Federal authorities said they were trying to rescue more than 100 migrants stranded on an uninhabited island near Puerto Rico during a human smuggling operation.
The nationality of the migrants awaiting help on Mona Island wasn’t immediately known. It also wasn’t clear if anyone in their group drowned before authorities were notified of the situation.
In the group are 60 women, 38 men and five children ranging in age from 5 to 13 years old, according to Anaís Rodríguez, secretary of Puerto Rico’s Natural Resources Department.
She noted that three of the women are pregnant, adding that the group overall is in good health.
Mona island is located in the treacherous waters between Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and has long been a dropping off point for human smugglers promising to ferry Haitian and Dominican migrants to the U.S. territory aboard rickety boats.
Dozens of them have died in recent months in an attempt to flee their countries amid a spike in poverty and violence.
In late July, authorities rescued 68 Haitian migrants dropped off in waters surrounding Mona Island. At least five others drowned.
From October 2021 to March, 571 Haitians and 252 people from the Dominican Republic were detained in waters around Puerto Rico and the U.S.
Families of four well-known opposition figures jailed in Nicaragua fear for their relatives’ lives because of bad conditions at the infamous El Chipote prison.
The four prisoners began a hunger strike in September to protest a lack of medical care, bad food and mistreatment after they were arrested and placed on trial for vague charges akin to treason.
Among the prisoners is former Sandinista rebel commander Dora María Téllez, 65.
“We fear that they may die inside that torture center. Every day that passes, their lives at greater risk,” the relatives of Téllez and three other inmates said in a statement Monday.
President Daniel Ortega alleged they and dozens of other political prisoners were behind 2018 street protests that he claims were a plot to overthrow him.
Critics say he actually arrested them to eliminate any opposition to his re-election in 2021.
Relatives of journalist Miguel Mendoza, academic Irving Larios and lawyer Róger Reyes joined in issuing the statement.
They said prison authorities have threatened not to give the inmates bottles of drinking water that relatives supply themselves.
Further adding to their anguish was that fact the Ortega regime cancelled visits by family members almost two months ago, and they have not been able to see their loved ones.
Téllez led an assault on the National Palace in 1978 during the Somoza family dictatorship, holding congress members hostage in exchange for the release of rebel prisoners, was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Ortega has targeted nongovernmental groups in Nicaragua, cutting off their foreign funding, seizing their offices and canceling their charters.
He alleges they worked with foreign interests that wanted to see him removed from office.
Nicaraguan judges have sentenced several opposition leaders, including former high-level officials of the governing Sandinista movement and former presidential contenders, to prison terms for “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”
Given the notoriously bad conditions at El Chipote and the age of some of the opposition leaders, relatives fear the terms may effectively be death sentences.
Hugo Torres, a former Sandinista guerrilla leader who once led a raid that helped free then rebel Ortega from prison, died while awaiting trial. He was 73.
Thousands have fled into exile since Nicaraguan security forces violently put down antigovernment protests in 2018.
A Salvadoran judge has ordered the provisional arrest of several retired high-ranking members of the armed forces accused of having participated in the killings of four Dutch journalists in 1982 while they were covering the Central American nation’s civil war.
Among those facing arrest orders are former defense minister Gen. José Guillermo García and Col. Francisco Antonio Morán, former director of the now-defunct treasury police, according to the judge’s ruling, a copy of which was seen on Sunday by The Associated Press.
Neither the National Civil Police, which is charged with carrying out the court order, nor the Public Ministry have confirmed the arrest warrants or whether they have been carried out. Neither agency immediately responded to requests for comment.
The ruling by Judge María Mercedes Arguello in Chalatenango province also mentions Col. Mario Adalberto Reyes Mena, former commander of El Salvador’s Fourth Infantry Brigade, who currently resides in the United States. The judge ordered that authorities begin an extradition process against him.
Also included in the ruling are Gen. Rafael Flores Lima, former chief of staff of the armed forces, who died on June 29, 2020, and Sgt. Mario Canizales, who has also died. Canizales allegedly led the patrol that carried out the massacre of the journalists.
Morán and Reyes Mena, as well as Canizales, are identified as the perpetrators of the massacre, while generals García and Flores Lima were accused of crimes of omission.
In March, relatives of the victims, and representatives of the Dutch government and the European Union demanded that El Salvador bring to justice those responsible for the murders of Dutch television journalists Jan Kuiper, Koos Koster, Hans ter Laag and Joop Willemsen.
Oscar Pérez of the Comunicandonos Foundation, which represents victims’ families, said that in March 2018 the foundation filed a criminal complaint with the El Salvador’s Attorney General’s Office to investigate the murders of the Dutch journalists.
In response, the Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the case and sent the file to a court in the municipality of Dulce Nombre de María in Chalatenango province, where in the case was opened in 1982.
A Salvadoran judge has ordered the provisional arrest of several retired high-ranking members of the armed forces accused of having participated in the killings of four Dutch journalists in 1982 while they were covering the Central American nation’s civil war. Above, the former defense minister of El Salvador, Jose Guillermo Garcia-Merino