viernes, 14 de junio de 2013

Lawyer gunned down in northern Honduras, Minister says crime down a little

A 32-year-old lawyer and aspiring politician was gunned down while driving in the northern Honduran district of Tocoa on 13 June, for motives that were immediately unknown. Walter Díaz Padilla was described as intending to stand as mayoral candidate for Trujillo for the Anti-Corruption Party (Partido Anti Corrupción, PAC); another lawyer travelling in his car was injured. Both were identified as employees of Dinant, an agro-industrial concern whose commercial farming activities in the Lower Aguán region have provoked conflict with the local peasantry, the Honduran daily La Prensa reported on 13 June. A firm spokesman was cited as voicing suspicions that peasant groups opposed to Dinant were behind the act, though he urged that the crime be investigated. The PAC's presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla deplored the killing and observed more generally that Honduras "was not like this" and had "fallen apart" in the previous decade; "we stopped being a country," he said. A spokesman for the country's National Human Rights Commission, Ramón Custodio, separately described violence in the Lower Aguán region that includes Trujillo as having the "characteristics of an internal armed conflict" and the Government must treat it "as such." On 10 June, the Security Minister Arturo Corrales Álvarez told parliament that 3,078 people were reported killed in Honduras from 1 January to 9 June, 160 less than in that period in 2012 (3,238). He said the figures were corroborated by the Public Ministry or state prosecutors, and the Observatorio de Violencia, a body affiliated to the national university, La Prensa reported on 11 June. The daily observed that the figures for the 160-day period signified a rate of 19.23 killings a day or 35.98 per 100,000 inhabitants. The army separately claimed on 12 June that its presence over four months had reduced killings in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, sometimes identified as the most violent in the American continent. General René Ponce, head of the 105th Infantry Brigade, said four months of patrols alongside the Police had led to 1,200 arrests in that district and to the homicide rate falling from 15-20 to seven a day, La Prensa reported on 13 June. "With the 24-hour presence of the Army and policemen on the streets, we have managed to reduce [killings]. There are days when there are only seven, or three and sometimes there are no violent deaths. Without the patrols the figures would be greater," the general said.