GUADELOUPE: Union leaders suspend 44-day-old general strike as demands are met
BASSE-TERRE, Guadeloupe (AP) _ Union leaders on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe agreed late Wednesday to suspend a 44-day-old general strike as most of their demands continue to be met.
The LKP collective warned it would resume the strike if government officials and business owners renege on their promises, which include lowering gasoline prices and raising some workers' pay by 200 euros ($252) a month.
The strike paralyzed the economy, shuttered schools and businesses and forced thousands of tourists to cancel their vacations. France sent 450 riot police when demonstrations erupted in gunfire, arson, looting and the killing of a union member. Police have arrested dozens of protesters since the strike began in late January.
Negotiations to meet other demands such as lowering prices on 54 basic necessity products are still ongoing. And not everyone was celebrating the suspension of the violent strike.
One union that forms part of the LKP Collective urged protesters to continue to block businesses and force owners to immediately increase salaries. CTU leader Alex Lollia was among the 100 protesters who remained stationed at several large businesses in the town of Jarry on Wednesday night.
On the nearby island of Martinique, a nearly monthlong strike appeared to be losing steam as well.
ANTIGUA: Stanford company dismisses 94 employees, blames 'fiscal constraints'
ST. JOHN'S, Antigua (AP) _ An Antigua-based company owned by Texas financier R. Allen Stanford has dismissed nearly 100 workers, saying it faces "fiscal constraints."
The Stanford Development Company made the announcement in a letter sent Tuesday to 94 workers.
"In light of changes in Stanford business operations in Antigua, SDC is faced with fiscal constraints and must reduce and suspend operations within individual departments," the letter stated.
The company provides maintenance, information technology, security and landscaping for other local Stanford companies.
Chief Operating Officer Arlene Winter, who signed the letter, could not be reached for comment. Caribbean Regional Managing Director Juan Rodriguez-Tolentino declined to provide details.
The layoffs come one month after the company dismissed 200 employees because of the global economic crisis.
The government of Antigua plans to take over the company as it has done with other Stanford property and assets to protect the local economy. Regional regulators already seized the Antigua-based Stanford International Bank after its owner was accused of an $8 billion fraud scheme.
PUERTO RICO: Judge orders prosecutors to prove that ex-gov knew of alleged illegal donations
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Prosecutors in the corruption trial of Puerto Rico's former governor suffered a setback on Wednesday as a judge warned they have not proved that Anibal Acevedo Vila knew campaign contributions he received were allegedly illegal.
Acevedo is accused of illegally raising money to pay off more than $500,000 in campaign debts stemming from his terms as the island's delegate to the U.S. Congress from 2000 to 2004. He also has been charged with defrauding the IRS and giving false testimony to the FBI.
Nearly 20 witnesses have testified so far in the two-week trial, but Judge Paul Barbadoro said prosecutors have yet to demonstrate that Acevedo was part of a conspiracy.
There was no immediate reaction from prosecutors. Another 10 witnesses remain to be called.
Last week, the judge asked prosecutor Maria Dominguez to submit a report detailing the upcoming testimony of witnesses who have pleaded guilty in the case. He warned that they would be barred from testimony based on hearsay.
Dominguez said at the time that prosecutors have only circumstantial _ but not direct _ evidence linking Acevedo to the alleged scheme. Barbadoro warned that if they do not provide sufficient evidence, he would drop conspiracy charges.
In December, he threw out 15 of the 24 original charges against Acevedo, ruling that they were based on a faulty reading of the U.S. commonwealth's election law.
Acevedo is the first Puerto Rican governor to face federal charges since the Caribbean island became a U.S. commonwealth in 1952. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
CUBA: With younger leaders ousted, who will succeed Castros' generation?
HAVANA (AP) _ The ouster of Cuba's two most prominent younger leaders leaves more doubt than ever about who will guide the country once the Castro brothers and their gray-haired revolutionary contemporaries are gone.
President Raul Castro is 77. His hand-picked No. 2, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, is a year his senior. And there are no obvious next-generation successors in the ranks of mostly obscure communist party officials, military officers and bureaucrats who were suddenly promoted this week in Cuba's largest leadership shake-up in decades.
A number of potential heirs-apparent have risen to Cuba's top ranks in the 50 years since Fidel and Raul Castro took power as youthful rebels, only to be cast aside, die or age into old men. The two most recent possibilities were 43-year-old Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and 57-year-old Vice President Carlos Lage, both now demoted in this week's Cabinet reshuffle.
Fidel Castro, now 82, hinted in an essay published Tuesday that Perez Roque and Lage failed to do enough to quiet whispers that they could emerge on top in a post-Castro Cuba.
The younger generation also lacks the heroic glow surrounding the aging men whose deeds are exalted in schoolbooks and on television _ serving on a provincial ideology committee doesn't have the same zing as marching with a rifle alongside Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: 700 police officers leave the department, few explanations offered
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ About 700 Dominican Republic police officers have left or been purged from the department for reasons ranging from retirement to unacceptable behavior.
It is unclear how many of the officers were fired. Police Chief Guillermo Guzman Fermin has declined to provide details about the changes to the 30,000-member force.
The military also has dismissed 91 generals, saying they were of retirement age.
President Leonel Fernandez has reiterated in recent days that he will not tolerate officer involvement in illegal activities.
Several police and military officials have been charged in connection with drug trafficking and related killings.
The announcements were made on Wednesday.
JAMAICA: Report: PM vows to maintain anti-sodomy law regardless of criticism from int'l groups
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Prime Minister Bruce Golding has vowed to keep Jamaica's anti-sodomy law on the books, regardless of criticism from gay rights advocates.
Golding told Parliament on Tuesday that described gay rights advocates are "perhaps the most organized lobby in the world" and he vowed to preserve the country's 145-year-old anti-sodomy law that prohibits sexual acts between men.
He says his administration will not "liberalize the laws" in the face of criticism from any international groups. Human Rights Watch has been urging Golding to repeal the anti-sodomy law.
Earlier this year, Golding came under fire for saying he would not allow gays in his Cabinet.
CARIBBEAN: Uehara handcuffs short-handed Dominican Republic in 6-1 Orioles exhibition win
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Playing without Alex Rodriguez, the Dominican Republic was rendered punchless by Koji Uehara and three far less notable pitchers for the Baltimore Orioles.
Uehara pitched three scoreless innings and the Dominican squad preparing for the World Baseball Classic managed only one extra-base hit _ a double by Jose Guillen _ in a 6-1 exhibition loss Wednesday.
Uehara, Baltimore's first Japanese-born player, gave up two hits and hit a batter in his second strong outing of the spring. Facing a lineup that included All-Stars David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada and Hanley Ramirez, the right-hander struck out two and threw strikes on 23 of 36 pitches.
The Dominican lineup was missing one important piece: Rodriguez, who left for Colorado for an exam by a hip specialist after an MRI last weekend revealed a cyst on his right hip.
Ortiz provided the longest drive against Uehara, a shot that was deadened by the wind and caught by Nick Markakis near the warning track.
Asked if he was concerned about the lack of power displayed by his lineup, manager Felipe Alou said, "Our concern is some of the injuries we have, some of the people we're missing. The concern here is not the hitting. Rodriguez wasn't here, and I rested two of our better players, (Jose) Reyes and (Robinson) Cano."
Those who did play were no match for Uehara, who threw first-pitch strikes to all four batters in the first inning.
CARIBBEAN: Ailing Rodriguez to visit hip specialist; future with Dominican WBC team uncertain
NEW YORK (AP) _ Alex Rodriguez has a new problem.
Hours after Rodriguez played Tuesday for the Dominican Republic in a tuneup for the World Baseball Classic, the New York Yankees announced he would get his ailing hip checked by a specialist.
An exam Saturday revealed a cyst in Rodriguez's right hip. The 33-year-old slugger is scheduled to visit Dr. Marc Philippon on Wednesday in Vail, Colo.
Rodriguez's status for the WBC was uncertain. The Dominicans' first game is Saturday against the Netherlands in Puerto Rico.
It has been a rough spring training for the All-Star third baseman.
Rodriguez arrived at the Yankees' camp last month in Tampa, Fla., shortly after a report that he had positive for steroids in 2003. During a news conference, he admitted he had used performance-enhancing drugs in 2001-03, saying they came from the Dominican and were provided by his cousin.
Rodriguez went 1-for-3 with a double and scored Tuesday in the Dominicans' 10-1 win over the Florida Marlins in Jupiter, Fla. He left after 4 1/2 innings, and did not disclose his ailment during postgame interviews.
Rodriguez felt tightness and stiffness in his right hip this spring and was examined by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad on Saturday, the Yankees said. An MRI exam showed the cyst.
TRINIDAD: Sarwan confident consistency can seal series win for West Indies
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) _ Prolific batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan is confident West Indies can produce another consistent performance against England in the fifth and final cricket test beginning on Friday and clinch a long-awaited series victory.
West Indies, which leads England 1-0 entering the finale, has not won a test series since 2004, when it beat whipping boys Bangladesh at home _ a span of 13 series. The Caribbean side last beat a team ranked above it in the rankings a year earlier when it edged Sri Lanka 1-0 at home.
Sarwan has been West Indies' and the series' standout, with scores of 107, 94, 106 and a career-best 291 in the drawn fourth test in Barbados.
West Indies was on the cusp of winning back the Wisden Trophy for the first time since 2000 when England began a stretch of four series wins in which it won 13 of 17 tests and lost just once.
West Indies retained the same 13-member squad from Barbados but underachieving fast bowler Daren Powell was under threat from rookie Lionel Baker, who played his only test in New Zealand last December.
Pacer Jerome Taylor was nursing a sore left ankle but was expected to be included.
England confirmed that Matt Prior, who missed the fourth test in Barbados to spend time with his wife and newborn son back in the United Kingdom, will come straight back into the 11 for the series decider.
GUADELOUPE: Union leaders suspend 44-day-old general strike as demands are met