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October 26, 2005 - Image 2

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-10-26

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2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Stranded touists try to go home

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) - Hur-
ricane Wilma is long gone, but
those it left stranded on Mexico's
Caribbean coast are tired, fed up
and ready to go home after spend-
ing the better part of a week in foul-
smelling shelters.
President Vicente Fox said get-
ting the tourists home - and then
getting them back again by the start
of tourism's high season in Decem-
ber - was one of Mexico's highest
national priorities, given that Can-
cun attracts so many tourist dollars.
On Monday, buses began ferrying
hundreds of tourists out of Cancun to
Merida, about 170 miles to the west,
where they may be able to wrangle
homebound flights.
About 1,200 Americans and a
busload of Britons were among the
first evacuated by bus.
Officials said they hoped to open
the Cancun airport by yesterday.
Still, almost 30,000 tourists
remained stranded along the resort-
studded coast.
"They should bring down trans-
ports. The conditions are getting
worse, and people are going to start
getting sick," said Tom Dinonno, 48,
of Levittown, N.Y., as his wife Karen
struggled to make a credit-card call
from a Cancun pay phone.
When the call finally went
through after 20 minutes, they got
their son's answering machine -
and silent tears started to stream
down Karen's cheeks.
Desperation like that echoed
across the flooded, looted Cancun.
A curfew was declared on Monday
night, and police cars drove through
the city, their lights flashing, bark-
ing orders over their loudspeakers
for people to return to their homes.

"People are desperate. They are
nervous," Fox said.
He said the country's first priority
was to get enough food and water to
the coast, and he dispatched Mexi-
can military ships, planes and trucks
to bring supplies.
He said the second priority was to
get tourists home.
"I feel the Mexican government
is helping here to an extent, doing
the best they can," said Kevin Riley,
town finance administrator for Paw
Paw, Mich. "But the U.S. has done
nothing. Where is our government?
They are only preparing for Florida.
They forgot about us."
Soldiers and federal police took to
Cancun's streets Monday after loot-
ers emptied entire blocks of stores,
taking television sets, clothes, beer
and even pizza delivery motorcy-
cles. Police said about 200 people
had been arrested.
The fact that the skies finally
cleared in Cancun only made the
waiting more unbearable.
"It's like, the sun's out, let's go,
and we're still here," said Lynn
Wickum, of San Francisco, Calif.,
as she drank a beer at one of the few
Cancun bars that finally opened.
"We feel the frustration building.
You wouldn't want to make a scene,
but at the same time, you're ready to
go home."
Many of Cancun's own 500,000
residents had lost nearly everything
in flooded or destroyed homes.
For two days, Hurricane Wilma
turned Cancun's string of luxury
hotels into an expensive breakwater,
leaving their lobbies heaped with
shattered metal, marble and glass,
their gardens a swath of muck.
The booming string of Caribbean

Tourists wait at a bus station for an opportunity to leave the resort city of
Playa del Carmen, Mexico after Hurricane Wilma passed yesterday.

hotels anchored by Cancun produce
almost half of Mexico's $11 billion
in yearly foreign tourism revenue,
and they constitute a significant ele-
ment in Mexico's balance of trade.
"It is going to take us a couple of
months to have 80, 90 percent of the
tourism capacity of Cancun work-
ing," Fox said in a televised inter-
view as he stood before cars sloshing
through still-flooded streets.
"We're approaching the full tour-

ist season. So speed is fundamen-
tal," he added.
Full recovery could take until Eas-
ter week, according to Ana Patricia
Morales, vice president of the Can-
cun Hotels Association.
Only six people were known to
have been killed by Wilma in Mex-
ice, Fox said adding to the 13 who
died earlier in Jamaica and Haiti.
At least six people died in Florida,
bringing storm's overall toll to 25.

U.S., other countries threaten Syria
The United States, France and Britain yesterday demanded that Syria detain
government officials suspected of involvement in the assassination of a former
Lebanese prime minister and ensure their cooperation with a U.N. probe or face
possible sanctions.
The call was contained in a draft resolution that orders Syria to make the
officials or individuals "fully and unconditionally available" to the U.N. investi-
gating commission.
It states that Syria must allow the commission to interview Syrians that it con-
siders relevant to the inquiry "outside Syria and/or outside the presence of any
other Syrian official if the commission so requests."
If Syria does not fully cooperate with the investigation, the draft says
the council intends to consider "further measures" to ensure compliance,
including sanctions.
The draft resolution also calls for anyone designated by the commission as
suspected of involvement in Hariri's assassination to be subject to a travel ban
and to have their assets frozen.
Conservatives campaign against Miers
A conservative group opposing Harriet Miers bought $250,000 of television and
radio time yesterday to broadcast an advertisement nationwide calling for Presi-
dent Bush to withdraw his nominee for the Supreme Court.
The White House said it was standing behind Miers. "She is going to be going
before the Senate Judiciary Committee in less than two weeks," Bush spokesman
Scott McClellan said. "She looks forward to answering their questions. And I think
that people should not try to rush to judgment on it."
The ad by Americans for Better Justice is the first anti-Miers television spot and
is evidence of the battle the White House is facing over her nomination. A rela-
tively small purchase, it will air nationally for a week on Fox News Channel.
Bush named Miers, 60, about a month ago to succeed retiring Justice Sandra
Day O'Connor, a swing vote on the court's abortion and affirmative action deci-
sions. The conservative group Progress for America Voter Fund supported her
nomination with television ads.
But many conservatives have criticized the president for nominating some-
one with no experience as a judge and a scant public record on issues such
as abortion rights.
PM Paul Martin calls for fight against bird flu
Canada's prime minister yesterday stressed the importance of helping Southeast
Asian nations fight bird flu as health ministers from around the world said the first line
of defense against a pandemic is at the region's poultry farms, while the second line
may come down to ethics and politics.
At a two-day conference that began Monday, some officials discussed whether they
might have to break international patent regulations to produce generic versions of
Tamiflu if it came down to saving their civilians.
"A suggestion that's being made by some countries is that there are countries that
have the capacity to manufacture the vaccine, that we actually need to assist them with
technology transfers," Canada's Health Minister Ujjal Dosanjh told a news conference.
He said technology transfers was "a euphemism for loosening the patent laws."
Isreal criticized for slow-moving negotiations
A top Mideast envoy criticized Israel in especially tough language for moving too slowly
on negotiations to open Gaza's boiders, saying the country is behaving almost as if the with-
drawal from the Gaza Strip never happened.
Without dramatic progress soon, a rare chance to revive Gaza's shattered economy -
and the peace process - will be lost, the special Mideast envoy, James Wolfensohn said in a
letter to the U.N. secretary general, Kofi Annan, and other international mediators obtained
Monday by The Associated Press.
Violence, meanwhile, quickly escalated between Israel and the Palestinians after Israeli
troops killed Luay Saadi, a top Palestinian fugitive, and a close accomplice in a pre-dawn
shootout in the Tulkarem refugee camp in the West Bank. Saadi, the leader of Islamic
Jihad's military wing in the West Bank, was blamed for the deaths of 12 Israelis in attacks
in recent months.

- Compiled from Daily wire reports

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