martes, 25 de junio de 2013

Policemen killed, kidnapped, detained, family massacred in Mexico

State investigators in the northern state of Nuevo León arrested at an unspecified date a purported kidnapping gang led by a 28-year-old municipal policeman from the district of Apodaca in that state, Proceso reported on 25 June. The six were held in Apodaca and El Carmen; their most recent kidnapping and one that apparently led to the gang's arrest was on 15 June when it managed to extort the equivalent of some 15,000 USD and a vehicle from an Apodaca businessman. The review observed that this was one of several recent cases of police or former policemen being involved in kidnapping and extortion. Authorities reportedly dismantled on 19 June a kidnapping gang in the north-western state of Baja California that included a former state policeman, it stated. In Mexico City prosecutors had detained on 6 June eight policemen accused of acts of extortion and "express" kidnappings in the capital, Proceso added. Separately three policemen of the district of Tancítaro in the western state of Michoacán were kidnapped and murdered on 25 June, the daily Milenio reported. The mayor of Tancítaro was cited as saying that the three were kidnapped while they patrolled the locality of El Pareo by car; their bodies were found by the district of Buenavista Tomatlán in that state. The head of the police telecommunications department in the west-coast district of Acapulco and a colleague were also reported missing since 19 June and were believed kidnapped, Proceso reported on 24 June, citing the regional daily El Sur. They too were thought kidnapped while driving in Acapulco. Proceso reported on 24 June that an "armed group" shot dead a family of five including children, as it drove in the district of Guadalupe y Calvo in the northern state of Chihuahua. The victims included a seven-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl.

Government to talk to protesting peasants in north-eastern Colombia

Colombian officials said they would talk again with representatives of some 7-14,000 peasants who have been blocking roads since 12 June in districts of the northern department of Norte de Santander, in protest at local poverty and the Government's bid to eradicate coca plantations providing many with a living, media reported on 24 and 25 June. Some officials have accused the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - the guerrillas thought involved in drug cultivation and trafficking - of infiltrating or organising the protests. The suspicion was strengthened when a FARC representative, the guerrilla dubbed Iván Marquez, stated the FARC's solidarity with the protests from Havana, the daily El Tiempo reported on 24 June. The Government stated that day it would talk to protesters from the Catatumbo region if public order were first restored, particularly in the districts of Tibú and Ocaña. After clashes with state forces in previous days, the districts were said to be calm then, although El Tiempo reported that some 7,000 peasants continued to block the roads from Tibú to Ocaña, Ábrego-Ocaña and Ocaña-Convención. Another of their demands was that the Government rescind mining permits given to foreign firms in this area. A Government team including local mayors, the Governor of Norte de Santander Edgar Díaz and the deputy-interior and agriculture ministers was to meet with protesters in Tibú to discuss grievances and plan a ministerial-level meeting, RCN la Radio reported on 25 June. Díaz told RCN radio that day that the protests were an understandable response to the state's neglect of the area for "30 years." He urged the Government to find alternatives to the coca cultivations it was eradicating. Meanwhile the country's Police chief rebuked regional police forces on 25 June for "doing nothing" to end road blocks he said could eventually become unmanageable, observing it was "no surprise people greatly miss" Colombia's former conservative president Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe reported. Mr Uribe vigorously fought crime and guerrilla activities while President from 2002 to 2010, and left office with high approval ratings. Police General José León Riaño might have been referring to a recent poll organized by the History Channel in which Mr Uribe won most votes as the most prominent or admired personality in recent Colombian history. General León told regional colleagues by video-conference that when Uribe was president, "there was a kidnapping and the commander was at the kidnapping site within an hour, leading rescue operations. There was a road block and it was unblocked within an hour, road blocks were not accepted. Not so today, we're blocking all over the place, waiting and waiting while road blocks escalate" until their resolution becomes "very complicated." He told colleagues not to "sit and wait for the conversation table," referring either to planned talks with protesters or ongoing talks with the FARC in Havana, which Colombian media term a Dialogue.