Bilingualism goal pushed
SAN JUAN — Gov. Luis Fortuno is trying to do what more than a century of American citizenship has failed to accomplish: make Puerto Ricans fluent in English.
Fortuno, who has been mentioned as a possible Republican vice-presidential candidate, has proposed an ambitious, and what critics call far-fetched, plan to require all public schools to teach all courses in English instead of Spanish.
The U.S. territory has had a long and contentious relationship with the English language and many Puerto Ricans are skeptical about embracing it, fearing they will lose a key part of their identity and find themselves a step closer to statehood, a status that only about half of islanders have backed in recent polls.
Fortuno wants Puerto Rico to become the 51st U.S. state, but says his plan is about economic necessity, not politics.
Drug kingpin’s brother
KINGSTON — The brother of convicted Jamaican drug kingpin Christopher “Dudus” Coke has been freed on gun charges.
Leighton “Livity” Coke was greeted by dozens of cheering supporters as he walked out of a Kingston court and into a waiting car. He was found not guilty of illegal possession of a gun and shooting with intent. Police alleged he shot at them during a May 2010 offensive to catch his brother. The court said prosecutors lacked evidence.
Christopher Coke is awaiting sentencing in New York. The admitted boss of the Shower Posse gang pleaded guilty to racketeering and assault charges. He faces up to 23 years in prison. The May 2010 siege of his former slum stronghold of Tivoli Gardens left more than 70 dead.
Citizens to buy Butterfield
HAMILTON — The largest independent bank said it is selling its Barbados subsidiary to Trinidad's First Citizens Bank for $45 million.
Butterfield Bank said that the sale will likely occur later this year pending regulatory approval. It is the first time the Trinidad bank has bought a foreign operation. First Citizens already serves customers in Barbados, St. Vincent and St. Lucia. It has nearly $5 billion in assets and more than $800 million in equity.
The Barbados subsidiary had $308 million in assets and $270 million in customer deposits as of December. It employs 114 workers.
Police, UN crack down
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Police and U.N. peacekeepers have begun cracking down on bands of armed men lobbying for the country to restore its armed forces, a U.N. spokesman said.
Lt. Cmdr. Jim Hoeft said U.N. troops and national police officers set up checkpoints in the capital and others parts of the country and detained two armed men in downtown Port-au-Prince wearing military fatigues. They were then taken to a police station.
The effort aims to discourage an illegal group of armed men from parading around Port-au-Prince in military uniforms as if they were on patrol. The lightly armed men have been seen directing traffic and even sweeping streets.