- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 2, 2009

VENEZUELA

IT woes shorten Chavez marathon

CARACAS | Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had promised a four-day marathon edition of his widely watched weekly television talk show, but unspecified technical problems threw the plans awry this weekend.

In a three-line statement, the information ministry said Sunday’s “Alo Presidente” program had been canceled for technical reasons. Saturday’s show was called off without explanation.

To mark its 10 years on air, Mr. Chavez last week announced an extended edition of the program he frequently uses to criticize the United States and announce major policies such as nationalizations in South America’s top oil exporter. He planned to do one or two hours-long broadcasts a day.

The president began Thursday, speaking for about eight hours in two installments about teens, sex education, problems with his weight, and he called Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro, “Our father who art in Havana.”

MEXICO

Remittances drop as recession bites

MEXICO CITY | Money sent home by Mexicans living abroad plunged in April by more than 18 percent compared with the same period last year, the biggest monthly fall on record, the central bank said Monday.

Remittances fell to $1.7 billion in April 2009 compared with $2.1 billion in April 2008, according to the bank. It said the U.S. recession has hurt migrants in the United States, while fewer Mexicans are heading north because of a lack of jobs and a crackdown on illegal immigration.

Last year was the first time remittances have dropped year-to-year since the bank started tracking the money 13 years ago. Mexico’s second largest legal source of foreign income after oil, remittances plunged 3.6 percent to $25 billion in 2008 compared with $26 billion in 2007.

Remittances for the first four months of 2009 have dropped more than 8 percent, totaling $7.2 billion compared with $7.9 billion for the same period last year.

EL SALVADOR

Leftist president friendly with U.S.

SAN SALVADOR | A journalist from a party of former Marxist guerrillas is becoming El Salvador’s first leftist president Monday, promising to remain friendly with the United States while restoring ties with Cuba.

Mauricio Funes’ inauguration brings to power the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front that fought for 12 years to overthrow U.S.-backed conservative governments until laying down their arms in 1992.

Plucked from outside the party ranks, the bespectacled television journalist helped the movement shed a radical image that alienated many Salvadorans scarred by the devastating civil war.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is attending the inauguration and called it a testament to the strength of democracy in the Americas.

CHILE

Swine flu embeds in S. Hemisphere

SANTIAGO | Chilean health authorities confirmed 26 new cases of swine flu, raising the number of patients with the H1N1 virus in the country to 276, the highest number on the continent.

The sometimes-deadly disease continued its rise across Latin America meanwhile with Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and the Dominican Republic all reporting new cases.

Officials in Chile said Sunday that most of the victims were in the capital, and that most cases were mild and being treated at home. Three people remain in serious condition in hospital, however.

Swine flu has killed more than 100 people and infected more than 15,500 worldwide, according to figures from the World Health Organization and local governments.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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