- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Left argues over election

MEXICO CITY — Moderates and hard-liners are battling for the top job in Mexico’s main leftist party.

The two front-runners for the Democratic Revolution Party’s top job would likely take the party in sharply different directions.

Former Sen. Jesus Ortega is a party moderate, while former Mexico City Mayor Alejandro Encinas advocates radical opposition to President Felipe Calderon’s government. Three other candidates are also on the ballot.

The leftist party, known as the PRD, has been fractured by severe infighting since its presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, lost Mexico’s 2006 presidential election by half a percentage point.


Belgian hostages freed by kidnappers

PUERTO BARRIOS — Four Belgian tourists freed by protesting farmers after being held hostage for more than a day in Guatemala’s eastern jungle said they were in good condition but tired.

The Belgians — who were abducted Friday along with their Guatemalan guide and a boat operator by a group of farmers demanding the release of their jailed leader — arrived in Guatemala City on Sunday after being freed late Saturday. They were scheduled to fly to Belgium shortly.

The four tourists were identified by Belgium’s honorary consul in Guatemala, Liliana Santacruz, as Eric Stosseris, 62, his wife Jenny Belaen, 59, and their friends Gabriel Vanhuysse and Mariepaul Dubois, ages 64 and 62, all from Ghent.


Free concert promotes peace

CUCUTA — Tens of thousands of Colombians and Venezuelans flocked to a border bridge for a free concert that Grammy-winning rocker Juanes organized to help heal the worst crisis in Andean relations in decades.

Held atop the Simon Bolivar bridge connecting the northeastern Colombian town of Cucuta with San Antonio in Venezuela, Sunday’s show also featured Colombian singer Carlos Vives, Dominican Juan Luis Guerra and Spain’s Miguel Bose and Alejandro Sanz on the playbill.

Below the span, which was draped with a huge banner reading “Peace Without Borders,” thousands of fans dressed in white listened to the music in a dry riverbed.

Juanes’ idea for the concert was born out of a bitter quarrel that started March 1, when Colombia made a commando raid into Ecuador to kill a leading rebel commander and nearly two dozen members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Venezuela and Ecuador both withdrew their ambassadors to Bogota in protest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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