- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 6, 2002

Congressman to run for Ecuador president

QUITO, Ecuador Ecuador's biggest political party this week tapped outspoken lawmaker Xavier Neira to run for president in October to replace the party's leader who had been leading the polls.

The Social Christian Party backed the 55-year-old congressman after its leader, former President Leon Febres Cordero, opted out of the race last month.

Mr. Neira was trade minister in the 1980s during Mr. Febres Cordero's administration, the last time the center-right party held the presidency.

Rebels strike on eve of Colombian handover

BOGOTA, Colombia Marxist rebels mortar-bombed a small airport in a war-torn province of eastern Colombia yesterday, wrecking the terminal building and injuring 14 persons as the nation braced for more violence ahead of tomorrow's presidential inauguration.

Just two days before President-elect Alvaro Uribe is due to begin a government he promises will crack down on leftist guerrillas, men suspected of belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, launched homemade mortar bombs at the town airport in Saravena, the army said.

The bombs smashed into the terminal about 8 a.m., wounding eight civilians and six soldiers.

Uruguayan banks end unwanted 'holiday'

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay Most of Uruguay's commercial banks reopened their doors yesterday, ending an emergency six-day "bank holiday," according to a banking sector labor union, after news of a $1.5 billion U.S. bridge loan and expressions of support from international lenders.

Banking union official Alberto Garcia said "a majority" of the banks were open for business yesterday morning, while more were set to reopen throughout the day.

The U.S. loan and the passage on a new banking act designed to prevent international debt defaults were credited with clearing the way for the central bank's decision to reopen commercial banks.

Death toll rises for illegal Mexicans

MEXICO CITY A total of 52 Mexicans died trying to enter the United States illegally in July, Mexico's foreign affairs office reported yesterday.

So far this year, 231 persons have died along the U.S.-Mexican border 169 of them Mexicans and another 800 nearly died, the foreign affairs office said in a statement.

The Mexican government said the higher death toll resulted from tougher border security, which forced illegal immigrants to seek more remote and difficult terrain along the 2,000-mile border.

Venezuelan group targets foes of Chavez

CARACAS, Venezuela A band of armed supporters of President Hugo Chavez's self-styled "revolution" has threatened opposition leaders and metropolitan police, and taken responsibility for a sniper attack last week that wounded five persons in a poor Caracas neighborhood.

Wearing camouflage fatigues and hoods and brandishing automatic rifles, four members of the "Carapaica Revolutionary Group" told local newspapers they did not support the Chavez government, but rather followed the revolutionary "process" of the outspoken, left-wing leader.

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