- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 27, 2009

URUGUAY

Conservatives hope to capture presidency

MONTEVIDEO | Official results Monday confirmed that a blunt-talking former guerrilla fell just short of a first-round victory in Uruguay’s presidential election, and his conservative opponents have united in hopes of leaping past him in a Nov. 29 runoff.

Jose “Pepe” Mujica, the candidate of the governing leftist Broad Front coalition, got 47.5 percent of the votes Sunday, just below the majority needed to win outright.

Conservative ex-president Luis Alberto Lacalle got 28.5 percent, and Pedro Bordaberry of the Colorado Party 17 percent with 99.9 percent of the votes counted, the electoral court said Monday.



Mr. Bordaberry immediately endorsed Mr. Lacalle in hopes of keeping the leftist out of the presidency, but Mr. Mujica said his coalition will still have the edge against the combined center-right rivals.

Mr. Mujica said the nation of 3.4 million people can become something like Finland, with a diversified economy that creates well-paid jobs and also provides for “the people who have the least.”

Mr. Lacalle wants to reduce taxes and said he would “go in with a chain saw” to downsize government.

CANADA

Conservatives lead, latest polls show

OTTAWA | Canada’s governing Conservatives are well ahead of their main rivals and would most likely win a majority government if an election were held now, according to a poll released Monday.

The Ipsos-Reid survey for Canwest News Service put the Conservatives at 40 percent in popular support, with the Liberals, the top opposition party, trailing far behind at 25 percent.

The Liberals have been falling steadily since early September, when they vowed to try to bring down the minority Conservative government over its handling of the economy.

In Canada’s electoral system, a party needs about 40 percent of the popular vote to win a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.

The poll was taken last week as the Liberals repeatedly attacked the Conservatives on the grounds that they have been using an economic stimulus program for partisan purposes.

CHILE

Leftist candidate backs free market

SANTIAGO | A Chilean leftist who has emerged as a serious contender for the presidency says he has no plans to significantly change the country’s free market economic model or to emulate any of the leftist Latin American leaders he has reached out to in his campaign.

Marco Enriquez-Ominami, a 36 year-old former film producer, has shaken up the political landscape in Chile by resigning from the center-left coalition that has governed for the past two decades and running as an independent in the Dec. 13 presidential election.

While a long shot, his candidacy has ruptured the traditional two-horses race between the main political blocs, and has split the vote on the left.

Some polls show him virtually tied with the government’s candidate, Eduardo Frei, in second place and possibly making it to a runoff vote in January against front-runner Sebastian Pinera, a conservative businessman.

The popular President Michelle Bachelet, a socialist, cannot run for re-election under Chilean law.

COLOMBIA

Police fatally shoot guerrilla commander

BOGOTA | A Colombian guerrilla accused of planning an attack on a country club that killed 39 people in 2003 has been fatally shot while trying to evade capture, police said.

Herman Triana was killed in a gunfight with police as they tried to arrest him in the southern jungle province of Caqueta, police said Sunday.

Triana, known as “James Patamala,” was wanted for planning and financing the bombing of “Club Nogal” in Bogota, the only attack of its kind directed at the capital city’s business elite.

The bombing, which shocked Colombians for its audacity, occurred just as President Alvaro Uribe was starting a U.S.-backed crackdown on Marxist FARC guerrillas, who have been fighting the state since the 1960s.

Mr. Uribe was re-elected in 2006 and remains popular among voters and investors for pushing the FARC onto the defensive. He may run for a third term next year if his supporters succeed in changing the law to allow him stand in the May election.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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