Today in Latin America
Top Story— Almost a million homes are without power in Puerto Rico as Hurricane Irene ripped through the U.S. territory Monday before picking up strength as the storm passed north of the Dominican Republic. Around 8p.m. on Monday, The United States National Hurricane Center upgraded the storm to Category 2 as winds picked up to 100 miles per hour and forecasters expect the storm to grow more powerful, likely intensifying into a Category 3 hurricane by Thursday afternoon. Puerto Rico Emergency Operations Director Mauricio Rivera said that on top of the major power outages, 28 percent of the island’s population was left without running water and the island of Vieques remained completely without power. Late in the day, however, things began to return to normal in Puerto Rico, with San Juan’s main shopping mall reopening for business. But many roads still remained impassable, several communities were flooded or cut off, and at least three rivers had burst their banks. “As long as it is still raining in the mountains, we’re still worried,” said Gov. Luis Fortuño.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- The U.S. State Department said a high-ranking member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel has been extradited to the United States from Mexico to face drug conspiracy charges.
- Mexico’s Economy Secretary said that the country’s current economic situation was not like that in 2009, when Mexico’s economy contracted by 6.5 percent.
- U.S. Secretary of Homeland Defense Janet Napolitano dodged questions about Alabama’s controversial immigration law while touring the Auburn University Canine Detection Training Center in the state.
- The Miami Herald looks back at Haitian President Michel Martelly’s first 100 days in office.
- Human rights watchdog Amnesty International called upon Cuban authorities to stop arresting members of the Ladies in White.
- Cuba may be pondering a new contract regime to cut down on repeated defections of top athletes from the island.
- Police in El Salvador allegedly seized 1,010 illegal firearms in the eastern part of the country in the first eight months of 2011.
- Former Guatemalan General Otto Pérez Molina has emerged as the clear frontrunner in the country’s presidential race.
- Honduran radio journalist Karla Rivas was awarded the 2011 Peter Mackler Award for courageous and ethical journalism.
- Authorities in Costa Rica arrested a doctor wanted in Texas on child molestation charges, but the country’s law prohibit him from being extradited.
- Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzón asked that the U.S. government confirm or deny Saturday’s report by the Washington Post that the U.S. aided Colombian intelligence agency DAS in illegal wiretapping and political smear campaigns against opponents of former president Álvaro Uribe.
- Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez credited Jesus, Fidel Castro and his medical team on Sunday for making it possible for him to combat his cancer, from which Chávez says he is recovering.
- Colombian national team coach Hernan Dario Gomez has officially quit his post after allegedly hitting a woman in a bar.
- Brazilian state oil company Petrobras shut down operations at a refinery in Bahia Blanca, Argentina on Monday after a fire broke out. Earlier this month, an explosion at the same plant killed a worker.
- Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timermann praised current relations between Argentina and Uruguay, remarking on their current joint bid for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
- The thirty-three miners discovered alive in the collapsed San José mine a year ago today are almost all experiencing severe mental stress, according to psychologists.
Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video @ Flickr.