KRWG

Carrie Kahn

Panama, like its Central American neighbors, is struggling with a rise in gangs. A recent census by the country's security forces put the number of criminal organizations operating in Panama now at about 200.

One neighborhood, in the capital's historic district, is taking on its gang problem with a group of strange bedfellows.

First, meet K.C. Hardin.

"I moved to Panama 12 years ago just to surf and do nothing for a couple years, I thought," says Hardin.

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Presidents Obama and Raul Castro of Cuba shook hands last night before opening ceremonies of the Summit of the Americas in Panama. But the informal meeting between the two men today was the most anticipated moment of the conference.

In the village of Tuffet, a rocky 45-minute drive from the closest city along Haiti's southern coast, several men get down to work in Monique Yusizanna Ouz's rural home. They're wiring up her two-room, dirt floor house with a breaker box, an outlet and a light fixture.

She's 66 years old, and for the first time in her life, she's going to have electricity.

Ouz, who has five grandchildren, wants a refrigerator. She wants cold drinks — for herself but also to sell. And she wants ice cream, too.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission is dealing with a new case of alleged violations by federal officials. This complaint, however, comes from the country's most vicious and notorious criminals — more than 100 of them.

Nearly 140 prisoners at Mexico's maximum security prison say they're being housed in unsafe and inhumane conditions.

In Mexico, the problem of drug trafficking is well publicized, but you can't say the same when it comes to the problem of drug addiction.

Two of Mexico's most ruthless drug cartels have lost their leaders. In the span of just one week, the Mexican government captured the heads of the Knights Templar and the Zetas trafficking organization. That brings the number of capos taken out by the current administration to 11.

But many analysts believe the spectacular arrests will do little to tackle the country's growing insecurity.

Mexican cops have gotten a bad rap. They are known more for taking bribes than fighting crime. One police department in Mexico hopes that body cameras, a high-tech tool gaining popularity in the U.S., will redeem its reputation.

The police chief in the border city of Tijuana says they will show that it's not just bad cops that are the problem; the public plays a big role in corruption, too.

Within days of three Tijuana police officers clipping on the cameras, one recorded an eye-opening traffic stop.

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It's been called one of the great rivalries of the art world — a clash between egos, riches and ideologies. In the spring of 1932, capitalist (and prolific collector of Mexican art) Nelson Rockefeller hired Mexican painter and staunch socialist Diego Rivera to paint a mural for the lobby of the newly erected Rockefeller Center in New York City. Sketches were drawn and approved, but when reporters leaked that Rivera had added an image of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, a battle began.

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Cuba has promised its citizens better Internet access in this New Year. The few Cubans who now manage to get online find it expensive and slow.

Warming ties with the U.S. have stirred hope for improved telecommunications. But until then, many residents have devised an ingenious work-around, or should we say walk-around.

On Havana's Malecon, roaming guitarists play for the crowds resting against the iconic sea wall. In this nightly gathering spot, it's old fashioned interacting. No one is on a cell, no eyes glued to smart phones.

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In Havana, two religious communities are celebrating the holiday season but have taken very different approaches to the news that relations between the U.S. and Cuba are warming.

For Jews who belong to Temple Beth Shalom in Havana, their numbers may be small, but size doesn't matter.

On Sunday night, a couple hundred people filled the temple's sanctuary to light six Hanukkah candles, watch teens put on a play, and clap to a group of toddlers dancing to the holiday classic "Eight Little Candles," sung in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language.

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If you want to give your taste buds a gustatory tour of Mexico, then Margarita Carrillo is ready to be your guide.

The Mexican chef and food activist has spent years gathering hundreds of recipes from every region of the country for Mexico: The Cookbook, her new, encyclopedic take on her country's cuisine.

This is the story of the murder of two aid workers in Mexico. The men fed Central American migrants traveling north through Mexico on a freight train that stopped near their home.

They were critical of both corrupt police, who abused and extorted the migrants, as well as the organized crime gangs that kidnapped and robbed them.

It wasn't hard to find the two men — they were never far from the train tracks — but there were no witnesses to their deaths, and police won't comment about the case. The double homicide didn't even get a mention in the local press.

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Mexican families are celebrating the Day of the Dead this weekend, a festive holiday, where relatives remember deceased loved ones with grand, floral memorials in their homes as well as at cemeteries.

But in the southern state of Guerrero, the mood is decidedly different. Authorities there are still searching for 43 students abducted last month by police working for drug traffickers and crooked politicians in the town of Iguala.

In front of Iguala's City Hall, Maria de Jesus Rodriguez, 68, slowly sweeps the patio.

The governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero, where 43 students were kidnapped and disappeared last month, says he will leave office.

Angel Aguirre had been under growing pressure to step down as the investigation of the student's disappearance dragged on.

Mexico's top prosecutor says a mayor and his wife ordered the attack on 43 students who have been missing for nearly a month. The couple — of the town of Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero — are now fugitives.

Thousands of protesters marched down Mexico City's grand Reforma Boulevard on Wednesday night, banging drums, carrying pictures of the 43 students who went missing on Sept. 26, and demanding the resignation of the governor of the state of Guerrero and even of President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Mexico's banking regulator has slapped a nearly 30 million peso ($2.2 million) fine on the Citigroup subsidiary Banamex, for failing to provide sufficient accounting controls. The regulator said the lack of oversight allowed the Mexican firm Oceanografia to allegedly dupe the bank out of $400 million.

Banamex had lent the money to Oceanografia, an oil services firm contracted by the state petroleum monopoly, PEMEX, based on invoices that turned out to be fake.

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