- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005


Sports institute chief abruptly replaced

HAVANA — Humberto Rodriguez Gonzales, president of the National Sports, Physical Education and Recreation Institute, responsible for Cuba’s outstanding Olympic, baseball, boxing and volleyball teams, was replaced by the institute’s first vice president, Julio Christian Jimenez Molina, the government announced yesterday.

No reason was given for the Cabinet-level switch in one of the communist-run country’s most important institutions on the sports-crazed Caribbean island, where international performance is a source of pride.

The institute is responsible for local recreation and specialized training schools, doing what it can to stop athletes from defecting while abroad. It also sends trainers under contract to other countries.


Gentle giant fish boost ecotourism

HOLBOX ISLAND — Every summer, huge spotted whale sharks arrive by the hundreds off this barrier island, about 100 miles north of Cancun.

A few years ago, sandal-shod adventurers discovered the sparsely inhabited island and the heart-hammering thrill that comes from swimming with the polka-dotted sharks, usually elusive, solitary animals that periodically congregate to feed.

They dive into the warm waters where the Gulf of Mexico mingles with the Caribbean to swim alongside the gentle giants, which can grow to the size of a school bus. The filter-feeding sharks — they eat plankton, not people — have spawned a miniature ecotourism boom on this rustic speck of land in just three years.

Weekly notes …

A U.S. Embassy official found dead in Bucaramanga, Colombia, took his own life, police report. Investigating authorities said U.S. official Jerry Benavides, whose body was found in an apartment in the northeastern Colombian city, shot himself in the head early Sunday. “We … are collaborating with the Colombian authorities to clarify what happened,” said a U.S. diplomat who asked not to be named. … A former Mexican minister considered President Vicente Fox’s favorite to succeed him vowed yesterday to stay in the presidential race despite serious setbacks in the ruling party’s primaries. Santiago Creel lost the second round of voting in the National Action Party primaries Sunday to Felipe Calderon, a former energy minister who took the lead in the opening round of balloting three weeks ago. “I am convinced I am the one who can win the presidential race … and that is why I am continuing,” he told Mexican radio.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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