jueves, 11 de abril de 2013

Opposition supporter killed in Venezuela as presidential campaigns close

A campaign coordinator for the opposition candidate in Venezuela's 14 April presidential elections was kidnapped on 8 April and later found dead, while masked men on motorbikes attacked opposition supporters after an event on 10 April, injuring 14, media reported. There was to be no more campaigning or publicity after 11 April. Juan Aranda was a coordinator for the liberal candidate Henrique Capriles Radonsky in Pedro María Ureña in the eastern state of Táchira. The killing was being investigated, although the opposition's local campaign chief Alejandro García said he suspected it was politically motivated. Relatives declared that Aranda and colleagues had earlier crossed a group of government supporters while campaigning locally but no incident had occurred, Colombia's Caracol radio reported on 10 April, citing Venezuela's El Universal. The daily separately reported an attack on opposition supporters after a campaign gathering in the nothern district of Mérida on 10 April. Masked men riding bikes began pushing and beating Capriles supporters as they left a gathering, and police were said to have done nothing, Europa Press and El Universal reported. One witness of the attack was the Archbishop of Mérida Baltazar Porras Cardozo, who observed that police let him know they had been ordered not to intervene against those "wearing red." Capriles told the BBC in Caracas on 10 April that - in spite of a contrary impression among observers - he believed he could win the presidency on 14 April as he was now a "national leader" competing against "a very bad candidate," the Acting President Nicolás Maduro. Capriles lost to Hugo Chávez in the elections of October 2012, but he told the BBC he won 45 per cent of votes then "with less than this force," presumably referring to his current support. He suggested the government could not garner more than six million votes without Chávez, while "my take-off point is seven million votes." Should he win, he said, he would seek to work with, not confront, state institutions he said were currently run by "partial" figures and government appointees. He deplored the "fear" he said government propaganda was sowing, as it sought to "make many people believe they will lose something if Capriles wins. They will lose nothing."

Colombia detains guerrilla captain, gang suspects

Colombian authorities caught on 11 April a commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) sought for multiple killings, and detained several gang suspects and apparent members of a paramilitary gang earlier said to have demobilized. The FARC captain dubbed Coyote was detained in the town of Arauquita in the north-eastern department of Arauca; he was thought involved in an assault in 1988 on the southern town of Miraflores, wherein 16 soldiers and policemen were killed and 22 policemen later ordered kidnapped. A police post and municipal buildings were destroyed in that attack, Caracol radio and EFE reported. Coyote, described as head of the Camilo Torres Front in the Jorge Briceño Block, was also suspected of having organized kidnappings and extortions. Police separately caught at an unspecified date a gang chief dubbed Monstrico or César, and three presumed associates armed with rifles and machine guns, after raiding an estate at an unspecified location, media reported. Monstrico was identified as head of the Meta Block, itself part of a paramilitary and criminal outfit known as ERPAC (Ejército Revolucionario Popular Anticomunista de Colombia), El Colombiano reported, citing declarations by the national police chief José Roberto León Riaño. The ERPAC was described as active in trafficking drugs among other activities in the eastern departments of Meta and Vichada. León said police almost caught another criminal dubbed Pijarvey, said to be fighting ERPAC for control of drug routes in eastern Colombia; four suspected associates of Pijarvey were however detained, he said, without giving dates.

Over 60 killed around Mexico in days, minister says crime down

Thirty nine were reported executed or killed in gunfights around Mexico from late 9-10 April, 14 of them at least in the western state of Michoacán, Proceso reported. In that state the army and police shot dead between 14 and 17 suspected criminals or armed civilians in gunfights in the districts of Uruapan and Apatzingán. Authorities identified one of the dead as head of the cartel Caballeros templarios in several districts of Michoacán including Uruapan, La Jornada reported on 11 April. The 39 also included seven executed in the Pacific resort of Acapulco, five of whom were young men found almost naked, with "torture" signs on their bodies. Two messages left beside them alleged they were thieves or kidnappers, and warned "the cleansing has begun." Another victim in Acapulco was a local policeman shot to death after leaving his children at school. Seven were separately executed in the north-eastern state of Tamaulipas over 6-8 April, including two identified as army informants and thought killed by the Zetas cartel, Proceso reported. The review counted "at least" 15 other victims of crime on 8-9 April. These included a local director of the steel firm ArcelorMittal, found dead in a ditch near the port of Lázaro Cárdenas in Michoacán, three armoured-van guards shot in Zamora in Michoacán, three women including a mother and daughter shot dead in Acapulco and a 19-year-old with a criminal record apparently executed in the north-western city of Ciudad Obregón. On 10 April, the interior ministry (Gobernación) stated in a report that murders and kidnappings dropped in Mexico in the first four months of the government of Enrique Peña Nieto, who took power on 1 December 2012. The interior minister, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, told the press that the report showed a 17.1-per-cent fall in homicides and 25-per-cent drop in kidnappings in that period compared to the last four months of the preceding presidency, La Crónica de Hoy reported. Osorio said this was an incipient "trend" subject to immediate changes: "nobody, I am saying it is very early, should be surprised if this tends to go up or...down....we are aware we still have some way to go and the result Mexicans expect," he said. The ministry report counted 4,249 victims of  homicides - many thought linked to drugs and cartels - from December 2012 to 25 March or the end of March 2013, compared to 5,127 victims for the last months of the government of Felipe Calderón. Osorio Chong also compared 202 registered homicides for the first week of April 2013 to the 308 reported killed in the same week in 2012.