Chavez undergoes 4th cancer surgery, Venezuela gov't says

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The Venezuelan government announced that the Cuban medical team attending President Hugo Chavez performed an "operational procedure" on him for a recurrence of cancer.

Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas said in a nationally broadcast statement that Chavez was at that very moment undergoing his fourth surgery since 2011, when he was diagnosed with cancer, although he provided no details about the progress of the operation.

He said that Chavez, who traveled on Monday morning to Havana, continued to handle official business as he prepared for the surgery and that on Tuesday he had awakened "with a lot of energy and inspiration" and his "mind is always focused on the wellbeing of the people and the fate of the homeland."

He added that the 58-year-old president expressed "absolute confidence that he will overcome the obstacles that have arisen on the road of his life."

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Obama recognizes opposition as legitimate representative of Syria

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U.S. President Barack Obama said that his administration recognizes the recently-formed main Syrian opposition coalition as the "legitimate representative" of the Syrian people in an interview with ABC News.

The U.S. president said that his administration made the decision because it feels that the rebel group "is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough" of the Syrian people opposing the regime of Bashar al-Assad to merit Washington's recognition.

"Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities," Obama said of the coalition, which Britain and the European Union recognized last month.

Those responsibilities include "(making) sure that they organize themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, (and) that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women's rights and minority rights," Obama said.

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Spain gets $51 billion from Brussels to bolster banks

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The European Stability Mechanism transferred to Spain the equivalent of 39.5 billion euros ($51 billion) to recapitalize four nationalized banks and help fund a "bad bank" set up to absorb toxic assets, eurozone sources told Efe here.

Madrid has received the transfer, officials at the Spanish Economy Ministry confirmed.

Spain's state-backed FROB bank restructuring fund will use 36.97 billion euros to recapitalize the nationalized banks.

Nearly half of that total - 17.96 billion euros - will go to Bankia, while 5.43 billion euros will be disbursed to Novagalicia, 9.08 billion euros to CatalunyaCaixa and 4.5 billion euros to Banco de Valencia.

Another 2.5 billion euros will fund FROB's participation in the Sareb bad bank, recently set up to take on Spanish banks' toxic real-estate assets.

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Former state police chief found slain in Mexico

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The former police chief in the western Mexican state of Sinaloa was found fatally shot, police sources told Efe.

The half-naked body of Alfredo Mejia Perez was discovered in Culiacan, the state capital.

Mejia had multiple bullet wounds and the scene was littered with shell casings from an AR-15 assault rifle, the sources said.

Sinaloa's former top cop, a retired military officer commonly known as "Major Mejia," was abducted Monday from his home on the outskirts of Culiacan by several heavily armed assailants.

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Mexican and U.S. experts investigate crash of singer's plane

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Mexican and U.S. aviation experts are investigating the cause of the plane crash that killed Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera and six other people over the weekend, officials said.

The remains of the singer and the other victims arrived at the coroner's office at Hospital Universitario in Monterrey, the capital of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, on Monday night.

DNA tests will be conducted before the remains are turned over to the victims' next of kin, a Nuevo Leon Attorney General's Office spokesman said.

Officials do not "want there to be any doubts about what may have happened," Communications and Transportation Secretary Gerardo Ruiz Esparza told Mexican radio stations.

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U.N. panel forecasts stronger growth in LatAm in 2013

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The Latin American economy will close out 2012 with growth of 3.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent last year, but it will experience a rebound next year to 3.8 percent, the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean said.

Santiago-based ECLAC said that the predicted 3.1 percent for this year is greater than the expected world growth of 2.2 percent.

The figure for 2012 shows that the economic crisis has had a negative impact but not a dramatic one in the region, which during the year maintained a certain capacity for resilience in confronting external shocks, ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena said.

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7 Arrested in Puerto Rico on drug, weapons charges

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Agents of Puerto Rico's NIE investigative agency arrested seven people on charges of drug and weapons trafficking in the northern coastal town of Cataño.

NIE inspector Jose Figueroa said in a statement to the media that, up to now, seven out of a total of 18 people wanted on 39 charges of drug trafficking and weapons violations have been arrested in Operation Mission Accomplished.

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Algerian air force pilots die in mid-air collision

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Two Algerian air force pilots died when their respective planes collided during training exercises, the Defense Ministry said.

According to the communique, the accident occurred Monday night in the skies over the western province of Tlemecen, bordering on Morocco.

The note said that other than the deaths of the pilots and the destruction of both aircraft, no further material damage or human harm was reported.

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"The Boss" rocks Mexico City

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Bruce Springsteen performed some of his greatest hits for about 12,000 fans in Mexico City's Palacio de los Deportes.

Springsteen, known as "The Boss," thrilled the audience Monday night with his performance of "The River," which drew the most ovations during the concert, one of the stops on the Wrecking Ball Tour.

The singer performed a string of his oldies and spoke a few words in Spanish, drawing cheers from the audience.

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EFE