jueves, 25 de abril de 2013

Venezuela's Capriles says state "stole" elections, writer chides "complicit" neighbours

Venezuela's former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonsky accused the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro of "stealing" the 14 April elections, a bitterly fought contest whose results the opposition had yet to accept. The Table of Democratic Unity (Mesa de Unidad Demócratica, MUD) led by Capriles has demanded a recount of all votes and Capriles said on 24 April that the opposition would not settle for less. "We won't let them mock us, we will not accept a partial audit or some absurdity, and if there is no response we shall tell the country what our next steps will be," El Nacional reported. He said addressing the government, "you stole these elections...and you are the ones who must explain to the world what hapened." He accused the government of intimidating opinion and referred in particular to a video of the Venezuelan Labour Minister Ricardo Molina posted on the Internet, wherein he purportedly threatens to dismiss civil servants who voted for the opposition, without regard for labour laws. Molina later said his words were taken "out of context, they always do this." One of the country's academics alleged on 25 April that public-sector employees were being dismissed, apparently for having voted for Capriles. Ligia Bolívar, director of the Human Rights Centre at the Andrés Bello Catholic University (Ucab) in Caracas said "there is a disconcerting and massive situation of dismissals of civil servants for exercising the right to vote;" she suggested state agents had listened to people's telephone calls and said "mechanisms" for finding out who had voted for the opposition included checking the websites Twitter and Facebook, Globovisión reported. A web account had been opened she said - presumably on such websites - called Denounce the Traitor (Denuncia al traidor). Separately, the Peruvian novelist and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa rebuked Latin American leaders for their hasty recognition of the new Venezuelan government, calling them "accomplices against the Venezuelan people," EFE and other media reported on 23 April. Vargas Llosa made his comments to a Brazilian publication, Epoca. He said "Latin American presidents should not give legitimacy to a possible electoral fraud" by attending Maduro's inauguration. Maduro was sworn in as president on 19 April in the presence of foreign politicians and officials. These included all Latin American presidents except those of Chile, Ecuador and Paraguay, the latter presently having no ties with Venezuela. Vargas Llosa singled out Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff in this "deplorable" act of recognition, but said "she is not the only case." He observed that the close results and transfer of millions of votes to the opposition in spite of the government's "disproportionate" resources, "clearly mean" Venezuelans were reacting to the ideology of the late President Hugo Chávez and wanted "democratization...[a] change of policies. It is an important, perhaps fundamental moment in the history of Latin America."

Conservative becomes Paraguay's President

Paraguayans voted in Horacio Cartes of the conservative Colorado party as president on 21 April, in general elections expected to end the diplomatic isolation provoked by parliament's dismissal in 2012 of the elected, Leftist president, Fernando Lugo. the Liberal candidate Efraín Alegre was runner-up while Aníbal Carrillo, candidate of the Frente Guasu formation of former president Lugo obtained a small percentage of votes, Europa Press reported. Unasur - the Union of South American Nations - recognized the results and Cartes reportedly began contacts to hasten Paraguay's return to the southern trading block Mercosur, from which it was excluded after Lugo's dismissal. Venezuela's socialist President Nicolás Maduro spoke by phone to Cartes, discussing Paraguay's return to Mercosur and a normalization of bilateral ties, Europa Press reported on 24 April. The two states effectively severed ties after Lugo's fall, while their deteriorating relations recently degenerated into bitter verbal exchanges between Venezuelan officials and Paraguay's provisional government led by the conservative Federico Franco. Franco was to hand over power on 15 August, Europa Press reported. Cartes meanwhile named a transitional government team that included: Juan Carlos López Moreira, a businessman and close associate as the team's general coordinator, Leila Rachid Lichi, Paraguay's foreign minister in 2003-6, in charge of foreign affairs and the former Central Bank governor Germán Rojas Irigoyen as a provisional economy minister, ICN Diario reported on 24 April.

Colombian army shoots FARC guerrillas, talks scheduled with ELN rebels

Army planes bombed two camps of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in north-eastern Colombia at an unspecified date, in operations that killed three rebels and led to the arrest of two female guerrillas including a FARC "dentist," El Espectador reported on 23 April. One of the detained was identified as the guerrilla dubbed Yulitza or La Tota, dentist to the FARC's Front 10 who was in the district of Tame in the Arauca department to give treatment to members of the Alfonso Castellanos mobile column. Arms, explosives and dentistry equipment were confiscated, the army said. The army shot dead five other FARC rebels in undated operations in the countryside of the Puerto Rico district in the southern Caquetá department, El Espectador reported on 22 April. One of the dead was identified as Jorge Parrilla, presumed deputy-chief and accountant of the Teófilo Forero column. The army stated it also caught four other suspects in the locality of Alto Carmelo, described as members of the FARC's "support networks" presumably in Caquetá. Colombian and FARC representatives reportedly began their eighth round of peace talks in Havana on 23 April, while the government was expected to begin a similar process of talks in mid-May with the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional), the other communist rebel group in Colombia, El Espectador reported on 22 April. This followed weeks or months of informal contacts and expressions of interest on both parts, and would also take place in Havana. Each side was to have five negotiators, El Espectador reported on 22 April.