- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2010

CUBA

Spain protests bar on official

MADRID | Spain said it summoned the Cuban ambassador Monday to protest Havana’s “unjustified” refusal to allow a Spanish member of the European Parliament to enter the communist island.

Socialist Luis Yanez was denied entry to Cuba late Sunday when he arrived in Havana from Spain, the foreign ministry said.

Spain’s secretary of state for Latin America, Juan Pablo de la Iglesia, called the Cuban ambassador in Spain in order to seek the appropriate explanation, the ministry said.

Mr. Yanez, 66, is head of the European Parliament’s committee on relations with the South American trade bloc Mercosur.

A source at Spain’s ruling Socialist Party said he had traveled to Cuba in a small plane accompanied by his wife, Spanish legislator Carmen Hermosin, who was given permission to enter the country. Both returned to Spain on Monday.

SURINAME

Ferrier, first president, dies at 99

PARAMARIBO | Johan Ferrier, the first post-independence president of Suriname, died in the Netherlands on Monday at the age of 99, officials said.

A career teacher-turned-politician, he served as lawmaker, prime minister and governor over the years before becoming president of the small South American country on Nov. 25, 1975.

Mr. Ferrier resigned after a 1980 coup by ex-dictator Desi Bouterse, and took his family to the Netherlands.

BRAZIL

Mudslide threatens nuclear plant

SAO PAULO | The mayor of a mudslide-devastated city this week urged a precautionary shutdown of Brazil’s only nuclear power plants due to blocked highways while the death toll from flooding and slides rose to 75.

Angra dos Reis Mayor Tuca Jordao said that while the nuclear power plants are not damaged or threatened, mudslides that have killed at least 44 people in his city alone have disrupted escape routes needed to cope with any emergency.

There was no immediate response from higher authorities, but officials of Brazil’s state-run nuclear energy company Electronuclear said a temporary closure of the plants would not seriously hurt the country’s power supply, according to Globo TV.

CUBA

Santeria priests see unrest in 2010

HAVANA | A panel of Afro-Cuban priests known as Santeria are predicting a year of social and political unrest, struggles for power, treachery and coups d’etat, and they say the world will see the death of an inordinate number of political leaders in 2010.

In the forecast announced Saturday, they recommended older leaders move aside and make room for the young, a politically delicate statement in a country that has been led by brothers Fidel and Raul Castro for more than half a century.

“The older generations should pass their experience on to young people because times change, and the younger generation is better prepared,” said Victor Bentancourt, one of the island’s leading Santeria priests, or babalawos. “Time is growing short” for such a change.

The priests announced their forecast after a secretive New Year’s Eve ritual in which they performed religious chants and sacrificed chickens, goats and other animals.

A rival Santeria group, which enjoys official sanction from the government, came out with its own predictions later Saturday, saying 2010 would be a year of improving health.

Santeria, which mixes Catholicism with the traditional African Yoruba faith, is followed by many people in Cuba, where about a third of the 11.2 million population is of African descent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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