The Guardian 20 April, 2005

Global briefs

COLOMBIA: The Colombian Army last month killed three members of the agricultural workers trade union FENSUAGRO, the Campaign for Labor Rights reported. The three, Javier Alexander Dubillos, Wilder Cubillos and Heriberto Delgado farmers from San Juan de Sumapaz, near Bogota were travelling to La Hoya del Nevado on March 18 to inspect some cattle when they went missing. On March 27, their families identified their bodies in a morgue in the town of Fusagasuga. The army claimed the three were guerrillas killed in combat, the same claim it made a year ago after killing three senior trade union leaders in the region of Arauca. Community groups and trade unions in the region said in a statement that the three were well known political and peasant activists, leading members of both their trade union and the local branch of the Communist Party.

BRAZIL: Brazil has announced it will not renew a nearly US$42 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The previous loan expired at the end of March. Brazil still owes the IMF over US$23 billion. The government said the country's improved fiscal performance made it less vulnerable to shocks on global markets, reducing its need for IMF support. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's Workers' Party has said IMF loans represent the interests of investors rather than ordinary Brazilians. "It is important we are no longer subordinate to the IMF", said Workers' Party Congressman Ivan Valente.

NORTH KOREA: North Korean peace and student organisations have protested against the joint military exercises now being staged by the US and South Korea, the Korean Central News Agency said. Of special concern was the revelation that the US nuclear submarine Los Angeles recently entered the naval base at Jinhae, South Korea. In separate statements the Korean Anti-Nuclear Peace Committee and the National Alliance of Youth and Students for Reunification said the move heightened concern about a pre-emptive strike against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

ASIAN SUB-CONTINENT: The Bush administration has decided to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan, and has offered to sell them to India together with missile defence systems and discussions on civilian nuclear technology. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPIM) is urging the Indian government to reject the offer, warning that fuelling the arms race between the two countries with the sale of sophisticated weaponry to both "suits the United States' interests perfectly as well as providing a good market for its arms manufacturers". India's defence minister has looked favourably on the US offer because it is the first time Washington has made such a proposal. But the CPIM pointed out that for political reasons, the US cannot be relied on as a supplier. "The pursuit of an independent foreign policy and forging closer ties with all major countries including China should not be sidetracked by the US effort to inveigle India into a strategic military alliance", the CPIM said.

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