- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

BRAZIL

Gang violence kills 2, injures 3

SAO PAULO — Gangs torched buses and attacked police posts, banks and other buildings before dawn yesterday, leaving at least two dead and three hurt in the latest flare-up of a violent crime wave in Brazil’s largest city.

Police and city officials said the attacks appeared to be the work of an organized-crime group known as the First Command of the Capital, which has created mayhem in and around Sao Paulo in recent months. Sixty persons were arrested after three days of attacks in July.

The public security secretariat said that police fatally shot two suspects yesterday after the overnight attacks. In all, it said 27 targets were attacked in and around South America’s financial capital. Gunmen shot at three police posts and set fire to at least 11 buses and two patrol cars. Banks, gasoline stations and supermarkets also were hit.

CUBA

Island’s faithful say prayers for Castro

HAVANA — Cubans are praying publicly to the African gods of Santeria, Roman Catholic saints and the God of Protestant faiths for the health of ailing leader Fidel Castro and peace on the island.

Profoundly spiritual, many Cubans never put aside their religious beliefs, even during three decades when the communist government was officially atheist and religious believers of all kinds were viewed with suspicion.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega offered a Sunday Mass for Mr. Castro, saying, “The bishops of Cuba ask all our communities to pray that God be with President Fidel Castro in his illness and enlighten those who have taken provisional responsibility for the government.”

COLOMBIA

Uribe’s second term begins peacefully

BOGOTA — Rebels greeted Alvaro Uribe’s first inauguration as president in 2002 with an audacious mortar attack on the presidential palace, but the violence and crime rates were significantly lower as Washington’s closest Latin American ally was sworn in yesterday for a second term.

Improved security helped Mr. Uribe trounce his rivals in May elections, and he appears ready to use his popularity and a Congress filled with supporters to push an agenda including tax reform, more social spending and continued pursuit of Marxist guerrillas.

He faces stiff challenges in trying to tame the four-decade-old insurgency and curb the world’s largest cocaine industry. Some in Washington have grown impatient after providing Colombia with more than $4 billion in aid since 2000 to fight the rebels and cocaine traffickers.

Weekly notes …

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the failed leftist candidate for president of Mexico, said Sunday he is digging in for a long battle to ensure his ruling-party rival is not declared the winner of presidential elections. Mr. Lopez Obrador called on supporters to demonstrate in front of the court that rejected his demand for a full recount. … Cambodian customs seized over the weekend 12 luxury vehicles stolen in Canada, including a Hummer and a Cadillac, shining a new light on the world of international car smuggling. “It’s the first time we’ve ever done this sort of thing,” said Keo Vanthan, Interpol deputy director for Phnom Penh, saying the vehicles were all identified in Ottawa as being stolen.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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