- - Monday, July 11, 2011

GUATEMALA

President: Organized crime behind folk singer slaying

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said organized criminals are behind the attack that killed beloved Argentina folk singer Facundo Cabral.

Mr. Colom said gunmen were after Nicaraguan businessmen Henry Farinas, who was driving Mr. Cabral to the airport when they were ambushed Saturday.

Mr. Cabral died at the scene. Mr. Farinas was wounded and is in serious condition.

Mr. Colom didn’t say which organized crime group could be involved.

Mr. Colom told Mexico’s MVS Radio on Monday that police haven’t been able to interview Mr. Farinas yet.

Authorities say Mexico’s Zetas and Sinaloa drug cartels have a presence in Guatemala and may be competing for territory.

COLOMBIA

Bolivian leader says Chavez’s health improving

BOGOTA — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have made it through his most difficult moments and is improving after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, Bolivian leader Evo Morales said Sunday.

Mr. Morales, a close ally of Mr. Chavez who visited him in Caracas last week, remarked on the Venezuelan leader’s health after attending Bolivia’s soccer match against Colombia at the Copa America tournament in Argentina.

“He’s very well, very well,” Mr. Morales told Colombian radio station Caracol.

“He has told us it was a very difficult situation for him, but he has survived the bad moment, the worst. As always, under the control of his doctors.”

Likening the goal of Mr. Chavez’s recovery to being like a new car, Mr. Morales said: “From here on, soon President Chavez will be at zero kilometers.”

Mr. Chavez has said he underwent surgery in Cuba on June 20 to remove a cancerous tumor. His foreign minister said it was extracted from the same part of the “pelvic region” where Mr. Chavez had an abscess removed nine days earlier.

Mr. Chavez hasn’t said what type of cancer is involved.

Since his return to Venezuela on July 4, he has slowed his normally heavy agenda and has limited the length of his televised speeches, saying he is under strict orders from his doctors.

PERU

Missing Polish couple slain while kayaking

LIMA — Police said they have arrested a farmer and are searching for two other men in the slaying of a Polish couple who disappeared in late May while kayaking on a jungle river in northeastern Peru.

The detained man told investigators that the three Peruvians were drunk when they killed the couple, said Orlando del Aguila, chief of police of Ucayali province.

He told the Associated Press by telephone that authorities were searching for the bodies of Jaroslaw Frackiewicz, 70, and his wife, Celina Mroz, 58, in the Ucayali River.

The couple was last heard from May 26 when they wrote in their blog that they were in Atalaya, a jungle city in the province, about 245 miles northeast of Lima.

ARGENTINA

Buenos Aires mayor faces July 31 runoff

BUENOS AIRES — Mayor Mauricio Macri will have to face a runoff in his re-election bid after falling short of a majority Sunday.

The conservative first-term mayor led with nearly 47 percent of the vote.

Second, at nearly 28 percent, was populist President Cristina Fernandez’s hand-picked candidate, Sen. Daniel Filmus.

Leftist filmmaker Fernando “Pino” Solanas got nearly 13 percent, and several others split the rest with 95 percent of the votes counted.

The vote clears the field for a straight-on contest July 31 between the president’s model of governing and the alternative that Mr. Macri, one of her most prominent opponents, has provided for the capital.

Mr. Macri called for unity in his victory speech but defiantly warned the national government that “this free city won’t be traded or sold” for political gain.

“If we deserve something, it’s not because we went down on our knees, but because we put forth our ideas with our heads held high and with dignity,” Mr. Macri said.

Mr. Macri had considered running for president in this October’s national elections but ultimately chose the safer challenge with Ms. Fernandez’s popularity increasing in recent months.

The president then chose the leftist Mr. Filmus to run against Mr. Macri and involved herself so personally in the campaign that the race became mostly about whether voters wanted to bring her populist model of governing into the capital’s city hall.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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