- - Monday, February 28, 2011


Raul Castro to replace Fidel as party leader

HOLGUIN | The Cuban Communist Party has moved forward the election of new leadership to a congress in April where longtime party leader Fidel Castro is expected to step down, sources close to the party said over the weekend.

Mr. Castro, 84, previously handed over most of the responsibilities as first secretary but kept the title. His official departure from his last leadership position would be a symbolically important step toward a new era for the island he ruled for 49 years.

President Raul Castro, as second secretary of the Communist Party, is in line to succeed his older brother as its top leader, just as he did when Fidel Castro resigned the presidency in February 2008.


Marines nab gang member accused in agent’s slaying

MEXICO CITY | Mexican marines have captured a regional boss for the Zetas drug gang, which is accused of slaying a U.S. immigration agent, the navy announced Monday.

Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara said that suspect Sergio Antonio Mora oversaw Zeta activities in the northern state of San Luis Potosi, where gunmen killed the U.S. agent and wounded another.

Mr. Vergara did not say if Mora was involved in the Feb. 15 attack that killed Jaime Zapata and wounded Victor Avila, both agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But he said that Mora, known as “El Toto,” was the boss of Julian Zapata Espinoza, who was arrested last week and is said to have confessed that he took part in the shooting.

Mora and five other suspects, including a Honduran man, were detained Sunday at a hotel in Saltillo, capital of the northern state of Coahuila.

Much of northeastern Mexico has seen an increase in bloodshed as the Zetas battle their former allies in the Gulf cartel for control of drug trafficking and other criminal activity. Mexican authorities say Zapata Espinoza told them the two agents were attacked because they were mistaken for members of the rival cartel.


Ex-dictators on trial on baby-theft charges

BUENOS AIRES | A long-awaited trial began Monday for two former Argentine dictators charged with overseeing a systematic plan to steal babies born to political prisoners three decades ago.

Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone are accused in 34 cases of infants who were taken from mothers held in Argentina’s largest clandestine torture and detention centers, the Navy Mechanics School in Buenos Aires and the Campo de Mayo army base northwest of the city.

The case was opened 14 years ago at the request of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a leading human rights group.

It may take up to a year to hear testimony from about 370 witnesses.

Videla, 85, has been sentenced to life in prison, and Bignone, 83, is serving a 25-year term for other crimes committed during the 1976-83 dictatorship.


Carnival revelers die in electrical accident

RIO DE JANEIRO | At least 16 Brazilian Carnival revelers were killed and dozens more wounded when a power cable fell and electrocuted them as they danced behind a sound truck.

The high-voltage line fell during celebrations late Sunday in the town of Bandeira do Sul in the southwestern state of Minas Gerais, the state’s firefighting service said.

It said the accident may have been caused when a reveler threw a roll of tape containing metal onto the line, causing it to short-circuit and fall onto the sound truck.

Such trucks, known as Electric Trios and equipped with high-power sound systems, are commonly used to lead carnival parties.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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