Police clash with student protesters in Chile


Protests here by striking high school students unhappy with Chile's underfunded public education system ended in confrontations with riot police.

Departing from their usual practice of mounting a single march, the students organized more than a dozen separate processions to various municipal government buildings in greater Santiago.

The national student strike followed three weeks of protests that included school occupations punctuated by police operations to evict the occupiers.

Thursday's disturbances were localized in downtown Santiago and near the town hall in the capital municipality of Providencia.

Around 3,000 students were gathered in front of the Santiago mayor's office when some of them tried to start marching down the city's main thoroughfare, the Alameda.

Police resorted to tear gas and water cannon when the students ignored several warnings to disperse.

The protesters responded by pelting the cops with rocks and other projectiles.




Diver keeps Mexico City's sewage flowing


Julio Cesar Cu Camara has turned his diving hobby into an extreme job, keeping Mexico City's vast sewerage system flowing for 29 years.

"I'm the only diver in the world who goes into black water," Cu Camara, chief diver for the Federal District's sewerage system, said in an interview with Efe that also featured a demonstration of his technique.

The sewers are Cu Camara's workplace, a world of hundreds of kilometers of pipes and pumps that handle wastewater and must be maintained.

"Our job is the maintenance and recovery of motor parts that come loose. Sometimes the propellers (rotors) on the pumps get clogged and taking them out is a 15-day job that a diver can do in one or two (days)," Cu Camara said.




Honduran labor leader's body found in well


The body of the president of the union at the National Autonomous University of Honduras was found in a well in the eastern city of Juticalpa, relatives said.

Juan de Dios Saenz's body was discovered Wednesday in a 70-meter (230-foot) well at his house in Juticalpa, which is in Olancho province, the labor leader's sister, Marta Saenz, said.

The university union president, who lived in Tegucigalpa, traveled to Juticalpa last weekend with his son, she said.

Juan de Dios Saenz was trying to "control" his son, who "has drug addiction problems," she said.




Brazilian to return $234 mn in looted public money


Luiz Estevao, booted from Brazil's Senate 12 years ago for corruption, has pledged to return 468 million reais ($234 million) he diverted from the public coffers, authorities said.

Touting what she described as "the largest recovery of public money ... in the history of the country or, perhaps, the world," chief prosecutor Helia Beterro said the achievement puts Brazil "at the head of the battle against corruption."

The agreement, which follows a court ruling against the disgraced former senator, calls for Estevao to make an immediate payment of 80 million reais ($40 million) and to hand over the rest of the money in 96 monthly installments.

The 62-year-old banker and construction magnate is one of Brazil's richest people.




Death toll rises to 26 in Venezuela prison brawl


The Venezuelan government increased to 26 the death toll from last weekend's battle between heavily armed inmate gangs at the Yare I prison near Caracas.

The initial casualty report, issued Monday, spoke of 25 dead and 43 injured.

Among those killed in Sunday's confrontation was an inmate's relative who was at the prison for visiting day.

The process of identifying the bodies was completed Wednesday, the Prisons Ministry said in a statement.




Suspected cholera cases surge in northern D.R.


Suspected cases of cholera continue to increase at hospitals in the northern Dominican province of Santiago, where at least 550 people have been treated in the past nine days for acute diarrhea.

Residents of the city of Tamboril, where the greatest number of cases have occurred, are complaining that the supposedly potable water they have been receiving is of terrible quality.




Police chief, 3 officers killed in western Mexico


A police chief and three officers were ambushed and killed by gunmen in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, officials said.

Raul Hinojosa, who served as public safety director in the city of Magdalena, his bodyguard, a major and another officer were killed in the ambush.

Four other officers were wounded, municipal and state police spokesmen said.

Investigators suspect that the officers were ambushed by gunmen on the federal highway that leads to Nayarit state, triggering a shootout.