lunes, 21 de abril de 2014

Minister suspects Salvadorean gangs' ceasefire "over"

Media in El Salvador were reporting a possible, formal end to the ceasefire the Mara gangs began in March 2012, which for a while reduced the country's murder rates from 12-15 a day to half that or less. Murder rates began to creep back up in the second half of 2013, amid suspicions that the gangs were either back to killing each other or mocking their own pledges. The Minister of Justice Ricardo Perdomo was cited as recently giving a daily murder rate of around 10 now. His comments were reported in AM, a newspaper from north-central Mexico. Mr Perdomo was cited as saying that the two main gangs, Mara 18 and MS-13, may have ordered members to resume attacks on rivals as well as Police and state agents. However a ceasefire mediator was cited as saying that there was no such official order, and mid-ranking gang leaders may have been instructing members to resume killings. The mediator and former guerrilla Raúl Mijango, meets with gang chiefs held in prison. Mr Perdomo was also cited as saying that gangs were exacerbating violence in a bid to force the incoming government of Salvador Sánchez Cerén to negotiate with them and presumably, provide them with easier living conditions. The new government is reportedly not talking to the gangs for now, though reports were not yet clear on his government's definitive stance on gangs. The Church was separately reported as interested in helping maintain the ceasefire. Recent figures apparently backed the Minister's suspicions. Police counted 66 criminal killings nationwide over 12-19 April, cited as 27 more than for those days in 2013, the website reported on 20 April; La Prensa Gráfica counted 70 for 12-20 April. Mr Perdomo recently said the state would seek to apply anti-terrorist laws to attacks against state agents and some civilians, and was coordinating this with the Public Ministry or state prosecutors, El Salvador's El Mundo reported on 16 April. He asked judges to collaborate.

Chief housing officer becomes Bogotá's acting mayoress

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos appointed a new acting mayor for the capital Bogotá on 21 April, María Mercedes Maldonado, to replace Rafael Pardo and until mayoral elections were held. The appointment followed the recent sacking of mayor Gustavo Petro by the State Inspectorate, for irregularities in his reforms to the city trash-collection system. Mr Santos told the press in Bogotá that he appointed Ms Maldonado, hitherto head of the city's housing office, as she had served in Petro's administration, was familiar with its policies and qualified, La Nación reported. It cited her qualifications as including a PhD in city planning from Paris University. The former mayor had meanwhile not exhausted his legal challenges to his dismissal and his return to office remained possible, and even probable according a political ally, the Senator-elect for the Green Party, Antonio Navarro Wolff. Mr Navarro was reported as saying that "María Mercedes is a highly qualified, very serious woman who can play an outstanding role" as acting mayoress, "that is if Mayor Petro does not return beforehand with cautionary measures" in his favour, RCN La Radio reported on 21 April.