- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2003

PERU

Key Maoist rebel captured by police

LIMA — Police have captured a key Maoist Shining Path rebel in central Peru, leaving just one of jailed leader Abimael Guzman’s inner circle at large, the chief of Peru’s antiterrorism police announced.

Gen. Marco Miyashiro said Florentino Cerron Cardoso — known as “Marcelo” — was arrested during the weekend in the city of Huancayo and was interrogated by antiterrorism police in Lima. He was in charge of the Shining Path’s committee for central Peru.



Cerron, whom police have linked to 122 murders, 92 rebel attacks and 91 other incidents of violence, appeared in a now-famous video in which Guzman was seen at a 1980s party dancing with members of the Shining Path’s Central Committee to the music of “Zorba the Greek.”

CUBA

Democracy activist says movement is alive

HAVANA — Democracy activist Oswaldo Paya said he had traveled the length of Cuba twice this spring and found the dissident movement bruised but alive, despite a government crackdown that put 75 vocal critics behind bars.

Mr. Paya — organizer of the Varela Project, a signature-gathering drive seeking guarantees for freedom of speech, assembly and business ownership — was spared in the crackdown, which was the harshest in decades. At one-day trials in April, 75 dissidents were given prison sentences of up to 28 years.

“The campaign, our committees, could not be destroyed by this blow,” said Mr. Paya at his home last month. But he conceded that many who had helped him collect signatures probably will remain locked up for the lifetime of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, now 76.

COLOMBIA

Jumpy guards spook vice president

BOGOTA — Vice President Francisco Santos received a fright Saturday when a stun grenade accidentally went off nearby, minutes before a policeman helping to guard the leader shot himself in the foot.

Mr. Santos was answering questions from reporters in Barranquilla when he started at the sound of a muffled explosion. He continued speaking into the massed microphones for a few seconds, before turning to ask his aides, “What happened?”

Told that a policeman had let off a stun grenade accidentally, a relieved Mr. Santos jokingly scolded the journalists pressing him for details.

Weekly notes …

Venezuela’s Roman Catholic Cardinal Ignacio Velasco, who criticized President Hugo Chavez but prayed with him when he was deposed in a brief coup last year, has died after a long illness, a Catholic Church spokesman said yesterday. The cardinal and archbishop of Caracas, who was 74, died late Sunday. A critic of Mr. Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution,” Cardinal Velasco accompanied the president when rebel officers seized and sent him to the island of Orchila. Mr. Chavez, who was restored to power by loyal troops after 48 hours, said he had asked the prelate to pray with him on the island. … A Chilean ship purportedly used for torturing opponents when Augusto Pinochet was in power has canceled a contentious visit to Britain. Protesters planning demonstrations at its scheduled docking this week at Dartmouth port, followed by London, yesterday hailed the Esmeralda’s change of plan as a victory.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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