Archive for the ‘Colombia’ Category

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

BY FRANCISCO JARA

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

POR FRANCISCO JARA

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 »
Excelsior

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

By JENNIFER PELTZ

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

Migrants’ remittances to Latin America grew 4 pct. in 2014

| February 24th, 2015 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Expatriates’ remittances to Latin America and the Caribbean increased 4 percent in 2014 to $62.3 billion, the biggest jump since the global economic crisis in 2009, the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington think-tank, said Tuesday.

The largest gains went to Mexico and Central America, while several South American countries saw a decrease in remittances, due largely to the persistent economic crisis in Spain.

The overall advance in remittances to Latin America reflects improvements in the U.S. labor market, new migration patterns and the proliferation of new ways to transfer money, according to the report.

Remittances to Mexico increased 8.8 percent over 2013, while funds sent to Honduras increased 12.5 percent, and to Guatemala, 9 percent.

The Spanish economic crisis, with high levels of unemployment and falling pay, is largely responsible for decreases in remittances to Bolivia, 2.4 percent; Peru, 2.3 percent, and Colombia, which saw ... Read More

Colombian Terrorists Want Amnesty for War Crimes

| February 23rd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

In an interview with the Colombian daily El Tiempo earlier this month, José Leonidas Bustos, the new president of the Supreme Court, said the judicial system ought not be “a straitjacket that impedes the building of the peace and, with it, a more equal, inclusive society.” If he sounded like a jurist who doesn’t believe in the rule of law, there is good reason.

President Juan Manuel Santos has been negotiating in Havana with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for almost three-and-a-half-years to try to end rebel violence. But the guerrillas refuse to accept jail time for their terrorism. In Mr. Bustos’s view, denying justice to the FARC’s victims and offering the rebels minimal penalties (e.g., community service in lieu of prison) for their war crimes solves the problem.

Mr. Bustos’s eagerness to appease the FARC is one indication of the decline of Colombia’s democracy. Another is a ... Read More

Colombia issues arrest warrants in probe of bribes paid to rebels

| February 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

(Reuters) – Colombia’s Attorney General’s office has issued five arrest warrants as part of an investigation into whether bribes were paid by Italian construction company SICIM to Marxist rebels to guarantee the security of its employees, an official said on Thursday.

The warrants were issued for two SICIM workers and three members of guerrilla group the National Liberation Army (ELN), an official from the Attorney General’s office, who was not authorized to speak on the subject, told Reuters.

SICIM workers Roberto Jorge Rigoni from Argentina and Francisco Elizondo from Spainface charges of financing terrorism, rebellion and extortion, the official said. It is unclear if the two remain in Colombia.

SICIM is headquartered in Italy and has subsidiaries in Africa, Europe and in North and South America. It took part in the first phase of construction of the Bicentenario oil pipeline, which has a 110,000-barrel daily capacity to transport crude.

According to ... Read More

US Missionary Accused in Colombia of Alleged Rebel Ties

| February 20th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC News

By LIBARDO CARDONA and FRANK BAJAK

A court on Thursday rejected a request from prosecutors for the jailing of a U.S. missionary to face charges of collaborating with Colombia’s main leftist rebel group, ruling the evidence was not strong enough to warrant detention.

Prosecutors can still pursue a trial for Russell Martin Stendal, a 59-year-old Minnesota native who has worked for decades in some of Colombia’s most dangerous regions. He earlier said that he is being falsely accused.

“Somebody set a trap for me, and I walked into it,” Stendal said in video posted to Facebook by one of his daughters after his surrender Wednesday night. “They are accusing me of rebellion for the missionary trips and visits we have made to conflict zones distributing Bibles and radios.”

David Witt, CEO of Arizona-based Spirit of Martyrdom ministries, which funds Stendal’s work and sells his books, said the preacher has routinely taken great risks for ... Read More

Latin America 2015 outlook darkens as commodities sink: poll

| February 13th, 2015 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

BY SILVIO CASCIONE

(Reuters) – Latin America has embarked on a painfully long period of greater austerity, and lower commodity prices and economic growth will barely pick up speed this year, a Reuters poll found Thursday.

With nose-diving oil and metal prices weighing on government finances and jeopardizing investments, economists in the quarterly poll chopped 2015 growth forecasts again for the region’s seven largest countries, from Mexico to Argentina.

Brazil is now expected to grow a meager 0.5 percent in 2015, down from an estimate of 1.1 percent in the prior survey and barely up from an expected 0.2 percent growth in 2014.

Mexico will probably expand by 3.4 percent, compared to 3.7 percent in the last poll, while oil producer Venezuela, flirting with a debt default, will probably contract 2.0 percent, according to the poll of about 50 economists.

Growth would probably improve somewhat in 2016, but would still fall short of the ... Read More

Colombia’s ELN rebel group frees Dutch hostage

| February 12th, 2015 | No Comments »
BBC

A Dutch citizen has been freed by Colombia’s ELN rebel group after more than a year in captivity in the north-east of the country.

The man’s name and the circumstances of his abduction in January 2014 remain unknown.

He was handed over to the members of the International Red Cross and the Catholic Church in a remote area of Norte de Santander province.

The ELN is Colombia’s second largest group, after the Farc.

Dutch authorities had been involved in the negotiations to free the man, who is said to be 52 years old, according to Dutch media.

But local Colombian police said they were not aware that the man was being held hostage, El Tiempo newspaper reported.

The ELN, or National Liberation Army, announced last year that it was willing to enter peace negotiations with the Colombian government.

Talks have not begun, however, with President Juan Manuel Santos insisting that the left-wing group must first release its ... Read More

Colombia Angers Venezuela With Call to Free Jailed Opponent

| January 28th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC News

By JACOBO G. GARCIA

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos is taking a tougher line with Venezuela’s socialist government, urging it to free a prominent opposition leader.

The change in tone comes as Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis is leading Latin American governments to reconsider how best to respond to the threat of renewed unrest there.

Since taking office in 2010, Santos had been reluctant to criticize Venezuela, looking to win its support for peace talks with Colombia’s rebels and avoid a return of tensions that led to talk of war on both sides of the border in 2008.

Colombia broke with its hands-off policy late Monday and became the first South American nation to call for the release of Leopoldo Lopez, who has been jailed for 11 months on charges of instigating violence at anti-government demonstrations that rocked Venezuela a year ago.

While the U.S. and European governments have condemned Lopez’s jailing and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s wider ... Read More

Diosdado Cabello’s head of security defects to the U.S. and accuses him of narcotrafficking

| January 27th, 2015 | No Comments »
ABC Madrid-01

[Translation by IASW]

BY EMILI J. BLASCO, CORRESPONDENT IN WASHINGTON

With the arrival yesterday in Washington, DC, of protected witness, [Venezuelan Navy] Captain Leamsy Salazar, who until December was the head of security for Diosdado Cabello, a U.S. federal prosecutor has accelerated the preparation of a formal indictment against the number two in the Venezuelan regime.

Salazar is the highest-ranking military officer to break ranks with chavismo and make formal accusations in the United States against senior government officials for their involvement in narcotrafficking.

For almost 10 years, Salazar served as chief of security and as personal assistant to Hugo Chávez. After Chávez’s death, Salazar went on to work for Cabello as his chief of security.

Cartel of the Suns

According to sources close to the investigation, opened by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Salazar claims that [Cabello], the president of the National Assembly, is the head of the Cártel de ... Read More

The retreat of U.S. interests from Latin America has left a vacuum for the Chinese to fill

| January 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 BY ILAN BERMAN You have to feel a bit sorry for the Obama administration. The White House in December announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, including establishing a U.S. Embassy in Havana and formally revisiting Cuba’s status as a state sponsor of terrorism. The move was a clear effort by Washington to distinguish itself in a new international theater.

But that gambit was soon eclipsed by another: In a meeting that could herald a significant shift in the Western Hemisphere’s balance of power, China hosted a high-profile summit earlier this month with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or Celac.

Celac is a relatively recent invention. Conceived in 2010 at a meeting in Caracas hosted by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez , it is designed to deepen integration among Central and South American states—while excluding the U.S. and Canada. The 33-member bloc explicitly styles itself as an alternative to the U.S.-led Organization of ... Read More

Ex presidentes de Colombia, México y Chile asistirán a foro opositor en Venezuela

| January 16th, 2015 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

Los expresidentes Andrés Pastrana, de Colombia, Felipe Calderón, de México, y Sebastián Piñera, de Chile, asistirán en Caracas el 26 de enero a un foro organizado por dirigentes opositores al Gobierno venezolano, informó este jueves la exdiputada María Corina Machado.

“Los tres expresidentes van a visitar a Venezuela en una agenda muy intensa de varios días en la cual podrán tener contacto directo con distintos sectores de la sociedad”, señaló Machado en una rueda de prensa en la capital venezolana.

La dirigente opositora dijo que en el foro “Poder Ciudadano y la Democracia de Hoy” los expresidentes podrán conversar con “familiares y víctimas de la represión y la violación sistemática de los derechos humanos del régimen del señor (Nicolás) Maduro”, presidente de Venezuela.

“Los temas fundamentales precisamente serán el poder ciudadano, las transiciones a la democracia, los desafíos en América Latina, libertad frente al autoritarismo y el populismo, y desde luego, los derechos ... Read More

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