- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Chretien ousts 2 ministers abruptly

OTTAWA Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, whose government is mired in increasingly serious allegations of sleaze and corruption, abruptly removed two ministers Sunday who caused him embarrassment.

Mr. Chretien, saying the government had let down its guard, sacked long-term ally Defense Minister Art Eggleton and moved scandal-hit Public Works Minister Don Boudria to a less sensitive Cabinet post.

The prime minister said the government ethics counselor found Mr. Eggleton violated guidelines by giving a $24,000 contract to a woman he once dated to compile a report on post-traumatic stress disorder in the military.

Mexican police nab major cocaine figure

MEXICO CITY Police and army officers captured a cocaine trafficker responsible for major drug shipments from Guatemala to the United States, authorities said yesterday.

Jesus Albino Quintero Meraz, nicknamed "Big Ears," was captured Sunday in the port city of Veracruz, Defense Secretary Gerardo Vega and Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha told reporters.

"He was and is a major figure in the world of cocaine trafficking," Mr. Vega said, adding that Quintero is a drug leader "on the level of El Chapo Guzman," suspected leader of the powerful Sinaloa drug organization.

Guzman, 43, escaped from a maximum-security prison 16 months ago and is still at large.

Floods, landslides kill 26 in Caribbean

KINGSTON, Jamaica At least 26 persons died in Jamaica and Haiti in flooding and landslides caused by a powerful storm system that swept across the northern Caribbean, police and media reports said yesterday.

Jamaican police said six persons drowned in floodwaters or were buried in landslides between Friday and Sunday as the storm sent torrential rains across the island.

Argentine salaries fall to 50-year low

BUENOS AIRES Argentine salaries have effectively fallen to a 50-year low after four years of recession, 21 percent inflation and a 35 percent rise in the cost of basic foods, experts said yesterday.

"The rise in prices has driven salaries down by 30 percent," said Ernesto Kirtz of the Labor Studies Society. "The intensity of the wage deterioration is higher than during the hyperinflation of 1989 because high unemployment has eliminated workers' negotiating capacity," he said. Unemployment has reached 25 percent.

Weekly notes

Venezuelan officials reacted warily to Colombia's decision to grant asylum to Pedro Carmona, "president" during a two-day coup last month against President Hugo Chavez. Colombia gave him "diplomatic asylum" Sunday after he escaped house arrest and fled to the Colombian ambassador's residence. Peruvian police said at least 30 persons were killed and 20 injured when a truck with more than 50 aboard lost its brakes on a hill and struck a house at Tacna, 800 miles south of Lima. The truck had left Picacoma, on the Bolivian border.

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