- - Monday, March 5, 2012

PORT-AU-PRINCEHaiti has seen a dramatic increase in violent crime in the shanties of its major cities over the past six months, helping undermine faith in the country’s police force, according to a study released Sunday.

The preliminary findings in the report titled “Haiti’s Urban Crime Wave?” speak to rising concerns among Haitians that their country is entering a period of political turmoil that could thwart efforts to help rebuild in the aftermath of the powerful January 2010 earthquake.

Homicides in the heavily populated areas of Haiti’s biggest cities appear to have increased sharply from August 2011 to last February, according to the study written by social scientists Athena Kolbe and Robert Muggah, and backed by the Canadian government’s International Development Research Center and the Brazil nonprofit, the Igarape Institute.

While the homicide rate in Port-au-Prince is lower than that of some other Caribbean cities, Haiti’s capital saw 60.9 murders per 100,000 residents over the year leading up to February 2012, the highest recorded murder rate since 2006, according to the study.

For example, the Bel Air district of Port-au-Prince saw homicides jump from 19 per 100,000 people in 2010 to 50 per 100,000 people near the end of 2011.

“This murder rate is not just high - it’s enormous,” Ms. Kolbe said.

By comparison, New York City’s homicide rate was less than 7 per 100,000 in 2011, while Oakland, Calif., had 23 homicides per 100,000 residents.

The bulk of the Haiti murders happened in densely populated areas in the cities where there are high levels of social marginalization and poverty, which included Cap-Haitien, Les Cayes and Gonaives, among others.


President getting medical tests

LA PAZ | President Evo Morales suspended official activities for a second day Sunday, according to Vice President Alvaro Garcia, who said the nation’s leader was undergoing “routine” medical exams.

Mr. Morales checked into a private clinic Friday in Cochabamba and Saturday skipped a planned inauguration of public works in El Alto, near the capital La Paz. He missed another event Sunday, but the vice president said Mr. Morales is in “very good health.”

Mr. Garcia, standing in for Mr. Morales in El Alto, said “doctors asked President Evo to continue his rest in the city of Cochabamba.”

It was not immediately clear what type of exams Mr. Morales was undergoing.


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