jueves, 14 de febrero de 2013

Qatar's ruler brings delegation to Peru

The Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, arrived in Lima on 13 February, heading a senior delegation that would discuss trade and investment with senior officials including President Ollanta Humala, the website peru21 reported. The foreign ministry earlier described the visit as among the "auspicious results" of the summit of Arab and Latin American states held in Lima in October 2012. The government newspaper El Peruano stated in an opinion piece on 14 February that Peru signed in October 2012 a framework agreement on trade and cooperation with the Gulf Cooperation Council including oil-producing Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf. Qatar it observed had billions of dollars to invest in "safe markets with a stable and reliable economy like that of Peru" while Peru needed markets for exportations, particularly of food and farming products needed by Qatar, a state with little agriculture and much expendable income. This was reportedly the first state visit to Peru by a head of state from the Arabian peninsula, according to El Peruano. The Emir was also to visit Colombia and Ecuador.

Mexican state seeks to tame self-defence groups

Mexico's Interior Minister expressed understanding on 13 February at recent moves by residents of several districts in western Mexico to arm themselves against criminals and pledged agreements with them to improve their security. There were concerns meanwhile that people would take up arms elsewhere in Mexico, faced with the state's failure to curb rampant crime. Interior Minister Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong told a radio programme that community guards or community police formed in the state of Guerrero enjoyed the Mexican government's "full support" in an apparently consensual process to become regular policemen, La Crónica de Hoy reported. Osorio said community guards had provisionally agreed to remove their masks and hand over 40 suspected criminals they retained in the Costa Chica part of Guerrero. "We are looking for the protocols and mechanisms that will remove the concern from those holding these persons that at some...moment, tomorrow, they could be prosecuted and face charges for their actions...we want them to be very well protected [or reassured] that they did nothing on the margins of the law." Nobody should be surprised the state talked to them, he said, admitting Mexicans' growing desperation over crime. The minister cited agreements reached so far with the groups, including assuring locals that suspects detained in the future be duly prosecuted, and the election and training of certain local residents as policemen. The residents "responded positively and accepted, and we give them our full support" in this change, he said. The statements coincided in part at least with those of a leader of the self-defence movement in Guerrero Bruno Plácido Valerio, head of the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (UPOEG). He said local armed groups would become a "security system with the participation of citizens and institutions. We cannot continue as we are...Citizens are shouting for change. Officials cannot ignore the situation of insecurity we are living." The daily separately cited declarations by the native community of Tetelcingo in the south-central state of Morelos that the community would soon act against persistent crime given authorities' "lack of support." Local leaders reportedly vowed to form a local police but also warned criminals caught in flagrante could be lynched. An official of the central State of Mexico Efrén Rojas Dávila was in turn cited as saying that the state government believed locals may have formed self-defence groups in two districts, Amatepec and Tlataya. On 13 February the president of Mexico's National Human Rights Commission qualified self-defence groups as understandable but not constitutional; their spread he said could undermine government and was potentially "very dangerous to any state or democracy," Excelsior reported. Raul Plascencia Villanueva, speaking in Cuernavaca south of the capital, urged state authorities to do their work and prevent such "desperate measures...contaminating" other Mexican states.

Gunfight kills seven Colombian soldiers

Seven soldiers were killed fighting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on 13 February in the southern department of Caquetá, and four or five were reported injured; the army declared that FARC rebels had also died or been injured but the casualty number was unknown. Fighting erupted in a rural part of the district of Milán after troops moved in to prevent a suspected FARC attack on the nearby town or village of San Antonio de Getucha, RCN La Radio reported. Fighting was continuing that day and the land army commander General Alejandro Navas Ramos had moved to the area, Europa Press reported. Officials separately denied on 13 February reports issued by the National Liberation Army (ELN) that it had freed five mining employees taken hostage in northern Colombia on 18 January, and stated this could not yet be confirmed. The Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón told the ELN that day to emit fewer communiqués and free all hostages. He reminded them kidnapping was a crime against humanity for which they would later be held responsible, the ministry website reported. The hostages were two Colombians, two Peruvians and a Canadian, employees of the exploration firm Geo Explorer, Europa Press reported on 14 February.