Guatemalans protest overturning of ex-dictator's conviction


Thousands marched in this capital to protest the Guatemalan Constitutional Court's overturning of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt's conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Survivors and families of the victims of military repression led the procession.

Rios Montt was sentenced two weeks ago to 80 years in prison for the deaths of 1,771 Ixil Indians between March 1982 and August 1983 as part of a counter-insurgency campaign.

The three CC judges who voted Monday to void the erstwhile strongman's conviction "defend impunity and attack the constitution by annulling a verdict that adhered to the law," Pedro Tul, a resident of one of the targeted Ixil communities, told Efe.




Bankia sells Florida bank to Chile's BCI


Spanish bank Bankia agreed to sell Miami-based City National Bank of Florida to Chile's BCI for $882.8 million, part of a broader plan to shed assets.

Although the price of the transaction is less than the $1.11 billion that Caja Madrid - part of the future Bankia - paid for a 100 percent stake in the Florida bank, the Spanish institution netted a capital gain because it had steadily lowered the subsidiary's book value since 2010.

In a statement, Bankia Chairman Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri hailed the transaction and noted that the bank had received 13 expressions of interest and six offers. U.S., Spanish and Chilean regulators still must give the green light for the deal.

Caja Madrid, one of seven troubled regional savings banks that merged in 2011 to create Bankia, acquired CNB in 2008. Bankia was forced to sell the Florida bank and shed other non-core assets under the terms of its 22-billion-euro bailout last year by the European Union.




Chile fines Barrick $16.5 mn for environmental violations


Chile's SMA environmental watchdog said it imposed an 8-billion-peso (roughly $16.5-million) fine on Canada's Barrick Gold and ordered it to halt its Pascua-Lama mine project over environmental violations.

The measures were adopted due to one "very serious" violation and four "serious" violations of Barrick's environmental permit, granted in 2006.

Pascua-Lama is a gold and silver project located high in the Andes mountains and straddling the Argentine-Chilean border. Barrick Gold is developing the project at an investment cost of $8.5 billion and expects to start production in late 2014.

The SMA says the world's largest gold miner has not built a system for containing contaminated and non-contaminated wastewater and must do so before excavation activity can begin.




UEFA: Europa League winners to earn Champions League berth


UEFA, European soccer's governing body, announced that starting in 2014-2015, the winner of the Europa League club tournament will earn an automatic berth in the more prestigious Champions League competition.

Until now, only the winners of Europe's 52 league competitions - and in the case of the bigger soccer powerhouses, one or more runners-up - qualified for the Champions League. The winner of the Champions League title also earned an automatic berth in the next season's tournament.

But UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said in London that the 2014-15 Europa League winner will also directly qualify for the Champions League, regardless of that team's performance in its domestic league.

The measure is aimed at boosting the importance of the Europa League, which does not garner the revenue or media interest that the Champions League does.




Argentine wanted for "dirty-war" crimes arrested in Uruguay


A retired Argentine military officer wanted for crimes committed during the 1976-1983 "dirty war" against the left has been arrested in the Uruguayan capital, a police source told Efe.

Col. Alberto Julio Candiotti, 68, was arrested Thursday at the Montevideo apartment building where he lived with his wife.

Uruguay's National Police acted on the basis of an Interpol Red Notice issued at the request of an Argentine federal court, the source said.

The 1976-1983 Argentine military regime killed as many as 30,000 people and brutalized thousands more. Thanks to amnesty laws passed in the 1980s, the junta's crimes went unpunished for decades, but Argentina's Congress voted in 2003 to overturn the amnesties, which paved the way for a raft of prosecutions.




Mexican pleads guilty in U.S. to money laundering


Eduardo Arellano Felix, who managed money for his brothers Tijuana-based drug cartel, pleaded guilty here to money laundering after reaching an agreement with U.S. federal prosecutors.

The 56-year-old physician will spend 15 years in federal prison for laundering and investing the cartel's profits.

Eduardo Arellano Felix admitted to handling the cartel's money from 1986 to 2002, when his brothers Benjamin and Ramon were taken out of commission by Mexican police. Benjamin was arrested and ultimately extradited to the United States; Ramon died in a shootout.

While Benjamin is serving a 25-year sentence in the United States, yet another brother, Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, received a life sentence six years ago after the U.S. Coast Guard nabbed him aboard a boat in international waters.