Archive for the ‘Colombia’ Category

Falling oil revenues threaten Colombia GDP, cautions Cárdenas

| September 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
latin finance

Colombia can reach developed country status in the next 12 years, but maintaining production in the oil sector will be vital, says finance minister

Colombia’s annual economic growth could be reduced by a percentage point in coming years if the country sees no major discoveries in the oil sector, Mauricio Cárdenas, the finance minister, has told LatinFinance.

Cárdenas said he is targeting economic growth of 5% or higher over the next four years, in a bid to reach developed country status in the next 12 years, but said the oil sector, source of 20% of fiscal revenues, could be a risk to these ambitions.

“We need to make sure that we are able to sustain or increase production,” said Cárdenas, speaking in the September/October edition of LatinFinance.

A bidding round in Colombia earlier this year for 95 new exploration and production blocks did not attract the hoped participation, with the state oil agency placing only 27 of ... Read More

Colombia’s ELN Accused of Killing Two Oil Workers

| September 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Latin America News Dispatch

Suspected members of Colombia’s second-largest rebel group have killed two oil workers in a sniper attack, the military said Monday. The workers, contractors with the state-owned Ecopetrol oil company, were allegedly shot by a group of National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas in Teorama, a rural municipality in northeastern Norte de Santander department, Reuters reported.

The killings, which reportedly took place as the contractors worked on the Caño Limón Coveñas oil pipeline, came amid an uptick in attacks on oil infrastructure by both the ELN and the larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Both groups are seeking to show off their military clout despite an aggressive offensive by the Colombian miilitary. These attacks have forced oil production below the government’s target of one million barrels per day.

The administration of President Juan Manuel Santos announced in June that it was negotiating with the ELN to set up a formal peace process. Critics said ... Read More

Colombians Object to Deals That Take Criminals Out of the Country

| September 15th, 2014 | No Comments »

By James Bargent

Better a tomb in Colombia than a cell in the United States.” That was the battle cry of the first generation of Colombian drug lords when they declared war against extradition in the 1980s.

“A trip to the United States is often the first request of captured narcos.”

How the world has changed. Thirty years on, a trip to the United States is often the first request of captured narcos, angling for extradition, a light sentence and early retirement.

The deals get bad guys off the streets. Yet they’ve created a growing backlash in Colombia, where outraged headlines denounce the kingpins’ “American Dream” of seeking retirement in a “narcos’ judicial paradise.” It’s a complicated issue. The U.S. is happy to be nabbing hundreds of drug traffickers, seriously degrading the cartels, and Colombia is also happy to see narcos out of business. But increasingly, Colombians figure they are getting the short end ... Read More

Colombia Does Venezuela’s Dirty Work

| September 12th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Mac Margolis

Diplomacy is a coded business, where every tonic syllable counts. So here’s one for Latin American semioticians: How to parse Colombia’s decision to hand over two young Venezuelan fugitive dissidents to the Bolivarian thought police?

One theory: To seal a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, is again pandering to the autocrat next door.

It’s no secret that Venezuela has long been in the corner of the Colombian insurgents, who have been waging terror and mayhem against Colombia’s government for the last half-century, often with a wink and a nod from their Venezuelan patrons. That toxic bond had estranged Colombia and Venezuela for most of the previous decade, with the hawkish Alvaro Uribe pitted against the chief Andean tub-thumper, Hugo Chavez.

Since Santos was first elected in 2010, he has gone out of his way to end the Andean Cold War, infuriating ... Read More

Acusan a Santos de colaborar con la represión chavista al deportar a Lorent Saleh

| September 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald


Representantes de la comunidad venezolana en Miami expresaron el lunes indignación por la decisión del gobierno colombiano de deportar a Venezuela a Lorent Saleh y a otro dirigente estudiantil, acusando al presidente de ese país, Juan Manuel Santos, de alinearse con un régimen ampliamente denunciado por sus violaciones a los derechos humanos.

Los dirigentes juveniles Lorent Gómez Saleh y Gabriel Valles Sguerzi, quienes están bajo custodia del Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia de Venezuela (SEBIN), fueron expulsados esta semana de Colombia, donde habían buscado refugio de la feroz represión que el régimen de Nicolás Maduro ha emprendido contra la disidencia.

Al explicar su decisión, el gobierno colombiano argumentó que Gómez Saleh había violado las leyes al emprender actividades proselitistas desde territorio colombiano.

Pero para algunos activistas venezolanos que residen en Estados Unidos, la decisión de Bogotá no es más que una muestra más de ... Read More

Venezuela to charge two opposition activists deported from Colombia last week

| September 9th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

By Jim Wyss

Venezuela on Monday said two activists who were deported from Colombia last week would be facing charges for failing to register with authorities every 21 days.

In a statement, Venezuela’s Public Prosecutor said Lorent Saleh and Gabriel Valles, who were deported from Colombia on Thursday and Friday, had violated the terms of a settlement they reached in 2010 when they were detained for participating in “violent protests” in the city of Valencia, the capital of Carabobo state.

Venezuela’s public prosecutor said both men had outstanding arrest warrants for failing to check in with authorities.

Saleh is a well-known student activist and the president of the Operación Libertad civil-rights group. He had been living and studying in Colombia since February but was deported on Thursday after Colombian authorities said he had been involved in political work that violated the terms of his visa. Valles, who was ... Read More

Colombia hands over 2 student leaders to Venezuela amid protests on both sides of border

| September 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
US News & World Report


BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Colombia has deported two Venezuelan student activists, drawing criticism on both sides of the border by groups who fear they’ll be unjustly prosecuted for their political views.

Lorent Saleh, whose arrest had been sought by President Nicolas Maduro’s government, was handed over to Venezuelan authorities Thursday night after he was detained for overstaying and violating the terms of his visa. Fellow Venezuelan Gabriel Valles was expelled on Friday though his visa remained valid. Both are members of the activist group Operation Liberty, which is critical of the Venezuelan government.

Saleh can be seen loudly protesting Colombia’s decision in a video of the handover shot with a cellular phone by a fellow activist.

“(Colombian) President Juan Manuel Santos is negotiating and handing over the students,” Saleh shouts as he is ushered from a white van parked on ... Read More

Miami conference: Better roads to improved ports creates business opportunities in Latin America

| September 4th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald

Some 450 government and business leaders from 28 countries have gathered for the two-day Trade Americas & ConnectAmericas Expo — an opportunity to explore ways to bridge Latin America’s infrastructure gap.

But speakers at the conference, which was organized by the Inter-American Development Bank and Latin Trade Group, said that with growing populations — the region is expected to have 700 million people by 2030, more people moving into the middle class and globalization, most countries’ infrastructure is woefully inadequate.

Relatively brisk economic growth in Latin America in recent years also has “revealed the need to improve infrastructure,” said Bernardo Guillamon, the IDB’s manager of outreach and partnerships.

Even ... Read More

Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers join forces in Guatemala, paper says

| September 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Drug cartels from Colombia and Mexico have formed an alliance to produce designer drugs and cocaine in Guatemala that will later be smuggled into the United States, the Prensa Libre newspaper reported Tuesday.

Drug traffickers are focusing on Guatemala because of its geographic location, the war being waged by the government on the cartels in Mexico and the increasingly global nature of the narcotics trade, the newspaper said, citing an unidentified source in the special drug enforcement prosecutor’s office.

Colombians supposedly trained in chemistry and biology have entered the Central American country to plan, design and build drug labs, as well as to teach people to produce synthetic drugs, Prensa Libre said.

The newspaper, however, did not identify the Colombian cartel involved in the Guatemalan venture.

The majority of the drug laboratories are run by Mexicans who belong to the Gulf, Sinaloa and Caballeros ... Read More

The implacable economics of the Venezuela-Colombia border

| September 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Washington Post

By Nick Miroff

The contraband business has long been a lucrative one at the Venezuela-Colombia border, by many accounts the busiest crossing in South America.

Oil-rich Venezuela has the world’s cheapest gasoline, for instance, at less than five cents a gallon, while in Colombia—where fuel sales are not government-subsidized—the price is more than $4 a gallon. This means no Colombian gas tank goes home on empty.

In recent months, though, as the economic policies of the two nations diverge more and more, the incentives for smuggling are bigger than ever.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro says his country’s border with Colombia is a key front in the “economic war” he blames for his government’s financial woes, like 60 percent inflation and supermarket shelves perpetually short on diapers, corn meal, deodorant and other basics. Medicines are disappearing from Venezuelan pharmacies too, worsening the sense that the country is being systematically cleaned out.

To block shoppers from gobbling up ... Read More

En libertad “Popeye”, jefe de sicarios de Pablo Escobar

| August 27th, 2014 | No Comments »

Ejecutó 300 asesinatos y coordinó 3.000, pero por colaboración, estudios y buena conducta cumplió 22 años de 30. Testigo excepcional de la participación de los Castro en el narcotráfico.

Jhon Jairo Velásquez Vásquez , el temible exjefe de sicarios del fallecido capo del narcotráfico Pablo Escobar recobró el martes la libertad tras permanecer encarcelado más de 22 años por cargos relacionados con homicidios, secuestros y concierto para delinquir, se informó oficialmente.

“La caravana que salió de la prisión de Cómbita (Boyacá) era la de Popeye. Ya Popeye está en libertad”, señaló a la AFP una fuente del Instituto Nacional Penitenciario y Carcelario (Inpec).

Alias Popeye, abandonó la prisión escoltado por una comitiva de varios vehículos sin que su imagen pudiera ser captada directamente por las cámaras de los medios que aguardaban su salida.

Con paradero desconocido, la caravana de vehículos estaba conformada por autos de la Defensoría del Pueblo, el ... Read More

Colombia’s government announces poverty and employment targets for second term

| August 19th, 2014 | No Comments »
Colombia Reports

During a “Good Governance” workshop Monday, Colombia’s Finance Minister announced President Juan Manuel Santos’s targets in investment, poverty reduction, andunemployment to achieve a “more equal country” during his second term.

 By 2018, President Juan Manuel Santos and his ministers hope to:

decrease unemployment to 7.5% decrease poverty to 25% decrease extreme poverty to 5% increase investment to 32% of GDP.

According to Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas, Colombians currently have an annual income of around $8,300 dollars. Cardenas would like to set a target at $11,200 of income per capita by the end of 2018, an addition of over $3,000 to a Colombian’s income.

“All these objectives are all connected. For this we need more housing, roadways, that the whole energy sector keeps growing. Connecting all these objectives, we can provide Colombian families with more employment. And something fundamental, that we advance in the erradication of extreme poverty,” stated Minister Cardenas, according to the President’s website.

Unemployment currently stands at 9.2%, poverty at 29%, and extreme ... Read More

Colombia overtakes Peru to become the region’s fastest-growing big economy

| August 15th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Economist

AS HE prepared to begin a second term as Colombia’s president on August 7th, the first name that Juan Manuel Santos inked in for his cabinet was Mauricio Cardenas, who keeps his job as finance minister. That was no surprise: helped by an investment boom, the country’s economy grew by 6.4% in the first quarter compared with the same period last year. Mr Cardenas says the second quarter was strong, too. The government will be raising its growth forecast for this year from 4.7%.

This is a welcome exception to a regional trend: Latin America as a whole looks likely to grow by less than 2% this year, the worst figure since 2009. The end of the commodity boom that lifted the region for more than a decade, the fading of the era of cheap money as central banks in the rich world prepare to raise interest ... Read More

Virginia M. Bouvier: Has Colombia’s time come?

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN


With violence exploding in Gaza, airstrikes in Iraq, armed groups terrorizing Nigeria, Syrian extremism spilling into Lebanon, and the return of war in Sudan, the cause of peace can seem daunting. Closer to home, however, there is cause for hope.

Prospects for peace in Colombia are looking better than they have in years. If successful, the current peace process would put an end to an internal armed conflict that has lasted half a century. The conflict has taken the lives of some 200,000 Colombians, forcibly displaced 6 million more (granting Colombia the dubious honor of world record holder for the highest number of displaced), and destroyed countless livelihoods. Peace in Colombia would open a new era for growth and prosperity and contribute to regional stability.

... Read More

Colombia Wins Investors’ Favor—And That’s the Problem

| August 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
Wall Street Journal WSJ-01


When Colombia undertook an extensive tax overhaul, Wall Street rewarded it by making the country a bigger piece of one of the most widely used emerging-market bond indexes, handing fund managers a mandate to buy more of the nation’s debt.

For Colombian plantain farmer Paula Martinez, the ripple effects of that decision have felt more like a punishment.

The index reshuffling prompted investors to redirect billions of dollars to the country’s local-currency-denominated debt, causing the value of Colombia’s peso to surge against the dollar. That, in turn, has made it more difficult for Ms. Martinez, 57 years old, to compete with growers in other countries. A highly valued currency makes a country’s exports more expensive and reduces profits for exporters when they convert overseas earnings back to pesos.

Ms. Martinez joined hundreds of other struggling banana and plantain farmers in protests last week. Among their demands: ... Read More

Colombia sends more troops to ELN rebel stronghold

| August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »

The military in Colombia says it is sending more troops to the eastern province of Arauca, a rebel stronghold, to deal with a recent wave of attacks.

The announcement comes hours after gunmen shot dead a local politician, Pedro Antonio Bohorquez, and his bodyguard in the city of Saravena.

Earlier on Tuesday, eight soldiers were also injured by a homemade explosive device in a separate incident.

The area, which borders Venezuela, is a stronghold of left-wing ELN rebels.

With an estimated 2,500 members, the ELN is Colombia’s second biggest rebel group.

It has been fighting the Colombian state for five decades.

On Tuesday, Colombia’s police chief, Rodolfo Palomino, offered a reward for information on the attackers.

“Reward of up to 50 million [Colombian pesos; $26,600, £15,800) to those who help us arrest the criminals who brought terror to Saravena,”Colonel Palomino tweeted after arriving in the city.

Attacks continueEarlier, Colombia’s ministry of defence announced it was ... Read More

Colombia sends more troops to ELN rebel stronghold

| August 13th, 2014 | No Comments »

The military in Colombia says it is sending more troops to the eastern province of Arauca, a rebel stronghold, to deal with a recent wave of attacks.

The announcement comes hours after gunmen shot dead a local politician, Pedro Antonio Bohorquez, and his bodyguard in the city of Saravena.

Earlier on Tuesday, eight soldiers were also injured by a homemade explosive device in a separate incident.

The area, which borders Venezuela, is a stronghold of left-wing ELN rebels.

With an estimated 2,500 members, the ELN is Colombia’s second biggest rebel group.

It has been fighting the Colombian state for five decades.

On Tuesday, Colombia’s police chief, Rodolfo Palomino, offered a reward for information on the attackers.

“Reward of up to 50 million [Colombian pesos; $26,600, £15,800) to those who help us arrest the criminals who brought terror to Saravena,” Colonel Palomino tweeted after arriving in the city.

Attacks continue

Earlier, Colombia’s ministry of defence announced it was ... Read More

FARC: Peace Agreement In Colombia Won’t Happen This Year

| August 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
From Fox News Latino

Negotiators for the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group will not meet President Juan Manuel Santos’ goal of finalizing a peace accord by the end of this year, the leader of the guerrillas said Monday.

The peace process, which began in November 2012, will be delayed by the complex nature of the debate on the fourth point of the peace agenda dealing with the recognition of – and reparations to – the victims of the conflict, Rodrigo Londoño, known as “Timochenko,” said on the FARC Web site.

The agenda calls for the creation of a so-called historic commission made up of six experts from each party and two rapporteurs, who will be tasked with establishing the causes and factors that contributed to the duration of the strife and the impact on the population.

“The Historic Commission will be tasked with elaborating the reconstruction of ... Read More

Victims’ issues come to the fore in Colombia peace talks

| August 11th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP


Farmer Elver Montano has a long tale of pain and uprooting to tell as Colombia’s peace talks turns to the 5.3 million victims of Latin America’s longest armed conflict.

His eyes well with tears as he recalls the day, March 22, 2007, when a military operation forced him to abandon all his belongings in the town of El Charco.

“There were 8,500 of us who just had to run for it, during a clash between the army and the FARC,” he said.

Montano’s fate, and those of other civilian victims of the conflict, will finally get a hearing when negotiators sit down in Havana August 12 to begin discussions of how they should be compensated for their loss.

What next for peace?

It is the latest chapter in peace talks between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government that have been underway since November 2012.

The conflict has claimed the lives ... Read More

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos sworn in

| August 8th, 2014 | No Comments »

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said peace talks could falter if left-wing Farc rebels do not halt attacks, as he was sworn in for a second term.

“Gentlemen of the Farc: you have been warned,” the president said, to a crowd of more than 2,000 guests, including foreign delegations from 73 countries.

The 62-year-old was re-elected for a second term in June.

His victory was a resounding vote of confidence for the peace process he began with the rebels in November 2012.

Colombia has suffered more than five decades of conflict which has led to more than 200,000 deaths.

Challenges ahead

President Santos reiterated his commitment to peace talks at his inauguration ceremony in Bogota on Thursday.

“Acts of peace, that’s what the Colombian people ask for today… I will employ all my energy to bring peace during this mandate,” he told the crowd.

The challenges facing President Santos are many.

First he will be ... Read More

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