- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2003


French islands nix charter changes

BASSE-TERRE — Voters on the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique have rejected a government-backed reform plan that would have altered their constitutional relations with Paris, according to a referendum outcome announced yesterday.

Sunday’s defeat of the proposed change was seen as a rebuff of the islands’ political elite — most of which had backed the referendum, whose aim was to streamline local government.


‘Dirty war’ witness now latest victim

MEXICO CITY — A month after the Supreme Court opened the way for trials of hundreds of crimes in this country’s 1960s-1980s “dirty war,” the yield is one arrest warrant, one fugitive former police commander and one dead witness.

Recent events are testing President Vicente Fox’s commitment and capacity to unearth and punish atrocities committed during the rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and the tale has turned increasingly sinister.

Two years ago, Mr. Fox named a prosecutor, Ignacio Carrillo, to investigate the years of repression by PRI security forces. The Supreme Court clarified the statute of limitations Nov. 5, clearing the way for trials.Three weeks later the tortured and bullet-ridden body of Zacarias Barrientos turned up in the Pacific state of Guerrero. He was a key witness and may have been killed over his testimony.


Ultimatum given to Chavez by council

CARACAS — A key Venezuelan electoral official told President Hugo Chavez yesterday he must obey any decision by the National Electoral Council on whether a referendum will be held on his rule.

Council Vice President Ezequiel Zamora was responding to a threat by the president Sunday that he would not submit to a vote if the electoral body approves pro-referendum signatures he has denounced as fraudulent.

Weekly notes

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva continues to enjoy high popularity, but a poll issued yesterday showed many Brazilians are beginning to doubt he can reduce corruption and unemployment. Brazil’s first working-class president was elected last year in the hope that he would create millions of jobs, but has been slow to tackle the issue since taking power in January. … Cuba’s Tourism Ministry said yesterday it had removed the president and three executives of its largest state-run tourism corporation last month for slack management, not corruption. The president of Cubanacan, Juan Jose Vega, was fired late last month, prompting speculation that millions of dollars were missing from the company that handles 40 percent of visitors to the communist country. Tourism is Cuba’s top source of foreign revenue.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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