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In brief: Yemen deports four journalists

Tue., March 15, 2011

Sanaa, Yemen – Armed Yemeni security forces raided an apartment shared by four Western journalists Monday and deported them because of their coverage of a gathering uprising against the country’s longtime ruler, one of the reporters said.

The journalists, two Americans and two Britons in their 20s, contribute to publications including the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post.

“They came into our apartment this morning and they told us all to come to the immigration office,” said Oliver Holmes, 24, a Briton. “They sat us down and said, ‘You’re being deported.’ ”

In the car on the way to immigration, the journalists were allowed to make phone calls. But their phones and passports were confiscated for hours while they were held at the immigration office and then as they packed up their apartment under the gaze of armed agents.

One of the agents told Holmes they were being kicked out because of their coverage of the uprising, which was inspired by the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Two arrested in island attack

Castries, St. Lucia – A robbery and assault on three gay American tourists at their vacation cottage has St. Lucia officials scrambling to assure visitors that the southern Caribbean island is safe and welcoming for homosexuals.

Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet issued an apology Monday to three men from Atlanta after masked bandits broke into their mountain rental home in Soufriere. One victim said the gunmen made slurs against gays, white people and Americans during the March 3 assault.

The tiny, tourism-dependent Caribbean country is typically peaceful and a safe place for all kinds of travelers, Chastanet said.

He said the attack was “unacceptable behavior and our destination will not tolerate it.”

Police announced Monday that they have arrested two suspects in the assault and are looking for three more.

Cuba lowers peso to jolt economy

Havana – Cuba’s central bank is devaluing the country’s two types of peso by about 8 percent in relation to the dollar and other foreign currencies, hoping the move will spur exports and local production as the government seeks to overhaul a moribund economy.

The announcement published in state newspapers on Monday says the hard-currency peso used mostly by tourists and foreign companies on the island will now be worth $1, down from $1.08. Each hard-currency peso is still worth 24 of the standard pesos with which most Cubans are paid in an unusual two-tiered currency system.

It was the first time the government has revalued the currency in six years, when it increased the nominal value of its currency in relation to the dollar. Monday’s shift puts the exchange rate back to where it was before.

Economists have been arguing for just such a change. They say it will be a boon for the island’s crucial tourism industry, because it will make trips to Cuba more affordable. It will also increase the peso value of remittances sent from abroad.


 

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