sábado, 8 de marzo de 2014

Homicides said at "alarming" levels in Venezuela

Venezuela's El Universal newspaper gave on 7 March the figure of 2,841 homicides across Venezuela for the first two months of 2014, citing unofficial and unspecified sources of the state criminal investigation agency CICPC. The daily observed this was 265 criminal killings more than the 2,576 reported for the same months in 2013. Venezuela and its capital have some of the world's highest crime rates, though the Government has increasingly restricted the revelation of crime statistics. The newspaper 2001 reported on 8 March that "at least" 92 bodies had been taken to the main Caracas morgue, Bello Monte, in the first seven days of March. The figure is taken as an indicator of the number of criminal or violent deaths occurring in the Caracas Metropolitan District.

Salvadorean ministers deny state paid money to criminal gangs

El Salvador's Minister of Defence David Munguía Payés denied on 7 March the allegations of the country's chief prosecutor, that the state had paid money to criminals, presumably so they would refrain from killing as many people. The head of the Public Ministry or state prosecution service Luis Martínez, said on 5 March that the Public Ministry's investigations in 2013 indicated money had been paid to members of the Mara gangs, though it was not immediately clear if he directly accused the state of paying money to gangs to maintain a ceasefire begun in March 2012, El Salvador's El Mundo reported. Mr Martínez has been an outspoken critic of a ceasefire between the Mara gangs, saying it was an act of deceit that has allowed the gangs to consolidate and extend other criminal activities like extortion and drug trafficking. He and other critics have intermittently said the socialist Government of President Mauricio Funes was been involved in the ceasefire and was taking a soft stance on crime. The Government denies such allegations. A recent rise in violence has prompted doubts in any case about whether or not the ceasefire was continuing. The Defence Minister said that when he was Minister of Justice, in 2012, no payments were made to gangs or mediators working with them. "If that were true...this money would have had to come from somewhere, and it had to be large quantities, and we do not handle money for these types of things," he said. He said his ministry was willing to collaborate with investigations into the mechanics of the ceasefire. The present Minister of Justice Ricardo Perdomo said he did not know anything and "the prosecution service is the one to pursue investigations." The ceasefire had its second anniversary on 8 March, La Prensa Gráfica reported, observing that the daily murder rate had, after an initial decline in homicides, recovered an upward trend from July 2013. The Public Ministry began to investigate the ceasefire in October that year, it stated.