- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 14, 2001

Zapatistas told Mexico has changed

MEXICO CITY President Vicente Fox yesterday targeted the skepticism of Zapatista leader "Subcomandante Marcos," urging the rebel leader to recognize the democratic changes that have swept Mexico, and repeated his support for indigenous rights.

"Marcos has not seen that in Mexico the Berlin Wall fell on July 2," the conservative president said in reference to the presidential election that put an end to 71 years of often-authoritarian government by the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

"Today, there is another government, a democratic government with a different vision," he said in an interview with El Universal, one of several printed Tuesday in Mexican dailies.

Taleban punishment asked for vandalism

PARIS Stunned by the destruction of age-old Buddhist statues in Afghanistan, the head of the U.N. cultural agency yesterday demanded international laws to punish cultural vandalism.

Director-General Koichiro Matsuura said that UNESCO had been powerless to stop Afghanistan's Taleban rulers from obliterating two giant statues of Buddha.

"We did everything possible to prevent this happening, but we have failed miserably," he said after meeting representatives of Islamic nations to discuss the destruction.

French conservatives close ranks on vote

PARIS Feuding French conservatives closed ranks yesterday in a last-minute bid to defend Paris City Hall against a left-wing victory after President Jacques Chirac's political party, the Rally for the Republic (RPR), urged them to unite before Sunday's election.

Losing Paris would be a personal defeat for Mr. Chirac, who was mayor there from 1977 to 1995, and a setback to his plans to run for re-election next year against his presumed Socialist challenger, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

RPR candidate Philippe Seguin and outgoing Mayor Jean Tiberi, running as an independent after the party deserted him, responded to an urgent appeal from party leader Michele Alliot-Marie, issued after a strategy meeting with the president.

Fujimori investigated in slaying of rebels

LIMA, Peru Peruvian police yesterday exhumed the body of a Marxist guerrilla leader as investigators probed accusations that then-President Alberto Fujimori ordered the executions of 14 rebels after a 1997 raid that ended a hostage siege at the home of the Japanese ambassador.

At a cemetery in a Lima slum, masked forensic scientists examined the remains of Nestor Cerpa, the mastermind of the raid by Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement guerrillas on the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima.

Since Monday, investigators have exhumed seven other bodies of rebels killed in a military assault ordered by Mr. Fujimori that resulted in the rescue of all but one of the 72 hostages held in the residence for 126 days.

Tunisia blocks trip by rights leader

TUNIS, Tunisia The former head of a Tunisian human rights organization has been prevented from leaving the country, the National Council for Freedoms in Tunisia said yesterday.

The council said in a statement that border police over the weekend stopped Moncef Marzouki at the port of Monastir, from where he had hoped to sail to France. He wanted to rejoin his family and teach at a French university.

The 55-year-old doctor was sentenced in December to a year in prison for "opinion misdemeanor."

Fiji chiefs push for new elections

SUVA, Fiji After several days of debate, Fiji's chiefs have decided to go with an Appeals Court ruling declaring the current government illegal. But they want fresh elections, media reports said.

In proposals to the president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, the Great Council of Chiefs called for continuation, in a caretaker role, of the interim administration.

The administration was installed by Fiji's armed forces in the weeks that followed a coup attempt on May 19, 2000, by failed businessman George Speight and special forces men against the government of Mahendra Chaudhry.

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