- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

MEXICO

Foreign minister says police ready for Haiti

MEXICO CITY - Mexico is ready to send police to Haiti when the initial process of re-establishing peace is complete, Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez said yesterday.

Mexican police could help in keeping order and training Haitian police if sought by the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Derbez said.

Mexican police would not arrive until after the multinational force in Haiti - which includes U.S., French, Chilean and Canadian troops - has left, he said.

Mr. Derbez said Mexico was satisfied that the intervention in Haiti had been a joint international event.

BRAZIL

Millions said to livein slavelike conditions

GENEVA - Brazilian Ambassador Tadeu Valadares acknowledged yesterday that 25 million people in his country live in conditions analogous to slavery.

He told the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that although Brazil abolished slavery in 1888, millions remained entrapped “and we are going to free them.”

Brazil’s frank assessment of its problems came as a surprise to the 18-member committee, which is led by an Egyptian, Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr.

The chief form of servitude is illiteracy, affecting about 20 million mostly black, said a member of the Brazilian delegation here, Douglas Martins Souza.

MEXICO

Fox promises to solve killings

MEXICO CITY - Mexican President Vicente Fox said yesterday that his government was determined to hunt down the killers of hundreds of women in a city on the U.S. border, and appealed to locals to help with the investigations.

His remarks follow international criticism of Mexico’s failure to solve more than 300 slayings during the past decade, a third of them involving sexual assault, in the scruffy border city of Ciudad Juarez.

BRAZIL

Rio police crack downon drug gangs

RIO DE JANEIRO - Heavily armed police occupied crime-ridden slums yesterday in a renewed crackdown on drug gangs after 16 persons, including three police officers, were killed in a weekend of violence.

The relaunching of Operation Maximum Pressure, which had been suspended last month, followed a wave of attacks by drug gangs in Brazil’s second-biggest city in the past two weeks and tough police responses that have been criticized by human rights activists.

An 850-strong police force will make daily incursions in more than 60 problem spots, mainly “favela” shantytowns controlled by drug gangs.

COLOMBIA

Militia leaves port stronghold

BOGOTA - In a bid to save government peace talks, far-right paramilitaries said yesterday that they will pull out of the port of Barrancabermeja.

The Central Bolivar Block said it would order 172 gunmen to leave Barrancabermeja, and 1,300 other fighters to withdraw from small towns along the Magdalena River, in a first step to meeting government demands that gunmen congregate in specially defined “concentration zones” under official supervision.

But the largest paramilitary army, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, has defied the call for its 13,000 men to concentrate.

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