- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Chavez to use troops in case of oil strike

CARACAS, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said Sunday he will declare a state of emergency if workers at the state-owned oil monopoly try to paralyze production of Venezuela's top export.

Mr. Chavez accused opposition labor and political leaders of sowing discontent at Petroleos de Venezuela SA and said he had a contingency plan ready should workers and management at the company go on strike.

He didn't elaborate on the plan, but the government has said it could send troops in to operate the company. "If they shut down the company, we'll militarize it. I am not going to allow Petroleos de Venezuela to be shut down," Mr. Chavez said.

Cuba offers help in U.S. war on drugs

HAVANA Seeking to show Washington its willingness to act against drug trafficking and terrorism, Cuba said yesterday it had offered proposals for cooperation and had detained a Colombian drug trafficker and handed over a fugitive U.S. narcotics dealer.

A Foreign Ministry statement said Cuba delivered proposals last week to the United States for agreements to fight drug trafficking, terrorism and human smuggling, and challenged the Bush administration to negotiate and sign them.

Havana and Washington have no diplomatic relations, and their bilateral cooperation is limited to a few areas.

Complaints dog vote by Mexico's PRD

MEXICO CITY Mexico's third-largest party held internal elections to choose its president Sunday, but voting was plagued by widespread complaints of fraud, missing ballots and polling stations that never opened.

Vying to head the leftist Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), are one of Mexico's highest ranking women, former Mexico City Mayor Rosario Robles, and Jesus Ortega, an outspoken senator whose star is rising within the party. Looking to play a spoiler's role is Raymundo Cardenas Hernandez, who is considered a long shot to win the party's top post.

Election officials said Sunday the PRD had set up 12,000 polling stations throughout Mexico to allow its 4.3 million registered supporters to vote.

Extensive Inca ruins discovered in Peru

LIMA, Peru Explorers have found the extensive ruins of an Inca village, complete with human remains, sprawled spectacularly across a mountain in southern Peru, the expedition leaders said yesterday.

The ancient settlement clings to the slopes of a rugged peak in a region of the Andes Mountains where the Incas hid after the Spanish conquest. It consists of more than 100 structures.

British author Peter Frost, who led an eight-member expedition to the area last year, said: "This site may ultimately yield a record of Inca civilization from the very beginning to the very end, undisturbed by European contact an unparalleled opportunity."

Weekly notes

Cuban President Fidel Castro said Sunday his friend and ally, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, could speak for him and his revolutionary ideas at a world development conference in Mexico this week. … Brazil's opposition Workers Party (PT) held nationwide voting Sunday to choose between the popular Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva and Eduardo Suplicy as its candidate in the October presidential election. If he gets the party nomination, as expected, it would be his fourth presidential bid; the outcome of the PT internal vote will be known tomorrow.

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