- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BRAZIL

Leftists slam capitalism at forum

PORTO ALEGRE | Tens of thousands of leftists massed Monday to begin five days of railing against unfettered capitalism at the World Social Forum, a gathering that protests the bankers and other leaders who attend the World Economic Forum at a Swiss ski resort.

Accompanied by thundering drumbeats and samba blaring from sound trucks, a crowd of exuberant activists estimated by police to number 25,000 marched through Porto Alegre waving communist flags and shouting socialist slogans.

They assailed corporate greed as the main reason the world plunged into an economic slump and trumpeted causes ranging from total state control of nations’ petroleum reserves to environmental preservation and animal rights in the 10th annual holding of the event in this city near southern Brazil’s border with Uruguay.

MEXICO

Shootout kills 2 soldiers, 4 gunmen

MEXICO CITY | A shootout between troops and suspected drug traffickers in northern Mexico killed two soldiers and four gunmen, authorities said Monday.

The Defense Department said the clash began when gunmen opened fire on a military patrol Sunday in the town of Doctor Arroyo, in Nuevo Leon state. Soldiers returned fire, killing three assailants inside a home and another in a car.

Also Monday, police in Veracruz state said a federal court official kidnapped last week was found dead.

State prosecutor Jose Franyutti said Nayeli Reyes’ mutilated body was discovered Sunday in the same residential neighborhood of Boca del Rio where she was abducted.

A threatening note signed by a drug cartel was left with the corpse.

ST. KITTS AND NEVIS

Voters cast ballots in early elections

BASSETERRE | Islanders voted Monday on whether to keep the ruling Labor Party in power for a fourth consecutive term in early parliamentary elections called by Prime Minister Denzil Douglas.

Lines formed at polling centers in churches and schools as voters cast ballots for a new 11-member Parliament in the two-island Caribbean nation. Police kept watch under rainy skies.

Campaigning in this tourism-dependent country of roughly 40,000 people, which has maintained friendly relations with the United States under Mr. Douglas, focused on the economy and government debt.

Mr. Douglas, a physician who has been in office since 1995, touted his administration’s efforts to boost the islands’ small economy, build roads and hospitals and continue paying the national debt despite the global economic crisis.

Harvard-educated lawyer Lindsay Grant, his rival in the opposition People’s Action Movement, criticized the government for letting debt spiral to about $2 billion and called Mr. Douglas out of touch with islanders.

PERU

Rains strand tourists at attraction

LIMA | Heavy rain and mudslides in Peru have blocked the train route to the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, stranding some 2,000 tourists.

Perurail spokeswoman Soledad Caparo said the train operator suspended service Monday and was working to clear rocks and mud covering the tracks.

Rail is the only means of transportation on the last leg of the trip to Machu Picchu from the city of Cuzco.

Tourism Minister Martin Perez said the government may send helicopters to evacuate tourists and locals from Machu Picchu Pueblo, the town next to the citadel.

Heavy rain has battered the region in the past three days.

Floods and slides have also killed two people and damaged stone walls at archaeological sites.

ARGENTINA

Central bank chief barred

BUENOS AIRES | Police stopped the head of Argentina’s central bank from entering the bank Sunday, hours after he vowed to stay in his job despite a court ruling that the government said meant he had to step down.

Martin Redrado, who is locked in dispute with President Cristina Fernandez over her plan to use central bank reserves to pay debt, said he went to the bank with his attorneys to see whether he would be allowed to enter the premises. Police officers stopped them.

“[This shows] a flagrant violation of the court’s order,” Mr. Redrado said in a statement, adding that he had presented a legal complaint against Cabinet Chief Anibal Fernandez for “impeding him from carrying out his duties.”

Ms. Fernandez fired Mr. Redrado earlier this month because he opposed her bid to use $6.6 billion in foreign currency reserves to service debt obligations this year, but a court ordered his reinstatement a day later.

Ms. Fernandez’s push to tap the reserves to help meet some $13 billion in debt repayments this year has raised political tension in Latin America’s No. 3 economy, rattling financial markets and raising concerns a planned $20 billion bond swap could be delayed.

JAMAICA

Radical cleric returns home

KINGSTON | A radical Muslim cleric who served time in a British jail for inciting killing and stirring racial hatred has returned by private jet to his native Jamaica after several unsuccessful attempts to deport him from Kenya.

Abdullah el-Faisal arrived in Kingston on Friday night on a jet paid for by the Kenyan government, traveling from Burkina Faso to Antigua via Cape Verde, authorities said.

Ken Baugh, Jamaica’s foreign affairs minister, said Saturday he had no information about the cost of the flight or other details.

Mr. el-Faisal spoke briefly to reporters before he left in a minivan with two members of the local Muslim community. It is not clear where he will live in Jamaica. He previously lived in Spanish Town, just outside Kingston.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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