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Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

HAITI: Schools reopen in capital, struggle with piles of quake debris, shortage of tents
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ The official reopening of schools among the ruins of Haiti's capital brought unbridled joy Monday to students like 12-year-old Moris Rachelle.
After nearly three months on the streets with nothing to do but help her mother look after two younger brothers, Moris wore white ribbons in her hair as she ran, laughed and hugged friends she had not seen since the Jan. 12 catastrophic earthquake.
"All my friends are here," she gushed, smiling broadly. "I'm happy they are not under the rubble."
Registration for the academic year provided a major step toward normalcy for Haiti's children, and offered the first sense for how many of them have survived.
But Haiti's hard-hit education system is just beginning to recover.
The yard at Moris' public school in the western Carrefour-Feuilles district of Port-au-Prince remained covered with smashed concrete, glass, torn notebook paper. Parents did not want their children to enter a pair of concrete buildings still standing for fear they might give way from damage or an aftershock.
And there was no sign of the tents promised by the Education Ministry in sight, so the school eventually sent all the students home until next Monday.
Only a few hundred schools are expected to open this week in a country where the quake destroyed some 4,000 schools. Many are waiting for tents to teach under because nobody wants to put children back under concrete roofs.
Some community-led learning centers already opened in homeless camps, but there had been no formal education in the capital until Monday, said Edward Carwardine, a UNICEF spokesman in Port-au-Prince. He said it was impossible to say how many schools reopened Monday.
About 40 percent of schools in the hard-hit southern city of Jacmel have reopened.
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DOMREP: Man who acted as lawyer for US missionaries in Haiti to face US extradition request
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ A man who acted as a lawyer for U.S. missionaries accused of kidnapping 33 Haitian children after the devastating earthquake will face a hearing this month on a U.S. extradition request, an official said Monday.
It had been unclear whether Jorge Puello would be extradited to the U.S., where he is wanted on smuggling charges, or El Salvador, where authorities allege he led a prostitution ring.
Gisela Cueto, an assistant general prosecutor for the Dominican Republic, told The Associated Press on Monday that Puello will face extradition to the U.S. at an April 28 hearing even though the El Salvador charges are more serious. She said the Central American nation did not complete a formal extradition request.
Puello is wanted in El Salvador for alleged crimes against children; sexual exploitation of minors for pornography and prostitution; organized crime; and human trafficking. Interpol had issued an arrest warrant for Puello at El Salvador's request.
He is wanted in the U.S. state of Vermont and in Canada for allegedly smuggling illegal immigrants and in the U.S. city of Philadelphia for purported probation violations related to fraud charges, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The 32-year-old was detained last month at the United States' request as he left a McDonald's restaurant in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo.
Puello initially served as legal adviser and spokesman for the 10 U.S. Baptists who were detained in Haiti on child-kidnapping charges in February, but authorities later identified him as the man wanted in El Salvador.
He attracted international attention when he provided the missionaries with food, medicine and legal assistance.
Puello, who was born in New York and holds dual U.S.-Dominican citizenship, says he is innocent of all accusations.
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PUERTO RICO: EPA says owners of exploded fuel depot won't continue major cleanup at site
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Owners of a Puerto Rican fuel depot that spewed thick, toxic smoke across the region when storage tanks exploded last year claim financial constraints will prevent further major cleanup, federal authorities said Monday.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it will take over cleanup efforts at the Caribbean Petroleum Corp. site, where a huge explosion rocked the U.S. island's capital of San Juan on Oct. 23 and forced the evacuation of more than 1,500 people in a densely populated area.
"We're not going to slow down the work at the site because (Caribbean Petroleum) says they can't do the cleanup work now," Regional Administrator Judith Enck said in a statement. "We're taking over the work to ensure that the public and the environment are protected."
The federal agency will later seeks to recover its costs from Caribbean Petroleum.
The company and its San Juan lawyers did not return phone messages or e-mails asking for comment.
The first tank exploded as a ship piped in gasoline from San Juan Bay, shattering windows and sending tremors across the city. The fire destroyed 21 of the depot's 40 fuel storage tanks and more than 1,500 people were evacuated out of fear of contamination from the plume of toxic smoke. There were no deaths.
Two months ago, EPA officials ordered Caribbean Petroleum to resume cleanup at the site after contractors walked off the job. At the time, it was the second time cleanup crews quit working at the site.
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CUBA: 10 years later, gov't shows exile cause celebre Elian Gonzalez in military school uniform
HAVANA (AP) _ Cuba has released photos of one-time exile cause celebre Elian Gonzalez wearing an olive-green military school uniform and attending a Young Communist Union congress.
Gonzalez, now 16 with closely cropped black hair, is shown serious-faced with fellow youth delegates during last weekend's congress at a sprawling and drab convention center in western Havana. The images were posted Monday on Cuban government Web sites, then widely picked up by electronic, state-controlled media.
When he was 5, Elian was found floating off the coast of Florida in an inner tube after his mother and others fleeing Cuba drowned trying to reach the U.S. Elian's father, who was separated from his mother, had remained in Cuba.
U.S. immigration officials ruled the boy should return to Cuba over the objections of his Miami relatives and other Cuban exiles, creating a national furor that caused even presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore to weigh in on the matter.
His relatives refused to give him up. Federal agents raided the Little Havana home of his uncle with guns drawn 10 years ago this month and seized the boy from a closet to return him to his father.
Elian was celebrated as a hero in Cuba upon his return and his father, restaurant employee Juan Miguel Gonzalez, was elected to parliament _ a seat he retains today.
Cuba usually marks Gonzalez's birthday every Dec. 7 with parades and other local events, but such activities are not open to foreign reporters.
Gonzalez formally joined the Young Communist Union in 2008, making headlines across Cuba.
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JAMAICA: Police say rapper Bounty Killer charged with assaulting woman
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ A Jamaican dancehall star who has made headlines for his recurrent troubles with the law has been arrested by police again.
A police statement says rapper Bounty Killer was arrested Monday at his home in Jamaica for allegedly assaulting a girlfriend. Police did not disclose details of the alleged attack, citing an ongoing probe.
The entertainer whose offstage name is Rodney Price already is being prosecuted on previous charges of illegal possession of a firearm, marijuana possession, and unlawful wounding and assault.
Price's attorney could not be reached. He is due to be arraigned April 7.
The dancehall rapper is best known for the album "My Xperience," and his collaboration on the song "Hey Baby" with U.S. pop band No Doubt.


Updated : 2021-08-02 05:42 GMT+08:00