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Latin America Anxious After US Terror Attacks - 2001-09-12


Reaction continues in Latin America to Tuesday's terrorist attacks in the United States. The general dismay is now being replaced by anxiety over what the future may bring.

Most of the region's broadcast outlets continued their extensive coverage Wednesday of the devastating attacks - while banner headlines and pictures of the destruction of the World Trade Center covered the front pages of Latin America's main newspapers.

Editorial comment reflected general shock and dismay, but also expressed deep concern about the future.

The Jornal do Brasil compared Tuesday's terrorist action to the 1914 assassination in Sarajevo of the Austrian archduke Ferdinand, which unleashed a chain of events that led to World War I. The editorial warned that a Third World War could eventually erupt because of Tuesday's attacks - a conflict pitting the Muslim and Western civilizations against each other.

Wednesday's editorial in the influential Brazilian newspaper, Folha do Sao Paulo, described what happened Tuesday as a "historic event" - whose repercussions will be felt in coming years. It said, "Everything indicates the world has changed, but for the worse."

Colombia's El Tiempo newspaper also was pessimistic. Its editorial said the collapse of the two World Trade Center towers paves the way to what it called a "horror" that humanity cannot yet see clearly. The newspaper said among the ruins in New York and Washington are buried many of the values that had sustained "civilization as we know it".

The general mood of pessimism and uncertainty was underscored by Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Lafer. In an interview with the TV Globo network, Mr. Lafer worried that world peace is at risk.

This is a situation which puts peace in question, and as such it is a threat to peace and generates risk, unpredictable risks. It would be premature on my part to predict what will happen, but I don't want to underestimate the gravity of the situation. It will affect security and also have an economic impact, both around the world and on our country. This will affect the markets, the working of the international financial system. It means an increase of risk which will necessarily affect all the economies of the world.

The depth of feeling in the region over the tragic events in the United States is apparent in the continuous media coverage and analysis taking place throughout Latin America, one day after the terrorist acts. In a symbolic move, Argentina Wednesday began three days of national mourning for the victims of Tuesday's attacks - as church leaders in that nation called on Christians, Muslims, and Jews to pray for world peace.

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