- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Cubans get 2 days off to view charter debate

HAVANA Millions of workers across this communist island were given yesterday and today off to watch a televised parliamentary session on amending the Cuban Constitution to make the socialist system "untouchable."

The communist leadership's decision to close all offices, factories and stores for two full days during its cash crunch underscored the importance it was placing on the proposed amendment that would make Cuba's economic, political and social systems unchangeable.

President Fidel Castro called the special parliamentary session over the weekend.

Chavez won't resign, taunts: 'Impeach me'

CARACAS, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez on Sunday refused to resign, challenging opponents to impeach him and warning it would not be easy.

"Impeach me then," he said in his weekly "Hello, President" broadcast, after rejecting one by one the reasons foes offered for demanding his resignation.

Opponents said the popular populist who survived a brief coup in April caused Venezuela injury by selling cheap oil to Cuba, misappropriating $2.3 billion from the state treasury and failing to report a $1.5 million donation from a Spanish bank to his 1998 campaign.

Colombian official vows to protect mayors

BOGOTA, Colombia Defense Minister and Vice President Gustavo Bell has pledged to protect elected officials as more of them resigned under death threats from Marxist guerrillas.

Resignations came from 23 mayors in northern Antioquia province on Sunday and from 97 officials in Arauca, on the border with Venezuela, a day earlier.

2 new simian species discovered in Amazon

RIO DE JANEIRO Scientists working in the central Amazon have discovered two new monkey species that are about the size of kittens, according to a conservation group.

"This once again demonstrates how little we know about biodiversity. These are the 37th and 38th new primate species described since 1990," said Russell Mittermeier, co-author of the scientific descriptions of the monkeys published by Neotropical Primates.

Weekly notes

U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson said yesterday she was deeply concerned about growing harassment and violence in Colombia against human rights defenders and called for government action. She cited repeated death threats against members of the nationally active Jose Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Group, based in Bogota. Carlos Magarinos of Argentina, head of the U.N. Industrial Development Organization, has rejected as "groundless" accusations of misuse of public funds, purported to have been spent to help secure his re-election to his Vienna, Austria-based job, a spokeswoman said yesterday. Mr. Magarinos suggested that the charge in Argentina, involving $1.1 million, was politically motivated, and the spokeswoman said he "has a lawyer who is looking into things there."

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