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A reported blog on happenings around Latin America.

Ahmadinejad and Chavez, together again

Iranian leader laughs off idea of Iran as nuclear threat, reaffirms his bond with Chavez

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been having a time on his Latin American tour. 

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US expels Venezuela diplomat for alleged cyber plot

Is this the latest attempt at cyber-sabotage?
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Chavez says he didn't have anything to do with it. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

Did Venezeula and Iran discuss a potential cyber attack against the US? 

Maybe.

According to this Associated Press story, the US government is investigating allegations that a Venezuelan consul general and other officials, including representatives from Cuba and Iran, had a pow-wow about how to attack the US online.

The allegations came from a documentary aired by Univision. Per the AP:

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Fidel Castro: Fracking toward disaster

Fidel Castro speaks out about the new oil-harvesting method
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Pondering a world on the brink. (ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)

Who knew Fidel Castro was a greenie — and a pessimist?

The former Cuban leader doesn't speak out that often. Usually, when he does, it's to tell everybody that he's not dead yet

This time, he penned a column in Cuban state media to express his concern about two things: nuclear war (the Yankees' fault, natch) and climate change — specifically the dangers of fracking.

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Which cartel is king in Mexico?

The Sinaloans and the Zetas have been battling it out, but there's not an easy answer
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Mexican Army soldiers with Juan Carlos Garza Rodriguez, aka 'El Juanillo', alleged member of the drug cartel 'Los Zetas.' Zetas members keep getting picked up, but is that just because they're so thick on the ground? (YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

The guilty plea of the Tijuana cartel boss in the US on Thursday marked the official waning of that drug network. But it also raised an interesting question: which cartel is now on top?

Benjamin Arellano Felix, now 58, ran the powerful Tijuana Cartel for 16 years before he was arrested in Mexico in 2002, and was extradited to the US 9 years later.

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The EU debt crisis cometh — to Latin America

The IMF warns that Latin America will see weaker growth this year as the EU struggles
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The euro could cause trouble in Latin America in 2012. (JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Is the European debt crisis finally finding its way into Latin America?

The IMF thinks so.

Nicolás Eyzaguirre, the head of the IMF's Western hemisphere department, said in his blog Wednesday that he expects to see weaker growth in Latin America this year, and warned of the threat of a credit crunch if euro zone banks continue to avoid lending.

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Tracking Venezuela's gold

Most of it is back safe in Caracas. But it won't all be taken home to the bank
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Is he ready for 2012? (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

Hugo Chavez said mid-last year that he was going to take all of Venezuela's gold reserves stored abroad and bring them home. 

And for the most part, he did

But he's leaving about 15 tons behind.

Most analysts figured Chavez had two motives for bringing it home.

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Pope skips trip to Mexico City

The huge city is a more liberal place, though it could also be the weather.
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Pope Benedict XVI (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

It's the most-anticipated tour of Latin America, apart from Selena Gomez's upcoming concert tour. (Justin Bieber might come along!)

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Mexico's drug-war dead: 12,000 in 2011

The total number of dead matters less than public perception. Can we say the drug war's failed now?
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A skull in Juarez, one of Mexico's border towns. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Counts by Mexican news outlets said the death toll from the drug war in 2011 reached 12,000

According to La Reforma, a major, respected daily, there were 12,359 deaths last year, which they say is a 6.3 percent increase from 2010. La Jornada, on the other hand, counted only, 11,890 deaths, which it said was a slight decrease from the year before. 

Do those numbers really matter? 

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Iran's president Ahmadinejad courts Latin America

He plans to visit four countries that aren't so America-friendly. Venezuela's first.
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Together again: Hugo and Mahmoud (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is coming to Latin America, as part of stepped up efforts to align with left-leaning regimes that aren't so friendly with the US.

The leader is planning a stop in Venezuela, of course. 

He will also go to Cuba and Ecuador, as well as the swearing-in ceremony for Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's second-time president who just changed the constitution so he could win reelection. 

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US slams Chavez cancer claims

US official said Chavez's remarks were "reprehensible."
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It's been quite a year for this guy. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

The US has confirmed that it didn't give anybody cancer. 

Venezuela's own Hugo Chavez suggested earlier this week that it might be possible that the US was behind the recent spate of cancers among Latin American leaders. Chavez has battled the disease, as have the presidents of Brazil and Paraguay. This week, it was announced that Argentina's head of state, Cristina Kirchner, had been diagnosed with cancer as well. 

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