- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Argentine jobless rate at record 25 percent

BUENOS AIRES At least 10,000 poor and unemployed Argentines blocked streets yesterday to demand food and work as the country's 4-year-old economic crisis drove the jobless rate up to a record 25 percent.

Led by local political leaders Juan Carlos Alderete and Luis D'Elia, demonstrators demanded "food, soup kitchens, immediate unemployment payments, free medicine and the saving of social security."

About 200 more unemployed protesters cut transportation to the north of the capital and planned to march on the presidential residence, Olivos, while 500 more blocked access by road into Buenos Aires.

In downtown La Plata, the provincial capital of Buenos Aires state, and in Mar de Plata, 240 miles to the south, a thousand more marched, making similar demands on the government to alleviate the crisis.

Canada seeks to alter sea route to aid whales

MONTREAL Canada wants to alter an Atlantic maritime seaway to help protect the rare North Atlantic right whale, one of the most endangered in the world.

Ottawa recently asked the London-based International Maritime Organization to modify its sea route situated in the Bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to reduce the risk of collision between boats and whales.

The maritime route traverses one of the main sanctuaries of Eubalaena glacialis, a black cylindrical baleen whale, whose large head is scattered with blowholes.

Protected internationally since 1935, the right whale has not increased its population from about 350 after once roaming North Atlantic waters in the thousands. Ship collisions are the main cause of death for these whales.

Mexican lawmakers want immigration pact

GUANAJUATO, Mexico Mexican lawmakers said they want the United States to restart stalled talks on an immigration agreement, but U.S. legislators warned that's not likely to happen any time soon.

Twenty Mexican lawmakers met with their U.S. counterparts over the weekend at a two-day meeting here to talk about bilateral issues, many of which were shelved after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Mexican Rep. Felipe Calderon, a member of President Vicente Fox's National Action Party, said the Mexican delegates succeeded in conveying the urgency of a migration agreement, but Rep. Jim Kolbe, Arizona Republican, said the chances of any major initiatives passing before the U.S. congressional elections in November "are very slim."

"Given the events of 9/11, the American public just isn't ready yet," Mr. Kolbe said. Mexican legislators were adamant that the issue be revived soon.

Weekly notes

A week before presidential elections, Colombia's largest guerrilla group proposed new peace talks Sunday, an idea that leading candidates rejected out of hand. The candidate leading the polls is Alvaro Uribe, an independent of the right who has promised to do battle with the guerrillas. Amnesty International welcomed yesterday the decline in the number of political prisoners in Cuba during the last year, but pointed to other reputed human rights violations. In a report reviewing human rights in the Caribbean island state, Amnesty said it had identified six Cubans detained as "prisoners of conscience," although it also listed 11 who had been freed in 2001 and early 2002.

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