viernes, 18 de octubre de 2013

EU envoys arrive in Honduras ahead of November vote

Members of the European Union's Election observation mission were in Honduras and moving into the country's 18 departments ahead of presidential elections set for 24 November, La Prensa newspaper reported on 17 October, citing comments by the mission's head Ulrike Lunacek. The 100-member delegation would monitor the entire electoral process including campaign financing, candidate registration and recounts, and was working at the request of the Honduran Government and the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the daily stated. Ms Lunacek, a Green member of the European Parliament from Austria, said envoys would seek to "cover what is happening in the country before, during and after the general elections," and publish their findings in a preliminary declaration 48 hours after the vote and a full report two months later. One of the main objectives she said was to reinforce Hondurans' confidence in the electoral process.

Colombian peasants could strike again, Government said to be "mocking" pledges

The Colombian Government suspended conversations with rural representatives on 17 October, after 15 meetings said to have yielded very few of the demands of the rural sector whose strikes in August half-paralysed Colombia's transport and economy. A representative of farmers from the department of Boyacá north of Bogotá, César Pachón, said "we are abandoning the seven tables because the Government has been mocking us all the time, and we do not believe any more promises," the broadcaster Caracol reported. Talks were held with farmers from the Boyacá, Cundinamarca and Nariño departments; in August thousands of peasants went on strike and blocked roads to protest against very difficult economic conditions, set to deteriorate when food products flood into Colombia on the back of several free-trade treaties. Caracol radio cited Mr Pachón as saying on 18 October that strikes might resume if the Government did not honour pledges made months ago; "the President is the one to decide whether or not there will be another strike...If the President wants another strike then let him carry on like this...no more deadlines, all the debates are done, this is a total mockery. The only thing would be to talk to the President because we are not going to talk to more delegates." Farmers he said would coordinate their efforts with Colombia's native peoples, those of African descent and all those "affected by the situation." He was perhaps referring to the impact of agro-industrial activity on all minor cultivators in the countryside, but did not elaborate. President Juan Manuel Santos said on 17 October that the Government was implementing the 12 points agreed on with peasants and there was "no reason" to interrupt talks or threaten strikes. Ministers he said were "more than ready" to check the Government was keeping its pledges. He said the state was about to buy domestic potatoes, after completing "juridical procedures," because "you don't just go and buy potatoes one day. Mechanisms have to be established."

Colombian troops detain 17 FARC, ELN guerrillas, spies

Troops and police caught at an unspecified date six suspects identified as informants of the Che Guevara Front of the National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia's smaller guerrilla army, Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe reported on 16 October. Eight members of the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were reported as having surrendered to troops a day before. The ELN collaborators were caught in two raids in the districts of Nóvita and San Jose del Palmar in the north-western department of Chocó, and identified as members of an "intelligence network" informing Front commanders of potential targets or troops movements in the Chocó, Radio Santa Fe reported. The Defence Ministry separately reported on 17 October that two members of the FARC's Front 48 fled their unit and surrendered to troops in the southern part of the department of Bolívar in northern Colombia. The guerrillas, aged 20 and 21 and identified as members of the FARC's Front 24, handed in two assault rifles, pistols and ammunition, and were later taken to a base in Barrancabermeja in north-central Colombia, the Ministry reported. It stated that 54 members of "narco-terrorist organisations" - presumably including the two guerrilla armies - had surrendered in north-eastern Colombia so far in 2013. On 15 October troops shot dead one FARC fighter and detained another in fighting in the south-western district of Tambo, Radio Santa Fe reported. Eight guerrillas surrendered to troops in that incident. The victim was identified as a company commander of the Jacobo Arenas Mobile Column, and the captured guerrilla as a member of the "regional FARC commander's" security retinue, Radio Santa Fe reported. The Army described four of the guerrillas who surrendered as "minors."