- - Monday, November 14, 2011

MEXICO

Ex-ruling party wins violence-scarred election

MORELIA — Mexico’s former ruling party won a major governor’s race on Monday after a campaign marred by drug-cartel threats and violence, defeating President Felipe Calderon’s sister and building momentum for its drive to take back the presidency next year.

With vote-counting almost complete, Fausto Vallejo Figueroa of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was nearly three percentage points ahead of Luisa Maria Calderon in the western state of Michoacan.

The president’s sister implied that the PRI had been supported by drug gangs threatening her party’s voters and poll watchers in retaliation for its aggressive stance against cartels.

She said her team would carefully review vote tallies in parts of the state where it has received reports of armed men threatening people trying to vote.

“Allowing organized crime to manipulate elections will never lead to security,” she said in an interview with the Televisa network.

The candidate for the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, which held the governor’s seat, went further, explicitly charging that the PRI has worked with cartels.

“The people of Michoacan won’t let themselves be governed by a party with a history of pacts and agreements [with cartels], one that let organized crime coordinate the campaign,” Democratic Revolution candidate Silvano Aureoles Conejo told Televisa.

The PRI’s Mr. Vallejo responded that his backers also were subjected to criminal threats. “No one was exempt,” said Mr. Vallejo, who had been mayor of the state capital, Morelia.

Ms. Calderon’s National Action Party, or PAN, was seeking a symbolic victory in the president’s home state, where he launchedthe assault against cartels in late 2006. The drug war has killed more than 40,000 people, according to many estimates, although no official figures have been released in nearly a year.

The National Action mayor of the city of La Piedad was gunned down as he handed out campaign literature for Ms. Calderon and other candidates less than two weeks before Sunday’s election.

On the day of the vote, a newspaper in the city published an unsigned note threatening party supporters and blaming PAN for deaths in the wake of its military-led offensive against drug cartels.

“Don’t wear T-shirts or PAN advertising because we don’t want to confuse you and have innocent people die,” read the note, which also was circulated by email. News reports said the newspaper had been forced to publish the warning.

Yet the city’s voters shook off the threat. The PAN candidate got 53 percent of the vote.

The win for the PRI is a major step toward regaining the presidency it lost in 2000 after governing Mexico for 71 years.

CHILE

Judge rules out trial for priest over abuses

SANTIAGO — A Chilean judge has ruled out criminal charges against a prominent priest accused of molesting children.

Judge Jessica Gonzalez said the statute of limitations has expired on the crimes that Fernando Karadima, 80, is accused of committing against three youths.

A fourth case was eliminated because the victim’s age at the time was not firmly established.

However, Judge Gonzalez’s ruling on Monday said the allegations are “truthful and reliable.”

The Vatican has sanctioned him Karadima by ordering him to a life of “penitence and prayer.”

BRAZIL

Monkeys attack man who invaded zoo pit

SAO PAULO — Monkeys at a Brazilian zoo attacked and injured a man who swam into their enclosure, saying he wanted to play with them.

Mechanic Joao Leite dos Santos told Globo TV he was drunk when he jumped into the water separating the spider monkeys from the public at the Sorocaba zoo near Sao Paulo.

The network aired amateur video of the shirtless man being mobbed by at least six monkeys and screaming in pain as they bit him. He freed himself and was treated for bites on his hands and arms.

MEXICO

Army finds 140 migrants packed into truck

MEXICO CITY — Mexican officials said soldiers searching vehicles for hidden drugs found 140 Central Americans crammed into a tractor-trailer rig.

The Defense Department said troops trying to fight narcotics traffic an d organized crime in the southern state of Chiapas found the migrants on Sunday.

Chiapas borders Guatemala, and thousands of migrants traverse the state each year as they attempt to reach the United States.

In June, authorities found 210 dehydrated Central and South American migrants packed into a tractor-trailer in Chiapas.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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