Latin Americans rang in the New Year with ceremonies, including animal sacrifices in Cuba, where two goats and two roosters were slaughtered and their blood used to bathe a 2-foot-tall statue of Eshu-Elegbara, the deity associated with markets, commerce and protector of the universe. In Panama, President Ricardo Martinelli said he'd travel to Italy and Spain to seek their governments' help in resolving a $1.6 billion dispute that's threatening to halt the Panama Canal's expansion. The consortium responsible for most of the expansion issued an ultimatum giving the Panama Canal Authority 21 days to pay for a cost overrun. Argentina prepared for the Dakar Rally as drivers began arriving in Buenos Aires for the two-week rally, which will wind through Argentina into Bolivia, and then head south to the finish in Valparaiso, Chile. The rally, being held for the sixth straight year in South America, could draw protests in Bolivia where Aymara Indians fear the stages that cross the world's largest salt flat will damage the environment. The Aymara have vowed to block the Jan. 12-13 legs of the rally. However, the event has received the support of President Evo Morales, who is an Aymara.
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