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Castro Hits Out At US Meeting That Excludes Cuba

CUBAN President Fidel Castro Ruz has lashed out at the United States for planning to host a summit of Latin American nations and not inviting Cuba.

Mr. Castro, speaking on Jan. 28 at a meeting of leftist and progressive groups from around Latin America, said the exclusion was purely because Cuba had not bowed to Washington's wishes that it abandon its political system. ``Now they [the US] are even talking about a Latin American summit,'' he said, adding that Washington wants to hold an alternative to the annual Ibero-American summits that Cuba does attend.

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``They [the US] don't want to forgive 35 years of resistance.... They want the image of Cuba forgotton in the eyes of Latin Americans,'' Castro said.

US-Cuban relations have been almost unremittingly hostile since the 1959 revolution that brought Castro to power. Washington has maintained a 32-year economic embargo on the island, and President Clinton has said relations will not improve unless Cuba makes political and economic changes. Few vote in Guatemala referendum

GUATEMALA held a referendum Sunday on constitutional reforms, but only 16 percent of the electorate bothered to vote.

Through the reforms congressional elections will be brought forward as soon as legally possible, new judicial appointments will be made, and the terms of the president and legislators will be reduced to help curb corruption.

But few Guatemalans understood the reforms or saw their relevance since the same judges and legislators can run again. An estimated 84 percent of voters backed reforms aimed at fighting government corruption, but 84 percent of the population did not vote at all, and final results, expected to be completed yesterday, are not anticipated to vary much.

The referendum was part of an agreement struck between government and Congress last November to end a two-month crisis sparked by President De Les effort to purge corrupt legislators and Supreme Court judges.

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