- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006

CHILE

Students seek reform, begin new strike

SANTIAGO — High school students demanding educational reform began a second nationwide strike yesterday and put up barricades in parts of Santiago, a week after similar protests led to hundreds of arrests.

Students called the strike after rejecting President Michelle Bachelet’s offers, which met only part of their demands: a free pass for students using public transportation and university entrance examinations without charge.

The activists, who say much more must be done to close the social gap between public and private schools, predicted that up to a million people would join the protests yesterday.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Japanese emigrants await court’s ruling

TOKYO — Tokyo District Court will issue its ruling tomorrow on a damage suit filed against the state by Japanese migrants to the Dominican Republic and their survivors, who say they suffered unexpected hardships under a government-initiated emigration program in late 1950s. The emigration took place from 1956 to 1959, when returning civilians and World War II soldiers swelled Japan’s population.

According to the complaint, the Federation of Japan Overseas Associations, established by the government to handle emigration efforts, recruited people to immigrate to the Dominican Republic, calling it a “Caribbean paradise” of good farmland that would be distributed free. Most of the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was stony or salty, leading the emigrants to face difficult lives, according to the complaint.

Initially, 177 plaintiffs, including those who returned to Japan, filed the suit in 2000 and 2001, seeking nearly $28 million in damages and saying they did not receive land suitable for farming as promised in the government’s migration guidelines. Of these, 17 have died, and the suits of 10 have been taken up by their kin.

MEXICO

Neck-and-neck rivals prepare final debate

MEXICO CITY — Sparks may fly at a final televised debate this week that lets voters in Mexico’s July 2 presidential election watch the leading candidates slug it out after months of bad-tempered campaigning put them neck and neck.

In the debate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, an often irascible leftist, will face off against Felipe Calderon, a tough-talking conservative who has ended his rival’s lead in opinion polls largely through negative campaigning. Most surveys show the pair now tied.

Mr. Lopez Obrador, the capital’s former mayor, promises to side with Mexico’s millions of poor and tone down President Vicente Fox’s free-market economic policies if he wins the election.

Weekly notes …

Farm-owners’ leader Jose Cespedes has criticized a land-sharing plan announced by leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales: “This plan will do nothing to alleviate poverty in Bolivia. It is entirely political. It is designed as a form of colonialization. We will not allow that to happen.” The plan, Mr. Cespedes said, “is an invasion of productive agricultural land in the lowlands by people from the highlands.” … The world’s deserts are under threat as never before, with global warming making lack of water an even bigger problem for parched regions, a U.N. report warned yesterday. “Everybody cares about the mountains. Everybody is worried about the oceans. … But nobody has really thought about the deserts before. They need help,” said Nick Nuttall of the United Nations Environment Program.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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