12 Die in violence in Mexico


A total of 12 people died in violent incidents in two northern Mexican states, with groups involved in drug trafficking suspected of being behind the killings, officials said.

Eight young men were shot and set on fire by gunmen as they returned from a party in the mountains outside Mazatlan, a port city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, home to the drug cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman.

Soldiers found the bullet-riddled bodies of four men Monday on a dirt road in Guachochi, a town in the mountains of the northern state of Chihuahua. Guachochi has been one of the towns most affected by the drug-related violence in northern Mexico because it is in an area where marijuana is grown for the U.S. market.

About 12,000 people, according to press tallies, died in the drug-related violence in Mexico last year. More than 25 percent of the victims were in Chihuahua and Sinaloa.




Spain poverty rate eases thanks to gains for retirees


The proportion of Spanish residents living below the official poverty line has declined from 21.8 percent to 21.1 percent over the past year, the National Statistics Institute, or INE, said.

The INE attributed the change to a stabilization in incomes among people age 65 and over, even as other age groups experienced further declines. The poverty rate in the 16-64 age cohort increased from 19.4 percent in 2011 to 21 percent, while one in every four children under 16 is living in poverty, according to the report.

Median annual household income fell 1.9 percent to 24,609 euros ($32,109), the INE said, citing figures from its national survey on living conditions. With Spain mired in recession for the second time in four years, 12.7 percent of families said they struggle to make their money last until the end of the month, compared with 9.8 percent last year.




Guns, plastic explosives found in Venezuelan prison


Authorities found a well-stocked arsenal at a prison in the central state of Falcon that was evacuated last week for renovations, the minister responsible for Venezuela's penitentiary system said Monday.

Hidden inside a tunnel dug by inmates, the arms cache included machine guns, grenades, C4 plastic explosives and more than 11,000 rounds of ammunition, Iris Varela told a televised press conference.

The weapons and ordnance, some of it military issue, were carefully packed to prevent damage from the high humidity underground, she said.

The arsenal was discovered after the roughly 1,000 inmates at the prison in Coro, the state capital, were removed last Friday as part of an initiative to renovate Venezuela's vastly overcrowded penitentiaries.




Shooting leaves 3 dead in Colombia


Three people, including two police officers, died in a shooting over the weekend in Medellin, the capital of the northwestern Colombian province of Antioquia, officials said.

The incident occurred Sunday in the El Salado neighborhood of Medellin's Comuna 13 district. Police went to the area after receiving a call that someone had been wounded at a house. Officers arriving on the scene were greeted by gunfire.




Mexican oil union re-elects leader


Sen. Carlos Romero Deschamps, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was re-elected as the leader of Mexico's STPRM oil workers union for the 2013-2018 term, union spokesmen said.

The union's 108 representatives met behind closed doors Sunday in Mexico City and voted to keep Romero Deschamps as the leader of the 140,000-member labor organization, which was founded to represent employees of state-owned Pemex.

Romero Deschamps has retained the powerful union's leadership for nearly 20 years despite graft allegations and his getting caught up in the so-called "Pemexgate" corruption scandal.

The scandal centered on the transfer of union funds to the campaign of PRI presidential candidate Francisco Labastida, who lost the 2000 election to Vicente Fox, of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN.




Suspect in Spanish double-murder tries to kill himself


The suspect in the murders of a 13-year-old girl and a man in a Spanish town tried to kill himself on Monday and is seriously wounded, the Civil Guard told Efe.

Juan Carlos Alfaro, who allegedly gunned down the girl and man over the weekend, tried to commit suicide after being surrounded by Civil Guard officers for six hours in a hunting lodge he owns.

Paramedics managed to resuscitate the 39-year-old suspect after he shot himself in the head. Alfaro allegedly committed the murders in El Salobral, a town in the central Spanish province of Albacete, on Saturday night.