miércoles, 5 de diciembre de 2012

El Salvador's gangs to "disarm" in 10 districts

El Salvador's main criminal gangs agreed on 4 December to a proposal to turn 10 districts into "peace sanctuaries" - apparently without arms or gang violence - in what was described as the second phase of a pioneer decriminalisation process that began in March 2012, the Salvadorean daily El Mundo reported. This phase was announced on 23 November by mediators and the Security Ministry, which were to determine the districts, so far unnamed, the website La página reported. The gangs were to hand over their arms there at an unspecified date to the chief mediators in the process, the former leftist militant Raúl Mijango and the army bishop, Monsignor Fabio Colindres Abarca. A spokesman for the gangs read out a communiqué to this effect at a meeting in a prison in San Salvador attended by the facilitators, gang leaders and an envoy of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Carlos Orozco; the OAS has pledged to aid the process. The gangs concerned were MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha, M-18, La Mao-Mao, La Máquina and La Mirada Locos. The spokesman, a leader of M-18 dubbed El Viejo Lin, said the disarmament would benefit some 900,000 people and the proposal was a "realistic and objective" step in the process to solve "the problem of violence" in El Salvador. Other gang leaders speaking at the meeting urged a repeal of anti-gang laws, which one said were too many and an impediment "to the continuation of the process." Nevertheless they thanked President Mauricio Funes and the Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Luigi Pezzuto, for their collaboration so far.

Colombian troops said to have killed seven FARC rebels

Seven or more guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were reported killed on 4 December in a gun fight in eastern Colombia, as troops closed in to arrest a prominent FARC chieftain dubbed Jhon 40. The guerrilla, whose name is Géner García Molina, was considered one of the FARC's main drug traffickers and a suspected contact of Mexican drug cartels, though it was not clear if he was killed; army sources had not yet confirmed the operation in the department of Guainía near the borders with Venezuela and Brazil, EFE reported. The seven killed were apparently members of his escort, the daily El Tiempo reported, citing unnamed sources. Colombian and FARC negotiators were separately scheduled to renew peace talks on 5 December in Havana.

Senate votes in Mexico's prosecutor-general

The Senate approved on 4 December the Mexican president's choice as Prosecutor-General of the Republic Jesús Murillo Karam, a jurist, legislator and member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) like the president. He was ratified by 114 votes and one abstention; the Senate further resolved that he had 90 days to draft a programme for which he should present a progress report every three months, CNN reported, citing Mexico's Notimex. The prosecutor-general's office investigates federal offences among other duties, and Murillo told a Senate commission it must become a catalyst of judicial modernization and regain public confidence. Many Mexicans have come to distrust institutions like police and the judiciary as rife with corruption and arbitrary conduct; Murillo later told reporters the new government's policies would be "profound respect for and implementation of the law, defence of human rights...absolute and implacable firmness to establish those who are guilty." This resolve faced an initial test with the many arrests made on 1 December during protests in Mexico City against the incoming President Enrique Peña Nieto. While most groups in the lower legislative chamber backed the Senate ratification, the arrests were causing concern especially on the Left. Ricardo Monreal Ávila cautioned that his group the Citizens Movement - which had rejected the general-elections results - would not tolerate the violation of principles of due process and presumption of innocence for the detained. "Our skepticism should not turn into a nightmare," he said, deploring also the "lynching" of Mexicans "who did not did accept the imposition." He was referring to Peña Nieto's allegedly fraudulent or manipulated election. Leftist parliamentarians denounced in the chamber on 4 December the "authoritarian" response to the protests and alleged unspecified groups unrelated to protesters had engaged in vandalism "in coordination with the Federal Police," Proceso reported. The governing PRI, conservative National Action and Green parties however backed the government response and urged prosecutions. Proceso interepreted certain declarations as implicitly accusing the defeated presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador as an instigator of disorders on 1 December.

Sixteen shot, found dead around Mexico

At least 16 were reported to have been shot or found dead in apparent criminal incidents around Mexico on 3-4 December, some found dismembered in bags or mutilated, the website Proceso reported on 4 December. Seven of these were killed in the northern city of Torreón in the state of Coahuila, including a man found in a house, castrated and with his throat slit. In other incidents three gunmen were killed in a shootout with troops in the northern district of Saltillo, while in Matachí in the northern state of Chihuahua, gunmen ambushed a military patrol, killing a soldier. A man was dragged half-naked out of a motel and shot in its courtyard late on 3 December, in the district of Cuernavaca south of Mexico City. A couple was also reported kidnapped from their flat in Cuernavaca before dawn on 4 December, Milenio reported. Police found two children or teenagers, presumably their children, when they arrived at the flat. Separately on 4 December, the prosecutor-general's office declared that a beauty queen who died in a shootout between gunmen and soldiers on 24 November was one of those firing on troops and was not killed for misfortune as first thought. María Susana Flores Gámez - beauty queen in 2012 of the north-western state of Sinaloa - fired an AK-47 assault rifle from a car carrying suspected members of the Sinaloa Cartel. The shootout took place in the localities of Salvador Alvarado and Palmar de los Leal in that state; its victims were Flores, two soldiers and a passer-by. Police now believed that her presumed boyfriend and one of the gunmen, a cartel member dubbed El Cholo Iván, did not die as reported and perhaps escaped, Proceso reported on 4 December.