- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Ecuadorean volcano stirs from long sleep

QUITO, Ecuador A volcano that erupted Sunday after 26 years of dormancy belched twice more late Sunday and early yesterday, adding to the volcanic ash carpeting northern Ecuador, the Geophysical Institute said.

The eruptions kept Quito's Mariscal Sucre International Airport, 100 miles south of the 11,700-foot-high volcano, shut as wind-borne volcanic ash coated the runway, as well as buildings, roads and parks in the capital.

El Reventador, or the Destroyer, located between the Amazon jungle in Sucumbios province and the Andean region of Napo province, rumbled to life early Sunday. About 1,500 people were immediately evacuated from nearby villages Baeza, Pifo and Papallacta, police said.

Smoke and ash nine miles high was visible above the volcano, and the cloud of dust from the initial eruption covered 12,500 square miles. Farmers predicted a shortfall in dairy products, fruit, vegetables, potatoes and corn to Quito and surrounding markets within a week.


Lula gains investor confidence

SAO PAULO, Brazil President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is considering naming the head of his transition team, Antonio Palocci, as finance minister, the daily Folha de Sao Paulo reports.

Citing sources close to the future president, the newspaper said Mr. Lula da Silva also was considering Workers Party President Jose Dirceu and Senator-elect Aloizio Mercadante for the job, but Dr. Palocci's newly acquired market credentials make him the most likely candidate.

Dr. Palocci, 42, a soft-spoken physician who coordinated the Workers Party campaign platform, has become a favorite among investors. Brazil's stocks, bonds and currency have rallied since the election.


Canadian 'frost' melts in Havana

HAVANA A senior Canadian official met here yesterday with Cuba's deputy foreign minister in a continuing bilateral diplomatic thaw. "I'm very pleased with the way I've been so well-received," said Denis Paradis, secretary of state for Latin America, Africa and Francophone nations, on leaving the Foreign Ministry.

He was the first senior Canadian official to visit Cuba since early 1999, when four prominent Cuban dissidents were jailed over Canada's objections. The last of the four was freed last week.

The four dissidents were sentenced months after a visit to the island by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who appealed to President Fidel Castro on their behalf.


Weekly notes

Leonardo Bertulazzi, 51, a suspected former leader of Italy's Red Brigades, was questioned yesterday by Argentine authorities considering an extradition request from Italy, a court spokesman said. Mr. Bertulazzi, who has been on international most wanted lists for years, was arrested Sunday in the Monserrat district of Buenos Aires. French officials declined to comment yesterday about reports that Paris was in talks with Colombia to help Bogota negotiate a swap of more than 800 hostages held by leftist guerrillas for 300 captured rebels. On Sunday, an official told Agence France-Presse that Colombian President Alvaro Uribe had been in negotiations for nearly a month "with foreign countries, most notably France" to win the release of the hostages.

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