Archive for the ‘Colombia’ Category

Colombia peace talks enter ‘toad swallowing’ phase

| October 30th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

With every incremental advance in the peace negotiations between Colombian government negotiators and FARC rebel commanders, President Juan Manuel Santos faces an increasingly unpalatable spectacle — the Bogota equivalent of the “Satan sandwich.”

The armistice talks have been taking place in Cuba for nearly two years, and for the process to advance, more and more FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commanders are being flown to Havana to participate and take a personal stake in the outcome.

But that means Santos must guarantee safe passage to Cuba for the same rebel leaders whom government forces have been battling in Colombia’s jungles. Notorious FARC commanders who haven’t been seen in years are suddenly showing up on Colombian TV reports wearing sunglasses and guayaberas in Havana.

Santos’s political opponents have seized on this, saying the FARC is using the talks to allow its top figures to escape capture. Some of the president’s rivals have ... Read More

Colombia leader seeks Europe’s help for ‘last chance’ peace

| October 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Yahoo News-01

By Philippe Zygel

Bogota (AFP) – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says he hopes Europe can provide funds to help him strike a “last chance” deal with leftist guerrillas after half a century of conflict.

During a lightning tour of six countries in five days next week, Santos will lobby for the creation of a European fund for the post-conflict period, should his government clinch a historic deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“It’s the oldest conflict in the Western world,” Santos told AFP in an interview at the presidential palace in Bogota — his first with an international news agency since his re-election in June.

“If we manage to secure peace, it will have an impact far beyond Colombia’s borders.”

The center-right leader is expected to discuss gains made in nearly two years of peace ... Read More

As Colombia pursues peace, victims of the conflict struggle with forgiveness

| October 21st, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Jim Wyss

POPAYAN, Colombia - Gloria was 10 years old when armed rebels burst into her home at night, forced her father to his knees and shot him twice in the back of the head as the family watched. The guerrillas never said why. When she was 14, the men returned. Four of them raped her.

Now 20, Gloria (whose real name is not being used to protect her safety) is putting her life back together in the colonial town of Popayán, about an eight-hour bus ride from her troubled Andean village.

Far from family members and friends, Gloria says she harbors no hatred toward the men who shattered her life.

“In the middle of it all,” she says, “something good came out of it.”

Colombia is, perhaps, closer than ever to signing a peace deal that would put an end to a half-century-old conflict that has left at least 220,000 dead and forced some ... Read More

Colombia police arrest Venezuelan troops after illegal border crossing

| October 20th, 2014 | No Comments »
Colombia Reports

By Craig Corbett

Five members of the Venezuelan military were arrested on Sunday morning after illegally crossing into Colombia.

The armed troops allegedly crossed into La Parada in North East Colombia by mistake, and were attempting to return to Venezuela when they were stopped and arrested by Colombian police.

Local police had been notified by concerned locals, who witnessed the truck containing armed Venezuelan troops crossing the border via the Simon Bolivar International bridge.

Representatives from Colombia migration authorities said the five Venezuelans “entered Colombian territory without realizing that had crossed the border, at a time when conducting an inspection in the town of Ureña in Venezuela.”

The troops were escorted to migration authorities in Cucuta. Police and government authorities were met by Venezuelan representatives to discuss the issue, and to negotiate the troop’s release.

Venezuelan authorities released a statement saying that “thanks to the timely intervention of the Colombian law enforcement a problem was avoided and delivery ... Read More

Pacific Rubiales Gains on Pact With for Mexican Ventures

| October 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Andrew Willis

Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (PREC) signed an agreement with Petroleos Mexicanos to study oil and natural gas ventures as Mexico opens its energy sector to private investment for the first time in 76 years.

The Bogota- and Toronto-listed company entered into a three-year arrangement with state-owned Pemex to analyze potential projects including deep-water and onshore heavy oil ventures, Pacific Rubiales said today in a statement. The shares fell 1.7 percent to 29,200 pesos at the close of trading in Bogota after earlier surging as much as 7.9 percent.

“We expect Mexico will be a significant driver of future growth for Pacific Rubiales,” Chief Executive Officer Ronald Pantin said in the statement.

The former Petroleos de Venezuela SA executive is looking to Mexico’s energy liberalization for diversification as production growth slows at the company’s Colombian fields. Pacific Rubiales has more than $1 billion ready to invest in ... Read More

Colombia gang ‘behind Venezuela lawmaker Serra’s murder’

| October 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says a Colombian paramilitary group was behind the killing of a governing party lawmaker and his partner on 1 October.

Robert Serra and Maria Herrera were stabbed to death in Caracas.

Mr Maduro said Mr Serra’s bodyguard had confessed to conspiring with a Colombian gang to kill the member of the National Assembly.

The president also said that there had been a series of attempts to kill other top socialist party officials.

‘Incriminating footage’

Mr Maduro had previously blamed “ultra-right” opposition groups in Venezuela and in neighbouring Colombia for the murder.

In a news conference on Wednesday he gave more details of the evidence he said had emerged since.

He played an out-of-focus video of a man apparently confessing to the murder. In it, the man said that he was convinced by someone he refers to as “the Colombian” to “get rid” of Mr Serra.

A surveillance video showed four men entering ... Read More

Rising Dragon? The Chinese Mafia Threat in Latin America

| October 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
From In Sight

By David Gagne

Chinese mafia operations in Latin America are little understood, but a recent report on these groups in Argentina illustrates how they make their presence felt via extortion, human smuggling rings, and the occasional murder. As China deepens its economic relationship with Latin America, it’s possible these mafias may become ever more prominent.

Authorities in Argentina have attributed 31 murders over the last five years, and four in 2014 alone, to seven Chinese mafias operating in the country, reported La Nacion. These mafias reportedly earn revenue by extorting businesses within the Chinese community, and resort to violence when owners do not comply with their demands.

In at least three of the 2014 cases, the victim did not appear to have been robbed, leading authorities to believe they were killed after running afoul of criminal groups in the Chinese community. According to La Nacion, the Chinese mafias (also known ... Read More

In Colombia, Peace Could Bring New Challenges For Business

| October 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
Forbes

By Ben Hockman

BOGOTÁ – The world’s longest-running armed conflict could soon be coming to an end. Peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have gone on for months in Havana, Cuba, but they have gathered steam following the re-election of Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos in July. This is the fourth attempt to bring an end to the 50-year-old conflict – one that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and still displaces thousands of Colombians each year – and a deal is looking increasingly likely. Agreement on three of the five main areas of negotiation has now been reached, giving Colombians the best chance in a generation of a lasting peace.

The new-found stability could prove an economic boon. An end to hostilities would enable Colombia’s government to divert as much as $13 billion away from defence and into infrastructure, healthcare and education. It ... Read More

Colombia mayor fights Cali’s murder rate with science

| October 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
BBC

By Arturo Wallace

One of Colombia’s most violent cities is successfully using science to combat crime.

But it is not the kind of science you see in TV dramas such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Dr Rodrigo Guerrero is the mayor of Cali, Colombia’s third largest city, and a Harvard-trained epidemiologist.

By applying the tools of his trade he has, during his second time in office, once again managed to cut down the city’s staggering murder rate.

“I estimate that, by the end of the year, it will be 58 or 59 per 100,000 inhabitants,” says Dr Guerrero, who first served as Cali’s mayor from 1992 until 1994 and returned to office less than two years ago.

“It still is a terrifying rate, but last year’s was 81. And we’re confident things will get better,” he tells the BBC.

Forensic work and the latest technology – CSI style – have certainly a role to play ... Read More

Colombia and Panama: Warm no more

| October 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

IN ONE of the most remembered scenes of the film Casablanca, police chief Louis Renault orders the close of Rick’s Cafe when he is “shocked, shocked” to learn that there was gambling going on in the establishment. Seconds later a waiter presents Renault with his winnings from roulette. Panama was similarly shocked when Colombia last week included the neighbouring country on its list of tax havens, after the Central American nation failed to meet a deadline to sign a bilateral tax information exchange agreement.

“[Panama] is not a tax haven, and we reject being classified this way,” Panama’s finance Minister Dulcidio de la Guardia said. Panama’s outrage led the foreign ministry to insinuate the possibility of retaliation, saying in a statement that the Panamanian government would study unspecified measures against countries that “discriminate against Panama.”

Panama and Colombia have had historically warm relations  and the Central American country is home to about ... Read More

Colombia says rebel chief has been to Cuba for peace talks

| October 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters

By Helen Murphy and Luis Jaime Acosta

(Reuters) – Colombian guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londono has made secret government-authorized trips to Cuba several times in the last year to meet with his team of negotiators as part of peace talks to end 50 years of civil war, Colombian officials said on Thursday.

Defence Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon confirmed persistent rumours about Londono showing up in Havana, saying he has been there at “different times”.

A senior military intelligence source told Reuters that Londono, whose nom de guerre is “Timochenko”, has gone to Havana several times on non-commercial flights from Venezuela, where Colombian sources say he has been hiding for years.

If true, it suggests Londono is guiding talks from the front instead of staying in a remote jungle hideout, lending a more serious tone to the negotiations between his Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the government.

The government authorized Londono’s travel to Cuba, ... Read More

‘Timochenko’ habría ido a La Habana: Ministro de Defensa

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Tiempo-01

‘Timochenko’, el máximo jefe de la guerrilla de las FARC, ha estado en Cuba, donde se desarrollan las negociaciones de paz con el gobierno colombiano, dijo este jueves el ministro de Defensa de Colombia, Juan Carlos Pinzón.

“Sí ha habido información alrededor de ese tipo de situaciones. Hay información de que ha hecho presencia en distintos momentos”, dijo Pinzón en una entrevista con Caracol Radio, al ser preguntado sobre si ‘Timochenko’ ha viajado a La Habana en el marco de las pláticas que avanzan desde noviembre de 2012.

El ministro dijo sin embargo que prefiere “guardar prudencia” al referirse a esos viajes. “Son temas fuera del país y hay personas (dentro del gobierno) que tienen la responsabilidad de manejar eso”, dijo y agregó que en el marco del proceso de paz “obviamente el gobierno tiene un equipo negociador que tiene una autoridad para permitir o facilitar ... Read More

Peace Will Cost Colombia $44B Over 10 Years, Senator says

| October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Voice of America

BOGOTA—Colombia must invest at least 90 trillion pesos ($44.4 billion) to implement a peace deal with Marxist rebels to end a 50-year conflict, says a senator who backs the current peace talks, adding the amount is much less than the cost of waging war.

The figure is the first estimate of the cost of a peace accord to end the conflict with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

“The minimum cost for the next 10 years is estimated at 90 trillion pesos,” Senator Roy Barreras, president of the Colombian Congress’s peace commission, said late on Tuesday.

He said the money would be used to finance reintegration programs for former rebels, victim compensation, the return of displaced populations and land reform.

The government must implement structural reforms to guarantee there will be sufficient funds for such post conflict programs, Barreras said, echoing analysts who say the government should re-evaluate spending and taxation.

“There will ... Read More

El legado de Insulza y el futuro de la OEA

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Pais

POR EZEQUIEL VÁZQUEZ-GER

Corría Febrero del año 2011. Un grupo de estudiantes en Venezuela había decidido iniciar una huelga de hambre en protesta contra el gobierno de Hugo Chávez. En Washington, junto con un grupo de estudiantes venezolanos, decidimos apoyar la protesta pidiendo un pronunciamiento de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA). Lo hicimos a través de decenas de cartas dirigidas a cada uno de los embajadores, notas de prensa, y una protesta frente al Edificio principal del organismo, previo a una sesión de su consejo Perrmanente.

Terminada esta sesión, el secretario general José Miguel Insulza nos otorgó una audiencia privada, en la que nos dijo: “Me compadezco con ustedes, yo también sufrí una dictadura en carne propia y tuve que refugiarme en el exterior. Pero tienen que entender, a Chávez no lo van a vencer con cartas, Chávez es un dictador, y en Venezuela hay una dictadura militar”.

Esta anécdota sirve para describir el ... Read More

Latin American Growth to Slow, World Bank Says

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01 By RYAN DUBE LIMA, Peru—Latin America is on track this year to post its slowest rate of annual growth since 2009, when the global financial crisis began to be felt in the region, the World Bank said Tuesday.

The bank cut its growth forecast for the region by nearly half to 1.2%, following expansions of 2.4% and 3% in the previous two years. In its semiannual report on Latin America and the Caribbean, the World Bank said the region could grow 2.2% next year, but cautioned that it was still unclear whether the current downward cycle has bottomed out.

“We do not know if this deceleration has hit bottom, or if there is further deceleration to come,” said Augusto de la Torre, the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America, in a telephone interview. But growth, he said, “is not going to be what it used to be in the past decade, partially because ... Read More

Summit missing a strong agenda

| October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

BY DAN RESTREPO

With the ink not yet dry on the invitations, the April 2015 Summit of the Americas is perilously close to failure.

Failure rooted in the simple fact that a summit must be about more than its invite list.

And to date, summit host Panama and leaders across the Americas have done little to prepare other than obsessing about inviting Cuba and waiting to see how Washington responds.

That is not the basis for a mature, modern relationship, and it can’t make for anything but a missed opportunity in Panama.

This is particularly true when one considers the enormous shared opportunities and challenges that stand before the hemisphere and President Obama’s commitment to working as a good partner in the Americas.

From tackling the plague of violence in the Americas; to making good on energy and climate cooperation championed by President Obama at the ... Read More

Colombia’s Terrorists: Talk Talk, Fight Fight

| October 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01

By MARY ANASTASIA O’GRADY

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says he now knows why so many Colombians opposed his re-election to a second term, which he won in a hotly contested runoff in June: They didn’t trust his negotiations in Havana with the Marxist terrorist group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Mr. Santos told me in a recent interview in New York that his government has conducted research to better understand those who did not vote for him. Many respondents, he said, had come to believe that he is “planning to give the economy to Castro and Chávez, or to get rid of the army, or to put in a FARC commander to lead the police, or to expropriate the territory around the cities.” He now realizes that he “underestimated the power of such an amount of lies” and “never thought people would believe them.”

This is why, last month, ... Read More

Dan muerte a importante guerrillero de las FARC

| September 26th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald

BOGOTA, COLOMBIA 

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Las autoridades colombianas informaron el viernes la muerte en combate de un importante rebelde de las FARC que habría participado en al menos 15 tomas de poblaciones del suroeste del país y que fue jefe de seguridad de un alto dirigente de la organización guerrillera.

“Muerto en operaciones alias ‘Tomate’, sindicado del secuestro de los diputados del Valle y de 15 tomas guerrilleras”, escribió en su cuenta de Twitter el comandante del ejército colombiano, general Jaime Lasprilla.

Alias “Tomate”, cuyo verdadero nombre era Aníbal Guarín Herrera, de 37 años, fue muerto por militares y policías en la zona rural del municipio de Buga, departamento de Valle del Cauca y a 255 kilómetros al oeste de Bogotá.

“Murió al intentar escapar del área y enfrentarse con los uniformados”, indicó un comunicado de prensa del Comando General de las Fuerzas Militares.

Por su parte, el ministro de Defensa, Juan Carlos Pinzón, ... Read More

Colombia to Create New Congressional Seats Under FARC Peace Deal

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
Bloomberg

By Andrew Willis

Colombia will create new seats in its House of Representatives for war-torn regions of the country, according to the text of a draft agreement between the government and Marxist rebels published today.

President Juan Manuel Santos said the government was publishing the texts, which had hitherto been secret, to counter misinformation from opponents of the talks. The texts show that the government isn’t discussing its economic model with the rebels, Santos said.

“This should end all the misinformed speculation that people who aren’t friends of the process have been spreading,” Santos said today in New York. “The whole world will understand that there we are not negotiating our democratic system, our economic model, our development or our institutions.”

Government negotiators have held talks in Cuba since 2012 with guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, seeking a deal to end a 50-year conflict that has ... Read More

A Contraband Crackdown Is Rattling the Border Between Colombia and Venezuela

| September 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
ViceNews-01

By Meredith Hoffman

Venezuelan soldiers have been on an aggressive hunt for smuggled gasoline along the border with Colombia in recent weeks, contraband that Remedio Pana, a 42-year-old indigenous woman who lives on the Colombian side of the shared border, stores in her front yard.

Pana has watched Venezuelan soldiers sprint into her border town and rough up her neighbor, and she’s heard their gunfire. But, as she explained to VICE News outside her hand-built mud home in Paraguachon, in northeast Colombia, she needs money from the illicit sale of fuel to feed her ten children.

Pana is just a tiny part of the massive contraband industry that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blames for his country’s current shortage of food and consumer goods.

Since August 11, Maduro’s government has tried to seal the roughly 1,300-mile-long Colombia-Venezuela border by closing it at night, between 10pm and 5am, and also by deploying troops and dynamiting illegal ... Read More

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