Top Story — Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño has proposed an ambitious plan to make Puerto Ricans bilingual in English and Spanish by the year 2022, an effort that he hopes will pave the way for U.S. statehood. Fortuño wants public schools to teach all classes in English, with the exception of Spanish literature and grammar instruction. English is currently taught from kindergarten through high school, but Education Secretary Edwin Moreno said the government would begin to introduce a new bilingual curriculum at 31 schools starting in August, with the goal of making all public school students fluent in English within 10 years. Critics including the Puerto Rico Teachers Association have said the plan is too extreme and have expressed concern about a loss of the island’s identity while statehood remains a divisive political issue. According to the U.S. census, 96 percent of Puerto Ricans speak Spanish at home.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Nine bodies were found on Friday hanging from a highway overpass in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, the same day that 14 heads were discovered in a cooler near Nuevo Laredo’s City Hall.
- Mexican authorities said Monday that they had arrested suspected 26 year-old assassin Maria Jimenez, who allegedly carried out at least 20 murders for the Zetas drug cartel.
- Authorities in Oaxaca have arrested five suspects in the slaying of a couple who went missing on December 13 and whose bodies were later discovered on December 27.
- The U.S. federal government has begun to set up temporary shelters to house a rising number of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without documents.
- Jamaica’s Labor Party and the People’s National Party are investigating claims that David Smith, now serving 30 years for wire fraud and money laundering, contributed large donations to both parties.
- Haiti’s large delegation to the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment (CHRIS) Summit in Miami shows that the island is seeking to rebrand itself as a tourism destination.
- Peasant groups and grassroots organizations in Guatemala are demanding the end to the state of siege declared by Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina in Huehuetenango after the murder of community leader Andres Francisco Miguel provoked a riot.
- The body of Honduran journalist Erick Martínez was discovered in eastern Honduras on Monday. Martínez worked for an LGBT organization and had been missing since Saturday.
- Three members of the Mara-18 gang in El Salvador have formed a rap group inside Quetzaltepeque prison in order to promote peace and prolong the truce between the Mara-18 and MS-13 gangs.
- Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón rejected demands by the FARC that the release of captured journalist Romeo Langlois be conditioned upon a discussion of the role of the press in covering Colombia’s armed conflict.
- An Ecuadoran court gave Luis Guaman a 25-year sentence for murdering a woman and her two year-old son in Massachussetts in 2011.
- More gunfire erupted at Venezuela’s La Planta prison on Tuesday as police fired teargas in an effort to put down a riot at the overcrowded facility.
- Scientists in Peru say there is no conclusive evidence yet that links the massive die-offs of pelicans and dolphins along the Peruvian coast.
- Vandals torched a Volvo belonging to the rector of the University of Santiago in the school’s parking lot just after he walked into the building. The rector was one of only two in Chile who openly supported Chile’s student protests.
- Argentina’s Olympic committee entered damage-control mode after an ad commissioned by the Argentine government and shot in the Falkland Islands caused an international outcry.
- The Brazilian Senate’s Ethics Committee unanimously decided Tuesday to suspend Senator Demostenes Torres, who is suspected of involvement in a gambling racket.
Image: USFWS/Southeast @ Flickr.