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A reported blog on happenings around Latin America.

Conjoined twins separated, and survive

In Chile, doctors manage to separate conjoined twin girls, and they live
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Another set of conjoined twins Angelica, (right), and Angelina Sabuco, who were separated successfully this year in Palo Alto, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Conjoined twin girls were separated successfully in Chile on Wednesday after a televised operation that lasted 18 hours, the AP said.

Maria Paz and Maria Jose, the 10-month-old twins, were reported to be in stable condition in Santiago, the capital.

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Venezuelan nativity scene includes Hugo Chavez

The president of Venezuela stands near baby Jesus in a nativity scene in Caracas.
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Part of the Christmas crib by architect Fernando Martinez in Tegucigalpa, on Nov. 26, 2011. (Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images)

Nativity scenes traditionally feature Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.

But this year, Latin America is taking plenty of liberties in interpreting the holiday tradition.

First, a nativity scene in Honduras included scenes of gang violence, a police purge and the deaths of Osama bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi.

The designer, former Honduran Foreign Minister Fernando Martinez, said he was trying to show a world of violence. Honduras has the world's highest murder rate, according to the United Nations.

Now a nativity scene in Venezuela includes the figure of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, reports NPR.

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Store owners march in Buenos Aires

Store owners occupied a downtown street with crosses and a cardboard coffin.
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(Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

Store owners in Buenos Aires blocked a major downtown street today, in what one of the Argentine newspapers called an "unusual" protest.

The owners have been blocking traffic in recent weeks to demand the city remove street vendors in front of their stores.

Today the vendors carried black crosses inscribed with the words "Macri murderer," reported La Nacion. Mauricio Macri is the mayor of Buenos Aires.

They also set up a cardboard coffin.

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Another Zetas cartel leader captured...

...Another round of drug-war Whack-a-Mole begins.
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Sometimes it can seem like the cartels are bulletproof. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexico's US-trained marines nabbed one of the founders of the Zetas cartel on Monday, a valiant effort, to be sure.

But also one that underscores how badly this drug war is going. 

Raul Lucio Hernandez Lechuga, known as "El Lucky," was picked up in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, where the Zetas have been clashing with a proxy of their main foe, the Sinaloa cartel. 

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Noriega heads to jail, this time at home

Former military dictator Manuel Noriega returns to Panama for another jail sentence
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Manuel Noriega, enroute. (RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP/Getty Images)

Former military dictator Manuel Noriega is heading to jail back home in Panama. 

The onetime ruler had been serving time in a French prison, and before that in the US for drug trafficking and money laundering. 

While he was serving time over there, Noriega was convicted of killing two political opponents during his rule. 

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DEA defends money laundering stings

Agents have been using financial entrapment since 1984
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Drug agents follow the money (Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images)
The Justice Department defended the Drug Enforcement Administration’s controversial money laundering stings, pointing out they have been used since 1984 to successfully bring down dozens of major gangsters. Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich described the DEA’s operations in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa of California, details of which were published Friday by the Houston Chronicle. Weich said that Congress gave authority for the DEA to set up bank accounts to entrap the money of narcotics traffickers and transfer money to the gangsters in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan, who beefed up the war on drugs.
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DEA defends money laundering stings

Agents have been using financial entrapment since 1984
The Justice Department defended the Drug Enforcement Administration’s controversial money laundering stings, pointing out they have been used since 1984 to successfully bring down dozens of major gangsters. Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich described the DEA’s operations in a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa of California, details of which were published Friday by the Houston Chronicle. Weich said that Congress gave authority for the DEA to set up bank accounts to entrap the money of narcotics traffickers and transfer money to the gangsters in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan, who beefed up the war on drugs.
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Chavez hails Putin's "great victory"

When Chavez decides to friend you, bad things can happen
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Going in for the bro-hug. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

The Russian prime minister had better watch out.

The last time Chavez, the Venezuelan president, expressed fervent support for a leader under fire, things didn't turn out so well.

Not that Russia's enduring a rebellion like the old Libyan leader.

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US report on Vieques says there's no cancer threat

The US blames the fish. But local scientists aren't buying that. Neither are the sick residents.
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Whether or not their campaign made people sick, the U.S. Navy was never popular in Vieques. When they left in 2003, hundreds of protestors then rushed onto the former Navy area, destroying vehicles, burning flags and attacking buildings. (Gerald Lopez-Cepero/Getty Images/Getty Images)

For 60 years, the US Navy has used the island of Vieques, a tiny spot near Puerto Rico, as a bombing range.

And for a long time, people who live there have complained about health problems. Like cancer.

The US stopped its campaign in 2003, and issued a reported that said there was no real risk to the people there.

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Honduras bans motorcycle passengers

Honduras prohibits passengers on motorcycle in attempt to limit drive-by shootings.
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(Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images)

The Honduras Congress voted to ban motorcycles from carrying passengers in an attempt to curb drive-by shootings.

Gunmen on motorcycles murdered two people this week, journalist Marina Luz Paz and former government security adviser Alfredo Landaverde, reported EFE.

"Given the current security situation, we believe that the appropriate response is allowing only one person [to ride] on motorcycles," Honduras Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla told Congress.

Honduras has the world's highest murder rate at 82 per 100,000 people a year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

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