- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 29, 2009

VENEZUELA

Chavez warns of U.S. conspiracy

CARACAS | President Hugo Chavez is accusing Colombia and the United States of plotting to set up a fake rebel camp on Venezuelan soil to discredit his government.

Mr. Chavez accused Colombia of preparing what he called a “false positive” operation, saying on Monday that it’s feasible the neighboring country could build a makeshift camp in a remote location, then plant corpses and guns to make it look like a rebel camp had been discovered.

Colombian officials have said that leftist rebel commanders from their country are taking refuge in Venezuela. Mr. Chavez says that the officials are falsely trying to portray him as being in cahoots with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which Colombia has been battling for decades.

Mr. Chavez often accuses U.S. and Colombia of plotting to attack Venezuela from bases in Colombia. Both the U.S. and Colombia deny it, saying American troops are solely aiding Colombia to combat drug trafficking and guerrillas internally.

MEXICO

Fewer heading to United States

MEXICO CITY | Emigration from Mexico, which is mainly to the United States, has fallen almost 40 percent since 2007, according to figures from the National Statistics Institute on Monday.

The figures, which compare the first six months of the past three years, showed a downward trend, with 281,678 Mexicans emigrating in the first half of 2009, compared with 465,054 in the same period in 2007.

There was not yet evidence of a mass return home of Mexicans, as predicted when the worldwide economic crisis first broke out in the United States, the report said.

A July report by the Pew Hispanic Center, which looked at surveys from both countries and U.S. law enforcement data, said immigration from Mexico to the United States began to drop off in 2006 and continued its downward slide into this year.

ARGENTINA

Gays tie knot for first time

BUENOS AIRES | Two men Tuesday became the first homosexual couple to legally marry in Latin America, after the governor of Ushuaia, Argentina’s southernmost province, granted their request, the couple and a witness said.

Alex Freyre, 39, and Jose Maria Di Bello, 41, were legally married Tuesday after Gov. Fabiana Rios overruled a civil registrar who initially refused to wed the couple.

No Latin American country currently recognizes gay marriage, but Buenos Aires, known for its active gay movement, became Latin America’s first city to approve civil unions in 2002. The city grants gay couples some, but not all rights enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

The president of a leading national gay rights group, Maria Rachid, recently said she hoped Argentina’s legislature would take up a measure in 2010 that would change the civil code - which currently defines marriage as being between a man and a woman - to being the union of two consenting adults.

BRAZIL

Government goes beyond Copenhagen

BRASILIA | Brazil will make its ambitious 2020 greenhouse-gas emissions targets legally binding even though global climate talks failed this month, the country’s environment minister said Monday.

“We will fully comply with the targets. It doesn’t matter that Copenhagen didn’t go as well as we had hoped,” Environment Minister Carlos Minc told reporters after meeting with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Mr. Lula da Silva will veto three items from a climate bill approved by Congress last month, but would maintain the emissions targets, Mr. Minc said.

Brazil aims to reduce its projected 2020 greenhouse-gas emissions by as much as 20 percent reduction from 2005 levels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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