Exclusive Interview With The Salvadoran Defense Minister Gen. David Munguía Payés

first_imgBy Dialogo July 28, 2010 For the first time in El Salvador, criminals burned a bus with passengers inside. The crime, which took place on 20 June and left seventeen people dead, including a baby girl a few months old, horrified the country and created political pressure for the implementation of new anti-gang measures in the Central American nation. Among these measures is the use of the armed forces in support of the fight against groups like the Mara 18 gang, accused of responsibility for the bus attack, and others. The Salvadoran Defense Minister granted Diálogo the following exclusive interview, minutes after addressing the Sub-Regional Conference for Mesoamerica, held 20-23 July in San Salvador and organized by the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS), in order to discuss this and other topics. Diálogo – What is the role of the armed forces today in El Salvador? Gen. Munguía – The tasks that we’re going to carry out in providing support to the National Civil Police (PNC) have been defined. There’s an executive order (No. 70) in which the president orders the armed forces to support the PNC, but limits our actions, that is to say, we don’t have all the functions of police. We have a mandate to set up checkpoints, search vehicles, search people, and arrest individuals caught red-handed. Diálogo – What happens when individuals are arrested by armed forces personnel? Gen. Munguía – If we arrest someone, we immediately turn that person over to the PNC. In addition to that, we’ve established a joint command with the PNC where all activities are coordinated, so that, if there’s a problem, it can be solved right there, at the joint command. Diálogo – How is the fulfillment of this task being approached? Gen. Munguía – We’ve formed eight task forces of 350 men each, with their respective officers. The mission we have is to occupy the twenty-nine areas with the highest crime rates in the country. We’re operating in these areas, and our presence is a permanent one. Diálogo – Is this a preventive measure? Gen. Munguía – Up to now, it’s all preventive. There’s a proposal to reform the law to criminalize being part of a gang, and that’s also going to give us the opportunity to arrest gang members. Diálogo – So, currently, being part of a gang is not considered a crime? Gen. Munguía – At the moment, the fact of belonging to a gang is not considered a crime. The principle of the presumption of innocence prevails, that is to say, although we know some of them are criminals, and people point them out to us as criminals, we can’t do anything. It’s very difficult to prove the crimes. We can only arrest them if we catch them red-handed. Right now, we can’t arrest them on allegations that they commit crimes. Diálogo – But isn’t it true that in order to be part of a gang, the future member is supposed to commit a crime? Gen. Munguía – It’s true. In reality, today, they demand that the person commit at least one homicide. There are cases of gangs that demand up to six homicides. Therefore, it can be presumed that if a person belongs to a gang, it’s because he’s already committed at least one homicide, but they can’t be arrested on the basis of this presumption, nor can you start an investigation or legal proceedings. It’s necessary to wait for them to commit other crimes and for us to catch them in the act. Nevertheless, there’s a new law proposed by the President of the Republic that will allow us to arrest them for belonging to a gang. Diálogo – What was the participation of the armed forces in the case of the bus that was burned? Gen. Munguía – Unfortunately, we didn’t participate directly in that investigation. Nevertheless, we already knew that this gang existed in the municipality where they committed the crime, but we couldn’t arrest them until they committed a crime. However, we helped the National Police to solve the problem, because we advised them that there was this gang in this area, and they focused their investigation in that direction. Diálogo – Do you consider gangs to be the main security problem in El Salvador at present? Gen. Munguía – Yes. We can’t overlook the fact that there are others, like organized crime, drug trafficking, and white-collar crime, which can also be behind these gangs. The chief problem arises from the combination of gangs with drug trafficking. This is what is causing the violence that we’re seeing in the streets and this large number of homicides that are being committed in the country. When the armed forces started to support the National Civil Police (PNC) more consistently – in November 2009 – the crime rate was between 14 and 15 homicides a day. With the work that we’ve been doing, we’ve succeeded first of all in containing the upward trend of this vicious cycle, and then with the most recent missions that the President of the Republic has assigned us, such as taking control of a significant portion of the prisons, we’ve succeeded, together with the police, in getting down to 9 homicides a day for the month of June 2010. Diálogo – Can you say a bit more about the intervention of the armed forces in the prisons? Gen. Munguía – The police had data indicating that more than 80 percent of extortions were ordered from inside the prisons. Today there’s been a significant drop in extortions in the country due to the action and support of the armed forces, just to cite one example. Diálogo – What is your opinion on putting prisons in isolated locations, like Alcatraz was in the United States? Gen. Munguía – It would be a good thing, but it’s necessary to distinguish between what we would like to do and reality. Building a normal prison costs the country around thirty million dollars. Building a high-security prison and putting it on an island might cost us three or four times more. The reality is that the country is not currently in a position to spend that much money on building those kinds of prisons. There are cheaper alternatives, like building prisons using modular containers and surrounding them with a security perimeter to hold trusted prisoners or those who are about to complete their sentences, older adults or individuals with very serious illnesses. I believe that this could be a temporary solution to the problem. Diálogo – Aren’t cell phone blockers in prisons another solution to be implemented? Gen. Munguía – Technology is one solution, but it can’t be the only solution, because no technological tool is 100 percent secure. First, because the technology isn’t finished yet, and second, because in the end, these technological devices have to be operated by human beings. This is another large problem that we have in the prisons, that is to say, there’s quite a bit of corruption there. For example, the United States gave us some scanning chairs that detect whether someone going into a prison is carrying something illicit. It’s a good technology, but it’s been observed that several times, the person who was administering these chairs disconnected them at the time they were being used. We know that it’s from inside the prisons and by means of cell phone calls that crimes are being ordered on the outside, and the government is making efforts to prevent this, even using cell phone blockers, but it’s something that’s complicated to fight. Diálogo – Is there an exchange of police and military intelligence across the whole region? Gen. Munguía – Yes, but it’s still very elementary and deficient. During the last meeting of the Central American Integration System (July 2010), this was one of topics discussed. Commitments have been made and coordination has been done precisely in order to handle the transfer of information and intelligence more effectively and more rapidly, so that we can be more effective in the fight against crime, with even the participation of Mexico and Colombia. Diálogo – How can problems related to human rights be avoided? Gen. Munguía – The first thing that we did was to train our personnel on the subject of human rights, before starting to carry out these missions. We set up teams with the organizations that defend human rights and with other specialized organizations in order for them to give classes in this area to our officers, non-commissioned officers, and enlisted personnel. We also have strict supervision in the fulfillment of our missions. Up to now, there have not been any serious accusations related to human-rights violations. Diálogo – And with regard to juvenile delinquents? What is the government doing to prevent them from joining gangs, and what should be done with those who are already part of gangs? Gen. Munguía – First, it’s necessary to control the areas in order to prevent the criminals from dominating an area, so that after that, the government can come into these locations with its social programs. The vast majority of these social programs are directed toward helping at-risk youth so that they don’t turn to gangs. There are also rehabilitation and reinsertion plans for those who want to leave a gang. Now, since the laws on juvenile crime are very protective of minors, the gangs use children to commit crimes. In the country currently, 90 percent of crimes are committed by gang members, and of these, around 60 percent are committed by children. Our society is even debating the possibility of lowering the minimum age for treating a child who has committed a crime as an adult.last_img read more

Flex LNG turns to profit on rebalanced market

first_imgFlex LNG, the company controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen and an emerging player in the LNG shipping business turned to a $1.2 million profit in the third quarter of the year compared to a $4 million net loss in the third quarter of 2017. The company also tightened its net loss for the first nine months of the year from $11.7 million in 2017 to $3.5 million during the period under review.Commenting on the results, Øystein Kalleklev, Flex LNG’s CEO and CFO said the company’s improved financial performance in the third quarter and the improved fourth-quarter guidance were helped by the market rebalancing.“Unlike the vast majority of other LNG shipping companies, we decided to strategically pursue shorter-term employment until the shipping market showed signs of rebalancing. The market has now rebalanced with current fixtures now being agreed at all-time high rates,” Kalleklev said.He noted the company expects the LNG shipping market to remain tight due to a combination of a large increase in liquefaction capacity in the near, medium and long-term, limited fleet growth, increased ton/mileage and increased focus on improving air quality favoring the ongoing switch from coal to natural gas.The company today has four vessels on the water and nine additional newbuildings under construction which are set for delivery in 2019-2021, increasing the fleet to a total of thirteen high-end LNG carriers.Flex LNG said it has already covered all available days for the fourth quarter expecting revenues of approximately $35 million in the period, up on the $19 million reported in the quarter under review.last_img read more

No new signings for Spurs

first_img When asked what percentage he would put on Spurs signing anyone before the Friday night deadline of 2300, the Tottenham manager said: “Zero.” There is always a focus on Tottenham every deadline day because of Levy’s history of last-minute signings. Rafael van der Vaart, Mousa Dembele, Hugo Lloris and Robbie Keane have all signed for Spurs on deadline day in recent years. The Spurs chairman has frequently asked Sherwood if he needs any new players, but, after the club made seven additions to the squad last summer, the head coach feels there is no point in making an already bloated squad bigger. “Daniel’s asked if I want to strengthen in this area or need any help, but I’m confident with the players we’ve got,” Sherwood said. “I don’t need anyone else, thank you very much. “They (Levy and technical director Franco Baldini) can bring them in (but) they won’t play. We’re in this together. Unless we’re all in agreement they don’t bring them in, because there’s no point because they won’t play. “It’s not always the (right) way, just to buy players. We need to put things together, like a jigsaw here, and I’ve got real trust in the players that we’ve got.” Spurs have been linked with Dimitar Berbatov, Nani and Yevhen Konoplyanka this month. Chairman Daniel Levy is renowned for his love of an 11th-hour deal, but Sherwood ruled out the possibility of any late incomings at White Hart Lane. Tim Sherwood says there is a “zero per cent” chance of Tottenham signing any new players before the transfer window shuts. Berbatov has been linked with a dramatic return to Spurs, where he enjoyed the most prolific two years of his career, but the Fulham striker looks set to join Monaco instead. When asked if there was a possibility of signing Berbatov, Sherwood said: “No. I like him and think he’s a very good player, but we’ve got strikers here who can do a very good job. “It’s very, very unlikely (any more will come in). If it closed now, it would be fine.” Konoplyanka looks set to leave Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, but Liverpool are favourites to sign the Ukraine winger. “I don’t think there’s any mileage in Konoplayanka (coming to Spurs),” Sherwood said. If Spurs are to be involved in the transfer market on Friday, then all their activity looks set to be concentrated on outgoings. Midfielder Lewis Holtby has left White Hart Lane to join Fulham on loan until the end of the season. Sherwood hopes the popular German, who has been at Spurs for just 12 months, will play for the north London club again. “I think he’s got a Tottenham future,” Sherwood said. “I can’t see him not playing regular football in the Fulham side and we look forward to welcoming him back in the summer.” France midfielder Etienne Capoue also looks to be agitating for a move away from Spurs. Capoue has only been at Tottenham for six months, but he has been linked with Napoli after finding his first-team opportunities restricted under Sherwood. Capoue told L’Equipe: “It’s hard. I went from undisputed holding midfielder to someone applying to play. This is the first time I saw that. “If I do not play, it will be difficult (to be at the World Cup). If something presents itself, we will discuss.” Capoue is unhappy that he has had to play part of this season at centre-back. “I’m not surprised (about having to play there),” he said. “This is the English mind. They do not know much about foreign players.” Sherwood confirmed that long-term absentees Paulinho, Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul are fit to play against Hull on Saturday. Erik Lamela (thigh), Andros Townsend (hamstring) and Sandro (calf) remain sidelined, however. Press Associationlast_img read more