- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Haiti premier quits amid rising criticism
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Embattled Prime Minister Jean-Marie Cherestal, who faced a rising tide of criticism within the ruling party over his failure to deal with the country’s political and economic woes, resigned yesterday.
It was not yet known when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who remains the most powerful political figure in the impoverished Caribbean nation, would pick a successor.
Mr. Cherestal, who was in charge of the day-to-day running of government, tendered his resignation at a meeting with his Cabinet and Mr. Aristide after a weekend of speculation following reports he was quitting.
Government sources said Mr. Aristide had asked Cabinet ministers to stay in their jobs until he chose a new prime minister, who could pick new ministers or leave the Cabinet as it is.

Chavez urges backers to march against foes
CARACAS, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has called for his supporters to flock to a march in Caracas tomorrow against the opposition, which he said was being financed by exiled ex-President Carlos Andres Perez.
With both the populist president and his opponents planning demonstrations in Caracas to commemorate the birth of modern Venezuelan democracy on Jan. 23, 1958, Mr. Chavez said Sunday during his weekly TV and radio show, “Hello President,” that Mr. Perez’s link to the opposition was a sign of its desperation.
Last week, government lawmakers presented to Congress a secretly-taped conversation between powerful opposition unionist Carlos Ortega and Mr. Perez, his former political patron, who was jailed in 1994 for corruption. The tape had Mr. Ortega appealing to the ex-president for help in breaking Mr. Chavez’s control over the National Assembly “by whatever means possible.”

Power loss affects much of Brazil
SAO PAULO, Brazil Southeast Brazil, home to most of the country’s 170 million people, experienced a major power blackout yesterday after problems at the Itaipu generating plant shut down its 18 turbines, Globo television said.
According to media and witnesses, Sao Paulo state; part of the state of Parana; the city of Porto Alegre; parts of Rio de Janeiro; the south of Minas Gerais state; and the cities of Belo Horizonte, Cuiaba and Campo Grande were left without electricity.
The areas affected are in Brazil’s industrial heart and include its two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio, where heavy road traffic was worsened by the lack of stoplights. In Sao Paulo, the subway ground to a halt.

Weekly notes
Argentine Foreign Minister Carlos Ruckauf said Sunday the government is considering the possibility that the four South American countries grouped in the Mercosur trade bloc eventually could adopt a common currency. The issue could figure on the agenda of next month’s summit in Uruguay of Mercosur, which groups Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile and Bolivia as associate members. All 26 persons aboard an Ecuadorian oil company plane that crashed some two miles into Colombia perished in the incident, authorities said Sunday. The 32-seat Fairchild aircraft belonging to state-owned Petroecuador was reported missing in dense fog Thursday after it left Quito en route to Lago Agrio, near the Colombian border.

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