Today in Latin America
Top Story — U.S.A.I.D. contractor Alan Gross will be tried in Cuba on March 4, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana announced Thursday.
The Cuban authorities jailed Gross in December 2009, under vague accusations of trying to foment subversion on the island by illegally distributing satellite equipment. Gross says he brought the equipment to help the country’s Jewish community improve its Internet access.
Communist Party daily Granma published a brief note on Feb. 5 saying Cuban prosecutors will charge Gross with the crime of “Acts against the Independence or territorial integrity of the State,” and seek a twenty-year sentence.
Gross’ case has been a major point of contention between the Castro government and the Obama administration, even as Obama has sought to open U.S.-Cuba relations by easing restrictions on travel and remittances.
“We hope he receives a fair trial and is allowed to come home,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a tweet. “What he did is not a crime.”
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Gunmen opened fire on six children playing in the yard near the border city of Ciudad Juárez, killing three girls.
- A $600 million expansion at the world’s busiest border crossing broke ground south of San Diego on Thursday.
- A man accused of killing 21 people is among five people indicted on federal racketeering charges involving an organization that sold drugs in Puerto Rico, federal officials said Thursday.
- The United Nations independent expert on human rights in Haiti, Michel Forst, today urged candidates in the country’s upcoming presidential run-off election to spearhead the fight against impunity and champion greater respect of human rights.
- Maya Indians in Guatemala celebrated Tuesday the beginning of the year 5127, prophesied to be marked by a “change of authority.”
- Nicaragua joined Tuesday the Free Trade Agreement between Chile and Central America, seeking to promote exports bound for the South American country.
- An opponent of President Hugo Chávez released from house arrest this week has taken his seat in Venezuela’s National Assembly.
- Colombia’s battle against powerful drug warlords received a timely boost after ManTech International Corp. received a $6.2 contract to help the campaign.
- At least three people have been killed and thousands left homeless in Bolivia after weeks of heavy torrential rains caused massive flooding.
- Paraguay extradited three Lebanese men to the United States Thursday, including one who faces trial in Philadelphia for allegedly selling stolen cell phones and used cars to raise funds for extremist activities.
- India pledged greater economic cooperation with Uruguay Thursday in sectors such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals and textiles.
- Chile named Boca Junios Claudio Borghi its new national soccer team coach Thursday.
Image: Trinidad-News @ Flickr.