lunes, 21 de enero de 2013

Homicides continued unchecked in Honduras in 2012

Honduras remained one of the world's most murderous countries in 2012 as its homicide rate remained steady and very high over 2011-12, a university-related body found; observers expressed disappointment at the government's apparent failure to curb violent crime. Expressed as a rate per 100,000 inhabitants, homicides declined slightly from 86.5 in 2011 to 85.5 in 2012, according to a table compiled on 16 January by the Observatorio de la Violencia, a body affiliated to the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH). This may have been for a population increase, for homicides increased in this period from 7,014 to 7,172, El Heraldo reported, citing the Observatorio. There were slight differences with figures earlier reported for 2011. El Heraldo observed that the rate rose some 20 points in the presidency of Porfirio Lobo Sosa, a conservative who took office on 27 January 2010, from a rate then of 66.8/100,000. Presumably based on the Observatorio's accumulated figures, it counted 20,513 violent deaths over 1,095 days of the current presidency. Cited in terms of its daily frequency, the homicide rate in 2012 was 19.65 - meaning almost 20 people were killed around Honduras each day - compared to 19.47 for 2011. The daily also noted: the vast majority of such fatalities in 2012 - 6,565 - was among men while more than a quarter of all reported homicides since January 2010 occurred in the northern department of Cortés. The departmental capital San Pedro Sula is reported as one of the most violent cities in the world. The government's anti-crime measures have included placing security cameras around the capital, and moves to purge the police force of corrupt or criminal members.

Travel increased in Colombia in 2012

The flow of travel in and out of Colombia increased 17.7 per cent in 2012 compared to 2011, with over 1.4 million more people legally entering and leaving the country at all entry points, El Espectador reported on 19 January, citing figures given by the state migration office. Travellers were numbered at a little over 9.44 million in 2012, just over 1.42 million more than in 2011 and representing the largest number in decades, the Foreign Ministry's Migración Colombia declared. Its head Sergio Bueno Aguirre was reported as saying that just over six million of the travellers were Colombians, and their favoured destinations in numerical terms were the United States (979,230 went there in 2012) Venezuela (475,007), Panama, Ecuador, Spain (187,469) and Mexico (134,748). Migración stated that just under 1.7 million foreigners entered Colombia in 2012, 65.4 per cent of them being tourists. The main groups among these consisted of citizens of the United States (327,721), followed by those of Venezuela (251,475), Ecuador, Argentina, Spain (94,910) and Peru. The capital Bogotá hosted most foreign visitors (907,815) in 2012, followed by the Caribbean resort of Cartagena de Indias (206,846), Medellín (166,407) and Cali (112,313). If travel were an indicator of Colombia's increasing security and prosperity, rising property prices in the capital were another. Colombia's Central Bank observed a 5.1 per-cent year-on-year rise in property prices in Bogotá in the third quarter of 2012, La República reported on 21 January. Observers of the housing market told the daily that while the capital was not for now the setting of a speculative housing bubble, demand for housing currently exceeded supply.

Colombian guerrillas renew attacks, end ceasefire

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) ended their two-month ceasefire on 20 January by bombing power installations in the southern department of Putumayo and exchanging fire with police in several parts of the country. The ceasefire, declared but not strictly respected by the FARC, was intended to act as a fillip to ongoing peace talks with the Colombian government. The broadcaster Caracol reported attacks on a pipeline and a power pole that provoked an oil spill in the former case and a temporary blackout in the latter in three districts of western Putumayo. The police also said they exchanged fire with the FARC that day in the locality of El Placer in that department, Europa Press reported. A police helicopter was fired on by suspected FARC guerrillas just before the end of the ceasefire on 19 January, in the south-western district of Jambaló in the Cauca department. Caracol television showed police firing back with a machine gun from the helicopter, which was taking police reinforcements to the district of Jambaló. The Cauca's police chief Ricardo Alarcón told Caracol that police were re-trained and "exhaustively" prepared for renewed guerrilla actions at the end of the ceasefire; the broadcaster reported that more than 250 policemen were sent to reinforce security in districts in northern Cauca threatened by the FARC, namely Toribío, Jambaló, Caldono. In the northern department of Nariño, the FARC attacked a police station in the district of Tumaco, Caracol reported. Separately, state forces reportedly caught three suspects thought involved in the kidnapping of five mining employees in the department of Bolívar; the action was attributed to the National Liberation Army, the other communist guerrilla force in Colombia. President Juan Manuel Santos announced the captures at a Bogotá press conference on 20 January, observing that two of the detained were minors of unspecified age. He was speaking after an extraordinary security meeting to discuss the response to the end of the FARC ceasefire with the defence minister and army and police chiefs, the broadcaster Caracol reported.