- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

ARGENTINA
Duhalde to visit Brazil for joint economic bid
BUENOS AIRES Argentine President Eduardo Duhalde plans to visit Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva next week to join his fight against hunger.
"Lula was categorical in affirming that he wants zero hunger in Brazil, and we share the same goals," Mr. Duhalde said on his regular Saturday broadcast. "Argentina and Brazil together produce 40 percent of the soy in the world," he said on Radio Nacional, adding: "The potential that we have is enormous."
Brazil and Argentina are the largest members of the Mercosur trade bloc, which also includes Uruguay and Paraguay.

JAMAICA
Murder count dips in initial 2002 tally
KINGSTON The Caribbean island nation of Jamaica saw its murder count drop to 1,045 in 2002 from 1,139 the year before, but the figure is still high enough that it remains one of the world's most violent countries.
The murder victims in this country of 2.7 million people included 16 police officers. The figure for 2002 could rise, as some of 135 killings by police in what were described as shootouts are under investigation by Jamaica's director of public prosecutions, who may decide to file charges against the officers involved.

MEXICO
Priest admits to sexual liaison
MEXICO CITY A parish priest in Cuautemoc, Chihuahua state, admitted having sexual relations with his 28-year-old secretary, a local newspaper reported during the weekend after a video tape of the liaison surfaced.
The Rev. Salomon Palma told a local radio station that someone tried to blackmail him with the tape that the priest was believed to have made himself three years ago. "I believe in God's mercy, and that he will pardon me," Father Palma said, according to El Diario de Chihuahua newspaper.
He said that he continued as parish priest because his bishop had not asked him to leave the post. Father Palma said the Roman Catholic Church should review its policy on priestly celibacy.

Weekly notes
Panama President Mireya Moscoso has announced the replacement of five of 12 Cabinet members, including two who will run for president in May 2004. Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Aleman and Public Works Minister Victor Juliao are seeking their party's nomination. The others departing this week are Labor Minister Joaquin Vallarino, Agriculture Minister Pedro Gordon and Minister of Youth Alba Tejada de Rolla. Cuban dissidents intend to monitor parliamentary elections on Jan. 19 to try to prevent Fidel Castro's government from inflating the vote. The recently formed Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society told reporters that it would try to ensure that election workers don't inflate the turnout or count ballots voided in protest. "This does not mean we want to legitimize the elections," said dissident Marta Beatriz Roque, adding: "It is important that the dissident is there whether the government wants him there or not."

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