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Venezuela May Ban Ford Explorers

May 29, 2001

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Venezuela’s consumer protection agency on Tuesday asked the attorney general to seek a nationwide ban on Ford Explorer sales, saying design flaws may have caused 50 road accidents since August.

Agency president Samuel Ruh met Tuesday with prosecutors to offer what he says is evidence that failing parts in Explorers contributed to 50 rollover crashes that killed 37 people since August.

Ruh declined to comment after the meeting, saying he was legally prohibited from speaking about the case. A source at the attorney general’s office, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an initial study indicates that prosecutors have no legal authority to act on Ruh’s request.

Venezuelan Ombudsman Germain Mundarain publicly criticized Ruh’s action, saying that ``protecting consumers’ rights does not have to involve prohibiting the sale of the vehicles.″

Bridgestone-Firestone and Ford’s Venezuelan units staged a bitter public feud last year over whether faulty Explorer design or Firestone tire failures _ or both _ were responsible for rollovers.

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