Archive for the ‘Colombia’ Category

No peace with impunity for Colombia

| April 1st, 2015 | No Comments »
New Internationalist

On 24 December 2014, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos expressed his hope that the New Year could bring an end to his country’s 50-year-old internal conflict.

The negotiations between the central government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which have been taking place in Havana, Cuba, since August 2012 have now reached their final stages.

But while the government and the guerrillas’ delegations discuss the remaining items of the six-point agenda, the negotiations are faced with a dilemma that is far from being solved. How, and to what extent, should those culpable of the conflict’s atrocities pay for their crimes?

The answer has so far been cashed out in terms of transitional justice: the successful overcoming of a conflict may justify, and indeed require, more lenient punishments for those involved.

To put it very roughly, so long as those responsible for the ... Read More

Forget Brazil. This emerging market is on the rise

| March 27th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Elizabeth MacBride

Brazil, an emerging-market darling just a couple years ago, is crumbling amid economic stagnation and political turmoil. But there’s a far brighter story—one most investors are missing—elsewhere in Latin America.

Four countries—Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile—three years ago formed a free-trade bloc called the Pacific Alliance. Tiny Costa Rica joined the club in 2013. Together, they’re a bigger economy than Brazil, and they’re expected to grow three or four times faster than their huge neighbor over the next few years.

Brazil’s $1.7 trillion economy contracted by 0.1 percent in 2014, according to Brazilian central bank data released Thursday, and it’s seen shrinking by 0.5 percent 2015. A corruption scandal at state-controlled Petrobras, the state-controlled petroleum giant, is expected to further hobble the country’s economy.

Pacific LatAm rising Country Population GDP past 5 years Predicted 2014/2015 Mexico 115 Million 1.90% 2.4%/3.5% Colombia 47 Million 4.20% 4.8%/4.5% Peru 30 Million 5.50% 3.6%/5.1% Chile 17 Million 4% 2.0%/3.3% Costa Rica 5 Million 3.10% 3.6%/3.6%

In contrast, the five Pacific Alliance members, with a collective GDP of $2.2 trillion, are expected to grow 3.3 percent in 2014, and 4 percent in 2015. ... Read More


| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »

WASHINGTON, DC — The Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah is among the terrorist organizations that are benefiting from the illegal drug trade in Latin America, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Tovo, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), told lawmakers.

Illegal drug trafficking in Latin American generates at least “tens of millions” for Hezbollah, which uses the funds to fuel its operations in the Middle East, explained the Southcom general.

During a hearing this afternoon held by the Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee, Ron Johnson (R-WI), the panel’s chairman, asked the general to comment on the nexus between drug traffickers and terrorist organizations in Latin America.

“Mr. Chairman certainly in a classified setting we can give you a lot more detail. Suffice it to say from open source, I think we know that in at least several occasions over the past decade and a half, terrorists have attempted ... Read More

Cleaning up Latin American democracy

| March 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Economist

During the multitudinous demonstration against Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, in São Paulo on March 15th, a lunatic fringe chanted for a return to military rule. That was sad more than worrying. The rightists were shouted down. Their isolation served to underline how routine democracy has become in many Latin American countries in the third of a century or so since the generals returned to barracks.

That outcome was not inevitable. Compared with Europe or North America, democracy in Latin America must struggle against big obstacles, including poverty, gaping income inequality and corruption. Another is poor institutional design. Latin America combines directly elected presidents, as in the United States, with multiparty legislatures chosen by proportional representation, in the manner of many European parliamentary systems. The result has often been gridlock: weak governments have lacked majorities in legislatures unthreatened by dissolution, which induces consensus in parliamentary regimes.

These ... Read More

Colombian army nabs drug suspect wanted in U.S.

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

A Colombian man wanted in the United States on drug trafficking charges was detained by soldiers near the border with Panama, Colombia’s army said Monday.

Special forces of the army’s Air Assault Division captured Juan Carlos Portela Noriega in Chigorodo, a town in the Uraba region. He is reputed to be a leader of the Clan Usuga gang, which operates in the area.

The U.S. government has requested that Portela be extradited for trial before a federal court in Texas, the Colombian army said.

Authorities in Colombia say Portela has connections to the Mexico-based Los Zetas and Sinaloa drug cartels and that he has coordinated exports of cocaine and other banned substances.

The drugs were transported via speedboat to Panama, where they would be loaded onto cargo vessels bound for Central American, used by the Mexican cartels as a staging area for shipments to ... Read More

Colombia’s hunt for elusive drug lord Otoniel

| March 25th, 2015 | No Comments »

By Natalio Cosoy

Widescreen TV sets hooked up to satellite dishes, expensive drinks and perfumes – these are just some of the luxury items Colombian police have found in huts in the otherwise poor rural area of Uraba, in western Colombia.

The huts, and the luxury items inside, belong to Dairo Antonio Usuga David, better known as Otoniel, one of the most wanted men in Colombia.

Currently some 1,200 members of the security forces are chasing the elusive gang leader.

That is more than double the 500 who hunted Pablo Escobar, the drug lord who controlled the infamous cocaine cartel of the same name.

Crime syndicate

Otoniel runs the Usuga clan, a drug gang that has its powerbase in the Uraba region of Colombia, but whose network extends across the country and beyond.

Members of the gang have been arrested as far away as Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Peru and ... Read More

Colombia’s FARC says cease-fire in jeopardy

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

The unilateral cease-fire Colombia’s FARC rebels have observed since December could be jeopardized by army attacks, guerrilla delegates to ongoing peace talks with the Bogota government said here Thursday.

“We see with great concern how, gradually, these attacks on guerrilla structures have been eroding the FARC’s determination to maintain an indefinite, unilateral cease-fire,” rebel chief negotiator Ivan Marquez said in Havana, the venue for the peace process.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Latin America’s oldest and largest guerrilla group, called on Colombian President Jose Manuel Santos “to do something” to preserve the cease-fire initiated by the FARC last December.

The cease-fire “is dissolving in practice, and it pains us to acknowledge it, because there have been so many attacks and operations targeting our positions that our people have been forced to respond,” the FARC’s deputy leader said.

Marquez said the FARC embarked on ... Read More

In Colombia, Drug Trafficking Will Outlast A Peace Deal

| March 20th, 2015 | No Comments »

As peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia progress, the focus of talks will inevitably turn to cocaine. The militants’ deep involvement in the production and smuggling of the drug will undoubtedly complicate the government’s ability to give leaders of the group, known as the FARC, amnesty from prosecution as part of any peace agreement. But even if the government and rebels come to accord on how to handle criminal charges, the flow of cocaine out of Colombia is unlikely to decline, even in the short term. Consistently high demand abroad and domestic factors in Colombia will keep some cocaine production and trafficking networks to the United States operating unabated, though minor shifts in drug export patterns are to be expected.

There are many reasons to be optimistic about progress toward a peace deal with the FARC in 2015. But the biggest possible ... Read More

Colombia Bogota explosion injures police officers

| March 13th, 2015 | No Comments »

An explosive device has injured five police officers and two other people in the Colombian capital Bogota in the early hours.The device, which was packed with shrapnel, went off as a police convoy was driving through the southern neighbourhood of Quiroga.

It is not yet clear who may be behind the attack.

Small-scale explosions are not unusual in the capital, but this device seems more complex than previous ones.

Bogota’s police commander, Humberto Guatibonza, said the attack had been aimed at his officers.

“These rats attacked the police as they were going about their duties,” he said.

The Colombian police force regularly comes under attack from the main rebel groups, the National Liberation Army and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc).

But these attacks occur mainly in rebel strongholds on the border with Venezuela and in rural areas of Cauca province.

They have also diminished since the Farc declared a unilateral ceasefire as part of the ... Read More

Colombia suspends air raids on the Farc

| March 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

Colombia’s government took its biggest step yet toward an eventual end to hostilities in a half-century conflict by ordering an immediate halt to aerial bombings of guerrilla camps belonging to the nation’s largest rebel group.

President Juan Manuel Santos, in a nationally televised address on Tuesday night, said he made the decision in virtue of the progress in negotiations started in 2012 with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) and the rebels’ adherence to a unilateral ceasefire they declared in December.

The president said the ban on aerial bombings would initially last a month but could be extended if the Farc continued to comply. He said aerial raids against the National Liberation Army would continue uninterrupted until such time the nation’s second-largest group decided to join the peace process.

The decision, which had been rumoured for weeks, removes from the battlefield one of the government’s most successful tools in its fight against the rebels. Since 2008 ... Read More

Colombia’s FARC rebels unwilling to trade jungle for prison

| March 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Colombia’s FARC rebel group said Tuesday that they will accept no peace treaty that envisions sending insurgents to prison simply for having taken up arms to battle what they saw as injustice.

“Let it be known that no accord is possible that would impose a single day in prison for any guerrilla for having exercised the right to rebel, a precious gift of humanity, in order to end the injustices our people have suffered,” the FARC delegation taking part here in peace talks with the Colombian government said in a statement.

In that statement, read to the media by rebel negotiator Rodrigo Granda, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, repeated that they are not dodging their responsibilities in the conflict.

“It’s not members of the FARC who have enjoyed impunity throughout the Colombian conflict, but rather the oligarchy, the governing political class and ... Read More

Colombia arrests captain of arms-trafficking ship bound for Cuba

| March 4th, 2015 | No Comments »
The Guardian UK

The captain of a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship has been arrested in the Colombian port city of Cartagena, charged with arms trafficking for transporting undocumented large-caliber munitions, reportedly bound for Cuba.

The captain of the Da Dan Xia, a Chinese national identified as Wu Hong, was captured after authorities found 100 tonnes of gunpowder and 3,000 artillery shells among other munitions, an official from the Attorney General’s office told reporters.

The vessel was stopped on Saturday after authorities discovered the unregistered materials in eight shipping containers during inspection.

“Around 100 tonnes of gunpowder, 2.6m detonators, 99 projectiles and around 3,000 cannon shells were found,” the national director of the attorney general’s office, Luis González, said.

The documentation presented by the ship’s crew made no mention of the ammunition on board and instead listed the contents as chemicals and spare parts. “The documentation that the captain had in regards to the merchandise that was being transported ... Read More

FARC: peace agreement with imprisonment for guerrilla members is not possible

| March 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) warned Tuesday that “it is not possible to seal a peace agreement for Colombia that includes one day in jail for its members”. The comment comes after pressure increased for the victims of the armed conflict in terms of justice.

“We declare that it is not possible [to reach] an agreement that contemplates a single day in jail for guerrilla members because they have exercised the right to revolt (…) to end the injustices that our people have had to face,” said the FARC in a statement read to the press by Ricardo Téllez, one of its delegates in the peace negotiations with the Colombian government in Havana.

“Members of the FARC are not the ones who have enjoyed impunity throughout the Colombian conflict, the ruling oligarchy, politicians and the military have” said Tellez.

The government’s delegation did not comment about the warning made ... Read More

FARC: ‘no es posible’ acuerdo de paz con cárcel para guerrilleros

| March 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


La guerrilla comunista de las FARC advirtió este martes que “no es posible” sellar un acuerdo de paz para Colombia que contemple “un solo día de cárcel” para los guerrilleros, luego de que aumentara la presión por justicia para las víctimas del conflicto armado.

“Manifestamos que no es posible un acuerdo que contemple un solo día de cárcel para ningún guerrillero por el hecho de haber ejercido el derecho a la rebelión (…) para acabar con las injusticias que ha padecido nuestro pueblo”, declaró la guerrilla en un comunicado leído a la prensa por Ricardo Téllez, uno de sus delegados en las negociaciones de paz con el gobierno colombiano en La Habana.

“No son los miembros de las FARC quienes han gozado de impunidad a lo largo del conflicto colombiano, sino la oligarquía, la clase política gobernante y las fuerzas militares”, añadió Téllez.

La delegación del gobierno no comentó esta advertencia, ... Read More

Las FARC advierten que rechazarán acuerdo que considere prisión para guerrilleros

| March 3rd, 2015 | No Comments »

LA HABANA, 3 de marzo.- La guerrilla de las FARC reiteró el martes querechazará cualquier acuerdo de paz con el Gobierno colombiano si es que alguno de sus miembros debe pasar al menos un día en la cárcel, en declaraciones previas a una nueva ronda de conversaciones para terminar con un conflicto de más de medio siglo.

Manifestamos que no es posible un acuerdo que contemple un sólo día de cárcel para ningún guerrillero por el hecho de haber ejercido el derecho a la rebelión, alto valor de humanidad, para acabar con las injusticias que ha padecido nuestro pueblo”, según un comunicado leído por Ricardo Téllez, miembro del equipo negociador de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia .

El grupo insurgente hizo las declaraciones pocos días después de una reunión con el recién nombrado enviado especial de Estados Unidos para los diálogos de paz.

El presidente estadunidense, Barack Obama, nombró el 20 de febrero al diplomático Bernard Aronson como enviado especial para las negociaciones de paz entre la guerrilla y el ... Read More

Decomisan munición en buque que iba para Cuba

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
El Tiempo-01

Un buque con bandera de China que el pasado viernes llegó a Cartagena está siendo inspeccionado por la Policía Antinarcóticos en el puerto de esa ciudad.

El primer reporte arrojó que en 7 de los 14 contenedores hay abundante munición para artillería pesada, que hasta ahora no cuenta con la documentación correcta para ser transportada.

La Policía detectó el buque luego de que este llegara a Cartagena para desembarcar tubos para una firma petrolera, pero con información de inteligencia se alertó de la munición.

Inicialmente la información de inteligencia señalaba que eran armas que llegarían al país. Al revisar la documentación se estableció que el armamento, a nombre de una empresa comercial, tenía como destino a Cuba.

El comandante del buque se opuso en un principio a la inspección, pero la falta de documentación obligó a que la diligencia se realizara.

EL TIEMPO ... Read More

Ammunition was seized from ship headed to Cuba

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
El Tiempo-01

 A China-flagged ship that arrived to the port of Cartagena in Colombia is being inspected by the narcotics police of that city.

The first report showed that there is plenty of ammunition for heavy artillery, which so far does not have the correct documentation to be carried in 7 of the 14 containers.

Police detected the ship after it arrived in Cartagena to deliver tubes for an oil company, but intelligence alerted of the presence of ammunition.

Initially, intelligence information indicated that weapons were coming to the country. After reviewing the ship’s documentation it was established that the weapons, shipped by a trading company, were bound to Cuba.

Initially the captain of the ship tried to avoid the inspection, but the lack of documentation forced the latter.

Colombian newspaper El Tiempo established that the ship was also scheduled to arrive at Barranquilla and finally Cuba.

Official sources said the Ministry of Defense is handling the case.

Click ... Read More

Obama Elbows Into the Colombia Peace Talks

| March 2nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY There was a time when the U.S. might have used its superpower role to undermine the despotism that has taken hold in Venezuela. That those days are long gone is a point worth emphasizing as the Obama administration dispatches a special envoy to join Colombia’s peace talks with the terrorist group FARC.

Secretary of State John Kerry announced the appointment of Bernard Aronson on Feb. 20 in a short speech peppered with praise and platitudes for the Colombian democracy, as if preserving it is a high priority for the Obama administration. Would that it were.

President Obama’s top priority in the region is normalizing relations with the Cuban military dictatorship. Raúl Castro says that cannot happen unless Cuba is taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism—even though the regime supports the FARC and gives members of its rebel army safe haven.

So the only way to fix the problem is to ... Read More

3 Deny Trying to Sell Military-Grade Arms to Colombia Rebels

| February 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in the Associated Press


Three men pleaded not guilty on Thursday in an arms-dealing conspiracy case that spans three continents: They are charged with scheming in Europe to sell military-grade weapons to buyers posing as terrorists seeking to shoot down American aircraft in Colombia.

Cristian Vintila, Massimo Romagnoli and Virgil Flaviu Georgescu appeared in a New York federal court after being extradited from Montenegro, where they were arrested in December. No bail was set Thursday.

Vintila and Georgescu were based in Romania, and Romagnoli was based in Greece, prosecutors say.

“As alleged, these three men were ready and willing merchants of death, poised to sell sophisticated weapons to a terrorist organization,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Prosecutors say Georgescu, Romagnoli and Vintila offered last year to sell weapons including machine guns and rocket launchers to informants who posed as associates of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the half-century-old rebel group known as FARC, which has ... Read More

Colombia peace deal should ensure criminals held to account: Annan

| February 26th, 2015 | No Comments »
Business Insider

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Those responsible for crimes committed during Colombia’s 50-year war must be held accountable as part of a peace deal between the government and Marxist rebels, ex-United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Wednesday.

Annan, who led the international organization for nine years, visited Colombia to meet with President Juan Manuel Santos, judicial authorities and the head of the opposition, former President Alvaro Uribe. He has no official role in Colombia’s peace process but is hoping to promote progress.

The ex-secretary general will now head to Cuba, where he will meet with negotiators from the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels at the talks, a bid to end the five-decade conflict which has killed 220,000 people and displaced millions.

“All those who committed crimes should be held accountable,” Annan said at a press conference. “However, justice should be ... Read More

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