miércoles, 19 de diciembre de 2012

Officials see fewer murders, crimes in Bogotá

Murders and "high impact" crimes were said to be continuing a downward trend in Bogotá, with a reported 29 per cent drop in homicides in November 2012 year-on-year, city officials declared on 13 December. There appeared to be 104 homicides in Bogotá in November 2012 - compared to 147 in November 211 - and this was the lowest figure in 10 years, the capital's police chief General Luis Eduardo Martínez Guzmán stated, while speaking at a presentation with the Bogotá Government Secretary or security chief Guillermo Asprilla Coronado. Martínez gave 1,143 as the number of homicides registered so far in 2012, 22 per cent below 1,460 homicides for either the same period in 2011 or all of 2011. Homicides registered for the first 13 days of December were reported to have dropped 59 per cent compared to same time in 2011, December being termed "historically" the most violent month. Asprilla said "we have the homicide phenomenon under control in Bogotá. Our objective is to take the figure to a single digit." Other figures given for the first third of December 2012 were: a 46-per-cent drop in car thefts compared to the same time in 2011, a 30-per-cent fall in personal thefts or muggings and a 47-per-cent drop in shop thefts. On 18 December the prosecutor-general's office ruled that Asprilla be dismissed from his post and banned from public office for 12 years after investigations indicated a conflict of his private interests and public duties, the broadcaster Caracol reported. As Bogotá Government Secretary Asprilla is in charge of security and justice policies among other duties and is effectively a deputy-mayor; he was the acting mayor in in June 2012 when Mayor Gustavo Petro fell ill. But apparently he remained to date an attorney to plaintiffs who have taken the municipality to court after the explosion of a trash heap in 1997; damages could be paid for that. He has said he did not hide his legal activities and withdrew from the case after entering the city council, El Tiempo reported. Asprilla was reportedly to continue working while appealing the ruling.

Two FARC rebels killed in southern Colombia

The Colombian army killed two rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) during gun battles in the southern department of Caquetá, at an unspecified date, the daily El Espectador reported on 18 December. The guerrillas were killed in a rural part of the Solano district; the army declared operations were continuing in the zone. One of Colombia's senators was separately reported as urging the states guaranteeing the current peace talks between the FARC and the state to press the FARC to release child soldiers, whom she described as "kidnapped for the war." Norway and Cuba are acting as guarantors of the talks and Venezuela and Chile are "accompanying" them, though Venezuela and Cuba's socialist regimes likely enjoy greater influence with the FARC. Gilma Jiménez Gómez a senator of the Green Party, recently said that "if the FARC do not return underage recruits, which means kidnapped for the war, the process will be illegal...and immoral," El Espectador reported on 18 December without dating her remarks. She said "recruiting" children in the FARC was a euphemism for kidnapping. It was not clear if the subject was to be specifically discussed during talks in Havana, while no figures were given for the number of children in the FARC's ranks. Jiménez formerly headed the social welfare department at the Bogotá municipality; she was elected to the Senate for four years in 2010, El Espectador reported.

Over 30 killed in crimes, found dead around Mexico

Crime-related violence continued in Mexico as its president was announcing a planned overhaul of the state's response to organized crime. As if in a country at war, over 35 were killed or found dead around Mexico on 16-18 December, including 17 in a collective bid to break out of a jail. Fifteen of the victims were killed or found dead on or around 18 December, Proceso reported. Among these: a child of seven was one of three - perhaps a family - shot dead while driving on a road near Las Peñitas in the eastern state of Veracruz; two were killed and a child of 13 shot and badly injured in an attack on a house in San Martín Cuauatlalpan in Estado de México outside the capital; the child was taken to hospital. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) representative in Salvador Escalante in the western state of Michoacán was shot dead late on 17 December, at a roadside petrol station. Identified by the state prosecutor's office as Miguel Ángel Farfán Ortega, he became the PRI's mayoral candidate for Salvador Escalante in 2011 after his predecessor was found with guns in his car and presumably dismissed. A "cartel grave" (narcofosa) was found on 17 December outside the northern city of Saltillo; it yielded six bodies described as in advanced state of decomposition, Proceso reported on 18 December. One of the bodies was identified as belonging to an electoral official. The website separately reported a gun and grenade attack in Saltillo late on 17 December, launched on the house of an employee of the state prosecutor's office. Nobody was killed. In Tlalpán south of Mexico City, a man identified as the head of a gang called Los Rojos was killed while confined in a hospital late on 16 December, Proceso reported on 18 December; it added he had fled there from another hospital to which he had been admitted after being injured in an attack. Two gunmen dressed as doctors entered his room and shot him in the chest. A shootout on 18 December between prison guards and inmates - in what appeared to be an attempted mass flight - killed 11 prisoners and six guards in a prison in the northern city of Gómez Palacio. Inmates began shooting at guards in watch-towers in a possible signal to start rioting and allow a subsequent breakout, Proceso and Milenio reported. Proceso observed it was unclear where the inmates' weapons had come from.