viernes, 24 de mayo de 2013

Ecuador's President begins second "and last" term

Rafael Correa Delgado began on 24 May his second term as President of Ecuador in ceremonies attended by foreign dignitaries and some heads of state, and after saying he would not aspire to a third term, agencies reported. The official website El Ciudadano observed that the Government would seek in the 2013-17 term a "qualitative leap" in Ecuador's productive model to turn the state from an exporter of raw materials to one of added-value goods including oil-derived products. The new Vice-President Jorge Glas Espinel was expected to coordinate the implemention of these and other policies in "strategic" sectors. He would replace Lenín Moreno Garcés, the outgoing vice-president who sought not to show emotion while given a standing ovation by the assembly at the event. Leaders who attended Correa's inauguration were the presidents of Bolivia, Chile, Honduras and Venezuela; the Prince of Asturias represented Spain and Vice-President Amado Boudou Argentina, while Mexico sent its foreign minister, José Antonio Meade, El Universo reported. In contrast with other Leftists leaders of Latin America, Correa earlier ruled out running for a third presidential term in 2017, saying it would be a "failure" if his movement the Alianza PAIS (Patria Altiva i Soberana) could not designate a successor. Even in that case he said he would not repeat as President; he would apparently seek work as an academic in Belgium, the homeland of his wife, Perú 21 reported on 23 May. He was cited as saying that "we have worked these years to be as unnecessary as possible. We are all necessary, but nobody should be indispensable." Voters elected Correa with a clear majority in general elections on 17 February 2013.

American trade block ends summit in Cali, Costa Rica to join

The Seventh Summit of the Pacific Alliance (Alianza del Pacífico) of four Latin American states ended in Cali, Colombia on 23 May, with leaders confirming their resolve to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of traded goods and introduce a single tourist visa for all members, media reported. The block also accepted Costa Rica as its fifth member, though its membership would not be formalised before June 2013. Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos, the summit host, told the press in Cali that from 30 June when the Treaty would come into effect, tariffs would be removed from 90 per cent of goods traded between Colombia, Peru, Chile, Mexico and imminently Costa Rica, Spain's EFE agency reported. Tariffs he said would be removed on the remaining 10 per cent of goods, subject to a different timetable and conditions. Another of the summit's decision was to introduce a single visa for travellers visiting the five member states, the Visa Alianza del Pacífico. This Santos said, was the "fast and efficient" way to boost visits to member states' "many tourist attractions," CNNMéxico reported. The Alliance's new member in principle Costa Rica was to overcome certain legislative and administrative stages before becoming a full member, Costa Rica's La Nación reported on 24 May. Its President Laura Chinchilla was cited as saying that she was in a hurry to "leave this done," before she was to leave office in a year, for which reason she had asked members to hasten its adhesion. She signed on 22 May a free-trade treaty with Colombia, which the Costa Rican parliament was to debate and approve alongside an adhesion treaty to the Alliance, La Nación reported. The daily observed that Alliance nations currently represented "214 million potential customers," 55 per cent of the region's trade and about a third of Latin America's Gross Domestic Product or sum of goods and services produced in a given period.

Falling crime figures make Suba one of Bogotá's safer districts

The Bogotá Government Secretary Guillermo Jaramillo Martínez reported a drop in killings and other "high-impact" crimes in the district of Suba in northern Bogotá in May, showing he said how authorities had made good their pledge to further curb crime in what seemingly has become one of Bogotá's safer districts, the Secretary's webpage reported on 23 May. Jaramillo coordinates the capital's security policies and is effectively a deputy-mayor. Police figures showed a 32 per cent drop in all "high-impact" crimes in that suburb in the period 7-21 May compared to the same period in 2012, and specifically a 25 per cent drop in homicides, a 39 per cent drop in house thefts and 22 for muggings for the same periods. Both police and the Government Secretary attributed this to actions undertaken since a security meeting held in Suba on 6 May, attended by officials including the President, the Minister of Defence and the Mayor of Bogotá. That meeting observed an established downward trend in crime in Suba, which was desribed as having over one million residents and a homicide rate for 2012 of 6.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. The Municipality cited an average homicide rate of 13.8/100,000 for all of Bogotá.

FARC guerrillas attack Colombian forces, seven killed

Guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) killed seven soldiers and state personnel on 23 May in two attacks in the northern departments of Antioquia and La Guajira, the country's media reported. In the district of San Andrés de Cuerquia in Antioquia, suspected sharpshooters from the FARC's Front 36 shot dead three soldiers, provoking a gun fight in which an unspecified number of guerrillas may have been injured, Caracol radio reported. Three soldiers were also wounded. The newspaper El Colombiano reported that two FARC guerrillas died in this attack and two were injured and arrested. An ambush attributed to Front 59 of the FARC in La Guajira killed two policemen and two immigration officials, Caracol reported. The assailants were said to have thrown grenades or explosives at two cars travelling between the districts of Maicao and Paraguachón near Venezuela's frontier, killing the head of the Migration office in Paraguachón, another Migration officer and two policemen travelling behind them. A female deputy-head of Migration in that district was injured, Caracol reported. Authorities also raised to 11 the number of soldiers killed on 22 May in an attack by Colombia's other guerrilla force the National Liberation Army (ELN), Caracol reported on 23 May. Separately, police and state investigators caught at an unspecified location a suspected member of the FARC's Tenth Front, the presumed guerrilla dubbed SombrerónBogotá's Radio Santa Fe reported on 23 May. The detainee was suspected of involvement in gunfire attacks on police in the north-eastern district of Arauquita and on Navy ships, and in killings of policemen in unspecified incidents.