Chavez vows to rule for 20 more years
CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez said he is certain he will pursue his re-election bid next year even as he struggles to overcome cancer and hopes to rule for 20 more years.
The anti-American, socialist leader said in an interview published Monday in the government newspaper Correo del Orinoco that he has not "for an instant thought about withdrawing from the presidency."
He said, if there were physical reasons to step down, he would do so but that he is pursuing his candidacy "with more strength than before."
"I'm resolved to reach 2031," said Mr. Chavez, who would be 76 years old by that time.
He has been in office since 1999 and is seeking another six-year term. He has suggested in the past that he hopes to keep winning re-election to remain president for many years to come. He has vaguely mentioned various dates, ranging from 2021 to 2031.
Poll shows Ortega increasing huge lead
MANAGUA — Leftist President Daniel Ortega has increased his massive lead ahead of presidential elections in November, according to a poll Monday by M&R Consultants.
Mr. Ortega, a foe of the United States since leading the Marxist Sandinista rebel uprising against a U.S.-backed dictator in the 1970s, would take 56.5 percent of the vote to win a second five-year term, according to the poll published in local newspaper La Prensa.
M&R Consultores' poll in April showed Mr. Ortega likely winning 48 percent of the vote.
Fabio Gadea, a businessman and conservative legislator, was in second place with 14.1 percent, about a percentage point higher than he scored in the previous poll.
State oil company counts 100 employees with criminal links
MEXICO CITY — More than 100 oil workers and contractors hired by Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex have aided criminal gangs in stealing millions of barrels of fuel over the past decade, a document obtained by Reuters news agency shows.
The corrupt workers collaborate with crime gangs, some with links to powerful drug cartels, to hijack tanker trucks or siphon gas, crude oil and jet fuel out of tens of thousands of miles of pipelines snaking across Mexico.
Since 2001, 97 workers and seven contractors, usually truck drivers, have been linked to fuel thefts, Pemex told Reuters through a freedom-of-information request.
Some of those staff members have engineering skills and inside knowledge of the company.
Fuel theft has cost Pemex some $600 million since last year alone. Mexico's government relies on oil revenue for about a third of its budget.
Opposition leader steps down to fight new cancer
TORONTO — The leader of Canada's main opposition party said Monday he will step down temporarily because of poor health, a move that could boost the governing Conservatives.
Jack Layton of the leftist New Democratic Party was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year. The 61-year-old politician, who led his party to its best ever showing in the May 2 federal election, also fractured his hip in March.
Mr. Layton, whose face was tightly drawn and who looked seriously ill, said at a hastily arranged news conference Monday that tests had uncovered a second kind of cancer in his body.
"On the advice of my doctors I'm going to focus on treatment and recovery," he said.
Four soldiers on trial for 1982 massacre
GUATEMALA CITY — Four soldiers accused of taking part in a notorious Guatemalan massacre went on trial Monday, the first time members of the armed forces have faced prosecution for the 1982 Las Dos Erres bloodbath.
More than 200 people were killed when Guatemalan soldiers attacked the northern village of Las Dos Erres at the height of Guatemala's devastating 36-year civil war.
The four former special forces officers on trial once belonged to an elite army unit dubbed the Kaibiles, which Guatemalan authorities say murdered dozens of men, women and children in the brutal December 1982 attack.
From wire dispatches and staff reports