Sixty-one kidnapped, freed
Federal forces have freed 61 kidnap victims in the northern border city of Reynosa, including 53 Central Americans, seven Mexicans and one US citizen, federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said on Friday. Federal police captured four suspected kidnappers in the raids on various houses on Thursday in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas. Sanchez said the victims freed in the raids included 27 people from Honduras, 20 from El Salvador and three people apiece from Guatemala and Nicaragua. Three of the kidnap victims were children. He said a drug cartel was apparently involved in the abductions, but did not specify which one. In the past, drug cartels have frequently kidnapped Central American migrants seeking to reach the US. Often, the kidnappers call the victims’ relatives in the US to demand ransom payments in exchange for their release. However, it is relatively rare for them to also kidnap Americans.
Fake bus tickets fund parties
The mayor of Rome has described the city’s bus and underground managers as “worse than the mafia,” after they were accused of selling 70 million euros worth of fake tickets a year to bankroll the political parties that appointed them. The city’s transit system — which carries 1 billion passengers a year — officially earns 249 million euros (US$332 million) from fares a year, but makes a 150 million euro loss. An internal report obtained by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica makes claims that staff operated a secret center where tickets were cloned for sale with the proceeds kept off the books. The alleged scam was underway under Rome’s former center-left city government and continued when the center-right mayor Gianni Alemann took over in 2008, with proceeds going into the coffers of functionaries from both the People of Freedom and Democratic parties, La Repubblica said.
Reporter jailed in Venezuela
A Miami Herald journalist was arrested in Venezuela for unknown reasons while reporting on the country’s chronic shortages and forthcoming municipal elections, the newspaper said on Friday. The Herald cited local sources saying reporter Jim Wyss was first detained by the National Guard on Thursday, before being transferred to Venezuela’s Military Intelligence Directorate in the western city of San Cristobal. “We are very concerned. There doesn’t seem to be any basis for his detention and we’re trying to figure out what’s going on,” the newspaper’s executive editor and vice president Aminda Marques Gonzalez said in a statement. “We are asking that Jim Wyss be released immediately.” Herald editors said they were speaking with various Venezuelan government officials to secure his freedom.
President Cristina Fernandez’s doctors are expected to give her medical clearance to return to work one month after a blood clot was removed from her brain. The doctors expect the 60-year-old will slowly begin resuming some duties after her recuperation period at the presidential residence outside Buenos Aires. She is scheduled to get some tests on her heart and nervous system at the Fundacion Favaloro hospital late on Friday. She underwent surgery on Oct. 8 to remove the clot pressuring her brain. Fernandez has been in total repose and has not appeared in public since. The presidency still has not explained the Aug. 12 head trauma they said created the condition.