- The Washington Times - Monday, September 27, 2004


Dissident begins fast ‘to the end’

HAVANA — Jailed Cuban dissident Enrique Ferrer Garcia, 30, serving a 28-year sentence, has begun a hunger strike “to the end,” saying he has been treated sadistically in prison, an associate said yesterday.

He is the youngest of 75 Cuban dissidents imprisoned in March last year on charges of conspiring against President Fidel Castro’s communist government.

“He has declared a hunger strike until the end,” leading dissident Oswaldo Paya said.

Mr. Garcia was a coordinator for the Christian Liberation Movement run by Mr. Paya, who was awarded the Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament in 2002 for defending human rights on the communist island.

“He made the decision alone, despite our urgings and over the protests of his family, due to the sadistic treatment and beatings he has received,” Mr. Paya said.


Secret tapes show talks near collapse

BOGOTA — Secret audiotapes made public over the weekend show Colombia’s peace talks with 20,000 far-right gunmen are near collapse, with one of the most powerful outlaws boycotting the negotiations, which have been marred by shouting and table thumping.

The government’s peace negotiator said yesterday that he was angered by the appearance of tapes of the talks made secretly by the far-right paramilitaries and that they must start demobilizing their illegal militias or face the consequences.

The talks with the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia are key to President Alvaro Uribe’s aim of pacifying a country locked in a 40-year-old war, and their failure could derail any hope for his re-election in 2006.

The tapes show that military commander Salvatore Mancuso is not participating in the talks.

Late Sunday, the government also said it was kicking paramilitary Juan Carlos Sierra out of the talks because he is a drug trafficker.

Weekly notes

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, 88, will have his health checked by doctors Thursday to determine whether he is well enough to stand trial for human rights atrocities committed under his 1973-90 rule, lawyers said yesterday. The lawyers seek to try him in connection with “Operation Condor,” a top-secret program by South American dictators in the 1970s to eliminate political foes. … A top Venezuelan electoral official resigned yesterday over last month’s recall referendum, but said he had no proof of opposition claims that President Hugo Chavez won by fraud. Ezequiel Zamora, an electoral council official known as an opposition sympathizer, said he stepped down to criticize political bias, the lack of a fair audit and delays during the Aug. 15 vote on Mr. Chavez’s government.

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