- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2000

1.5 million peasants protest in Peru

LIMA, Peru Hundreds of thousands of peasants and farm workers took to the streets throughout Latin America yesterday to demand redistribution of land and better compensation for their products.

With farmers struggling under the burden of higher fuel and fertilizer prices, peasant marches swept the continent from Peru to Guatemala, pressing governments to intervene to stave off foreclosure of small farms.

"We are desperate," said Manuel Olaechea Garci, president of Peru's National Association of Users of Water Resources, reflecting the prevailing mood on the continent.

As many as 1.5 million Peruvian peasant farmers began a 48-hour nationwide strike yesterday demanding debt forgiveness and a halt to imports of low-cost foodstuffs, protest organizers said.

Opposition presses ally of Fujimor

LIMA, Peru Political "war" broke out yesterday as the opposition moved to depose one of President Alberto Fujimori's strongest supporters the president of Congress and called for faster progress over democratic reforms ahead of next year's elections.

Using the clout in Congress it has gained since since Mr. Fujimori's shock decision last month to quit office next year and call early elections, the opposition forced a censure vote on Congress head Martha Hildebrandt.

"This is war, a parliamentary war, but still war," a visibly angry Mrs. Hildebrandt, her hand thumping the table, told reporters.

Leader of Fiji coup charged with treason

SUVA, Fiji Fiji coup leader George Speight was formally charged with treason in court here yesterday but charges against nine soldiers involved in the May plot were withdrawn.

Mr. Speight and 24 others were before the magistrate's court facing treason charges.

Hong Kong Queen's Counsel Gerard McCoy told the court the nine were to be immediately discharged but would be rearrested by the military police. They would then face charges of mutiny, desertion and larceny of arms.

Mugabe pardons most on vote-related crimes

HARARE, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, whose party has been blamed for months of election-related violence, has pardoned offenders for thousands of politically motivated crimes, the Justice Ministry disclosed yesterday.

The ministry said most of those who could have faced prosecution for political crimes committed between Jan. 1 and July 31 of this year would be pardoned. A few offenders who had been convicted and imprisoned would be set free, it said.

At least 32 persons died and more than 10,000 were left homeless in violence surrounding a February constitutional referendum and June parliamentary elections. Most of the dead were opposition supporters.

Cuban court condemns 2 armed dissidents

HAVANA A Cuban court has condemned two elderly anti-communist Cuban Americans, captured after landing with arms on the Caribbean island in 1998, to 15 years in jail for "rebellion," a dissident rights group said yesterday.

Ernestino Abreu Horta, 76, and Vicente Marcelino Rodriguez Martinez, 66, were convicted by a court in the western province of Pinar del Rio, where they came ashore on their mysterious "invasion" mission, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said.

The rights group had been monitoring the trial.

Saudi toll hits 66 in Rift Valley fever

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia The death toll from Rift Valley fever in Saudi Arabia has risen to 66 since it was first reported on Sept. 11 in the south of the kingdom near the border with Yemen, the Health Ministry said yesterday.

"Two more fatalities were registered over the past few days in the province of Jezan [the hardest-hit region], taking to 66 the total number of people who have died from the virus," the ministry said in a statement.

Since the start of the outbreak 335 persons have been registered with the disease in Saudi Arabia, 110 of whom have subsequently recovered and left hospitals.

In neighboring Yemen, the fever has claimed 39 lives, the Yemeni Health Ministry said Monday.

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