- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Chavez celebrates re-election anniversary

CARACAS, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez celebrated the second anniversary of his re-election, vowing his social "revolution" will survive its latest blow: a Supreme Court ruling absolving four military officers of leading a coup in April.

"It was such an absurd decision that even Venezuelans who oppose the government don't support it," Mr. Chavez said Sunday during his weekly broadcast. "Who can support it? Whoever supports it is immoral."

Later, the former army paratroop colonel waved from an open truck as he led a caravan of more than 1,000 vehicles 30 miles to the city of Valencia. Hundreds cheered him on the streets.

"That ruling was bought," declared Jose Pina, 31, an electrician. Few Venezuelans have openly praised the court's decision to absolve two army generals, a navy rear admiral and vice admiral for what the justices said was lack of evidence.

Peru tries to seal border with Colombia

LIMA, Peru The government sent troops equipped with satellite telephones to its northern border to block Colombian rebels, possibly seeking to meet with the Shining Path, Interior Minister Gino Costa said in an interview published Sunday.

"Peru is reinforcing its military presence along the common border," Mr. Costa told El Comercio.

Colombia's four-decade civil war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, has at times spilled over into neighboring Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Brazil.

Peru's rural self-defense groups reported FARC rebels had met in March with the Peruvian rebel group, Shining Path, Mr. Costa told El Comercio, published in Lima.

Canadian farmers aid drought-stricken west

MONTREAL Farmers in eastern Canada have sent a train carrying more than 350 tons of hay to their drought-stricken compatriots in the west, RDI television reports.

In a big outpouring of support, the eastern farmers, mostly from Ontario and Quebec, spent days baling the hay, but were stumped on how to transport it. Canadian National railways provided 97 cars to help the "Hay for the West" campaign, at a cost of nearly $260,000, said railway spokesman Jim Feeny.

Thousands of western Canadian farmers are struggling under the oppressive drought that has shriveled their meager crops. Adding to their woes are swarms of grasshoppers that have invaded Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Weekly notes

Eight men and a woman were lined up against a wall and gunned down with assault rifles and pistols at a ranch in Mexico's western state of Michoacan in what weekend reports said may have been a drug-related massacre. Police found a white powder and plastic bags like those used to package cocaine for sale, state police told the newspaper La Jornada. Police have announced the arrest of a suspected rebel in connection with the April assassination attempt against Colombian President Alvaro Uribe during his election campaign. They said Osvaldo Enrique Diaz was the mastermind behind the bombing of Mr. Uribe's motorcade during a campaign stop in Barranquilla in which five persons were killed. A huge wildfire continued to burn in southern Bolivia yesterday along the border with Argentina, but authorities said the million residents of the nearby city of Tarija were not yet in the path of the flames and no injuries had been reported.

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