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INTERNATIONAL EDITION

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2012

109TH YEAR I ©2012 THE MIAMI HERALD

Nigerian underwear bomber gets life in prison

Report says most inmates in Honduras fire were awaiting trial BY MARTHA MENDOZA AND CHRISTINE ARMARIO Associated Press

COMAYAGUA, Honduras — The prisoners whose scorched bodies were carried out piece by piece Thursday from a charred Honduran prison had been locked inside an overcrowded penitentiary where most inmates had never been charged, let alone convicted, according to an internal Honduran government report obtained by The Associated Press. More than half of the 856 inmates of the Comayagua farm prison north of the Central American country’s capital were either awaiting trial or being held as suspected gang members, according to a report sent by the Honduran government this month to the United Nations. A fire started by an inmate tore through the prison Tuesday night, burning and suffocating screaming men in their locked cells as rescuers desperately searched for keys. Officials confirmed 358 dead, making it the world’s deadliest prison fire in a century. Survivors told horrific tales of climbing walls to break the sheet metal roofing and escape, only to see prisoners in other cell blocks being burned alive. Inmates were found stuck to the roofing, their bodies fused to the metal. From the time firefighters received a call at 10:59 p.m. local time, the rescue was marred by human error and conditions that made the prison ripe for catastrophe. According to the report, on any given day there were about 800 inmates in a facility built for 500. There were only 51 guards by day and just 12 at night — the case at the time of the fire. The prison has no medical or mental healthcare and the budget allows less than $1 per day per prisoner for food. Prisoners only needed to bear a simple tattoo to be incarcerated under the strict Honduran anti-gang laws, the report said. The United Nations condemns the practice as a violation of international law. • TURN TO HONDURAS, 2A

BY ED WHITE

Associated Press

New York Times Service

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• TURN TO BOMBER, 2A

FIXING BROKEN HOMES CUBA UNLEASHES PENT-UP ENERGY OF REAL ESTATE DREAMS BY VICTORIA BURNETT

New York Times Service

HAVANA — As fixer-uppers go, Carmen Martinez’s derelict shotgun house is no cakewalk. The living-room roof collapsed 15 years ago, and the porch soon followed suit, leaving two teetering columns with nothing to hold up. The bathroom is a squalid privy, and the kitchen consists of a sink with no taps and two oil drums full of water. But roofs — even half-missing ones — are a hot commodity these days in Havana, which has been swept by a bout of real estate fever. So Yoel Bacallao, a 35-year-old entrepreneur, offered to repair Martinez’s dilapidated house for free on one condition: that she let him build an apartment of his own on top of it. “It was as if a ray of light had come down from the sky,” said Martinez, 41, who would hang laundry in the roofless living room and sweep furiously during rainstorms to keep the rest of the house from flooding. “I have been watching this house fall apart around me for years.” All over the capital and in

over its diplomatic inability to halt a conflict that has left thousands of Syrians dead. The resolution, which calls for Assad to relinquish powers to a vice president, negotiations among the antagonists and the formation of a new government, had been put forward by Egypt and other Arab League members. It followed the veto nearly two weeks ago of a resolution by the Security Council. Russia and China vetoed that resolution. After the vetoes, Assad’s forces intensified their crackdown, most notably with a relentless daily barrage on the central city of Homs, an epicenter of resistance, that was corroborated by witness accounts and videos posted on the Internet. Assad’s critics accused him of interpreting the double veto as a green light to crush the uprising with overwhelming military force. Syrian opposition groups reported an expansion of the military campaign on Thursday, with government forces hitting targets in the northern province of Idlib and central province of Hama. They also reported military attacks further south into Dara’a near the

In a powerful rebuke to Syria’s government, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve a resolution condemning President Bashar al Assad’s unbridled crackdown on an 11-month-old uprising and called for the adoption of an Arab League proposal to resolve the conflict. The 137-12 vote, with 17 abstentions, is a nonbinding action with no power of enforcement at the world body, but it represented a significant humiliation for Assad, whose government had sought to block the vote and severely criticized the sponsors including Syria’s brethren in the Arab League. Bashar Jaafari, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, called the resolution “biased” and said it had “nothing to do with events in Syria.” A handful of the other countries that opposed the resolution, most notably Russia, Venezuela and North Korea, condemned it as an unwarranted interference in Syria’s internal politics. But the wide range of countries that voted approval signified the deep anger and frustration at the United Nations • TURN TO SYRIA, 2A

FRANTIC ACTIONS HINT AT PRESSURE ON IRAN’S LEADERS, 3A

• TURN TO CUBA, 2A

PHOTOS BY JOSE GOITIA/NEW YORK TIMES SERVICE

Carmen Martinez hopes to have her house in Havana repaired.

U.N. votes overwhelmingly to condemn Syrian government BY BY RICK GLADSTONE

flowing on the island, encourage private enterprise and take pressure off the economically crippled state. For decades, the government banned real estate sales and kept a jealous grip on construction. Materials were scarce, red tape endless and inspectors

DETROIT — Calling it a “just punishment,” a federal judge ordered life in prison Thursday for a Nigerian man who turned away from a privileged life and tried to blow up an international jetliner with nearly 300 people during a suicide mission for al Qaeda. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was the same defiant man who four months ago pleaded guilty to all charges related to the attempted destruction of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 with a bomb in his underwear on Christmas 2009. He seemed to relish his mandatory sentence and defended his actions as rooted in the Muslim holy book, the Koran. Earlier, four passengers and a crew member aboard Flight 253 ABDULMUTALLAB told U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds that the event forever changed their lives. Abdulmutallab looked disinterested during their remarks — he rarely looked up while seated just a few feet away, wearing a white skull cap and an oversized prison T-shirt. Abdulmutallab “has never expressed doubt or regret or remorse about his mission,” Edmunds said. “In contrast, he sees that mission as divinely inspired and a continuing mission.” Life in prison is a “just punishment for what he has done,” the judge said. “The defendant poses a significant ongoing threat to the safety of American citizens everywhere.” Abdulmutallab, a 25-year-old who was educated in Europe and is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker, told the government that he

Cubans build a new home in Baracoa, near Havana. many provincial towns, Cubans are beginning to inject money into the island’s ragged real estate, spurred by government measures to stimulate construction and a new law that allows them to trade property for the first time in 50 years. The measures are President Raul Castro’s biggest maneuver yet as he strives to get capital

China’s Xi shows personal side in Iowa BY RYAN J. FOLEY

Associated Press

MUSCATINE, Iowa — China’s vice president remembered the popcorn he’d received as a parting gift — and the strong Chinese liquor he left behind. He recalled one young girl asking whether he’d seen Hollywood movies, and being shocked when he told her he’d watched The Godfather. And he often flashed that warm smile. Twenty-seven years after China’s Vice President Xi Jinping met a group of Iowa farmers and business leaders during a diplomatic exchange to this Mississippi River town in the U.S. heartland, the likely future leader of the world’s most populous country returned Wednesday for a brief reunion to reminisce with the first U.S. citizens he ever met. “My impression of the country came from you. For me, you are America,” Xi told a group of about 16 people he referred to as “old friends.” The relaxed gathering in front of a fireplace in Roger and Sarah Lande’s living room in Muscatine was a stark contrast to the more subdued, party-line approach Xi had while meeting with U.S. leaders in Washington earlier this week. During talks with President Barack Obama, members of Congress and others, Xi, 58, said little

AFGHAN, PAKISTANI LEADERS MEET TO DISCUSS TALIBAN PEACE TALKS, 6A

CHARLIE NEIBERGALL/AP

China’s Vice President Xi Jinping looks at jars full of soybeans and corn at a family farm in Maxwell, Iowa, on Thursday. new — and did little to narrow the differences that exist between the United States and China on issues such as human rights. But in Iowa, Xi had the opportunity to show a more personal side away from the tough questions on policy, trade and international relations. Those who attended the 45-minute reunion in the twostory Victorian home said Xi en-

EU TRIES TO CALM NERVES AS GREEK SPAT ESCALATES, BUSINESS FRONT

thusiastically introduced Chinese government leaders traveling with him, shook everyone’s hand and even made a couple light remarks. They were struck by his charm, described him as genuine and hoped his friendly approach to Midwesterners is a positive sign for the future of U.S.-China • TURN TO VISIT, 2A

WATCHDOG SLAMS SECRECY AROUND OLYMPIC TICKETING, SPORTS FRONT

INDEX THE AMERICAS ...........4A U.S. NEWS .....................5A OPINION........................7A COMICS & PUZZLES ...6B

2/17/2012 4:58:26 AM


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Hoy | The Miami Herald | 2012-FEB-17  
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Hoy | The Miami Herald | 2012-FEB-17

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