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SaturdayDecember 22, 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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CO2 Emissions From Amazon Deforestation Drop 16 Percent this Year

CO2 Emissions From Amazon Deforestation Drop 16 Percent this Year

Photo: Deforestation in Brazil

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Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere as a result of Amazon deforestation dropped to 352 million tons this year, or 16 percent less than in 2011, Brazil’s state-run National Space Research Institute, or INPE, said.

In a communique Friday, the organization said that the calculation of emissions data was based on an analysis by the Legal Deforestation of the Amazon Observation Project, or Prodes, which estimates the area of jungle cleared between August 2011 and July this year as 4,665 sq. kilometers (1,800 sq. miles).

The deforested area is three times greater than Sao Paulo, the largest urban area in Brazil.

Current emission values similarly reveal a 64-percent reduction from those in 2004, when almost 28,000 sq. kilometers (10,800 sq. miles) of the Amazon region were deforested.

According to INPE, half the expanse of forest is composed of carbon, which enters the atmosphere in the form of CO2 when timber is burned, trees are cut down and nature is altered in other ways.

The speed with which CO2 is transferred to the atmosphere is related to the volume of logging and abusive farming practices, among other factors.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Activist Group Helps Save North Carolina Immigrant from Deportation

Activist Group Helps Save North Carolina Immigrant from Deportation

Photo: Maria Juana Perez Santiago (NC Dream Team)

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U.S. immigration authorities have suspended the deportation of a Mexican woman who entered the country illegally 12 years ago and is the mother of three U.S. citizen children, a move taken after activists launched a campaign and sought the help of Sen. Kay Hagan.

Maria Juana Perez Santiago, a resident of North Carolina who had been set to be deported on Dec. 27, will be allowed to remain in the country another year while her case is reopened and efforts are pursued to have her deportation case permanently closed, Viridiana Martinez, founder of the NC Dream Team organization, told Efe Friday.

Martinez confirmed that a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in Atlanta authorized the relief from deportation and said the woman must appear at the ICE office in Charlotte next week.

Perez Santiago, 32, first crossed the border in 2000 in search of a better life for her family and was detained and deported back to her home country.

She managed to return to the United States that same year and settle in North Carolina, where she lived undetected until her arrest on Dec. 22, 2010, for driving without a license.

“We’re very happy because the campaign of phone calls and petitions to prevent the family’s separation worked, and now they really are going to enjoy a Merry Christmas,” Martinez said.

Perez Santiago and two of her children, 9-year-old Nayeli and 7-year-old Blanca, both of whom have health problems, spent more than five hours Thursday at one of Sen. Hagan’s offices in Greensboro along with a group of young activists in a bid to enlist her support.

Two NC Dream Team members, Elisa Benitez and Cinthia Marroquin, were arrested by Greensboro police officers for refusing to leave the office while awaiting a response from the Democratic lawmaker, although they were released hours later.

“Hagan didn’t help at all and it was just her office staff that placed a call to ask about the mother’s case. That’s normal. What we were looking for was personal assistance from the senator, which we didn’t get,” Martinez said.

In a statement released in response to the request for assistance, Hagan’s office said its policy is not to “comment on any individual constituent case,” adding that “in general, Sen. Hagan supports prioritizing the use of the federal government’s limited resources on those individuals who pose a risk to national security or public safety.”

The NC Dream Team’s efforts have succeeded in blocking the deportation of three undocumented immigrants in North Carolina this month alone.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Shakira and Pique’s Son To Be Made FC Barcelona Member at Birth

Shakira and Pique’s Son To Be Made FC Barcelona Member at Birth

Photo: Shakira and Gerard Pique

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Following in the footsteps of his father, the son that Spanish soccer player Gerard Pique and Colombian singer Shakira expect this January will be an FC Barcelona soccer club member from the minute he is born.

The Barcelona defender confirmed this in a statement on UEFA.com recalling that his parents made him a Barcelona member as soon as he was born and that he will do the same for his firstborn.

Pique was born in February 1987 and soon afterwards got his first membership card from the Catalan club - and recently received the insignia that FC Barcelona gives everyone who celebrates his silver anniversary - 25 years - as a member of the blue-and-red.

The soccer star said it was the idea of his maternal grandfather, Amador Bernabeu, and since then both he and his parents made Pique aware “of what it means to be a fan, to be a Barcelona supporter and I’m very proud of that,” he added.

In the brief interview, he also spoke about his personal life and the change brought about by his relationship with the Colombian singer.

“I believe love changes you. It’s a very important part of your life and when you have it, you see things differently. When you’re alone, you concentrate a lot on soccer and your pals,” he said.

“Now it’s all about your companion and besides there’s also a baby on the way, so I mean things change and you have to adapt. But I think that everything that’s happening to me is beautiful,” he said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Customs Officers Discover 2 Lbs of Cocaine in Stew at Dulles Airport

While inspecting a Guatemalan man’s luggage Saturday Customs and Border Protection officers discovered cocaine concealed inside the double walls of two jars filled with stew.

The man, who requested entry as a courier on business, arrived on a flight from El Salvador and was referred for a secondary examination to have his packages inspected. These inspections ensure that the contents comply with all customs, agriculture and other laws.

Among other things in the courier’s packages, CBP officers discovered two jars filled with stew that felt too heavy relative to their size and contents. The jars were emptied and inspected revealing a plastic bag filled with a white, powdery substance that field-tested positive for cocaine secreted between the inner shell of each jar and its stainless steel lining. The combined weight of two plastic bags of cocaine was a little over 1 kilogram, or 2 pounds, 4 ounces.

After extensive interviews the man was not criminally charged. CBP officers processed him for removal however; during the processing he expressed fear of returning to Guatemala. The man was detained and scheduled for an interview with an asylum officer. If his claim is not found credible he will be removed from the U.S. and barred from returning for a minimum of five years.

During fiscal year 2011, which spans Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012, CBP officers at Washington Dulles International Airport intercepted a little more than 50 pounds of cocaine in seven seizures.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spanish PM Says Economy Will Grow in 2014

Spanish PM Says Economy Will Grow in 2014

Photo: Mariano Rajoy

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Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said here Saturday during an unannounced trip to Afghanistan that Spain’s economy will improve next year and start growing again in 2014.

Rajoy made the comments at the Qala i Naw base in western Afghanistan, the last stop on his pre-Christmas visit with Spanish troops deployed to the Asian country.

He said Spain is undergoing a “difficult moment” but that the situation will improve “if we all work together with determination and live up to our obligations.”

The prime minister, who said the soldiers were a role model of that commitment, ended the ceremony with a toast to Spanish King Juan Carlos, the armed forces and the nation.

Rajoy was joined by Defense Minister Pedro Morenes on his first visit to the troops in Afghanistan since taking office a year ago.

The Spanish economy remains hampered by the fallout from the collapse of a long-building housing bubble, which left many of its banks saddled with toxic assets.

The unemployment rate in Spain, currently in the grips of a double-dip recession, stands at 25.02 percent overall and more than 50 percent among young people.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Mexico Unveils Plans for High-Speed Train in Yucatan

Mexico Unveils Plans for High-Speed Train in Yucatan

Photo: The train will go near ancient Mayan sites

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Mexico’s government has announced a high-speed rail project in the Yucatan Peninsula aimed at unlocking that region’s full economic, tourist and social potential.

President Enrique Peña Nieto on Friday presented the Merida-Punta Venado Trans-Peninsular Train project, to be built under a concession or public-private partnership contract.

The project - the first in the infrastructure area since Peña Nieto took office on Dec. 1 - is scheduled to be auctioned off between September and October 2013.

It will use existing tracks that must be modernized and expanded, the president said in Merida, capital of Yucatan state.

“This project not only will enable the transportation of passengers, who will be able to travel quickly and safely, but will also be a means of cargo transport that facilitates trade and the shipping of merchandise from Yucatan to the state of Quintana Roo,” he added.

Communications and Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza said during the ceremony that the route will run from Merida to Punta Venado - port of arrival for cruise-ship visitors from the island of Cozumel - in the state of Quintana Roo.

According to the project plans, a modern, diesel-powered train traveling at speeds of between 160-180 kilometers (100-110 miles) per hour will be used to cover the route.

The high-speed line will connect tourists to the region’s most significant Maya sites and travel times will be coordinated with the arrival of cruise ships, Ruiz said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Jennifer Lopez, Wisin & Yandel Rock Puerto Rico

Jennifer Lopez, Wisin & Yandel Rock Puerto Rico

Photo: Jennifer Lopez

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Jennifer Lopez and the Puerto Rican reggaeton duo of Wisin & Yandel put on a spectacular show in San Juan during the much anticipated return of the New York singer to Puerto Rico after 11 years away from the Caribbean island.

The Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum in the Puerto Rican capital was jam-packed Friday with fans eager to see one of the island’s top concerts of the year, dubbed “Follow the Leader” for the video the three artists made together.

The show began with Jennifer Lopez taking the stage hidden behind a shell of white plumes.

The singer lost her Russian fur hat and was raised aloft and carried by her dancers to center stage, where she cried “Puerto Rico, let’s do it!” to the audience’s ecstatic assent.

Lopez sang “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “I’m Into You” and “Waiting For Tonight,” songs that boyfriend Casper Smart followed from behind the scenes, since that night he did not accompany his girlfriend onstage.

Instead the artist had as a guest before the footlights her ex-husband and the father of her children, Marc Anthony, with whom she did a duet of “No Me Ames” (You Don’t Love Me) to more audience applause.

Wisin & Yandel‘s performance that followed kicked off with the numbers “Mirala Bien” (Look Closely) and “Pam Pam” which got the capacity crowd up and dancing in Puerto Rico’s Jose Miguel Agrelot Coliseum.

The duo sang a score of their all-time hits, including “Abusadora” (Abuser), “Estoy Enamorado” (I’m in Love), and “Te Siento” (I Feel You).

American rapper 50 Cent appeared as a guest of the duo, followed by the final number of the concert “Follow the Leader,” with Jennifer Lopez once more onstage.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Iraq Denies Interest in Hiring Diego Maradona For National Soccer Team

Iraq Denies Interest in Hiring Diego Maradona For National Soccer Team

Photo: Diego Maradona

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Iraq’s soccer federation categorically denied any interest in hiring former Argentine great Diego Maradona to coach its national team.

“There’s no negotiation between the Iraqi soccer federation and Diego Maradona, and we don’t have any intention of hiring him,” the federation’s deputy director, Abdul-Khaliq Masoud, told Argentina’s official Telam news agency.

An Argentine sports executive said Thursday in Buenos Aires that Maradona was the leading candidate to become the next coach of Iraq’s national soccer team.

“They called us from Iraq asking for a coach. We offered Diego and they were delighted,” Hernan Tofoni of World Eleven, a firm that organizes friendly matches for the Argentine national team, told Buenos Aires daily Clarin.

“Both they and Diego are very interested,” Tofoni said. “That means: it’s something very probable.”

“Initially, they (the Iraqis) offered us a contract until June 2013, though we are trying to extend the term,” Tofoni said.

The political panorama in Iraq does not pose any problems, the executive said, adding that any contract would include “special clauses taking into account the sensitive situation of the country.”

As a player, Maradona led Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup, but his 2008-2010 tenure as coach of the national squad was rocky.

Maradona was fired earlier this year as coach of Dubai’s Al Wasl club, but has continued to serve as “sporting ambassador” for the United Arab Emirates.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Connecticut Shooting About Gun Reform, Not Education Reform

Connecticut Shooting About Gun Reform, Not Education Reform

Photo: NewsTaco

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By Ray Salazar, NewsTaco

I’ve remained silent watching the news about the funerals for the victims—especially the children—of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. I watched two parents on CNN last night talk about the loss of their daughter.  The little girl wanted a pony and, for Christmas, the parents bought little cowboy boots the little girl never saw, never wore.  I watched without writing a word.  All I could think was, “If my daughter died like that, I wouldn’t be able to breathe.” 

Perhaps, however, for those parents, telling the world about their daughter’s happy wishes is how their little girl will live on.

On Twitter, I passed along the articles, the commentaries forcing the conversation for gun reform.  For me, shootings are a close memory.  About ten years ago, I was shot at driving home near my old house on 26th Street.

From a separate incident, my brother has the scar in his shoulder from a bullet.  Next to that scar is the name of his friend who died from another bullet that night.

Many times in my old neighborhood around 26th Street, I awoke from gunshots on Saturdays at 3:00 a.m.  Even near my new home a little more south and a little more west in Chicago, occasionally, I hear a gun.

I thought I would remain silent about the Connecticut shooting until I saw how people were insensitively twisting the tragedy away from the horror of so many innocent deaths, the bravery of teachers and staff who died saving children, the trauma a town—a country—will suffer because one unstable man had access to unnecessary firearms.  Instead, I saw one blog post encouraging everyone to hug a teacher because “we would all take a bullet for your kids.”Image

Although sentimental, I really don’t want students or parents hugging me, praising me for something I have not and—I pray—will never have to do.  What’s a teacher supposed to respond after that hug?

“You’re welcome?”

The logic, or lack thereof, that pushed me to write something about the Sandy Hook shooting is that Diane Ravitch, a renowned educational expert and President Bush’s former assistant Secretary of Education, turned a post meant to celebrate teacher heroes into one reminding us those teachers “belonged to a union. The senior teachers had tenure, despite the fact that ‘reformers’ (led by ConnCAN, StudentsFirst, and hedge fund managers) did their best last spring to diminish their tenure and to tie their evaluations to test scores.”

Ravitch inserted an attack against Connecticut’s Governor Malloy for saying “that teachers get tenure just for showing up.”

Ravitch finished by saying that “Newtown does not need a charter school. What it needs now is healing. Not competition, not division, but a community coming together to help one another. Together. Not competing.”

So Ravitch’s logic here is this:

A heavily armed gunman forces himself into a school


The principal and a psychologist are killed trying to stop that heavily armed gunman


Brave teachers are killed protecting their students


Twenty innocent children are killed


Newton, Connecticut doesn’t need another charter school


Read more by HS News Staff →

Chichen Itza Welcomed Crowds Celebrating End of Thirteenth Baktun

Chichen Itza Welcomed Crowds Celebrating End of Thirteenth Baktun

Photo: Chichen Itza Mayan celebrations (INAH)

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Crowds of people gathered Friday around the Kukulkan pyramid in southeastern Mexico to celebrate with prayers and ritual dances the beginning of a new era on the Mayan calendar.

Since 5:30 a.m., a constant flow of visitors, most of them dressed in white and laden with candles and incense, arrived at the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, where they came together in groups to meditate.

With hotels in the surrounding area completely full, some tried camping out for the night near the village of Piste, which has benefited from the tourists pouring in for this key Mayan moment.

Foreigners from Europe, Asia and across the Americas were in the majority, making even more noticeable the lack of groups of Mayan origin, whose members were more into selling handicrafts and souvenirs to visitors than celebrating the new Mayan calendar cycle.

Only one elderly man dressed as an ancient Mayan spiritual leader was to be seen on the premises.

A spokesperson from Mexico’s National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, told Efe that according to preliminary estimates, that day more than 50,000 visitors would throng the archaeological site, one of the most important on the Yucatan Peninsula.

The spokesperson added that in all no less than 500,000 visitors were expected at the principal Mayan archaeological sites across the five Mexican states once inhabited by that pre-Columbian civilization.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Foreign Missionaries Kidnapped in Guatemala Finally Rescued

Foreign Missionaries Kidnapped in Guatemala Finally Rescued

Photo: Foreign Missionaries Kidnapped in Guatemala Finally Rescued

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Two foreign missionaries kidnapped in southern Guatemala were rescued Friday in an operation that resulted in the arrest of three suspects, authorities said.

U.S. citizen Sara Catherine Treviño and Ecuadorian Gladys Vallejos, both Mormon missionaries, were abducted Wednesday in the city of Escuintla, police said in a statement.

A special police task force determined the women were being held at a home in that city and stormed the residence, freeing the missionaries and arresting three suspects.

Taken into custody were an 18-year-old Guatemalan woman and two Nicaraguan men.

One of the Nicaraguans, Gabriel de Jesus Calero, was already wanted for the June kidnapping and murder of an engineer in Escuintla.

A search of the home where the missionaries were found turned up ledgers recording ransoms collected in previous kidnappings, the police statement said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Legislators Pass Peña Nieto’s Education Overhaul in Mexico

Legislators Pass Peña Nieto’s Education Overhaul in Mexico

Photo: Enrique Pena Nieto

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Mexican lawmakers approved on Friday an educational overhaul that President Enrique Peña Nieto says will improve the quality of schooling in this nation of 113 million people.

Because the new arrangement involves changes to the constitution, the legislation must be ratified by at least 17 of Mexico’s 32 states to become law.

The plan calls for measures to objectively evaluate teachers’ performance and the creation of a professional teaching force without interference from unions or other groups.

Analysts see the changes as designed to take control of hiring away from the powerful SNTE teachers union, which initially greeted the president’s proposal with praise only to subsequently denounce it.

The leader of the more-than-1-million-member union, Elba Esther Gordillo, contends that Peña Nieto’s program threatens teachers’ job security.

Gordillo, once described by a U.S. scholar as “Mexico’s Jimmy Hoffa in a dress,” says the SNTE will use all “legal, social, political resources” to ensure ““full respect for teachers’ employment and dignity.”

Peña Nieto hailed the passage of the bill in Congress, calling it the “first step toward transforming the education of our children and youth.”

The president’s plan also opens the door to allowing public schools to charge fees, an idea blasted by some leftist lawmakers.

Only 64 of every 100 Mexicans who start school complete their primary education and a mere two-dozen graduate from high school, according to government statistics.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Sao Paulo Sees 71 Percent Increase in Murders

Sao Paulo Sees 71 Percent Increase in Murders

Photo: Violence in Sao Paulo

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The 170 homicides registered last month here in Brazil’s largest city represents an increase of 71 percent over November 2011, the Sao Paulo state government said Friday.

At the same time, murders in Sao Paulo city did fall slightly from October, when 176 people were slain.

Statewide, 534 people died violently last month, up 44 percent compared with November 2011.

More than 4,300 homicide investigations were opened in Sao Paulo state during the first 11 months of 2012, almost 14 percent more than in the same period last year.

This year’s murder victims include 104 police officers.

Federal officials suggested the surge of violence in metropolitan Sao Paulo that began in October was orchestrated by jailed bosses of the First Capital Command, or PCC, the region’s dominant criminal organization.

That interpretation was bolstered by the statements of an ex-convict arrested for a cop killing in interior Sao Paulo state.

The suspect told detectives he shot the policeman at the PCC’s behest to settle a debt he owed for drugs supplied to him while he was in prison, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper said.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Spain Overturns Cyclists Doping Disqualification, Restores Vuelta Win

Spain Overturns Cyclists Doping Disqualification, Restores Vuelta Win

Photo: Roberto Heras

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Spain’s Supreme Court upheld on Friday the overturning of the doping disqualification that cost cyclist Roberto Heras his victory in the 2005 Vuelta a España.

“I never stopped feeling I was the winner of the Vuelta and I have a great memory of that triumph because I experienced it with great emotion, and nobody has been able to take that away from me,” Heras, 38, told Efe after learning of the verdict.

Now retired, the cyclist won the Vuelta de España on three other occasions.

Heras saw his 2005 title revoked after a sample taken from him on the second-to-last day of the race tested positive for the banned substance EPO.

Accusing the testers of mishandling the sample and of violating their own protocols, the cyclist decided to bypass the Court of Arbitration for Sport - the usual venue for these cases - and seek justice in the Spanish civil courts.

An administrative court ruled in Heras’ favor in June 2011, but the decision was challenged by the Spanish Cycling Federation and the public prosecutor’s office.

The Supreme Court, after considering the legal challenge, confirmed the finding of the lower court.

“It’s a very important decision for me,” Heras said. “And I’m very happy because I recover the 2005 Vuelta. I’m going to celebrate with my family and my friends.”

Read more by HS News Staff →

Venezuelan Vice President Gives Positive Update on Chavez’s Health

Venezuelan Vice President Gives Positive Update on Chavez’s Health

Photo: Hugo Chavez

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is doing “well” as his doctors treat him for a respiratory infection that developed after he underwent his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months, the Andean nation’s vice president said Thursday.

“He is well, he is conscious,” Nicolas Maduro said of the president during an event in the central state of Guarico.

“The overall health condition of the comandante-president during the post-operative period continues to progressively stabilize,” the vice president said, reading from the latest bulletin issued by the medical team treating Chavez in Cuba.

The 58-year-old president continues to rest, “accompanied by his closest family members,” Maduro said.

Chavez’s Dec. 11 operation in Havana lasted more than six hours, as surgeons had to cope with complications caused by hemorrhaging, the Venezuelan government said.

Three days ago, physicians detected a post-operative respiratory infection.

Both the hemorrhaging and the infection are typical “collateral effects of operations as complex as these,” Maduro said Thursday.

On a different note, he said the recuperating president had been informed of his PSUV party’s success in last Sunday’s regional elections, in which Chavez loyalists took 20 of 23 state governorships.

“He has expressed a great happiness and a deep gratitude to all the people,” Chavez’s deputy said.

First elected in 1998, Chavez won another six-year term in Venezuela’s Oct. 6 presidential balloting.

Read more by HS News Staff →

Petrochemical Project in Mexico Raises $3.2 Billion for Consortium

Petrochemical Project in Mexico Raises $3.2 Billion for Consortium

Photo: Ethylene XXI (Technip)

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Brazilian-Mexican consortium Braskem-Idesa said it has reached a $3.2 billion financing deal for its Ethylene XXI petrochemical project in Mexico.

The accord, which the consortium is calling “the largest project finance transaction in the history of the petrochemical industry in the Americas,” was signed with 17 state-run and commercial banks from several countries.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking and international law firm White & Case served as Braskem-Idesa’s financial advisor and legal counsel, respectively.

The consortium was created in 2010 as a joint venture between Brazil’s Braskem, the largest manufacturer of thermoplastic resins in the Americas, and Grupo Idesa, a leading Mexican petrochemical producer.

Ethylene XXI - which is being built in Nanchital, a town in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz - will be a private petrochemical complex for the production of polyethylene.

Once it enters into operation in 2015 the complex will produce 1 million tons of polyethylene and replace up to $2 billion worth of imports, the consortium said.

The project will create 9,000 temporary jobs in the construction phase and some 3,000 permanent direct and indirect jobs.

Braskem operates 26 plants in Brazil, while Idesa has more than 50 years of experience in the domestic market and an active presence in international markets.

Read more by HS News Staff →

SaturdayDecember 22, 2012