- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2002

Women hold key to Brazil's elections

BRASILIA, Brazil The all-male field of presidential candidates is using all types of tactics to woo undecided women voters two weeks before the election, including ads peppered with female faces, a soap-opera-star girlfriend and even the promise of pain-free childbirth.

For the first time in Brazil's history, more women than men will vote Oct. 6 in what is shaping up to be the closest presidential race since Brazil's return to democracy after the 1964-85 military rule.

With a poll Sunday showing 40 percent of female voters undecided, compared with 21 percent of men, candidates are giving a woman's touch to everything from their garb to their diatribes. But candidates are learning, some the hard way, that the 58.6 million female voters 2 million more than men are not easy to impress.

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has 44 percent voter support against 19 percent for No. 2 Jose Serra, could snatch a first-round victory if the former union boss can endear himself to women put off by memories of the past three presidential bids.


Jamaicans' loyalty no longer to the queen

KINGSTON, Jamaica Public officials will no longer swear allegiance to Britain's queen when they take oaths of office but will pledge loyalty instead to Jamaica and its people.

The Caribbean island of 2.7 million people gained independence from Great Britain on Aug. 6, 1962 but retained Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. Increasingly in recent years, Jamaicans have debated whether the British monarchy is still relevant and sought to end vestiges of their colonial past.


Haitians protest activist's disappearance

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Riot police fired tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators Saturday as they protested the disappearance of a popular community leader here in the capital, witnesses said.

The disturbance, which centered in the southern Port-au-Prince slum of Martissant, followed the disappearance of Felix Bien-Aime, former director of the Port-au-Prince cemetery and a political activist with the Lavalas Family party of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Residents said National Police officers arrested Mr. Bien-Aime after he had a traffic dispute with government officials, but denied that he was still in police custody. Mr. Bien-Aime's car was found abandoned in an area that once served as a dumping ground for the bodies of the victims of Haiti's dictators.


Weekly notes

Peruvian first lady Eliane Karp de Toledo received formal confirmation Sunday of her naturalization as a Peruvian. The first lady, who turns 49 today, is an anthropologist who was born in Paris to a Belgian mother and Israeli father, and speaks Quechua, the language of Peru's main indigenous group. She did not renounce her Belgian citizenship. Her husband, Alejandro Toledo, is Peru's first democratically elected president of American Indian descent. Canada is "disappointed" by the new Greenland halibut fishery quota adopted by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) on Friday at the annual NAFO meeting in Spain. Fisheries Minister Robert Thibault said Saturday that the quota for the Greenland halibut fishery was fixed at 42,000 tons for 2003, down from 44,000 tons last year but above the 36,000 tons urged by scientists. Canada closed its ports this year to fishing boats from Estonia and the Faroe Islands for violating NAFO quotas.


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