- The Washington Times - Monday, December 22, 2003


Castro drops in to talk with Chavez

CARACAS — Cuban President Fidel Castro, 77, flew to Venezuela yesterday to talk with his biggest regional ally, Hugo Chavez, at a time when the Venezuelan president is facing a campaign by foes to vote him out of office.

Mr. Chavez, who is resisting opposition efforts to trigger a referendum on his rule next year, announced on Sunday the surprise visit by his close friend and political ally during his weekly “Hello President” television and radio broadcast.

“We’ll have lunch and talk for a few hours,” Mr. Chavez said, adding that the Cuban leader would return to Havana the same day. If Mr. Chavez, 49, were voted out in a referendum, Cuba would be deprived of a major source of political and material support.


Blast injures 23 at march by jobless

BUENOS AIRES — At least 23 Argentines were injured when a small blast marred a largely peaceful mass march by tens of thousands of jobless people to mark the second anniversary of riots that led to the ouster of an elected government.

The cause of the explosion, which occurred in the middle of a rally near the presidential palace, was not clear. Municipal-health spokeswoman Adriana Ghitia said most of the 23 persons were lightly injured. A health worker at the scene told local TV that three persons were gravely burned when the device exploded, apparently in a garbage bin near the palace.

Some protesters said it was a homemade bomb. Others said a small gas canister exploded accidentally.

The blast occurred as demonstrators wound up the biggest protest since President Nestor Kirchner came to power in May. He is hugely popular in polls, but protests by the unemployed are a near-daily event.


Pregnant woman jailed for drugs

MONTEGO BAY — A pregnant 22-year-old Canadian woman is facing at least a year in a Jamaican jail after pleading guilty yesterday to trying to smuggle 2.2 pounds of cocaine out of the country.

Sarah-Lynn Duval, who is seven months pregnant and the mother of a 17-month-old, was arrested on Sunday after the drugs were found in her suitcase as she boarded a flight at the end of a one-week vacation in Jamaica.

Police found a false compartment in the bag, which contained seven packages of cocaine.

Duval, of Toronto, was fined $7,800 and sentenced to a mandatory 12 months in prison after pleading guilty in Montego Bay Resident Magistrates court to possession of cocaine and attempting to export the drugs.

Weekly notes …

A vice president of the council organizing Haiti’s new legislative elections said Saturday that he would resign his post to protest the crackdown on opponents of the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Volvick Remy Joseph’s resignation is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from government posts amid growing disenchantment with the government’s violent response to opposition protests. In his announcement, Mr. Joseph did not call for Mr. Aristide’s resignation, but said, “It’s the duty of the president to ensure stability. If he can’t, he should step down.” … A man and woman whose helicopter crashed in Antarctica as they attempted a record-setting flight from the North Pole to the South Pole were treated at a clinic in southern Chile on Sunday. A British rescue team from the Falkland Islands flew Jennifer Murray, 63, and Colin Bodill, 53, to Punta Arenas on Saturday, a day after their Bell 407 helicopter crashed. “They are recovering,” a nurse at the Clinica Magallanes said .

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