Tag Archives: Latin America and Caribbean

Peruvian authorities: 12.three million dried seahorses seized

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Authorities in Peru say they’ve detained a ship carrying 12.three million dried seahorses with a $6 million export worth in an unprecedented operation.

Peruvian marines adopted the Adonay ship for a number of days earlier than intercepting it about 200 miles (322 kilometers) off the Pacific coast.

On board, authorities discovered 55 packing containers crammed with seahorses in what Peruvians say is the biggest such seize on document.

4 crew members have been additionally detained and withstand 5 years in jail every.

All through the years, the ocean creature has been illegally purchased to be used in Chinese language drugs.

However considerations about declining populations have led many international locations to implement export bans.

Authorities introduced the most recent operation Tuesday and say the seahorses might be donated to investigative facilities and native universities for analysis.

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Tourist-dependent Bahamas says it’s still open for business

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The Bahamas was on track for a record year of tourism before Hurricane Dorian hit. Now, the outlook for that vital sector is uncertain.

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Some of the best-known resorts in the 700-island chain, like Atlantis, Paradise Island, were unscathed by the monster storm. So was Nassau, the largest city.

But 100 miles away, on Grand Bahama Island and the Abaco islands, many smaller hotels and vacation rentals were damaged or destroyed. That leaves the Bahamas with a double challenge: convincing tourists to keep coming without trivializing the suffering on the affected islands.

“All of the donations are welcome, but they can also, very much, assist us by still visiting the islands of the Bahamas in the unaffected areas. They are open for business,” said Ellison Thompson, the deputy director general of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.

The Bahamas depend heavily on tourism, which supplies half their annual gross domestic product of $5.7 billion, according to the Bahamas Investment Authority. By comparison, tourism brings in 20% of Hawaii’s annual GDP and less than 3% of the GDP of the United States.

The Ministry of Tourism confirmed on Friday that all hotels on Abaco and Grand Bahama are closed. Together, the islands have around 3,000 hotel rooms, or 19% of the 16,000 rooms in the Bahamas, according to Frank Comito, the CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. They also have hundreds of vacation homes. Airbnb lists more than 600 rentals for Grand Bahama and the Abacos islands.

According to government statistics, Grand Bahama received 670,000 visitors in 2018, the vast majority arriving on cruise ships. More than 100,000 visitors flew last year into Marsh Harbour, the largest town in the Abaco islands.

Comito has beachfront property in the Abaco islands but doesn’t know how it had fared. Some hotels were providing updates on Facebook. For instance, the owners of Pelican Beach Villas said their oceanfront cottages near Marsh Harbour were completely destroyed and they were evacuated to Nassau by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Firefly Resort Abaco tweeted photos of downed trees and a building with no roof and a collapsed wall.

“Hurricane Dorian destroyed our paradise. We will rebuild,” the resort said in its Twitter post.

There’s also some industry in the area. Grand Bahama is home to the Freeport Container Port, a deep water port for oceangoing container ships. Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Ports, which owns the facility, said its emergency team was helping with rescue efforts and trying to re-establish power at the port. Spokesman Anthony Tam said the company’s nearby cruise terminal sustained minimal damage and was expecting ships carrying humanitarian supplies as early as Monday.

Those businesses could help speed the recovery. Carnival Cruise Lines said it’s still committed to a port development project in Grand Bahama announced earlier this year. Slated to be completed in 2021, the port will be the largest Carnival Cruise port in the world and is expected to create at least 1,000 jobs.

Tourism to unaffected islands could also bring in much-needed cash and provide jobs to displaced hotel workers. At the start of this year, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation was reporting record tourist arrivals thanks in part to the recently completed Baha Mar luxury resort. On its home page, Baha Mar has a prominent link to donate to hurricane relief efforts.

“If I were the minister of tourism, I would be strongly supporting an awareness campaign,” said Robertico Croes, who researches small island destinations at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “What is important is that the overall perception continues to be positive.”

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis made that plea Friday.

“One of the best ways that people around the world can show their support and solidarity… is to visit our other islands by air or by cruise ship,” he said.

Pallab Mozumder, an environmental economist at the Florida International University, says rebuilding homes, businesses and networks of utilities in the northern Bahamas will cost between $15 billion and $25 billion. He expects it will take five years or longer to recover from the catastrophe. Hurricane Dorian’s Category 5 strength and extremely low speed — which exacerbated flooding — made the devastation worse, he said.

Comito said the speed of the rebuilding effort will depend on a lot of things, including how quickly insurance claims can be processed, government incentives and the availability of building supplies and labor.

After hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean in 2017, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimated it would take four years for the impacted islands to get back to their previous level of tourism. But Comito said that recovery is ahead of schedule. Ninety percent of Puerto Rico’s hotel rooms are back online, while the U.S. Virgin Islands has 70% of its previous capacity.

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Durbin reported from Detroit. Gomez reported from Miami.

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After drowning, new rules, Mexico City canals see drop-off

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New rules including alcohol limits are in place for Mexico City’s famed Xochimilco canals as the government moves to crack down on hard-core partiers following a drowning.

Officials hope to encourage a more peaceful atmosphere for families and tourists and reduce dangerous behavior by those who treat the canal boats like floating nightclubs, drinking to excess, dancing on tables and even brawling.

But workers say business has fallen off by about 80%. Some people are perhaps unnerved by the accident, and others put off by the anti-partying measures.

At stake are the livelihoods of thousands of boatmen, owners and those on the margins who sell tourists food, drink, flowers and trinkets.

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Ford 2Q revenue falls 86% on price of abroad restructuring

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Ford’s web revenue tumbled 86% within the second quarter due largely to restructuring prices in Europe and South America.

Web earnings for the April-through-June interval dropped to $148 million, or four cents per share. With out the costs the corporate made 28 cents per share. Income was flat at $38.9 billion.

On common, analysts surveyed by FactSet anticipated earnings 31 cents per share on income of $38.49 billion.

Chief Monetary Officer Tim Stone says the corporate had fees of $1.2 billion because it moved to shut factories in Europe and South America.

He says Ford already is seeing an influence from its international health measures that included a discount of seven,000 white-collar staff.

Ford, which launched numbers after the markets closed Wednesday, says its outcomes embrace a $181 million valuation loss on an funding in a software program firm, trimming four cents off adjusted earnings per share.

Its inventory fell 6.3% in after-hours buying and selling to $9.68.

Stone stated Ford is within the early levels of its restructuring, however already is seeing enchancment in some areas. Free money movement additionally improved by 80% to $2.1 billion within the first half of the 12 months, he stated.

“We’re already beginning to see some early advantages,” he stated. “A variety of work to do.”

The corporate expects enchancment within the second half of the 12 months as extra new massive SUVs hit dealerships and extra of the restructuring takes maintain. Ford on Wednesday forecast pretax adjusted earnings of $7 billion to $7.5 billion for all of 2019, in contrast with $7 billion final 12 months. The corporate beforehand had solely stated that pretax earnings would enhance.

Full-year adjusted earnings per share are forecast to be $1.20 to $1.35, up from $1.30 in 2018. Beforehand it didn’t give per-share steerage.

Ford’s U.S. gross sales fell practically 5% within the second quarter, in keeping with the Edmunds.com auto pricing web site, as the corporate exited most of its passenger automobile enterprise. However Stone stated gross sales of the brand new Ford Ranger small pickup offset a lot of that as its share of the small truck section rose 14%. Edmunds, which offers content material for The Related Press, stated Ford’s common automobile sale value rose 2.8% to $41,328 in the course of the quarter.

In North America, Ford’s largest revenue heart, pretax earnings fell 3% to only beneath $1.7 billion, which the corporate blamed on switching its Chicago manufacturing facility to construct new variations of midsize SUVs. However in Europe, the corporate confirmed its first year-over-year enchancment in two years with a pretax revenue of $53 million versus a $73 million loss final 12 months. Ford’s loss in China shrank 68% to $155 million. The South America loss widened 15%, although, to $205 million. Center East and Africa swung to a lack of $45 million from a revenue of $49 million.

Ford Credit score pretax earnings rose 29% to $831 million.

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US companies are in line of fire of tariffs aimed at Mexico

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President Donald Trump’s surprise threat to impose escalating tariffs on Mexican imports jolted industry leaders throughout the U.S. economy Friday, sparked opposition even from usual Trump allies and set the stage for American consumers to face higher prices.

It also sent stock markets tumbling, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing down roughly 355 points, or 1.4%. Investors poured money instead into the safety of bonds, sending yields lower and signaling that they fear the economy will slow in the coming months.

Trump vowed Thursday to slap a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports on June 10, just over a week away, and raise those tariffs to 25% by October, unless Mexico stops the flow of Central American migrants into the U.S.

If the tariffs were to take effect, they could eventually raise prices for a new Chevrolet Blazer SUV, a burrito at Chipotle, a new shirt or a Corona beer. A 5% duty on the $346.5 billion of goods imported from Mexico translates into $17 billion in tariffs. Some of that higher cost might be paid, at least initially, by U.S. companies. But a significant portion would likely be passed on to U.S. shoppers.

The impact of Trump’s latest tariffs, should they be imposed, will fall first on U.S. companies. Businesses in many industries have set up tightly linked supply chains with Mexico. Billions of dollars of auto parts, for example, are sent back and forth across the U.S.-Mexico border, in some cases several times, as components are added and integrated into finished cars. Similar networks exist in other industries, from clothing to electronics. The import taxes could quickly translate into much higher costs.

“That’s what’s so concerning about these tariffs,” said John Mitchell, president of IPC, a trade group representing the electronics industry. “It undercuts the region’s ability to leverage each other’s strengths to benefit North American manufacturing.”

Peter Navarro, a top trade adviser to the Trump White House, insisted in an interview on CNBC that the Mexican government and businesses would pay the tariffs. But about 40% of imports from Mexico are from U.S.-affiliated companies, meaning there is no Mexican company that would pay. Instead the tariffs will simply raise costs for U.S. companies — and ultimately for consumers — particularly for parts that cross the border several times, Mitchell said.

The U.S. economy has been integrating with Mexico’s since the implementation of NAFTA in 1995. All U.S.-made cars now include at least some parts from overseas, and 37% of those parts are from Mexico.

“Any barrier to the flow of commerce across the U.S.-Mexico border will have a cascading effect — harming U.S. consumers, threatening American jobs and investment, curtailing the economic progress that the administration is working to re-ignite,” said David Schwietert, interim president of the Auto Alliance trade group, which represents U.S. automakers and foreign companies that build cars in the United States, such as BMW and Toyota.

Shares of General Motors Co., which imports more vehicles into the U.S. than any other automaker, tumbled 4.25% Friday.

“For GM, we roughly estimate that a 5% tariff could be a several-hundred-million dollar annual earnings hit,” said Itay Michaeli of Citi Investment Research.

The new tariffs came as a surprise for many companies because the Trump administration had just renewed its push to win congressional approval for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, its update to NAFTA.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a usual Trump ally and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, condemned the president’s action as “a misuse of presidential tariff authority” that would burden American consumers and “seriously jeopardize passage of USMCA.”

Some industry representatives said the duties would not encourage companies to return production to the U.S., as Trump has said he wants, but actually have the opposite effect: It will discourage them from relocating to the U.S. because they’d have to pay more for imported parts.

“If you can’t buy your components here, you’re not going to think about coming back here,” Mitchell said.

Americans may also see higher prices in grocery stores. The U.S. imports $12 billion of fresh fruits and vegetables from Mexico, including tomatoes, avocados, peppers and lemons.

“This is a tax on healthy diets, plain and simple,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

Jungmeyer noted that food imports from Mexico haven’t been subject to tariffs for decades, and importers would have to file paperwork with Customs to pay duties. That can 10 days or more to process, potentially leaving many companies unable to import for a time after June 10.

“I’ve got to educate a whole range of people who haven’t paid tariffs on Mexican produce since 1995,” Jungmeyer said.

Many U.S. restaurant chains buy tomatoes and other fresh produce from Mexico. Laurie Schalow, an executive for Chipotle Mexican Grill, said the chain has sought to diversify its supplier base and now buys some avocados from Chile and Peru and is less dependent on Mexico. Still, the tariffs would hurt the company, Schalow said.

Trump has already imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion of goods from China. The additional duties on Mexican imports could weaken the U.S. economy. Growth was already forecast to slip to a roughly 1.5% annual pace in the April-June quarter, down from 3.1% in the first three months of the year.

Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, estimates that if the full 25% duties on Mexican goods were put in place, U.S. growth next year would be cut by 0.7 percentage point.

The U.S. imports $2.4 billion of clothing and textiles from Mexico. Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of American Apparel and Footwear Association, said companies are already thinking about how to cut costs but will likely have to raise prices because their profit margins are so thin.

Mexico is the eighth-largest supplier of clothing and seventh-largest supplier of footwear to the U.S. market. It’s the largest supplier of men’s and boy’s jeans, accounting for 35% of imports, according to the AAFA.

Shares of Kontoor Brands, which includes Wrangler and Lee, fell nearly 8%, while shares of Levi Strauss dropped 7%. Both companies obtain some of their denim from Mexico.

About 70% of imported beer is from Mexico, up from less than 20% in 1990, according to the National Beer Wholesalers Association. Shares of Constellation Brands, which makes Corona and Modelo beers, among others, fell nearly 6% Friday.

Jeremy Seaver, owner of Tios Mexican Cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said the tariffs would hurt his business. He uses avocados from Mexico, serves Mexican tequila, beer and soda and sells Mexican hot sauces. Even his restaurant’s decorations are all from Mexico, he said.

“I’m very concerned,” he said. “Five percent (tariff) doesn’t sound like a lot, but to a small business like mine, that’s a lot.”

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D’Innocenzio reported from New York. AP Writers Michelle Chapman in New York and Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit also contributed to this report.

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Dakar Rally moves from South America to Saudi Arabia

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The Dakar Rally is swapping South America for Saudi Arabia.

Dakar Rally organizers say next year’s race will be held in “the deep and mysterious deserts of the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia.”

Created by Thierry Sabine after he got lost in the Libyan desert in 1977, the Dakar Rally was raced across Africa until terror threats in Mauritania led organizers to cancel the 2008 edition. The rally was then held in South America.

Details of the 2020 race will be announced later this week in Saudi Arabia.

Dakar Rally director David Castera says “it’s a grandiose challenge, with this blank page, with unlimited possibilities.”

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports



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UK police outside Ecuador embassy amid WikiLeaks tweets

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British police stationed armed officers outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on Friday after tweets from WikiLeaks quoted what it said were high-level sources saying that Julian Assange could be kicked out of the building within “hours to days.”

The red-brick embassy building with white window frames and balconies was quiet. No embassy official or any British authorities commented on the WikiLeaks founder’s status.

Asked about the presence of armed officers outside the Ecuadorian Embassy, London’s Metropolitan Police force said there had been no change in police procedure.

Police said in a statement there is an active warrant for Assange’s arrest and that the police are “obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the Embassy.”

Police withdrew the round-the-clock guard outside the embassy in October 2015 after more than three years in favor of what the service called a “covert” approach.

Assange hasn’t left the embassy since August 2012, fearing if he steps off Ecuador’s diplomatic soil he will be arrested and extradited to the U.S. for publishing thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through WikiLeaks.

Ecuador’s foreign ministry issued a statement late Thursday saying it wouldn’t comment on what it called “rumors, theories or conjectures.”

Later, a senior official told The Associated Press that no decision had been taken to expel Assange from the embassy.

A small group of protesters and supporters of WikiLeaks’ founder gathered Thursday outside the London embassy. On Friday morning, a van appeared outside the building showing a placard that said “Free Speech” and featured images of Assange and convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning. Police moved it on.

WikiLeaks on Thursday tweeted: “BREAKING: A high level source within the Ecuadorian state has told @WikiLeaks that Julian Assange will be expelled within “hours to days” using the #INAPapers offshore scandal as a pretext–and that it already has an agreement with the UK for his arrest.”

Another tweet said it had received a secondary confirmation from another high-level source.

But a top official said while Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno was angered by the apparent hacking of his personal communications, he denied WikiLeaks’ claim and said no decision had been taken to expel Assange from the Embassy. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter.

On Tuesday, Moreno blamed WikiLeaks for recent allegations of offshore corruption that in appeared in local media outlets and the publication of family photos to social media.

Moreno accused WikiLeaks of intercepting phone calls and private conversations as well as “photos of my bedroom, what I eat, and how my wife and daughters and friends dance.”

Moreno provided no evidence, but the speech reflected ongoing tension between Assange and his hosts at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

WikiLeaks in a statement called Moreno’s charges “completely bogus,” saying it reported on the accusations of corruption against the president only after Ecuador’s legislature investigated the issue.

Assange’s defense team suggested on Twitter that Moreno was trying to use the scandal to pressure the WikiLeaks founder.

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Gonzalo Solano reported from Quito, Ecuador and Joshua Goodman reported from Bogota, Colombia. Barry Hatton contributed from Lisbon, Portugal.

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