Arrests made in Brazil nightclub fire


One of the owners of the Kiss nightclub and two musicians have been arrested in connection with the fire that killed 231 people over the weekend at the establishment in Santa Maria, a city in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state, media reports said, citing investigators.

An arrest warrant was also issued for the nightclub's other owner, but it could not be executed because he was among the 112 people hospitalized for injuries sustained in the fire, precinct chief Marcelo Arigony, who is in charge of the investigation, told the official Estado news agency.

The club's operating license expired last year, Rio Grande do Sul fire department central region chief Lt. Col. Moises da Silva Fuchs told the G1 news Web site.




Bodies found in northern Mexico may be those of missing musicians


Four bodies found in a well in Mina, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, may be those of the Kombo Kolombia band members reported missing last week, security officials said.

"We cannot officially confirm that they are the bodies belonging to that group; however, indications are that it may be them," state security spokesman Jorge Domene said.

A band member who escaped from the criminals who apparently kidnapped the group took police to the ranch where the well is located, Domene said.

The group, which plays Colombian music, performed at a private function Thursday night at the La Carreta bar in Hidalgo, a city next to Mina.




58 Dead in prison riot, Venezuela says


A riot last week at Uribana prison in the western state of Lara left 58 people and around a hundred others injured, the head of Venezuela's penitentiary service said.

All but 161 of the nearly 2,500 inmates have been transferred to other prisons since Friday's violence, Iris Varela said in a televised press conference.

The casualties did not result from a clash between inmates and authorities, she said, but were rather the work of hidden "negative leaders" inside the prison who emerged sporadically to shoot people "at point-blank range."

"There was resistance in the face of what was imminent, which was that we were preparing to carry out an inspection in complete peace," Varela said.




Cuba assumes presidency of LatAm regional group


Don't worry, it will only be one year," Cuban President Raul Castro said as his country assumed the rotating presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or Celac, at the group's summit in Santiago.

"Welcome, Don Raul Castro, I congratulate you and I deliver to you the mandate," Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said during the handover.

Cuba is part of a leadership troika whose other elements are Chile and Costa Rica, scheduled to assume the presidency of the 33-member organization in 2014.

"For Cuba and for me it is a great honor to receive the presidency pro tem of Celac. I feel it is a recognition of the Cuban people's selfless struggle," Castro said.




Guatemalan ex-dictator to stand trial for genocide


In an unprecedented ruling, a Guatemalan judge ordered that former strongman Gen. Efrain Rios Montt and one of his closest collaborators be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Judge Miguel Angel Galvez found sufficient evidence to prosecute Rios Montt and retired Gen. Jose Mauricio Rodriguez for the killings of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983 in the context of Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war.

Rios Montt presided over the bloodiest phase of a conflict that claimed more than 200,000 lives. Most of the dead were Indian peasants slaughtered by the army and its paramilitary allies.




Mexican leftist party plans campaign to protect Pemex


The leftist opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, plans to organize a national campaign to protect state-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, party officials said.

The PRD is "on red alert" in light of government plans for structural reforms at Pemex, party chairman Jesus Zambrano said.

Several governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, officials have discussed vague plans for energy industry reforms that threaten state control of Pemex, arguing that it is the only way to modernize the state-owned company, Zambrano said.

PRI officials have made it known in recent days that they are "willing to modify their principles to incorporate the possibility of a private sector role in Pemex, in the energy industry," Zambrano said. Pemex, the world's No. 4 oil producer with output of about 2.5 million barrels per day, is the biggest contributor to Mexico's Treasury.