jueves, 17 de enero de 2013

President insists security improving in Honduras

President Porfirio Lobo Sosa has insisted that security in Honduras, one of the world's most violent countries, had improved in spite of assertions to the contrary by domestic and foreign observers, the daily La Prensa reported on 16 January. He told pressmen in the capital Tegucicalpa that "everyone feels" security had improved in Honduras even if "there will always be problems," adding that curbing crime was not in any case the task of government. He said he hoped the next government would "keep going, keep working on the security theme and the citizenry has to participate too, everyone must make an effort." He contradicted comments made earlier by his Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla Reyes who told a local radio station that 800 security cameras placed around the capital had stopped working as authorities owed the equivalent of some five million USD to the firm operating the cameras. Bonilla reportedly declared that the police radio-communication system was also about to be cut off; Lobo dismissed his comments as "a bit dramatic" and said the relevant firm had not "turned off" the capital's security cameras. The government was seeking ways to pay the firm's money, Lobo said. Some of Bonilla's comments were reported by the daily La Tribuna; he was cited as saying that cameras stopped working in early January, and blamed this on the government's cash shortage. According to La Prensa the government had a shortfall in revenues and state employees or some state employees in the health and education ministries but also the armed forces were not paid last December. It reported on 3 January that only about one tenth of a security tax imposed in 2012 to finance policing and security had been spent. The state collected some 857 million Honduran Lempiras (HNL), a little under USD 43 million, between April and 27 December 2012 but only about HNL 80 million had been spent so far, this by the Security Ministry. The tax brought in HNL 90 million in December alone, La Prensa reported. It cited the compaints of members of the business community dissatisfied with paying the tax as well as considerable amounts on private security.

Colombian troops kill guerrilla, arrest two

Troops shot dead a member of the National Liberation Army (ELN) in a gunfight on 15 or 16 January in the district of Pajarito north-east of the capital Bogotá, El Espectador reported. The daily stated that army operations were continuing in the area, in the department of Boyacá. One of the detained was described as a child or teenager of unspecified age, wearing a Colombian army uniform; he was handed over to child welfare authorities. Arms and ammunition were later confiscated.

Ten killed in Mexico, states to boost security

Ten were reported as found dead or gunned down in shootouts and executions around Mexico on 15-16 January. Five of these were killed in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas, including two cartel suspects shot by the army in Ciudad Victoria. Two others found dead in that city had a written message by them presumably placed by their assassins, alleging they had earlier kidnapped and murdered an army captain. The army confirmed the officer was buried in Ciudad Victoria on 13 January. A message left by the body of another victim found in Ciudad Victoria on 16 January alleged that he had been killed for thieving; authorities suspected he was killed by the Zetas cartel. Other killings that day occurred in the states of Durango and Estado de México and in the west-coast district of Acapulco, Proceso reported. One of the dead was a 16-year-old found with his throat slit in the Valle de Chalco district in Estado de México. A recent surge in killings in Estado de México in central Mexico, prompted authorities to consider deploying troops in its more crime-ridden districts. On 16 January the state's chief prosecutor Miguel Ángel Contreras Nieto blamed the recent surge on a fight between two criminal groups the Familia Michoacana and Guerreros Unidos; their turf war had killed 25 in the preceding 72 hours he said. While there was no "security crisis" in the state he declared, state and federal authorities were discussing the option of deploying troops, Proceso reported. Separately the governor of the eastern state of Veracruz Javier Duarte de Ochoa said state police would take over security in the Sotavento region in the state and specifically the district of Úrsulo Galván following the disappearance of eight municipal policemen there, Proceso reported on 16 January. He was apparently speaking in Úrsulo Galván, whose authorities have asked the state to take over its security. Duarte said state police would be acting in the framework of the Veracruz Seguro operation that has boosted the presence of state forces including troops around the state of Veracruz. He called on residents in the Sotavento zone to remain calm, while citing the operation's possible expansion to more districts. The Veracruz Seguro plan has so far seen increased police and military presence principally in the Veracruz-Boca del Río conurbation on the coast and in several districts with greater criminal activity.