Spain gives Catalonia eight days to end crisis
MADRID/BARCELONA – Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy yesterday gave the Catalan government eight days to drop an independence bid, failing which he would suspend Catalonia’s political autonomy and rule the region directly.
His move could deepen the confrontation between Madrid and the northeastern region but also signals a way out of Spain’s biggest political crisis since a failed military coup in 1981.
Rajoy would probably call a snap regional election after activating Article 155 of the constitution that would allow him to sack the Catalan regional government.
Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont issued a symbolic declaration of independence from Spain on Tuesday night but then immediately suspended it and called for negotiations with the Madrid government.
“The cabinet has agreed this morning to formally request the Catalan government to confirm whether it has declared the independence of Catalonia, regardless of the deliberate confusion created over its implementation,” Rajoy said in a televised address.
He later told Spain’s parliament the Catalan government had until Monday, October 16 at 0800 GMT to answer. If Puigdemont was to confirm he did declare independence, he would be given an additional three days to rectify it, until October 19. ( Reuters)
Food relief falling short
SAN JUAN – Federal officials privately admit there is a massive shortage of meals in Puerto Rico three weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
Officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said that the government and its partners were only providing 200 000 meals a day to meet the needs of more than two million people. That is a daily shortfall of between 1.8 million and 5.8 million meals.
“We are 1.8 million meals short,” said one senior FEMA official. “That is why we need the urgency. And it’s not going away. We’re doing this much today, but it has to be sustained over several months.”
The scale of the food crisis dwarfs the more widely publicised challenges of restoring power and communications. More than a third of Puerto Ricans are still struggling to live without drinking water. ( Guardianuk)
$2m wrongful death award
KINGSTON – The Supreme Court has ordered businessman Patrick Powell to pay two million dollars to the family of teenager Khajeel Mais arising from a wrongful death lawsuit.
The award by Justice Stephanie Jackson Haisley was made yesterday, nearly two years after the lawsuit, which was filed by Mais’ parents, ended with a default judgment.
Powell, who is serving a nine-month sentence for a conviction related to Mais’ death, did not contest the suit. In July this year, he was found guilty of failing to turn over his licensed Glock pistol and ammunition to police investigators probing Mais’ death. ( Gleaner)
US diplomat in deadly crash
BELMOPAN – The United States Embassy in Belize has expressed “deep shock and sadness” after three people, including an 18-month-old child, were killed following an accident involving a vehicle driven by a US diplomat.
“The embassy extends their sincere sympathies and heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to the loved ones of those who lost their lives and were affected in this terrible tragedy,” it said in the brief statement.
Last weekend’s accident resulted in the deaths of 23-year-old Marta Vasquez, her 18-month-old baby girl Deanna Castillo and her 30-year-old sister-in-law Samantha Castillo. A six-month old child survived. ( CMC)