miércoles, 12 de marzo de 2014

Mexican anti-crime leader facing killing charges

Authorities in Mexico arrested on 10 or 11 March one of the founders of the anti-crime militias in the western state of Michoacán, for possible involvement in murder. The victims were two members of the anti-crime militia of the district of Buenavista Tomatlán in Michoacán, Rafael Sánchez Moreno and José Luis Torres, found dead in a burned van on 8 March. While earlier suspected of being connected to the Caballeros Templarios - the cartel militias have been fighting in Michoacán - the two were apparently also in a dispute with Hipólito Mora Chávez, the militia leader held and suspected of involvement in their killing. The daily Excelsior described Mora as an "emblematic figure" in the anti-crime militia movement that emerged in Michoacán in February 2013. It observed that it had earlier reported on divisions between him and one of the victims, Rafael Sánchez, specifically over Mora's illegal use of lemon plantations Sánchez wanted restored to owners. These were likely among lands the militias had seized from the Templars, who had forcibly expropriated them in the first place. The Buenavista militia also reportedly decided to expel Mr Mora on 3 March, amid rising tensions between his supporters and opponents. Separately on 10 March, militiamen took over "in coordination with Police" the security of the district of Tigüindín, making this the 27th of 113 municipal districts in Michoacán with militia "presence" or control, Proceso reported. The operation was undertaken by 130 men arriving in a convoy of 30 cars, and the militia announced it would proceed to "cleanse the village" of crime.

Michelle Bachelet becomes Chile's President again

The socialist Michelle Bachelet Jeria formally became Chile's President on 11 March, after winning her second term in the second round of presidential elections held in Chile in December 2013. She was as media observed the first woman to be elected Chilean President twice. Spain's El Mundo observed that her second mandate was expected to usher in changes and policies to reduce the social inequalities that have accompanied Chile's economic growth in recent years. She was immediately introducing an emergency program of 50-56 measures to be implemented within the first 100 days of her administration and intended to provide financial help to some Chilean households, Europa Press reported. Government spokesman Álvaro Elizalde Soto said on 12 March that these first measures were a "clear signal" of its intention to fulfill election promises and the President's promise after her inauguration that she would work to improve the lives of Chileans, El Mercurio reported on its website. The President had already signed a "March bonus" bill to be presented to parliament, intended to help lower-income families, and the Government would also restore a "winter bonus" to some families, Mr Elizalde said. Ms Bachelet was President in 2006-10 and beat the conservative Evelyn Matthei Fornet in December to win her second presidential term. She revealed her cabinet members in January 2014.

Salvadorean election results challenged, remain unclear

The conservative ARENA party asked electoral authorities in El Salvador to either recount every vote cast in the second round of presidential elections on 9 March, or renew the entire electoral process, after alleging irregularities. The initial count gave the officialist candidate a very slight advantage, leading the two contenders to declare themselves winners. ARENA's presidential candidate Norman Quijano and party leaders asked the Supreme Electoral Tribunal on 11 March to nullify the vote, alleging the body's "lack of impartiality...double voting by ballot guardians and irregularities" with ballot papers, while the party also withdrew from a recounting process that day, La Prensa Gráfica reported on 12 March. The Court was reportedly renewing the recount on 12 March. A map of the elections' preliminary results, published by the Tribunal, indicated that the ruling FMLN (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional) had won more votes in 137 of El Salvador's districts and ARENA in 125, the local newspaper El Mundo reported. It appeared that result had yet to be confirmed.

FARC kill four Colombian soldiers, guerrillas "desert"

The Colombian Minister of Defence denounced on 11 March as barbaric and a violation of international laws an ambush by the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that killed four soldiers and injured four civilians. The guerrillas, reportedly dressed as road ministry employees, shot the soldiers on 10 March as they guarded a bridge on the river San Pedro in the district of Montañita. Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón described the attack as unacceptable and a violation of international human rights laws, El Espectador reported. The Army separately reported several guerrilla desertions on 11 March. Three FARC fighters surrendered to troops at an unspecified time in the departments of Guaviare and Meta in south-central Colombia, the Army reported on 11 March, while a fighter of the National Liberation Army was also reported to have surrendered in the north-western district of Quibdó. Another FARC guerrilla fled his company in the northern department of César, after saying he needed to go to the toilet, the Army reported on 11 March. The guerrilla later told troops he had been forcibly recruited into the FARC 33 months previously, when he was aged 18. In the northern district of San Pablo, troops captured a female suspect identified as a 28-year FARC veteran and field captain dubbed Johana or La ÑoñoRadio Santa Fe reported on 11 March.