Driver says crash that killed Cuban dissident was an accident


The visiting Spaniard who was driving the car that crashed and killed Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya said that what happened was a traffic accident and that they were not attacked by another vehicle.

"No vehicle hit us from behind, I was just driving and saw a pothole in the road and took the precautions any driver would take and put on the brakes a little bit. The car went out of control," Angel Carromero said on a video shown here Monday to the foreign press.

The video shown Monday to the international press also included a statement by Aron Modig from Sweden, who was injured in the accident.

"I have some vague memories of the accident because I had been sleeping for part of the trip, I mean, I was asleep before the accident and I also felt pretty stunned by the accident itself," Modig said on the video.

The Swede's first recollection of the crash was that "the car had gone out of control and was already off the road and heading for a tree, and from that moment everything is a blank."

Carromero and Modig were traveling with Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero in a rented car, which the Spaniard was driving and which crashed on July 22 near Bayamo, a city about 800 kilometers (500 miles) east of Havana.

Paya and Cepero were killed while the two foreigners escaped with slight injuries.




Talent from Hispanic firms help plan Democratic Convention


The enterprising spirit of Hispanic business owners will be evident at the National Democratic Convention here in September since dozens of their companies will have helped to organize and design it.

Up to last year, Peruvian-born architect Luis Tochiki, one of the owners of the Neighboring Concepts company, never imagined taking part in planning the Sept. 3-6 event in Charlotte.

Tochiki, who arrived in Queen City in 1993 without speaking a word of English, is among a group of architects charged with designing space redistribution at the Time Warner Arena to accomodate the 35,000 delegates and media representatives who will attend the convention.

That plus the 70,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, where President Barack Obama will deliver his speech accepting the Democratic nomination.




Spain open to taking part in multilateral intervention in Mali


Spain is ready to participate in a multilateral intervention in the troubled African nation of Mali, but military action must only be a "last resort," the Iberian nation's defense minister said here.

Pedro Morenes made his remarks after meeting in Berlin with his German counterpart, Thomas de Maiziere, with whom he discussed, among other things, the two nation's "common concern" over the situation in the Sahel region, which is currently dominated by Islamist terrorist groups.

"Spain is not going to intervene unilaterally in Mali," said the minister, adding that Madrid wants to "face up to" the growing instability in the zone "in the most multilateral way possible," along with its European and U.S. partners and with the support of the African Union.

Morenes's words coincided with those of Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who said Monday in Madrid that the Spanish government is ready to provide help, in coordination with the European Union, for the military mission that several African nations are preparing in northern Mali.




Colombian rebels hand over chopper pilots to Red Cross


Colombia's FARC guerrillas released two civilian helicopter pilots captured weeks ago when they made an emergency landing in the southwestern province of Cauca.

Juan Carlos Alvarez and Alejandro de Jesus Ocampo were handed over on Sunday to a delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Francisco Isaias Cifuentes Human Rights Network.

"They are fine. It's great news for their families. They will arrive in Popayan (Cauca's capital) and from there they will head to Medellin, their city," ICRC spokesperson Maria Cristina Rivera told Efe in Bogota.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, acknowledged last week that it was holding the pilots.

Alvarez and Ocampo were on board the Bell 206 L3 on July 10 when a mechanical failure forced them to execute an emergency landing on a soccer field in the town of Argelia.




Spanish aid workers bound for Maghreb despite terror warning


The president of the CEAS federation of Spanish groups that support Western Sahara announced that 20 aid workers will travel Aug.7 to refugee camps in Algeria even though Spain's government warns they could be targeted by terrorist attacks.

The trip, Jose Taboada told Efe, was not planned, but is "a response to this severe action taken by the government" and to the "fear it is trying to instill in Spanish society" so that "no one will visit the Saharawi refugee camps."

The Spanish government decided on the urgent repatriation last Saturday of 12 aid workers from Algeria due to "well-founded indications" of possible attacks by terrorists based in northern Mali.

Taboada said the purpose of the 20 aid workers' trip is not only to deliver humanitarian aid but also to reaffirm the commitment of pro-Saharawi associations to continue helping them and providing the goods they need.




Brazilian couple wins world salsa championship in Puerto Rico


The Brazilian couple Carine Morais and Rafael Barros won the World Salsa Open 2012 this weekend during the Puerto Rico Salsa Congress at a hotel in San Juan, organizers said.

After winning the contest, Barros proposed matrimony to his dance partner, who accepted Saturday before the hundreds of people attending the event, which had continued for several days in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at the Isla Verde tourist resort.

Second place in the championship went to Argentines Karen Forcano and Ricardo Vega, and third place to Mexicans Paulina Posadas and David Zepeda.

The champions received the $5,000 first prize, while the first runners-up won $3,000 and the third-place couple $2,000.




Mexican left makes big push against election results


The Mexican left shifted its effort to dig up evidence of irregularities in this month's presidential election into high gear over the weekend with the backing of supporters who have set up nearly 150 people's assemblies.

"These assemblies have the purpose of informing all citizens about what we are doing to get the Electoral Tribunal to invalidate the presidential election," leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told the gathering Sunday in Nezahualcóytl, a city in Mexico state.

Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, candidate Enrique Peña Nieto won the presidential election with 38.21 percent of the vote, while Lopez Obrador took second place with 31.59 percent, according to the final official results released by the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE.

The leftist politician, who was accompanied by his wife, Beatriz Gutierrez, urged his supporters to work hard to document the election irregularities.




Zetas cartel boss arrested in northern Mexico


The leader of the Los Zetas drug cartel in Sabinas Hidalgo, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, and four other suspects have been arrested, the Federal Police said.

Hilario Guadalupe Reyna Cuevas was arrested last Friday, thanks to "intelligence work," the Public Safety Secretariat said.

The 36-year-old man was "identified as the area boss in Sabinas Hidalgo" of Los Zetas, considered Mexico's most violent criminal organization, the secretariat said.

"The lines of investigation indicate that this subject is linked to the crimes of drug trafficking, as well as the murders and kidnappings of at least six members of rival gangs, activities that he ran from the town of Garza Ayala, Nuevo Leon," the secretariat said in a statement.