People: The finer points of Andean diplomacy

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The Independent Online
BOLIVIA has been making big efforts to get back on friendly terms with its old enemy Chile, which defeated it in a war more than 100 years ago and deprived it of its Pacific coastline. But it all proved too much for Bolivia's former president Jaime Paz Zamora who, a few days before he left office last week, made a speech at a military ceremony in which he described the Chileans as 'retrograde' and 'cavemen'.

Admiral Jose Toribio Merino, a former member of General Augusto Pinochet's military junta, was stung into retorting that Bolivians were merely 'metamorphosed llamas who have learnt to talk but not think'. A former Bolivian foreign minister, Jorge Escobari, joined the fray, commenting that 'at least llamas are superior to the breed of sheep that Merino seems to be related to by both blood and name'. Bolivia's incoming President, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, will have some fence- mending to do.

JUDGE Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is to be sworn in today as the second female justice in the US Supreme Court, is predicting big changes in the sheltered life of her male colleagues. Ms Ginsburg, 60, who joins Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, said at the weekend that her appointment was 'a sign that being a woman in a place of importance is no longer extraordinary and it will become more and more natural'. Ms Ginsburg fondly recalled persuading a court to grant a male lawyer a postponement because his wife was about to give birth, and when asked if, therefore, the two women would make the male judges look at law differently, she replied somewhat defiantly: 'Look at life differently.'

WOMEN'S rights have some way to go in South Africa, despite what one might think after the Miss South Africa beauty competition drew hundreds of angry telephone calls. But no, they weren't protesting at the holding of the contest, they were from whites complaining about the victory of a black woman. Jacqui Mofokeng, a 21-year-old business student and model from Soweto, on Saturday became the first black woman to win the title in its 37-year history. The Afrikaans-language Rapport newspaper said it had been inundated with calls from irate whites following the pageant in Sun City, a casino resort with an overwhelmingly white clientele.

The judges have dismissed the complaints, saying that the Soweto model fully deserved to win the contest - she scored 8,722 points out of a possible 10,000 while the white runner-up, Corinne Durrheim, only managed 8,677. It doesn't end there. Ms Mofokeng will represent South Africa at November's Miss World contest - also in Sun City.

THE brouhaha in the temple of tat that is Sun City would have appealed to the Italian film director Federico Fellini, whose baroque masterpieces include Casanova, the 1960 classic La Dolce Vita and four Oscar-winning films, among them 8-1/2 and Amarcord. But Mr Fellini is in no state to risk excitement. He is recovering from a stroke suffered while on holiday in the Adriatic resort of Rimini, his birthplace and the setting for several of his films.

Fellini, who was partially paralysed on his left side, is making good progress and could be discharged as early as Thursday, a daily medical bulletin issued by his hospital said yesterday. The 73-year-old director was scheduled to undergo a brain scan which doctors said they would use to assess his condition.

(Photograph omitted)

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