viernes, 15 de febrero de 2013

Locals in Tabasco city warn will lynch thieves

Amid concerns about Mexicans arming themselves against crime in parts of the country, locals in Cárdenas in the south-eastern state of Tabasco were reported to have formed a protection group in one or two city neighbourhoods, following similar initiatives in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Michoacán. Thieves were warned in one public notice they would be lynched if caught red-handed, Proceso reported on 14 February. The residents have formed the United Neighbours (Vecinos Unidos) group, alleging that state and district authorities were unable or unwilling to curb crime. Their warning was written on sheets or banners hung in public, a practice favoured by drug cartels in Mexico. Another banner warned "we shall take our own measures" against anyone found entering into houses or caught spying, thieving or vandalising in that part of town. The review cited an unnamed resident of Cárdenas as saying that people were "terrified" by the surge in local crime - examples of which were not lacking. On 11 February two bodies and their heads were found in different parts of town, a former policeman was shot dead in the neighbouring district of Cunduacán on 12 February, a decomposing body with torture marks found that day in or near Cárdenas and a man executed in a bar there on 13 February. A prominent legislator said in Mexico City on 14 February that such groups could not usurp state authority in spite of the inability of some states to assure residents' security, La Crónica de Hoy reported. The leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in the lower legislative chamber, Manlio Fabio Beltrones, said no state governor could "take refuge or find a refuge for his incapacity in the presence of community guards." He said "let's not generate greater signs of ungovernability in the country." The head of the chamber's Public Security Committee Alejandro Montano Guzmán, also of the PRI, told the daily the government must "attend to" Mexicans' security needs not just "recognize" such initiatives. La Crónica separately reported that armed residents of Ayutla in Guerrero released four more of 54 suspected criminals they had detained in January, after they were found not to be in organized crime. Eleven were earlier handed over to the authorities and 39 appeared to remain in detention. The four were apparently cattle thieves and pledged to carry out unspecified community services.

FARC criticized for retaining hostages, rebel caught

The army and police detained a junior commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) early on 14 February in south-western Colombia, the Defence Ministry stated. The guerrilla dubbed Charapo o Alberto, head of the Edgar Tovar mobile column of the FARC's Southern Front, was caught in the Saladoblanco district of the department of Huila; the ministry stated Charapo may have taken part in the kidnapping of a French journalist in April 2012 and in roadside bombings in Huila, and was previously the third-in-command of Front 15 of the FARC. Separately President Juan Manuel Santos called "unacceptable" on 14 February the FARC's failure to release that day as promised two policemen kidnapped on 26 January, saying "there are no excuses for not freeing them." Santos said in the south-western district of Tumaco that "nobody understands" the FARC's excuse that the policemen could not be released on 14 February because the media were accompanying Red Cross officials going to the release zone, the presidential website reported. The mediator and former Leftist senator Piedad Córdoba cited 16 January as the next possible date of release, RCN La Radio reported on 14 February, citing Córdoba's comments on the website Twitter. She reportedly referred to the "handover of the policemen and soldier," which suggested that a soldier also being held might be freed.

Bogotá eases drinking rules in two districts

Bogotá's city government increased on 11 February the hours wherein alcohol could be sold and consumed in certain "commercial establishments," in two middle-class districts where violent crime was considered under control. The city would permit the "sale and consumption of liquors and intoxicating beverages" in a range of businesses from 10 in the morning to one in the morning - two hours more than before - in Teusaquillo and Chapinero, mid-town districts characterised by a mix of businesses, bars, restaurants and residential sections. The change applied to businesses including certain bars, department stores, supermarkets, wine shops, tobacconists and cigarette stands, the city website reported on 14 February. A deputy-mayor and head of security affairs at municipality Guillermo Asprilla Coronado said "our policy is that in territories where there is a continuous and persistent improvement in security, restrictions on liquor consumption can be made flexible...Teusaquillo and Chapinero have been studied and the security results are very good there." The city counted nine homicides in the Chapinero neighbourhood in 2012, reportedly 12 fewer than in 2011, and 12 in Teusaquillo or one less than in 2011. The municipality also counted fewer car accidents and injuries in these areas compared to 2011. Businesses not cited in the municipality list remained subject to restrictions on alcohol sale and consumption - permitted until 23.00 hours. Alcohol sale however was restricted in the north-eatern district of Usaquén in response to recent surge in crime, the broadcaster Caracol cited Asprilla as declaring on 14 February. He said the city was to boost security measures in parts of Usaquén, and alcohol could not be sold past 22.00 hours.