- The Washington Times - Monday, December 26, 2005

HAITI

Kidnappings rise as elections near

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Quesnel Durosier walked out of a bank with $3,500 tucked into his sock, buoyed by thoughts of his upcoming wedding. Seconds later, a car cut him off, gunmen sprang out and shoved him into the car along with a female passer-by.

What followed was a nightmare of torture and death threats for these recent victims of a wave of attacks that has made impoverished Haiti the kidnapping capital of the Americas. Everyone is a target — schoolchildren, foreign-aid workers and pedestrians. Tourists are not targeted, because they are virtually nonexistent.

Police and an 8,860-strong U.N. peacekeeping force have promised to restore security, which evaporated after the February 2004 rebellion that toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But kidnappings have skyrocketed, and as Jan. 8 presidential and parliamentary elections approach, ending the kidnappings is an “absolute priority,” said U.N. spokesman Damian Onses-Cardona.

BRAZIL

Boy, 9, rescued after 6 days in well

SAO PAULO — Firefighters rescued on Christmas Day a 9-year-old boy who survived for a week at the bottom of a 65-foot-deep well, according to news reports.

Tiago Felix de Souza told rescuers he survived by drinking rainwater. The boy was rushed to the intensive-care ward in a hospital in Guarulhos, in the greater Sao Paulo metropolitan area, with signs of exhaustion and malnutrition, but apparently no broken bones.

His father, Benedito Felix Aparecido de Souza, quit his farm job to spend the week looking for his son. The lad heard his father on Sunday when he walked by the well, which was largely covered by vegetation, and called for help. Tiago, the 11th of Mr. De Souza’s children, vanished after taking lunch to his father Dec. 19.

CHILE

Pinochet loses bid to avoid new trial

SANTIAGO — Ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet lost a key appeal before the Supreme Court yesterday and now faces charges for the disappearance of leftists during his regime.

Gen. Pinochet, who ruled Chile for 17 years after leading a 1973 coup, faces trial on human rights charges related to Operation Colombo, in which 119 members of an armed revolutionary group disappeared in the mid-1970s and are presumed dead.

The panel of five Supreme Court judges ruled three to two against the defense argument that Gen. Pinochet’s health problems, which include mild dementia caused by ministrokes, make him unfit to face a criminal trial after some doctors on a new court-ordered medical panel said he exaggerated his symptoms.

Weekly notes

Actress Argentina Brunetti, who began her film career with the Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” has died in Rome at age 98, her son Mario Brunetti said. Born to an actress mother on the stage of a Buenos Aires theater, she made her name in stage plays before embarking on her Hollywood career in Frank Capra’s 1947 classic starring James Stewart. Her career spanned more than 100 films. … A bomb blast that injured 15 persons in Sao Paulo four days ago scared shoppers away from the largest commercial area in Sao Paulo on Christmas Eve. Shopkeepers expected a million customers Saturday, but fear reduced the number by at least 50 percent, local reports said. Brazil has the world’s largest Catholic population and celebrates Christmas with a big exchanging of gifts.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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