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News Briefs, part 2

U.S. Was Not Told of Salinas' Plans to Seek Exile

Los Angeles Times

Mexico was riveted Monday by the case of its missing former president, as the government of incumbent President Ernesto Zedillo maintained official silence on the subject and the White House said it was not informed until late that Carlos Salinas de Gortari reportedly had left Mexico for self-styled exile in the United States.

Salinas' office in Mexico City issued only a brief statement confirming that the 46-year-old former Mexican president had left for New York over the weekend. But it said Salinas was there simply to fulfill international commitments.

The statement made no mention of exile nor of widespread reports, confirmed by several official sources privately, that his departure was the result of an agreement to end a public spat with Zedillo, his hand-picked successor.

The historic falling out - which at one point included Salinas' 44-hour, on-again, off-again hunger strike in a lower-middle class home his government financed in Monterrey - had been the first time since 1938, analysts said, that present and former Mexican presidents had challenged each other so publicly and harshly about how the nation is run.

Published reports continued to appear Monday asserting that Salinas left as part of an agreement to fade into an academic career in Boston, where he earned two doctorate degrees from Harvard University.

Rain Resumes in California, Threatens New Flooding

Los Angeles Times
PAJARO, Calif.

While rain resumed pelting the hard-hit wine country north of San Francisco Monday and threatened new flooding, residents of this small farm town and others in the Monterey area remained out of homes that were still under water left behind by the weekend's massive storm.

An estimated 4,000 residents of Pajaro north of the Monterey Peninsula were forced to flee by a levee break on the Pajaro River and waited in shelters for clearance to return home. Flood waters began to recede Monday but not fast enough for the mostly poor evacuees.

"How are we going to find food to eat, to pay the next rent?" said Antonio Santana, 25, standing beside the Pajaro River in Watsonville, gazing at his unreachable home 200 yards away. Holding hands with wife Bertha Ulloa, 26, he mourned his job at a vegetable packing plant, now closed because of the vast agricultural devastation.

"It's going to be hard for us," Santana said. "We have no more money."

In nearby Castroville, an estimated 2,000 residents were evacuated Sunday night because of flooding and a raw sewage spill. Some were allowed to return to their homes early Monday. But a public health alert remained and many were told to boil tap water before drinking it.

"Some of these people could be in the shelter for a week," said Lorin Hoffman, spokeswoman for the Monterey County Red Cross. "We had the mandatory closure of a whole city."