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Caribbean news briefs

Caribbean news briefs

PUERTO RICO: Officials double police presence for New Year's Eve, fearful of violence after deadly 2008
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Puerto Rico is dispatching thousands of extra police to keep the peace Wednesday night, amid worries that the island's deadliest year in more than a decade could be the harbinger of a bloody New Year's Eve.
At least 7,500 officers were expected to work overnight, more than twice the normal deployment, to crack down on alcohol-fueled violence, as well as the drunk driving and celebratory gunfire that have marred the holiday in the past, said Pedro Toledo, the island's police superintendent.
"We are going to have a busy night," said Toledo, who leaves the position this week. Luis Fortuno, who was elected governor in November on pledges to improve the economy and fight crime, has nominated a veteran FBI agent to replace him.
The change in leadership comes as Puerto Rico marks a grim milestone, surpassing 800 homicides for the first calendar year since 1996. It is not a record _ the total hit nearly 1,000 in 1994 _ but Toledo and the incoming chief, Jose Figueroa Sancha, agree it is a worrisome trend.
Early Wednesday, authorities found the body of a 19-year-old in the town of Catano, just west of San Juan, who had been shot about 20 times. He was at least the 807th homicide victim for the year, up from 728 in 2007.
Authorities say the majority of the killings in Puerto Rico are related to drug gang turf wars in public housing complexes and poor neighborhoods.
CUBA: From jungle hut, Castro led final phase of a revolution that turns 50 on Thursday
COMANDANCIA DE LA PLATA, Cuba (AP) _ Before he was Cuba's unchallenged "Maximum Leader," Fidel Castro was a guerrilla warrior who slept in a hut made of sticks and palm leafs, with a hole-in-the-ground outhouse at the bottom of a hill.
Castro was 31 when he arrived in 1958 at this hideout deep in the cloud-forest jungles of eastern Cuba's Sierra Maestra mountains, and led a rebellion that would topple dictator Fulgencio Batista as New Year's Day 1959 dawned.
Among his few luxuries, in a camp where 250 fighters slept on the soggy ground, were his double bed, kitchen and deck.
His hut had a writing desk under wooden shelves lined with photographs of his childhood and books including Machiavelli's "The Prince." It was at this desk that he scrawled a note to Celia Sanchez, a top rebel fighter and his rumored mistress, after Batista's air force bombed a nearby village. "The Americans will pay dearly" for supporting Batista's military, he wrote.
"Once this fight is finished, I'll begin the real struggle of my life, the fight I will wage against them," he wrote, calling it his "true destiny."
The area is now a museum, and on display in the hut is a kerosine refrigerator that supporters brought to him _ with a bullet hole inflicted during an ambush by government troops on the way up.
JAMAICA: Vincent Ford, credited with writing Bob Marley classic 'No Woman, No Cry,' dies
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Vincent Ford, a songwriter credited with composing the Bob Marley reggae classic "No Woman, No Cry," has died in Jamaica. He was 68.
Ford died Sunday at a hospital of complications from diabetes, said Paul Kelly, a spokesman for the Kingston-based Bob Marley Foundation.
The song, which appeared on Marley's 1974 "Natty Dread" album, was inspired by the Kingston ghetto of Trench Town where Marley and Ford lived in the 1960s.
Ford is credited with the tune. However, some critics contend that Marley wrote it himself but gave Ford the credit to help his friend support himself with the royalties.
Ford, who ran a soup kitchen and lost both his legs to diabetes, is also credited with three songs on Marley's 1976 album "Rastaman Vibration."
Marley died of cancer in Miami in 1981 at age 36 and remains one of this Caribbean island's most beloved national heroes.
BAHAMAS: China to help build sports stadium, provides $7.3 million grant
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ China is offering to help build a national sports stadium in the Bahamas.
The Bahamas' foreign affairs minister says construction will start early next year in the capital of Nassau. Brent Symonette says China will send the Bahamas a $7.3 million grant as well as Chinese construction workers who will build the stadium.
The Bahamas announced the agreement on Tuesday.
China has funded several projects in the Caribbean, including a multimillion dollar cricket stadium that it built in Grenada last year. The Caribbean island switched alliances from Taiwan to rival China in 2005.
JAMAICA: Truck driver turns himself in after crash that killed 14
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ A Jamaican truck driver has turned himself in to police after a crash that killed 14 people earlier this month.
Authorities say 31-year-old Christopher Devon Clarke arrived at a police station with his attorney. A police statement says he is undergoing counseling but has not been charged.
Clarke is alleged to have fled after the truck plunged into a 20-foot (6-meter) ravine on Dec. 19, when it was loaded with 21 people headed to a market.
Police say he may have feared mob violence.
Transportation Minister Mike Henry said Wednesday that the government is launching a driver's education campaign next year to reduce the 280 fatal accidents reported in 2008.


Updated : 2021-04-14 05:01 GMT+08:00