4 Killed in Mexico prison brawl


Four inmates died and 16 others were injured in a massive brawl at a prison in the northern Mexican state of Zacatecas, authorities said.

Most of the 490 inmates took part in Thursday's disturbances at Cieneguillas prison, warden Francisco Javier Bernal Ortiz told Radio Formula.

"They hit each other with planks they took from the pews in the church. It was a free-for-all, tough," he said.

Bernal took charge at Cieneguillas prison in the wake of the Aug. 22 disappearance of then-warden Fabiola Quiroz Zarate, who is thought to have been kidnapped.




Ecuador to award contracts for new oil blocks in Amazon region


Ecuador will auction contracts for new Amazon oil blocks believed to contain as much as 1.6 billion barrels, Non-Renewable Natural Resources Minister Wilson Pastor said.

Three of the 16 blocks will be directly awarded to foreign state oil companies that will partner with Ecuadorian state oil firm Petroamazonas.

The minister said the winning bidders are expected to invest around $1.2 billion in the blocks. Interested companies include Spain's Repsol. Italy's Eni and China's Andes Petroleum and Sinopec, as well as Peruvian, Colombian, Mexican, Turkish, Vietnamese and Indonesian oil firms.

Contracts for a total of 21 blocks were initially to be awarded, but that number was reduced to 16 and the start of the bidding process was pushed back from October to November to allow time to work out agreements with communities that live in those areas.




Heist in Honduras leaves 4 dead


Two soldiers and two civil servants were killed by armed robbers in the eastern town of El Chaparral, the head of the Honduran national police said.

Army Sgts. Gerardo Sanchez and Henry Oseguera were escorting two employees of the state-owned National Bank for Agricultural Development, Fredy Martinez and Encarnacion Murillo, on a delivery of 7 million lempiras ($354,000) to a bank branch in the Trojas, Harold Espinoza told reporters.

The group was attacked en route by armed men, he said. The assailants disarmed the soldiers before shooting them and the bank employees and taking off with the cash, Espinoza said.

A recent U.N. report based on figures from 2011 puts Honduras' homicide rate at 92 per every 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in the world.




NGO blames warden for Spaniard's suicide in Peru women's prison


A Peruvian non-governmental organization blamed the warden of a women's prison in Lima for this week's apparent suicide of a Spanish inmate.

The Drugs and Human Rights Research Center, or CIDDH, said in a statement the Spanish woman identified as T.I.F., who was found dead in her cell Sunday, "had a history of depression and had made a first attempt to take her life" two days earlier.

"The response of the warden of the Chorrillos prison, Maria del Pilar Urquiaga, was to punish her and enclose her in her cell, which may have triggered her subsequent suicide," the CIDDH said.




Mother and her 3 children gunned down in Guatemala


A mother and her three children were fatally shot by unknown assailants in the eastern province of Chiquimula, Guatemala's PNC national police force said.

The quadruple-murder took place Thursday night in the municipality of Olopa, a police spokesman told the media.

Leticia Villeda, 50, son Henser and daughter Sandra - both in their early 20s - died on the spot. Another daughter, Delmy, was declared dead at a hospital in Chiquimula.

The killings appear to have occurred in the course of an armed robbery, the PNC said.




Mexico offers to raise floor price for tomatoes entering U.S.


Mexico's government and farmers have offered to accept higher prices for tomatoes exported to the United States in a bid to avert the scrapping of a 16-year-old agreement, a senior Mexican official said.

Deputy Foreign Trade Secretary Francisco de Rosenzweig said the offer was extended during bilateral meetings to resolve the dispute, which has been dubbed the "tomato war."

The Mexican government began talks with U.S. authorities after Florida growers in June requested the cancellation of the 1996 accord regulating tariff-free exports of Mexican tomatoes to the United States.

The existing bilateral pact is known as a "suspension agreement" because the U.S. Commerce Department in 1996 halted an anti-dumping investigation against Mexican growers and agreed to a deal setting a minimum price for imports of Mexican tomatoes.