Monday, November 5, 2012

Caribbean Counts Cost of Hurricane Sandy

As hurricane Sandy recedes, Caribbean countries are counting the cost of the damage, which could leave 1.5 million people hungry in Haiti, according to the UN.

The storm’s death toll across the Caribbean now stands at 71, with 54 of those in Haiti, reports the Wall Street Journal. Another 21 people are still missing in the country.

George Ngwa of the UN's humanitarian mission to Haiti told the WSJ that 1.5 million are now at serious risk of hunger there. According to official figures, 21,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed, and the livelihoods of 200,000 people affected. The newspaper notes that the toll of destruction could be higher when officials reach places that have been cut off by floods or landslides. The economic impact of the storm in Haiti stands at $104 million, according to the Miami Herald

Hurricane Sandy has caused a new outbreak of cholera cases, with three deaths and 300 reported cases so far, reports the Financial Times.

The Haitian government has declared a month-long state of emergency, and appealed for help from the international community to deal with the damage, reports the AP. The FT says that the destruction could cause more politicial unrest in Haiti, which saw massive protests against the President Michel Martelly last month. The government has promised $2 million in aid to the country's West Department.

Al Jazeera has a video report on the storm damage in Haiti.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, the Bahamas suffered $300 million in damages, while 200,000 houses were destroyed in Cuba.

News Briefs

  • The AP reports on an upcoming referendum in Puerto Rico, where islanders will vote on Tuesday on whether the territory should become a US state, an independent country, or a “sovereign free association.” According to surveys, independence is the least popular option, and maintaining the status quo is the most popular. The Miami Herald points out that this referendum is less likely to end in stalemate than previous votes on the topic, as it asks first whether the voter is happy with the status quo, before asking for views on other options -- “The difference is critical, because it unites the voters who prefer statehood with those who want independence. Together those two forces could form a majority to answer ‘no,’ which would then force the second question.”
  • The LA Times reports from Mexico’s Coahuila state, which borders on Texas, which has been in the headlines in recent months as the site of the navy's killing of Zetas boss Heriberto Lazcano, a mass prison break of Zetas members, and the murder of a prominent ex-governor’s son. The newspaper says that the Zetas moved into Coahuila after their split from the Gulf Cartel in 2010, pushing up violence in a state that previously had been used only as a transit route for drugs. Ex-Governor Humberto Moreira, whose son was killed in October, has spoken out about the Zetas’ domination of the state, saying that Lazcano was able to live openly there.
  • In Mexico, the army arrested an alleged member of the Sinaloa Cartel suspected of murdering anti-violence activist Nepomuceno Moreno in November last year, reports the AP. Moreno became an active member of the Movement for Peace, headed by Javier Sicilia, after his son was disappeared, allegedly by the police.
  • IPS reports on a meeting of civil society organizations in Washington last week to discuss proposed changes to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which are being pushed by countries such as Venezuela, Brazil and Colombia. The proposals could weaken the commission, “potentially allowing member countries to hold up publication of critical reports for up to a year and eliminating a section of the IACHR annual report that highlights flagrant rights abuses.”
  • Peru’s ambassador to Buenos Aires has resigned after controversy about him meeting with members of Movadef, a political party linked to the Shining Path rebels, in January, reports El Nuevo Herald.
  • The Miami Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer lists 10 reasons why Latino voters in the United States will vote for Obama over Romney in Tuesday’s presidential election.
  • The head of Venezuelan polling firm Datanalisis said that President Hugo Chavez’s party is likely to win most of the governorships in upcoming local elections, while the opposition will be aiming to defend states of key symbolic importance, reports El Nuevo Herald. The Financial Times reports that increasing numbers of Venezuelans are seeking to emigrate following Chavez’s win in the recent presidential elections.
  • A meeting of the G-20 countries financial heads opened in Mexico City on Sunday, reports the NYT.
  • The NYT looks at the phenomenon of drug-related executions in Mexico, where bodies are often found with notes signed in the name of drug cartels. 
  • Venezuelan security forces stopped a truck carrying a load of 1.5 tons of cocaine, which the government said had come from Colombia, in Lara state, reports the AP.
  • The Guardian has a photo slideshow from a zombie walk in Mexico City, where some 10,000 people dressed up as zombies to march last week.

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