- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Venezuelan insurers reject looting claims

CARACAS, Venezuela Insurance companies have refused to cover damage from looting during a short-lived April coup because of a Supreme Court decision that no military rebellion took place, a lawyer for the insurers said.

"Every policy has clauses covering certain events, including military rebellion," Julio Sanchez told El Nacional newspaper. "However, the Supreme Court said such a thing did not occur rather, it was a case of the military disobeying an order."

During the coup, President Hugo Chavez was removed from power and kept incommunicado for almost two days by senior officers and supporters of the government that the populist had displaced in December 1998. The Supreme Court ruled recently that there was insufficient evidence to try four high-ranking officers for rebellion since the legal definition of that offense includes the use of weapons.

Mexican Indians schedule protests

MEXICO CITY Indigenous Mexicans from several states threatened yesterday to hold marches and occupy public buildings to protest a law granting them limited autonomy, which they consider unsatisfactory.

The law was proposed by President Vicente Fox, who has embraced the demand for indigenous rights, the day after he took office. It was adopted by Congress in April and took effect on Aug. 15. Indigenous Mexicans say it does not go far enough and have filed about 330 pleas that it be declared unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court ruled Friday that all the pleas were "without basis."

Chileans march for Pinochet's victims

SANTIAGO, Chile Police said they arrested at least 23 protesters on Sunday during a march in memory of the thousands who died or went missing during the 1973-89 military regime of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Chile's Assembly of Human Rights called the march, attended by about 3,000 people, in advance of the 29th anniversary tomorrow of the coup that brought him to power.

Clashes broke out close to the General Cemetery in Santiago, police said, as protesters marched to a memorial erected for Pinochet opponents who were arrested and who later "disappeared."

Weekly notes

Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot, 63, was recovering in the intensive care unit at McMaster University Medical Center in Hamilton, Ontario, yesterday after surgery for an undisclosed illness. "He's in serious condition," said friend and manager Barry Harvey. Mr. Harvey said he's optimistic that the singer will recover quickly. "He's a strong individual. He's got a strong mind and a strong will," he said. Front-running Brazilian presidential candidate, leftist Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, added to his lead in an opinion poll issued yesterday, maintaining a comfortable edge over his main rivals as his popularity jumped to 37.7 percent from 34.0 percent. Second-place candidate Ciro Gomes continued his recent decline, falling to 18.3 percent from 25.5 percent, according to a survey by Sensus, while Jose Serra, supported by President Fernando Henrique Cardoso's ruling coalition, rose to 17.1 percent from 14.7 percent. The death Sunday of Brazilian Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, 76, once considered a possible successor to Pope John Paul II, is a "great loss," said the country's president.

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