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Tuesday Jan. 22, 2002



Documents show former Mexican president responsible for killings during 'dirty war'

Associated Press

Newly declassified U.S. documents show that the government of former Mexican President Luis Echeverria was responsible for the country's 'dirty war' against leftist rebels during the 1970s, a Mexican magazine reported yesterday.

The documents, which Proceso published on its Web site, consist of telegrams from M.J. Ortwein, then-U.S. consul in the western city of Guadalajara, to the U.S. government.

Dated between 1973 and 1974, the three dispatches informed the government about actions Echeverria's government was taking against Mexican guerrilla groups.

"The orders are to take drastic measures, to treat the terrorists as dispensable, to leave no doubt about their guilt," one telegram said, according to transcripts published by the magazine. "All of the authorities that are working now against the terrorists are authorized to skirt the legal process."

The telegrams also shared a conversation with then-Foreign Secretary Emilio Rebasa, who relayed a promise from Echeverria to U.S. President Richard Nixon to repress leftist movements in Mexico.

According to the telegram, Rebasa reiterated Echeverria's promise that Mexico would "take care of itself, and as long as (Echeverria) is president, the United States doesn't need to fear any threats from its southern flank."

The article cites the collaboration of the United States in training elite battalions in Mexico that helped repress rebellious students.

Proceso said the documents are the first to directly link the ex-president with the dirty war against leftist guerrilla groups, which cropped up in the wake of a student massacre by Mexican authorities in Mexico City in 1968.

Echeverria repeatedly has denied having given any orders to kill leftist guerrillas.

On Nov. 27, Mexican President Vicente Fox named a special prosecutor to investigate the hundreds of disappearances of leftist protesters during the dirty war.

The prosecutor began work earlier this month.


World's fifth recipient of self-contained artificial heart released from hospital

Associated Press

A Vietnam veteran, who became the world's fifth recipient of a self-contained artificial heart, has been released from the hospital.

James Quinn, 51, was released Jan. 14 from Hahnemann University Hospital, exactly 70 days after being implanted with the AbioCor artificial heart, the hospital said yesterday.

"We are very happy for James. We hope he can begin to truly enjoy his family in a non-hospital setting," Dr. Louis Samuels, surgical director of the cardiac transplant team, said in a statement.

The retired banker and grandfather from West Philadelphia was released to a hotel about three blocks from the hospital, with caregivers in an adjoining room.

Hahnemann is one of five sites participating in trial studies involving the AbioCor, which has been implanted in six patients who were all dying of heart failure and too sick to qualify for human heart transplants. Three of those patients have died.

Abiomed Inc.'s plastic-and-titanium device has an internal battery and a controller that are implanted with the heart and an external battery that passes electricity through the skin. Unlike earlier artificial hearts, the AbioCor heart has no wires or tubes that stick out of the chest.


Supreme Court orders trial on bank disclosure issue involving Symington

Associated Press

Pension funds allegedly misled about ex-Gov. Fife Symington's financial troubles while a real estate developer, are entitled to a trial in their lawsuit against a bank, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled.

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned most of a Court of Appeals ruling that squashed a group of union pension funds' lawsuit contending that they were purposely hurt by a bank that did not disclose Symington's financial troubles.

The case stemmed from the pension funds' lending $10 million to a Symington partnership for a downtown Phoenix commercial project, the Mercado. First Interstate Bank, since acquired by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank, had provided the partnership with interim financing.

The funds ultimately foreclosed on the Mercado loan and purchased the Mercado.

The pension funds allege First Interstate conspired to cover up Symington's financial woes so that the pension funds would go ahead and issue the loan that would replace First Interstate's interim loan.

The Court of Appeals said in its Jan. 11, 2000 ruling that First Interstate Bank had no duty to tell the pension funds that another Symington project was in trouble.

The pension funds did not have to prove the bank had a duty to disclose, because there is evidence that the bank's intentional actions damaged the pension funds, the Supreme Court said.

Wells Fargo argued that bank information is confidential and that banks generally have no duty to disclose it to third parties.

Symington, a Republican who became governor in 1991, resigned in September 1997 after being convicted of bank and wire fraud charges stemming from his development business. Those charges were overturned on appeal, and then-President Clinton later pardoned Symington.

Symington admitted errors in his financial statements but he described them as mistakes and not attempts to deceive. He said the pension funds did not determine his financial health before making the loan.

Symington defaulted on the loan and declared bankruptcy after the Mercado was caught up in the Phoenix real estate collapse of the early 1990s.



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