- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003

BRAZIL

1,000 slave workers freed from farms

RIO DE JANEIRO — Federal police and government inspectors freed about 1,000 slave workers in the last two weeks of August from two farms in northeastern Brazil, weekend news reports said.

About 800 men and women working in conditions of slavery were freed Aug. 19 on a coffee farm near Barreiras in Bahia state, the newspaper Correio Brasiliense said. It cited Marcelo Campos, a spokesman at the Labor Ministry, as its source. Another 200 slave workers were found last week on a nearby farm, the newspaper said.

Mr. Campos was quoted as saying that the farm owners faced four-year prison sentences. The central government estimates some 25,000 people work in slavery conditions in Brazil, most of them in remote Amazon areas. Enslavement usually begins with workers being lured to remote ranches with promises of high pay. Once there, they are charged more for transportation, food and tools than they earn. Those trying to leave often are forced back at gunpoint.

CANADA

West Nile virus infects at least 112

MONTREAL — The mosquito-borne West Nile virus has infected at least 112 persons in Canada, mainly in the province of Saskatchewan, according to figures from health authorities Saturday.

Saskatchewan registered 29 new cases of the virus last week, raising the number of persons infected in the province to 69 — more than half the national total. Neighboring Alberta had 33 known cases of the virus, while Ontario and Manitoba reported five cases each.

The virus, first detected in the West Nile region of Uganda in 1937, is spread commonly by mosquitoes that have fed on the blood of infected birds. Last year, 21 Canadians were killed by the virus, the same number as in the United States, where at least 1,442 persons have been infected by the virus this year.

JAMAICA

Home of reggae now builds cars

KINGSTON — Jamaica has added another export item to sugar, rum and reggae — autos.

Excel Motors, a fledgling Jamaican automaker, exported the island’s first locally manufactured car to the Bahamas on Friday. The two-door Island Cruiser, one of 22 built this year at the company’s plant in western Jamaica, sells for $11,500.

The first order was placed by a Bahamian citizen who “fell in love” with the car, said company director Patrick Marzouca. The car’s boxlike, fiberglass chassis is made with local materials, while the 1.5-liter engine is imported from Japan.

Weekly notes …

About 10 sets of human remains were exhumed from a grave on the grounds of a former military base in western Guatemala used during the country’s 1960-96 civil war, researchers said over the weekend. An estimated 200,000 Guatemalans — mainly civilians — were killed during the conflict. … Argentine federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral ordered dozens of Argentines released from jail yesterday after Spain declined to seek the extradition of suspects sought for crimes during the country’s “Dirty War.” Judge Canicoba Corral had ordered the arrests of 39 former military officers and one civilian in July in connection with a Spanish judge’s extradition attempt arising from accusations against the 1976-83 ruling military junta. But the judge said yesterday that he was ordering all those not being held in other court cases to be released in response to Spain’s decision late last week.

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