- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Sharp rise seen in dengue fever

GENEVA Dengue fever is reaching epidemic proportions this year, mainly in Asia and Latin America, the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.

The WHO said there had been 550,000 cases of dengue reported in Brazil this year, about half of them during an outbreak in Rio de Janeiro during the first three to four months, compared with 390,000 cases nationwide in 2001.

Characterized by painful joints, fever and a rash, the symptoms of dengue, a virus, usually begin within a week of a mosquito's bite.

Happy birthday from Fidel

CARACAS, Venezuela Cuban President Fidel Castro sent a birthday present to his Venezuelan counterpart and fellow revolutionary Hugo Chavez on Sunday, and the gift was delivered with the effusive message: "Thank you for having been born."

Mr. Chavez, a left-wing former paratrooper who turned 48 on Sunday, received the gift a landscape painting of palm trees by Cuban artist Raul Fernandez from Armando Hart, a high-level envoy from communist-ruled Cuba.

"We should be congratulating ourselves that Chavez was born," Mr. Hart said in an exuberant public address as he handed over the present in a program broadcast live on Venezuela's state television.

Accepting the gift, praised Mr. Castro as "my friend, my brother."

Toledo apologizes for his mistakes

LIMA, Peru Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo apologized Sunday for blunders in his first year in office and told his disillusioned compatriots to be patient, despite more fiscal-austerity measures on the way.

In a two-hour state of the nation speech in office, the unpopular president vowed not to fall into the trap of populist promises, though he did announce cheap housing for some of Peru's poorest, and an "all-out war" on contraband.

Rights ombudsman slams Fox's record

MEXICO CITY Mexico's human rights ombudsman slammed the rights record of President Vicente Fox, charging that his government was going through the motions while police "continue to kill people."

Jose Luis Soberanes, president of the National Human Rights Committee of Mexico, said in an interview with the La Jornada daily that federal and state governments continued to accept lawlessness in many cases.

National security agent slain on border

TIJUANA, Mexico A regional director of Mexico's main intelligence agency was slain in the border city of Tijuana. He was the 11th person killed this week.

Jose Juan Palafox, Tijuana chief for the Center for Investigation and National Security, was gunned down on Friday, said Jorge Campos, the federal deputy attorney general in charge of the case.

Mr. Campos has announced that Tijuana, and Mexicali had turned into battlegrounds of a turf war between surviving members of the Arellano Felix drug organization and drug trafficker, Ismael Zambada.

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