- - Monday, February 21, 2011


Work starts on China-backed resort

NASSAU | Developers broke ground Monday on a Chinese-financed mega-resort with 2,000 rooms, believed to be the largest project of its kind in the Caribbean.

Baha Mar is a $3.4 billion project in the Bahamian capital of Nassau. It will include four hotels, a golf course and the Caribbean’s largest casino.

Baha Mar President Don Robinson said the resort will open in December 2014. Chinese government officials joined Mr. Robinson and Bahamian officials at the groundbreaking.

China’s Export-Import Bank is financing Baha Mar, and the state-owned construction company will build much of the project.


Officials plan activities for Obama’s daughters

BRASILIA | President Obama’s daughters will enjoy a host of educational activities when they arrive for an official visit next month with their parents, state media reported Monday.

Pinning down the exact plans for Malia, 12, and Sasha, 9, has been a “challenge,” according to U.S. and Brazilian diplomats, the official Agencia Brasil reported.

Mr. Obama is due to hold talks with President Dilma Rousseff on his first visit to Latin America, which begins March 19. He is due to deliver a speech in Rio de Janeiro on March 20, the report said.

U.S. officials have been scouting five slums in the city for a possible venue for the speech, a source in Rio’s public security secretariat said earlier this month.


Law allows police calls for home smokers

TEGUCIGALPA | The last refuge is vanishing for besieged smokers — at least in Honduras.

A new law says family members can call in the police on people who smoke at home.

The law bans all smoking in most closed public or private spaces and orders smokers to stand at least six feet away from nonsmokers in any open space.

The law that went into effect on Monday doesn’t clearly ban smoking at home, but it expressly says relatives or visitors can summon police to deal with smokers at home.

Some analysts say the law will be almost impossible to enforce in the Central American nation, which is also a significant producer of cigars.


Bogota closing trade deal with S. Korea

BOGOTA | Colombia expects to finish a free-trade pact with South Korea before the end of June and then focus on a deal with Japan as it tries to break into Asian markets, its trade minister said on Monday.

The Andean nation was shaken in 2009 after key trade partner Venezuela drastically reduced commerce. Coupled with high dependence on the United States where a free-trade deal is stalled in Congress, Colombia was forced to diversify its market partners, analysts say. Colombia is the world’s fifth-largest coal exporter.

“The treaty is fundamental for the entry of Colombia into Asia, to open up more markets. It will help us as the first exercise to open [trade] with other countries,” said Sergio Diaz Granados, minister for trade, industry and tourism.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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