lunes, 22 de julio de 2013

El Salvador police see homicides drop following July spike

El Salvador's police observed a drop in murders nationwide between 19 and 21 July following the general increase in violence seen in June and July, blamed on resurgent gang fighting. The deputy-head of the National Civil Police Mauricio Landaverde attributed the fall to operations recently undertaken in the most crime-ridden districts. Police counted 13 violent deaths from 19 July to 18:00 hours on 21 July, the Salvadorean daily El Mundo reported on 22 July, observing that authorities attributed most of the deaths to criminal vendettas. The victims included two men aged 19 and 22 years, found tied up and shot in the back in a flat in Mejicanos outside the capital, and a 15-year-old who sought to rob a bus with an accomplice, but was shot by a passenger. The incident occurred on a bus travelling from the capital toward the Pacific coast, El Mundo reported without stating whether or not the passenger was detained. Officials recently admitted that the ceasefire the Mara gangs began in 2012 - which has generally reduced homicides from rates prior to March 2012 - may have given gangs a "respite" and boosted their drug-trafficking activities. Media cited the Minister of Justice and Public Security Ricardo Perdomo as telling the daily La Prensa Gráfica that while murders had decreased, "there is no end to extortions and no end to levels of violence against the population." The daily published his comments on 18 July.

New Mexico district "on verge" of banning plastic bags

Most city councillors of Santa Fe in New Mexico were reportedly backing a proposal to be voted in August and intended to ban distribution by shops of free plastic bags, the website of the Albuquerque Journal reported on 22 July. One councillor was reported as having suggested in preceding days a subsequent, undated ban on plastic bottles. The daily reported that almost no councilmember opposed the initiative, although the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce had urged the municipality to wait for the completion of an ongoing study on solid waste. Several west-coast cities including Los Angeles and Seattle have imposed similar bans to curb use of millions of bags that often are not recycled and pollute both the land and sea. The daily reported that the ordinance would ban "most single-use plastic bags" and require shops to charge most customers "no less than" 10 cents for paper bags, but allow "some smaller plastic bags" such as thin bags used for fruit and vegetables. Eateries were to be allowed to provide bags for food taken out.

Colombian officials defiant following "massacre" of soldiers

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos vowed on 21 July to continue military operations against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a day after 15 soldiers were killed in a surprise attack while guarding a pipeline in the north-eastern department of Arauca. Mr Santos cited 15 as the number of soldiers killed by some 60-80 guerrillas who reportedly surrounded them first. Earlier reports counted 17 soldiers killed. The soldiers managed to call for help, and troops arrived to repel the attack. "Let nobody ever forget. These heroes died defending our democracy and our liberty," Radio Santa Fe cited Mr Santos as saying in the district of Tame in Arauca. The Minister of Defence Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno was cited as saying that 21 FARC fighters were "neutralised" in eastern Colombia following the attack - 14 of them captured and seven killed. He told the broadcaster W Radio "there is information indicating that at least six more were killed and 10 others injured," though he said this was unconfirmed. The review Semana reported on 21 July that 11 guerrillas caught after the attack may face charges of murder, attempted murder and sedition. Seven were that day presented before a judge who would decide whether or not they would be charged, while four were unable to move for injuries, Semana reported without locating the court. On 22 July media reported the arrests of seven suspected members and collaborators of the FARC around Colombia. Police caught three suspected members of the FARC's Ninth Front in the districts of Marquetalia and Líbano, respectively in the departments of Caldas and Risaralda west of Bogotá. They were suspected of involvement in at least one kidnapping and murder in 2004, Caracol radio reported. Four suspected collaborators of the FARC's fronts 17 and 66 were arrested in the districts of Palermo, Neiva and Tello in the south-central department of Huila, the Diario de Huila newspaper reported, elaborating on their activities and purported relations with the FARC.