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A reported blog on happenings around Latin America.

Chavez: Did US give us cancer?

Venezuelan leader muses aloud after Kirchner's diagnosis
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Chavez greets Cristina Kirchner. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

No matter what the problem, you can always count on Hugo Chavez to find a way to blame the "Yankee Empire." 

Venezuela's president said he was thinking aloud when he suggested that the US might be plotting against Latin American leaders, after it was announced Tuesday night that Argentina's president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. 

Kirchner has a good chance of recovery. 

But she joins a long list of leaders in the region who have been diagnosed with cancer. Chavez, of course, made his struggle public, making announcements when he traveled back and forth to Cuba for treatment. 

Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff and her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have also all been diagnosed with cancer. 

Which led Chavez to muse aloud whether the US might be plotting something nefarious.

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Abortion to be OKed in Uruguay

Another conservative Latin American country takes a step to the left
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It's still a divisive issue. (DANIEL CASELLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Uruguay's decision to allow abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy marked a major departure from the conservative country's politics. 

The bill was passed by the senate, and is expected to sail through the lower house. President Jose Mujica has indicated he'd sign the bill into law.

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Will Mexico finally get tough on vigilantes?

As Mexico's forces battle drug cartels, more are accused of crossing the line
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The candles spell out "Justicia." It's what many Mexicans have been asking for. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

In Mexico City, five police officers have been arrested for their alleged ties to a video that appears to show abuse of a suspect in custody. 

According to the AP:

Milenio Television reported last month that one of its reporters had taken the video of an officer repeatedly pushing the man's head into a bucket of water while his T-shirt was pulled up over his head and face.

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Brazil overtakes UK as world's 6th-largest economy

Brazil has boomed with the help of exports to China.
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The West's gone down, but LatAm keeps rising. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Economists said it was going to happen and now it has: Brazil has passed the UK as the world's sixth-largest economy.

The Center for Economics and Business Research said European countries have fallen back in its latest World Economic League Table, while Asian countries are gaining, reported the BBC.

A report from the International Monetary Fund earlier this year had predicted Brazil would overtake the UK.

Brazil's current GDP measures $2.52 trillion. Its main exports are manufactured goods, iron ore, coffee, oranges and other agricultural produce and its biggest export partners are China, the United States and Argentina.

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Argentine "Dirty War" suspect arrested

Luis Enrique Baraldini had allegedly been hiding in Bolivia for several years under a false name.

Bolivian authorities say they have arrested an Argentine ex-military officer wanted for crimes committed during Argentina's military dictatorship.

Luis Enrique Baraldini has been "very much sought after as a longtime fugitive... for personally torturing people, according to witness accounts," said Argentine Security Minister Nilda Garre at a news conference, reported AFP.

Bolivia said the suspect was apprehended in Santa Cruz, some 560 miles east of the Bolivian capital. He had allegedly been living there for several years under a false name.

Argentina had offered an award of 23,000 for information leading to his arrest, reported the Buenos Aires Herald.

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Argentines remember popular revolt

Photos: Argentines burn Christmas tree during march to mark toppling of government.

Members of leftist political groups marched in Buenos Aires yesterday to mark the 10-year anniversary of a popular revolt that toppled the Argentine government.

The protesters converged on the Plaza de Mayo, the traditional center of protest in the capital, carrying placards demanding justice for the 38 people who died during the violence, reported AFP.

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Mexico uses Mayan doomsday prediction to lure tourists

The world may or may not end on Dec. 21, 2012. But either way, Mexico and Guatemala are hoping to attract plenty of tourists before then.
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The Mayan city of Tulum. (Stephanie Garlow/GlobalPost)

Dec. 21, 2012: Doomsday, the end of an era, or just a regular day?

It's exactly one year away, and if this is the world's last year (or even if it isn't), Mexico sure hopes to profit off the writing on a 1,300-year-old Mayan stone tablet.

Mexico's tourism agency expects to draw 52 million visitors over the next year to the five states with the most Mayan heritage, reports BusinessWeek.

The city of Tapachula is starting a countdown clock. Near Cancun, people are putting messages in a time capsule that will be buried for 50 years.

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Mercosur signs free trade agreement with Palestinian Authority

Currently Argentina is the only Mercosur member that conducts trade with the Palestinians.
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Palestinians in Ramallah watch their President Mahmoud Abbas on TV as he delivers his speech at the United Nations during the General Assembly. (Uriel Sinai/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of the South American trade block Mercosur signed a free trade agreement with the Palestinian Authority at a presidential summit yesterday in Montevideo.

It is the first trade deal between the Palestinian territories and a bloc of nations outside the Arab world, reports MercoPress.

The Mercosur nations — Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — have all recognized the Palestinian state over the last year.

The Palestinian Authority previously only traded with Argentina, according to the Latin American Integration Association. The new deal gives it access to the world’s fourth-largest economic bloc.

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Mercosur closes ports to Falkland Island ships

Previously only Argentina has imposed such a restriction.
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Falklands veterans march in London, on June 17, 2007. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

A bloc of South American countries agreed yesterday to close their ports to ships flying the Falkland Islands flag.

The presidents of the Mercosur bloc of nations — which includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — said they would adopt "all measures that can be put in place to impede the entry to its ports of ships that fly the illegal flag of the Malvinas Islands," reports the Telegraph.

The Falkland Islands — referred to as the Islas Malvinas by the Argentines — have been under British control since the 1830s, but Argentina regards them as stolen territory. Argentina invaded in 1982, but was soundly defeated.

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Mexico’s narco torpedoes

Cartels use old military weapons to confound the navy
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Narco technology: from submarines to torpedoes (AFP Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)
On the streets of American cities, a drug torpedo can refer to a cocktail of marijuana and crack cocaine. But on the seas off Mexico and Central America, it can now mean a real torpedo, which is used to smuggle cocaine, cystal meth or bundles of dollar bills passed the U.S. or Mexican navy.
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