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Archive for Central America

Newsline: U.S. Embassy tweet of supposed tsunami causes alarm in El Salvador

A tweet that warned of a potential tsunami on the Pacific coast caused alarm Monday in El Salvador, where President Nayib Bukele first asked the population on the coast to “mobilize” to protect themselves, before clarifying there was no impending emergency. (https://ticotimes.net/2019/11/11/u-s-embassy-tweet-of-supposed-tsunami-causes-alarm-in-el-salvador-central-america) The confusion began with a message on Twitter from the US embassy in El Salvador. The tweet warned of a “possible tsunami,” and Bukele followed with a message calling for precautions — although later the president also said the threat had been ruled out. “A plane from the US Department of Defense detected a possible tsunami approximately 600 miles from the border between El Salvador and Nicaragua,” the US embassy in San Salvador warned. Subsequently, the Ministry of Environment clarified in its Twitter account that “for the moment we have not detected any abnormal activity” in its monitoring center. President Bukele then assured that “thank God there is no threat of a tsunami for El Salvador” after the alarm generated in social networks. The US embassy said it chose to publish the information of the possible tsunami “as a precaution (…) given the speed with which they move.”

Newsline: El Salvador orders expulsion of Venezuelan diplomats

El Salvador has ordered the expulsion of Venezuelan government diplomats, joining the U.S. and more than 50 other countries that have said opposition leader Juan Guaidó is Venezuela’s rightful president. The Salvadoran government said late Saturday in a statement that the diplomats, who are loyal to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, had 48 hours to leave the country. It said the decision is in line with comments by President Nayib Bukele “not recognizing Maduro’s government as legitimate.” (https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/el-salvador-orders-expulsion-venezuelan-diplomats-66723472) Venezuela responded in kind Sunday, ordering Salvadoran diplomats to leave Caracas within two days. Ronald Johnson, the U.S. ambassador in El Salvador, welcomed the decision to expel pro-Maduro diplomats. El Salvador’s opposition FMLN party criticized the government’s move, accused “foreign interests of being behind it and expressed solidarity with Venezuela and “its legitimate President Nicolás Maduro.”

Newsline: Standoff ends at Mexican Consulate in downtown San Antonio

After more than four hours, a standoff has ended between a man who jumped over the fence at the Mexican Consulate in downtown San Antonio and police. The man was complaining he was wrongly accused of charges in California and that his child was taken from him. (https://foxsanantonio.com/news/local/standoff-ends-at-mexican-consulate-in-downtown-san-antonio) Negotiators were called in to the scene to try and talk him down from the rooftop. The street in front of the office was shut down. Police were ready to take any necessary means to get them man down peacefully.

Newsline: Mexico offers protection to six people at its embassy in Ecuador

The Mexican embassy in Ecuador’s capital Quito has offered protection and shelter to six people, including legislators and their spouses, Mexico’s foreign ministry said. The embassy offered protection and shelter to opposition legislator Gabriela Rivadeneira, a member of the party of former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, whose allies have been accused of stirring up unrest by President Lenin Moreno. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-protests-mexico/mexico-offers-protection-to-six-people-at-its-embassy-in-ecuador-idUSKBN1WU02D) Moreno on Monday scrapped a law to cut expensive fuel subsidies after days of violent protests against the IMF-backed measure, returning fuel prices to prior levels until a new measure can be found.

Newsline: US expels two Cuban diplomats to the UN in New York

The US has expelled two Cuban diplomats to the UN in New York, accusing them of conducting “activities harmful to US national security”, a State Department spokeswoman said. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49764300) All of Cuba’s UN mission are now restricted to Manhattan where the UN is headquartered, Morgan Ortagus added. The US has yet to provide details about the alleged actions. Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez called the move “categorically unjustified”. Mr Rodriguez tweeted (in Spanish) that the accusations were “vulgar slander”, and said the expulsion has created tensions between the two countries. World leaders are set to gather for an annual meeting at the UN in just a few days.

Newsline: Canadian diplomatic staff in Cuba may have been affected by mosquito gas, not ‘sonic weapon’

Canadian researchers say they may have identified the cause of a mystery illness which plagued diplomatic staff in Cuba in 2016. Some reports in the US suggested an “acoustic attack” caused US staff similar symptoms, sparking speculation about a secret sonic weapon. But the Canadian team suggests that neurotoxins from mosquito fumigation are the more likely cause. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-49770369) So-called “Havana syndrome” caused symptoms including headaches, blurred vision, dizziness and tinnitus. It made international headlines when the US announced more than a dozen staff from its Cuban embassy were being treated. Cuba denied any suggestion of “attacks”, and the reports led to increased tension between the two nations. In July, a US academic study showed “brain abnormalities” in the diplomats. The Canadian team from the Brain Repair Centre in Halifax thinks it now has the answer. Canadian diplomats were affected by similar reactions to US counterparts – though the study noted that the symptoms of the Canadians were more gradual than the “acute, directional… auditory stimulus” in some of the US cases. The study notes that tests carried out on 28 participants – seven of whom were tested both before and after being posted to Havana – support a diagnosis of brain injury acquired by diplomats and their families while in Cuba. The patterns of brain injury “all raise the hypothesis of recurrent, low-dose exposure to neurotoxins”, the report said. Specifically, the results were “highly suggestive” of something called cholinesterase inhibitor intoxication. But the low, consistent doses the researchers believe were delivered are consistent with exposure to commercial pesticides, the study’s authors said. And fumigation in Cuba increased after the country “declared war” on the Zika virus in 2016, spraying gas around or even inside diplomats’ homes.

Newsline: US Embassy employee loses $8,000 Rolex in Mexico City mugging

A 61-year-old employee of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City lost a gold Rolex watch valued at US $8,000 in a mugging at a store in Polanco on Sunday. According to witnesses, the woman was inside a store at 513 Horacio street when a young man pushed her to the ground, threatened her with a gun and removed her watch. (https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/embassy-employee-loses-8000-rolex/) The aggressor is described as being well-dressed and thin, 1.65 meters tall and appearing to be about 25 years of age, with brown skin, dark hair, a straight nose, oval face, with no facial hair or tattoos.