Monday, April 18, 2005


Castro hails ‘democratic’ elections

HAVANA — More than 8 million Cubans chose 169 municipal assemblies across the communist-run island in local elections Sunday that President Fidel Castro told reporters was “the most democratic in the world.”

Municipal assembly elections take place every 2 years.

Under the country’s one-party system, citizens elect city and provincial leaders, as well as representatives of the National Assembly. Anyone can be nominated to these posts, including candidates who are not members of the island’s ruling Communist Party.

The island’s top leader, however, is not elected by voters to the post of president. Representatives of the National Assembly nominate and then elect the president.


Cardinal Hummes touted for pope

SAO PAULO — From whitewashed colonial cathedrals to adobe churches in the rain forest, millions of Latin Americans are praying that the cardinals turn their gaze from Europe and choose a pope from the world’s most populous Roman Catholic continent.

A pope who was one of them would be more understanding and less doctrinaire than the much loved but theologically austere Pope John Paul II, liberals hope.

All are agreed that the time is ripe for a pope from the landmass that is home to nearly half the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.

“It is the moment for a Latin American pope,” said Paulo Evaristo Arns, former archbishop of Sao Paulo. Like many in Brazil, he is pinning his hopes on his successor, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, whose record of defying the military dictatorship in the 1970s and ‘80s runs parallel with the anti-totalitarian record of John Paul.


Man of La Mancha held up as model

President Hugo Chavez urged his countrymen Sunday to find inspiration in the heroism of “Don Quixote of La Mancha” as the government published 1 million free copies of the 1605 Spanish classic.

“Let us all read Quixote to feed ourselves once again with that spirit of a fighter who went out to undo injustices and fix the world,” Mr. Chavez said on his television show, “Hello President.”

The Venezuelan edition has a prologue by Portuguese Nobel literature prize laureate Jose Saramago and contains illustrations of Don Quixote’s adventures.

The books will be given away at public squares in Venezuela’s 23 states and one district on Saturday, Mr. Chavez said.

Weekly notes

Brazil’s federal police shot down a plane carrying suspected drug traffickers, killing one person on board and injuring another, police said yesterday. The plane was shot down Sunday as it tried to take off to avoid a police operation near Santana do Livramento, on the border with Uruguay. “The plane probably came from Paraguay,” a police spokesman said. … Mexican leftists targeted President Vicente Fox’s ranch Sunday in a political crisis over Mexico City’s mayor that cast a shadow over next year’s presidential elections and caused the stock market to drop. Supporters of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), angry at a bid to put Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on trial for contempt of court, marched toward the Fox family’s heavily protected farm, where politicians exchanged blows with presidential guards.

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