UPON becoming head of the Organization of American States Sunday, Colombian President Cesar Gaviria Trujillo said he would seek a free-trade zone extending from Alaska to Argentina.
Mr. Gaviria, who has sought to break international trade barriers and has engineered a massive sell-off of state-run industries as Colombia's president, said the alliance should focus on economic unity. Gaviria has advocated Colombia's inclusion in the North American Free Trade Agreement, which groups the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
But gaining backing from the alliance's 34 voting members may be tough. Many observers say the OAS is an impotent organization that, despite its charter to promote peace and democracy in the Americas, has failed to prevent massive human rights abuses, wars, and coups in its member nations.
Gaviria said he would assume the post after his term as president of Colombia expires Aug. 7. Brazil's branches of government clash
A CONFRONTATION among the three branches of Brazil's government could worsen this week when the Supreme Court rules on a motion brought by civil servants for higher salaries.
The crisis erupted when President Itamar Franco blocked an 11 percent salary increase for judicial and legislative workers 11 days ago. The workers have asked the country's highest court to grant an injunction against Mr. Franco's move. The court was expected to deliver a ruling either later yesterday or today.
The confrontation among the three branches, the most serious since Brazil returned to democratic rule in 1985, has left Franco increasingly isolated.
His intransigence in refusing to negotiate a compromise surprised even his most respected Cabinet member, Economy Minister Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The crisis is seen to have convinced Mr. Cardoso to leave office to run for president in elections to be held in October, local newspapers reported. Venezuela's coup plotters released
LT. Col. Hugo Chavez Frias, leader of a 1992 coup attempt against the Venezuelan government, claimed Sunday that officers have since plotted about six more uprisings.
Upon his release from prison and discharge from the armed forces, he said the plotters were unable to carry out any of their plans but did not elaborate.
His claims suggest continued divisions in the armed forces after bloody uprisings on Feb. 4 and Nov. 27, 1992, despite government assertions that the military had been reunited.
Rumors and news reports suggested further rebellions had been afoot before elections last December, but authorities denied there was any subversive movement.
Also, 34 of 50 Venezuelan airmen living in exile in Peru since the November 1992 coup attempt against former President Carlos Andres Perez returned home Sunday. The return of the group, which included two majors, eight captains, 14 lieutenants, and 10 enlisted men, resulted from negotiations in Lima by a special commission sent by Venezuelan President Rafael Caldera Rodriguez. The airmen have said they would submit themselves to military justice. The masterminds of the 1992 uprisings that killed more than 400 people had argued they wanted to rid Venezuelans of official corruption and painful economic reforms that slashed their purchasing power.
Colonel Chavez, a symbol of discontent while in military prison, and several dozen other officers have been released as part of a conciliatory move by President Caldera to shore up the military's critical support.
Chavez said he would seek to take power again, but this time by converting his Bolivariano Revolutionary Movement into a political force. In a three-hour news conference Sunday, Chavez would not rule out any method of reaching power.