- - Monday, August 1, 2011

CUBA

Lawmakers meet on economic changes

HAVANA — Cuba’s parliament began one of its biannual business-packed sessions Monday, a gathering that might enact some of the reforms the government has promised in efforts to revive the stalled economy with a dose of private enterprise.

General guidelines for the reforms were approved by the Communist Party at a summit in April, but there has been relatively little action since. The party is not a lawmaking body, so it is up to parliament to turn the recommendations into reality.

President Raul Castro, who took over definitively from his older brother in 2008, has said officials are going at their own pace on the reforms and will be neither hurried nor delayed.

Foreign journalists were not invited to attend the session of the National Assembly, which party newspaper Granma said would “analyze the progress of the economy in the first semester of 2011 and the development of the plan to update the country’s economic model.”

Already the government has licensed nearly 200 types of private-sector activity in which Cubans can go into business for themselves and hire employees, though Mr. Castro emphasizes the country is not abandoning socialism and there is no sign any large industry will be privatized anytime soon.

ARGENTINA

Buenos Aires mayor wins re-election bid

BUENOS AIRES — Mayor Mauricio Macri, a conservative, won re-election Sunday by a wide margin over the candidate backed by Argentina’s left-of-center president.

With 99.8 percent of the ballots counted, Mr. Macri had 64 percent of the votes in the runoff election to 36 percent for Sen. Daniel Filmus, who was hand-picked by President Cristina Fernandez to run against one of her strongest opponents.

In his victory speech, Mr. Macri called for institution-building and teamwork so Argentina can accomplish goals that reach beyond any one political term.

Without criticizing Mrs. Fernandez by name, he was describing a way of governing that his supporters consider to be radically different from the rule-by-decree populism that Ms. Fernandez calls her “model.”

CANADA

Canada deports Peruvian suspected of war crimes

MONTREAL — Canada’s Border Services Agency on Sunday announced it has deported a Peruvian suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity after he was taken into custody this past week.

Manuel de la Torre Herrera, 57, was questioned in Toronto on July 25, four days after the government published a list of 30 wanted war criminals in Canada and encouraged citizens to help identify the suspects.

Government authorities said Mr. de la Torre would be sent back to Peru.

The government did not explain the crimes allegedly committed by the Peruvian national, but the National Post reported he was a 14-year veteran of Peru’s security forces who has been hiding in Canada after his asylum request was denied in 2004.

GUATEMALA

Presidential front-runner slips in poll

GUATEMALA CITY — Support for Guatemalan presidential front-runner Otto Perez Molina fell by 7 percentage points over rival Sandra Torres, the former first lady, ahead of September’s election, a poll released Monday showed.

Support for Mr. Perez Molina, a former army general running as the candidate for the right-wing Patriot Party, slipped to 37.6 percent from a previous 42.5 percent, the poll in the daily Prensa Libre newspaper showed.

Support for Miss Torres rose to 17.2 percent from 15.1 percent in a previous poll in late June.

Some 6 million Guatemalans are eligible to vote Sept. 11 in the first round of the elections, which also will choose a vice president, mayors and congressmen. A presidential candidate must win more than 50 percent of votes cast to avoid a second-round run-off.

EL SALVADOR

Farmer and son hold 30 hostage at church

GUAZAPA — Police in El Salvador said a farmer and his son held 30 people hostage for several hours at an evangelical church north of the Central American country’s capital.

National Civil Police Director Carlos Ascencio says 50-year-old Jose Miranda and his 17-year-old son stormed into the Temple of God church early Sunday with M16 rifles.

The parishioners in Guazapa were holding a traditional vigil at the church.

Agents persuaded Mr. Miranda to free the last hostages around dawn. His motives remain unclear.

But as he was being led away from the church to police vehicles, Mr. Miranda told reporters he had been motivated by injustices and said one of his daughters had recently been jailed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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