- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2006

JAMAICA

Noted U.S. botanist held in murder plot

KINGSTON — Renowned American botanist George Proctor, 86, is under arrest here on charges of plotting to have his chauffeur kill his 66-year-old wife, police announced Sunday. The scientist, originally from Boston, taught at the University of the West Indies and has lived in Jamaica for 57 years.

He was arrested Thursday at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston as he was about to board a plane to the United States, police said. They charge that Mr. Proctor paid his driver, Glenford Flemmington, $90,000 to kill his wife, whose name was not disclosed, sometime between April 20 and April 27. The two men were to appear at a bail hearing yesterday.

About two dozen plants have been named for Mr. Proctor, including species from Jamaica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia, according to the Web site of the U.S. National Herbarium of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

VENEZUELA

Chavez would welcome U.S. official’s visit

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that he would welcome a visit by a top U.S. State Department official and hopes to build close ties with like-minded Americans, despite strained relations between him and President Bush.

Mr. Chavez said that Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, had called the Venezuelan foreign minister to say he wanted to visit. Mr. Chavez said he does not object.

“If he shows respect, we’ll respect him,” said Mr. Chavez after meeting an American group that thanked him for shipping discounted heating oil to low-income U.S. communities in the winter. The visiting Americans were treated as guests of honor during Mr. Chavez’s weekly radio and television program, broadcast from the eastern town of El Tigre.

PARAGUAY

President dismisses 3 top military chiefs

ASUNCION — President Nicanor Duarte Frutos has fired Paraguay’s three top military chiefs after opposition lawmakers sought the dismissals for criticizing Congress. The country has been shaken by political instability and several coup attempts since democracy was restored in 1989, and opposition lawmakers had said the commanders’ criticism amounted to a threat against the state.

“They are changes that the president had been formulating,” said Defense Minister Roberto Gonzalez as he announced the dismissals late Sunday. Last year, the heads of the army, navy and air force submitted a statement criticizing Congress for delaying the promotion of about 100 military officers.

The president also changed the heads of the Agriculture Ministry and the state energy company, Petropar, who were criticized by the opposition. “Hopefully these changes will help” resolve the congressional deadlock, Mr. Gonzalez said. Impoverished Paraguay was ruled by military strongman Alfredo Stroessner for 35 years until he was deposed in 1989.

Weekly notes …

Authorities evacuated about 200 people Sunday from their southern Peruvian village in the shadow of the Ubinas volcano, which began erupting in February. Sixteen families from the southern Andean town of Querapi were evacuated to a village three hours away, said Alfredo Siu, regional director of the Civilian Institute in Arequipa; about 60 residents had been evacuated to the same village late last week. … Pope Benedict XVI will visit Brazil in May 2007 to participate in the Latin American Episcopal Conference. Bishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis announced during a Mass at the Vatican on Sunday that the pontiff will attend the May 13 conference at Aparecida in Sao Paulo state next year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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