- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2003

CUBA

U.S. lawmakers visit dissident leader

HAVANA — Sen. Max Baucus, Montana Democrat and the highest-ranking U.S. politician to visit Cuba since a fierce crackdown on dissent in April, met with a leading government critic Sunday.

“It was a good meeting,” Mr. Baucus told reporters as he left the Havana home of Osvaldo Paya, leader of a petition drive seeking a referendum for political and economic reforms of Cuba’s one-party government. Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana Republican, also participated in the meeting, as did the wives of some of the recently imprisoned dissidents.



Mr. Paya said the meeting covered the political and economic situation in communist-run Cuba and the fate of 75 dissidents imprisoned in April.

CANADA

Muslims interrogated, refused U.S. entry

TORONTO — A leading Canadian Muslim cleric said Saturday he and a colleague were interrogated by U.S. immigration officials for 16 hours when they tried to travel to Florida on Thursday. They were refused entry to the United States and flew back to Canada.

Ahmad Kutty, 57, an Indian-born scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, said he and fellow scholar Abdool Hamid were ordered off an Orlando-bound flight from Toronto and interrogated in an airport holding cell and a jail on the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The two had intended to attend seminars and lectures on, among other things, the dangers of Islamic fanaticism. “I have no desire to enter that country again unless … they come back to their basic founding principles,” said Mr. Kutty. “I feel sorry for America. Believe me, I used to love that country.”

PERU

Many in his homeland pine for Fujimori

LIMA — He fled the presidency for exile in Japan, presided over a complex network of corruption and bribery and faced charges including treason, but many Peruvians said they wanted Alberto Fujimori back.

“There was corruption, but show me a Latin American government that does not have corruption,” said Edgar Gutierrez, leaning on his fruit cart in Lima. “He defeated the terrorists and he was a strong leader. We need him.”

A poll on the most popular president in recent Peruvian history gave Mr. Fujimori 38 percent and Alejandro Toledo, the current president, little more than 1 percent. Mr. Fujimori, 64, fled to Japan, the birthplace of his parents, and obtained citizenship in December 2000. He has vowed to return to Peru to run in the 2006 presidential election.

Weekly notes …

The United States has taken Guatemala off a narcotics blacklist that targets drug-producing states and reinstated the country as an ally in its fight against drug trafficking, Interior Minister Rodolfo Reyes announced Sunday. Washington put Guatemala on its “majors list” of 23 drug-producing countries or transit points in late January. Mr. Reyes said a formal U.S. announcement is due this week. … Argentine President Nestor Kirchner strengthened his political base Sunday as several candidates he backed won key municipal and provincial elections, including the mayoral race of Buenos Aires and the governorship of Buenos Aires. A former governor from a remote Patagonian province, Mr. Kirchner was catapulted into office in May with 22 percent of the vote. Sunday’s elections were held days after Mr. Kirchner negotiated a $21 billion debt-refinancing plan with the International Monetary Fund.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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