- - Monday, September 20, 2010

CUBA

Government fires basic-industry minister

HAVANA | Cuba’s Cabinet minister in charge of oil and nickel production has been removed for incompetence, the government announced Monday.

The government discharged Yadira Garcia Vera as minister of basic industry because of “her deficiencies in heading the institution, particularly reflected in the weak manner in which she controlled resources destined for investment and the production process,” said a small but sternly worded item in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Ms. Garcia Vera, 54, will be replaced by her vice minister, Tomas Benitez Hernandez, until a permanent new minister is named by the Council of State, Cuba’s supreme governing body.

Ms. Garcia Vera is also a member of the island’s Politburo and apparently remains in that post because the announcement made no mention of it.

It was unclear if the move was related to last week’s announcement that the government will lay off half a million state workers, remake its official salary and tax structures and encourage pockets of private enterprise in what could prove to be a major overhaul of its communist system.

MEXICO

Paper cuts drug-war news after journalists’ slayings

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico | The biggest newspaper in Mexico’s most violent city will restrict drug-war coverage after the killing of its second journalist in less than two years, just as international press representatives will urge the government to make security for journalists a national priority.

In a front-page editorial Sunday, El Diario de Juarez asked drug cartels warring in this city across from El Paso, Texas, to say what they want from the newspaper so it can continue its work without further death, injury or intimidation of its staff.

It was the newspaper’s second front-page editorial since gunmen attacked two El Diario photographers on Thursday — one a new employee and the other an intern. The new employee, Luis Carlos Santiago, 21, died, and the intern was seriously wounded as they left their office to have lunch.

At least 22 Mexican journalists have been killed over the past four years, at least eight of them targeted because of their reports on crime and corruption, says the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a U.S.-based media watchdog group that plans to present its report to Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Wednesday.

VENEZUELA

Drug-trafficking suspects deported to U.S.

CARACAS | Venezuela deported two drug-trafficking suspects to the United States on Monday, including a purported boss of the powerful Norte del Valle cartel in neighboring Colombia.

The action came just days after the U.S. criticized Venezuela’s cooperation in fighting illegal narcotics.

Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said U.S. authorities had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Jaime Alberto Marin, a leader of the Norte del Valle cartel also know as “Beto Marin.”

Another suspected trafficker, Omar Guzman Martinez, also was deported, Mr. El Aissami said.

BRAZIL

Lula not attending U.N. summit

BRASILIA | Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will not be attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week because he will be campaigning for his chosen successor at home, his office told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

The U.N. meeting of world leaders was to have been Mr. Lula’s last before he steps down at the end of this year after serving his maximum allowed two consecutive mandates.

Instead, Mr. Lula is throwing his full weight behind the campaign of Dilma Rousseff, his former Cabinet chief, whom he has selected to succeed him in the Oct. 3 elections.

Ms. Rousseff, 62, is seen as the favorite going into the polls.

CANADA

Opposition plays down early election talk

OTTAWA | Canada’s main opposition Liberal Party said Monday it wanted to make Parliament work so legislators could focus on the economy, apparently killing any remaining chance of an election this fall.

Polls show the Liberals virtually tied with the ruling Conservatives, who have a minority of seats in the House of Commons and rely on the backing of opposition legislators to survive confidence votes.

“We’ll have to work through this one day at a time through the fall. We’re obviously going to try to make this session work,” deputy Liberal leader Ralph Goodale said of the chances that his party might try to trigger an election.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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