miércoles, 20 de febrero de 2013

Farmers denounce suspect killings in Honduras

A land activist in Honduras warned on 19 February that killings of farmers and "repression" would not "silence peasants but sharpen the conflict for land" there, speaking after the latest killings of two farmers, one the brother of a lawyer shot in September 2012, the Associated Press reported. The promotion of commercial farming in the Lower Aguán zone in northern Honduras has provoked an ongoing conflict between the local peasantry and commercial farming concerns. Rafael Alegría told AP in Tegucicalpa that nine peasants had been killed in the Aguán valley in 2013 and more than 89 "in the past two years." The latest were Santos Cartagena and José Trejo, killed in the department of Colón on 16 February. Trejo was a cooperative farmer and member of MARCA (Movimiento Reivindicador Campesino del Aguan), one of several groups defending peasants' rights and interests. His brother Antonio Trejo, a lawyer who defended activists, was shot in late September. Cartagena was in the United Peasant Movement of Aguán MUCA (Movimiento Unificado Campesino de Aguán); both were apparently killed in and around the district of Tocoa. AP reported that a court recently confirmed Trejo's MARCA movement as owners of the San Isidro Cooperative, formerly controlled by one of the country's main landowners, Miguel Facussé. His name seems to appear and recur in media when assassinations occur but he has in the past rejected allegations of any involvement in acts of violence. On 20 February four peasant associations issued a communiqué denouncing the government's land policies and observing that recent killings closely followed peasants' recuperation of two estates on 17 February. The associations blamed the conflict on previous governments' land reform legislation of the 1990s and to the present parliament's eagerness to hand over "our country's most productive regions" to foreign investors by designating them as Development Regions.

Armed locals in Guerrero hand over last detainees

The "community police" of Ayutla and other districts in the state of Guerrero in western Mexico surrendered to authorities on 20 February 20 criminal suspects held since January and freed 19 considered more or less innocent, provisionally ending an episode of unrest that had unnerved state authorities and politicians. These were reportedly the last of 54 suspects the residents had detained in the Costa Chica part of Guerrero, in an angry and spontaneous initiative against crime. They appeared already to have triggered similar initiatives around Mexico. The 20 were taken to the offices of the chief prosecutor of Guerrero, Excelsior reported. This and a previous handover of 11 detainees to authorities appeared to be the result of agreements between Guerrero and the Union of Peoples and Organizations of the State of Guerrero (UPOEG), which has coordinated the mobilisation of indigenous residents. As elsewhere in Mexico locals have doubted authorities' willingness and resolve to catch and punish criminals. The president of the Higher State Court (Tribunal Superior del Estado TSJ) of Guerrero was cited as saying that the 11 handed over earlier were in provisonal detention as investigations proceeded. While such initiatives have prompted public concerns, one senator for Guerrero Sofío Ramírez has said he would propose a constitutional amendment in the Senate to recognize community policing as a part of indigenous customs. The head of the Leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) Jesús Zambrano has said in turn that these are "not uprisings against the Mexican State" but an "urgent call" for the state to be "present" locally. So far officials have been talking to the militias. On 13 February residents of Santos Reyes Nopala in the neighbouring state of Oaxaca agreed to dissolve a similar community police after talking to state and municipal officials; they had formed their police force two days earlier, Excelsior and Notimex reported.

Crime kills 40, officials said kidnapped in Mexico

About 40 were killed or found dead through 15-18 February across Mexico in shootouts or suspected executions by gangsters; one shooting death occurred unusually at midday in a Mexico City district frequented by tourists. A man was shot in that incident on 15 February as he left a bookshop in the Zona Rosa, a district of bars, eateries and offices popular with youth and tourists, Proceso reported. He was one of at least 16 the review reported as killed or found dead around Mexico on 14-15 February. These also included two whose bones were unearthed outside Acapulco in the west-coast state of Guerrero and two decapitated corpses found late that day, hanging from a bridge in the north-western state of Sinaloa. Proceso counted seven suspected crime victims in the states of Jalisco and Estado de México on 16 February. On 17 February a student was found shot dead in the western district of Chilpancingo. Three students were reported injured in Cuernavaca on the night of 16-17 as a gang of 15 broke in a robbed a student house party. Proceso counted 15 or more suspected victims of crime found on 17-18 February. These included a federal prosecutor and a man identified as his brother, found shot dead at the back of a car in the district of Ciénaga de Flores north of Monterrey. Another brother - the police chief of the district of Nuevo Laredo - was apparently missing on 18 February, Proceso reported. On 19 February, a senior detective from the northern state of Nuevo León was shot dead in the district of Apodaca, Excelsior reported. Two municipal officials and a former state official were also suspected to have been kidnapped in western and central Mexico. The mayor of Huitzuco de los Figueroa in Guerrero, his municipal finance officer and their driver were missing as of late 17 February and may have been kidnapped while driving betweeen Huitzuco and nearby Iguala, Milenio reported on 19 February. The former finance chief of the state of Morelos, Alfredo Jaime de la Torre, was in turn thought kidnapped on 18 February at his office in the district of Temixco, Proceso reported.

Colombia strikes at rebels, local chief surrenders

The Defence Ministry reported on 19 February "important strikes" against rebels of the Southern Block of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including the "neutralisation" - killing or detention - of some 10 guerrillas in operations in southern Colombia. In the district of El Paujil in the Caquetá department troops found an explosive cache in an operation wherein they killed two presumed FARC fighters and detained one; these were identified as members of the Teófilo Forero mobile column. The ministry reported that two fighters of the Southern Block surrendered to troops in the districts of Florencia and La Montañita; one was identified as a radio operator and girlfriend of the guerrilla chief dubbed Charapo caught on 14 February. Troops and police detained four presumed members of the FARC in the southern district of Puerto Asís suspected of having blown up the district police station on 16 February. A FARC fighter was killed in a shootout with troops near the district of San Miguel in the Putumayo department, which apparently prevented an attempt by the FARC to bomb a pipeline running to the nearby district of Orito. The ministry reported the same day that a fighter dubbed Caracho or Efrén, identified as third-in-command of the FARC's Seventh Front, surrendered to troops on 18 or 19 February in the countryside of the south-eastern district of San José del Guaviare. One of his soldiers also left the guerrilla when he found out his chief had surrendered, the ministry stated. Caracho reportedly joined the FARC in 1991 at the age of 12; the ministry website counted him as the 13th FARC field commander to surrender so far in 2013.