Tegucigalpa, Honduras – The United States has revoked the visas of Honduras’ interim president and 17 other top officials to pressure the Central American nation to reinstate ousted leader Manuel Zelaya, Honduras’ government said Saturday.
The interim government expects the United States to revoke the visas of at least 1,000 more public officials “in the coming days,” Information Minister Rene Zepeda told the Associated Press.
Interim President Roberto Micheletti said losing his diplomatic and tourist visas would not weaken his rejection of the return of Zelaya, who was toppled in a June 28 military-backed coup and flown into exile.
Micheletti said he was expecting the action and called it “a sign of the pressure that the U.S. government is exerting on our country.” The move “changes nothing because I am not willing to take back what has happened in Honduras,” he said on radio station HRN.
Washington on Friday revoked the diplomatic and tourist visas for 14 Supreme Court judges, the armed forces chief, the foreign relations secretary and Honduras’ attorney general, presidential spokeswoman Marcia de Villeda said Saturday.
Caracas rattled by offshore quake
Caracas, Venezuela – An earthquake shook Venezuela’s capital and nearby states Saturday, injuring 14 people and causing damage to a few buildings.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 for the quake, saying the epicenter was off Venezuela’s Caribbean coast 65 miles west of Caracas.
Two people, ages 9 and 26, suffered serious leg injuries, and 12 other people had minor injuries, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said.
El Aissami said western Falcon state reported the most structural problems, with seven houses and two other buildings damaged. Two houses were reported damaged in neighboring Lara state, where the wall of a medical clinic also collapsed.
Wife, 12, dies in childbirth
San’a, Yemen – A 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labor to give birth, a local human rights organization said Saturday.
Fawziya Abdullah Youssef died of severe bleeding on Friday while giving birth to a stillborn in the al-Zahra district hospital of Hodeida province, 140 miles west of the capital San’a.
Child marriages are widespread in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, where tribal customs dominate society. More than a quarter of the country’s females marry before age 15, according to a recent report by the Social Affairs Ministry.
Youssef was only 11 when her father married her to a 24-year-old man who works as a farmer in Saudi Arabia, said Ahmed al-Quraishi, chairman of Siyaj human rights organization, which promotes the rights of children in Yemen.
Al-Quraishi said that he stumbled upon Youssef in the hospital while investigating cases of children who had fled from the fighting in the north.
“This is one of many cases that exist in Yemen,” said al-Quraishi. “The reason behind it is the lack of education and awareness, forcing many girls into marriage in this very early age.”