martes, 30 de abril de 2013

Dozen killed in northern Mexico, police hold kidnappers, fuel thieves

Eight people were shot dead around the north-eastern state of Nuevo León on 27-28 April including three traffic policemen, while gunmen shot dead three policemen as they "terrorised" a town in the northern state of Chihuahua on 27 April. The victims in Nuevo León included: four people shot dead and eight injured by gunmen in an eatery in the district of Guadalupe next to the state capital Monterrey, and three traffic policemen shot dead in two incidents in Juárez and Apodaca, east and north of Monterrey, Proceso reported on 28 April. The night before some 20 gunmen entered the town of Gran Morelos in Chihuahua where they shot dead three policemen and a resident, Proceso reported on 28 April, citing the regional El Diario de Chihuahua. Elsewhere in Mexico, authorities detained two gangs, one of suspected fuel thieves thought linked to the Zetas cartel and another of suspected kidnappers. In the latter case police freed four individuals held by the gang as they simultaneously raided buildings in the districts of Cuernavaca and Zacatepec in the south-central state of Morelos, Milenio reported on 29 April. The suspected fuel thieves, numbered at 16 or 18, were detained in the state of Hidalgo north east of the capital, Europa Press and Notimex reported on 29 April. Police found with them items including cash worth 1.2 million Mexican pesos equivalent to some 75,000 euros, and almost one million litres of crude oil stored in several buildings, Mexico's special prosecutor for organized crime Rodrigo Archundia Barrientos told the press.

Ten killed as armed residents fight suspected gangsters in western Mexico

"At least 10" were reported killed in the western Mexican state of Michoacán during gun fights between residents' self-defence groups and gunmen thought related to drug cartels, Europa Press reported, citing Mexican press reports. Gunmen were said to have entered the districts of Tepalcatepec and Buenavista Tomatlán early that day and attacked the community police, prompting a gun battle that killed 10 and injured seven on both sides; there may have been more casualties as some of the injured or bodies were removed from the area, the agency reported, citing the Mexican daily Milenio. Authorities closed schools and colleges the next day in Apatzingán, the main town nearby, Milenio reported on 29 April. Community police forces or self-defence groups have emerged in several localities and were initially reported as consisting of residents taking up arms against crime and criminal impunity derived from official corruption. Yet intermittent reports or allegations have in past weeks linked some of these to crime gangs, amid the confusion and secrecy that often surround criminal activities in Mexico. On 28 April, the head of one of the cartels active in Michoacán claimed that local self-defence groups were armed and backed by a rival cartel, and proposed his cartel and the state could discuss the security situation in Michoacán. In a video posted on the website YouTube, Servando Gómez Martínez, presumed head of the cartel Caballeros Templarios, said the cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación was arming self-defence groups in districts like Buenavista Tomatlán, Tepeque and La Ruana. Gómez proposed talks to improve security and help "fix things" in Michoacán, which he added might even prompt the Templarios to stop using firearms, CNNMéxico reported on 29 April.

Venezuelan opponents denounce "persecution" after presidential polls

Venezuela's opposition politicians denounced as political persecution the arrest and indictment of the government opponent and former army general Antonio Rivero, whom a colleague qualified as the first political prisoner of the government of President Nicolás Maduro. The arrest came amid persisting tensions for the opposition's refusal to accept Maduro's re-election on 14 April, and followed violent protests in parts of the country on 15 April. Authorities detained Rivero, a leader of the Popular Will (Voluntad Popular) party in the opposition coalition Table of Democratic Unity (Mesa de Unidad Democrática, MUD), on 27 April; his party leader Leopoldo López denounced this as "illegal, unjustified and illegitimate" writing on the website Twitter, and stated it was a step toward banning anti-government parties, Europa Press reported. The former presidential candidate and MUD leader Henrique Capriles denounced the arrest on 29 April as a bid to intimidate Venezuelans, Globovisión reported. On 30 April Rivero was charged with inciting hate and criminal association for his alleged role in protests that followed the 14 April elections. Rivero was said to have begun a hunger strike and was being held at his own request in the premises of the state security agency SEBIN (Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional), Europa Press reported. Leopoldo López and Capriles have also been warned they may be held, allegedly for inciting protests. Speaking earlier of the reasons for his arrest, Rivero told the broadcaster Globovisión on 26 April that the government had "taken out of context" declarations he made to opposition activists, which were filmed, and used them to accuse him of publicly inciting hate. He said he had explained to activists on 15 April how to bang pots and pans in protest and how to protect themselves if attacked, adding that Capriles had instructed followers to eschew violence, Globovisión reported on 27 April.