miércoles, 6 de marzo de 2013

Criminal killings continue around Mexico

Some 20-25 people were killed or found dead in presumed criminal incidents in Mexico on 4 March, 12 of them including four policemen, in the north-western state of Sinaloa, Proceso reported. The review counted 30 presumed victims of crime around Mexico for 3-4 March. The policemen were said kidnapped from a security post or office in the district of Rosario in Sinaloa on 4 March and found dead within hours alongside three civilians, the review reported, citing comments from the mayor of Rosario. Victims of the day included two Guatemalans aged 19 and 17 killed in the southern state of Chiapas, and five people killed in the western state of Michoacán. The Guatemalans were found with their throats slit in a bar where they worked near Guatemala's frontier, their employer reportedly said. On 5 March two men were shot dead in the districts of Empalme and Esperanza in the north-western state of Sonora, Milenio reported, and five were killed in Mexico City early that day, Proceso reported. On 4 March, authorities in Estado de México, the state outside the capital, blamed the cartel Familia Michoacana and "independent groups" for a recent surge in crime and killings in the state. Eleven or more deaths were reported in the state over 1-3 March, according to Proceso. The state's response includes boosting coordination between municipal and state police forces in 119 of the state's 125 municipal districts, in the form of a Coordinated State Police (Policía Estatal Coordinada) under a Single Command (Mando Único). The governor of Estado de México Eruviel Ávila Villegas signed a document on 4 March establishing the Single Police Command in 119 municipalities that have accepted a deal that may reduce their policing powers, Proceso reported. Ávila said the plan was intended to "back" the districts, home to 90 per cent of the state's population he stated, and "for that we shall be respectful of their own form, plans and strategies. The intention is to give people more security." The army and Federal Police separately disarmed on 4 or 5 March 80 municipal policemen of the district of Tlaquiltenango in the state of Morelos, following the district police chief's arrest on 3 March for suspected ties to crime, and took over the district's security while the policemen had their backgrounds checked. The mayor of Tlalquiltenango later said only 36 of the policemen were found have legal permits to carry arms, Proceso reported.

Election body confirms Correa's victory in Ecuador polls

Ecuador's electoral authority the CNE confirmed that the sitting President Rafael Correa Delgado was re-elected in general elections held on 17 February, winning 57.1 per cent of all votes cast with all votes counted, Agence France-Presse reported on 4 March. Correa won a little more than 4.9 million of just over 9.467 million votes cast, and his runner-up the banker Guillermo Lasso won a few more than 1.9 million, or 22.7 per cent of votes. The third and fourth candidates in terms of votes were the former president Lucio Gutiérrez with 6.7 per cent of votes and the conservative Mauricio Rodas with 3.9 per cent, the CNE (Consejo Nacional Electoral) indicated on 6 March. Correa would begin new mandate on 24 May. The President's political group, Alianza PAÍS appeared to have won just over 52.3 per cent of votes cast for National Assembly lists according to the CNE's count on 6 March, followed by the Movimiento CREO, the party of Guillermo Lasso and described as liberal, which won 11.42 per cent of votes. The council did not immediately specify what this signified in terms of seats, but PAÍS was expected to win an absolute majority or about 100 of 137 legislative seats, the daily El Ciudadano reported on 6 March.

Colombian leader says peace with FARC "best tribute" to Chávez

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos said on 5 March that he "profoundly" regretted the death of Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez and described peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as "the best tribute we can make to the memory" of a president who became in 2012 one of the facilitators of a tentative peace process between Colombia and the FARC. Santos said the tribute to Chávez was "to make real that dream he shared with us of reaching an agreement" to end Colombia's decades-long civil conflict "and see a Colombia in peace," the presidential website stated. Colombia's relations with Venezuela improved under Santos who took a softer line than his predecessor with Venezuela's socialist regime and its barely-concealed sympathies for the FARC. Santos recalled, speaking at an unspecified place, that on 10 August 2010, "on the third day of my Presidency, we sat down in...Santa Marta, face to face without any witnesses but our own consciences and sense of responsiblity," and began to discuss "the reconstruction of relations" between Colombia and Venezuela. The Colombian daily El Tiempo considered on 5 March the history of ties and contacts between Venezuela and the FARC, revealed in part by FARC documents or digital information found in such army operations as the raid on a FARC camp in Ecuador in March 2008 that killed 17 guerrillas including the commander dubbed Raúl Reyes. Such documents the daily observed indicated at the very least a personal sympathy for the FARC, which Venezuela and Chávez did not deny as vehemently as they did charges made in Colombia of their assisting the FARC with money or more. After the 2008 raid, Chávez expelled Colombia's ambassador, moved tanks the border and observed a minute's silence for the guerrillas killed on his regular, word-filled television programme Aló Presidente.

Venezuela mourns its president

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez Frías died on 5 March, succumbing to a recurring, aggressive cancer he had fought with resilience and the help of a panoply of often painful treatments including surgeries. He was effectively  hidden from the public following his last surgery in December 2012, confined to hospital beds in Havana then Caracas, while officials urged Venezuelans to pray for the President's recovery. His death was announced by the Executive Vice-President Nicolás Maduro Moros who observed - visibly distressed - that Chávez "put up a hard fight" against cancer for two years. Authorities declared seven days of mourning in Venezuela, while "thousands" came onto the streets in a public display of grief, Europa Press reported. On 6 March his body was taken from hospital to the Military Academy in Caracas where a state ceremony was scheduled for 8 March, attended by heads of state. The presidents of Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay were already in Caracas that day, La Nación reported, while Argentina, Cuba and Chile declared three days of mourning and Bolivia, a week, EFE reported. Latin American leaders promptly expressed sympathy and sadness, perhaps with greater sincerity than elsewhere given the personal relations Chávez forged with many regional politicians and for having become a familiar figure of television and radio across the Hispanic world. Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff said a "great Latin American" had died and one who had been "very generous with all those who needed him on this continent," Europa Press reported on 5 March. El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes described Chávez in a message as "one of the strongest and most popular Latin American leaders" who "changed the...inequality and exclusion" Venezuelans had "suffered before he took power" in 1998, Venezuela's state news agency reported. Vice-President Maduro was expected to become Venezuela's acting leader and elections were to be called within 30 days, Argentina's La Nación reported on 6 March.