- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006


Pact urged to resolve border issue

MEXICO CITY — Demonstrations against proposed U.S. laws to crack down on illegal border crossings show the need for a just resolution, Mexican presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar said yesterday.

“The recent protests in … the United States are indicative of the imminent necessity of a migration agreement that addresses the interests of both countries and, overall, the protection of the rights of the migrants,” Mr. Aguilar told reporters. “The Mexican government has confirmed its commitment to Mexicans who live in the United States and its intention to work to defend their rights.”

In the largest of several weekend protests in U.S. cities, a half-million people demonstrated in Los Angeles on Saturday against the proposed law, one version of which would have the U.S. government build a wall along the lengthy U.S.-Mexico border and would treat illegal aliens in the United States as criminals.


Former hostage recalls ‘black hole’

TORONTO — A Canadian held hostage in Iraq for four months voiced disbelief at being rescued from “a black hole.”

James Loney, 41, was rescued Thursday by U.S. and British forces and reunited with his family on Sunday.

He said he was looking forward to a normal life and washing “a sinkful of dirty dishes” after his airport reunion with his family.

“During my captivity, I sometimes entertained myself by imagining this day. Sometimes, I despaired of ever seeing it,” said Mr. Loney, who appeared gaunt.

“For 118 days, I disappeared into a black hole and somehow by God’s grace, I was spit out again.”

The pacifist was freed from a house west of Baghdad along with fellow Canadian Harmeet Singh Sooden, 33, and Briton Norman Kember, 74.


Preval appeals for development aid

NEW YORK — Haitian President-elect Rene Preval appealed to world governments yesterday to step up long-term development aid to his impoverished Caribbean nation or risk undermining democracy.

“There is a strong correlation between democracy and economic development,” Mr. Preval told the U.N. Security Council. “The reinforcement of democracy that the international community has for some time now resolved to help Haiti achieve cannot take place without additional funds.” Mr. Preval is a former ally of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and, like him, a champion of Haiti’s poor.

Earlier, a top U.S. diplomat visiting Haiti urged its people to vote in April 21 legislative runoff elections. Josette Shiner, undersecretary of state for economic affairs, asked voters to “register their voice” in the contest for 129 seats. “The most important thing about elections is that as many people as possible in Haiti feel part of the future,” she told reporters while touring U.N. rural-development projects.

Weekly notes …

A U.S.-owned hotel that expelled Cuban guests under pressure from the Treasury Department must pay $112,000 in fines for violating Mexican commerce law, Mexico’s government said Friday. The Sheraton Maria Isabel Hotel in Mexico City kicked out 16 Cuban officials attending a Feb. 2 meeting with U.S. oil executives after a warning from the Treasury Department that it was in danger of violating a trade embargo against Fidel Castro’s government. … Finnish pulp and paper company Metsa-Botnia announced in Montevideo Sunday that it will suspend construction of a mammoth pulp mill in Uruguay for up to 90 days to allow Uruguay and Argentina to study the environmental impact. Botnia and Spain’s Ence are building two pulp mills along the Uruguay River, which separates Uruguay and Argentina. Residents near the plants fear runoff from the mills will pollute their air and water.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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