- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

Congressmen meet Castro and dissidents

HAVANA President Fidel Castro held lengthy talks until the early hours yesterday with six U.S. congressmen, discussions one U.S. lawmaker said "reflected a new attitude" between the Cold War enemies, seeking to find ways to collaborate and reduce the hostile rhetoric.

Most of the congressmen, the latest in a flood of visiting American politicians to Cuba, later met with about a dozen of the island's leading dissidents, who say they are seeking peaceful changes to Mr. Castro's one-party system.

Rep. Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts Democrat, said that during their six-hour meeting in Havana's Revolution Palace, the Cuban leader, who also entertained two senators last week, was conciliatory.

Chavez's control over Congress slips

CARACAS, Venezuela Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Sunday urged legislators from his Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) not to bow to opposition pressure after his government barely retained its control of the leadership of Congress.

In a bitterly contested vote late Saturday, National Assembly President William Lara was returned to office by a much-reduced majority of 85 votes to 73, with two abstentions.

A year earlier, the MVR had swept elections for the presidency with 126 votes in the 165-member National Assembly. The government's majority was weakened last year after a partner in its Patriotic Pole coalition withdrew.

Argentine men lose sex drive

BUENOS AIRES As if a political, economic and social crisis is not enough, Argentines learned Sunday that they have one more malady a flagging sex drive among men.

Nearly 50 percent of men older than 50 complain of an alteration in their libido or an insufficient sex drive, partly as a result of the crisis, according to a study of 2,500 men by the Clinicas Hospital in Buenos Aires, the results of which were published in the newspaper La Nacion.

Argentina is in the midst of a four-year economic recession that has left nearly 20 percent unemployed. The crisis worsened in the past month with emergency restrictions on cash withdrawals, and bloody rioting and looting. New President Eduardo Duhalde is the country's fifth leader in two weeks.

Brazil opposition leads in poll

BRASILIA, Brazil Brazil's opposition left-wing Workers Party candidate remained the top candidate for October's presidential vote in a first round of voting, if not the second, a poll showed Sunday.

The poll, published in the daily Folha de Sao Paulo, showed Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was supported by 30 percent, while Maranhao state Gov. Roseana Sarney, who has gained support in recent months, was backed by 21 percent.

The survey of 2,198 voters across Brazil also delivered more good news for the center-right Mrs. Sarney by showing that if the election went to a second round vote, as is widely expected, she would win with 46 percent support against Mr. Lula da Silva's 40 percent.

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