- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 17, 2007

VENEZUELA

Ground broken despite fuel spat

JOSE — President Hugo Chavez and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva smiled and shoveled cement side by side at a new petrochemical plant yesterday, but a public spat between the two over ethanol broke out on the eve of a South American energy summit.

The two joined the presidents of Bolivia and Paraguay at the groundbreaking ceremony involving the Brazilian company Braskem and Pequiven, a division of Venezuela’s state oil company. Mr. Chavez is seeking support for projects aimed at reducing Washington’s influence in Latin America.

ECUADOR

Chavez ally Correa wins strong mandate

QUITO — President Rafael Correa challenged a weakened opposition yesterday at the start of a battle for control of a new assembly that voters overwhelmingly supported in a referendum.

Mr. Correa, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, called for a broad political overhaul after he won Sunday’s vote giving him a strong mandate to wrest power from lawmakers in Congress whom many Ecuadorans consider inept and corrupt.

With about 59 percent of ballots counted, 82 percent of voters had backed Mr. Correa’s call for creating an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

CAPE VERDE

Venezuelan ship seized with cocaine

MADRID — Spanish authorities seized 1,100 pounds of cocaine from a Venezuelan-flagged boat off the coast of Cape Verde and detained its seven crew members, the Economy Ministry said yesterday.

The fishing boat Alexandra was discovered in international waters south of Cape Verde on Thursday, the ministry said. The seven detained crew members are all Venezuelan citizens, it added.

Spain, with its historic and linguistic links to South America, is the main entry point to Europe for cocaine from the continent. Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony off West Africa, is a transshipment point for illicit drugs from Latin America and destined for Western Europe.

Weekly notes …

The United States has no plans to attack Iran and its beefed-up naval presence in the Persian Gulf region is meant to keep the area peaceful, the chief of U.S. naval operations said in Pakistan yesterday. Adm. Michael Mullen, visiting the key U.S. ally for talks with officials, said efforts focus on a diplomatic solution to the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program. “There is no plan for an attack,” he told reporters after the talks. … The archbishop of Canterbury will meet with Anglicans in the United States this autumn to try to resolve divisions over homosexuality, he said yesterday in Toronto before a vote by Canadian bishops on homosexual “marriages” and priests.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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