- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MEXICO

Hit men kill 13 in tourist town

CIUDAD JUAREZ | Suspected drug hit men opened fire on a family gathering at a tourist town in northern Mexico killing 13 people including a baby.

The masked hit men sprayed the party with bullets Saturday as they drove past the dance hall where the family was gathered outside in Creel, Chihuahua state, near the U.S. border.

The shower of bullets killed a 1-year-old in the arms of an adult, as well as three teenagers and a university professor, said a spokesman for the Chihuahua attorney general’s office Monday.



The shooting was thought to be part of a drug gang feud, and the government sent 160 federal police and soldiers to Creel after the attack.

Creel in the remote and snowy Sierra Tarahumara mountains is a key narcotics smuggling point en route to Mexico’s border with the United States. It is also the town where tourists start a train journey through Mexico’s spectacular Copper Canyon that is home to the Tarahumara Indians.

More than 2,000 people have died this year in Mexico’s drug war.

CUBA

Dissident quits support group

HAVANA | A top Cuban dissident on Monday abruptly left an activist support group she helped found for mothers and wives of Cuban political prisoners, saying she would rather focus on her work as a journalist.

Miriam Leiva said she will continue to support the “Ladies in White” but will no longer participate in the group or its decision-making processes, or speak on its behalf.

The announcement came amid rumors of a split within the organization between Mrs. Leiva and fellow moderate Ladies in White members, and other members who have called on the group to step up public protests and more openly oppose the communist government.

Mrs. Leiva skipped an April sit-down protest when other Ladies in White slipped into Revolution Plaza near where President Raul Castro has an office. Police broke up that peaceful demonstration.

Cuba’s government controls all official news media, but Mrs. Leiva has worked as an “independent” journalist since 1996 and said she will spend more time writing.

Mrs. Leiva’s husband, Oscar Chepe, is a dissident economist who was among 75 activists rounded up in 2003, accused of working with U.S. authorities to undermine the government and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. He was later freed on medical parole.

BRAZIL

Police recover Picasso print

SAO PAULO | Brazilian policerecovered a Pablo Picasso print stolen with three other valuable artworks from Sao Paulo’s Pinacoteca Museum in broad daylight in June.

“Minotaur, Drinker and Women” was found Friday night at an undisclosed location in the west of Sao Paulo, a spokesman for the city’s Public Security Secretariat said Monday.

The 1933 print by the late Spanish artist was stolen June 12 by three armed robbers, who calmly strolled into the Pinacoteca Museum in downtown Sao Paulo and held security guards at gunpoint while they completed the heist.

They also made off with another Picasso print, “The Painter and the Model,” from 1963, and two works by Lasar Segall and Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, both prominent Brazilian artists in the 20th century.

The police already recovered those pieces and arrested two suspects.

PARAGUAY

Once-sold woman joins Cabinet

ASUNCION | An Indian woman who says she was captured in the jungle and sold into forced labor as a girl became a member of Paraguay’s Cabinet on Monday, pledging to improve life for the South American nation’s indigenous population.

Path-breaking President Fernando Lugo formally named Margarita Mbywangi minister of indigenous affairs as the former Roman Catholic bishop began setting up his government following his inauguration Friday, which ended 61 years of rule by the Colorado Party.

The 46-year-old Ache chief, a mother of three who is studying for her high school diploma, becomes the first indigenous person to oversee Indian affairs in Paraguay following a career as an activist defending the lands of her people, a group of several hundred who until recently were nearly all hunter-gatherers.

Roughly 90,000 Paraguayans say they belong to one of the country’s approximately 400 Indian communities, according to government figures.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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