- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2007

COLOMBIA

American hostage sends hope to family

LISBON — A Portuguese-born American citizen held hostage by rebels in Colombia for four years has sent a message of hope to his family saying he would be reunited with them one day, the Lusa news agency reported yesterday.

Marc Gonsalves was captured in 2003 by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) Marxist movement, Colombia’s largest and longest-fighting leftist rebel force.

The news agency quoted his mother, Josephine Rosano, as saying she received a message Friday sent by a Colombian member of parliament who also is being held hostage by FARC.

CUBA

Slain soldier honored as hero

HAVANA — Cuba awarded a posthumous medal to a soldier killed by conscripts who fled their base and later tried to hijack a plane to leave the island, an incident the government blamed on Washington’s policies.

The soldier, Yoendris Gutierrez Hernandez, was on guard duty at a military base on April 29. Three deserters bayoneted him to death with stolen rifles after he refused to surrender his weapon, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported Saturday.

In a somber ceremony in the eastern province of Granma, a medal for heroism was given to Mr. Gutierrez’s parents. Acting President Raul Castro, also the island’s defense minister, saluted the soldier’s “bravery and rejection and opposition to the demands of three assailants who threatened him, demanding that he give them the weapon he used for military service.”

PERU

Disoriented penguin swims 3,100 miles

LIMA — A “disoriented” Magellanic penguin swam ashore on Peru’s coast, about 3,100 miles north of his home in the frigid waters of southern Chile.

“It seems he was disoriented and got lost in the sea due to the different ocean currents,” said Wilder Canales, who heads the National Paracas Reserve in southern Peru. “In his endless search for food, he casually climbed up on our shores — something that has never happened before.”

Television images showed scientists at the nature reserve treating an injury to the penguin’s right wing that apparently was caused by a fishing net. Peruvian authorities were trying to coordinate with their Chilean counterparts to return the penguin to its home waters.

Weekly notes …

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori agreed in an interview broadcast Sunday to respect a Chilean court’s upcoming ruling on Peru’s request to extradite him from Chile to face criminal charges. Mr. Fujimori, 68, who faces charges of human rights abuse and corruption during his 1990-2000 presidency and has Japanese as well as Peruvian citizenship, denied that he would flee Chile or seek asylum in the Japanese Embassy to avoid extradition. … Communist Cuba is stepping up contacts with Asian nations, most of which do not share its political views but have the potential to invest heavily in the island. “Asia is the area of the world that has the most recently successful economies, and Cuba needs to diversify its ties,” said Marifeli Perez-Stable, a Cuba analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue. She thinks Cuba’s diplomatic activity could signal a shift toward a more open economy under acting President Raul Castro, who has led the country since his elder brother Fidel Castro underwent surgery in July.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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