jueves, 10 de enero de 2013

Mexico has new law to compensate crime victims

President Enrique Peña Nieto promulgated on 8 January a law to establish a system of state assistence and compensation for victims of crime in Mexico, agencies reported. The Victims Law or General Victims Law was ratified in April 2012 but blocked by the last president, Felipe Calderón; Peña Nieto promised when elected in 2012 to bring it to fruition. The law, due to enter into force 30 days after its promulgation, required local, state and federal authorities to aid crime victims by various means including with financial assistance for legal action taken by victims. Authorities assisting victims were to adjust their regulations and codes of practice to the law within seven months of its promulgation. The law's provisions would constitute a new National System of Attention to Victims, CNNMéxico reported on 10 January. This it added would likely replace the existing prosecutor's office attending to crime victims created in 2011 by the Calderón government, known as Províctima (Procuraduría Social de Atención a Víctimas de Delito). The broadcaster observed however that the system's challenge was to ensure its provisions were implemented by local authorities Mexicans often distrust when they do not suspect them of conniving with criminals. Jurists speaking to CNN welcomed the law as a first step toward better justice for crime victims.

Ten killed around Mexico, locals arm against criminals

Ten people were reported killed in presumed criminal incidents around Mexico on 8-9 January, including three gunned down in the northern district of Saltillo and four in the north-western district of Tijuana. Another victim was an employee of the baking firm Bimbo, shot dead while driving a delivery van in the north-western city of Culiacán, Proceso reported on 9 January. On 8 January, police found 10 tonnes of marijuana in a mechanical workshop in Tijuana in the state of Baja California, although stamps on the sealed packets indicated these had previously been confiscated by police or the army. Nobody was arrested and it was not immediately clear why the load was seemingly abandoned or stolen. A police revision that day apparently indicated the load had been confiscated days before in three parts. The drugs formerly owned by the Sinaloa cartel, were handed over to state prosecutors, Proceso reported. The review separately reported that 200 residents of the western district of Ayutla de los Libres have been armed since 5 January and set up road blocks in response to persistent crime. The locals were controlling circulation in and out of Ayutla and declared they would not disarm until criminals had left the area. The governor of Guerrero where Ayutla is located, Ángel Aguirre Rivero reportedly told local media on 8 January that the measure indicated "the citizenry's desperation before organized crime and the lack of response by authorities," Proceso reported. Residents of Ayutla and two nearby districts mobilized on 5 January when a local policeman was kidnapped; the official was rescued and the kidnappers reportedly fled.

Murder rate in Bogotá reported lowest in decades

Bogotá's police revealed on 5 January that there had been 1,281 registered homicides in the Colombian capital in 2012 compared to 1,654 in 2011, and the city now had the lowest homicide rate in decades, RCN La Radio reported. The 23-per-cent reduction corroborated other figures recently given out by authorities. Bogotá's police chief Luis Eduardo Martínez Guzmán said the homicide rate for the city of some seven million residents was now 16.9 per 100,000 inhabitants. This was one of the lowest in Latin America. By comparison Greater Caracas was recently found to have a homicide rate of 122/100,000 inhabitants. Bogotá's security affairs chief Guillermo Asprilla said the "figures show the most successful year" in security terms since 1985, and attributed this to police action and the mayor's policies to curb possession of arms. A measure of the significance of this figure was perhaps in its comparison with Bogotá's homicide rate in 1993 - at a time when communist guerrillas and drug cartels were most active and potent - which was 80.9 per 100,000 inhabitants. Separately President Juan Manuel Santos was to discuss the state of crime in Bogotá with cabinet ministers and members of the Bogotá municipality, at a security council to be held in the north-eastern district of Usaquén. The residential area, described in reports as usually quiet, was recently the setting of gun fights between members of a local drug gang. The security council would examine the homicide figures given by police, and issues including drug trafficking, extortion, and bullying and drug abuse in schools, RCN La Radio reported on 10 January. It was not immediately clear when the council would meet.

Colombian guerrillas say will not renew ceasefire

A spokesman for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) declared on 9 January that the guerrilla army would not renew a 60-day unilateral ceasefire due to end on 20 January, intended to facilitate ongoing peace talks with the government in Havana. The head of the FARC's negotiating team in Havana, the guerrilla dubbed Iván Márquez, said "there will be no extension of the unilateral ceasefire. So far we have not contemplated the possibility. The only possibility would be to sign a bilateral ceasefire," which the Colombian government has so far ruled out, El Espectador reported. He also expressed hope that Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez would soon recover from the cancer for which he was operated last December, so he could "continue to contribute to this peace process as he has done." Chávez was in hospital in Havana. Márquez said that thanks to the president's help "it was possible for this peace table to be held in Havana." Venezuela is thought to have considerable influence with the FARC.

Venezuelan court allows delayed presidential oath

The Constitutional Hall of the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled on 9 January that the ailing President Hugo Chávez did not have to take the oath of office for another presidential term on 10 January as required - given his physical incapacity - and this was a formality not affecting the "administrative continuity" in the country. Chávez was re-elected as president last October but remains in hospital in Cuba following surgery for cancer last December; the country was being run by a cabinet headed by his vice-president and foreign minister, Nicolás Maduro. Parliament voted on 8 January to allow his absence during treatment, while opponents urged the Supreme Court to declare whether or not this was legal. The court's President Luisa Estella Morales Lamuño declared that while a new constitutional period began on 10 January, "another swearing-in as President-elect is not necessary as there is no interruption in exercising his office...this is a re-elected president, the...re-election is to do with approval of his management," El Universal reported. She said he was outside Venezuela "for his health," with parliament's permission and in keeping with Article 235 of the constitution; that article stipulates that parliament must authorise a presidential absence in Venezuela if this is for more than five days. She said there could be no date now for when Hugo Chávez would be sworn into office, but this would surely happen once he was cured of cancer.