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SaturdayMarch 23, 2013

Latino Daily News: Bringing You the Latest Hispanic Current Events and News Stories 24/7

To reflect the dynamic interests of our audience, Latino Daily News is an online daily news source and virtual cultural center for and about Latinos. We offer the latest news headlines, as well as innovative and insightful Hispanic current events stories, photos, videos, and commentaries from a Latino perspective, 24/7.

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Brazil Seeks Criminal Charges Against 16 in Deadly Nightclub Fire

Brazil Seeks Criminal Charges Against 16 in Deadly Nightclub Fire

Photo: Brazil Night Club Fire Death Toll

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Brazilian police are seeking criminal charges against 16 people in connection with a Jan. 27 nightclub fire in the southern city of Santa Maria that killed 241 people.

The lead investigator in the case, Marcelo Arigony, presented a report Friday that blames the tragedy on the owners of the Kiss nightclub, employees, a country music band that was performing at the club and firefighters responsible for carrying out inspections at the establishment.

The police are seeking murder charges against nine individuals and manslaughter charges against seven others, including Santa Maria Mayor Cezar Schirmer.

The fire broke out in the wee hours of Jan. 27 while between 800-900 people were inside the nightclub, whose capacity is just 600, according to investigators.

Police say flammable soundproofing foam on the ceiling caught fire after one of the members of the Gurizada Fandangueira band lit a flare.

Autopsies on the 234 people who died inside the club showed they perished due to asphyxiation caused by carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning, Arigony said.

Seven others died at hospitals in Santa Maria and the Rio Grande do Sul state capital of Porto Alegre, the last of whom - a 23-year-old girl - passed away on March 7.

The two owners of the nightclub and two members of Gurizada Fandangueira have been in preventive custody since the day of the fire, Brazil’s deadliest in more than a half century.

The other five who could face murder charges are the manager and two other employees of the nightclub and a pair of firefighters responsible for ensuring the establishment complied with safety regulations.

Manslaughter charges are being sought seven others, including several city officials.

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Police Nab FARC Rebel Linked to Uribe Inauguration Attack in Colombia

Police Nab FARC Rebel Linked to Uribe Inauguration Attack in Colombia

Photo: Jaime Aguilar Ramirez

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Colombian police captured a purported high-ranking member of the FARC leftist guerrilla group’s Eastern Bloc who is suspected of participating in a deadly 2002 mortar attack during former President Alvaro Uribe’s first inauguration.

In a statement, the National Police said Jaime Aguilar Ramirez was detained Friday in the central province of Meta while riding in a luxury SUV.

Authorities said the guerrilla has been in the ranks of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, for 27 years and is the brother of Gerardo Aguilar Ramirez, who was captured in the dramatic 2008 security force operation that freed 15 rebel captives: Ingrid Betancourt, who ran for president in 2002; three U.S. military contractors; and 11 police and soldiers.

Jaime Aguilar Ramirez is accused of carrying out several terrorist attacks, including one that targeted Uribe’s first swearing-in ceremony in August 2002. The hard-line Uribe was elected to a second four-year term in 2006, mainly on the strength of his success in weakening the FARC.

In that inauguration day attack, FARC members fired a barrage of mortars in the direction of the Nariño presidential palace in Bogota during the ceremony.

Several of the mortar shells landed a few blocks away from the palace, killing at least 27 people and wounding 13 others.

President Juan Manuel Santos congratulated the police on detaining the suspected guerrilla, who was transferred to Bogota.

Santos’ administration and the FARC are currently engaged in talks in Cuba aimed at ending Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict.

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Puerto Rican Jury Weighs Death Penalty Sentence for Convicted Murderer

Puerto Rican Jury Weighs Death Penalty Sentence for Convicted Murderer

Photo: Alexis Candelario Santana

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The possible death sentence for Alexis Candelario Santana, found guilty of the 2009 murder of eight people at the La Tombola bar, is dividing the people of Puerto Rico, a U.S. commonwealth whose constitution bans capital punishment.

The jury, which must decide between a life sentence and capital punishment for Santana, is deliberating at the federal court in San Juan to reach the decision awaited by all Puerto Rico, a free associated state of the United States.

U.S. prosecutors may seek the death penalty in federal cases on the Caribbean island under a 1994 law, although the execution would have to be carried out on the U.S. mainland.

U.S. federal prosecutor Bruce Hegyi started off the day asking the jury for a death sentence and said the decision must be unanimous in order to be applied.

The case has created expectations and controversy in Puerto Rico, where the death sentence is rejected by large sectors of society, represented in part by the Puerto Rican Coalition Against the Death Penalty, or CPCPM.

Carmelo Campos, one of the spokespersons for the CPCPM, told Efe Friday that the demonstrations in recent days are a clear indication that the island in general rejects the death penalty.

He said that due to the crime wave on the island, some members of the population have begun to see execution as a solution, but the majority of Puerto Rican people remain firmly against it.

Santana was found guilty on March 8 in a federal trial for the murder of eight people on Oct. 17, 2009, including a pregnant woman, at the La Tombola bar in the Puerto Rican district of Toa Baja on the island’s north coast.

The last time a person was executed in Puerto Rico was in 1927, under a local law that was repealed two years later.

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Scientists Uncover Pre-Columbian Structures Using Technology

Scientists Uncover Pre-Columbian Structures Using Technology

Photo: El Tajin archaeological site (INAH)

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Mexican experts have discovered structures more than 1,000 years old hidden under vegetation and sediments in the El Tajin archaeological site by using remote sensing technology, authorities on the subject said.

Archaeologists came upon three pre-Columbian ballgame courts, a pair of constructions called “balconies” and an area of living quarters in El Tajin on the Gulf coast of Veracruz, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said in a communique.

El Tajin researcher Guadalupe Zetina said that two years after introducing this technology to the study of pre-Columbian sites in Mexico, it has turned up its first results with the detection of these new, unexplored structures.

The specialist in the geographic information system, or GIS, and remote sensing said that finding these three new ballgame courts on the south and north sides of the site brings the number of such structures in El Tajin to 20.

This technology, which is being applied at archaeological sites in Egypt and the United States, consists of a combination of three techniques.

The big three are orthophotographs (aerial photos geometrically corrected to eliminate distance errors caused by the curvature of the Earth); LIDaR, or laser imaging, detection and ranging; and thermography, an infrared imaging system used to determine stages of construction and cracks within structures.

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Mexico’s Violent Crime Wave Inspires New Julieta Venegas Album

Mexico’s Violent Crime Wave Inspires New Julieta Venegas Album

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Singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas, one of Mexico’s most internationally visible artists, has been profoundly affected by the wave of drug-related violence that has swept her homeland in recent years and drew on those emotions for her latest album, “Los momentos” (The Moments).

“I always write from an emotional point of view and what’s happened in recent years has had an impact on me. So I have to express it,” the artist told reporters in this capital.

“Suddenly, Mexico’s a different place, much more violent, where we see a very different side to people, where I feel the need to join with others and say the ordeal we’re going through is different when we go through it together,” the 42-year-old winner of five Latin Grammys and one Grammy award said.

An estimated 70,000 people were killed in drug-related violence in Mexico during the 2006-2012 tenure of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who deployed thousands of army soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to fight drug cartels.

Venegas said she had no desire to include frivolous or romantic tracks on “Los momentos,” which was released on Tuesday,

The artist said fear has become “another element in everyone’s lives” and must be combated. “We can’t let that be what defines our days” but rather we have to “use it so it pushes you to be better, to improve the world around you, to look for answers.”

The artist seeks to exorcise that fear with songs like “Vuelve” (Return), which she was inspired to write after a Spanish friend who had been invited to perform in the northern city of Monterrey asked her if it was safe to go.

Maternity is also a theme on the new album.

“Having a child changes a lot in terms of what you want to say,” Venegas, who gave birth to a daughter in August 2010, said.

She said the end result of this mixture of emotions and personal situations is an album that is “not as happy” as other works such as “Si” (Yes) or “Limon y sal” (Lemon and Salt), her best-selling album to date.

The mood is much more “melancholy,” but rather than a defeated melancholy the songs examine how to keep forging ahead, Venegas added.

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Sometimes Redundancy is a Good Thing

Sometimes Redundancy is a Good Thing

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By Dr. Henry Flores, NewsTaco

I know I have written several columns or essays decrying the dangers of guns.  But in light of the recent Senate debate, highlighted by our own embarrassing United States Senator from Texas, que desmadre that guy is!  But, anyway.  What really gets me is the debate going on in Texas right now. 

Our esteemed (in the old days one of my camaradas would ask me if the vatos were steemed?)  Texas state legislature is contemplating legislation that would allow students to carry concealed weapons on campuses.

The other day I had one of the higher-ups on my university campus tell me about the epidemic of binge drinking and drug use that seems to have affected our student body this year particularly the freshman class.  I’ve been aware of police escorting youngsters to rehab straight from the classroom in the morning.  I don’t know what’s going through their young booze and drug addled minds but they are almost as bad as we were when we were in school!  ¿Que no?

The word in higher education is that drug use and heavy drinking are at all-time highs these days perhaps this youngest generation sees no future for themselves and we are experiencing the 1960s all over again.  There has been less interest in fraternities and sororities for sure and more in social justice issues.  So who knows what’s really going on with the 17-24 year olds these days?Image

I say all of this as back drop to the carrying gun hearings going on in Austin, Texas.  Our representatives even held the public hearings during Spring Break when UT was away at the beach.  You know you can carry concealed weapons into the state capitol; they even have an express entry through security for gun carriers.  Nice move guys, your scheduling kept all students from giving their perception on this issue!

Still, lets think about this for a moment.  Guns on campus.  If the Texas legislature, which Molly Ivins once described as useless as a bunch of old furniture, passes the law then every student would be allowed a permit to carry a concealed weapon onto campus. 

OK, I can understand this.  But why would you want to allow students to do this in the first place?  Some super smart legislator will argue so that students can protect themselves against crazy drug addled students who amass large amounts of guns and ammunition in their dorm rooms!  So, we’re going to make it easier for more drug addled, heavy beer drinking students to have easy access to guns so they can protect themselves from other drug crazed, drunk students who decide to shoot up the campus on a Saturday night.

A couple of issues seem to rise to the surface.  If you allow all students to carry guns, we have yet to talk about the size of the guns or ammunition on campus, then you have a situation where the faculty and administrators begin feeling intimidated.  So, I think that our brilliant state legislature needs to add a rider to the legislation letting all faculty and staff to carry guns on campus as well.  We need to have the right to protect ourselves from all the drug addled students who are amassing guns and ammunition in their dorm rooms and who come to campus drunk or very “loaded” on something or other almost daily.

Oh!  Another thought just hit me.  If we are going to allow gun carrying on campus I would think that, particularly the more selective campuses, would have to insure that the students who matriculated were worthy of admission.  So, we need to consider changing our admission’s standards and make marksmanship and gun care and maintenance part of the requirements. 

Now all admissions offices would have to open pistol ranges and create standards for shooting.  ¡Valgame dios!  We don’t just want to let any student carrying a gun into our campus.  We want good shooters who can take out a crazed gunman (they all seem to be men anyway).

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Brazilian Designer Closes Sao Paulo Fashion Week With Whimsical Collection

Brazilian Designer Closes Sao Paulo Fashion Week With Whimsical Collection

Photo: Uma Raquel Davidowicz

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A wink and a nod to comfort, freedom of movement and feeling at home in the fabrics constituted the essence of the spring-summer collection that Uma Raquel Davidowicz presented on the final day of Sao Paulo Fashion Week.

The designer availed herself of a palette of sea blues, grays, silvers, whites and creams, using clean lines and floaty fabrics, which, more than dressing the wearer, caress her.

Wearing origami headdresses, the models had no use for impossibly high heels and glided along the runway in a style combining wide pants with skirts and dresses of variable lengths and was all about femininity getting really comfortable.

Models for Teca, R. Rosner and Lino Villaventura also strutted their stuff on the catwalk Friday at the close of SPFW’s Summer 2013-14 show at the Bienal building in the heart of Ibirapuera Park, the biggest green zone in the city.

Moved up several months from its normal mid-year slot on the calendar, this year’s Sao Paulo Fashion Week saw some of the top models from international runways like Isabeli Fontana and Karlie Kloss.

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Pope Francis, Benedict XVI Meet at Castel Gandolfo

Pope Francis, Benedict XVI Meet at Castel Gandolfo

Photo: Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

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Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI met and embraced at Castel Gandolfo, where the former pope has lived since resigning the pontificate late last month, the Vatican’s spokesman said.

Federico Lombardi also said that after greeting one another on the helipad of the papal residence, Francis and Benedict XVI went into the chapel to pray.

Benedict XVI offered the place of honor to Francis, who refused it with the words “we are brothers,” after which the two knelt to pray in the same pew.

Both wore white vestments, Benedict XVI with a simple white cassock and Francis with another, also white, but with the short cape and sash that popes wear.

After prayers, they met alone in the private library, where they spoke for 45 minutes.

They then went to lunch with the secretaries Georg Ganswein, who is also head of the pontifical household, and Alfred Xuareb.

The meeting of the new pope and the pope emeritus was a particularly historic occasion, since no pontiff has resigned in nearly 600 years.

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Spain Ties with Finland At World Cup Qualifying Match

Spain Ties with Finland At World Cup Qualifying Match

Photo: Spain vs Finland

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Spain’s national soccer squad finds itself in second place in its UEFA World Cup qualifying group after a disappointing 1-1 draw here Friday with Finland, which stunned the defending world champs with a counterattack goal in the 79th minute.

The Spaniards, as expected, completely dominated ball possession throughout the contest at El Molinon stadium, but they struggled to penetrate the Finns’ well-organized defense.

After a scoreless first half, Spanish defenseman Sergio Ramos opened the scoring in the 49th minute with a header that beat Finnish goalkeeper Niki Maenpaa.

That strike figured to either open the floodgates or, at the minimum, secure the victory over an overmatched Finnish team that hadn’t managed a shot on goal to that point in the match.

But Finland remained disciplined and looked for a counterattack opportunity, which came in the 79th minute when Teemu Pukki received a cross and fired past Spanish net minder Victor Valdes.

Gerard Pique and Ramos then had chances to get the winning goal late for Spain, but they were unable to capitalize.

The Spanish team’s second draw in Group I leaves it with eight points, two behind France, its next opponent in the European Zone World Cup qualifying.

Failure to get a win in Paris on Tuesday could mean Spain will not directly qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and will have to face another group phase runner-up in a two-legged playoff.

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Sotheby’s Controversial Pre-Columbian Auction Rakes in $12 Million

Sotheby’s Controversial Pre-Columbian Auction Rakes in $12 Million

Photo: Barbier-Mueller collection

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Sotheby’s brought in more than 9 million euros ($11.7 million) on the first of two days of an auction of pre-Columbian art that Peru tried to block because of the suspected illicit origin of the pieces.

The partial result was less than expected, but in the two sessions held Friday afternoon in Paris, the auction house said, it had nonetheless beaten the world record for an art sale in that category.

Of the 162 lots that went on the block Friday, 77 were knocked down for a total of 9.13 million euros ($11.86 million), auction charges included, shy of the previously projected 11.52 million euros ($14.96 million), not including charges.

The session outdid four world records, including the sale of a “callipygous” goddess of the year 400 B.C. from the Mexican state of Guanajuato that went for 2 million euros ($2.6 million), the highest price ever paid for a Mexican ceramic.

An anthropomorphous statuette of the Olmec culture, from between 900 and 600 B.C., was taken for 481,500 euros ($625,365), surpassing the record for an Olmec stone sculpture, while a Brazilian burial ceramic dating to between 400 and 1,350 A.D. found a buyer for 325,500 euros ($422,755), the most ever for a South American ceramic.

The final record, according to figures provided to Efe, was for a Costa Rican sculpture representing a divinity with the head of a cat from between 1,000 and 1,550 A.D., knocked down for 721,500 euros ($937,074), an amount never equaled for a sculpture from that country.

Of the 313 lots to go on the block through Saturday, 69 are from Peru, a country that tried to stop this auction with a formal complaint to Sotheby’s and to French authorities.

The collection was started in 1920 by Josef Mueller and was continued by his son-in-law Jean-Paul Barbier-Mueller. Peruvian authorities consider it very probable that the works were smuggled out of the country.

In a statement sent Friday to Efe, Sotheby’s let it be known that over the past few months it has researched the provenance of the pieces and is confident they can be put up for sale.

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Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.85 Percent in Mexico

Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.85 Percent in Mexico

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Mexico’s unemployment rate fell to 4.85 percent in February, down from 5.33 percent in the same month of last year, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or Inegi, said Friday.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate came in at 4.76 percent last month, 0.45 percentage points lower than in February 2012, Inegi said.

The underemployment rate (the proportion of employed persons who would like to work longer hours), was 8.2 percent in February, compared to 12 months earlier.

A total of 10.88 percent of the workforce was either unemployed or worked less than 15 hours a week, compared to 11.55 percent in February 2012, Inegi said.

The institute regards as employed any person over the age of 14 who worked at least six hours a week.

It also said the proportion of the population employed in the informal sector (who are not covered by Mexico’s IMSS state-run health-care system and work in small businesses or independently) fell to 59.55 percent of the workforce, down from 60.13 percent in February of last year.

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Immigration Activists Arrested For Protesting in Chicago

Immigration Activists Arrested For Protesting in Chicago

Photo: Immigration activists in Chicago (@RREEMA)

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A score of activists were arrested Friday in downtown Chicago during an act of civil disobedience to demand a voice in the negotiations on immigration reform now taking place behind closed doors in Washington.

“We’re outside the process and we don’t know if we will be able to accept what they’re cooking up among themselves,” Artemio Arreola of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights told Efe.

“We need to see at least a rough draft of what they’ve been negotiating since January, because we don’t know if they’re going to include what we need,” he said, referring to the initiative of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators.

Some 200 people, including city aldermen, held a vigil in downtown Chicago’s Federal Plaza and then blocked traffic for several minutes.

Police followed the protests closely, but allowed the demonstrators to first occupy part of Federal Plaza for their vigil and then form a human chain to temporarily hold up traffic.

When the group tried to block access to the Kluczynski Federal Building, where the local offices are located of Illinois’ two U.S. senators, Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, police arrested some 20 activists.

One of those in custody, Mexican-American Ald. Daniel Solis, said he took a “particular pride” in the immigrants’ demonstration and their peaceful resistance.

The ICIRR said that Friday’s civil disobedience was part of a series of nationwide protests to highlight the failure of the Group of Eight to produce a bill prior to the Senate’s Easter recess.

“The more they put off passing the bill, the more families will be separated and we’ll lose our momentum in Congress,” ICIRR director Fred Tsao told Efe.

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China Could be World’s No.1 Economy by 2016, OECD Says

China Could be World’s No.1 Economy by 2016, OECD Says

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China could become the world’s largest economy by 2016 if it fully implements a series of regulatory, market, socio-economic and tax reforms, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

In the presentation here Friday of its latest Economic Survey of China, the OECD forecast that the Asian giant’s economy will grow by 8.5 percent this year and 8.9 percent in 2014, higher than most analysts’ expectations.

The main short-term risks to the world’s second-largest economy, according to the OECD, are weak external demand and inflation, which has risen since the start of the year.

Economic policy changes, which the OECD deems essential to guarantee sustained growth, are already been carried out by the new government, the organization’s secretary-general, Angel Gurria, said.

The country is becoming less and less dependent on exports and consumption has recently been a bigger driver of growth than investment, he added.

These changes, along with several still-pending pro-market reforms, are the main ingredients required for China to make the leap to developed-country status, analysts say.

The OECD report expressed optimism about the political will of China’s new leaders, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Kequiang, to implement the needed reforms.

China’s economy grew at a 7.8 percent clip in 2012, its slowest pace in more than a decade, mainly due to the economic problems of the European Union and the United States, its two largest trading partners.

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3 Puerto Rican Police Arrested in Connection With 2008 Death

3 Puerto Rican Police Arrested in Connection With 2008 Death

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The FBI on Friday arrested three members of the Puerto Rico Police Department in connection with the death of a 19-year-old man in a 2008 incident.

Sgt. Antonio Rodriguez Caraballo and patrolmen Miguel Negron and David Colon Martinez were taken into custody, the head of the PRPD’s South Region, Col. Noel Torres, confirmed.

Jose Irizarry Perez died from injuries received in a November 2008 altercation between police and residents of the southwestern town of Yauco.

Jose and his father, Jose Luis Irizarry Muñiz, were among a crowd of people celebrating the victory of the New Progressive Party in the 2008 gubernatorial election.

Two other PRPD members, Lt. Erick Rivera Nazario and patrolman Jimmy Rodriguez Vega, were arrested last October 2012 for their part in the same incident.

Rivera and Rodriguez were charged with having violated the civil rights of Jose Irizarry Perez and his father by using excessive force.

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Mexican Authorities Rescue 18 Women Forced Into Sex Trafficking

Mexican Authorities Rescue 18 Women Forced Into Sex Trafficking

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Authorities rescued 18 women who were being forced to work as prostitutes in the southern state of Chiapas, Mexico’s interior ministry said Friday.

Eight people, including two women, were arrested in connection with the forced prostitution scheme and three vehicles were seized.

The trafficking victims, five of them Central American migrants, told authorities they were abducted, held incommunicado and forced to render sexual services.

Once rescued, the 18 women were taken to a shelter where they received medical and psychological attention in accord with the protocol for treatment of sex-trafficking victims, the interior ministry said.

In a separate operation, Chiapas police and the federal INM migration agency detained 41 undocumented migrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

The migrants were discovered inside a vehicle during a police stop in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the state capital.

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SaturdayMarch 23, 2013