- - Monday, November 22, 2010

MEXICO

Migrants urged to form convoys for safety

MEXICO CITY | The Mexican government is telling migrants driving home for the holidays that they should form convoys for their own safety while traveling through Mexico.

The Interior Department said the government could even provide escorts for such convoys to get them through dangerous areas. It said the Mexican army would assist in the program to help migrants return safely from the United States.

Mexico is experiencing unprecedented levels of drug-cartel violence in some border areas, making it dangerous to travel on some highways, particularly those in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas and some leading to the northern city of Monterrey.

In the past, those routes have been heavily used by migrants returning to their hometowns. Migrants also have been targeted in the past by common criminals for robberies or extortion because they often bring new vehicles, cash or appliances with them.

BOLIVIA

Leader lectures Gates about U.S. behavior

SANTA CRUZ | Bolivian President Evo Morales had a blunt message for the visiting Pentagon chief on Monday: Latin American nations will pick their own friends and business partners, including Iran, regardless of U.S. opinion.

The colorful leftist leader delivered an hourlong welcome to delegates at a regional defense conference that included Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Mr. Morales never mentioned Mr. Gates by name. But most of the speech, and all of the applause lines, were clearly directed at the Pentagon chief and former head of the CIA.

Bolivia is more democratic and representative than the United States, Mr. Morales said, and democracy would improve in the entire region if the United States stopped interfering.

He mentioned the spread of Iranian and Russian business and other ties in Latin America, and said it is not the U.S. place to complain.

Bolivia under my government will have an agreement, an alliance, to anyone in the world,” Mr. Morales said. “Nobody will forbid us,” he said to applause.

Mr. Morales has allied Bolivia with Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, and drawn criticism from the U.S. for its Tehran ties.

MEXICO

Cops shoot doctor in hunt for killers

MEXICO CITY | Mexican authorities said police accidentally killed a doctor in the Pacific state of Colima while looking for the assassins of an ex-governor.

State prosecutor Arturo Diaz said police were mounting an operation in the area where former Gov. Silverio Cavazos Ceballos was gunned down Sunday when the doctor was scared by the officers and ran.

Mr. Diaz told the Televisa network that police shot him when he ignored orders to stop.

Several police were detained.

Mr. Cavazos left office a year ago. He was killed outside his home in the capital city also called Colima. Economic Development Secretary Rafael Gutierrez Villalobos was wounded in the attack.

Mr. Diaz said the state has a sketch of one of the killers but no motives.

SURINAME

7 illegal miners killed in pit collapse

PARAMARIBO | A landslide at a mining pit in a remote part of eastern Suriname killed at least seven people who were illegally digging for gold, a company spokesman said Sunday.

The landslide took place late Saturday within mining company Surgold LLC’s exploration area in the South American country’s Sipaliwini district, a rainforest-covered region that is home mostly to Amerindians and descendants of runaway African slaves, known as Maroons.

“Apparently [illegal] miners not associated with our exploration activities had been working at the foot of a 10-meter wall in the area when the slide occurred,” said Esteban Crespo, Surgold’s representative in Suriname.

Suriname police Inspector Bertrand Riedewald said the seven dead miners were local Maroons. He said three other miners were able to escape while two more were injured.

BRAZIL

Brazilians broadcasting funerals over Internet

SAO PAULO | A funeral home in Brazil is broadcasting its services live over the Internet, giving some of the millions of Brazilians living abroad the chance to say a final goodbye to their loved ones.

The Gonzaga funeral home says it has started streaming video of burials, Masses and funeral processions in real time to those who can’t make it to the ceremonies. It even provides an online chat room.

Funeral home director Eres Gonzaga told the Associated Press on Monday it charges about $60 an hour, depending on the service.

The funeral home is in Governador Valadares, known as a hotbed for migration to the United States and Europe.

Some 1.5 million Brazilians live in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands more in Europe.

From wire dispatches and staff reports