lunes, 8 de octubre de 2012

Colombia's ex-leader said to be "obstructing" talks

The "foreign minister" of the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has said that the Colombian state decided to negotiate with the FARC after failing to defeat it, while a "minority" led by the former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez opposed peace talks backed by Colombians and the international community. Rodrigo Granda told La Tribune de Genève in Havana at an unspecified date that "the United States, the European Union, the Vatican" and sympathetic "personalities" in Colombia backed talks due to start informally in Oslo on 15 October, and "the only ones" who would obstruct them were "a small movement of the extreme Right" led by Uribe, El Mundo reported on 8 October. He said talks sought to "silence arms, but also and above all to refound our country." Government and FARC negotiators were to discuss themes including disarmament, rural reforms and the social reintegration of guerrillas. Granda said "all the themes are important and need to be treated calmly and negotiated scrupulously. They have to do with food sovereignty, health, education, the right to work...we have to reinvent Colombia, which is a very unjust country." He dissmissed the idea that the state was negotiating from a position of strength; "if the military could conquer us, the authorities would not have come to the negotiating table," he said. Uribe was president from 2002 to 2010 and weakened the FARC through relentless military action. He has denounced any negotiation with people he recently termed terrorists and drug traffickers. On 7 October he claimed the FARC had a "direct role" in Venezuela's recent presidential elections. Venezuela's socialist government has in the past been accused of aiding or sheltering the FARC; Uribe told Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe "I do not know how certain people can doubt that Venezuela is a sanctuary for the FARC." He said the FARC "controlled" an unspecified "mountainous zone" in the state of Zulia in western Venezuela. Twelve of as many as 30 FARC envoys and negotiators arrived on 8 October in Havana, where part of the talks would proceed, Europa Press reported. The FARC declared a day before that Interpol had suspended international arrest warrants for its negotiators, EFE reported.

Activist says eight killed in Guatemala protest

A Guatemalan activist said eight indigenous Guatemalans were killed on 4 October when soldiers fired shots during a "peaceful" protest in western Guatemala, EFE reported on 7 October. State coroners reportedly counted six victims, a figure contradicted by Carmen Tacam, president of the directive board of the 48 cantons of the Totonicapán department, where the protest occurred. Seven soldiers were reportedly to be investigated after admitting "shooting in the air in self-defence" during a protest by "hundreds" or "thousands" against proposed electricity price hikes and possible constitutional reforms. The judiciary was also to investigate the role of a local security guard, suspected to have shot at the crowd. Opposition politician Manuel Baldizón Méndez said in the capital on 7 October that he would lodge a complaint with the United Nations against President Otto Pérez Molina over the deaths, which he qualified as a "crime against humanity." He said Pérez Molina was responsible for his position in the military chain of command. Baldizón, the leader of Libertad Democrática Renovada (LIDER), said he would also take the president and his defence minister to court inside Guatemala for alleged "extra-judicial killings," EFE reported. Separately, five men were shot dead on 6 October at a village liquor shop near Guatemala's Pacific coast, in what police suspected was a targeted assassination. Neighbours in the village of Guatalón in the Río Bravo district had apparently identified the five as rapists allegedly involved in other crimes including attempted murder, EFE reported.

Mexico detains local cartel chiefs

Mexican troops detained on 5 October a local head of The Zetas drug cartel and four accomplices in the eastern state of Veracruz, using an anonymous phone call. The suspect who used several names and pseudonyms including Carlos Carmona Caballero was caught in a car on the road linking the Veracruz and Alvarado districts, El Mundo reported on 7 October citing Dpa. Troops confiscated items inside the car including suspected bags of marijuana and cocaine, bullets and a machine gun. Carmona ran The Zetas' operations in several districts in Veracruz. Separately the navy announced the arrest on 6 October of a suspect identified as Salvador Alfonso Martínez Escobedo, presumed head of The Zetas in the northern states of Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, El Mundo reported. He was reportedly arrested following a shootout in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Martínez Escobedo was suspected of involvement in the massacre in 2010 of 72 Central-American migrants in Tamaulipas.

Venezuela re-elects its president

Hugo Chávez was elected on 7 October to a fourth term as president of Venezuela, winning some 7,860,000 votes against just over 6,386,000 votes cast for the liberal Henrique Capriles, Europa Press reported. Chávez won 54.84 per percent of all votes counted by 8 October - which were 95.58 per cent of votes cast - the National Electoral Council (CNE) stated; he had already thanked Venezuelans through a message on the website Twitter, Reuters reported on 8 October. His rival conceded defeat and congratulated the president, but urged him to show "respect, consideration and recognition" for "almost half the country" that did not favour "this option keeping itself in power today," Reuters reported. Chávez was to govern Venezuela now until 2019.