Lopez Obrador seeks to void Mexico election


Mexico's political left has filed a motion to invalidate the July 1 presidential election and demand a new vote, saying it has ample proof the process was fraud-ridden.

The election was marred by vote buying and therefore there is no "certainty for any result nor for the electoral process as a whole," Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who was the candidate of a coalition of leftist parties led by the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, said in a press conference.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, declared last week by electoral authorities to be the winner of the balloting, bought some 5 million votes, Lopez Obrador said, adding that in "free elections" most of these citizens would not have voted for Enrique Peña Nieto, the PRI's standard-bearer and presumed president-elect.

Based on the final recount, Peña Nieto won the election with 38.21 percent of the vote compared to 31.59 percent for Lopez Obrador, a difference of roughly 3.3 million ballots.




Cop, five civilians killed in southern Mexico


Six people, including a police officer, were killed in separate incidents in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, authorities said.

The policeman died Thursday night when several assailants opened fire on a patrol car in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, the state Public Safety Office said.

The bodies of an unidentified man and woman were found early Friday, also in Acapulco, sources in the Guerrero state Attorney General's Office told Efe. The other three fatalities were in El Paraiso, a village in the coastal municipality of Atoyac de Alvarez, where three local farmers were found shot to death.

In the northern city of Torreon, meanwhile, three members of an elite state police force and a civilian were killed and another officer was seriously wounded in an attack by suspected drug cartel hit men.




Colombia fighting drives nearly 3,000 from their homes


Fighting between leftist FARC guerrillas and the Colombian security forces in the southwestern province of Cauca has driven more than 2,800 indigenous and mestizo people from their homes.

Around 1,500 of the displaced are from El Mango, a village outside the town of Argelia, where the International Committee of the Red Cross sent an initial shipment of 14 tons of humanitarian aid.

An ICRC representative in the southwestern city of Cali, Benno Kocher, said Friday the consignment includes food as well as construction materials to rebuild 74 homes rendered uninhabitable.

"We are concerned about the psychological effect on the population and the great number of people who have nowhere to return to once the situation normalizes, as many lost their houses after the battles," he said in a statement.




Spanish gov't approves austerity package


Spain's conservative Popular Party government approved a new austerity package, its fourth in seven months, saying the measures it contains are justified by the country's financial crisis and the large budget deficit inherited from the previous Socialist administration.

"We've adopted necessary, important and pressing measures," Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said in a press conference to explain the decisions of the weekly Cabinet session.

The measures, unveiled Wednesday by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in an address to the lower house of Parliament, include a hike in the value-added, or sales, tax starting Sept. 1, a reduction in unemployment benefits and the elimination of this year's Christmas bonus for millions of public-sector employees.

Accompanied by Economy Minister Luis de Guindos and Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro, the deputy premier announced the approval of the package aimed at lowering the federal budget deficit by 65 billion euros ($80 billion).




Border drug tunnel has shrine to "patron saint" of Mexican narcos


A shrine dedicated to a possibly mythical outlaw venerated by drug traffickers as a saint was found by Mexican soldiers as they were showing reporters one of two cross-border drug tunnels discovered this week.

The small, makeshift altar honoring Jesus Malverde and also containing images of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Mexico's patron saint) and Jesus Christ, as well as some Mexican coins, was located inside a "narcotunnel" discovered Thursday night on the northeast side of Tijuana, just across the border from San Diego.

The regional military commander, Gen. Gilberto Landeros Briseño, said Friday it was still too early to say who owned the passageway with the shrine, located near the spot where a large drug tunnel used by Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman's Sinaloa cartel had been found years ago.




Guatemalan convicted in bishop's murder granted early release


A Guatemalan court granted early release to retired army Col. Byron Disrael Lima Estrada, who has been serving a 20 year sentence for the 1998 assassination of Catholic Bishop Juan Gerardi.

The 77-year-old convict should be freed immediately, Judge Javier Sotomora Chacon said.

He ruled in favor of a motion from Lima Estrada's lawyers asserting that the colonel, who has completed more than half his sentence, was entitled to early release for good behavior.

Bishop Gerardi, 75, was found beaten to death in the garage of the rectory where he lived just two days after a commission he led released a report documenting 55,000 human rights violations during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war, most of them committed by the army.