- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 7, 2006

HAITI

Gang raids, guts factory in capital

PORT-AU-PRINCE — First, a friend of Robert Labrousse was fatally shot and two of his employees were kidnapped as they left his factory. Then the slum gang moved in and stripped the business clean.

A truck smashed through the fence at his bleach-and-detergent factory near Cite Soleil, the capital’s sprawling shantytown, and the looters hauled away office equipment and 4,000-gallon tanks full of chemicals.

What they couldn’t steal, they destroyed. Mr. Labrousse puts his losses at about $1 million and says his 50-plus employees are without jobs. The attack late last month was part of a ferocious crime wave that has added to the misery of this nation, the poorest in the Americas, as it prepares for elections today.

SOUTH AFRICA

Exiled Aristide keeps low profile

JOHANNESBURG — Exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is maintaining a low profile in South Africa as the Caribbean nation prepares to elect his successor today. In Haiti, supporters have danced in the streets, calling for Mr. Aristide’s return after a coup almost two years ago led him to seek refuge in South Africa.

But in South Africa, Mr. Aristide is nearly invisible, shielded by a government keeping him out of the limelight.

“If there are grounds to think that he’s being constrained, it makes sense, because he’s here at the indulgence of the South African government,” said John Stremlau, head of foreign studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.

PERU

Inca Trail closed for maintenance

LIMA — The government has closed the Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu, South America’s greatest tourist attraction, for a month of maintenance, authorities announced.

The 40-mile trail that links the city of Cuzco to the Inca citadel and 12 other archeological sites in the forested mountains is to reopen March 1.

“If we don’t maintain it, the coming and going of 500 people each day could collapse the trail,” said Fernando Astete, head of the archeological park.

Machu Picchu, built in the 16th century and discovered by the U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911, remains open to tourists and is accessible by train from Cuzco.

Weekly notes …

One of Colombia’s most notorious paramilitary warlords, convicted mass murderer and wanted cocaine trafficker Hernan Giraldo, yielded his weapons to the Colombian government on Friday under a peace deal that could let him off lightly. Wearing a broad-brim hat, “the Lord of the Sierra” who dominated coca plantations in the snow-capped Sierra Nevada surrendered to government negotiator Luis Carlos Restrepo at Quebrada El Sol.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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