- The Washington Times - Monday, October 20, 2003

CANADA

Chretien faulted for jet purchases

OTTAWA — Canadian opposition parties yesterday accused the Liberal Party government of corruption over its contentious decision to spend $100 million (or about U.S. $76 million) on two luxury executive jets for Cabinet ministers.

The auditor general is to issue a report on the purchase next month that could be embarrassing for the government of Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who is to step down in February after 10 years in power.

The report is part of a larger investigation into how Ottawa distributed advertising and sponsorship contracts, particularly in the French-speaking province of Quebec.

BRAZIL

Illegals can apply to stay in Portugal

LISBON — Thousands of illegal Brazilian immigrants could begin applying for legal status in Portugal yesterday under a contentious one-time amnesty granted in the summer.

Under the terms of a deal reached in July between Lisbon and its former colony Brazil, all Brazilians who can prove they entered Portugal before July 11 can qualify for a residency permit if they have a valid work contract. In return, an estimated 2,500 illegal Portuguese immigrants in Brazil also can legalize their status under similar terms.

When the government of Portugal announced the amnesty program it estimated that there were 15,000 Brazilian illegal aliens living in the country, but since then, more than 30,000 have come forward to legalize their status. Most are between 25 and 33 years old and work in the service sector or construction.

Those getting a residency permit still have to pay fines, a decision criticized by immigrant rights groups. “There are people who will have to pay 400 euros, which is what many of them earn in one month,” said Carlos Vianna, president of Casa Brasil.

CHILE

Michelle Bachelet considers top office

SANTIAGO — In 1974, soldiers blindfolded and beat Michelle Bachelet in a prison camp. Now thousands of servicemen will salute the doctor, mother of three and Socialist Party member when she reviews troops at Chile’s annual military parade.

Dr. Bachelet, 52, a former health minister and Latin America’s first female defense minister, is the face of dramatic power shifts in Chile, where socialists held the reins in the early 1970s, were quashed in a military coup and long dictatorship, then returned to power as moderates.

She is also high on the list of likely presidential candidates ahead of 2006 elections. “The very fact that women are being mentioned as possible candidates for the first time in Chile’s history is an advance, not just for women, but for democracy,” she told Reuters news agency, adding that it was too early to say whether she will seek nomination.

Weekly notes …

Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who has lived in Japan in self-imposed exile for nearly three years, yesterday expressed eagerness again to return to Peruvian politics in the 2006 presidential election. Mr. Fujimori, 65, who was born in Peru to Japanese immigrants from the Kumamoto Prefecture, was visiting his ancestral graves in Kumamoto, the prefectural capital. “The Peruvian public’s support for me is rising,” he said, adding that polls show him with 59 percent support in Peru — higher than that for current President Alejandro Toledo. … China plans to launch today or tomorrow the second of four scientific research satellites developed with Brazil, state media said yesterday. The satellite, which will study the Earth’s surface, would be launched by a Long March IV rocket from Shanxi province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

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