- The Washington Times - Monday, June 16, 2003

MEXICO

Government forgoes free television spots

MEXICO CITY — Under pressure from opposition parties and election officials before July 6 congressional elections, the government said Sunday it would suspend TV spots about government programs.

The opposition dislikes the ads because the government gets free air time — under a long-standing tax deal with broadcasters — to show a beaming President Vicente Fox touting free government milk, small-business loan programs and low-income housing.

The Federal Electoral Institute, an election watchdog agency, recently asked Mr. Fox and governors throughout the country to suspend publicity spots to avoid confusion with other election advertising.

PERU

Toledo, top officials to take pay cut

LIMA — President Alejandro Toledo and other top officials will get smaller paychecks starting July 1, Finance Minister Javier Silva Ruete announced during the weekend.

The president’s monthly pay is to be cut by 30 percent, to the equivalent of $8,400, and that of most Cabinet ministers by 20 percent, to $8,000. The salaries of Mr. Toledo, whose popularity stands at 14 percent, and high officials recently became an issue in a country where half the population lives below the poverty line.

Mr. Toledo’s salary, one of the highest for presidents in Latin America, looked more costly during a monthlong teachers’ strike that ended Thursday with teachers getting a $30 raise on their $200-a-month pay.

VENEZUELA

Brazil offers Chavez billion-dollar loan

MANAUS, Brazil — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez concluded a two-day trip to Brazil on Sunday and informed the public that Brazil has offered Venezuela a billion-dollar loan to boost bilateral trade.

Mr. Chavez participated in a meeting in Manaus with business leaders and sealed several trade agreements. He said a team of bankers would head to Caracas tomorrow to outline details of the loan, which becomes effective immediately.

Weekly notes …

Villagers pelted former dictator and current Congress President Efrain Rios Montt with rocks as he arrived to an isolated part of the Guatemalan highlands Saturday. The 77-year-old ex-general was not seriously injured, but security personnel had to carry him away from a riot that erupted when he arrived in the largely Mayan town of Rabinal, five hours by car from Guatemala City, the capital. Rios Montt seized power in a 1982 coup and began a scorched-earth campaign that killed thousands of civilians suspected of aiding rebels in Rabinal and other largely Mayan communities. Peace accords ended the civil war in December 1996 after 200,000 Guatemalans had been killed. … Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham arrives in Cambodia today to attend the 10th regional forum of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations until Saturday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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