martes, 3 de junio de 2014

Salvadorean President takes office amid increasing homicides

El Salvador's new President Salvador Sánchez Cerén took office on 1 June in a country with some of the world's highest homicide rates, and which have resisted several governments' efforts to curb violence. The murder rate dropped for over a year from March 2012 following a ceasefire between street gangs, but the ceasefire declined in recent months and had effectively broken down now, sending killings back to levels of 12-15 a day nationwide. The total homicides for the five-year presidency of the outgoing Mauricio Funes, from 1 June 2009 to to the start or end of 31 May 2014 were given either as 17,491 or 17,455. The daily murder rate, which had fallen for a while to single-digit rates, had returned to over 10. La Prensa Gráfica observed that as President Sánchez was sworn in, six people were murdered around the country, three of them in San Salvador. In May, 396 people were murdered nationwide, about 13 a day, which compared to about five a day in May 2013, it wrote. The murder figure for May 2009 when President Elías Antonio Saca was preparing to hand power to Mr Funes, was 389, so little had changed in five years despite changing tactics in fighting crime. Crime rose sharply in the Saca presidency in spite of the "super strong-arm" tactics he promised, elsalvador.com reported on 2 June. His 2004-9 presidency saw 17,612 murders, though as the website noted, without the "benefit" of a ceasefire. President Sánchez used a more social discourse on 1 June, perhaps typical of the Left, saying security required "that we work together against organised crime, drug trafficking, extortions...but also attack their structural causes." His Minister of Justice and Public Security, Benito Lara, said on 2 June that the Government would maintain its interest in the rehabilitation of criminals and preventive measures, El Salvador's El Mundo reported. He was speaking at a signature act for a soft loan of USD 7.6 million from Italy, to be spent on social programmes and rehabilitation. "Unfortunately in our...prison system, the prisoners are mostly young. It is a very young population. Not all deserve to be there and certainly, many deserve another opportunity," Mr Lara said.

Agencies counted over 8,000 HIV infections in Colombia in 2013

The head of UNAIDS for Latin America, César Núñez has cited Colombia as third in the region in terms of new infections with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. The UN's AIDS agency counted 8,208 reported cases of HIV infection in 2013, 5,958 of which were of men, Vanguardia Liberal reported on 2 June, citing the Colprensa agency. These excluded infected individuals unaware of their HIV status. The capital Bogotá was cited as having had most HIV infections, with 1,608 diagnosed cases, followed by the north-central department of Antioquia that includes Medellín (1,090) then Valle de Cauca (815). The UN estimated that 150,000 Colombians were living with HIV-AIDS in 2012. Mr Núñez said that regionally, annual HIV infections had fallen from 150,000 to 90,000 in the preceding decade. That was "very good as it represents a fall that has required more or less 10 years, but we should be at much less. We are talking of 8,000 new cases just in Colombia, which is still too high," he said.