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Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

PUERTO RICO: Alleged drug kingpin arrested after decade-long hunt by federal authorities
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Federal authorities arrested a fugitive alleged drug kingpin Saturday after a decade-long chase through the Caribbean marked by his narrow escapes and public taunting that he paid off police to remain free.
Known as the Pablo Escobar of the Caribbean, Jose Figueroa Agosto was caught wearing a wig while driving through a working-class Dominican neighborhood of San Juan. When he realized he was being followed, he tried to run on foot as he had last September in the Dominican Republic after a pursuing vice squad shot out a tire on his Jeep.
But this time U.S. Marshals, FBI, drug enforcement agents and Puerto Rican police caught up.
"We asked him his name, and he simply answered that we knew who he was," said Antonio Torres, who heads the U.S. Marshal Service's fugitive task force in Puerto Rico.
"It is a tremendous arrest, definitely," U.S. Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodriguez told a news conference Saturday, where she was surrounded by other cheerful federal authorities.
Escobar, the Colombian drug lord of the 1980s, was an escaped convict who died in a shootout with police in 1993.
Figueroa, who was 45 in March, is suspected of shipping Colombian drugs to the U.S. mainland through Puerto Rico, where he escaped from prison in 1999 after presenting a forged release order. He had served only four years of a 209-year sentence for killing a man suspected of stealing a cocaine shipment.
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PUERTO RICO: Storm hits sports festival stadium in Puerto Rico, injures 5
MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico (AP) _ A waterspout slammed into the stadium where thousands of people were expected to gather for the inauguration of the Central American and Caribbean Games on Saturday, injuring at least five people and forcing officials to delay the opening ceremony.
The storm ripped down scaffolding workers were using to add final touches to the Jose Figueroa Olympic Stadium, toppling the metal onto cars below.
One of the victims had three of his fingers amputated and a 3-year-old received minor injuries on one hand.
Officials evacuated people who had already arrived at the stadium, which is close to the shore on Puerto Rico's western coast.
Competition in the games is scheduled to start Sunday and run through Aug. 2.
Thirty-one countries are participating in the games, which include diving, swimming, track and field, fencing and boxing. The soccer matches, however, will be played in Venezuela on dates that have not yet been announced.
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CARIBBEAN: Justices say US can send back 2 Gitmo prisoners who say they fear torture
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court has cleared the way for the U.S. to send two Guantanamo Bay prisoners back to Algeria even though they want to remain at the prison camp because of fear they might be tortured at home.
Justices on Saturday declined to hear the appeal of Aziz Abdul Naji, held at Guantanamo since 2002 after being captured in Pakistan. That ruling follows the high court's decision late Friday that allowed the U.S. government to proceed in transferring another Algerian detainee back home.
Both detainees had argued they would be harmed by the Algerian government or unaffiliated armed Islamic militants if they were to be released.
They are among six Algerian detainees at Guantanamo who say they rather remain at the prison camp in Cuba than return to their home country where political turmoil has claimed thousands of lives in recent years.
A federal judge this year initially barred the U.S. government from repatriating one of the detainees to Algeria until there were more assurances that he would be treated humanely. An appeals court later overturned that order.
On Friday, the Supreme Court _ with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissenting _ backed the decision of the appeals court in saying the detainee should be sent back.
The U.S. government says it has assurances that the Algerian detainees will not be abused.
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HAITI: Magnitude-4.3 quake strikes northwestern region, no reports of damage
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ A light, magnitude-4.3 earthquake struck northwestern Haiti before dawn Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
The tremor shook the sea floor 15 miles (30 kilometers) west of the coastal city of Gonaives around 2:01 a.m. (3:01 a.m. EDT, 0701 GMT). No damage or injuries have been reported, but it alarmed some people in the quake-stunned nation.
The region felt but was not damaged by the Jan. 12 earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince 95 miles (150 kilometers) to the south.
But Saturday's tremor unnerved many in the region, which houses some who fled the devastation in the capital six months ago.
The port city is already on guard for the ongoing hurricane season. Tropical storms completely flooded its historic downtown in 2004 and 2008, killing thousands.
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CARIBBEAN: Dengue epidemic threatens region as number of infections and deaths increase
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Mosquito-borne dengue fever is reaching epidemic stages across the Caribbean, with dozens of deaths reported and health authorities concerned it could get much worse as the rainy season advances.
The increase in cases is being blamed on warm weather and an unusually early rainy season, which has produced an explosion of mosquitoes. Health officials say the flood of cases is straining the region's hospitals.
In the Dominican Republic, where at least 27 deaths have been reported, hundreds of health workers and soldiers went door-to-door Saturday to warn about the virus and destroy mosquito breeding areas.
Hospitals in Trinidad are running out of beds, and Puerto Rico is facing what officials say could be its worst dengue outbreak in more than a decade.
At least five people have died in the U.S. Caribbean territory, and another 6,300 suspected cases have been reported as of mid-July, she told The Associated Press.
Only 100 more cases were reported during the same period in 1998, which marked the island's worst dengue outbreak.
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PUERTO RICO: Mother detained in beating death of Puerto Rican 2-year-old
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Police in Puerto Rico have detained a woman who they say confessed to biting, burning and beating her 2-year-old son to death.
Police say in a statement that the boy's body showed cigarette burns, bite marks on his back and signs he had been punched several times. They say the mother told police she was angry after a fight with her partner and took it out on her son.
The 18-year-old mother has not yet been charged.
Police say the boy was declared dead Friday at a hospital in the western coastal city of Mayaguez.
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CARIBBEAN: Dutch, Venezuelan diplomats talk differences, cooperation after Chavez complaint
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ The foreign ministers of the Netherlands and Venezuela have discussed differences and agreed to strengthen cooperation after President Hugo Chavez's government protested what it called violations of its airspace by a Dutch military aircraft.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen met with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolas Maduro, who called it a welcome opportunity to discuss "the differences we have and to be able to communicate more closely and build an agenda," the Venezuelan government said Saturday in a statement.
The talks Friday night came three days after Venezuela complained that a Dutch military aircraft violated its airspace three times earlier this month.
Chavez on Wednesday also publicly questioned how long the Dutch islands off Venezuela's coast will remain part of the Netherlands and said he believes they will one day be independent.
Verhagen was accompanied by the leaders of the nearby Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles.


Updated : 2021-08-04 23:46 GMT+08:00