February 26th, 2006

Chris Keeley

Using the cover of Carnival crowds to make their escape, armed thieves burst into the Chacara do Ceu

Brazil Art Heist Is Cloaked by Carnival

RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 25, 2006 (Agence France-Presse) — Millions of Brazilians danced to the rhythm of samba drums as they celebrated Carnival Saturday, many of them unaware of an art heist on Friday night that has marred the world's biggest street party.

Using the cover of Carnival crowds to make their escape, armed thieves burst into the Chacara do Ceu museum in Rio de Janeiro and walked off with paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and Dali, as well as a book by Picasso.

Experts said the artworks were worth at least $20 million and were among the most important in the museum's collection.

The paintings were "The Dance" by Picasso and a book by him titled "Toros"; "Marine" by Monet, "Garden of Luxembourg" by Matisse and "Two Balconies" by Dali, said the museum director, Vera de Alencar.

The thieves forced the museum staff to disconnect the building's alarm and camera system.

At least four men brandishing firearms had been involved in the heist, she said, adding that the gunmen also mugged five tourists inside the museum. About 32,000 police officers were deployed for Carnival.

The police said a museum guard who tried to stop the thieves was hit in the face, while another who attempted to yank the Picasso from a robber's hands got hit over the head with a weapon.

The thieves relied on violence and speed and knew exactly what they were taking, Ms. De Alencar said. "Dali's picture, for example, is the only one by him in public exhibition in Latin America," she said.

Chris Keeley

We Do Not Wish to Throw Them Into the Sea

'We Do Not Wish to Throw Them Into the Sea'

Sunday, February 26, 2006; B02

Since Hamas won control of parliament in the recent Palestinian elections, policymakers in Washington and Jerusalem have been faced with a dilemma: how to deal with a democratically elected government that is also on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Last week, Newsweek-Washington Post's Lally Weymouth interviewed Hamas's new prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, by phone in his home in the refugee camp where he lives with his wife and 12 children in Gaza.

Were you surprised by the size of the Hamas victory?

Hamas entered the elections planning to be victorious.

Was the victory due to corruption in Fatah, the social services you provided or the general agreement of most Palestinians with the Hamas program of armed resistance?

The victory of Hamas is not only based on the corruption of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has a vision and a program, and this is the reason why the Palestinian people chose Hamas. However, there is no doubt that the corruption helped Hamas's victory.

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