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Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

HAITI: Gov't advises evacuation of once-touted relocation camp, declares it unsafe in storm
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ It was the jewel of Haiti's post-earthquake recovery: an organized relocation camp with thousands of tents billed as hurricane-resistant, lined up in neat rows on graded mountain soil.
Now, staring down an expected hit later this week from a hurricane, officials say Corail-Cesselesse is not safe. On Tuesday, the government advised the estimated 7,850 residents of its primary relocation camp to ride out the storm somewhere else.
"We're asking people in Corail to voluntarily move from where they are and go to the houses of family or friends. The places the government has identified are churches and schools that are available for shelter from the storm," Haiti civil protection official Abel Nazaire told The Associated Press.
Camp managers held a "loudspeaker meeting" with megaphones to tell residents about the evacuation order, said Bryant Castro, the American Refugee Committee staffer managing the camp. Residents were told to seek any home they could find and are expected to start leaving as soon as Wednesday.
A hurricane over the weekend, Tropical Storm Tomas was in the central Caribbean on Tuesday with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph (65 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Its center was about 385 miles (620 kilometers) south-southwest of Port-au-Prince and moving west near 14 mph (22 kph).
Forecasters predicted it will veer north toward Haiti and perhaps regain hurricane strength by Thursday. A hurricane watch was issued for Jamaica, and the center said the storm could dump up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of rain on Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Police say singer found at airport with heroin in stomach, rushed to hospital
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ An American singer suspected of trying to smuggle more than a kilogram (2 pounds) of heroin in his stomach was detained as he tried to board a U.S.-bound flight at a Dominican airport, authorities said Tuesday.
Ramon Alcides Rodriguez, spokesman of the country's drug control agency, said that New York-born bachata singer Jimmy Bauer became sick at Santo Domingo's international airport on Monday when a couple of pellets he had swallowed apparently burst.
Bauer, whose real name is Jaime Vargas, was trying to board a flight to the United States when customs and drug authorities stopped him for "strange behavior," Rodriguez said. He said an X-ray examination of Bauer's abdomen showed dozens of pellets in his stomach.
Dominican authorities rushed Bauer to a nearby military hospital, where 88 pellets were extracted from his stomach, Rodriguez said. Two other pellets had burst, he added.
Authorities initially suspected the pellets contained cocaine, but Rodriguez said laboratory tests showed it was 1.04 kilograms (2.2 pounds) of pure heroin.
Bauer, who was hospitalized in serious condition, was being guarded by three officers of the drug agency.
The New York resident of Dominican heritage is a minor figure in bachata, a musical genre that originated in the Caribbean nation's countryside and is recognizable for its slow, sensual sound marked by bongos, maracas and the pluck of guitars.
It was not clear if Bauer, who was part of a merengue group in Puerto Rico before focusing on bachata in 2005, had a lawyer. His hometown was not immediately available.
The singer's manager, Irvin Lozada, said Tuesday he was "completely astonished" to hear of Bauer's situation in the Dominican Republic.
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CUBA: Pirouttes, not politics, as American Ballet Theatre makes long-awaited visit
HAVANA (AP) _ American Ballet Theatre dancers promised pirouettes _ not politics _ during the troupe's historic visit to Cuba this week, the first by the New York-based company since shortly after Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution turned the island into a U.S. nemesis.
America's premier ballet company was in Havana to pay homage to Cuba's most famous ballerina, 89-year-old Alicia Alonso, who danced with the American Ballet Theatre in the 1940s and 50s before returning to her homeland to found Cuba's National Ballet.
The trip is part of a surge in feel-good cultural and artistic exchanges since President Barack Obama took office in 2008, though political headway between the Cold War foes has been harder to come by.
Kevin McKenzie, artistic director of the U.S. ballet company, said the dancers were here as artists, not politicians _ but that he hoped such cultural exchanges could help improve understanding across the Straits of Florida.
"It is very difficult to say what political impact our presence here will have, because we are not politicians," he said at a press conference kicking off the trip on Tuesday. "It is not our purpose here to do anything but speak of our cultural sameness. I think it is that dialogue that will expand to brighter and more positive horizons in the future."
Alonso, who has been nearly blind for decades, continued to dance into her 70s and remains one of the most recognized prima ballerinas in the world.
Julie Kent, one of the company's best-known ballerinas, said it was a particular thrill to perform in front of the legendary dancer herself.


Updated : 2021-03-02 10:38 GMT+08:00