- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2005

HAITI

2 U.N. peacekeepers killed by armed thugs

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Two peacekeepers of the United Nations were killed while participating in security missions, Haitian radio reported yesterday — the first U.N. fatality since the force was deployed to the Caribbean nation in June.

A Sri Lankan soldier died while helping wrest control of a police station taken over by gunmen about 40 miles outside Port-au-Prince, and a Nepalese soldier was killed on patrol here in the capital. The 7,500-strong multinational U.N. force, led by Brazil, is working to restore order in Haiti ahead of elections this year.

Haiti was thrown into turmoil early last year when armed rebels began taking over parts of the country hoping to force elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power. He is in exile in South Africa.

CUBA

Female Fidelistas outshout protesters

HAVANA — With shouts of “Viva Fidel,” female supporters of President Fidel Castro’s government interrupted a weekly silent protest by wives of political prisoners after Palm Sunday Mass at the Santa Rita Roman Catholic Church in western Havana.

“We cannot let them damage the revolution,” said Aida Diaz, 70, adding that the peaceful counterprotest by about 150 women was organized by the Federation of Cuban Women. It was the first such confrontation since the wives began weekly protests after a crackdown in the spring of 2003 that put 75 activists in prison.

Cuba accused the dissidents of working with the United States to undermine Mr. Castro’s government — a charge the activists and Washington denied. During the past year, the dissidents’ wives, known as “the Ladies in White,” have become increasingly bold in their candlelight vigils and public protests.

CANADA

Explorers try to tie disputed Peary record

RESOLUTE BAY, Nunavut — Five men led by a British explorer are trying to repeat American explorer Robert E. Peary’s disputed 1909 expedition, in which he said he had reached the North Pole in a record 37 days.

Explorer Tom Avery, 29, aims to verify Peary’s contention by matching his 37-day time for the 475-mile trek from Cape Columbia in northern Nunavut, the Inuit territory of Canada opposite Greenland.

The fastest journey since Peary’s day was by a Canadian team in 2000 that reached the Pole after 43 days. Mr. Avery’s team will travel in a similar style to Peary’s, with Canadian Inuit dogs and custom-made wooden sleds. Mr. Avery, from Sussex, England, in 2002 became the youngest Briton to reach the South Pole — a record that was beaten weeks later by a 23-year-old.

Weekly notes …

A cable footbridge loaded with villagers from Tapijulapa, Mexico, on their way to a religious festival collapsed Saturday, sending four persons to their deaths in the rocky ravine below, authorities and witnesses said. Thirty-seven persons were injured when the bridge failed as dozens of people crossed for an annual tribute to the Mayan rain god to ensure plentiful crops in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco. … An earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck northwestern Argentina yesterday morning, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. No damage or casualties were reported. The quake struck about 5:30 a.m. EST about 720 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.

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