- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

PERU

Crisis-worn Toledo appoints woman premier

LIMA — Peru’s first female prime minister, Beatriz Merino, began the daunting task over the weekend of trying to raise the popularity of stricken President Alejandro Toledo.

Miss Merino, 55, a respected lawyer, was named chief of a Cabinet sworn in Saturday. The appointment came after ministers resigned amid crippling strikes by teachers, judicial workers and state health care workers and a 30-day state of emergency.

She replaces Luis Solari, head of the Peru Possible movement, who resigned June 23 with the rest of his Cabinet. Mr. Toledo’s approval rating has fallen to an abysmal 11 percent two years into his tenure. Mr. Toledo said he has decided to delegate some powers to Miss Merino and would concentrate on “winning back the faith and lost hopes of Peruvians” — a rare admission of failure after a crisis week in which the opposition said he should be replaced before the end of his term in 2006.

CANADA

Hospital staffer becomes 39th SARS fatality

TORONTO — A 51-year-old person has become the first Canadian health care worker to die from to SARS, bringing Canada’s death toll from the disease to 39, Ontario’s Health Minister announced yesterday.

The victim was on the staff of North York General Hospital in Toronto, provincial health chief Tony Clement said in a statement. He did not specify whether the deceased was a man or a woman.

BRAZIL

Same-sex celebration held at Copacabana

RIO DE JANEIRO — About 100,000 people participated in a homosexual pride parade Sunday along the edge of Copacabana beach, according to police figures. The event began with a rendition of the national anthem, then broke into dancing to carnival-style music.

Organizers said they wanted to expand the event to become an expression against discrimination. “We want it to be a big party for citizens opposing discrimination of whatever type,” said Rainbow group president Claudio Nascimento.

Brazilian government official Luiz Eduardo Soares said at the rally: “Intolerance is one of the sources of violence; this pacifist, libertarian, civic demonstration proves that all manner of love is all right.” Rio deputy Fernando Gabeira of the ruling Workers Party (PT) noted that a bill on registering same-sex “marriages” had been introduced by Sao Paulo Mayor Marta Suplicy and debated in the national assembly.

Weekly notes …

Former Beatle Paul McCartney is considering holding a concert in Cuba next year, and is sending his agents to the island in July to work out the details, the Cuban youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde reported Saturday. Cuban authorities, including Culture Minister Abel Prieto, have already approved the concert, the paper said, quoting writer Ernesto Juan Castellanos, who attended a June 1 McCartney concert in Liverpool, England. … Authorities in St. Kitts and Nevis arrested American rapper DMX on Saturday for using profanity during a concert the previous night on the Caribbean island. The 32-year-old rapper, whose name is Earl Simmons, was released on $376 bail and was ordered to appear yesterday before the Magistrate’s Court in Basseterre.

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