- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003


Island marks anniversary of Moncada attack

SANTIAGO DE CUBA — Islandwide celebrations during the weekend commemorated the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s attack on army barracks in this southeastern city that led to the popular uprising against dictator Fulgencia Batista.

The highlight of the celebrations was a Saturday speech by Mr. Castro, 76, on the site of the Moncada barracks where he led an attack on July 26, 1953. Batista fled the country on Jan. 1, 1959.

Also at the celebration, Elian Gonzalez, 9, the subject of a political-judicial tug of war with the United States three years ago, placed a wreath on the tomb of national hero Jose Marti (1853-1895), who is buried in the Santa Ifigenia de Santiago de Cuba cemetery.

Though the attack on the barracks — led by Mr. Castro, then a 27-year-old lawyer, and his brother Raoul, 22 — failed, Cuban authorities commemorate the day.


Uribe puts Cabinet under call-in spotlight

BOGOTA — Hauling his entire Cabinet in front of TV cameras, President Alvaro Uribe made his year-old government answer to the nation Saturday as citizens phoned in questions on such issues as the drug war and passport prices.

It was the first time a meeting of ministers, held behind closed doors since 1923, was nationally televised and made interactive, with callers and e-mail users submitting questions.

Mr. Uribe, who took office in August promising to deliver peace and prosperity to Latin America’s most violent nation, said, “What is happening today is a guide to how the government and its members will make increasing efforts to improve citizens’ confidence in the institutions.”


Create own jobs, minister tells people

MEXICO CITY — With unemployment at a four-year high, the government urged Mexicans during the weekend to look on the bright side and create their own jobs, even if that means just making taco snacks or baking cakes at home.

Economy Minister Fernando Canales said in a national radio address that the government would use federal funds to help people who come up with good ideas for job creation. “Simple ones are no less important: Set up a taco stall, a hairdressers’ salon; bake cakes at home; put grain enriched with cream onto corn on the cob from the countryside and then sell it — products that give you added value,” Mr. Canales said.

Tens of millions of Mexicans live in poverty and the government is struggling to revive the economy.

Weekly notes

Volkswagen has asked Brazilian authorities not to evict nearly 4,000 squatters from a vacant lot in Sao Paulo owned by the company that has become the center of a protest about the lack of housing in South America’s largest city. Brazil’s populist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva hasn’t spoken out about urban property invasions, but the head of his party criticized the tactic. “The fight for a home is a noble cause that we support, but certain methods are not correct,” said party leader Jose Genoino. … El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly declared a state of emergency after 299 persons died from pneumonia this year. Most of the deaths were children. The state of emergency allows the Health Ministry to take personnel and equipment from other government entities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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