by the El Reportero’s wire services
Mexican vigilante groups in the western state of Michoacan have pledged not to enter more cities, municipal seats or other urban areas, authorities said.
They made those commitments in a meeting Friday in Apatzingan with the federally appointed commissioner for security and development in Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo, the Government Secretariat said in a statement.
These militias will only be present in designated checkpoints, always working jointly with federal forces, and must receive permission from authorities before making “any movements whatsoever,” the statement read.
The “self-defense groups” also agreed to meet every Thursday with regional security chiefs and to appoint three individuals – Hipolito Mora, Estanislao Beltran and Jose Manuel Mireles – as their exclusive spokespersons.
“Federal and state authorities and the citizens’ groups will work in a coordinated and transparent fashion to restore order and tranquility to Michoacan,” the statement added.
This agreement comes after the vigilante groups had said they planned to expand their presence beyond the 20 Michoacan municipalities where they currently provide community policing. Some members of the outfits even said they would move into Morelia, the state capital, although the federal government vehemently rejected the idea.
These groups of armed civilians began to emerge a year ago in the so-called Tierra Caliente region, which straddles the states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Mexico states, to protect their communities from Los Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) drug cartel.
But the federal government has stepped up its presence in Michoacan in recent weeks, deploying thousands of police and soldiers to bolster security and appointing Castillo to coordinate those actions.
Besides aiming to crush the Templarios, the Federal Police and army troops have sought to bring the militias under the formal control of the military. Many of the Michoacan vigilantes have signed up for an army-controlled Rural Defense Corps.
Panama unveils first metro system in Central America
The consortium made up of Spanish construction group FCC and Brazilian engineering giant Odebrecht has delivered Line 1 of Panama City’s metro system, the first of its kind in Central America, wrapping up a project that took 41 months to complete and cost $2.01 billion. The new metro was unveiled in a ceremony Friday at the headquarters of Panama’s Metro Secretariat, officials told Efe.
The metro system’s Line 1 was initially intended to stretch for 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) and include 13 stations, both above and below ground, but a pair of kilometers and two stations were later added, raising the price by $211.6 million, officials confirmed Friday. Financing for the project has come from Citibank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Andean Development Corporation, known as the CAF, and the Panamanian Economy and Finance Ministry. Additional support has been provided by institutions such as French export credit agency Coface, Spain’s Cesce and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, the political risk insurance arm of the World Bank Group.
The trains were built at French multinational Alstom’s plant in Barcelona.
The trains will consist of three cars initially, though they have a five-car capacity. Each has air conditioning, video monitoring equipment, passenger information systems and designated seating for the disabled.
Once it reaches full operating capacity between May and June, Line 1 will be able to transport up to 30,000 people an hour in both directions.
Ecuadorian President Does Not Rule Out Running for Reelection in 2017
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced Friday that he will review his decision not to run for reelection in the 2017 balloting, and said he will study the possibility of changing the constitutional restriction that prevents him, for now, from running for another term.
Correa said he is considering that possibility due to the progress made last Sunday by the right in local elections, when the opposition won five of the most populated municipalities in the country.