- - Monday, June 28, 2010

PERU

Finance chief mulls presidential bid

LIMA | Peruvian Finance Minister Mercedes Araoz told local media Monday that she is considering running for president next year, in a candidacy that likely would benefit from the country’s booming economic growth.

Ms. Araoz confirmed that she is in talks with ruling-party leaders about being their candidate ahead of the April vote. The 48-year-old economist had been mentioned as a potential candidate.

Ms. Araoz, who became finance minister in December, is not a member of the ruling APRA party, but she is close to President Alan Garcia, the party’s top official.

CANADA

Queen Elizabeth starts 9-day visit

MONTREAL | Queen Elizabeth II arrived Monday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to begin a nine-day visit to Canada, although Quebec, where anti-British sentiment has lingered, was not on the itinerary.

The queen, Canada’s titular head of state, touched down aboard a military plane and walked down the steps in a blustery rain shower onto the tarmac, where she and husband Prince Philip stepped into a waiting limousine, Canadian television showed.

In Nova Scotia, she will preside over a parade of naval warships, which in Canada still bear the initials HMCS — Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship.

The monarch then visits the government and Parliament in Ottawa and drops in on the newly refurbished Canadian Museum of Nature.

Her visit to the capital coincides with the national holiday Canada Day, on July 1, when she is scheduled to deliver a speech.

GUYANA

Drug sniffer dogs blamed for lapses

GEORGETOWN | Sniffer dogs are being blamed for airport security lapses in Guyana, where police said Monday that their canines are too old or not skilled enough to detect drugs stuffed inside suitcases.

Police in the South American country are preparing to buy and train new animals to replace the force’s three sniffer dogs — two at the main international airport and one at police headquarters, Police Chief Henry Greene said.

The government began a security review last week after U.S. officials complained about a large number of cocaine-filled suitcases from Guyana intercepted in American cities. One suitcase seized last month at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport contained 50 pounds of cocaine.

U.S. authorities say the former British colony bordering Venezuela is a transit point for cocaine bound for Europe, West Africa and North America.

MEXICO

Drug ballad singer gunned down

CULIACAN | A Mexican singer famous for ballads lauding drug traffickers was fatally shot on the way to a concert in northwestern Mexico, officials said Monday.

Unidentified attackers fired several times on Sergio Vega, or “El Shaka,” in his car late Saturday as he was traveling to a concert in Sinaloa state, deputy local prosecutor Ramon Ignacio Rodrigo told journalists.

Moments earlier, the 40-year-old singer had asked a friend to call police because his car was being followed, according to the national Reforma daily.

Although the motive for the attack was unclear, El Shaka was famous for singing “narcocorridos” — ballads lauding the exploits of drug traffickers — in Sinaloa, the state at the heart of Mexico’s illegal drug industry.

From wire dispatches and staff reports