- The Washington Times - Monday, January 10, 2005

CUBA

Ties being renewed with European states

HAVANA — Cuba announced yesterday that it is renewing ties with the European Union as well as all EU countries that have embassies on the island.

“We can say that from this moment onward, Cuba has re-established government-level official contacts with all European Union countries,” Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told reporters. Cuba said Jan. 3 that it was renewing diplomatic contacts with eight EU countries — Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Sweden — that had stopped inviting dissidents to embassy functions.

Mr. Perez Roque announced yesterday that Cuba was renewing ties with the remaining EU countries that have embassies in Havana. The European Union froze relations with the communist government in June 2003 after a crackdown on opposition to President Fidel Castro. Seventy-five dissidents were sentenced for six to 28 years.

VENEZUELA

Rebel reportedly seized by police intruders

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Colombian police captured a Colombian rebel in the Venezuelan capital, El Nacional reported yesterday.

Venezuelan Interior Minister Jesse Chacon said last week that his government had received credible evidence that Colombian forces had captured Marxist rebel leader Rodrigo Granda in Caracas last month.

Mr. Granda is the “foreign minister” of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which has waged a 40-year-old civil war against the Colombian government.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe maintains, however, that Mr. Granda was captured in Colombia along the Venezuelan border. Mr. Chavez said Colombian forces violated Venezuela’s sovereignty by making the capture in Caracas, perhaps with the help of rogue elements in the Venezuelan military.

Weekly notes

Six men were found slain in Mexico during the weekend in two incidents that appear to reflect a recent surge in violence between rival drug gangs. Four bullet-riddled and tortured bodies were found about 1,000 feet from a military firing range near Morelia, Michoacan state, on Saturday, according to news reports. Two bodies were found close to the U.S. border in Tamaulipas state. The bound corpses, riddled with 45 bullets in all, were found at the side of a freeway, police spokesman Eduardo Rodriguez told Reuters news agency on Sunday. … Former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet, 89, under house arrest on murder and kidnapping charges stemming from abuses during his 1973-90 rule, was approved yesterday for release on bail. He had been under house arrest at Los Boldos, his ranch west of Santiago on the Pacific coast, since Wednesday. Judge Juan Guzman Tapia set bail at $3,500 and sent the request to an appeals court for confirmation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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