miércoles, 3 de abril de 2013

Over 50 reported killed, found dead in Mexico in days

Every day in Mexico yields a steady stream of violent deaths - many related to drugs and cartels - that make corresponding figures in other Latin American countries seem paltry or risible. At least 51 were reported as killed or found dead from late 28 March to 2 April. The review Proceso counted at least 14 killings around the country on or just before 29 March; victims included five shot to death that day in a dispute between unspecified individuals gathered in a house in the north-western district of Sinaloa de Leyva, Proceso reported. At least 13 were killed on 30 March: these included a policeman who was among five shot dead in the state of Morelos, a decapitated body found in the northern frontier city of Juárez, and two men executed and left hanging from a bridge in Atizapán de Zaragoza in central Mexico, Proceso reported. It reported separately the kidnapping of five men described as in their 20s, while driving before dawn on 30 March in the west-coast state of Guerrero. An unnamed individual "who apparently escaped" from the incident was cited as saying that gunmen forced the five into three cars on a road between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo, in the district of Atoyac de Álvarez, Proceso reported. Five were shot dead and 16 injured on 31 March in attacks on two bars in the western city of Guadalajara, and nine dismembered bodies were found at the back of a van outside the north-eastern city of Victoria, Proceso reported. The review observed that a surge in violence in Ciudad Victoria was attributed to an intensifying turf war between the Gulf and Zetas cartels. Five presumed members of a family were murdered in a village outside the north-western resort of Mazatlán in Sinaloa early on 2 April, Milenio reported. They were found in the village of Chilacayota, three of them in a house "with torture marks," state prosecutors were cited as saying. These may have been among the 10 Proceso counted as killed on 2 April, as it stated six of them were killed in the state of Sinaloa. In the eastern state of Veracruz, authorities publicly presented on 2 April 10 municipal policemen detained at an unspecified date when they were caught selling drugs. State police and marines caught the policemen of the district of Coatepec selling synthetic drugs by a road outside the state capital Xalapa; firearms and "497 doses of green weed, apparently marijuana" were taken from their cars, Milenio reported on 3 April. The policemen confessed to complementing their policing work with drug dealing, while one admitted collaborating with an unspecified gang or cartel, Proceso reported.

Police counted 44 killings in El Salvador over Easter

El Salvador's National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil) counted 44 homicides around El Salvador between 23 and 31 March, which it stated was nine fewer than in the same period in 2012, La Prensa Gráfica reported on 2 April. The figures included deaths in drunken brawls and from gang activities. A deputy-head of the Police Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde reportedly attributed eight of the killings to drunken incidents, while the deputy-police chief for Public Security Howard Cotto said 26 were for "social violence...we have fully established that 12 of the 44 homicides, that is 27 per cent, were for fights between gangs." The police stated that the most violent departments for the period were San Salvador with 14 homicides, La Libertad, north west of San Salvador with six homicides, and Sonsonate on the Pacific coast with six. It was not immediately clear if the total figure included two women the daily reported as killed in the late hours of 31 March in the north-western district of Coatepeque. At least two other persons were reported killed around the country following the Easter period, including a man reported as kidnapped on 1 April, La Prensa Gráfica reported on 3 April. He was found shot dead on 2 April in Apopa north of the capital, one of the districts earlier declared as free of violent crime as part of an ongoing process to disarm the country's gangs. Officials maintain the truce has considerably reduced crime. On 2 April the country's Minister of Justice David Munguía Payés said on television that officials and personalities involved in the truce would soon tour Washington DC as guests of the Organization of American States, to inform politicians, think tanks and members of the Salvadorean community there about of the truce but also seek funding for the truce, which involves the social reintegration of criminals. The delegation would include Munguía, truce mediators and police officials, the Ministry website and La Prensa Gráfica reported on 3 April.

Youngsters gunned down in Medellín

Four young men including a 15-year-old were reported shot to death near a football pitch in Medellín, north-western Colombia, late on 1 April, though authorities were not yet sure why, the Medellín paper El Colombiano reported on 3 April. Unnamed witnesses reportedly told police that gunmen arrived and asked the men if they were selling drugs, and shot them with "automatic weapons" when given a negative response. A security official reportedly said the boys did not have criminal records but were reputed to have bought drugs at the spot. A policeman was separately shot dead in the district of Andes south of Medellín on 2 April when suspects sought to prevent policemen searching a property for arms, El Colombiano reported. A father and two sons were arrested over the shooting. Police also arrested at an unspecified date in the district of Necoclí on Colombia's north-western coast, a man identified as one of the regional bosses of the criminal gang Los Rastrojos. The suspect, dubbed el Pantera, was thought to be a head of the Rastrojos in the southern department of Nariño and to have fled to Necoclí from the district of Barbacoas in Nariño, El Colombiano reported on 3 April. Police suspected that the detainee was, while in hiding, busy networking with local criminals, El Colombiano observed.

Venezuelan leader says Hugo Chávez blessed him through a bird

In what is perhaps a modern, socialist, equivalent of an apotheosis, Venezuela's President and presidential candidate Nicolás Maduro has not shirked from linking his deceased predecessor to celestial affairs, first comparing his followers' grief for the death of Hugo Chávez to that of the Apostles for Christ, and now saying Chávez blessed him through "a tiny little bird" hovering over him on 1 or 2 April. This followed from a short cartoon he had placed on the Internet showing Chávez, who died of cancer in March, flying to Heaven as a bird, CNN reported on 2 April. Maduro made the comments on 2 April while addressing a crowd in the western district of Barinas at the start of the campaign for the 14 April elections. He said "a little bird" flew into a chapel where he was praying alone in the nearby district of Sabanetas, and flew three times above him, which he interpreted as a blessing from Chávez ahead of the polls, El Nacional reported. It seems however that credulity is not what it used to be, as the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has accused him of lying several times in recent months. There were no immediate reports of his reacting to the claims although Capriles vowed on the website Twitter to shortly inform voters of an unspecified but "very grave" matter relating to the elections, Globovisión reported on 3 April. The candidates began moving around Venezuela as the short campaign period began; Capriles was in the eastern district of Maturín in Monagas on 2 April, although reported earlier as starting his campaign in Barinas where the presidential party was gathered. In Maturín he criticized again the regime's largesse with Venezuelan petrodollars, telling a crowd "you know how oil resources are given away...used to present ambulances and police patrol cars to other countries, and give them light bulbs. Is that because nothing is needed any more in any neighborhood of Monagas? I think a lot is missing," Globovisión reported on 2 April. Separately on 3 April, the conservative president of Paraguay - which cut ties with Venezuela in 2012 - said he considered Chávez's death "a miracle" for the harm he had done to Paraguay. Venezuela was one of several American countries to isolate Paraguay after parliament sacked its Leftist president, Fernando Lugo; Paraguay was notably excluded from regional trading blocks. Federico Franco Gómez told a business gathering at the Ritz hotel in Madrid that "for me it is a miracle Mr Chávez should have disappeared from the face of the earth...yes, because he greatly harmed my country...Paraguay is not a territory for Bolivarian ideas," Europa Press reported. He accused Chávez of complicity in killings and kidnappings for having given asylum to a small militant group, the Paraguayan People's Army (El Ejército del Pueblo Paraguayo). Paraguay is to hold general elections in April 2013.