miércoles, 3 de julio de 2013

Over 2,100 shot dead in Guatemala in January-June 2013

Guatemalan Police stated that "about" 2,185 people were shot dead in the country between 1 January and 23 June 2013, and 252 stabbed or cut to death, the daily Prensa Libre reported on 3 July, observing that the greatest number of crimes occurred in the capital and its environs. The resulting figure of 2,437 presumed crime victims was close to the homicide figure given by Police for the first six months of 2012, and well below 2,902 victims police counted for a similar period in 2011. Guatemala's new National Police chief Telémaco Pérez García, admitted speaking to the newspaper Siglo.21 on 2 July that the decline in murders had "stagnated" in the country after falling in 2011-12, but said "I think we will reduce them" by following the Interior Ministry's anti-crime strategies. He said he would pursue plans to make the police force more professional, including through dismissals of corrupt or incompetent elements and by imposing a "change of attitude" in the corps. There was a shortage of police weaponry he admitted, but he told the paper weapons were distributed in such a way as to ensure no policeman went on patrol unarmed. The general took office on 2 July. President Otto Pérez Molina also appointed a new Minister of Defence in late June, General Manuel López Ambrosio who replaced Colonel Ulises Anzueto Girón and would take office in mid-July, the official AGN news agency reported on 30 June.

Twenty or more killed around El Salvador in crime re-surge

A four-year-old girl was one of 20 or more people killed around El Salvador over 1-3 July, in a crime surge recalling the violence that preceded the 2012 ceasefire between the country's Mara street gangs. Salvadorean media gave prominent coverage to the shooting death of the girl - hit by a bullet apparently aimed at her mother, while she played in a front yard or inside her house in the district of Jucuapa east of the capital. She was identified as possibly the daughter of a former gang member living in the United States, the Salvadorean daily El Mundo reported. The daily attributed territorial rivalries between street gangs for the surge in crimes around the country, and observed nobody had yet been arrested by 2 July. The website elsalvador.com counted at least eight killings from late 2 July to early 3 July; it showed in a linear graph a sharp rise in killings in the country after April 2013, about a year after the start of a gangs ceasefire officials had many times celebrated as having halved murder rates within months. The graph showed that the country witnessed a peak in murders at about 200 a month in early January 2013, this falling to around 140 in early April, then rising to between 175-7 in early May and to over 180 in early June. Readers' comments on the website expressed the public's outrage, as some urged the imposition of death sentences and others that the army be sent to fight the Mara gangs. The Public Security and Justice Minister Ricardo Perdomo recently told a television programme that the average daily murder rate for the period 1 January-26 June was 5.7, down from 8.7 for the same period in 2012, the Ministry website reported on 26 June. Mr Perdomo said there were 541 fewer murders in this period compared to the same months in 2012, though the report did not give a number.

Taxi muggings spread unease among Bogotá residents

By taking a taxi in Bogotá you are also taking the risk - smaller or greater depending on the day, the hour and the neighbourhood - of being robbed, beaten, stabbed or just possibly killed. The risk is far smaller than the fear it has generated, and affects both taxi drivers and passengers in an atmosphere infected with mutual suspicion. While passengers may perceive the taxi as a potential trap wherein it is difficult to manoeuvre in self-defence, drivers are presumably perturbed by any suspect movement behind them, in spite of a dividing screen. The public were recently reminded of the danger of taking a taxi at night after a US Drug Enforcement Administration agent was stabbed to death in a taxi late on 20 June, evidently by the driver and a gang of accomplices who sought to rob him. The daily El Tiempo reported on 3 July that based on cases registered with the police, taxi muggings happen mostly on weekday evenings and in neighbourhoods where people leave restaurants and bars. The newspaper observed that only two cases were reported this year to have occurred at the weekend. Muggers it reported were indifferent to the victim's gender and all muggings occurred inside the vehicle. Police counted 35 such muggings between 1 January and 26 June 2013, compared to 71 cases reported for the same period in 2012, El Tiempo reported; it cautioned that the figures excluded taxi thefts that were unreported. The neighbourhoods with most cases of taxi muggings were Chapinero in central Bogotá, Barrios Unidos adjacent to Chapinero and Usaquén in north-eastern Bogotá. Most cases were reported to have occurred in Chapinero - a commercial and residential district that also concentrates gay bars - with 17 such muggings reported for the period cited in 2013 (31 in 2012). The next district most affected was Usaquén with five such muggings (nine in 2012), while taxi muggings dropped in the two comparative periods from 10 cases to one in Teusaquillo - a middle-class neighbourhood next to Chapinero and home to university institutions and a student population.