martes, 25 de marzo de 2014

Supreme Court confirms El Salvador's elections

El Salvador's Supreme Court confirmed on 24 March the results of the second round of the country's presidential elections and rejected the conservative opposition's calls for a full vote recount. It declared Salvador Sánchez Cerén and Óscar Ortiz to be the country's president and vice-president elect and in office for five years from 1 June, La Prensa Gráfica reported. The final count announced on television gave the Sánchez-Órtiz team 1,495,815 votes, 6,364 more than those cast for the candidates of the ARENA party. ARENA had accused election officials of allowing convicts to vote, illegally, and it was not clear where that accusation stood. The Supreme Court stated that 4,318 convicts were excluded from the electorate in the last elections, having been struck off between 2012 and 2014, while 1,971 voters were to be excluded but had voted in the March polls as they were eligible to vote on 4 October 2013, when the electoral roll was last registered. The United States formally recognised the election results through a congratulatory message sent by the State Department, reported on 25 March.

Police count more homicides in El Salvador

Authorities in El Salvador observed a steady rise in criminal killings in 2014 compared to the first months of 2013, with police now putting the average daily killing rate in the January-March period at 8.9 or 9, El Salvador's El Mundo reported on 25 March. The rate had hovered between six-eight a day for most of 2013, and remained now below the double-digit rates typical of the period before a March 2012 ceasefire between the country's gangs. The deputy-head of the National Police, Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde gave 204 as the number of homicides committed nationwide over 1-23 March; 28 of these occurred on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 March, these including both gang-related and domestic murders. The website counted 40 killings for those days and Friday. El Mundo cited the Minister of Justice Ricardo Perdomo as attributing increasing violence to "vigorous self-cleansing" inside Mara gangs but also to "an increase in the war between the gangs." The country's two main gangs are Mara Salvatrucha and Mara-18, with local and regional gangs affiliated to one or the other.

Colombian troops shoot, detain guerrillas, policeman killed

The Colombian army shot dead and captured two guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in different operations, while a FARC bombing killed one policeman and injured eight in Guapi in the department of Cauca. In Tambo in Cauca, troops shot a field captain of the Jacobo Arenas Mobile Column, a 14-year veteran dubbed el Enano or Albeiro, Bogotá's Radio Santa Fe reported on 25 March. The other fighter, a bombmaker dubbed Andrés or Corinto, was caught in the district of Cantagallo in the department of Bolívar, apparently as he was about to bomb unspecified "energy infrastructure." He was described as having joined the FARC in 2002 and sought for his role in bomb attacks on pipelines and an attack in 2010 that killed three soldiers, Radio Santa Fe reported. The attack that killed a policeman was attributed to the FARC's Front 29; suspected guerrillas threw explosives at a patrol after it had intervened in a scuffle between residents, EFE reported. Two policemen and six civilians were injured, and taken to hospital in PopayánEl Colombiano reported on 25 March. The same daily reported another bomb attack on 23 March in the district of Fortul in Arauca, attributed to guerrillas of the National Liberation Army. The assailants threw explosives at police in that attack, causing no injuries though an explosive artefact fell onto the mayor's house.

Venezuelan parliament moves to sack outspoken legislator

Venezuela's parliamentary praesidium announced on 24 March that the opposition parliamentarian María Corina Machado had "automatically" lost her seat after breaking the law over a recent foreign trip, and would be banned from entering parliament. The move would effectively deprive the Government's most outspoken critic of parliamentary immunity, and followed recent threats to prosecute her for allegedly fomenting the nationwide protests of recent weeks, in which more than 30 have died. The praesidium announced that her trip to address a recent session of the Organization of American States (OAS) as a guest of the Panamanian delegation had been illegal, and it was no longer necessary to vote to strip her of her immunity, El Nacional reported. Ms Machado was in Peru on 24 March, and insisted she remained a representative as the praesidium did not have the powers to dismiss her. Jurist Juan Miguel Matheus told El Nacional that the procedure did not fit in with the five constitutional provisions for ending a legislative tenure. The opposition coalition Table of Democratic Unity also denounced the "grotesque form in which the constitution is being interpreted." Ms Machado's planned speech on 21 March to the OAS was in any case cancelled, after delegations voted first to hear her in private, then not at all, in response to Venezuelan pressures, CNN and EFE reported. She had intended to give delegates the opposition's view of the Venezuelan protests and show a video depicting the alleged repression and abuses of police and socialist militias. Ms Machado was at the University of Lima on 24 March, where she addressed a crowd that apparently included the conservative mayor of Buenos Aires Mauricio Macri, and journalist Álvaro Vargas Llosa, the novelist's son.