Haiti: US control distribution of emergency aid
US troops control the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, in order to make it possible for emergency aid to reach those who need it the most. Thousands of soldiers have taken over crucial points of the destroyed city. The US troops will be reinforced by UN security forces during the distribution process.
The UN Security Council renewed its peacekeeping mandate in Haiti, to try to control looting and street crime, which has increased as a result of the chaotic situation in Port-au-Prince.
Troops are stationed in the grounds of the now destroyed presidential palace, from where helicopters depart to distribute emergency aid from the air.
The congestion caused by aid aircraft arriving at Port-au-Prince’s international airport has made it difficult for emergency help to reach the people who most need it.
A powerful grade 6 earthquake caused panic among survivors in the Haitian capital on Wednesday.
People flee Port-au-Prince
Thousands of people are fleeing Port-au-Prince to escape hunger and violence. Many of them hope to get some food in the countryside, despite the fact that Haiti’s agricultural structure has nearly collapsed as a result of economic mismanagement and natural disasters.
“Thousands and thousands are leaving, I have never seen anything like this, not even at Christmas,” said a bus driver in Portail Leogane, a suburban area of Port-au-Prince that is the departure point for buses travelling to the Haitian peninsula.
Many people have said that they will travel to small family farms, where they hope to get the food and help that they can’t get in the capital.
Because of an increase in the price of petrol, bus fares have increased, but many are prepared to pay in order to escape chaos and destruction. Some passengers have been waiting for many hours in the buses, while drivers try to get petrol supplies.
According to the Haitian government, 75,000 people died as a result of last week’s earthquake.
Private security instead of police, with death penalty included
Private security firms have taken over the job of the disorganised local police forces, amid fear of looting from the convicted criminals who escaped from a jail destroyed during last week’s earthquake.
The manager of the biggest private security firm in Haiti told local media that the head of police has admitted that he does not have the manpower or the resources to control impose law and order.
“There is no room in the prisons and there is nowhere safe. Perhaps only heaven,” said Stanley St. Louis, the general manager of Pap Security. “The head of police has not told us officially that we should execute criminals, but he has indirectly suggested it,” said St. Louis.
El Nacional (Dominican Republic, Spanish)
Listin Diario (Dominican Republic, Spanish)
El Pais (Spanish)
Mexico: Drug cartel “auditor” arrested
The alleged “auditor” and supervisor of the Golfo Cartel, one of the most powerful criminal organisations in Mexico, was arrested in the state of Veracruz.
Juan Carlos Tarabay Castillo was arrested by police together with two accomplices who operated in Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche and Quintana Roo.
Members of the gang made an unsuccessful attempt to rescue him during a shoot-out. Before he became “auditor” of the cartel, Tarabay Castillo was a gunman who was responsible for the killing of rival gang members and the murder of a police chief.
The arrest of Tarabal Castillo follows the detention last week of Teodoro García Simental, known as El Teo, who is considered the head of the armed wing of the powerful Sinaloa cartel. He has been formally indicted and is accused of ordering the destruction of the bodies of his victims in chemical tanks.
García Simental was on the list of the most wanted criminals in Mexico and the USA and his arrest is believed to constitute a serious blow to the structure of the Sinaloa cartel.
El Universal (Mexico, Spanish)
La Jornada (Mexico, Spanish)
Brazil: tax on foreign purchases “dangerous”
A tax imposed by the Brazilian government on the purchase of bonds and shares by foreign firms has been criticised by Citigroup as “dangerous” and “scary”.
The Brazilian government imposed the tax after the local currency, the real, increased in value last year, after a big influx of dollars as the Brazilian stock market recovered strongly from the global economic crisis and out-performed all other stock markets in the world.
Although the real has lost some of its value since the imposition of the levy in October last year, analysis believe that this will not put in jeopardy the recovery of the Brazilian economy.
Venezuela: environmental organisations “worried” by energy crisis
A group of respected environmental organisations has published a statement in which they express their concern about the crisis in electricity supplies in the country.
They believe that the crisis is putting in danger the development of the country, and has asked the population to cooperate in solving the crisis by reducing their consumption of electricity.
Electric energy shortages have damaged Venezuela’s limited industrial output and the government has blamed El Niño, the ocean current, for the crisis. The El Niño has caused drought in regions where abundant water is need to power hydroelectric plants.
However, the union of professionals and technicians in the Caroni electricity company has blamed the government for not having invested sufficiently in the energy sector. They argue that, far from experiencing shortages, rain-fed water supplies for most of the country’s hydroelectric plants reached record levels in 2009. However, the union says that companies do not have the resources to renew and expand their activities, a problem that the government has failed to address.
Circulo Ambiental (Venezuela, Spanish)
El Universal (Venezuela, Spanish)