More than 10 were injured as police moved to break up a road blockade by indigenous protesters in Argentina's Gran Chaco region Feb. 19. Qom indigenous peasants launched the roadblock at Pampa del Indio, Chaco province, to protest the failure of municipal authorities to provide potable water to their communities. They also charged that tank trucks that were promised as an interim measure stopped deliveries because they weren't being paid. Chaco Gov. Juan Carlos Bacileff Ivanoff said the protesters had been "tricked by pseudo-leaders," and charged that two police agents are among the wounded, hit by gunfire. Luis Saravia, local leader of the Movimiento Comandante Andresito, responded that "the indigenous brothers did not have arms." A joint statement by the National Campesino Federation, the Movement of Original Peoples and Nations in Struggle, and the Class Combat Current said the protesters were "savagely repressed" by police. (Argentina Indymedia, Diario Chaco, Diario Chaco, Data Chaco, Feb. 20; La Haine, Feb. 19)
Mexico's Network for Solidarity and Against Repression (RvsR) is calling for international support for the Zapatista base communities in Chiapas state following attacks late last month, urging, "If they touch the Zapatistas, they touch all of us." (UDW, Feb. 14; Enclace Zapatista, Feb. 13) The Zapatista Good Government Junta at the village of Morelia announced on Jan. 31 that several communities within its zone had been attacked by a "mob" of some 300 followers of the Independent Central of Agrarian Workers and Campesinos (CIAOC), who menaced residents with machetes and left three injured. (La Jornada, Feb. 1) The executive committee of CIAOC later disavowed the attacks, saying they had been carried out by the breakaway "CIAOC-Democratic" faction. (La Jornada, Feb. 15) Chiapas state police on Feb. 18 detained CIAOC leader Corazón Gómez Consuegra on charges related to factional violence within the organization in Tapilula municipality. (Es!DiarioPopular, Chiapas, Feb. 19)
Mexican security forces announced Jan. 30 the arrest of a top leader of the New Generation drug cartel, based in the western state of Jalisco. Rubén Oseguera González AKA "El Menchito" is said to be second-in-command in the criminal organization led by his father, Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes AKA "El Mencho," and is also known as "El Junior." He was arrested in a major operation that involved dozens of army troops in Zapopan, a city in the Guadalajara metropolitan area. There remains a 2 million peso ($150,000) price on the head of El Menchu, and media accounts said he narrowly escaped capture last year. The New Generation group is said to be allied with the Sinaloa Cartel, Mexico's most powerful trafficking organization.
El Salvador's Feb. 2 presidential election was overshadowed by a dramatic spike in the country's homicide rate—less than a year after a truce between warring criminal gangs had led many Salvadorans to hope that their country was back from the brink. Most alarming was the December discovery of 44 bodies in 14 mass graves in a wooded area of Villa Lourdes barrio in Colón, a suburb of the capital San Salvador and a notorious gang stronghold. Many of the bullet-ridden bodies were mutilated and half-naked. Authorities accuse the Barrio 18 gang of depositing their victims in the clandestine graves. A March 2012 truce between Barrio 18 and its deadly rivals, Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), was credited with slashing El Salvador’s homicides from more than 4,000 in 2011 to just 2,500 over the past two years. For at least 15 months after the truce, the number of killings per day averaged 5.5, up from 14 before. But January 2014 saw a daily average of 7.7. This made easy propaganda for the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) to bait the ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) as soft on crime.
Chinese authorities shot dead eight ethnic Uighurs who attempted to attack a police patrol Feb. 14 in Uchturpan (Chinese: Wushi) county, Aksu prefecture, Xinjiang. Three more were were reportedly killed by their own improvised explosive devices. China's state news agency Xinhua called the attack an "organized, premeditated terrorist assault targeting the police." But Dilxat Raxit of the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress said: "Chinese armed officers' violent rooting out and provocation are the reason for Uighur resistance. The so-called terrorism is China's political excuse of directly shooting dead those who take a stand." (Xinhua, Feb. 16; BBC News, RFA, Feb. 14)
The Costa Rican government announced Feb. 4 that it is preparing to file a new complaint against Nicaragua with the International Court of Justice at The Hague, accusing Managua of offering Costa Rican maritime territory to international oil companies. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has dismissed the charges, stating the area in question clearly falls within the country’s maritime borders, as outlined by an ICJ ruling of November 2012. The announcement marks the third ICJ case between the two nations. Costa Rica filed the first complaint in November 2010, accusing Nicaragua of seizing Isla Portillo (also known as Isla Calero and Harbour Head Island) in the Río San Juan, which forms the common border. In December 2012, Nicaragua filed a grievance charging that Costa Rica's construction of a highway along the San Juan was causing environmental damage. The first claim was upheld by the ICJ in n November 2013, with the court ordering Managua to remove all personnel and equipment from the disputed island. In December 2013, the Court rejected the second claim, finding that “Nicaragua has not...established the existence of a real and imminent risk of irreparable prejudice to the rights invoked" in the highway project.
Transcripts of conversations between the highest leaders of the FARC guerillas were revealed by Colombian media Feb. 15 after being intercepted by the Armed Forces. The transcripts reveal dialogues between the FARC’s peace delegation in Havana, Cuba and the guerrilla group’s highest military commander Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry AKA "Timochenko." Colombia’s military intelligence was able to access the conversations after breaking through their encrypted codes protecting their communication mediums. Colombia's Blu Radio station gained access to the transcripts. A scandal over sying on the peace delegations has forced the dismissal of four top military commanders.
Chile's President Sebstián Piñera filed an official complaint Feb. 12 laying claim to 3.7 hectares (nine acres) of desert on the border with Peru—re-opening the border conflict between the two nations after a January ruling at The Hague had resolved a long-standing dispute on the maritime boundary. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Chile could maintain its sovereignty of fishing waters near the coast but granted Peru control of deeper waters to the southwest. After the ruling, Peru's government released a map designating the contested land triangle as its own—which was immediately rejected by Santiago, citing a 1929 treaty. Piñera's formal assertion of sovereignty over the contested strip follows friction with Peru's President Ollanta Humala at Pacific Alliance summit in Colombia earlier in the week. Following the meeting, Piñera publicly broached withdrawing from the Pact of Bogotá, the regional treaty granting the ICJ jurisdiction in international disputes.