- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 14, 2003

BRAZIL
New civil code ends most sexist laws
RIO DE JANEIRO Brazilian women, living in a macho Latin culture, look forward to a fairer deal in a new civil code that came into force over the weekend, replacing one in force since 1916.
The code formally ends many of the most sexist laws that allowed men to rule the roost, though women won the right to vote in 1934. Among other things, it states that a man can no longer throw out his bride if he discovers she is not a virgin. It also gives women equal rights to men in marriage.
Reflecting changes in society, the family is defined as being made of any stable union, which does not have to be sealed by marriage. But despite some protests, the new code doesn't recognize homosexual unions, and adultery is still considered a reason for ending a marriage, which some lawyers consider unfair because Brazilian society is more tolerant of male promiscuity.

BOLIVIA
Coca farmers threaten roadblocks
LA PAZ Thousands of soldiers and police were sent Sunday to the Chapare region in central Bolivia to face protesters planning to block the country's main highway this week seeking to legalize raising coca crops, outlawed in 1988.
Coca, the source plant for cocaine, has been raised for centuries in the Andes for medicinal uses and to combat altitude sickness. The farmers also want to end U.S.-funded coca-erradication programs, which have destroyed more than 155,000 acres of coca crops, according to the government figures.
The protesters are led by Evo Morales, a leftist opposition leader and the candidate who lost the presidential election to President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada.

MEXICO
Anti-narcotics troops arrest own colleagues
MEXICO CITY Anti-narcotics authorities announced during the weekend that they had seized more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana in a raid on their own offices.
Nine persons, seven of them anti-narcotics workers, were arrested after a surprise inspection of federal anti-drug offices in Tijuana by the Mexican army that turned up 897 packages of marijuana that had not been registered with federal authorities.

Weekly notes
Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega accused the Communist government during the weekend of ignoring the Roman Catholic Church and said that always tense relations had not changed since Pope John Paul II's January 1998 visit to the island. The visit raised expectations that Havana would adopt a more liberal policy toward the church, perhaps even allowing it to broadcast television programs and operate schools. Ecuadorean President-elect Lucio Gutierrez announced he will meet in Washington with President Bush on Feb. 11 during his first visit abroad after his inauguration tomorrow in La Paz. Mr. Gutierrez told reporters he would seek Mr. Bush's support for negotiations with the International Monetary Fund on a standby credit of $240 million that Ecuador's outgoing government has not been able to negotiate.


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