martes, 9 de julio de 2013

Pacific Alliance boosting regional travel

The Pacific Alliance trading block that includes Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile was already boosting tourism in parts of Latin America, with the removal of travel visas in recent weeks increasing travel between several member and observer states. The four states were creating a free-trade block expected to increase in membership and remove tariffs on most and perhaps all members' traded products within a period of no more than 15 years. With the removal of a visa requirement for visits of up to 180 days, the number of Peruvians visitig Mexico in the "last three or four months" increased 60 per cent, Peru's foreign trade minister was cited as saying on 8 July. He did not give a number for the travellers. Mexico waived visas for visitors from Colombia and Peru on 9 November 2012; "this has allowed many Peruvians who wanted to travel to Mexico for tourism or business" but could not "as getting a visa was so complicated," to do so in following months, ANDINA agency cited Minister José Luis Silva as saying. From 1 July Peruvians and Colombians could also travel without visas to Guatemala, an observer member of the Pacific Alliance, Peru's El Comercio reported, citing a report by EFE. Guatemala's President announced the measure at the Alliance's Seventh Summit in Cali last May. According to Guatemala's tourism authority, 16,478 Colombians and 3,893 Peruvians visited Guatemala in 2012, EFE reported.

Residents of Bogotá suburb hand in firearms, grenades

Municipal authorities of the district of Usme south of Bogotá were satisfied with the response to a disarmament day organized in that district, which yielded more than 20 firearms and weaponry thought directly related to violent crimes including the 31 homicides reported in Usme from 1 January to 31 May. The Bogotá municipality led by the Mayor Gustavo Petro has pursued disarmament as one of the means of reducing murders in and around the capital. The undated disarmament day brought in a range of items including "13 firearms," nine grenades, a "home-made grenade launcher" and "home-made shotgun," the Bogotá Government Secretary, the office that coordinates the capital's security affairs, reported on 9 July. Those who surrendered such items were exempted from investigations or prosecution for possession of arms, and given vouchers for the Éxito supermarket chain, a Deputy-Government Secretary of Bogotá Hugo Zarrate declared. He said disarmament "alongside other policies" had by 31 May reduced the homicide rate to 14.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 16.8 for 2012. It appeared he was speaking about all of Bogotá, though the report did not specify.

Colombia detains two guerrillas, murder suspect

Colombian authorities reported the arrest of two guerrillas from the National Liberation Army and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the former identified as the captain responsible for kidnapping a Canadian mining executive last January. President Juan Manuel Santos wrote on the website Twitter that the army caught the ELN guerrilla dubbed Mario Marica in the district of Norosí in the northern department of Bolívar; he was identified as "responsible" for the kidnapping of several hostages in the Bolívar department, including a Canadian who remained captive, Colombian dailies and EFE reported. Police separately reported the arrest in the town of El Charco in the south-western department of Nariño, of a man dubbed Tauro identified as a bomb-maker for Front 29 of the FARC. The suspect was found with an M67 fragmentation grenade, Police reported on 9 July. In Bogotá, police caught a former soldier and paramilitary sought for killing a university lecturer in 2001 among other suspected crimes, Radio Santa Fe reported on 8 July. According to the broadcaster the detained Alberto Silgado Arévalo left the army in 1996 and joined one of the country's main paramilitary forces, eventually coordinating criminal operations including murder and extortion in Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast. He shot his victim in that city.