lunes, 27 de mayo de 2013

Police count over 150 criminal deaths around El Salvador in May

El Salvador's National Civil Police (PNC) counted 151 homicides or violent deaths in the country from 1 to 25 May, an average of six a day that indicated a slight decline through that month, the Salvadorean daily El Mundo reported on 26 May. Police put the average daily homicides rate at the start of May at 8.5, the daily reported. Official figures cited in past months have indicated a decline in violent crime since the start of a 2012 ceasefire between Mara street gangs and their stated pledge to gradually disarm. According to the PNC's acting head Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde there was a 40 per cent drop in homicides for the first five months of 2013, or 844 from 1 January to 25 May compared to 1,357 for the same period in 2012, El Mundo reported. He attributed this in part to greater police presence in areas where gangs were more active and to the selection so far of 10 districts around the country where gangs have pledged to desist from violence. Police declared however that car break-ins and thefts had increased in May 2013, according to complaints filed. The PNC declared there were 1,298 complaints to police over cars broken into or stolen between 1 and 19 May, compared to 1,128 complaints for that period in 2012, El Mundo reported on 26 May. Not all public figures in El Salvador are convinced by the Mara gangs' pledge to disarm, the country's director of public prosecutions recently calling their ceasefire a "sham" that allowed them to continue their criminal activities. Another critic was an aspiring candidate of the right-wing ARENA party for presidential elections due in February 2014; he urged the state on 24 May to make pacts with citizens not criminals. The government of President Mauricio Funes has denied it has made a pact with the Maras. Norman Quijano said he would not support "the pact made with criminals" if he were elected President, and urged instead a "Citizens' Alliance" (Alianza Ciudadana), the website lapagina.com reported. He said his plan was "basically about taking the side of citizens, of victims," and contrasted it with the "government's evident failure to stop the crime wave." The website cited an earlier poll that gave ARENA (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista) a slight lead in voting intentions. President Funes has in turn called Quijano ignorant and warned him that allegations made in some of his campaign publicity on the state making a pact with gangs were defamatory. Mr Funes was cited as saying on 25 May that Mr Quijano's chance of registering his candidacy could be jeopardised if the state were to prosecute him for calumny, lapagina.com reported.

Colombian troops capture FARC guerrillas, gang chief

Colombian authorities caught in recent days two suspected commanders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in operations in western and south-western Colombia. One, the presumed guerrilla dubbed Arquímedes or Alquímedes, was identified as the deputy-head of the Jacobo Arenas Mobile Column whose commander was shot in early May and described as "one of the army's main targets in south-western" Colombia since then, Caracol radio reported on 24 May. Arquímedes, said to coordinate guerrillas in eight districts in the northern part of Cauca, was caught early on 24 May near a bridge on the border between the Cauca and Valle de Cauca departments. Soldiers and intelligence agents caught in the western department of Risaralda another suspected FARC member named as José Eniller Lengua Gañán, Caracol radio reported on 25 May. The detained was described as in charge of 21 fighters from the FARC's Aurelio Rodríguez Front and engaged in extortion in Risaralda. In the west-coast district of Istmina in the department of Chocó, police caught early on 24 May a suspected gangster and former paramilitary dubbed Guacharaco, described as a member or head of a gang called Águilas Negras or Renacer, Caracol radio reported on 25 May. The suspect was sought for his suspected role in crimes including killings and extortions in Chocó; his group was said to be working with the gang Los Urabeños to exclude another gang the Rastrojos from control of drug routes in Chocó, Caracol reported.

Colombian, FARC envoys reach agreement on land as part of peace talks

Representatives of the Colombian state and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) reached an agreement on land use and distribution in Colombia, the first and a key part of talks being held in Cuba to end decades of internal conflict, agencies and press reported on 27 May. The two sides were to resume talks on 11 June and start discussing the second theme of talks, the FARC's possible participation Colombian public life if peace were attained, Reuters reported, citing the communiqué issued by the sides in Havana. The document stated that both sides had agreed on what would become "the start of radical transformations in Colombia's rural and agricultural reality, with equity and democracy. It is centred on people, the small producer, access to and distribution of land, the struggle against poverty, stimulus to agricultural production." Land use and ownership was a cause of extreme social tensions that provoked civil conflict in the 20th century and led to the FARC's creation in 1964. Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos wrote on the website Twitter that "we really, truly celebrate this fundamental step in Havana toward a full agreement to end half a century of conflict. We shall continue with prudence and responsiblity," Reuters reported. Colombia's Radio Santa Fe observed on 27 May that this and any agreement reached in Havana would only take effect once the sides reach a comprehensive and definitive agreement on all parts of their agenda. The land agreement's provisions included helping peasants with no land or insufficient land buy more with the help of a Land Fund for Peace (Fondo de Tierras para la paz), Radio Santa Fe reported.