Tag Archives: Caribbean

Police in Dominican Republic Account for 10% of Fatal Shootings

Police in the Dominican Republic account for 10% of all killings in the country, where crime rates have soared in the past few years.  There have been reports of unlawful killings, abuses of people in police custody, and even reports of enforced disappearance.

Image Courtesy of BBC News

Between January and July of 2011, the police killed 154 people, according to Amnesty International.  This number is up from 125 people during the same period last year.

The police contend these killings were always during “exchanges of gunfire” with criminal suspects, but the report finds that many situations involved deliberate shots to kill.

Colonel Maximo Aybar is the National Police spokesperson in the Dominican Republic.  He insists that the police are committed to protecting the public, telling CNN, “We are more than aware that we are here to defend members of society, not to assault them. . . . In those cases where excesses may have been committed, investigations have occurred and measures have been taken.”

The police point out that they have been the victims of these violent exchanges.  Ninety-seven officers have been killed this year, and 176 have been injured.

Beyond the killings on the street, Amnesty International reports that while in police custody, suspects have been threatened with death, denied food and water, beaten, had plastic bags put over their heads, or were hung on nails by their handcuffs.  At least two people last seen in police custody have gone missing.  The Washington Post reports that these instances are investigated, but not very thoroughly.

The police may be using the killings to deter young locals from engaging in future violence.  Javier Zuniga, head of Amnesty International’s delegation to the Dominican Republic said, “We believe their conduct is actually exacerbating the violence and creating a climate in which human rights are completely ignored,” reported BBC News.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Columbus’s Legacy Lives Through His Namesakes

Christoper Columbus arrives in America

Image via Wikipedia

There was a time when October 12 was marked by widespread celebration of the exploits of famed explorer Christopher Columbus, hailed as the discoverer of the New World.

Historians have since proven that other explorers — notably Leif Ericson — preceded Columbus to North America, and critics have accused Columbus of abusing the natives he met in the Caribbean.

But Columbus’ legacy lives on in today’s subdued holiday, now the second Monday of October, and in the geography of America.

Roughly 2.7 million Americans live in fifty-four counties, districts, cities, incorporated towns, boroughs, villages and census designated places named after Columbus.

The explorer’s biggest legacies in terms of population are Columbus, Ohio, and the District of Columbia, both with populations more than half a million.

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Honduras Has Highest Homicide Rate in the World

Comparison of U.S. homicide rate with other se...

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Honduras had the highest homicide rate in 2010.  Four of the top five countries on the list are in Central America: El Salvador, Jamaica, and Belize are also in the top five.

Homicide rates have risen all over Latin America.  In addition, Mexico saw a 65% increase since 2005.  Crackdowns on drug cartels in Mexico have pushed traffickers to these other parts of Central America.

In Honduras, there were 6,200 killings in a population of 7.7 million people.  For every 1,000 people in the country, 82.1 will become victims of homicide (for every 1,000 people in the United States, five will become victims of homicide).

Along with an increase in drug violence and organized crime, the accessibility of firearms is an issue.  According to The Washington Post, as many as three-quarters of all homicides involve a gun.

Of 468,000 people killed in 2010, 36% of homicides took place in Africa, 31% in the Americas, and 27% in Asia.  Europe and Oceania combined for less than 6% of all homicides, according to CNN.

While homicide rates have consistently dropped over the last 15 years in North America, Asia, and Europe, Central America and the Caribbean are both facing steady increases with no end in sight.

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Trinidad and Tobago Declares a State of Emergency

Trinidad and Tobago has declared a “limited” state of emergency to combat drug-related violence.

The capital city and other cities are under a 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew. Authorities are enforcing the curfew to curb a recent increase in murders.

Last weekend alone, there were eleven homicides, bringing the annual total to 264.

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Kate Winslet Saves 90-Year-Old from Fire

The coat of arms of the British Virgin Islands.

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Quick, somebody get Kate Winslet the starring role in an action movie!

Kate Winslet saved Richard Branson‘s mother from a fire that destroyed the Virgin Group CEO’s Caribbean home.

Winslet was vacationing at Branson’s island home in the British Virgin Islands with her boyfriend and two children when the fire (caused by lightning from Tropical Storm Irene) destroyed the home.

“Many thanks to Kate Winslet for helping to carry my 90-year mum out of the main house to safety,” Branson blogged on Monday. “Around 20 people were in the house and they all managed to get out and they are all fine.”

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