Author: admin

Thailand confirms Zikalinked birth defects following CDC travel advisory

first_img Share Tags: Asia, Travel Alert, Zika Thailand confirms Zika-linked birth defects following CDC travel advisory Travelweek Group Friday, September 30, 2016 center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by TORONTO — U.S. health officials has advised pregnant women to avoid nonessential travel to 11 destinations in Southeast Asia due to the potential risk of Zika infection.According to Time magazine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) listed 11 countries in its latest advisory: Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste (East Timor) and Vietnam.The CDC said Zika is endemic to Southeast Asia, which means many local residents are believed to be immune. However, it is believed that travellers are most likely not.“Pregnant women travelling to Southeast Asia could become infected with Zika virus,” said the CDC. “The level of this risk is unknown and likely lower than in areas where Zika virus is newly introduced and spreading widely.”Authorities in Thailand have confirmed that two cases of babies with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads, were caused by the Zika virus, the first such cases found in Southeast Asia.More news:  Virgin Voyages de-activates Quebec accounts at FirstMates agent portalDr. Prasert Thongcharoen, a senior Health Ministry official, said in a statement Friday that the linkage to Zika was confirmed by laboratory tests in two of three cases of babies afflicted with microcephaly. The results were inconclusive in the third case.The World Health Organization urged countries in the region to take stronger measures to contain the virus. The U.N. agency said the cases are the first of Zika-associated microcephaly in Southeast Asia.Statistics issued by Thai health officials show more than 300 confirmed Zika cases since the start of the year.“Zika virus infection is a serious threat to the health and wellbeing of a pregnant woman and her unborn child. Countries across the region must continue to strengthen measures aimed at preventing, detecting and responding to Zika virus transmission,” WHO Southeast Asia regional director Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a statement.With file from The Associated Presslast_img read more

Viking Sky sets sail on maiden voyage through the Mediterranean

first_img Tuesday, February 28, 2017 LOS ANGELES — Viking Ocean Cruises celebrated the maiden voyage of its third ship, Viking Sky, which sailed from Rome to Barcelona on Feb. 28. Sister ship to Viking Star and Viking Sea, the 930-guest Viking Sky will sail throughout the Western and Eastern Mediterranean before heading to Scandinavia and the Baltics this summer, then will finish out the year in the Americas and the Caribbean.“As we officially welcome our third ship to the fleet, it is a proud moment for the entire Viking family. We continue to see a positive response from our guests and the industry, which makes us confident in our future growth,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “We started in the cruise business 20 years ago, and our philosophy is still the same – we do not try to be everything to everyone. We are a destination-oriented small ship cruise line, and as we prepare to introduce a fourth ocean ship by the end of 2017, we look forward to introducing even more guests to The Viking Way of exploration.”Viking’s fourth ship, Viking Sun, will be delivered in November and will spend her inaugural voyage sailing the company’s first-ever World Cruise. Viking Spirit will join the fleet in 2018 and will sail itineraries in Australia, Asia and Alaska. A sixth yet-to-be-named ship will be delivered in 2019, making Viking the largest small ship cruise line.More news:  Venice to ban cruise ships from city centre starting next monthEvery cruise fare includes a guided excursion in each port, with additional optional excursion programs available. For example:‘The Hermitage Behind Closed Doors’ in St. Petersburg, Russia – Offered on the 15-day ‘Viking Homelands’ itinerary, guests receive a Privileged Access view of the vaults of one of the world’s greatest art collections at the Hermitage Museum.‘Vistas, Vikings & The Village Woodturner’ in Torshavn, Faroe Islands – Available on the 15-day ‘In the Wake of the Vikings’ itinerary, guests can gain insight into daily village life and the rich Viking heritage as they explore the village of Kvivik, site of a 10th-century Viking settlement.‘A Taste of Provence’ in Toulon, France – Guests on the 17-day ‘Catalonia to Greece’ itinerary can enjoy a private cooking lesson at a 19th-century house in the scenic Provençal countryside from Michelin-star rated Master Chef of France, Monsieur Bérard.‘Nazareth & The Sea of Galilee’ in Haifa, Israel – Offered on the 15-day ‘Cities of Antiquity & the Holy Land’ itinerary, guests can choose to visit some of the most important places in the life of Jesus on this excursion through Canaan, Nazareth, Cana, Capernaum and Tabgha.‘King Crab Safari’ in Honningsvåg, Norway – Available on the 15-day ‘Into the Midnight Sun’ itinerary, guests can set off in a deep-sea raft into the waters of Sarnesfjorden to catch their own king crab.‘Evening Concert on the Island of Our Lady of the Rocks’ in Kotor, Montenegro – On the 10-day ‘Empires of the Mediterranean’ itinerary, guests can embark on a boat for the island of Gospa od Škrpjela, or Our Lady of the Rocks, to enjoy an exclusive and intimate guitar recital by two Montenegrin musicians, Darko Nikcevic and Srdjan Bultaovic.More news:  Rome enforces ban on sitting on Spanish StepsIn addition, with ‘Viking Inclusive Value’, every cruise fare includes a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service—an included value of more than US$200 per person, per day for an average cruise.More information available at Viking Sky sets sail on maiden voyage through the Mediterranean Share Posted bycenter_img Travelweek Group Tags: Mediterranean, Viking Cruises << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Whos on top Monarcca posts list of bestreviewed sun resorts destinations

first_imgWho’s on top? posts list of best-reviewed sun resorts, destinations Riu Palace Peninsula, CancunTop 3 best for couples1. Riu Palace Peninsula, Cancun2. Riu Palace Costa Rica3. Sunset Plaza Beach, Puerto Vallarta Tags:, Sun Destinations Top 3 best for seniors1. Iberostar Parque Central, Havana2. Dreams Delight Playa Bonita Panama, Panama City3. Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas and Decameron Cartagena << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by Share The Hideaway at Royalton Riviera CancunTop 3 best restaurants1. The Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancun2. Royalton Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Riviera Maya3. Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka An, Riviera Maya MONTREAL — has released its ranking of the most popular hotels with Canadian travellers, based on more than 120,000 hotel and resort reviews posted by Canadian travellers in 2016. This is the seventh year that has posted its ranking of the most popular sun destinations and resorts.Resort ratings incorporate criteria such as overall appreciation of the property, restaurants, beaches, cleanliness and value for money. Sun destinations include Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, the D.R., Grenada, Guadeloupe, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Saint Lucia, St. Maarten and Turks and Caicos.Here are’s rankings, according to’s user reviews:MexicoTop 3 most popular destinations1. Mexico2. Cuba3. Las Vegas Royalton Cayo Santa MariaTop 3 best beaches1. Royalton Cayo Santa Maria2. Beaches Turks and Caicos3. Iberostar Ensenachos, Cayo Santa Maria Travelweek Group Iberostar Parque Central, HavanaTop 3 best for singles1. Iberostar Parque Central, Havana2. Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas3. Tropicana, Puerto Vallarta Iberostar Rose Hall Suites, Montego BayTop 3 best for families1. Iberostar Rose Hall Suites, Montego Bay2. Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta3. Barcelo Karmina Palace Deluxe, Manzanillo and Iberostar Parque Central, Havana Thursday, March 30, 2017 Azul Ixtapa Grand Resort, IxtapaTop 3 best quality versus price1. Azul Ixtapa Grand Resort, Ixtapa2. Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado, Samana3. Riu Palace Peninsula, CancunTop 3 best overall evaluation1. Azul Ixtapa Grand Resort, Ixtapa2. Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka An, Riviera Maya3. Sunset Plaza Beach, Puerto Vallartalast_img read more

The unlikely alliance between agents OTAs as Expedia TAAP reaches 15000 mark

first_img About Latest Posts Kathryn FolliottEditor at TravelweekKathryn is Editor at Travelweek and has worked for the company since 1995. She has travelled to more than 50 countries and counts Hong Kong, Jerusalem, the Swiss Alps and the Galapagos Islands among her favourite destinations. Latest posts by Kathryn Folliott (see all) “They need to go where the bucks are”: Agents on ACTA partnership – April 18, 2019 As the cost of doing business climbs, host agencies, retail groups say they have options – April 4, 2019 As of 2021 Europe-bound clients will need to apply online for a visa waiver and pay a fee – April 3, 2019 The unlikely alliance between agents, OTAs as Expedia TAAP reaches 15,000 mark in Canada << Previous PostNext Post >> Wednesday, May 31, 2017 Kathryn Folliott Posted by This article originally ran in the May 25th, 2017 issue of Travelweek magazine. Canadian travel agents can subscribe for free to receive the magazine weekly here. TORONTO — Flashback to 1996: Travel agencies are still reeling from the first wave of airline commission caps a year earlier. Then Expedia and arrive on the scene. More online travel agencies (OTAs) start coming out of the woodwork, and suddenly the bricks-and-mortar retail travel industry is staring down huge revenue losses from the commission caps (and then cuts) just as OTAs begin siphoning off ever-increasing numbers of clientele. Few thought travel agents could survive the one-two punch, and the vultures were out.And now? Just over 20 years later, the travel agents who survived (and later thrived) are earning commissions on everything from hotels to packages, car rentals and attractions from a most unlikely ally: the OTAs. Competition makes strange bedfellows and that’s as true in the travel industry as anywhere else.Aren’t OTAs the bad guys?’s Managing Director, Americas, Todd Dunlap says he thinks “some of that stuff is a little overstated”. is currently testing out its for Travel Agents trade platform, with tools the company says will help agents make and manage bookings for clients. It says travel agents who join the platform will be eligible for similar partner benefits as all affiliate partners. The company currently has some 12,500 affiliates.Aren’t OTAs the bad guys?Dunlap, who was at the opening of the Toronto office last month, says handles millions of contacts every year. Some of those are from business travellers and corporate travel agencies. “We discovered one in five of our bookers were booking for business. So we’re looking at optimizing and growing that side of the business.”And it’s not just travel agents booking corporate through OTAs, but leisure too. What about commissions? Dunlap wouldn’t reveal percentages at this stage but said’s agent platform “will have tailored solutions for travel agents.” The OTA looks at the travel agent category as a strategic partnership, he added. “There’s power in selection. [Travel agents] have great access to conventional inventory. Now they may be looking for unconventional inventory because there’s a demand for that. If I’m a travel agent, I’m looking for inventory, and I’m looking for the best solutions for my clients.” got its start in Amsterdam in 1996 and was sold to OTA behemoth The Priceline Group (parent company of and for US$133 million in 2005. The site now claims 1.2 million active properties in 220 countries, and 1.2 million room nights booked every 24 hours.Luxury hotel Ciragan Palace in Istanbul won’t be found on Booking.comThe road to working with travel agencies is paved with good intentions but isn’t always smooth: in Turkey, the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies this past spring succeeded in blocking from offering Turkish hotels to Turkish consumers in a court case that cites “unjust competition against travel agencies.” Talks are now underway to find a solution that works for both sides.More news:  Consolidation in the cruise industry as PONANT set to acquire Paul Gauguin CruisesWhen’s travel agent platform does launch, it will have strong competition from Expedia TAAP. Since arriving in Canada in 2010 Expedia TAAP (Travel Agent Affiliate Program) has seen year-over-year consistent growth, says Katrina Moseley, Travel Agent Distribution Manager, Expedia TAAP. Worldwide it has more than 70,000.Moseley says she gets good feedback from agents about Expedia TAAP’s on-time payments and the fact that commissions are based on gross booking volume versus net. Base commission rates range from 3 – 11% on hotels, to 3 – 5% for vacation packages including flight and hotel, to 6% on car rentals and 10% on activities and attractions. Commission rates go up for TAAP Preferred Partners.Agents who enroll in Expedia TAAP also get customer support via a dedicated TAAP team, she said. “Agents can visit the program as need. Agents do not need to book with Expedia TAAP exclusively… we’re a one-stop shop [and] offer competitive commissions on multiple lines of business.”TAAP hotel rates are the same rates as those seen on Expedia.comMoseley adds that since displayed TAAP hotel rates are the same rates as those seen on, “agents are not only potentially less at risk of losing customers who book their hotels through other sources, but are also are provided with the opportunity to further solidify their client relationships”.Expedia TAAP now counts about 15,000 active travel agents in the Canadian market. Niche Travel Group’s Faith Sproule, in Dartmouth, NS says she dips into the program as needed. “The hotel rates are often less than every wholesaler that I look at. Great hotels at great prices, transfers and day tours [although] it’s a sin that they messed with the 10% commission on hotels and started to tier the commission.”Asked if he’s seeing an increase in the number of agents making bookings on OTA agent platforms, Flemming Friisdahl, Founder, The Travel Agent Next Door said that companies like or Expedia TAAP/ Expedia Affiliate Network programs are getting more traction than 10 years ago for 3 simple reasons: price, availability and convenience. “They are huge hotel aggregators and they are starting to do things that traditional vendors of selling hotels cannot do. They have a lot of selection and they are paying commission. Some of the OTAs in Canada have hotel-only programs on their site and they are being back-ended by companies like It may surprise people in the industry to know what companies use these companies.”More news:  Air Canada’s global sales update includes Managing Director, Canada & USA SalesFlemming adds that many times a hotel is only being booked for an overnight, or pre / post a cruise or a quick getaway, “so the agent is not looking at the hotel as being the portion they will make money from. The majority of money will be made on the package/tour/cruise. Also sometimes the agent will do a hotel-only booking to simply help a good customer from a customer service perspective.”Should traditional wholesalers be taking notice and be concerned? It’s surprising to learn how many traditional wholesalers include pricing from Expedia or in their pricing structure, he says. “The average agent may simply not know this. But the traditional wholesalers are paying attention and it is a concern.”Down the line, with more of these OTA agent platform bookings preferred supplier agreements could take a hit, although Friisdahl says he believes there is room for everyone. “Every single supplier (almost) sells directly to the end user, either through their wholesale brand directly to the consumer or through an agency name to the consumer. Some ITC suppliers do both. So the world is changing … we must go where we find the best commission and pricing to make sure we retain a customer.” Share Tags: OTAs, Trend Watchlast_img read more

LATAM cabin crew couple gets married onboard by the Pope

first_img<< Previous PostNext Post >> SANTIAGO, CHILE — Imagine being married by none other than the Pope. No pressure, right?LATAM cabin crew managers Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriaga and Paula Podest Ruiz recently accompanied Pope Francis on his flight from Santiago to Iquique. The Holy See is currently on an official visit to Chile and Peru.The couple, who were married in a civil marriage ceremony back in 2010, had planned a church ceremony as well. But an earthquake that hit southern Chile in March 2010 ended up damaging their wedding venue, forcing them to postpone the marriage.Nearly eight years later and the couple finally got their wish. While on the papal flight, they approached Pope Francis to simply request a blessing, but the pontiff did one better and offered to perform the marriage ceremony onboard.“We always wanted to get married in the eyes of the church and it was something that was pending, but we never thought it would be the Pope that would do it. We have received the best possible wedding gift and we are very lucky,” said Ruiz. Share Posted by Travelweek Group center_img LATAM cabin crew couple gets married onboard by the Pope Tags: LATAM Friday, January 19, 2018 last_img read more

HALs Nieuw Statendam more staterooms and an even bigger Pinnacle Suite

first_img SEATTLE — Holland America Line’s newest 2,666-guest Pinnacle-Class ship will have eight more staterooms than its sister ship, a redesigned Pinnacle Suite – the largest on the ship – as well as reconfigured Family Staterooms.Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam is set to debut in December 2018. While much of the ship’s design will be similar to sister ship Koningsdam, the first Pinnacle Class ship, Nieuw Statendam will have exclusive public spaces and its own style, says the cruise line. Meanwhile Nieuw Statendam will still offer all the stateroom innovations introduced on Koningsdam, including single-cruiser accommodations, as well as a wider range of suite configurations. “As with every new ship, we’ve listened to guest feedback and made our own assessments that have led to exciting changes to Nieuw Statendam that will enhance our stateroom experience across every category,” says Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford. Nieuw Statendam adds five more ocean-view and three more interior staterooms, bringing the total stateroom count to 1,339. More news:  ‘Turn around year’ for TPI brings double-digit growthThe ship has 103 oceanview and 280 interior staterooms ranging from 225 to 266 square feet. The ship will also have 851 verandah or verandah spa accommodations, bringing the total staterooms that have a verandah, including suites, to 912.The 32 family oceanview staterooms range from 222 to 231 square feet and have been reconfigured for more living space. The family staterooms accommodate up to five passengers and have two bathrooms and extra closet space. The 12 single ocean-view staterooms for solo cruisers range from 127 to 172 square feet and are located on the forward main deck.Meanwhile the Pinnacle Suite is an expansive 1,290 square feet with a bedroom, living room, dining area, dressing room and private verandah with whirlpool. Nieuw Statendam’s Pinnacle Suite was reconfigured to offer an open-concept design with the living room and dining area in one large space. Forty-three Neptune Suites and two Neptune Spa Suites range from 465 to 855 square feet. Guests in these accommodations as well as the Pinnacle Suite have access to the exclusive Neptune Lounge with the personalized service of a concierge. More news:  CIE Tours launches first-ever River Cruise CollectionThe 14 Signature Suites are up to 400 square feet in size, and the 104 Vista Suites range from 260 to 356 square feet. Special amenities, include oversized bath towels, fresh flowers, a pillow menu, mini bar and one-touch phone concierge service.Spa Suites or Verandah Spa, Outside Spa or Inside Spa staterooms are located near the Greenhouse Spa & Salon, and come with yoga mats for use during the voyage and an iPod docking station. Friday, March 16, 2018 Posted by Share HAL’s Nieuw Statendam: more staterooms and an even bigger Pinnacle Suitecenter_img Travelweek Group Tags: Holland America Line << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Minister says 8 tourism deaths in DR not unusual

first_img Monday, June 24, 2019 SANTO DOMINGO — The D.R.’s tourism minister has weighed in on the deaths of eight U.S. tourists in the D.R. this year, saying the deaths are not part of a mysterious wave of fatalities but a medically and statistically normal phenomenon that has been lumped together by the U.S. media.Autopsies show the tourists died of natural causes, Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia told reporters. He said five of the autopsies are complete, and three are undergoing further toxicological analysis with the help from the FBI because of the circumstances of the deaths.With some 3.2 million U.S. tourists visiting the D.R. last year, he said, it’s not unusual for eight people to die while on vacation over any six-month period. Dominican officials say they are confident the three deaths still under investigation were also from natural causes.“We want the truth to prevail,” Garcia said. “There is nothing to hide here.”More news:  Direct Travel names Smith as Senior VP, Leisure Marketing, North AmericaThe Dominican government has been criticized for not being more forthcoming about the details of the death investigations.They “probably have some indication of what it could be or what it might not be,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious diseases and critical care doctor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. But officials have been “very opaque” about their findings.“The longer they keep everybody in suspense, the worst it’s going to be for the Dominican Republic, especially when they’re so dependent on tourism. Because the longer this goes on unexplained, the longer people are going to be leery of going there,” Adalja said.Garcia said the number of U.S. tourist deaths in the D.R. dropped 56% from 2016 to 2018, although he did not provide further numbers or details. The U.S. State Department also discounted the idea of a surge of tourist deaths, saying the agency had not seen an uptick in the number of U.S. citizen who died there.More news:  Marriott Int’l announces 5 new all-inclusive resorts in D.R. & MexicoGarcia showed reporters a summary of pathologists’ findings in each death but declined to share the autopsy reports, saying they are not public records and that only the families could authorize their release.In response to public concerns, authorities are increasing internal security measures at hotels as well as increased control over food and beverages, but only as a preventive measure, Garcia said.“We’re very sorry for the families’ grief,” he said. But “there is no wave of mysterious deaths.’Meanwhile CNN reports that at Hard Rock Resort Punta Cana, where two of the deaths took place, liquor dispensers are being removed from guest room mini-bars. At least one of the deaths in the D.R. occurred after a guest had a drink from the mini-bar. Share By: The Associated Press << Previous PostNext Post >> Minister says 8 tourism deaths in D.R. not unusual Tags: Dominican Republiclast_img read more

While Guatemalan president visits Costa Rica a volcano forces massive evacuation back

first_imgAlejandro Maldonado, head of the Disaster Relief Network, said in a statement that the Fuego Volcano, located 40 kilometers southwest of the capital, is spewing lava and ash 600 meters below, forcing the evacuation of communities close to the base of the volcano. The number of evacuees is estimated to be close to 33,000 people.  Volcano Fuego is one of the most active in Central America, but a local volcanologist said eruptions are rarely this powerful.“This type of eruption is abnormal, and we have not observed it for years,” said Gustavo Chigná of Guatemala’s Volcanology Institute.Chinchilla and Pérez Molina will have a joint press conference scheduled for 2:30 p.m. to discuss their meeting. No announcement has been made yet about whether the volcano will affect their plans.AFP contributed to this report Facebook Comments Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina met with President Laura Chinchilla at the Foreign Ministry in San José. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina had some bad timing with his visit to Costa Rica on Thursday.While meeting in San José with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla about regional security this afternoon, a volcano erupted in Guatemala, forcing a “massive evacuation” of thousands people. Alberto Font No related posts.last_img read more

Murder trial set for Oct 27 for suspects in slaying of Costa

first_imgRelated posts:Long-awaited Jairo Mora murder trial begins in Costa Rica with prosecutors’ opening statements In closing arguments, Costa Rica prosecutors seek acquittal of suspect in Jairo Mora trial Prosecutors ask for maximum sentences for defendants in Jairo Mora murder trial Costa Rica Supreme Court cries foul on environment minister’s participation in Jairo Mora protest Seven men accused of killing Costa Rican sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora last year will stand trial on Oct. 27, the Prosecutor’s Office confirmed to The Tico Times today. The trial, open to the public, will be held at a court in Limón on the country’s Caribbean coast, near where the murder took place.The seven men, alleged poachers, are accused of kidnapping Mora along with four foreign volunteers at Moín Beach, near Limón, during the night of May 31, 2013. The volunteers escaped, but police found Mora’s naked and bruised body the next morning. The suspects, Felipe Arauz, Héctor Cash, Ernesto Enrique Centeno, William Delgado, José Bryan Quesada and brothers Darwin and Donald Alberto Salmón, have been in preventive detention since their arrests in July 2013. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Guatemala has no idea how many of its undocumented citizens live in

first_imgAn estimated two million Guatemalan immigrants living in the United States are undocumented, but not even the Guatemalan government knows the actual number, immigration attorney Pablo Solares claimed.For the past 15 years, Solares has worked in the U.S. to help fellow Guatemalans obtain identity documents from their native country. One problem, he said, is that Guatemala’s documentation system doesn’t take into account that many migrants come from marginalized communities with high levels of poverty and illiteracy. They generally are not accustomed to possessing identity documents, Solares told the daily Prensa Libre last month.“Nobody has the official figure, not even the government of Guatemala,” Solares said.Most “are in a very unstable situation regarding documents, not only U.S. documents but also those issued by their own country,” he added.“A centralized system has been set up that ignores and discriminates against traditions typical of those places,” Solares said.“Many migrants come from the places that are most affected by poverty [and] illiteracy, with no custom of having identity documents,” he said.Two of the more affected areas are the western departments of Huehuetenango and San Marcos, both bordering Mexico, he said.According to Solares, Guatemalan consulates in the U.S. aren’t much help and “work with very seriously limited resources.”Part of Solares’ job is contacting groups of Guatemalans who are “totally out of the government’s reach” and living in pockets of Central American immigrant communities in the U.S.Through Guatemala’s Registro Nacional de las Personas, or National Registry of Persons, Solares helps immigrants obtain a Personal Identification Document without them needing to travel to Guatemala. Some Guatemalan returnees arrive back in their home country on August 27, 2014 with orange fruit sacks filled with all of their possessions. Undocumented Guatemalan migrants caught in the United States are returned to their home country on daily flights. Washington Post photo by Michael S. WilliamsonHigh corruption levelsLast year, during a forum on the humanitarian crisis of migrant children, Guatemala’s Human Rights Prosecutor Jorge De León accused the government of being incapable of guaranteeing its citizens access to a decent livelihood.De León said funds earmarked for Guatemalan children need to be invested free of corruption, and currently “there are no conditions that allow citizens to think that they’ll have a better life in Guatemala.”Public policies haven’t sufficiently addressed poverty and extreme poverty, largely because of high corruption indicators, he said. Social programs “neither accomplish their aim or reach their goal.”De León said that every year, about 200,000 young workers look for decent jobs, but find none.“In some cases, they take informal, poorly paid jobs that create frustration and lead them to view migration as a way to improve their living conditions,” he said.On the issue of unaccompanied child migration, De León said, “It’s not a question of passing more laws or creating new types of crimes, or creating more bureaucracy to look after children.”Instead, more focus should be placed on investing funds “with transparency and without corruption in order to change the conditions under which most people live,” he said. A woman, her children and a dog are seen in the Manuel Colom Argueta neighborhood of Guatemala City on Dec. 22, 2013. Johan Ordóñez/AFPChild deportations increasingTens of thousands of children, most of them leaving the “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, have reached the U.S.’ southern border with Mexico – in many cases, only to be deported to their countries of origin.These three Central American countries are severely hit by violence from organized crime – mostly drug-trafficking organizations – as well as youth gangs known as maras.Children are sent unaccompanied, in high numbers, by parents from Northern Triangle countries to join relatives already established in the U.S. as a means of protecting them from increasing levels of local violence.According to figures provided this month by Guatemala’s Immigration Administration, the number of Guatemalan children deported by land from Mexico increased last month by 165 percent to 536 minors, from 202 in the same period last year.Guatemala’s First Lady Rosa Leal, who has been tasked with implementing strategies to respond to the issue of migrant minors, recently told local media that, “Before, each week we would receive 50 minors expelled by land, but the number tripled over the past several months.”Leal added that she plans to meet with her U.S. counterpart, Michelle Obama, to analyze strategies to prevent child migration and ensure that during the children’s journeys their rights are respected. Facebook Comments Related posts:‘Writing was on the wall’ for child immigrant crisis, says new study Regional investment is key to Central American security, say foreign ministers Obama to request $1 billion from Congress to help Central America Obama: US will make immigration ‘more fair and just’last_img read more

Guatemalan exdictator to face genocide retrial

first_imgRelated posts:Former Guatemalan police chief to stand trial for 1980 Spanish Embassy fire that killed 37 Guatemalan ex-police officers accused of assassinating Myrna Mack investigator to finally stand trial 26 lawyers have been murdered in Guatemala in the past 3 years Guatemalan ex-dictator Ríos Montt to undergo new pyschiatric tests to determine whether he’s fit to stand trial for genocide GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — A Guatemalan court ruled Tuesday that ex-dictator Efraín Ríos Montt must face retrial for genocide during the country’s civil war, but ordered it take place behind closed doors because he has dementia.The 89-year-old former general, who ruled the Central American country from 1982 to 1983, is accused of ordering the army to massacre more than 1,700 Maya Ixil indigenous people.He was sentenced to 80 years in prison at an initial trial in 2013, but the Constitutional Court threw out his conviction on procedural grounds and ordered a retrial.After defense lawyers argued Ríos Montt was no longer mentally fit to stand trial, the court sent him to a psychiatric facility for testing.Recommended: How Guatemala’s former dictator Ríos Montt dodged a stay in a notorious psychiatric hospital“The psychiatric experts all agreed the accused suffers mental illness,” said Judge Jaime González.He concluded that “the incapacity of the accused to appear in public court has been demonstrated,” and ordered Ríos Montt to face trial behind closed doors, with no journalists present.Doctors told the court last week that Ríos Montt alternates between moments of lucidity and dementia.Ríos Montt and his ex-military intelligence chief, José Rodríguez, are charged with orchestrating a scorched-earth campaign in Maya Ixil areas as the government sought to stamp out rural support for leftist guerrilla groups at the height of Guatemala‘s 1960 to 1996 civil war.Rodríguez will now be tried separately in open court, the judge ruled. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Sting slams epidemic of disappearances in Mexico

first_imgMEXICO CITY – British rock legend Sting urged Mexico’s government on Monday to do more to end the “epidemic” of disappearances after meeting with families of some of the country’s many missing people.Sting, who is on tour in the Latin American country, met with four relatives of missing Mexicans ahead of a concert in the central state of Morelos, according to Amnesty International.“It is not hard to imagine the anguish and torment that families undergo when a loved one disappears, vanishes without trace or explanation, when attempts to find them or discover their fate are frustrated by the apparent indifference of the authorities to a situation that has become an epidemic in Mexico,” Sting was quoted as saying by Amnesty in a statement.“I met with some of the families, but they are just the tip of the iceberg,” said the former frontman for The Police, who joined Amnesty’s campaign against disappearances in Mexico.“I call on the Mexican government to follow up on these cases far more vigorously, to find and prosecute those responsible and to prevent through legislation this scourge of disappearances and human rights abuses.”More than 20,000 people have been reported missing in Mexico since the drug war began to intensify in December 2006, according to official figures.The plight of Mexico’s disappeared has regained attention since 43 students vanished after being attacked by police in league with a drug cartel in the southern state of Guerrero in September 2014. Facebook Comments Related posts:Mexico horrified by suspected massacre, incineration of 43 students Mexicans’ search for bodies reveals a history of hidden deaths Mexico missing students case file shows contradictions Mexico’s Peña Nieto pledge to find students falls short for families .@OfficialSting has joined our campaign against disappearances in Mexico:— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) October 12, 2015last_img read more

FIFA exVP Hawit pleads guilty in corruption case

first_imgHawit, who is from Honduras and also served as CONCACAF president, appeared at a hearing in a Brooklyn court where he agreed in addition to his guilty pleas to forfeit nearly $1 million.The 64-year old former soccer executive pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy, two counts of wire fraud conspiracy, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to U.S. court officials.Hawit entered the guilty pleas “in connection with his receipt of bribes in exchange for the awarding of contracts for the media and marketing rights to CONCACAF tournaments and FIFA World Cup qualifier matches,” a court statement said.“Hawit, who served in high-ranking positions in soccer from 1998 to 2015, also agreed to forfeit $950,000,” the statement said.Hawit faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for each count. It was not clear whether the prison terms would be served concurrently or consecutively.Hawit was extradited to the United States from Switzerland in January following his arrest on December 3. He was living with a daughter in Florida while free on $1 million in bail, of which he paid $50,000 in cash with the rest guaranteed with property.U.S. prosecutors say Hawit accepted and laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes as general secretary of the Honduran football federation between 2008 and 2014.He is one of several FIFA officials extradited by Switzerland to the United States in connection with the multimillion-dollar corruption scandal. Related posts:Costa Rica’s ex-football chief Eduardo Li gets house arrest Football: US releases three FIFA guilty plea transcripts FIFA memo asks would-be president to stick to the script FIFA wants former officials, including Costa Rica’s Eduardo Li, to pay back millions NEW YORK — Former FIFA vice president Alfredo Hawit pleaded guilty Monday to four criminal charges, including racketeering and wire fraud conspiracy, in connection with the massive corruption scandal that has rocked the football world, U.S. court officials said.center_img Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Ricas Castillo Knights on the road

first_imgRelated posts:On the ice and Florida-bound Go, Jason, go! The key to Mondays: un buen cafecito A holiday filled with color and dance Facebook Comments The Castillo Knights Peewee Team, hailing from Heredia, Costa Rica, posed with the Florida Panther kids’ team after a joint practice and game Oct. 20. The teams got together on the ice following the Costa Rican players’ participation in a shootout competition during the first intermission of a professional game between the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins.For more on Costa Rica’s Castillo Knights Hockey Club, visit the team’s Facebook page.Would you like to submit a photo to our #TTPicOfTheDay series – the view from your home or favorite Costa Rican spot, or any other image you care to share? Please send horizontal photos at least 1100 pixels wide to We’d love to see the sights with you.last_img read more

Armed men rob boat with 23 tourists in Tortugero

first_imgRelated posts:Costa Rican government seeks agreement with unions to end strike General strike enters second week; Legislative Assembly starts discussing tax-reform Introducing the Tico Times Weekly Digest Venezuela accuses Costa Rica of ‘subordination’ to U.S. Twenty-three tourists aboard a boat in Pococí, Limón were robbed at gunpoint Saturday morning. Police confirmed that three hooded men carrying firearms intercepted the boat, which was traveling through the Tortugero River, and robbed the tourists of their suitcases and belongings. The tourists were taken to the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) for assistance and police are still searching for the gunmen, but say the area is complicated to search.According to the Costa Rican Tourism Board’s (ICT) most recent numbers, Tortugero is the fifth-most visited national park in Costa Rica and is only accessible by boat or plane.“That can happen anywhere, anytime,” said Victor Diaz, an employee at Casa Marbella, the tour company that operated the boat that was robbed. “It was  an accident, and it doesn’t happen often.”Diaz said that the robbers took cell phones, money, and cameras, but no one was injured.This is a developing story.Thanks for reading The Tico Times. We strive to keep you up to date about everything that’s been happening in Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we need your help. The Tico Times is partly funded by you and every little bit helps. If all our readers chipped in a buck a month we’d be set for years. Support the Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Anand retains chess title over Gelfand in tiebreak

first_img New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths Russian tycoon and former chess player Andrei Filatov, estimated to be worth $1.3 billion by the Forbes magazine, is believed to have paid for renting the unusually lavish location for Wednesday’s championship match.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories The victory won Anand $1.5 million, and Gelfand took home $1 million.Anand had last successfully defended his title in 2010 against Bulgarian challenger Veselin Topalov.Anand praised Gelfand for a tense match and said he felt more “relieved” than happy because he wasn’t sure of his win until the very end. “In all fairness, this match simply could have gone either way,” said the Indian.The match was played in a room filled with about 100 people at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, one of Russia’s finest museums.Hundreds of other chess fans of all ages watched it on a large TV screen in a hall outside.“We’re seeing so many attacks and counterattacks in the games that they give me goose bumps,” said Lev Khristoforov, 80, a long-time chess fan from Moscow. “This is very exciting.”Gelfand, who emigrated from the former Soviet republic of Belarus to Israel in 1998, was supported throughout the match as if he were a local player.In his post-match interview, Gelfand also thanked his Israeli supporters and said he hopes his performance will boost interest to chess in Israel, where it’s relatively unpopular compared to the former Soviet Union. More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologist Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Associated PressMOSCOW (AP) – World chess champion Viswanathan Anand of India retained his title on Wednesday, defeating Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand 2.5-1.5 in a rapid tiebreaker round.Tied at 6-6 after 12 regular games, the two played four rapid games with a shortened time limit of 25 minutes per player.After drawing in the first one, Anand won game two and kept the lead by drawing in the final two games. Comments   Share   Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family Sponsored Stories last_img read more

Surge in violence spurs new fears in Iraq

first_imgAssociated PressBAGHDAD (AP) – A half year after the U.S. military left Iraq, dire predictions seem to be coming true: The country is mired in violence and the government is on the verge of collapsing. With no relief in sight, there’s growing talk of Iraq as a failed state as al-Qaida’s local wing staged near daily attacks that killed at least 234 people in June.Iraq no longer suffers widespread retaliatory killings between Sunni and Shiite extremists that brought the country to the brink of civil war. But the spike in violence heightens fears that Iraq could limp along for years as an unstable and dangerous country. “The insurgents are making use of the political differences in the country, and the recent attacks are the result of this political strife,” al-Dabbagh said.Violence has been steady across Iraq so far this year, but the levels of attacks in June soared beyond the occasional, if spectacular, wave of bombings that is al- Qaida’s usual pattern. Victims mostly have been Shiite pilgrims, government officials and security forces _ three of al-Qaida’s favorite targets.Al-Qaida front group the Islamic State of Iraq claimed responsibility for a June 13 wave of nearly two dozen bombings nationwide that killed 72 Iraqis. The coordination, sophistication and targets of several other attacks also bore the hallmarks of the terror network.Iraqi and U.S. intelligence officials long have said that al-Qaida’s resources in Iraq _ including money, weapons and a stable of suicide bombers _ have dwindled to the point where the insurgent group can only carry off a few attacks each month.Many experts believe the turmoil in neighboring Syria is stoking the violence, saying the success of the Sunni-led opposition against President Bashar Assad’s regime is emboldening Iraqi Sunnis to attack government targets. The next day Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government issued terror charges against Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, one of Iraq’s highest-ranking Sunnis, who fled Baghdad and remains on the lam. Sunni lawmakers briefly boycotted parliament and al-Maliki’s cabinet in protest. By spring, leaders of the self-ruled Kurdish northern region joined the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya political coalition against al-Maliki, whom they accused of refusing to share power.And last week, in the first major defection by an influential Shiite leader, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said he would direct his followers to join efforts to oust al-Maliki if a power-sharing agreement is not reached.Al-Maliki, who won a second term in 2010, followed with a threat to call for early elections that would dissolve parliament if government infighting does not stop.In calling for an early election, al-Maliki is betting he would win with enough widespread support to gain undisputed power. His political coalition fell short of winning the most seats in parliament in 2010 elections and back-room dealing among political parties delayed a new government from taking over for nine months.Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh agreed Saturday that the political crisis has fueled June’s violent surge. Even al-Maliki’s opponents speak only of ousting him in a parliamentary vote, not by force.“People now know that violence will breed violence and sectarian killings will lead to more counter-sectarian killings,” said Omar al-Jubouri, a Sunni lawmaker from the Iraqiya bloc.Underscoring the continued dangers, however, the month ended with a pair of bombings Saturday in the northern, Sunni-dominated Nivevah province, killing two soldiers on separate security patrols, local officials said.Many Iraqis lament the withdrawal of U.S. forces, saying it was premature.“The U.S. pullout was a mistake because the country is still in need for their intelligence and military capabilities,” said Mohammed Salam, a Sunni government employee in Baghdad. “The Iraqi government should have kept some several thousands of U.S. troops in order to help Iraq forces maintain a reasonable level of security.”The international community spent billions of dollars to stabilize Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. Nearly 4,500 U.S. troops were killed during the war.But the U.S. currently has limited influence in Baghdad: A June 14 statement by the top national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden that urged Iraqi officials to “alleviate current tensions in order to refocus energy on critical state-building challenges” produced few, if any, signs of progress. Top Stories More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements 5 treatments for adult scoliosis Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like New high school in Mesa lets students pick career pathscenter_img June was the second-deadliest month since U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq in mid-December as insurgents exploited the political struggles between the country’s ethnic and sectarian factions. More significant than the numbers was the fact that insurgents appeared able to sustain the level of violence over a longer period than usual. There was a major deadly bombing or shooting rampage almost every three days, many targeting Shiite pilgrims.The violence has brought the weakness of Iraq’s security apparatus into sharp focus even as deepening political divisions dim the prospects that the country will emerge as a stable democracy after decades of war and dictatorship.“The state is almost paralyzed and dysfunctional due to political feuds. In such circumstances, the security forces also will be paralyzed and the insurgents groups are making use of this chaos,” Haider al-Saadi, the Shiite owner of internet cafe in eastern Baghdad, said Saturday. “I do not think that al-Qaida is getting any stronger _ it is the state that is getting weaker.”The situation deteriorated shortly after American troops left Iraq on Dec. 18, following failed negotiations to stay beyond a year-end withdrawal deadline that was cemented in a 2008 security agreement. “As the edifice in Syria weakens, the more space for violence is going spill over to the Sunni areas in Iraq,” said Kamran Bokhari, a Canadian-based expert on Mideast issues for the global intelligence company Statfor.Some analysts believe Iraq is turning into a failed state. This month, the U.S.-based Fund for Peace ranked Iraq No. 9 on its annual Top Ten list of failed states worldwide. The nonpartisan research group ranked 178 nations and blamed the persistent security problems in Iraq on the inability to overcome long-standing ethnic and sectarian tensions.Despite the continued bombings and other attacks, Iraqis have not returned to the sectarian warfare that killed tens of thousands of people as violence peaked in 2006-2007. Shiite militias have shown restraint even as a spate of bombings targeted Shiite pilgrims, shrines and government leaders.And as al-Sadr, an anti-U.S. cleric whose militias were responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks of the war, seeks to secure his status as a major political player in Iraq, it’s doubtful he will unleash his followers in widespread violence that would undermine his credibility across the mostly-Sunni Arab world. (Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family 0 Comments   Share   Nor do most Iraqis expect any.“I think Iraq will see worse days in the future if the politicians continue their destructive feuds and keep following their personal ambitions,” Salam said.___Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub and Qassim Abdul-Zahra contributed to this report. Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at Kay Johnson at read more

Haitians ignore govt ban on plastic bags

first_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   Men’s health affects baby’s health too An assistant for Minister of Environment Jean Vilmond Hilaire said the minister wasn’t available to answer questions.Bag seller Ovinthe Aristide said he hopes to sell his remaining plastic bags before authorities crack down.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Sponsored Stories “It’s fine if the government wants to ban the containers but it also needs to create an alternative,” said Innocent Petit-Frere, a 57-year-old vendor who, like many others, buys the foam containers from the neighboring Dominican Republic in bulk. He sells packages of 100 containers for $6.87.Petit-Frere wondered how people would be able to eat meals on the go without access to the foam containers, which have become ubiquitous in the capital.“You have to eat, and you just can’t put the food on the ground,” he said from his store as co-workers piled bags of imported rice.The office of Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe announced the ban in August to clear some of the litter that’s strewn across Port-au-Prince and clogs drainage channels. The measure will most certainly affect Haiti’s poor majority, many of whom make a living by selling the bags and boxes on the streets.It’s unclear how the government plans to enforce the ban in markets. But customs officials are under orders to confiscate the bags and foam boxes if they find them on the border or in airports and seaports, said Salim Succar, special adviser to Lamothe, in an email. They face arrest if they don’t comply, Succar added. 4 must play golf courses in Arizona Associated PressPORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haitian merchants on Monday ignored the first day of a government ban on the sale and general use of plastic bags and foam food containers.In a busy, crowded market in the hillside district of Petionville, dozens of vendors openly sold the tightly rolled bags and big packages of to-go food containers seemingly without concern that they would be stopped. Some said they will keep peddling the goods if the government doesn’t provide alternative jobs. Others said they will sell something else if the government enforces the ban. Top Stories Early signs of cataracts in your parents and how to helplast_img read more

Spanish kings soninlaw makes court appearance

first_imgPALMA DE MALLORCA, Spain (AP) – Protesters jeered the Spanish king’s son-in-law before he was questioned Saturday by a judge about allegations he and a partner funneled away millions of euros through fraudulent deals.The investigation has deeply embarrassed the monarchy in a country hard hit by a financial crisis and sky-high unemployment. The scandal ranks among the worst public relations mishaps the royal household has experienced in the 37-year reign of King Juan Carlos. Comments   Share   Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Inaki Urdangarin, who has not been charged with a crime, made his way into a courthouse in Palma de Mallorca amid tense street scenes where a contingent of around 170 police kept several hundred protesters away from the building. Urdangarin, married to the 75-year-old king’s second daughter, Princess Cristina, has denied any wrongdoing.Urdangarin, facing his second appearance in court, did not stop to say anything, but wished about 100 journalists accredited to cover the event a curt “good morning” as he walked in, accompanied by his lawyer Mario Pascual Vives.The Duke of Palma, the title held by Urdangarin, had been called to answer questions behind closed doors at a courthouse on this Mediterranean island about whether he used his high-profile status to secure lucrative deals for a nonprofit foundation he ran and then fraudulently diverted money for personal gain.But the conservative government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has moved to try and shield the king from potential collateral damage inflicted by the Urdangarin case, emphasizing Juan Carlos’ value to the nation.Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria defended the king’s role three times during a news conference following Friday’s Cabinet meeting, highlighting how the monarch had worked “for stability and democracy” in Spain. Judge Jose Castro questioned Urdangarin about three alleged offenses against the Treasury, including corporate tax fraud related to his foundation and matters linked to his personal income tax returns. Under Spanish law, the court will decide whether the prosecution has adequate evidence to file charges against the duke.As stated in the writ of summons, the judge also asked about alleged bank accounts in tax havens such as Andorra, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Carlos Garcia Revenga, Cristina’s personal secretary, arrived for questioning in the afternoon.A week ago, Urdangarin’s former partner, Diego Torres, faced detailed questioning by Castro and it is reported many potentially damaging documents were handed over to the judge. Urdangarin was summoned by Castro to the same court last February when the duke was quizzed over large contracts he secured from regional governments for his foundation.He is suspected of then subcontracting the work to private companies he also oversaw, sometimes charging the public purse unrealistically inflated prices and syphoning some of the income to offshore tax havens.Newspapers have reported that the revenues Urdangarin and associates are suspected of having handled may have exceeded (EURO)6 million ($8 million). Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project 5 things to look for when selecting an ophthalmologistcenter_img Sponsored Stories Parents, stop beating yourself up Top Stories How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix The duke’s alleged misdeeds took place in 2004-2006. Urdangarin, the princess and their four children moved to Washington in 2009 as the investigation began to heat up. They returned to Spain in August.The case exploded in the media late 2011 as Spain was buffeted by Europe’s debt crisis, its economic growth grinding to a halt and already huge jobless numbers swelling.___Harold Heckle reported from Madrid.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)last_img read more

Guantanamo Bay prison to get new commander

first_img Top ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day Bottoms up! Enjoy a cold one for International Beer Day How do cataracts affect your vision? Navy Capt. Robert Durand says the change is part of a normal rotation in which the prison commander serves for about a year.The prison at the U.S. base in Cuba holds 166 detainees. The military says that as of Friday, 43 were on hunger strike to protest their confinement. Lawyers for the men say the figure is higher.(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – A new commander has been named to lead the Guantanamo Bay prison amid a hunger strike that has dragged on for more than two months.The Pentagon says Rear Adm. Richard W. Butler will be the next commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo after serving at the Air Warfare Division in Washington.Butler replaces Rear Adm. John W. Smith, who will move to the National Defense University in Norfolk, Virginia. Comments   Share   Get a lawn your neighbor will be jealous ofcenter_img Mary Coyle ice cream to reopen in central Phoenix Construction begins on Chandler hospital expansion project Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top Stories Sponsored Stories last_img read more