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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pushing Peru



The new president of Peru has told U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson that his government will investigate what really happened to a Tampa Tribune reporter who was slain in his country 18 years ago.

Nelson, D-Fla., who is in the midst of a week-long trip to Central and South America, said he asked President Alan Garcia to probe what happened to reporter Todd C. Smith.

Smith was killed in 1989 while investigating the drug trade in Peru’s Upper Huallaga Valley. Anti-government guerrillas were blamed, but some believe he was killed by area drug lords.

"We will work with the judicial branch to shed light on what really happened, and at least his parents will have the consolation of knowing the truth," Garcia said Thursday at a press conference in Lima. Smith's parents live in Tallahassee.

In a statement, Nelson said, "President Garcia has shown his compassion for a family, and taken us a significant step closer to finding the truth in this case."

During his visit, Nelson also took a helicopter into the Upper Huallaga Valley to view the work of U.S.-backed anti-drug efforts.

Nelson is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His Latin American tour also included meetings with the presidents of Nicaragua, Ecuador and Costa Rica. He urged them all against becoming too chummy with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:31pm]


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