miércoles, 20 de noviembre de 2013

Parliament gives Venezuelan President extraordinary powers "to fight corruption"

Venezuela's legislature voted in on 19 November an Enabling Law giving the socialist President Nicolás Maduro powers to "dictate decrees with the rank, value and force of law," to fight corruption and defend the economy, El Universal reported on 20 November. The law was to last 12 months from 20 November, and allowed Mr Maduro to impose by decree punitive measures against the "inadecuate use" of public resources, act to prevent capital flight and defend the national currency against "attacks." It effectively gave him greater powers over the economy. Opponents likely saw this as another step toward a communist dictatorship. The opposition MP Maria Corina Machado called it a "shameful day" for Venezuela and the opposition coalition Table of Democratic Unity dubbed the law "fraudulent," Spain's El Mundo reported on 20 November. The leading opponent Henrique Capriles, the Governor of the northern state of Miranda, had urged Venezuelans to ignore its future provisions in October, Europa Press reported on 20 November. According to the agency, the President proposed the law on 8 October but this could not be approved as the Government lacked by one vote the majority needed to pass the law. The problem was resolved when a week before the vote, Venezuela's Supreme Court of Justice prevented one opposition parliamentarian from voting after she was accused of corruption. After approval, Mr Maduro announced he would lead from January a "hair-raising offensive" against corruption and hoarding in Venezuela, which has witnessed shortages in a range of consumer goods in recent months. Authorities have blamed shortages on unspecified sabotage or attacks on the socialist economy; Europa Press cited the President as accusing opposition forces of planning a power blackout on 8 December, when municipal elections were to be held.

Mexican agents unearth 21 bodies from mass grave, "so far"

Mexican authorities had provisionally found 21 bodies, some apparently rotted beyond recognition, in one or several mass graves in the district of La Barca near the frontier of the western states of Michoacán and Jalisco, the daily Milenio reported on 19 November. Mexican crime gangs usually bury their victims in such graves, which can be filled over a prolonged period or until found. The grave area was initially found on 9 November, after authorities interrogated 24 policemen over the disappearance of two Federal policemen who had yet to be found or identified among the bodies, Milenio reported on 16 November. "There is no evidence they have found the Federal Policemen's bodies," the head of the state's prosecution service Luis Carlos Nájera Gutierrez said. He said it was difficult to identify all the bodies as some had already turned to bones. In separate incidents, eight skeletons were said found in two graves in Navojoa in the north-western state of Sonora, one being identified as of a "minor," Proceso reported on 19 November. The grave was reportedly found a day before after someone called the police. The review reported that day three deaths from shootouts and a domestic murder in the north-central state of Guanajuato, and the shooting death of a member of a local militia in Zirimbo in the western state of Michoacán. Residents have formed militias in the state to defend themselves against criminal gangs, and the head of the defensive militia in the district of Tepalcatepec blamed gangsters for the killing, Proceso reported on 19 November. On 17 November, an eight-member family was stabbed to death in Ciudad Juárez in the northern state of Chihuahua, possibly over an unpaid debt. Three victims were children aged six, four and four, although the assassins spared the life of a three-month baby, later found by a neighbour. Two suspects were arrested in relation with the crime on 20 November, and police were looking for a third suspect identified by the detainees, La Crónica de Hoy reported. A report in the daily La Jornada attributed the killing to a debt incurred in a dog fight, worth around USD 150.