- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2005

Decision near on Uribe second term

BOGOTA — Colombians will learn soon whether they will get a chance to give a second term next year to popular President Alvaro Uribe, or whether the country will be cast into political uncertainty. Court officials said the ruling is imminent and newspapers here expect it by Friday.

The Constitutional Court is to make the politically sensitive decision whether to invalidate legislation that would let Mr. Uribe seek a second term in May 28 elections. Polls show he would win easily. If the court rejects a second term, the country could go into “mourning,” said Gallup pollster Jorge Londono, “and whether we slipped into chaos would basically depend on President Uribe’s own reaction.”

Inspector General Edgardo Maya recommended in July that the second-term law be invalidated because of serious irregularities in congressional voting. But it would be hard for the court’s nine unelected judges to tell the 80 percent of Colombians who support Mr. Uribe that they could not vote for him for technical reasons.

BRAZIL

Disease outbreak in cattle confirmed

BRASILIA — The Agriculture Ministry confirmed yesterday an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, in a cattle herd in the tate of Mato Grosso do Sul. At least 582 cows were destroyed at Vezozzo Farm after about 140 cows on the property were diagnosed with the contagious illness.

Authorities inspected other farms in a 15-mile radius around the farm and are trying to determine the source of the disease, sometimes called hoof-and-mouth disease. The ministry said it has reported the case to the World Organization for Animal Health, the Pan-American Hoof-and-Mouth Center and neighboring countries.

Brazil became the world’s largest bovine meat exporter last year and has one of the world’s largest herds, with 195 million cattle. Last year, Russia banned meat imports from Brazil after reported cases of foot-and-mouth disease in Para state. The disease affects cows, sheep, pigs and horses. Humans are not at risk.

CUBA

Dissidents chart democracy route

MADRID — Twenty-four Cuban dissident groups from nine countries agreed yesterday on a road map to democracy in Cuba, with a nearly unanimous rejection of violence.

“Despite the tensions, we managed to reach a single agreement,” a spokesman for Democracy Now Cuba Platform told Agence France-Press at the meeting at the Cuban Center in the Spanish capital. He said the 80 delegates, representing liberal, social democrat and conservative Cuban opposition groups, were able to draft a common agreement.

“We agree that we don’t want violence, war or foreign intervention,” the spokesman said at the gathering of Cuban opponents from Belgium, Britain, Costa Rica, Cuba, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

Weekly notes …

Mexico will spend the equivalent of $1.853 billion to aid victims of Hurricane Stan and repair stricken areas, President Vicente Fox said Sunday. The storm destroyed coffee and other crops as it dumped heavy rains in southern Mexico last week. Swollen rivers damaged thousands of homes in the city of Tapachula, on the Guatemalan border, which was practically cut off for days. Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz states were hardest hit. … Costa Rica’s state utility company said yesterday it chose Israel’s ECI Telecom to provide an advanced backbone network for both fixed and mobile voice-data service. It announced the $59 million project would begin this winter and be completed in less than two years. The contract calls for about 1,000 miles of fiber-optic cable, plus turnkey installation of its XDM Multi-Service Provisioning Platform.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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