Thursday, October 09, 2008

Reports on Violence in Latin America

October 7, 2008

Mexico City—Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza today inaugurated the First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas, an OAS forum convened to consider joint strategies to tackle the scourge of crime and violence worldwide, and particularly in this hemisphere. Addressing top security officials from the 34 Member States, the Mexican leader praised the OAS' initiative to bring the security ministers together to share experiences and devise a joint approach to transnational crime. He called on countries to collaborate to fight transnational crime on the basis of a collaborative approach, shared responsibility and respect for sovereignty. Secretary General Insulza, for his part, suggested that amidst the differences among the countries of the Americas, "all, without exception, are suffering or are beginning to suffer the consequences of this scourge"—a reference to violence stemming from organized crime. "This plague," he said, "kills more people than AIDS or any other known epidemic; destroys more homes than any economic crisis; and threatens state institutions. It is as dangerous as any other subversion element we have seen." He added: "Ridding ourselves of it, or at least substantially reducing it, is an absolute priority." He described crime and violence as "a problem that threatens the security, health, physical safety and lives of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens," saying it furthermore directly affects the very foundations of our region's economic and political development. He stressed that "the very integrity of the state and democratic institutions in our region are seriously at risk given the scope, power and impact of crime." Insulza added that most violence against individuals is related to drug consumption and trafficking. Insulza said that acknowledging the problem is the first step towards a solution, the second being admitting that despite all efforts, a solution remains elusive. "Serious challenges remain and we still have a long way to go before we can begin to feel satisfied," he argued, identifying as a great challenge the lack of technical capacity to manage the problem. He also cited the significant constraints and lack of capacity at the institutional level. Secretary General Insulza warned that although there are public security instruments in the inter-American system to deal with transnational threats and several hemispheric mechanisms for coordination, "they are not mechanisms for comprehensive policy discussion on public security which we have an obligation to develop and coordinate today. According to Insulza, "our pressing needs call for a standing mechanism for hemispheric discussion and agreement to help us get to the root of the problem and find consensus around coordinated action to confront it." He said that this first OAS meeting of senior security officials from around the Americas "challenges us to deal with a common threat through solidarity and cooperation. "That, ultimately, is the deepest significance of the First Meeting of Ministers of Public Security of the Americas," he stated. The OAS Secretary General said this meeting should be held regularly and become the technical and policy forum for the hemisphere on all matters related to public security, and should involve coordination of effort in information, communication, technology and other areas necessary for the for the collective fight against crime in the region to succeed. +++

Rampant violence is Latin America's 'worst epidemic' * Rory Carroll in Caracas, The Guardian, * Thursday October 9 2008 Violent crime in Latin America kills more people and wreaks more economic havoc than Aids, the head of the Organisation of American States warned this week. Drug trafficking, gang warfare, kidnapping and other crimes pose one of the gravest threats to the region's stability, said José Miguel Insulza. "It is an epidemic, a plague on our continent that kills more people than Aids or any other known epidemic. It destroys more homes than any economic crisis." The warning came amid a backdrop of horrific violence in Mexico, where drug cartels are waging war against the state, and evidence that cities from Caracas to Buenos Aires are becoming more dangerous. The number of people killed by gun crime in central and south America is four times the world average, according to UN estimates, with a homicide rate of more than 25 per 100,000 people. In parts of El Salvador, Guatemala and Venezuela the rate is more than 100 per 100,000. The violence has been blamed on factors including poverty, inequality, cocaine trafficking, the legacy of civil wars, a bountiful supply of guns and corrupt, ineffective state institutions, notably the police, prisons and courts. Anger at crime and distrust of the police often leads to lynchings, with several suspects recently beaten and hacked to death in Bolivia, Guatemala and Peru. There are even grimmer stories from jails which are controlled by inmates. Rigoberta Menchu, Guatemala's human rights activist and Nobel laureate, has referred to crime as a cancer. Crime stories, often accompanied by grisly images, dominate media coverage and rank at or near the top of public concerns. Most victims are impoverished slum-dwellers but the perception of danger still hinders tourism and investment, with several Caribbean countries feeling the sting of recent high-profile murders. Some studies suggest Latin America"s income could be 25% higher if its crime rate, which began soaring in the 1980s, was similar to the rest of the world. Aids, in contrast, has stayed largely in check, with HIV prevalence remaining at under 1% in most countries. Insulza made his dramatic warning at a two-day security meeting of the OAS in Mexico City. He praised the host government's controversial decision to deploy 20,000 soldiers against powerful drug cartels, a move which provoked a vicious backlash. Thousands have died, the state has lost control of several areas and headless bodies are discovered with numbing regularity. Mexico's president, Felipe Calderón, called for a pan-regional database on criminals and a "continental front" which would include the US. "We must attack simultaneously not only drug smuggling, but the world's main market," he said. Some countries, such as Costa Rica, are relatively untouched by the violence and in Colombia, once-notorious cities such as Bogotá and Medellín have enjoyed a renaissance as leftwing insurgency has ebbed before a US-supported military offensive. Brazil's favelas, however, remain killing zones for gangs and police and a perceived crime wave in Argentina has driven anxious middle-class families into South Africa-style gated communities. +++,violence-against-journalists-increasing-in-latin-america-sip-warns.html

Violence against journalists increasing in Latin America, SIP warns
Posted : Tue, 07 Oct 2008 15:21:46 GMT

Madrid - The Inter-American Press Society (SIP) warned Tuesday of increasing violence and pressure against journalists in Latin America. The association concluded its five-day 64th general assembly that brought more than 500 American and European media owners, directors and other representatives to the Spanish capital Madrid.

Press freedom has suffered this year in Latin America, where eight journalists were killed in Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Venezuela, SIP said.

Relations between governments and the media have deteriorated, with authorities using "constant and systematic verbal aggressions" against journalists, the association said.

Public funds were also used to pressure the media, and laws were circumvented to hamper public access to information, SIP complained.

In Mexico, drug traffickers wanted to impose "a law of silence" in many parts of the country, the association said.

SIP also expressed concern over attempts to restrict press freedom in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

On closing the assembly, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said his government would propose a law to guarantee the largest possible access of citizens to public information.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Come Together and Create! Peter S. Lopez aka: Peta Email: Sacramento, California, Aztlan

No comments: