jueves, 8 de agosto de 2013

Venezuelan court dismisses challenge to presidential election, fines opponent

Venezuela's Supreme Court unanimously rejected on 7 August the 10 legal challenges made against April's presidential elections by the former candidate Henrique Capriles Radonsky, and urged he be investigated for possible calumny against state institutions, media reported. Mr Capriles led then the opposition forces against the socialist candidate and acting president Nicolás Maduro Moros and rejected his re-election as fraudulent. The Court's Constitutional Chamber dismissed his challenge to the elections because it ruled his allegations were vague and his petition contained "offensive and disrespectful terms against this Chamber and" public institutions, Venezuela's El Universal reported on 8 August. The court ordered him fined the equivalent of some 1,700 USD (10,700 bolivars) and asked the Public Ministry or state prosecution service to investigate and determine whether or not Mr Capriles had broken the law while challenging the elections. Mr Capriles denounced the decision and the "lack of justice" in Venezuela as "unacceptable," writing on the website Twitter. The Table of Democratic Unity coalition led by Mr Capriles announced it would take its case to United Nations and the Organisation of American States, Europa Press reported on 8 August.

Almost 70 murdered around El Salvador in six days of August

El Salvador's national police counted 69 homicides across the country in the first six days of August, 24 more than in that six-day period in 2012; police earlier reported 63 homicides for 1-5 August. The figure given was for a holiday period and police attributed the largest proportion of homicides to ordinary crimes rather than to gang violence, so it was not immediately clear if the figures confirmed that a ceasefire between the country's main street gangs MS-13 and M 18, was faltering as critics have suggested. The National Civil Police attributed 35 of the 69 registered homicides to "social violence" and 29 to gang-related violence, the Salvadorean daily El Mundo reported on 7 August. Sixty five per cent of the homicides were enacted with firearms, and police caught 11 culprits in flagrante, the deputy-police chief Mauricio Landaverde was cited as saying. The same newspaper reported on 6 August the arrests of three members of the Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13 sought for briefly kidnapping and beating two soldiers in what police suspected was a failed bid to murder them on 3 August. The three - one aged 16 years and two, 21 - were caught in the district of San Martín east of the capital. Police and prosecutors said six gang members forced the soldiers off a bus on 3 August and took them to an isolated spot in the suburb or district of Nuevos Horizontes where they began to beat them; the soldiers managed to break free, El Mundo reported. The state prosecution service separately reported on 8 August the arrest of a suspect thought to have burned down a minibus in the district of Mejicanos north of the capital in June 2010, killing 17 passengers, elsalvador.com reported on 8 August. The detainee, identified as a gangster dubbed el Tavo, was apparently targeting the driver and his assistant, and the incident was reported to be in retribution for the massacre of 18 individuals including the suspect's brother-in-law.

Colombian President ridicules rival ahead of 2014 polls

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos has faced sharp criticisms in recent months from the country's most conservative politicians, but generally avoided engaging in public spats, preferring to maintain a busy, technocratic profile and promote his government's modernising agenda and its bid to achieve peace with the country's communist guerrillas. But this may have changed as presidential elections scheduled for 2014 approach and as indicated by recent replies, incisive as some of the criticisms Mr Santos has had to tolerate, and addressed to his two outspoken critics the former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez and the former vice-president Francisco Santos Calderón. Mr Santos is the President's cousin, while President Santos was minister of defence in 2006-9, during Mr Uribe's presidency. His cousin, informally called Pachito and touted as a presidential aspirant or "pre-candidate" for the Democratic Centre party headed by Mr Uribe, has with Mr Uribe denounced the talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), whom most politicians qualify as terrorists. Media cited the President as telling the radio programme La FM on 7 or 8 August that his cousin had "AIDS in the soul" and had become "infected" with hate. The President asked how Mr Santos aspired to govern when allegedly he had no administrative talent, Radio Santa Fe reported on 8 August. Francisco Santos was Mr Uribe's vice-president from 2002 to 2010. President Santos in turn accused his predecessor of having "nothing to do," for which reason he devoted his time to writing against the Government on the website Twitter. Apparently he repeated earlier comments that Mr Uribe was harming Colombia with his negative declarations. He had told Colombia's Caracol radio on 5 August that he still "admired" Mr Uribe but "never understood why he became such an acid critic, not accepting anything. Everything seems bad to him... I have tried to talk to him, but he has never wanted to talk to me," the review Semana reported. He said Mr Uribe was harming Colombia by saying "many things and very bad things...he is not harming Juan Manuel Santos but the country. He says we are handing this country over to" communist allies of Cuba and Venezuela. Mr Santos apparently had neither residual nor any admiration for his cousin. He was in recent days cited as telling Caracol radio that Colombia "run by Pachito would be a nightmare...I don't want to go into this discussion, you all know Pachito, this is really a joke." His cousin later replied that the "nightmare" was to live under this government, El Heraldo reported on 5 August.

Lawyer shot in northern Honduras, former judge escapes killing

A lawyer was shot dead on 6 August in San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras, while two gunmen failed to kill a former judge in the northern district of Yoro as they sprayed her home with gunfire, the daily La Prensa reported on 7 August. José Ángel Pérez Aguilar was shot by his car and had faced death threats in preceding months, likely in relation with criminal dossiers handled by his law firm, La Prensa reported. The daily stated that Mr Pérez fled Honduras three months earlier after colleagues phoned to tell him he was to be shot by gangs, but he returned 10 days before his death. Relatives were cited as saying he had received no significant help or protection from any official body or legal association. Two men were separately arrested, suspected of firing on the house of a lawyer and former judge on 6 August in Yoro. Delmis Jazmín Guevara Medina was not at home but her mother and daughter were injured in the assault. One detainee was identified as the brother of a man she had defended in a murder trial but had failed to acquit; she was cited as suspecting a link between the shooting and that conviction. Assassination victims over 5-7 August included an engineering student shot in San Pedro Sula on 5 August, a traffic policeman shot in the capital when he sought to halt a motorcycle on 7 August and a gangster strangled in prison in San Pedro Sula on 7 August. He was identified as a member of the Mara 18 gang, La Prensa reported. The daily added that the army took over the prison in San Pedro on 5 or 6 August to curb violence among inmates; a brawl there killed three prisoners a week earlier. The office of the state-affiliated National Human Rights Commissioner (CONADEH) counted "around 435" prison inmates killed in Honduras in a 30-month period to 6 August 2013.

Activists reported killed in western Mexico

Three rural activists were found shot dead on 5 or 6 August in the district of Coyuca de Benítez in the western state of Guerrero, media reported. The three were identified as the head and two members of the Emiliano Zapata Southern Revolutionary Agrarian League (Liga Agraria Revolucionaria del Sur Emiliano Zapata), Milenio and Proceso reported. Proceso also identified the head of the group Raymundo Velázquez Flores as secretary-general of the Mexican Communist Party although it was not clear if he was party chief in Guerrero or nationwide. The bodies were found face down, with hands tied; the three were presumably executed. The police chief of the locality of El Cucuyachi was also reported shot dead on 5 August in the district of Atoyac de Álvarez also in Guerrero, Milenio reported the next day. On 6 August, a man was shot dead in his home in Juárez in the northern state of Chihuahua, Proceso reported, observing that the victim's four and two-year-old children were in the house when gunmen followed him into the bathroom and shot him seven times. Two at least were reported killed in the eastern state of Tabasco on or around 7 August, including the doorman of an illegal bar and a local drug dealer shot in the district of Paraíso, Tabasco Hoy reported.