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Wednesday, March 2, 2005; Page A13

Senior Police Charged In Mexican Corruption

MEXICO CITY -- Twenty-seven federal, state and local police officials in the resort city of Cancun were charged with running a major protection racket for drug traffickers and murdering five people in November, including three federal agents, the federal attorney general's office announced Tuesday.

While police corruption is common in Mexico, the charges against so many officers, including several high-ranking officials, were a stunning indictment of law enforcement in Cancun, which is known both as Mexico's most popular beach destination and as a notorious center for drug trafficking.

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Those charged Monday include Miguel Angel Hernandez, former head of the federal attorney general's office in Cancun, as well as the former state chief of the Federal Investigative Agency, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI, the attorney general's office said in a statement.

-- Kevin Sullivan


MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay -- South America's leftist leaders embraced a new ally when Tabare Vazquez was sworn in as Uruguay's president, marking another political shift in a region that increasingly shuns U.S. influence. Hundreds of thousands of jubilant Uruguayans took to the streets to celebrate.

Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, Ricardo Lagos of Chile and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela attended the ceremony. In one of his first official acts, Vazquez restored full diplomatic ties with communist Cuba.

In Washington, State Department spokesman J. Adam Ereli congratulated Vazquez on his inauguration and said the United States considers Uruguay to be "an important friend and partner."

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Police arrested a fugitive union leader playing bingo at a Caracas nightclub two years after he led a crippling strike against President Hugo Chavez, authorities said.

Carlos Ortega, the former head of Venezuela's largest labor group and a fierce critic of Chavez, was captured late Monday night, a few months after he sneaked back into Venezuela from political asylum in Costa Rica. Ortega was wanted on rebellion and treason charges for organizing the strike, which failed to topple the populist president.


BUJUMBURA, Burundi -- Burundians voted overwhelmingly to adopt a new power-sharing constitution, guaranteeing majority rule and minority rights in this Central Africa country torn by 11 years of ethnic violence, officials said.

Paul Ngarambe, the head of the electoral commission, said 90 percent of registered voters turned out Monday and more than 91 percent of them approved the new constitution, which reserves 60 percent of seats in the government and parliament for ethnic Hutus and 40 percent for minority Tutsis.

LOME, Togo -- West African leaders who helped reverse what they called a military coup in Togo worked with the country's beleaguered opposition to arrange upcoming elections. The meeting with envoys of the Economic Community of West African States centered on how to arrange balloting promised by mid-April, said Mohamed Ibn Chambas, secretary general of the bloc.

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