Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 1st 2016 Contents A25
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MADRID---A majority of Spanish
lawmakers yesterday rejected
conservative party leader Mariano Rajoy's
bid to form a government, signalling
Spain's eight-month political deadlock is
unlikely to end any time soon.
In an investiture vote following a two-
day debate, Rajoy, the acting prime
minister, was voted down by 180
lawmakers against 170 in favour, as had
been expected. He had needed a majority
of 176 votes in the 350-seat Parliament
but could count only on his Popular Party's
137 lawmakers and the backing of 33
Rajoy, 61, has a second chance
tomorrow, when he needs only a simple
majority of votes cast. Still, all signs
indicate he won't pass that test either as
no other party appears willing to back him
or even abstain.
If no government is in place in two
months' time, Parliament will be dissolved
again and Spain will have to hold its third
election in a year. That vote could come on
December 25, Christmas Day.
Rajoy, who has been running a caretaker
government following inconclusive
elections in December and then again in
June, opened the debate Tuesday, saying
that Spain needed a government urgently
and that a third election would be a
Spain PM's bid to form govt rejected
PALERMO---Two Eritrean baby
boys were recovering well at a
hospital in Palermo yesterday,
a week after they were born pre-
maturely in Libya and then---at
only five days old---put on a
cramped boat headed to
Europe s shores.
The twin boys were lucky sur-
vivors of a dangerous voyage
across the Mediterranean that
has claimed more than 3,000
lives to date this year, a journey
that many continue to take in
desperate efforts for a better life.
The tiny infants, bundled in
towels and with a white bonnet
covering the head of one, were
rescued off the Libyan coast by
non-governmental groups on
Monday. They were among thou-
sands of migrants, mostly Eritre-
ans and Somalis, who piled into
boats in Libya before dawn and
travelled for several hours before
being picked up.
The babies were in an open
wooden boat carrying about 650
people who were exposed to the
sun and wind and who had no
food or water, said Nicholas
Papachrysostomou, the field
coordinator of rescue operators
on Dignity I, a Doctors Without
Borders ship that played a leading
role in the rescue.
"Can you picture two five-
day-old babies on this boat?"
Papachrysostomou told the
Associated Press in a phone
"It s hard to even imagine how
the babies could be held by their
mother without being squashed."
He said that one of the boys
was at first in a "very vulnerable
state," suffering from hypother-
mia, fatigue and showing low
The medical team on board
the ship determined that the
baby needed immediate medical
attention and arranged to have
both twins and their mother
evacuated. They were first taken
by boat to the island of Lampe-
dusa, where they were stabilised,
and then airlifted to a hospital
in Palermo, where the boy was
admitted to the neonatal ward.
The mother, Merhawit
Tesfamamrim, a 26-year-old
from Asmara, the capital of
Eritrea, was also recovering in
the Palermo hospital, and
appeared to be in good shape.
SALT LAKE CITY---US congress-
woman Mia Love said yesterday she
will call on the State Department to
do more to free a Utah man who has
been jailed in Venezuela for two
months on weapons charges.
The Republican congresswoman
from Utah said she is preparing to send
a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry
requesting he demand Joshua Holt s
Love wants other members of Con-
gress to support the letter before she
sends it, said her spokesman Rich Piatt.
Sen Orrin Hatch has also been working
to facilitate Holt s release.
Holt, 24, has been in the Venezuela
jail since June 30 on suspicion of
weapons charges after he travelled there
to marry a fellow Mormon he met on
Venezuela authorities contend Holt
was using his wife s apartment in Cara-
cas to stockpile weapons. They stopped
short of accusing Holt of spying, but
have suggested his case was linked to
other unspecified attempts by the US
to undermine President Nicolas
Maduro s rule during a period of deep
economic and political turbulence.
His mother, Laurie Holt, says her
son is innocent and is suffering behind
bars. She thinks an assault rifle and a
grenade found in the apartment had
been planted there. Holt has denied
wrongdoing and said police officers
demanded a he pay a $10,000 bribe.
Love said in an emailed statement
her office is doing everything it can to
secure the release of Holt, whose family
lives in her congressional district.
US diplomats most recently visited
Holt in a Caracas prison on August 16.
But the US government so far has
avoided ratcheting up public pressure
on Venezuela amid already strained
relations between two countries that
haven t swapped ambassadors since
Holt is one of 12 US citizens jailed
in Venezuela. (AP)
BRASILIA---Brazil s Senate yesterday
voted to remove President Dilma
Rousseff from office, the culmination
of a year-long fight that paralysed
Latin America s largest nation and
exposed deep rifts among its people
on everything from race relations to
While Rousseff s ouster was widely
expected, the decision was a key chap-
ter in a colossal political struggle that
is far from over. Rousseff was Brazil s
first female president, with a storied
career that includes a stint as a Marxist
guerrilla jailed and tortured in the 1970s
during the country s dictatorship. She
was accused of breaking fiscal laws in
her management of the federal budg-
"The Senate has found that the pres-
ident of the federal republic of Brazil,
Dilma Vana Rousseff, committed crimes
in breaking fiscal laws," said Chief Jus-
tice Ricardo Lewandowski, who
presided over the trial.
Opposition lawmakers, who made
clear early on the only solution was
getting her out of office, argued that
the actions masked yawning deficits
from high spending and ultimately
exacerbated the recession in a nation
that had long enjoyed darling status
among emerging economies.
Nonsense, Rousseff countered time
and again, proclaiming her innocence
up to the end. Previous presidents used
similar accounting techniques, she
noted, saying the push to remove her
was a bloodless coup d état by elites
fuming over the populist polices of her
Workers Party the last 13 years.
The opposition needed 54 of the 81
senators to vote in favor for her to be
removed. They got many more, win-
ning in a landslide of sorts, 61-20.
"Today is the day that 61 men, many
of them charged and corrupt, threw
54 million Brazilian votes in the
garbage," Rousseff tweeted minutes
after the decision.
Rousseff won re-election in 2014,
garnering more than 54 million votes.
In a second vote about 30 minutes
later, Rousseff won a minor victory as
a measure to ban her from public office
for eight years failed. The 42-36 vote
fell short of the 54 votes needed for
In the background of the entire fight
was a wide-ranging investigation into
billions of dollars in kickbacks at state
oil company Petrobras. The two-year
probe has led to the jailing of dozens
of top businessmen and politicians
from across the political spectrum, and
threatens many of the same lawmakers
who voted to remove Rousseff.
Rousseff argued that many oppo-
nents just wanted her out of the way
so they could save their own skins by
tampering with the investigation, which
Rousseff had refused to do.
Many lawmakers and Brazilians
nationwide, meanwhile, blamed Rouss-
eff for the graft even though she has
never been personally implicated. They
argued that she had to know, as many
of the alleged bribes happened while
her party was in power.
Rousseff s removal creates many
questions that are not easily answered.
Michel Temer, her vice president who
became her nemesis, will serve out the
remainder of her term through 2018.
But Brazilians have already gotten a
taste of Temer s leadership, and they
are clearly unimpressed.
In May, Temer took over as interim
president after the Senate impeached
and suspended Rousseff. The 75-year-
old career politician named a Cabinet
of all-white men, a decision roundly
criticised in a nation that is more than
50 per cent nonwhite. Three of his
ministers were forced to resign within
weeks of taking their jobs because of
corruption allegations, which also follow
Temer and threaten his hold on power.
Senate votes against suspended Brazil president
Premature twins rescued
from boat off Libya
Congresswoman wants US man
on gun charge in Venezuela freed
The five-day-old twins from Eritrea who were rescued from the
Mediterranean Sea by members of two NGOs and the Italian navy.
Merhawit Tesfamamrim, of
Eritrea, the mother of two five-
day old babies, smiles as she
recovers in a hospital bed in
Palermo, Italy, yesterday.
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