Spain's Rajoy pleased with EU summit gains


Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy expressed satisfaction with the outcome of a European Union summit - in which leaders agreed to use the region's permanent rescue fund to bail out ailing banks directly - although he cautioned that the bloc still has a long road ahead to overcome its sovereign-debt crisis.

Rajoy hailed the agreement on direct bank recapitalization, a decision prompted by pressure from Spain and Italy, which had refused to cooperate on a growth pact and other agreements until steps were taken to ease their borrowing costs.

The premier said the deal was necessary to ensure that European financial assistance does not add to individual countries' public debt burdens.

Madrid's borrowing costs have spiraled this year due in part to investors' concerns that the government would be on the hook for a recently approved European loan of up to 100 billion euros ($126.6 billion) to bail out Spain's bad loan-saddled banks.




Mercosur suspends Paraguay, embraces Venezuela


Leaders of the Mercosur trade bloc announced here the suspension of charter member Paraguay after lawmakers in Asuncion removed the country's president in an impeachment process that took less than a day.

At the same time, the presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay decided to complete the accession of oil-rich Venezuela, stalled since 2006 due to opposition from the Paraguayan Congress.

Mercosur's charter identifies fully functioning democracy as an essential condition for the process of regional integration.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, Brazilian counterpart Dilma Rousseff and Uruguay's Jose Mujica rejected imposing economic sanctions on Paraguay and insisted that the temporary suspension does "not diminish the commitment to the development" of the bloc's poorest member.




Venezuelan TV network pays $2.1 mn to avoid larger penalty


Globovision television handed over $2.1 million to the Venezuelan government rather than see $5.6 million of the network's assets frozen for refusing to pay a fine levied last October.

The money was paid "under protest" and represents an "enormous sacrifice" for the network, Globovision legal counsel Ricardo Antela told reporters outside the Supreme Court. He said Globovision expects to wins its appeal against the original fine and get the $2.1 million back.

The Conetel regulatory agency imposed the penalty last October in connection with the network's coverage of a prison uprising in June 2011. Globovision, which takes a critical line toward leftist President Hugo Chavez, was accused of editing video and audio material to present a misleading account of the events at the prison outside Caracas,




6 Bodies found in clandestine grave in northwestern Mexico


Mexican authorities discovered a clandestine grave containing the bodies of six people apparently killed in shootouts two months ago in a rural area of the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

The remains could be those of a group of people killed on April 29 in two clashes in the highlands surrounding the town of Choix, spokespersons for the Sinaloa state Attorney General's Office said.

Sinaloa is the birthplace of the first generation of high-profile Mexican drug traffickers, including Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the fugitive boss of the Sinaloa cartel and - according to Forbes magazine - one of the world's richest people.

Though El Chapo's mob dominates the drug trade in the western state, challengers have been trying to encroach on the Sinaloa cartel's territory.




Mining engineers kidnapped in Bolivia


An Indian faction in the Andean highlands of western Bolivia kidnapped two mining engineers in a bid to force authorities to release the group's jailed leader, the government said.

Fernando Fernandez and Agustin Cardenas, employees of a Bolivian subsidiary of Canada's South American Silver, were seized by residents of Malku Khota, a town 350 kilometers (217 miles) south of La Paz.

One faction of the indigenous people living in the area have been trying to force out the mining company, whose operations they see as an obstacle to their own efforts to mine gold.

Compañia Minera Malku Khota, which is evaluating the zone's potential for silver production, says a majority of the Indian clans - known as ayllus - in the area support the firm's project.




Mexican navy: 4 bodies found inside crashed helicopter


Mexico's Navy Secretariat has confirmed that all four crew members of a helicopter that crashed in the western state of Jalisco were found dead inside the wreckage.

In a brief statement, the secretariat said military investigators arrived at the crash site Thursday and located the dead bodies of the marines inside the Panther helicopter, which had gone missing on June 22.

The aircraft was spotted some 18 kilometers (11 miles) to the east of the town of Pihuamo in a mountainous area, the secretariat said.

The Navy Secretariat, which still has not determined the cause of the crash, lamented that "exemplary marines" were killed while carrying out their duties and expressed its condolences to their families.