viernes, 25 de octubre de 2013

Venezuela creates "social happiness" office, food shipped in amid shortages

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced on 24 October the creation of a deputy-ministerial office for "social happiness" tasked with coordinating social programmes and attending to public complaints; the state meanwhile began the "massive" food imports it had promised in response to domestic shortages. Mr Maduro said speaking in the presidential palace, that the Vice-Ministry for Supreme Social Happiness was being created to honour the country's founder Simón Bolívar and its late president, Hugo Chávez Frías. Under tripartite management, it would run some 30 social missions launched in the preceding 14 years, El Universal reported on 25 October. "All these missions are part of the great system of the socialist revolution that goes beyond the...welfare state," he said, adding that local mission heads would inform the government "in real time" of projects' progress and problems. "We have to take these missions to the heavens, that is our thanks to Chávez," he said. One of the country's prominent opposition legislators said Venezuela was starting to look like communist Cuba and the "unending" queues at supermarkets were a "disgrace." María Corina Machado Parisco, speaking on 23 or 24 October in Punto Fijo in the northern state of Falcón, said "Maduro wants Venezuela to be like Cuba...now they'll say we are the ones responsible for the atrocious shortages...They will call us destabilisers as they will shopkeepers, producers and consumers. We all know nothing can be found here - [be it] toilet paper, milk or medicines." The legislator was in the company of opposition candidates for municipal elections scheduled for 8 December, El Universal reported on 24 October. She said on that day "we shall go out not just to vote for our mayors but to raise with this vote our voice...let this voice become a popular mandate to change the regime." Agencies reported on 25 October the arrival of 36,000 tonnes of foodstuffs in Venezuela as announced earlier. More than 400,000 tonnes of food were to be imported from Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil in November and December, Europa Press and the AVN agency reported.

Colombian soldiers, guerrillas killed in gunfight, 18 gang members held

Two soldiers and five fighters of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were killed in fighting on 24 October in La Macarena, a district in the south-central department of Meta. Troops captured four guerrillas of the FARC's Front 27 in that action, including one identified as a link between the head of Front 27 and those of the Eastern Block that includes Front 27, Caracol radio reported on 24 October. Caracol television separately reported the recapture of a FARC operative dubbed El Mariachi, detained by police on 23 October as he sought to rob a pharmacy in southern Bogotá. The detainee was apparently recently released after being imprisoned for two years in relation with several homicides; it was not clear if he had been convicted. He told the policemen arresting him that having been released after homicide charges, there was no reason he should not walk free after a theft incident, Caracol cited the district police chief Ebert Gutiérrez Clavijo as saying. Authorities separately detained in northern Colombia 18 members of the Urabeños, one of the country's main paramilitary and criminal outfits, after a regional boss negotiated his surrender and informed police of the whereabouts of 17 other gang members. Vólmar Claro Torres decided to turn himself in early September following police operations against the gang in the Norte de Santander department. He surrendered on 23 October in a locality near the district of Cúcuta, after informing police he would be meeting there that day with 17 gang members who were also detained, Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe reported on 24 October. The broadcaster stated that 57 members of the Urabeños were detained in Norte de Santander in the preceding two months.