- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Earthquake rattles capital, coast

CARACAS | An earthquake sent residents running from their homes and shook buildings across oil exporting Venezuela’s densely populated coastal region, including the capital Caracas, before dawn Monday.

The quake was 5.3 magnitude, with the epicenter 25 miles south of Caracas and at a depth of 6.2 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The tremor was the second to hit Venezuela in recent weeks, unusual for the member nation of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Despite early morning rain, many Caracas residents ran from their homes as buildings shook at 4:40 a.m.

Venezuela’s Civil Protection Authority said the quake had caused alarm but there were no reports of damage or casualties. State oil company PDVSA said its installations were unaffected.


Playwright, director dies at age 78

RIO DE JANEIRO | Augusto Boal, the Brazilian theater director and playwright known for the interactive genre called the Theater of the Oppressed, died Saturday. He was 78.

Mr. Boal died of respiratory failure after a long battle with leukemia, said Elisa Nunes, a spokeswoman for Rio’s Hospital Samaritano.

Mr. Boal, who studied theater arts at New York City’s Columbia University, created Theater of the Oppressed in the early 1960s as a way to establish a dialogue between audience, playwright, director and actors that encouraged political activism.

Seen as a threat to the dictatorship that ruled Brazil between 1964 and 1985, Mr. Boal was arrested, jailed and tortured before being exiled to Argentina. He returned to Brazil after the fall of the military regime.


Police break up opposition protest

CARACAS | Hundreds of Venezuelan police and national guard troops broke up a protest march Friday with volleys of tear gas and blasts from water cannons that scattered a crowd of President Hugo Chavez’s opponents.

Officials said about 20 people were treated for minor injuries, mostly for inhaling gas, while one police officer and a demonstrator suffered small cuts when they were hit by hurled objects. Some marchers were carried away after being overcome by tear gas.

People in surrounding buildings threw glass bottles at officers, and police responded throwing tear gas canisters at the buildings.

Police broke up the demonstration as thousands of opponents and supporters of Mr. Chavez held separate May Day marches, bringing together labor groups and partisan demonstrators.


Swine flu case confirmed

BOGOTA | Colombia on Sunday reported its first confirmed H1N1 flu virus case, a man who recently returned from Mexico but who remains in good condition at home after tests conducted in the United States came back positive.

Colombian Social Protection Minister Diego Palacio said only one of 18 samples sent to Atlanta for confirmation had tested positive, although Colombia now had 108 suspected cases of the virus, which has spread around the world.

The man, 42, is at home in Cundinamarca Department, a province that almost surrounds the capital Bogota.

Colombia has tightened controls at its airports, ports and hospitals and the government is working to equip local laboratories so they can confirm cases of the virus themselves.


Carter seeks Peace Corps return

LA PAZ | Former President Jimmy Carter and Bolivia’s Evo Morales said Saturday they hope their countries are on the road to repairing badly strained relations.

After meeting for more than two hours in the Bolivian capital, Mr. Carter told Mr. Morales he does not doubt President Obama’s stated intention that he wants to improve ties.

The Bolivian leader responded that he has “great interest in bettering relations with the new U.S. government.”

Washington and La Paz have been expelling each others’ diplomats since September, when the U.S. also pulled out its Peace Corps members.

Mr. Carter expressed interest in having the Peace Corps return.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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