- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2008

VENEZUELA

Russian navy ships leave for maneuvers

MOSCOW | A Russian navy squadron set off for Venezuela on Monday, an official said, in a deployment of Russian military power to the Western Hemisphere unprecedented since the Cold War.

The Kremlin recently has moved to intensify contacts with Venezuela, Cuba and other Latin American nations amid increasingly strained relations with Washington after last month’s war between Russia and Georgia. During the Cold War, Latin America became an ideological battleground between the Soviet Union and the United States.

Russian navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the nuclear-powered Peter the Great cruiser accompanied by three other ships sailed from the Northern Fleet’s base of Severomorsk. The ships will cover about 15,000 nautical miles to conduct joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan navy, he told the Associated Press.

The deployment follows a weeklong visit to Venezuela by a pair of Russian strategic bombers and comes amid increasing tensions with the United States over the war.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said in an interview broadcast Sunday that Latin America needs strong friendship with Russia to help reduce U.S. influence and keep peace in the region.

CANADA

Liberal Party promises tax cuts

OTTAWA | Canada’s troubled opposition Liberal Party, trying to stave off defeat in the Oct. 14 election, promised Monday to cut taxes and boost social spending if it wins power, and vowed the federal budget would stay in surplus.

Polls show that the ruling Conservatives are on track to retain power, and perhaps even translate their minority government into a majority in the House of Commons.

The centerpiece of the Liberals’ four-year plan is a carbon tax designed to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, coupled with income tax cuts that the party pegs at up to 10 percent for some Canadians.

BOLIVIA

Regional leaders to meet in New York

SANTIAGO | Chilean President Michelle Bachelet has asked South American leaders to meet in New York this week to discuss the political crisis in impoverished Bolivia, a government source said Monday.

The leaders, who met in Chile a week ago to help ease a political deadlock that flared into deadly protests, would meet in New York on Wednesday, the source said. Mrs. Bachelet is set to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

Chilean daily paper El Mercurio said firebrand Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, staunchly anti-Washington and a close ally of Bolivian President Evo Morales, would not attend the meeting in New York.

MEXICO

9 gang suspects held in beheadings

MEXICO CITY | Mexican police arrested nine suspected gang members, including one woman, in connection with the torture and beheading of 12 men last month.

Those arrested in the Aug. 28 killings in Merida, capital of Yucatan state, re thought to be part of the armed wing of Mexico’s Gulf drug cartel.

The Public Security Ministry said the members of a branch of the organization known as Zetas, led by Moises Escamilla May, were arrested by federal police officers Sunday.

Mr. May, also known as Jose Luis Chavez Ruiz, is considered a local Zeta leader and cocaine distributor in the beach resort of Cancun, the ministry said.

Drug cartels often decapitate to send messages to their rivals and the Merida killings came among a string of beheadings and rising public anger over drug-related attacks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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