- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 6, 2010

VENEZUELA

Putin says arms sale to exceed $5 billion

MOSCOW | Arms exports to Venezuela may reach as much as $5 billion, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday, a few days after he traveled to the country.

Mr. Putin visited Venezuela late last week to meet with President Hugo Chavez and pledged to sell more weapons to the country but gave no concrete figures.

“Our delegation has just returned from Venezuela, and the total volume of orders may exceed $5 billion,” Mr. Putin said in televised remarks.

Russia on Friday agreed to lend Venezuela up to $2.2 billion for the new arms deals. Mr. Chavez’s government has already bought more than $4 billion in Russian weapons since 2005, including helicopters, fighter jets and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles.

The Venezuelan arms deals are one of the many irritants in U.S.-Russian relations. Mr. Putin said in Caracas on Friday that Russia appreciates its good relations with the United States, but if the United States does not want to sell arms to Venezuela, it’s only good for Russia — which is willing to.

PERU

6 killed as police clash with miners

LIMA | Six people died in Peru when police tried to clear a roadblock set by wildcat miners protesting the government’s push to impose environmental controls on them, officials said Monday in the latest round of conflict over natural resources.

The violence broke out Sunday in the southern province of Arequipa, injuring 20 protesters and nine police near Chala, 372 miles south of the capital Lima. Two of the dead were bystanders, including a taxi driver struck by a stray bullet and a woman who suffered a heart attack.

Hundreds of protesters were still blocking a stretch of the country’s main highway to Chile on Monday, snarling traffic in both directions. Interior Minister Octavio Salazar promised to break the roadblock in the coming hours.

President Alan Garcia, whose term has been marred by periodic clashes over his natural resources policies, said wildcat miners must pay taxes and stop polluting.

Peru is a leading exporter of zinc, copper and gold and a major importer of mercury, most of which ends up in the hands of wildcat miners who use it to isolate gold from clumps of mud and rock. Wildcat miners produce 10 to 20 percent of all gold in Peru, the world’s No. 6 producer of the precious metal.

Miners say the new measures, which aim to limit dredging in rivers and prevent wildcat mining in nature reserves, would leave them without jobs and that they need the work to support their families.

HAITI

Schools reopen after quake

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Schools are opening across Haiti’s capital for the first time since a devastating earthquake hit nearly three months ago.

It’s a major step toward normalcy, but the hard-hit education system is just beginning to recover.

The Jan. 12 quake damaged or destroyed some 4,000 schools. Nobody wants to put children back under concrete roofs and many schools are waiting for tents.

Only a few hundred schools are expected to open this week. UNICEF education official Mohamed Fall said the goal is to have 700,000 children back in school by the middle of next month.

MEXICO

19 killed in drug violence

TORREON | At least 19 people were killed in drug-related violence over the weekend in northern Mexico, including a clash with soldiers at the border with the United States, police and officials said.

In Torreon, in Coahuila state, gunmen aboard several trucks killed six men ages 18 to 19 Saturday in front of one of their homes, police said. Another man was seriously wounded after being shot in the head.

In the border town of Mier in Tamaulipas state, a shootout between soldiers and gunmen killed three civilians, including a passerby, according to local authorities.

Ten men were killed in Ciudad Juarez, considered Mexico’s crime capital, which is just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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