lunes, 26 de agosto de 2013

Venezuelan opposition scoffs at "another plot" to kill President

As if in the grip of the Cold War, Venezuela's socialist rulers have denounced yet another foreign-backed plot against Venezuela, this time in the form of a plan - foiled in time - to assassinate either the President or the Speaker of Parliament. On 26 August the Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres revealed that two Colombians aged 18 and 22, said to be members of a 10-man squad sent from Colombia, were arrested in a Caracas hotel on 15 August, their hotel room revealing an incriminating paraphernalia of guns, binoculars, army badges and pictures of "targets." The Minister said the plan was to kill President Nicolás Maduro, and failing that the Speaker of Parliament Diosdado Cabello Rondón, Cuba's Prensa Latina agency reported. The country's leading opponent Henrique Capriles Radonsky said the claims were laughable. Not for the first time the detained were linked to Colombia's former conservative president Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Mr Uribe, who had precarious ties at best with Venezuela's late leader Hugo Chávez, has become a bête noire for the Maduro administration, which accuses him of conniving with Venezuelan opponents to undermine the regime. Mr Rodríguez suggested Mr Uribe was involved because "he has relations with and is connected to a group of drug traffickers...he is undoubtedly informed of what is happening," Europa Press reported. Mr Capriles told a gathering in Caucagua in the state of Miranda that day that "nobody believes this tale...people merely laugh at these announcements," though he cautioned the incident's "impact" should be observed, Venezuela's El Universal reported. How many times he asked, "have they spoken of plots to kill leaders (magnicidio)...does anyone really believe these lies?" President Maduro in turn thanked "the Government of Colombia for all its cooperation in identifying the gunmen...and the...hired gang," writing on the website Twitter. He added that "the Right's immediate reaction to the gunmen's capture showed these fascist groups' lack of scruples." On 24 August Mr Maduro warned Venezuelans to expect the opposition's "psychological campaign" and "dirty war" ahead of municipal elections set for 8 December, the official AVN news agency reported.

Twenty one shot, found dead, dismembered around Mexico

Eight people shot dead in the northern and western states of Chihuahua and Michoacán were among no less than 21 reported killed in presumed criminal incidents around Mexico through 23-25 August. Four killed in Chihuahua included two men shot dead "metres from" a federal police base in the state capital Chihuahua, Milenio reported on 25 August. Four others were found dead, apparently tied up and executed, in the districts of Apatzingán and San Juan Nuevo Parangarcutiro in Michoacán, Proceso reported. A note left by two of the victims indicated they were killed for "thieving" and being members of a community police force, one of the militias local residents have formed in Michoacán to fight criminal gangs. The same review reported the deaths of two policemen and two presumed criminals in a shootout that occurred early on 24 August in the district of Choix in Sinaloa, north-western Mexico. In the southern state of Oaxaca, gunmen kidnapped and killed a couple identified as daughter and son-in-law of an activist of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in that state, Milenio reported. The two were taken from their home on 24 August and later found dead in the district of Cintalapa near the border of the Oaxaca and Chiapas states; they were apparently tortured then shot. She was identified as daughter of the head of the PRI Women's Organisation in San Pedro Tapanatapec in Oaxaca, Milenio reported on 25 August. Three people were killed or found dead in León in the north-central state of Guanajuato on 24-25 August, La Crónica de Hoy reported on 26 August. One of the victims, an unidentified "young man," was found in six plastic bags placed outside a house in that city. In the village of Xaltianguis near Acapulco on the Pacific coast, a woman and her three children - aged nine, four and one year - were shot dead at home; police found them early on 24 August, La Crónica de Hoy reported.

Guerrilla commander, two fighters shot in raid in northern Colombia

Colombian troops shot dead early on 25 August three fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) including one identified as head of Front 57 and a key drug trafficker for the FARC, in a raid on a camp near Panama's border, agencies reported on 26 August. Authorities regularly accuse the FARC of producing and trafficking drugs - this being with extortion among their funding mechanisms - and the FARC occasionally reject the charge. The Defence Ministry identified the commander, a man dubbed Sílver, as involved in sending drugs into Panama, the Telam and EFE agencies reported. The daily El Tiempo observed that Sílver was dubbed the capo of the FARC and that the state believed him to have amply financed the FARC Secretariat with drug funds. The Army separately reported on 25 August that a member of the FARC's Front 41 surrendered to troops in the district of Agustín Codazzi in the northern state of César, asking to be admitted into the rehabilitation programme for guerrillas. The fighter was dubbed Geiner or Checho and described as 28 years old. In the eastern city of Cúcuta, Police detained during undated raids 10 suspected members of the Rastrojos, one of the country's main criminal gangs, Caracol radio reported on 26 August. The broadcaster cited the city's police chief Colonel Carlos Rodríguez as saying that the 10 were were believed engaged in local drug dealing and extortion, and would be investigated for possible involvement in killings.