Cesar Chavez Academy in Southwest Detroit. A family outside the Manuel Reyes Vistas Nuevas Head Start Center was similarly stopped.

Outside Chavez Academy, Hector Orozco was arrested as he dropped his son off and remains in ICE custody. Outside the Head Start Center, a family was told they were going to be detained once they stepped back outside after dropping students off. According to America’s Voice, once inside the elementary school, the frightened family remained their until advocates arrived and intervened.

On Tuesday, community leaders like Rep. Tlaib rallied outside the Head Start Center to stand up for the families being hassled by ICE agents.

“ICE has once again violated their policies, and stopped parents dropping their kids off for school,” Rep. Tlaib said. “The leadership of Detroit ICE is either unwilling or unable to control their agents, so that’s why we’re calling for the immediate resignation of Detroit ICE Enforcement Director Rebecca Adducci.  We need immediate accountability for this out-of-control department.”

Michigan activists have reportedly met with John Morton, Director of ICE, who said he would review the cases and respond at a later date.

Read more by HS News Staff →

LATINO BLOTTER: Fla. Woman, 30, Dating and Pregnant By 17-Year-Old Boyfriend

LATINO BLOTTER: Fla. Woman, 30, Dating and Pregnant By 17-Year-Old Boyfriend

Photo: Melissa Dilan-Hernandez, 30, Dating and Pregnant By 17-Year-Old Boyfriend

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A 30-year-old Florida woman has been arrested, accused of having sex with a 17-year-old.

Now pregnant, Melissa Dilan-Hernandez has been sleeping and living with her teenaged boyfriend and says she plans to marry him. She has three children from previous relationships and is said to be about 4 months into this pregnancy. The two began dating when he was 16.

In online bios, Dilan-Hernandez describes herself as a “a simple woman with many dreams, just like any other woman!” Born in Puerto Rico, Dilan-Hernandez holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and is the “former Vice President of Kendra Wilkinson’s Official Fan Club.” (Wilkinson, now Kendra Baskett, became famous for being the former girlfriend of Playboy’s Hugh Hefner, and starring on the reality shows Girls Next Door and its spin-off Kendra.)

According to the Port Richey Police Department, Dilan-Hernandez was arrested on Tuesday and charged with unlawful sexual activity with certain minors and was released from Land O’ Lakes jail on $10,000 bond.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Flavor Flav Arrested for Assaulting Girlfriend and Her Teenage Son

Flavor Flav Arrested for Assaulting Girlfriend and Her Teenage Son

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Rap group Public Enemy’s former hypeman, Flavor Flav, has been arrested for an incident involving his fiancée and her teenage son.

Flav, 53, whose real name is William Jonathan Drayton, Jr., was arrested by Las Vegas police on Wednesday for assaulting his fiancée Elizabeth Trujillo, 39, and her 17-year-old son.

At around 3:30 a.m., the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department received a call from Trujillo saying she was being assaulted by Drayton and that he was also threatening her son. When officers arrived at the resident they could hear arguing between a man and woman.

Trujillo told officers that the argument began over Drayton’s alleged infidelity. After Trujillo says Drayton threw her to the floor twice, her son tried to protect her and began wrestling with Drayton in the living room. At some point during the altercation, Trujillo’s earring was ripped out

The fight then escalated when Drayton is said to have grabbed two knives from the kitchen. He then began chasing the teen who ran upstairs and locked himself in his sister’s room.

Enraged, Drayton allegedly kicked in the door and threatened the teen again. Though he admits to arguing and wrestling with the teen and Trujillo, Drayton says he did not chase the boy with knives. The knives were found on the kitchen floor.

Drayton was arrested and has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and misdemeanor domestic violence.

According to TMZ, Drayton, who was being held on $23,000 bond, posted bail at around 11:30 a.m.

In recent years, Drayton has kept himself in the public eye with reality shows like The Surreal Life, Flavor of Love, and Strange Love.

Read more by HS News Staff →

North Carolina Immigrant Advocates Urge for Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented

North Carolina Immigrant Advocates Urge for Driver’s Licenses for Undocumented

Photo: North Carolina Undocumented Drivers Licenses

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A group in North Carolina is asking in an open letter to lawmakers for the state to once again issue driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

Maudia Melendez, executive director of the Charlotte-based Jesus Ministry, says her group has been working for a year on a project that has the support of more than 6,000 citizens.

“We can’t let this issue die,” Melendez told Efe on Thursday. “A change in the law is necessary for public safety, prevention of crimes and economic progress.”

Under her proposal, immigrants pay a $50 fee for a license that has to be renewed every two years. They would be subject to a criminal background check and would have to prove they are North Carolina residents.

“We’ve talked with several legislators and gone around the counties seeking support and people have responded positively. Undocumented people see themselves forced to drive without a license because they have to support their families,” she said.

Between Jan. 1, 2002, and Aug. 28, 2006, the state Department of Motor Vehicles issued 220,982 driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants who could supply a taxpayer identification number.

However, the measure motivated immigrants from other parts of the country to come to North Carolina to get a driver’s license, which spurred lawmakers to approve a law in 2006 preventing undocumented people from obtaining state-issued identification and driver’s licenses.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that around 325,000 of the state’s more than 800,000 Latino residents are undocumented.

“People are desperate to have some driving permit and fall into the traps of opportunistic people when they promise some kind of documents. If (the government) gave licenses, it would reduce fraud,” said Melendez.

The North Carolina DMV has undertaken several investigations involving the production of false licenses and obtaining documents in a fraudulent manner that have led to several arrests.

DMV spokesperson Margaret Howell told Efe that the most recent case occurred in the Charlotte area, where the department began to send hundreds of letters to Hispanics to notify them to return their vehicle title and registration documents.

Three Hispanics were arrested in August and charged with obtaining at least 600 documents from the DMV using the names of fake businesses and non-existent people.

One of those affected, Danny Galindo, told the newspaper Hola Noticias in Charlotte that he does not understand why the DMV sent him the letter, since he got the title for his car in the name of the painting company he formed legally.

His wife, Jessica Cerecedo, said that “he drives by the grace of God” because he needs to take the children here and there, go shopping and go to work.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Trade with Latin America a Priority for Obama If Reelected

Trade with Latin America a Priority for Obama If Reelected

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President Barack Obama will continue to push for strengthening trade and public security in Latin America if he is reelected on Nov. 6, the top U.S. envoy to the region said Thursday.

“On the question of the president and what comes next in a second term, let me say that I think there are a number of things the president himself has said he considers sort of unfinished, that he’d like to move ahead with,” Roberta Jacobson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, told reporters.

“And one of those that is not, by definition in some respects, a foreign policy issue, but most certainly does affect our relationships with the hemisphere ... is comprehensive immigration reform,” she said.

Immigration reform, a 2008 campaign promise Obama has been unable to fulfill in his first term, “is a critical thing that the president would like to get done, and its impact on our relationships in the hemisphere would be extremely positive and extremely important,” Jacobson said.

The assistant secretary said that the president also plans to continue pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership “and the movement of an exciting and new trade agenda with countries in the hemisphere.”

She emphasized that the United States, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Canada make up a “a very robust Western Hemisphere presence already in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which we view, really, as the next generation trade agreement and trade engagement.”

The TPP is also comprised of Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.

Jacobson also said that security is another area in which Obama will focus his efforts in a possible second term, always adhering to the concept of “shared responsibility” because, in his judgment, although progress has been made much remains to be done in the region.

“(T)here is so much more that needs to be done in Central America,” she said. “And the level of violence overall, other crimes, et cetera, is still unacceptably high, and we’ve got a real challenge to continue working - working smarter, working better, trying to bring to fruition some of those programs.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

As Health Rumors Linger Fidel Castro Sends Graduates Congratulatory Message

As Health Rumors Linger Fidel Castro Sends Graduates Congratulatory Message

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Fidel Castro’s signature appeared once again in the Cuban press on Thursday when he published a congratulatory message directed to an academic institution.

“Fidel’s Message” to graduates of Havana’s Victoria de Giron Institute of Basic and Preclinical Sciences appeared on the cover of the official dailies Granma and Juventud Rebelde and comes after days of rumors concerning a decline in the former president’s health.

Castro’s missive was also the lead story on Wednesday night’s newscast on state-run television and appears on the government Web site Cubadebate.

It has been almost four months since the 86-year-old leader of the Cuban Revolution last published one of his “Reflections,” the articles he began writing during his convalescence from the serious illness that forced him to hand over power to younger brother Raul Castro in 2006.

In addition, the most recent images of Fidel Castro were released back in late March, when he met with the visiting Pope Benedict XVI.

These circumstances and the fact that there was no known congratulatory message sent by Fidel Castro to his ally Hugo Chavez after the latter won the recent Venezuelan presidential election have fueled speculation in recent days about the Cuban’s health.

In the message published on Thursday, Fidel recalls the opening of the institute on Oct. 17, 1962, after there had been an exodus from Cuba to the United States of the majority of the island’s 6,000 physicians.

The inauguration of the institute coincided with the “hazardous” days of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the center had to serve as an “anti-aircraft fire unit,” said Castro in his message.

Underneath the message appears, as he has habitually done with his “Reflections,” Fidel Castro’s signature, his complete name and the date and time, in this case “October 17, 2012; 1:20 p.m.”

Last Friday, pro-government blogger Yohandry Fontana published remarks by one of Fidel’s sons, Alex Castro, in which he said that his father “is well” and maintains a daily routine of reading and physical exercise.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico’s Olga Segura is Heading for Hollywood

Mexico’s Olga Segura is Heading for Hollywood

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Mexican actress and producer Olga Segura has just filmed “The Garden of Steven,” a short set in Guatemala, and “Border Run,” in which she acts at the side of Sharon Stone.

And in addition, she displays her talent as producer of the comedy “Paranormal Movie,” starring and directed by Kevin Farley.

Segura says that producing movies is one of the great passions of her life.

In contrast to acting, which takes her on an introspective and most solitary journey through her interior world, when she produces she has to involve herself in all aspects of the film process.

“Producing is like entering a different world. I love to read a script and study it to determine if it’s a commercial project or a more artistic one, and depending on that, who the best person is to direct it, act in it, edit it. I love looking for locations. ... Everything!” said Segura in an interview with Efe.

Segura, who has only been in Hollywood for two years and is already seeing the fruits of her dedication to film, believes that Latinos are getting more and more opportunities to tell stories in movies every day.

“We Latinos are not the exception in Hollywood, thanks to talents like Demian Bichir, Sofia Vergara, Salma Hayek and many others who were (working hard) when it wasn’t easy to get in. They opened the doors for those of us who came later. Thanks to them, I’m here. I think we’re going down a very good road,” the artist said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Ecuador Sentences People Smuggler With Ties to Mexican Massacre

Ecuador Sentences People Smuggler With Ties to Mexican Massacre

Photo: Jose Arcesio Vasquez Marin

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A people smuggler convicted of organizing the trip to Mexico by Fredy Lala Pomavilla, a survivor of the 2010 massacre of 72 migrants at a ranch near the U.S. border, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in Ecuador, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Jose Arcesio Vasquez Marin, who still has another court case pending for the same crime, also must pay an $8,790 fine and another still-undetermined sum for damages.

The court in the central Ecuadorian province of Cañar sentenced Vasquez Marin to 12 years for people smuggling with the aggravated circumstance of “physical and psychological injury caused” to the Ecuadorian migrant.

Lala Pomavilla, his wife, his father, a Judicial Police officer and a doctor all testified in court against Vasquez even though the Interior Ministry said some of the witnesses had received death threats from the defendant.

The massacre occurred at a ranch in the northern Mexican municipality of San Fernando in August 2010, when a large group of migrants were abducted from buses and shot execution-style.

Lala Pomavilla was badly wounded but managed to escape and alert the Mexican authorities, who subsequently found the bodies of migrants from Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The survivor said members of the Los Zetas drug cartel, considered Mexico’s most violent criminal organization, killed the migrants after they refused to work for the gang.

He and his family have been placed in a witness-protection program.

In the Oct. 9 trial, Dr. Miguel Mendez testified that Lala Pomavilla was shot in the neck and right cheekbone and suffered permanent psychological damage.

Prosecutors submitted as evidence a list of calls made from Vasquez Marin’s cellphone, bank deposits and records of the migratory trail of Lala Pomavilla and his father.

Vasquez Marin had been a fugitive from March 2011, when charges were filed against him, until Aug. 1 of this year, when he was arrested in the southwestern Ecuadorian province of El Oro.

He is being held at a maximum-security facility in Guayaquil.

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FridayOctober 19, 2012