Social media around the world was flooded with rumors of Fidel Castro's death, becoming a trending topic in some countries. At week's end there was no sign that the reports were true, even if the 88-year-old former Cuban leader has not been seen in public for months. The rumors were prompted in part by Castro's failure to comment after the U.S. and Cuba declared on Dec. 17 that they would move to restore full diplomatic relations.

In other news from the island, Cuban dissidents, their relatives and supporters said Friday that the island's government has freed at least 38 people on a U.S. list of imprisoned opposition members.

New clashes between vigilante groups and government forces in Mexico's violent state of Michoacan are calling into question the strategy of a federal commissioner appointed a year ago to restore order. In the most recent bloodshed, nine civilians died Tuesday during federal operations in Apatzingan.

Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt's retrial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity was postponed Monday, dismaying victims who have long sought to see him punished for the massacre of thousands of Mayan Indians during his 1982-83 regime. Clad in pajamas and covered in a blanket, the 88-year-old Rios Montt was wheeled into a courtroom on a gurney.

Thousands of people in the Dominican Republic greeted new baseball Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez after he landed Saturday in his homeland aboard a private plane bearing his country's flag. A caravan greeted the former Boston Red Sox pitcher at the airport and took him to a public park in Santo Domingo, where a crowd lined a 19-mile stretch of highway to catch a glimpse of him.