- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

CUBA

Castro calls protest over U.S. ticker screen

HAVANA — President Fidel Castro is accusing the United States of trying to torpedo relations and has called for a protest today in front of the U.S. diplomatic mission.

In a three-hour televised appearance, Mr. Castro said a huge electronic ticker screen mounted on the fifth floor of the U.S. mission here aims to end minimal relations under which both countries maintain “Interest Sections” in each other’s capital.

For a week, the ticker screen has flashed human-rights messages and calls for democracy by personalities such as former Polish President Lech Walesa and former Czech leader Vaclav Havel. Under a change to the 1962 U.S. embargo, Cuba buys about $400 million worth of food per year from the United States. Mr. Castro said he is ensuring that food supplies are not interrupted.

CARIBBEAN

Liner passengers consider revolt

LONDON — Passengers on board the Queen Mary 2, the world’s largest cruise ship, are threatening a sit-in protest on board after three Caribbean stops were canceled, the London Telegraph reported yesterday.

The luxury liner, running on three of its four propeller pods after hitting the side of a shipping channel last week, was to visit St. Kitts, Barbados and Salvador de Bahia in Brazil during the cruise, but is sailing straight to Rio de Janeiro instead.

As a result, its 2,528 passengers have spent almost six consecutive days at sea with only one unscheduled stop in Fort Lauderdale and are growing increasingly angry. They are to disembark at Rio after a 12-day cruise from New York that cost up to $30,000 per passenger, but “mutineers” aboard are talking about staying on the cruise ship until they get “adequate compensation.”

CHILE

Bachelet victory heartens Peruvian

SANTIAGO — Socialist Michelle Bachelet’s rise to power, the first Latin American woman to be elected president without a powerful husband, appears to be galvanizing women regionwide, prompting demands not only for more political power, but also social equality.

Chilean women are hoping the victory of Mrs. Bachelet — a pediatrician, lawyer and separated mother of three children — will help solve problems such as domestic violence and lack of day care. They also seek pay equal to men’s.

Lourdes Flores Nano, a former Congress member running for president in Peru, predicts that Mrs. Bachelet’s success will help the Peruvian win. “With what has started in Chile … history in Latin America will be different, and we will be two women leading our countries,” Mrs. Nano told Chile’s La Segunda newspaper.

Weekly notes …

Police in Rio de Janeiro are probing the holdup of a bus carrying about 30 British tourists that was robbed by three armed men, Globo television said yesterday. The thieves apparently trailed the tourist bus by car Thursday from the international airport as it headed to a city hotel, before taking over the vehicle, driving it to a remote location and robbing the passengers of jewelry, credit cards and cash.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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