lunes, 27 de enero de 2014

Policeman's teenage murderers held in El Salvador

Salvadorean Police detained on 26 January four gang members, three of them teenagers, presumed to have kidnapped, tortured and killed a policeman early that day in the district of Soyapango outside the capital San Salvador. A call alerted police that someone was being kidnapped, and the suspects were later caught on a bus they had commandeered - bloodied and hiding under passenger seats - whence they had thrown the policeman's body by a road, El Salvador's El Mundo reported on 27 January. The detained were identified as members of the Mara Salvatrucha, respectively aged 21, 17, 16 and 15. The murdered policeman was 24 years old; the head of the National Police Rigoberto Pleités said that the policeman was at the time of his death tasked with protecting one of the presidential candidates, whom he did not name. El Salvador is to hold general elections on 2 February. It was not immediately clear if the killing had any political motivation, being initially reported as a theft. But observers have in recent months spoken of the Maras' interest in the results of these elections, as the current socialist government was approving of efforts to peacefully disarm and rehabilitate criminals. Conservatives and particularly the ARENA party candidate Norman Quijano González have practially accused it of placing criminals' interests above those of the public. The website reported on 26 January that witnesses had in past weeks seen gang members canvassing in certain districts - in their fashion, with intimidation - for the FMLN, the party of the outgoing President Mauricio Funes. The Government denies it has been weak or indulgent with criminals. Separately on 25 January, a Mexican national was arrested in San Salvador's airport with USD 180,000 in cash hidden in two suitcases, El Mundo reported. The man was going to board a flight to Medellín, Colombia, and would face money laundering charges, the daily reported, observing that police arrest travellers caught with more than USD, 9,999 and no explanation.

Colombian Conservatives pick presidential candidate amid "jeering"

Colombia's veteran Conservative Party chose a former minister as its candidate for presidential elections scheduled for May, ending speculations about its possible support for President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón's re-election bid. The Party was evidently disenchanted with policies that included the President's bid to sign a peace deal with the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). It was not however clear if the Conservatives would unite with the President's most vociferous critic, the arch-conservative former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez who is to run for a senate seat this year, or his party the Democratic Centre. In two votes and amid rowdiness, 1,190 of some 2,200 voting delegates chose the former diplomat and defence minister Marta Lucía Ramírez Blanco de Rincón to be the Conservative candidate. A senator who sought to speak in support of President Santos was shouted down. The review Semana reported "jeering" by delegates as Senator Roberto Gerlein Echeverría sought to speak, and later cited him as comparing the assembly with the "Barranquilla Carnaval" in the Caribbean. He urged Ms Ramírez to "calm her army of agitators" and accused these of impeding a "democratic" selection. This was apparently a first time rank-and-file delegates were defying their leaders' "directives," the Cali daily El País observed. Another presidential aspirant, Álvaro Leyva Durán, told delegates that peace talks with the FARC were a "farse" and President Santos was a "traitor," apparently "throwing his notes into the air" and speaking "increasingly loudly," Semana reported. Ms Ramírez said the party must have its own candidate or would "disappear," and later ruled out immediate "consultations" with the Democratic Centre's candidate, Óscar Iván Zuluaga, El Espectador reported, citing her remarks to Blu Radio. Nevertheless the daily cited Mr. Uribe, the Democratic Centre's leader, as congratulating her on her election, which he qualified as a rejection of the President's "marmalade" of election-oriented policies.

Bogotá attains "lowest murder rate in 30 years"

Colombia's capital Bogotá was said to have "stabilised" its lowered murder rate in 2013, after a significant fall over 2012-13 attributed to factors including effective policing and restrictions on carrying arms and drinking. Coroners were cited as counting 1,279 murders in Bogotá in 2013, four less than in 2012, which translated into a rate of 16.7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, El Tiempo reported on 27 January. The rate was far below those of the continent's most dangerous cities for 2013. The last of a recently published list of the 50 most murderous cities in the world in 2013 was Valencia in Venezuela, with a killing rate of 30 per 100,000 inhabitants. El Tiempo cited a security specialist Jairo Libreros as saying that it was difficult for Bogotá's murder rate to fall much more immediately, given the significant fall from a rate of 22.1 to 16.9/100,000 over 2012-13. Authorities reportedly attributed 39 per cent of killing deaths in 2013 to "vengence" and 35 per cent to brawls, while firearms were responsible for 61.5 per cent of killings.