Mexico says 129 escaped from prison in border town


The number of inmates who escaped from a coed prison in the northern border city of Piedras Negras was 129 and not 132, as originally reported, Mexican authorities said.

Three women and two men thought to have been among the escapees were later found in the prison's carpentry shop, where they took refuge after being threatened by the inmates who led the breakout, Coahuila state Public Safety Secretary Jorge Luis Moran said.

Authorities suspect the mass escape was engineered by the powerful, ruthless Los Zetas drug cartel, Moran said.

Coahuila officials have asked the United States for assistance in finding and capturing the inmates, who broke out of the prison on Monday, he said.




Cuban dissidents end fast with prisoner's release imminent


The Cuban dissidents who eight days ago began a hunger strike abandoned their protest given the apparent imminent release of their imprisoned colleague Jorge Vazquez Chaviano.

Former political prisoner Marta Beatriz Roque, who led the protest, announced its end to reporters gathered at her house in Havana, where she and five other dissidents who accompanied her ended their fast by ingesting camomile tea.

State Security informed Vazquez Chaviano's wife that he would be at home soon, Roque said.

Roque, a 67-year-old diabetic, began the hunger strike to demand the release of Vazquez Chaviano, who - she said - completed his sentence on Sept. 9.

Thirty other dissidents joined the protest.




Blast at Mexican gas plant kills 26


Twenty-six workers were killed in a explosion and subsequent fire at gas plant in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, state-owned Petroleos Mexicanos said.

A company spokesperson told Efe that 27 people had been injured in the blast and fire.

The explosion occurred around 10:45 a.m. at the facility near Reynosa, a city just across the border from McAllen, Texas, Pemex said in a statement.

It took nearly two hours to put out the ensuing fire.




Fidel Castro is "lucid and working hard," son says


The eldest son of former Cuban President Fidel Castro told Efe that his father is "lucid and working hard," despite having made no public appearance for several months.

"You've seen his message from the other day to (Venezuelan) President (Hugo) Chavez - as always, he's lucid and working hard," Fidel Castro Diaz Balart said.

He was referring to a message his father sent Chavez and which the Venezuelan leader read over the phone on Sept. 10 during a press conference of his party.




6 Hurt in Colombia shooting


Six people were hurt when unknown assailants shot at two buses transporting employees of U.S.-based coal miner Drummond in the northern province of Cesar, the Colombian military said.

The attack took place on a stretch of road between the towns of Codazzi and San Diego, the commander of the army's 10th Armored Brigade, Eduardo Zapateiro, told La W radio.

Three passengers aboard the first bus suffered bullet wounds, while three people traveling on the second vehicle were hurt when the bus ran off the road.




Soldiers among 17 found slain in western Mexico


Two army soldiers were among the 17 men found fatally shot last weekend in the western state of Jalisco, the state Attorney General's Office said.

The remaining four victims who have been identified had criminal records, the AG's office said in a statement.

The bodies were discovered Sunday in Tizapan el Alto, a city near the border with Michoacan state. The men had been bound with ropes and chains.

Six of the victims have been positively identified using fingerprints.




U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce honors Cristina Saralegui


Popular television host Cristina Saralequi received the Ultimate Latina Award during the 33rd annual convention of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The woman known as the "Latino Oprah" received the special USHCC prize for her efforts to talk openly about issues such as sexual education for teenagers, raising awareness about AIDS and the problems associated with human rights that affect the Hispanic community.