Haiti: more than 200,000 died in earthquake
According to the Haitian authorities, about 230,000 people died in the earthquake that devastated the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. Communications minister Marie-Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said that the toll could rise. At least 300,000 were injured.
With the rainy season approaching, many fear that the lack of basic facilities for those who lost their homes could cause diseases. Despite the constant arrival of emergency help and million of dollars in aid collected all over the world, many people are still living in makeshift camps without medicine or food.
In the meantime, local media have reported that the ten US missionaries who were arrested when they tried to take 30 children out of the country may be freed by an investigative judge, because in his judgement they did not intend to kidnap the children.
Venezuela: minister resigns “over disagreements” about Cuba
Carlos Rotondaro, the health minister, has resigned after nine months in the post because he disagrees with the government’s policy of allowing Cuban doctors “to have strategic positions” in hospitals, according to the local media.
President Hugo Chávez has rejected the minister’s version of events, but, according to the Venezuelan daily El Universal, Rotandaro left his post because he “did not accept the interference of Cubans in strategic positions in the health ministry and hospitals”. Rotandaro is the third minister to resign in less than a month.
Chávez says that the former minister left his post for health reasons and that he will take over the presidency of the Institute for Social Security.
El Pais (Spanish)
El Universal (Venezuela, Spanish)
Mexico: President demands unity after a minister resigns
Mexican President, Felipe Calderón (pictured), has asked his fellow citizens to unite in the eve of celebrations for the bicentenary of the declaration of independence, after his Interior Minister, Fernando Gómez Mont, decided to resign from the government party, the National Action Party (PAN), “for professional reasons”.
Gómez Mont has in the past disagreed with decisions by the PAN to make alliances with the left-wing Party for the Democratic Revolution (PRD) to present joint candidates in some states, in order to prevent the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) from gaining power.
Shortly before travelling to Ciudad Juarez to present a plan to stop the wave of violence that has devastated that city on the border with the USA, Calderón said that the celebrations for the 200 years of independence should serve to restore “national spirit”.
Peru: Cuzco “at a bargain price”
The Peruvian authorities have launched an initiative to bring back tourists to the city of Cuzco, which has suffered from both floods and landslides because of unusually heavy rains. Hundreds of tourists were stranded near the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, the country’s main attraction.
Tourism is one of the main sources of income for the local economy, and the bad weather has reduced the number of visitors. The government has decided that the price of air fares and hotels will be brought down in order to attract at first local tourists and later foreign visitors.
Hundreds of communities remain isolated because of the bad weather and hundreds of hectares of potatoes and maize have been lost due to the heavy rains, brought to the region by the El Nino current.
Alerta Economica (Peru, Spanish)
Venezuela: arts meets environment
Venezuela will celebrate the First Encounter of Art and Environment called “Environmental Sensibility” in the Caracas Pedagogic Institute, one of the country’s most prestigious universities.
The event will take place on 26 February in the run up to the celebration of World Environment Day in June. The organisers want “creative interpretations of the environment and the promotion of ecological cultural values”. The encounter will include music, painting and literature.
Circulo Ambiental (Venezuela, Spanish)
Haiti: US Department of Defense
Mexico: portal of the Presidency of Mexico