- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 4, 2001

Incarcerated Menem calls charge political

BUENOS AIRES — Former Argentine President Carlos Menem is defending himself against charges he led an arms-smuggling ring, and he said months of house arrest have left him yearning for freedom and a return to politics.

A federal judge put Mr. Menem under house arrest June 7 after accusing him of heading a small group of former government officials who reputedly diverted weapons to Croatia and Ecuador. The more than 6,500 tons of weapons had been officially destined for Panama and Venezuela.

"A president can't be controlling every port and airport where the arms could have gone," Mr. Menem said in a weekend telephone interview with the Associated Press. He called the charges a politically motivated "invention."

Colombian report flays aerial crop poisoning

BOGOTA, Colombia — A government report has raised fresh doubts about Washington's drug-fighting strategy in Colombia, saying aerial fumigation of crops may be damaging the environment and is failing to curb drug production.

The report from Colombia's comptroller general's office urged President Andres Pastrana to suspend the spraying until scientists can study the environmental effects of the herbicide.

Gerry Adams plans to visit Cuba

BELFAST — Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams still plans to visit Cuba this month and meet President Fidel Castro, despite the arrest in Colombia of three Irishmen accused of being members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

"Discussions were continuing last week involving our international department about arrangements for the trip," a spokesman for Sinn Fein, the Belfast-based political wing of the IRA, said Sunday.

U.S. Rep. Peter T. King, a New York Republican and vocal supporter of Irish republicanism, has asked that Mr. Adams call off his Cuba trip following the Aug. 11 arrests of Irishmen Martin McCauley, James Monaghan and Niall Connolly at Bogota's El Dorado airport as they returned from a Marxist rebel enclave.

Weekly notes …

The Peruvian Congress on Sunday released two videos that link a former head of the Chilean navy, retired Adm. Jorge Arancibia, with Peru's former secret service chief Vladimiro Montesinos. The videos, taken in May 1998 when Adm. Arancibia visited Lima, show him in animated conversation with Mr. Montesinos at National Intelligence Service (SIN) headquarters, and also at a luncheon at which the two exchanged gifts. … Reinstatement of an Argentine military-era decree allowing authorities to arrest children begging on the streets of Buenos Aires province has sparked wide criticism, but provincial security chief Ramon Veron argues it "is a way of containing" crime.

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