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Briefly

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 3, 2007

MEXICO

Drug funds linked to government

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government said this week it received a letter from a drug suspect charging that millions of dollars seized at his house in March — the largest drug-related cash seizure in history — were in fact illegal ruling-party campaign funds.

The government said a lawyer for the house's fugitive owner, Zhenli Ye Gon, demanded special treatment from Mexican authorities on drug, weapons and money-laundering charges and apparently suggested he would go public with accusations that much of the $207 million belonged to the National Action Party of President Felipe Calderon.

ECUADOR

U.N. sees threat to famed islands

QUITO — A United Nations agency last week declared Ecuador's Galapagos Islands in danger as booming tourism and immigration threaten giant tortoises and blue-footed boobies unique to the archipelago.

The volcanic islands, located 625 miles west of Ecuador's coast, inspired British naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Maria Espinosa said the U.N. statement "will help the government's efforts to solve the complex problems of the Galapagos."

President Rafael Correa declared the islands at risk in April and has vowed to impose more rigorous population restrictions and temporarily suspend some tourism permits.

PERU

Government vows to pursue Fujimori

SANTIAGO, Chile — Peruvian officials said they would press an effort to extradite former President Alberto Fujimori to face rights-abuse charges, even after the exiled former leader announced plans to run for a seat in Japan's upper house of parliament.

Chilean officials also said they would not halt legal efforts to send Mr. Fujimori to Lima, amid speculation that he hopes to win immunity from pending criminal charges in Peru.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said her country's Supreme Court will soon rule on Peru's extradition request.

CANADA

Indian groups stage protests

TORONTO — Canadian aboriginal groups staged protests across the country last week to bring attention to poverty, health and social problems facing Indians living on and off the country's reservations.

In Ottawa, an estimated 1,000 people followed a ceremonial drummer through the capital to an island in the Ottawa River. Tents were set up on Parliament Hill.

"We want our people to be treated with dignity and respect. We are looking for the basic necessities of life that come with being Canadian," said Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Rallies were also held in Vancouver, Toronto and other communities.

CHILE

Teens uncover vast whale fossil cache

LOS MAITENES — Chilean teenagers on a field trip have found what experts say could be a treasure trove of fossils from whales that died millions of years ago.

Students from a school in Concon, a town on the Pacific coast, found the fossils last month in the hills near the village of Los Maitenes, nearly four miles from the sea and 100 miles from the capital, Santiago.

They found fossilized jawbones, backbones and ribs of four whales that scientists say likely died 5 million years ago. Geologists expect to find more whale fossils in the area.

From wire dispatches and staff reports