- - Monday, August 22, 2011

HONDURAS

Land war intensifies with more killings

TEGUCIGALPA — A land war in rural Honduras intensified over the weekend with the killings of four people, including leaders of two farm workers unions, an activist said Monday.

Assailants killed a man and his wife Sunday night on their return home from a wake for Secundino Ruiz, a farm workers’ leader gunned down Saturday, said Rafael Alegria, a leader of Via Campesina.

Gunmen burst into the home of the latest victims and opened fire on Pedro Canales and his wife, Reina Mejia, who was also attacked with machetes, Mr. Alegria said.

The killings occurred in Bajo Aguan, a rural community 370 miles northeast of Tegucigalpa that has been the scene of escalating conflicts over land that prompted the government on Friday to send in troops and police.

The land conflict, which dates back two years, has left about 50 people dead. At the center of the conflict is a takeover by farm workers of about 10,000 acres of land planted with African palm.

TRINIDAD

Prime minister eyes emergency powers to fight crime

PORT OF SPAIN — Trinidad and Tobago’s prime minister has announced she intends to declare a limited state of emergency in designated areas of the country in response to a surge in violent crime.

The move followed seven murders late last week in three separate incidents, which Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar blamed on a reaction by gangs to recent drug seizures by police.

President George Maxwell Richards must approve any state of emergency. Mrs. Persad-Bissessar said she would meet with him and opposition leader Keith Rowley about the plan.

She said her national security council had decided to impose a limited state of emergency in nearly 20 “hot spots” around the country.

She said the aim was to “halt the current spike in gang activity and crime in general in the shortest possible time.”

ARUBA

Police open new search for missing Maryland woman

ORANJESTAD — Police on Monday launched a new search for the remains of a missing U.S. woman or evidence against her traveling companion authorities have detained.

Search teams fanned out in the northeast of the Dutch Caribbean island. Previous efforts focused in the south, near where Maryland businessman Gary Giordano says Robyn Gardner disappeared while snorkeling.

Aruban authorities have not announced whether they will search other parts of the island. Solicitor General Taco Stein earlier said police hope to find Miss Gardner’s body or evidence to help build a case against Mr. Giordano.

Mr. Giordano has been detained on suspicion of involvement in the presumed death of the 35-year-old woman from Maryland. He has denied wrongdoing.

VENEZUELA

Chavez’s supporters shave heads in solidarity

CARACAS | Supporters of President Hugo Chavez shaved their heads in solidarity with their leader’s struggle against cancer, as hundreds prayed and sang at a televised event over the weekend.

Barbers sheared off the hair of several men and at least one woman, while the crowd swayed to a religious song. Mr. Chavez, who shaved his head after starting to lose his hair because of chemotherapy, smiled and waved to the crowd.

He said he may undergo a third round of chemotherapy but expressed optimism that the worst of his illness has passed.

CANADA

Tornado kills man in Ontario town

GODERICH — A powerful tornado swept through a southwestern Ontario town over the weekend, killing one person and causing severe devastation in the picturesque community on the shores of Lake Huron.

Police identified the victim as Norman Laberge, 61, of Lucknow, Ontario, who was working in a salt mine in the town when the storm hit.

The twister was the most powerful tornado to hit Ontario in years, officials said.

Downtown businesses, century-old buildings and several churches lost their roofs and upper floors as the tornado ripped through Goderich.

Television images showed downed power lines, trees and debris strewn across streets, while witnesses described cars being picked up and thrown like toys.