3-year probation for Farruko in case of undeclared $52K
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A judge on Thursday ordered three years’ probation for Puerto Rican singer Farruko after he pleaded guilty to not declaring nearly $52,000 in cash discovered in his luggage and shoes last year when he flew in to an airport in the U.S. territory.
The judge also ordered the seizure of $41,000 of that money.
Authorities detained the popular reggaeton and trap singer in March 2018 after he arrived by helicopter from the Dominican Republic. He was briefly placed under house arrest with an ankle monitor.
Farruko, whose real name is Carlos Efrén Reyes, had told reporters that he was singing in the Dominican Republic and forgot to report the money.
Federal authorities had asked for a 16-month prison sentence.
Retirees defy P.R. govt, get pension deal with board
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A group of retired public employees has defied Puerto Rico’s government and reached a deal with a federal control board overseeing the island’s finances as it works to restructure more than $50 billion in pension liabilities, officials said Wednesday.
The announcement angered government officials in the U.S. territory, who reject any cuts to a crumbling public pension system amid a 13-year recession.
The deal still has to be approved by creditors and then a judge overseeing a bankruptcy-like process for Puerto Rico’s government. If approved, it would protect more than 60% of retirees from any cuts, according to the pensioners’ group. They also said the deal limits pension cuts to a maximum of 8.5% for those who receive $1,200 or more a month in retirement benefits, compared with a maximum of 25% in cuts that the board sought. The cuts would not occur until July 2020 at the earliest.
Pension cuts have been a contentious issue as Puerto Rico tries to restructure a portion of its more than $70 billion public debt load while the board imposes various austerity measures.
Four fishermen detained on Coast Guard ships
WASHINGTON — Four Jamaican fishermen were detained for nearly a month aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels in the Caribbean Sea, spending much of their time chained to the deck in the blistering sun while their families believed they were dead, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
The Coast Guard said officers interdicting the vessel on Sept. 14, 2017, saw the crew toss packages of marijuana into the water and they recovered about 600 pounds.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the men had inadequate bedding, were given rancid food and deprived of water. They were also not allowed to wash off the salt and grime from their skin and received little to no medical treatment for their injuries, according to the lawsuit, which seeks damages on behalf of the men through maritime law.
Puerto Rican Day Parade honors arts, culture
NEW YORK — With Puerto Rican pride on full display along New York City’s Fifth Avenue, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday he’s returning to the island to help rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Maria.
Speaking at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Cuomo said he’s also appointing a commission to oversee the construction of a memorial, located in Manhattan’s Battery Park City, to victims of the 2017 storm.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said more than 300 students from state-run colleges will travel to Puerto Rico over the summer to help the recovery. Public health experts have estimated that nearly 3,000 people died in 2017 because of the effects of Hurricane Maria.
“In New York, we have not forgotten,” Cuomo said. “We said on day one that we will stand with Puerto Rico every step of the way.”
Cuomo has already traveled to Puerto Rico five times since Hurricane Maria hit.
Last year, parade organizers mounted a tribute to those affected by the September 2017 natural disaster, including a group of marchers who had been displaced from their homes.
U.S. says Expedia pays over Cuban travel allegations
WASHINGTON — Expedia has agreed to pay more than $325,000 to settle U.S. government allegations that it improperly helped people travel inside Cuba or between the island and places other than the United States.
The government said that the online travel company appears to have violated U.S. sanctions against Cuba.
The Treasury Department announced the agreement and settlements with two other companies on Thursday.
Expedia Group Inc., which is based in Bellevue, Washington, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last week, the Trump administration announced travel restrictions that effectively banned cruise ships and private plane flights between the U.S. and Cuba, reversing an Obama administration easing of rules in 2016.
Journalists in Haiti demand police protection
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Attacks on journalists in Haiti are escalating, and the slaying of a radio reporter prompted media organizations on Tuesday to renew demands that police protect them and give them space to work.
An unidentified gunman shot Rospide Pétion as he drove home late Monday in a car owned by Radio Sans Fin. The 45-year-old reporter had just finished a radio program in which he talked about corruption allegations against the administration of President Jovenel Moïse.
“These days are not good for journalists and media,” Frantz Duval, editor of the newspaper Le Nouvelliste, tweeted Tuesday.
Moïse issued a statement Tuesday calling the killing a “heinous act” that weighed heavily on Haiti’s press. “I vehemently condemn this villainous crime,” said the president, who also criticized other attacks on local media organizations.
— Compiled from The Associated Press
Pétion was married and had three children.
The shooting came amid days of sometimes violent street protests calling for the resignation of Moïse, during which several journalists have been attacked. Some protesters accuse some media outlets of being pro-government.
On Sunday, a photographer with Le Nouvelliste was injured by a rubber bullet, and protesters tried to attack a videographer with Radio Television Nationale D’Haiti. On Monday, reporters with Radio Tele Ginen were targeted with rocks as protesters vandalized their cars.
Haitian media organizations called on people to stop attacking reporters.
“The press is for everyone. To inform everyone. In all kinds of situations,” they said in a statement, adding that everyone is free to follow whatever media they choose.
Reporters Without Borders issued a statement saying Haitian authorities must investigate Pétion’s killing and bring those responsible to justice.
“It is also the government’s job to guarantee the safety of journalists covering the protests,” the organization said. “They have a key role to play in the current turmoil.”
It noted that freelance photographer Vladjimir Legagneur has been missing since March while on assignment.