- The Washington Times - Monday, August 23, 2004

CANADA

Officials fear threat from crime syndicates

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — International crime groups have set up drug and prostitution networks that threaten many areas of Canada, according to a report released late last week by the country’s top police agencies.

Asian-based gangs are increasingly active in areas around Vancouver; Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta; and Toronto, according to the group.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Appointees slammed over ethics

SANTO DOMINGO — Opposition parties are attacking new President Leonel Fernandez for giving four top jobs in his new administration to officials under investigation for fraud. The four appointees all are under scrutiny in connection with the disappearance of public funds under the first Fernandez administration between 1996 and 2000.

Mr. Fernandez won a landslide election victory in May on promises to fight corruption and restore the economy.

PANAMA

Ambassador to Cuba recalled over exiles

PANAMA CITY — Panama recalled its ambassador from Cuba yesterday after the Cuban government threatened to break off relations in a dispute over four anti-Fidel Castro exiles imprisoned in Panama.

Panama “cannot be subjected to interference or threats by any foreign government,” President Mireya Moscoso said, referring to Cuba’s warning to her not to pardon the four men.

The Cuban government said Sunday it will cut diplomatic ties if Mrs. Moscoso pardons the four exiles, who were accused by Cuba of plotting to kill Mr. Castro during a summit in Panama four years ago.

COLOMBIA

Rebels reject prisoner-swap deal

BOGOTA — Colombia’s largest rebel group has rejected a government prisoner-exchange proposal that would have freed former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three Americans and 55 others.

In a statement released late Sunday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by it Spanish acronym FARC, scorned the offer as “unrealistic” because it did not allow the guerrillas to negotiate terms for the exchange.

President Alvaro Uribe announced last week he had offered to swap 50 imprisoned rebels for 22 politicians, 34 soldiers and police officers, and three U.S. nationals.

BRAZIL

Violence targets city’s homeless

SAO PAULO — Another homeless person was found bludgeoned to death in South America’s biggest city Sunday, the sixth such killing in Sao Paulo within the past several days, police said.

Four other homeless persons — three men and a woman — were seriously injured in similar attacks shortly before dawn Sunday.

Weekly notes

Archaeologists will begin an expedition this month in hopes of finding a Spanish ship that wrecked along the reefs off the Turks and Caicos Islands in 1841 carrying a cargo of African slaves. The shipwreck holds particular significance for the British territory of 25,000 people because researchers believe virtually all native islanders have ties by blood or marriage to the survivors. … A Chilean judge has questioned former leader Augusto Pinochet about secret bank accounts that came to light this summer in a U.S. probe. Gen. Pinochet, 88, was questioned at his home last week after agreeing to testify.

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