- - Monday, August 27, 2012

HAVANA — Police freed leading dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer on Sunday after three days behind bars, without charges, a fellow activist said Monday.

Mr. Ferrer was arrested at his home near Santiago de Cuba on Thursday, when police raided his home and confiscated documents, work equipment and other belongings, said Elizardo Sanchez, head of the banned but tolerated Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

“He was released in the morning, without charge, as with previous arrests,” Mr. Sanchez said.

Mr. Ferrer, 41, leader of the banned Patriot Union of Cuba, was among 75 dissidents jailed and sentenced to long prison terms in 2003. He was released last year through mediation from the Catholic Church.

The latest arrest was Mr. Ferrer’s fourth this year alone. Police also took him in for three days earlier in August, for 27 days in April and for 24 hours in May because of his political activities against the communist regime of Raul Castro.


7.3-magnitude earthquake hits off coast

SAN SALVADOR — A strong magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck off the coast of El Salvador followed an hour later by a magnitude-5.4 aftershock, authorities said early Monday. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

A tsunami warning was put into effect for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama and after the quake struck at 10:37 p.m. Sunday. The warning was later rescinded.

The quake was 86 miles south-southwest of San Miguel, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on its website. The temblor took place at a depth of 32.9 miles. The second quake registered about an hour later in the same area at a depth of 35.9 miles.

Alfonso Lara, a technician with El Salvador’s Civil Protection agency said authorities were alerted to the threat of a tsunami. “We are doing a general monitoring of the entire coast through our technicians and representatives,” he said.


Death toll rises to 19 from Tropical Storm Isaac

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haiti’s death toll from Tropical Storm Isaac jumped to 19, a government official said Monday.

Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste of Haiti’s Civil Protection Office gave few details on how each person died in the storm that drenched Haiti over the weekend.

That puts the total regional death toll from the storm at 21. Two people died in the neighboring Dominican Republic after they were swept away in a river.

Some of the Haitians died because their homes fell on top of them.

Haiti is prone to flooding and mudslides because much of the country is heavily deforested and rainwater rushes down barren mountainsides.

Ms. Jean-Baptiste gave the new figures in an interview on a private radio station.


Police arrest ex-boyfriend in dismemberment case

TORONTO — The 40-year-old former boyfriend of a woman whose body parts were found scattered around Toronto has been charged with second-degree murder, the Toronto Globe & Mail reported Monday.

Peel Regional Police Inspector George Koekkoek said Jiang Chunqi was arrested Sunday. On Monday afternoon, police tape surrounded a unit registered to Mr. Jiang in a Scarborough housing complex. Police have classified the case as a domestic-related homicide.

Mr. Jiang was a construction worker of Chinese descent who arrived in Canada in 2002, Inspector Koekkoek said.

Liu Guanghua’s head, foot and hands were discovered in a river west of Toronto earlier this month. A few days later her two calves, a thigh and an arm were found in a creek in eastern Toronto.

The 41-year-old Canadian citizen of Chinese descent, was last seen alive Aug. 10 when she was dropped off at work by friends.


President declines resignations of top aides

BOGOTA — President Juan Manual Santos has refused to accept the resignation of his foreign and defense ministers but vowed major policy changes.

Mr. Santos, who is shuffling his Cabinet as he battles a slumping approval rating, said Maria Angela Holguin will keep her post as foreign minister and Juan Carlos Pinzon will stay on as defense chief.

Mr. Santos over the weekend promised a “180-degree change” in the country’s foreign policy, including resetting ties with Venezuela and Ecuador.

He also pointed to recent military successes in the fight against rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), but he acknowledged there are security “problems that needed to be resolved.”

However, Mr. Santos on Friday did accept the resignation of transportation chief Miguel Penalosa, who has been under investigation for improper contracting procedures.

All 16 Cabinet ministers resigned Wednesday, halfway through Mr. Santos’ presidential term.

He took office in August 2010 with a 70 percent approval rating a year ago, but that figure has plummeted to 45 percent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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