- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 8, 2009

BRAZIL

Tunnelers steal $6 million from safe

SAO PAULO | Thieves who spent months tunneling from a rented house to an armored-car company made off with nearly $6 million over the weekend as season-ending soccer matches virtually paralyzed the nation, Brazilian authorities said Monday.

The heist was discovered Sunday evening - after the games ended. Officers followed the tunnel from the company’s safe about 110 yards under the surface to a house, Sao Paulo police said in a statement.

Police said the home, abandoned when they arrived, had been occupied for about four months. Its former occupants are considered suspects, but no immediate arrests were made.

Officials with the armored-car company - Transnacional Transporte de Valores e Seguranca Patrimonial Ltda - told officers that $5.9 million was missing, according to the statement.

CANADA

Climate activists drape Parliament

OTTAWA | Twenty Greenpeace activists were arrested on Monday after the group scaled Canada’s Parliament building and unfurled two four-story banners calling for action on climate change.

The activists were found inside the building, on the rooftop and hanging from outside walls. They were charged with mischief and trespassing in lawmakers’ offices, police told reporters.

“We’re spotlighting Canada’s efforts to block all negotiations to stem global warming,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Catherine Vezina told Agence France-Presse as police swarmed the site earlier.

The Greenpeace members climbed onto the roof of the West Block building with mountaineering equipment at 7:45 a.m. and draped streamers on a wall above the entrance.

VENEZUELA

Chavez purges banking sector

CARACAS | President Hugo Chavez was heading to a summit in Uruguay on Monday in the hope that he had quashed public panic and gained political ground with a purge of the South American nation’s financial sector.

Mr. Chavez sacrificed one of his closest political allies, Science Minister Jesse Chacon, over the weekend after his brother was implicated in mismanagement at one of seven banks that the government has closed in the past eight days.

The resignation of Mr. Chacon, a fellow retired military officer who took part in a failed 1992 coup attempt alongside Mr. Chavez, was the biggest political casualty in a cleanup of banks that initially spooked investors and panicked depositors.

BOLIVIA

Morales celebrates win, vows reforms

LA PAZ | Leftist President Evo Morales on Monday celebrated his landslide victory in the general election, promising bolder and faster reforms and hinting that he might run for a third term.

Speaking to followers from the balcony of the presidential palace after exit polls put him over the top, Mr. Morales said he was happy to be re-elected and see his supporters in full control of the National Congress.

“By holding two-thirds of Congress, it is now my duty to accelerate the pace of change in Bolivia,” he declared late Sunday.

He said exit polls had given him 63 percent of the vote, against 24 percent to 28 percent for his conservative rival, former Gov. Manfred Reyes Villa.

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