- The Washington Times - Friday, October 27, 2000

Castro welcomed by Venezuelans

CARACAS, Venezuela Cuban President Fidel Castro, starting a rare state visit to Venezuela yesterday, compared President Hugo Chavez's left-leaning "social revolution" to the early days of his own rule four decades ago.

The five-day trip is Mr. Castro's first state visit to the South American nation since the days following his 1959 revolution. Relations between Cuba and Venezuela, the world's No. 3 oil exporter, have blossomed since Mr. Chavez, a former coup leader, took office in Caracas last year via an election.

Mr. Castro arrived at the seaside Simon Bolivar International Airport to a hero's welcome from Mr. Chavez, who has snubbed a 38-year U.S. embargo of Cuba by offering to sign an oil-supply deal with the energy-starved Caribbean island next week.

100 sect members detained by Beijing

BEIJING At least 100 Falun Gong members have been detained after one of the sect's largest demonstrations earlier this week.

The group was banned 15 months ago.

The events at Tiananmen Square were brief but violent, like most of the sect's previous demonstrations. No sooner had small bands of Falun Gong members begun to unfurl banners or throw leaflets than dozens of police rushed to pummel them and drag them to waiting vans.

Internal dangers plague Pacific isles

AUCKLAND, New Zealand A secret report written for Pacific leaders, who begin meeting in Kiribati today, warned that internal ethnic tensions across the region were the biggest internal security threat.

Fourteen Pacific leaders, plus Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers John Howard and Helen Clark, have received the secret report from the Pacific Islands Forum secretariat, which commissioned retired Pacific academic Ron Crocombe to write it.

The secretariat declined to release the report but Agence France-Presse managed to obtain a copy.

"Internal threats are generally considered to be the most serious."

OAS urged to mediate Haiti political crisis

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic The United States has asked the Organization of American States and the Caribbean group Caricom to help mediate a political crisis in Haiti ahead of a presidential election there next month, a U.S. official said yesterday.

Peter Romero, assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs at the State Department, said Washington was watching the situation in Haiti with concern and had voiced its worries to the OAS, Caricom and the Canadian government.

Mr. Romero was speaking at a news conference during a trip to the Dominican Republic for talks with authorities there. The country shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

Ecuador asks help to guard border

QUITO, Ecuador Ecuador will ask the United States for logistical support to bolster army patrols on the nation's northern border with Colombia, Foreign Affairs Minister Heinz Moeller said yesterday.

Defense Minister Hugo Unda will travel to Washington next week to discuss ways to increase border security amid fears that a $7.5 billion U.S.-backed anti-narcotics effort known as "Plan Colombia" could spread violence across the border.

"I think the [United States] could offer logistical support … to help the Ecuadorean armed forces control the border area, which is now a necessity," he told journalists.

Halloween denounced by French Christians

PARIS French Protestants joined Roman Catholics yesterday to denounce Halloween, the holiday imported from the United States, as a satanic festival that could traumatize children and endanger old people.

The Protestant Evangelical Committee for Human Dignity (CPDH) said Halloween, which businesses introduced with fanfare several years ago to boost autumn sales, represented "a veritable resurgence of druid beliefs."

Roman Catholic priests organized a protest against Halloween Wednesday in the resort town of St. Raphael.

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