- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 23, 2010

HAITI

Bank forgives $479 million debt

CANCUN, Mexico | The Inter-American Development Bank said Monday it has agreed to forgive $479 million in debts owed by quake-ravaged Haiti.

Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno said the bank’s board of governors voted to forgive the debt and will offer $2 billion in financing to the Caribbean nation over the next 10 years.

The IADB debt was the biggest single chunk of the $1.2 billion Haiti owed as of late January, according to figures of the International Monetary Fund.

The measures are meant to help Haiti recover from the magnitude 7 Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed an estimated 230,000 people.

The administration of President Obama is pushing for the cancellation of other multilateral debt, as well as the $400 million Haiti owes individual countries.

Also Monday, European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said in Brussels that the EU foreign ministers agreed to donate $1.36 billion in development aid to Haiti in the years ahead. She said she will pledge that amount on the EU’s behalf at a Haiti donors conference in New York next week.

Meanwhile, former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton toured Haiti’s rubble-filled capital, Port-au-Prince, Monday to raise aid and investment.

MEXICO

Dismembered bodies of police found

MEXICO CITY | The pre-dawn discovery of two bodies cut into pieces and shoved into two black bags brought a tragic end Monday to a search for two missing police officers in the southern state of Guerrero.

Law-enforcement officials say the bagged body parts were found outside police headquarters in Guerrero’s capital city, Chilpancingo.

One of the victims was a regional commander, the other a state police officer. Notes written on yellow cards were attached to the bags, but police refused to disclose what they said. Drug cartel killers frequently attach messages to bodies.

Police officers have been targets, and are sometimes complicit, in drug-related killings, which have claimed 17,900 lives since President Felipe Calderon stepped up the drug war in December 2006.

VENEZUELA

Chavez rules out Internet controls

CARACAS | Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied that the government plans to impose controls on the Internet, saying his administration aims to increase Web access rather than limit it.

Earlier this month, Mr. Chavez sparked concerns of a possible crackdown on Web sites critical of his government when he called for regulation of the Internet and urged prosecutors to act against Noticiero Digital, a site popular among his opponents.

Mr. Chavez has become increasingly critical of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and says adversaries use them to deceive the public.

On Sunday, speaking during his weekly television and radio show, the socialist leader said government critics often use the Web “to generate panic,” and said such actions “cannot be permitted.” He announced plans to counter such online criticism by launching his own Web page and becoming a cyber-activist himself: “I’m going to have my Internet trench, my trench for the battle.”

BOLIVIA

General who caught Che wanted in plot

LA PAZ | The retired general who captured legendary revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara was summoned Friday by Bolivian authorities investigating a purported plot against President Evo Morales.

Former Gen. Gary Prado purportedly exchanged “ultrasecret” encrypted e-mail with Eduardo Rozsa, a Bolivian-born Hungarian who was slain in an April 2009 raid by an elite police unit.

Authorities claim Rozsa and two other men killed — an Irishman and an ethnic Hungarian from Romania — were involved in a conspiracy to create a separatist right-wing militia in the eastern, opposition-dominated state of Santa Cruz.

Mr. Morales said when they were killed that a plot to assassinate him had been foiled.

Mr. Prado denied having any connection with an anti-government conspiracy and said he would refuse to travel from his home in Santa Cruz, the state capital, to La Paz for questioning.

COLOMBIA

Journalist slain in militia stronghold

BOGOTA | The killing of a veteran radio reporter by a motorcycle gunman in a northwestern state capital reignited concerns Saturday about the safety of journalists in Colombia.

Clodomiro Castilla, a reporter and announcer at La Voz de Monteria radio, was gunned down on his front porch Friday night, said Jaime Cuervo, a judicial investigator in Cordoba state.

Mr. Castilla, a 50-year-old father of four, had reported on far-right drug-funded militias known as paramilitaries and their friendly ties to the area’s business elite. Cordoba has long been a paramilitary stronghold.

Police had no immediate suspects in the killing and offered a $26,000 reward for leads. Mr. Castilla’s employer said he had received threats and was assigned bodyguards for two years until last year.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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