miércoles, 16 de enero de 2013

Six women killed in Guatemala

Six women including two girls aged six and 12 were killed or found dead in Ciudad de Guatemala and in the department of Zacapa north-east of the capital on 16 January, the daily Prensa Libre reported. The girls had apparently been strangled to death and were left on a street in their pyjamas at one in the morning. These were some of the victims of the steady trickle of crimes daily reported in Guatemala. On 15 January the mayor of the town of Jutiapa near the frontier with El Salvador was shot dead inside a barber's shop, Prensa Libre reported. The Interior Minister later declared he suspected the assassination to be the work of organized crime. Prensa Libre also reported on 15 January the shooting death of a businessman in the San Miguel Petapa district south of the capital; he was the brother of Rafael Eduardo González Rosales, mayor of San Miguel Petapa in 2008-12. The same day a bus passenger was shot dead by thieves who boarded a bus travelling between Guatemala City and Quezaltenango, Prensa Libre reported. The passenger had refused to hand over his belongings as asked.

Catholicism reported in decline in Nicaragua

A survey carried out in Nicaragua in December 2012 showed the relentless decline of Roman Catholicism in that country between 1991 and 2012 and rise of Protestant Christianity, even if Catholics remained the largest religious community, El Nuevo Diario reported on 16 January. The Nicaraguan firm M & R Consultores carried out the survey for the Public Opinion Monitoring System (Sistema de Monitoreo de Opinión Pública, Sismo), interviewing 1,600 Nicaraguans between 17 and 28 December; the results were said to have a 95-per-cent confidence level and a margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent. Just over 52 per cent of respondents described themselves as Catholics, compared to the 90 per cent figure for 1991. The survey indicated 30 per cent of Nicaraguans to be Evangelical, while 14.1 per cent said simply that they were "believers" and 0.3 per cent, atheists. A comparative table of the figures obtained in 1991, 1995 and 2005 indicated that the four per cent of Nicaraguans who said they were Protestant Evangelicals in 1991 increased to 15.1 per cent in 1995, a year when Catholics had declined to just under 80 per cent of the population. The latest survey indicated there were more Catholics in cities and in the western part of Nicaragua, El Nuevo Diario reported.

Tourism, trade growing between Cuba and Peru

Cuba's ambassador in Peru put at 19,000 the number of Peruvians who visited her country in 2012, 34 per cent more she said than in 2011, Peru's official paper El Peruano reported on 16 January. Juana Martínez said she hoped some 25,000 Peruvians would visit in 2013. Bilateral trade however remained "reduced" she said, worth 16 million USD that year and consisting mostly of trade in pharmaceutical products, unspecified services and rhum. She added that the legal framework for increased exchanges and cooperation now existed within documents signed in Cuba during an undated but "recent" visit by President Ollanta Humala. She blamed the limited bilateral trade on sanctions the United States has imposed on Cuba. Peru's growing economy was increasingly creating a prosperous middle class with potentially the spending and travel habits of Europeans or North Americans. The economy was reportedly growing at a rate of six per cent or more; the investment firm BlackRock recently termed it the second Latin American country in terms of investment security, after Chile, El Peruano reported on 16 January.

Venezuela has a new foreign minister

Venezuela's bed-ridden President Hugo Chávez Frías appointed the former vice-president Elías Jaua Milano foreign minister on 15 January; the appointment was announced in parliament by the outgoing minister and acting president Nicolás Maduro, the state news agency AVN reported. Jaua who was also made vice-president for political affairs, told Venezuelan television that his "fundamental task" would be to defend and maintain Venezuela's "political stability and unity as well as Venezuela's independence, both on the internal front and the international front," AVN reported. The foreign ministers of Ecuador and Brazil were the first to congratulate him by telephone. The foreign ministry thanked them in a statement also confirming scheduled meeting in coming days between Jaua and the foreign ministers of Colombia and Ecuador, El Universal reported. The nomination was said to have been made by Chávez himself, whose signature was shown on the appointment published in the official gazette the next day, El Nacional reported. This seemed to corroborate declarations that his health was improving; the daily cited the Information Minister Ernesto Villegas as saying that he was "climbing back up the hill." The president underwent surgery for cancer the previous December.

General suspects Colombia's FARC arming amid talks

While negotiating peace with the Colombian government in Cuba, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were thought to have "increased" arms purchases "since the peace process began," Spain's EFE reported on 13 January, citing remarks by the Ecuadorean general commanding troops on the frontier with Colombia. Brigadier-General Fernando Proaño Daza, commander of some 12,000 troops in northern Ecuador, told EFE by telephone that a makeshift "arms workshop" was found in a house on 9 January in the Salado district in the northern province of Imbabura, yielding handguns, ammunition, pieces and related fabrication tools. Proaño said that "since the peace process began, trafficking has increased. We have caught a large quantity of ammunition, armaments and what we can determine is that they made use of this situation to strengthen their situation anticipating what could happen in the future." The FARC declared a two-month ceasefire due to end on 20 January, and Colombian officials were expecting a resurgence of attacks after that. The arms found on 9 January were described as destined for illegal groups, which could include drug traffickers. Separately a former provincial legislator was cited on 10 January as saying that Colombia seemed to be negotiating with no more than 30 per cent of the FARC and that judging by recent clashes, certain FARC military "blocks" were absent at the talks. Sigifredo López, a former hostage of the FARC, said the "so-called south-western blocks" formerly led by the late FARC chiefs dubbed Alfonso Cano and Mono Jojoy were not participating "and the proof is that every day there are clashes in south-eastern and south-western Colombia," El Espectador reported. He did not elaborate. The FARC and government negotiators resumed peace talks in Havana on 14 January.

In days, over 70 reported killed around Mexico

Eight were reported killed or found dead on 15 January in separate incidents in the Mexican states of Coahuila, Estado de México and Chihuahua. Three of these were employees of the Mexican transport ministry reported as missing on 14 January in the northern city of Torreón in Coahuila; they were found dead the next day, apparently "tortured" before being killed, Proceso reported. The review reported the deaths of 41 people around Mexico between 11 and 14 January, including 19 killed in the capital in the 12-14 period. These apparently were distinct from 21 reported killed on 13-14 January in the northern states of Chihuahua and Nuevo León and Estado de México in central Mexico. Five of the dead here were suspected criminals shot by the army in the district of Cadereyta in Nuevo León, Proceso reported on 14 January. On 13 January two were gunned down while driving in the Caribbean island resort of Cozumel, in the state of Quintana Roo; the local governor promised an immediate inquiry and "zero tolerance" for crime on the island, Proceso reported. The same day a mother and her daugher of unspecified age were found shot dead in the district of Tlahualilo in the northern state of Durango, Proceso reported observing that the incident was amid two days of "extreme" violence in that part of the state. Mexico City's mayor reportedly declared on 13 or 14 January that the 19 killings registered in the capital on 12-14 January were unusual but unrelated to drug cartels, and overall security was "assured" in the city. Miguel Ángel Mancera, speaking in the capital, said authorities were investigating and "the instruction I have given very clearly is that there be no impunity...the important point here is that there will be no impunity." Some of the killings occurred in the districts of Iztapalapa and Gustavo A. Madero, where authorities have pursued a disarmament programme intended to reduce killings, Proceso observed.