- The Washington Times - Monday, May 19, 2003

CANADA

$2.5 million in food aid offered for North Korea

SEOUL — Canada has offered to donate $2.5 million worth of food aid to North Korea through the United Nations World Food Program, Pyongyang’s official media said yesterday.

The state-run Korean Central News Agency said the Canadian decision was made “recently” but did not elaborate. The WFP has appealed since December 2001 for help to feed about 6.4 million people in the famine-hit communist state.

The agency’s campaign for North Korea has experienced setbacks amid a standoff over its nuclear weapons ambitions. The country has suffered from chronic food shortages after years of natural disasters and its failed centralized economic policy.

MEXICO

5 Cubans on a raft land on Caribbean isle

MEXICO CITY — Five Cubans trying to reach Florida in a makeshift raft were swept hundreds of miles off course and landed in Mexico on Sunday after a three-day ordeal at sea, police said.

The Cubans had drinking water but no food and reached Isla Mujeres, a Caribbean island near the tourist resort of Cancun. Local Police Chief Jose Manuel Medina said the five men at first did not know which country they were in.

Mexico’s Caribbean coast lies about 250 miles away from the nearest point in Cuba. Chief Medina said the Cubans, including a lawyer, were arrested after arousing suspicions when they asked at a shop in Isla Mujeres how to catch a boat to the mainland.

ARGENTINA

Workers save livelihood by reopening factories

BUENOS AIRES — President-elect Nestor Kirchner has pledged to revitalize Argentina’s ailing economy, but some workers have taken matters into their own hands by reviving bankrupt factories and creating their own jobs.

Unemployment and misery drove employees to take over the managements of as many as 200 companies in or threatened with bankruptcy; in a few instances, some earn more than those working under managements.

Two years ago, workers at Fuerza y Union — “Strength and Union,” a metalworks factory in the capital, Buenos Aires — could barely make ends meet. “Now we earn about three times more than our colleagues in traditional factories,” said co-op President Roberto Salcedo. The 53 workers at the factory call themselves partners.

“We are just saving our jobs so we can feed our families,” said Mr. Salcedo, an electrician without any managerial training who is learning on the job. “This is nothing political,” he added.

Weekly notes …

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori could be tried by the International Criminal Court at The Hague if Japan refuses to extradite him to Peru, a lawyer and human rights activist said at a press conference in Tokyo yesterday. Jose Ugaz, chairman of Proetica, the Peruvian branch of human rights group Transparency International, named that as an option when asked what he would do if Japan rejects a formal request to hand over Mr. Fujimori, who has dual citizenship. A formal extradition request in Japanese is expected to reach Tokyo in July. … Colombia on Saturday extradited to the United States a member of defunct Maoist guerrilla Populist Liberation Army (EPL) on charges of kidnapping and homicide. Gerardo Herrera was handed over to U.S. officials, who escorted him on a flight to New York to face charges of participating in an October 2000 kidnapping of 10 foreign oil workers in neighboring Ecuador. Two Americans were among those abducted; one was found dead and the other was among those ransomed.

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