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Felipe Dana, File, Associated Press
In this June 6, 2014 file photo, people play soccer in the Dona Marta slum, backdropped by the Christ the Redeemer statue and Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Soccer schools operate in nearly all of the slums, from the Dona Marta shantytown, which is ensconced in the middle-class Botafogo neighborhood, to Mangueira, a historic slum overlooking the mythical Maracana Stadium.

The case of 43 missing — and apparently murdered — students in Mexico ignited indignation across the country and around the world. Officials acknowledged they disappeared at the hands of a corrupt local government and federal authorities took 10 days to intervene.

Whip-cracking vigilantes served up justice in the highlands of Peru, and self-defense groups in Mexico fought to flush out cartels from their neighborhoods, two examples of how some Latin Americans are responding to corrupt, indifferent police forces and the erosion of state-run criminal justice.

Brazilians struggled to come to grips with the unthinkable: Brazil suffered its worst World Cup loss ever — and on home turf, as the nation hosted the tournament for the first time in 64 years.

Fifteen-year-old Guatemalan migrant Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez became a symbol of the perils facing unaccompanied children who have been flooding illegally into the U.S. after his decomposed body was found in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.

Mexican authorities captured the world's most powerful drug lord after a massive search through the home state of the legendary capo whose global organization is the leading supplier of cocaine to the United States.

Venezuelans protesting crime, inflation and widespread shortages staged protests that left more than 40 people dead and landed their leader Leopoldo Lopez in jail.

A viral disease called chikungunya appeared less than a year ago in the Americas and raged across the region, bringing the total number infected in the epidemic to more than 1 million.

Iconic Mexican comedian Roberto Gomez Bolanos, who defined a generation for millions of Latin American children with his television characters "El Chavo del Ocho" and "El Chapulin Colorado," died at age 85 in November.

And the world mourned the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian Nobel Literature laureate whose flamboyant and melancholy works outsold everything published in Spanish except the Bible.

Associated Press photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo

This gallery was curated by photo editor Enric Marti in Mexico City.