- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006


Castro recovering, not dying, brother says

HAVANA — Fidel Castro is not dying but is recovering from an illness, his younger brother and Cuba’s acting president said Sunday in response to rumors that the leader was on his deathbed.

Raul Castro, who has been standing in for his brother since July 31, was responding to recent reports, including one in Time magazine that said Fidel Castro apparently has terminal cancer. He is recovering from intestinal surgery, but the lack of details from the Cuban government about his illness have sparked rumors.

Fidel Castro, 80, has not appeared publicly since July 26, and no new photographs of the leader have been issued in three weeks. He was last shown receiving private visits by world leaders during the Non-Aligned Movement summit in mid-September, which Cuba hosted. His younger brother said Fidel Castro has a telephone next to him “and he’s using it more and more every day.”


Venezuela sends oil to aid Ortega

MANAGUA — Venezuela said yesterday that it would ship 350,000 barrels of heavy diesel oil to Nicaragua under an energy deal aimed at helping leftist front-runner Daniel Ortega win Nicaragua’s presidential election next month.

Alejandro Granados, refining vice president at the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, announced the shipment in Nicaragua on Sunday, one day after Venezuela delivered 84,000 gallons of cut-price diesel fuel to help Nicaragua ease its daily power blackouts.

The heavy diesel oil, known as bunker fuel, is usually carried on ships as engine fuel. But it also is a common fuel for power stations.

The energy pact, struck in April, allows Nicaragua to buy Venezuelan fuel for 60 percent of the price and pay the other 40 percent over 25 years at 1 percent interest.


Fishermen catch crocodile in Rio Grande

NUEVO LAREDO — Mexican fishermen captured a 7-foot crocodile in the Rio Grande, which divides part of Mexico and the United States, authorities reported Sunday.

Illegal aliens from Mexico frequently swim or ride inner tubes across the Rio Grande to reach the United States. Crocodiles do not normally inhabit the river, and authorities suspect it may have been brought to the area as a pet and released into the river by its owner.

The reptile was caught on a fisherman’s line on Saturday in a sparsely populated stretch of the river on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, across from Laredo, Texas. The 130-pound creature appeared to be young and in good condition and was taken to a local animal shelter.

Weekly notes …

The Chilean government plans to blast a highway through one of the country’s pristine wilderness areas, the San Francisco Chronicle reported over the weekend, a move that environmentalists said threatens a unique experiment in international forest protection. Last week, government officials announced that they will build a 62-mile highway through Pumalin Park, a nature refuge created by San Francisco multimillionaire Douglas Tompkins that has some of Chile’s last groves of alerce trees — a relative of California’s redwoods. … Corruption in major economies around the world remains a “huge international issue,” according to a report published yesterday, with nearly half of all companies losing contracts because competitors submitted bribes. In a survey of 350 companies by risk consultancy Control Risks and law firm Simmons & Simmons, 43 percent said they had lost business contracts because a competitor had paid a bribe. Forty-four percent of U.S. companies surveyed said they lost out on a contract because of a bribe, compared with 32 percent in 2002, and 38 percent of Brazilian companies said they lost a deal because of a competitor’s bribe.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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