Category Archives: Venezuela

Choose the NEW 7 Natural Wonders of the World

One of the nominees: The Amazon

 

The organization New 7 Wonders is inviting you to choose the NEW 7 Natural Wonders of the World. You must hurry, though—voting ends this Friday, November 11, 2011.

 

Only three days are left to participate in this grand event. By going to New 7 Wonders’ website (www.new7wonders.com), you may choose seven of your favorite natural wonders among the 28 candidates.

 

 

 

Latin America has a strong field of candidates. The largest is the Amazon, which extends from the Guayanas (Guyana, Suriname and French Guyana), Venezuela and Colombia in the North, through Peru and Brazil, to Bolivia in the South. Puerto Rico rings in with El Yunque, a virgin tropical forest national park.

Will one New Wonder be Angel Falls?

Will Iguazú also make the final seven?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two waterfalls cascade down the list: the world’s highest cataract, Angel Falls in Venezuela, and Iguazú Falls, shared by Argentina and Brazil. Of course, nobody should be surprised that Ecuador’s enchanted, other-worldly isles—the Galápagos—also were nominated.

Galápagos is known for its unique nature.

 

Other nominees come from all over the world.  North America has only two representatives: Bay of Fundy (Canada) and the Grand Canyon (USA). On the other side of the Atlantic, Europe has five natural beauties on the list:

  • Black Forest (Germany)
  • Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)
  • Amsurian Lake District (Poland)
  • Matterhorn / Cervino (Switzerland, Italy)
  • Vesuvius (Italy)

 

Three Middle Eastern landscapes voters may choose from are: Bu Tinah Island (United Arab Emirates), Dead Sea (Israel, Palestine) and Jeita Grotto (Lebanon). The three African ones are: Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), Islands of the Maldives (Maldives) and Table Mountain (South Africa).

 

Asia has the most candidates, with:

  • Halong Bay (Viet Nam)
  • Jeju Island (South Korea)
  • Komodo (Indonesia)
  • Mud Volcanoes (Azerbaijan)
  • PP Underground River (Philippines)
  • Sundarbans (Bangladesh, India)
  • Yushan (Chinese Taipei)

 

Australia and Oceania round out the competition, with three nominations: Great Barrier Reef (Australia, Papua New Guinea), Milford Sound (New Zealand) and Uluru (Australia).

 

The Swiss-based New 7 Wonders organization next campaign is the New 7 Wonders Cities. Which will be the 28 nominees? Will your city be included?

Latin American News Briefs: Murder Mysteries, Marsupials, and Maradona

Compiled by Jen O’Riordan and Libby Zay.

Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 24th to July 29th. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!

Cristina Calcieta’s mystery has been solved. Photo courtesy AFP.

34 Years Later, Argentine Students Crack Murder Mystery

[ARGENTINA] The families of a young couple who disappeared in 1976 can finally lay the remains of their loved ones to rest after their bodies were identified by a group of students and community members in the small town of Melincue. The students linked the timing of the couple’s disappearance with a discovery of two brutalized bodies a rural farmer had made in 1976, and DNA tests proved their suspicions. Under the Argentine military dictatorship that ruled at the time, tens of thousands of suspected left-wing activists were murdered or disappeared. [AP]

Other South American Countries Attempt to Diffuse Venezuela/Columbia Feud

[COLOMBIA / VENEZUELA] After Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez severed ties with Colombia last Thursday, South American foreign ministers failed to bring the two countries back together at a meeting in Quito, Ecuador Thursday. Brazil President Lula da Silva plans to speak with Chavez on August 6th. Venezuela and Colombia have a long history of mixed feeling toward each other, and on Thursday Colombia accused Venezuela of harboring around 1,500 leftist guerrillas and closed the consulate. [Colombia Reports / Reuters]

Troops Kill Mexican Drug Kingpin

[MEXICO] Soldiers gunned down Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a leader of the Sinaloa cartel during a raid of his hideout in the western city of Guadalajara. In an attempted to escape, Coronel fired on soldiers as helicopters hovered overhead. One soldier was killed and another wounded. “The scope of [his] influence and operations penetrate throughout the United States, Mexico, and several other European, Central American, and South American countries,” said the FBI in a statement. [AP]

A marsupial. Photo courtesy www.animalspix.com.

Ancestors of Australian Marsupials Arrived from the Americas

[GERMANY] According to genetic research from Germany, well known Australian species such as kangaroos, possums, koalas and wombats share a common ancestor that must have traveled to the region from the Americas. “I think this is pretty strong evidence now for the hypothesis of a single migration [to Australia] and a common ancestor,” said Juergen Schmitz, of the University of Muenster research team. The DNA analysis unfortunately does not tell us when this migration to Australia occurred, but researchers speculate that it may have taken place some 30-40 million years ago. [Discovery News]

Catalan Bullfight Ban Raises Debate in Latin America

[LATIN AMERICA] After Catalonia, Spain banned bullfighting last Wednesday, many bullfighting enthusiasts and animal rights groups throughout Latin America are having heated debates about the support. The tradition of bullfighting dates back to Spanish colonization in countries like Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Mexico, which is home to the world’s largest bullring. Michel Lagravere, father of Franco-Mexican child bullfighting star Michelito, said the Catalan parliament vote was “more anti-Spanish than anti-bullfight.” [Montreal Gazette]

Diego Maradona’s Tenure Ends as Argentina’s Coach

[ARGENTINA] Diego Maradona confirmed the end of his time as Argentina’s coach on Wednesday. Maradona accused Julio Grondona, president of the Argentinian Football Association, of lying to him and Carlos Bilardo, the national team’s general manager, of betraying him. Although many are blaming Maradona for Argentina’s loss in the World Cup, Maradona pointed out: “Not since 1990 has Argentina made it past the quarter finals.” [guardian.co.uk]

The Finnish paper mill. Photo courtesy www.elrevolucionario.org.

Argentina and Uruguay Reach Agreement on Pollution Monitoring

[ARGENTINA / URUGUAY] An agreement has finally been reached in the 7-year dispute between Argentina and Uruguay regarding pollution of the shared Uruguay River. The controversy began when Argentina raised concerns about contamination of the river from a Finnish paper mill on the Uruguayan side. The agreement was signed at the presidential palace and calls for a joint-scientific committee to monitor and identify pollution from all farming, industrial and urban centers that spill their waste into the Uruguay River and its tributaries. Argentina hopes the agreement will please environmentalists who have been blocking a bridge linking Gualeguaychu to Fray Bentos in Uruguay for the past three years. The UPM mill was built there seven years ago despite Argentina’s objections that it would pollute the river. [Global Times]

UNESCO Takes Galapagos Islands Off the Threatened List

[ECUADOR] After a 14-5 vote, the United Nations has voted to remove the Galapagos Islands from its list of endangered sites. The committee believes Ecuador has made significant progress in protecting and preserving the Islands. The Galapagos Islands had been on the list since 2007 after threatened by tourism, over-fishing and the introduction of invasive species. The Galapagos Islands has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. [Voice of America]

United States Closes Consulate in Ciudad Juarez

[U.S. / MEXICO] The United States announced closure of its consulate in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico indefinitely. A U.S. official said the consulate was closed due to a “credible threat.” Last year, more than 2,600 people were killed in drug-related violence in the city. In March, the consulate closed for several days after a U.S. employee, her husband, and the husband of another staff member were killed. [BBC]

Watch a news report on the situation in Arizona. Video courtesy MSNBC.

Illegal Immigrants Prepare to Leave Arizona as New Law Takes Effect

[U.S. / MEXICO] A controversial immigration law, which could see an influx of deportees returning to Mexico, took effect in Arizona yesterday. Shelters across the border in Mexico are gathering supplies and preparing for a 20-25% increase in occupancy in the coming months. However, some say that many illegal immigrants will simply move from Arizona to another American state rather than return to Mexico. Mexico already extended its annual voluntary repatriation program in anticipation of the Arizona law, beginning the initiative earlier than usual in June. Other Mexican states such as Guanajuato and Chihuahua have also announced employment programs for possible returnees. [ABC News]

Chilean President Rejects Calls to Pardon Officials

[CHILE] In a televised address to the nation last Sunday, Chile’s President Sebastián Piñera stated the sweeping pardons requested by the Catholic Church for military prisoners would not be granted under his government. The 60 military prisoners were convicted of humans rights abuses during the ear now known as the “Dirty War.” The majority of the prisoners live in a comfortable, well-equipped prison build especially from them. Standing up to the Catholic Church was a bold move, however, recent scandal and sexual abuse claims against Chilean priests have tarnished the Church’s reputation in recent years. Despite the rejection, the Church reacted positively saying that at least now the issue of overcrowding and conditions in Argentina’s prisons had been put on the national agenda. [NY Times]

Cuban Hunger Striker Departs Hospital

[CUBA] Guillerrno Farinas, an opposition activist who went on a 134-day hunger strike, has departed the hospital after three weeks of treatment. The 48-year-old psychologist and journalist began accepting food and water on July 8 after an agreement was reached between the Catholic Church and President Raul Castro to release 52 political prisoners. Twenty prisoners have so far been flown in exile to Spain with their families. [AP]

Latin American News Briefs: Titi Monkeys, Tomb Discoveries, and Temperature Drops

Compiled by Jen O’Riordan, Eli Mangold and Libby Zay.

Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 11th to July 23rd. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!

News footage of the monkeys that were smuggled.

Man in Airport Found with 18 Endangered Monkeys Under His Clothes

[ Mexico / Peru ] A Mexican national was detained at Mexico City’s airport by customs officials after he was seen acting suspiciously in security. When officials pulled the 38-year-old aside they found 18 Titi monkeys hidden underneath his clothing in a girdle.

The man, who had arrived on a flight from Lima, Peru had previously kept the monkeys in his luggage but had later attached them to his person because he didn’t want the baggage x-ray machines to damage them. Two of the 18 monkeys had already died during the journey from Peru.

Titi monkeys, found in South and Central America, are regarded as an endangered species and protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The man had paid $30 per monkey in Peru and expected to sell them in Mexico for between $775 and $1,550 each. In Mexico, having a wild animal as a household pet is a deep-rooted tradition, and animals smuggled to the US from Central or South America often come through Mexico. [Huffington Post]

1,600-year-old Royal Tomb Discovered in Guatemala

[ Guatemala ] Last week, Scientists in Guatemala revealed the discovery of an ancient, Mayan tomb that could have been the final resting place of a Mayan king. The discovery was made on the 29th of May, under the El Diablo pyramid in the city of El Zotz.

The archaeological team thought that ‘something odd’ was happening during the dig and eventually discovered the 6 feet high, 12 feet long, and four feet wide tomb after they lowered a light bulb through a small hole. The tomb was filled with carvings, ceramics, textiles, and the bones of six children, who might have been sacrificed at the time of the king’s death.

Scientists say they have a lot more work to do before they can confirm their suspicions, but findings such as an elaborate headdress and a sacrificial blade with what appears to be blood on it indicate that it may be the tomb of a king, only previously mentioned in hieroglyphic texts. [National Geographic]

A shortage of resources in Argentina means only two of 15 prison guard towers could be staffed. Photo courtesy AP.

Two Argentine Inmates Bust Out of Jail Right Under a Mannequin’s Nose

[ Argentina ] Due to budget shortages in the Nequén Province of Argentina, the local jail has had to substitute mannequins made of a football and an officer’s hat for actual guards. Two prisoners, Walter Pozo and Cesar Andres, must have noticed the shortcoming and climbed over the fence unopposed. Officials are hoping that this embarrassment will bring much-needed resources to the province. [Independent]

Honduras Returns to OAS, SICA

[ Honduras ] At a summit in El Salvador, Central America leaders decided to allow Honduras to continue participating in two major regional groups. Honduras had been expelled from both the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Central American Integration System (SICA) after President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in June 2009. [PeopleDaily]

Penguins Mysteriously Washing Up Dead on Brazilian Shores

[ Brazil ] Over 500 penguins have washed up on the beaches of Brazil, and scientists are trying to figure out why. Autopsies strongly suggest starvation, but they are still unsure why there is such scarcity in fish and squid. Some hypotheses include changing ocean currents, overfishing and colder water, which affect the penguins’ primary sources of food. [CBS News]

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Courtesy AP

Hugo Chavez Opens Remains of Simon Bolivar, Announces it to the World on Twitter

[ Venezuela ] On Friday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez tweeted that he was opening his idol’s remains to look for proof of foul play in his death. The eccentric head-of-state believes that Bolivar was murdered, and did not die of tuberculosis as history claims. He briefly displayed the remains on national television and passionately orated, “that glorious skeleton has to be Bolivar, because his flame can be felt. My God…it’s not a skeleton. It’s the Great Bolivar, who has returned!” [ AP ]

Venezuela Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Colombia

[ Venezuela ] In a bold move, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez severed ties with Colombia on Thursday just before the Colombian Ambassador, Luis Alfonso Hoyos, presented evidence to the Organization of American States (OAS) that Venezuela is currently harboring about 1,500 leftist guerrillas behind their borders. Colombia’s accusations against Venezuela caused Chavez to force the closure of Colombia’s embassy in Bogotá within 72 hours. The OAS stated that it could not investigate the sites without Venezuela’s consent. [BBC]

Cold Front Causes Death Across South America

[ Argentina / Bolivia / Chile / Paraguay / Peru / Uruguay ] South America is having a particularly hard winter, with some parts reporting the lowest temperatures in 29 years. In several countries, the mercury has dropped below freezing. Fatalities due to the cold have been reported in Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. Livestock is threatened in all of these areas, as well as in Chile and Peru. [CNN.com].

Watch a news report on the Mexican gun battle.

Border Clashes Along the Mexican / U.S. Border

[ Mexico / U.S. ] A gun battle went down in the rural town of Madera, about 230 kilometers (145 miles) south of the U.S. border. As the story goes, gunmen reportedly opened fire on an army patrol and eight men were killed—however, the U.S. Defense Department is not offering any information. On Wednesday, late-night gun battles broke out in the border town of Nuevo Laredo, which could be heard across the border in the U.S. In Nuevo Laredo, a gang forced people from their cars and buses to use the vehicles as barricades along the roads. Witness reports said several gunmen were killed, but no official number has been tallied by Nuevo Laredo officials. [AP]

Seventeen Die in Birthday Party Massacre

[ Mexico ] The bodies of 12 males and 5 females were found in a bloodstained party hall, along with at least a dozen injured, after a tragic gun attack on a birthday party in Torreon, Northern Mexico. More than 200 bullets were fired indiscriminately into the bar full of young party goers enjoying some birthday celebrations.

The massacre is the third such attack this year on bars in Torreon, an industrial city in Coahuila state. Coahuila Attorney General, Jesus Torres says the perpetrators, a prominent drug cartel, have been identified but he refused to identify the group publicly.

Mexico’s northern border has been the worst hit by the recent drug wars that have seen almost 25,000 killed since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organized crime three and a half years ago. [LA Times]

US to Send Troops to Mexican Border

[ Mexico / U.S. ] 1,200 troops will be sent to the border next month in an effort to tackle illegal immigration and drug-trafficking in the four border states. Arizona will receive 524 troops; Texas 250, California 224 and New Mexico 72, while 130 will be part of a national liaison office.

In May, President Obama announced that he wanted to assign $500m (£350m) to new funding for the initiative and deploy US troops to help secure the border.

The soldiers will be armed but only permitted to fire in self defense and their main task will be to observe suspicious movement along the border and report it to Border Patrol agents.

A controversial new state law is due to come into effect in Arizona on 29 July making it a crime to be in the state without immigration papers.

Several lawsuits, including one by the federal government, have been filed against the legislation. The US justice department is challenging the law, arguing that it undermines the federal administration’s authority to set immigration policy. [BBC]

Did you miss last weeks news? Click here to read Latin American news stories from last week.

Latin America News Briefs: Same-Sex Marriage, Snow in Salta and Sea Monsters

Compiled by Jen O’Riordan, Eli Mangold and Libby Zay, with help from Lorraine Caputo.

Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 10th to July 16th. For more up-to-the minute news, follow us on Twitter!

Demonstrators wave a gay pride flag outside of the Argentine Congress, courtesy AP.

Argentina Becomes First Country in Latin America to Allow Gay Marriage

[Argentina] After a marathon debate, the Argentine Senate legalized gay marriage in a a 33-27 vote. The landmark victory gives same-sex couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexuals gain when they tie the knot. The decision will likely draw a number of tourists to gay-friendly Buenos Aires, but non-resident foreigners are not allowed to marry in Argentina.

Read more about the legalization of gay marriage in Argentina on www.VivaTravelGuides.com.

Guatemala Catches Cocaine-Filled Submarine in Pacific

[Guatemala] Last week Ecuadorian authorities snagged a drug-smuggling submarine, and this week a similar vessel was stopped off Guatemala’s Pacific coast. The Guatemalan makeshift submarine—bound for the United States—had five metric tons of the white stuff inside.

Read more about the drug smuggling submarine in Guatemala on www.Yahoo.com.

Photo by Lorraine Caputo

Big Day in Salta

[Argentina] Salteños awoke to sight they haven’t seen in almost 10 years: huge clusters of flakes falling. Slowly the city is being covered with snow, which is expected to continue through Saturday. Tucumán, La Rioja, San Juan and other northern cities are also being blanketed. The Jama Pass to Chile is closed.

6.2 Quake Strikes Chile

[Chile] Last Sunday evening, a medium strength quake measuring 6.2 on the richter scale struck Chile’s Antofagasta region. The core of the quake was located 50 miles east-northeast of Calama in the Atacama desert, believed to be one of the driest places on earth. There were no fatalities or injuries, but phone lines were saturated during the quake. The extent of the damage is tiny compared with the $30 billion worth of damage caused during the country’s February earthquake, which measured a severe 8.8.

Read more about the earthquake on Earthquake.USGS.gov.

The Uruguay Futbol Team takes pictures of their adoring fans, courtesy of the BBC.

Uruguay Futbol Team Welcomed Home as Heroes

[Uruguay] Uruguay may have finished fourth in the World Cup, but the team was given a homecoming party fit for a hero when they arrived home to Montevideo. “Thank you, champions! You gave us our pride back!” read one of hundred of banners during the massive celebration.

Read more about the homecoming party on BBC.co.uk.

Venezuela Extradites “Drug Boss” to U.S.

[Venezuela] Venezuelan authorities handed over Colombian drug baron, Carlos Alberto Renteria, also known as Beto, to U.S. DEA officials this week. Renteria, who stands accused of heading the infamous Norte del Valle drug cartel, kept his head bowed, denying the media photos of his face during the exchange at Caracas airport. The hand over of Mr. Renteria and two other accused smugglers was shown live on state television. It is believed the Norte del Valle cartel was responsible for smuggling over 500 tonnes of cocaine into the U.S. during the 1990’s. Renteria has been on America’s most wanted list since 2004.

Read more about the extradited drug boss on BBC.co.uk.

Watch a news clip on a Sea Monster fossil in Peru, Courtesy YouTube.com and BBC.co.uk.

Sea Monster Fossil Discovered in Peru

[Peru] A team of European and Peruvian palaeontologists have revealed their discovery of what could have been the biggest sea predator that ever lived. The fossil of a giant whale was discovered in South Peru’s Ocucaje desert back in 2008. Since then, scientists have been studying the remains of Leviathan (named after the biblical sea monster), which include a skull, its lower jaw bone and ten well-preserved teeth. With teeth measuring a huge 14 inches long, he had the largest teeth ever recorded. An ancestor of the modern day sperm whale, Leviathan is thought to have lived more than 12 million years ago.

Read more about the sea monster on www.CNN.com.

Ecuadorian Eco-lodge Gets Five Stars for Being Green

[Ecuador] The Casa Ceibo Boutique and Spa has just been awarded the American Academy of Hospitality Services’ Five Star Green Award. Located in seaside Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador, the hotel has supported numerous local green initiatives, such as clean water programs for the local population and reforesting mangrove swamps around the area. It should be noted that this is not your typical eco-lodge; it offers all the luxurious amenities, including a spa, pool and wetland excursions.

Read more about Casa Ceibo Boutique and Spa on www.NileGuide.com.

Sugar Minott, Courtesy www.SugarMinott.com.

Reggae Icon Sugar Minott Passes Away

[Jamaica] One of the most influential figures in Reggae has passed away this past Saturday in Kingston, Jamaica at the age of 54. The cause of his death has not been released, but the singer had cancelled concerts due to chest pains a few months ago. Minott’s career began as a member of the African Brothers Trio, and then in 1970 launched on his own solo career, putting out such hits as “Vanity” and a cover of the Jackson Five’s “You Got a Good Thing Going.” Aside from singing, Minott also helped younger acts make it big through his record label, Black Roots.

Learn more about Sugar Minott on his website, www.SugarMinott.com.

Clash in Mexican Border State Leaves Four Gunmen Killed, Bystanders Wounded

[Mexico] In the border state of Coahuila, more violence between the police and the drug cartels has erupted, leaving four gunmen slain and five bystanders wounded. While police where carrying out an investigation on a highway near Torreon, they were attacked by four gunmen brandishing assault weapons and pistols. The bystanders were traveling along the highway and got caught up in the violence. Two are in serious condition, and three are stable.

Read more about the Mexican border clash on www.CBSNews.com.

Did you miss last weeks news? Click here to read the last edition of Latin America News Briefs.

Latin America News Briefs: Eagle Attacks, Banana Uprisings, and Paul the Octopus

Every Friday, Viva Travel Guides combs the presses to round up the most relevant and recent Latin America news stories. Here are the Latin American news stories our office talked about during the week of July 3rd to July 9th.

Total Solar Eclipse to Occur on Sunday

[Chile, Argentina] A total solar eclipse will track across the South Pacific on Sunday, and will be visible in Chile and Argentina during sunset. The eclipse can be seen during the day on Easter Island, the Cook Islands, and Wellington Island, among others.

Read more about the Solar Eclipse on www.timeanddate.com.

Watch a video of a harpy eagle attacking a film crew, Courtesy YouTube.com

Harpy Eagle Attacks BBC Film Crew

[Venezuela] When documentary filmmakers attempted to install a camera near a giant harpy eagle nest, a female bird repeatedly dive bombed the crew. Although the crew left unscathed saved for tears in their protective layers, they have now requested riot gear from local police for the rest of filming.

Read more about Harpy Eagle on www.asylum.com.

More than 150 Sought in Puerto Rico Drug Operation

[Puerto Rico] What is being described as the largest drug bust on American territory went down this morning on the west coast of Puerto Rico. According to AP, police “planned to arrest about 170 people and seize more than $1 million in property.”

Read more about the Puerto Rico drug bust on news.yahoo.com.

Tungurahua Volcano in 2004, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Tungurahua Volcano Continues to Erupt

[Ecuador] After two weeks of silence, Tungurahua Volcano is again spewing gas and ash. Activity began on Wednesday, and in the last 24 hours there have been eight emissions that have risen up to three miles high. The Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School has classified the explosions as “moderate” in intensity.

Read more about Tungurahua Volcano at www.hoy.com (in Spanish).

52 Political Prisoners Freed, Dissident Ends Hunger Strike

[Cuba] After 135 days, a Cuban dissident named Guillermo Farinas agreed to end his hunger strike when Havana agreed to free 52 ill political prisoners. Farinas has conducted 23 hunger strikes as protests to different elements of the Cuban regime. The strike was mediated by the Catholic Church.

Read more about the hunger strike at www.bbc.co.uk.

Ecuadorian Drug Submarine, Courtesy the DEA via Fox News

Drug Submarine Seized in Ecuador

[Ecuador] With help from the U.S. DEA, authorities in Ecuador seized a 30-foot submarine intended to carry multiple tons of cocaine. The submarine had been constructed in the remote jungle near the Ecuador-Columbia border.

Read more the submarine bust on www.foxnews.com.

Panama Strikers Seize Four Cops in Labor Clash

[Panama] Four police officers are being held hostage by striking banana workers in Panama. Workers have been upset since the Panamanian President signed a law last month that lessens the power of unions and gives companies power to suspend the contracts of striking workers to hire replacements. On Friday, one man was killed and 102 people were treated for injuries after police fired tear gas and buckshot at strikers who had blocked roads with trees.

Read more about the labor clash over Bananas on www.alertnet.org.

12 Inmates Die in Uruguay Prison Fire

[Uruguay] A short-circuiting heater is believed to be the cause of a prison fire in Uruguay that left twelve inmates dead and eight hospitalized with serious burns. The overcrowded prison built for 60 houses twice as many inmates.

Read more about the prison fire on www.comcast.net.

Paul (or Pablo?) the Octopus, Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Spaniards Wish to Rechristen Paul the Octopus as Pablo

After a psychic sea creature predicted Spain as the winner of the World Cup, the Spanish team declared their love for the octopus and wants to rechristen him “Pablo.” All the predictions Paul the Octopus has made in the World Cup have come true.

Read more about Paul the Octopus on www.sify.com.

Chavez Orders Navy to Main Ports

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez recently ordered the navy to occupy the country’s top ports, including Maracibo and Puerto Cabello. The reason? Those ports are ruled by governors from opposition parties, who have protested Chavez’ recent decree transferring all ports, airports and other transportation hubs from state to federal authority. Chavez claims the move was necessary to consolidate control of transportation for security reasons, but the opposition has claimed that it is one more step towards dictatorship and total control. If you’re visiting the Venezuelan coast, the presence of warships is unlikely to erupt into a shooting war, but tension might be high.